The Weird-Ass Boat Saga – Part 4


Next on the agenda was to get some boating accessories.  I had no idea I would need so much stuff to outfit our weird boat.  And we, as weird boat owners, needed a lot, too.  You may very well think that this will be an uninteresting list of stuff.  To be fair, that may be true, but I promise at the end of the post there will be photos of Walter modeling his very own boat accessory.

You scrolled down, didn’t you?  Just couldn’t help but skip right to the swimsuit model.

Finding a generator to charge the boat’s batteries was a bit of a challenge.  Generators are heavy.  Very heavy.  If we were thinking about using the thing to run part of the house during a power outage, we needed something in the 3000-watt range.   There was no way we could lift one of those things. I looked around and finally found the cutest generator ever.  Can a generator be cute?  It sure can!  Check it out…


The EU3000i Handi is lightweight and easy to transport. It’s a wee rolling generator with a suitcase handle!  It even has a cute name.  The Honda Handi is now part of our boat saga. It only weighs 78 pounds, which is half as much as a more typical generator with the same wattage would be.  Now we have a weird generator to go with our weird-ass boat when it arrives.

The boat and the generator were just the first two things needed for our highly anticipated boating lifestyle.  Next on the docket was the dock!  Luckily, the boat guy was also a dock guy.  To be honest, the boat guy had a dock guy.  Luckily, the boat guy’s dock guy could manufacture whatever I might need.  I probably should have warned him that I’d need a weird dock, but for the first few days, I just had him price out a typical dock.  It was only later that I started adding a few changes and the true weirdness became clear.  I wanted railings on both sides and steps into the water.  I wanted dock ‘handles’ to hold onto when I get into the boat.  Anti-convulsants make staying upright a challenge, so I need all the help I can get.  The weird dock is going to look like a wheelchair ramp but at least I won’t fall in and drown if I have a seizure.

This whole epilepsy thing is a real buzzkill.  If only I had gills!  If I had gills I wouldn’t have to worry about all of this boring dock safety stuff.  Gills would be awesome, but since I sadly don’t have them, I had to explain what I needed to the boat and dock guys and they figured out a way to do it.  Of course, this means that now I have to wait for the boat and the dock to be built.  Patience is not one of my virtues, but weird-assedness has its price.

Next on the list are life jackets.  Did you know that you can get a life jacket that has a CO2 cartridge that will inflate the thing if it gets submersed?  Whoa, this is some pretty cool technology.  That whole not having gills thing is a major downer, but this might make things a bit easier if I end up in the drink.  Since I’m going to be stuck wearing one of these things most of the time, I wanted one that was as unobtrusive as possible.  The one shown below seemed like it might work out just fine.  Although mine is in a nice fuschia color.

I have to admit, it’s hard to be unobtrusive as a large woman in a fuschia life jacket, but one must do what one must do.  I suppose the bright color will help them locate me while I’m flopping around being all seizure-y and totally oblivious to my gill-lessness.  I cannot stress enough just how unfair it is that I don’t have gills.  I don’t even have one of those cool, scaly mermaid tails.  Nooo…instead I get a self-inflating life jacket like the one below…in fuschia…and no gills.  Sigh…


Have we forgotten about Walter?  Of course not!  Walter will be part of the crew even though he can’t pedal the paddle wheel.  He still needs a slip-resistant dog bed and…yes…a lifejacket of his very own.  You think I’m joking?  Look below.  Oh right, who am I kidding?  I know you’ve already looked.  I know how you are!

Here is our very own Walter sporting his new Ruffwear personal floatation device.  Now we’ll be known not only as the people with the weird boat, but more specifically as the people with the weird boat with a Great Dane on board wearing a red life jacket. What can I say?  We live a colorful life.




I know it seems odd to have a life jacket for a dog but the dog-paddle will only get you so far, especially if you are a Great Dane who never swims and only goes in the water up to your belly.  I figure if he goes overboard, he’ll need all the help he can get!  I might need to get a rope, though.  If he goes overboard, there is no way I’ll be able to haul him back onto the boat…even if there is a life jacket handle.  I am envisioning more of a towing situation.  He’ll float along in his life jacket and we’ll tow him back to shore.  The pontoon boat will become a tugboat, of sorts.  Toot Toot!  Walter coming through!










The Weird-Ass Boat Saga – Part 3

Buying the weird-ass boat posed a few, let’s call them, challenges.  First, we had to pick all of the options.  Solar was a must because we don’t have power at camp and no power means no electric backup.  No electric backup means more pedaling for me.  Solar was a necessity!

