Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One Of Those Days

I fully intended to post yesterday and show in detail how the sink counter is attached to the wall and all that blah, blah but work just got the best of me. I have been having to weld up these big goal posts (barricades) in the new freezer area and it's a real pain. It's freezing, literally, in there and I had to use a lift to get up to the steel to weld, so that means wearing all this crap to keep warm and then having to wear a safety harness on top of that because I'm over 6 feet off the ground, so I have like, 10 extra pounds of stuff on me. So, I'm up in this lift welding and I smell something burning and I look down and realize I've set my hardhat on fire. I can't wear it while I'm welding as I have to wear a hood, so I had set it down on the floor of the lift. Well, it was the liner inside the hardhat but, at any rate, flames are coming out of my hardhat. I got that put out but it messed my hat up and my boss had to order me new insides for it. Anytime I set myself or some other thing on fire they always just sigh really hard and slowly shake their heads. I can't help it though! Stuff happens. So, then I get one of my bad migraines towards the end of the day, so when I got home I just had to take some meds and go to bed. I feel better today though.

That whole incident reminded me of some of the stuff that has happened on jobs over the years. I'm always kinda amused when some women I meet say. "oh, I wish I could do the work you do" and I think, weeeelll, maybe you don't. Not that I wouldn't encourage women to give any of the crafts a go, but there is a lot of stuff that happens that I don't think many people would want to go through. Like setting yourself on fire. And it seems that food distribution centers are good for that sort of thing as there is a lot of miscellaneous welding for us in those places. I remember one I was working on several years ago; it was in the summer thankfully. I had to climb up the steel structure about 30 feet and cut some braces out with a torch. I was standing on a 8" beam, 30 feet in the air while cutting steel overhead. Now, I was tied off. We have to wear these elaborate safety harnesses. They strap on sorta like a parachute with one strap across your chest, a padded belt around your waist and a strap around both legs at the crotch. A lanyard attaches to the straps across your back and then to the safety lines or steel. Sometimes when steel is very dirty or rusted it will pop when it is being cut and splatter molten slag all over you and everything and this is what happened. It seemed everything happened in slow motion. I saw the flame pop and the slag spray and then I saw this one very large blob of steel fly up into the air and arch over towards me. It was like a little meteor of glowing, yellow metal plummeting right towards me. Now, when you are tied off like that, at that height, you really can't go anywhere. That lanyard is only 6 feet long and my hands are full. So, I stood frozen as this molten blob descended on me and fell perfectly straight down my shirt. As you can imagine, slag at that temperature is not slowed much by a cotton shirt. It did hang up for just a second when it rung my, um, cleavage but it burnt through my bra and continued down to my waist where it got caught by the tight belt of my harness. Now, when something like this happens you have an automatic response to grab at what is causing you pain, to try to remove it from your body. But I still had that lit torch in one hand, nowhere to put it and was just trying to get the slag away from my skin. With all that twisting though, the slag did move and dropped down into my pants. There it was caught by one of the straps around my legs. Mercifully, it had cooled enough at this point it was no longer burning through my clothing and going further down. However, the strap managed to hold it tightly against my leg as the belt had done. Somehow I did not sling the torch to the ground or step off the beam during the whole thing. After I felt the pain subside (it had burnt the nerves I guess) I turned the torch off, got everything secured and slowly climbed down. The pain came back as I walked to the office trailer though and the guys noticed that I was walking kinda funny. Now, the boss is supposed to look at any semi-serious injury to determine if you need further medial attention but nobody was looking at anything. I just got some antibiotic ointment and sterilizing swabs from the first aid and went to the bathroom. I had to use my pocket knife to dig the last bit of steel out of my thigh where it had settled. It didn't seem something that size could cause that much pain. But, that is just part of the job and after I bandaged up I went back to work. The scars are not very noticeable nowadays although I have had an occasional question from, um, a friend or two about how I got them. They make for an interesting story at least.

I hope no one out there sets themselves on fire and has a great new year celebration if you are planning anything. I have the day off so will try to post again! Happy New Year everybody!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Carved In Stone Part 2

OK, here is the countertop after the form was dropped out and the styrofoam block out for the sink pulled out. I let the concrete cure for 4 days before removing anything and it's not a bad idea to wait 7 days. I also kept a wet towel over the slab for mot of that time to help the concrete cure. As you can guess, I made the blockout from rigid styrofoam just so it is easy to get out once it is encased in the concrete. You can cut it up if you have to but being rigid it does not give against the weight of the concrete. I traced the outermost diameter of the sink shape and then came in about 3/4" all the way around to get the size for the blockout. That leaves the sink edge resting on about 3/4" of concrete all around. The sink sits off to one side of the countertop but is centered over the plumbing stub outs. Now, I made another mistake doing this. I did not notice until later that this makes the sink slightly off-center the two light fixtures, thus any mirror hung between the fixtures will not center up over the sink. This is what happens when you let it take so long to complete a project: you forget what your original thoughts and plans were on the project and you get in such a hurry to finish eventually that you don't think about stuff like that. So, I'm going to have to move one light fixture out slightly to correct this. No big deal but still aggravating.
I also poured a two-part backsplash for this countertop but did not get photos of that process.

This sink, along with 2 more, were salvaged from one of the hospital remodels we did a couple of years ago. They are practically brand new Kohler sinks and came with the fixtures and all. Now, I hate those fixtures and will replace this one shortly but for now, this is what I got. Now, when I wrecked the form off it left a sharp edge on the top of the slab but there is an easy way to remedy that. The bottom edge was very slick and rounded due to the silicone caulk I ran in that crack.

A 4" side grinder is one of the best tool investments you can make. They make an endless variety of discs for these things for use on everything from wood to concrete. They are not just for metal anymore! I simply used an 80 grit sanding disc but, if you want to spend the money, they make a bunch of diamond-coated discs and blades sized for these tools.

