The Trouble with Ratchets

Today’s post comes from Chris, Reneeinnd’s husband.

Due to an anomaly at birth, I am partially ambidextrous.  I learn to do simple tasks with my left hand and complex tasks with my right.  I allow other people to demonstrate their mechanical prowess while I stand aside to lend assistance.  Attempts to tackle jobs with moving parts commonly end in frustration, absurdity, or disaster.

In July, Renee and  I traveled to see our son and his wife in Brookings, South Dakota so Renee could do a therapy presentation and we could help the kids move into a new apartment.  The new place was quite a step up: it had three bedrooms on two levels, with two and a half bathrooms!  Son and his wife had bought new furniture and had it delivered to the new apartment.  They had to leave several pieces of furniture, including a huge, dilapidated sectional sofa, in the old apartment so it could be removed and hauled to the landfill with my pickup.

We arrived on Friday evening, delighted to see the new apartment. Renee and Son would be at the presentation the next day.  After a pleasant meal, the four of us went to the Lowe’s to get what would be needed for the big move– a big tarp and a set of ratchets with straps.

Son and I went over to the old place and proceeded to load the bulky pieces of the sofa into my pickup and cover them with the tarp.  The next step was to secure the load with the straps and ratchets.

Son and I usually work well together, but he has dexterity problems of his own.  Secretly, I didn’t have a clue–I’d let him take the lead.  Neither of us knew how to spool the straps through the ratchet.  Son used the expedient of the young–he looked up the procedure on YouTube.  By this time, it was getting dark and he  had to use his phone as a flashlight.  He figured out what to do, and we threw the hooked end of the strap over the top of the load.  At that point we inadvertently violated the cardinal rule of ratcheting–always keep the strap straight!  If you don’t, the strap will  twist and get stuck in the spool while you’re tightening it with the ratchet.

Of course the strap got tangled, and the strength of two big men was not enough to unwind it.  Fortuitously, Son’s upstairs neighbor, a veteran  of multiple collegiate moves, arrived.  He was able to pull out the strap so it could be spooled back in to the ratchet.  We tried again, secured the load, and drove the truck to the new apartment, tired but satisfied with a job well done.

On Saturday, Daughter in Law  and I got to do the fun part–driving the pickup to the landfill so we could dispose of the sofa.  We gleefully flung the cruddy pieces onto a smelly pile of rubbish.  We were very careful to wind the straps back into ratchets without twisting them.  I had not repeated the same mistake and was proud of my newfound competence.  I could now use a ratchet on my own–without help!

We showed Son the neatly spooled ratchets when he got home, only to find that the straps were horribly stuck! You’re not supposed to rewind the strap through the back of the ratchet!  Son pulled with all  his might and was able to get one of the spools unstuck.  He had to resort to cutting the other one.  A mysterious third strap was involved.  Although  Son remained calm and patient, he was  clearly disgusted by the situation.  He advised me to ask one of “my mechanically inclined” friends for assistance in the future.

The straps and ratchets are stored in a compartment of my truck.  I am too embarrassed to show my incompetence by asking a casual friend or neighbor for help.  I vowed never to use an  unspooled ratchet and strap again– if I can avoid it.

Have you ever had a guilty secret?  What did you do to conceal your shame?

 

The Right Amount of Stress

It is hard to know in a drought how much supplemental water for the vegetable garden is too much, and how much is too  little.  We err on the side of overindulgence. Our recent water bill is testimony to our generosity.  I worry that our pole beans, full and tall on their poles, have yet to produce flowers due to our over watering and not allowing them to feel stress.  I worry our peppers are responding the same way, with very few fruits as yet. Here is a photo of the pole beans with potato plants in the foreground.

Babies born to diabetic mothers often have underdeveloped lungs due to  the  glucose-rich uterine environment  which lacks the normal “stress” of less sweet amniotic fluid. Children who have few expectations don’t fare as well as their peers who have expectations.

It has been stressful at my work due to difficulty hiring staff. I can’t believe that the stress is doing me any good.

I think that a  little bit of stress is necessary for all good development, be it for plants or people.  The trick is discerning the right balance.  Oh that we could thrive without stress!

What do you consider the good stress in your life? The not so good stress? How do you find a balance?

Public Notices

One of my favorite sections of the newspaper (besides the section in the Sunday edition that lists District Court proceedings for who got convicted of what and what their sentences were) is the Public Notices.  I don’t know if the big papers like the Strib or the New York Times print public notices, but our paper does. We have to vote every general election if we want the notices published in the local paper.  It always passes. As a local district judge told me, it is the best place to find out what your friends and neighbors are up to.

By public notices I mean foreclosure announcements, city and county  commission proceedings, school board minutes, bids for government contracts, summonses for parents to attend juvenile hearings, divorce related interim property rulings, and name changes.

One of my friends was surprised to read that her sister’s house was in foreclosure.  “I’ve been sending her money for the mortgage for months! What has she been spending it on instead?”

Public notices provide access to unanswered community questions. ” How can they keep that new restaurant open when hardly anyone goes there and the prices are so high?” That is answered by seeing the notice that So and So construction company is placing a lien on the restaurant in question for not paying the construction bill.

Our local paper prints the following:

WHAT IF AMERICA DIDN’T NOTICE?

Public notices help expose:

Fraud in Government!

Dishonest businesses!

Unfair competitive practices!

PARTICIPATE  IN DEMOCRACY.  READ YOUR PUBLIC NOTICES.

 

How do you participate in Democracy?

