Monthly Archives: May 2012

When Walleyes Wept

Just to prove to Gene and  a few others that I am working, following are a couple of shots of Pony parts I’ve been steadily refurbishing out in the garage.

There’s a “mash-up” depicted there of steering and break parts in various stages of completion.  Although the clean-up takes place in the garage, the painting takes place in the paint booth.  Here’s a shot of one of the pieces hanging in the booth.

The machine shop did get the steering wheel removed from the steering column, so I have been able to proceed with work on that.  Their work on the brake parts and the steering wheel bumped-up the COM by $35.

By the way, what will happen when all the 55 to 75 year-old guys pass-on to their rewards, and there’s no one left with the desire and knowledge to work in a machine shop?  This is hard, hot, dirty work that requires expertise, precision and a clever mind, a tough combination.  When these men are gone, are we doomed?  I know life will get harder for tractor guys.

Speaking of old guys, and I think I can speak with authority on this subject now that I have a Medicare card, I saw a lot of them Friday.  The Princess and I went to the afternoon matinée of the movie “Best Marigold Hotel” or some such nonsense.  It was a movie about old people and it was attended by old people.  I don’t think anyone in the theater was younger than me.  When the movie was over the Princess went to “powder her nose,” so I thought, well I’ll powder mine too.  Jeez, every spot in the men’s room was filled with old guys waiting for gravity to get the plumbing to work.  I walked out, but of course, before we got home I had to pee so bad I was seeing yellow!

It’s been a quiet week in Young America, my home town.  The box elder bugs have been beaten into submission, mostly, and folks have gone on to fuss about other things, like the local ball club.  Otter Feltman, coach of the YA Cardinals is under a lot of pressure.  He’s coming off two back-to-back losing seasons, and with this year’s season well under way, the Cardinals 2-5 record has people looking down at their shoe laces when he enters a room.  He’s got lots of excuses, but fact is his talent pool (using that term loosely) is small and getting smaller.  This, while teams like the Waconia Walleyes keep getting new blood from immigrants streaming out of the twin  cities.

So Otter has to keep a keen eye out for anyone who might improve the team’s chances.  And that’s what he was doing a last week when the milk wagon from Bongard’s pulled into Gob Herm’s farm where he was helping out by watching Gob work as he sat on a stool just inside the barn eating sunflower seeds and spitting.  He figured he was safe from the town folk over here on the other side of the Mud Lake.  Otter couldn’t believe his eyes when the driver stepped down from the cab.  He figured him for 6′ 4″ at least and about 180 pounds.  Then he got a look in profile and even in coveralls and a cap there was no mistaking it, he was a she.   Hmmm, without even thinking about it, Otter envisioned this  Amazon in a Cardinals uniform, slipped off his stool, and moved over to the truck to introduce himself.  Gob peered out the door, noticed the rather intense look on Otter’s phiz as he spoke with the driver and went about his business.

It wasn’t five minutes and Otter was in his old beater heading over to Central High to find Otto Uenks, Principal.  Otto has the only copy of the Carver County baseball handbook known to exist; it was issued in 1932 and to this day has not been translated from the original German.  Poring over the manual the two eventually determined that even though the masculine article, “der,” was used exclusively when referring to the players, nothing prohibited a member of the fairer sex from being recruited by a team.

And that’s how it happened that Wednesday night a week ago at their home field in YA, Bessie Hinden, sat on the bench in a hastily altered Cardinals uniform awaiting the start of the game.  Otter hadn’t said much to anyone other than Ferdy Schwarz, the right fielder.  “Ferdy, this here gal is gonna take your place tonight, so get on over to the bratwurst concession stand and see if you can hit a few of those out of the park.”

Bessie had agreed to this crazy business not knowing one damn thing about the game of baseball, but she did understand Otter’s promise to let her order anything she wanted from QVC (up to $100) using his Amex card.  When the Cardinals took the field in the bottom of the 1st inning, the Walleye’s manager rocketed from the bench, confronted the home plate umpire and demanded an explanation.  Long story short, the game proceeded, but under protest, until such time as someone with the Walleyes (that could read German) had a chance to review the rule book.

