Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Get Up, Stand Up

They started setting our tilt up panels yesterday at work. Well, actually, yesterday they only moved existing panels to new locations and it wasn't until the last pick of the day today, that they actually stood one of our new ones up. This is a food distribution center for one of the grocery chains in this area and has been in our company's "family" for a long time. Practically everybody that has worked for our company for the past, oh, 25 years has worked on this building at some point. I worked here once before about 10-11 years ago. We are adding 2 major additions to their warehouse space. I think it is interesting to note that Allen and my ex-husband both worked on the original construction of this warehouse on the same crew way back when. They built these panels that we are moving now. In fact, Allen just recently confirmed my suspicions that a train used to be connected to the building in some way because he and my ex were on the crew that put in the foundation for the train tracks that actually ran through the building for 400 feet. At that time, the owners feared a possible trucker's strike and so installed the rail line but some years later had it removed. Thus, the large section of railroad track that I tripped over on my first day.
But anyway, the photo above shows the crawler crane slowly carrying an old panel down to it's new location.

This is the panel after it has been stood and braced off. This process is very cool but kinda scary. We stay away from the panels. They have a special crew that comes in and does these. I was surprised to see so many very young men on this particular crew. There is only one older man. After the crane is cut loose from the panel, those 2 steel braces are the only thing holding the panels up. It is truly amazing that these guys can maneuver the panels so accurately and place them in exactly the right spot on the very edge of a 12" wide wall and within 3/4" of the panel next to it.

Just another shot of the panel set before. You can see our new panels in the foreground. I was very happy to see that our first panel did not stick or break! Cross your fingers for all the rest.

This shot just shows the location of the lifting eyes on the face of the panel. They have secured the panel are are cutting the crane loose now. The lifting eyes have these neat shackles on them which they connect the long ropes to. They pull on the ropes from below and it causes the shackle to open and fall off the lifting eye so that no one has to get on a ladder or lift and manually remove it. Pretty neat, I think. Sometimes they have to pull pretty hard to get them to turn loose.
We have been having to work even later than normal due to the panels so I may not post again until the weekend but will undoubtedly inflict some more tilt up photos on you. I think it is one of the more fascinating ways that we build.

*Bob Marley

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Strange Fruits

I started not to use this particular song title because I thought maybe the real subject of the music was not appropriate. Some of you may remember this old Billie Holiday song which is about lynchings and I did not want it to seem that I was making light of the song's subject matter or being disrespectful. So, that's not the case and there is no ulterior meaning in the post, at least, not to me. But I don't think we should try to forget about certain works of art just because they speak of things we may find uncomfortable.
So, on to what I'm posting about. I believe these are muscadine grapes which grow wild in this region. There are many of these vines growing on my property. I don't know if they grow in our northern states but are prevalent in the south. Many people just love them and I believe that there is even a local vineyard that has begun producing a wine from the grapes but I really don't care for them. They have a very strong odor and thick skins. The taste is hard to describe; it's not altogether unpleasant but just not worth the effort to me.

If there are any local people reading who would like to come gather these, please contact me. You can have all you can find. They have a fairly large fruit and people make jelly and the aforementioned wine from them.

I have no idea what this shrub is and neither did Fred. If anyone might know I'd be glad to hear. The berries on these small trees do not seem pleasant to eat. I have not tried them but they don't smell particularly good. There are lots of these trees around here also.

There are several varieties of really cool grasses around here that I think would make some interesting landscaping specimens. This one is probably over 8 feet tall and grows in these neat little clumps. I think the trick might be keeping it in a neat little clump if I tried to cultivate it. You can't tell from the photo but it has very pretty silky, purple fronds on the top. It is probably just some old common grass gone wild but I like it.

There are also several types of ferns that grow here in abundance. But I love ferns so that's okay with me too. I have ID'ed the Christmas ferns and cinnamon ferns but am not sure what this is.

I'm still working on the heater today. We extracted it from Fred's house without a huge amount of difficulty and have it here at the house. Today's project is to get the basement cleaned up, the chosen spot cleared out and get the heater moved in place by this evening. It is ungodly heavy. I'll try to get some photos today of the whole process. Exciting I know.

*Billie Holliday

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dig It!

