Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Alright folks, just a quick post to let everybody know I'm on the job and still alive. It's been a little rough so far, to be honest. It's been hovering right around 100 degrees everyday and it does take a little time to get re acclimated to 10 hours a day in that.
I haven't had much time to take photos and really can't publish much anyway in that respect but I did think this one view gives you a pretty good idea of the size of the job. Sorta. If you view the courtyard in the center it seems much bigger. This is probably the biggest job I've ever been on and it's going to be tough. I've got a LOT of steel to weld up.
Anyway, lots of my long-time buddies are here and they are always a hoot. If it weren't for them and Daddy Rabbit I don't think I would try to come back. So, I'll try to post again soon.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ready Or Not

I woke up a little earlier than usual this morning, so I took my mug of morning tea out onto the deck to enjoy the coolness of the air and the quality of light that is only seen at that time of day. More than that, I wanted to enjoy the few mornings I have left before I leave. Soon the time to sit and sip hot tea or maybe even sleep at little later will be gone. No morning walks with Chigger or to feed the chickens or putter in the garden. I have to admit, this last year of life has spoiled me something awful. Of course, we have worked hard here and we have accomplished much but the work here can in no way be compared to what I am about to do. It is truly different when you are working hard for yourself. And yes, the money I make will go directly to finishing the house but oh, how I will miss my sweet little house and mornings in my valley; the dragonflies awakening and darting carelessly in the crystal air. Of course I will miss Jack and Chigger and Grendal, my sweet kitty. I know I will be home on the weekends also, but when you are pressed for time it's sometimes hard to relax much.
But, such is the life of a construction worker; I have said it before. I joked tonight that maybe after Daddy Rabbit retires, I can really retire also. I do enjoy working with the guys and it is always interesting to go to a new town and see new things. I'm proud of what we build too. None of those crappy shopping malls for us! Since we are building for a university I thought I might even be able to audit a course or some other evening activity. We'll see. Out of town work can be incredibly boring. Well, unless you are into carousing or such and I'm not much into that. Anymore. Heh.
I just know this is going to be quite a shock to my system in many ways. I won't have as much of my home grown food or home cooking. Trying to entertain myself in the evenings is a challenge because I hate TV and I can't afford to do much that costs money. But I think the biggest thing is going to be leaving the peace and quiet of this valley to live in a city in a hotel. Yeck!! I just keep telling myself that I can finish the house, I can finish the house....I will adapt rather quickly to the new waking and working hours though. It has always surprised me how quickly I can get back into the routine of getting up at 4:30 a.m., but I do. I fall out of it just as quickly too! Daddy Rabbit told me they are starting at 6:00 a.m. now but that will change as the seasons do. I just hope I can still handle the heat and the work load. I ain't no spring chicken you know. Speaking of chickens; here's Jack with the main herd of poultry.

We have finally got most of them sleeping on roosts. Some of them took to it naturally and some had to be prompted. They all are getting the hang of it pretty good now. We do have one rooster that developed a leg problem when he was younger and he has a little trouble. His leg bends out the wrong way, you see. I guess some people would say we should have culled him long ago but I felt we should give him a chance and he gets around fine really and doesn't seem to be in any discomfort. I would definitely do something if I thought he was in pain but he seems to enjoy himself. Anyway, he has trouble getting up on the roost. He can sit there fine, once he's there, but can't make the hop up, so whoever puts the chickens up just sets him up on the lower roost and he takes it from there.
It's also a bit of a concern to me to leave my house in the care of someone else. I know that probably sounds stupid but this ain't no ordinary house and I'm no ordinary paranoid woman. I've put so much into this place and to have to leave it's safety to someone else is troubling to me. I know, I know; it's just a house, I'm wacko, the cat's not going to blow the place to smithereens. But, I still fret. At least Jack has learned ALL about the water system since we did the spring box. He ought to know that thing backwards and forwards.
Well, time for bed. I still have one more day to enjoy before I load up and head out early Monday morning. It will be an adventure at any rate, I'm sure. It always is.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Fun

I haven't done anything to intensify the colors in these photos. Straight out of the camera to you! That's one reason I love marigolds, other than their bug repelling properties. No matter how hot and dry it gets, these things always seem to keep on going, no wilting, no fainting, just bright, pulsating color.

The only problem I've had this year is they have gotten so big that their stems have broken in some cases and the plant kinda flops open and splays on the ground. But they still keep blooming!

