Thursday, October 31, 2019

Day 3598 - Halloween

The only thing spooky about today was listening to the roofer this morning remind me of all the things that were wrong with my roof. I was impressed with this roofer's knowledge and experience, but I didn't hear much that I didn't already know. My roof is almost impossible to keep repairing at this point and it is going to be very expensive to replace. Due to the odd shape of the house, adding a slight pitch to the roof so it will drain properly will be complex. Putting on a new roof without eliminating the low spots won't eliminate the standing water problem.

I got the impression that if I wanted the roof to look and function the way it did in 1955, I might as well just build a new house. The large open atrium in the center of the house, a gas line on the roof, and multiple areas where settling has caused rain water to accumulate all add up to a complicated and expensive problem. This roofer, like many of the others who have given me bids, concluded that it would be prohibitively expensive to remove all the plywood decking and add a taper to the beams. He didn't think an engineered roof with foam panels creating a slope would work well either. He did say he could put on a roof that he would warranty for fifteen years whether it was under water or not. That should be enough. Fifteen years from now they'll be carting me off to assisted living anyway. One of the most interesting solutions would be to cover the entire roof with spray on truck bed liner. This would be too expensive, but it would make a tough, durable roof.

I didn't get any good news about the sliding glass door either. Nobody makes doors this large anymore. Nobody has parts for old style doors either. I could have a custom door manufactured, but it probably wouldn't look the same. It's too bad that the only guy in town who could fix my door died.

It was below freezing when I woke up this morning and it was still very cold when I took my morning walk. It was a clear sunny day which made it difficult to dress properly. When the wind wasn't blowing, I was too hot. Down by the shoreline where it was still quite windy, I was too cold. For some reason, my feet hurt more than usual today. By the time I returned home, I was ready to go back to bed.

I did go vote today. The only thing on the ballot were propositions and constitutional amendments. The lack of candidates running for office made this a very low turnout election. It was a good thing there wasn't a line, because there were brand new voting machines and voting was more complex than usual. You were given a blank paper ballot which was inserted into the voting machine. You made your selections electronically on the screen and then the machine spit out a printed ballot with your voting choices. You took this printed ballot to another machine which scanned the results and then saved the paper ballot as a backup. I guess all this complexity is to prevent someone from hacking the system, but you'd think they would have come up with an easier way to accomplish this.

I just realized that I have a dental appointment on Monday when we visit the Dalmatians. I was going to reschedule tomorrow and then I learned that dentists have a four day work week. Most of them are closed on Friday. Why did I not know this before? Janet told me it has always been this way. Restaurants are always open on Friday, but I can't decide whether I want to go our for breakfast tomorrow. I'm losing interest in my breakfast outings.

Roxy is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Day 3597

Darn went to his forever home this morning. The couple who adopted him seemed very nice and they have had Dalmatians before. I think this is a good home. Darn might not realize it now, but his life is going to get a lot better. Hopefully, he will get a new name. Many of our new dogs came to us with very strange names. Sock and Jelly Bean seemed to know their names, but the others didn't. I wonder if Darn and Sock got named at the same time. Maybe somebody's sock had a hole in it. Darn is one of the shy dogs, but I think as soon as he starts to feel safe in his new home he's going to relax and start enjoying life.

It was very cold this morning. It was also very wet. After the cold front arrived yesterday, it continued raining for the rest of the night. It rained a lot. I left the pumps running overnight, but I don't think it helped much. Just before I got up this morning, I heard the sound of water dripping into a bucket. The water was coming from the same can light in the office ceiling as it was before. I guess my repairs didn't accomplish much.

It was disappointing that I wasn't able to stop the leak. I certainly tried my best. I have no idea how the water is getting in, but when you have four inches of standing water on a flat roof, water will find a way. The new roofer I called is going to come take a look at things tomorrow. I'm not very optimistic at this point, but I'm always open to suggestions.

I made an appointment to take my retainer back to the dentist. I tried to wear it again last night and it is clear that the thing doesn't fit. Soaking the retainer in hot water before trying to fit it didn't help at all. I should have had a proper fitting at the dentist before taking the retainer home, but the dentist and I were both in a hurry. They told me that these things almost always fit perfectly. I guess I am the exception to this rule.

I wore my winter clothes on this morning's walk. Maybe our hot summer wasn't so bad after all. The temperature was around forty degrees but there was a very strong wind. The wind chill effect made it feel like it was below freezing. I think it actually is going to dip below freezing later tonight. This is our first freeze warning of the fall. I finally remembered to bring the 24 volt battery for the electric lawnmower inside for the winter. It's anybody's guess whether the battery will still be good next spring, but at least I've made an effort to save it.

We can look forward to another very cold day tomorrow. At least the rain is over for a while. I went up on the roof this afternoon and swept all the water away. This stopped the leak for the moment. I'm sure it will return with the next heavy rainfall. All this is frustrating, but at least the tornado didn't blow down our house. We passed through some of the tornado damage on our way back from the kennel this morning and it looked even worse than the pictures I've been seeing. It's still hard to believe that all this destruction happened in just a few minutes.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Day 3596

Every year it is the same. During the summer, I can't wait for winter to arrive. Then as soon as it turns cold, I'm wishing it was summer again. Fall is nice. It is unfortunate that it only lasts two weeks in Texas. Today was one of those cold, damp days that makes you regret getting out of bed. I should have just stayed under the covers this morning.

