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Friday, January 1, 2016

December 2015

I worked on my building on Jamison a bit.  I borrowed my neighbor's ladder to get on the roof, and there were a bunch of shingles missing from the ridge, as I'd suspected, due to last summer's wind storm.  I'd never done that kind of repair before, but I figured it out by looking at it long and hard. Fortunately, There were some leftover shingles of the right type.  Then I worked on the garage door opener, which hasn't worked since I bought the place over two years ago.  Again, it required the use of a tallish ladder.  It took about 10 minutes to fix it: plug it in, re-engage chain, push the control unit back in.  I added an interior switch too.  So for two years I've been walking around the back, unlocking the door, pulling out a hangar from the track (the "lock"), and lifting that big bastard by hand.  All this time I could have been using the handy little remote.  I think the lesson is Check Your Assumptions!  There's an exterior wireless keypad too, and I got it working later.  It's actually a really fancy opener: super quiet and has two speeds--slows down when it gets near the floor.

Lowell and I went to the Jazz performance at the Lewis Street Playhouse.  I know three out of four members of the band.  The first half was Christmas Carols and the second was jazz standards.  I enjoyed it.  They even did a couple of encores by request.  Unfortunately, Lowell hit a deer on his way into town.  He really does have a Danger Ranger.

Our tenants moved out of the rental property that we've had for 15 years, and we have reached the time where we want to cash in on our investment.  I spent a few days after final exams fixing it up for sale.  The first time the realtor showed it she discovered that the crawl space was full of water. Actually, it was just the crawl space on one end of the house that had about 6 inches of water.  I pumped it out with a little bilge pump I had leftover from my old boat.  I fixed all the downspouts with some fresh drain pipe. I thought it was all good, then we had a big rain, and the crawl space filled up again.  I pumped it out with the bilge, but  decided it was probably prudent to install a permanent sump pump.  I'd never done this install before.  Needless to say, in a 3-foot tall crawl space it's hard to dig a hole in the mud. With some help from Stacey, I got it done.

I did the Christmas bird count again with my usual partner, LuBeth Young.  We walked around South Park in Quincy for starters, then drove routes through our territory.  There weren't any huge surprises, but a few bonus birds in there.  Here are our stats:

European Starling, 34
Northern Cardinal 17
American Robin 10
Tufted Titmouse 5
Black-capped Chickadee 5
House Sparrow 40
Blue Jay 23
American Crow 3
Eurasian Collared Dove 5
Bald Eagle 2 (1 juvenile, 1 adult)
American Kestrel 3
Red-tailed Hawk 6
Canada Goose 20
Mallard 3
American Goldfinch 7
Dark-eyed Junco 28
White-throated Sparrow 3
Cedar waxwing 20
House finch 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Horned lark 3
Eastern Bluebird 1
Red-headed Woodpecker 3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 6
Red-bellied Woodpecker 6

We had a Christmas Carol sing-along at QU, and instruments were welcome this year.  I didn't really know what to expect, as I was unable to make it last year.  I showed up with my charango, as I'd been practicing about 10 songs for the Camera Club Christmas party, but only one of them was in the song book we were given.  So every time Ann (my friend and our VPAA) would call out a new song, I'd have to quickly look it up on, choose a tab, and jump in.  By then, they were usually three lines into the song. And I was in the wrong key.  There were two guys playing guitar, and they weren't using any music at all.  I should have asked how they were doing it.  At least I was able to play a little, unlike my friend Megan, who had no sheet music. You can't play chords on a cello.  The charango did generate some interest among the attendees.  I borrowed a copy of the song booklet, so I'll be better prepared next year.

The camera club party was fun too.  We successfully completed the sing-along.  My buddy Jim and I had rehearsed a couple of times, and I'd prepared lyric sheets.  Fortunately, Stacey and Tracy are strong singers and carried the rest.  We had good food, drinks and a gift exchange.

We had a nice family Christmas.  Savannah came over in the morning and we opened our gifts. She got a bluetooth speaker, among other things.  Stacey got a Wilson Sleek cell phone booster.  I promised it would make her life better every day.  I got a bike rack, a weather vane, and a cigar box ukulele kit.  Lowell came over for our traditional prime rib dinner.  It was yummy.

It took most of a day to build the ukulele.  It was fun and challenging.  I found just the right cigar box in my chest of drawers, in the top drawer where I keep a lot of junk.  It's the kind of project wherein a single screw-up can ruin it.  The instrument turned out pretty well, fortunately, and I was playing it the same day.

It's been a terrible month for photography.  The eagles haven't come down yet, and all insects and flowers are long gone.  I've mostly been photographing the dogs in various situations.  I leave for Brazil on January 2, and should have a lengthy report, and photos, upon my return.

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