18 April 2010

Bike Beautification

Here is a look at the custom pieces I painted. These will definitely give my bike character. I'm not going to put them on until everything else is finished, because I want them to be the finishing touches. I think it would be too disconcerting to put them on an unfinished bike. So they will have to wait for a while.

I have ambiguous thoughts about what I have done here. I sprinkled glass beads on the white paint for a reflective effect. The point is that as I'm riding I want to be seen. Which brings me to the rub. I hate to be noticed. For anything. I want to quietly reside in the background. Don't get me wrong, I love to make a difference. I love to help others live a more quality life if I can, but I don't want to be recognized in doing so. I don't have any objections to people saying "thanks" or "good job" or whatever, but then I want to be quietly forgotten. So comes my problem here. People will notice my paint job, but it's not really something that can be quietly forgotten. This is very custom. Nobody else has a bike that looks like this. I WILL be noticed, and I'm a little uncomfortable with that.

17 April 2010

Grape trellis

Today was a busy day. The other day I attempted to drill holes in our concrete sidewalk so I could secure the trellis fenceposts to it (to keep them from tipping over under the tension of the wire). I used a masonry bit with our regular drill. For those of you currently laughing, you already know that this was a waste of time. Lemontree's father was kind enough to loan us a hammer drill that worked much, much better. I was then able to install lead sleeves in the resulting holes and screw fencepost brackets into the sleeves.

On the far side, there was no sidewalk so I drove rebar into the ground at an angle, then ran wire from the top of the fencepost down at an angle to the rebar at ground level. (The cat is a neighborhood stray.) As you can see below I also set up a soaker hose -- these baby vines need a lot of water because they were transplanted and their roots are small, but in future years they should need very little because they grow some pretty incredible root systems.

Finally I ran the two top wires and tensioned them with turnbolts. I have not yet run the lower set of wires as I'm not quite sure where to place them. From Vines to Wines and other viticultural resources say the lower cordon (horizontal branch of the vine) can be 24 to 36 inches high (or even more), but I do not yet understand which height is best for my situation. Until I learn more, I'm just going to wait. The vines have not yet broke bud (nor should they, as it may still frost this spring, which could be disastrous) so I still have time.

Oh, and while we were at it, we also secured our raspberries to our back fence. They are always falling over onto the grass where they get chopped up when I mow the lawn. Considering many prior failed attempts, this year we got some thick nylon string (almost twine) and then made a critical improvement: we hooked one end of each string with an S-hook so that the string can be unhooked when desired.

This hook allows us to temporarily remove the string to ease in pruning, reposition canes, and more easily slide new canes behind the string in the fall or spring should we have neglected to do so when they first grew that tall during the summer.

We have quite a lot of raspberries, as they have been spreading since we planted transplants a few years ago. This year we dug up two more fence section's worth of bed for more raspberries and there transplanted some shoots that were coming up too close to the grass. Unfortunately, some of the canes are of a different variety that produce a more tart and lighter red berry which tends to fall apart. I tolerated them in years past but this year we're going to let them fruit one last time (so we can identify them) and then rip them out to make room for the canes that grow the sweeter dark red berries. In some ways this reminds me of The Allegory of the Olive Tree, which is kind of cool.

Half a motorcycle, still/again

Lemontree did a whole bunch of work on her bike today and yesterday. She recovered the seat and painted the frame, and then together we reinstalled the swingarm, rear wheel, fender, shocks, chain guard, exhaust, and passenger footpegs.

As you can see, the exhaust is now black. The chrome was too far gone to save, so Lemontree used header paint (1,800°F) to make it black. I think it looks good.

That accomplished, we removed the front wheel and dug in for a fight! The two front forks were seriously rusted in place and it took a sledgehammer -- quite literally, a 2.5lb sledge -- to beat them off. Tip to anyone removing rusted fork stanchion tubes on a CL100, get a M10x1.25 threaded rod a couple of feet long, thread it into the top of the tube, and proceed to whale on it.

So the reason we took the fork apart was a ripped gaiter -- that's the rubber accordion that keeps dirt out of the shock absorber part of the fork -- and leaky fork fluid seal. Sadly, the reason the fork seal leaked was because the fork at some point had been chewed up by rocks etc that were allowed in by the ripped gaiter. Now replacing the seal is useless because the rough fork tube will immediately tear it up. :( So... we will have to either replace the fork tubes or weld up and re-machine the damaged sections. It'll be a few more weeks at least. :(

But, the parts that are done look really good!

16 April 2010

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

This is well worth the time to view.

07 April 2010

Bud push

It's not nearly time for bud break yet, but I think my baby vines are alive because the buds are starting to "push". Once daily temperatures regularly hit 50°F, and they have been, grapevines start to come out of dormancy. Left is an ultra-closeup of a bud that is enlarged and fuzzy. 5 of the vines look pretty good, which is the good news. The last one, one of the Pinot Noirs, has fewer, and smaller, buds but still shows signs of life so it'll hopefully catch up with a little extra TLC.

While I'm waiting for some exciting mini-vineyard action to happen, I'm reading From Vines to Wines by Jeff Cox. No, I won't be making wine, but there's a lot about viticulture as well as dealing with the juice, which I will be doing. I think it would be an interesting read even if you don't intend to grow vines, both because Jeff has an engaging writing style and because wine -- even if you don't personally imbibe -- plays a role in modern as well as ancient society. There are other interesting tidbits, as well: for example, I was not aware that the juice from red grapes comes out nearly clear, so the grapes are first crushed and the skins are allowed to stew with the juice for about a day so that the colors can bleed into the juice. Much of the complex flavors of wine come from the skins as well -- wines from grapes picked and directly pressed without crushing are (at least, according to Jeff, as I have no personal experience in this area) "light" and "clean" tasting, but lacking in depth of flavor. Even white grapes are sometimes often crushed and allowed to sit for 8-16 hours before pressing to enhance flavor, though like apples, white grape juice can actually turn brown from oxidation if left exposed to air for too long. For vintners (winemakers) this is not a problem as the subsequent fermentation by the yeast generally clears it up, but it will be a potential issue I will need to avoid.

In short, this whole business turns out to be a bit more complex than I anticipated, but I'm still looking forward to everything from cultivating to bottling. If anything I now appreciate the high prices for vitis vinifera juice... perhaps they really aren't gouging after all.