I had the park to myself today. It wasn't raining during my walk, but I kept expecting to get wet anyway. Maybe sweating isn't so bad. I wore a light down ski jacket, my wool hat, and some heavy hiking boots and by the time I returned home I was wishing I'd worn something warmer. Other walkers must have similar thoughts. I usually see lots of people in the park on hot days but very few on cold days. In other parts of the country, today's weather wouldn't even qualify as winter, but we're not used to the cold here in Texas. I was happy enough to stay inside with the furnace running for the rest of the day.

I tried my new retainer last night. It felt way too tight. At first I thought that the dentist had given me someone else's retainer by mistake. Then the thing clicked into place and I couldn't get it off again. I kind of panicked when the retainer appeared to be stuck and I was afraid I'd lose a tooth trying to remove it. Was the original retainer ever this tight? It's hard to remember. All I know is that my old broken retainer is very easy to remove. Sure, it's worn out and probably doesn't even work anymore, but I never worry about losing a tooth when I wear it at night. Janet said I should soak the retainer in warm water before using it at night to make it more flexible. I'll try that this evening. If this doesn't help, I'll have to go back to the dentist.

A former client wanted me to locate a picture I'd taken back in the early 1990's. Lots of luck with that. I spent several hours looking through files this afternoon and couldn't find the image she wanted.  I wish my memory was better. I found lots of similar images, but nothing that matched the low-resolution thumbnail I was given as a reference. The more I think about this, I have a feeling that another photographer took this picture. It was used in a website and I used lots of other photographer's pictures during this period of time. I'll keep looking, but I have a feeling that this is a lost cause.

The roof isn't leaking, but I have no idea whether my recent repairs worked. The roof is under water now and I won't be able to inspect things until the roof dries out again. Lord knows when that is going to happen. At this time of year we seem to get an endless series of cold fronts preceded by a line of storms. I know it is supposed to continue raining through tomorrow. Hopefully, the pumps will keep working. The pumps don't remove all the water on the roof, but they help keep the standing water from becoming too deep. I'll place buckets under suspicious areas before I go to bed and hope for the best.

We're going up to the kennel again tomorrow to meet with the family who will be adopting Darn. One by one, these dogs are finding good homes.

Dakota is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Monday, October 28, 2019

Day 3595

The Dalmatians are doing well. Jelly Bean and Soldier have been adopted. There is someone who is interested in Ginny and I think Darn is being looked at as well. Lord and Leftie are still painfully shy, but they are making progress. They both seem to gain confidence when they are together. Jasmine is almost finished with her heartworm treatment and Ginny is about ready to begin hers. Luckily, these two girls are the only dogs that are curently heartworm positive. Hank is eating well, but seems to be losing weight again. The bloody stools haven't returned, but we still can't figure out why this dog is so thin. All in all, this is a good report card, but kennel life is stressful. Each of these dogs will do even better when they find their forever homes. A Dalmatian isn't really happy until they can counter surf and sleep on your bed.

I am totally frustrated with the weather forecast. It was supposed to be clear today but ended up raining this afternoon. I hope my roof repairs had time to dry properly. The rain was just a light drizzle, but moisture is moisture. As long as the silicon has developed a skin on the top surface, I think it should continue to cure even if it gets wet. We'll see. I'll go inspect things as soon as the weather dries out again.

I finally received my new retainer. I thought the dentist was going to mail it to me last week, but it never arrived. I called to see if the retainer was finished and we stopped on our way home from the Dalmatian kennels so I could pick it up. Hopefully, this will keep my teeth from getting even further out of alignment. It seems weird that your teeth keep shifting slightly throughout your life, but that's just the way it is.

I had to take a shorter walk today so I'd have time to visit the Dalmatians. It's just as well I didn't complete the entire five miles. It was one of those foggy, damp days were you start out dry and end up wet, even though you aren't aware of rain falling. I wonder if the little circus in the park will come back next year. They've had terrible weather for two years in a row. I can't imagine that they've made much money this year. At least half of their performances have been rained out.

Roofer number four is going to come look at the house later this week. I don't expect their estimate to be much different than the first three roofers, but at least I'm doing something. Maybe they will suggest something new. An old house that has settled is full of problems. Cracks develop. Doors and windows stick. Plumbing starts to leak. All this seems minor compared to the roof though.

I don't know why I'm not sleeping well. Right after Dash died I started sleeping a lot better. Now I'm back to waking up several times a night. I don't have insomnia. I just wake up a lot. Life is full of little mysteries. As always, I'll go to sleep tonight watching an old episode of Perry Mason that I've seen many time before and hope for the best. It seems to be a lot easier to walk 20,000 steps than it is to sleep eight hours.

Abi is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Day 3594

Today was tiring. I went to the gym right after breakfast because I knew I needed to make some more repairs on the roof while the weather was still nice. When I did my usual workout, I knew it was going to be a long day because my shoulder was already starting to hurt. The gym was almost empty. Most people would rather exercise outside on a nice Fall day.

The roof seemed dry enough to apply the silicon material, so I got started transferring the messy stuff to a small paint can I could lift to the roof. I took a short nap first though. Basically, I took a nap after every major activity today. I applied two gallons of the coating today. This was enough to cover just about all of the remaining old acrylic coating. There were no holes in the acrylic coating, but I thought that water might be seeping through it. I really try my best to be neat, but today I managed to kneel in a spot where I had just applied fresh coating. I always take wet rags with me now, so I can remove the silicon I spill on myself before it starts to harden. Some of the silicon ended up dripping off the edge of the roof and landed on the front porch as well. It was a lot harder to remove the stuff from the brick porch than from my own skin.