The butterflies are very abundant right now also. Mainly these type (I don't know the variety) but also a few of those Blue Admirals, I think? I had some caterpillars on my parsley (is that Monarch's) and let them have it but there is no sign of them now. The birds may have gotten to them.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sometimes You Can't Teach A New Dog Old Tricks

I thought I'd give ya'll a break from the spring workings; for a while anyway. Jack topped out the last of the concrete fill yesterday and is working on backfilling now, so it is sorta boring. I do intend to do a little follow up with some drawings and more info though.
Anyway, here's Chigger with a little comedic relief. She finally wore out her old frisbee, to the point of ripping out the center. She still wanted to play with it however, but would get it stuck over her head like this all the time. She could not seem to figure out how to get it off either. We got a good laugh out of it but I would eventually have to free her from her circle. I felt kinda bad too because it kinda seemed to hurt her feelings if we laughed too much and she would try to hide.

She really didn't want me to take these pictures either but I managed to snap a few. We did buy her a new frisbee but it doesn't fly as well as this one did. At any rate, she still has fun with the new one.

As some of you may have gathered from recent comments, it seems I am back on for the out of town job, so I have been busy once again getting ready for that. One reason I'm not helping backfill the spring box. I've had more stuff to get ready this time but am still waiting. Apparently, the steel has not come in for the job, plus, they are having trouble finding somewhere for me to stay. The area I am going to is one that was hit hard by the tornadoes back in April, so many of the hotels etc. are filled up with people rendered homeless by the storms. And, obviously, I can't room with any of the guys who are already there, so accommodations for just me are a little slim. With any luck Daddy Rabbit has found something starting Monday though. The job we are doing is not a result of those storms either. It was started months before that hit and being mostly concrete, did not suffer any damage although it was in the midst of the storms. So, I'm still just waiting and trying to get what I can done around here until then.
The garden is winding way down but I am still trying to preserve, pickle, dry or cook whatever I can. Making plans for what to plant for the fall and winter now. We also ordered 25 meat birds which should arrive around Sept. 6th, so that will be a new experience. They other chickens are doing great and producing lots of crap and eating lots of bugs but other than that, not contributing much yet. The hens from the bunch should start laying in a month or so however, so that's something. The birds that are coming are actual meat birds and should be harvested within about 8 weeks of their arrival. We'll have to do this when I come home on the weekends.
So, things are never boring around here I guess! Always busy, busy. And now I need to go throw so I can keep some kind of inventory in my stores about town.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Almost Easy

I believe we have topped out. We ran out of concrete before we filled absolutely every cell in the blocks but we are real close and will only take a few more bags. I am very pleased with the state of the spring and water system now. I think it all went well and turned out great; despite being extremely hard, physically, to do. I feel, and I think Jack would agree, that I have been beaten with a 2 x 4.

I was not pleased with how that shelf came out over the rock ledge so we bought 2 more bags of the quick setting concrete and I went back down to shore it up. Basically, I just mixed it up down in the hole and jammed it in the cavities while Jack kept the water pumped down. You can see one of the main inlets right in front of my right hand.

This set up very quickly and I was pleased with the result. By doing this I also confirmed that the hole is also big enough to actually do some work down there. I mean, it's not terribly comfortable, but it is workable.

I am still astounded at how fast the water cleared up and how clear it is now. The only murkiness is from the concrete residue and when this clears I suspect the water will be almost crystal clear.

This is standing at the spring looking up towards the pump house. Of course you know, all could not go well. As sure as Murphy's Law exists, no good deed goes unpunished and if everything is coming your way you must be in the wrong lane, we did have some problems. After the spring was done and we were trying to clean up, we hooked everything back up in order to use the water to clean up. In my exhaustion I forgot to reopen the valve above the spring. I have a very good pump and it tried very hard to do it's job and in doing so cracked the connections both going in and coming out of it's housing. It didn't take long for me to realize what I had done but by then water was running everywhere out of the pump. So, Jack spent most of the day finding parts to fix those connections. Finally, about 5 p.m. today he finished the connections and we had water again. Hopefully,it will go a looooong time now with no problems. Anybody that has been following this blog for sometime knows I have had problems with those connections before, so Jack used some different type this time and redid the whole setup. It certainly looks better.

This is my cute little pump house during the renovation. I still need to put siding on this thing.

An inside shot of the pressure tank and pump. This is a Gould pump and I would highly recommend these things. This one has been through pump hell and still going strong. Hopefully, it's life will be much easier now.

This is looking from the pump house, up through the woods to the house. The spring is about 200 feet from the house and at a lower elevation than the house. The pump pulls the water up a hill to the pressure tank and then the water is pushed further up the hill and over the crest, where it beings to fall back down at about 70 feet towards the house.

So, while Jack was finding parts I was getting my own stuff together. My company worked out their crap and now I am back on again for the out of town job. I told them I was not leaving until I got this put back together though. They threw the wrench in the works so they can wait on me now. Everything seems to be going well though and if the pump does not blow up overnight it looks like I'll be heading out sometime tomorrow. I am exhausted and grumpy but maybe I can make it through the rest of the week. It should be an interesting time anyway. I'll catch up with ya'll when I can!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

One Step Closer

Well, first off, I appreciate all the kind words and compliments from you folks in the last post. Ya'll are sweet. Although, I did have to giggle a little at Island Rider's comparison to a Amazon warrior. I felt like something from the Amazon alright; maybe a giant leech or slug after being in that water for 3 days but not a warrior.! I look at those photos and think I look like hammered cat shit. I certainly feel like hammered cat shit; especially after today.

