Didn’t quite beat the storm…

We saw it on the way home and decided Monsoon is Here, which always means race the storm because even if it isn’t over your home you don’t know how long it’s been lingering over a dry riverbed, or the plateau the feeds the canyons that feed the dry riverbed. In short, hurry or you might not get home.

This early in the season it’s not a very realistic worry, but that’s what a lot of people have told themselves just minutes before settling down to wait hours for the wash to stop flowing.

As it is the washes aren’t flowing and likely won’t, but I did get wet going home from D&L’s. Not bad, it’s just … well, Murphy’s having a big laugh at my expense this mid-day. See, when I left the Lair for the Monday morning water run, I absently locked the doorknob instead of the deadbolt. I never lock the doorknob, since it’s about at secure as a hook-and-eye. I so never lock the doorknob that I don’t even carry a key for the doorknob.

Normally this would be no problem, barely an inconvenience, since it’s so easy for even the stiff old one-legged man to climb through the front bedroom window.

Yep – first rain of the season. Big, fat cold drops – about a million of them, making so much noise they almost drowned out Murphy’s happy laughter as the soaked old man stood in the downpour, took out the screen, removed the fan, reached inside for the sash prop, tied back the curtains and grumbled his way through the window…

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Really going through the water bottles here at the Lair…

There’s a fourth one already in the Jeep. I/we keep a dispenser working at Ian’s place, for a sort of way station, and it went empty yesterday as well. And…

…yesterday afternoon I ended up going back to Ian’s place a second time to refill this gallon bottle I thought would tide me over till this morning. Ended up using the first gallon boiling Torso Boy’s chicken and rice.

It’s been hot. I’m very far from actually out of drinking water, of course: There are several full older bottles at the back of Ian’s Cave. But the Lair’s only so big and I don’t like them proliferating here – and I never went through my whole 9-gallon ready supply in one week before.

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Technically hotter today than yesterday, but…

…it felt hotter yesterday because I was out in the sun longer. Today just feels like July, so, y’know, of course it’s hot. No need to be a pussy about it. Yesterday felt like an ordeal by sun, even though by now it had clouded up and cooled off a bit.

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Water Heater Done…

Now all I need is the glass, which to be safe is a 2-man job.

This should exactly double the output, which basically means I can get 1.5 big buckets of hot water instead of 3/4 of one – and that’s enough for dishwashing AND a bath any time the sun’s shining. Luxury!

Right now the temperature is dependent on both the sun and the wind, so I’m very interested to see how much more dependable it gets when the cover’s on.

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So Ian dropped by yesterday…

…with a few rifles to zero, his local ranges being closed. Not for any bullshit Covid shutdown, but for fire season.

Along with a couple of videos it was three hours in the sun on the hottest day so far this year. After he went home I went straight to the Lair’s “shower,” and then spent the rest of the day in the shade.

He always brings fun stuff, though. Early developmental rifles like the AR10, Spanish rifles, weird rifles, and of course his FAMAS…

Always good to see Ian. I can honestly say I knew him (long) before he was Gun Jesus.

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Care Packages! “Aw, that’s sweet!” Edition

Get a load of this…

The incident in that post may in the fullness of time be remembered as Torso Boy’s greatest moment; neighbors were talking about it at a get-together yesterday. And now he’s receiving generous gifts from afar.

Big brother sent both of us a gift of food…

And two more black hoses…

…which I need to finish the current incarnation of the new water heater.

It works well enough when it works, but it needs to be at least doubled in capacity and when the wind blows it cools off right away so it needs the glass cover put on. So now I can do those things, and we’ll see how it really works.

Another Generous Reader sent me a spring kit for my S&W!

I put in (what I hope is) an OEM mainspring this morning. The double-action trigger is certainly heavier, and we’ll soon see how it works with the primers in reloads.

Thanks very much! You guys rock.

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Cross-traffic etiquette…

Took the bike to chicken chores this morning. Got to the end of my little side road, looked left and right, and…

Incoming from the right was a small pod (herdlet? whatever.) of cattle which immediately stopped when they saw the human. (“What’s it doing, Harriet?” “I don’t know what it’s doing or what it wants, Maude. But be ready to run.”)

And they just stood there patiently, all the time I was fiddling with the camera. If I’d turned toward them they’d have scattered but until I did they preferred not to change their plans, which probably involved the watering station.

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Old men in shorts

Sorry for the no posting, it’s just hot here and nothing’s going on. Sort of an all-week siesta.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s such a thing as too many pockets: I was looking all over for the tiny pile of little plastic bags in which reside those S&W screws I bought a month or so ago. I got multiples of the ones I replaced because the previous owner chingered them up, against the inevitable day when I chinger the new ones up – and then I put the bags somewhere clever instead of where they belonged and couldn’t find them anywhere. I was thinking I’d have to order more yet, when…

I decided it was going to be another hot one and there are no prospects of running into any people so I could go ahead and drag the shorts back out. And guess what was in one of the cargo pockets? So now the bags of S&W screws are in my cleaning box where they belong, and will be there when I need them unless I completely forget they’re there, which has happened.

