Taking down a tree

This is time of year, the sound of chain saws is quite common. But a couple days ago, I hadn’t figured out that something more interesting might be going on until my wife spotted a guy with a chainsaw high in a tree. Only once have I topped a tree as part of felling it, but it was a pine, nowhere near this size, and swayed like crazy after the top fell. And I did it with a bow saw – no way was I climbing up a tree with a chain saw!

cutting down a eucalyptus tree, Uruguay

So here’s this guy up a 15-meter (I presume) ladder. All rather impressive. Listen for the guy on the ground yelling ahora! (now!).

I hired tree people a couple times when we lived in North Carolina. We had a lovely old spreading oak that needed thinning. The tree people – who worked at the Augusta National Golf Club – said they never use ladders, but only free climb, and also don’t wear spiked shoes, in order not to damage the trees. Quite spectacular to watch!

No worry about damaging the tree in this case. Also, being eucalyptus, it will regrow. And regrow.

Unlike the last time, this does not affect the sunshine we receive in our yard.



Well, duh.

Not long ago, we noticed our water bill beginning to skyrocket. We had plumbers here to install whole-house water filters outside. Checking their work, they pointed out a little spinning disk that I had never noticed in the middle of the water meter. It was going spin-spin stop-stop. We had a leak. After a bit of checking, it was clearly not their doing.

After digging a dozen holes along the length of the pipe going to the casita (little house behind), and finding no moisture, I called Enrique, a nice, mellow plumber from Peru. We determined there was a leak underneath the casita (i.e., impossible to fix), so he installed a cutoff valve. At length we discussed how to re-plumb outside, tap into the cold line on the exterior bathroom wall, all without breaking tile inside – we had a plan!

Alas, perhaps Enrique has been in Uruguay too long. I said I’d get back to him when the weather got a little more pleasant for outside work. This has been a mild winter, but it’s still winter. So, sun appears! And no response from Enrique to text messages; phone calls terminated before a chance to leave a message.

Well, we have other issues with the main house, so I sought the advice of Daniel, the guy who will be solving many of them. I had bought bricks, and was preparing to create a subterranean box around the valve.

water cutoff valve, Uruguay

This is how you do it, with mortar, and when you’ve built up to ground level there’s a nifty little concrete frame and cover that fir perfectly. But, I thought, if they need to re-route the tubes, maybe I shouldn’t do this first. I explained to Daniel the plan Enrique and I had come up with. He agreed with the overall plumbing plan, but hadn’t answered my question.

So I asked again. Well, he said, if we’re putting a new cutoff valve on the outside bathroom wall, we will simply remove this one.

(See title.)

Anyone need a few crappy Uruguayan bricks and a kilo of Portland cement?




The rust bucket

Burkhard’s Model T has now moved from shipping container storage to his garage workshop, on borrowed wheels (his are being rebuilt). Because of course, just borrow Model T wheels. No problem! They’re actually from Francisco, who told him about using rear axle housings to keep the front end level — notice them to the left of the photo.

Model T restoration

He thought the jacket draped over the back shouldn’t be in the photo, but it struck me as perfectly symbolic: well, at least this thing has value as a coat rack!

Model T restoration

Burkhard chuckled as he lifted body panels, demonstrating how flimsy the whole thing is.

Model T restoration

I think at this point I would decide that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea. Burkhard is undeterred.

Model T restoration

The bodywork in a Ford Model T is build over wood framing. This door is mostly good, but much of the other wood in this critter is rotted or destroyed by bugs. Researching a while ago, I read that Henry Ford owned over 100,000 acres of forest land to provide wood for Model Ts. I also read that — perhaps — they cut up pallets from parts deliveries to use in Model Ts. Perhaps. Just under 15 million of these cars were produced, between October 1908 and May 1927. Insane!

Model T restoration

Here’s another view of the Tin Lizzie.

This will be interesting. Stay tuned…!

The kitchen scale

I left my kitchen scale out after making bread recently, unwashed, and some else decided to wash it – not just the detachable measuring cup, but the whole thing. Electronics and warm, soapy water don’t go together well. After a few days, it began to work again, but then simply died for good.

So my challenge was to take it apart without breaking any parts, because that’s what I do rather than simply chuck things. I’m curious about how things work, and how they’re put together. Also whether there might be any parts worth saving.

dissected kitchen scale

Despite its apparent simplicity. it was a little tricky –– some well-concealed screws beneath labels and the plastic readout cover. Nothing really useful to save.

I’ve made bagels and pizza dough a couple times since, but I really prefer doing recipes by weight, so have thought about getting another.

I bought this one with points at the Disco supermarket a fe years ago, not thinking about the actual cost. Now I see they sell it at Tienda Inglesa for 40 bucks – yikes!  They also show one for USD 12 at Tienda Inglesa so maybe, just maybe, I can get them to bring one to our local store. I suppose I could try ordering one online but *shudder* that has not gone entirely well for me in Uruguay (think mattress and oven).

Except for socializing at the weekly feria, I find little fun in trying to find and buy things here. But maybe that’s OK, especially when I reflect on the inordinate amount of stuff we accumulated before moving to Mexico — and that was less than three years after moving ourselves across the country, from North Carolina to Nelson, BC Spokane, Washington.

UPDATE: Yes, this does seem like a rather pointless blog entry, but it reminded me to look at Tienda Inglesa, and guess what?

kitchen scale
We’re good to go again!


Trash tour in the Villar Wilderness

I took Mocha to run today. He was neutered one week ago and has been constrained as a result. The weather was on-and-off, and Syd had gone with his dogs earlier, during a clear break. So it was just us, traversing this route for the first time in a few weeks. Happily, no motos, no quads, no horses, no woodcutters – OK, a few cows that Mocha ran to and barked at – but with little apparent result (with Benji they would have been making noise and moving, not a Good Thing.)

I’ve previously written about trash dumped there in the middle of nowhere, for no apparent reason, but it continues to beggar the imagination. Consider this location —

— where we now find a discarded Epson printer. And not just discarded: the blue-green stuff to its left are the bits of glass from the deliberately smashed display. So somebody carried this thing far into an empty area, only for the purpose of smashing its display screen and leaving it?

deliberate trash Uruguay

A bit further along, new discarded clothing, apparently children’s winter wear. So we’re in the middle of winter, and the best thing you can think to do with unneeded clothing that can keep a child warm, is not to donate it to the take-anything thrift shop, or even discard it in the ubiquitous trash containers for some scavenger to find, but carry it hundreds of meters into the middle of nowhere and throw it on the ground where it will serve no one?

deliberate trash Uruguay

I’m sure at some point I documented the sudden appearance of discarded auto parts. These have in fact diminished – there were, if I recall, three windshields. The other two, unbroken, have apparently been harvested. And maybe other parts as well. I have photos here, elsewhere, somewhere.

deliberate trash Uruguay

At another location, where overnight appeared a huge pile of construction plastic sheeting some time ago, now widely scattered by the wind, a new visual accent: a smashed and probably UV-sun-rotted plastic dish rack. (But why so shattered?)

deliberate trash Uruguay

I discussed this over dinner with my wife. Perhaps we’re not witnessing a cultural manifestation (these people!), or necessarily a low level of awareness (these troglodytes!).

Maybe something different: an expression of frustration, anger. Not that you would experience that meeting them. But they are expressing frustration and anger about their environment – not discerning physical from emotional. Trashing their physical environment somehow serves an emotional need, not so much different from people who cut themselves.

Down the rabbit hole…

These is the image Paul refers to in his comment below.

Uruguay trash