Monday, May 31, 2010

Weekend Projects

Cora and I, both, have been working on the place.  We added some sidewalk to help with the dog trails.  Cora, it turns out, is pretty handy with a trowel.

We decided we could put the siding on the back side of the shed with little trouble...yeah, right.
We had to dig out some dirt as the shed has settled over the past few centuries.  SO much so that it has kid of a wavy appearance from this side.
Which makes for some...ahhh...creative carpentry.
And, to top it off, the weather decided NOT to cooperate.  the picture below shows me trying to get the last couple nails in before I knock it off...note I am already semi-soaked.
Cora did not fare any better...she had not planned for a wet tee-shirt contest and so was ill prepared.
We still managed to put a smile on for the camera.
below is the splash back that happened when it started raining.  That siding was clean minutes before!
And here you can see the water cascading off the roof.
We made it back to the house, but were soaked through.  Now we plan on spending the last few hours of the holiday being lazy...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day Two

I was a little reluctant to begin work today, owing mostly to the sore muscles I got yesterday.  I went ahead and began work on the step.

Here you see Sully...he likes to watch the birds come and go from our bird feeders!
Below you will see the continuing results of my work, and also, Pepper.
We had lemon, butter, garlic, pepper chicken...Mmmm-mmm good!
and the requisite flower photo...
I have two more pours to make tomorrow...I spent a good deal of time trying to relax, but I also felt the need to be working...ahh, conflicting aims!  I took a hot bath at about 2 pm to battle the spread of sore helped and I was able to begin the form for tomorrow's pours...

Hopefully this weekend will be remembered as the weekend that we made this place look good, rather than the weekend of sore muscles.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

We have been walking!  Here we are!
Our dinner last night was EXTREMELY awesome!  We had a Caribbean chicken dinner!  We let it marinate overnight.  It was...YUMMY!!

We worked on the yard today.  Cora mowed the lawn while I changed a tire and did a few other minor things like measure the shed for more siding!

We then went into town and purchased the assorted items for the homestead.  We got siding and concrete, both on sale!!!

So, we worked on the yard...well, we began digging and making forms.  It is going to be a long weekend.  It was hard to keep the dogs out of the area...we finally succeeded and poured the concrete.  Of course, we have several more pours to go...but it's a start!

We began dinner and while i was waiting for the coals to heat up, I took some are some clematis with a function our old camera boasts!   I imagine a D90 would do better.
and take a look at this cloud!
I had several more, but I really think yiou want to see the cement!  Here it is!
Isn't it beautiful?  Of course, I am now officially exhaustipated.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, May 28, 2010


The rains came the past few days.  As you can see, through my truck window, it is not particularly easy to see through.  This is because we live in a fricking desert and I need to change my wipers, but, since we DO live in a desert and won't get a large amount of rain until November, I have NOT gotten new wipers.  At this rate, it will rain all summer long.  As soon as I break and get new wipers, it will stop raining.  So, I refuse to get wipers.  Mother nature can just bite it.
The skies do have their beautiful sides!  I took these on the way home.
My beautiful truck!  A short time after the rains came that day, the sun popped out.
So, I went out and took a few pictures of our flowers.  Are you folks tired of seeing flower pictures yet?
Neither am I!
I think a Nikon D90 would do a much better job, don't you?  These are pictures from our Canon.  I touched them up a bit.

I hope you all have a very good weekend!  Be safe!  I expect we will be working outside if the weather is good to us.  We have big plans.  A sidewalk and the forms to go with them.  If the sales are right, we might be buying a bit more siding and some more concrete.  I don't know if we'll put the siding up, but with a good sale, you can't pass it up!

I need to deliver a few paintings and see if they are up to snuff...hopefully they are!  Maybe we'll play some Wii or watch some Netflix.  I love summer!

Cold beer will go a long way to make the yard work easier!  Be safe and have fun!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Touchy Touchy

I taught another high school math class today.  No biggy.  I handed out papers and then made sure they were working...well, I made sure they were jumping around and causing trouble.

I continue to drool over cyber versions of my camera.  OK, it isn't mine.  YET!  I mentioned the Nikon D90 DSLR camera, I believe, in a recent post.  I probably didn't spend much time describing it, I think I probably just mentioned it in passing.  You may not have even noticed.