So, WETTING the edge of the concrete, I simply rounded that top edge off until I had the contour I wanted. Now, even these sanding discs will take off quite a bit if you are not careful so you have to pay attention to what you are doing. You don't have to wet the concrete but if you are working inside it's a good idea. So is wearing a dust mask. I just kept the faucet running slightly and would periodically scoop a little water over on the edge as I passed by. Now, this does make a mess in your floor and on the walls so cover stuff that you can't just mop clean.

I then used a hair dryer and heater to dry the concrete thoroughly before applying the sealer. There are many types of sealer for concrete but I simply used a 50/50 mixture of beeswax and naturally derived linseed oil because ya'll know I try to only use natural products. For kitchen countertops, you can get a food-grade beeswax to seal those with. We have used that to seal limestone countertops and it works fine on concrete. The mixture I used darkened the slab considerably but it will lighten up some as the product cures. Either way it is fine with me. I then used silicone caulk to glue the two pieces of backsplash into place. In a couple of days I will caulk the cracks between the countertop and backsplash and against the wall. The beeswax/linseed oil is very sticky and thick at first, so you have to heat it to apply it smoothly, but it soaks in quickly and after about 30-60 minutes I wipe off the excess and buff the surface. It will not make it shiny but has a nice satin finish. If you want to use concrete for a finished product you need to be able to accept a certain amount of surface variation. It will not look like Corian or limestone. It has veins and mottling and even some tiny surface cracks so you have to accept that. Now, I don't say that to make excuses for poor workmanship; it is just the material that you are working with.
I was kinda surprised at how many of you are wanting to do concrete countertops so I will do another post on tools and more specifics on how to finish the concrete. I will tell you this, concrete is a wonderful material but it is very unforgiving. You need to practice on some things before you start your real project if you don't have much experience. It takes a real touch and lots of experience to be able to get that hard, slick finish and once the concrete starts 'going' there is not much you can do to stop it. There are some tricks and such and I will try to give ya'll some more info on that. If you have any specific questions or something I didn't even show, please ask.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Carved In Stone Part 1

I'm so happy that I finally just bit the bullet and poured my concrete countertop in the bathroom. It was no big deal but I just kept putting it off. Well, I did (and still do) have more pressing exterior issues to deal with but it is nice to have this done. I was actually able to beg a day off from work last week and knock it out. Sunday, Allen set the sink and hooked everything up for me so it was functional for Christmas, which was nice.
Excuse the poor quality of the photos. I almost forgot to even take any and then I was in a hurry so they didn't come out too well.
First, I determined that I wanted the top of countertop to be at 32". Standard height is 30" but that seems low to me. The countertop itself is 2" thick and I used 3/4" material to form the bottom, so I dropped down 2 3/4" to the top of the 2x4's that I attached to the walls to support the "floor" of the form. I ran 3 1/2" screws through the 2x4's into the studs so that makes for strong support and can be easily wrecked. Well, should be. As I mentioned before though, I was in a hurry and not paying attention so I ran a few screws in that could not be gotten to after the concrete was poured and so some of the form just had to be busted to be removed. Even us "pros" make mistakes if we are not thinking.

I found some kind of plastic trim (I think it was for screen doors or something) that made a perfect flexible edge. It bent lengthwise but not widthwise. After I had my 2x4's attached to the wall I scabbed two 1x12's together to make the floor and temporarily attached it in the corner so I could draw out the shape I wanted. I made this base a little oversize and square so I would have plenty of room to draw. I also made a template for my sink shape and placed that on there to help determine the shape of the countertop. I just free handed the shape I wanted for the outer edge with a pencil and then took the base down and cut it with a jigsaw. I glued together 4 small sheets of Dowboard and cut the sink template out of that. the red line you see on the back wall is my grade line. I doweled four #4 bars into the studs in the wall which protrude about 12 " into the slab. I tied a grid within the form out of #3 bars. I had to use slightly thin rebar to get it all within the 2" of mud and the #3 bars are easily bent too. I used lots of construction adhesive on the dowels where they went into the studs. I put 2 dowels in each wall and so that makes a nice perpendicular grid to support the slab once the forms are dropped out.

Here you can see the shoring underneath: the 2x4's on the wall and I cut three 2x's to shore up the outer edge of the form. Even this tiny bit of concrete will be heavy. The countertop has a slight drop to the outer edge. I think about an 1/8" from back to front. I just didn't want any water to run towards the wall and you will never see that slight of a fall. I used 100% silicone to caulk all the cracks where any concrete would be. This prevents a mess from running down the walls when the mud begins to weep and gives you a nice slick finish on the front, bottom edge. The top, front edge I'll have to grind smooth.

Now, I used a mix of one bag of Sackrete to a 1/2 bag of non-shrink grout. Non-shrink grout is mostly portland cement and will help strengthen the mix and I think it helped give it a nicer finish. This is what mud looks like right after it is floated off. I tapped the underside of the form with a hammer to "vibrate" the mud and remove as many air bubbles as possible. You always need to vibrate your concrete in some way. This helps in surround the rebar fully and become as dense as possible. Vibrating also helped the concrete flow down to grade pretty much on its own. Of course, this is such a small amount of concrete it's almost on grade as soon as you get it in the form!

When it is vibrated correctly, this is what it looks like. It gets really wet looking on top and you start seeing these little volcano-looking air pockets pop up. Now, you can vibrate too much but unless you are using the big, mechanical vibrators like we use at work, that is not going to be a problem. I then floated it off one more time to make sure it was on grade and get a little smoother finish. You then just have to let the mud sit and start curing. The more you mess with it, the longer it will take to start setting up because you need to let that water rise up to the surface and start evaporating. And remember, concrete cures, it does not dry. I will show the rest of the process in the next post and the finished product. I think it came out well. If anybody has any questions so far please ask. I know I don't always explain things well.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, Baby

I truly want to wish everyone of you that read my goofy, little blog a very happy and peaceful holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice or it just being the end of the year. I hope all of you are able to be with your friends and loved ones and see your heart's desires made real.

