Sunday, February 28, 2010
I have often wondered if I am really accomplishing much or helping anyone by writing this blog and I have expressed that several times. I know that how I'm building my house is not really something many people would or could do, although I think more people could do it if they would try. I think this is just an effort to show, if you think for a while, you may find it in your best interest to do things a little differently; whatever it is you're doing. You don't always have to do things the way everybody else always has.
In this vein of thought, a lot of people have been curious as to how I have paid for this house. In our society, it is just taken as a given that you have to borrow money; you have to be indebted for half your life if you want to have anything. Well, no, you don't. Now, I realize, as I just said, that I have certain advantages because of my occupation and the resulting connections. I have been able to salvage an enormous amount of material for this house and have had a few sweet people just gift me with stuff. But i believe a resourceful person could salvage a sizable amount of material also, regardless of what they do. You also have to be willing to look at things a little differently. Most people I know would just die at the thought of living in a house that only has plywood floors or having unfinished sheetrock in some places, even if they know it is only temporary. Oh, the horrors! Well, when you realize that my house, even in it's unfinished state, would be a freakin' mansion compared to what a great deal of the rest of the world lives in, it kinda puts things in perspective. I don't mind the plywood for now.
I recently did some figuring and came up with an estimate of what I have spent on my house so far. I surprised myself. I thought I had spent more than what I have but my figures showed that I have about $35,000 in this house so far. I believe I can finish this half for another $15,000. Now, with the basement, which I do use, this is about a 1,300 sq.ft. house. That's about $38/ sq.ft. I think most new houses (of comparable location and style etc.) were going for anywhere around $150-200/ sq.ft. Of course, my figures include very little labor costs, as I have done most of it myself but there is much that can be done to save money on home construction. I have even added quite a few purely aesthetic touches to this house that are really not necessary. If I had really been conservative I believe I could have built both halves for what I will spend on this one. But I wanted to add some unique touches. All I'm saying is, you can spend as little as you like but you don't have to live in a yurt or one room cabin if you want to live sustainably or with some conscience about the environment and your pocketbook. That misconception is one thing I would really like to dispel. Don't listen to what society at large tells you that you must do or have. So, I have deck handrails made of scrap rebar and light fixtures that are old wine bottles? I like it.
I'll give a few more specifics on the finances in a later post but the main thing is still that you have to be willing to work hard and think creatively. But you can do it.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
I've been told that it's just the way life goes.
Once the wildest river is now a trickle to the sea.
The peak we risk our lives to scale becomes dirt beneath our feet.
The wisdom of a lifetime always disappears untapped.
Paradise once given will always be taken back.
And the love you hang your life upon
will start to slowly crack.
I have seen people suffocate the dream.
Forgetting to turn that one last time while she watches through the door.
Focusing on the garbage that she used to ignore.
Thinking she looks so beautiful but not yelling it out loud.
He should have stopped to kiss her before he headed out.
Just forgetting how fucking lucky you are
to have found her in such a crowd.
But we've seen a cloud of starlings rising on a crisp autumn day.
We were handed the weight of a child sleeping and bore her away.
We've tasted the tears that fall when saying goodbye forever.
And we've seen the silver from a waxing moon wash upon the shore.
I have heard about the lives of small swift birds.
They dazzle with their colour and their deftness through the air.
Just a simple glimpse will keep you simply standing there.
Legendary journeys made on fragile hollow wings.
The night skies rich with whistling each and every spring.
And then there's the day we look for them and can't find them anywhere.
I've been told that it's just the way life goes.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I've been enjoying myself at work lately but a very intense loneliness has settled on me. Worse than usual. Maybe it's just because this winter seems to grasping at everything in an effort to hold on just a little longer. I feel like taking a piece of rebar and whaling the crap out it's icy fingers until it looses it's grip on the trees and foliage. I need warmth; from the sun, the handle of a sledgehammer, a tall man's embrace. Guess I'll have to settle for my flannel sheets and Grendal laying next to me. At least I have her for company.
I do have one good note I wanted share. I won't leave you completely despondent. I didn't want to say anything until it was very certain, so as not to jinx myself, but I think it's safe now. Thanks to a couple of good friends and readers, a newspaper in a neighboring city (the city I grew up in actually) is going to do a special feature article on my house for their Home and Garden issue next month. Since sustainable building is becoming more popular, they thought my house would be a good story. It will not be out until the end of March but I'll be sure to put up a link, if available, or some photos or something. I hope to make substantial progress on the exterior of the house before they come to take photos but I'm not sure how that is going to go. Ah well, they know it's not finished. So, we'll see.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
See that rot on the inside? I could actually stick my hand through the wood in the center there.