I needed to get some groceries.  However, not so far from the place where I was planning to get groceries is a...Best Buy.  Yes, I know, Cora doesn't like me to stray from the plan...but it was SOOOOO close.  I walked in and told a guy I'd like to cop a feel of his cameras.  So, I had a very good conversation with the guy.  He showed me both of the cameras I had been looking at.  I looked at the Nikon and the Canon.  I liked the canon, but it was very bulky and it has only 9 point metering while the Nikon had a better heft, felt more manageable in my hand, and 11 point metering.  The price is right, too.

Of course, I have a few things to do before I can purchase a camera, I have to do a few things for sell two cars and a video camera that we have used approximately four times.  I think she is totally too demanding...but, you gotta keep the wife happy.

I made beef and snow pea stir fry tonight and asparagus stir fry.  I ran out of rice, so we used turned out VERY nicely!

Oh, did I mention it rained like cats and dogs today where I worked?  It was crazy!

Hmmm...I guess that's all I have for now...I should probably mention that I preferred the Nikon.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What I Want!!

Every so often, I catch myself up on the world of photography.  Cameras change.  So, every once in awhile, I like to make sure I know what's hot.

I have fancied myself a photographer of sorts since high school.  I own a Pentax P-3N, but haven't used it for several years, since film is expensive AND we have a digital camera.  The Pentax is an SLR, which basically means you can switch lenses.

Our current digital camera is something we bought to take to China with us.  Hmmm, yeah.  We were very optimistic back then.  We got this darned Canon Elph in 2007!  It has served us well!  I have enjoyed using it and am happy with it.  It continues to be a wonderful camera.

I am picky about the cameras I buy.  They are a very serious purchase to me.  Akin to choosing a member of the family, though Cora will surely take issue.  This is an item that accompanies us everywhere!  It will be used in many different situations.  I depend on it to record those moments of life that I want to remember!  This is a serious subject for me.

I did months of research on the camera we took to Walt Disney World shortly after we were married.  It was a Minolta Vectis.  We still have it.  It served us well with a menagerie of options and settings.  I continue to be very pleased with the photos we took there.  It is an APS camera.  A smaller than 35mm film type, that may have disappeared for all I know.

I considered Digital Cameras to be questionable at best for quite a long time.  However, recently, the technology has proven its maturity.  I have begun looking into them again.  This time Digital SLRs!  Yes!  I know!  Film is and always has been the origin of photography.  However, I have proven myself to be fairly proficient in the dark room.  I feel I don't have to prove myself more.  Digital offers SOOOOO much more opportunity for alterations of the photograph!  I can do it on my computer and at my leisure (no camping out in a dark room with no females in sight...actually, in a dark room FULL of females, there would be no females in sight...).

The digital SLR I have chosen is the Nikon D90.  I have never owned a Nikon, but I have done a lot of drooling in the stores.  It feels good!  The options it offers are all within the realm of what I want.  I like a versatile camera, and the D90 does that!  Yes, Canons are very good too, but in the end it comes down to what you prefer (Be assured, I WILL be doing more research first hand to verify my findings).

I would not mind the next step up (the D300) but I really want a D90.  How can I afford to purchase this?  We ARE in the middle of an adoption.  I don't know.  I guess I could put some money away every payday, and in a few years I may be able to afford such a wonderful creation...Orrrr a large sum of money could fall out of the heavens...

Anyway, Cora thinks I have become obsessed about this subject.  I have not.  It's not like I keep a window open devoted to Nikon D90 reviews, or other photographic informational websites on my web, well, yeah, I do.  But I am not obsessed!

Of course, I was waiting for the car today at the dealership and picked up the National Geographic Traveler magazine and all I could think of was how I would get similar shots with my D90.  BUT, I AM NOT OBSESSED!!!

I saw a bridge today with some interesting weathering and thought about how I would shoot it with a nice zoom on the D90-esque camera in my imagination.

But I am NOT obsessed.

Side Yard

Our side yard has become quite the haven for little winged flurries of feathers.  The little free-loaders have no issue mooching off of us.  I don't mind, though, since some of them are VERY pretty!  I guess the Gold Finches are my favorites, but the House Finches are pretty, too.

