It’s common to ask “Did you do anything special for your birthday?”
I had a wonderful day and want to share a few snapshots of it. Last year I celebrated my birthday in the desert, this year I got to be home. To someone who is home all the time the events that filled my birthday may seem boring, and tedious. Frankly, I did a lot of chores.
If there’s one thing to impart on you, on this day, it’s to make your home someplace you love to be. Sounds easier than it is, but it’s something that is worth of very deliberate thought and planning. You should love to come home. I do.
I hope you enjoy, or can see why this day was particularly special to me.
Lilly was very excited to open presents with me. She went to great lengths with Mama to get me a new favorite ball.
I was gifted a new weapon to my arsenal of cast iron, a 12" skillet. Lodge is the only company making quality cast iron in the U.S. That said, they should drop the "Pre-seasoned" pitch. Doing so suggests that it's non-stick, and it's not. It's stick. The skillet needs some attention right out of the box if you expect it to perform. Someday I'll host a repository for good cast iron maintenance sources.
All that said, I broke in my new skillet with a vegetable frattata. One of the many reasons to cook with cast is the ability to put it on a stove and in an oven (or a grill, or fire, or pretty much anywhere else).
Is cooking breakfast on your birthday special?
For me it is.
Also, the eggs are from neighbor Jon's chickens. Talk about a vibrant orange yolk!
After breakfast Mama and Lilly teamed up to make me a chocolate covered mint chocolate with chocolate chip cake.
I went outside to play.
It was a cold and rainy day. After a year in the desert I can't tell you how enjoyable the cold rain is.
First up was an oil change on the beast. While running the engine to warm up the oil I spread some seaweed under the leaves on what will become next years garden for greens. We use seaweed as a garden amendment for the easily accessible vitamins and minerals. I covered the seaweed back up with leaves to set up a nice little biomass breakdown soil accumulation thing to take place this winter.
Then it's under the truck to put in some fresh motor oil.
Again, not everyone would call this special, but I obtain true enjoyment out of maintaining our vehicles, house and other investments and property.
That cake came out looking good.
And Lilly was very proud.
I'm so pleased to see that giving gifts and providing joy to others is something she takes enjoyment in. We will try to continue to cultivate that personality in her.
Topless cake at lunch time.
For you woodstove owners, you can relate to the feeling of working outside on a cold day to come into a home with a stove that's been on low and slow all day. It's toasty man!
One of the best feelings in the world...blazing on a cold day.
Just ask Bogart about that woodstove, he'll tell you.
Then it's back outside to team up on some chores.
I got this shot of my team loading up the bucket to bring next week's wood up to the porch.
Another specialty, some time in the woodshop.
I built these shelves out of scrap wood in the barn in support of the endless battle to obtain order among the chaos.
Around evening time we scooted over to neighbor Jon's to feed the goats and chickens and to close them in for the night.
Lilly always enjoys going over to help with the animals.
Top-hat Polish dude.
Freakshow. I dig it.
I've been good about getting up to take Bogart on our morning walks, and I've noticed an improvement in his demeanor which I'm attributing to my spending more time with him. We didn't get one in this morning, but we were able to sneak in a walk around the field across the street before dinner time.
Notice the glowing collar. Anything to make him not look like a deer.
Oh man, spaghetti squash with veggies and sausage.
Another great spread put on our table by my beautiful wife.
I am a lucky dude.
Lastly, we wound down the day with a little slice of homemade cheesecake. A birthday staple since as far back as I can remember.
I’ve been thinking, lately, that everything is relative. A good day can only be measured relative to other days. If you can hold onto that next time you’re having a bad day, maybe you can power through knowing that the bad day is necessary to calibrate that elusive scale we measure our days by.
I’ve had the good fortune of working on UNH’s R/V Gulf Surveyor since returning from deployment. Although there are several projects I’ve been working on, on the vessel, this is the first fabrication job, a step over the aft windlass.
The step covers important hydraulic fittings and aids user access to a ladder aft.
The nature of the work we do requires that we frequently climb the short ladder in the right of the picture to access fittings for the transducer strut. That windlass is perfectly located in the stepping off zone and the hydraulic fittings are perfectly located on top of the windlass. To avoid potential damage to the hydraulic fittings I designed and installed a step to aid in convenience and protect the fittings.
It’s built of out 6061 aluminum and secured to the windlass brace with 316 SS hardware. I hired Custom Welding to do the welding and did the install myself. I applied a few strips of non-skid tape sourced from West Marine.
You’ll see on the drawing I marked the width as a critical dimension. I’ve worked with Custom Welding a lot and have had great luck with them. I think their welds are awesome. Any negative feedback I’ve heard, I think, comes from not providing adequate detail in the drawing. Anyway, this was dead nuts. That’s harder than you think because the metal expands and contracts during welding so it has a tendency to walk around a bit.
For the install, I brought a few clamps to the boat and eyeballed the location that I wanted it in, clamped it in place, and used the existing holes in the fabricated step as guides for drill holes in the windlass mounting brace. I forgot my favorite cutting fluid, Anchor Lube, so made due with some 3-in-1 oil we have on board. I chose button head cap screws for a cleaner look and chose 3/8″ bolts with nylock nuts sourced from McMaster Carr. You’ll see in the drawing that I drilled the holes out a 32nd over to make it easy to insert the bolts. I always apply marine grade anti-seize to fittings going on the ocean, and also always on stainless steel hardware. I inserted the hardware as I went just to prevent any misalignment caused by me monkeying around drilling future holes. I Tightened it all up and we’re good to go.
I think the point I’d like to make is that, though this is a very simple part, having some design and mechanical experience makes things come together a little smoother.