mystery feed valve
Monday, July 11 2022
location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
Gretchen had taken the day off from her usual Monday bookstore shift so we could spend another day at the cabin. I had not taken the day off, but of course I can work from anywhere, so I would be working remotely from the cabin. I got up before 6:00am this morning so I could get a jump on the day. I was working on one of those projects I hate, the kind I had so many of when I worked out of the Red Hook office. I'd change a tiny piece of Visual Studio code and then recompile the project (which would take awhile) to see what the tiny effect would be. Then I'd make another tiny change and run another test. Doing this for hours results in only dozens of tests being run. Progress can be discouragingly slow, and I find it impossible to resist distraction.
By late morning, I'd made a little progress on that stuff. So I took a lunch break and walked down to the dock, where Gretchen had already been for hours. I went out in the canoe to gather more stones, some of which ended up being rather large, and I used these to further augment the dock's abutment. But the abutment is pretty much as built out as the space allows, so I used some of the rocks on a project I'd begun last night: building a set of steps in stone down to the lake itself alongside the dock. On the rocky reef down there, the water is only ankle deep when the lake is low, and what's not rock is sand, so it's a good place for wading, particularly for the hypothetical children of hypothetical friends who are not child-free.
Gretchen returned to the cabin a little after 4:00pm, having spent most of a workday down at the dock. Aside from my lunch break visit, she'd had the lake entirely to herself all day. At that point I was procrastinating from work by cleaning up the cabin. A big milestone on that path was the removal of the last bit of clutter from floor to the east of the stairs in the great room, a rambling clutter of tools and supplies that had been driving Gretchen nuts since the flooring was installed.
Originally the plan had been for us to drive back to Hurley late tonight or perhaps even tomorrow, but our tenants in the brick mansion on Downs Street had alerted us last night that their hot water wasn't working, so we had to drive back early to deal with that. We left the cabin at about 5:00pm, with me driving.
At the brick mansion on Downs Street, I went into the basement and figured out how household water is fed into the hydronics, which was likely where the problem lay, since the boiler had been brought to a stop due to a "low pressure" error, which I'd previous seen only on the similarly-advanced (that is, computer-controlled) Navien boiler at the cabin. The water entered via a recognizable backflow preventer, though the device that must have been the feed valve was unfamiliar (it resembled a "Honeywell 1/2 Boiler Fill Valve and Backflow Preventer Combo Assembly"). The feed valve is designed to permit a boiler's hydronic system to accept new water from a 40 psi household supply should water leak out, but not to pressurize it to beyond 15 psi. Most such feed valves have a little lever for allowing it to "quick-fill" a hydronic system, bypassing the pressure regulator. This fill valve didn't have such a level, so I unscrewed the black cap off its internal mechanism, which revealed a knob unhelpfully labeled "increase" and "decrease" (of what?). As I was fiddling with it, Gretchen observed that the pressure on the screen had suddenly risen to nearly 8 psi. Since the lower-cutoff for pressure is 4 psi, it meant the system could run. So I turned it off and back on again, and, after a long boot sequence, the boiler came up functional and started circulating hot water through the indirect hot water heater. Gretchen was astounded that I had fixed the system without even using any tools. "Had we called a plumber, that would've cost over $300," she exclaimed. "That's why we're a good team," I said later.
Back at the house in Hurley, Powerful was off in the Poconos to attend some sort of retreat with Bard Prison Initiative people (I think). A loaf of bread had gone white with mold, something the dogs didn't seem to mind when I gave it to them.
Then all of a sudden the dogs burst whimpering with excitement out of the house and soon had a small bear treed in the large white pine back on the mountain goat path behind the woodshed. I hollered something to Gretchen about it, and that was enough human voice for the bear to immediately come down the tree (despite the dogs) and run off to another tree, where he was quickly treed again. (In both cases, the bear climbed dozens of feet up into the tree and found a good solid branch to rest upon.) This time I fetched a leash and, when Gretchen joined me, arranged with her that there would be no talking until we'd leashed the dogs. We dragged the dogs away from the tree that the bear was in (he was practically invisible behind the branches about fifty feet above the ground) and started talking to each other about 100 feet away. The bear heard our voices and immediately shimmied down the tree and ran off down the Stick Trail. Seeing the bear escaping and being unable to give chase was the worst form of torture for the dogs, at least that was the impression given the desperate squeals they made.
We continued dragging the dogs back homeward, though I eventually let Neville loose, since he's not as bear-obsessed as Ramona. He sat in the trail for a time deliberating on what to do. Eventually he started trotting away in the direction the bear had fled to, but the by that point the bear had a huge head start.
We bottled Ramona up in the house for about fifteen minutes before turning her loose. Like Neville, she headed off in the direction of the bear. But that trail was by now very stale. Both dogs returned in about a half hour. We haven't had a bear incident in over a year, and I suspect the reason for this one was just that the dogs had been away from our Hurley house for so long that a bear started prowling around it, either unaware that dogs were an issue or imagining that the dogs had moved away permanently.
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