About this blog title

I cannot tell you how many times I have shown up at events with a couple of cameras around my neck, a gadget bag full of odds & ends and a lighting kit and have been asked that question. If it happened once every few years, that would be one thing. But it happens a LOT. It's like getting pulled over by the police and he's standing there with uniform, gun, flashing lights and asking him "Are you a cop?" I would love to come back with a witty reply, such as "No, I am Jesus. Don't you recognize my beard?" However, I cannot be that rude.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Snow in Chaumont today

It snowed for the first time here in Chaumont, NY.  Well, the first time for the 2015-16 Winter season. Snapped this photo with my iPhone.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Beautiful November Day in Chaumont, NY

It is a stunningly beautiful day here in Chaumont, NY. 70 degrees, blue sky and no wind. I began to harvest dried out Kentucky Wonder Pole beans from my garden. They have been hit with a frost and the plants are all dead. The un harvested beans are dried out on the dead vines. The pods are brittle and papery. The beans inside are nicely dried out for storage or used now for bean soup or what ever.

It is also a great day for the Better Half who is driving to visiter her sister S near Cleveland, Ohio. She will be gone for a week leaving me to my own devices.

Dried out Kentucky Wonder pole beans on the trellis in my garden.     iPhone 5 photo by Gary Walts

Dried out Kentucky Wonder pole beans on the trellis in my garden.     iPhone 5 photo by Gary Walts

Maple tree in the side yard of our home in Chaumont, NY     iPhone 5 photo by Gary Walts

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

2011 Kia Sedona van big engine oil leak

It is 240 miles from my home in Chaumont, NY to Niagara Falls, NY. I was driving there this past Sunday in my 2011 Kia Sedona van. I stopped at McDonald's in Central Square and noticed oil drops in the parking lot trailing the path of the van. Hmmm? I checked the oil level and it looked ok. By the time I reached Batavia the oil light started blinking. I became alarmed, pulled off at next exit and checked the oil. There was NONE showing on the dip stick. I didn't know what was happening, but, long story short I bought some oil and topped it off. I saw a steady drip of oil under the van. I made it to Niagara Falls and bought 20 more quarts of oil. For the drive home I stopped every 30 miles or so and topped off the oil. In the end I went through 24 quarts of oil to get it safely home. The alternative would have been a tow truck bill of probably 2 or 300 bucks.
My 2011 Kia Sedona van that leaked oil from the engine oil pressure switch

A google search told me the problem was the engine oil pressure switch. That was confirmed at FX Caprara Kia dealership. I had them repair it. The part was $15.00 and 4 hours of labor for a bill of $370.00 including tax and more oil. I cannot tell you the stress that failure caused me. By the way, the van has 73,000 miles on it.

My 2011 Kia Sedona van that leaked oil from the engine oil pressure switch

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Small church in Croghan NY and snow in the North Country

It snowed in the North Country today, drove through some in Carthage, Ny, but much more fell and stayed on the ground in Central NY. I was driving through Croghan NY today on RT 812 when I came upon this small church where 812 meets Texas Rd.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Autumn Maple leaf with rain drops

This is a photo I snapped with the iPhone 5 of a maple leaf with rain drops. It was on the back steps of my Clay St., Watertown NY rental property.
Maple leaf in Autumn, Cly St., Watertown, NY  iPhone photo by Gary Walts

Friday, October 16, 2015

Popcorn husk or crumb stuck in my tonsil / throat for a week

Actually, for more than a week I have had a piece of popcorn husk lodged in my throat or tonsil. It was driving me insane. I did also sorts of stuff to try and dislodge it. I read on the internet somewhere to eat granola bars or other coarse food that might scrape it free. Didn't work. Another suggested gargling with olive oil. I was driving on my job and stopped at a store and bought a bottle of extra virgin olive oil. I pulled into a parking lot and began gargling. The oil started to create a mild burning sensation. I spit it out (hope no one was watching)  and the crumb was still in place. I tried getting back there with a tooth brus, with my finger. Nothing worked. I went to bed at night and woke up to strange, disrurbing thoughts about what the consequence could be. An infection? A visit to the doctors that might lead to surgery and another infection and maybe even DEATH! Just crazy thoughts that seem to occur at 3 or 4 AM.

Anyhow, I started to think perhaps the popcorn scratched my throat and that was what I was feeling. But at last, this afternoon on day 8 I was walking across a parking lot at Syracuse University and it felt different. I coughed lightly and the thing came free, caught it in my hand. What a relief.

