Get to the Clipper!

UPDATE: Coming from the other direction I was able to get about fifty more feet done, twenty-odd today until I ran into the sun, and like a Vampire had to turn away. It’s thick and tough going, and across the curbing is a lush paradise of rocks and weeds that require removal.
sun-edge adjust

hand edging
Hand edging is a little time-consuming, but this week the heat has lightened a bit and I can stay out there longer, at least long enough to get another forty or fifty feet done.
Edging
There’s a lot of crabgrass to snip-through, and a lot of dirt has washed down along with grass that has grown up. Cutting-back to the edging amounts to about four-inches wide of grass and a bunch of dirt too. Some of the sprinkler heads are at least two inches below the grass surface, sometimes they are down below the dirt-surface.
first edging
Edging 2
Along the entry walkway I also had to trim back the ground-cover that the hummingbirds love, but there’s plenty of it. The stuff was on sale at Home Depot recently. I tried looking it up up, but I the name I thought I saw and didn’t properly remember (“Island-Calendula or something?) didn’t come back with any hits — however a little Google-fu revealed: Epilobium canum ‘Silver Select’, Red flowering California Fuchsia with silver gray foliage.
CA Fuchsia
Something like that anyhow. It’s hardy and takes the sun and heat well so I’ll see about getting some more of it for the embankment.ground-cover

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Gateway to Subterranea – The Risers

First I did a dry-run to see how things fit together.
Not uncommonly, I had to cut the base-flange to get the first circle to fit hard against the square, formerly “half-moon” riser.
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I marked a line and clamped a straight-edge on the base – and changed blades in the circular saw (from rough-cut to plywood) to make a nice clean cut. Zoomie!
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I marked the concrete with a big fat Sharpie to establish the outline, and where the epoxy stickum-caulk would go once the center clean-out plugs were removed.
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And then it was time to mix some mortar and set the first square-hole.
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With that in place I assembled the vertical stacking pieces (six screws each) and laid-down the gooey stick-em.
I removed the octagonal center plugs and set down each circular riser.
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The last bit was to cement-down the end-unit, the final square – and top it with a lid.
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The concrete form for the tank is a kind-of rough casting and not entirely symmetrical. I tried to make it as straight as I could but the pieces only fit together one way. At least there was more room on the overflow end so the last flange did not require cutting.
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I’ll back-fill it tomorrow. Country Livin’ at its finest!

Local Color, Local Heroes

Fall is in the air and last week we had a bit of local event-stuff at our Neighbor’s ranch. Out by the pond there’s a Bunkhouse and a Saloon built by Ed from local-cut timber, and we were invited for a Veteran’s Celebration pot-luck, which was a nice way to meet folks since we’re the newbies.
There were a variety of dishes including ground-elk cabbage rolls and our coleslaw.
Before dinner we had a Pledge of Allegiance, and after dinner Ed had a brief talk about his friend Buck who was a firearms instructor, and much-much more – who had passed away recently. As a half-Cherokee they held a ceremony for Buck atop a mountain overlooking the back-country of Lake Tahoe where his ashes were spread. There were a couple remembrances and stories told about him.
Basically the whole night was given over to veterans telling stories of their experiences, and it started with this: Ed’s first story revolved around the deceased’s participation as a US adviser training troops in a southern nation to the south in the mid-1980’s. Apparently a group of advisers he was leading on a bus was stopped by a group of “banditos”… Apparently they set up an ambush and flanked each side of the bus. Big mistake. After an attempt to communicate and resolve the issue (whatever it was) failed, the order was given and the guys inside the bus rolled out each side and took out the ambush. None of the “banditos” survived.
A petite female vet who must have been in her late 60’s (remember, never ask a woman’s age) recounted her time in Germany after Desert Storm when she had re-upped, where she met a German Chaplain with a German Shepard who went on marathon runs together with her unit, and who she ran into again in Georgia on runs when she was stationed there.
She also knew Ed and Buck from attending the one-room schoolhouse down in Pleasant Valley, while he went to the fancy there-room one further up the road, and her school beating them in Baseball. She was part Native American too and Buck used-to call her, “His Little Comanche.” Annie Oakley would have gotten a run for her money from her!
A third guy talked a bunch about being a Tunnel-Rat in Vietnam, the various equipment they used and later things…
Another Vietnam Vet brought his 94-year old father-in-law who had been a Marine artilleryman in the Pacific WWII, fighting from Peleliu to Iwo Jima – and who watched the flag(s) go up on Mount Suribachi, on Iwo Jima. He didn’t want to talk about that much and said he only survived because he was in the artillery. I got the distinct feeling he still was frustrated at the conditions and difficulties of supporting his forward Marines, against the Japanese redoubts and coral caves, but he was as fit and spry today as any 70-yr old – and more than most 60+yr old corporate-cubicle rats. Amazing.
I’m sorry I didn’t get to talk to the crew-member from the USS Pueblo and congratulate him on his survival and sacrifice, but I hope I will get-to at another event. People these days just don’t seem to understand that Service IS Sacrifice, and how far it goes.

