Posts Tagged With: work


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Decisions were needed on my building project in Oregon. Doug was working on the first coat of primer when I arrived on Friday the 13th, after a five hour drive. Cement doesn’t soak up paint as easily as wood. Weather is cool and damp, but luckily no rain.

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Doug declined my invitation to take him out for dinner but promised me he’d be dragging my butt out at 6:30 a.m. to pick out paint colors at Home Depot. Headed for the hotel, I stopped at the VFW where they were celebrating Valentines Day with a special dinner of Cornish game hens and a luscious, chocolate cherry dessert. They invited me to stay since a couple of reservations had canceled.

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Making new friends and a toast to Valentines. The Rogue River Post is very active and supportive of their vets. Two young men from Rogue are serving on foreign soil and they’ve adopted their whole unit, sending cookies and letters from home.

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Saturday was Valentines day and we left Home Depot with the wrong color paint. I picked  sunshine yellow, she wrote right under the paint swatch, the formula, but she had mixed the color beneath it, something called Terra Sol. We were asleep at the switch and didn’t realize the mistake until we went to open the can. We decided to live with it since she might get fired over 20 gallons of oops paint. At lunch I picked up some yoghurt, chips and fruit at Ray’s Market. A woman and child were handing out Valentines to every one. What a smile starter. Later, I found a heart shaped pebble on the ground near my building. Sweet.

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Catching up with neighbors, Jenny & Phil. Phil is always surrounded by his fur children.

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Jenny was preparing to go horseback riding. New horses since my last visit.

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She has a paint looking pony. A new breed called gypsy.  While there, Jenny recommended the local Tarassco’s fish tacos.

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Every restaurant in town was loaded on Valentines day. A forty-five minute wait for a pizza. I went home with my favorite dish from Tarassco’s,  a take out bowl of Albondigo soup.  I had the fish tacos on Sunday. Everyone knows I’m a foodie.

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The terra sol wasn’t too bad. I made headway with bids on heating and air from three companies. Got a dumpster ordered. Picked out and ordered my cabinets and vanities at Lowes. Bought a new washer dryer that Lowes will hold until needed.

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I painted as far up as I could reach on the trim. Doug was using the ladder.

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I moved rocks and placed them in a circle around this lovely old tree in my front yard.

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Doug had to open up the Tyvek for bidders to get inside the house. I swept and cleaned a bit inside knowing it will be even dustier when the sheet rockers get finished.  Doug loves to clown around. We had a good time, made a lot of progress.  I’ll have to return when we ask for the electrician who is next in line after the heating an air guys do their preliminary, in the wall, install.

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It was nice to see snow on Mt. Shasta. I couldn’t resist yet another picture of this beautiful mountain.






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In yesterday’s blog, I addressed problems we’ve had with our building project. I was euphoric that I found a guy who agreed to come out and put up that roof with one day’s notice.

A terrific guy. He went out on Friday and looked at the job, talked to Doug and told me he was impressed with Doug and his work and he agreed to do it.

Then, after the double felting was in place, they began on the ridge shingles. Whoops! It seems the company didn’t deliver ridge shingles. So, Doug laboriously cut shingles by hand to fit until the long ridges on both sides were done. Then the roofer went to work on the fast part of the job, just nailing them up row by row.

“Hey Doug, how come half these shingles are brown and half are gray?”

Not only did the company not deliver ridges, they sent half the shingles the wrong color. Shingles are heavy and are loaded by crane directly on the roof. Unfortunately, Doug had to hand carry them down the ladder, haul back to the company, get the proper color and then hand carry them up the ladder as fast as he could to keep the roofer nailing. I do not exaggerate when I say not one time has an order, or job segment gone correctly, without a snafu. We decided we are jinxed.

For instance, during the foundation, the guy who was helping Doug finish the cement, got tired and walked off the job. Our roofer stayed and soldiered on. They were still putting up shingles in the dark. I am every grateful to a stand-up guy. Doug told me it will be a looooong time before he can look back at this job and laugh.

I enjoyed my four years there with my companion at the time, and it was never the same after he died,  which is why I started renting it. I like rural living and I love my year around stream. So, I’m hoping for better times ahead on Evans Creek.

Today, I’m preparing paperwork for my eye surgery on December 30th. Doesn’t look like I’ll be celebrating the New Year with anything but the television set this year.

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Keeping up acreage has its disadvantages. I’m lucky a young friend of mine, Bob Urban, is a tree expert and he takes care of my trees. He came with his new best friend, Daisy. She enjoyed herding my chickens, but doesn’t harm them. He has a coop full of his own.

