Carpentry and Blood

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on sliding shelves for the small pantry area in the motor home. Until today everything was going along nicely because I was wound-free. Now, I’m talking about weeks, folks, not just days or hours, of managing to remain relatively waterproof (no blood loss) and no detectable bruises. I attribute this to the fact that all I needed to do was slow down and pay attention to what I was doing – just like Diane has told me to do numerous times subsequent to pretty much every previous injury that required her assistance to mend.

The project was to build 5 sliding shelves that are 6 11/16” wide and 20” inches long. Not very big and something an expert could probably hammer out in a few hours. I, however, must spend numerous hours considering how I should proceed. I do that a lot for everything I do that involves a task that requires a finished product. Generally, I do that for so long sometimes that Diane doesn’t think I’m doing anything at all. I suspect she thinks I’m napping but what I’m really doing is staring at my stash of lumber, draw guides, and tools attempting to visualize what the shelves will look like when done. I’ve already researched possibilities on Pinterest and found about a gazillion choices to use, but most of them don’t supply the detail I need get going. You know, of course, that analyzing a gazillion references takes a considerable amount of time and that happens before I stand in my shop and start the visualizing process.

At some point during my analytical process there emerges an actual vision of what I need to do. It’s then that I’m released to actually pick up boards and glides, holding them together in various ways to see how I can attach them together. This involves considerations like, should I just use glue, should I use my nail gun, should I use screws, should I use a combination of all those …

Glue Only – this method is obviously totally impractical, even though the glue I have requires a considerable effort to break apart pieces that have been allowed to cure for the proper amount of time. You see, I like to take things apart, to, and gluing kind of rules that out for things that are constructed with wood that’s been measured once and cut twice. It always needs to be fixed at some point. So, no glue.

Nail Gun – this method is very appealing because I hardly ever get to use my nail gun because they are illusive critters. I had three of them at one point in time then I had none and I had no idea where they went. One of them was finally located when I asked Jeff if he borrowed them and he said he did. Then one day our old neighbor, who moved last year, came by with a box containing one of the other guns that I’d loaned him and forgot about. He said he was going through boxes in his garage and found it and decided he should return it. The third one is just gone. I can only hope it found a good home. Prior to the neighbor returning the one I loaned him I went to ACE and bought a new one so now I have two again and have access to a third one that Jeff has, should I need it. I won’t need it, however, because it’s for nailing large boards together and I’m working with little stuff. Another issue with nail guns is they need compressed air to work and my compressor is big and resides in the garage. It’s noisy, too. Whenever I fire that puppy up Panzee, a dog who is essentially deaf, runs away. I do, however, have a portable air tank that will hold 100 lbs of air. It’s located right next to my table saw, which has been the source of some colorful injuries I’ve documented in previous posts. So, the nail gun became a viable candidate for part of the construction as long as the air holds out. I know from experience that getting the empty tank to the compressor is a cinch but lugging it back to the basement filled with 100 lbs of air is really hard.

Screws – these were essential for mounting the drawer glides to the inside of the cabinet and to the shelves. I knew this was true immediately when I got the glides because the screws came with them. Thankfully, I have a portable electric screw driver. Actually, it’s a portable drill but I can drive screws with it, too. The problem with it, however, is that it’s a wee bit too long to actually drive screws in a space that’s not much over 6” wide and 20” deep. So, I pulled out one of my really old rechargeable electric screw drivers the kids bought me about 10-15 years ago. I figured the battery was probably toast but was pleasantly surprised that it charged right up and served me well during construction.

I cut pieces of wood to which I screwed the drawer side of the drawer glides. In the cabinet I installed spaces to attached the cabinet side of the glides. The spacers were needed so the shelf would clear the opening.

Then I cut six shelves out of random pieces of paneling and peg board material and attached two guides to each of them with my nail gun. Viola! I had shelves. But, the tops were just flat with no sides to contain items. Then I had an epiphany, which is always fun. Epiphanys that I have never just jump out of the blue to me. They come to me after lots and lots of time consuming thought about how to solve something. It’s a gradual thing for me which, I know, is kinda contradictory of me calling them epiphanys. But they are, and I always enjoy them.

In this case, my problem solving thought process finally took me to dowels and my drill press. Yes, I have one of those. It’s not large, but it serves my purpose. Combining those two items in my head produced a vision of Tinker Toys. Remember those? My epiphany involved a solution for drilling the right kind, and size, of holes so I could cobble the dowels together, and attach them to each shelf, in the form of small little fences, for tiny little cows and horses. No, really, the fences are to corral cans of food and anything else Diane might want to put on them.