OK, this is the second time I have tried to do this post. I got the last one ALL screwed up and just decided to start over. That's just the way things have been going lately. Anyway, last weekend Allen came over with the backhoe he rented and dug up a few stumps for me. He did a lot of work on cutting a new area on his land for a tractor shed/office and working on his driveway some. As you can see in this photo, I just let the area around that stump get overgrown and messy and it was really an eyesore. It took up quite a bit of space in the garden too.

But now it's gone! Hopefully, I will be able to till this area soon and amend the soil so as to get it ready for planting next spring. I am going to build a raised bed on this side of the garden for my strawberry plants too.

We took out two old, scraggly sweet gum trees also. They were just cluttering up the yard and shading the garden some, not to mention producing those horrible little spiky balls for me to step on. I have no shortage of sweet gum trees here. Unfortunately, I don't think it is a good firewood. We were amazed to see this tree's roots had completely encompassed a fairly large rock. No shortage of rocks here either. You can see the teeth on the backhoe made short work of the stump and Allen extracted the rock and hauled the stump off to the burn pile.

So then I graded the area by hand and pulled out all the weeds and roots and debris and hauled all that off. It looks tons better now! I'm very happy about getting this done. I also finally planted my brussel sprouts and cabbage. I hope to plant some lettuce and spinach soon but don't know if I'll get to that this weekend.
The big plan now is to get the wood burning heater installed in the basement. I actually turned the gas heater on this morning because it was so cool when I got up. Of course, as soon as the sun got up enough to start shining in the house, it warmed up enough to turn that off. I intended to start today cleaning out the area in the basement for the heater but didn't get around to it. I got distracted by the garden and just general chores that need doing. Washing clothes, dishes, cleaning and such. I've got to get an earlier start tomorrow though and really get something done.
I have just felt so disconcerted lately. The economic crap going on is very disturbing. Construction is usually one of the first things to grind to a halt if things get bad financially. We are a little slow as it is and are very uncertain what is going to happen in the near future. The building I'm on now will be completed but not sure what will be after that.
I woke up the other night thinking it was time to get up (I swore I heard the alarm go off) and even got up and started to wash up and make coffee but then saw it was only 11:30 pm. I went back to bed and woke up at the correct time, but then thought I had overslept and was rushing around only to realize in a few minutes that I was not late after all. I've had crazy dreams about stuff that actually happens later. Things are just very out of sorts and it's hard for me to concentrate on my work and things I need to do here. There are several things I want to post about but just can't seem to get my thoughts together on things. But I will start moving the heater tomorrow and preparing for winter. I have loaded up on propane; what I can afford anyway. I got the big tank filled and since I cook on a little portable stove, I bought a supply of the small bottles.
I'll try to post again tomorrow. I have some photos from work and around the property here. Maybe ya'll can help me out with some plant IDs.

*The Beatles

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Birdhouse In Your Soul

Reason #57 not to let your tools sit unused for too long....

*They Might Be Giants

Sunday, September 21, 2008


This has been a rather enjoyable weekend so far. Not enough time spent at home as I was finishing up a project in town but I do have all day Sunday for the house. Friday I stopped by the one gallery (for now) that carries my pottery and was delighted to find I had sold out and received a check. I got to meet the illustrious BFA for a cup of coffee downtown and had a wonderful meal of sushi on the way home. When I got home, I talked Allen into going to the county fair with me so we went off to that. No giant rat this year though, dang it! Ours is also too small to have animal exhibits which is disappointing but the other exhibits are good.

I spoke to some nice people with the Alabama Cattlemen and Women's Assoc. and may have found a local source for natural pork and beef until I can raise my own. Hey! Fred won several first and second place ribbons with some of his pottery and knitted things! Go Fred! This photo is blurry I know, but I thought it looked interesting anyway.
I did get home yesterday in time to do some yard work and garden clean up. Allen has rented a back hoe for his place and is starting the foundation for a tractor shed/office over on his land. He may have time to pull up one or two stumps for me. Oh! I stopped by a friends house yesterday (the glass artist) and dropped off the new saucers for her and some bags and tissue paper because she is having a show today and didn't have any materials for wrapping purchases, which I hope she has many!