Upon further research, it became apparent that the solar backup was not going to provide enough power to keep the boat going without charging via electricity.  Damn!  This meant I had to get creative.  Bill’s no-gas rule was really putting a crimp in my style.  I was not looking forward to hauling batteries back and forth to charge them, either.  What to do?  What to do?

Maybe I could set up a solar array on the shore and it would provide enough power to charge the batteries?  Hmmm…  I started to look into wattages and voltages and amperages.  My head was spinning.  It was time to bring in an expert.

We have a merchant marine friend who is an engineer.  Mike knows boats and electrical stuff and I was sure he would know how to make this work.  Or at the very least, come up with an alternate plan that would work.  I called him up and he was so intrigued with the weird-assedness of the boat, he came over to look at the specs and see the pics.  After he stopped laughing, we talked about options.

Mike checked everything out.  Being a guy who likes his motorized toys, he thought this was a pretty cool boat.  Once that was ascertained, it was time to ask him what he thought about my solar idea.  I couldn’t quite figure out how the voltage put out by the solar panels would work with the voltage needed by the boat.  If it could work, Mike would know how to do it.

I told him my thoughts and posed the question.  Now, let me just preface this by saying that Mike has no filter when it comes to what comes out of his mouth. Political correctness is not on his radar at all so his response to didn’t surprise me.  He listened to my idea, and with an incredulous look on his face, said: “That’s retarded!”  All I could say was:  “I KNOW!!!”

He tried to explain why it would be improbable by throwing electrical terms at me that went over my spinning head.  I finally had to tell him that he was explaining how to make a watch when I merely asked what time it was.  Hell, when it came to this, I didn’t even know what day it was.  At the end of it all, it was obvious that charging the electrical part of this boat was going to be impossible without hauling batteries back and forth to charge them.

It was then that Mike asked why we didn’t just get a generator.  When Bill realized that he meant a gas-powered generator, he didn’t want anything to do with it.  Mike went on to explain how easy it would be.  Bill was unmoved.  His vision of a gas-less lifestyle at camp was going up in smoke.

By the end of the evening, Mike had me looking up generators online and had Bill convinced that it would be insanely simple to run.  Then he sweetened the pot by telling us that we could use it as a backup in case we lost power at the house.  After a lot of hemming and hawing, Bill agreed.

So that is how we ended up buying a gas-less boat that will be partially powered by a generator that takes gas.  Poor Bill just bought a new gas can.  He just can’t win.





The Weird-Ass Boat Saga – Part 2

Here’s Part 1 in case you want to get up to speed.  Weird-Ass Boat Saga Part 1

Just for fun, I mentioned the boat to Bill and got the questions I expected.  I really didn’t think this would be more than an exercise we often engage in. One of us will come up with some crazy idea (usually me) and the other will pose very logical questions (usually not me) trying to show how ridiculous the idea is.  The person who is being questioned (ok, it’s always me) has to come up with very logical answers to support the idea.  It’s almost always theoretical and rarely ends in shouting.  It didn’t end in shouting this time, either.  There’s really no sport in the thing if I just get the questions I expect, but this really was an odd topic so it could go in any direction…probably around in circles.

The conversation went something like this (his part is in red):

“How big is this boat?”  15 feet long.   “Are you crazy!?”  As if he didn’t know the answer to that already.

“Does it take gasoline?”  No, it’s powered by pedaling, along with electricity…and maybe even solar if we want to get that package.

“No gas?”  No gas.

“I can pedal it?”  Yes, you can pedal alone or we can both pedal together.

At this point, his face lit up.  Not only would he get his exercise, but I might get a little, too!  For some reason, he thinks it’s healthy for me to get exercise.

“You’d really go boat-pedaling with me?”  Yes, I would go boat-pedaling with you…with electrical back up and an optional solar package.  I might have left that last bit out, but in the spirit of full disclosure here,  I figured I’d mention what I was truly thinking at the time.

“Where would we store it?”  We have two acres of land at camp, store it anywhere you want.  We can just cover it and let it winter over.

“How would we get it there?”  I’m sure they deliver, and if they don’t, we could always buy a trailer.

“A trailer!?  I don’t want to drive a trailer with a huge boat on it!”  Then we will offer them some money and they will deliver it, I’m sure.

“How will we moor it?”  We’ll get a dock.  “A dock!?  We’ll need a dock!?”  Yes, that’s generally how it’s done.

“I really won’t have to deal with a combustion engine and gas?”  Not even once.

“And I really won’t have to haul gasoline to camp?”  Not a drop.  I think we were repeating ourselves quite a bit here, but if that sort of emphasis gave weight to my arguments, I was willing to endure it.