It was somewhat frustrating at the start today but we got it worked out and once the footprint was down it was just stack, stack, stack. It did take me a little while to get that first run situated correctly and level but my elevations were very close and it all tied in well with the shelf I poured yesterday. I was somewhat disappointed to see that some of that shelf did not set well and was crumbly. This was probably my fault for mixing it too dry. I know that's hard to imagine, it being submerged in water but High/ Early sets FAST. Fortunately, it was on the side where I could actually set block on the floor of the spring, so I just chipped out that crumbly and ran block. I then filled that blocked completely and filled up flush with the top of the shelf. I wish I had photos but you know....
Anyway, you can see how far we got. And, the first 5 runs are filled 100% and have rebar doweled through them. I know some of you may notice that I did not actually mortar the blocks together but with them being in water that's kinda not going to work well. The grout filling them, with the rebar will be plenty sufficient to hold them in place. It's almost like just pouring solid concrete.
Now, some of you may ask, why didn't I just pour concrete walls? Well, if I had used Sonatube, for a round form, the cost would have been much higher. If I had square formed it with plywood the cost might have been about the same but the aggravation of getting a concrete truck back there, the labor of forming and wrecking that form etc. made the block just seem like the easier way to go.

Now, the top 3 runs in this photo have not been poured. We ran out of Sackrete after pouring over half of it but it will be good to let that set up tonight and then pour the remainder tomorrow. You can see here how much clearer the water is already. It's kinda amazing to me. I knew it would clear up but didn't really expect that. As soon as all the concrete sets and such it should become very clear. Oh, the big pipe there and the block will be taken out later. The pipe stubbed up is just to keep me from dropping concrete or kicking gravel into the inlet when I'm working. I'll try to get some better pictures as it clears and we finish up.
Well, today was really exhausting for me. Jack made material runs while I wrecked the form and started stacking block. I stacked and poured while he kept me supplied with material. It worked well. Except for when I fell in first thing this morning (that will wake you up!) and then later when I sat down in the water and forgot my cell phone was in my back pocket. Oh well. I only buy the cheap kind anyway!
So, we hope to finish with the structure tomorrow and I can even do a little cut drawing for ya'll to better show what I did. For now, I have mixed me a good whiskey sour and I am going to relax.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Down In A Hole

Well, we are making progress. Still a ways to go but things are going fairly well and we've not been sucked down into a quagmire yet. To look on the bright side, the water is at least so cold that it keeps us cool while we are working. It is so cool, in fact, that a light fog is almost always present when we are in the hole; a mist formed from the heat of our bodies meeting the cold air rising off the water. I keep meaning to take a thermometer down there and check the actual water temp.

We take turns going down in the hole to dig. One goes down and the other hoists the buckets of mud up and empties them. Works pretty good. After having it firmly implanted in my brain that we were just going to widen a round hole and somehow stack block, I realized that nothing said the hole had to be round...It's funny how you get stuff stuck in your head and don't see alternatives. So, we squared the hole up, which will make setting block in a square much easier. DUH! Note how muddy the water is in this photo. We had stirred up quite a bit of silt and such by this point. Also, note the large rock behind Jack. You can't tell here but under that rock is where the inlet is.

Jack rigged up a cable with a pulley and such for the bucket, which helps greatly, but it is still pretty rough work. Last night my left shoulder was so sore I could barely move it. I either worked it out or something because today it is better.

Here you can see the water flowing in, somewhat. It has been hard for me to get many good pictures because we are usually both either in water or covered in mud. Not really when I want to have a camera in my hand. This crack between the rocks is about 8 inches at the widest point. I would guess this spring puts out about 5 gallons a minute, maybe. In the winter it flows heavier. This large rock threw a little kink in my block laying plans so I had to form a shelf over it.

