Friday, December 20, 2013

Almost Christmas

I have to admit to being a bit of a Scrooge. I really don't like the hype, the commercialism and the drama. I withdraw like a turtle into my shell, and peek out occasionally to see if it is over yet.
Now that we no longer have kids at home, we don't much decorate, and I hate shopping with a passion year round, but especially at Christmas.
So two of my grandkids are under court guardianship, my daughter is in the hospital recovering from a pulmonary embolism. The daughter lost custody of her kids because she is a junky.
Under the circumstances it is extremely difficult to maintain a cheerful demeanor. I don't want to bring anybody else down.
Oh well. It snowed this morning and I got to see multiple people doing stupid things. Snow provides much amusement. First you have the people that have not a clue how to drive in the snow. They accelerate too quickly, jam on the brakes, take quick turns. The car ends up going straight when they want to turn. I saw two in my four mile commute this morning having intimate conversations with light poles.
Then there is the snow bully. They usually drive big four wheel trucks or SUVs. They tailgate, blink their lights, toot the horn. Their basic attitude is "Get the Hell out of my way, I'm coming through". They don't seem to realise that just because you have four wheel drive, it doesn't mean you can STOP any faster than homebody's old beat up jalopy that they only use to drive in the snow because it is no loss if they put it in the ditch. These guys usually end up in the ditch, quite frequently upside down.
The best advice I ever heard about driving in the snow is: "Pretend you have an egg taped to the bottom of you shoe(s). It is of utmost importance that you not break the egg.."
So I was driving the 2007 Chevy HHR with the Blizzak snow and ice tires. The tires are rated as the best for snow and ice. Front wheel drive, so the front end is always trying to go in the direction the tires are pointed. Slow to moderate speed, maintain your distance from cars around you, and Look out for the idiots.
The snow was falling and Christmas carols were playing in the radio.
I almost started singing along.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


It has been pretty cold for Latteland for the last couple of weeks. Down below 20 degrees several mornings. I know that would be perceived as a warming trend for lots of people this time of year, but we are real cold wussies up here. Anything below freezing is considered extreme weather.
This morning it was freezing fog, a personal favorite. I cleaned and scraped the windshield before starting out, but after a couple of blocks, I had to pull over and scrape the ice off of the window again.
When I got out of the car, everything was coated with a thin film of black ice. I sat in the car and waited for the car to warm up and the defroster to do its job, then went on.
I was very cautious applying the gas and brake, as the ends of the car seemed to want to go any direction but straight. I have to admit that 1 280Z with street tires is probably not the best choice on the ice.
But I made it to work without making the acquaintance of the ditch or anything else, so a successful venture. By tonight it is expected to return to normal, normal being rain.
We like rain. Rain we understand. We embrace rain.
On a side note, overtime this weekend. Some additional money right at Christmas is always welcome. Hopefully it will be relatively quiet, but not completely boring.
Since my daughter is being totally unresponsive to DSHS, has not enrolled in a drug rehab program, is not being forthcoming, making no progress, there is a hearing today to see about seeking a more permanent solution to her two kids custody. My grand daughter wants to keep them both, but she and her husband have been at war with DSHS ever since the kids were placed with them. Let's just say that my low opinion of DSHS has not improved any. The State of Washington is fourth WORST in the entire United States in providing legal representation for kids in Court during Custody Proceedings, a shameful statistic. No one represents the best interests of the children.
Hows that saying go about accepting the things you can't change?
Patience my ass, I want to kill something.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Last night was one where everything just went right.
Months ago I bought five tickets to Trans Siberian Orchestra. I am a big fan. This is the fourth time in the last fiver years we have gone to see them. I belong to the TSO fan club, and got pre-sale tickets. Five rows up from the floor stage right seats eleven through 15, I think those are the best seats in Key Arena.
It was me, Carol, my cousin Lynn and our friends Steve and Donna.
We got there early so we could have a drink before the show, and stopped into the EMP.  We got to our seats about fifteen minutes before the beginning, just enough time to settle in.
What can I say about TSO? Screaming electric guitar laser light show pyrotechnic Christmas extravaganza. An experience. The talent level of the performers, the quality of the presentation, the incredible complexity of the set, the lights and pyrotechnics are overwhelming. Sit down and hang on for the ride.
Afterward it was on to The Palisades, an upper tier restaraunt  The filet was great, The waitstaff very good, the drinks well made.
So many times you set out to have a special occasion and stuff just goes wrong, but last night everything was according to plan.
A night I will store away in memory to be taken out, turned over examined and put away many times in the future.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Awesome Bike

I came across this the other day. I have featured a bunch of streamlind art deco cars here in the last couple of months. Here is a modern interpretation, Smooth-Ness, by Arlen Ness. Incredible vision and execution. The paint alone has to be worth 20K. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

About the Caulking

Got up this morning with the best of intentions. After breakfast I went upstairs to start on the bathroom. I spent a couple of hours stripping the old caulking out of the seams for the tub. It was old and gunky and cracked., and some of it was very hard to get out. But I persisted.
The decaulking done, I was ready to recaulk.
Now, where was the caulking I bought yesterday?
Not in he bag with the rest of the stuff from Lowes. Not on the kitchen counter. Not in the bathroom. Not on the stairs. Not downstairs. not upstairs.
Well, some tile I bought wasn't quite right, so we went back to Lowes to return the tile and buy some more caulking.
Mrs A says as we walk into the sore "You know as soon as we get home the other tube of caulking will show up?"
"Of course it will dear, it's inevitable"
So we did our business and went home.
As Mrs A walked in the front door and into the kitchen, there on the cabinet was the original tube of caulking.
Growing old makes every day an adventure.
Hey Dear have you seen my caulk? I seem to have misplaced it and can't find it anywhere.
Not lately dear. Did you check in your coveralls?
Droll, very droll.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Home Improvement

Sitting here on a quiet Saturday night. Mrs. A. is upstairs taking a shower, the pellet stove is going, casting that orangish glow on the room. The dogs are curled up on the floor. No drama, no problems to speak of. Nice and quiet.
Things have been a bit chaotic lately. We are having friends come over Nov. 23rd to see TSO in concert and spend the night, since they are driving from Yakima. It is always great to see TSO screaming electric guitar pyrotechnic laser light show extravaganza Christmas show.
But nothing happens in a vacuum. This becomes a stimulus for doing a lot of things we have put off for a while. I am perfectly happy with the way things are, but Mrs. A. always sees ways to improve things.
Of course this requires my participation. As it well should. But I don't always agree with what needs to be done.  Or when it needs to be done. This leads to some lively discussion. I readily admit to my share of blame. I have been known to be stubborn and opinionated.
But when all is said and done there is nothing I like better than sitting in the quiet of the evening in my own home, warm and dry, fed and comfortable, and at peace for the moment.
Tomorrow there is another project. Tomorrow I tackle the upstairs bathroom. The tub needs recaulking.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Genetics 101

Some times things do not turn out the way you want them to. Whenever someone starts out doing genealogy, they have dreams of finding out that they are descended from royalty. But the other alternative is equally possible. You might be descended from roguery.
I my search for my genetic history I came across Pope Alvey. Do a google search on him some time.
Sentenced to death not once, but twice, but never executed. Under bond for his life they decided that he would make a good hangman.
I guess the logic was that no good man would want the onus of being the hangman, so the good state of Maryland came to the conclusion that since he was a convicted murderer and thief and seemed to have no remorse, he would make an excellent hangman.
Don't worry, he was many generations back on the female side of my family tree, and the male DNA follows the father, so very little of his DNA has passed to me.
But it does remind me of an incident in High school........
I was bored out of my mind, It was between classes. I pulled down the blind on the window next to my desk, and fooling around, made a noose.
What to do next?
I tossed it around the neck of the guy in front of me (sorry roadrunner) and pulled the blind down and let go.
It sprung back up and roadrunner jumped up out of his desk clawing at his neck.
That was about the time the teacher came in the classroom and demanded to know what was going on.
He didn't seem surprised.
Maybe I can blame it on genetics.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Meet Frankeneinstein, famous for his theory of irrelevantivity.
I saw this on the internet and ordered a pattern, which I transferred by hand to a pumpkin. Then it is a three level carving to get the different levels of light. I had a bit of a hard time envisioning what I was doing until I put the light inside of it. Should have thought of that a lot sooner.
It is exactly opposite if drawing or painting where you add something to give the picture form. Here you are taking stuff away to add light.
Never done it before, but I like to stretch my brain on occasion.
The result is a little rough, but definitely ok for a forst time.
Anyway, Happy halloween