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Mark Piehl, left, and my grandson, Stewart finished a new stretch of replacement fence. They worked 8 hours and did some heavy lifting, trenching around the new coop and wiring out a fox, just a few of what I put them through, while I fetched tools and pointed to the next task. They kept me running. I couldn’t wait until they left so I could sit in my chair and be old.

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Mason washed down the house, scrubbed the walls, face boards and gutters, then scraped loose paint off the deck and painted patches getting ready to repaint. The prep works is harder than the paint job itself.

I remember when I could work hard and fast. But, as poet Gregory Orr says, If we are not supposed to dance, why all the Music?  Those three busy days are behind me. Today, I’m going to dance….ah, no, I’m kidding myself. I have to do some shopping. Darn.


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California’s most devastating fire, the Yosemite Rim Fire left millions of board feet of trees lying on the ground. Our local district representative,  McClintock,  pushed to fast track getting that lumber to market before it disintegrated. He pointed out that it would provide jobs and money to locals, open up the mills again and put loggers to work.  Good idea.

In past fires, smaller ones in our county, locals brought out volumes of wood for profit. Volunteers cut up gobs of it for firewood for seniors or people in need. Some of it got to local mills. Some disintegrated on the ground which isn’t all bad, since fire blackened areas recuperate faster when the dead timber is left in place, or at least part of it.

Guess what?   SPI went in and machine removed that timber very quickly. It is now sitting on a dock in Stockton to be barged to Oakland to be exported to China and Japan.  So much for opening local mills. There were people who yelled it wouldn’t happen when McClintock was making his “heroic pitch.” They were right, of course. It is all about big corporate profits, not about local communities.

I love trees and wonder if man has a cog in the brain that dictates let no living thing go untrammeled by we superior beings. The little cog shaped like a dollar sign. It started early, with the giant redwoods. Falling the biggest and most magnificent tree to prove they could do it. The wood unusable because they had no saws or equipment big enough to  handle trees of such size.

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Now that we know forests are carbon sinks and necessary to help halt global warming, it doesn’t seem to discourage decimating private forest and allowing lumbering on a major scale in National Forests, too. The U.S. Forest Service has sold out to lumber interests all over the country, contrary to what they say.

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Politicians see money and workers see job preservation.

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There is a 501c3 organization trying to hold up Forest Service Ethics, made up of some Forest Service Employees. Obviously employees serving see a need for this organization or it wouldn’t exist.

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Homes to critters.

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Used as fence posts, here the barbed wire has grown into the tree. Some cottonwood trees in plains states are cut, put into the ground immediately, take root and grow into a living fence.

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Enjoy them while you can and remember to protect these wonders of nature if you have an opportunity. I burn wood, but I hate cutting trees and only burn what gets damaged by storms and fits in my stove. I rarely have a fire to clear brush or dead wood, only twice in over 30 years.   I leave most of it on the ground to naturally decay. Many others do the same, or hire a chipper.

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Since I’m detained at home, I’m using my time productively, catching up on neglected chores and projects. Some fun, some not. The house appeared to be in good shape, but it needed painting.

I hired Jube and Joel to do the prep work. Joel worked nine hours one day, and the two of them worked 10 hours the second day. I had forgotten how much work preparation  work there is. Joel would explain, “to do it right, all of this loose paint has to be scraped, sanded and primed. ” Kind of like the seemingly endless medical tests I’ve been undergoing before surgery. To do a good job, they want to make sure you are in good shape. Of course, I want to move things along instead of all this waiting. It’s looking like I won’t be able to fly back to the motorhome and resume travels until after Christmas. (groan).

Yesterday, my son Doug came with his airless and roll upon roll of masking tape and started spraying the eves.

It takes little repairs along the way, some of which Jube and Joel did.

A cracked and rusted spot in the downspout.

The house settles and needs caulking and other stuff here and there I’d forgotten about. I guess the same is true of the old body. I could stand a bit of scraping and caulk here and there along the way and I guess I’ll get it.

The house and I will both be better off for the makeover. And, I won’t be inclined to let things deteriorate so much this time around.

It will be nice to come home to a pretty house when all is said and done. And, it will be nice to think my good health will continue with a bit of an assist. who knows, if it weren’t for the accident in May, I wouldn’t have known I had a health problem at all, as strange as that seems. We have to prepare for the future.

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The sun was barely up. Jim and I,  dressed in our morning sweats, were finishing our blog. Jim said, “Let’s skip breakfast and go watch the balloonists take off.”  In the park field, people were scattered about, laying their balloons on the ground.