And I finished this project!! Woohooo!! Boy, am I glad. One of the fellows from work came in and helped me take down the scaffolding and get it moved to the bottom of the hill for pick up tomorrow. The younger boys are usually looking for odd jobs to make a little side money so I try to help them out when I can. Now, to just get my money for this job and finish my siding.
Next weekend I start the process of installing the wood burning heater into the basement but there is a lot of prep work to do first for this may go kinda slow. And I have to extract the heater from Fred's house (his idea, bless his heart) so I know that is going to be slow! I am accumulating firewood but need to get it all in one place and split some more. The mornings are still so lovely right now. Oh, man, this is the last official day of summer! Hope ya'll enjoy it!

*Natalie Merchant/ Tigerlily album

Friday, September 19, 2008

Good Morning Good Morning

I woke up this morning to an absolutely beautiful day here. I love getting up on Fridays and knowing I have 3 whole days to do whatever I want, for the most part anyway! The past several mornings are just wonderful here. It's slightly cool and the sunlight has that very clear, slightly golden look. The photo really does not come anywhere close to how it looked first thing this morning, the sunlight just starting to illuminate the tops of the trees as it peeked over the mountain behind me. The seasons are definitely changing. In fact, this afternoon I need to close the clerestory windows for the year. I really enjoy fall but dread the winter really and it doesn't even get very cold here. I might be a tough construction worker but I am a definite wienie when it comes to cold weather.
I unloaded the kiln this morning and everything seemed to come out fine despite a slight over firing. I think it is time to change the sensing rod in my kiln. Anyway, I'll be finishing up that side job in Birmingham today and tomorrow and perhaps stop by to see a friend while I'm in town. She is a glass artist and I made her some new saucers for her glass fusing projects. I hope these work. the work won't take long so I'll still have a decent amount of time this weekend to work on some stuff here. I hope to work in the garden and get some things cleaned up around here. In the above photo you can see part of my freshly mowed "lawn"! It looks so much better but I actually have some more to do. I really need that tractor but that is going to have to wait just a little longer.

Here is a shot of Grendal giving me one of her looks. I had been out walking around the yard and garden instead of in the house feeding her snacks. She always looks at me like I'm insane when I try to get her to walk with me. Why walk around looking at silly things like plants when you can lie on the floor and eat! Crazy humans.

*The Beatles

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Long Day Is Over

It was a typical work day today. I got home around 7:00 p.m. We got ready to pour about 60 feet of footing today, tying steel, putting in 2 bulkheads where the footing stepped down. Shot grade in the ditch etc. I think it was supposed to be 18 yards of concrete on the job at 2:00. Not that big a pour. At 2:10 still no mud. Boss called the plant, "oh, we thought it was on 'will call' for 2:00." Which means they thought we would call to confirm before they sent the trucks. Crap. So, it's 3:00 before the mud shows up. It poured out fine but then our clean up truck was about 30-40 minutes late. Often times on a footing pour or similar you can't figure the concrete exactly because you are pouring against dirt banks which vary in dimensions. So, you pour out all your trucks until you get about to where you know one truck will finish you up. You measure the remaining amount of footing or whatever and calculate your mud from that last measurement. A hard formed area can be figured exactly but dirt banks can have holes etc. Usually your next to last truck will radio in the amount for you and that last truck is your 'clean-up' or 'call-back' as some say. So, the clean-up was late and we got a trainee driver on top of that. He did fine but they are usually just a little slower. We were very glad to finally get through. Traffic was not too bad and I just bought supper on the way home.
Oh, I almost forgot! The US Marshalls showed up and hauled a guy off! Not one of our guys though, LOL!. We go through too many background checks, drug checks etc. There is a bunch here from Texas that are pouring the interior floors and it was one of their guys. They cuffed him and took him off without any incident. I hate to admit it, but I've seen that happen on every really large job I've ever been on. US Marshalls, state police, sheriffs. We even had the FBI SWAT team show up to get this man and woman who were working together on a crime spree. They were working as laborers on one of our jobs in Florida. They had already robbed and killed 2 men and were, from best we could tell, about to roll one of our own foremen. He was lucky. I was not on that job but a bunch of my buddies were. They said it was wild; the SWAT team came flying out of everywhere, screaming, everybody was throwing themselves on the ground! I'm glad I missed that one.
Oh, and I saw that the electrician foreman is a guy I worked with about 9 years ago. He wanted me to go out with him then but I turned him down. He is fairly handsome so I'm not sure why I said no. Hhhmmm. I think maybe I was seeing someone else. Or I thought this guy was kinda weird. I don't know.
So, typical day; you know it's been a rough day when you have to wash the concrete out of your ears. I hope I got it all. Bedtime now.