Grendal says don't forget your furry friends either! I was shocked to see that she actually posed for a number of photos, even wearing that bow. She was feeling quite festive I guess! Trying to get Lika to sit still for any kind of photo was more than my patience could endure right now; maybe later.

The weather here has turned very unChristmas-like; it's very warm and they say it will stay warm for the next few days. Monday it was very cold though. I think when we were getting tools out that morning it was like 19 or 20 degrees. I got to work in a warm building though so I was really gloating to myself over that. I should have known better. You remember I'm working in a food distribution center over on the section that is nearing completion. One of the last things we (I) have to do is weld up heavy duty guard rails around the doorways etc. I noticed after lunch the building seemed much colder than that morning but thought it was just my imagination, but I put my jacket on anyway. A little while later I was even colder and then I realized what was happening. They had turned on the chillers to ready that section of building for use. See, we are adding on to their freezer and dry storage so by the end of the day, it was colder inside the building than outside! I have had to work inside the sections that are kept at about -30 degrees but, fortunately, this section will only be around 35 degrees. LOL!
So, we had to work today but got to go home at 11:00 a.m. instead of 12 noon, I think in part to an ammonia leak. They use that stuff to get it so cold in those buildings and when they energize a new system there is usually a few bugs in it. It was so bad you couldn't even go in the door (the odor can be deadly) so I couldn't do my welding. I think this aggravated our superintendent and he decided we would just call it a little early. Nobody was complaining! So, I got home in time to clean up and had some nice food fixed for my brother and sister and their families and my Mom. My neice and nephew decorated my tree for me; I hadn't even had time to do that. Maybe tomorrow I can make some of those cookies or something. I'm off until Monday so I am really going to enjoy the next few days and get a few things done around here. I have a couple of projects completed that I want to show you people. I'll try to make up for not posting much lately.

*many versions by various artists but I like Elvis' the best.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

This Old Heart Of Mine

Hey Karen, look at this! I think it's kinda the same shape and everything. Well, not the same size but you know what I mean.
I'm astounded that I keep finding these heart-shaped rocks because I've told ya'll about my complete inability to normally pick out anything like 4-leafed clovers and such. I found this one several weeks ago when we were grading little piles of gravel in some forms we had built in order to pour door stoops at the warehouse I am on now. Some gravel had fallen outside the form and I looked down and there it was.

I have been using work as an excuse not to post much lately, and that is true, but I have also just not felt a lot like writing lately. I have a terrible confession. Christmas is just not a lot of fun for me most of the time. I try very hard every year to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and just enjoy the season. I don't put a lot of pressure on myself to buy much. Most of my family and friends prefer stuff I make anyway and I do really enjoy making things for people. I love to give gifts. But it is often a sad season to me and seems like for the past 6 or 7 years something has always happened to make it even worse. Last year a cousin that we had all grown up with passed away very sudden and unexpectedly. She was only 46 and my mother's twin sister's only child. She died on Dec.23 so it was very sad. The previous 3 years I was very sick every year on Christmas, even spending part of one Christmas in the emergency room. I think one of those years was also when Allen got me a toilet flange for Christmas. Anything having to do with a toilet is never a good Christmas gift. Ever. Even if it is stainless steel and made in the USA. And especially if you are trying to decide if you will continue to live together.
So, this year I decided I was going to pick up an old family tradition that my wonderful aunt Corinne used to do. She had no family of her own, like me, but would fix breakfast for all the rest of us on Christmas Eve. I was going to have some friends over who I know don't have family that they get together with and all that. Now, we have to work overtime up to Christmas Eve and then until noon on that day, so that puts the kibosh on that.
I don't think I ask for a lot. I don't want diamonds and pearls (although I wouldn't throw them out in the yard in I got them!) lol! I would just like one Christmas that I wasn't sick, nobody dies and I don't have to work like hell right up until that night. You know, just to relax and do some baking, make some nice gifts, that sort of thing. Even I don't have the nerve to go up to one of these superintendents I work for, with their big, gruff selves, and say, "hey, I want 2 days off so I can stay home and make cookies!" That doesn't go over well. Especially when they have 200 feet of footings they need poured and it's been raining for the last week.
But, I got to move into my house last Christmas so you never know, maybe next Christmas I'll be able to take the whole week off and maybe even wake up on Christmas Day next to some handsome man that has bought me some nice, shiny thing that does not have anything to do with a toilet. You know, like a new 20 oz., straight claw, leather handle Estwing!

* The Isley Brothers

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Don't Get Around Much Anymore

Hey People! I have not forgotten about ya'll! They are working the crap out of us and I just can't seem to get any free time. What little I had I spent doing this. Anybody need any nice Christmas gifts?

I have several vacation days built up but cannot get even one day off to do a few things around the house. I'm attempting to get the sink etc. installed in the bath before Christmas but it seems everything is working against me. I'm grateful to still be working but it always seems to be feast or famine.

I should have this weekend off but they are talking about us having to work Christmas Eve. And no Christmas gifts this year at work. Our company is having some trouble I think. Work maybe scarce after the first of the year so I guess it's best I save all my vacation days. I'll try to be back soon. Serious about the pottery though. I ship anywhere in the U.S. If you are local just email me and I'll let you know when I'm home. You'll have like a 10 minute window! Ha! Just kidding.

*Recorded by Duke Ellington with lyrics in 1942. Originally written as an instrumental piece in 1940. Recorded by numerous artist but I like Willy Nelson's version.