“Ok”  OK!?

“Where do they sell them?”  Uhh…let me look.  I told him where it was.

“That’s on the way to your appointment tomorrow, let’s stop and look at them.”  HUH!?  Here I was, winning the purely theoretical argument (go me!) and suddenly things got real.  I had to tell him that no one in Maine had one of these in stock because they are so weird, but he wanted to check the place out anyway.  I couldn’t believe it.

And that’s how we bought a boat while on our way to my appointment*

*Dock to follow.  🙂


The Weird-Ass Boat Saga – Part 1

A week or three ago, we were on our way to an appointment and we bought a boat.  Now it may seem like an odd thing to just pick up along the way, but that’s what happened. You probably think this was an impulse purchase, but I assure you that we talked about it for TWO whole days before pulling the trigger.  It was one of those “hey, you know a boat would make our time at camp more fun” sort of conversations.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea, but I knew there would be hurdles.  You see, Bill is allergic to gasoline.  Not really allergic to the stuff itself, really.  It’s more like an allergy to things that are gasoline adjacent.  He has a very strong dislike for internal combustion engines.  This feeling runs deep.  He won’t have any more to do with them than necessary.  The post lawnmowing cursing is usually quite colorful.  Crayola doesn’t have enough colors to give it justice.  Gasoline and the motors that require it are his nemeses.

Bill’s dislike of anything associated with engines stopped my boat fantasy dead in the water.  Then I remembered that my Dad used to tinker around with outboard motors and he had this fleeting electric trolling motor phase.  This was years ago but I still remember him hauling the car battery into the boat and hanging that tiny motor on the back.  It wasn’t fast, but it sure was quiet.  All the better to sneak up on those wary trout!

Hmmm…electric…hmmm…no gas…hmmm.  Yeah, my thought process went on like that for a while.  I really am not exaggerating the number of ‘hmmms’ going on in my head, either.  I was hmmm-ing a lot.  You see, Bill wasn’t the only one with a set of must-haves.  His was really a list of must-have-nots, but I won’t belabor that point.

What I needed was a  pontoon boat.  I know, they have this reputation of being party-barges and I am certainly not a person easily found on a party-anything.  However, I needed the stability so I wouldn’t drown.  It’s not that I don’t know how to swim, I just can’t be trusted to stay alive if an epileptic seizure comes along.  That sort of scenario in a typical boat might be the end of me.  Being in a canoe would…well, let’s just not think about the canoe scenario. I could become smallmouth bass food.  The Pumpkinseeds could actually eat me rather than just nibble my toes as they usually do.  We won’t even talk about the snapping turtles!

A pontoon boat wouldn’t normally be my first choice of craft if my mortality wasn’t an issue, but on further consideration, it made some sense.  I love wildlife and a pontoon boat wouldn’t be so scary for them.  We could toodle around the pond to see what’s going on without actually visiting people.  Did I mention that I’m an introvert?  I guess a wave toward someone on the shore would be ok, but let’s not go overboard.  😉

Keep in mind that none of this was real.  It was all fantasy and I was just thinking about boat types, and motors, and gas-avoidance as a sort of mental exercise.  How could one propel a party-less barge without gas?  It really didn’t matter because it would never happen. But just for fun, I looked at a couple of the boats online and they were overwhelmingly huge…with correspondingly huge gas motors.  That made sense.  What electric trolling motor could move one of those behemoths?  I remember thinking “ok, that query was fun…what’s the next topic I should explore?”  Deck planking was on my list of research subjects, but my heart wasn’t in it.  Your heart really has to be in it to research deck planking.  I’m not sure when my heart will be in it, but it wasn’t going to be right then, that’s for sure.  Maybe they make tiny pontoon boats?

During one of my fantasy pontoon/electric trolling motor searches, a number of sites popped up with the typical gas-powered boats. Surprisingly a couple of them were smaller than usual.   I aimlessly poked around and then I noticed a site that specifically mentioned a pontoon boat with electric backup.  Well now, let’s look at this!

When I opened the page, I was astounded.  It was like the manufacturer had read our often disparate minds and cobbled together the most weird-ass hybrid the boating world has ever seen.  As I read down through the specs, it was becoming clear that this was a craft that even Bill would like.  It wasn’t an electric pontoon boat, it was a pedal-powered pontoon boat with electric backup!  Oh, I knew he would be all over this one.  He’s an exercise freak and he is always on his bicycle.  This way, he could pedal his little heart out and I could wave as we passed gape-mouthed onlookers wondering what the hell that weird boat was!