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Genetic confusion

I have been playing around with various genetic websites while waiting for my test kit. It gets pretty confusing, because a lot of them don't agree.
The fins a gravestone site lists James warren and Sarah Horrell as the parents of Alfred Alexander Warren. This is bad information. As a matter of fact, Alfred A warren is the son of Charles Warren. He is listed in the will as inheriting part of Charles's estate.
Charles is also listed as being executor of the estate of William Warren, who I figure must be his father. But I haven't been able to find anything that supports that. William warren was born in Maryland, in the area that would become D.C., but so far I have not been able to find anything concrete.
This has been fun, trying to ferret out small facts out of an enormous pile of........facts

Friday, October 18, 2013

Well, maybe not.

About the royal blood thing.....................
There are two mind sets about Guddun, Princess of England.
One side says she is the daughter of William the Conqueror, one side says not.
Her tombstone says she is, so I'm sticking with that.
I still have not connected the two halves of my genetics together, The sticking point is James Warren, who married Sarah Horrell in Kentucky in 1817. He was not born in Kentucky, but was born in Maryland, which would go along with family oral history. There was a migration of Catholics from Maryland to Kentucky in the late 1700s and early 1800s and the information I have managed to dig out is that he was born in 1790 in Maryland, died in 1870 in Kentucky.
I have joined the Warren family DNA site and have ordered a test kit, which will be used to compare 27 genetic factors of the warren family and should give me a match.
It will take a couple of weeks.
You may call me SIR.
Or not

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Royal Blood?

I have been fiddling around with Genealogy lately. It all got started with me going back to recover some some recent history, mainly our family's activities in the Four Corners area of New Mexico.
One thing led to another and next thing I was doing a family genealogy. I had a decent place place to start, with a genealogy put together by my Uncle Ben.
I dug it out, and it took me back as far as Charles Warren (1748-1820) and Monica Drury (1785-?)
With that as a starting point I just slogged it out with the Internet until I worked my way back to William de Warren, who was William the Conqueror's right hand man,fought beside him at the Battle of Hasings and married his daughter Gundren the Princess of England.
The blood of kings flows in these veins!
They can have it back whenever they want, it doesn't seem to be doing me any good.
Next thing you know people will expect nobless oblige.
Won't be able to fart or burp or pick my nose.
Fie on the peasants I say, FIE!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Grandkids

We went up to Concrete last Saturday to visit Amelia and James and the grandkids. It was good to see them settling in. The baby had gained 2 lbs in a week, which is significant because it was from seven to nine pounds.
It was a beautiful fall day for a drive. As we got out of town and a little up in elevation the leaves began to turn color. We stopped at a State Park along the Skagit river and walked on the trails for a while.
The mission was two-fold. We had clothes and stuff for Rs kids and a birthday present for Neeko's fifth birthday. It was hectic, with two five year olds together. They are already acting like sibs, in other words half the time they are playing together and riffin off of each other and the other half of the time they are fighting. Pretty normal.
Cps has been less than supportive up until this week, so we brought clothes and money. Although the State had awarded custody to Amelia and James, CPS was dragging their heels trying to find some other alternative. Rs lawyer finally nailed them with : The state has already given custody to James and Amelia, you need to take this case out of investigation and give it to a case worker so they can get the support owed them through the court. Good for him.
Monday they finally got a support check for clothing for the kids, who had arrived with practically nothing,
Looks like things might settle down now.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Driving the Z

So the Z had been dormant for a couple of years, because the dash lights were all out and it had developed an alarming "thunk" in the rear end.
It has been back on the road for a couple of weeks now, and I had really forgotten how much fun it is. I have slowly pushed the performance every day to just a little quicker, a little faster, until today I was back a the point where I remembered why I love driving this car.
The acceleration, while not neck-snapping, does push you firmly back in he seat. It doesn't take long to go from 25 to 60, and on up. Top end is around 140, but I've never had it above 120. With the ground effects kit on, it is firm on the road with plenty of pedal left at 120.. Some people may not like the removal of the bumpers and addition of the ground effects kit, but I hated the look of the enormous ugly front and rear federally mandated five MPH bumpers. And it is much more stable at high speed.
The handling is superb. It hugs he ground and corners like it is on rails. The car itself is a little on the heavy side, but  no ponderous. The power is adequate to pull through the corners, and one of the joys of driving it is hitting that point riding on the edge of control, when going around a corner you can just feel the rear tires just beginning to break loose, feathering the gas to retain control.  Hyper alert, senses at their peak, knowing you are riding the edge of disaster. Pulse racing.
Oh yeah!

Friday, September 20, 2013

On the Road Again

Well, after a couple of years of sitting dormant, the Z is back on the road.
I had put it out of service because all of the dash lights had blown. Since I work ten hour days, starting about now it is dark when I go to work and dark when I go home, so interior lights, while not being absolutely necessary, are a definite plus!
It is not perfect. They two immediate things are that the Brake light that comes on when you set the emergency brake is always on. It is mildly annoying, but no big deal. I need to fish around under the passenger's seat and see if I can find the wire.
Also, in my hurry to get it back on the road, I neglected to hook up the speedometer. As I tend to drive by the tach and engine sound, this is not a big deal. If a cop stops me and asks how fast I was going, my reply will be "3200 RPM in second gearr" Sounds perfectly good to me.
I had almost forgotten how much fun it is to drive.
But it sure came back in a hurry! Definitely not the best car in the snow unless you put some superior tires on it. I have a set of spare wheels, I wonder how much a set of Blizzaks would set me back?

Monday, September 16, 2013


Today was the custody hearing for placement of R's two kids. My grand daughter and her husband have been trying to get custody, but it has been an uphill battle.
Her hubby has a record from back when he was a kid. It was all a long time ago, and minor stuff. His last charge was seven years ago, for carrying a pocket knife. He would have been about 16, Certainly not reason to block their placement. Bu CPS had a wild hair up it's ass.
I wrote a letter of recommendation for them. My recommendation matters because I am the grandfather, and I have been approved by CPS, since I adopted and raised one of my grandkids. I also
helped them write a letter to the court.
Court was this morning. They agreed to place the kids with Amelia and James. They called me just over the moon with happiness. They will pick up the kids tomorrow.
I hope they know what they are getting themselves into. "i" is five and has some behavioral problems from being dragged around by his drug-addict mother. The little girl is only six weeks old. This is a life changing event. I wish them all the best.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Power Without Accountability

By God, I hate CPS.
They are a perfect example of what happens when you give marginal people power without accountability.
The individual who is working with R. to arrange for care for her two kids told her (rightly so) that because R was not in jail and not yet in care, she has the legal right to have a say about where her kids are placed. Think of it this way: It is legally no different than if she asked someone to babysit her kids so she could do something. That is her legal right.
The people from CPS took violent exception to this. After all, they had not approved of the placement. They were still doing background checks on my grand daughter and her husband.
So given the conflicting information, she went down to pick up the kids. Everything was going along fine, when CPS shows up with the cops, and demands custody of the kids.
They tell Amelia that it is not her, it is her husband that they object to. They refuse to say why or what he has ever done to cause such a disturbing display of jack boot Nazi trampling of of basic human rights.
It is my opinion that they were just pissed that they had gone down to pick up the kids before they had been given the official OK. In other words, a childish temper tantrum of monumental proportions that had absolutely nothing to do with the welfare of the kids.
And will anything ever be done about it?
Of course not.
Power without accountability.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Another Little Piece of my Heart

