Friday, December 23, 2016

White Christmas?

December 23rd  and it is snowing!
Hope it sticks around for Christmas. I don't even remember when was the last time we had a white Christmas. Of course Mrs. A, would have me tarred and feathered for hoping it sticks around, but I can always fall back on every husbands excuse: "It's not my fault".
We did finally get out the tree and set it up and got it decorated. I took care of the lights, Mrs A took care of the decorating. That may seem to be a misleading statement, as it is a pre-lit eight foot tree with a thousand lights, but it is in three pieces and all of the different sections have to be connected correctly. It is kind of difficult finding all of the wires and hooking them up correctly. Took me a couple of tries.
Watching the snow is so hypnotic. Something about falling snow puts me in a trance-like state where I can sit there for a long time just staring out the window.
The downside is that I have to go get another wheelbarrow load of wood out of the wood shed.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Home Fires Burning

We heat with wood.
Having 3 1/2 acres of trees supports that.
Electricity is expensive and wood is free (more or less).
I love sitting in the living room with a fire in the fire place and a good book.
I currently have about 3 cords of dried aged Alder in the wood shed. That will get us through this winter. I have another 2 cords of Maple drying at the back of the garage. I want to have enough dried and aged to last a year ahead.
It has been so busy I hardly have enough turn around. Thanksgiving we had a bunch of people over. I had purchased a 20' X 20' X 12' shed from Kieth, and we put that up. Vinnie and I felled a small maple. It was fun. Vincent had never run a chain saw, so I taught him how to start and run the saw, then introduced him to splitting wood. He claims that he had never split wood before, but I found that a little bit too much to believe.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, Rick lost his job in Utah, We were planning to have him come up and paint the inside of the house next spring/summer. Although I was not ready, we (Carol) decided it would be good for everyone concerned if he came up and did it now.
So for a couple of days before he got here, we were busy getting things ready, things like taking down the drapes, pictures and nik-naks. Then a week of going from room to room moving furniture, then a couple more days of getting everything back where it belongs.
As a result, here it is Dec 17th and we do not have a single decoration up.
Tree? What tree?

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Side Table

Here is my latest creation, a burl maple live edge side table. The grain is incredible. The stand is a branch fork from the same tree. The finish is spar varnish. Just enough to bring out the grain. It was a fun project. I tried several different finishes, but after applying and sanding off several different types, settled on this.
I have another slab from the same stump ready to go, but need to figure out a stand for it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Alaska Mill

Well. my Alaska mill came in. I have put it together and mounted it to the chain saw.
For those of you unaware, and Alaska Mill is a framework you attacch to your chainsaw that turns the chain saw into a lumber mill.
In other words you can turn a tree into dimensional lumber.
The primary reason I got it is that I have this maple stump that is this beautiful burl wood. The mill allows you to turn it into slabs suitable for furniture (after you finish it)
I cut a slab our of the stump, and the grain is incredible. The slab is about 4" thick. With the mill I can turn it into two beautiful slabs/
Or firewood.........
I am flying by the seat of my pants here, so I am being very deliberate and taking it one step at a time.
Today I will mount the guide rails on the slab (to make it so I can cut an even slab.).
Then I have to figure out where to take the slab to cut it. Some place with enough room to work. Not inside. I will need to brace the slab so it doesn't slide as I push the saw foreward.
Oh, but the way, the mill will only cut something 18 inches wide, so I need to trim the slab in order to cut it.
Once I have done the first piece, the sky's the limit.
There is the rest of the stump to think about. I can make a bunch of two inch thick slabs for furniture.
After that the next (long term) project is to make enough maple boards to build a deck off of the front of the house. I really like the idea of building a deck out of wood that started out as tree, and I personally cut it down and turned it into lumber, and then built the deck out of it.
It will be a lot of work, but if it ever gets done in will be unique.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Project Pictures

The three projects I am working on.
The Birds Eye Maple Burl Bowl is coming along nicely. I have pretty much finished carving it out and am ready to start with the tedious part of finishing it. Lots of sanding to remove the imperfections.
The burl table top, I have polished out the chain saw marks and given it a couple of coats of Tung Oil. The grain is amazing. I still have to figure out how I am going to mount it. and whether I want to remove the bark. Oh well, no hurry, no worry.
The platter I have not done much work on, but you can see the nice grain in the wood.
Yesterday I was in town so I stopped by the Stihl dealer and ordered an Alaska Mill. That is an attachment to your chain saw that lets you turn trees into lumber, and seeing as I have about three acres of trees, I think it will come in handy.
One thought I have is that there is this puny little deck out front made out of Trex decking. It would look pretty terrific if I rebuilt it in Maple. Who do you know that has a deck made out of Maple?

