Thursday, April 12, 2012

Melancholily Monastic Mumblings

I may or may not have mentioned that the cost of my taking a separate vacation to the sailing school was that the Co-owner and Co-pilot Egg would also take a separate trip. In much the same way that Egg accompanied me for a couple of week long trips to Oshkosh, the distaff branch of the clan is currently vacationing at a sunny resort in the Bahamas.

I'm often asked whether this bothers me. When asked questions along this line before they left, I laughed it off with "Of course not! Just think of how much I will be able to work on the plane while they're gone!"

I no longer answer that way. As it turns out, just keeping up with the housework, even with the vastly reduced standards for such that are currently in place due to my new-found (yet fleeting) ability to unilaterally set the standards, is taking a lot more time that I had estimated. Sure, eating whatever I want, whenever I want, and most importantly, wherever I want sounded attractive, right up until the time I realized why certain eating locations had been deemed unfavorable under the prior regime. It really is hard to get crumbs out of the recliner, as it turns out.

Who knew??

And the pets! They want out, they want in, then they want out again. Feed me. Play with me. The demands go on and on and on.

And that's before we even get to the cat.

The cat and I have never been what you would call "close," unless "close to killing each other" counts. There was a time when Egg was younger that we decided that we would volunteer at the local humane society. I had visions of walking dogs, playing with dogs, and cuddling with puppies. Well, everyone has that vision, and seniority rules. We were assigned to the loftily titled department of "Cat Socialization." This is a glorified way of saying "volunteer cat petter." The officially stated purpose was to get the cats out of their cages now and then and let them bond with humans. In fact, the goal was to teach them how to pretend to be affectionate just long enough to fool a naive human into adopting them.

Note that I saw through this almost immediately, and note also that I did not care. Why, here was all of the feline attention that I wasn't getting at home! Free for the asking! Sure, I knew I was being used, but if that's what being used feels like, well, bring it on. These cats would fairly leap from their cages and into my willing arms, where they would cuddle up and purr in an almost believable way.

I learned something from this, but I learned it far too late in life. As it turns out, I like my cats the same way I like my women: desperate and incarcerated.

Our cat has long since forgotten to even pretend. It's Capulet and Montague with fur and fangs. We're both comfortable with that.

Or were, I suppose, because now that we are forced to interact, well....

It would be okay, even with that, were it not for the twice-a-day pill. Yes, I have to, two times a day, get a cat that hates me to swallow a pill.

Did I express concern over this with the Co-owner prior to her departure? Sure! "Piece of cake," she assured me, "he swallows 'em down no problem."

She proceeded to walk me through the process. "Snuggle him in the crook of your elbow, press your finger right here at the corner of his mouth. See how he opens his mouth? Just toss in the pull and he'll swallow it." And you know what? He did!

Then they flew off to the Bahamas.

Without the cat.

That very night I tried to give him his pill all by myself. I pressed my finger on the magic mouth-opening spot. He clenched his jaws. I pressed a finger at the same spot on the other side of his mouth. He clenched his jaws even tighter and yanked his head back, leaving be with empty air under my fingers. Through repeated efforts involving various means of prying his jaws apart, I eventually got his mouth open far enough toss in the pill. As I was metaphorically patting myself on the back for having successfully forced my will upon him, "Ptooey!" And out came the pill. I had no idea cats could expectorate objects that powerfully. After about fifteen minutes of the same act being played out repeatedly, I didn't drop the pill in - I pushed it down his gullet and held his jaws shut until he swallowed it.

It has only been down hill from there. This morning I couldn't even catch him - he runs away when he hears me opening the jar of pills now.

It was at this point that I decided that the cat is going to climb out on the roof.

Oh, you haven't heard that joke? Here, allow me to elucidate:
While sunning himself in the Bahamas, a wealthy English businessman received a telegram from his butler, which read simply: "Cat dead." Distraught at the loss of his beloved pet, the businessman cut short his holiday and returned home. After giving the cat a decent burial in the garden, he remonstrated with his butler for the cold-hearted nature of the telegram.

"You should break bad news gently," he said. "If I had been telling you that your cat had died, I would have sent a telegram saying: "The cat's on the roof and can't get down." Then a few hours later I would have sent another telegram, saying: "The cat's fallen off the roof and is badly hurt." Finally, a couple of hours after that, I would have sent a third telegram, saying: "The cat had sadly passed away." That way, you would have been gradually prepared for the bad news and would have been able to deal with it better."

"I understand, sir," said the butler. "I will bear that in mind in future."

With that, the businessman booked another ticket to the Bahamas and resumed his holiday.

Two days later, he received another telegram from his butler. It read: "Your mother's on the roof and can't get down."
But that's all fine with me as long as the girls are having a good time. Judging by the call from them I got last night, they certainly are! Egg was excited about having gotten to pet a goat. Okay, call me selfish, cynical, or whatever, but after paying $400 for them to attend a "Swim With the Dolphins" outing, and note that me, being ever the cheapskate, tried to re-direct them into the much lower cost "Swim With the Piranhas" outing (what? They've never had any complaints from other people that have gone...), I would hope and expect to hear about a bigger trip highlight than petting a goat. Still, perhaps I shouldn't have suggested to Egg that she pay particular attention to the menu cards at the buffet lest she end up eating the goat. That was probably a little cruel.

Oh well, I blame the cat.

So, what with constantly changing the water in the dogs, getting up at 4:30 am to clean the litter box, and chasing the cat around in order to give him a pill that helps him run faster (one of those Circles of Irony that I usually enjoy, but ironically, I'm currently not), I haven't worked on the plane nearly enough.

Which, when you consider that I am now growling at the cowling, I haven't missed all that much.

I may have mentioned that I have been working on the hinges that hold the whole thing together. There was a little more of that to do. The hinges needed to be measured and marked for the locations that would be drilled to provide holes for the rivets.

These are the hinge halves that will be attached to the fiberglass cowling parts. The other halves are already riveted to the airplane. Once measured and marked, the hinges are installed with the hinge pins. Some of them have to negotiate curves in the fuselage, so they needed a little light fluting. Once that's done, the bottom half is lifted into place and clamped. The idea is to test the fit and if everything is good and non-bulgy, to go ahead and start drilling the hinges.

It's the "non-bulgy" thing that's the problem. First, the exhaust pipe was rubbing against the slot that it is supposed to fit through.

We had to loosen the header bolts and move the whole thing over towards the left side of the plane. It fits better now, but the exhaust is no longer centered on the engine and it's not level. I don't know if that matters, but I do know that there's nothing I can do about it.

The other, bigger problem, the problem that has me stuck, is that the lower corners of the cowl don't precisely match the contour of the lower fuselage, and that's something that the plans insist on being correct. I'm not sure what to do about it. Pete's theory is that we need to remove a little more material from the side tabs because they may be reacting to undue pressure from their bottom edges, which is in turn causing a misshapen cowling. That might be true, but I'm deathly afraid of removing any more material from the tabs because it would mean violating the ostensible sanctity of the scribe lines. That's something that cannot be undone once done, so I'm naturally quite reluctant to do it. So instead I just sit around the house devising schemes for catching that damn cat and getting him out onto the roof.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Long time, no read.. it's looking great, Dave! Hope all is well in C-town.

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