Monthly Archives: July 2012

Winders and sidin’

Emily and I were talking about the deluxe deer stand the other day…we poured piers for the foundation, built the floor, set all of the walls and the loft and the roof…and all of that happened pretty quickly.  It seems like we have been putting siding on the building since before I hit puberty though.  How did we build the entire shell in what seems like less time that it is taking us to get the shell covered?!

Siding almost done
Siding almost done…the gap is where the porch roof will tie in

I guess like everything, when the more detailed work gets going, things necessarily slow down.  We are taking our time installing the siding so the rain will hopefully remain outside.  Anyhow, we have finally finished siding 3 of the 4 walls.  We’ll finish the 4th wall when we get a deck built around that back side.  It’s just too high to do the peak until then.

All of the windows are installed!
All of the windows are installed!

We finally installed the final window last weekend as well.  How many executive deer stands do you know of that have nice big windows?  We still have one door to install (on the back where it is so high) to finish the outer shell.  I’ll tell you, windows are wonderful!  Emily and I looked across the hills and the windows make the deer stand just about perfect!

Our view of the mountains
Our view of the mountains…from the ground

I know you are probably wondering about the waspers I talked about a few weeks ago.  They were not kind neighbors so I bought a brand new can of wasper spray at the Piggly Wiggly (not really…it was Kroger…PW  just sounds better).  I emptied the entire can shooting directly up into the “nest hole” where millions and millions of waspers poured out.  Of those millions, I think 7 died.  The spray can said the stuff killed for 24 hours.  We came back a week after spraying and the waspers were still all over their nest.  I know the can wouldn’t lie so my only explanation is that those bugs are seriously tough.  I am rethinking my relationship with the wasper family.  I think next week, we will take them a loaf of banana bread and a nice quiche.

Tuned in

I was a weird kid…ask anyone.  Some would argue I am still am weird.  They are probably right.  Anyhow, when I was a kid, I had a small black transistor radio from Sears that Santa brought.  I listened to classical music frequently on it.  I also listened to Charlie Pride and CCR on 8 track so I had a diverse listening experience as a kid.  Anyhow, back to that transistor radio.  I loved that radio and loved the smell of the ozone it generated (or whatever that smell that old electronics make).  Surely I am not the only one who knows and likes that smell?  I (somewhat) understand how radio waves work but I remain amazed at how people talking somewhere in the world can end up talking through the little speaker in my hand.

Juliette shortwave radio
My $1 Juliette shortwave radio!

Fast forward to now.  I have a little bit of extra money now and then and my fascination with radios is being reborn.  I got my ham radio license a few months ago and that started me learning more about radios and antennae and stuff.  So, with that extra money I mentioned a moment ago, I went junkin’ a few months ago and found a 40ish year old shortwave radio…for $1!

Aircastle shortwave radio
My $7 Aircastle shortwave radio!

Just this weekend, I was driving by another pile of junk someone had for sale sitting out by the road.  I spotted another old shortwave radio and whipped the car around to check it out…for a mere $7 I bought another 40ish year old shortwave radio.  Both radios are in pretty awesome shape and tune very well.

Tuner on Juliette shortwave radio

Tuner on Aircastle shortwave radio

Aren’t those faces just beautiful

I have a third more modern shortwave radio which is nice and all but punching in frequencies on the keyboard just doesn’t have that old fashioned radio feel and the new radio doesn’t make that old radio smell.  I love to stoop in near the radio with my ear to the speaker as I slowly and carefully turn the dial listening for anything interesting.

Tecsun PL-380 shortwave radio
My modern but boring to tune shortwave radio!

I have all of my radios on a table in the living room and when the lights are dimmed a little and I can spend a few minutes tuning in the world, the world feels a little smaller…and a lot more crazy!  Seriously, have you ever listened to shortwave?  There are lots of crazy folks on there.  Still, there is even more awesome stuff broadcast on shortwave and I love searching for every bit I can find!

