Saturday, January 17, 2009

Journal Through Saturday, 1/17/09

Tuesday, 1/13/09:

Jo and I are learning all about television antennae by trial and error.  The main thing we learned today is that an antenna on the ground is useless.  We got the antenna full assembled and hooked up to the digital converter, but it still could not pick up a signal.  Later, I bypassed the converter and hooked up the antenna directly to the television set.  I wanted to see how well it would bring in an analog signal.  The answer was:  Not well -- certainly no better than the rabbit ears we're now using.

TV Antenna:  It's hard to believe that much aluminum, fins and tubes cannot pick up a signal, even if it is just sitting on sawhorse, but it won't.  The next step is to experiment with moving and reorienting the antenna.  If that doesn't help, I reckon it's time to start getting it higher.

Weather Summary:  High = 43ºF/6ºC.  Low = 18ºF/-7ºC.  Cold overnight but warmed during the day, especially after the wind direction switched to the south. 

Wednesday, 1/14/09:

Since a strong cold front was on the way, I decided it was time to add to my wood supply again.  Brought home another small pickup load -- and I didn't trim off any more of Jerry Joe's stumps.

Weather Summary:  High = 57ºF/13ºC.  Low = 21ºF/-6ºC.  South wind building all day until a new cold front arrived late in the afternoon.

Thursday, 1/15/09:

We didn't get much of anything done today -- too cold -- though we did bundle up and take our afternoon walk through the pasture and woods.

Weather Summary:  High = 24ºF/-4ºC.  Low = 10ºF/-12ºC.  A cold, overcast day in the Ozarks.  We got a light dusting of snow a little after dawn.

Friday, 1/16/09:

Jo made a trip into town, mainly because her driver's license was up for renewal.  The Nissan did not want to crank in the cold.  I didn't figure that it would, so I gave it a little boost with the battery charger.  It still wouldn't crank, so I charged the battery for a while and then gave it a boost.  It started.  With the engine warm, Jo had no problems while in town.

Weather Summary:  High = 24ºF/-4ºC.  Low = 8ºF/-13ºC.  Again NOAA predicted we'd have mostly sunny skies, but again overcast prevailed -- at least, until late afternoon.

Saturday, 1/17/09:

We had to let the fire in the wood stove burn down today so I could clean it out.  So many ashes had accumulated that you could hardly get any wood into it -- and it wasn't drafting well either.  It got kind of chilly in the house for a while there.

We'll be making one less trip up to Columbia, MO, in 2009.  The Fall Festival of the Arts that we've done off and on (whenever we could get juried into the show) for a dozen years or so is history.  The show was put on by the City of Columbia.  A lot of reasons were giving for canceling and there was some truth to most of them,  but if you read between the lines, the City need to trim it's budget and an art show was an obvious item to get the ax.  The sorry state of our economy strikes again.

Blog post on Nature in the Ozarks:  Black-capped Chickadee.

Weather Summary:  High = 55ºF/12ºC.  Low = 19ºF/-7ºC.  Our cold snap is finally broken, though we did have a strong south wind blowing for most of the day that made it feel colder than it actually was.  Partly cloudy to mostly sunny skies.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Journal: Monday, 1/12/09

Early Morning:

►  Worked on various projects, getting some photos cropped and uploaded among them.  Clear, calm and a temperature that hovered just above freezing.

►  Interesting Website:  Day and Night World Map Shows the current position of the Sun and indicates which parts of the Earth are in day and which are in night.  Page also has links to world clock and other time zone conversion tools.

Late Morning:

►  Mostly clear, gusty south wind and 46ºF/7ºC when I got up at ten o'clock.  Jo said the sky was overcast earlier, but cleared rapidly.

►  Jo washed a load of clothes and hung them on the line to dry.


►  Temperature in the mid-fifties.  Clouds are building from the north.  Wind is still building from the south.  Yes, a new cold front is on the way down and scheduled to arrive sometime late this afternoon or evening.  Then, we'll enjoy a blustery north wind for a while.

The dark clouds that moved in from the north during the early afternoon just moved on through.  Most of the afternoon alternated between partly and mostly cloudy.  The south wind continued blowing as a new cold front approached.

►  Television Antenna:  First a little background.  When Jo and I first move up to Arkansas we didn't even unpack the television for a couple of years, mainly because we figured we'd not be able to receive a signal unless we erected and antenna.  We had so many other things going on with trying to get our house finished enough to move in that having a television was a low priority.

