Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rock Lobster

I haven't been able to come up with any new, interesting thing to photograph lately so ya'll are just going to have to endure more of the rock wall. This angle shows a little better view of the wall and the emerging pattern. I had Allen take the photo just so I could be in there for scale. The fact that he was taking the pics might also somewhat explain the previous post's photo. It's either that or he wants to photograph me from behind every time. Sheesh... lol! Some of the rocks are fairly large and I had to rig them with a lifting strap in order to set them in place. Allen did help me place one or two of the bigger ones. It helps greatly if someone can flag you. I didn't realize until I saw these photos that Lika is almost the exact color of the soil here.
I had a great idea last night that I am going to incorporate other materials, like copper wire, chunks of glass, metal etc. into the wall to fill some of the gaps between the big stones. I think it is going to look really cool. I'll need to get the stones all set first, in case they come get the machine, and then go back with a little mortar and the other objects. That will give me time to continue collecting really neat artifacts to stick in there. Big shells, broken pottery, railroad spikes, anything like that! I want these objects to blend in somewhat so that you don't really notice them right at first but then, after looking at the wall a bit, say hey! that's a seashell, or a bunch of copper or whatever.
I came up with another idea also lately. I'm going to find out how to establish my land as a nature preserve and sculpture garden so that it cannot be sold after I die and maybe people can enjoy what I build as sort of a park. People could come here to hike and picnic and enjoy the art and gardens around the place. That gives me something to strive for. I have no family that cares anything about this place but this might be something I could do that would benefit others. I have several sculptures waiting to be put up but need quite a few more. And it would be others work also, not just mine! But I need to do a bit of research into this.

It's raining here now and I think it's going to continue so don't know if I'll get to do much work on the wall this weekend. If so, I guess I'll work on my window.

*The B-52's

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rock And A Hard Place

OK Pablo, here's your slightly racy photo... :D

Completely unintentional, let me add!

*The Rolling Stones.....ah! I slay me!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chasing Pavements

Despite what the last post might suggest, I think that the saga of the Switchman has now come to a close, so this will more than likely be the last post on the subject and probably the last post on any similarly personal matters. Judging by some of the emails I've gotten, some of you may be disappointed and then some of you may be greatly relieved.
You may remember a little over a month ago, I ended up running into the Switchman here in my town; an exasperating coincidence since I had been trying to avoid him on the way to and from work. The following week we saw each other several times and ended up speaking one more time. This time however, we did not talk about work. I don't know what possessed him but for some reason he wanted to tell me that he still thought about me. We normally never spoke of such things, so I was a little stunned to hear such words from him and that I was actually able to express some feelings myself instead of my normal custom of staring at my feet. Now, before anybody gets their panties in a wad, let me just say it wasn't anything illicit. Just the simple agreement on an unfortunate situation. The occasional unfairness of life that strikes everyone in some way. But also, the acknowledgement that there was something that struck us both from the very beginning. A something that can take the rumbling and groaning of a dozen locomotives and silence them completely with just a few kindly spoken words. A something that makes words obsolete anyway; when your eyes meet, you just know.
It was only a few minutes. I touched his face and was mildly surprised at the softness of the whiskers, so neatly groomed, that outline his mouth. Other than shaking his hand once a long time ago it was the only time we have had any contact. "If I don't leave now, I won't ever make it home" he blurted out, but then blushing deeply and turning away when he realized what he had just let slip out. So, we said goodbye one more time, turned our backs and walked away. I noticed that he pulled over and waited across the parking lot for me to pull out before he would leave. I'm not sure why.
I passed him on the way to work the very next day. Normally, we wave and smile and if there is no traffic, maybe even goof around a little but that morning he didn't smile or wave. I really couldn't read the expression on his face and I just waved quickly and passed on by. Despite his admonition for us both to go about our usual business and routes, I have not seen him since. No other reminders or lookalike trucks or trains running by the job site. It's as if he has just vanished.
I was thinking about this the other day on the way home and it suddenly brought to mind an incident that occurred while we were at the railroad. It was the day that they were to run the first train through our new building. As I've mentioned, it was kind of a big deal to the RR people and I was so hoping that he would be the conductor that got to bring the train in. Well, about an hour before the scheduled time I looked around and saw that he was gone. They (the RR workers) parked right by where we were working and so it was easy to see if someone was not there. Now, this was unheard of for one of the conductors to just leave in the middle of a shift like that but he was absolutely nowhere to be found. My heart dropped. Damn, one of the other guys would get the job. So, I went on about my work, not really concerned now if I was around when the train came in. After a bit I rounded a corner of the building and there he was, standing by the tracks, smiling. "This is it!" he grinned and pointed to the approaching train as it slowed to pick him up.
So, will he ever reappear to me at the last minute? No way of knowing I guess, so I just have to go about my work. But, as I told him, I will always remember seeing his handsome face looking down at me from the front of those trains, forever smiling.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Dreamed A Dream