Monday, October 10, 2016


My work on the fancy Burl bowl is progressing slowly. It takes a long time to remoe the excess material. How do you make a burl bowl? Take a burl and remove all the stuff that isn't bowl.
I have the bowl in reasoable shape now and have begun to do the finishing work. I am always looking at it and wondering: "Should I thin it more?" Then get distracted by some imperfection that needs to be worked out. There are a lot of imperfections that need to be worked out yet. I guess the question of how much I need to pare the walls will be worked out as I clean up the gouges and scratches.
The 14" platter I have not worked on very much. I McGivered it a bit. I took my palm random orbital sander and clamped the electrical cord in the vise, then positioned the platter just so, then turned it on and when I was sure it woud remain in one place, left it running and unattended while I worked on the butl bowl. It worked pretty good, havind sanded down the middle of the platter about a quarter inch., then I repositioned the sander a little and set it off again. SLowly working to sand dowm the middle of the platter.
The big piece of burl I have given a couple of soats of tung oil to bring out the grain. It looks incredible. The grain is fascinating and varied. Curly here, flame there and bird's eye in other places. I am wracking my brains on how to mount it to make it a useable table. I have set aside some twisty roots and limbs that I can maybe make a stand out of, but haven't gotten any further in design than "I sorta want to build a tripod table support out of natural stuff" that will copliment and show off the table. I also might geet a piece of glass cut to place over it to protect and display it. Guess I'll just have to wait for the inspiration to hit,

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

I've been shot

Last January while clearing some land by hand, with a mattock, I popped my left sholder partly out of joint. It never dislocated, just pulled slightly out of joint. As a result I developed bursitis in my sholder, which the pain clinic treated with cortisone. It didn't do much good.
When I went to my regular doctor and complained that I was still in a lot of pain, he referred me to the Orthopedic Clinic here in Sequim.
The verdict is moderate arthritis. No surprise. I was diagnosed with traumatic arthritis in that sholder almost 50 years ago, and it has flared up occasionally ever since. But not cntinuously for extended periods of time.
The verdict was basically live with it, get a cortisone shot when it gets bad.
The Doc went and got a big long needle and a ottle of coortisone.
This process is a little more difficult that the subcutaneous cortisone shot I got at the pain clinic.
They have to feed the needle between the solder bone and the socket, which is difficult because the arthritis has narrowed the clearance between the two bones.
They had a bit of trouble finding the right spot. When they did it hurt like hell, but I guess that's how they know they are in the right spot.
It takes several days for you to get the full benefit of the shot, but the sholder is much better now. Now that it has been diagnosed and treated, in the future all I have to do is call it in if I get bad again.
Hopefully it will be another almost fifty years, but I'm not too optimistic that I will still be around in fifty years, or that the treatment will be effective that long.
The other possibility is sholder replacement if nothing else will help, but I'm not exactly standing up and volunteering for that.
Perhaps it is time to consider slowing down a little, after all, I am 68.
Nah, that would be boring.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Burl Bowl 2

Here is my second burl bowl. Considerably more difficult than the first. . About the size of a half a coconut. The wall is pretty thin.
The grain is nice in places, but nothing spectacular. Tung oil finish.
Things always seem to expand over time. I started out small, am getting bigger and more complex with each endeavor.
I am currently working on three more projects. A burl bowl the size of a fruit bowl. with some incredible Bird's eye grain. It will take a quite a while to do, but it will look incredible when done.
The second is a 14" platter with some really interesting grain.
The last is a 24 X 30" flat piece with some incredible birds eye grain. I will need to figure out how to mount it on some kind of base so I can use it as a side table. That will take some creativity. I have already smoothed out the table top and the grain is spectacular.
These will keep me out of trouble over the Fall and maybe into Winter.
The burl and the table top came off of the same stump. A maple I cut down last month. If the table top is that nice, the matching piece left on the stump should be just as nice.

Friday, September 23, 2016


My latest creation, a ladle, with a normal sized teaspoon thrown in for perspective.
The grain of the wood in the handle is incredible.
I recently cut down a good sized maple for firewood, and it is the source for the wood I have been using.
Yesterday I went out and started looking at the stump, and it appears that the whole base has some nice looking carving material.
I took my brand new chain saw out and cut off one burl, and the grain is incredible. Birds eye with flame grain. It is so pretty I am hesitant to carve on it. I rough sanded the face of it to bring out the grain, now I need to figure out what to do with it without wrecking the grain.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Burl Bowl !