Labor-Day and Labors of Hercules

My old (almost 30-some years) street-riding, dual-sportin’, dirt-riding, Squid-Hunter buddy and his wife are is moving up here – two more refugees from the social and economic hellhole that is fast becoming the Land of BayAryans.
They found a place up the ridge along Pleasant Valley Road towards Pollock, on the edge of the National Forest. It’s in need of some work. The previous owner was a 70-something yr. old smoker who sold and moved in with his girlfriend.
(Cue stable-scene:) The 30-year old gold-tone wall-to-wall shag carpet in the house absolutely reeked of smoke, so like the Augean Stables and with a dumpster in the side yard, my buddy has been systematically hauling out the stinking crud, washing down the walls and windows, and scraping off the stinking late 70’s-period popcorn ceiling.
We went up to help since we had a minor load from the Ranch-work to also toss in the dumpster.
Standing on the pickup truck’s tailgate and with a foot up on the dumpster, the eye-watering old smoke-stench from the carpet and ceiling-crud almost made me fall over backwards. Luckily we are experiencing a cool-down, and the breezes up the mountain contain the fragrant balsam smell of sugar pines and fall colors and new beginnings. The smell of that revived me and I remained upright. Also some of the lumber I brought went into immediate use in a stair-repair. And we have a screen door that will fit in place of the old bent one with its stinking screen.
With ten gallons of primer/sealer on hand my friend is carving away a clean and habitable corner of the house in which to homestead while further repairs and cleaning takes place. Fortunately the garage of the house has survived without need for such treatment and provides a temporary secondary residence before winter closes in. They have a short escrow and will be up here in full by next weekend. Good luck and welcome to the neighborhood!

Four-Eyes h8te speech

Wearing spectacles is a pain, especially when you’re sweaty and they slide off and hit the dirt, or drop into the bucket of paint – but I’ve never be able to actually and intentionally stick something like a contact-lens into my eye – the flinch would toss it in the dirt every time. Besides they are effective (and constant) eye-pro in my thick RX, and protect from wind-blast, and shooters ready on the right and left.
Anyhow at this age now I wear bi-focals, and bi- or tri-focal…contacts? I suppose it’s been done by somebody, but for me just never-mind.
My pair of glasses (Smiths) snapped a flimsy post, and now we have to go back to Kaiser for repair-work. I was hoping that with this nice weather (only in the low 90’s) I’d be able to take the Gentleman’s Express out for a comfortable romp on the back roads.