I have waffled back and forth about writing another post on this particular subject but it is my opinion that this story has come to an end and so these next two posts are just my way of bringing this event to a close. I will explain why I think this at the end of the next post. I know this subject doesn't get many comments but that's okay because, as I said, this is kinda for me. But if you feel compelled to comment that's okay too. Now, I wrote a little about this once before and deleted it but this is the whole story here. I swear that these things are true and I'm not embellishing or making anything up either. I have never had the experience before of dreaming events that later happen, although I've read a lot about others, so I'm not normally a big believer of such things.
Soon after we started the railroad job, and after I had met the Switchman, I began to have very short, intense dreams about getting on one of the locomotives. The dream would only last what seemed a couple of seconds but I was very conscious of the colors and feelings involved. In the dream, I would find myself suddenly standing at the bottom of the steps that lead up to the cab on the engine. I was very aware of the bright, yellow handrails and the steepness of the steps leading upward as I climbed. I also somehow knew (you know how dreams are) that once I got to the top, the Switchman would be there.
I told a couple of my work buddies about the dreams all along and we laughed and all because we were strictly forbidden to get even near the trains, much less on one. But the day came when they brought the first locomotive into the building and we were invited to get on one of the trains. Now, at this point I had completely forgotten about the dreams, so that was not a motivation. A bunch of the big execs for the railroad were there for this event and so it seemed fine and I forgot my instructions. Of course, since the Switchman was going to be the tour guide, that might have also had something to do with it. So, with him behind me, I climbed the steps to the cab and days later when I remembered the dreams, realized it felt exactly as it had felt in the dream. Holding to the bright, yellow handrails going up the steep, narrow steps and then, after reaching the cab, realizing that the Switchman was indeed there with me.

About halfway through the job, but before the previous dream had actually happened, I was lying on the couch one evening after work. Allen was sitting there with me and I think was rubbing my feet. This makes me sleepy and I dozed slightly. Suddenly, a dream materialized and I was standing near the railroad tracks when two locomotives pulled up and stopped. The Switchman was on front and he climbed down the steps quickly, striding towards me. As he did, he reached out and spoke a greeting. This dream happened so quickly that it startled me and I jumped up on the couch. That made Allen jump also and he asked me what was wrong. I don't remember what I said but I think I just attributed it to restless legs or something.
So, the next day I was working on some forms near the tracks and two locomotives pulled up with the Switchman on front. He came down the steps quickly and turned towards me. As he strode forward, he reached out and smiled as he said hello. This time, the previous night's dream hit me and I was kind of flabbergasted for a minute. I know I stood gawking at him for a few seconds but this behavior was normal on my part so he probably didn't notice. This is the only one of the dreams that I don't think I told anyone about before it happened. This is also the only one of the dreams that happened exactly the way I dreamed it. It seems the shorter and faster the dream, the more accurate it is.

So, towards the end of the job, I had another dream but this time I dreamed I saw one of the locomotives jump the track. The dream was very quick, as they all were, and not much more than just that image. I told the guys because we were digging practically under one of the tracks and I was afraid it might be a premonition. Now, like I said, I normally don't subscribe to such things but the other dreams had gotten me to thinking. Fortunately, nothing happened and we finished the job. After being transferred though, I dreamed again that there was an accident and we had to go back to the job for repairs to the tracks near the old diesel shop. Several months later there was an accident when they were hitching two locomotives together and one jumped the track slightly and tore into part of a building, the old diesel shop. In the dream, I went back but did not see the Switchman; he was conspicuously missing. However, in reality, he was there and I was the one that did not get sent back.