So here is my first burl bowl.
It is about the size of my open hand.
The decoration is a hand blown glass marble that we picked up at a glass place in Canon Beach. I made the bowl specifically to display the marble
The wood is burl maple.
I have been keeping my eye out for good pieces of fancy grained Maple for some time, and every time I come across some I set it aside. I now have quite a stack of fancy grained wood set aside.
Wood whittling will be a good fall/winter passtime that will keep me out of trouble and will make some beautiful and usefull items.
 I am just about finished with a second bowl, about the size of a cereal bowl, and just started cleaning up a bigger burl, about the sixr of a fruit bowl.
I also cut a quartersawnn a slab out if piece of Maple that has some outstanding fiddleback grain to it. I think it will make a beautiful platter.
Down at the Northeast corner of the property there is a Cedar that has a large growth on it about the size and shape of an elephant seal Nose. I will wait until I have a better idea what to do with it before I harvest it.
Lots of fun times sitting out in the garage listening to my bleus collection whittlin' on wood coming.
Come on by and set a spell.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Farm Truck

Whatever happened to that staple of the American Spirit, the Farm Truck?
On the farm in Idaho we always had at least one farm truck. No frills, basic, a tool for gettin' her done, with the minimum amount of fuss.
Usually they were Fords, but not always, a few Chebbies thrown in the mix.
I was in the mall (an hour away from where I Ive in Sequim, Wa.) and there was a new truck for sale. You know the type. Extended bed double cab four wheel drive with a zillion dollar stereo system and air conditioning behemoth. Able to haul a double wide vacation trailer AND a trailered boat, or enough quads for a football team. I hated it the moment I saw it, and when I got a glance at the sticker I about had a heart attack right there in front of the J.C. Penny.
A behemoth with a price tag to boot. It was pushing sixty grand, on sale.
No one offers a basic no frills farm truck any more. Every one of them has enough gadgets you need to read a three hounded page instruction manual just to understand ll the frills. Well, I don't want or need all that crap, but if you want a truck you are going to get it whether you like it or not. The truck manufacturers have in their arrogance decided what we need, and by God they are going to give it too us whether we like it or not.
A basic truck should come with a torquey six, four speed manual transmission with a granny gear. it should have a full size bed, be able to do freeway speed and get 20 mpg city, 28 highway. Radio optional. It should have a set of good all terrain tires and a radiator big enough to keep it cool all day long hauling a load ( which should be at least a ton).
Price tag around twenty grand. Not going to make the manufacturer a ton on each vehicle, but I bet you could make it up on volume.
At least as an alternative offer a mid sized truck. I run a '97 S10 pickup with modified suspension so it will haul a ton. Four cylinder, 25 Miles per Gallon. I don't think there is anything on the market that could replace it. I don't need to haul a boat or trailer, just go into Home Depot and get enough lumber to build something small. If I need more, I will have it delivered.
But when it comes time to replace it, I would sure love to be able to go to a dealer and buy an honest-to-God farm truck.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Fiddleback Spoon

I recently cut down a medium sized Maple tree for firewood for next winter. I figure I got about a cord and a half of wood out of it
While splitting the wood I came across a real nice small piece of fiddle back maple. Fiddle back can be very valuable in large quantities. Say large enough to make a fiddle.
This piece was not nearly big enough to make a fiddle, so I wondered what else I could do with it. I also had come across a couple of interesting burls, and I have always loved burl wood. So first I took a small burl, cleaned it up and put a finish on it. Digging out the interior of the burl turned out to be a real chore. I had a real cheap set of wood carving tools, but they just weren't equal to the task.
So I went on the Internet and see what was available.
I came across a set of "Swedish Spoon Knives" that looked like they would do the trick.
I finished the burl and it came out real nice, and we are using it as a display for a small decorative art marble we had.
After I was through with that, i was pondering what to do next. I thought of that small piece of fiddle back sitting in the garage. Swedish Spoon Knives + fiddle back maple = fiddle back spoon.
I have never been trained in wood working, but have Fiddled around at it, so I  hand carved the piece into a spoon.
Here are the results. Not bad for a first time. It was fun. I have been going through the stacks of firewood looking for more fiddleback. I have a few more pieces set aside to turn into spoons. It will be something to keep me busy this winter.
I also have a couple more burls that I will attempt to turn into bowls.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Yesterday I was very busy all day long.
I had selected the next tree to be turned into firewood, a good sized maple, about two feet in diameter, out in back of the wood shed a good distance. That area is very overgrown, so first I needed clear a path, for a couple of reasons.
First, I will need a clear path to get away from the tree when it starts to go over. Falling a tree is dangerous. Things go wrong, trees get hung up, a breeze comes up at the wrong moment and the tree goes in an unexpected direction, the tree is rotten in the middle and it collapses. A limb hits a nearby standing tree and comes back at you, the tree hangs up on another tree and kicks back on you. If any of these things happen you can end up dead or badly injured, so first and foremost safety needs to be your constant companion.
The second reason is to be ale to access the area to carry the wood out in the wheelbarrow. I don't have any heavy equipment, so that means doing things the old fashioned way. Muscle ans sweat.
When felling a tree you need to consider a couple of things. First of all, is it leaning in one direction or the other. If it is, that is the direction it is going to go. If it is more or less vertical, choose the direction you want it to go. Make a horizontal cut the direction you want it to fall. Make a slanting cut upward below the first cut so you can remove  a pie shaped piece of the tree about 1/3 of the way through the tree.
Then make another cut about a little less than half way through the tree on the opposite side of the tree. Remove the saw. Insert a felling wedge in the side opposite the pie cut. Sledgehammer the wedge into the cut. With any luck the wedge should supply enough to provide enough push start the tree going over. If not, you may need to make a plunge cut at the side of the pie cut .
Just be ready to move in any direction. Remember that whole clear a path thing?
So after felling a good sized maple yeaterdy, I started cutting it into rounds for splitting. and started splitting the rounds into firewood.
I finally got to the point where I could hardly generte enough force to split the rounds, so it was time to call it a day.
Today I am a little sore, but mainly it is too hot to go out and do hard physical labor, so it didn't take too much encouragement for me to take a dy off.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Purple Pod Beans