As you can see here. At this point we have basically finished excavating the walls (it's about a 5 x 5 foot hole). We scooped out all the loose stuff on the bottom until we were below the elevation at which the water comes in. I crammed a 6 inch diameter piece of PVC into the inlet and ran it out to about the middle of the hole and turned it up with a 90. That's what you see with the bucket over it. This will protect the opening of the spring. We then filled the bottom with about a 6 inch layer of crushed stone. This hardened up the bottom remarkably well. Before we would sink several inches into the muck while we were working but now you can walk around just fine. I was very surprised that little bit of stone worked so well. You can even see how much that stone layer helped clear up the water. I mean, it's not clear yet but it's better than it was. So, I then threw this form up so that it was tight against the face of that rock, squared it up best I could, staked it in place and kicked it off. We used stone rubble to fill up most of the space behind the form and over the PVC inlet but used big enough chunks that the water can flow freely. I am not trying to force the water to come in through the PVC pipe only but rather to simply block out a space were it always could if the areas around the pipe become clogged. I then used smaller stones to kinda seal the top on the rubble so that the concrete would not seep down into the inlet and seal it off. As an added insurance, we mixed the concrete fairly stiff so it would not ooze much. I used a High/ Early mix so that it would set quickly. We kept the water pumped down for a while but then let the spring fill back up. Keep in mind, concrete does not dry; it sets by a chemical reaction so water being on it does not hurt it. I also threw a few pieces of rebar in the shelf to help it and had stacked 3 layers of block on the outside to get a grade by, which I marked in the inside of the form. This, hopefully, will work out so that the blocks laid on this shelf will lay in with the other walls with nothing needing to be cut down. Since I can manipulate the gravel on the floor of the spring I can adjust the blocks to meet correctly but this should make it very close as it is now.
One other note about this photo: we take the foot valve and all out of the spring every morning as we begin work so nothing is in the way. This was taken towards the end of the day, after we had replaced the foot valve and reconnected the water. Fortunately, the spring cleans itself well enough that we can use the water by the time it refills. Now, we don't use it for drinking or cooking yet but it is fine for bathing etc. and it is filtered before it comes in the house. We do keep buckets of water on the deck though, to dump over ourselves at the end of the day in order to get clean enough to come in the house in order to take a shower. Heh.

If you look close enough you can see the little peepers that were staring at me most of the day. He is not happy that we have invaded his spring. I tossed him out twice and he is right back in there as soon as I turn my back. I was hoping that he would hop down to the creek, which is not 20 feet away, but he likes this hole.

In the afternoon the chickens come down to inspect things. Big 'Un, on the right, gave us his approval. Chigger thinks it's all great fun because it gives her an excuse to go play in the creek and mud while we are working. She won't go down there unless we are nearby.

This was taken at the end of the first day. Today was not much better. I suspect my clothes are ruined so we have been wearing the same ones over and over! Yeck! What a mess! Hopefully, I will start stacking block tomorrow and will be finished by the end of the weekend.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hole In The Ground

Yep. That about describes it. A hole in the ground. So, this is what has occupied my thoughts and time the past couple of days and will continue to for the next several. Wish me luck for the time has finally come. The weather, the money, the time has all lined up and there is no more putting it off. I know I should have done this waaaay back before I ever even built the house but I was anxious to get moved in and the spring was working fine. And it still is now technically but the walls of the hole have continued to slowly erode and so it is time to permanently fix this. The large concrete pipe you see there was originally going to be part of the fix, a major part but it boiled down tot he fact that that pipe was going to cost me between $700.00- $900.00, even though I got it for free. See, it's not really possible to move something like that ( in any controlled manner anyway) without heavy equipment. So, after ruminating over about every other options possible, we are going to bite the bullet and do this by hand. I shall post about it later if I survive.

I suppose most people would gag to know this is where I get my water. The spring is actually quite clean and clear though. It has a little debris in it here because I had been mucking around the hole and knocked some leaves in. The orange paint marks is where it must be dug out to. You can see I have already started on that some. So, I shall return about this later but it may be a couple of days.

Thanks for all the opinions ya'll gave on the gable end thing. One thing I didn't mention that might make a difference is that the area I was questioning about is right over the front door; so it is rather noticeable. I know I didn't show this is the photo and it just looked like a random gable on the end somewhere.

I know also many of you may be thinking, why am I still here? I, being me not you. Wasn't I supposed to go out of town to work? Well, funny you should mention that. I got all ready to go, down to being packed and then no one called. A day went by, then 5 and no one called. They basically drug up on me. No, I was not really pleased. However, they assure me that I will go back to work at least for long enough to make it worth my while for doing all that paperwork etc. So, what do you do? I was looking forward to maybe having the cash to finish the house completely but now at least, I don't have to be away from home. Oh well.

Monday, August 15, 2011

One Way Or Another

Okay, if anybody is still willing to talk to me, I need some feedback! Seriously. In the photo below, you can see the gable end that I just finished running the siding on. I have put up a bit of trim but am undecided on how to finish the triangular spaces inside the trim. The other gable end of the house, opposite this one, has a gable vent, which you can see in another photo. This end of the house has vaulted ceilings so therefore, no attic or vent. I am not trying to make this look like a vent but rather just replicate a similar repetition of lines. Maybe.