To say that things did not go well is an understatement.  Thank the good Lord the Walleyes only had two left-handed hitters, as out in right field Bessie used her glove as kind of a deflector and swatted at the few fly balls that came her way just to save her life.  At the plate things went no better.  Bessie swung mightily for the fences, but missed the dang ball every single time. 

It seemed a miracle, therefore, that the game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cardinals down only 3-0.  The Walleyes pitcher was tiring, and through sheer doggedness those pathetic YA Cardinals managed to load the bases for who…yup, Bessie Hinden, the milk truck drivin’, baseball playin, QVC shoppin’ phenom from Bongard’s.  I’m not gonna drag this out.  Otter pulled her aside before she went to the plate.  He said, “Look it, Bessie, when that ‘bleeping’ Walleye pitcher throws the first pitch, I don’t care where it is, how fast it is, or whether it has eyes, I want you to stare it down, I mean stare it down until its right in front of you and then swing like you’re gonna cold cock that last boy friend of yours.”  She understood that and walked somberly to the plate.  

Fearing the disgrace he’d be held in should he fail against this Amazonian Cardinal at this critical moment, the Walleye pitcher got flustered, through the ball behind Bessie and it went to the back stand.  The ball got wedged under the fence, the catcher couldn’t get it loose and all three runners scored.

Folks in the stands went crazy.  A lot of mustard and sauerkraut was lost under the bleachers; beer went everywhere.  The game was tied and Bessie was still at the plate.  The next pitch will be talked about for a long time.  It was very high, eye level for Bessie, but following Otter’s instructions, Bessie stared that thing down and at just the right moment she swung at it like it was a ripe July melon.  That ball leapt from the bat, was still rising as it went over the fence, landed just short of the stairs to the back door to St. John’s Lutheran Church, bounced once and broke the window, walk-off home run. 

The headline the following week in the Norwood Young America Times read “Church Window Broken by Dairy Maid.”  Bessie and Otter sat in front of the TV for hours on the Thursday after the game until Bessie zeroed in on a pair of rose-colored, cultured pearl earings set in sterling silver.  They were a bit more than the $100 limit Otter had set, but what the heck, they were on “easy pay,” so he was able to spread out the payments.  Bessie didn’t leave Otter’s place  until well after midnight…ah, but that’s for another time…. 

That’s all the news from Young America.  Have a great Memorial Day, and thanks for reading.

Well, You Can Take it Home and Pray on it…

but it won’t make no difference.  That comment made by a young lady at a machine shop really hit my funny bone, but oh man, those are words you don’t want to here about your tractor.  Actually though, this was a case that just seemed to work out great, like it was meant to be.  I took two matching break parts to the shop, because the parts were rusted together and wouldn’t come apart.  Well, they threw them in the caustic soda bath, then soaked em in oil and, voila, everything freed up on one of them.  Meanwhile I was busy on the internet and found one good used part for $18.  Remind me to adjust the cost-o-meter.  So, between the part I got and the part they fixed, I’m all set.  What I was still missing, was a woodruff key for the part I bought, and when I said well, maybe I can take the one home they couldn’t free up, bang it apart, and salvage the woodruff key, that’s when she said to start praying, but also recommended a hardware store for the key. 

So, I’m progressing on the brakes, and in between trips to the machine shop, I’m rehabbing parts of the steering system.  I’ve now also left the steering column in the shop’s care.  The steering wheel, with the help of 25 years of corrosion has fused itself the column.  Hopefully some magic will be worked on that, because try as we might, Gene and I simply could not get it apart.  Here’s a “before and after” on some steering rods.

Returning to some old business.  First, Mayo Clinic got around to sending me its bill for my physical exam.  I was kind of concerned about this, because I went into the whole thing without much of an idea (hell, no idea) about what it would cost.  Then about a week before I left for Minnesota I mentioned to a doctor at UNC Hospital that I was going to Mayo for a physical.  He said, “What  do you want to go there for and pay them $8000 for something you can have done right here?”  This guy was a jerk, and actually gave me a bogus diagnosis, but nevertheless what he said got me wondering.  Well, my share of the tab after insurance:  $223, so there’s one more reason to love Mayo. 