So, we ended up cutting 3 trees all together. I just wanted the 2 but Allen couldn't stand seeing this one hickory near the house that was bent waaaay over. It was like my own little mini St.Louis arch. He chopped it up though. So, I loaded them all into the Bobcat and hauled them down to the splitting area.
I worked on the house also, painting and caulking. Late today I took the Bobcat down to the dam and gathered up another bucket load of flagstone. I also used the Bobcat to haul some more fill to widen the driveway by the creek. Boy, I really wish I could find my own Bobcat for a reasonable price. You can do SO much with those things.
I'm feeling much better but I worked so today that my butt is dragging right now. My doc said I was just a small step from having pneumonia; that was why he gave me such strong meds but I think it's helping. If I could just get rid of this cough.
Well, hope everybody has a good week and that it starts warming up!! This weekend was so beautiful here. It really has me yearning for spring. The daffodils are up to about 6 inches now too. Even they are getting impatient to come out!
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Am I boring you to tears with my recent posts? Oh, wait, ya'll said I wasn't boring.
Have I been ugly and ya'll don't want to talk to me anymore? I know I've been kicked off one blogroll already.
What's going on? I hope ya'll haven't frozen. Things going okay? Everybody got their seeds started? I need to get mine going this weekend.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
It's been such fun to be back with my fellas. I told them today I hadn't laughed that much in weeks! I think this is going to be a very good job and I might even get to weld the tilt-up panels in place after they are set. In an effort to keep as many of our guys working as possible, we are doing a lot of the work we would normally sub out. Now, of course we can't do the electrical or plumbing and such but we can do a whole lot of the steel work and stuff like that.
I hope I didn't sound like a bitch in that last post and I know all of my readers have plenty good sense enough to know a lot what I told ya'll. I didn't want it to sound as though I think you are stupid, it's just I've seen non-construction people do some crazy stuff around our sites so you have to watch out. I once saw half a dozen people drive under a crawler crane as it was being disassembled by two other cranes. Now, you can imagine, this crane is so big it takes two other cranes to take it apart and the operators standing up there waving and screaming for people to turn around and they'd drive right under 'em. It was on a Sunday and we had closed this side street off with physical barricades and the people would still get out of their cars and move them and drive through. And they could see the cranes easily from 1/2 mile away.
Just today at our safety meeting, the assistant superintendent was talking about a man with one of our excavating subs who was killed last week. He had been with them for about 23 years but he wasn't paying attention or something and a dump truck backed over him. I don't have to tell you that being run over by any piece of heavy equipment is a bad way to go. That's why I stress the safety and what you must understand if the companies say you can't go on the site. The best way to salvage off of job sites is to know someone connected but you can still occasionally pick up some stuff by just asking.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Number one, the superintendent is the absolute ruler of this world and they look at it absolutely from that perspective. They rule the job sites with an iron fist; it is not a democracy. Once you piss one off, you will most likely never have his cooperation again. The worst thing you can do is march out into their domain, with no regard for their rule and try to start making off with stuff. I say 'try' also because you won't get far. You must acknowledge the superintendent's authority. Go straight to the job trailer and ask for him. Many job site even post signs (we do) saying that all visitors must report to the office first. If you don't see an office trailer, ask the closest worker you can find without going out onto the site. Wait at the gate if you have to. Do NOT enter the site unless you have direct permission. This is for your safety as well as to keep from pissing everybody off. If you get to speak with the superintendent, tell him specifically what you are looking for (scrap lumber, rebar etc.)and what you want it for (you're trying to build a little shed or greenhouse etc) but don't go into some long, drawn out spiel. Keep it specific and to the point. They don't have a lot of time. Also, I have found it helpful if you use the correct terminology. Tell them you are looking for 'drop' or 'dunnage', not just scrap wood. 'Drop' can be any material (wood, metal, whatever) left over after they have cut off what they need. It's what drops on the ground. Get it? Dunnage is the 2x's and 4x's that heavy materials are shipped on. It's usually oak, poplar, hickory or pine anywhere from 4 to 8 feet long. It makes good, free firewood. But whatever you are looking for just ask as specifically as you can. I always say to tell them what your project is also because if you get a friendly bunch they might suggest other materials that would also work if they don't have what you are looking for. Construction workers are very creative and resourceful.
