Monday, October 31, 2011

Here And There

Well, I finally got a little time to scratch out a post for ya'll.  Things have been so hectic.  They have cut out our over-time at work but I have had a few other errands to do after work and my connection is still crappy here.  Jack is working on that so maybe it will get better.  Right now I am at a local bookstore where I can get a decent connection.  Weekends are no time to rest either as I have to play catch up when I get home.  One of the stores that carries my pottery has placed a fairly large order for Christmas so I've been working on that in amongst the usual house chores.  The bit I got planted in the garden is doing well at least.  Each weekend I get a little more of the garden cleaned up and such.
However, Jack and I have made time for some fun here and there.  This past Saturday we went to a play and then out to a very nice, cozy meal at a very cool restaurant in Birmingham.  It was fun.
Speaking of food; Jack harvested 4 of the roosters.  Mainly the white Leghorns.  They were not real plump but one of them made a real nice pot of soup that you see here and I see dumplings in the future for another. It was very tasty.  Jack is still coming to terms with and sharpening his skills at dressing chickens but he has done well I think.
Not a lot else to report, just busy, busy, busy and to top it all off, the one other welder that might have helped me some at work was involved in a equine accident over the weekend and is so broken up I don't believe he'll be back any time soon.  It looks like I'm going to get stuck with all this steel no matter what.  They have at least assigned a carpenter to me full time to help me in whatever way I need.  He is a real nice guy too and willing to do whatever to help out.
So, I'll try to be back soon and maybe with some better pictures.  I haven't even had time to take any and the fall colors will most likely be gone by the time I get home again.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Still Amongst The Living

 Yes, I am still here.  I haven't been mashed or givin' up and run off to the circus.  Not yet anyway.  I have really wanted to post several things lately, visit your blogs and leave comments but for some reason my crummy Internet out of town has deteriorated even further these past couple of weeks.  Most evenings I can only get on for a few minutes before it throws me off and then it's just sort of hit and miss getting back on.  I did go down to a local Books a Million one night, where I got an excellent and fast connection but, to be honest, I usually just don't have the energy to do that.  I have even given up dinner on a few nights, preferring to just shower and go to bed after a quick snack.
There is enough steel work on this job to keep 2 or 3 welders busy but so far they seem to think I can do it all, so they have been throwing it on me pretty heavy and with no help to boot.  It takes a little ingenuity to hang some steel by yourself but I have managed it with the help of some equipment.  I finally got a small crew to help this past Friday though and we made good progress.  So, I've been a little discouraged and disgruntled also.  Many on the job feel the same way as I do and are reconsidering their choices of employment.  It has just become a lot of bullshit to put it simply.  They want everything fast, cheap and right.  Well, like the old saying goes, you get to pick two of those items, not all three.  Those of us who've been with the company for years want to turn out a good quality product but they make it darn near impossible nowadays.  I do not want to participate in this lifestyle anymore.  I want to get out before my body is completely worn out and I am discarded by the company as I have seen them do so many before me.
 But, I did not mean for his to be a rant, believe it or not.  I have just been so tired lately and down and when I get down I don't know what to post.  This lifestyle is SO not like what I was doing at home and SO not what I want that it has been a bit of a shock to my system basically.  I am managing to still eat good although not my own food for the most part.  There is a wonderful organic grocery store in the town that I go to for many things so that helps some but it's not like being at home.

 So, just a little update on what is going on here.  The chickens are all doing well.  These Barred Rocks and the one little blond one on the far right are the four that we hatched in the incubator back in the early summer.  They are doing great.  The roosters are very handsome.  The one hen (Scooter) is doing well but looks a little funny.  See, way back when they were bitties, one of the older hens got a hold of Scooter's head and just tore that little chick up.  they are mean that way sometimes.  We had them in a separate pen but Scooter must have managed to get her head through the wire right when the big hen walked by.  It was bad but we nursed her back and she is fine now.  Well, for the most part.  She doesn't have feathers on part of her head and sometimes seems a little slower, mentally, than the others but they look out for her.  At least she doesn't run backwards anymore though.  That's why I started calling her Scooter.  It must have messed up something in her wiring because she would just be going along and all of a sudden throw it into reverse and take off!  She doesn't do that anymore though.

 I have managed to get something of a fall garden planted.  I planted a few things on the deck in pots as an experiment.  This is a lettuce mix.  So far so good.