Hopefully, these repairs will take care of the leak in the office. If the leak is still there, I have about half of the big bucket of silicon left. I'll just keep patching until it's gone. The next cold front should arrive sometime Tuesday and bring more rain along with it. We'll see how the roof holds up this time. I hope I am successful because getting a roofer to come out to the house is going to be next to impossible for the next six months. The tornado damage is so bad that all the reputable roofers in town are probably booked up indefinitely.

I still managed to take my five mile walk after I finished working on the roof. I probably should have skipped the walk. After four miles I was going pretty slow. Lots of people were passing me today. I'm always amazed at how popular the park is on a nice day. When the weather is bad, I have the place to myself. On a pretty day it feels like I'm at the State Fair. I've grown to prefer miserable weather when I'm walking. I've got lots of warm coats and my photography tends to look a lot better on a cloudy day. Cold, overcast days are great. I still don't like to get wet though.

Some of the new Dalmatians have already been adopted. I'm not sure who has actually left the building though. I guess we'll find out when Janet and I go up to visit the dogs tomorrow. I'm delighted that so many dogs are finding homes quickly. I miss seeing my favorites though. It's real easy to get attached to these guys.

I hope I get a good night's sleep. These 20,000 step days can wear a guy out.

Dash is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Day 3593

I renewed my storage unit for another year. All storage warehouses are basically the same. They use a diabolically clever marketing strategy. They lure you in with an attractive rate and then relentlessly start raising your rent until the end of time. New customers get all the deals because the storage companies know that once you go to the trouble of moving all your junk into one of their units, you're not going to want to move again. I moved last year because my monthly rent was getting ridiculous and now the rent is already going up on my new unit.

I keep thinking that I'm going to get rid of this stuff, but it's so much trouble that  I inevitably end up getting a larger storage unit instead. Before I switched storage companies, I increased the size of my storage space three times. Last year at this time I was actively selling art, guitars, and collections. I had hopes of being in a smaller unit this year, but my unit is already completely full. Keeping a storage unit isn't even rational. If I'd just thrown everything away and kept the rent I've spent over the years I'd be ahead of the game. Storing things doesn't even always keep your things safe. I've already ruined one valuable guitar due to heat and moisture issues and spent so much restoring a piece of artwork last year that I only broke even when it came to auction. Knowing all this, I went ahead and renewed my space again. I just don't want to deal with this stuff now.

Today was beautiful. Yesterday's torrential rain seems like a distant memory. I hope the temperature stays warm enough so that I can apply some more of the silicon coating to the roof tomorrow. There are no obvious holes in the coating, but there is one suspicious area that could probably benefit from being coated again with the silicon material. I'll have to do the work tomorrow if I want the coating to dry. The weather forecast says it's going to start raining again on Tuesday.

I continue to be amazed by the pictures I'm seeing of the tornado damage in North Dallas. This was a really bad tornado. I'd been planning to remove the Oak tree in the back yard that was damaged when a large limb fell off a few months ago. It just occurred to me that it is going to be very difficult to get a tree guy to do this job for the next few months. Probably every tree guy in town has their hand full dealing with tornado damage. The same probably goes for roofers and contractors of all types. A big chunk of the city has been totally demolished.

I felt really tired on my walk today. The distance was the same but it felt like the Earth's gravity had increased or something. I couldn't wait to get home so I could take a nap. Sometime I wonder if I could even survive up on Mount Locke living in semi-primitive conditions as an astronomy volunteer. I think I'd make a good guide to the night skies, but I like my creature comforts as well. There's no sense fretting about this now since I haven't even been approved yet, but it's something to think about. I'm not getting any younger. I suspect that's why the observatory asked me so many health questions on my application form.

I guess this is why I keep going to they gym and taking five mile walks everyday. There's still a lot of stuff I'd like to do. When you're over 70, your Facebook feed starts to look like an obituary page, but you can't let that get you down. Hey, my grandparents were active until their mid nineties. Maybe I've got good genes.

Pearl is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, October 25, 2019

Day 3592

We got an enormous amount of rain last night. I apparently couldn't even escape the rain in my sleep. About 3 AM I woke up from a bad dream in which I was walking through a flooded house. The house appeared to be the house I grew up in, but you can never tell about dreams. Once I was awake, I got a drink of water and looked around. I could hear the pumps running on the roof and I didn't see any leaks, so I went back to bed. There were still no leaks when I got up the next morning, so I thought I was in the clear. Sadly, I wasn't. Later in the day I heard an ominous drip in the office. Water had started leaking through a can light in the ceiling. It was a small leak, but there shouldn't have been a leak at all. I thought I'd done a good job of making repairs.

I decided to take a walk when the rain appeared to stop about an hour after I finished breakfast. Both the weather apps on my phone confirmed that there would be no more rain until later in the afternoon.  It was cold and wet outside, so I wore a warm jacket and my old waterproof dog walking boots. The weather radar apps apparently aren't sensitive enough to measure mist. It wasn't raining, but after a mile or so I realized that I was pretty wet. The mist had soaked my jacket.

The park was empty today. The cyclists, joggers, and dog walkers were all gone. I only encountered two people during my entire walk. There was a Japanese guy in shirtsleeves who tried to give me a pamphlet and asked if I had found Jesus. He looked very cold. Later, I passed a girl in dance attire who was using a camera with a self timer on a tripod to take pictures of herself on a very wet pier.