I have been reluctant to get a new barbecue, despite Cora saying we needed one.  Well, last night, ours burned me- not out of spite, it is simply cantankerous and on it's last legs.  It doesn't know any better.  It wobbles and the small upper grill fell out a couple weeks ago, and I forget to replace it when the thing is still cool.  Only after I have fired up the charcoal do I recall the small upper grill hanging above the BBQ.  Oh, and there was a screw or bolt or something that held the lid on nice and even...that disappeared.  I don't remember how old the thing it only one year old or is it two?

I guess you don't need anything particularly special to BBQ steak, and that may be why I have been reluctant to get a new grill.  All I need is a hot bed of coals and a hand full of hickory chips and my steaks taste pretty damned good!  I also love hickory smoked chicken...yeah, yeah, I know!  All of you are saying "Mesquite is better for chicken."  Well, have one of my hickory smoked chicken breasts and see if you don't change your mind!  I wish we had hickory trees around here.  I would raise my own smoking wood trees!

on the bright side, we paid the minimum for the grill we have.  I think it was 30 dollars...not bad for all the use we get out of it.  Maybe it IS time for another 30 dollar Wal-Mart BBQ...

Maybe I can make the old one into a mulch maker thingy...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Accidental Shed

So, this eye sore disappeared.

So, I began the weekend with the thought of putting the door in the shed and maybe putting in a tiny sidewalk addition.

I did not plan on THIS!!  But, WOW!  I am seriously proud of this!  Cora and I both worked hard on it today!  Cora worked just as hard as I did and deserves as much credit!

I began the morning considering putting a new sidewalk from the new door to the slab.  I had even put up string and stakes...but when I called Cora out for a consultation, one of us threw out the idea of siding.  I said I thought it would be easy (Can I just say, I am forever doing and saying things I later regret in some way or another-kinda like my mouth writing checks my body can't cash).  We jumped in the truck and went to the local home improvement store.

We got plenty of stuff and came back and we got to work.  Six hours later this is what had appeared in our back yard!  It was completely accidental.  We had not planned on putting siding on the shed, it just happened!

Of course, we only put siding on the side toward the house.  It's like having a whole new shed!  It's frickin' awesome!!!!  

My entire body is vehemently complaining about the past two days.  I lead a very sedentary life, and, although I am capable of strenuous activity, I generally avoid it.  Apparently for good reason.  This HURTS!!!!  There are approximately 500 muscles in my body that are on strike in one form or another.  What?  You don't think the human body HAS 500 muscles?  I just looked it up.  It has between 650 and 850 muscles!  So my five hundred are making an uproar.  Those that aren't are just too tired to even do THAT!

Blooming Weekend!

The best way to spend a weekend?  Smelling the flowers!
I love flowers.  I love what these silly little bids for genetic diversity stand for.  I love the heat.  I love the weather.  I love barbecues.  I love spending time outside when I don't need a jacket.  I love it even better when I can wear shorts and a T-shirt and still be comfortable!  I love Spring and Summer!!

Do you ever see something this colorful during the winter that is NOT man-made?  No, of course you don't, because Winter sucks!

I love our new  Clamydia   clematis.  It's beautifully purple!
Summer!!  I'm waiting!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Shed Door Done!

So, like I was saying, I planned on putting a door in our old shed.  Here it is with the hole enlarged so I can put the door in.

And then I put some framing in after taking careful measurements and making a run to Lowes and the dump...actually, I went to the dump twice.
Something about my measurements was off a bit.  I had to...adjust the frame.  All-in-all, though, I think it turned out pretty good.  Sure, it's no piece of art, but it works!  It shuts and it opens and it hasn't fallen out!
To say I am pooped would be an understatement.  To say I am exhausted might be to belittle the work I did today.  OK, I am exhaustipated.

I remember days spent slinging hammer and pounding nails.  I worked with my dad for a couple years.  I developed nice forearms when I was younger.  I could sling that hammer all day long.  Of course, often it was used in an attempt to fasten my father to a roof, but you should REALLY try to have fun at work, right?  Usually, he was able to attach me to the roof more often.  That doesn't mean I didn't try, though.  It has been SO long though, since I used a hammer for any amount of time that I have a feeling my forearms will be sore for a few days.  It was worth it, though!