Friday, December 05, 2008

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Edit: I was informed today that I will report back Monday to the last job (food distribution center) that I was on. The boss there apparently called this one and needs me and one other guy back. Also, the railroad job has not started as fully as we previously had thought.

They are making a huge push this weekend to finish this building and turn it over to the owners on Monday. So, I get to make some overtime. This is the job I've been on for about the last 6 weeks I guess. It's a very nice building. The one in the front is the new offices and the big building in back is the warehouse. That one is a tilt-up. I wanted to show it so that ya'll could see one of those finished after me talking so much about the other one I was on.

This is a closer view of the tilt-up. I thought it came out well too.
Well, things are not looking so good as far as work goes. What few jobs we have are loaded up from what we hear and with this one finishing up, well, finding a new home might be hard. From what I hear, the small railroad job has started and will probably be filled shortly. I might could possibly go back to the job I was on previously or I could be laid off. Since I am single, with no family or children to support, I would be one of the candidates for that. But that is as it should be. The guys with kids need the jobs. I can get by. So, I guess once again, I'm just waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear.

*The Animals

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

There's Gold In Them Hills

One last picture of fall foliage. Not sure what type of tree these are but they were the last to drop their leaves. It was actually snowing lightly here early Monday morning as I left for work but it didn't last long.
Not much going on around here lately. Probably just show a photo or two here and there for a while.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Good Mourning/Black Friday

Yes, that is actually the name of a song, although by a band that I don't listen to. However, I thought it was appropriate for this post. I don't normally do a lot of rants here, I hope!, but what occurred yesterday in this country has disgusted me far beyond my ability to keep quiet, so this is going to be a doozy. And what is even more disgusting is the local and national media's 'oh,yeah' attitude concerning this and the deaths in California at the Toys-R-Us. What the ***k is wrong with people today!!?? Have we really sunk to this level of subhuman behavior as to actually kill another PERSON in our unbridled, horrific mad rush to buy cheap, plastic shit from Wal-Mart! Greed is defined as "acquisitive or selfish desire beyond reason". I don't think this is a strong enough word. The mere fact that people (and I use that term loosely) could actually, literally stomp the life out of another human just so they might buy another, useless, stupid, piece of crap TV, or some other junk, with which to further rot their brains is just beyond the realm of any, even half-assed form of reason. This is sick to the point that their are just no words to describe it, in my opinion. The article that I linked to does a pretty good job but there is just no way to account for this type of behavior. I won't try to describe it as animalistic because I don't want to insult the animals. The fact that so many people today apparently feel that acquiring material possessions is this important just shows the moral depravity that our society has sunk to. People can talk about drugs and prostitutes all they want, and those things are horrible, but this all-consuming avarice and lust for STUFF; stupid, plastic crap that will probably get thrown out in the trash in a couple of months, I think reveals a hunger to fill a void far greater than any immediate sexual or emotional need. Those things (sex, drugs) you can kinda, sorta understand; this other is beyond comprehension. How horribly empty must a person's soul be in order for that person to feel satiated, however temporarily, because they just bought a new DVD player? Or hell, just a new DVD? Good God Almighty, what have we become?
But this attitude, this way of life has been brewing for a long time. The media and the retailers have been cultivating our attitudes to embrace this idea that you are a failure if you don't have STUFF. You don't have STUFF?; what the hell is wrong with you? What? You're lazy! And now, you're not patriotic if you don't go out and buy!!!! All these "entertainment" news programs cramming it down everyone's throats how much STUFF celebrities have and oh, don't you wish you had that? Consume as much as you possibly can because you are less of a person if you don't! Their ****ing Hummers and "whoever dies with the most toys, wins" bumper stickers. Maybe he who dies with the most toys busts the seventh circle of Hell wide open 'cause they trampled their fellow man to death, literally, to get to all the STUFF first!
What is even more disturbing, or at least as disturbing, is the attitude now of the media. Oh, by the way, three people were killed senselessly yesterday while out shopping. Yesterday there was one article about it on Google's front page. Today? Nothing. And our local media here barely mentioned it. They were too busy foaming at the mouth over the fact that the Galleria was packed to capacity from the time the stores opened at 5:00 a.m. And to even further incite me, our news people had the absolute gall to keep insisting throughout the broadcast how that "times are tough" right now. What the ****! Tough!? Yeah, that's why people were packed into the malls like the lemmings they are, fighting over $10 vacuum cleaners. Excuse me, children in some parts of Africa eat clay just so that they will have something in their stomach to quell the pain. ****ing dirt!!! They eat it! And we think "times are tough here"..... **** off, you jackass!
And don't even get me going on the fact that this is the "Christmas season" that people are supposedly celebrating. Yes, I know there are other holidays at this time but it's Christmas that they use as the protagonist in this filth. Yeah, let's trample a few people in order to celebrate the birth of One that came to teach us to love one another. God have mercy.


Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers who are celebrating today!! May you all have a wonderful day and may we all truly realize just how good we have it here.
My cabbage and brussel sprouts are doing fine. I wish they would hurry up though! lol! I want to sample them.

Lika is growing and really developing quite a personality now. He was kinda bashful at first but now he is just full of himself! I think he is going to be a very good dog.
I have done some whining at times on this blog and I guess everybody does at one time or another, but I would never want anybody to get the idea that I am not tremendously grateful for what I have. I think it helps a lot of times to sit still and really look at what we have and see how fortunate we are.
I am thankful for my wonderful little house and land.
For my incredible friends that have helped me with same.
My health and strength to build.
My job and good pay and ability to work.
My friends out here in the blogosphere who encourage me.
My education and talent for art.
My family, small as it is.