When I got home I threw my clothes in the dryer and had no desire to go outside again for the rest of the day. The dripping noise in the office finally got to me though. I went up on the roof to try and find the source of the leak. I failed. I still have no idea how the water is getting in. All the patches I applied the other day held up very well. I couldn't find any new areas where water might be getting in.

Unfortunately, the water is getting in somehow. I cleared all the standing water away and hope that the roof will have a chance to dry again before the next rain arrives. I need to find the source of this leak. There are still a few areas where the old acrylic coating was never replaced with the silicon material. When the roof dries out again, I will first look for suspicious damp areas and then make sure that the entire roof is coated with the more durable silicon material. Will that work? Who knows.

Because I am losing patience with this roof, I called a fourth roofer to give me a bid for replacing the roof. This guy comes highly recommended, but so did the other three. So far, nobody agrees on the best way to solve my problems. It doesn't help matters that the architect who designed this mid-century modern house thought it would be cool to have an garden atrium right in the middle of the house. Having a big square hole right in the middle of the roof definitely complicates the process of replacing the roof. The house was built in 1955 and like all old houses has settled over the years. Water now drains toward the atrium at the center of the house instead of toward the edges of the roof.

I hope I sleep better tonight. When I was young I used to have exciting dreams where I could fly and do amazing things. Having a dream where your house is flooded is just a bit too close to real life.

Patch is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Day 3591

I watched the sky turn from partly cloudy to gun metal grey as I took my walk this morning. It was clear that more rain was on the way. I tried to get everything I needed to do finished before the rain arrived. I was pleased that I was able to complete my five mile walk without getting wet. I went to the bank without getting wet as well. I thought about going to the grocery store, but I found some left overs in the refrigerator and decided not to push my luck.

I made reservations for Thanksgiving Dinner when I completed my errands. We go to the same place every year and I've finally learned that you can't make these reservations too early. Apparently a lot of other people have decided that they're just as tired of cooking on Thanksgiving as we are. Thanksgiving is exceptionally late this year. It is always the fourth Thursday in November, but this year the holiday seems way too close to Christmas.

I'm not very energetic on a normal day, but on a rainy day I find it hard to even move. Everything seems like it can wait until the rain stops. I spend my time checking the weather forecast, checking the roof pumps to make sure water is flowing, and looking suspiciously at the ceiling for signs of a leak. When Dot and Dash were with us, we were like peas in a pod. All three of us hated rain. I've spent lots of time curled up with the dogs on rainy days.

I almost forgot to take the trash to the curb this evening. My instinct for avoiding getting wet overpowered my instinct to always have the week's trash ready for Friday morning pickup. Luckily, Janet reminded me that it was trash day. When I hauled the wet trash can to the curb, I noticed that everyone's bulky trash was still sitting on the curb as well. A quick Google search conformed what I suspected. Bulky trash pickup for October has been suspended because all trucks are needed for the tornado cleanup effort.

I need to remember that early voting starts tomorrow in Texas. Ballot propositions often seem like a lot of mumbo-jumbo to me, but this year there's one that I definitely feel should pass. Proposition 10 is a constitutional amendment that would allow municipalities to transfer retiring police dogs and horses without charge to their handlers on the animals retirement. Currently retiring police dogs are considered surplus property and they can be disposed of like any other surplus property. It is completely legal for a city to just have their retiring dogs put down. This is clearly wrong. Service dogs develop a strong bond with their handlers and they should be able to continue to spend their remaining days with them on retirement. I'll never tell you how to vote for president, but I think that old dogs deserve respect. If you live in Texas, I hope you vote yes on Proposition 10.

It looks like it is going to rain all night. Do I leave the pumps running all night? If it keeps raining, this is probably a good idea. If the rain stops, it is a bad idea. I've burned out pumps before. Either way, I'll probably just stay home for breakfast tomorrow. I've still got enough fresh fruit for one more smoothie.

Ellis is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Day 3590

I'm never going to become a space journalist if I don't take advantage of every opportunity. With this in mind, I decided to apply for credentials to attend an upcoming Space X launch in early December. I don't think I'll ever be a natural traveler, but they don't launch rockets in Dallas. If I want to watch a launch or even look at the stars on a clear, dark night, I'm going to have to go somewhere else. I think I can afford another trip by December, so we'll see what happens. Space X is always doing interesting things, so maybe there's a story in this as well.

It looks like I did a good job of applying the silicon coating yesterday. When I went up on the roof this afternoon to inspect my work, I was pleased to see that the coating had cured properly and was ready for the rain we are expecting tonight. All the damaged areas are covered, but I wish I had applied a little more of the product to sections of the roof where I know water accumulates. I have a lot of the silicon material left, so I can always go back later and apply more if needed. I'm always a little cautious with this stuff. I wasn't sure how long it would take the silicon to dry completely and I didn't want a big sticky mess when the rain arrived.

The weather was perfect again today. It's too bad the price we pay for Fall weather is often a cold front preceded by a line of severe storms. Fall is definitely the rainy season here in Dallas. The front that will be arriving early tomorrow morning isn't expected to produce severe weather, but it will bring a lot of rain. We'll see how my roof patches hold up. I'm optimistic at this point. I carefully walked the roof this afternoon and couldn't find any torn spots where water might enter.