One of THOSE phone calls yesterday.
It was my Grand Doughter, Amelia.
She called to give me some information
1) My daughet was going in to in-hospital rehab for drug addiction. This is not news, I think this is the third time, In between she is just a junkie.
2) The reason Amelia knows this is because CPS called and wanted to know if Amelia would take the kids for a month or os while R was in the Hospital. KIDS as in multiple. Tha last time I saw her was at Christmas and there was only one. I heard rumors about a second kid, but have not heard from my daughter since Christmas Eve. Now there is a six week old Grand Daughter I have never seen. I don't even know her name.
My daughter can kick the crap out of my without ever even talking to me.
Why do I continue to let het do this?  I have been told that she isn't even mine, something I was always pretty sure of, but figured in the end made no difference.
But she stilll sneaks in there ad breaks another little piece of my heart.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Gloves

Well, I got a lot of the information about the gloves wrong.
First of all, they weren't purchased by my dad.
My Uncle Father (Richard?) Clark was a priest on the Ute reservation in the early part of the 20th century, When he retired from his position he was presented the gloves by the tribe in honor of his service.
When he moved back east uncle/Father Clark gave the gloves o my dad, who was working for the Trading post and acting as Assistant Postmaster at Towaoc.
So that makes the gloves even more relevant, I guess.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Family History

I've been doing a little family history research lately. This all started when I came across my dad's silver and turquoise ring that he bought out of the Trading Post he worked at as a young man. So of course I had to find out which Trading Post it was.
I knew he had worked at a trading post on the Navajo Reservation, but on questioning my mom, I found out that right out of high school, he worked at Towaoc at the Ute tribal headquarters. He spoke Ute very well, and acted as an interpreter for the tribe. He was also the Assistant Postmaster at this time. He purchased a pair of beautiful beaded gloves there in 1938 or 1939. We still have them, and they are in excellent condition. They have beadwork roses on the back of the hands. It is the plan to return them to the tribe when my mom passes on. I figured I would personally deliver them so I could spend a little time in the four corners area where my family lived. The trading post is gone now but the Utes still have their Headquarters in Towaoc. The gloves are exceptional and belong in a museum.
In the early to mid 20th Century my Grandfather was farm manager for a Boarding School in Waterflow New Mexico, so this same train of thought got me to wondering about the school. My search turned up the Sacred Heart Academy in Waterflow. I doubt there was any other Catholic Boarding School in the area, so this must be the place.
Included in the short history of the school was a picture of the students in 1928. I figure my dad and a couple of Uncles should be in the picture, but I haven't seen enough pictures of my dad as a child to pick him out. The school was run by the Ursuline Sisters, who have an active web site. I have sent them an inquiry about Grandfather and the students in the picture.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chicken Gumbo

Desperation drove me to the Cafeteria today in search of sustenance. The Cafeteria does not serve food, it serves fuel to keep the workers moving.
Today one of the soup choices was Chicken Gumbo. I make traditional Cajun Gumbo from scratch. This is nothing like that. Calling this Chicken Gumbo is an insult to all other Chicken Gumbo's. It is my theory that they tie a cleaned chicken carcass on a string and drag it through a 55 gallon drum of stock. Occasionally a piece will fall off. If it is your lucky day, you get the piece of chicken.
Because it is made for mass consumption, all the flavors have been tamed down to insipidity (is that a word? if not it should be). If you take the Gumbo and add enough Tabasco to it that your nose runs and you break out in a sweat, you can occasionally get a hint of what real Gumbo tastes like.
The real problem is that in order to make real Chicken Gumbo you need to start with a stewing hen. Do they even sell stewing hens any more? I think they all go to soup makers. At least I never see them in the Supermarket.
Oh heck, now I'm hungry for some seafood gumbo. My recipe does not start wih: Fill a 55 gallon drum with water.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Ring

The curtains had blown around in the bedroom because the window was open. The hot August evening was cooling off a little and the bit of breeze was welcome.
The flapping curtain had knocked over some stuff on the night table, so I was tidying up. For no particular reason, my attention settled on the old battered jewelry box. Dark blue, battered, satin embroidered ill fitting top. It is not so much a jewelry box as a junk collector. Mostly stuff of little or no value that I can't bring myself to part with.
My Army Dog Tags. An arrowhead I found as a kid, An old gold chain, cuff links, a bead necklace made of seeds presented to me by my daughter when she was about six. My Army lapel insignias and shoulder patches.
And this battered old turquoise and silver pre-war Navajo ring. It has a very nice old stone of high quality that is cracked in a couple of spots. A lot of the detail is worn away on the silver. It has obviously been worn for a long time.
The silver looks to be coin silver, and it is obviously hand made. I am not sure exactly when it was made. What I do know is that my dad bought it in 1939 when he was working in a Trading Post on the RES in New Mexico when he was 19, I think he probably bought it out of pawn. It was a pretty standard practice for the Navajo to pawn their personal jewelry when they needed a little cash infusion and buy it back later. I suspect this was a piece that was not retrieved.
My mother says that it was the very first personal luxury that my dad bought. He was not one to accumulate things for himself. Throughout his life he accumulated a bunch of kids (seven of us). some tools, and half interest in the farm in Idaho.
So it is my personal connection to him. I can't wear this ring without feeling the connection to him, and wonder about what it was like and how things were with him at the time.
He was the strong silent Western type. He never talked about himself. Never told stories, so to me he was largely an enigma. There is a picture of him taken about the time he bought the ring, hair slicked back, sitting on a Harley Davidson, looking way cool and self assured. I hear he cut a pretty wide swath in  North-W
estern New Mexico in the late 1930s. He had cowboyed, moving herds from summer to winter pastures, and vice versa. But his first real job was working in the trading post.
He spoke Navajo, Ute, Spanish and English, so he would translate for the First Peoples when they needed to deal with the officials.
The other thing he accumulated during this time is a beautiful pair of white gloves with incredible beadwork on the backs. The beadwork is of roses and the gloves are beautiful. We have contacted the Ute tribe and will be donating them to the Tribal Museum. They are too nice to be moldering away in a drawer somewhere.
So for now I am wearing the ring. It is fairly small, so it will only fit on my little finger, but I wear it to honor the man that was my father.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I'm really not sure what's going on with Blogger, but I have been having issues with it.
It eould let me enter a Title for a post, but that was it. Wouldn't go down to the body of the post.
Oh well I faked it into working for the moment.
Three weeks off, what can I say. Too short, that's what. Paint the house, pressure wash the patio and back deck. A week of camping. Never did have enough time to work on the cars at all.
They insisted on giving me a new laptop at work. I don't mind the improved performance, faster speed, and better graphics, but I sure wish they would get to the point that it would actually work whan I plug it in. Nothing is in the right place. everything in my favorites is where I left it. More stuff will show up as I try to do something and the link is tucked away in some forgotten corner. Hide and seek for the next couple of days.
Oh well, it will all work out in the end.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I am taking off the next THREE, count the THREE weeks.
I had already planned taking off two weeks when the shop announced they were taking off the week I planned to return. So I asked the boss if I could just extend my vacation for another week.
He gave me the OK.
It has been ten years since I took off more than two weeks.
The last two years we have taken two week trips in the Wesfalia. Altogether put about 10,000 miles on the camper. Had a great time, but I'm kinda burned out on the always on the road moving from one place to another gig.
Last summer I had the siding on the south side of the house replaced and painted.
Number one project is to prep and paint the east side of the house. I dug out the old airless and got it working, but had to replace the gun and buy some new hose. I think it is ready to go, but first project will be to do a trial run.
Then I need to get the big ladder out and wire brush the bad spots. Then do the trim. Then paint. I have set aside a week for this, which SHOULD be plenty of time. I still need to get a five gallon pail of paint.
Then we take a break.
Then I work on the Z for a while. If I get done with that, then I need to work on the deck off the kitchen. I need to repair the railing and re secure the decking. I may have to replace some of the boards, as they are pretty badly warped.
If there is any time left, Frankenhealey beckons. The fuel pump is broken, and it's my fault. After the umpteenth time of it freezing up, I'm afraid I used the wrong hammer to tap on it. A ball peen is not the appropriate tool, a rubber hammer is. Suffice it to say, it needs replacing.
One more day

