Saturday, November 29, 2008

Good Mourning/Black Friday

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


Thursday, November 27, 2008


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

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

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

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

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

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

*various artists

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Heavy Metal

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

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

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

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

*Sammy Hagar

Friday, November 21, 2008

Early Morning

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

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

Monday, November 17, 2008


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

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Great Balls Of Fire

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Got A Name

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

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

*Jim Croce

Monday, November 10, 2008

No Such Luck

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

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

Saturday, November 08, 2008

New Friend

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

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

*No Doubt

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Want To Be Sedated

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

*The Ramones

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Autumn Leaves

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

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

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

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

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