Below you can see the actual gable vent. Now, one suggestion was that I continue to run the siding but ripped down into more narrow strips and allow only about a 3 inch reveal (the siding has a 7" reveal). This would repeat the lines of the vent.
Another suggestion was to completely forget siding there and run either sheet metal, similar to what is on my roof, or maybe even ceramic tile, which might have a design on it.

One thought was that if I made tile for this area, maybe I could take a small section of this pattern in the metal beam and repeat it in the tiles. If done right it might also vaguely resemble the rays of the sun, which I like. It is a passive solar house after all.

So, what do ya'll think? Any ideas? Also, look back at the first photo: now, should I paint the trim, that is light green now, the cedar color of the rafters or the red, like the gable vent in the next picture? Or just leave it like it is? The siding will be painted the light sage color, I just haven't gotten that far yet and it is still showing the grey primer.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

America First, Revisited

Perhaps I did not word that last post as clearly as I had intended, which often is my mistake. I also don't want to come across as angry, as I'm not. It's just that this isn't meant to be some grueling hardship I am proposing. What I was trying to say was that I thought it would be a good thing, and maybe even fun and educational, to watch what we buy and just try to make an effort to buy things made here in America. I did not say that I thought we should refrain from ever buying anything foreign or that had even the smallest little iota of foreign material, labor etc. in it for all of eternity. The article said, if every American spent just $64 more than normal on USA made items this year, it would create something like 200,000 new jobs! It does not say, if Americans wouldn't buy anything that came from another country ever, it would create these jobs. Look, I just think there is more made here than what we have been led to believe and that if we made a little effort to seek these things out we could maybe help some fellow American keep a job, or maybe even hire another one. And, it is simply not THAT hard to find American products. Yes, I realize that there are virtually NO computers, TV's (and God knows we got to have those!) or other electronics that are made here. And I realize that of the stuff made here, much of it has foreign components or ingredients. I mean, Jeez Louise, where do you think I think the cocoa beans come from in Hershey's chocolate? I realize all of this but I'll tell you this: when those people from Cullman county (next door to my county) made that mattress set I bought last spring, even with some foreign fabric, they were damn happy to have that job and get that paycheck that week rather than some Chinese getting it. And the same for the people at the Lodge factory in Tennessee where I buy my cookware and at Pyrex, Anchor-Hocking, Maytag, Whirlpool, Weber, KitchenAid (mixers only), Maglite, New Balance, Wahl, Meyers, Nordic Ware, Franklin, Oreck, Viking, ShopVac, Ford and on and on. I mean, crap people, it was just an idea to be a little more aware of where our stuff comes from. I'll say this too, after doing a little research I was astounded to see how much is still produced here and how many new factories are opening up here producing American goods, even some an amazing 100% American! I believe most people would be surprised to see what is made here also, if we would just look around instead of straight down the tunnel in front of us. We have let the media and just general opinion at large tell us that the United States does not manufacture anything anymore. It's an urban legend! According to one set of statistics I read, we are still the largest manufacturing economy in the world. Clothes, furniture, cookware, cleaning products, shoes, jewelry, dinnerware, glassware, health products, sheets and pillows and the lists go on. And yes, we still produce raw materials such as steel, copper, oil, chemicals and minerals, aluminum, cotton etc. etc. as well as paper, textiles, bricks, wood, and on and on and on. For years we all made the assumption that if a product had an American label on it, it was made here. Then we realized that wasn't true anymore and that many corporations had moved overseas. Now, I believe we had the same erroneous idea that nothing is made here anymore (so why even look) when there are hundreds of companies that never sold out and have remained loyal to the people here. I just think we should support those companies. If you think that's stupid, or too much trouble, or that Americans make crap or you just don't give a flyin' rat's ass, then don't do it. But then, don't sigh and complain about why so many people are unemployed right now. And yes, I know that of the unemployed, many of them would die before they would take a manufacturing job (or whine that the Hispanics have taken them all) but many would be glad to have it and do go after them. My company built a manufacturing plant for Honda (yes, I know they are Japanese) in a town not far from here. Not only did it give us construction workers jobs for years, it has made an enormous difference to those people of that small town. They have jobs paying well over $20/ hour, where as before they worked at menial jobs for much less. I've talked to some of those people; they are VERY happy to have that job.
With very little effort I found several websites that are more than happy to give you lists of American products and companies, such as American Made Products, Made Here In America, and Still Made In America. These are only a few, there were many more.
I don't have a problem with trading with other countries. I mean, I love my Bosch and Makita tools; they're wonderful. The Honda plant is another example of a type of trading. It works good! Heck, even though my clay comes from North Carolina, some of the minerals I use for glazes and such are mined in England or Africa. Oops! shouldn't have said that, now I'm not an American producer of goods. Oh well, when someone buys pottery from me that money sure does go to buy my groceries or whatever and I don't send it to China. All I'm saying is that if I can buy a set of glasses from an American company, that employs Americans, even if the silica to make the glass comes from Africa, I had rather do that than to buy a set of cheap glasses where everything comes from China. Yes, I am disgusted with our world policies right now. Yes, I'm disgusted to see we have become like Rome in that war is our main product. Yes, I know we are a hated nation world wide. But I am proud I'm American because I know we, the people, are not like our government right now. I love my country and I want to help my fellow citizens and support them and maybe, just maybe by doing that we can change the way things are going for us in some way. Am I stupid and delusional? Probably. I've been called worse I assure you. But at least I can say I tried to do something. As one of my readers said, "maybe we should think of the whole of our country as local". I like that.
Now, am I going to do without a new pair of welding gloves if I can't find any made here? No! That would be stupid (and I'm not so stupid as to burn my hands up!) I'm also not going to do without guacamole if I can help it or run around in public with no underwear. But if I can't find an American made table runner that I wanted for fall, then maybe I could do without it or better yet, make one myself from American fabric!!! Hey, I'm from the south, we got cotton out the ying-yang!