The idea was amusing.  I might have even chuckled to myself.  But as I continued to read the specs and look at the picture, I was the one who was gape-mouthed.  How in the hell did they ever think of putting pedals in a pontoon boat with electric backup AND a solar option!?  Since there is no power at camp, the idea of hauling a battery home to charge it was daunting, but if solar could help… Hmmmm….

The picture of it sent me into gales of laughter.  Look at that thing with the solar panel on the back and what the hell is that?  The thing doesn’t have a proper propeller, it has a paddle wheel like the boats on the Mississippi of Mark Twain’s era!  I was beginning to think I was having one of those Alice in Wonderland kind of trips.  Nothing about that boat made sense, and yet it made all the sense in the world.







The Wizard of Drool

This post is about dog drool and Walter’s copious dispersal thereof.  He’s very good at slinging the slobber so don’t forget to pick up your Drool Abatement Kit before proceeding.

Safety First!


safety drool

Having a drool-producing canine can be an annoyance.  If you have a big dog like Walter, it can be life-changing.  He drools…a LOT!  Think of a St. Bernard and a Newfie combined.  Yeah, you get the picture.  The very drippy, soggy picture…

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  There are two types of Great Danes:  American and European.  American Danes have, what I would call, normal jowls.  European Danes have jowls that droop to their knees.  Walter should have had taut, trim American jowls like most of his ancestors.

Version 3

No hint of drooly, droopy jowls when he was a puppy


Instead, his jowls are so droopy, it’s amazing that he doesn’t trip over them.  All of his ancestors were American except for one European great or great-great (I forget) grandfather who came from Euro stock.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Walter is a throwback, I should have thrown him back years ago!


The Wizard of Drool


If there was a Department of Drool at Hogwarts, Walter would be the Wizard of Drool.  The Wiz of Drool has a rather fun ring to it, don’t you think?  He could also be the Wiz of Whiz but that was the subject of one of my previous posts.  Walter’s urinary indiscretions are, after all, legendary.  Between the drool and the pee, Walter’s most-heard words are “Walter, no!  Walter, get away from me!”  Walter never goes away.  If there is any chance at all that he can pass a little slobber along, he will find a way to do it.

People are not his only targets, either.  Windows and doors are obvious choices, but for Walter, any vertical surface is fair game.  Horizontal surfaces are not immune either.  I always say that anything less than 7 feet off the ground isn’t safe from him.  (If you are a banana, I might stretch that to 8 feet.  Walter loves bananas.)  But the drool knows no limits.  Ceiling-slobber is not unheard of.  Do you know how hard it is to clean dog drool off a tin ceiling?  Repeatedly?  I do, and I wish I didn’t.



Tulip wore Walter’s head as a hat…just before he ‘kissed’ her


The cats have not been left unscathed, either.  Our little kitten Tulip likes Walter.  I don’t know why, but she does.  One particularly slobbery day, Tulip walked up to Walter and he gave her a kiss…one long lick from her toes to the top of her head.  I’ve never seen a cat shake like a dog does in order to shed water, but she did just that.  Oh, Walter…



The drooliest, droopiest jowls ever!


One might think that dog drool is only a negative thing and nothing positive could possibly come from it, but that’s not true.  Much like his shoe-peeing prowess, the drool thing tends to keep away unwanted visitors.  Being an introvert, that is sometimes a handy thing.  “Oh yes, he tends to jump and drool on you.  He peed on your shoes?  Yes, he tends to do that, too.  Oh, must you go so soon?”  Heh heh heh  Goodbye salespeople, religious pamphlet-bearers, and the dreaded “oh I just thought I’d drop by”-ers.  Seeya!  Or not.

Unfortunately, Walter’s fluid-sharing predilections can keep away wanted visitors, as well.  This can be a problem.  I will often try to corral Walter in the living room if it’s just going to be a kitchen table sort of visit.  But if we want to sit and chat on the sofa for a while, I have to march Walter past the wanted visitors to the other end of the house.  He does not like to be marched past potential targets…especially if they are unsullied drool-wise.  Drool virgins are his favorites. I feel sorry for the drool virgins.  There are few things scarier than a 150-pound drooling dog who is eyeing your shoes for their potential as a good pee-stop.  He really likes to slobber chests, too.  Boob-drool is more common than I care to admit. I just thought I’d mention these things to all of you who make excuses for Walter and think he is just awesome.  I dare you to come and visit me for a dose of boob-drool!  I.DARE.YOU!



“Any drool virgins down there?”


The other day, I realized that Walter had outdone himself drool-wise.  He had a long line of it strung across the top of his own head.  That takes skill.  I got out the drool towel and cleaned him off.  Yes, I have a drool-towel.  Actually, it’s a purple batik drool-bandana and when I’m not using it to clean him up, he wears it as a fashion accessory!