Today I was putting up purple pod beans for the freezer.
I don't think purple pod beans are substantially different than regular green beans except for the color. Even that moderates with cooking, since they change color when they cook to green. A slightly different shade than regular beans, but not a big difference.
You might wonder why purple pod beans.
As with most things, there is a back story.
Over on the farm in Idaho, the growing season was very short, so any crops have to be short season crops, and through time and experience we settled on purple pod beans because they are a good producing short season crop, and they preserve well. They also require very little attention.
I planted about a dozen plants and have eaten beans for the last month, so now I am putting aside some for this winter.
My mom used to can them, but I am not quite domesticated enough to take up canning. The idea is rattling around in my head, but I have not yet convinced myself to go but the equipment to actually get into canning. That is a door that once you go through there is no going back. I like the idea of having a reserve food source in case of  troubles.
I guess I am not a full fledged prepper, but have tendencies in that direction. With all the insanity and troubles in the world, I would like to be prepared "just in case"".
SO I have enough food for a couple of months, we can heat the house with wood, I have a small generator that can supply a limited amount of electricity, given some gasoline.
The one base I don't have well covered is water. We have a well, so as long as there is electricity, no problem. The well pump requires  220V, and my generator only is 110V so If the electricity goes out, no water.
For short term I have a food quality 55 gallon plastic drum filled with water. That would last for a short while, but I need to think about a longer term solution. The well is 180 feet deep, so it will need a pretty skookum pump. The hand pump systems I have seen that can draw water from that deep cost about $2,000.00, an investment I am reluctant to make. I need to read some more to see what I can McIver together out of old ball point pens and straws.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Blackberry Jam for Lunch

My lunch lately has been two slices of nine grain bread with real butter and my home made sugar free blackberry freezer jam. Of all of the jams and preserves in the world, my favorite has always been my favorite.
First of all let me be perfectly clear. It has to be made with the wild trailing blackberry. Not the Himalaya, not any variety found in the store. Only the kind that can only be gotten by personal labor. Second, I only make freezer jam (non cooked) jam. Once you cook the jam, you radically alter the flavor profile of the berries. Lastly, I make it with splenda, because I am diabetic. Splenda tastes the same as regular sugar, stands well to reparation, and measures the same as regular granulated sugar.
Mash up the berries. Get some pectin and combine it with some water and splenda. Let it boil then just blend in with the berries. Ladle it into freezer containers, put it into the freezer and it is good for a year.
I started picking berries at the beginning of June, and ended in the middle of July.
Actually I started much earlier, because I scouted the are where I pick when the first blossoms were on the vines. It is a lot easier to find the vines when they are in bloom. Keep a mental map of where the vines were and come back when the berries are ripening. I picked every other day during the season. I have made a gallon of jam and two gallons of berries in the freezer. Ought to be enough to get me through until next year.
Part of the motivation, besides my own pleasure is to have some jam for my mom. She is having her 90th birthday in November, and I can think of no present she would rather have than some home made blackberry freezer jam. She always picked berries, and we raised strawberries and raspberries. We augmented them with huckleberries and blackberries. I picked strawberries for money a few summers, so I have developed an aversion to all things strawberry. Raspberry remains my second favorite.
But nothing can bring the whole tumble and spill of memories like blackberry jam.
SO many positive memories of picking berries with mom, making jam. Like a little slice of the best of my life in every bite.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Storm Watching