Friday, August 12, 2011

America First

A friend recently sent me an email about a "Buy American" challenge starting August 1st and going this whole month. Yes, I'm a little late getting the news! Now, I have tried, to some extent, to buy American products when I can but have not put a tremendous amount of effort into it. I'm somewhat ashamed to admit I have not tried harder. However, after reading the email I decided that now's the time. With things going the way they are economically and every way else there are just no excuses left, for me anyway. We harp and harp about buying local meats and produce from our local farmers (and that's great) but nobody says much about buying other American made products. A lot of people even have the gall to say you can't do it. You wouldn't have anything if you limited yourself to only American made. While it is true that these products may be harder to find, and cost a little more, they are out there. We just have to get off our lazy ass and find them. And, it's not a bad thing in my book that it would cut down on the amount of cheap crap that the majority of Americans drag into their homes every day.

Here is the gist of what the email said: (Now, I didn't see this Diane Sawyer show that is mentioned, so I don't know how much of that is true, nor some of the other statistics quoted, but I think it is a good challenge none the less).

Did y'all see Diane Sawyer's special report? They removed ALL items from a typical, middle class family's home that were not made in the USA .

There was hardly anything left besides the kitchen sink. Literally. During the special they showed truckloads of items - USA made - being brought in to replace everything and talked about how to find these items and the difference in price etc..

It was interesting that Diane said if every American spent just $64 more than normal on USA made items this year, it would create something like 200,000 new jobs!



Are we Americans as dumb as we appear --- or --- is it that we just do not think. The Chinese, knowingly and intentionally, export inferior and even toxic products and dangerous toys and goods to be sold in American markets.

70% of Americans believe that the trading privileges afforded to the Chinese should be suspended.

Why do you need the government to suspend trading privileges? DO IT YOURSELF, AMERICA !!

Simply look on the bottom of every product you buy, and if it says 'Made in China ' or 'PRC' (and that now includes Hong Kong ), simply choose another product, or none at all. You will be amazed at how dependent you are on Chinese products, and you will be equally amazed at what you can do without.

Who needs plastic eggs to celebrate Easter? If you must have eggs, use real ones and benefit some American farmer. Easter is just an example. The point is do not wait for the government to act. Just go ahead and assume control on your own.

THINK ABOUT THIS: If 200 million Americans each refuse to buy just $20 of Chinese goods, that's a billion dollar trade imbalance resolved in our favor...fast!!

Most of the people who have been reading about this matter are planning on implementing this on Aug. 1st and continue it until Sept. 1st. That is only one month of trading losses, but it will hit the Chinese for 1/12th of the total, or 8%, of their American exports.
Remember, August 1st to Sept. 1st !!!!!! START NOW.

If we can't live without cheap Chinese goods for one month out of our lives, WE DESERVE WHAT WE GET! ( I agree!!!)

Now, I don't necessarily agree with the kinda vehement anti-Chinese sentiment expressed there. I'm not interested in "sticking it to China" or trying to cause them trouble. I just think it's about time we quit pissing and moaning about the sad state of economics etc., in this country and do something about it. How many jobs have been lost due to our manufacturing being sent overseas? And yes, I realize many of jobs were replaced with some other type but a country cannot remain secure if it doesn't have a stable infrastructure and relies so heavily on other countries, that probably don't have our best interests in mind, for tools, clothing and many other very important daily supplies.
I did a little investigating last night by looking up a number of USA made products online. There is a lot more out there than what you might think. Now, I know some people are saying, 'I can't afford to do this. USA made stuff costs a lot more'. Not necessarily and many of the companies offer free shipping. With the cost of gas these days and that most people don't live next door to a mall, are you really saving that shipping charge by driving to the shopping areas? And like I said, so what if it costs a couple dollars more? It's giving an American a job and it might just cut back on this epidemic of useless shit that floods our homes.
I thought about how this relates to Wal-Mart too and their whole prostitution ring with China but I don't know that I really want to get into that. It makes me too sick and upset. If you don't shop at Wal-Mart yo have your reasons and I don't need to convince you. If you do shop at Wal-Mart I would just ask you, do you really think that company cares about this country or do they just care about lining their own pockets? I know Wal-Mart has made some efforts to carry more USA made products but only because the people have called them on it and they will sell out whoever they have to in order to continue to rob the American public of all they can.

