Monday, April 29, 2013

Three up, two down

Ever been hiking and decide to go off trail for a bit? Then you see that hilltop and you have to see what's up there? Then you realize that the nice slope wasn't really all that nice at all and you are actually going up a 45+ degree shale covered mother of all slippery piles of loose gravel? Three steps up two steps down, three steps up four steps down, three steps up, slip, slide on your b--

Well, THAT is just about how my day went today. First thing in the morning we had a slight plumbing problem (need I say more?) which was thankfully-partially-functionally resolved by about noon. Sigh. Unfortunately by noon we are breaking heat records and it was already low nineties with the sun beating down, not a teensy breeze blowing. Why is this relevant?

Today was supposed to be my first chopping day! The blocks have been waiting eagerly, my trusty (a bit more on this coming up) saber saw fitted with new blades, new bit on the drill, maps ready, me ready...so I plowed ahead ignoring the heat and set up my work area in the semi-shade of the trees.

There it is, I had to find the foam support which had been stashed in the by now very hot garage and gather the rest of the tools required for the task.

Being a bit too hot to have the camera outside, I decided to snap a couple of quick pictures and perhaps shoot the upcoming video tomorrow when I begin anew in the cool of the early morning. If you have ever visited the Southwest and know about our dry heat then you know that the concept of a cool breeze does not exist here. When the temperature is hot, the air is hot and any breeze is hot and today the air ain't moving.

Foam insulation resting on pallet resting on hand-cart, perfect work table!
For reasons upcoming, I am resigned to explain what I was going to do and how. First, the working table is a 3 inch thick piece of insulation foam, resting on an old wooden pallet, which in turn rests on a convertible hand-cart that can either stand up or lie on all four wheels. Easy down, easy up, easy moving around, easy transport.
The foam insulation allows me to work without clamps. The block of wood just rests on the foam and the blade of the saber-saw goes right through the wood and right through the foam, allowing me to cut curves as tight as I dare without slipping or bouncing.
The pallet underneath just supports the foam insulation off the ground so I can work at the right height, for me anyways.

Next are the tools of the trade, a cordless saber-saw with two batteries so I can (allegedly) keep working, a cordless drill, a map of the block with puzzle-piece numbers pre-marked, permanent marker, dust mask and shade cap.
Marker, map, blades, and stupid saber-saw with stupid battery attached
As I cut each piece, I mark the back with an arrow indicating the top or sky of our garden, and the code number for the block so I can replace it once returned. The drill is fitted with a drill bit just slightly larger than the scroll-saw fine blade. When a piece of the puzzle is on the edge of the block, I simply cut it out. However when the piece is "land-locked" I drill a hole off to the edge of the piece, insert blade and cut. The drill bit holes are later disguised as empty spaces surrounding the puzzle piece.

Back to the hiking analogy. After digging out the foam insulation from the depths of the man-garage out back (three steps up), I had to dust it out and remove the black-widow spiders that had made neat little nests on it (two steps down). A good hosing and it was clean and ready to go; no spiders were harmed during this procedure although they are very clean spiders now. I gathered my tools, noting that I was so clever to have cordless tools so I did not need a power cord and could work in the shade of the trees, and prepared the camera (three steps up).
Then I slapped the rechargeable batteries onto the drill and saber-saw and...andddd....click click click...nothing happened (four steps down). Sigh. No problem, because I AM clever-er than my saber-saw and have a spare battery, still on the charger, showing green light, wait, blinking green light? How can that be! It should be charged by now?! Green? No? Maybe half-charged? Click click click...silence. My battery checker tells me it's dead, or as my friends from the Midwest like to say: "the batt'ry is ru'ned".

By now it is 2:30 PM and I'm frankly out of patience, out of energy and the temperature has climbed to a balmy 99.8 degrees, fortunately Fahrenheit, not Celsius if you are the glass-half-full kind of person. But this ol' gal ain't used to these temperatures so early in the year and is going inside under the fan. Then I'm going to have to take a trip to the home-supply store and splurge for a new battery and hope that the second one charges properly.
I gathered all the above back in the studio and listened to the birds for a while. Tomorrow will be another day.


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