The Freedom Flight and Ride began the previous night in town. The balloonists gathered on both sides of the street in Gallup,  fired their propane burners to form a flaming  arch for the motorcade of biking vets to ride through. That was the ride, which we missed. Now the flight part at the Red Rock Park grounds. (You can double-click any of these photos to enlarge them.)

Having never been to a balloon launch before, what struck me first was the number of people it takes to launch a balloon.  Ken Ferguson’s  crew put down a huge tarp, dragged out their balloon, and laid it out.  Ken answers to Fergie.

As they tested their burner and began laying out their balloon, the sun was just touching the tops of the rocks.

As the balloon inflates, crew member Debra,  assists the balloon in spreading and unfolding.

What soon resembled colorful, beached whales were sprouting up all over the field.

Balloonists congregate in clubs and have a working crew that assists the balloon owner/pilot. Crews worked swiftly, without much comment, but the propane burners filling the balloons could be heard all over the field.  I video taped a partial launch that you can see and hear at this link:

Everywhere I turned, balloons began  puffing up like giant marshmallows.

I got giddy with excitement and wanted to clap or shout each time another one became upright.

Up, up and away.

Soon dozens of them were flying as I watched, transfixed.

The heated balloon rises, but the wind dictates where it will fly.

Jim the technical person, wanted a blow-by-blow of what it takes to launch a balloon and attached himself to Fergie. He was very  friendly, patient  and informative.

The balloon is now full and is beginning to lift off the ground.

There she goes, hauling the gondola (basket) upright. Kind of taking on a life of her own.

Fergie’s balloon, named  Itsa Touchie Subject,  is upright;  the flyers are climbing aboard, and off they go.

It may seem obvious, but it is important for the members to be able to recognize the balloon in the air for the chase team to spot and follow.

Balloons from a distance can look much alike. You must know your colors or you might chase the wrong balloon.    Jim told me we were invited to ride in the vehicle with the chase crew.

At one point we were flying along this dirt road only to find ourselves fenced off.  Debra, in the balloon van  ahead of us,  found and opened a gate. There are often two chase vehicles.

Brenda, our driver, re-routed and got stopped for a minute by wild horses crossing the road as we bumped along. But, she spotted the Itsa Touchie Subject  just as it was about to land.

All hands steadied the basket while two people unloaded.  Jim and I were invited to take their place for the second “hop.”  I was bowled over by the generosity of this crew. Realize, not everyone can afford a balloon. A second-hand one, just the balloon, can cost upwards of $20,000.  It is an expensive sport. Crew members participate so they can ride. They gave up their ride for us and Thank You is hardly adequate.

The balloon from inside the basket.

Fergie gave a couple of blasts of propane and in seconds we were floating upward and waving to the ground crew.

I spotted the herd of wild ponies we met earlier on the road.

Flying is  sensuous, serene, beautiful.

The Freedom Flyers dotted the sky as we ascended to about 800 feet AGL. (Above Ground Level)

Part of the pilots job is to scout out a landing spot big enough for the balloon;  hopefully near a road where the pick up van can get to you;  and in a place un-fenced so no one has to heave an 800 pound or heavier  basket over it.

A couple of planned bumps, and we were down. The pilot keeps the balloon inflated enough to give the spotter something to see. When he is positive he’s been found, he can let the air out in a very precise fashion.

Everyone but the pilot bails as the balloon loses air and drags the basket over on its side. The ground crew lays out the tarp in the path of the falling balloon. Sometimes it is a miss, as in this case. The wind is a wiley engine.

The basket end cords are held taut. A crew member pulls out the top so it doesn’t fold deeply inside the balloon.

The balloon is “milked”, lifting and stripping  air out. Then crew members place velcro ties loosely about 3 feet apart.

Once it is secured and disconnected from the basket the lines are neatly tucked into the final fold.

The tied balloon is shouldered by half the crew, as others move the bag up three feet at  a time so the balloon can be stuffed into its bag. The tarp too, is folded and stuffed in a separate bag. The balloon alone weighs about 300 pounds.

Then the basket is loaded into the van. The flight is over, but not the fun.  Fergie referred to a ceremony that takes place after a flight.  I’m just beginning to get acquainted with the crew and loving every minute of it.  This wasn’t just a balloon ride.  We were included in every aspect of the ballooning sport.

More tomorrow. In the mean time, if you’d like to look at a partial  album where you can click on a slide show and see pictures full screen size, click the following link:

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