Anyway, I just feel that we have sat on our asses long enough. Are we going to let this country go down the shitter, even more than it has, or are we going to stand up and DO something? Even if it means giving up our cheap, plastic, worthless junk. How sad it would be if most people would choose their junk over this beautiful country.
Jack and I went to a movie yesterday and then we stopped at the pet store to get Chigger a new Frisbee (which probably wasn't made here) and I went next door to a large chain department store just to look around and see how much USA produced stuff I could find. I have to say that if we stopped importing stuff today we would at least have plenty of glassware and throw rugs. Not much else! I asked the lady at the jewelry counter if any of it was made in the US. She looked kinda funny and then she said no, she didn't think so. She thought for a moment and then she looked at me very seriously and said, 'we need to change that'. I said, "yes, we do!" We talked about it for a while and I was surprised that she was on my same line of thought but then I think lots of people are starting to get tired of this situation. I ended up buying some foot lotion and a card, both made in the US. I also found some very pretty candles and glasses. Today I looked around the house to take stock of what I have here. I'm happy to say that much of what I actually have is made here because I buy a lot of stuff from local artists and craftspeople. But, I was very unhappy to see that of my wonderful collection of books (ya'll know how I am about books) many are not printed here even though the publishers are American. What crap!! This is something I will keep in mind in the future.

So, I challenge you to join me! We sit around and wonder what can we do to help society. We wonder what we can do to help our fellow citizen. This is one, simple thing we can do. We are constantly reminded to support our troops (and rightfully so), but what about supporting ourselves!? Please don't tell me that the indomitable American spirit is dead.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hurry Up And Wait

Well, I'm still at home so things are just continuing here along the same lines. Just with a little more motivation on getting stuff accomplished faster. The okra continues to come in huge waves so I'm putting up all of it I can. Freezing, eating and pickling. The corn and greens beans have about played out, as has the cantaloupe. I have just started getting figs though!! My first! They are SO good. Still getting tomatoes and peppers so I have put up a few jars of salsa and hope to do a lot more. The sauerkraut I tried was a success, so I will post about that shortly also. It is SO simple and easy to do.

I also got all fired up and have almost finished the siding completely! Woooooo! This is cause for major celebration! You can see that the grey siding is what we put up yesterday. I have just a little trim to do right in the top (where you see the white house wrap) and then I can run that last little bit of siding. I'm so happy!! The sun is right on this area in the morning so I wait until after lunch when it is in shade. The temps have been around 90 with a nice breeze the past couple of days so it has been great for working outside. I mean, it's still hot but it's not suffocatingly so.

Well, that's about it for today. I'll try to be back soon and maybe even have a recipe or so for you. I haven't forgotten about the food posts! Just been real busy lately. I tried a recipe for Braised Chicken with Root Veggies the other night and it was fantastic! I may put that up but don't have a photo of the finished product; it got wolfed down quick!!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Before They Make Me Run

Ya'll remember those 4 little chicks we hatched in the incubator? Well, here they are! They are not so little anymore. Those little craps are growing like weeds!! Sorry that you are seeing mostly their butts, but it's hard to get a decent picture of these hings; they won't hold still for even a second.

I love the little Barred Rocks because they look like little mini versions of the older chickens. Unlike some breeds, as soon as these start growing feathers they are the color that they are going to be grown. These are a handful I tell you. Very rambunctious and they want you to be out there with them if at all possible. They will just go sit int he coop if you go inside. I guess we have spoiled these a little. They expect a treat any time you go out there.

We integrated all the other chickens into the main big run so that the little 4 could have the extension to themselves. We were having to carry them back and forth to a separate cage, morning and evening. That got old quick!

Henny, Bertha and Little Bea (the big hens) are NOT happy about the hoard being in their run but we have started letting them out in the evenings to forage in the yard, so that helps their feelings a little. As you can see here in these photos, the big hens stay to themselves when let out. They can't stand those younger chickens! I have to admit though, I can't have blame them. We don't call them 'the hoard' for nothing. They act like we don't feed them but once a week or something instead of the multiple times a day we do. They just run all over Bertha and the others when we throw food out.. It's kinda funny though.

The garden has kinda gone to pot. Not literally though!! Don't want anybody from work to get any funny ideas! lol!! I need to clean it up a bit before I go but don't know if I'll have time.