So, I get 4 days off and hopefully will get to do a lot around the house. I hope everyone has a great holiday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

The past two weeks have been fairly chilly for this area and of course, I've had to go back outside to work. I've been working on two balconies overlooking this pretty lake though and every day these geese come by to swim and meander around. The edge of the water comes right up to the building so it's a very scenic work area. We are building a new HQ and warehouse for a large coffee and tea distributor, based here in Alabama, and they are nice enough to usually have some hot coffee for us on these cold mornings. It's kinda cool to build for this company because I (and my Mama) have always used their tea. I don't know if I should mention the name of the company but for the Jeopardy question of the day, "what is another name for a colorful gem?"

No news yet on where I will go next as far as work. This job is winding down fast so something will probably come around soon. I'm trying to maintain a 'que sera, sera' attitude but I don't know how well I'm doing at that. I just have a feeling though, that things are going to work out just fine.

Well, if you don't have a warm lap available to climb into, I guess you just have to go with the next best thing. Hhhmmm, maybe I need another one of these things....
I really don't spoil my cat that much but she really knows how to play on my sympathies by acting like she's about to freeze to death all the time. So, I cave in sometimes.

*various artists

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Heavy Metal

The past two weekends I have been occasionally working on building this firewood holder for the basement. It's certainly no work of art but it gets the job done and will hold a good amount of wood. I just took some #5 rebar (5/8") that was leftover from the railroad job and selected two lengths that were about 6' long. I bent these into a half circle basically and kept tweaking them until I got them to match fairly well. It's not real easy to bent a perfect half circle but you know, it's close. Then I used about 6 pieces, approximately 14" long to join the two half circles.

Here you can see the cross pieces. I welded them on the outside but I don't think it really matters.

Then I took two pieces about 3' long and used Allen's rebar bender to make sharper turns here for the legs. I know most people would never even know you can get a manual rebar bender much less have access to one but let me tell you, those things are sooooo cool. It will cut or bend up to #5 bar and it has come in very handy round here. Of course, the easiest way to cut rebar is with a torch, which I did here, but often times on commercial jobs you are technically not supposed to heat rebar to cut it. It must be sheared manually or cut with a band saw. So, after a little time yesterday afternoon gathering and splitting wood, I now have a supply of dry wood right next to the stove. Oh, this contraption is probably about 4' wide and 3' tall, maybe. I have more wood on a pallet under the deck but need to cut a lot more. Today I will be taking a load of firewood to my mom.

While I was welding and had Big Red all fired up with his new battery, I decided just to play around some and make a pretty. Well, I think it's pretty. I took some more leftover rebar and fashioned this yard ornament. These are leftover caisson bands, about 16" in diameter. I'm going to make some shor' 'nuff tomato cages with rest of these. I just threw this thing together trying to work out how it would go and now I think I could make a much better crafted one. If I get time that is! I have several more sculptures and such that I would like to put together with some of the scrap I have around here.
Oh, btw, and I'm telling this just for fun, I went out to eat last night at my favorite Japanese restaurant. I bought Allen's dinner for helping me cut wood. My fortune cookie said, "A new relationship is about to blossom. You will be blessed." Ha ha! I swear! I also dreamed a couple of nights ago about seeing a big tree knocked over that had a bee hive in it. The bees swarmed out and started coming towards me. I tried to run away but I didn't even get 10 feet away before the bees had completely covered me. It scared me at first and I could actually feel the weight of the bees on me, there were so many. But then I realized they were not stinging me and I just stood there kind of marveling at these bees all over me. I read later that honeybees, in dreams, often symbolize blessings and happiness. Well, I'm already blessed but there is an old song that says something about never getting tired of manna from heaven!

*Sammy Hagar

Friday, November 21, 2008

Early Morning

These are a couple of shots from the field in front of the job I'm on now. It's a very pretty site.

This is fairly early in the morning, just as the sun is coming up.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I enjoy listening to NPR as I drive to and from work and at the times that I come and go, they have all their news and essay pieces on. I can usually pass on most of the music they play. But anyway, some of you may have heard the fabulous essay they presented this afternoon, on This I Believe, concerning the Ridiculousness of Life. Go read it if you missed it; I'll wait. It's short so it won't take long.
So, this guy really nails it for me, especially the part about feeling like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin. My whole life has been, well, ridiculous. Oh, I had great plans; I was going to be a world famous architect and design the most radical, beautiful buildings you ever saw. Oh, and marry this outstanding, white-collar man in my late 20's and live happily ever after all the while making lots of money and living in an expensive and expansive house. And, I was going to do all of this on my own, with no help from any man especially, just to prove my father wrong that women could do what ever they wanted.
But instead, I accidentally got into construction and build the structures now, all the while being the only woman working with a bunch of knuckle-dragging misfits that seem to adore me, and I them. I drive a truck (instead of a Mercedes) which serves as a handy receptacle for those misfits to deposit all kinds of gifts into. I'm always delighted to see what they've dragged up for me; everything from rocks and building material to slices of railroad track. Instead of a life-long marriage I've had a interesting variety of lovers, from mechanics to doctors (medical and Ph.D.). Oh, well, I can't have kids anyway. And I'm still friends with the majority of these men. Lot of people can't say that. No big house either. Just a one bedroom, hand-crafted little house that I love, which sits in the middle of a beautiful valley where I can watch all sorts of critters go about their natural habits. Especially a crazy, little, golden puppy that spins around in circles because he's so happy and a fat ol' grey cat that insists on sitting in my lap while I try to type this. I can grow my own food also and take more dirt from the ground to make the dishes to eat that food off of. How ridiculous is that!
But most importantly, I would never have been able to do any of this had it not been for all the men that helped me. Everyone from my college art professors to a dear, older gentleman that made me a great deal on a piece of land, to Allen who will still come help me when I call. Even though I know a woman can do anything she sets her mind too, I've had to swallow a lot of pride over these past few years. I don't know if it's a good or a bad thing that my father didn't live to see that.
So, I was really enjoying this essay and the author's narration as I drove home, down the country roads, and as I passed by this one particular house with the very familiar truck sitting in the drive, I just had to laugh at the utter ridiculousness of it all.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Great Balls Of Fire