Say 'yes sir' and 'no sir' and do exactly as they instruct IF they allow you onto the site. If they tell you to wear a hard hat, DO IT and do not take it off while out on the site. There are so many rules and laws now, about what even we can do, that the safety regulations are a major concern. The superintendents can actually be personally sued for accidents on their jobsites so they don't fool around. This is why many companies won't even allow people to take their trash. If you get hurt on a site they are in some major doo-doo. And above all, if they tell you no and not to go out onto the site, do not under any circumstances think you can get around them and go out there anyway. These men are not people to mess with. They will not react kindly. Many of them have well earned their reputations for being coarse, misbegotten thugs. But it's not because they like being mean, for the most part, it's because the world of construction is very harsh and you sometimes don't get a second chance.
Which brings me to the second subject, safety. If they allow you out there, realize what you are getting yourself into. Even if it is just a house site you can still get stuff dropped on you and there is often heavy machinery running. Watch what is going on around you constantly. If you hear a backup alarm on a machine, look for it! Do not walk under any scaffolding, ladders or structure if people are working up there. You most likely will have someone with you (they will not let you just run amok) so they will guide you. Just do what they say and watch yourself. Jobsites, especially commercial ones are very dangerous. Many men are killed every year from falls, stuff falling on them, electrocution, soil cave-ins and such. If you see Danger or Caution tape up, do not cross it. The photo above was taken on one of my last jobs. Those are concrete tilt-up panels that make those walls. We pour them on the ground and stand them up basically. They weigh between 35 and 45 tons apiece and are only held up for a time with those two little sticks of iron. Realize and respect the environment where you are going. If one of these panels falls on a man, they scrap him up with a shovel. And yes, it happens.
Lastly, dress appropriately, especially you women. While it is true that the men are certainly more generous to women, don't go out there dressed like you just got off the street corner. They might like to see your boobs hanging out but they are definitely not going to have any respect for you and be inclined to help you. That is also a good way to get one of men hurt. You distract one for a minute with your cleavage (yeah, and they are going to look) and that might be enough time for him to cut something off he needs. Act responsibly. Wear boots if you have them or at least sturdy tennis shoes. Men, same for you. Bring a pair of gloves. Act like you have picked up a shovel or hammer before. Be courteous and appreciative. Remember, they are doing YOU a favor. And don't be too greedy. Don't go out there asking for everything you lay eyes on.
I know with my company, we try to reuse as much of our waste as we can. We distribute it amongst ourselves, we try to give it away to others if none of our guys want it but not all companies do this. However, I always say, it never hurts to ask and I am not trying to discourage you with this post. Many companies are glad and encouraged to give away leftover materials these days. Also, keep in mind that even if some materials are left over, the owner always has first choice. They often elect to keep materials. I mean, they have paid for them. Even still, you can often find lumber, plywood, steel, rebar, concrete block, sometimes glass, insulation (all types), doors (although usually commercial type) door hardware, toilets, sinks, faucets, plastic, you name it really. Many times you can even get plants and shrubbery. If you still have questions, please let me know or if I did not make something entirely clear. I'm happy to answer any questions.
Monday, February 15, 2010
As some of you may remember, I'm supposed to be at work this morning but alas, things haven't worked out well. We had more snow and a lot of ice again last night, so I was unsure whether we would go in this morning. I called Daddy Rabbit before sunrise to ask him what I should do. He said there were multitudes of wrecks already and since I live even further north of the job, maybe I should just stay home. It would be okay for today. I heard shortly afterwards that they actually shut down part of one of the interstates I travel. Well, he didn't have to twist my arm since it is freakin' COLD today. Well, about 7:30 a.m. Daddy Rabbit called me back to ask where I was. What? I was confused. I said, you told me not to come in! Long and short of it, my throat was so bad sore and hoarse that he did not recognize me; he thought, from the sound of my voice, that I was one of the men! When he realized I was still not over this crud, I was told to stay home until I did get over it. I don't think it's a bug however. I believe that my allergies have just gone nuts from having this wood stove burning all the time and the drainage has my throat severely irritated. That is one of the main reasons that I installed that stove in the basement, as I have been questioned about that a lot. I thought having it there would help but I am so sensitive to any kind of smoke that it has still gotten to me. So, anyway....maybe spring will come soon!