Eventually, we did pull the TV out of the box and discovered we could receive the signal from the Arkansas PBS affiliate using only rabbit ears on top of the set.  (Arkansas Educational Television has a half dozen transmitters around the state and one of them is only about 60 miles away.)  We were content watching only public television, but figured we'd get an antenna to pull in the signals from Little Rock and/or Springfield some day.

In 2001 Radio Shack had television antennas on sale and we bought one.  When buying the antenna, I was thinking we might be able to install it in the attic and not have to deal with erecting an antenna mast.  After getting the antenna home, it took about two seconds of inspection to determine there was no way it would fit into the attic when assembled and opened up.  Erecting a mast and installing the antenna has been on my "To Do" list since then.

The upcoming national conversion to digital signals has spurred new action on the antenna front.  Jo completed an online form and secured our $40 discount voucher which we used to buy a converter from Wally World.  (A good thing Jo got this done.  I've read that the agency doling out the vouchers is out of money with millions of folks still on its waiting list.)  We hooked up the converter and NOTHING.  Evidently, the weak signal we received with our rabbit ears isn't good enough for receiving a digital signal.

Our current plan is to assemble and connect the antenna while it is just sitting out in the yard and see if we can pick up a signal.  Actually, mounting the antenna to the roof is going to be a big job.  There's no need going to all that effort if it isn't going to make a difference.  If we cannot pick up a signal with the antenna sitting out in the yard, we're going to have to think about the situation for a while before deciding our next step.

Anyway......  We got the antenna mostly assembled this afternoon and I found my supply of antenna wire.  After eight years of procrastinating, a little bit of progress has finally been made.


►  New cold front is easing into our area.  Before this multi-day siege of cold weather is over, temperatures are forecast to dip into the single digits

Weather Summary:

High = 57ºF/13ºC.  Low = 33ºF/.5ºC.  Skies alternated between partly and mostly cloudy all day, especially during the afternoon.  Cold front arrived during the evening.  A blustery north wind was blowing by midnight.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Journal: Sunday, 1/11/09

►  Weather Summary:  High = 61ºF/00ºC.  Low = 21ºF/00ºC.  A very nice winter day, except for being a little chilly in the early morning.  Mostly clear with a light north wind.

►  Day of reckoning with the studio light fixture:  Jo and I got the ballast changed with only one minor glitch.  The leads on the new ballast were only about half as long as the ones on the old unit, meaning we had to splice wires together to make them long enough.  Once the ballast was installed, we re-assembled the fixture and inserted two new fluorescent tube.  When we flipped the light switch, the ballast hummed a little, but the tubes did not brighten.  We messed around cleaning contacts and swapping tubes around until the light eventually decided to work -- and is still working.  I hope this project is now completed and stays fixed for a while.

Tickseed Sunflower seeds in Jo's mittens.  The little seeds are everywhere and easily attach themselves to all forms of clothing.  When clothing with these seeds attached is washed, the seeds often come loose and attach themselves to a different article in the washer.  At the moment, there's hardly any frequently worn clothing of ours that doesn't contain at least one Tickseed Sunflower seed.  Sometimes they can end up in very inconvieninet locations.  Those pointy little horns can be very irritating.  (Photo of a Tickseed Sunflower in bloom.)

►  Firewood:  As previously mention, all the firewood I've been cutting lately is coming from alongside our road out, small diameter trees my neighbor thinned from his roadside property back in the fall.  He just let the trees fall and -- with his permission -- I am cutting them into firewood lengths and carting them home.

►  These small trees required no special felling techniques -- like notching and back-cutting.  Jerry Joe just sliced them off, but I did notice he'd sliced them off rather high, some of the "stumps" remaining came almost up to my waist.   Jo and I decided Jerry was just being lazy and loping off the trees at a height requiring no bending.  Since these stumps contained a piece or two of usable firewood for me, I'd been cutting them off closer to the the ground.

►  Today I received a phone call from Jerry Joe asking me to stop cutting off his stumps.  His theory is that the tall stumps are less likely to put out sucker shoots and resume growing. (Creating a coppice.) That's a new one on me, but maybe so.  I'll certainly honor his request since I'm cutting his trees on his land.  And, since I've trimmed of some of the stumps while others remain tall, we'll see if his theory is correct.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Journal: Saturday, 1/10/09

► Weather Summary: High = 57ºF/14ºC. Low = 24ºF/-4ºC. Overcast with a gusty north wind most all day until after dark when the sky cleared so we could bask in the glow of the huge perigee moon.