 Fall is definitely here now.  Our normal first frost is around October 26 but it came about a week or so early this year.  We have been keeping a fire going on some nights when it dips into the 30's.  The mums are all blooming so pretty.  These are all plants that I picked up last year or so when Lowe's puts them on clearance towards the end of the season.  I got most of them for a quarter or fifty cents.  Yeah, they look like hell then but the next year they always come out real pretty.

 I have got broccoli, lettuce and cabbage planted in the garden.  That is one last bell pepper plant still hanging on there.  My leeks and Egyptian onions are doing really well and I have been harvesting a few here and there when I'm home.

The broiler chicks are doing well and growing fast but these are no 6-8 week birds.  I guess they'll be ready at about 10-12 weeks.  These are very active and have completely decimated the grass we had planted in their run so we have been letting groups of them out in the chicken tractor to get fresh grass.  We still have a couple with leg problems though.  Although the majority of these are just fine (it seems) I don't think we'll get these again.  And on a very sad note, my little Katsu died.  Katsu was the little exotic chick that came with these in the order.  They just send you one for free.  Katsu was a sweet little chick and would have probably been very pretty.  I nursed her back to health after these hybrids just about stomped her flat once and she rebounded well.  She was fearless and would jump feet first right in the middle of a pack of these even though they outweighed her by a substantial amount.  She got sick with something though, it may have been thrush and couldn't get over it.  I tried to nurse her when I came home but she was too weak and didn't make it and then I had to leave Jack to deal with it and a messy house because I had to go back to work.  I was upset to say the least.  I have already expressed my intention at work to retire after this one.  I will not live this kind of life anymore, finished house or not.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Good Ol' Boys

I know I have pissed and moaned about this job and working out of town, and it has been rough sometimes, but all in all we have a great time.  I love working with my fellers.  On this day I was taking some photos, during a down time, of the crane hooks for some art work I want to do and I guess Bama (the operator) thought he would help me out, as they are all prone to do, so he lowered it down to the deck so I could get some close up shots.  You don't really realize how big those things are until they are next to a man.  Well, Steve and Nick saw it as their prime opportunity to cut up and do some camera hogging! We play a little when we can and have a good time raggin' the living hell out of each other but we are like family really.  Well, family you get to choose because you enjoy being with each other.  There are a number of us staying down here and we get together about once a week to go eat after work.  I tell ya, I could call about any one of these guys if I ever needed anything and they would be there to help.  The work is harder on me than it used to be but I miss my boys a lot when I'm not working and I will be sad when this job is over because of that.  The work is so hard sometimes so you got to play a little when you can, ya know?

Edit:!  I meant to tell ya'll this kinda funny related story last night but forgot.  So, we are obviously working on the very top floor of the building and we had gone up one morning to get started.  It was a little cool, and I was going to be welding, so I had thrown a heavy denim shirt on over my Hi-Viz t-shirt.  We normally have to wear a vest if we do that but they can't seem to find me one that won't instantly combust when I start welding and ain't doing that.  So anyway, Nick calls for a lift from the crane and Bama says he ain't movin' because he can't see everyone well enough.  Two of us have our shirts covered up.  Funny how crane operators made thousands of safe lifts for decades without these shirts, but I digress.  So, Nick, in his loudest voice, yells over to me, "Hey Annie, take your shirt off!!!!!"  Now, there were about 20 Mexican rodbusters up there with us and many of them claim not to speak English but I'll be damned if they didn't ALL understand that phrase.  Every one of them stopped what he was doing and turned around to look at me.  At first I didn't know what was going on (I wasn't close enough to hear his conversation with Bama) but  then he laughed and explained, "Bama won't move until he can see you".  So, with great flourish I flung off my over shirt, cussing the whole time of course!

Monday, October 03, 2011


 When I stepped out of my truck this past Friday after arriving home I could definitely feel the change of the season.  I knew we would be keeping a fire at least one night as it was already quite chilly at sundown.
A few weeks ago Jack had planted the biddy yard with new grass in anticipation of their growing and moving outside.  They love it!  It took a few days before all of them got the courage to go out but now they run and scratch until they just have to go in.

