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A Friday ramble

A bird in the brush

Yesterday was the first moment after … ohhhh, 40 days and 40 nights … that it wasn’t either raining or threatening to rain. Between that and the end of the year’s big hunting seasons, the dogs and I were finally able to return to long, leash-free walks in the woods instead of annoying, leashed walks around town (annoying because Ava likes to gallop and Robbie barely moseys these days; I end up walking sideways with my arms extended in two directions).

It was glorious. Chilly, but blue and still.

On our afternoon walk, though, we came across a lone crow feasting on an elk ribcage. Ava — she of the killer prey drive — alerted and paused. Figuring the crow would fly off, I gave her permission to run at it.

It didn’t fly off. It hobbled into the weeds, limping and vainly flapping its wings.

Ava really does have a killer drive and I expected her to crunch the poor crow’s bones. But she seemed more puzzled than anything. She followed it a few steps then backed off when I told her to.

The bird finally settled down into the brush, broken wing awkwardly extended, allowing Ava to sniff it and me to walk right up to it. I knew it would probably get eaten by predators if it stayed there into the night. I considered my available methods of putting it out of its misery, but everything seemed either overkill or inhumane. I admit I didn’t think seriously about attempting to rescue the baleful old bird, whose leg also appeared to be damaged.

We walked on and as Robbie (as lame as the crow) hobbled past that spot, I turned and watched the poor crow try to flee again. It couldn’t know Robbie never was much of a killer and at 14-1/2 has no interest in harming any creature.

It was still there when we came back, looking a little more vigorous and mobile. I didn’t have the heart either to kill it or try to help it and don’t know whether that was right or wrong. At least it’s got plenty to eat.

A lake in the car

The dry day also let me deal with the Problem of Old Blue: she leaks. Like a freakin’ colander. Oh, not oil or coolant or anything worrisome. But let it rain and oh, me oh my! And did I mention we’ve had a few gentle showers lately?

There appeared to be four leaks — two minor and two capable of producing rivers — and I couldn’t locate three of them despite seeing their evidence floating along the floor.

Before buying Old Blue in July I inspected carefully and found the spare-tire compartment three inches deep in water though it hadn’t rained for weeks. I pulled the rubber plugs I found in the tire well. The water drained. I then spent half an hour spraying her with a hose and wasn’t able to recreate the problem. I figured I’d figure out more this winter.

Yeah. What I quickly figured out was that water in the trunk was the least of it.

On Wednesday, I toweled up all I could, ran an extension cord through a window, duct-taped the window, and let a space heater dry the interior as much as possible. Yesterday, partly by locating which spots were still sopping wet, I found that water’s been coming in around both taillights, particularly on the right-hand side where there are signs of a fender-bender.

I used the hillbilly solution: Gorilla tape around the lights and all the lower trunk openings. Maybe not a long-term solution, but should help me see if I’ve really located the trunk leak.

Exploring further, I found (cross fingers) that what I thought was another, completely inexplicable bad leak in the rear passenger compartment was probably just the taillight leak first saturating the trunk, then saturating the underside of the back seat, then running down to soak the floor.

Hope my theory is correct. I may enjoy the occasional swim. But not in my vehicle. In winter.

I’ve already been keeping two of those marvelous Eva-Dry renewable dehumidifiers in the car. They couldn’t drain the lake, but now maybe they’ll be able to keep up with the ordinary NorthWET humidity.

A head in the clouds

I said the other day I’d probably have more to say about Japanese tidiness guru Marie Kondo and her megaselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. But you know, after finishing it, I concluded (no surprise) that she’s so far from our universe that there’s no point.

Aside from her New Age moonbattery and pathological compulsion for tidiness (Kondo used to come home from school and immediately start tidying house, including her parents’ and her siblings’ rooms; were I her sister and she messed with my stuff, she might not have lived long enough to write a book), she’s just … well, let me give you a pair of examples.

Even though her mantra is “discard everything that doesn’t spark joy,” she assumes that her readers and clients will possess — and choose to keep — so many purses that they’ll need to cleverly stash one purse inside another. On the other hand, in the chapter “Astounding stockpiles I have seen” she brutally mocks past clients who possessed 35 toothbrushes, one hundred boxes of cotton swabs, and 80 rolls of toilet paper — practical items that don’t wear out and could come in handy as trade goods.

Lady, all I gotta say is you don’t ever want to come to some of my friends’ houses!

She barely recognizes the existence of tools. In fact, she relegates virtually all forms of tools, from bandsaws to garden implements to craft glitter, to a single paragraph in a chapter about komono — a Japanese word meaning miscellaneous stuff — and doesn’t offer any tips for organizing them.

That said, for anyone who has a problem emotionally clinging to household stuff, clothing, and knicknacks or anyone who wants a dwelling of Japanese simplicity, Kondo is it. She really does have useful advice. For the rest of us, she’s just another person who’s profiting (and more power to her) from the whole trendily impractical side of the “simple living” movement.