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Next Steps

Once I get the clutch free and adjust the valves and fix the "Clunk" in the rear end, I am going to get the Z painted. I love the blue to green color shift, but I was wondering if it would look better if the final finish was flat instead of shiny. In the picture at the top, I think the "Shiny" detracts from the color shift.
Oh well, when I get to the point it is being painted, I can have them do a coat of flat clear with the additive, and then if I don't like it that way, I can just have them put a second coat of shiny clear on top.
I dug my old airless paint sprayer out of the basement. It has been sitting for better than ten years, so I tore it down and cleaned it and put it back together. Didn't work.
Pulled it back apart, and figured out I had the diaphragm in the pump in upside down. Mind you I have no repair or owner's manual, so I'm flying by the seat of my pants.
Put it back together and it still wasn't working. Tore it down again. A small steel ball bearing check valve was kinda rusted in place in the intake. Cleaned the ball bearing, the seat and the spring, turned it on "prime" and it started moving water around. Installed the high pressure hose and gun. The pump moved fluid but nothing was coming out of the gun. Removed the gun and ran the pump, and fluid comes out of the end of the high pressure hose, so I think all I need to do is tear down the gun and clean it up. I'll try it tonight if I have the time.
You may ask yourself "Why is Al doing this?"
Or maybe not.
I have three weeks of vacation coming up, most of which will be spent working around the house. Last year I had the siding on the South side of the house replaced and painted. The east side needs to be wire brushed and painted also. An airless sprayer is the only way to go.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Z Interior

I finished buttoning up the interior of the 1977 280Z today. Put in the trim pieces on the dash, installed the shift knob. I included a shot from "before" for contrast.
I also included a picture of the tach with the dash lights on to show that, indeed I do now have dash lights, the lack of which sent me down this path. Now on to fixing the mechanical stuff. Right now the clutch is frozen. Not sure if it needs to be bled or just busted loose.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Moving Forward

I've been fighting with Blogger for a couple of days. I would try to post, but once I put in the header, that's all it would let me do. At any rate, it seemed to be working now
They tore off the old roofing yesterday, will put the new roofing on today.
The poor dogs just do not understand that we actually WANT people walking around and hammering on the roof. They are quite certain that we are being invaded by aliens or some such.
Of course Mrs A. is about frantic by the time I get home. I advised her (notice I didn't say TOLD her) that she needs to pack up the pups and run down to the park with a picnic lunch. Everyone would be a lot happier.
They had to replace a few sheets of plywood at the edge of the roof, which I figured would be necessary.
I still haven't heard from the Bank about the equity loan, but should soon. I figure I will just put everything on my Visa and pay down the Visa when the loan comes through. Accumulate lots of rewards point that way.
The Z comes along slowly. I finished rewiring the stereo on Sunday, put the seats back in and installed the console. Need to put in the steering columns surround and lower close-out panels, and the interior should be ready to button up.
Unfortunately the clutch isn't working. It feels like the pedal is not pushing anything. so it may be the clutch master cylinder, if not that the slave cylinder. If not that the clutch disc is frozen in place from sitting too long. I guess it will be a check it out thing once I get it up in the air. That will also give me the opportunity to look for the source of the Thunk in the rear end.
One thing at a time. And every time you get something done, one step closer to on the road.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Fourth of July

Of course I have the day off, for which I am grateful.
I guess I am officially an old fogy now, because I don't set off fireworks anymore. A lot of it has to do with no kids in the house as an excuse. They all go to one of the big commercial displays. I still get the occasional urge to make something go BOOM, but mostly it is a stick of dynamite I want to chuck under the neighbors house. Don't worry, I don't have any.
So I will probably spend the day working on the Z.
It is going back together OK. When I went to put the stereo back in, I saw that there was only one set of speaker wires hooked up. (and no, I did not put the stereo in). So I needed to run some new wires. I am doing this before I put the center console back in. A lot easier if you can actually see and reach the wires under the dash. I got it hooked up, but one of the speakers has a bad buzz. I probably reversed the wires when I hooked it up.
Then the console goes back in, the various trim pieces. Put the new seat covers on and put the seats in.
When I got the new water heater, it was too big to fit between the Z and the deck support, so I wanted to move the Z a little to get by. Unfortunately the Z would not go into gear. The clutch is stuck from sitting too long. Bummer. One more thing to take care of before it moves again.
Then bleed the brakes,
Then address the clunk in the rear end.
Then paint,
The list goes on.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hot water part II

Things very seldom go as planned, at least for me.
I replaced the lower thermostat on the hot water tank, waited until the water got hot, took a shower and went to work three hours late.
I forgot me cell phones.
Mrs A was desperately trying to get in touch with me. The upper thermostat had gone haywire. Mind you I did not even touch the upper thermostat. But when I got home there was evidence of a fire, and the plastic shield that covered the thermostat was mostly missing, with drips of plastic and flame and scorch marks going up the side of the tank.
I think it was a message.
So I quickly went down to the Hardware store and bought a similar sizee and design hot water tank. Then I needed all the adapters elbows and pipe to replace the stuff that hooked up the old tank.
The hook-ups for the tank are 3/4". The house line is 1/2". So I had to go back and buy adapters to go from one pipe to the other. And adapters to go from brass pipe to plastic pipe.
When I first started filling up the tank, I forgot to leave a faucet cracked, but it is a good way to test the system for leaks. I heard hissing and was checking the pipes to see where the leak was when
BOOM! Loud hissing.
I hadn't done a very good job of putting pipe goop on one joint and it had blown apart.
Mrs A thought I had been killed or something, ran to the top of the stairs yelling "AL, are you OK???" I was
busy turning off the water, then answered. Scared the heck out of her.
Regooped everything and put it back together.
Ran water, and did not have a good seal on the adapter that goes from brass to plastic pipe. Leaking pretty steadily. Only one way to fix it, and that was to cut the pipe so I could unscrew the fitting and goop it and put it back on. Of course it was too late to go down to the hardware store and get an adapter to glue the two halves of the pipe together, so no shower.
Fill the bathtub part way. Get your largest kettle. fill with water, heat to a boil, add to bathtub.
Mama was not happy.
Hell, I wasn't happy.
Gotta stop on the way home and buy an adapter. Might buy a couple just in case.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hot Water