There is something deep inside me that loves a storm.
Last night there was a thunderstorm that blew through here late in the evening. Lots of cloud-to-cloud fireworks, with an occasional groind strike. Lots of nice flash and bang. Thunder cells rolled through one after the other.
I have always loved storms. My first recollection of an outstanding storm was the Columbus Day wind storm in Seattle. Sustained winds of sixty miles an hour with gusts up to eighty or so. I stood on the porch of our house on 21st ave and watched trees fall, power lines go down. Scary but somehow very enervating.
When I was stationed on Okinawa a Typhoon came though that was particularly nasty. When it was rolling up typhoon alley, they ordered all the B52s off island to protect them. When it passed by, they called them back. About the same time they got on the ground, the storm did a buttonhook and came back and hit with a vengance. Several planes were damaged. I heard that the head Airforce commander lost a stat over that misjudgement. I spent the night out in the storm.
I tied myseld to a pole out in the barracks parking lot so I couls feel the power of the storm. I was almost creamed by a garbage can. It was flying across the parking lot and I had to lift my legs to avoid having them smashed. It was such an awesome experience.
 The next storm that came through, we were called in for emergency duty in the hospital at Camp Kue. Our barracks was in Sukiran, about five miles away. We were loaded in a duece-and-a-half with the canvas removed and driven through the teeth of the storm. Our barracks was halfway up the side of a hill, and when we gor down to the bottom of the hill, the water was so deep you could not see the street. We had to look for fence and sign posts aling the side of the road and aim halfway in between. On ass kicking ride. Once we god there we had sandbag and mop duty.
When I was a single dad, living in my first home in West Seattle, there was a day long thunder storm. It was a warm cloudy windy summer day. In the evening, we were running low on milk, so Nathan and I walked up to the store to buy some. On the way back, a dog who had apparently been driven a little nuts my the storm came running bown the street growling and barking. Scared us pretty bad. With my left hand I pushed Nathan behind me to protect him. I stepped forward and with my right hand pointed at the dog and yelled 'stop" at the top of my lungs. At the exact momment I pointed and yelled there was a bolt of lightning that struck real close. It turned everything white for a second and the bang was deafening. The dog skidded to a stop right in front of us. His eyes got very big, and he turned tail and ran the other way as fast as he could go, yipping all the way.
I looked at Nathan and he looked at me, and we broke up laughing. I told Nathan "I think he thought he tried to bite god." We laughed all the way home.
SO when there is a storm you are likely to find me out in the middle of it feeling the power of nature. It is simultaneously invigorating and makes me feel insignificant.

Monday, July 18, 2016


Exhausted + Constipated = Exhaustipated.
Definition: Too tired to give a shit.
Today is my 6th birthday, but I am too tired to celebrate. Mrs A came down with a nasty toothache a couple of weeks ago. Of course when she did, her regular dentist was on Vacation, and wouldn't be back for  better than a week. She got in touch with her dental assistant who came in to take an x-ray to see if anything showed up on the film. Nothing looked terribly bad, but they gave her a prescription for an antibiotic and an appointment when the dentist came back fro vacation.
Two days pass, and she is in terrible pain. I give up and call around until I find a dentist that will see her on an emergency basis. He really couldn't see anything on the z-ray, but sent us to another dentist to take a full panoramic film. Then back to the first guy. He gets a look and decides to send her to a third dentist for a root canal. That dentist convinces her to get a root canal and try to save the tooth. By then It s four days later and she is in terrible pain. They  did the root canal, put her on pain killers and more antibiotics. They didn't do the root canal. just opened up the tooth and squirted in antiseptic and antibiotics.
She doesn't get any better, so we make an emergency stop back with the Root canal lady, She is disturbed bu the fact that Mrs A is no better. She sends us to see an oral surgeon.
He is concerned that she does not seem to be responding to the antibiotics, and they decide to take out the tooth. It has now been two weeks.
The doctor tells us to keep a close eye on her, because at this point she is one step away from a visit to the emergency room.
Meanwhile she is miserable, and a terrible patient. Over the next couple of days, she is either awake and on pain, or takes her pain killers and antibiotics, and sleeping. I have pretty much stayed awake to keep an eye on her. We have actually talked about going to the emergency room a couple of times, but wait to talk to the dentist.
Today she seems to have turned the corner.  The hives and rash has gone down. The pain seems to be lessening. SO that is my birthday present, her turning the corner towards regaining her health.
Other than that I have not had what could in any way had what I would consider an outstanding day, but I am too tired to really care.
I had planned a visit to Neah Bay to visit the Makah Museum, and Caper Flattery, but Mrs A was just not up to it, nor to be truthful, was I. As soon as she is better ans we have a nice day, I plan on making the trip. Back about a couple of hundred years ago there was a landslide at Lake Ozette, which completely covered a pre-contact Makah village. The material excavated has been conserved and put on display in a museum at the tribal headquarters in Neah Bay.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Been too long