Drilling holes in dowels, without drilling all the way through, in a manner that will accommodate the flat end of a dowel requires the use of a forstner bit, of which I have a few. It also required me to build a little jig that would hold the round dowel steady when I drilled it.

Just as I was finishing up the drilling process I had a very minor lapse of judgement which resulted in the injury I received. With the drill in the O.F.F position, I apparently got cocky when positioning my third to last dowel for the drilling and brushed my hand against the drill bit. It was off, for criminy sakes, and it didn’t even hurt, but here’s what it did …

It punctured me in four places! Really!? I guess I really am thinned skinned.

Since I only had a couple more holes to drill, I finished the process then took this picture and showed it to Diane who was busy at her computer. Since she was busy doing something important there I didn’t want to interrupt her by talking so I just held the photo in front of her.

She immediately got up and escorted me to the first aid room – we have one of those, now – and fixed me fight up with just one band-aid because two of the small punctures quit bleeding when I scrubbed up so we just left them alone.

That’s all I have for today.


If you have been sucked in to the mind-boggling world of Pinterest, raise your hand. I’d wager that the majority of you caught yourself just before actually doing that, but you really did raise your hand mentally. Pinterest is addictive. It’s a terrible affliction and I suspect it won’t be long before someone comes up with way to wean us away from all those incredible projects that ‘other’ people do. Either that, or some lawyer will come up with a way where we can sue whoever created that creative web site so we can pay a therapist. The therapist, no doubt, will also be hooked and needs that money to help pay for the material needed to realize their dream of building that solar collector out of soda cans, or an owl out of unwanted eating utensils and jar lids. It just looks so easy.

Now here’s the problem. There just isn’t enough time available for me to expend the energy needed to focus down on just one thing. My head is usually full of a rat’s nest of mostly incoherent thoughts and looking at any Pinterest email feeds my frenzied synapses. Consequently, feeding the need to look at all the Pinterest related information I receive does not leave ANY time to feed the desire to actually accomplish something.

Speaking of Pinterest emails, although I enjoy them, they add to my inability to extract myself from in front of my computer long enough to get pretty much anything done. Thankfully, with Diane’s help, I’ve found a way to schedule in bathroom breaks and she brings me food. Sometimes when I’m on the way to the bathroom she intervenes with a “Hey, since you’re up …” and diverts my attention to some household thing that really needs to be fixed. Once that’s done, I’m released from the hypnotic grip of looking at the result of other people’s creative talents, who obviously have more time to do them, or maybe they just don’t have a computer.

Hey! Now we’re getting somewhere. Maybe it’s the computer, not the emails. Should I just turn it off and see what happens? No, that wouldn’t work because I have a phone. And an iPad. I’d have to power down all that stuff and that would be devastating because I use both of those things to read books.

And play Sudoku.

So, I don’t have a solution for my personal dilemma short of sedation. I’m stuck in this loop and it’s actually kind of fun. However, I feel a bathroom break coming on and suspect that Diane will interrupt my trip back to the keyboard with “hey, while you’re up …” that will probably take the remainder of my day. See ya later…

Big Guns, Little Guns, No Guns, Some Guns, Snow, and Fast-Pitch

You may have noticed over the years that I tend to stay away from politically charged topics, especially those involving guns. After this last shooter took advantage of  a soft and unprotected target to make his statement, I think all of the information learned about the shooter after the fact kind of exonerates the gun as being the problem. It’s the person holding it and, oh ya, it’s all those folks who couldn’t seemingly find the time, or a reason, to investigate all the warnings they received about the shooter. You’ve heard all this if you watch the news so I’m just being redundant and I apologize.

I’m one of those guys who think it’s OK if teachers were allowed to carry a concealed weapon. I suspect that the coach who lost his life would have solved the problem in a more dramatic manner if he had a gun. Maybe he should have had the gun that the school resource officer didn’t use.

Sorry. That was a low blow. I was happy to hear that he resigned his $80K/year job after choosing to not do anything when he could have.

So, after all that, I’m going to offer a solution even though I do not know who funds the resource officer position – the school or the police department. Doesn’t matter to me. I suggest that whoever does should hire veterans, preferably ex Special Forces kind of people who aren’t unfamiliar with the stress and danger of wading into a fire fight. I think they should carry their weapons openly, like just like all those Secret Service agents standing guard around pretty much every important building in Washington, D.C. It’s a real deterrent, believe me. I talked with one of them – asked him for a recommendation of a good place to eat. He was very helpful, and I was impressed with the weapon he was carrying. Kind of like the one our Florida shooter used, I think.

