I’ve always liked autumn. “Back to school” was an exciting for me as a kid. New clothes! New faces! New things to learn!

Autumn here is familiar: crisp air, blue sky, bright sun (and a few sort-of-almost-colorful leaves). But northern hemisphere signals persist, and part of me thinks it’s spring cleaning time: focus on clothes, tools, organizing nooks and crannies, passing on unused items.

One morning my little tinkering-space caught my attention. It was trivial to cut a shelf in half to make cans more organized, but what a difference in terms of quickly locating nails and screws. Then it occurred that I had measuring tools scattered in different places. Since most projects start with measuring, I consolidated them:

workbench organization

Now, in the space of a few inches, I have two types of carpenter’s square, calipers, folding rule, measuring tape, and bevel gauge. All that’s missing is the framing square, which remains elsewhere because of its size. Bring it on!

Of course, none of my most recent projects — painting ironwork, pressure washing, disassembling a decrepit table, re-wiring a kitchen stove, reorganizing the patio and repairing masonry — has required any measuring at all. But the next one will, for sure.

Or at least the one after that.


The great curupay cleanup

Over three years ago, I scored the better part of a deck’s worth of dense curupay boards. I did only one small project, then a picnic table which, despite complete sanding and refinishing with marine varnish after a couple years, quickly weathered again into a mottled mess. I lost interest in working with this curupay again, and have from time to time cut up some of the smaller lengths for firewood.

Today I got a load of “real” firewood delivered, which prompted me to clean up the garage where we store it, where also lived an unused bicycle,* seen below restored to its previous parking spot outside the casita.


Before today — and for three years — the space from its rear tire to the far wall has been a pile of curupay deck boards of various lengths, collecting dirt and spiders and generally being ugly.

Remembering that I have had no further woodworking interest in those boards in three years, I made an executive decision, cranked up the table saw, and rendered them.

I saved a few of the longer and nicer boards por las dudas (who knows what sudden woodworking inspiration might arise?).

curupay firewood

I put some pieces inside by the stove, and stacked the rest in the workshop. I was quite surprised how small the pile turned out. But in heat value, it’s probably the equivalent of pile four times as big of red eucalyptus (not cut into flat boards, of course).

Last winter was delightfully mild, which probably accounts for our bumper crop of avocados now, and I hope for the same this winter — so far very pleasant — but if it gets cold, we’re at least a little prepared!

*  a quality German women’s bike purchased from Syd and Gundy’s *interesting* tenant Herbert for a whopping USD 40 years ago. Interestingly, another purchase from Herbert, a hand-held circular saw, I mentioned on another post about curupay.


I bought a hand truck (dolly) a couple years ago from some departing Americans. They warned that one of the tires loses air over time, an issue I tried to deal with a couple times at local tire places. Eventually, though, to no avail. With no inner tube, you can’t get air back in with something as slow as a bicycle pump.

So I brought an inner tube back from the US, since I happened to be going and was an easy add-on to an existing free-shipping order.

It took a bit of work to get the tire lose, and then putting the tube in was no big deal. But getting the tire back on? Impossible!

Then I found this wonderful video. My solution! But I needed some C-clamps, which understandably are called “G” clamps here.

G-clamps in Uruguay

So I immediately set to work with them, and …

… *sigh* later I’ll be taking the hand truck to the local tire place, to see if they have a way to get the tire over the rim.

The “G” clamps will prove themselves useful in other ways, no doubt.





This is so not a big deal. But it is. Last time we saw this fork, I had been using it on the barbecue grill outside.

Meat fork for grilling

And then it was gone. I looked around the grill, around the yard in case the dog had decided it was a chew toy, and of course we both looked through every kitchen drawer several times. And naturally the dishwasher, which we mainly use as a drying rack, where it should have been.

But wasn’t.

But was.

Turns out it had fallen through the rack, which we’re used to having happen. What we weren’t prepared for was that it might end up parallel to the dishwasher door, snugged up in the front against the ledge. How? Who knows.

Amazing how much we missed it. We use it all the time. Also amazing how many loads of dishes went through the dishwasher before my wife spotted it.

Lesson from the I Ching: perseverance furthers.


Taco wisdom

When we installed an “inverter” split (DC, variable, no motor noise) in our bedroom, we moved the noisy split (AC/heater/dehumidifier) unit to our dining room. Finally, today, I mounted its remote control to the wall, removing two pieces of clutter from the counter top.

Took me ten years to figure this out.

But that’s not the story. In north North America, hanging something on a wall is pretty simple, dealing with drywall and (usually) wood studs. In south North America, and South America, our home for ten years, you deal with a different situation: plaster and brick walls. In Uruguay the requisite plastic expanding anchors are called Tacos Fisher, and I’ve often found myself sticking wood slivers or broken toothpicks alongside them because the hole ends up too big.

Until I figured it out.

To install a wall anchor, do not drill a hole.

This will be obvious to a machinist, or someone who has worked a lot with metal, but I am neither. You don’t drill a hole: you drill a hole twice, the first time with a smaller drill bit. You then use the proper-size drill as a reamer.


I can’t believe it took me over nine years to figure that out :0