► New cold front finally eased into our area while I slept. Overcast and 31ºF (-.5ºC) when I awoke.

► Forecast says we're supposed to have afternoon clearing, but thus far (2 PM) the clouds are ignoring the forecast. I thought the sun was going to peek through just a few minutes ago, but I blinked and missed it.

► PM Walk: Jo is attending an Arkansas Craft Guild meeting down in Little Rock so the dogs and I just walked up the road to the gate and back.

► Now that the sun has set, the sky is finally clearing so the temperature can get even colder overnight. (30ºF/-1ºC @ 5:30 PM)

► Jo arrived back home around six o'clock. She rode down to Little Rock with a friend for a luncheon meeting that lasted three or four hours. After getting back, Jo bought the groceries that had been added to our list since I went to town on Monday.

► The trip home also included a stop at the Home Depot in Conway where Jo bought a ballast for her studio light fixture. When they got back to the grocery store in town where Jo had left our truck, she forgot the ballast and her friend headed out toward home in Eureka Springs with it. (This simple DIY project is clearly in full Murphy's Law mode: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.) Thank goodness for cell phone. Jo called her friend before she got too far down the road and the ballast was returned.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Journal Through Friday, 1/09/09

Tuesday, 1/6/09:

► Weather Summary: High = 41ºF (5ºC). Low = 28ºF (-2ºC). Overcast most of the day, but cleared to partly cloudy for a couple of hours about the time we took our afternoon walk.

► Jo and I installed the new fluorescent tubes in the light fixture in her studio. It still didn't work. We pulled off the cover and saw the ballast looks as if it's been getting more than a little warm. The ballast is probably the problem. Now the question is: Do we replace the ballast in that old fixture or replace that eight foot fixture with two four foot shop lights. Shop lights are often heavily discounted and would probably be cheaper than the ballast, but they'd require more time and effort for some rewiring.

For a brief period of time, these were the only clouds still around on Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately, the sky quickly became overcast again.

Wednesday, 1/7/09:

► Weather Summary: High = 59ºF (5ºC). Low = 31ºF (-.5ºC). Mostly sunny all day with a few more clouds moving in toward sunset.

► Jo decided to use 4' shop lights in her studio -- and since we had a couple of those on hand, she began checking them out. She found that neither were working completely right. That's the problem with those super cheap shop lights. They're not always dependable.

► Jo changed her mind and decided replacing the ballast in the 8' fixture would be the better route. She called both the hardware store and the lumber yard in town only to discover they were both out of that particular ballast.

► This seems to be one of those simple little projects that's destined to turn into an ordeal. All Jo wants is enough light throw pots by in her studio. At the moment she's using multiple clamp-on lights with cords strung all over the place. Not the best set up.

► I finally got around to grinding some of the beans I purchased from E-Z Discount. The coffee is drinkable, but nothing special. What did I expect from hardware store coffee?

Thursday, 1/8/09:

► Weather Summary: High = 60ºF (15ºC). Low = 31ºF (-.5ºC). A new, weak cold front overnight. It didn't lower the temperature much, but the wind was out of the north in the morning. By late afternoon the wind had switched around to the south again, though.

► I installed one of my newly sharpened chains and cut some firewood. One of the large wood racks is now almost full of newly cut firewood.

► Blog post on Nature in the Ozarks: Scenic overlook near Harrison, AR.

Friday, 1/9/09:

Weather Summary: High = 55ºF (12ºC). Low = 38ºF (3ºC). Overcast in the morning with a prediction of clearing to partly cloudy during the afternoon, but that didn't happen. In fact, a light mist was falling when we went on our afternoon. The sky did seem to clear a bit after dark. I could see the moon and a few stars through the clouds, but then it clouded back up and we experience a few light and very scattered rain showers.

Made a batch of waffles and put together a fruit salad.

Blog post on Nature in the Ozarks: Hemmed In Hollow Falls.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Journal Through Monday, 1/05/09

Thursday, 1/1/09:

► Weather Summary: High = 50ºF. Low = 24ºF. Mostly sunny. A gusty south wind made things a bit nippy in the early morning, but it laid later in the day.