Now, back to what I mentioned at first. I had woken up very early Sunday morning, slightly restless. Still dark out so I snuggled back into the warm covers and soon fell asleep. I dreamed I was at work, mowing grass of all things. I don't know where that came from. Some of the guys I work with were there but as is often the case in my dreams, they didn't look like what they look like in real life, yet I knew it was them. (does anyone else dream that way?) I was just kinda milling around and I seem to remember knowing that I was dreaming, when I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around to see that it was the Switchman. He always looks exactly like he looks in real life and those sparkling blue eyes pleaded with me slightly when he asked, "well, what do you want me to do?" Of course, he has often appeared in dreams to tell me something but this is the first time he ever asked a question and I considered my answer for a moment. I mean, what a question! And although it was completely out of the blue, I knew exactly what he meant. I reached up and put my hands on the back of his hands, which were now resting on my shoulders. "I want you to do what you truly feel, in your heart, that you should do. I want you to do what you feel will make you happy, not me." And I meant it, every word. With that he nodded silently and disappeared and I went back to mowing the grass.
I've had numerous dreams, and I'm sure many of you have too, where you carry on a very real seeming conversation with someone else. Sometimes someone who has passed on. But to carry on a conversation in dreams with someone for 2 years! I have often wondered if he ever has similar dreams? Wouldn't that be freaky if he had the same dreams at the same times! Okay, I'm just goofing now, but it is somewhat comforting, even strangely so, to at least get to see and speak to him in that other world.
Friday, February 12, 2010
I still have not been able to shake this bug that I caught. One day I feel pretty good and the next I'm knocked out again. I really need to recover before I go back to work next week 'cause it will not be a good thing to be sick and having to work in the cold and mud. I was getting really frustrated that I have not been able to devote much time to the house but I finally just said, whatever, and decided to relax. I'm not going to get the siding finished by then so I might as well just try to get over this sickness and maybe piddle around on the house when I feel like it.
I'm glad to be going back to work because I have actually run out of materials for the house. I have 3 pieces of siding and am getting low on paint. I did receive my federal tax refund today, YEA!!!! So, that's great. I am making a list now of apple and cherry trees and a few other fruiting plants I want to order. I really want to make a better effort at equipping my land with food-bearing plants.
I also am planning a budget and seeing how much I can save when I do go back to work. I believe I will be able to save at least 60-65% of my income and come the end of the job, that will be a decent amount of money to work with. I really want to start adding some active solar elements to the house and building accommodations for chickens and such.
We had a very nice meeting of the Blount County Bloggers last night also. For those of you not familiar, that is me, Rurality, CountryPeaPie, Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore and MountainMelody and also Sharon, who doesn't have a blog but we are trying to talk her into it.
Oh, and in reference to Annie's Field Guide To Men as Rurality put it; those are just men that I have mentioned on this blog that have some relevance in my life now, or did, in the course of this blog. I listed them because a reader asked me about them and I know at times it may get confusing as to who I'm talking about. They are not all men that I have dated. After a couple of comments here and some discussion last night, I thought maybe I should make that info clear. Yes, some of them I have dated but the married ones, NO. They are just friends and yes, I do believe that men and women can be just friends.
So, I get asked a lot of how (financially and physically) I built this house, so I want to do a few posts on that. And by that I mean, how did I acquire funds etc. and continue to put so much of my income towards the house, how do I acquire salvageable material and stuff along that line. Anybody have any specific questions in that area?
*Tribe Called Quest
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Monday, February 08, 2010
Recently a new reader asked about "all the mysterious men" in my life. Now, don't freak, I'm not going to go into details but I thought I might do a run down because I've noticed I have several new readers lately and some may be confused about who is who.
Edit: if I dated any of these men, then I say that in their description. If I don't put that in there, then I have not dated or had any physical relations with them. This includes most of the men I work with, the BFA and the Switchman. They are friends only!
First, we'll start off with Allen. Now, he is a man I've known for years and that I used to live with but we broke up about 2 years ago? Something like that. He was a major factor in this house being built as he did most of the framing, plumbing and electrical. I'm very fortunate that he has been such a good sport to always help me but we have always been good friends and I guess, always will. And I have helped him quite a bit too! He is actually now, my next door neighbor but there is a lot of land between us so no one would really know. I do eventually tell any guy I date seriously that he lives nearby and so far, no one has really objected. I have often wondered if that little situation would ever be a big issue for anyone.