While I was filling out my application for press credentials today, I thought I'd send a few query letters to magazines as well. I hate to see anything go to waste, so I'm trying to repurpose the article I wrote about traveling to McDonald Observatory. Hey, it was a good article. I just didn't look through any telescopes. If I get accepted by NASA to go back to Kennedy Space Center, I'm going to see if I can get access to the nearby Space X Starship assembly facility as well. Starship is definitely an interesting story.

While I'm waiting to hear from NASA, Sky and Telescope, and the folks at McDonald Observatory, I can always look at butterflies. There seem to be an unusual number of Monarchs in the area right now. The Fall migration is underway and I see the butterflies everywhere these days. I never noticed that Spring migration this year, but that's understandable. I had my hands full dealing with Dash's many health issues at the time.

I thought that the bulky trash trucks were going to arrive today, but my big pile of tree branches is still sitting out at the curb. I guess I could have trimmed a few more trees, but there's always November. I've probably done enough damage to the yard for one month.

Freckles is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Day 3589

I got up early this morning to watch the Orionid meteor shower. I sat in a lawn chair in the back yard for about thirty minutes looking in the direction of the constellation Orion. I didn't see any meteors. The sky was clear, but the moon was bright and there was the usually Dallas light pollution. The meteors were probably there, but the sky just wasn't dark enough to see them.

I almost didn't go outside at all because I knew this would happen. Then I thought if I'm too lazy to even attempt to see one of the best meteor showers of the year, why am I even thinking of going back to the Davis Mountains? At some point, I went back into the house to get my binoculars so I could see a few more stars. Even though the night sky was nothing like the vivid tapestry I saw in Fort Davis, I still enjoyed sitting in my lawn chair looking up at the Orion Nebula and the waning moon. I kept imagining how much better the experience would be without a washed out city sky and the ever present Dallas traffic noise. The majestic solitude of the Davis Mountain skies was calling to me.

Janet returned from her trip today. She was pleased that the yard looked better but said the house still smelled musty. As she described her visit to Mount Hood and the Oregon Coast it brought back distant memories of a time when I lived out there. I wouldn't want to live in Seattle or Portland anymore, but it's hard to beat the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Temperatures were in the fifties when I woke up this morning. They weren't a lot warmer when I finished breakfast and went on my walk. This is the kind of weather I like. I put on a light jacket and a hat and started walking a bit more briskly than usual. I guess Fall is my favorite season. It just doesn't last long enough here in Texas.

By early afternoon it has warmed up enough that I decided that it was now or never with the roof. I knew I had at least 48 hours before the next cold front arrived and that was enough time for the silicon coating to dry. A few of the damaged areas were still a little damp, but if I keep waiting for everything to dry completely, it's just going to rain again and the roof will continue to get worse.

Applying the coating was just as messy as I anticipated. I transferred a gallon of the silicon material from the large container to a paint can and lifted it to the roof using a rope. I apply the coating using a cheap paint roller that I just throw away after use. I wear old clothes I can throw away too. I try my best to be careful and not make a mess, but I always manage to spill some of the sticky liquid. I didn't get any silicon on my clothes today, but I did manage to step in a patch I'd just finished coating. Oops. It was a good thing I was wearing some old rubber boots that I've saved just for going up on the roof.

Hopefully, I've sealed any potential areas where water might leak into the house. You never know though. Water is relentless. I'll find out how successful I was the next time it rains.

The cancer center where we used to take Dot and Dash got damaged by the tornado. The clinic is closed for repairs now. I kept thinking how horrible it would be if your dog is right in the middle of chemo treatment now. Where are you going to go? I hope I don't have car problems any time soon. I think the Land Rover dealership was damaged as well. Weather is humbling. I like to think I can plan for everything, but you can't plan for weather.

Dot is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Monday, October 21, 2019

Day 3588

Needless to say, I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. I thought I was in the clear when the tornado passed to the north of our house. Then, as I was getting ready for bed there was another severe weather alert on my phone. A second storm system was headed or way. This new storm carried little danger of tornadoes. The worry this time was heavy rain and seventy mile per hour straight line winds. The threat of straight line winds made me nervous. This is what knocked down our trees and destroyed the greenhouse back in June.

The new storm only lasted about thirty minutes, but there was definitely a lot of wind and rain. When the squall line passed, it was a lot colder. The cold front I'd been hearing about had arrived. I made sure that all the trees in the yard were still standing and went to bed. There was no point in going outside and turning on the roof pumps. The wind had probably blown them over anyway.

This morning I turned on the pumps, made my morning smoothie, and listened to the local news. Wow. Last night's tornado was pretty bad. Some familiar parts of town had been wiped out. A large Home Depot near the Land Rover dealer had been demolished. A strip mall where Janet and I used to shop suffered the same fate. The best garden center in Dallas was totally destroyed. Here I was worrying about a roof leak and a few miles away people's homes were gone. It just seemed unreal that so much damage could be created in just a few minutes.

After breakfast, I went up on the roof and cleared away the standing water. The quicker I can remove the water, the less chance there will be of a leak. I don't know when I'm going to be able to apply the silicon coating. Our next cold front arrives Thursday and it will be preceded by a line of storms as well. Several people have suggested putting a giant tarp over the roof. A tarp can provide a temporary solution on a pitched roof, but they are generally just a nuisance on a flat roof.  I can guarantee that the standing water would find a way under the tarp.

The weather was so pretty today that it was hard to believe all the damage Dallas received last night. What a difference a day makes. I took my long walk when I finished removing the water from the roof and thought about how lucky I'd been. The house was fine, the trees were still standing, and I didn't even have a roof leak. Lord knows when I'll finally be able to apply the silicon coating, but you've just got to take things one day at a time during the rainy season.