Does anyone else listen to shortwave (or any band in addition to AM/FM)?

I am ticked off

Well, lately I have been ticked on actually.  This has been a rough year for the garden (have you noticed I haven’t written much about the garden?  We have one but it is pitiful) and for my trees and air conditioner but it has, apparently, been a great year for ticks.  I don’t know about you, but I hate ticks more than about everything (except roaches…I really hate roaches too).  They are disease carriers, they get into nooks and crannies and then burrow in, and they suck…really, I mean it.  They suck.

A tick
This sucker was crawling on my shirt. They move fast so I could never get him in focus! He no longer moves though…1 down…

I know I could buy a herd of guineas or dust my entire property and that of my neighbors with tick-icide but it appears that we are just going to have to live with our tick friends.  I wonder how many ticks live on my property alone?  Between my space and that of the folks who border me, I suppose there are several hundred acres of tick-haven.  I am not typically a cruel man, but I am sort of day-dreaming of baiting traps for ticks and then sharing a huge bonfire with friends as we toss the traps into the raging fire.  Gosh, I hate ticks!

Well, I guess there is no good way to get rid of the nasty creatures so we will just have to make the best of it.  Come to think of it, ticks may not be so bad at all if you follow Brad Paisley’s lead…



I don’t have a butterfly tattoo but…


Has it been 18 already?

Today is our 18th wedding anniversary. I know, when you see pictures of us, you say to yourself that we cannot possibly be old enough to have been married for 18 years but it is true.  We both turned 40 this year so that makes us…young when we were married.  Sometimes I think back and can’t imagine how young we really were but I would not trade a single day of our 18 years…plus 3 before that when we dated.

Freshly married!
Freshly married!

I guess I don’t tell Emily how lucky I know I am to have been able to marry her.  We probably won’t do anything fancy tonight and I expect we will probably act today much like any other day, but I am truly as happy as I have ever been and I am so proud to call Emily my wife!

It’s getting hot in here…

So, last week (or was it two weeks ago?) we were without power for 6 days.  It was hot and without power, it got pretty uncomfortable. The fantastic effort by a bunch of linesmen from all over the country got everyone turned back on and life was once again electrifying.    I was all charged up to get back to a normal lifestyle and enjoy the rest of summer.  You see, I usually like heat quite a bit.  This Sunday, however, our air conditioner decided it had gone on long enough.  We kicked on the AC and the compressor outside sounded like it had a zucchini stuck inside.  It clanged and clattered and sputtered some.  It took me a few minutes of listening to the behavior but I finally ruled out the zucchini.  It didn’t seem worthwhile to try to investigate the possibility of other vegetables so we called a repair place.

The offending piece of junk…out of frame is me mooning the AC

As a side note, I think I am in the wrong business.  All of the hvac folks are days and days behind…every last one of them seems to be running from place to place removing zucchinis from AC units.

Anyhow, it is somewhere around 95-100 outside which leaves the house about 10 degrees warmer.  It’s very hot in here.  It brings to mind Nelly, the talented musician who recorded Hot in Herre (I’ll leave you to find the videos of the song…PG13) as well as other classics like Ride Wit Me and Grillz.  The gist is, he enters an establishment where folks do cardio-vascular strengthening exercises to the beat of music piped to all parts of the room.  In time, with such exercise, the patrons of the establishment find that their body temperatures begin to rise so Nelly suggests removing some of their extra layers of clothing (your mom told you to dress in layers didn’t she?) to expose more skin to the open air in order to allow perspiration to evaporate, thus cooling their bodies.

The repair folks came by and have scheduled the installation of a new AC unit on Thursday morning.  That leaves us several days where we find ourselves in a predicament similar to that in which Nelly found himself.  I’ll not describe the state of things around here in any more detail, but let me confirm for you that evaporation of perspiration is in fact enhanced with less clothing covering bare skin.