I Woke Up Early…

This is the second morning in a row that I’ve been awake before 10 AM.  For those of you who have jobs that might seem a little indulgent, but I had one of those for over 30 years and now I get up when I damned well please.  Unless I inexplicably wake up early.  Then the indulgence turns to sorrow and disjointed thoughts.

When I first woke up I kept having potential blog topics running through my head.  Snippets that were totally unrelated.  For instance, I experienced a bit of guilt about providing so many Walter posts and never giving any blog space to my cats.  But then I let myself off the hook because, after all, the cats are normal pets and Walter is not.  Not by a long shot…

Then I thought about discussing this very unusual boat we are getting.  Do we get a normal boat?  Hell, no!  But that’s a post for another time.  Maybe I’ll do that in a few minutes if I don’t get sleepy.  If sleep doesn’t appear soon, I’ll be a grumpy, sleep-deprived zombie whack job when I write it, so be prepared.  Preparations should include an appropriate hiding place, preferably one with coffee.  Mmmm coffee.  That’s what I want right now but shouldn’t have because I really do want to sleep and cease becoming a grumpy, sleep-deprived zombie whack job.  Who am I kidding?  If I get more sleep I’ll just be a slightly less grumpy zombie whack job who is well-rested.

My next potential topic concerned my obsession with a cell phone game rated for ages 4+.  Stop judging me!    It’s perfectly normal to wait impatiently while my flowers grow and watch for some sort of weird bug/creature to appear.  *checks game*  Why do I wait for weird bugs on virtual flowers?  It’s because collecting enough of them can get you spiffy prizes.  These include outfits I can use to dress my character and furniture I can use to decorate a little campsite.  *checks game*  I am currently behind in my bug collecting and I might not make my quota before tonight and then I will miss out on getting that sandalwood resort hut.  It doesn’t matter that it will probably sit in my virtual inventory and never be used, I want it.  I want it bad.  I don’t just want it, I NEED it!

It occurs to me that not having a schedule might be deleterious to my Age 4+ mind.  I don’t care.  I’m going to get that damned sandalwood resort hut if I have to haunt my phone constantly until 2 AM because that’s when the bugs go away and my chance of getting my NEEDED sandalwood resort hut is gone like a bird on a boat potentially bringing me snacks.  Yeah, it’s a strange game and it really is early in the morning for me, isn’t it?


*This blog has now been interrupted while Walter howls at horses.*  Yes, this is happening real-time.  Did I make this up?  No.  If I had made it up, it would be the start of a Walter post.  Since I am currently a coffeeless, sleep-deprived zombie whack job, I will resist writing another post about Walter, even though horse-howling is a rather interesting topic and does deserve to be explored.  Maybe later…


Back to irregularly scheduled programming.  *checks game* I went to a wedding reception yesterday.  How was that for a non-existent seque?  Get used to it, there will be more.  The reception was a casual affair hosted by the blissful couple at a cottage on a lake in the middle of a savage thunderstorm.  I had cake.

What do you all know about docks?  *checks game* We have to get one for the weird boat and I’m a dock virgin so there are many questions.  I was reading about mooring whips and water agitators and started to fantasize about becoming a dock virgin pond dominatrix.


Yet another Walter interruption.  He has traded in his howling for whining.  There is a Golden Retriever down the road. Even though said retriever can barely be seen, except by him, it doesn’t matter.  The whining continues. Horse-howling is a distant memory.


*boof*  I promise, I’m not even going to give Walter his own paragraphs anymore because he’s just indiscriminately boofing at a spot where a Golden Retriever was…and is not anymore. *checks game* Golden Retrievers are like that.  They have the nerve to move out of Walter’s view, and apparently, that is boof-worthy. *checks game*  Oooh, I got some bugs and a white beach dress as a prize!* Thirty-four bugs to go!  *boof*

Wow!  Did you know that you can get a water-agitating, muck-removing thingmabob?  Neither did I.  I know this subject just randomly popped up but I think it’s important to know that The Aquasweep Muck Blaster starts at only $1195!  I cannot make this stuff up.  *boof* Maybe my potential as a pond dominatrix could be achieved if I got a muck-blasting water agitator.  It does sound sufficiently painful, don’t you think?

*boof..bark…howl*  I wish I could put videos here.  That sound combination is YouTube gold.  It’s not often I get a threefer from Walter.  It’s usually one sound or another, but we have now reached trifecta status in the dog noise emission category this morning.  Stand by for farts.  That’s the only dog noise emission left.  Other dog emissions are not allowed.  If he pees on the sofa again there will be whimpering, and I hate whimpering before coffee.