And that, since my mind has been completely idle lately, got me to thinking about…shorts. I’ve always been a little sensitive about wearing short pants and not necessarily for the obvious reason – my aversion to them long predated the Long John Silver do-over. But I live alone – like completely alone, I might not see more than 2 people in a week and I used to be more solitary than that – and one summer afternoon it was so bloody hot I just spontaneously cut off my oldest BDUs just below the cargo pockets and hemmed them up. Then five or so years ago when J&H moved away and left all that stuff for me to sort through and dispose of, he had ditched a couple pairs of cargo shorts and they come out in the worst of the heat.

I never wear them in public, though, and sometimes come up with needlessly complicated psychological excuses for that when it probably boils down to vanity. It’s not a big emotional issue with me but it is a mutilation and in person I’m ugly enough without it. I don’t like being stared at.

That’s not a unanimous opinion among the, ehem, amputee community*. I’ve seen shorts-wearing amputees, one quite recently, who ought to have been wearing “Ask me how I lost it” t-shirts. And I’ve done it myself, in the long past: Show up one-legged on a Florida dive boat, and you’re a star even if you barely know what part of the regulator to stick in your mouth.

Sigh – gonna be another hot one, and more so from my own doing. I can’t put off baking day any longer.

It’s nine in the morning and the oven is just heating up as I type this – and I swear I can feel the heat on my right shoulder. Probably won’t get much more than that done today.

But Ian’s coming up for more gun videoing this weekend! So maybe we’ll get some blog fodder out of that.

* And by the way – Charlize Theron played a one-armed woman in a movie a few years ago and I wonder if we can get her denounced and cancelled for surgical appropriation or something? Not because I care, just because that would be funny.

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Torso Boy the Intrepid

I woke to the gentle lowing of cattle all around me – which would probably be kind of a WTF moment for most people but I’ve been expecting it. Alas I’m not hitting on all cylinders when I first wake up; I put my leg on while TB impatiently waited, forgetting all about the cattle by the time I was vertical. I unbarred the cabin door, ushered TB outside to have a pee – and he stopped stock-still on the top step while uncounted ghostly Welch ancestors downloaded detailed, precise and apparently outraged instructions into him: Cattle in the yard! Cattle are not to be in the yard!

Yeah, it wasn’t just one or two, either. A frickin’ herd of cows with calves – exactly the sort of thing I’ll drop what I’d been doing for, to encourage them to pass farther to the north so they don’t knock stuff over and shit all over my yard.

Anyway, Torso Boy was off with a mighty yap and a cloud of dust. And damned if he didn’t know just what to do, too.

Now, longtime readers know that Little Bear used to do this sort of thing from time to time. That was … different. He was a slave to his chase instinct, and when he got away from me I was in for an infuriating hour of trying to find my goddam dog again before some hostile desert animal or, you know, condition killed him.

But Torso Boy was never out of control. I hollered at him, of course, and he even paused and looked back at me as if to acknowledge the call but y’know, a Corgi’s got to do what a Corgi’s got to do, Uncle Joel. And then the little shit dove right into the forest of legs: That way, ladies! Go down the driveway and begone, and take your brats with you!

The cows seemed to have a “dafuq is that?” moment as they tried to slowly get their bovine minds to process this very new thing: A dog is a predator and to be avoided, but they didn’t seem to recognize this as a dog exactly: Where are the legs? And what the hell is it doing? Then Torso Boy started nipping ankles, and they knew what to do about that. Time to leave.

And then, just when Little Bear would have been gone from sight and if possible the county, Torso Boy proudly trotted back to the porch triumphant. Mission accomplished. I honestly didn’t know whether to praise him or scold him.

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A bike’s gotta know its limitations.

I went on a long afternoon ride yesterday without considering that the ebike had already been back and forth on chicken chores a couple of times and wasn’t fully charged no matter what the power bar said. I ended up wishing I had those 4-6 miles back, but I almost made it.

I know better than this – but the ‘power bar’ indicator sort of encourages a rider to assume that he’s got so much time at X power output when in fact it’s an indicator of overall battery state of charge. So when you’re down to one bar it’s really trying to tell you “the battery’s really low, Joel. Consider homesteading right here.” Everything would have been fine – in fact the motor was still working when I got the bike back to the barn – if it hadn’t been for that one last big upgrade. I got as much of a running start as I could, but by the top you’re switching to the lowest gear and the highest power setting – which turned out not to be there when I needed it. And so things got harder and harder and suddenly gravity just decided to pull me and my 80-pound ebike back down the hill. When that last bar starts to blink, that’s the charge controller saying “You’re on your own.”