Well friends, as I said, you can find the original Nelly video but I hope you will be inspired by these folks who were overheated in their Sunday best:

The bottomless pit

As many families do, we ate breakfast for supper the other night.  We had a bunch of biscuits, eggs and sausage.  It is not uncommon for us to eat that sort of thing, especially when we are going to be busy. It’s fast and sooooo good.  Anyhow, we made a mess of biscuits.  I mean, we made a bunch of good-sized biscuits because we like to eat the left-overs the next day for breakfast.

So, I will come back to that in a minute.  But have you met my son, Isaac?  Isaac is going on 13 and most certainly in the transition from boy to young man.  It takes a tremendous amount of sleep and food to fuel such a transition apparently.  We have noticed that Isaac tends to graze all day long and still sit down and eat a full meal by adult standards. In fact, he may eat a full meal by a giant’s standard.  He almost always eats more than I do and I am not a bean pole.  I suppose I was like that around his age too but I certainly do not remember it being so.

7 of these biscuits!

Anyhow, back to the biscuits…we started with 15 nice sized biscuits.  Emily and I had each had 2 and Abigail had 1.  As we cleared the table, we noticed the number remaining in the basket…now if your math is up to snuff, you will quickly calculate that Isaac ate 7 biscuits along with his two eggs and 4 pieces of sausage.   Seven biscuits!  I think the only reason he stopped at 7 was that Abigail fussed at him, complaining that she would have none to eat for breakfast the next day!

Well, I am glad that we are in a position to feed the boy what he need to fuel his growth into young-manhood.  I only hope that the store and our garden can keep up with the demand!

EDIT:  Emily just informed me that she only had 1 biscuit so Isaac actually had 8 biscuits!

My daughter running a chainsaw

There comes a special time in every little girl’s life when she needs to learn how to run a chainsaw.  For Abigail, my 9 year old, that time was Monday.  <sniff, sniff>  It sort of brings a tear to my eye thinking about how my little girl is growing up.  It seems like just yesterday we were learning how to make proper spitballs and here she is cutting trees with a saw.

My daughter running the chainsaw!
She needs to lean into it!

I had been putting off this important milestone in Abigail’s life but the recent storms necessitated the removal of at least one of our trees that got pretty torn up.  I had promised Abigail I would build her a treehouse and one of the trees is perfect for it.

Emily took Isaac to tae kwon do so it seemed like a perfect opportunity to dig into the project.  What makes this chore particularly interesting is that it is 15 feet from my house and half of it hangs over the dining room and the main power line into the house.  I think that makes this a perfect tree for Abigail to cut upon.

My daughter running the chainsaw
My raspberries got thrashed by the storm…

I think a little appropriate danger is good.  But before you worry too much, we decided to do a lot of initial trimming with an electric chainsaw on the end of a long pole.  It’s still a serious chainsaw that makes quick work of wood, but nothing like a gas saw.  Anyhow, I guided the saw head while Abigail ran the power trigger.  We worked pretty well together as a team.  She was worried at first but once she took that special step of cutting her first branch, she really enjoyed running the saw.  I guess when it comes time to really cut the main parts of the tree, I will use the gas saw and keep her far away.  Some day though, I will have to teach Abigail the special thrill of hanging on a ladder cutting a tree right as the sun is crossing the horizon leaving the cutter to wonder if he is cutting the right branch or the leg of the ladder.  Ahhh…growing up…

Siding and some difficult neighbors

As with most of the country, it has been hot as blazes here in West-by-God-Virginia. Since the heat may continue on until Christmas, we decided to continue to plow onward with the work on the cabin, although at a slowed pace.

Installing siding on the house
Day 1 of siding on the surface of the sun

On Independence day as well as this past Sunday, we worked on hanging siding on the third side of the “deluxe shed”. In a new record, we made it out to the place at 8:30 am. You see, we usually mess around and do other things…like eat at Panera…we do that way too often.