Midsummer

It was 103° Fahrenheit at 9:45AM today and I was out with my new best friend, the arborist from Michigan who works for our realtor’s husband, whacking at three overgrown plum trees. And more. He’s a funny guy with his head on right and a LOT of experience with plants and chopping things down – and you should see him when he gets into a red-ant pile. White people CAN dance! We got him brushed-off real quick though.
Two of the plums shade the narrow driveway entrance, and the other is merely “decorative,” up the hill by the “front-door” – on the cockeyed side of the house. IMHO the house is sited weirdly, based on an equatorial rather than longitudinal sun exposure. Or something.
At some point about five years ago – before the immediate predecessor owners, somebody had made an effort to prune them, but since then nothing whatsoever, and the plants’ interiors had grown into their own wild criss-crossing jungle thicket – and into the overhead power-lines. The artistic hand of the arborist had also been busy and felt at the Dogwood tree-shrub underneath and outside the master bedroom, and we had cut-back its neighboring companion, a leggy verbena, with a seriously hard, high, and tight Marine Corp haircut. We butchered it.
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As a certified non-plant person and guaranteed Black Thumb, a lot of this was really kinda new to me. Besides the deadly familiarity with loping shears, I’m not very plant sensitive or green-caring. Don’t ask me to water your petunias or I’ll drown them – if I even ever get around to applying water in any form. A motorcyclist friend who soundly thrashes his bikes to the last inch describes his personal vehicular tendency as a profound lack of “mechanical sympathy.” I’m the same with vegetation and plant-things that purport to “grow.”IMGP2265x1000
Yesterday we were were out there too, but it was only 95° degrees at 8:30AM when I was out digging into the #2 hillock making sure it was not hiding a stump, or gold – but no such luck, it was only a crap-pile of alluvial gravels. Or an old midden-pile. Some of the dirt “clung” together… But no buried treasure.
In fact the little hill looked for all purposes like the dump site for excess crap-dirt that was mostly rock, so I filled the dumper-trailer (TWICE) with such crap-dirt and drove over to fill-in the ankle-breaker hole. Big sweat.
No explanation for the knee-deep, manhole-sized cavity in the prairie, but who knows. Then I bent to work on the second hillock to fill the long rut running along the fence line.
So yesterday’s work included a preliminary whack-job, and the stump grinding. Three of the stumps were so old and dry the simply blew-up, expediting the process. On required actual work – which fortunately was in the shade of the big oak.IMGP2259x1000
And on Sunday before all this got started, I set-up two fresh and clean bluebird houses, on trees facing each other across the prairie. We have a number of bluebirds out in the4 surroundings, and the inch-and-a-half hole is designed to attract them. And they eat a lot of mosquitoes, which is AWESOME.
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Hairpin Legs

DSC01657_legsIt’s a balmy 84-degrees today at 3:00PM, and earlier I decided to initiate my Audio-action Plan Stage-1 with the rosewood gel-stain. First I flipped the big-ass Fortés over (risking a hernia) to attack the least-visible part – the bottom. The red in the stain helps to counteract the hideous golden-oak, and lends it a more moderate walnut feel. Can’t help the grain unless I purposely try to faux-grain it as in my old Theater Days. Then I hooked up the shop-vac to the orbital sander to reduce sawdust glom, put a 220-grit pad on the sander, and finally donned my Peltors because the enclosed-space noise of both the vac and the sander running is truly deafening. I also took the long-wand of the shop-vac and attached it to the exhaust so it stuck out about 4-feet, to reduce re-contamination from the sawdust exhaust. Vroom-vroom. Burn baby burn. Got some awesome shorty 4-inch Mid-Century hairpins from Steve at Smith Mountain MetalWorks in VA, which are a hugely tremendous improvement from the weird vestigial Klipsch pedestal-things – seriously, what were they thinking? Obviously nothing much beyond the coke they were snorting – it was the Mid-80’s, women had huge, stiff hair – and so did men in metal bands. Magnum P.I. was a top show, and things were pretty weird and loose, even in Home Audio and Electronics. So the stain took, and we maybe going darker. Hope the Gods of Audio Harmony approve.