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.

December 29th Addendum

I pretty much covered ‘stuff’ right up until Diane got home from her latest shopping trip to Fred Meyer’s. That was just a few minutes ago. Now she’s gone again to get tacos for dinner.

Now, during the short time she was home, here’s what I learned and what happened shortly afterward.

While she was at Fred’s, she was bending over looking for a shirt and some older lady (her words) ran into her with a cart, hitting her right on the tail bone. She said it wasn’t a minor tap and isn’t sure what she’s going to be like tomorrow. I asked if she got information from the lady – she hadn’t. I’m proud of Diane for not getting up and cleaning that lady’s clock.

Then Diane went down our dark hall and tripped over the big black dog on the way back. I was in the basement and heard the impact. When I arrived she was in lots of pain so I just kept my distance until she calmed down a little. When she was able to talk coherently, she rolled to her best knee, then leveraged herself to a vertical position using the chair I got her. She didn’t want me to help her upright, so I didn’t.

Then she walked down the hall and declared that she was OK and would like tacos for supper, and away she went without me for protection and assistance. Tough Guy, she is right now, but she’s going to be a mess tomorrow.

Here’s the damage from the fall.

She fell into a short book-case. On top were two glass votive candle holders, one of which was mashed to smithereens. She’s lucky.

I may have created a bad situation for myself by pointing out the light switches to the hall lights on our way to the kitchen. I’ll do that again tomorrow when I’m waiting on her because she can’t walk. I hope that’s not the case, but it doesn’t look good right now.

Toilets, Stitches, and Golf

Wow! It’s been Eleventeen days since my last post. Doesn’t seem like that long so it’s apparent that I don’t remember all of them.

I do remember going to Costco one day to buy some stuff. I picked out a new toilet that was conveniently sitting on one of those pretty orange push things and no one was around to claim it. So, I just rolled it away and found Diane. As I followed her around the store I’d get an occasional, “Can I help you?” from Costco employees. I got tired of saying “no” all the time and switched to “no, my wife has diarrhea and I have to stay close to her until she’s done shopping.” It wasn’t long before I had 5 or 6 of them following me to see what was going to happen. Little did they know that they were wasting their time because that was days ago and the penalty won’t be enforced until later today when she reads this.

Another interesting aspect of my life that involves change is that Diane has started issuing me one pair of underwear at a time. I don’t get a clean pair unless I have a used pair to trade. Normally that doesn’t bother me but penalties for non-compliance are reportedly going to be severe for future infractions. I probably shouldn’t have turned in my last used pair without letting her see them first because now I have none. Guess I won’t be wearing jeans today.

Oh, and I got my stitches out. Too bad we’re not a little closer to Halloween.

I also went golfing with the Peal Boys even though the humidity was 100%. It wasn’t raining, just a little foggy. Added a challenge for finding the balls once they were hit because until we got to the 6th fairway, we couldn’t see them land. Just old guys having a little fun.

Now it’s time for me to fire up my table saw since Diane left me unsupervised again. I admit I received some explicit instructions but forgot most of them during the 10 minutes drive home. The main one is “no power tools!” We’ll see how that works out because I have a bunch of baseboard parts to trim.

Have a good one.

Gilligan’s 10th Birthday, & Other Stuff

Yesterday was Gilligan’s 10th birthday. Already, she’s 10! We all find it amazing. To Celebrate, Lydia and Ceiarra took it upon themselves to make it more special than normal by taking her home with them to make cookies and feed her dinner. Jeran cooked the dinner, shepherd’s pie, which everyone loved. Diane and I showed up later to give her our good wishes, a bag of presents, and to love on her a bit, before the big girls whisked her off to a movie. Girl’s Night Out. She was in heaven. Actually, all of the girls were giddy with joy. It was great. The mood may have been enhanced by the drinks they all got at Dutch Bros on the way back to the house. Who knows?

I regret I didn’t get a selfie that included Diane.

Ceierra snuck in a big cookie with a candle and #10 on it.

Then it was off to the theater.


It was a good evening.

I had another intimate encounter with my table saw this morning. Everything was going just fine, cutting little narrow pieces of wood for a reason yet to be determined, and I was on the last one. I very carefully pushed that last piece into the whirling blade along with my left thumb. For some reason it just felt correct to push it a tiny bit further, right up to the point where my reflexes kicked in, in response to the severe pain, and automatically yanked my hand away from the saw. Because of my vast experience with injuries like this, I pinched it really tight, not looking at it, and went upstairs to face the music with Diane.

