June 11, 2009

The final pieces of the summer puzzle are falling into place

VALOIS, New York, USA - Two years ago - when we sold our 48-foot cruising sailboat, Sabbatical - for a brief moment (emphasis on brief), I thought my days of worrying about maintenance and operations and keeping things running were almost over.

What was I smoking?

In the last week here in Valois, I have been dealing with all kinds of house and garden systems and subsystems, getting a turn-of-the-century cottage running at full speed. (That's turn of the 20th century, not 21st century). And full speed for a cottage this old is a relative term.

Yesterday the water pressure pump in the cellar started acting up, giving us pressure only when it felt like it. And it felt like it, oh, some of the time. One of those times, the Admiral was in shower.

Not good for morale. The Admiral's or mine.

Water pump in cellar
Water pressure pump in cellar

Water pump pressure gauge
Water pump pressure gauge

My strategy for fixing that problem is simple: Wait for my brother-in-law Dan to come back from an out-of-town a trip. He's a refrigeration-plumbing-mechanical guru and probably installed the system many years ago when his mother (my late mother-in-law Louise) lived in the house.

Already, he fixed the leaky water heater in the cellar and gave me the parts so I can tackle a plumbing problem in the guest house. That guest-house-project is likely to take up most of today, unless I get lucky and my working-with-PVC skills aren't as rusty as I think they are.

That's unlikely. I think the last time I worked with PVC, I lived in Grass Valley. Hmm... that was 30 years ago.

Yard set up for summer at Seneca Lake
Yard set up for summer fun

Beyond maintenance, however, we have made great strides at getting the casa ready for summer. All boats are launched and ready for service. This week we added a new barbecue, popped up the First Up shade cover and set up the side yard for barbecues and socialization. The flowers are all planted and the tomatoes are in - this year in pots to avoid the rabbits that seem to favor the tender young plants. We have a bumper crop of young bunnies about the property, all of whom seem to love the tops of the flowers. I wish they would chew on the grass so I didn't have to mow it again.

And the weather is almost cooperating with temperatures in the low 70s most days, though the gray overcast hangs low, threatening rain. Today the forecast is for thunderstorms and rain. Not much of a boating day, though sometimes the storms blow through quickly, leaving the lake without a ripple.

We had hoped our Mexico amigos Mario and Sharon from Tenacatita, Mexico would visit this week, but they had to cancel at the last minute. Had they seen how nice the water was on Seneca Lake last night, while the Admiral and I scooted on The Spirit of Louise, they would be regretting the decision to stay away.

Spirit of Louise at launch ramp
Spirit of Louise at the launch ramp - ready to go

And the last piece of the open-up-for-the-season puzzle fell into place Wednesday with our summer car - a 1999 Jeep. We picked the Jeep up Tuesday from the dealer, then took it back in Wednesday for some adjustments: new tires, new front brakes, some electronic fixes and other assorted minor repairs.

The good news is that the unit seems to be in good running shape - now - and should be a solid car for the summer to bomb around in. The bad news is that it does not have a sun roof like last summer's Jeep, a feature the Admiral dearly loved.

Que lastima.

New Jeep for 2009
The new cottage car for 2009

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