Of course, they love their feed too but they really enjoy the fresh grass and sunshine.  I am happy to see that they appear really healthy and normal so far.  They are growing quickly and are already quite heavy for their size.  We do have 3 that have legs problems but they get around and insist on staying with the group.  We will just have to watch them and make sure they are not suffering.

The pullets from the original group are trying to lay.  We have found 2 or 3 of these teeny eggs but haven't spied the young hen in the process.
This week I am really homesick.  I don't want to be here.  I want to be at home with a warm fire burning and nice food simmering on the stove.  But, I just keep reminding myself of what I can do with my earnings.  Perhaps I should do some sketches of how I want to finish the kitchen.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Our Country

Some of the observant souls among you may have noticed over the years that tower cranes always fly an American flag on the very end of their boom.  I suppose we have always been a patriotic bunch, even before it was the "in" thing.  Well, over time, and due to such high winds at those heights, the flags will become tattered and must be replaced.  Ever wonder how they did it?  You'll get a much better view if you click on these photos to enlarge them.  That's of the fellows goes out there on the end and changes the flag by hand.

Now, it may look as though he is over the deck and therefore, not that high up, but the end of the boom is actually extended past the building, so James is looking about 200 feet straight down.  And yes, he is tied off.  In fact, we could see that he was tied twice!  I don't blame him.  The crane trolley has a neat little basket that a person can ride in to get out there and back.  The crane operator controls this as he would if he were making a lift.  Notice the large hook and tackle for making lifts.  On smaller cranes, as most people see, this is an actual ball; quite large and heavy and it is called the "headache" ball.  Naturally I had to ask why way back when I was a little apprentice girl.  "Well, 'cause if it hits you in the head you're gonna have a headache."  If you still have your head, that is.

Speaking of flags and country and all; I guess many of you may have heard about Alabama recently passing most of this new immigration bill.  Now, I'm not going to get into the pros and cons of such a thing.  That isn't the reason for this post.  I just thought the effects of this bill passing have been interesting.  To tell the truth, I have not read and studied all the bill enough to form a defensible position.  I have read a good bit of it and must say, there is lots I agree with; there's a little I don't.  We have a number of Hispanics that work for our company and I have enjoyed working with all of them.  Many people I talk to adhere to that old stereotype of the chauvinist Hispanic male (and a few are, just like whites) but they have always treated me well.  They are very kind to me and we joke around and have a good time.  I have even been invited to some their family events.  I do not have any problem with people coming here to make a better life.  I do have a problem with some of them doing it illegally and taking advantage of our system.  I do also think our immigration laws need a bit of revision so that it is easier for people to become legal residents.  All of our Hispanic carpenters are legal and many have lived here for years.  They go through our apprenticeship program just like everybody else and do well.  They are good men and love this country and I have recently been sad to see a few go back to their homeland because we didn't have enough work to keep them busy.  We were beginning to see a drop in the number of Hispanics on our jobs just due to the slow down of the economy anyway, as construction is usually one of the first industries to fall back.  So, when it came out Thursday that this bill had passed we were expecting a change Friday and boy, was there ever.  Our company is very diligent to hire only legal immigrants.  Hell, you should see the background checks they do on us, people born and raised here!  However, many of our subcontractors are not so careful.  Come Friday, our job was very quite in places.  Whole floors were vacant.  It was very odd to say the least.  At least 6 or the rodbusters had vanished, 6 or 7 of the form crew and I can't even guess how many electricians and mechanical guys.  I overheard some of the guys saying that they had expected this and the subs were already sending new crews out.  They better be or we are going to suffer some serious delays.  I can't help but wonder though, will they be replaced with legal Hispanics or Americans?  The fact is, our own people don't want to do this kind of work anymore, so can anybody blame the Hispanics for coming here to get a decent paying job?  I don't.  We are building a residence hall for a very large university.  They have had record number of enrollments these past 2 years but surveys, and the economy, have shown that the actual jobs available for college graduates keep falling.  Now, you long time readers know I have a college degree.  I have nothing against education.  But in my opinion we have just become lazy and want some cushy job sitting inside where we rake in wads of dough.  Well, that ain't happening much anymore in many places.  We need people to go into the trades.  We need society to recognize that the trades are an honorable profession and that you can make a decent living.  So, if this new bill leaves us in a bind, well, I can't say we don't deserve it.  We've become way too dependent on others for so many things and now it's going to bite us in the ass.