This little piece of popcorn was lodged in my throat for 8 days before it suddenly came free and I spit it out. It drove me insane for all those day. I will never eat popcorn again.

Years ago I quit eating popcorn because it would frequently catch in my throat or tonsils. I finally swore off the food. But than, I began to eat it again, taking precaution not to eat the crumbs. But after this episode I will NEVER eat it again. That's it. Done. No more popcorn.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Cleaned Wood stove today

We have had great, warm weather through out  the month of September here in Chaumont, NY this year. But October first it suddenly got cooler. Yesterday I turned the oil furnace on. Today I cleaned the chimney for the wood stove as well as the indoor flu pipe and this evening started the first wood fire of the season. Things get cozy fast when that gets lit.
My Regency wood stove in my home in Chaumont, NY

Friday, October 2, 2015

kremona ng-1 classical/flamenco acoustic guitar pickup

The Kremona ng-1 classical guitar pick up tied to the bridge of my 1984 Guild Mark V classical guitar

I recently used the kremona ng-1 classical/flamenco acoustic guitar pickup at a gig. It was a couple nights ago.  I played guitar at the Jefferson County Historical Society's Paddock Mansion in Watertown, NY. It was a reception for the organization's new director. The event went well. I used my Guild Mark V guitar with a Kremona pick up that is tied to the guitar bridge by the guitar strings. That was plugged into my Fishman SoloAmp 220 sound system. Oh, I also used an LR Baggs pre-amp. It is a great combination. The pick up is very responsive and with the pre amp one can get tremendous volume. The music went well,

The Kremona ng-1 classical guitar pick up tied to the bridge of my 1984 Guild Mark V classical guitar. This is the 1/8th inch jack input. The other end of the cable is a standard size 1/4 inch input. 
The Kremona ng-1 classical guitar pick up ready to be tied to the bridge of my 1984 Guild Mark V classical guitar

I bought this pick up from Sweetwater music store's online store, sweetwater.com I think I paid $69.00 which included free shipping via the US Post Office. It arrived quickly, within about 3 days. The people at Sweetwater called me up and let me know the item was shipped. When I opened the package there was a bag of candy in there as well as the Kremona! Cool! I give Sweetwater at least a 4 star rating. I encourage anyone out there to visit them online and place your order.
The pick up itself is outstanding. It does not interfere with your guitars tuning or intonation either. I would say it's akin to an under the saddle type of pick up. Th great beauty of it is that you need not drill any holes in your instrument or modify it in any way.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Heavy headed sunflower

I snapped this sunflower in the back yard of my home in Chaumont NY this afternoon. I just finished installing rear shock absorbers on my van and as I was picking up my tools the flower caught my eye. So I snapped it with my iPhone. Maybe that should be EyePhone.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Woke up to a bat in our bedroom

Bat I trapped in our upstairs bathroom of our home in Chaumont, NY.  Gary Walts iPhone photo

A few weeks ago we woke up to a bat flying around in our bedroom. YIKES! I hate that.  I should have posted about it then, but my time and ambition were shot. Anyhow, without going into all the datails, we had been in bed about an hour and a halkf when the Better Half awoke to a soft, muffly sound. In the dim light I saw the  silhouette of a bat swooping around our room. Chaos followed. Was ther only one bat or were there more. I thought it flew out the front door. We stayed up until 2:30 and never saw any more signs of of it. We go upstairs and I see it flying in the bathroom, I slammed tghe bathroom door and new for sure it was trapped in that room. Again, was that the original bat? The only bat? We stayed up with the lights on down stairs. At 4:30 tried to sleep in a chair. Essentially I got no sleep that night. I had a photo job in Syracuse and had to depart early. Was home by 4:00 in afternoon. I now ventured into the bathroom, it was day light so the bat should be dormant. Staying close to the floor I examine every nook and cranny and see no sign of it. A clothes hamper  against the wall was the lats place to look. I cxarefully lean it toward me, away fromn the wall. There he was. Cling upside down to the textured surface. He blinked his eyes. That was it. I took a plastic food container and placed in  over the creature. Then I slid a piece of card board under it and he was trapped. We taped the food container to the card board. The bat was alive. We delivered it to a veterinarian's office for rabies testing. Check out the video. It is short, but the funny part is the Better Half's voice as she drove our van and I held  onto the trapped bat.