 

Long Lost Relations

I received an unexpected request for family tree information last week from a woman in Canada.  According to Ancestry. com, she and I are DNA matches and are likely 5th to 8th cousins. Her great grandmother and my Great Grandfather Lunzmann were siblings. I never knew he had siblings, but there he was on her tree, the youngest of about six children. I had never really ever looked for his siblings, and searched  instead for earlier ancestors.

I am very happy that my long lost relative contacted me, since I know very little about the Lunzmann family.  I know about my great grandfather’s life after 1900, but not in the 30 years before that and not his family life in the small village he came from in Mecklenburg , Germany.

This is one time that I welcome the intrusion of new technology in my life . I don’t always feel that way about it.

What about the latest technology do you find charming? What do you find alarming?

 

 

National Zucchini Day

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown

Last week after our t’ai chi class, one intrepid soul brought out her garden bag, to see if anyone would like some… what else?… ZUCCHINI. She was able to shed a couple of them, and proceeded to tell us that August 8 is “sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch” day.  I thought perhaps she’d made that up, but a little research shows that, indeed, Tuesday August 8 is National Zucchini Day, known in some circles as Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch DayThis site states that “Desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s time to sneak over, under the cover of darkness, to your neighbor’s porch, and unload some zucchini…”

Those of you with veggie gardens know what I’m talking about. This year I have given zukes to half a dozen people so far; I think I’m caught up with our four plants at the moment, but more are on the way. I thought I was doing well when I discovered, on the ground back by the fence, a real “baseball bat”. I decided to leave it on the neighbor’s back stoop, with a note saying “Just kidding, I’ll come back for it”, because they have their own plants, and I want to keep them as friends.

Here are some fun facts about zucchini for the curious, found at

  • Zucchinis are 95 percent water, with just 33 calories in a medium-size squash.
  • One zucchini has more potassium than a banana, supplying more than 10 percent of your daily need.
  • Summer squash is rich in carotenoids, powerful cancer-fighting antioxidants that are mostly found in its skin. So be sure not to peel your squash. And buy organic to avoid pesticide residues.

I just checked the garden, and found a good sized green torpedo hiding on the ground… next year I’m campaigning for yellow squash – tastes the same in my book, and you can actually see them!

When have you sneaked around after dark, for any reason?

Wandering Thoughts

I heard Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition last night, and a convoluted trail of thoughts led me to Baba Yaga,  Jack and Jill magazine, Lloyd Alexander, and the first time I tried to buy a book by myself.

My mother subscribed to Jack and Jill magazine for me when I was a child in the 1960’s.  I was fascinated by the stories in the magazine about Baba Yaga, the Russian witch who flew around in a mortar and pestle, and who lived in a hut on chicken legs. Mussorgsky portrays the witch sailing fiendishly through the air in her mortar, and  the hut walking around just like I imagine such a hut to walk.

There was no book store in my home town, and Sioux Falls didn’t get one until I was a teenager.  My mom always let me buy books at school from Scholastic, Services and I took out as many books as I was allowed  from the public and school libraries.  I discovered a wonderful book series by Lloyd Alexander called The Prydain Chronicles one summer in the public library when I was in Grade 4. The stories are based on Welsh myth, and I was disappointed to find that the library was missing one book in the series.  The librarian told  me that she had no intention purchasing  it, either.  Without telling my mom, I found the name and address of the publisher (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston) from inside one of the books in the series that the library had, hand wrote a letter in my horrible handwriting asking about the price of the book, addressed and stamped the envelope, and mailed it off.  A couple of weeks later I received a very nice reply kindly letting me know the price, which was more money than I had at the time, and thanking me for my inquiry.  I dropped my search, and finally found the missing book a couple of years later in the book store that opened up in the first mall in Sioux Falls.

My love for Jack and Jill magazine prompted me to subscribe to it as well as Cricket magazine  for my son and daughter. We found Baba Yaga stories in Cricket, too.  Imagine my delight when I saw that Lloyd Alexander was one of the editors of Cricket. Both children loved The Prydain Chronicles, as well as other stories by Lloyd Alexander. Funny where listening to Mussorgsky will take you.

What magazines did your family subscribe to?

Not Feeling It

Today’s post comes from littlejailbird.

A couple weeks ago my friend from Vermont stayed a few days with me. The first full day she was here, she took the light rail over to the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul to do some research for a book she is writing, but the rest of the time (Tuesday mid-morning to Friday evening), we spent most of our time together.

Those of you who know me at all know that I have a strong tendency toward introversion, which means that I get tired out by spending lots of time with other people, even people I like. So you may not be surprised to learn that, after planning our activity for Friday, I went upstairs to bed and moaned to myself, “I really don’t feel like going anywhere tomorrow.”

But, because she is my friend and because one of the things we’ve always liked doing together is take walks, in the morning off we went to Wood Lake Nature Center. We saw some egrets and either two great blue herons or the same one twice, a turtle, a muskrat, and some egg masses that my friend got very excited about (one of the books she has written is about salamanders). So I ended up being glad I went, especially since one of the egrets was close enough that, even with my not-very-long telephoto lens, I was able to get a couple decent shots.

 

Also, the great blue heron flew in close enough that we got a good view of it in flight. I snapped some shots of it, not expecting to get anything very good, because I’ve never been able to catch birds in flight, but I just couldn’t not try and sometimes it’s fun to try even if you’re pretty sure you won’t succeed.

When have you been glad you went somewhere or did something when you didn’t really feel like it?

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