Monthly Archives: July 2015

A Hugh Jass Truck

So, our anniversary was last week and it is bound to be one of the more memorable ones we’ve ever had.  We didn’t tour an exotic foreign country or watch the sunset from a hot air balloon while eating wine and cheese.  We didn’t even go fishing with a 6-pack of beer.  Let me back up and tell you the whole story…

Preparing for departure
Preparing for departure

My parents have lived in Tionesta, PA for 42 years, 41 of which were in the same house where my brother and I were raised.  In the last year, they decided it was time to move to WV to be nearer to us so they bought a house here and listed their house there.  About 6 weeks ago, their house there went into contract and they were given a closing date range of July 23-August 3.  Mom checked around for moving companies and settled on one based in FL.  They took her deposit and scheduled their move for July 23…our anniversary.  That’s perfect…we could enjoy our anniversary and help them after as the movers unloaded the truck the next day.

On July 20th, the closing date was set…July 23rd.  That date was tight for the move but the lawyer was leaving the next day for vacation…it was pretty much set in stone.  Mom called the movers and confirmed that they would be there on July 23rd.  They promised they would but did not have a time set.  She called daily in the week leading up asking for the time.  As late as the evening of the 22nd, they promised they were coming on the 23rd but didn’t know when.

Hugh Jass Truck
It was a big truck…compare it to my Honda Pilot which is not a small suv

As you might have guessed, the 23rd rolled around and the movers didn’t show.  They did call at 8:30 am telling my parents they weren’t coming after all.  To be clear, the night before, they confirmed they were coming; the day of the move, they told her they didn’t service their area.  This is after taking their deposit and promising repeatedly that they were on track to move them.

So, I get a call around 9:30 am on the 23rd with the bad news.  Of course, the closing still needed to happen but they had no movers.  I said I could drive up and return in a rented truck and let my Mom drive my car back.  It was certainly not ideal, but was workable.  My parents called around local rental truck places and even called the state-wide dispatcher in Pittsburgh for one company.  Basically, all companies reported that there were no trucks available in the state (or at least the western part of the state) until August.

So, I called around Charleston and found a 26′ Ryder truck here.  My father-in-law, a real trooper volunteered to ride with me.  So, I rented a Hugh Jass truck (say it out loud) and headed 350 miles north to PA….at noon…on my wedding anniversary.  My wife is a real trooper also of course as she is the one who suggested renting a truck here and driving it up empty.  This truck rode like…well, a truck.  It had air brakes so made all of the cool big truck sounds and I bounced around the captain’s chair that was on air shocks itself.  It was not a comfortable ride.

Unloaded...and worn out
Unloaded…and worn out

Anyhow, I got within probably 6 miles of my parents’ (former) house when I saw a sign for the upcoming bridge…clearance was 13’3″.  I remembered that my truck had a clearance of 13’6″.  I stopped 20 feet from the entrance to the bridge and it was clear I couldn’t make it through.  This bridge has a blind curve leading up to it and is on a narrow state road so there was very little space to turn around.  (Check out the first pic at this site. I was coming in through the forest at the left.)  Luckily, another driver went and blocked traffic while I performed a 27 point turn to head back the other direction.  All told, I probably had to add 45 or so miles to my trip to back track to a route I could successfully navigate.

Finally, we made it to my parents’ house where they had a small crew of dedicated and awesome people to load up their stuff (which fortunately they had already boxed up).  We finished up the next day with the help of some young men from a local group and were on our way back to their new home in Charleston.  Fortunately, the new owners were very understanding and even came to help move boxes and stuff.

Emily’s family came to help us unload on the WV side and we had the truck unloaded in no time!  We were exhausted but everyone was safe and my parents are now in their new home in WV.  I drove 735 miles round-trip and loaded and unloaded that truck (with others of course) in a 36 hour period.  I am not sure I want to name the company but if you get ready to move, holler at me and I will tell you one company to avoid!

Happy Anniversary!

It’s hard to believe, but 21 years ago today, I married my best friend!  We were young and foolish but the best decision I ever made was marrying Emily.  We met during the first week of college and started hanging out regularly over hot chocolate around Christmas of freshman year.


I struggled and worried and acted all weird trying to work up the nerve to kiss her on the last week of freshman year and that sort of started it all.  What a goofball I was…it was easy!

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Fast forward a few years and I struggled and worried and acted all weird trying to work up the nerve to ask her Dad’s permission to marry her.  What a goofball I was…it was easy!  We were watching Spartacus which was intense enough, but he simply asked for a number of goats and sheep and it was a done deal!  I’m still trying to collect enough to pay off that debt, but some day…

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So, here we are 21 years later with 2 wonderful kids and a life I never would have dreamed of!  I couldn’t be happier!

