Sunday, February 26, 2006

Coughing, wheezing and blowing my nose: The doctor says it is an allergy. She gives me several types of natural remedies that should help. They help a little.
Shall I go back to pharmacy stuff? How about finding out what is causing this stuffy, drippy nose? The doctor puts me through allergy testing. I am told what I already know, but the testing makes it official. I am allergic to dust, dander, cat, dairy...who knows what else.
At home, per doctor's orders, I encase my mattress and pillows with covers that keep the dust mites out of my nose. Two hepa filters, one humidifier and an ultra violet light to kill mold still doesn't cut down on allergic reactions. All rugs except one in the livingroom are discarded. I have the ducts in the walls cleaned out.
Nose problem continues. Darn it.
Sitting myself down, I decide that my next and best course of action is to remove what is probably the main source of my allergy. I am living in a house that was built about 1920. A house standing that long attracts a lot of dirt in cracks and crevases. While doing the laundry down in the basement, on a rainy day, I observe moisture coming through the masonry walls. The foundation of the house, after all these years, has lost some ability to withstand the weather. It comes right through the foundation. Next sunny day finds me outside, putting a water repellent on the masonry block foundation. The product is excellent, containing 3% silicone that is carried into the blocks, where it dries and makes a barrier. I like the company that makes this product. On line, I see that they make several products I could use. Inside, in the basement, I use DriLoc to patch the surface of the walls. Over that goes a sealer and over that, goes white paint.
Before I can begin this project, I must relocate all the junk that has collected in the basement over three generations. Those thrify Puritans didn't throw anything out. I do it for them. Then, I have to clean up the flaking that has fallen off the walls and is being carried through out the house by the forced air furnace. This is no easy task. I have swept up and vacuumed up at least three garbage bags full of flakes, dirt and bacteria. My allergies are receding. Hurrah. I found the prime source.
It takes me a week to do one section of the basement: one day for sweeping and moving stuff away from the walls, one day for filling holes and rough places with DriLoc. One day for the sealer. One or two days for painting. Another day for sorting through the stuff and putting it in the correct catagory. Tools go here. Car parts needed to restore my 63 Chevy go in this box. Separate catagories are for electrical and plumbing. Another place is for household stuff, another for cleaning supplies and a big box for stuff I don't know what it is for. A huge pile of metal is set aside for recycling. I am tempted to put the metal outside until spring when Public Works will take it to the recycle center, but I do not do this. My 85 year old neighbor will come snooping through the pile and drag it over to his house.
When that section is done, I start another section. The last and hardest to address is my father-in-law's workbench. The dirt beneath the bench is so old, I should save it for its antique qualities....what am I thinking? The trouble is, the work bench is fastened to the ceiling . Wood verticals hold wiring and boxes that hold little stuff like nails. The work bench has a hutch top for holding tools and stuff. I can't move it without taking it small job.
At least I can clean up the dirt. It takes me a day and a half to clear the top of the bench, to sweep the wall, window and joists around the bench. Dirt falls every where! I clear out a full garbage bag of bits of wood, rusty nails, filings, dried bottles of mysterious stuff...and dirt.
The mess gives up to me, treasures: drill bits, micrometers, antique wood clamps, marbles, gulf tees, several little antique bottles and odd shaped pieces of metal that I don't know what they are for. Since they could be car parts, they go into the "I don't know what this is for" box.
The sealer goes on today.
Bob got his new truck. It's a Dodge Caravan...a big van that can carry long fishing poles and lots of "stuff". Bob is always surrounded with "stuff". His little Nissen truck got totaled. When He provided documents to his insurance carrier that he had the engine rebuilt not a month before, they gave him $2,000 for the truck. Neighbor looked through the " for sale" ads and found the van. I drove him to the address He had written down. We arrive at a lovely meticulous house overlooking the harbor. What a beautiful view they have.
The van is as meticulous as the house and grounds. Neighbor test drives it and likes the way it handles, likes its response. The sellers had reduced the price to $3,000. They sell it to my neighbor for $2,500. What a bargain!
I am so glad that He got a nice set of wheels. I point out to him that because the van is enclosed, unlike his truck, all of the gear that he stows away, is protected from the weather and from someone helping themselves to his fishing gear. It won't get the good gas mileage as the truck, but mostly He drives around town...short trips. I think that providence has blessed my 85 year old neighbor....and He promises not to drive at night any more.
I compared the $12,000 I paid for my truck to Bob's van: It doesn't look nearly as nice as his.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My elderly neighbor has a Nissen truck...a little red one. He's had it for years. The unspoken truth is that He is so old, this will be his last vehicle. A new truck will be too expensive for him. He will not live long enough to get a lot of mileage out of a new truck. Neighbor is a retired experimental engineer . He understands mechanical things, so He does most all the repairs on his truck. He also buys used snow blowers, lawn tractors, shredders...things like that....and gets them up and running. Some times, he makes a part for his machines. Neighbor loves to do it. He loves the problem and the solution. His yard is littered with machines, against the zoning regulations, but every one likes this old guy. We turn a blind eye to the junk yard in our residential neighborhood.
A few years ago, He had an accident . The truck sustained damage to the hood, front bumper, and passenger side fender. The truck was in the shop for a while. Neighbor was without wheels for a while, but finally got the truck back. It looked better than ever. Rusty hood and fender were replaced with new and shiny. Trusty truck was back in action.
Last summer, truck had a mechanical problem. There was water and antifreeze in the wrong place. What in the world is wrong? Bob diagnosed that it had a leaky gasket. He took the head off. He bought a new gasket. Neighbor employed my grandson, Stephen, to help put the engine together again. He had to get a repair manual to learn about the unique features involved. The two men got most of it together. Stephen was getting busy, so neighbor called another mechanic to finish the job.
The truck was started up. Still the same problem. Neighbor is trying hard to not take it to the garage or dealer, because of the cost. Finally He bites the bullet and takes it to a mechanic.
The garage finds that the problem is not a blown head gasket. It seems that during the first accident, the timing chain became lose. No one saw it. The timing chain wore a hole in the water pump housing, causing the leak and mixture of two liquids. (Stephen had told neighbor that there was nothing wrong with the gasket. Neighbor did not believe him.)
The repair is made and bill paid. Neighbor drives the truck for a total of three days. It runs beautifully. Then a car stops suddenly in front of him and He rear ends it.
Another insurance claim. The insurance company wants to total the truck. They are in negotiations for how much the truck is worth. Neighbor points out the fine engine, like new now. The final deal is not completed as I write this blog. Neighbor has decided that He will no longer drive in the dark. ...but what will he drive in the daylight?