  1. david
    david November 20, 2015 5:48 am

    I once had a freebie car that would get an inch of water in the cabin from 1/4 inch of rain. I pulled the drain plugs in the floor and threw them away, along with the carpets. That solved the problem. The little bit of water I’d pick up driving in the rain went right back out, and what flowed in as it sat ran right out again.

    Just BTW, there is a product for arthritic dogs on the market called CBD now. It does work. It’s a pot derivative but legal in most states because it’s got no THC in it so isn’t on the ‘schedule’ of prohibited substances. You can find it online.

  2. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 20, 2015 5:48 am

    Kondo would have an immediate heart attack if she saw my house. Just yesterday I was trying to “tidy” the main room, expecting friends to visit, and I said to myself: I’ve really got to stop leaving ammunition all over the place… Between new boxes of it, and loose rounds taken from various pockets after shooting, it’s everywhere. There is even a glass jar of 9mm sitting on the table with my grain mill and big mixer.

    As for keeping only what gives me joy… my first thought was that all the cleaning stuff and toilet plunger has to go then… LOL I’ll keep the ammo. That always makes me happy.

  3. Claire
    Claire November 20, 2015 6:04 am

    Karen — Thanks, you are so right. Christine’s book is actually useful to real people, unlike Kondo’s. Here’s a blog Amazon link for it:

    Get Organized, Stay Organized

  4. Claire
    Claire November 20, 2015 6:08 am

    “my first thought was that all the cleaning stuff and toilet plunger has to go thenโ€ฆ”

    LOL, yes. And every sort of paperwork and all but a few highly impractical pieces of clothing. And dog beds and dog meds. And for that matter everything in the human medicine chest. Desk lamps, the printer, the freezer, the cat’s litter box …

    “Joy” is really the stupidest-ever criteria for deciding what to keep and what not keep.

  5. Claire
    Claire November 20, 2015 6:11 am

    “I once had a freebie car that would get an inch of water in the cabin from 1/4 inch of rain.”

    Yikes. But good solution. I don’t find any plugs in the floor, but if I can’t solve the leaking, I would drill holes and pull up carpets.

    Thanks on the CBD suggestion, too. I knew about that; even think I blogged it a while back. But I didn’t think about trying it for Robbie. So many things have been of little or no help. Now that the cold, wet weather is here, maybe I should try that.

  6. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair November 20, 2015 6:43 am

    Fresh kill eaten by predators is probably the best way to deal with that injured crow. You chose good.

  7. Claire
    Claire November 20, 2015 6:55 am

    “Fresh kill eaten by predators is probably the best way to deal with that injured crow. You chose good.”

    Mother Nature is a real bitch.

  8. MJR
    MJR November 20, 2015 8:59 am

    Hey Claire, I used to get calls all the time about injured birds while working at the zoo. I would let the area keepers know and they would go out and pick the bird up, making a show of caring for the visitor who called it in. Upon arrival at the area keeper room the vet would be called. The usual outcome was a broken neck for the bird. It was easier, cheaper to do that then take resources away for the collection.

    Water leaks… ARRGGG! I had an old beater British Ford Cortina a long time ago. It would leak like a sieve anytime it rained, I hated the rain soooo much. No matter what I did I never cured the leak in that car. In the end when the car had pissed me off too much from engine/transmission/leaking water issues I took it to a wreckers, got some bucks for the scrap value. I then hung around until they stripped then crushed the Cortina. All the while when it was in the compactor I thought “die you bastard die.” It’s OK I’m better now. :^)

  9. Claire
    Claire November 20, 2015 10:52 am

    Jim B. — That’s hilarious! Insulting and demeaning, but all the more hilarious because of that.

  10. Claire
    Claire November 20, 2015 1:26 pm

    “The usual outcome was a broken neck for the bird. It was easier, cheaper to do that then take resources away for the collection.”

    MJR — Thanks for confirming what I had already guessed. If the bird were an eagle or a hawk, no doubt a sanctuary would take it. A crow? Shel is very right that having a soft spot for them is impractical.

    Shel — Pretty impressive, though. Now I feel guilty. I left Einstein (or at least Archimedes) to get et by predators.

  11. Shel
    Shel November 20, 2015 2:15 pm

    Of course, there’s always a chance it survived the night. It was intelligent enough to know that being friendly was it’s best bet.

    A lighter view:

  12. david
    david November 20, 2015 4:33 pm

    “Fresh kill eaten by predators is probably the best way to deal with that injured crow. You chose good.โ€
    I dunno Claire. It always makes me feel pretty good!

  13. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair November 21, 2015 6:14 am

    From the Jolopnik article at the Elio: “Maybe we could use this three-quarter wheeled, three-quarter engined, three-quarter car.”

    If they ever go into production, which is promised at late 2016 as of the P5 unveiling, I’ll wear my Utilikilt in my Elio.

  14. Alien
    Alien November 21, 2015 6:24 am

    Quite a number of years back a friend bought a very well used NYC Checker taxicab that, if not used by the losing side in a war, belonged to the side that didn’t win by much.