The one thing all of these dreams had in common is that they happened very quickly. Basically just flashes of images and everyone, especially the Switchman, looked exactly like they look and dress in real life and colors are very prominent. When I normally dream about people I know (which isn't often) they usually don't look quite like they look in reality but you still know who they are. I have read many people dream this way.
Now, the thing is, there are three other dreams that I have had, in this exact same manner, since leaving the railroad, that have not yet happened. Despite being able to look at the whole thing with a practical mind, I can't help but wonder. Could these other dreams come true also? Reality says probably not, but then how can I explain the first ones that did?

to be continued....

*I started with another song title but while I was typing this post an interview with Susan Boyle (I'm sure you have heard of) came on TV and they played her dramatic version of this song. That title seemed better. Today I read the lyrics and saw just how appropriate some of the words were.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stoney End

Just a few photos to show the slow progress of my retaining wall around the parking area. I had to come in and cut the bank plumb again since it had slid down to about a 45 degree angle from when it was first cut. Then, I just started placing the large stones against the bank and back filling some, in order to let that layer of dirt settle to set the next stones on top. I hope to find enough of these large stones for this wall as they must be fairly heavy in order to hold this bank. The deepest cut into the bank is about 5 feet, I guess.

Well, crap; I just realized I somehow deleted one photo but it is late and I'm not going to try and get it back on. I am using a few smaller stones to fill in some gaps. Once I get the stones close I can maneuver them somewhat with that iron bar you see propped against the stones. I'm getting pretty good at placing them close with the machine though. I have walked all around my property and located many large stones for this. Then, when I get home from work, and have time, I go around with the excavator there and gather them up and pile them near the wall. Then I just pick through and set them. There is no way I could do this without this machine so I'm very fortunate to get to use it. Hopefully, I will get the wall finished (or very close) before they come get it.

I painted some over the weekend since the weather was so beautiful and cool and I will put up some photos of that soon. I changed my colors some (trim work) and think it looks much better. Ya'll can tell me what you think.

*Barbra Streisand

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

No Rest For The Wicked

Sonovabeeeech! they found me a new home after all. So, I'm not laid off. Now, I am in no way complaining of having work, let's get that straight right now. I'm just messing. I was just looking forward to having some rest and getting some projects done at the house. But they called my boss first thing Friday morning and said to send me over Monday morning to another job downtown. At least it is a little closer to the house. My boss walked over to me, grinning like a mule eating saw briers, "you thought you was going to get some rest, didn't ya?"
This is the job I'm leaving. I knew the minute I finished the last of the welding, my butt was gone and so it is. Can't say that I'll miss it here. I enjoyed the crew here though but they are all gone anyway. I was the next to last one left.
This is a subcontractor demoing an old wall to expand the aerosol room (where they store things that can blow up). You can see the new wall we put up on the right. They saw the wall up in sections and then basically push each section down. You can see the large saw blades attached to the tracks on the wall. They have been having a time with this thing. I really feel for these guys. I believe the walls are about 40 feet tall. Very dangerous work.
The saw blades for this type work are coated with tiny diamonds and they run them with water to cut concrete and block work etc. So, that's why you see all that water in the floor. It makes a big mess and the guys inevitably end up half-coated in the slurry. The foreman for this crew did ask me to have dinner with him (that's him in the lower right hand corner; the one not doing anything!). They are having to work 2 shifts to get this wall down in time though, so who knows when, or if, I'll hear from him.
We meet every morning up by the connex (our tool trailers) to sign in and talk for a minute before we go to work. There is a large field there and I have seen little bunnies out there several times. I like how the early morning sun lights their thin ears up!
After I took the first picture I saw movement and realized there was another one right there! Two bunnies! As I moved a little closer they froze and held soooo still.
I will also not miss this! This is the famed Malfunction Junction in downtown Birmingham and they named it correctly. I had to go through here twice a day. Don't worry, we were sitting still when I took this picture! I have also worked on the Alabama Power building which is the big, brownish one right above the car ahead of me. I will be going to a job that is kinda over to the right and way in the background. That is the UAB section of Birmingham and I will be at a hospital, although not UAB. My company does a lot of work in health care and we are very proud of that. We, as Alabamians are also very proud of UAB and all of the health care industry here. UAB is one of the top research hospitals in the world.
I didn't realize how pretty the clouds were when I took the picture! Maybe I'll have some house progress to report by Sunday also. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

*Cypress Hill / I am not a fan of this group so nobody freak if you know who they are. I just wanted the song title.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Did It

I got it to bloom again. Sweet.