I LOVE these Amish Paste tomatoes! They are wonderful for canning. I think I am going to cut my variety of tomatoes back next year to just 2 regular and one cherry type. Unless, I make more room. Maybe.

Well, I just wanted to assure you all that I would not just be posting about work from now on. The homestead will continue and I will continue to work on the house on the weekends, so there will be posts about that. I don't believe I can say a whole lot about work anyway. These days you have to be careful and I even had to sign a paper saying that I would not talk about people within the company "except on a need to know basis". I guess they do stuff like that on account of people getting on Facebook, etc and blasting their bosses and such.
I can tell you that I am going south to a major university (still in Alabama) and we are building an 8 story housing complex. Normally, my company subs out all the structural steel and we just do the miscellaneous steel, like handrails and such, but this time we got it all, so I get to play ironworker. I will have one other boy helping weld if they can get him certified. The building is mostly concrete but there is a large steel structure on the very top. Good thing heights don't bother me too much! I'll try to get a few photos, maybe. There are various other structural steel elements and then I get to weld together essentially 32 floors of handrails. (8 floors and 4 stairwells).
So anyway, I'll be back when I can. I have purchased a small laptop to take with me so I can post and email.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Come Away With Me

This is sort of a two-part post, which I meant to do in two, completely separate posts, but time got the best of me and so ya'll will get it all in one, jumbled entry. The photos may not be in sync but once again, Blogger is being screwy and I still can't figure out their apparent new code for uploading photos in the sequence you actually want. Also, please forgive me for not answering all comments lately and for not making the rounds on your blogs either. I have been very busy the last week, the reasons for which I will explain as we go on.
As you can tell from these photos, Jack and I took a little road trip up to Chattanooga for a couple of days. I had been to the aquarium a while back but he never had, so we remedied that. I always enjoy Chattanooga. It's a great little city. Full of lots of fun things to do. We relaxed and had a great time.

I love how playful they were with the construction. I wish my company got to build such fun things. Instead, we get hospitals. Which are important; just not fun.

Lots of great art to see. These were actually in the aquarium exhibits. If I had tons of money, I would own these things. Beautiful craftsmanship.

Before we left I had a large firing to do myself. I made up two new glazes to test, which I thought came out very well. I am trying to come up with some brighter, more vibrant colors for my work. The green and gold on the square bowls are the new colors. What do you think?

Beautiful craftsmanship here too; just not by human hands. These were infinitely easier to get a decent shot of than the fish! They were very mesmerizing though.

These guys were just hanging there, so easy to shoot. If you live anywhere near Chattanooga and have never visited I would encourage you to do so. It's a lovely town.

We caught the free, electric buses that cruise the city and rode down to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo for breakfast. The Choo-choo is an old railroad depot that they turned into a restaurant. Great food and a cool place.

They have two rows of old railcars that they renovated and you can spend the night there if you like. Well, for an appropriate fee. These were part of the gardens in between the cars.

More alien creatures. I could feel my blood pressure slipping down, down, down watching these.

I love this guy's work. His name slips my mind at the moment though.

This piece looked exactly like it was made up of old driftwood but it was actually bronze. the patinas that can be put on metals are amazing.

This is the pedestrian bridge (there are two other bridges for vehicles) but we did not walk across it. I kinda wanted to but it was only like 1,000 degrees that day and getting later in the day, so we needed to head home.

This is the contemporary wing of the Museum of American Art. The concrete and metal work in this place was great! I enjoyed looking at it as much as the art itself.

So, you may ask yourself, what prompted this little excursion? Well, Jack and I wanted a little vacation before things change a little and we don't have as much time together. See, Daddy Rabbit called me a couple of weeks ago and he needs a certified welder on his job in a bad way. So, I agreed to go back to work. I know some of you may screech and moan at me but I figure maybe I should go. I'm not making much money with my pottery and I need the funds to finish this house. I have saved enough to finish this half I am in now but would really like to actually build the other half. Plus, it's for Daddy Rabbit. In a lot of ways I don't want to go. See, it's in another city far from here and I'll have to leave my home and Jack for maybe up to a year. It is in this state however, so I'll get to come home on the weekends, usually. But, that's the life of a construction worker.
So, I have been very busy trying to get loose ends tied up before I leave, plus do all the paperwork etc. that the company requires to come back on. I am going to try to maintain the places where I have pottery but I wanted to get a large inventory out before I left. I have also been trying to can and put up as much stuff out of the garden as I could. Jack will continue to harvest things and maybe I can do some more when I come home. I hate to leave him with all the responsibilities of this place but he says he's up for it.
I will continue to blog but my postings may be sporadic for a while, (as might my comments on your blogs) until I can get settled in the place where I am going stay. So, that's what's been going on here.