With that thought in mind, I’ll also share that I don’t see the need for weapons of war to be sold to civilians. The only justification I’ve ever heard from owners of such weapons is that they are “fun to shoot,” or that they want them for home protection. OK, I kinda get that but I’m still not a fan of AR-15’s, or similar weapons, being available to pretty much anyone who qualifies, even if they’re nuts. Personally, I don’t own a weapon. Never have. However, if I were to purchase one, I’d get a shotgun. There’s a bit of logic in my addled brain that thinks a shotgun is better protection than a pistol or a fancy rifle. With the latter you have to be a good shot. With a shotgun you only need to get close to get someone’s attention.

I swerved way out of the lines there that define my normal behavior and blog content, didn’t I? I’d apologize but that would be hypocritical because I could avoid all the potential turmoil this may cause by simply not posting it. But I won’t, so it’s evident that I’m not sorry I did it. I may be sorry tomorrow, but not right now.

Our weather remains to be cold (like in the teens) and it snows a bit now and then, but the roads are clear. There was a tricky period of time at the onset of the bad weather when one of the freeway exits was nothing but black ice making it a tricky trip. It was fun to watch.

It’s after 9 pm and nearing my bedtime, but I must stay alert because we’re waiting for our Niece Steffani to arrive from Idaho. They should be here any time. The reason for their trip is they thought it was time for Birk, Tyler’s little black dog, to meet the rest of the dogs in the family. That, and Maryssa is playing fast-pitch softball against Concordia this weekend. We love to watch her play. We heard a rumor that Maryssa hit a homer in her team’s home opener. Don’t know what the score was, or who won, but she hit a home run. Good for her. It’s her senior year at EOU (Eastern Oregon University) so this is her final season as a collegiate player.

I feel better now. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I’ll try to be a little more upbeat next time.


Olympics, Snow, and my Bladder

First, in case you were wondering, Jerrie is still in pretty good shape for the shape he’s in. That said, he’s demonstrated that age is showing its nasty side when he had trouble tying his shoe the other day. Yup, he said he couldn’t figure out how to tie his sneaker, something that pretty much every 1st grader does with ease. He figured it out, however, and the shoe didn’t fall off, but having that trouble concerned him a bit.

To be more honest, he didn’t actually forget how to tie his shoe, it’s just that when he did it, it didn’t have that familiar feeling he was used to. He reported that it was an odd feeling which prompted him to report directly to his bride that he was losing his mind. He added the question, “do you think I’m getting Alzheimer’s?” She responded with, “No, you’re probably just losing your mind,” which put the mind he was probably losing at ease. Kinda weird, I know, but that’s how he tumbles.

Jerrie’s favorite Olympic event is short track speed skating. During his younger days in the 50’s he was an avid roller skater, the kind he needed a key to clamp them on his shoes. Those wouldn’t work for kids today because those old skates wouldn’t clamp to a pair of sneakers. Nope. You needed the old kind of shoes with leather soles, you know? Each skate had four small metal wheels with ball bearings and made a lot of noise on a cement sidewalk. They were so small that small pebbles would cause them to cease rolling which resulted in many crashes. Because those mishaps happened in the 50’s there were no lasting scars. Lots of impressive scabs, but no scars. Oddly, Jerrie was pretty good at getting around on those antiques and thinks he could probably transition pretty easily to ice skates and short tracks. He thinks he can be a contender. Really, he does. What he doesn’t get, however, is the age discrepancy between todays winners and yesterdays dreamers. I told him he was about 60 years behind the times, but he doesn’t get it. He still thinks he can bounce off the pavement with the best of them. There was a brief moment when he took a trip on a set of roller blades that didn’t quite fit and he didn’t fall down even though he was being towed down the street by Ziva, the big black dog. Thankfully, the skates he wore were for sale at Diane’s garage sale and someone bought them. No more roller blades for Jerrie. No more scabs, either, on a body that doesn’t heal quite like it used to.

Now he’s content to just watch the excitement, between naps.

End 3rd person …

To keep things in perspective with the Olympic season, the Northwest has been hit with a pretty hefty winter storm that’s dumping lots of snow on us. It started around 6:30 this morning and hasn’t stopped. It’s 9:16 pm now, and it’s predicted the continue throughout the night, leaving up to 7″ in our area. We’re well on the way to that. Hopefully there will be a brief window of opportunity for me to make a trip down the hill to my urology appointment. Well, I guess getting up the hill after the appointment is more important. If that happens I promise to give a detailed account of my urology appointment with Dr. Kemp. My last visit with him, a couple of years ago, resulted in a considerable amount of pain when the TV camera that was inserted into his bladder hit bottom a couple of times. Memorable.

I guess that’s it for today, except for this. It looks like this out front now except the tree balls have been removed.