No, I haven't gotten myself in trouble in any way.
As a matter of fact, the paucity of hot water was the issue.
I went to take my shower before I went to bed last night. standing there naked turn on the hot water tap and wait for the water to warm up. And wait, and wait. No hot water.
Of course the first thing out of my mouth is "Who used up all the hot water?" Since there are only the two of us, I guess that person would have to be Mrs A, who is known to take long showers, and then do laundry. Well, she comes back with the fact that she hasn't taken her shower yet, and is doing a load of laundry IN COLD WATER.
This is not going well.
Head back to the bedroom to get dressed. Go down in the basement and head for the fuse box.
Indeedey the circuit breaker for the water heater is tripped. So I go to reset it.
POOF! sparks and it immediately goes back to the off position.
Not good at all, since this means there is a dead short someplace.
Go ever to the water heater and remove the inspection panels.
Top one looks fine.
Bottom God what is that terrible smell! Why that would be scorched insulation, burnt wiring, melted wire insulation, burnt plastic. That is one of the worst smells there is.
The former thermostat is a melted, burned up piece of crap.
Fortunately the heating element seems intact and the water tank has not been breached. The tank itself appears to be in good shape, but it is night and the hardware stores are closed, so I go ahead and drain the tank and remove the thermostat and check the lower element. The lower element was fine.
So off I go to the hardware store first thing in the morning. Fifteen bucks for a new water heater thermostat. fifteen minutes to tape up the wires where the insulation is burned off. Close my eyes and reset the circuit breaker.
Turn the water to the hot water tank back on and let it fill. Bleed all the air out of the lines.
Wait for the water tank to do it's thing. Take a shower, and off to work.
I ended up three hours late for work. No big, I have about six weeks worth of vacation saved up.
It's always something.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Father's Day

It was not the best Fathers day I have ever had. Not the worst by far, but not the best.
I have been experimenting with BBQ sauce. Most of the stuff on the market is just too sweet for me, both because I don't care for the taste, but also because I am a diabetic so I watch my sugar intake (read carb intake).
I was In Uwajimaya a couple of months ago and I came across some dried tamarind. I has eaten tamarind when I was going with my Min Lao girlfriend before I met the incredible Mrs A, so I was familiar with the taste. I wondered "I would tamarind taste as the base for a BBQ sauce?" The idea intrigued me, so I bought a sizable chunk. A couple of months ago I made the first batch, but it sat in the fridge until BBQ season came around. I tried it, and it was pretty good, but needed something else to zip it up.
Take the dried tamarind, and soak it in warm water. Filter out the seeds and pod pieces, It should end up about the consistency of tomato paste. It tastes kinda citrus/fruity.
Add dried onion, dried garlic, chipolte pepper, a little sugar (very little), some salt. Low sodium soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and some paprika. It comes out a redish brown and is very tasty.
It being Fathers day, I sent Mrs A down to the store to buy some ribs and she fired up the coals. The ribs were great. Between the two of us we devoured a rack of ribs.
So all of that was great. I had some tome to go out and work on the Z, finishing up the carpet and starting to put the console, and put on the seat covers while the seats are out of the car.
L. called and we had a very nice conversation. We don't get to see them as often as I would like, but stay in touch.
As I was getting ready to take my shower and go to bed, N, my son called. It was good to talk to him, we don't stay in all that close of contact, as we are both very busy people. Unfortunately one bit of news was that he and D were getting a divorce. I was not really surprised or shocked, but some disappointed. As it was nothing I had any control over, I just let him know that I still loved him and supported him.
I never heard from R. Maybe that was a good thing. The only thing she has given me for several years is pain. Usually she doesn't call because she is doing things she knows I would disapprove of. But it wouldn't take but a couple of seconds to text me.
Oh well. wothehell, wothehell.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rattlesnake Ridge

Sunday was nice, with hazy sunshine and the temperature around 70 degrees, so we decided to go foe a hike. Neither one of us had ever hiked the Rattlesnake Ridge Trail, so we decided to try it.
I had been to Rattlesnake Lake once before, about 40 years ago, but I had never hiked the trail. It is a couple of miles, all uphill. It is a nice trail, but there were too may people. I guess we should have waited until Monday to go to avoid all the people and dogs.
For me, coming back down was worse than going up. My calves area little sore today. Need to get out and hike more.
By the way, there are not now nor have there ever been any Rattlesnakes at Rattlesnake Lake or Ridge. If there were, Mrs A would never ever ever have gone there. In fact there is a sign there that says there have never been Rattlesnakes there, but they have no idea why it is called Rattlesnake Ridge.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Roof Roof!

Did you hear about the talking dog?
Hey dog, what's on top of a house?
OOPS! I gave away the punch line.
The first quote came in on my request for bids for a roof.
The roof wasn't bad, but man did the other things dd up.
Rebuild the chimney top, 900
Replace the soffets 2800
new gutters and downspouts 1200
Insulation in the Attic 1200.00
And then the roof 5500.
Plus tax.
Hey dog, what's on the outside of a tree?
Hey dog what goes good with cheese?
whine, whine
We'll be here all week

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Best Laid Plans

Of mice and men aft gang askew.
The house needs new gutters and downspouts. It has for some time. It has gotten to the point that when it rains, it spills out right over the front steps. It is very irritating walking through a cold shower to get in or out.
So we called a gutter guy.
He said he couldn't help us until we got the roof fixed. He handed us over to his "roofing guy". The roofing guy said it was too late to update the roof, it needed to be replaced. I have been dreading this for the last couple of years.
I had the roof replaced with a 20 year guarantee roof, about nineteen years ago. I knew it was about time to renew the roof, but it is not currently leaking, and I am of the opinion that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So the roofing guy is writing up an estimate, and meanwhile we are getting a second estimate.
Since I want to retire in less than two years, we want to get the house ready to sell before then. I knew that a roof replacement was one of the probable improvements we would have to do before we would be able to sell, I just wasn't prepared to do it NOW.
Life is what happens while you are busy making plans.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Kelly Mulford Scrimshaw

I have shown a quite a few pictures of my cousin Kelly's scrimshaw before, but I have never shown a picture of this. He gave me this in a Christmas present exchange some years ago. I gave him a .45 cal muzzle loader cap and ball pistol I had put together from a kit, and he gave me this.
It is a picture of Kelly and his wife aboard a cat boat on Lake Union in Seattle. He was the Librarian for the Wooden Boat Society, and he and I both spent time sanding and working on this exact boat.
He and I also sailed this boat on the lake.
I remember the day was real blustery and coming from the North. The dock was at the South end of the lake, so we had to start out tacking back and forth into the wind, trying to make headway. It was a real lesson in sailing. We must have made six tacks back and forth before we cleared the end of the pier. Every time I see this I remember that day.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ecola Park

Photos from our trip to Oregon. They are from Ecola Park, which is right at the North edge of the town on Cannon Beach. As you can see, the weather was fantastic for May. Blue skies and 70 degrees.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Skagit River Bridge

The Skagit River Bridge is North of Seattle. Right after you pass over the town of Mount Vernon and before Burlington. Yesterday it  spanned the Skagit River. Today, not so much. It ALMOST crosses over the river. Three quarters of a bridge is no better than no bridge at all.
     The Blue object is the front end of the load being hauled over the bridge that is suspected of causing the collapse. It is an open sided box structure with what looks like a forty foot I-beam beefy enough to be freespan for its entire length. That I beam hit one of the supports for the bridge, I imagine the one right in the center of the span, The concrete roadway appears to be a single piece construction, which collapsed in on itself, thereby unseating the ends of the section of road.
     Very luckily there was minimal Traffic. One car, a pickup and a trailer went into the water. No serious injuries, thank God. If this had happened earlier, during rush hour it would have been a disaster. Or if it happened tonight with everyone on the road for the weekend. They say that 70,000 cars a day travel this section of road, so it will be a mess for months.
My granddaughter, Amelia went over this bridge about five minutes before the collapse.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Home Again