I was unusually tired when I returned home. I guess I'd forgotten about how much effort it takes to clear the roof. This was a good time for a nap. I fell asleep almost immediately and didn't wake up until mid afternoon. I felt refreshed when I woke up and returned to my regular schedule. I paid a few bills, took them to the post office, and then finished trimming the trees in the back yard. I wanted to have this chore completed by the time Janet returns from her trip. I think bulky trash pickup is tomorrow as well.

It was a long day and I'm pretty tired. 22,000 steps on a weekday isn't bad though. I'm beginning to think that the little circus in the park brings bad luck. When the circus was here last year we had severe flooding. This year we have a tornado. Sure, October is the rainy season anyway but I'm blaming this on the circus.

Lance is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Day 3587

I added the new Dalmatians to the rescue website this afternoon. That was about all I accomplished today. The rest of the day was spent walking and at the gym. As I was editing yesterday's photos, I kept thinking that this was the best looking group of dogs we've had in a long time. If you've been thinking about adding a Dalmatian to your household, this might be the perfect time to adopt one.

I just heard thunder outside. This wasn't supposed to happen. As recently as 48 hours ago the forecast showed clear skies for the next five days. Now, there's another cold front headed our way. All these cold fronts seem to be preceded by a line of thunderstorms. The rain doesn't last long, but it is often quite heavy. It's certainly been enough to disrupt my roof repair plans. I've had the silicon coating material for several weeks now and the roof still hasn't gotten dry enough to apply the coating. It's frustrating to say the least. Most of the roof dries quickly after I've swept the water away. Unfortunately the damaged areas retain moisture and are slow to dry. I"ve learned over the years that you can't fight the weather. You just have to be patient.

I hope the leak doesn't reappear tonight. I can't run the pumps when it's dry and if I'm asleep when the rain starts, the water can build up quickly. Sometimes the pumps get clogged and don't work anyway. I guess I'll strategically place a few buckets where water might leak before I go to bed tonight. It's better to be safe than sorry.

I thought the Great Egrets were gone for the winter, but I saw a ton of them at the lake today. I know these birds fly South for the winter, but maybe we are a southern destination for the northern birds. Truthfully, I know very little about Egrets and Herons. They come and go, very often surprising me. I guess they're kind of like the weather.

There were very few people at the gym today. This always happens when it is nice outside. For most of the day you'd never dream that we'd be under a severe weather alert this evening. It was clear and warm and the park was full of picnickers and bicycles. Things change quickly in Texas. According to the latest forecast the rain is supposed to start in six minutes.

Well, six minutes have passed and we're under a tornado warning now. I just heard the sirens go off. The weatherman on the television is telling people to go to their safe place now. Where would that be? I always worry about tornadoes because every room in our house has an exterior wall with lots of glass. There really isn't a safe space. I quit writing for a while and sat in the one corner of the office that wasn't right next to a window.

A tornado did hit the ground in Dallas and apparently did quite a bit of damage. I got lucky though. There was a confirmed tornado several miles to the north and another severe weather system to the south of us. Our neighborhood by the lake was in a little corridor between these two storm systems and we didn't even get much rain. So far, we haven't lost power either.

I'll have to admit I was a little nervous this evening. This was a very bad storm and the tornado came within several miles of the house. I'm sure some people I know in North Dallas experienced damage. It's over now. All is fine here and looking at the path of the storm, the Dalmatian kennel escaped damage as well. I think this is enough drama for one day.

Emily is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Day 3586

I met six new Dalmatians today. These new dogs were rescued from the same elderly breeder as the previous six that entered the rescue program. They are all wonderful dogs. It's been a while since we've had such a wide selection available for adoption at the same time. Like the previous group we rescued, these dogs are still a little nervous about their new surroundings. I don't think it will take long for them to relax. Their brothers and sisters will let them know that everything is fine.

In less than a month, the first six of these new rescues have undergone an amazing transformation. They are relaxed and playful now. They are all gaining weight and the ones who arrived with skin conditions are already looking much better. We introduced today's newcomers to some of the initial batch of six and it was clear that they already knew each other. Even the extremely shy ones perked up when they saw a familiar face. All these guys are dog friendly too. They grew up together and  are very used to being around other dogs.

Several people came to look at dogs while I was at the kennel today. It is almost certain that some of our newcomers will find their forever homes very soon. It is a good thing that there have been a lot of adoptions this year. It is very expensive to care for this many dogs. Heartworm treatments, dental care, spay and neuter procedures, prescription medicine, x-rays, food, and boarding expenses add up fast. I think most of the money we made at the golf tournament is already gone.

Before I left for the kennel, I filled the car with gas and ran a few errands. I didn't have time for my normal walk this morning, but I was able to walk three miles. The weather is still beautiful. It is rare to have temperatures in the sixties and seventies with clear blue skies in Dallas. I'd better enjoy things while I can. Fall doesn't last long here in Texas. I think the little circus in the park got lucky this year. Last year at this time they were underwater. This year they're enjoying some of the best weather we've had all year.

I'll check and see how well the roof is drying tomorrow. I'm going to have to make my repairs soon while the weather is good. I'd like to let things dry as long as I can and then apply the coating about three days before the next expected rain. The only trouble with this plan is that weather forecasts are often wrong. Maybe I ought to make the repairs tomorrow. If the weather still looks good in the morning, I think I'll wait until Monday. I'd rather go to the gym tomorrow than spill liquid silicon all over myself.