I’m more wise to the way this works than I was last year when I took my first spill doing more-or-less the same thing, so things didn’t end too badly. I stopped the bike and got off while still keeping the rubber side down, and there was still enough motor assist to help me push it to the top as long as I wasn’t demanding 750 watts that just weren’t in the battery anymore. Then I still had power enough for the last mile or so back home, but I’m glad the trip wasn’t a single yard further.

Guess I’ve found the limit of its practical range in hilly country. 🙂

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The Great Circle of Brass

I loaded nearly my last sized and primed .44 Special cases yesterday, which means…

…it’s time for another turn of the Great Circle of Brass.

Got the tumbler running while I went off, TB-less, on morning chicken chores…

Sometimes I walk to chicken chores – try to do that at least once a day though it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes I indulge in a nice quiet bike ride. And often I bounce over there in the loud Jeep just to please Torso Boy. But even when I resist the cute-begging of mutant dogs I still have to use the Jeep for chicken chores sometimes because there’s no water pressure in close proximity to the chickenhouse. So these 5-gallon jugs must go back and forth, and the Jeep is probably the only practical way to carry them full. One of these days I’ll try it on the bike, but gingerly and with precautions. There has been some discussion between Landlady and myself as to what happens when the Jeep finally irreparably breaks down, but that’s not really on the visible horizon.

Went to town yesterday…

For people like me, the craziness that is 2020 is just something to watch on the computer; literally the only way it affects me from week to week is blank spots on the ammo shelf at the local drugstore and the cost of beef. And even so I end up giving it a lot of thought. I can only try to imagine how it affects other people’s equilibrium (and sanity?)

But you guys do have one thing going for you…

…the smell of moisture on trees. I got a whiff of it yesterday at the local library, and it took me way back to moist days in Michigan. A lovely forgotten scent.

You guys try to enjoy your holiday.

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Some sort of Walther clone was my best guess but I couldn’t identify it and didn’t give it much thought…

So … Bryco? Why would a rich lawyer lady carry a Bryco?

Funny, anyway…

The gun handling was cringeworthy to be sure; if these two ever took any training they must be among the few in history who flunked. But they successfully defended their home, and – possibly supplying evidence of a benevolent god – didn’t even accidentally shoot anybody in the process. And frankly they both appear to be the sort I’d have expected to huddle in the panic room screaming at police dispatchers over a telephone instead. So … (Okay, I wince even as I type this, but…) Well done, I guess. As I’ve said before, sometimes audacity in the enemy’s face outweighs things like, you know, skill and training.

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Glad I dropped by, I guess…

Periodically I stop at Landlady’s house to check mousetraps and generally try to keep entropy to a minimum. This morning I was greeted on the porch by an intermittent but rather loud rustling noise, and I couldn’t find the source at first. I went inside and cleaned out mousetraps, came back outside and there was that noise again.

I finally decided that it was coming from a long slender box standing on its end in a corner. Must have held a rug or something; I’ll probably take it away and burn it once I’ve confirmed that Landlady doesn’t want it. Anyway, it’s open at the top and I figured that somehow a rat had checked it out and couldn’t get out.

I laid the box down on its side and sat on the woodbox/bench to observe what finally emerged. It only took a minute or two, and … it was no rat. It was a fully fledged but still baby Phoebe, no doubt from the nest a lady Phoebe annually makes up in a sheltered part of Landlady’s porch.

That explained the bird that had watched the whole thing with great interest from a deck post.

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Battery Day is Done.

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Dr. Frasier Crane Takes a Call from a Citizen of Chaz/Chop

H/T to The Adaptive Curmudgeon, who’s having the same problem adapting to our brave new world as I am. And he has less excuse – I mean the word is right in his handle.

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Now it’s working well.

With the shim I installed last evening, the Model 69 was 96% on reloaded ammo: 2 light strikes from fifty rounds. Not bad – even borderline acceptable for practice ammo, given that I don’t use handloads for anything but practice if I can help it. But…

We could do better. 🙂 I also made a 4-ply and a 5-ply shim. Installed the 4-ply, and…

100% bang. Pistol is fixed as long as the shim stays in place, which – since the strain screw dimples the hell out of it – I think it will. However, the light strike problem is pretty much diagnosed and I think the only proper cure is to find an OEM mainspring.

Also, that extra little bit of shim had a noticeable effect on trigger weight – though it remains nice and smooth. S&W!

Shortly after I got back to the Lair from doing that, I got a text from D&L. Hung up at the hospital, and would I please go do the midday feeding?