We went to Cannon Beach in Oregon for four days. I didn't mention this before because posting it and then leaving is like placing a big neon sign on the roof saying "OWNERS GONE, BURGLARS WELCOME" on the roof of your house. Having been hit twice before, I would like to avoid a third burglary.
This is part of out tenth anniversary. I wanted to go to Bora Bora for a week, but Mrs A thought that was much too extravagant. She preferred several little vacations over one big one.
Our anniversary was in April, but the odds of having decent weather on the coast in April are exceedingly slim, so we put it off until last weekend.
The weather Gods smiled on us.
Saturday we travelled, stopped at the Westport Winery, where we belong to the wine club, and picked up a couple of bottles of wine and stopped in at the restaurant and had lunch. The pan fried oysters were from Brady's, which is about a half mile down the road. Can you say FRESH?.
We stayed at the Lighthouse Inn, unit 29. Essentially a little apartment with a separate bedroom and a kitchenette. Very cozy.
Sunday we went into town to wander through the shops. We found a couple of things we couldn't do without. Went to the Driftwood Restaurant for lunch. They have the best clam chowder. I have eaten a lot of clam chowder, and I mean the BEST. Had A Dungeness Crab Cheddar Sandwich to go with it. SOOOOO good and SOOOOO rich.
Monday dawned with Blue skies and a mild offshore breeze. After running a few errands we spent the remainder of the day at Ecola State Park, which is right at Cannon Beach at the North end of town. A beautiful day to explore the beach and the park.
Tuesday cold and rainy, but that was OK because we had to go home.
A very nice weekend and one we will remember for a long time.
Pictures to follow.
A note on the pictures: I had been having problems getting pictures to come out clear. I couldn't figure out what was wrong.
I checked the lense, and someone had bumped the automatic focus function off, turning it to manual. Since I was not adjusting the aperature or time, they were coming out all blurry. Once I figured theat out, it worked out just fine. They probably would have been fine if I was using a tripod, but I guess my hands are not steady enough any more.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Westie Updates

Last weekend I installed the new rear bumper and fold out tray on the Westfalia. They afre manufactured by Rocky Mountain Westie. I was impressed by the quality of the materials. They are really built to last.
The bumper is modular and installs in five pieces. Pretty easy to install
The swing out tray was a little harder to do. It bolts through the side hatch sopport structure. You have to drill several holes to match a piece on the inside. The inner piece slipped out od my hand once and got jammed down in the channel. It was a difficult thing to get it back in place. Eventually it went together.
The instructions did not include anything on how to install the tray, but it was pretty intuitive. I guess the hardest thing was matching up the latch mechanism, but everything worked out fine.
It took all of Saturday and a couple of hours on Sunday.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Wallace Falls

This shot is of the middle falls of Wallace Falls State Park just outside Gold Bar. Unfortunately it didn't come out very clear. I blame the camera.

This is a shot of one of the lower falls.

Another part of the lower falls.

Monk in a stump. It was a beautiful, blue sky, 80 degree day. The hike was a couple of miles. Straight up. The hike is classified as "Moderate". It this was moderate, hard must be straight up. The hike is a couple of miles.
What a wonderful day with my sweetie

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Z

Here's the Z as it sits at the moment.
When I added the ground effects kit so I could get rid of the terrible ghastly ugly bumpers, I had a partial respray done. If you look closely, you can see that the lower portion below the beltline has a faint golden cast to it.
Now I am going to have to have the whole thing redone.
Not everyone would even notice it, but unfortunately, I can.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Just another Wednesday

Yesterday I had four new teeth put in. Everything on that side of my mouth is pretty sore, but not bad enough that I have taken any kind of pain killers. I can't say the same for yesterday. Although I really don't like the stuff, Percocet does a good job of killing the pain enough that I can do other things. As long as they aren't too complicated, because that stuff also kicks my butt.
I got the Westie back from the shop, and it tracks straight and doesn't wander. I also had them put in new H4 headlights while it was there, and they fixed one turn signal that was acting erratic. Now that it is home, I need to put on the new rear bumper and carrier shelf.
The dash is back in the Z and everything seems to work, including a couple of things that never have. Still trying to get the horn to work. Waiting on Seat covers.
This coming weekend is supposed to be beautiful, so I will need to set one day aside to do something with Mrs A. I feel a road trip coming on. The Tulip fields in Mount Vernon sound like a pretty good destination..
Then probably on to Anecortes to the brewery and Rockfish Cafe for Oysters and Porter.
And some place in there there must be a nap.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Car stuff

I received a very surprising call yesterday.
It was from North Westie. They do the work on my 1984 Westfalia  when I choose not to do it myself. I brought it in because the pan was leaking. They had replaced the pan back in October because I put a rock through the old one. The car was also pulling to the right a little bit. I figured it was because I had kinda hit the ditch a little at the same time I put the rock through the pan.
North Westie had replaced the suspension on that same corner of the car last spring. The old suspension was bad, resulting in the right front wheel wobbling.
The bottom line was that there would be no charge, as they considered it warranty work. Gotta love a business that puts their money where their mouth is.
So since there was no charge, I decided to do a couple of things I was delaying to do myself. The headlights in the Westie are pretty sad affairs when it comes to producing illumination. I am replacing the standard setup with halogen H4 lights. And as long as they are at it, One of the driving lights is out so I am haveing them fix it, too.
I have also gotten in the new bumper and rear swing-away carrier for the rear, but that is a job I want to do myself. Since I won't get the Westie back until Monday, that leaves this weekend to throw the interior back in the 280Z. I have finished putting in the new carpet, and am starting to reassemble the heater stuff so that I can reinstall the dash. I don't have to work OT this weekend so I would like to get most of it done before I have to go back to work on Tuesday.
I also ordered new seat covers for the Z and for the HHR, but they won't be in for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Project #3 is our 1984 Westfalia.
It has had a heart transplant, using a 2004 Subaru 2.5 liter fuel injected engine with 175 ponies. I have added a Propex heater, a new refrigerator/freezer. Added a special 110 volt air conditioner that runs off of 110 for when we have shore power. It has sure come in handy a couple of times.
I have a Hondaa super silent 2000 to provide power when we are out in the woods.
new top new windshield new brake system, new wheels and tires.
It is in the shop right now.
Last fall I put a rock through the pan, and replaced the cast aluminum pan with a steel pan with a skid plate welded on the bottom.
It has been leaking a little oil, so I sent it back. It has also been pulling to the right. I suspect that when I put the hole in the pan, I also bent a tie rod.
I just ordered a custom rear bumper with a built in hitch from Rocky Mountain Westie. That and a fold out bumper mounted tray that I want to use to house the generator. When we are out and about with the dogs in the car, it would be nice to be able to run the generator to run the air conditioning while we went to dinner.
The bumper and swing away tray should be in tomorrow. The Westie isn't due out of the shop until next Monday, and I want to put it on myself.
Meanwhile I am halfway through putting the carpets back in the Z.
Did I mention I have to work overtime on Saturday?

Friday, April 12, 2013


Apologies to Monty Python (The SPAM Song)

Anything that seems to good to be true, almost always is.
The 1953 Cantwell Puma second chance notification was a phony. I was suspicious from the onset, but approached it from a "What the heck can I loose" attitude. As long as no money changed hands or any commitment was made, why not check it out?
When it got to the point that I wanted to set up a date to personally inspect the vehicle, it became impossible
for me to actually see it. I went into my e-bay account and there is a way you can find out if the second chance offer is legitimate.
According to e-bay, there was no offer.
whotthehell, whotthehell (the song of Mahitabell)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

1953 Puma

I am currently negotiating the purchase of a one-off custom sports car/race car. The picture is attached.
It was on e-bay. I bid on it but was way outbid. The deal was closed at $20,200.00.
A week later I got an e-mail saying I was being offered the car for $10,000.00, which was my original bid.
I am e-mailing back and forth with the owner.
If this deal is legitimate, I think I can make a quite a bit of money by flipping this car.
Lots of questions. Why is it being offered for such a low price? I figure it is worth around what the original bid was.
I am excited as can be, but cautious.
Is the car licensable and streetable? It was built as a race car, As you can see it has no bumpers.
It supposedly can be started and driven.
It is located in Lolo Montana, about eight hours from here.
I have requested access to personally inspect it, and maybe take it for a test drive.
I have the money available.
I am trying very hard to be rational, so I can think straight and not get sucked in by the WOW! factor.
But damn it's pretty!

