This is a long post. What can I say, it was a long day.
The morning started slowly. I woke up at 4:30 this morning. I laid in bed for about an hour trying to get a little extra sleep and then gave up. It was still way too early for me to wake Mrs Jinksto and beg for coffee so I stumbled into the kitchen to start it myself. Mrs Jinksto had set the auto-pot the night before so I found a full pot of freshly brewed coffee. Gotta love her.
I poured us a couple of cups and took them back to the bedroom. I usually just leave a cup on her bedside table so that it’s there when she wakes up. Sometimes I have to sneak back in and warm it in the microwave a few times when she sleeps late. This morning however, she was awake and sitting up so I handed her a cup.
We sat on the bed for a while drinking our coffee and not saying much, just enjoying the time. Eventually I reach over, grab a pair of jeans and throw them on. They were my “good” jeans but I didn’t expect to get dirty so it was cool.
Now, note I said “good” jeans. In the south (or maybe everywhere) you have your jeans and you have your “good” jeans. These are the church going, funeral visitation jeans. They’re a new pair of jeans that you’re only allowed to wear if you need them. Men, however,only care about this when they need them. Like when they’re left standing in their boxers needing to get dressed for their third cousin’s (fourth) wedding. Your wife (or, at least, my wife), exasperated with stains and tears, usually hides them from you until you need them. It’s a good plan. It works. Mostly.
The reason that I put these jeans on this morning is because, well, they’re jeans, that’s what I wear. I don’t discriminate against jeans (Unless the crotch gets a hole. Then they go into the “bad” jeans pile (Which, by the way, are perfectly wearable unless you need to go to the store, or have company, or get pulled over by the cops while test driving a vehicle…)). The reason they weren’t hidden brings up another point about me. If I don’t wear a pair of jeans long enough to get them dirty. I wear them again. My “good” jeans were out because I had worn them to dinner with some guys from work a few days ago. Three hours at chain steakhouse don’t count as “dirty”. Still, I wasn’t going to be doing much today so it’s no big deal.
I padded around in my socks until I found where I had pulled my boots off last night. On the way I refilled my coffee cup and eventually found the boots under the desk in my office. I slipped them on and wandered outside.
The air was nippy but not cold. I didn’t check but I’m guessing that it was somewhere in the high fifties. I went out to the shop looking around for something to do. I had made up a few blocks of wood to turn into pens so I spent a few minutes setting up the wood lathe to turn one. When I had it ready to go I turned the lathe on to check the balance and then, while it was running, I reached over and picked up one of the lathe knives. I slowly began rounding the wood into a cylinder and lost track of time. I realized it after I had been holding the cold steel of the knife long enough to make my fingers go numb.
I’ve found the wood lathe to be like that. It requires constant attention to detail so you have to stay focused and make small changes as the work develops. The white noise of the lathe running drowns out all other sounds and gets rid of distractions. Different tasks and shapes require different knives so you are always reaching for a new knife and working it into the piece. I find it a lot of fun and a great way to think. It also allows me to do a quick gift for someone. Where other woodworking projects can take days or weeks, I can turn a writing pen from start to finish in about three hours.
With my fingers numb I shut the lathe off and walked around the yard looking for something new to do. The night before I had been talking with Rob about tearing down more of the old deck around our above ground pool. Thinking that this would be a GREAT way to warm up, I went back to the shop and dug out the eight pound sledgehammer. After a few minutes of making sure the neighbors were awake by crushing lumber I hit a tough spot and went back for the chain saw. It was stored empty so set it on my work stool and dug around for the high viscosity chain oil and the mixed gas before topping the saw off. In the cold air the chain oil poured like molasses and left long, fine, strings of oil drifting in the breeze making them sparkle in the morning sun as I pulled the bottle away.
After 10 minutes of attacking the deck with a running chainsaw I decided that I was “warm enough” and went back inside for more coffee leaving a good 15 feet of deck on the ground. Heck of a start to the day.
With my coffee refilled I went to my office to check the email for the day. While I was doing that Rob called to tell me that his oldest daughter had trouble with his truck coming home from work last night. According to the descriptions that she provided the truck was on it’s last legs. The truck had been spewing smoke and steam and had ALL of the lights on the dash on and might have fired off one or two missiles at some point. Also, the “boat gauge” (don’t ask me; no clue) was “totally at 260.” I was impressed, I’ve never seen a boat gauge go that high (or, as noted ever seen a “boat gauge” for that matter) .
Rob went to check on the truck and I clicked through a few more emails. In a few minutes he called me back to say that the power steering was empty and that it was probably just leaking onto the exhaust manifold. He said he was going to run a few errands and that he would pick up more fluid to find the problem with. Not having anything to do I offered to help.
I got to Rob’s before he got back and spent a few minutes chatting with Ms Tracey and the kids. After a while we went outside and watched the kids while they rode their bikes in the street (It’s a dead end street and it’s fun to say, “Go play in the street boy”).
When Rob got back we refilled the power steering and checked all of the other fluids. The radiator was a couple of gallons low so we refilled that as well. We checked for leaks and then fired the truck up. We checked for leaks again and found nothing new. Everything looked to be working. Rob sent one of the boys down the street in the truck to warm things up. When he got back we found water spewing from the radiator. After a quick discussion we decided to take the truck to my house where we could weld the radiator up… simple.