The second item.  Remember the NC state house staffers that resigned their positions after being caught having romantic liaisons with lobbyists?  We mere citizens found out via this week’s newspaper that, because their boss, the House Speaker, felt sorry for them he sent them each off with a month’s pay.  So nice of him to reward his employee’s “hanky panky” with taxpayer money to the tune of almost $20,000!  My goodness, what will next week’s revelation be?  Oo, oo, I know; the two will form a consulting firm and be granted a state contract to do the same thing they’ve been doing all along…nothing…well ok, there was the hanky panky.  Remember, you heard it here first.

The Idiotic Brother is back from his annual cactus seed expedition to Africa.  That sounds bogus to me.  I’ll bet he goes back each year to deposit cash in a secret, numbered bank account.  He did bring this lovely photo back though.

Very nice!

Have a great week everyone, and thanks for reading.

Only in North Carolina

This first item is just for you out-of-state folks who don’t get to experience the regular  joy we “tar heels” do from observing our state’s political process unfold and our politicians perform. 

You always knew, and I don’t care what political party we’re talking about, that the  politicians are in bed with the lobbyists.  But here in North Carolina our politicians truly believe in the concept… and practice it, literally.  Last week when our local paper’s “crack” investigative reporting staff presented evidence to the NC House Speaker, Tom Tillis, that his Chief of Staff was having an affair with a lobbyist, it resulted in the Chief’s resignation.  Pretty embarrassing, eh?  Maybe, but that was only news until this week when another of Tillis’s staffers resigned after admitting she also had “an inappropriate romantic relationship with a lobbyist.  Sheesh!

Don’t worry about Speaker Tillis though; he says he didn’t know  about his Chief of Staff’s affair, this even though the two men share an apartment in Raleigh.  Yeah, I believe him.  The really great thing was the excuse given for this behavior by the female staffer.  Her excuse was that essentially this kind of thing is bound to happen when people move between the legislative community and the lobbying community, so it should be no surprise that “friendships” arise.  I’m sorry, is that the excuse, or the problem?  I suppose both.  This is exactly what makes me so glad that there are no politics in ThatIdioticTractorLand.

Tractor News
During the last week I’ve been busy with the sander and the wire brush cleaning up pieces of the steering and braking systems.  The Princess and I even took a trip over to Durham in search of a machine shop that could get some of the brake parts unfrozen.  Took a while, but we found one, and word is that in a couple of weeks I might get the parts back.  We’ll see.

Moving on, I just thought I’d share this drawing.

That’s the schematic that an endocrinologist used yesterday to explain how the parathyroid glands work.  I said Jeez Doc, what kind of grade did you get in that Medical Art class anyway?  I’m thinking though that I missed a bet by not having him sign this.  It does have a certain cryptic flow to it, and by golly the cost of that appointment certainly made me feel like I had bought a piece of art.

I’ve written before about our blue birds.  We’ve got a blue bird house on one of the posts that holds up our deck.  Each year several batches of chicks fledge from that house, and the first batch the season fledged about 3 weeks ago.  We were actually lucky enough to be watching what we call “blue bird TV” through the window when all four of the little buggers made their first flights from the house.  One little guy left the house about half a day later than the rest, but the parents kept track of him and kept feeding him until he too “flew the coop.”  This has always been the last we see of the chicks (at least to our knowledge).  This time, however, one of the birds has stayed behind, I’m thinking perhaps that guy who got the late start.  We’ve watched as he’s grown bigger and his pretty blue feathers have come in.  Unfortunately, we now suspect that this bird has something like “separation anxiety,” or perhaps he has been shunned, because all he seems to want to do is hang around his former home, sit on cactus, cling to our window screens peering at himself (and us) and tweet the most mournful little blue bird tweets…all day long.

We need some help dealing with this little guy.  Should we institute some kind of “tough love” plan to chase him?  I was thinking of perhaps hanging red Christmas ribbon on the windows to frighten him off.  This morning though I saw him over hanging on to one of the neighbor’s townhouse windows.  Then too, I don’t want to keep other blue birds from returning to the house to get it ready for the next brood.  Help!   Anyone know a good “bird shrink?”  Can’t you see him on the little couch.  “I don’t know doc, I just feel so…well…”blue.”

To my Mom and all you other moms (including The Princess Mom) Happy Mothers Day!  Thanks for reading.