Now I will be able to access the contents of the shed!!  There is some concrete in there and I plan on laying sidewalk in the next week or two.  There is much to be done!  I like having projects...keeps your mind off other things.

Oh, and as for jobs?  I have the majority of the next two weeks filled!  Awesome, huh?

Shed Door

When we bought our house, it had a shed for storage out next to the alley.  It's a very old shed.  It predates the house itself by decades...6 or 7 perhaps.  The door is accessible from the alley side of our 6 foot fence, placed there for a combination of privacy and to keep the dog in.  So, for the past ten years, if I wanted to put something in storage, I had to either open the large gates that allow cars inside the yard or I had to put it in the truck and drive it around.

Most of the time, the effort required to manipulate the gate made me decide on using the truck.  We have been wanting to put a door in the shed that allows access from the yard.  We have two exterior doors in storage, and plan to use those for the shed.

I have simply put it off.  I'm lazy. 

Well, two weekends ago, I grew tired of going around through the alley to put stuff in the shed.

I own a Skilsaw.  An electric saw that is usually used for cutting wood that has not been made into something yet.  You know, like 2X4s and stuff.  It can also be used to cut into flat surfaces.  Like walls.

One of the reasons I have put it off is that fact that my father is a carpenter and usually makes putting things in, like doors, look easy.  It might have something to do with something along the lines of fifty years experience doing such things.  I just figure he could do it better and faster.  Well, it comes down to us all having to schedule such things.

I put scheduling things off, too.

So, two weekends ago, I took my Skilsaw and created a hole in the wall of the shed about 18 inches wide and 36 inches tall.  Large enough for me to get through without too much effort and also, small enough to cover up.

Well, this is the weekend!  I am going to make a trip to the dump, taking with me all of the yard refuse that has piled up and needs to go.  Then I am going to come back and cut an even larger hole in the side of the shed and put in the door.

I know it won't be as pretty as something my father could do, but, by gawd, how hard can it be?  Of course, he is only 30 miles if I find myself too far in...I can always call for help.      

I also plan on making some concrete forms for an extension of our sidewalk.  This will, hopefully, prevent the dog from wearing a path into the grass in that general area.  we have a sizable number of bags of concrete that I bought on sale from one of the box stores years storage.  In the shed.

ALL of this will be made easier by having a door to the shed.  Eventually, we will put electricity in there and I hope to put in a few benches to be used as a shop/fix-it area...ah, I love plans.

Now, how do I pry myself off my chair and begin this wonderful plan?

Monday, May 17, 2010


We went to dinner last week.  During the course of the evening, I felt the urge to relieve myself.  Shortly before I excused myself from the table, I noted a mother and two young sons heading for the restroom.  I gave them a moment and then left the table.

As I neared the restroom, I saw the mother standing outside the door.  Then her older son came out and whispered something in her ear, he looked to be about eight.  As I turned to enter the restroom I heard her tell him, "...Well, of course your tummy is going to hurt when you eat like that..."  I enjoyed a silent chuckle and went about my business, noting, as I did, her youngest son finishing up, he looked like he might be five.  He began to wash his hands.

I finished and went to the sink, only to see the youngest rush to the door and through the partially opened door, loudly whisper to his mom, "Mom!  There's a problem!"

"What is it, hon?"

"Mom, come here!"

"What is it?"

"Mom, just come in here!"

"I can't.  Can't you just tell me what the problem is?"

"MOM!  I can't say, just come in here, it's OK!"

I had washed my hands by now and went to dry my hands, noticing that it was the type that has a sensor that you wave your hand in front of and it gives you a paper towel.  The little motor whirred and spit out paper towel and I dried my hands.

The kid stopped in the middle of asking his mother to come in and looked at me.

Then he looked at my hands.

Then he turned back to his mom and said with finality, "Never mind."  He let the door shut.

I had, by now, grasp his dilemma.  I said, "Here, I'll show you."  So I demonstrated how you wave your hand in front of the sensor and had him try it.  Seeing him working it, I departed.