We made it to the house with no problems and began to disassemble the parts around the leak. When we took it apart we discovered that the oil cooler built into the radiator had a broken o-ring which was allowing water to leak out. We hopped in my truck and ran down to the autozone which didn’t have the part we needed. They were nice about it and gave us directions to a radiator shop that might have the part. On the way, we found a carquest and pulled in to see what they had. They didn’t have the part that we needed but said that we could probably just replace the o-ring. He handed us a couple of large boxes of o-rings and let us go through them to pick the ones we needed. We ended up taking two sizes just to be sure. The box was marked $0.99 which we assumed meant “each” but when Rob went to give the guy two bucks he just waved at us and said, “no charge’. Really? That sucks. I mean, that store is halfway across town and now I have to drive there for everything. No more autozone.
While we were working at getting the o-rings back on I broke one. Rob was working on getting the other one installed when another friend and coworker showed up with his wife. The Mrs went inside to chat with the girls and the Mr hung out around the truck with us. He went into the shop to check it out and we talked about the new lathe for a bit. He mentioned that the handle on his backyard fireplace poker had gotten busted and asked if I could try to make one. I found a 2X4 block that was about the right size and removed my half-made pen from the lathe. We mounted the 2X4 block in the lathe and I showed him how it operates and then talked him through how the knives work. After that I left him to play with it and went back outside to help Rob with the truck some more.
After an hour of struggling with trying to get things to fit right we discovered a larger crack in the radiator and Rob decided to just replace the whole thing. While he called around looking for a store with a radiator in stock I went back inside to help on the lathe. We realized that we had forgotten an inset on one end of the handle which fit into a metal sleeve on the poker. I showed him how to use a different knife to make a square cut and let him work on that while I set up the drill press. Rob came in and said that he had found a radiator for the truck.
Rob and Tracey had an event to go to so he said he’d pick up the radiator on the way home and we could install it tomorrow after church. That sounded good to me and I agreed to take the old radiator out tonight. His family packed up in their van and left and I went back to help with the poker handle.
Things were looking great and it was all finished on the lathe so we set it free and then cut the ends off on the bandsaw. When we went to drill the hole through the center on the drill press I discovered that the handle was too long for the drill press. This necessitated hand drilling a straight hole through the center of a seven inch cylinder of wood which is nearly impossible. Still, lacking other means we gave it a try by drilling it through the center from both ends. The result wasn’t perfect but judicious use of a rubber mallet solved everything nicely. I wiped the wood down with a quick finish, he added some hardware to the end of the handle and we were done.
The wives were outside the shop chatting when we went back outside which as any southerner knows is wife speak for “we’re done talking and YOU are holding things up with your silly toys.”
A bit of small talk and a few waves later it was just me and Mrs Jinksto again. I started work on removing the radiator and she went inside to work on something else.
At 4:00 she came out to remind me that I had agreed to pick will@home up at the airport since Mrs@home is off in Texas doing cool stuff with the kids. I quickly washed up a bit, brushed off my clothes and headed to the airport cellphone lot. At 4:40 Will sent me a text message that he had landed. At 5:30 he sent me the all clear and I drove around to pick him up at arrivals.
His house is only about 15 minutes from the airport so it was a quick trip with a nice bit of catch up on life, family and work and then I headed back to the house.
With both windows down in the truck the air turned crisp again as the sun began to set. I stopped for gas and stood staring at the orange sunset against the clouds in the cool air. Driving home from there I kept noticing how beautiful the world is. The air was cool, the day was long and hard. I had that satisfied feeling that you have after a day of work.
I arrived home and waved to Mrs Jinksto through the kitchen window as I went back to work on the radiator. In a few minutes I had it laying on the ground. I carefully packed up all of my tools and slammed the hood of the truck closed. I put everything in the shop and closed the doors. As I walked past the truck I noticed that a window was down. It has electric windows so I sat in the driver seat and switched the key on to roll it up. The battery seemed a little weak so I reached up and started the truck to give it enough power to rollup the windows. While the window was going up I noticed the check engine light was on. I just want to be clear that it was at exactly that point that I realized that I had started a vehicle from which I had just spent a couple of hours removing the radiator. The truck has both oil and transmission cooler connections to the radiator. The dutifully started pumping and pumped several quarts of both oil and transmission fluid on to the ground. Ummm…. as the kids say, “my bad”. Tomorrow morning I’m going to run over and get enough to fill everything back up. Rob’ll never know. Until he reads this.
While I was checking out the damage in the dark I got one of my pants legs in the oil that I had pumped out onto the ground. I gave up and went inside for the night.
I’m tired but it was a good day. I got a lot of different things done and hung out with a lot of different friends. I got to enjoy the beauty that God has given us and I am completely and utterly filthy.
From destroying a part of my deck and crawling around under trucks and sitting on stools that I had used to fill a saw with oil and gas, and, after doing those things, wandering through the spray of sawdust from the lathe and then, crawling under the truck again and rolling in the dirt and getting my pants leg in motor oil. You know, things that tend to whip the “stain fighting power of Gain”’s ass.
My “good” jeans are now my “new work jeans” and I’m told that I’m down to only one other hidden pair. That girl knows how to plan.