Installing siding!
Siding complete on side 3!

We usually have to stop by one of the home improvement places and get supplies…of course, it’s the weekend so we usually sleep in too. Anyhow, with the temps, we decided to break tradition on all accounts and start early before it got hot. We did start early, but we did not beat the heat.

We took this at 9am…well, maybe not…but not long after

So, we took tons of water and wore sunscreen and hats and all of that stuff. Across the span of the two days, we were able to hang the siding on the third side of the “luxury deer stand”. It is coming along nicely.

Installing siding!

There are other builders in our neighborhood also. We tried to get to know the neighbors but they are not terribly friendly.

Bald faced hornets
The waspers!

The bottom of the cabin is exposed still and some bald-faced hornets have decided to take up residence and build a bigger-than-i’d-like paper nest. I found out that this style of hornet is really a yellow jacket variant which is in the wasper genus. For anyone not familiar, wasper is Southern for wasp. Many folks actually say it sort of like “washper”. Anyhow, the Wasper family have moved in and are not at all friendly. We’ll have to deal with that later. I will collect their home and display it as a trophy in the deluxe shed come fall…


Last Friday, we headed to PA to help celebrate my aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary.  We have always been very close to them so it was a really great time…once we got there.

We left about 3 hours later than I had planned.  It’s a 6-7 hour drive so that makes a big difference.  Anyhow, about an hour into the trip, my mom called and asked if we were alright.  I thought she was nuts but she told me that they were watching the Weather Channel (as all good worried parents tend to do) and that there was a terrible storm in WV.  I told her we would be fine and all that.  Not ten minutes later the sky became black like I haven’t seen in a long time and it became scary windy.  We slowed down to a crawl and kept going.  There was no use stopping…WV is pretty un-populated and any place that did have shelter was already without electricity…almost instantly.

Storm clouds rolling in
This doesn’t begin to do it justice…

So we drove through it from Flatwoods, WV to Waynesburg, PA…around 110 miles.  It was only really bad for about 50 miles but it was really really bad in that stretch.  North of Pittsburgh, it cleared out and we could see stars.

Anyhow, fast forward to our return trip on Sunday.  We had been warned to get gas before we got to Charleston so we figured we would get it in PA and then try again about 70 miles outside out Charleston.  It turns out that the electric was out from about 100 miles outside of Charleston so there was little gas to be had.  We saw some folks who were obviously travelling, just sitting at gas stations presumably waiting for electric to come on so they could fill up and continue their trip.

A few limbs down at our place
A few limbs down at our place

Luckily, we had plenty of gas because when we got to Charleston, there were lines at the few stations that had both electricity and gas.  People were fighting apparently which is not surprising considering some folks were waiting 2 hours for gas in 95-100 degree humid temps.  When we arrived home, we found no electricity and some large branches down.  Our neighbor had a larger tree come down which brought down a pole and lines.  They had the lines propped up with a 2×4 to allow them to get in and out of the house.  Lots of people were without water as well as power which made this deal pretty serious for a lot of people.

A car crushed by a tree
Not our house but local…note the crushed roof on that SUV
Not our house but in Charleston...note the crushed roof on that SUV
Check out the size of the tree that mashed the SUV

All-in-all, we are pretty lucky.  We still do not have power and may not until Sunday or Monday.  Still, we have no damage and are able to stay at Emily’s parents’ house who do have power.  I definitely feel bad for folks across the state, though, who have no such escape.  Fifty-three of the fifty-five counties in the state have damage and are under a state of emergency (I think that’s what they call it…whatever the technical term is).  West Virginians are great folks though and will weather this literal storm just fine…a little more aware of how much we depend on the electric and water.

EDIT:  I wrote this a day or so ago before we got power back.  Thursday at 4 pm our power was returned so are mostly back to normal aside from cleaning up debris

EDIT:  Here is a cool flickr feed of some pics taken by the power company