Cat Daddy is a guy I know through work that I have dated some and we remain friends. We keep in touch and still have dinner occasionally. We are good buddies but again, just don't have enough in common for anything lasting. That's one of the problems I have: I love blue collar men but often don't have enough common interests or they find many of my beliefs weird. Like my hatred of Wal-Mart. Anyway, when I'm feeling down or have some good news, I call Cat Daddy because he's my sympathetic ear and vice versa. We are each other's 'shoulder to cry on'.
Little Rabbit is a guy I used to date years ago and who has recently been calling some since he got divorced. I don't care to get back together with him but he is okay to talk to once in a while.
Daddy Rabbit is one of the superintendents that I have worked for the most and a dear friend also. He is somebody I can go to for advice or when I have a problem and who has been a great help to me in my career. And in case you're wondering, yes, he is married but I've known his wife for years too and like her a lot. He is quite handsome though and one of those people whose eyes actually twinkle when he laughs.
The BFA is the Big Fancy Architect that helped me design this house. He is a very well-known commercial architect and we have become pretty good friends over the years. I've never actually built one of his commercial buildings but have done a lot of other work for him. I think he likes me because it gives him someone to fuss with and I'll tell him to kiss my ass when he gets on my nerves.
Head, Anthony, Steve and Hippie are some of my best work buds and we have an absolute blast on jobs together. Head and Hip are on this job I'm going to, so it should be a lot of fun.
Fred is the man I got my land from. He is an older gentleman that was born and raised in this town but moved away to work. He returned here after he retired and bought this land. We became friends after he came into my shop and we discovered that we both have art degrees and do pottery. Fred doesn't have any family of his own so Allen and I help him out and try to do whatever he might need assistance with. Oh! I forgot to mention! Fred's Birthday was Sunday; he just turned 83 or 84? Which is it Fred? I forget. Hell, I can't hardly remember how old I am. Anyway, Happy Birthday Fred!!
*The Weather Girls
Saturday, February 06, 2010
Today is just one of those days best spent creating friction with a loving partner and a warm fire burning. I'll have to settle with the splitting maul keeping me warm. Bleh. Not near as much fun.
I was making such good progress on the house but since this rain has settled in I haven't gotten any further than what I showed ya'll in that last post. Maybe it will clear up tomorrow.
Well, keep warm and think happy thoughts of spring!
Thursday, February 04, 2010
I said I was not going to take time to paint as I went but I think actually, I will paint this section before I move that pick board because it is so heavy, it's just a pain to take down and set back up and all that. As soon as I finish this side I'm going to move around and top out the east side of the house that you see on the right there. Then, I'll do the clerestory. I probably should have done the clerestory first and been done with that but I didn't have that foresight.
I woke up feeling kinda crappy again this morning, which is not good. I thought I was over this thing and I was supposed to get into Birmingham today. I have been informed that I will be returning to work on the 15th of this month so I have to be drug tested beforehand. I'm excited to be going back to work but now it's a mad rush to get as much done as I can on the house because I don't think I'll have much time in the coming months. In what is becoming the norm, the owners of this new building pissed around for about 4 months not being able to decide on some things and now that they have finally decided to start, still want the building done at the original completion date. I'm like, no, you delayed us 4 months starting, so you get the building 4 months later but our company says sure, we'll have it done. From what I'm hearing we are going to be on some major overtime and this will leave little time for my house. However, the building is supposed to be finished around September, so if I can work like hell until then, save all the money I can while on this job (which should be a good bit), then I can just take off again at the end and finish the house completely. Sounds like a good deal to me.
Oh, yesterday afternoon I thought I'd do a little dirt work around here because it seemed that the soil had dried out enough and I knew it would be raining again today. Well, it hadn't dried out as much as I thought and I got that Bobcat so stuck! The machines with tires are bad about such whereas the ones on tracks are virtually impossible to get stuck, although I have seen it done. Fortunately, it was down in the valley and not up here next to the house. I tried a few things to get out but couldn't even push myself out with the bucket, so I called Allen and he got Oliver to come to the rescue. I had that machine marred up past the carriage but ol' Oliver snatched him out like it was just a cardboard box. I thought he might strain just a little or something but no...didn't even hesitate. Sorry I didn't get photos. I did think about it but didn't feel like slugging up to the house to get the camera.