*Norah Jones

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What Goes Around

I got the grass cut! Yea! Well, there is still lots of yard work to do but the yard looks soooo much better and I feel some better. I'm almost done with the side job in Birmingham also so that will be a great help to get that over with. I got all my pottery that I had thrown, trimmed and ready to dry. Here in this photo, some of it is still leather hard. That is hard enough to trim up but still has water in it. Now, it will sit until it has dried out and I will bisque fire it. I thought we would track it's progress after it is bisqued and glazed and then again after it is completely finished.

Same stuff, different angle. We have changed our hours at work since the sun is coming up later now, so I get to sleep until 4:00 a.m.! Woohooo! Man, that's pathetic. I bought nine brussel sprout plants this weekend but did not get around to planting those. The garden is the next thing I need to work on. I did mow in it some and cleaned up a little but you can't really tell. It needs some major work. I would also like to plant some lettuce and spinach and it is getting closer to the time to plant garlic.
In an effort to make myself feel better I was trying to make a list of just what all I did accomplish this summer and there are a few things.

*I ran about 60% of the siding. Several of the guys at work have volunteered to come up here one weekend soon and have a big 'siding party' to help me get that done before winter. I have to cook lunch for them and I'll buy them some beer!. My guys are so good to me and try to keep me going.
*I trimmed out several windows on the interior and exterior. I still lack the kitchen windows and the bathroom.
*Installed light fixtures (3) in bath.
*Sheetrocked partition wall between kitchen and living room. It's not finished though.
*Created flower bed along side driveway and transplanted several native flowers to this area. It does need to be reworked just a little to make it follow drive better.
*Harvested lots of okra, tomatoes, purple hull peas and green beans from garden. I did manage to put up a little of this for winter. Oh, peppers too.
*Stained about 30% of siding but having meltdown over colors again.

I think I probably did a little more here or there but can't think of much now. I have made a couple of small lists of things I must do before winter to work on now. And I might take off another week maybe next month or something to work on the house. My company is good to let us take vacation and they have always let me take extended time off for various things and come back when I was ready. We are so short of carpenters now though that I don't want to take a lot of time off.
Oh! I talked to one of my buddies Thursday night that worked on the railroad job! He is down in Slidell, LA with the boss we had at the railroad and the engineer too. Ya'll remember me telling you about possibly going there to work? Well, that job has started somewhat. It will probably be first of next year before they need any carpenters though. I don't know if I'll be asked to go however. I got into a bit of trouble with that boss at the end of the railroad job and he may not ask me to come down there. It won't hurt my feelings any if he doesn't. I mean, I still like the boss but don't know that I want to go down there for 2 years. Well, bedtime for me!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Stick It Out

We did not get enough rain at work this week to warrant a 'rain-out', so we are enjoying a 3 day weekend now. I hate the 10 hour days but the weekends are nice. I worked on the small side job in Birmingham yesterday and will go back today for a short while. Next weekend I should finish up so that will be great. I will make enough money off of that job to do something fairly substantial around the house or something.
I got home about mid-afternoon and set about trying to get the outside of the house back to some semblance of an occupied house. The grass has grown up so that it looks deserted around here. My goal for this weekend is just to cut all the grass and maybe try to get the garden cleaned up some. What meager bit of garden is still there is producing, so I'm trying to get what I can out of it. Of course, I pick this weekend to mow now that gas prices have gone through the roof and I need 5 gallons to finish this dang yard! Well, not that much but probably close. Serious thoughts of fencing part of the yard and getting a cow are going through my head. It is absolutely disgusting that these gas stations are allowed to run the price up so over this storm. We are not even going to get any rain off Ike and yet it has induced near panic at the pumps. Now, I realize the refineries in the Gulf have had to shut down again and a small jump in prices are to be expected, but our governor actually had to declare state of emergency here to insure that gas stations would just not blatantly take advantage of the situation. By the time I left my house and made it to downtown Birmingham yesterday, prices had shot up near $1.00/gal. more. Buying an electric mower is also a serious thought right now.
I also have some pottery drying in the basement that I need to attend to today. I am really wanting to do maybe one or two art shows this year just to get out and be around that community again. The shows closer to Christmas generally do better and there are a couple of decent ones not far from the house. So, that might be fun. I'll try to show some pics of the pottery as it progresses.
Well, got to get to work! Hope ya'll all have a good weekend.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kozmic Blues