I whispered to his mother on the way out, "It's an infrared paper towel dispenser.  I showed him how to use it"

She didn't say anything, except, "Thank you," but I could see the realization dawning in her expression of what had made her youngest so perplexed and troubled.

I love watching kids figure things out.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's BIG!

The Yakima Training Center, first of all, and foremost, is HUGE!  It's BIG!  Think of something BIG and then multiply it by 1000.  It's simply HUGE!  Gigantic even!

I met up with my ride at a little before 7:30AM.  He is a nice gentleman who shared much more than an interest in history with me.  It was a VERY educational day.  I learned about some of the archeological works on the YTC.  For instance, on that bench in the picture below there were several sites that native Americans used to create tools like arrow heads and knives and scrapers and such.  
Chert, is a silica mineral that indigenous peoples used for arrow heads and spear points.  Other forms are called flint and jasper.  All have hardness characteristics similar to quartz.  Below is some that was resting in the stream bed.
Below you see some petrified wood.  This chunk was sizable, about 12 to 14 inches long.  Smaller pieces were all over! 
Being with an archeologist has its perks.  For instance, flakes that I would have recognized as no more than natural forms, he recognized as having evidence of human modification.  He explained the signs.  One was a bulbous look near where it was struck with the hammer stone.  We found MANY stones that had seen a native American's hammer stone.
we also saw more recent signs of human habitation of the area.  Below you can see a C-ration...or what remains.  This one had never been opened, though oxidation has done what human hands never did.
There was wildlife all over.  We saw a jack-rabbit (first one I have seen in a few decades).  A cotton-tale jumped out from under a bush and nearly scared the--scared me.  We also saw a horned lizard (I forgot to take a picture), and this bull snake.  This one is a member of what I call the TYPE B bull snake population.  What?  You don't know about my bull snake classification index?  OK, here is a quick  run-down of the two types:  the TYPE-A bull snake will see you ass an enemy to be vanquished, no matter what your size.  He will look at you and instantly be insulted by your presence.  He will then do everything within his power to kill you.  (since they have no venom, this all depends a lot on how much effort he throws into his performance:  TYPE-A bull snakes put A TON of effort into their performance)   TYPE-B bull snakes are considerably more laid back.  The don't want to be eaten, no doubt, but if you are gentle and slow moving, they find you to be little more than a curiosity.  They mostly ignore you.  they are the nicest bull snakes you will ever see.  This is a type-B.
We found more evidence of human occupancy of this little valley.
and...what I thought was a piece of my airplane, probably wasn't.  Even though it appeared to have zinc-chromate on the other side.  It was one of two pieces that we found that MIGHT be from the aircraft, even though, given the turn of things, I suspect this was something else.
We also came across a strange ring made from fiberglass and pot-metal.  There was a small bit of electronics nearby that seem to indicate that this may be part of a missile/rocket.
We also stumbled upon a short belt of M-60 training ammunition.  there appeared to be about 25 rounds, most unfired.  According to the rules, though, we had to leave it.  And so we did.
This is the remains of a smoke grenade.  I almost touched another one...then I was reminded there was no way to tell if it had truly been detonated.
Here I am...note the smile on my face...of course this is after the camera failed to fire the first time...I was trying to decide if it would do it this time...
I found what my guide described as barrel cactus...and given my limited experience, I agree.  If it grows SO VERY SLOW in Arizona, I can only imagine how old this bunch is...perhaps seventy-five or a hundred years?
This is the other piece we discovered that may be from our aircraft.  Does anyone recognize this as being from an RA-24B or a Dauntless dive-bomber????
The plants were awesome.  this is bitter root.
there was a place where it grew all over the ground.  Apparently some of the native elders still visit this area and harvest it at times during the year.

The aircraft should have crashed somewhere near here, but our search revealed little else than used MREs and various pieces of military equipment left behind during maneuvers.

This next one is of a piece of equipment left at a diatomite mine...pretty cool, huh?
there were riparian (river/stream) zones that were quite a contrast to what could be seen on the rest of the shrub-steppe.
overall, it was a great day!  I really enjoyed learning that there are over 2000 sites that have significance to native Americans.  From burial sites to places to make stone tools, it seems there is quite a variety of evidence of prehistoric sites!

It was a great day!!!!!!  I hope you all can get that from this post!