I haven't completely finished trimming the trees in the back yard, but my shoulder needs a rest. Yesterday was punishing. I could barely lift my camera this afternoon. The trees can wait a day or two as long as I don't miss the October bulky trash pickup day. Tomorrow looks like a good day to go to the gym, take a long nap, and get the new Dalmatian pictures edited and up on the website.

Diva is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Friday, October 18, 2019

Day 3585

I was determined to get something done today. I've eaten all the leftovers, so I went to the grocery store right after breakfast. Actually, I went to two grocery stores. You can never find everything you need at a single location these days. After taking some bills to the post office, I took my daily walk. It was a good thing that I ran my errands first today, because the weather was just about perfect around noon. I didn't need a jacket and I didn't sweat. You can't get any better than that.

I've been seeing a lot of Monarch butterflies lately. They're headed back to Mexico for the Winter. Next Spring I'll see the Monarchs again as they migrate north. It's amazing that these tiny creatures can travel such incredible distances. When I see these butterflies fluttering around in the park it's hard to imagine them traveling to Fort Worth. How do they make it all the way to Mexico?

I promised Janet that I'd trim the overgrown Photinia Bushes in the back yard. You couldn't even call these Photinias shrubs anymore. They've grown into large trees. Next week is bulky trash pickup in our neighborhood, so I knew that I couldn't postpone this task much longer. If I don't get the Photinias trimmed this weekend, I'll have to wait another month. I wish I could have gotten the tree guy to do this for me while he was taking down the Elm tree, but he wasn't interested. I can't say that I'm very interested either. The reciprocating saw is very heavy and I have trouble lifting it with my bad shoulder.

It took hours to cut the bushes back to fence level. Instead of fifteen to eighteen feet high, the Photinias are now a more manageable six feet high. It will be several years before they fill in and start to look like a hedge again, but at least the job is done. Large branches are quite heavy. Trimming the trees was only part of the problem. I also had to drag everything I'd cut out to the curb. By the time I finished I was very tired. Hey, I did get 24,000 steps today though.

I finally got a letter from Sky and Telescope. Basically, the letter just thanked me for being patient and said the magazine would be back in touch with me soon. Even though this short, somewhat ambiguous letter didn't say much, it was encouraging. I'd been thinking they might have forgotten about me. Maybe they will help me with future plans after all. One can hope anyway.

The new Dalmatians have arrived at the kennel. I'm going to go meet them tomorrow and photograph each of them for the website. I think there are six new dogs, but I'm not sure. I guess I'll find out when I get there. I need to do the photography soon because I think one of the dogs is being adopted this weekend.

It's been a long day. The utility bills have been paid. The refrigerator is full again. The Photinias have all been trimmed and the debris has been hauled to the curb. I even fixed myself a tasty dinner. I need to get a good night's sleep, because I think tomorrow will be just as busy.

Little Petey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Day 3584

When I was walking today, I encountered a Red-shouldered Hawk at the edge of the path. The bird stood its ground as I approached. This was odd. Usually when I see Raptors, they are either flying overhead or sitting on the top branch of a nearby tree. I'd never seen one so close before. When I got within three feet of the bird I could see what it was doing. The Hawk had just caught a lizard and seemed to be finishing it off with its talons. It was actually hopping up and down on the hapless lizard. I didn't have a good camera with me today, but was close enough to take a few pictures with my phone. I didn't scare this Hawk at all. I thought about getting a little closer so I could get a better picture but thought better of the idea. The Hawk really wanted that lizard and didn't want me to get closer. I definitely didn't want the bird attacking me. Those talons could do some damage. If I'd had a decent camera with me today, I could have gotten some amazing pictures. Oh, well. I've got the memories.

The Hawk wasn't the only bird I noticed today. The rest of the American White Pelicans have arrived.    There must have been fifty Pelicans swimming in the lake this morning. The birds weren't here yesterday. They seems to have followed the cold front to Dallas, just like the previous batch of Pelicans did last week. If I knew more about birds or the weather, all this strange avian behavior might make sense to me. I don't know when I'll see a Red-shouldered Hawk stomping a lizard to death again, but I'll be seeing the Pelicans for the rest of the winter. I think they are here to stay.

I went back to the dentist this afternoon and got new impressions made. The putty the dental assistant squirts in your mouth with a syringe is called Vinyl Polysiloxane. It's definitely not something you'd want to swallow. A metal plate is placed in your mouth and pressed firmly against the putty which hardens in a minute or two. I'm always afraid that when the hardened impression is removed it will take a few teeth with it. The stuff pulls away cleanly though. Hopefully the mold won't break this time. I don't want to go back and do this again.

I thought about going up on the roof when I returned home, but washed the car instead. It looks like we are going to have at least six days of clear dry weather before it rains again. I'm going to give the roof as much time to dry as I can. If I make the repairs on a completely dry roof they are a lot more likely to succeed.  When I was at the dentist today, I kept wondering how similar the roof coating is to the putty the dentist used to make my impressions. They both contain silicon.

I read an article today that said excessive brain activity has been linked to a shorter lifespan. If this is true I should live forever. I kind of like this idea that a quiet brain is good for you. I'd like to think I've got a quiet brain. I can go for long periods of time without thinking about anything. Actually, I guess I do think about things. I just don't fret about them.