As you have noticed, I changed the look of the blog again! I decided to go with this layout since my posts can be long sometimes and this should help to minimize the amount of scrolling needed to read the whole post. If some parts of it are not showing up well to you, or it's not easy to read, let me know.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
So, progress is continuing on the south side of the house. I'm trying to make good headway but keep having to take time to prime more trim or go buy more drip cap or blah, blah, blah. I hope to finish this side in the next day or two though. I'm over the windows now so it starts going faster once you get away from having to cut around those things. I'm not taking time to paint these sides because it all can be reached easily off a ladder later and I need to just get the last bit of house covered up. I think I'm about to run short of trim for the clerestory windows so I will have to go soon and have some more made at the lumber company. Hopefully, I won't lack much.
It's still too wet to do much with the Bobcat and they are predicting more rain Thursday and Friday. I hope we hit a dry spell soon because I really need to do some more dirt work around here.
The house looks so plain right now. I'll be very happy to get to the point where I can start stonescaping around it and planting vegetation. To the very far left, under the stained glass window in that inside corner, I am going to build a couple of terraced planting beds and plant a herb garden with maybe a couple of small fruiting plants.
Allen came down and helped me get that 24' pick board set up that you see in the photo. I had the ladders there and already had the ladder jack on and all and was complaining to him about how aggravating those jacks are to get on the ladders. He said they had sat out in the weather for too long and probably just needed some WD-40 on them. "They get to where they are too stiff one minute and too floppy the next," he said. I couldn't help but snicker, "Hell, the older I get, the more often I hear that complaint." ba-dum-bum!
Monday, February 01, 2010
When I finally got to college, one of my first classes was drawing (I knew I wanted to major in something art related) and that professor was absolutely a Godsend. He was the first person to ever encourage me and tell me that he thought I could be a success. Because I was very quite when I was little much of my family, and some teachers, decided that there was something wrong with me. They told my parents that I was autistic. Everyone knew I was different and they took any opportunity to point that out to me. I never understood what was so unusual about myself but I did understand that many of them pretty much wrote me off. I would never amount to anything in their minds and to this day, none of my remaining cousins will have anything to do with me.
At any rate, this professor helped me, gave me a scholarship and with his assistance I received a full academic scholarship to the University of Montevallo, where I completed my degree. From there I went to work and eventually found employment with the company I'm with now. That's all in the archives though.
I hesitate to tell many people about much of what I've experienced because I always imagine that they will think I'm making it up but the sad thing is that I have actual written proof in some cases. One of the last things my father did before he died was write a letter to me to express his sorrow and sympathy over my 'situation'. I was divorced see, and you know, a woman can never have anything in life without a man there to give it to her and I guess I had blown my one chance in his eyes. When I graduated with honors from college, one of my oldest cousins actually attended my senior art show. She made sure to tell me that she was really shocked that I was able to do such work. 'I just can't believe you had it in you', she said. A couple of my close 'friends' at the church I grew up going to, would literally not speak to me anymore after I went off to college. I have been told that I was flat-out stupid, would just wind up pregnant, have ruined my life and cursed myself to a life of solitude for choosing to work construction. And that's the encouraging stuff! lol! just kidding.
So many people, especially women, have told me "I wish I could do what you do!" or how do you do all that stuff by yourself? "I wish I had your skills!" and all that. Well, I'll let you in on my secret...and to quote a new favorite song of mine...
I think there’s one thing I will say to you
That there is nothing that you can’t do
Cause it’s all about your attitude
Don’t let them get to you
I guess that's sort of an old cliche' by now but it is all about your attitude. And maybe part of it was just damn Scotch-Irish stubbornness but I chose not to listen to everyone that told me I would never be anything. And you know what? I eventually met some people that encouraged and helped me. You see why I love my guys so much. Most of the men I work with have been my biggest cheering section. Guys that a lot of society wouldn't piss on if their head was on fire but they have stood by me for years and helped me. Of course, there are times when I get discouraged as my long-time readers know. I can piss and moan with the best of them! And I can be too independent sometimes. You have to be careful not to let hateful events from your past get too tight a grip on you or you can become relentless and miss the joys in life. You have to want to be successful (whatever that means to you) for yourself, not to prove somebody else wrong.