 So When I brought up my blog, I saw tht my last post was April 25th. Talk about a slacker!
Now that I am retired I find lots of  thigs to do otherr than write here.
Candy Crush.
You know, IMPRTANT stuff.
I do a lot of work outside though. Lately, we felled and cut up, split and stacked six small alder trees around the house. They were leaning over the house, and besides depositid stuff on the roof and patio, they cut off a lot of light.
I have not yet finished grinding up the leaves and branches with the chipper. It is more work grinding up the limbs than it is doing the rest of it.
One thing that has gone extremely well is the berry picking. For the uninitiated, that means trailing wild blackberries. Not the invasive Himalyan Blackberry that adorns every vacant lot. Those are mediocre. The trailig wild blacberries are much more scarce. Since we didn't get ere until the end of June last year, I only got in on the end of the season, and was hard pressed to get enough to make a batch of jam.
This year I went out erly, when the vines were in bloom and walked the area to spot areas that showed blooms. Then I kept an eye out for the first berries to ripen. By the middle of June I had my first gallon of berries, whch I immediately turned into jam..
There is nothing like some toast with butter and wild blackberry jam.M y very favorite. I went out picking every other day for the month od June and half of July. By now the season peak has passed, and I have another couple of gallons of berries in the freezer.
My mom's 90th birthday is in November, and I figure I will bring her a batch of jam for her birthday. She will appreciate the work that went into the picking and processing of the berries. It's not loke you can go to the store and buy some sugar free wild blackberry freezer jam.
Things have been a little hectic around here lately. Mrs A developed an infected tooth. Her regular dentist was, of course, on vacation, but the dental assistant came in to take a set of pictures of the tooth, gave her a prescription for an antibiotic and set up an appoontment for the next week. This was a week a go Monday, with the appointment the next week. By thursday she was in major pain, so I called around and fund a dentist willing to take her in on an emergency. He looked at it, and sent her to another dentist to take a panaoramic picture. He didn't like what he saw, so he sent her to another dentist for a root canal. Mrs A wanted to get the tooth pulled, but they opened up the tooth and squirted in some antibiotic and told her to come back on Monday. On Monday, they did a root canal, gave her some antibiotics and pain pills. It just got worse.
We went back in on Wednesday because she was in such pain. We were sent to yet another dentist, an oral surgeon.
He pulled the tooth. More antobiotics and pain killers.
She has been miserable for about two weeks now, but I think she has turned the corner. The oral surgeon was real concerned aout how she didn't seem to be responding to the antibiotics, told her that the next step would be a trip to the hospital if she doesn't get better.
Never a dull moment.

Monday, April 25, 2016


Went into Port Angeles to see the doctor today. Just a periodic checkup.
One of my goals has been to get off of insulin, and I am right on the edge of doing just that. I need to get my createnin levels down a little more, but the trend has been downward ever since I got rid of the enormous kidney stone. It is not a huge deal, just an inconvenience to have to Carry around insulin and syringes.
On another front, when it was me VS the maple stump, I won, but not without cost.
 I irritated my bad shoulder, which has settled in to a case of bursitis. This limits my activities. Not being able to exert my left arm makes working in the yard difficult. It is getting better slowly, just not quick enough to make me happy.
I talked to the doc about getting a cortisone shot, not being in any hurry to shoot up steroids, and he agreed we should delay. Partly because he felt if he gave me a shot and my shoulder started feeling better, I would go out and do something stupid and re injure it (who, me?). SO I agreed to delay it, hoping it would get better by the time I have my next appointment.
The fruit trees we planted are all doing fine. I doubt we will have any fruit this year, but getting them in the ground and established was the goal for this year. Mission accomplished. It will be fun to see what happens with the five-in-one apple trees
The vegetable garden is doing fine, but by next year I hope to have more raised beds. I am currently using every square inch of the three raised beds I already have. I did lose one tomato plant. It was kinda sickly when I planted it, and it never did recover from being transplanted.
Four of the five everbearing raspberry plants are doing fine, but the fifth just site there. It has some buds on it but they don't seem to be doing anything. Hopefully I will get SOME berries this year. I love raspberry freezer jam.
We went out and bought a John Deere riding lawn mower. I was not particularly in favor of the purchase, but Mrs A wore me down. I agreed that some day we were going to need one, but figured we could get by with our old Honda self propelled mower for a couple of years. Carol was adamant. If we would need it i a couple of years, why not now? I had no argument that amounted to anything, so I caved.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Just rolled in last night from a week of vacation.
It might be a bit difficult for someone on the outside to discern the difference between being on vacation when you are retired. The difference is that if we were home I would feel like I OUGHT to be doing something, even if I am not, whereas if we are somewhere else it becomes moot, as I cannot do the stuff I would feel guilty about not doing, even if I was not doing it.
Three days at Cannon Beach Oregon, one of our favorite places. Very artsy craftsy, with some high end galleries. Not to mention the Driftwood Restaurant which has the best clam chowder anywhere (for you Seattleites, yes I believe it is better than Ivars).
Unfortunately a couple of days before we got there, a wind had blown ashore a zillion purple sail jellyfish. Once stranded onshore, they of course commenced to rot. The stench was pretty bad. Also unfortunately you could not get down below the tideline without walking through their rotting corpses. When we got back to the unit the shoes had to stay outside. Mrs A was in favor of burning them, but I sat outside and cleaned them with my Swiss army knife. But they didn't thing one of the uses for the knife was to clean rotting animal corpses out of the tread of your tennies.
Then on to Coberg Or to visit my cousins. Ginger and her husband Par were our hosts and Rick and his wife Robin were our cell mates, or fellow guests. A good time was had by all. but Rick and Robin had to leave a little early to take care of a domestic situation. (Damn kids anyway).
My first proposition: In nature, if you see a structure on an animal that seems disproportionate to it's function is for cooling. For example the ears on an elephant are much larger than necessary for hearing. Why are they so large? for cooling. Same with the frill of the frilled lizard etc. What structure does mankind have that is disproportionate to the other members of the animal kingdom?
The brain. I propose that the intent of the large cranium is to cool the blood. The more surface area it has, the better the job it does. Our brains are very wrinkled so as to add more surface area for cooling. So the brain is a cooling tower for the body. The fact that it also allows some of us to formulate rational thought is just a byproduct of its primary purpose of cooling. This secondary characteristic is not as prevalent in some people, whose brains seem to serve little more purpose than cooling the blood.
Second proposition: Sociologists have suggested that mankind was originally a nomadic society, who followed the seasons and animal migrations, and eventually settled down to agriculture to grow grain as a food source. It is my counter proposal that mankind settled down too grow grain, but for the purpose of making beer. The earliest Sumerian villages left evidence of having vessels specific to brewing beer. How long did it take for them to discover fermentation, and then design a specific vessel to use for fermentation? Hundreds of years? Thousands? They didn't really have to settle down to grow grain for the table, Grain could be found in season. But brewing beer would require facilities and a steady supply of grain. SO therefore beer is the foot of all civilization.
The third and last proposition is that a good marriage can be obtained by the frequent repetition of the following words; "I'm sorry dear, it's all my fault, I apologize."