I think I have discovered another hobby.

I was informed as of Friday afternoon, I will be unemployed. It could change but I doubt it. I am somewhat looking forward to time off. I've got lots to do at the house.

*Dave Matthews Band

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lean On Me

I haven't shown Lika lately so I thought I would try my new camera out on him. I had in mind that he would be a bigger dog but I think he has gotten about as big as he is going to. That's okay though. He's very sweet and loving and rarely ever barks. Just the kind of dog I like.
What a sweet face! Lika's that is. I guess I should get him a buddy though, since I work so much.
I've been trying to carve out some time in order to post something a little longer but it hasn't worked so far. Just as well probably, as I have also been rather depressed these past 2 weeks and what I write would not be very good. As ya'll can probably guess, that's something I wrestle with a lot at times. Unfortunately, along with my artistic abilities, I apparently have the ****ed up brain that so many creative people seem to be afflicted with. But I'm working to get better and maybe if I come up with something I can relate it to ya'll. I know a lot of people suffer from similar problems so maybe I can help somebody else.
So, I'll try to show the retaining wall I'm working on and the beginning of the stained glass window. We actually got some rain Sunday night! Quiet a bit I think.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Has it been a week since I last posted?! It doesn't really seem like it but I've not really been keeping up with things lately. Been just kinda wandering aimlessly this past week. I still have work to go to but it is getting slower and slower. I have been working at the house, setting some very large stones for a retaining wall at the parking area to the house. I'll show some photos of that soon.
I went out last night and shopped for a new camera. Staples was selling some of their display cameras for clearance prices and I got a great deal on a Canon PowerShot. It seems to be in excellent condition, even having been on display. Allen returned from England this past week and while he was away (with the camera) I just happened to look at some of the new ones available. He can keep that old one now!
I finally broke down and ordered glass to do the window for the bathroom. It arrived a couple of days ago. I was going to build it out of what glass I already had but after I got the glass out it just didn't seem suited to the pattern, so I ordered some more 'contemporary' looking stuff. If it rains today I will work on that.
I went out to a gallery opening Friday night with a couple of friends and that was fun. I've also talked to several other friends, through Facebook, that I have not seen in years and so that has been interesting. I don't really get the Facebook thing though. Looks like Cat Daddy might be home next weekend so maybe we can go out. I need to. He wants me to visit him out of state and I might.
I'll try to post some new photos soon and maybe have a new story to tell or something.

*Jimi Hendrix

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Gates Of Tomorrow

Alright Rich, I finally came up with some stuff! Now, I have no idea what type of materials you have to work with, if you have collected materials or are you going to purchase stuff or what but I think any of these designs could utilize bought or found material. I know this top photo is probably not what you had in mind but I thought it was just a good example of something different, out of the norm. You just have to take the material you have and adapt it to designs you like.

If you look closely, these are all faces! Also, check out this lady's work! Her stuff is fantastic! and very unique. Just click on all of the thumbnails to see a wider gallery of that category.

I don't know if this is what you are looking for Rich but there are just countless things you can do with steel and found material. If your imagination can come up with it, you can build it. I always look through as many books and other stuff as I can and just try to absorb the images of the things I like. Then, when I go to work on my project, those designs seem to come out subconsciously. My pieces always are unique but it might use the idea of vertical repetition, or circular forms or whatever that I saw in other pieces. If say, you have a bunch of metal gears or pipe or even pre-bent rebar, you must completely disassociate the material from what it is and look at only it's shape. If the shape is repeated a certain way, does that look good? If I alternate the shape, is that good? You know, just mix it up. I don't usually go for trying to create things that look like something else (like the faces above) and think that is a mistake most people make. You get too caught up in that and it ends up looking too 'cutesy'. Just go for the sheer abstractness of the design, variation and repetition on shapes and sizes.
Hope this helps and gives you some ideas.