*low growl boof*  Hey, that’s new.  Walter never ceases to amaze me.  Oh damn, I am actually giving him another paragraph when I promised I wouldn’t.  Oh well, you’d better let me off the hook on this one.  Keep in mind that I’m a pond dominatrix and I can moor-whip you into submission regarding Walter paragraph promises.  If the moor-whipping isn’t sufficient, I’ll get out the Aquasweep Muck Blaster and then you’ll be sorry!






Guest in Jest Special Edition!

I can see Uranus

I think you know I have a childish and somewhat inappropriate sense of humour. I don’t hide it and in fact I am rather fond of it, so you will not be surprised to know that my recent camping adventures have developed a most fantastically inappropriate twist which I am certain you will love too – even if you don’t admit it.

I didn’t come up with – it was something I saw on Amazon’s ‘Grand Tour’ but do know it will stick with me for the rest of my days.

So what is it you ask? Well quite simple really. You know how caravans have fantastically inspirational names, well you put ‘Anal’ in front of them and then giggle like a twelve year old until your wife shouts at you for being so childish. Not that 12 year olds have wives. Well not unless youre american. But I digress…

Check out the photos below and if you don’t manage a chuckle then you’re dead inside! I for one am a big fan on the ‘Anal Hobby’. You may however be a little more of a classical basic humour sort of person and prefer the ‘Anal Breeze’ or perhaps the ever popular ‘Anal ambassador’.

Let me know your favourite…




A couple of hours ago, Bill informed me that his riding lawn mower had a flat front tire.  Ok, simple enough.  Keep in mind that Bill is allergic to all things mechanical.  I, on the other hand, have half a clue about such things because my Dad was a mechanical whiz and I tended to pay attention.  Doing that has paid off handsomely in the years that followed, but back to the lawnmower…

I go out to the barn with my Dad’s handy ratchet set.  I figure if it has a non-metric nut I can just take it off and pull the tire.  I look at the mower and try to determine the best place to jack it.  But then, I actually thought ahead and figured before I did that, I’d best see what I’m dealing with.  I pull off the axel’s dust cover and there is no nut; only a smooth cylindrical thing and what appeared to be a couple of large washers behind that.  Ok, Dad’s ratchet set isn’t going to do squat here.  Sorry, Dad!  This is something I’ve never seen before.  I knew I had to tell Bill and I’d have to endure that crestfallen face that is so very hard to endure.  Nope, I wasn’t going to do that just yet.  There was only one thing to do.

I headed indoors and fired up YouTube to see if there was anything that might help me.  Sure enough, there was this wonderful guy who not only shows how to pull the tire but also shows that he is replacing his pneumatic tires with solid rubber ones.  Bill would love that!  No flats! Ever!  I would love that because I wouldn’t have to hear about flat mower tires again!  Ever!  This was worth pursuing.

So I watch closely and I see that there are no nuts involved in this thing.  Apparently, that cylindrical thing was the end of the axle.  Then what held the tire on?  The only thing that’s holding this tire on is an e-ring.  At least that’s what this guy said it was.  What is an e-ring?  He takes it off and kindly shows us e-ring newbs what it looks like.    WHAT THE HELL IS AN E-RING?  I’d never seen anything like it.  Obviously, this was not my father’s e-ring, to loosely quote an old Oldsmobile commercial.  To my knowledge he never had e-rings.  But you never know.  Some dads can be tricky if they are hiding e-rings from their daughters, but I just know that mine was not an e-ring hiding dad.  I’ll never know for sure, but I bet he wasn’t. I would think an e-ring hiding dad would have a certain vibe, wouldn’t you?

Ok, those of you who are laughing at me because you know what an e-ring is can just go stand over there in the corner till I’m done.  That’s right, over in that corner right there.  You’ll just have to imagine me pointing, but since you can’t see me, just go to any available corner and wait for further instructions.

On with the YouTube video.  The guy presents his audience with his spanking new no-flat tires.  He does admit that they cost $42 a piece and he thought that wasn’t cheap.  I almost shout at my computer screen:  “Who cares what it costs if it means never having to deal with e-rings again?  No flats and no e-rings!”  I try to calm down.  He just slaps those tires on, puts the washers over the axle, puts that e-ring on, and proceeds to grease the wheel.  Damn it, I don’t own a grease gun.  That’s ok, I know I can get one, and I’m pretty sure I can do this thing.  Easy peasy and extra greasy.