Hey! Success! Woohooo! Man, this thing is great! Yesterday Allen finished adding the last three sections of pipe and extending it through the eave of the roof. We still have some flashing and caulking and insulating to do but the heater functions now. And for those of you who may be wondering, I cooked Allen a very nice steak dinner for his efforts. I had a fair amount of firewood cut already but big efforts must now be made to get a lot more cut. the basement is staying very warm and I'm sure the heat is migrating to the floors but I am making some observations and notes from some strategically placed thermometers to see just how much this heat is affecting the rest of the house. This is just a really big experiment and I'm not sure how much things are going to be affected. I have one vent in the bathroom floor already and am monitoring the temps there but have not placed any other vents in the floors elsewhere. This is obviously, a very subtle way to heat but I have found that simply heating the underside of a house can really make the upper parts more comfortable. A warm floor can do wonders.
Now, I know a lot of you are probably wondering why in the world would I do this? Why not just be done with it and put the thing in the living room? and it was my first thought to do that: Well, several reasons: 1. I have bad allergies to smoke and dust. To keep a wood burning stove and surrounding area clean (to what I would consider clean) requires a fair amount of effort. 2. It's less effort to carry the large amounts of wood into the basement. 3. Warm floors. Unless you've experienced that it's hard to explain! 4. I suspect it will be easier, through the use of natural, convection currents, to move the warm air into all areas of the house from below, rather than trying to force it back into the bedroom and bath if the heater were on the same level. And convection currents require no energy; heat just rises! 5. The wood heater sits close to the water heater and so will make for very short runs to install the system to obtain hot water from the stove. And I don't have to worry about looks of the lines showing.
Unfortunately, the basement is not 100% sealed up so I'm not getting the full benefit of the heater but I believe it is helping considerable. I was worried about the chimney and would it draw right blah, blah, blah but the thing works like a charm. Once you get a roaring fire going, just shut the doors and close the damper. There are 2 small slots in the doors that you can adjust the opening to about 1/4- 1/2" on both sides and let it go. Open the damper all the way when you go to open the doors and that's about it. No smoke billows out into the room when you open it or are getting the fire started. One other great feature is that this heater has a built in fan that comes on automatically when the stove reaches a certain temp. It takes the hot air that builds up between the stoves 2 outer walls and forces it out into the room. If the stove drops below and certain temp, the fan shuts off. The only problem with this is that it scared the crap out of Lika. The fan is actually very quiet but he didn't like it. What a scary monster! It breathes fire and now was blowing it's hot breath on him! He wouldn't go into the basement for love nor money (or dog treats). I finally had to carry him in there and we sat by the heater with him for about a half hour to show him it wasn't going to eat us. He seemed to calm down but still would not sleep anywhere near it.

On a different subject, this is some stone that I have gotten off the new job I'm on. This is a good job for several reasons but one of the best is that it is nearing completion and so there are lots of finish products around. Finish products that they often have a lot of excess of and tend to throw it away. You know, what I mean. So everyday I go through the trash or once the laborers know I am looking for certain things, they will save any scraps for me as they clean up the building. The large dark, blueish stone is well, bluestone. I think it may be a type of slate. This stuff is anywhere from 1 1/2"- 3" thick and I hope to use the thicker pieces to make a hearth for the heater upstairs. The other stuff is travertine marble and I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that if anything. I could probably get enough to do a small bath or the pantry but it is soooo cold and hard I don't think I actually want to use it anywhere I would be standing a lot, say in the kitchen or pantry. Maybe a back splash or something. Any ideas? I have to be somewhat secretive about getting this scrap as the foreman for the tile setters is an A-#1 a**hole and would make his guys bust it when they threw it away, just to keep me from being able to use it. He is Hispanic and took an immediate dislike to me. We are having to work in the same area and he does everything he can to interfere with me completing my work. Which is strange because most of the Hispanics I meet just go out of their way to help me but a very few of them have very...ummm, Neanderthal ideas about women.
Well, anyway, this post is getting very long so I'll end it. Got lots of work to do anyway. Hope ya'll have had a great weekend!

*Jerry Lee Lewis (never been a big fan but I do like this one song)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Got A Name

Many thanks to all of you for your wonderful suggestions for names. They were all really great! However, the dog ended up being named quickly, after a friend's visit. Oops! Now, I'll never get ya'll to help me with suggestions again! My Russian friend arrived on Sunday and she brought her daughter, Sasha (love that name!), with her. Sasha promptly declared him to be 'Lika'. Which, in Russian, means "barking". I know, I know, he doesn't bark but it just seemed to fit so well and I figure it is kinda like when we call a great big guy, "Tiny" or such. My friend, Svetlanka, wanted to call him, 'Beemba'. Or that was the closest I could understand her to be saying but I said that sounded too much like Bimbo. So, anyway, meet Lika! I think you will be seeing a lot of him from now on. I was wanting a new male in my life but this is not exactly what I had in mind! However, he is great fun and is beginning to really feel at home here. I gave him a little stuffed bear to play with and he really likes that. Surprisingly, he does not tear it up but just throws it around and lays with it. He really likes for me to throw it but hasn't quite got the hang of that bringing it back to me part. I try to play with him a good bit when I get home but since it gets dark so early now, that only gives me about an hour.

Molly at CrossRoads gave me this great award! Thanks Molly! Considering the source I'm very honored and will fulfill my obligation to pass it on soon. And yes, I'm still having trouble getting Blogger to add it to the sidebar. I downloaded it fine into this post but it won't let me add it as a gadget on the side. What am I doing wrong? I did it just like the Pico award, I thought. Anybody know? I guess I might write an OK blog but I'm a moron when it comes to computers.