She heard my exclamation, which I emitted involuntarily, and asked what I’d done. When she saw me holding my left hand above my head, she just grabbed her car keys and said, “c’mon, let’s go,” so we did.

Unfortunately, it was only 11:10am and urgent care doesn’t open for business until noon. I stopped on the clinic side of things, where non-bleeders are readily helped, and was told, “We don’t do stitches here.” So, I went around the corner and grabbed a seat near the registration window so I’d be first in line. Which  was, right at noon.

Diane was with me and spent part of her time spreading newer magazines around the waiting area. She found them in some boxes in the basement and has been meaning to drop them off for the last year or so. She makes them all neat on all the tables. Makes me proud.

I was ushered to room 3, the one I normally get at urgent care, and I was prepped for action. The doc came in and we had a nice chat while she stabbed my wound with nummy stuff. That first one really hurts, a lot. Then she stuck it about 10 more times around the perimeter of the wound. I just sucked air through my teeth and dealt with it, knowing that I’d earned it.

It’s been about 6 hours since I did it and it’s beginning to throb a little and I know it’s going to get worse. It always does. I know this kind of stuff.

So, here it is … not quite to the bone, but close.

As you can see, I dressed for the occasion.

Seven stitches.

Ready to party.

Another part of this story involved  the yearly reunion for USS Cleveland crew members. This year it’s in Portland and today there was a bus tour out the Columbia River Gorge. Diane and I were both going to go but Diane had a need to stay home and help her Mom, Jean, with someone making a bid to clean her windows. That meant I would have to go alone with all those old shipmates, getting up and out the door by 0730 to do it. Somehow getting out of the house that early wasn’t appealing so I opted to stay home and make another attempt to get the bathroom put back together. While the doc was stitching me up, Diane said, “I should have sent you on the bus.”

In closing, I must report that I finished cutting the pieces of wood, and I remembered what they were for. Next task is to install all of the baseboard pieces that I also cut this afternoon. Just to show you that I don’t need no stinking opposing thumb on my left hand. No sir. I don’t .

Demo Day !

It has begun. Diane’s been wanting the hall floor to go away since the day after we moved in (10 years ago) and it finally made it to the top of my To Do List. As most of you probably already know, TDL’s are a living document, subject to change at the drop of a hat, or at the hint of a whim. Mine is always in flux. Replacing the hall flooring made it to the top because Diane thinks we should sell the house and move into the RV. That means we must fix everything up like brand new for the new owners.

There is one layer of linoleum and two layers of tile that need to be removed. The original 1957 tile is the bottom layer and I’m determined to remove it to ensure the floor is level at all ingress and egress points in the hall. There are six of them.

In order to remain true to my tradition of doing stuff like this, I’m using the wrong tool, but it’s working. I would use the right tool, but I don’t have one. What I have it a flat pry bar that has a very sharp edge, allowing it to slip easily under the tile so it can be pried up.


Maybe I do have the right tool, after all.

Thankfully, I’m medically trained to recognize signs of injury and what to do when they are discovered.

Not only is this the sign of an injury, it’s also a reminder that I should be wearing gloves. The blood is just a little bit of what I lost when my hand slipped from a piece of tile I was trying to pull out and the knuckle of my wedding ring finger grazed the sharp edge of my pry bar that was obviously laying in the wrong place. I didn’t know the extent of the damage at the time it happened. It was just an ordinary random pain I get when I do stuff like this so kept on working. When I saw the blood on the floor my training kicked in, causing me to react very quickly to determine the source of this vital fluid by checking the exposed portions of my body for leaks. Once found it’s a simple matter of getting a paper towel wrapped around the injury, if possible, then going meekly to Diane for assistance to seal the wound. Her response, pretty much every time, when she sees me standing in front of her holding a paper towel to some part of my anatomy is, “Oh Lord, what did you do now?!” I know it’s a rhetorical question because she just heads for the band aid drawer without waiting for an answer.

Yes, we have an entire drawer that’s used only for band aids.

Now I’m all fixed.