2002 Dodge Caravan Brake Job, broken rotors

I did a brake job on my 2002 Dodge Caravan and both front rotors broke during the removal. Not a problem though because they were being replaced.
It all started last Friday while driving to Syracuse Friday afternoon. I had to photograph a high school football game. Any how, I heard a squealing so
und and thought is was the AC blower. Then I heard a tappoing noise. It grew louder and louder into a knoicking, hammering noise, like a hammer beating on metal. Pretty sure it was the engine about to blow. I managed to get to brother D's house in Mattydale and we confirmed the worst. This was my 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan with 3.3 engine. I have had the van for about 10 years and it had over 200,000 miles on it. In the past years I havce dumped more than a $1,500.00 in repairs and parts on it, doing most of the work myself. But the bottom line now was this van is toast. Done. Time to junk it.

Fortunately I had a 2002  sitting at my house. It is not nearly as pretty, rather rusty, but has a strong engine and tranny, 186,000 miles. But it has been sitting for a year or more. When I parked it last the front brake calipers seized up and were were so hot I thought it would burst into flames. At the time I decided not to spend the $$ on any repairs. But now it was time to fix it up for the road.
Drivers side front brake assembly after sitting for over a year. Rusted and seized up.    Gary Walts iPhone photo

The first thing I did was stack a  pile of firewood up that was in the driveway. Sunday morning  I bought parts and began wrenching. I bought new brake pads, calipers and rotors. Also a pair of rea shocks and 2 new front tires. The  brake job went smoothly until I tried to get the rotors of. They normall get rusted on and you hit them with a hammer to brake them free. Well, on the drivers side I beat on the thing for 10 minutes and it wild not budge. I took out a 13  pound sledge hammer and began to wail on it. 15 minutes later it finally broke free but in so doing broke into 2 pieces. The center broke out of it. Wow, I never had that happen before.
I hammered this rotor for 30 minutes, the center broke out of it when it finally came free of the wheel studs.   Gary Walts   iPhone photo

I hammered this rotor for 30 minutes, the center broke out of it when it finally came free of the wheel studs.   Gary Walts   iPhone photo

When I did the other side it broke free in about 5 minutes BUT, broke into 3 pieces. The center broke out and the rotor split down the middle like slicing a doughnut in half. The video is only 15 seconds long and you can see what I mean.


The next thing I needed was a new muffler and resonator tail pipe for the exhaust, then a NY State inspection. I hired the garage that did the inspection to install the exhaust components. That bill totaled $250.00 plus tax.  Late Wednesday it was all done and the van was running great, inspected, and I was all set. Thursday morning, (today) at 11:00 I took my mother to an eye doctor appointment. About a 1/4 mile from her house, on the trip home, the van overheated. RATS! Discovered coolant leaking out out from the lower hose where it clamps on. Turns out the clamp failed. But, I went ahead and changed out the metal coolant pipe the hose attaches to. I all ready had experience with one of those rusting out in my 05 van. It was a simple enough job but still took some time. Had to go to 2 auto parts stores to locate the part. By 4:15 I was done. That repair came in to $50.00.  I since drove to Clayton where I had a guitar gig. Just got home a little while ago and everything appears fine. What a a few days I have had, and there actually is a lot more that's been going on too. That has to do with the Better Half's sister in Ohio who has had complications from hip replacement. 

All told, I have spent $900.00 getting my old van road worthy. Hopefully it will give me a few months to a year or more of service. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Perfect Summer Afternoon

After a nice time at the beach in Cape Vincent I picked a few tomatoes from our garden and enjoyed a Goose Island IPA
It was a perfect Summer afternoon here in Chaumont, NY. The temperature hit 86 degrees F, it was windy, plenty of shade in the back yard. We went swimming at Wilson's Bay in Cape Vincent. Came back home and The Better Half and grand son G splashed around in our pool while I drank a Goose Island IPA beer and played some guitar. Then  Better Halfs grand son went for a bike ride up and down our street and over to the school yard. He just learned to ride a bike this month. That was followed by grilled hamburgers and a cucumber salad for dinner. Then we sat on the front porch and sang songs. Among them were Billy Boy, The Ants Go Marching, She Will be Coming Around the Mountain, and more. Great, wonderful day.

Here is a video clip of the fire in our charcoal grill:


G after his bike ride.