*Jim Croce

Monday, November 10, 2008

No Such Luck

I managed to get my money from Vestavia but couldn't get the pipe to finish my stove hook-up. We thought that a nearby Buck stove dealer had it but when we got there it was not the correct pipe. So, Allen volunteered to contact a dealer in Birmingham for me during the week and see if we can get it there. Allen got all the pipe that came with the stove installed after we both moved the thing into the basement. I lack about 6 feet to reach where the pipe will pass through the eave of the roof. I have the pipe and cap that will go on top of the roof. At first, I thought that I would build a chimney around the pipe but since it is so large (and doesn't look like a teeny, stick thing poking out of the house) I think it looks substantial enough to stand on it's own. This is triple-walled pipe, galvanized outside, stainless steel on the inside. You don't have to use such thick pipe if it's going to be on the outside of the house but that is what came with it so....The area around the pipe and windows will be filled in with stone and the cement block below will be covered up by large, concrete planters.

I had to take out 2 of the windows in the basement but that's OK, I'll use them somewhere else. I will probably tile the area where the cement board is on the wall. Maybe make up some funky mosaic type thing just for fun. So, still no wood heat but I'm trying to make progress on that. Maybe this weekend we can finish it up. I'm very anxious to get this heater working because the small scale experimenting I've done with the gas heat in the basement, shows that this has very good potential for making the house very comfortable with very little or no cost.
Not much else has been going on unfortunately. I had hopes of taking some vacation time, when I was still on my last job, to maybe make some decent progress on the house but now that I have been transferred that won't happen any time soon. Next month I may be able to get some time off though.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

New Friend

So, I've got a new buddy I guess. I visited my mom last Sunday and she kept telling me about this little puppy my sister had that needed a home. My sister's husband had found this little guy while out hunting and was afraid if he left him in the woods the coyotes would have him for supper. They (my sis and BIL, not the coyotes) have scads of dogs already but took him until they could find some sucker, uh, kind-hearted person to take him in. So, I fell for it. Actually, this is exactly the same way I got Grendal. A work buddy of mine was out hunting and found her (just a little kitten then) in the woods. He put her in his coat pocket and brought her to me.
The little puppy is kinda odd, which makes him fit in fine here. He almost appears to be mute. I wonder if maybe he is deaf. He never barks or really even utters a sound. He never comes running until he sees me and I tell him it's OK. The not barking thing is great though! There is very little else that disturbs me more than a barking dog. Something about the sound just tears my nerves to shreds. He sleeps in the basement by the heater (I made him a little bed there) and when I go for a walkabout, he stays right beside me.
He never gets into anything even though he is able to come and go in the basement, which is full of tools and such. One thing that happened the other day though was kinda funny-odd. I realized that I was going to need my safety harness the next day, so I made a mental note to get it out of the basement and put it in my truck right when I got home, so I wouldn't forget. Now, my mental notes are not real reliable and with the other freakishness that has been going on with work etc., my mind has been wandering lately. So, forgetting this was a distinct possibility. Since he does not come out when I pull up in the driveway, I always go into the basement to check on him and tell him to come out. And so when I opened the door all the way, there was my safety harness laying right at my feet! He had gotten it out and pulled it over to the door. Our harnesses are fairly heavy too so it was an effort for him since he is small. I was afraid then that he would continue to drag stuff out and tear things up but he hasn't bothered anything since.
Since I keep calling him "he", ya'll can tell I haven't named him. I'm drawing a blank on this one so who wants to help me out? Maybe there is a handmade coffee mug in it for you....?

Oh, I finally got paid by Vestavia so I can buy material for the house! Yea! Finishing up the heater installation is a big priority this weekend and my Russian friend is coming tomorrow to make clay art! I think she wants to make some hand built things and I will probably throw. I'll show you what we come up with. I'm hoping she brings some good Russian food too! She usually does and it's always a treat.

*No Doubt

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Want To Be Sedated

This is just a quick post to say I'm trying to get back to post something about the house but I'm so scatterbrained right now I can't get my thoughts together. Since, being transferred to this new job, some new, ever increasingly bizarre happenings in regard to my self have got me kinda wigging out right now. I'm even having trouble writing this short post.
Molly over at CrossRoads has given me a nice award but I can't get Blogger to download it. So, that's why I haven't carried that on yet Molly. Maybe I can get it to work tomorrow.
Work, on it's own, is going well. After working on the stairwell for a couple of days, I got the owner and architect to approve it. Previously they would not pass it due to bad craftsmanship on the subcontractor's part. But now my bosses are standing over me wanting to know the second I'm going to be finished. I know the minute I lay my tools down I'm going to be shipped out somewhere else.
I have been waiting for almost a month and a half now to be paid for the side job I did at that little temple in Birmingham but the city screwed up and mailed my check to the wrong address. After wrangling around for weeks over that, and the city threatening to make me wait months to be paid, they called this morning to tell me they were going to cut me a new check and cancel the old one. Everyone assumed the old one was lost in the mail or something. So, about 2 hours after speaking with them this morning (and after the check was canceled) Allen called to let me know the check had shown up in the mail today.
I'm going to go to bed now. None of this is really bad just, I don't know, mind numbing...

*The Ramones

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Autumn Leaves

Here are my photos of all the colorful foliage around now. Several other bloggers have put up scenes from their places so I thought I'd do my part!

It's very pretty around here right now. I love this time of year but even though these photos came out pretty well, they never seem to quite capture the intensity of the colors.

Here is ol' Oliver against a backdrop of color. I haven't shown Oliver in some time but he is still running and helping out around here regularly. Allen says he needs a new water pump though.