Dallas Cowboys Nipple Ring Tragedy

While reading news that has little or no worth to most people, I discovered that Dallas Cowboys’ David Irving suffered a tragic accident that may impact his ability to function in normal society for many months, possibly causing him to miss the first 3-4 games of the season. I’m guessing about him missing games, or course. I just know if it were me who were injured in the manner David suffered, I’d be out for the season. The injury should serve as warning to those who choose to get piercings in odd places.

I don’t view piercings as a bad thing, really, because I totally understand that they are an expression of the person and are, essentially, jewelry of sorts, and/or body art. I don’t, however, understand the mental process one must go through in order to allow someone to stab a projectile through their nipple. What’s that all about, anyway?

Since I have no piercings, my opinions may be suspect, but I believe inserting a little logic into their thought process might allow the pierced to wisely pick and choose safe venues to which they wear their body art, and remove those items that may be subject to serious injury.


Hot Tubs & Cars

Today it’s sunny and hot here in NW Oregon making working outside a tough decision unless it involves water. So, I incorporated water into my outdoor activities to ensure I stayed cool. That’s not true, of course. I was directed by my lovely bride to power wash the hot tub and the area around and under it to ensure there were no spiders left to creep around on her arms while she reclines in the nice hot water. Heat is one of the best things she’s found for her healing broken arm bones and she’s been wanting the hot tub cleaned up for a couple of years. I’ve been putting it off because I feared the pump motors would screech and smoke demanding to be replaced. I spent a bunch of time cleaning out dozens of spiders, who spent their last days in a futile attempt to climb the slippery insides of the tub, finally succumbing to their fate and falling into the last bit of water remaining in the bottom of the unit. I envision them swimming feebly to the edge of the water, seeking high ground, finding none, then finally slipping into unconsciousness and sinking to the bottom of the shallow pool, joining those who went before. Then, along I come with my wet/dry vac to unceremoniously suck them up and dump their soggy remains into the soil at the base of a bush where they can reunite with nature and make beautiful things.

Once the tub was cleaned, I started the fill process which takes a couple of hours. When it was about half full I powered it up, expecting to hear the screech previously mentioned but, to my never-ending surprise, the pump motors, one of which I replaced years ago for the screeching reason, made not a sound and pumped water without a problem. The heater works, too, which is another part of the hot tub I replaced in the past. Well, not the entire heater, but just the sensors that detect water temperature. It’s nice to know they still work after all this time. I just checked and the temp is up to 95 so it will be perfect at 104 when the temp drops to 55 this evening. Diane’s eager to check it out. I’m not a hot tub person so rely on her expert analysis of my success in this area. So far, so good.

I mentioned that Diane and I hocked everything we had and purchased a motor home which we would love to live in as we drive around the country. You know, south in the winter, north in the summer. You, know, regular snow geese kind of people. Toward that end, we’ve been cleaning it up and loading it with all the stuff we removed from the trailer before delivering it for the trade. I’ve learned that I need to let Diane make a decision about what goes and what stays because apparently not all of it is going into the new rig. So, I just wait and take out those things that I’m told to take. I did, however, assume the responsibility of what gets stowed in the ‘basement’ compartments and loaded most of those up with odds and ends.

Now that we don’t have a trailer, we don’t need a truck. Oddly, Jack and Wynette now have a trailer, and don’t have a truck. They have a Toyota Camry. To resolve this crises we both decided to just trade vehicles and assume the current debt for the respective vehicles. Simple. No salesmen to fiddle with and we’re both getting a pretty good deal. Life should be that easy in all respects.

As I write, I’m waiting for the local Chevy dealer to call me back to report the maintenance department is done working on the truck we’re trading to Jack an Wy. They are fixing the front differential because it apparently has a bearing going bonkers. Makes all kinds of whiny noise while rolling down the road. It goes away when the transfer case is set to 2 wheel drive. The fix is being done under the 100K mile/10 year warranty for the drive line. They’ve had it for 2 days now and I wonder if we’re going to get it back. We got a 2017 Malibu for a loaner and Diane dislikes it a lot. She took it to Portland for her physical therapy and had to deal with the new feature that turns the engine off while sitting at stop lights. Pretty nifty. Tom told me something about how to make it come back to life, but I couldn’t remember. So, Diane just restarted it each time. Consequently, she’s not a fan of this feature.

Now it’s time for a nap.