Some TLC.

I realized that I haven’t posted in a while, which just isn’t like me. But I’ve been pretty occupied of late. I’ll see if I can remedy that going forward. Today we visited our lovely boat, who has been pulled from the water and is in the queue for a well-deserved bottom job. She’s out of her element, but doesn’t she look good in all that lovely Captain Navy Sunbrella?! I cannot wait for the work to be completed.

This is such a wonderful sailboat to sail and spend time on. We’ve had her for nine years and enjoyed her immensely. I look forward to the summer of 2021!

The cycle of life.

We welcomed a new Weber grill into the fold today. We have 2 or 3 out back at a time, but when we burn through a grate or the body of a kettle, it’s time for a new one and recycle the old one.

So shiny!

Two more canvas projects.

Last year one of the catboat’s trailer tires wore out, due mostly to UV damage, and sitting on the dirt. It now has a new set of radials, for which Monte requested covers.

Today I got around to making them, out of captain navy sunbrella. Voila! The squirrels better not mess with these!

Project #2 was a new grill cover for S/V Trident’s Magma grill out of forest green sunbrella reclaimed from one of Lori’s old dodger window cover panels.

Now I guess I have no more excuses to keep me from finishing my taxes…

Clean socks!

A couple of days ago, I observed over the course of a few hours Monte coming in from his shop project du jour, going into the laundry room, swearing, and then going back out to the shop. This happened at least three times. I finally asked him what was up. He said he was just trying to do a load of laundry because he needed a clean pair of socks. But the washing machine wasn’t cooperating. Every time he came in the machine had stopped, unlocked the door and the laundry inside was drenched.

Having fixed one of our washing machine problems a little over a year ago myself (a leaking rubber door gasket), I decided to try and figure out what was wrong this time.

The symptoms:

  • the wash cycle would not complete
  • it would start filling the tub, putting way more water in than I have ever noticed before, up to about 6″ up from the bottom of the door window.
  • at 45 minutes left in the wash cycle, it would stop filling, unlock the door, and blink the start/pause light
  • a 12 minute drain and spin cycle would sometimes work to drain the tub. Sometimes not.

After doing some research online, and messing around with the washer for a bit, I thought we had at least 2 problems:

  • the drain pump, which empties the tub and sends the water out the drain hose into the wall, was not working consistently. I took that out and Monte hooked it up in the shop to a switch, and sure enough, it would only turn on about 2 out of 10 tries.
  • the water level switch hose (a rubber 3/8″ hose) had a hole in it, which prevented the fill computer from correctly detecting the level of the water in the tub. Wear on that hose can happen over time from abrasion against the side of the washer tub and housing.

The website AppliancePartsPros.com is great resource for how-to videos, and also to follow discussion threads from other DIYers.

Our washing machine is a 12-year old GE Model WCVH6800J1WW. The 2 parts we needed were the drain pump (part #WH23X10028), and water level switch hose (part #WH41X10129). I ordered certified GE OEM replacement parts. The fix was easy, requiring only a phillips screwdriver and some pliers.

The two videos I watched to understand how to replace the parts I ordered were:

The first load just finished, and we finally have clean socks!

Irish dinner.

For St. Patrick’s Day, I whipped up a lovely corned beef dinner, that I think even my Limerick-born dad would have enjoyed. Instead of cabbage, I opted for Brussels sprouts; they’re like tiny cabbages 🙂

Sláinte!

Bloody good.

As a young person, I began donating blood as soon as I was old enough. It was just what you were supposed to do. And I felt good about it.

About 20 years ago, the United States FDA imposed new restrictions on who can donate blood, in response to fears from the mad cow disease outbreak in the 80s and 90s. At that time, the spread to humans resulted in 200+ cases of the deadly variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which was linked to consuming tainted meat from the UK. I lived overseas as a kid, and it just so happens that my situation placed me into the CANNOT DONATE category, making me ineligible to donate blood when the new rules were implemented around 2002. It also rendered ineligible practically any member and family member of the US Armed Forces or US embassy/mission workers that served in Europe in the 1990s if their commissary sourced meat from the UK. So many potential donors were summarily blocked from giving blood!