The new job I have been sent to is in a very nice setting. Right on a beautiful lake with lots of big oak trees and such. It's rare to get to work in such a pretty place. It's like a park. They told me a story about getting to weld though. They got me there to fix a steel stairwell that looks terrible. That's one thing I'm good for; if there is a cosmetic screw up, I can usually fix it.

I mostly worked on regular chores today and cleaning house but did do some work on the pantry and a little painting. Hopefully I can get a little more on that tomorrow but plan to go visit Mama some. I've not been up there in a while so I need to go.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Things Have Changed

About 10:00 a.m. this morning I found out I was being sent to another job. They need a welder on this other job so since ours is kinda slowing down, guess who gets to go. I will be happy to get to do some welding though, for a change. I hardly ever get to much anymore. Also, this new job is possibly a little closer to home and I don't have to drive through Birmingham traffic to get there. Looks like I can go mostly back roads, so it will be a nice drive. They said I will be there for several weeks but you never know. Anyway, hope everyone has a happy Halloween if I don't get back before then!

*Bob Dylan

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Oh, don't worry, it's not another suggestive title, just a nod to the impending Halloween! I have learned a valuable lesson this fall as far as home building goes. Never build a house with a metal roof directly under an oak tree or a tree that produces nuts or any other large, hard round thing that can fall off in the middle of the night, smacking the metal roof and scare the absolute bejeebies out of you. And when the wind gusts and a bunch of the acorns fall at once, it can sound like a freaking machine gun. I leave for work before the sun comes up and last week I had gone out to start my truck and was coming back inside for just a moment. Keep in mind that it is completely dark around my house, totally surrounded by thick woods and I am a total, clumsy dork. As I neared the steps going up to the deck, one of this giant acorns decided that was the best time to make it's descent. It hit the roof just a few feet from my head. Kapow! When I am startled I tend to have these convulsive fits where I kinda jump around. I thought I had thrown my hip out or something. I am not a morning person and just do not need this kind of stress at that time of day.
So, that tree will become firewood. For other reasons also. Now, before you all start squawking!....there are 4 more oaks within 25-30 feet of this one. They are not going to grow properly anyway with that many so close together. So there!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Get On Top

This past weekend it was time to clean the clerestory windows, so up on the roof I went! Huh? What's that? You thought this post was going to be about something else? Hmmm. Nope, just window cleaning. heehee....
Anyway, you see, back in the summer when I had the clerestorys open for such a long time, the aggravating little mud daubers filled up the little grooves on the sides of the windows where the support bracket for the panes slides up and down. I appreciate the enthusiasm the daubers show for nabbing spiders and caterpillars but I think they are determined to fill up every single nook and cranny on this house. Some of which I need. So, some of the windows would not close all the way. Since the only comfortable way to reach the outside of these windows is from the roof, I decided just to make a cleaning event of it.

Next year I believe I will fill those grooves with backer rod after I open the windows for the season. I believe the daubers will then overlook the groove and at the end of the season it can just be pulled out and the window closed. I am going to have to permanently install some screw eyes or something similar in a discreet manner along this wall in order to attach a life line when I am up here working. I have a lot of work to do here still and it does get slippery sometimes.

I really liked this shot of the inside of the house because it shows just how much sunlight is shining in the house now. I still think I could have gone with at least one more window but I'm not sure where I would have put it. Anyway, I'm happy with the amount of sun in the kitchen and living room. Plus, it adds a very airy and special glow to the rooms. It just makes you feel good. I am somewhat frustrated that I cannot get back far enough to show the whole room at once. One of my friends that visited lately had the comment that she was surprised how big the kitchen/living room was because you could just not get a feel of it on the blog.
This photo was taken right in the middle of the cleaning frenzy so please overlook the mess.
We have just been kinda piddling at work lately (we only poured 18 yards of concrete today) so I have had lots of energy when I get home for things. I have worked on some stuff in the garden, which I hopefully, will show you soon. I also harvested the last of my peas and peppers and a good amount of catnip. I believe the frost is going to get them tonight.

*Red Hot Chili Peppers

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunshine Of Your Love

Friday was a rainy ol' drizzly, gray day but yesterday was beautiful and today should be also. A buddy of mine that worked out on the railroad job (one of my few unmarried guy friends) dropped by Friday afternoon to visit. I was happy to see him as we have not seen each other since that job, although I have spoken to him on the phone a couple of times. That's the way it goes in construction. He was sent to the Slidell, LA job which has now officially been shut down. He had come home to get his trailer to haul back and get his stuff. The job was expected to last 2 years so the guys will rent a house and so on. So, I don't have to worry about going to Slidell anymore. An interesting note though, is that he said our site engineer has continued to have meetings for another railroad job in or near Atlanta. Before we all left the railroad, their rep asked us if we would all go over there to build the same thing, only bigger. They were so happy with our job they wanted the same crew to do this other one but we all knew that the odds of getting us all together again would be slim. This Atlanta job is supposed to start in January, so now, the odds may not be so slim with this LA job shut down. Several of the guys had gone or were going there. I'm not so sure. I've about had it with trains myself (and what they remind me of), every job I've been on since surrounded by them.
But, back to my original story. My buddy had been dying to come see the house for some time so we had a good chat for awhile and I gave him a mini tour. He loved it here and the house. I've been very happy to have my recent visitors describe the house and land as: So cozy, wonderful, comfortable and serene. Very peaceful and relaxing and the house like a romantic retreat and extremely well built. I don't know about the romantic part, I wish, but we'll see! Now, these are other people's words so I don't want it to sound like I'm bragging so much. But it is very peaceful here.
I ended up doing garden work yesterday but finally completed a project that I've been wanted to put together for some time so I'll show ya'll that soon. May get to work on the pantry today. Hope you all have had a good weekend so far.