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I need to buy more ice cream

This week: I need to buy more ice cream; A bit more storage; Daily trips to town: Which way is the wind blowing?; Digging up the floor;

Spring blossom
Spring blossom

It’s been another of those weeks where I have spent an awful lot of time doing things, but have little to show for it.

We are right in the middle of the transition between winter and spring.

Plants everywhere are bursting into leaf and bloom. Outside the door I have a clay tub of spring bulbs. I saw a bag of Daffodils on offer last autumn so bought them

I planted them so they would look nice outside the door and I am not disappointed.

Spring Daffodil flowers
Spring Daffodil flowers

However I was surprised now that they flowering, to see that they are miniature Daffodils. It is happenchance at its best!

My red Witch Hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia Diana, is in flower, next to the Daffodils. It has a very delicate scent, but sadly the flowers last just one week.

Witch hazel - intermedia Diana
Witch hazel – intermedia Diana

Having been given a box of very large eggs by a neighbour, I’ve been making cakes this week. The Victoria Sandwich cake is easy to make and is virtually foolproof.

I’ve mixed my recipes, so the filling was jam, forest fruits and cream, so not at all traditional.

As a “Thank you”, I took one across to my neighbours.

Victoria Sandwich cake
Victoria Sandwich cake

There is nothing nicer than a piece cake with a cup of coffee.

I need to buy more ice cream

I recycle pretty much everything. Some of my waste goes to the recycle centre, however where I can I reuse things around my home or give them away.

Cardboard is useful as a weed suppressant in the orchards, glass honey jars go to a lady in the village who is a “Jammer”, plastic bottles and tubs go to get the refund .

At the end of the month I haver perhaps a 30 litre plastic sack of stuff that cannot be recycled, which goes to the land fill. But that is all.

In my workshop I reused the “Felix” boxes which the cat food comes in, as pidgeon holes for some tools and for large fixings which wouldn’t fit in the small drawers.

On the bottom row I keep some “Quick use” tools. Things like pliars, screwdrivers, pencils and pens, a set square and measuring gauges.

These are the things I use almost every day, so I need them close at hand. At the back of the workshop I have IKEA boxes with all the rest of the tools, which include every size and type of screwdriver ever made! But on a day to day basis, I only need a cross-head and a flat blade.

I fixed the rectangular boxes together with staples and then mounted them on the top of my screws/nails/nuts and bolt drawers.

The original boxes in my workshop
The original boxes in my workshop

Over time they have started to lean because the weight above caused the walls of the bottom boxes to bow.

My mistake was keeping every box symmetrical, so that all the weight above was transferred down the walls of the boxes.

When the downward pressure reached the last row of boxes, the walls, which are only cardboard after all, simply gave way.

I really hadn’t thought thought the physical transfer of force. I should have remembered Newton’s laws, learnt by rote in Physics lessons (which I hated) at school.

The first law states that an object will not change its motion unless a force acts on it.
In the second law, the force on an object is equal to its mass times its acceleration.
In the third law, when two objects interact, they apply forces to each other of equal magnitude and opposite direction.

Then of course there is Murphy’s Law, “If things can go wrong they will”.

My new design uses different size boxes, fixed using different orientations, so the downward transfer of force is not linear.

Gluing boxes together
Gluing boxes together

This week I have been using construction glue rather than staples to connect the boxes together and a frame clamp to keep the boxes under pressure until the glue sets.

As intermediate row of boxes
As intermediate row of boxes

This last winter I have kept back the feline’s food cartons instead of sending them to be recycled, ready to make a new set of pigeon holes.

It has taken several days to glue the boxes together, then let them dry before assembling the next row.

On a rainy afternoon, I took the old system down and installed my new creation.

The completed installation
The completed installation

I’m now short of a few empty ice cream tubs. It’s really sad, but I think I will have to buy more ice cream this summer…

A bit more storage

One of Newton’s laws which is never explained, is that people “expand to fill the available space”.

This is why there is such an industry built around de-cluttering, and why IKEA makes money with innovative storage solutions.

One quick job this week has been to add some more storage baskets between the ceiling rafters in the utility room.

When the U-Room was finished last year, I used standard three metre lengths of strip wood, to make supports for wire storage trays between the beams.

Gap in the storage
Gap in the storage

There were gaps at both ends because the room is 4.5 meters long.

This week I have filled in four of these gaps and have added more overhead storage, in an area which otherwise was wasted space.

It required cutting some timber to size, then cutting back the existing strip wood, so everything looks continuous.