After a few deep breaths, I go and tell Bill I have good news and bad news.  It went something like this:

“No, I’ve never seen anything like it but this very nice guy on YouTube showed exactly how to do it.  Really!  Once I found out the subtle mysteries of the e-ring, all became clear.”

I got a sideways glance.  He says:  “Maybe I should call Janusz.”

Janusz is this little man who comes every spring to get the lawnmower going.  After he yells at Bill for not bringing the battery in for the winter, he gets everything tuned up and sharpens the blade.

“Humph!  Why call Janusz if I can do it??  All I have to do is buy the tires and a grease gun.”

He grabs the phone and tries to call Janusz.  No answer.  He doesn’t leave a message but says he will call again.

I guess I’m the one who got the message.  It seems that I won’t be replacing mower tires any time soon.  I am incensed, yet secretly happy that I don’t have to mess around with highly suspicious e-rings.  Besides, Janusz will yell at him for not knowing what to do and that provides a certain amount of entertainment value right there.  I think I’m still going to buy that grease gun, though.  You never know when I might need to grease a few wheels here or there.

The Zombie Plant Apocalypse

I’m pretty much a live and let live sort of person.  There are very few living things that raise my ire.  There are a few people who are definitely ire-worthy, but on the whole, I’m a love ‘all creatures, great and small’ kinda gal.  However, today I am filled with triumphant jubilation.  I am looking out the window shouting:  “Die mo$^(&(#^ker, DIE!!!  I won’t tell you what those cryptic characters stand for because it is language unbefitting a lady, not that I’ve been compared to one of those rarefied creatures of late.

What gives me such joy while watching this much-anticipated extermination?  What is it that pushes me to such hatred?  Bamboo.  Now, this isn’t the pretty, wispy, grassy sort of bamboo you see in lovely Japanese paintings.  This is the scourge of many a yard in New England.  I think it’s pretty scourge-y in other places around the world, too.  Another name for this unrelenting monster of a plant is Japanese Knotweed. Around here it’s just ‘bamboo’ and it is spoken of in tones that are proof of the power it has over us.  Some people let loose exasperated curses when describing it.  Others are in awe of the tenacity of the thing.  Most people just hang their heads, knowing full well that they have been defeated.  Bamboo is like that.  It takes hold and never lets go.



But here I am, happily watching a backhoe dig into the heart of my mortal enemy.  I’m overjoyed to see the plants removed and shoved into a hole the size of a double-decker bus.  I am beyond thrilled to see my newly-beloved backhoe operator cover the ruthless stems with rocks and boulders.  Thinking about the eradication of a plant that has plagued my family for decades fills me with well-justified glee.  And yet, I wonder if this will be the end of the great battle.

You might be thinking all of this is rather silly.  Why not just pull it up and be done with it?  Yeah, well, you’d be wrong.  There is no getting rid of it.  I remember when I was a kid, my Dad was at war with bamboo and I knew he would defeat it. My Dad could do anything.  That stuff was going to be history, I just knew it.  I watched him try everything to get rid of it.  He cut it and pulled it and dug it…for years on end.  It kept coming back.  I knew it was a lost cause when he liberally doused it with gasoline and set it on fire.  These days, that sort of action would be highly frowned upon for good reason, but this inflammatory episode happened well before the EPA existed.  It didn’t matter.  Dad might just as well have given it fertilizer and a pep talk because it came back with a vengeance.  He never won that war. It was still happily growing when we moved away.  The new place didn’t have the curse, and Dad died a bamboo-free man, and for that I am thankful.  Bamboo wasn’t done with me, though.  Not by a long shot.

When Bill and I bought this house we started assessing the yard and figuring out what we might want to plant.  While we were walking around the place, I saw the shoots.  I won’t say that my reaction was one of terror, but my not saying it doesn’t mean it wasn’t something very closely related.  It was my turn to put on the battle gear and face the enemy.  It’s been three decades of cutting and pulling and digging and I am still plagued with the stuff…until today.


So here I am, sitting here with the scent of diesel fuel wafting about, dreaming of bamboo decimation.  But really, who am I kidding?  Even if the backhoe rips it out by the roots, it’s unlikely that it will get every last bit of it.  If there is one tiny shred of a rhizome left, it will come back.  So maybe even though this whole backhoe thing sounds like overkill, I really think it might be under-kill.  I told the backhoe guy to rip off the steps, pull out the cement landing and do everything possible to kill the enemy.  My exact words were:  “Do whatever it takes to get rid of the stuff, short of making the foundation cave in.”  I wasn’t kidding…and he knew it.