Saturday, April 06, 2013


The carpets are out and I'm getting ready to clean up the floors and install the new carpets.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Missing Grandkids

Mt son was in a bad marriage some 20 years ago, which ended in divorce. That is never a good situation. There were four kids involved. I don;t want to go into all of that here, but I adopted one, one went into foster care and the two littlest ones were adopted. It was a closed adoption, so no contact was allowed with their biological family, except a minimum amount of contact with their brother, when they requested it. Since I was his adoptive parent, I got to go along and see them, but only me and my wife.
After a while contact stopped, some eight or nine years ago. I missed them, but was in no position to push.
Saturday, V. texted me saying that someone he thought was maybe his brother had friend requested him on Facebook. He wanted to know what the last name was of the adoptive parents was, so I told him, and indeed it was his brother.
Once the two of them had connected, I friended both  of them.
Good Lord, how they have changed. They are grown, or close to.
But that's not what I wanted to write about.
I wanted to write about a particular moment of time, about fifteen years ago.
I was an early winter morning, and I was up early, alone. Joshua and Jayce were spending the weekend. They were pretty much inseparable when they were small.
I was sitting in the big chair out in the music room, reading the Sunday newspaper, when they sleepily dragged their little selves out and climbed into the chair with me, one snuggled on either side of me.
The early morning winter sun slanted in the window and warmed us.
It was a moment of such complete contentment, that I took a moment to set it in my mind. With all the uncertainty in the world I knew it was extremely unlikely that the moment and the feeling would last or likely ever return.
I have kept that memory stored away and cherished ever since.
Hold on to those precious moments and never, never take them for granted.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Here's the current state of my '77 280Z interior.

I have taken out the seats, the dash, the steering wheel. I have put in new dash light bulbs, ordered a new steering wheel. bought a new center console and put in the stuff from the old one.
I have ordered new carpets, which should be in next week.
I repaired the hot/cold control for the heater. I have owned the car for about five years and it has never worked. It will be nice to be able to turn off the heat this summer.
Next I will fix a broken off bolt in the blower, and start putting it all back together.
I need to have the driver's seat reaposltered.
Then on to the brakes, adjust the valves, fix the clunk in the rear end.
Then Paint.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sugarless Balckberry Jam

When we were down at my Cousin Ginger's in Oregon a couple of years ago, Uncle Fred brought over some blackberries he had picked. They ended up in the cooler in my car. I suspect they were Himalaya blackberries, not Wild Mountain Blackberries, otherwise my cousin would not have parted with them so easily.
I have been meaning to do something with them ever since, but as I had never made jam with artificial sweetener, I always put it off. I went as far as looking up sugar-free jam recipes on the internet, but that was as far as it went.
We go through a quite a bit of sugar-free jam, me because I am diabetic, Mrs A because she is usually dieting. When I get a craving for something fruity/sweet I will go out and have a teaspoon of jam, and it satisfies my craving.
Last weekend I finally got around to using some of the berries.
First of all, I always make freezer jam. The reason is that you do not cook the berries, so it really tastes like the fruit, the other is because it is so easy to do.
Now it is even better, There is a product called Mrs Wage's no cook freezer jam pectin. Just add it to the sweetener (Splenda) and stir it into the berries, let it sit for a half an hour, and presto, you have jam. And it tastes mighty good.
We made a batch and it filled five 16oz jam containers. Keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks, up to a year in the freezer. So far it has been used on toast, pancakes, and ice cream.
That ought to get us through until fresh fruit comes in season.
A trip to the u-pick strawberry farm will be one of our early fruit destinations.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Car Stuff

Part of the retirement plan is to consolidate my car stuff. The reason for this is to have less stuff to move, because when I retire we plan to move out in the country. We currently have five vehicles, and I want to get that down to four, or perhaps three by the time we are ready to move.
Right now the plan is to get the 1977 280Z up to snuff and sell it. Nothing is majorly wrong with it, but a lot of little pain in the butt stuff, such as the fact that it has no dash lights.
Last year the old points type voltage regulator went rogue and blew out all of the marker lights, dash lights etc. I replaced all of the lights that are readily accessible. Unfortunately, to get at some of the dash lights, you have to tear the dash apart, which is a major pain in the butt. Last Sunday I got in there and started on it. You have to take the radio out, and pull the center console out. The cernter console had a bad crack in it, and when I pulled it out I saw it needed to be replaced. I didn't figure the chances were too good of finding one in good shape, but much to my amazement, I found a new-in-box replacement, which I immediately purchased. I will switch over the switches when the new one comes in. While the radio was out, I fixed some of the crappy wiring that had been done over the years, so that putting it back together will be easier when the time comes.
Next is time to fix the heater controls. I have never been able to turn off the heater. That's OK Spring, Fall and Winter, but Summer is coming, and as long as I have it torn apart I might as well fix the heater control. It is operated by a lever and cable system, but the door that shuts off the air seems to be frozen. It doesn't seem like it will be too much trouble to fix. Knock on wood.
Then on to tearing the dash apart so I can replace all the little bulbs that illuminate the gauges and instruments. A lot of work for a bunch of tiny light bulbs.
Then time to figure out what the clunk in the rear end is. Probably a u-joint in one of the axle half shafts, but I won't know for certain until I get it up in the air.
Then comes paint. I have a couple of estimates for the custom paint I want done. Custom green/blue/purple color changing paint job. Both estimates are for around $2500.00.
When I am done, I will sell it. I should be able to get close to $10 grand.
That money will then go into Frankenhealey and the Westie.
One step at a time.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dodging the Bullet

Last fall, the SPEEA (Seattle Professional Engineering Employees Association) contract with Boeing expired, and a new contract was negotiated . The Union is divided into two parts, the Professional contract, and the Technical contract. The two are separate and distinct. In December Boeing made a 'Best and Final Offer" to the union.
The Profs accepted it and the Techs rejected it. I thought it was a fair offer, so I voted for it.
The second part of the vote was to authorize a strike. I voted against that. Much to my consternation, the contract was voted down by a slim majority of the Techs.
Boeing and the Union went back to the bargaining table.
I have been saving money in a "Strike Fund" for about a year just in case. I had more in there than I felt I would need, but I am pretty conservative with my money.
So Mrs A and I have been anxiously awaiting a settlement, not wanting to commit to anything until there was a signed contract.
The Techs were in a sticky situation, since the Profs had accepted the contract, and would not be going out to support the Thechs if we went on strike. That means we had no bargaining strength.
To make a long story short, Boeing made the exact sae offer to the Union, and the Tchs had to swallow their balls and get back to work. The voted in the exact same contract that they had turned down a couple of months ago.
No strike translates into me paying off a chunk of mortgage and a chunk of credit cars and a great feeling of relief.
Retirement just became a little bit closer.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Creeping Crud

I've been struggling with a nasty virus for about two weeks. Miserable crud with a wicked cough.
Great grandson Nikko was kind enough to present us with the virus.
I fought the good fight for about a week, not letting it get me down, but a week ago it took me down for the count. Lost the round but not the match.
Cough and cough and cough until out of breath, then cough some more. No sleep, too much coughing.
Went to work every day anyway, just loaded up on ever OTC known to man, none of which did too much  Very hard to think, or work up the gumption to do anything, and meanwhile I am right in the middle of a major screw-up. No one else is willing to step forward and take it on, so I have been creeping along, doing it a bit at a time as I get the energy.
I have finally turned the corner and am getting better. I might live, and it could be a good thing.
So now Mrs A has come down with it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Just One Picture

This was the north terminus of our hike at Klaloch. I had to climb up a cliff face a little way to get the right perspective, so I am ballanced on a little ledge holding on with my right hand, taking pictures with my left and Mrs A is having a fit.
We had to turn around because the tide was coming in and there is no way out at high tide.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Gone, gone, gone

