Friday, July 24 2015
I suited up with long-sleeved everything and a mosquito net for my head (it fits over the bulky headphones that supply both podcasts and hearing protection) and went out to continue the job lawn mowing that I'd started yesterday. I'd only put the new DEET-containing repellant on the back of each hand; the only other exposed skin was on the back of my neck, but there was still the scent of DEET on the shirt and headnet from yesterday's lawnmowing. Dressed this way, I was immune to mosquitoes, but I was vulnerable to other problems. My shirt was black and the Sun did what it always does to black objects. What I really need for my anti-mosquito ensemble is a long-sleeved button-up white shirt with a collar. I have such a shirt, but it's with my nice clothes and I've probably only ever worn it once, probably to the wedding of someone I wouldn't recognize if I were to run across him or her at Garden Café.
Eventually the GreenWorks 120volt lawn mower died so badly that it threw the breaker on the garage circuit it was plugged into. I switched to the weed whacker for awhile, thinking perhaps the lawn mower had overheated. But when I returned to the lawn mower and tried to power it up, it threw the circuit breaker again. That wasn't good. There are generally mechanisms in such devices to disable them when they overheat, but those mechanisms would not cause them to short out. My guess was that the coil in the motor had overheated, the enamel had broken down, and a short had developed. If that was the case, I'd probably need to be buying a new lawnmower, since a replacement motor would be impossible to source and the lawnmower is too old to be under warranty (not that warranty coverage for GreenWorks devices is easy to obtain).
I had some difficulty getting the lawn mower open (the grommet into which one of the screws had been tightened was loose in its hole), but once I'd succeeded, I ran a number of tests, disconnecting various electrical components, attempting to power up the mower, and observing whether or not the result was a thrown circuit breaker. The internals were pretty a simple: the motor was a large DC motor with carbon brushes connected to a very large bridge rectifier. There was also a resistor in there to do something. To my delight, I found that the circuit breaker would be thrown even with the motor disconnected from the rectifier, suggesting the short was in the rectifier, not the motor. The rectifier looked like a commodity component that I could easily look up and find on eBay. Within minutes, I'd ordered a $6 replacement (free shipping!) from a seller in California for what turned out to be a 25 amp device (KBPC2504). I could have paid less for one from China, but the lawn would be an old growth forest by the time I'd have my mower working again.
After I'd finished with the lawn (it wasn't completely mowed, but it was good enough for now), I returned to the fallen skeletal oak I'd been cutting pieces from yesterday. I bucked four more pieces, cutting so far out on the trunk that the final ten feet or so toppled off the dry waterfall into the ravine below. Today's pieces were smaller in diameter than yesterdays, so I figured I'd have a lighter load if I packed four of them. Indeed they were lighter, more than 30 pounds so, but 117.8 pounds is still a beast to carry a quarter of a mile strapped to one's back.
This afternoon, Gretchen harvested a bunch of basil from the pots near the front door and out on the east deck and prepared to make some pesto. But then it turned out she had no garlic. She attempted to get some from Andrea up the street, but she didn't have any garlic either. So I set out in the Subaru to see how far I'd have to drive to get some. My first stop was at the small farm stand at the intersection of Hurley Mountain and Johnson Hill Road. It had things like greens, peppers, eggplants, onions, and tomatoes. But no garlic. So I had to drive all the way to Davenports at the intersection of US 209 and Mill Dam, 7.5 miles from home. Had I just driven to Hannaford, it would have been less than six miles. Davenports was overrun with children while I was there; they looked as though they were part of a camp group. One was having to be talked down as he freaked out about having to use Davenports' bathroom. I think his problem with it was not that it resembled the kind one finds on Italian trains (it likely doesn't) but instead that it was a bathroom away from home.
I'd brought three five gallon buckets and a shovel with me, so I stopped at Fording Place to let the dogs run around while I gathered some soil. The stuff I found today contained a good mix of organic matter (rotten sticks), sand, and grey anærobic clay. After I'd loaded the buckets into the car, I did what I could to encourage the dogs to go in the water, but they were only interested insofar as we might be going to the other shore, which I didn't want to do. While we were doing these things, a car full of African Americans showed up with fishing equipment. What with the flood of recent phonecam and dashcam documentation of how hard it is to be black in this country, it's hard not to think of white privilege every time I see black people in unexpected places (such as at this white trash fishing hole).
In addition to my desire to gather more soil, part of the reason I was driving the Subaru was to test the air conditioning (which I'd recharged yesterday) and the new Ramona-blocking webbing between the two front seats. The AC was nice and cold, but I wasn't completely delighted with the Ramona fence. She pressed into it hard at times, managing to almost get into the position Gretchen finds so annoying. And when she gets really excited, Ramona will actually climb up and almost over the fence. Indeed, sometimes her struggles with it are more annoying than her just getting to the position she loves to ride around in.
Back at the house, I added all three buckets of dirt to the cabbage patch, which, of course, now contains many large plants. I spread the soil out between some of them, adding a couple inches over their roots. I've heard this isn't a good thing to do to a tree, but I figure annual plants are able to handle more disturbance around their roots. I'd failed to properly suit up, so the mosquitoes attacked me savagely. They seem to be especially bad whenever I have dirty hands and am reluctant to swat them for fear of covering myself with filth.
Meanwhile Gretchen gathered a bunch of greens and later assembled a three course meal: a salad with garden fresh lettuce, a cooked mix of kale, broccoli, and green beans, and pesto pasta, the pasta itself being one of the few things not harvested directly from the garden.
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