And the neatest thing, is these little creatures absolutely LOVE to eat termites! This one was gobbling down every one he could catch back in the spring when I had that wacko termite swarm at the house.

*Janis Joplin

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sitting Still

Some new wildflowers have popped up recently around the house. I am just continually astounded at how many new varieties I keep finding here. I mean, they are new to me. I especially like this flower. Don't know what it is; does anyone have an idea? I have only found a few of these but hopefully they will continue to reproduce.

Here's a closer view for you. I love the dark blue color too.

In the past week there has also been a slew of these 'shrooms pop up behind the house in the shady areas. Don't worry, I like how they look but don't touch! This is the first year that I remember seeing so many of these also. The tops are bright red when they first sprout up but fade a little as they open up. Still pretty though.
I planned to post sooner but last week I tore the hell out of some muscles in my lower back and so have not been very active lately. It is fairly uncomfortable to sit at the computer for very long. Plus, the doctor gave me some strong muscle relaxers etc. and when I take them I would not be able to write anything that made sense! Not that what I write normally makes sense but anyway. So, this little incident has really driven home the fact that I need to change professions but I am still at a loss on what to do about that. I am looking and researching though.

The BFA read my post (the bad one) and promptly called me up last week to chew me out. But I needed it. I believe that I had rather be afflicted with most anything other than an ungrateful heart and so needed to get over that hissy fast. I am VERY thankful for what I have and know that I have gotten some stuff done this summer. Not what I wanted too but I have done stuff. And yes, I expect too much of myself and am very impatient sometimes. We are so ingrained at work to produce a certain amount of work per day that I think it permeates the rest of your life too. We are literally evaluated on how many linear feet of form work, concrete, trim or what have you that we can run each day and I guess I take that attitude home with me. So what if it is only me here, I should still be able to "make a showing" as we say! A construction worker is taught that we can do anything, and after seeing some of the incredible things we build, out of basically sticks and rocks, I think it is easy to get frustrated over some stupid thing like not being able to finish installing a light fixture or whatever. (the company didn't send all the correct parts)

So, in addition to my back taking a big hit last week, my attitude got smacked too. Friday I had come home from the doctor's office, taken some meds and was trying to relax on the sofa on a heating pad as instructed. So I gathered some magazines and the phone etc. and put them by the couch. I thought I would catch up on some reading and was going through and old issue of Countryside magazine. Great homesteading mag, btw. So, after reading for awhile I found several articles where they were going on about how hard it is for a single woman to do homesteading or have anything like a small farm etc. It was almost impossible etc. So, great, that's depressing; I'll watch TV for a while, something I rarely do. I was flipping through the channels and I came across this program with a young man that was born with no arms or legs and he was going around doing all kinds of stuff and had a really great attitude about life. So, then I feel like the biggest jerk around. I thought, if I could get on the floor, I would just crawl under the rug and stay for a while!
I think when things get bad or out of hand, it is best just to get still and sit quietly to let matters settle. So, I think that is what I'm going to do with my back and the house. Often times if we will just pipe down and relax, things will work themselves out. I've got a couple of small projects I'm working on now that I am going to finish, just kind of chill, and see what happens.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Wishin' and Hopin'

Hey! I'm hoping that my readers down south (further than me!) are doing OK after Gustav! I know I have one reader in or around Prairieville, LA and Barry and his good family in Mobile, AL. Hope ya'll are safe and dry and did not incur much damage to your property.