Ten years ago on Valentine's day I proposed to the lovely Mrs A. We were at the Lake Quinault Lodge. There is a whole other story that takes place before that, but i will set that aside for now.
I made reservations for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
We stayed in the Boathouse, because they allow pets there
As long as you understand that it is the Lake Quinault RAIN Forrest and prepare yourself, it is great. There is no television or phone in the rooms. There is no cell phone service. There are no casinos, there is no night life. Just a rustic lodge out in the woods.
The lodge has an excellent dining room, The Roosevelt Room, named for the President that stayed there and helped create the Olympic National Park.
Beginning right in front of the Lodge and looping up into the forest behind the Lodger are an excellent series of Trails. The full loop is around six miles, with lots of  little offshoots Lots of peace and quiet.
We pulled in a little after 5:00 on Friday, and the only opening for dinner was at 5:30 so we hurried to get checked in and back for dinner. We had the Cedar Plank Salmon for Two, but no meal there is complete without the Marionberry Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream. So we ignored the idea of restraint and went all the way. I had been anticipating the cobbler for weeks.
Saturday we went on the loop trail, with a couple of side trips, so I figure we hiked between six and seven miles (uphill both ways, of course). It rained, is hailed, it misted, and once we even saw the sun. As you hiked you could just feel the quiet seep into your bones and the tension bleed out. When we were the farthest away from the lodge we came across a warning sign notifying us that cougars has been sighted in the are. I suppose it wasn't the kindest thing to ask Mrs A if by taking the dogs along we were "Trolling for cougars". Well, I thought it was funny.
Sunday we drove out to the Ocean at Klalloch and walked the beach for a couple of hours. I got some nice pictures, which I may get around to posting here. Stopped in Amanda Park for lunch (Cheeseburgers and fries), than back to the Lodger for naps.
Monday we had decided to take a little side trip to Westport rather than go straight home. We had lunch at the Blue Buoy. If you are ever in the area and it is no the menu, get the Dungeness Crab Omelet. All I can say is "Incredible".
One of the reasons, besides lunch for the trip was to stop at the Westport Winery. I can never drive past that place without stopping, and we were down to one bottle of their wine. So I joined there Wine Club (20% discount) and still managed to spend $168.00. Oh well, I can console myself with the fact that for every bottle they sell, they contribute some to a local charitable cause. was all for charity, right?
One last stop at Bay City Sausage. The smell of the place when you walk in is incredible, all that smoked meat. The reason for stopping is to get their Cranberry Smoked Sausage. Last time we were there I decided to try a little, and it was incredible. It barely made it this time I bought five pounds. And ate about a pound of it when we got home.
Got home tired, sore, broke and totally relaxed.
Where to next?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Uncle Fred

My Uncle Fred passed away quietly on Sunday. He was 90, going on 18. He was living proof that you had to grow old, but you didn't have to grow up.
He never married, had no kids. But what he did have was a whole bunch of adoring nieces and nephews. There were seven of us Warrens, and five Glahes, who thought the world of him. He was always up for a little wrestling or a piggy-back ride. He didn't have a mean bone in his body. He was an even tempered man, the salt of the earth.
He stayed on the farm with Grandfather and Grandmother, then later with my family after the Grandparents passed on. For most of those years the farm was a dairy farm. The pace of the work was as steady as a metronome. He was a little hard of hearing, so he had one of those old Big Ben Alarm Clocks. You could hear it ticking from clear upstairs. It went off at precisely the same time every day. Rain, shine, blizzard or Christmas. Twice a day milking. he seemed as much a part of the place as the fields and barn. When we finally got out of the dairy business, he took a couple of days off. He remarked that it was the first time he had been off of the place for more than a few hours in forty years.
He was the most honest person I have ever known. I would have trusted him to keep safe anything left in his care. The down side of that innocence and trust is that he believed that everyone else was just as honest as he was, which made him a very bad businessman. I remember my dad having to take some critter back that one our less honest neighbors had sold him and get our money back.
He taught me how to Trout fish in the high country mountain streams. For quite an number of years I was his fishing partner. We fished with spinner and worm, and were of about equal skill, which was considerably above average. We seldom got skunked, even in August then the water was low and warm and the fish inactive.
When I last saw him last April, he asked me to go fish the home waters for him, as he couldn't do it. As we were having a Family "Meeting of the Cousins" in August I assured him I would.
Mrs A had never gone stream fishing, so I took a few minutes before we got down to it and showed her how to do it, just like Uncle Fred had done for me so many years before. Of course she caught the first fish. We brought home a couple of keepers from Deep Creek, and I went to Sand Creek and picked up a couple of Brookies. At Mrs A's suggestion I gave them to my cousin Ginger to take back to Oregon so she could fry them up for Uncle Fred.
When he retired from farming, much to every ones astonishment, he joined the Peace Corps. He was stationed first in Dominica, and then in Morocco, teaching large animal husbandry. He had a bad knee, the result of having been kicked one too many times by a recalcitrant milk cow, and eventually it led him to leave the Peace corps.
He took his cut from the sale of the farm and bought a small place in Oregon near Eugene, where he lived with his sister my Aunt Rose, and some of my cousins.
He seemed indestructible, but finally he came down with diabetes. Never the best a taking care of himself, he neglected his health and it eventually let to the amputation of one of his lower legs. He never really recovered. Last spring they discovered he had inoperable bone cancer.
He slowly slid into poorer condition, and was being given morphine for the pain.
He is now in a place where there is no pain.
We have all been trading Uncle Fred stories for the last couple of days, and it is a real testament to the man that each of us has a special memory of the man.
So long, Uncle Fred, you were and are loved. We'll all be coming to join you sooner or later.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Still here

So I guess the world did not come to an end. Or maybe it has and we just weren't aware. At any rate we are at the beginning of another cycle of the Mayan Calendar. Maybe the psychic flux has reversed it's modulation or some such, but I can't tell the difference.
On the emotional scale of the holidays, I tend more toward the Scrooge end of the scale than the Tiny Tim end. Too much emotional stuff, too many expectations, too much hype.
When I went off to work on Wednesday, as I left I told Mrs A "I'm glad the Holidays are over and life can return to normal". Or what passes for normal.
My nephew and his wife brought a brand new person into the world on January. My first grand niece. Welcome to the big blue marble Charlotte Irene. May your days be filled with wonder and love.
R is out there scamming anyone who will listen to her lies, especially family, who have become enablers rather than supporters. Oh well, I have no control over anyone's behavior but my own, and sometimes barely that.
My sweetie bought me a reproduction 1928 Thompson sub machine gun (fully automatic) with the big circular drum. A very well made reproduction. Before you call in the ATF, let me say that it is an airsoft gun, and shoots 6mm plastic pellets. But it is still cathartic to go down in the basement and put it on full auto and squeeze off a few rounds. Political posters of your choice available.
It was really nice seeing family over the Holidays. Unfortunately the Matriarch of the family came down with the flu right before Christmas and was still under the weather on New Years Day. This is a very unusual occurrence. She NEVER gets the flu. Well, almost never. Raising seven kids has given her  immunity to just about every disease known to man. Get better Ma.
I already quit smoking. Had to give up drinking beer because it made my stomach hurt, lost the 15 lbs I wanted to lose. It's disgusting, it's like I've become A GROWN-UP!. The shame of it all. I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but the plans for 2013 are all positive. I've already booked at The Lake Quinault Lodge for the tenth anniversary of my proposing to Mrs A. Tenth Wedding Anniversary to follow in April. I want to get the Z up to snuff, repainted and sold this year, money to go towards finishing up Frankenhealey. Continues upgrades to the Westie. I put VW LT Truck mirrors on it over the Holidays. No more Floppy mirror syndrome!
So I hope everyone out there had a good Holiday season. Pull up your jeans, sholder your burdens and get on with it. We're all in the same boat.