No problem; I was on call in case of that very thing…

There’s only one horse at the moment so it takes longer to drive to the chore than to do the chore, and…

TB thought it best that he come along and keep me from getting lost.

Then I tottered over the ridge to service Ian’s batteries…

…and I put my battery pitcher in the Jeep so I can top off Landlady’s batteries when I go get my laundry this afternoon.

I’ve been maximizing the back-and-forth this morning to test my new leg adjustments. There’s a definite improvement in the leg angle: I’m not getting the aches in my thigh and ass anymore. But the new shims on the soft insert didn’t help the socket geometry as much as I hoped: Looks like I’ll be wearing a lot of stump padding as a matter of course. But still – an improvement overall. Maybe I won’t keep this one for 22 years like the last one. 🙂

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Hee hee, busy day ahead…

I’m going to fix my pistol’s light strikes if it’s the last thing I do!

My new/old S&W L-frame has the most delightful trigger of any pistol I ever owned! As well it should, since it’s easily the nicest pistol I’ve ever owned. And I was dizzily in love, to the point of spending a sizable percentage of my monthly income on commercial ammo. This not being sustainable I was finally driven to set the reloading bench back up and start cranking out handloads.

And thus discord invaded our happy home – that delightful trigger was the product of a light aftermarket mainspring and came at the cost of not wanting to fire the primers on handloads in double action. Things came to a head during Ian’s last visit when the strain screw chose that unfortunate moment to back out and suddenly right in front of Gun Jesus the pistol basically didn’t work at all.

While that particular problem was simple enough to fix, I became determined to solve the greater problem while my mind was on it. In our last exciting episode I installed a hopefully-more-stock mainspring. I must admit that the new spring appeared pretty much identical to the one it replaced, but also at the time the effect on the hammer was … startling. So startling in fact that I almost had to have done something wrong, the hammer was bizarrely difficult to lock back and the double-action trigger was awful. But it did pop caps on handloads 100% so I was only intermittently inclined to look that particular gift horse in the mouth.

Fortunately (Unfortunately?) a minor adjustment of the strain screw unintentionally fixed the misaligned mainspring – which I can’t even visually identify, so no I can’t go back – and suddenly I had my wonderful trigger back – and a renewed inability to use handloads in double action. The new mainspring, properly installed and adjusted, did no good whatsoever. Probably it’s the same light aftermarket thing as the one it replaced – as I said, it certainly looks the same and does not look like a stock spring.

So I perhaps foolishly took some advice from Youtube last night and tried shimming. One width of roll flashing had no effect on ignition at all but this morning …

…we’re going to try three. There’s lots of roll flashing, and since D&L are going to the biggish town about 35 miles away for a doctor’s appointment I have all morning to shoot to my heart’s content until I get it right.

If I can’t shim it into serviceability I’ll just have to do more research until I can find a source for a stock spring. The pistol works for defense as is, since it’s reliable with commercial ammo. But I can’t shoot it a lot until it can shoot handloads. And I would really prefer to shoot it a lot, if you know what I mean.

Then, this being the first of the month*, this afternoon it’s battery day, and bracketing those things is laundry. So a lot of back-and-forthing shall be found in the land.

*2020 is half over! Rejoice?

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Now we’ll see if that helps…

Well, that’s out of the way. Sooner or later I had to schedule a trip to the big town about 50 miles away to get my new leg adjusted.

And time will tell how much that helps. Nice to have one with adjustments to make, though…

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“Joel, do you have your gun?”

Music to my ears, especially coming from Neighbor L whom I love like a sister but sometimes think of as kind of a Karen when it comes to neighborhood gunfire.

We came back from the Monday morning water run to find a couple of unfamiliar* dogs cavorting around their round pen and apparently not in a big hurry to leave at the sight of their truck. L said her horse and one of their dogs had been acting funny around that area and she didn’t figure this was the strange dogs’ first visit.

I unlocked the gate as normal, then they dropped me off further up the driveway even with the round pen. The dogs weren’t looking for trouble and started walking off as soon as they saw me coming toward them. The walk became a scurry when I put two shots into a sandbank near them, and they disappeared over a rise. I didn’t really need to expend those rounds, to be honest. They were just sort of an investment in reminding the only neighbor who ever complains about gunfire that the gun really isn’t just a loud affectation.

*No, definitely not the same pair I’ve had dealings with.

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I can do this now.

…whenever I get bored or a little out of sorts, as long as the weather allows and my chores are done. It doesn’t cost a penny in gasoline, and as long as I don’t fall down I always feel better afterward. I’ve even accumulated Dorky Grandpa accoutrements like a floppy rearview mirror, high-viz shirt, padded gloves and one of those goofy-looking ventilated helmets, and I’m extremely not the slightest bit self-conscious about it.

I still get a kick out of the thing.

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