Backyard garden

A couple of years ago, we decided to convert a crummy section of our backyard into garden space.  We used to have a gigantic garden but with all of our running around, we found that we could not adequately manage such a large plot.  Still, we really liked having fresh vegetables to eat.  And honestly, I really enjoy seeing stuff spout and grow regardless of whether it feeds me.

Our garden in the backyard
Our garden in the backyard

Anyhow, with chickens this year, we found that we had to fence off the garden area.  I would love to have a really polished fenced in garden, but when it came down to it, I just needed my seedlings protected so we drove T-posts into the ground and hung welded-wire fence on that…done!

Garden bounty

So, without chickens interrupting growth, you can see that our garden has gone nuts!  We planted a few varieties of peppers, tomatoes, yellow squash, zukes, potatoes, green beans, onions and a few herbs.  WV has had lots of rain this year so we haven’t watered a thing and it’s really doing great…in some ways, maybe too great.  Stuff has grown together more than we expected so that’s not ideal but it it generating food!

Patent leather beetle
Patent leather beetle (I think)

I found this guy roaming around also.  He has enjoyed the garden as well and somehow, has avoided the chickens.  As it turns out, we discovered that the chickens like Japanese beetles that have taken up residence on the raspberry plants by the house more than any other thing I have ever tried to feed them.  I hate those beetles so am happy to pick them off by the dozens to feed them as a treat!

A few finishes on the cabin

I was just looking over the progress we made on the cabin over the LAST 4 YEARS…geez…it has been that long.  It seems like we progressed by leaps and bounds at first but now we are crawling along.  Of course, I also cannot tell you the last time we were out there so it’s hard to expect progress from afar.  Anyhow, a month or so ago, we made it out for a few hours and got a few things done.  Pictures aren’t great but we added a few finishes to the place.

Ceiling fan!

If we need cooling, we will use window units but so far, the white roof and thick insulated walls have kept the place pretty pleasant on all but the very hottest of days.  Each room has a few fans now and that makes a huge difference in moving air and keeping us comfortable.  It should help with heat int he winter as well.

Ceiling fans in the sleeping area!
Ceiling fans in the sleeping area!

Speaking of heat in the winter, we are nearly finished with the rock behind the wood stove.  Of course, the wood stove puts off a lot of heat so the rock will act as a heat sink and also shield the wood in the walls behind it.  I love the way the rock looks and it is easy to install.  We have a bunch of wood from a tree we recently cut down so in a sick way, I am sort of ready for a cool day when we can light up a fire to test our new chimney and rock.  Hopefully that will all go well!

Rock behind the wood stove
Rock behind the wood stove

Most of the drywall and ceilings are up and ready for finishing now as well.  There is a lot of stuff that is almost done but just not quite.  I hope that this fall will, if nothing else, result in a more predictable if not less busy schedule so we can get out to finish our work.  I’d like to be able to really enjoy this place some day!

Our field in Spring!
Our field in Spring!

The field in which we built this place is just beautiful!  I cannot wait to sit on a porch swing on the front deck and just look at the beautiful scenery!

It’s been awhile, but let me explain

I don’t really have a good explanation. This Summer has been busy and wild and rainy and I feel like we just cannot get ahead of stuff going on! Band camp has started for Isaac and will continue this week at the school and next week away at their “away camp”.  Abigail starts next week as well with camp at the school and then we are back in school…or so it seems.

Strawberry pie!

We haven’t been to our executive deer stand, I haven’t harvested the honey yet and I am not sure you could call what was a yard a yard any more…more like a jungle.  And so, here lies my blog, lonely and abandoned.  I had trouble with it being attacked and just in general sucking from a hardware and infrastructure stand-point.  It was hosted on an aging server in my office.  As it grew in size, the server balked more and more often and then knuckle heads from places unknown slammed it hard (though it didn’t have to be hit too hard to bring it to its knees).  Finally, I decided to migrate it to a paid service where I get better machines, better storage, better maintenance, etc.  I hate paying but it should just flat out work better now.

Strawberry pie!
Strawberry pie!

So, hopefully things are settling down some and I can get back to posting.  It’s been a fun Summer in spite of rushing around.  I’ll have to tell some of the stories we accrued.  In the meantime, please enjoy this pic of the strawberry pie Emily made me…she made me about 4-5 this summer and they were incredible!