Maybe I'll take a good camera with me tomorrow. Maybe I'll have pancakes for breakfast. Actually, I have no idea what I'll be doing in the morning. My brain is quiet.

Lucky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Day 3583

I've got to go back to the dentist. They broke the impression of my teeth while they were making my new retainer, so I need to go back and get another set of impressions made. They're going to make two sets of impressions this time, in case they break something again. No wonder I hate to go to the dentist. Now, I've got to have that yucky putty like substance put in my mouth twice.

Ever since I lost my last website account, it's been bothering me that the client told me his website wasn't working correctly. The thing that bothered me most was that the client was right. I finally figured out why his site wouldn't scroll properly on some devices. I fixed the problem and uploaded the site for a final time. This little gesture wont get me the account back, but at least now I won't have to think about the whole thing any longer.

I guess a new cold front rolled through town last night because it was chilly when I woke up this morning. I had to turn on the furnace while I was eating breakfast. It was actually a nice day, but I wish it was a little warmer. I need the roof to dry out before the next rain arrives. I'm not sure my repairs will even work because the silicon coating doesn't tend to adhere to the roof very well. That's the main reason I've been having problems for several years. There aren't many alternatives unfortunately. Conventional patching materials won't stick to the silicon coating at all and the bids I've been getting to completely replace the roof are horrendously high.

As I continue to research conversion vans, the whole idea of living off the grid exploring observatories, launch sites, and dark sky areas is starting to seem a little less appealing. From what I've been reading, RV toilets are notoriously messy and prone to leaks. Cargo area air conditioners typically use too much electricity to to be powered by roof mounted solar cells. Fresh water tanks tend to develop a bad taste after a while. Grey and black water tanks can only be emptied at designated disposal stations. I could go on and on. It's all very complicated for a guy who prefers luxury hotels. A lot of van conversions just seem messy and poorly designed to me. I do like Airstream vans and trailers. Of course they would have to be the most expensive. I always seem to be attracted to the most expensive things. Too bad I can't afford them.

If I get approved to stay at McDonald Observatory for an extended length of time, I think I'll just rent a van for my first visit. Renting an RV is actually more expensive than staying in a nice hotel, but it is a lot less expensive than actually buying an RV. Renting a vehicle for several weeks is probably a good way of seeing if I actually like the whole experience. I already know that I like astronomy and looking at stars. I'm not so sure about living on a remote mountain in somewhat primitive conditions however.

I'm sure I've got plenty of time to think about all this. Opportunities to view rocket launches up close are few and far between. The whole process of getting clearance to stay at the observatory is fairly complicated too. It's hard to be patient when things take place slowly like this. At least it gives me the time to save for future adventures. I couldn't afford to go anywhere tomorrow anyway.

Lucky is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Day 3582

I went to the dentist today and got impressions made for my new retainer. It actually took longer to drive to my appointment than to make the impressions. I was in and out in fifteen minutes. It always seems weird when the dentist fills your mouth with what looks like bathroom caulk and has you bite down on a spacer that presses the stuff into your teeth. I'm always convinced that this mess will stick to my teeth and be impossible to remove. After two minutes the goop hardens and pulls away cleanly though, making a perfect impression of your teeth. This will serve as a mold to make the actual retainer which should be ready on Thursday. I asked if they could just mail it to me, but the dentist needs to make sure the retainer fits properly. Looks like I'm going to have to drive all the way up to the dentist again.

It rained again during the night and this morning I noticed what appeared to be a small leak in the office. The water looked like it was coming through a can light in the ceiling. I've never had a leak in this spot before, so this was very disappointing. It's too bad it rained on the same day I got the silicon roof coating. Due to the weather, I still haven't been able to make any repairs. I cleared away all the standing water after I took my walk today and am hoping for the best. The long range forecast says it's not going to rain again until next Monday. Hopefully I can patch things before then.

This weather is driving me nuts. This Fall we have already had two cold fronts that only lasted one day each. Yesterday it was back to ninety degrees and today was super muggy. The humidity was so high that my shirt was drenched before I even finished my first mile. Tomorrow it is supposed to be cold again. I think the temperature at sunrise is expected to be fifty-five degrees. At least it isn't going to rain tomorrow. I've really got to get this roof fixed.

My allergies have been terrible this week. The windy days and swiftly changing weather probably have something to do with it. I was afraid I was going to be blowing my nose and sneezing on the dentist while he was making my impressions, so I took an antihistamine this morning. I rarely take antihistamines because they make me feel terrible. My nose stops dripping, but my entire head feels like it is wrapped in a blanket. I get an odd buzzing feeling that is hard to describe. I didn't want to sneeze on the dentist today, but generally I'd rather go through a box of Kleenex every hour than feel this way.

Janet is traveling again. This means I have to start cooking for myself again. Cooking to me generally means just heating something up in the microwave. I still like those Cadence Kitchen flash frozen meals though. You just heat them up in a skillet on the stove and ten minutes later you have a tasty and reasonably healthy meal. I like their Mexican Style Pulled Pork and Chicken Tikka Masala. I think they make a Paella Valenciana now too. There is a little too much salt in these meals, but not as much as I'd get if I went to a restaurant.

I can't decide whether to write the roofer again. He'd probably just ignore me. The gift of a $250 bucket of liquid silicon is his way of saying "don't bother me anymore." It's irritating to still have a leak though. The roof shouldn't be leaking. If he'd gotten me the silicon coating back in July, I probably wouldn't be having this problem.

Camp is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day