    Missing or non-functional locks were resolved with padlocks and hasps, a PITA when parking, but solved the problem. A leaky trunk was partially resolved with glue and some flexible rubber tubing to perform as gasketing plus the addition of a few well placed drain holes and some 1X2s to keep stuff off the wet trunk floor. A leak around the windshield was conquered with a 99 cent tube of green bathtub caulk, and a jigsaw-cut hole in the dash allowed access to the wiring so the heater fan could be fixed. The rotted rear seat was replaced with a park-bench-like-affair of 2X4s. And so on. To say the car was a continuing misadventure in mechanical mischieviousness would be a gross understatement.

    It looked like just what you’d expect, but it was a $250 ride that got him through 3 years of law school partially financed by pizza delivery, and as a plus there was no one stupid enough to consider stealing it, not to mention every other driver gave it a very wide berth in case the dilapidation was contageous.

  15. Claire
    Claire November 21, 2015 6:33 am

    Alien — OMG, I hope he took pictures. That’s hilarious. And clever.

    The 1x2s, drain holes, and possibly the rubber tubing might help out in my case, too, so thank you and your friend for the ideas. But above all, I’d love to see the pix!

  16. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 21, 2015 7:27 am

    Oh yes, Alien… pictures, by all means! LOL

  17. Shel
    Shel November 21, 2015 10:15 am

    Thanks, Karen; I believe I’ll buy Shuck’s book. I have a picture of a vacuum cleaner surrounded by clutter with pretty silver strands of a spider web angling off the handle. This won’t be repeated, for I lent the vacuum to a friend, and it has since died.

    The difficulty of removing clutter, it occurred to me today, seems perhaps as great as changing any other major life habit, such as smoking, etc. The key in either is making the gut decision to change. All the aids to quitting smoking can make the transition more palatable, but they do not determine the outcome. So saying “I’m going to quit” or “I’m working on quitting” are meaningless statements. Hopefully the book will help prompt the necessary gut change regarding clutter.

  18. LibertyNews
    LibertyNews November 21, 2015 7:05 pm

    I had a truck that leaked like that. Pulled the plugs and used it like that for a few years, then coated the inside with brush-on bed liner. That stopped all the leaks, but took about a month to air out.

  19. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau November 22, 2015 8:53 am

    My wife had an SUV that always had foggy windows (on the inside) every morning. It turned out she had maybe 3 gallons of water sloshing around in the spare tire well. The composting fir needles had defeated the small channels at the rear door hinges designed to drain the water at that point. I guess car manufacturers figure cars will always be stored in a heated garage.

    Yeah, drill holes in the floor pans. Watch out for brake lines, etc.! I think a lot of these leaks are due to old door seals. Either get new ones or clean and wax the old ones (or use some other water-fighting stuff), might help

  20. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau November 22, 2015 9:52 am

    The other problem in the Northwest is moulding seats and seat belts. I try to park where some sun (assuming there is any) can get into the car now and then.

    Another possible remedy for leaking door seals and other parts is a cheap tarp over the car, especially one that is not driven often (so the tedium of dealing with the tarp is minimized) and one that you don’t care about the paint so much. Get bungies to hold it down, and the smaller the tarp the better, so wind won’t blow it away.

    Ain’t winter wonderful?

    We are on our 3rd sunny day without rain at all. The woods are glorious; I was out getting firewood yesterday, cutting up the downed madrones…

  21. Rr
    Rr November 22, 2015 11:45 am

    I was able to fix a troublesome leak around the windshield in a truck I used to have with flow-able (low viscosity) silicone sealant. The chain auto parts store had it for less than $10, if you’ve got a guess as to where the water is getting in it’s worth trying to inject some silicone.

  22. LarryA
    LarryA November 22, 2015 4:06 pm

    Watch out for brake lines, etc.!

    Safer to drill from underneath into an empty car.

  23. Claire
    Claire November 22, 2015 7:10 pm

    “Safer to drill from underneath into an empty car.”

    ‘Zactly. My driveway is mud and I have no garage. So the plan is to first see if I’ve taken care of the problem with my Gorilla tape, plastic sheeting, etc. Then if not, I wait for a dry day, lay down a tarp, slither under, and drill.

    Ugh. I may be more independent than most women, but there are still some jobs for which men are, if not essential, at least highly desirable. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 23, 2015 7:48 am

    “…there are still some jobs for which men are, if not essential, at least highly desirable.”

    Indeed, and even more so for some of us. LOL One of the first things to limit my ability to do things is short arms… weak old short arms. I’m so glad I found a handiman locally – just need to find a job so I can afford to have him fix things. You can’t win. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau November 23, 2015 8:44 am

    Guys, you heard it right here. We’re good for rolling around in the mud. At least that’s something… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. Claire
    Claire November 23, 2015 9:17 am

    Paul. Rolling in the mud. While wielding dangerous power tools. And having sufficient spacial sense and mechanical knowledge to discern where to drill.

    That’s three somethings!

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