After fixing the strip wood, I added the storage baskets and moved some baking trays to the newly created storage space.

Storage added
Storage added

Daily trips to town

I’ve been into Stari Grad every morning this week.

This is unusual because I generally only go once or perhaps twice a week.

The reason once again has been the felines.

My senior cat Callie seemed a little under the weather last week. This has coincided with me almost stopping lighting the woodstove as the daytime and overnight temperatures increase.

So Callie has taken to sleeping at the foot of my bed, nestled between my feet.

She obviously still feels it to be a little cold and with no warm stove to curl up near, she has found her next best thing!

Over the weekend she woke me several times with coughing or sneezing fits.

Our vet had asked me to bring here to the surgery because she is now 12, for a full check, including blood samples.

Older cats can have problems with kidney function and the heart, which comprehensive blood tests can pick up early. So off we went to the clinic.

You don’t need an appointment, they don’t have an appointments system except for surgery. Just like our doctors surgery, you just turn up….

Her temperature was normal and all but one of the tests was fine. The problem was with a feline serum amyloid A, which was 12 times higher than it should be.

We then had x-rays, which showed she has a soft tissue swelling in her sinuses. This is the cause of the sneezing.

Callie's X-Ray
Callie’s X-Ray

Being soft tissue, an X-Ray only shows an opaque blob (circled), rather than any detail.

The thought is that it is probably a nasal polyp, but it could be a cist or at the extreme a tumour. The only sure way to know would be to take her to Šibernik, up the coast road towards Zagreb, where there is a Veterinary practice with a CT scanner.

There is then the possibility of surgery to remove what ever it is. Callie is 12 years old, so the equivalent of 64 in Human years.

All surgery is risky, and becomes more so as we age. So for now we have started a course of antibiotics and cortisone with daily injections.

She seems a little better and has reverted to finding somewhere warm to doze in the sunshine.

Callie dozing in the sunshine
Callie dozing in the sunshine

The vets say that the growth of polyps in cats is often linked to ear infections. To my knowledge she has never had one, but then felines are none to good at telling you how they feel.

At the moment she is not sneezing as much, so something is working. However I need to keep an eye on her.

Digging up the floor

I’ve spent some time this week moving the electrics in the Konoba.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the electrical circuit for the Konoba lights has been hidden in the concrete floor and in the ceiling void.

Moving the underground cable
Moving the underground cable

It took some work to cut through the 4cm thick concrete floor, to get to the underground cable.

I could have used a big rotary cutting disc to do the job quickly, however whilst both quick and efficient, cutting discs produce huge volumes of fine dust.

So instead I have used a diamond oscillating cutter, which is slower but just as efficient at cutting concrete.

With the cuts made I cleaned the groove with a chisel and lump hammer, then cut the damp proof membrane to move the conduit back and into a new floor channel to reappear, hidden, inside a hollow wooden pillar, so no wiring will be visible.

Wiring conduit re-routed
Wiring conduit re-routed

Under the damp proof membrane (DPM) the conduit was damp. Above the DPM everything was dry.

I filled the void left under the membrane with expanding foam. Then I re-sealed the DPM with some more plastic on top.

The next job will be to fill in the old concrete channel with new concrete and level it with the rest of the floor.

I still haven’t ordered the light switches, so it will be a while before I can finish the wiring.

Which way is the wind blowing?

Working in the Konoba this week, I noticed that the back wall was damp.

The stones in the wall and the surrounding mortar had all changed colour, markedly so.

Damp Konoba wall
Damp Konoba wall

Yes, we have had a lot of rain this winter, however not as much as during the 2021 / 2022 winter. So what has changed?

Looking through the records from my weather station, this winter the prevailing wind direction on wet days has been north westerly.

The wall faces due north and there is no shelter or protection, so weather coming from any direction from between west north west to east north east will hit the wall.

Looking at the wall, there are the remains of at least three and possibly four buildings, but the key feature is that there is a ledge on top of the earliest structure, marked as 1.

Old north wall
Old north wall

I think that rain has been driven in between the concrete cap on the old wall and the existing bottom wall of the Konoba. That is the line between 1 and 2 in the photo.

So what to do?

There are some weeds which are growing from the gap between the concrete cap and wall which need to be removed.

However weeds will actually take up moisture, so pulling them out immediately could cause more moisture ingress.

The mortar between the stones needs to be raked out and the old concrete cap removed, then the whole thing needs sealing with new pointing and concrete.

This is another job to add to the list for later in the year! NCG