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!

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!

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.

Big day.

Today was the day to re-raise the mast on Julie & Ryan’s boat. New windex, new lights, new halyards, new topping lift, new flag halyard, new sheaves, new wiring, new switches, refurbished outboard motor, replaced bulkhead mid-ships in the salon, chain plates reinforced, and some much-mended sails and boat canvas. I can’t wait to get out on the lake with these sailors. Next up: installing the boom, mainsail, and jib. Then we’ll take her for a sail!

What the dukkah?!

Colleen turned me on to a new taste treat, an Egyptian-heritage nut and spice blend. Apparently Trader Joe’s sells some. Instead of running out to the store, I asked Google for help finding a recipe and picked this one because I had all the ingredients for it. I just made some and I like it. You can serve it in another dipping dish alongside bread and olive oil, pita and hummus, or veggies and hummus, or whatever else floats your boat.

Click through here to see the recipe as I found it. I used almonds instead of hazelnuts.

On top of the world.

Most days, Keeto likes to leave his cage and fly around the house. I think he enjoys the exercise and the freedom. He has a couple of favorite perch locations that he flits between. Sometimes he likes to play hide and seek with us, though, and will land somewhere different and sit still as we look around for him. This morning I spied him sitting on a globe that I have placed atop an armoire in a far corner of the gameroom. I had to sneak a photo with my telephoto lens from across the house. 🙂 You’re IT, Keeto.

Hindsight.

Most years I post a summary of the previous 12 months here on Sheila365 – summarizing moments from fun trips, visits from friends and family, and other adventures and highlights from the year (like these summary posts from 2019 and 2018). Unfortunately, on this last day of 2020, there isn’t much to report, as COVID has curtailed most highlight-worthy moments.

Instead, today I went back and looked at my first post from the beginning of 2020. In that post, I included a picture of a beautiful sunrise that I took the previous year – as we were at the dawn of a new decade. I had to chuckle and shake my head reading this statement a year after I wrote it: “I’m not sure what the next ten years will bring, but I’m ready.” Well, I can now say that I was in NO WAY ready for what 2020 would bring.

BUT, I am still here, as are my loved ones, thank God. So, I am grateful, and I am simply trying to roll with it.

To end the year, I will just leave you with this, a picture of a beautiful post-sunset scene that I took at anchor in the Ashepoo River in South Carolina. Tomorrow is a new day.

Full enough.

I grilled pork tenderloin for dinner tonight. Over charcoal. Marinated in Allegro. Indirect. 21 mins, ~7 mins per side. Measure with meat thermometer to 145 degrees F. AMAZING.

As I waited for the meat to grill, I snapped this photo of the not-quite-full moon over our winter foliage.

Watching from afar.

We witnessed two momentous events over the weekend, each from many miles away.

We watched a livestream of the wedding of my nephew and his lovely new wife.

When you can’t be there in person…

And we witnessed the rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky. These 2 largest planets have not been this close since 1623, during Galileo’s lifetime. And they won’t be closer during my lifetime. To the naked eye, they appear to be a single point of light. We looked at the two planets through binoculars in the backyard. We also watched a livestream from the McDonald Observatory in west Texas, through their large telescopes. One could see the rings of Saturn, and several of Jupiter’s moons.

Jazz in the hood.

We have some talented musicians living in our neighborhood. They have taken to doing a driveway concert every couple of weeks. Sometimes classical. Sometimes jazz. We walked over tonight with a couple of chairs and enjoyed the ambiance for a bit. Very nice.

Love thy neighbor. 🙂

Wild thing.

After a hard afternoon of yard work on Friday, Monte and I were sitting on the back patio enjoying a brewski. Keeto was out there with us in his cage (sans brewski). I caught a flash of blue at the bird feeder. It was a budgie! And a blue one at that.

It appears to be a young male. I didn’t see a band, and the wings don’t appear to be clipped, so I don’t know if it is wild or escaped. He didn’t stay long, but I saw him again Friday, several times on Saturday, and again this morning. I have named him Niño. 🙂 I will put a cage out to see if he wants to take shelter.

What a sweet treat!

Lost. And Found.

We are making more frequent trips to the lake lately to get a break from the endless 100 degree days we have here in Austin.

Last Sunday when we came home from the lake, we realized we were missing our styrofoam cooler. It’s not just any styrofoam cooler, though. It is a cylindrical bait bucket that’s been in Monte’s family as long as he can remember.  And it has been along on all of our camping and boating adventures for the last 20+ years. It makes a great, compact ice bucket. As it has worn thin and broken over the years, Monte mends it with wood and epoxy. One day, I expect it will be all wood. It’s special.

We went back to the lake Tuesday but didn’t find it on the boat. So we sadly assumed it must have blown into the lake from the parking lot while we were loading the car.  Monte added it to our Lost-shit Log of things we’ve lost in the lake.

We looked for it on lee shores as we sailed, but didn’t spot it. Returning to the marina Wednesday afternoon after anchoring out for the night, we learned it had been found and turned in to the office. Awesome!

Messing about.

We headed to the lake yesterday for a mid-week overnight anchorage in one of our favorite coves.  We had a nice, long, light sail up the river and back for several hours before we anchored in the cove for the night, grilling dinner off the stern under a colorful sunset.

IMG_0963Then, after listening to our neighbor (motor) boat in the cove playing non-stop, loud, expletive-laced music for several hours, just 100 feet away from us, we opted for a lovely moonlit sail back to our slip.

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In the morning we decided to drive upriver to where Cupholder is docked for a daysail up to MM 48 and back.

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The winds were light, but cooperative.  The motor boaters were few.  It was lovely.  After we got back to our private dock we let it out a bit in anticipation of the lake levels continuing to fall.

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Two nice days on the lake.  Sa-weet.  I’ll leave you with this quote from Wind in the Willows:

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not. ”

Yep.

 

 

Sometimes…

I toted my camera and tripod to an overlook above Lake Travis last night to try to get a better photo of the Comet NEOWISE.   Again, I was not able to spy it by eye or binoculars, but I did get some more underwhelming long exposure shots of it.  It is getting very dim.  I took exposures ranging from 10 seconds to about 1 minute.  Still no stunning captures.  No matter, I stayed out there for over 2 hours, enjoying the views.

This is a view about 30 minutes after sunset, with Sometimes Island in the foreground.  The lake level is 668′.  Windy Point juts in from the right; the Austin Yacht Club on the left shore beyond that; and you can even see Starnes Island way back there, if you look closely.

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My second attempt at capturing NEOWISE.  Sadly, these are the best shots of the night.

A 10-second exposure, about an hour after sunset; very faint:

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A 25-second exposure about an hour and 45 minutes after sunset:

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And just because… a 10-second exposure of the big dipper, on the left, pointing towards the North Star on the right side of the shot:

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Cheers!