Sunday, April 03, 2016


I  have neglected my blog as of late. My main excise s the weather. It has been too damned beautiful to sit inside on the computer.
I have been gardening. We have three 4' X 8' raise beds off of the patio. They were bereft of growing things when we moved in, so I planted Grandfather's onions in one and waited for spring. Well, spring is officially here, so in go radishes, lettuce, carrots and purple pod beans.
I bought and planted raspberry starts, I planted a "Fruit Salad" and a bush cherry. Then Lisa and Kieth brought over a bunch of stuff Two Bing cherries, a couple of "Five-in-one" apple trees.
The apple trees are cool. they have five varieties of apple on one rootstock. Then they had included four tomato starts, three cabbage starts, three broccoli plants and some flower bulbs an a couple of roses.
We split the flower bulbs 50/50. Half for the meadow, half for the flower gardens.
As I was planting there was something tattling around in the back of my head about Bings. Went on line to check, and yes Bing cherries require a pollinator. So I had to go in to town, and I found a Black Tartarian cherry at Home depot. Plants can be weird. A lot of plants are self pollinating, that is the blooms carry both male and female sex organs, so they can have reproduction all by themselves. Some species have male and female plants and require one of each to reproduce, and some, like Bing cherries require pollen from a different variety to produce.
In addition to the planting trees, I cut down a good sized alder tree and cut it into sections, getting it ready to turn into firewood. I have about half of it split and in the wood shed.
Unfortunately, I have had to take it a little easy, because I gave myself a bout of bursitis when pulling the maple stump out of the ground. So fay the treatment plan is: take a pain pill and keep on keepin'on. While that works out functionally, it doesn't do much for healing.
One of the common complaints here as far as gardening goes is the deer. All those succulent young green growing things are like a dinner table specifically set for the deer. As I mentioned to my buddy Dwight the other day when he commented that his money was on the deer "But I have automatic weapons" mind you the automatic weapon is a reproduction 1924 Thompson submachine gun that only shoots 6mm airsoft pellets, after a few ties of getting stung in the ass, I am sure that deer will get the idea. If thy don't I may have to step in up a notch.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016


