Half a lemon times two

Some people consult the Farmer’s Almanac and moon phases for best times to prune trees. I don’t.

For me, there are two “best times“ to prune a tree: 2) when I feel like it, and 1) when the wife tells me to do it, as she did today.

So, log-handled loppers in hand, directed by her, squinting into the sun, I lopped off the biggest branch first. As it fell, so did a lemon. But when I picked it up, I found half a lemon — seriously, almost exactly half a lemon, neatly sliced lengthwise.

Where was the other half? You guessed it: still attached to a branch overhead.

lemon cut in half by loppers

What are the chances of perfectly cutting in half a lemon you didn’t even see?

Well — maybe greater than one would expect with a tree that seems to be trying to communicate with us.

 

 

Goodbye slotted screws

Twelve or thirteen years ago, when we lived in Spokane, I reached my breaking point. I don’t recall specifics, but it resulted in me going through all the hardware in my workshop, new and used, and throwing in the trash every slotted screw I could find.

slotted screw

Come to find that in Uruguay slotted screws are ubiquitous. The other day, in order to clean the outsides of our wooden windows with homemade screens, I had to remove a couple of them. The frames and windows have slots in them, and a removable wooden spline is screwed to the top frame. Hmm, let me try that another way:

spline

Squinting up against the outside light, it’s hard enough to find the old and dark screws’ locations, much less the orientation of the slot. For a couple of them I had to use a flashlight.

After everything was cleaned, I put all but one of them back, which I took to the ferretería, to buy the same with a Phillips head. And so, into the trash with the slotted screws!

Perhaps one day I’ll feel the same about Phillips head screws, and insist on Pozidriv or Supadriv or Robertson (square), or double square, or triple square, or hex socket, or double hex, or Torx. But I doubt it. The 81-year old Phillips is just fine for now.

 

 

 

More on the ladders

Just in case you were wondering if the ladders were really that bad, look at what was left on the chopping block after splitting seven steps from one into kindling.

bug-eaten wood from ladder, Urruguay

As you can see, much of the inside of each step has been turned to dust.

It reminds me of buying new rustic furniture in Mexico. Within days, you’d find coin-sized perfectly round mounds of incredibly fine wood dust on the floor beneath it, and have to apply some horridly toxic liquid to every square inch of its surface to kill all the tiny critters.

 

 

Graphic nondesign

Waiting for the car’s oil to be changed, I started looking through the freebie local business advertising mag. This not only occupies time, but challenges my Spanish vocabulary, and having some experience in graphic design, allows me to amuse myself by mentally redesigning ads.

But oh, an article about baking soda — always interesting.

Horrible typography, Uruguay

Unless it’s basically illegible because of garbaged-up type. And not because of  low resolution or image compression—

horrible typography, Uruguay
Umm, no, bicarbonado de “sodio”

— it really is that bad. So, OK, not I’m not going to read that article.


Below it on the page, a “spot the differences” image. Not my favorite, but worth a minute or two.

Uruguay newspaper

But immediately I am stopped by a quandary: is the fact that the two images are cropped differently meant to be one of the differences, or does it simply represent more design incompetence?

 

 

 

Astillas

Wooden laders destined to become kindling, Uruguay

For over a month now, I’ve been supervising repairs on a house whose American owners haven’t been here in six years. The caretaker died of cancer a couple years ago. Leaving a house unmaintained is bad anywhere, but with the humidity, really bad in Uruguay.

Today I brought home two ladders (one on the ground cut in two pieces to fit in the car). The vertical one is completely ruined by bugs — notice the bottom rung, broken from just a little weight.

The one on the ground is equally scary. All that wire desperately wound to hold the thing together. That could be ten years old. More likely 15 or 20. Or more: the house was built in the 1960s.

Astillas? Kindling. My next fun-with-dangerous-power-tools project!

 

 

Moving money for cheaper

Living in one country and getting money from another can be expensive. The last time I did an international bank wire transfer, the originating bank charged USD 25 and the recipient bank USD 35. Since anything over USD 10,000 becomes a hassle, I have usually wired something less than that.

I have from time to time looked into alternatives, but they have always ended up being even more expensive.

Until now. I don’t know when it changed, but with Western Union I just picked up USD 500 cash locally for a fee of USD 5. It took, as promised, four days to get from my bank in the US to Uruguay. Had I charged it to a credit card, the fee would be USD 15 and the transfer instant. The maximum transfer without signing up for their FX service is USD 5000.

And I could have sent it in Uruguayan pesos as well. Sweet!

Western Union logo

Of course, I can’t quite make sense of their slogan, but who cares? It works. The service, not the slogan.

 

Strange animal spotted on dog walk

dog digging

OK, you figured it out: it’s not a strange type of animal, but Kiya the dog, with her obsession for digging holes (in the middle of the path, in this case) certainly qualifies as a somewhat strange animal.

She’s quite accomplished, though. This is phase 1 of digging. In a moment she will bag up for phase 2, kicking the sand she’s just dug clear of the hole.

 

 

1942 Ford — rare gem

I spotted this gem parked on the highway one day, thought to take a picture but didn’t, and the next morning it appeared in front of our house.

British 1942 Ford V8

Although it doesn’t show in the photo, the only identification on the front was “V8.” So I walked around back, where again I saw “V8,” and only then “Ford.” The owner was walking back to get parts out of the back, and told me it was a 1942.

British 1942 Ford V8
Right hand drive

¡Impecable! as some people here are fond of saying. But wait — he was getting parts out of the back? Yes, a car battery, is seems. At least for this day, this was a car mechanic’s working vehicle, a 75-year old show car.

Increíble.

Treework

Amazing to watch tree workers in action. Yesterday (yes, Sunday) involved removing all the lower branches from pine trees at the house of friends.

Quite a show.

pruning a pine tree, Uruguay

His brother removing an acacia that was leaning over the roof. Not a bit fell onto the roof in the process.

taking down a leaning acacia tree, Uruguay

An old stump five meters high had a non-functioning light fixture on it. That was removed, stump cut down, and birds flew in to feast on the ants inside, mostly oblivious to me standing two meters away.

And another surprise: look at how the rings grew on that angled limb in the first two pictures!

I find it quite amazing that none of these trees has come down in severe windstorms during the six years the owners have been gone, but it seems much less likely now. And, a lot fewer pine needles to clear off the roof.

pruned pine trees, Uruguay

 

 

 

 

Free international shipping

I’ve posted several times about buying stuff from China with free international shipping (including a 99¢ money clip I used today). The latest is more of the same, with a couple of international twists: first, it came from India, not China.

Piezo lighter delivered to Uruguay from India for free

Here, exactly:

India map

Secondly, I thought of such a thing because a Romanian friend staying with us for a couple weeks in April, after watching me throw matches into the BBQ grill to get it lit (zzzzzht-toss-dammit! zzzzzht-toss-dammit! zzzzzht-toss-FOOOMP!), wondered if there was somewhere in Uruguay to buy a sparking lighter (piezoelectric; no fuel) to take back to his father in Romania.

Recognizing that such a thing would be, if not as exciting, probably a better approach for me, I thought about trying to find such a thing in Montevideo. Half a day at least. Chance of success? Under 50%, I figured.

Twenty minutes later I had ordered one on eBay for USD 7.

From India. With free international shipping. 27 days to arrive, and it works great!