Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Aimee tagged me over the weekend, but I didn't have time to respond until now - so here goes!

RULES - Post rules before giving the facts - Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves - People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules - At the end of your post you need to tag six people and list their names - Leave them a comment on their blog, telling them they have been tagged and not to forget to read yours.

Eight Random Facts about Me

1. Until I was about 7, we lived in a small cabin without indoor plumbing. "Toilet" was at the top of my birthday and christmas gift list for several years. I love indoor plumbing.

2. I went to a one room school for the first and second grade. The school (Winton)was about 15 minutes from our house in Plain, and had students up to the 10th grade, with about 25 students in all. My first grade class had 6 or 7 kids in it, making it by far the largest class. When my brother started school my mom decided to move me to Osborne Elementary for third grade, since Winton didn't have a kindergarden and she wanted us to be at the same school to keep things simpler for her. Osbourne was the "big" school in Levenworth, with two 3rd grade classes of about 25 students each. It was a very traumatic move for me - I have never really forgiven Jon for it. :P

3. My first pet of my very own was a cat named Bootsie that we got from an animal rescue place. She was one of 3 surviving kittens that had been put in a sack along with their mom and dumped alongside the highway near Wenatchee. She was always a little weird about strange people and loud motor noises, but she was a great cat. She lived to a ripe old age, even surviving several strokes in her later years which left her unable to walk in a straight line but otherwise healthy and happy to curl up on a warm lap and demand pets.

4. I didn't learn to tell time on a round-faced clock until I was 17. I'm really not stupid, and normally I learn things very quickly, but I just didn't get it when we had that lesson at school. And once you're over about 9 years old, everyone assumes you already know how to read a clock, so I was too embarassed to ask anyone to explain it again. I hid my ignorance by wearing a digital watch or by asking other people what time it was.

5. I bite my nails, especially when I am stressed. When I was younger, I used to also bite my toenails. That's pretty much the only bad habit I've ever kicked (the toenail biting) but it's mostly due to reduced flexibility, not willpower. Thank god I never started smoking!

6. I love to travel. I have been to Canada, Mexico, Columbia, Brazil (sorta - popped across the border from Leticia, Columbia & got un helado), Ecuador, Chile, and England. Someday I really want to go to Iceland, Venezuela, and New Zealand, and I'd love to visit some african and asian countries as well. However, the truth is that now that I have a house and land we're probably going to be sticking closer to home and doing more budget travel - backpacking, road trips and the like. Which is just fine, because I haven't really explored the US and there are a lot of great sites to see.

7. When I was a kid, I loved to play fort. My brother and I and the two neighbor boys had a fort complex consisting of 5 or 6 different buildings nestled in the trees by the creek that ran through our property. We would play out there all summer long (including lots of sleep-outs), and on weekends during the spring and fall. The buildings were made out of scavenged materials; logs, sticks, old apple bins, scraps of tarps, old boards, chicken wire and old tin roofing. The main building was the Kitchen, which had a gabled roof made from the protective bracing that an upright fiberglass shower insert is shipped in. The walls and roof were made from scraps of plywood and a truly ancient canvas tarp, nailed down to a framework of scrap lumber and sticks. It also had an attached dining room made from an old apple bin turned on its side, and a palisade fence enclosing a little courtyard outside. I planted tulip bulbs and johny-jump-ups in a flower bed next to the door, and spent hours out there "cooking" whatever I could out of the ingredients Mom let me abscond with. I'm sure to the untrained eye the fort looked like a homeless encampment, but we saw it as a beautiful little village and we took pride in building and maintaining it.

8. I can belch really really loud. I learned how from my friend Sara Lacross when I was in 4th grade. She was a true master. With her expert teaching and many hours of practice I acheived a level of proficiency that has served me well for years. It's good to have skills!

Ok, so now to tag some other folks.
I guess Keeley, Dan and Ted are it! I think they are all on summer vacation though, so it may be a while before there's any responses.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hog Fuel & the Dingo

A few weeks ago we had 20+ cubic yards of "hog fuel" delivered in the form of a gigantic pile in our front yard. Hog fuel, for those of you who don't know (I didn't) consists of shredded trees, shrubs, stumps, yard waste, and the like. It's MUCH cheaper than wood chips, and also much dirtier & irregularly sized and shaped. It's commonly used by farmers to fill in a wet corner of a pasture or as bedding material for dairy cows. This is what the pile looked like this morning:
That machine parked in front of the pile is a Toro "Dingo", which I rented for the weekend from Hardware Sales. It was a pretty impressive little machine, really fun to operate once I got the hang of it. Here Tombi and Moira watch as I back away from the pile with a full bucket...
Gabe & Cynthia really helped a lot too, pushing wheelbarrow loads (the dingo fills the wheelbarrow fast!) in addition to the Dingo-loads out to the various dumping sites and raking out the hog fuel once it had been dumped. We got a nice early start in the morning, and worked until about 10 am while Cary & his brother Eric fixed us all a delicious pancake breakfast! :)