As I mentioned, I have been working at making a meadow full of wild flowers out in the woods.
I am taking the day off because it is raining out.
No, let's be completely honest here, I am taking the day off because I am sore and exhausted. The fact that it is raining is just the excuse I am using to take a day off.
It is coming along well, if slowly. The change in elevation is as much as five feet in places, so a lot of dirt needs to be moved around. Also that dirt is currently occupies by a jungle of ferns and salal with the occasional stump.
Most of the stumps are old and rotten. However there is the one......isn't there always the one?
It is a medium maple stump, a couple of feet in diameter, very twisted and gnarly. When I get it out, I am going to slab it out and turn it into furniture.
The key element of that plan is "getting it out".
To start with it is at the bottom of a hole or depression. The ground was five feet higher on one side than on the other. Then the root structure is convoluted. Layers of roots on top of layers of roots. Pick out a root and chop it is two only to find there us another root underneath that root, Uncover more of the root and chop it off further away from the stump to get it out of the way. Repeat.
I have finally gotten it to the point that, it I give it a good kick, it actually moves a little. Enough that I know I am close to getting it out.
The trouble is that I have chopped off all of the visible roots, and don't know of any additional roots to chop. I just need to go at it with mattock and shovel until I find the last remaining root (at least I pray there is only one move).
To add to the problem in the fact that in moving, I seem to have lost all my chains, rope, come-alongs and my chain hoist. The stump, when cut loose will probably go a couple hundred pounds. I think a trip to Harbor Freight is in the near future.
However, there is a can of black powder I just bough for my muzzle loaders.
Here, hold my beer and watch this.........

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Next Winters Wood

Although we have a very good heat pump, we choose to heat the house with a wood stove. Electricity is expensive, and firewood is free as long as you don't mind the work.
Since we have 3 1/2 acres of woods, there is plenty of firewood for the stove, but it is in no condition to be burned.
When we got here, there was about a cord of firewood, aged and in the woodshed. (For you city slickers a cord is a stack of wood 4' X 4' x 8')
There were a couple of downed firs laying around, so I got a chainsaw and turned them into stovewood.
That was all dead stuff, and there were a couple of dead snags, so I also turned them into firewood. We ended up with about four cords of firewood in the woodshed. We are now down to about a cord and a half, which should work out about right, since the worst of winter is over.
So now is the time to start working on next years firewood, since it needs to dry and age for most of a year before it is seasoned properly.
I am working in an area to the northwest of the garage, which had a couple of downed trees, which have been processed, That pretty much opened up an area about40 feet in diameter, which is covered mostly in ferns and salal.
I decided it should be turned into a meadow. I felled a small maple and a fir that was about to fall down. When I get finished with them, I am going to go in and clear out the brush. Then for the good part.
I have gotten a bunch of wildflower seed mix, called "Meadow in a Can" which I will sprinkle throughout the area. It has like fifty varieties of flowers, so it ought to be beautiful. I just need to get out there and do the work to clear the brush and stumps out.
It will be a LOT of hard work, but if it lives up to my vision, it will be awesome.

Friday, January 22, 2016

1 3/4 thumbs up

I haven't posted much on here lately for a couple of reasons.
There has been a quite a bit going on, and also I chopped off the end of my left thumb.
While chopping off the end of my thumb is embarrassing, in the end it will be of no major importance.
I had started working on next winter's firewood. There was this rather spindly Maple in the area where I have been working. Eventually I want the area to be an open meadow. I have purchased a bunch of wildflower mix and want to seed it with wildflowers. So I cut down this maple, When I was breaking it down for firewood, I came across a piece that had this incredible beautiful grain.
I thought it was much too pretty to run through the fireplace, so I set it aside to make into something.
The pieces aren't real big, so it would have to be something small, like a jewelry box
I was slicing a piece down into 1/4" slabs to dry, when one piece got stuck in the saw. I reached over with my left hand to free it, and got my thumb a little too close.
O shit!
Much blood.
I grabbed a paper towel and put compression on the wound. I didn't want to look at it, but did long enough to tuck things together and get them compressed. Carol was in town taking the dog to the Vet, so I was on my own.
I scratched out a very shaky not to tell her I was on my way to the ER, got in the truck and drove into Port Angeles (about 15 miles)
I called home and left a message. It seemed to be taking forever to get me admitted, and I was in a lot of pain, but eventually I get admitted, and they gave me a couple of shots of Lidocaine to numb up my thumb. Man was that a relief.
The Doc stitched together the chunks and they loaded me up with antibiotics and sent me home.
It has been healing very well, although it will take a quite a while for it to heal up completely. It has now been 10 days, and no signs of infection or anything.
I am still in a moderate amount of pain, but it is manageable. Not being able to do much of anything s, however, driving me nuts.
I put the Westphalia in the shop because the defroster fan motor was making noised like a garbage disposal. I looked into repairing it myself, but it is a bitch of a job. I had called around to get an estimate for the repair before we moved and the quote was over a thousand dollars. You have to tear the whole dash apart, and then the motor is in a box, which is spot welded together.
When driving into Port Angeles, we noticed a place on the right hand side of the road that had a bunch of Westies out in the parking lot, so I dropped in to get an estimate. They quoted my about $750, so I left the van there and they gave me a ride home. I hope to get it back today. I had them repair a couple of other things while they were at it, but the bill should end up under a grand.
I think when I get it back, I will see about betting the Z in for some repair work. I sure miss driving that car around..
For right now, I am spending a lot of time on the couch reading, since I can't do much. Maybe I'll dig out the card table and put together a jigsaw puzzle.
That's about as much excitement as I want right now.