Tuesday, January 7 2014
Though temperatures had been warmer in the wee hours of the morning, by the time I awoke they were firmly in the single digits, never rising as high as seven degrees for the rest of the day. Usually when it's that cold, the air completely still. Not so today; there was a wind blowing almost constantly. It wasn't a strong wind, but it was enough to make the outdoors a very miserable place. It was all I could do to go the brownhouse and back. I passed the large damaged White Pine just north of the house (the one that has cables attached to it to make sure it doesn't fall on the house), I cold see its trunk moving back and forth in the ground "socket" surrounding it. As it did so, it made loud popping noises that sounded like accumulating structural problems but which were probably a side effect of the extreme cold.
Meanwhile, though, the sun was blazing away, unobstructed by any clouds or haze, and when at one point I went down to the greenhouse upstairs, I found it a balmy 80.2 degrees in there. Ramona was so happy with those conditions that she remained in the greenhouse for another couple hours.
This morning I'd had to walk the dogs again, though (owing to the cold) I'd only been able to take them as far as the Chaomile Headwaters trail on the Farm Road. Ramona had tried to ford the swollen Upper Chamomile, but the icy water made her reconsider and we turned around and went home. At the time, I was listening to my MP3-player headphones, the cheap ones I've had to dramatically repair three or four times. At some point Ramona stepped on a frozen puddle and it made an unearthly cracking sound of a sort one never hears when temperatures are warmer. It sounded like a tree overhead was cracking off in the brutal wind, and I panicked so badly that my headphones slipped from my head and fell on the ground, breaking the little bit of plastic that attaches to a hinge between the headband and one of the earpieces.
I couldn't immediately see how to fix this latest headphone fiasco, but then I realized that if I modified a pair of earmuffs designed only for hearing protection (which Ramona had partially chewed up back in her puppy chewing days), I could combine it with the MP3 headphones to end up with a functional pair. The result fit much more snugly and wasn't as uncomfortable as I'd feared it might be. (The headband prior to this latest fix had been a repurposed hacksaw blade, which is still needed to support one of the ear pieces in this latest iteration.)
I've been fixing a lot of random things of late, things that most people would just throw away. For example, the other day the C-shaped plastic spring on a chip clip broke, and instead of throwing the chip clip away, I fashioned a replacement from a short piece of 3/4 inch copper pipe with a slit sawn in it to make it into a "topological C."
Today as a form of occasional procrastination, I took advantage of the very hot temperatures I had to run in the woodstove to melt down an enormous number of aluminum cans into a crude ingot. As always, I was using a large galvanized steel can as a disposable crucible, and it failed slightly at some point, spewing out a number of aluminum droplets, the largest of which weighed 16 grams (a 12 ounce can weighs about 13 grams).
The headphones after being fixed today.
The fixed chip clip.
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