I learned recently that the FDA finally relaxed those restrictions last year, along with a number of other eligibility criteria, in light of blood shortages during the pandemic lock down. You can see the full announcement here. Through the second half of 2020, individual localities worked to implement the less restrictive rules in their donor screening. As of the end of 2020, my blood donor location, weareblood.org, incorporated the new rules.

I’m happy to report that I resumed my donations today after nearly two decades! It wasn’t easy, it took me about 3 months of contacting the blood bank people to get back on the “eligible to donate” list. As you can imagine, there is a huge backlog of donors who are eligible again and want to donate.

Please consider being a blood donor. There are not many ways ordinary citizens can save lives. This is one.

If you are not sure where to donate in your area, the American Red Cross can help you locate a place near you, see this link.

Birthday boy.

Happy birthday, Monte! Julie and Ryan brought their vaccinated selves over last night for a lovely dinner of steak and risotto, to celebrate with us. After dinner, we had cake and ice cream, and wii-ed a bit. 🙂

Wood-fired pizza.

Julie and Ryan came over this weekend with their new toy – a wood (pellet) fired pizza oven! It’s made by ooni. They set it up out back and we made pizzas until we couldn’t eat another bite. It worked really well, and the pizzas were delicious.

I made my favorite, a knock-off of Brick Oven’s Tuscan Truffle pizza. It has a mushroom and truffle oil pesto, with a little bit of prosciutto. It is topped with arugula and shredded asiago cheese after it comes out of the oven. Stupendo!

To make the mushroom pesto, blend the following in a food processor:

  • 8 oz brown mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp white truffle oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 oz shredded parmesan cheese

A couple of Catalinas.

After four months of work, Julie and Ryan’s sailboat is ready to be enjoyed. This week we sailed alongside them, and then rafted up together. It was their first time taking Arya out in high winds (gusting 25 to 30 knots!) and they did great.

It was also their first raft-up, and they christened their new grill. A good time on the water. Can’t wait for Spring!

Finally out of the deep freeze.

Wow. What a week. We had nearly 6″ of beautiful, powdery snow Sunday night into Monday morning. Then Texas broke. Or at least the electricity generators did, leading to a majority of homes in Austin and other cities throughout the state to have their electricity turned off. It wasn’t a rolling blackout for many. It was several days without electricity, with temperatures between 0 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit for most of those days.

We didn’t lose power at our house, for which I can only attribute to sharing a circuit with hospitals, a firehouse, and a couple of assisted living facilities. But crazy, scary times for many people.

Five days later, the temperatures are now in the high 50s, and will be even higher over the next week.

We drove to the lake today to check on the boat, and everything looks fine. The water temperature keeps the hull warmer than freezing, which insulates the plumbing that is below the waterline.

There was a little snow left on the decks almost a week after it fell, a first for us to see.

I am thankful for our good fortune, and hope that life soon returns to whatever normal it was before the cold weather arrived.

Snow day.

The coldest part of this wave of winter weather arrived overnight. Our thermostat says it’s 6 degrees Fahrenheit outside. But it’s pretty!

The current electric demand in the state of Texas is more than the supply, so we will enjoy rolling blackouts today. Fingers crossed for no broken pipes. Stay warm folks!

Zee polar vortex is coming!

Twenty-five years ago this week I moved to Austin. It snowed the day I arrived and everything was frozen. Since then, it seems like a cold snap happens almost every year around the middle of February, even if we’d enjoyed spring-like weather before then.

Well, it’s happening again this year. The polar vortex that brought deeply sub-zero temps to the northern United States is on its way south.

It’s sleeting out right now, and the trees and power lines are heavy with ice. It will only get worse in the next 4 days. And the forecast on Monday is currently for 4+ inches of snow, and a low of 7 degrees Fahrenheit!

It’s about to get real. More later. 🙂