America The Beautiful

I guess this post is mostly for my fellow Americans but hope everyone has a great weekend, wherever you are. There are actually a ton of songs with 'America' in the title but I just love Ray Charles' version of "America the Beautiful". Brings tears to my eyes every time. Tried a little symbolic creativity with the photos and layout. I thought it came out well.
What is your favorite patriotic song? Hope ya'll have a great day of good food, friends and family and, if your town can afford it, maybe some beautiful fireworks.
I think I'll just be working on setting some large stones for retaining walls while I still have the excavator. It's a lovely day here. Maybe it won't get too hot.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ramble On

These are some old photos but I thought I'd just post these to show my method of building a raised bed for planting. Not that it's all that great but a lot of you say you get ideas from me so I thought this might help somebody. First, I just cut and stack the timbers to the size bed I want. And this works no matter if you are using landscape timbers (like these) or square timbers or whatever. As long as they can be stacked. And I always interlock my corners for added stability.
This is an auger bit, about 14" long. Now, I know not everybody has these as they are a little expensive but you might be able to borrow one if you don't want to buy one. This bit is 1/2" diameter I believe. And you'll probably need to use a corded drill for this. I don't know that a cordless would have enough power.
So, holding the drill very plumb, drill all the way down through all of the timbers. Be careful as you approach the depth you need and try not to let the bit shoot through and go too deep into the dirt. This will dull it prematurely. Also, go kinda slow if you are not used to using such a drill and bit. These larger bits can snag and it can break your wrist if you are going too fast and get caught up in it.
Next, just drive a piece of rebar all the way through the timbers, until it is flush with the top of the wood and I usually go about 10-12" into the dirt. I am using a 1/2" bit and the rebar is #4 bar (1/2") so that the rebar is very snug in the hole. If you drill too big a hole for the rebar that kinda defeats the purpose. It must be snug. I use 2 bars at each corner and anywhere there is a joint, like this. I am about rebar like Ron is about pallets I guess! It is handy for so many things and you can often get it for free.

I am so happy we have a 3-day weekend! I hope to get more done this weekend than last. I ended up meeting my sister and her kids at a local, and very large, water park not far from here last Saturday and so didn't get a lot done. But that was OK. We had a fun time and I got to relax and see some family. You almost got your racy photos Pablo, as I wore a bikini, but alas, no camera! Ha! Good thing. Then, an artist friend of mine come up Sunday and we made clay stuff all day and I cooked lunch for her. We had a great time talking abut men and all such stuff.

So, I have some questions: If you have read my blog for a while and never (or rarely) commented, will you tell me why? Why do you keep reading if you don't feel the need to comment? I like to write regardless and will continue to do so and about what I want but I'm just curious. I do like to try to post about things that are interesting.

*Led Zeppelin

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Pretty Beat Up

I fully intended to post before now but stuff just has a way of coming up and getting in the way. This has been a bit of a rough week so far; I hope it finishes up a little softer. First thing Monday morning I gauged a big ol' hole in my arm on a piece of rebar. It just missed that big vein that runs over your wrist. If I had hit that, I'd have had a mess. It's sore and I've had trouble getting it to stop bleeding. I need to update my tetanus shot. Well, just one more scar for the collection I've got going on my left forearm. Then, the next day I tripped over something and fell about as hard as you can fall, face down, on the concrete floor. Well, the stack of steel pipe I hit on the way down did slow me some. So, I'm sore from that. I was going to post last night but a guy I used to date called and we talked for about an hour, but it was nice to have that long a conversation. Grendal and Lika are not the best conversationalists. Today, I just took it kinda easy after I got home.
So, enough whining. I harvested the rest of the cabbage out of the garden. I think next year I need to plant that even earlier. I have 4 baby cantaloupe growing now! I'm so excited. Now, if the raccoons just don't get them. The rest of the veggies seem to be doing well but I am having to water quite a bit. It's a great thing to not have a water bill. We got a good amount of rain earlier in the year and now it's just like someone turned the faucet off completely. Everything is bone dry.
I'm still working but it is getting very slim. Might last another week or another month; no idea.

I will do the posts that you all requested but it will have to wait until the camera returns. No sense doing instructional things without pictures, so ya'll try to bear with me. Rich, give me a little more time on the pics you wanted; I'm still looking. I found a couple but wanted more.
Now that I'm sitting down to write I can't really remember what it was I wanted to say. Seems like it was more than this. Oh well. I do have a couple of posts I want to do, since I don't have fresh pictures and the subject matter is something that I have recently received several comments and emails on. It will probably be my last post on the subject. So, hope everyone is staying cool and still working.

* The Rolling Stones