► Several years ago we replaced New Year's Eve parties with a New Year's Day hike. In the beginning we hiked with several friends, but over the years the number of hikers has dwindled. This year for a variety of reasons no one else was available for hiking, so Jo and I went alone. We hiked the Hemmed In Hollow falls trail in the Ponca Wilderness Area of the Buffalo National River. There's really no need for me to go into a great deal of detail about our hike here since I intend to make a post or two (or three) over on Nature in the Ozarks. I'll just say that it was a fairly strenuous hike to make in one afternoon. Between the hike, driving to and from the trail head and a brief visit to Walmart for dog food our first first day of the new year was a busy one.

Friday, 1/2/09:

► Weather Summary: High = 50ºF. Low = 24ºF. Weather started out as partly cloudy then slowly degraded to totally overcast and damp with a moderately gusty south wind blowing.

► The "big event" of the day was cutting a little more firewood. I went up the road to where my neighbor thinned small trees along the road during the fall. The diameter of most of that wood is small, but that means it doesn't have to be split. Jo and the dogs joined me after I'd cut for a while and helped load the Nissan.

► I was really proud that I only felt a little sore from yesterday's strenuous hike. However, when I got up there slinging my chainsaw around, I discovered I got tired much quicker than normal. Even though my muscles weren't sore, I reckon they hadn't fully recovered and were still tired. I still managed to get close to a little truck load cut, loaded, home, unloaded and stacked. The log hoop on the porch is full again and the amount of wood in our racks is growing.

Saturday, 1/3/09:

► Weather Summary: High = 69ºF. Low = 52ºF. Definitely what you'd call unseasonably warm today. We didn't even need a fire in the wood stove. Morning overcast, but contrary to our original forecast, the sky became mostly clear during the PM. A moderately gusty south wind blew for most of the day, but laid late.

► PM Walk: No cows. We haven't seen them around for a for a couple of days. We haven't seen any tracks in the road which would indicate Jerry Joe moved the cows to another pasture. I guess they've moved themselves to another section of this pasture. Good riddance.

Sunday, 1/4/09:

► Weather Summary: High = 62ºF. Low = 29ºF. The high temperature for the day is deceptive since it occurred very early in the morning -- like around midnight. Most of the day was overcast with a blustery north wind blowing. The temperature for most of our daylight hours was in the thirties.

Monday, 1/5/09:

► Weather Summary: High = 31ºF. Low = 25ºF. Overcast and funky all day. A brief period of freezing rain during the early afternoon. Fortunately, that didn't last for long -- just long enough to ice up the front steps and cover the van's windows.

► Trip into town: It had been about a week and a half since either Jo or I made a regular trip into town, and we were running a little low on several staples -- including coffee -- so I made a trip this afternoon. Among other things the trip included: Paying both the water and electric bills, getting a couple of chainsaw chains sharpened, buying kerosene for Jo's heater in the studio and buying food for us, the birds and our rabbits.

► I drove the van into town because Jo also needed a couple of 8' flourescent tubes for her studio light fixture. There was no way I could get those safely home via the little pickup. While in town, I filled the van with $1.69/gallon gasoline -- up 20 cents a gallon since January 1st.

► I got my saw chains sharpened at a place called E-Z Discount. When we first moved up here, E-Z Discount was a little place that mainly stocked slightly damaged and discontinued building materials, chainsaws and accessories, a little general hardware and sold tires. About ten years ago, the store moved into a much larger building and became a much larger outlet for hardware, electrical, plumbing, etc. They also sold auto parts and expanded their tire facilities.

► I used to routinely purchase my tires from E-Z Discount, but for some reason unknown to me that part of their operation dwindled over the years. Perhaps the competition was too severe and their profit not large enough. I don't know, but I stated buying my tires elsewhere.

► I hadn't even been into the store in a year or more and was surprised to see that much of the space originally devoted to hardware was now devoted to surplus or damaged food and other merchandise. (The food isn't really "damaged" although a few of the cans are a little bent.) Besides getting my two saw chains sharpened, I ended up buying five pounds of coffee beans for $13.00. I know the price is good. I just hope the coffee is decent. I'll end up drinking it regardless.

► My final stop was at Harps' Grocery Store. They were out of bananas and potatoes. Having only one grocery store in town is such great fun.