It took a lot of trips with the machine & the wheelbarrrows to move all that material and spread it around where we wanted it. The finished product looks pretty spectacular, as Kess models below:
That's the path through the bushes from the parking pasture above. Below is the new & improved rope swing landing area, complete with a path leading up to it.
It finally decided to start to rain, so we called it a day at about 4:30 pm with the pile reduced to a mere sliver of it's former self. Tomorrow, assuming we're not all too hungover after the bachelor & bachelorette parties tonight, we'll quicky finish it off.
All in all, a good day's work! I'm pretty impressed with the Dingo. It's a really odd machine, not like any other I have operated, but it really made this job go a LOT faster than it would have with shovels & wheelbarrows alone. All the extra labor by people who thought they were just coming up for a party weekend didn't hurt either! :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Riding Lawn Mower

The only thing better than a riding lawn mower is a FREE riding lawn mower! We are now the lucky owners of what I can only describe as the neighborhood hand-me-down riding lawn mower. It once belonged to someone named Randy, who gave it to the retired school-teachers at the end of our road, who then gave it to the Farmer family on the other side of us when, who passed it on to us earlier this week. Is that about the most awesome "welcome to the neighborhood" present ever, or what? Big thanks to everyone involved in this generous neighborhood network. Someday I hope we can pass it along to another household with a huge lawn to mow. :) Naturally we couldn't wait to try it out. It works just fine, the only thing wrong with it is that it tends to overheat after 20-30 minutes of operation. We might try to fix that, eventually, although it really isn't that big of a deal to let it cool down for 10 minutes or so and then go back to mowing. And man, is it ever faster than the walk-behind mower (which was also free, a hand-me-down from my parents who got themselves a brand new riding mower this spring), although it can't get quite as close to the house and other obstacles. There's nothing wrong with free lawnmowers, of any sort!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pasture Mowed

Earlier this week our next door neighbor, Mannix, kindly mowed our pasture for us as an early wedding present. It looks about 70% larger now that it has been mowed! We're going to use this pasture as wedding parking and camping. Depending on how fast the grass grows, we'll probably mow it again a few days before the wedding. Mowing it now is great because it will be all nice and green with new growth instead of all brown and stubbley.
Here's the view looking back towards the entrance to the trail that goes over the bridge and back to the house. We're planning to hang a large banner/sign between the two trees at either side of the opening to help people notice it.

Thanks Mannix! It looks terrific. :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tower Improvements

Dave came out on Sunday, and we added stairs to the observation platform. Much better than the ladder!
We also roughed in the railing around the top of the platform - it needs some more supports before we call it done, but it already feels safer. Big black thunder clouds moved over us all day, but it never actually rained more than a few drops on us - too bad, because now I have to water the lawn.

The bridge got a railing too, and the brush clipped back away from it.

We also started working on our signs for the trail, but that will be a multi-day project because waiting for paint to dry is boring.

Also - I mowed the lawn again! Now that's excitement. It just keeps looking better all the time.

Cary's Aunt Chris & Uncle Reimar came down in the afternoon and helped with the tower railing and spreading wood chips on the path, and then they camped overnight in our field and watched the meteor shower. This was the first time anyone's camped out here since the house was built, so it was an inauguation of sorts, or perhaps it would be better to consider it a trial run on the wedding accomodations. They declared it quite comfy. :)

Saturday, August 11, 2007


That's two fewer piles of logs around the place, which is a good thing also. This is for the wedding night bonfire, now we just need to make the fire pit bigger.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Observation Tower

Because it's cool, that's why.

Thanks mostly to Dave's hard work collecting, cutting and even pre-assembling all the materials and tools ahead of time, the observation tower went together really quickly on Sunday. The pre-assembled walls and pre-cut lumber really helped minimize the impact on the building site as well.
Once most of the peices had been carried out the trail to the site and the peir blocks situated, Cary, Bo & Brian took turns hammering 5' steel fenceposts into the ground about 4' deep. These were then strapped to the support beams with metal plumbers tape to really tie the foundation down.

The pre-fab walls dropped into place really quickly.
Some angle bracing and decking over the top, and we've got an 8'x 8' platform 8' off the ground at the edge of the swamp.

Cary points out the highlights of the view to his mom. It's a wonderful vantage point for sitting in the afternoon watching the birds & the dragonflies over the marsh.

We still need to add stairs and a railing to it, but it's already useable. Dave really picked this idea up and ran with it, and we couldn't be more grateful. We'd have gotten around to it eventually, (probably,) but it's indescribably cool to have it now.

And those of you who didn't make it out for the work party, never fear - we'll be working from the same list next weekend! :)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wedding Work Party

This Sunday, August 5th, we are planning a wedding work party. Anybody who is available to help, we would appreciate your labor! We're planning to work on at least some of the following projects (depending on how many folks show up and what y'all are motivated to do):
~build the observation tower
~spread wood chips on the trail to the parking pasture
~make & install directional signs on the trail
~build the rest of the cedar rail fence
~cut up and stack firewood for the fire pit
We've got a good selection of gloves & shovels & wheelbarrows and the like, but feel free to bring your own tools & equipment if you think it would help.

And of course we'll be firing up the grill and drinking some beer in the evening!