Even if it does come back, at least most of the roots will be gone and…and…then it hit me.  A feeling of panicky dread descended.  Not only could the bamboo return to its original location, it might escape the double-decker bus-sized hole, too!  Just because the roots and stems had been buried and covered with rocks and boulders, that didn’t mean it wouldn’t find a way to come back from the rubble.  Nooooo…  It would be just like bamboo to stay in its grave just long enough for me to become complacent and then resurrect itself into some sort of photosynthetic horror.  It’s going to be a zombie plant, I just know it!  Oh hell, the Zombie Plant Apocalypse is coming!  At least I don’t have to worry about zombie bamboo eating my brain.  I lost that years ago.



And Now For Something Completely Different…

And now for something completely different…The Larch.

Those of you are not Monty Python fans will not get that, but I’m in a reminiscent mood, so you’ll have to bear with me.

I’m sitting here on a Friday night thinking about previous Friday nights of my youth.  This all came about because I watched the first episode of Jeeves and Wooster this afternoon.  You see, I’m a Britcom fan.  Yes, it’s true.  I admit it.  I misspent a good deal of my Friday-night-youth watching Monty and Bertie and all sorts of imponderable characters.  They were an escape for an outcast kid in a rural mill town.

Our local Public Broadcasting Station aired shows that made me laugh when little else did.   As a kid, I didn’t know a single soul who shared my love for these shows.  For most of the kids in town, Fridays were given up to football.  Pep rallies and games were taken very seriously.   Since I couldn’t play, and I sure as hell couldn’t lead a cheer, my Friday evenings were spent with the funniest folks the UK could offer.  And funny they were!

Today, this trip down memory lane started when Bill and I were talking about P.G. Wodehouse.  He was reading a magazine that included a rather pithy quote attributed to one of the best writers I’ve ever read,  And he liked it!  Now having Bill like something that was written by an early 20th century British writer was a bit of a fluke.  He positively loathes anything that even hints of British humor, especially anything set decades ago.  Even with the faintest of allusion to British royalty is strictly verboten.  So how could it be that Wodehouse amused him?  Could it be that some part of British humor might tickle his fancy?  I decided to put it to the test.

I offered to show him the very first episode of Jeeves and Wooster.  This show was based on P.G. Wodehouse characters and starred Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.  Upon offering to do so, I was met with a look of skepticism and a barrage of not unexpected questions:

“Is it sci-fi?”


“Does it have British royalty in it?”

Well, it does have British aristocrats but I assure you, they are the butt of all of the jokes.

“Is it present-day or set a long time ago?”

It’s based in the twenties, I think.

“Ok, well that might not be too bad.  I suppose it will keep me from wasting my time reading the stories if I don’t like it.”

Great, I’ll put it on…  And I’m thinking: “…I’ll put it on even if I am pretty sure you won’t like it.  There’s always a chance!  Oh please let there be a chance!”

You can all guess how this turned out.  The show started and I was thoroughly enjoying the crazy humor that only Fry and Laurie can convey.  As things hum along, Bill had this rather scowly look about him.  I had to explain a few things and I knew we were on rocky ground when a visitor arrived.  At that point, I knew all was lost.  15 minutes of Jeeves and Wooster had been endured and a guest had rescued him from this wifely torture.  Sigh…

It was later revealed that:

1. The accent was hard to understand.

2. There were too many British phrases he didn’t understand.

3. They talked too fast.

4. He didn’t know what they were talking about.

Besides, he said, it left him cold.  Cold!?  Aww c’mon!

I can’t say it was a shock to me.  If something doesn’t grab his attention and hold it for more than ten seconds, he glazes over.  This is the guy who falls asleep during a Star Wars movie.  He literally snored through Pirates of the Carribean.  But I’m straying from my original thoughts about Britcoms.

I understand why it is hard for Bill to ‘get’ British comedy.  You have to give it a chance.  Let things unfold in the fullness of time.  Ok, that was a bit much but I truly think that a great deal of British comedy is based on repetition.  Getting the repetitious gag means taking the time to hear it more than once.  Monty Python’s “And now for something completely different…” is a great example of that.  Are You Being Served had Mrs. Slocombe repeatedly shouting “I am unanimous in that!”  Of course, her greatest gag was always talking about her pussy.  It was always about her cat, but the double entendres were hilarious.  These gags were repeated enough that every time you heard them, or knew they were coming, you laughed.  It couldn’t be helped.

After the tenth time of:  “And now for something completely different…The Larch”  popped up on the screen following various unrelated sketches, a geeky kid in Maine laughed…repeatedly.  I still laugh, so maybe those Friday nights weren’t so misspent after all.