Thanks bunches to all of you and for your wonderfully kind comments, comparisons and suggestions. I don't have much time these week nights so I may not get around to answering each comment but I do appreciate each one! I'm feeling better btw. A lot of my friends always say, "oh, Annie knows how to do anything; Annie's got it all together". Well, Annie doesn't know much actually so I do really try to learn from other people. I mean, I know a little about building and art but as far as life goes, I have always felt like I am just stumbling down a dark hallway, trying to figure out where I'm at. But you know, you can have lots of fun in the dark...or the sorta dark...or the broad daylight....uhh, what was I talking about? Anyway! Ha! Hopefully I'll be back soon with a decent post and maybe some photos of something.

*Dusty Springfield: If you've never given Dusty a listen, do yourself a favor and check out some of her music. A true classic.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Time of the Season

Edited: I am going to sound like a completely ungrateful butthead in this post but please know that lack of gratitude is not the problem. I am extremely thankful for everything and I'm not asking for sympathy. I'm not going to delete this post either because I think it is just an accurate record of what happens sometimes in life.

The title here may be appropriate for more than one reason if any of you remember that old song. Anyway, I noticed the phenomenon you see in the photo above this Saturday morning. I know it was not there last weekend but since I leave home well before sunrise during the week, I am not sure exactly what day the sun started making it presence known, though it is very recent. So, you know what this means. Summer is winding down quickly. By 10:00 a.m. this little streak is gone as the sun has moved over enough to be blocked by trees but it is dropping lower in the sky. It was very early in the morning and I had gone out onto the deck to enjoy some coffee and look around. I turned to go back inside the house for something and I saw it. It just struck me like a ton of bricks. Summers gone; I've done nothing. The progress on the house is just limping along. The yards grown up, the garden is in shambles and I'm too tired to do anything.
Yesterday was not a particularly good day. I mean, the weather was nice but my spirits lately have just taken a direct hit. Well, actually that's been going on for some time but it just seemed to culminate this weekend when I was struck with how late in the year it is. I am at a loss as to what to do. I'm just not getting anywhere. I've lost my appetite; for lots of things. Things are not making sense to me anymore. I realized that I probably went in the hole on the garden this year. What meager food it produced (because I didn't have time to attend to it) didn't come anywhere near the cost of preparing and planting it. I have not been able to put anything up from it. Two quart bags of green beans and some dried peppers just don't count. I look around and I think 'what the hell am I doing". I have all these big, pompous statements on my sidebar about living an ecological life and I'm not doing squat. Yeah, I buy organic and use natural cleaning stuff I make myself; well, big deal.
I bought three beautiful ducks to help with pest control and to start the process towards acquiring animals for food etc. I had them in a fenced area, I thought protected, but some creature, dog or coyote, broke through the fence and ate them. Broke the electric fence and tore the hog wire up to get to them. So, I'm going to have to build a avian Alcatraz if I want to keep any chooks or anything and I've got lots of time for that.
I cannot handle this much land and finish this house by myself. I've looked into changing jobs. I've talked with everyone I know about my options on that. My company has asked me to teach in the apprentice program and I thought maybe that could turn into something but now we have no first year students to teach because we have downsized so. Physically I can not continue to do the work I do much longer. Even the guys at work are getting concerned. They worry over me and fuss but I don't know what to do. I have to keep the income in order to buy materials for the house but I rarely have time to put said materials up. Winter is coming and I have to get the new heater installed in the basement.
Why did everything work out for me so perfectly to acquire this land and be able to build on it, only to see everything disintegrate because I don't have time or ability to complete what I've started? It seems like every door I come to slams in my face. I've been through stuff like this before and I know that right when it seems that you've done all you can do, something will just suddenly create the perfect condition to work everything out but that's not happening now. I'm past what I thought was the end of the rope. There seems to be absolutely no purpose to what I am doing. I am not doing myself any good and am sure not able to be of any good to anyone else! I can't help anyone around me and showing this house and land isn't doing anyone a bit of good because there is nothing to show.
I'm sorry this is such a downer post but that's just the way I feel right now. And I am so grateful for what I have; that's why I want to use it for some good, but it's like, I can't even do that. To think that I was given all this and all my abilities also, just for my benefit, is disgusting. That cannot be right. I'm trying to keep going, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Do something every day even if it is just to pull a few weeds or sweep off the porch but I'm lost. I don't even know what else to say.

*The Zombies