Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stairs, Steps, and Soliliquies

My lovely wife somehow finds the energy and wherewithal to get her gorgeous little keester out of bed at 5:00 AM three to four times a week to go to the gym.  Rain or moon.  Now that's dedication.

5:00 AM?   Who am I kidding?  I roll over and go back to sleep, for at least thirty minutes.    

She may have used a stair-stepper at one time, but now most of her cardio workout is done is on an elliptical machine.  I think that's the one that generally makes you look like an uncoordinated lunatic spazz, gyrating in some crazed form like you are on LSD and listening to a little soulful electro space age revelation euro pop punk.

Or maybe that was just me on the dang thing thirty years ago listening to Boy George.

Damn.  This is embarrassing.  I gotta stop sharing so many random thoughts.

I'll bet my lovely wife knows what she is doing on the elliptical machine.  She is the epitome of cool.  If it ain't cool, and if she can't do it cool, then she ain't gonna do it.  The Fonz ain't got nuttin on her.

Besides knowing what she is doing, even her workout attire is fashion cool.  And her outfit is always perfectly accentuated with short, sharp socks.  I love saying that.  Short, sharp, socks.  No doubt she is the best dressed morning athlete there, even her sweat sparkles and glitters with diamonds and  rainbows.  And tastes like honey.

What do I do for exercise?  Well, Goldie, the Rooster, rarely lets me sleep past 5:30AM.  So I get up,  trundle down stairs and make some coffee.  There's some leg and forearm action right there. 

As the coffee begins to drip, I grab any vegetable treats leftover from dinner and mosey on up to Chicken Fantasia Land.  There, I unleash the flock from their night time secure quarters and they gleefully scamper about scarfing up any and all treats I have strewn about.

That's about a fifty yard round trip, up and down hill, as quick a warm up as any for the rest of the day.

Then I assess and plan the day, once a little caffeine is coursing through my veins.  Each day usually requires multiple walks up and down and all around this homestead on the side of a hill.   Besides the stuff I do that I post, this year I've already got a cord and a half of fire wood bucked and stacked for this coming winter. 

Land clearing and firewood was covered one time in Where's Paul Bunyan and That Big Blue Ox, but they are both an ongoing and very LARGE chore.  At least for a couple more years.  I've also got another 2-4 cords down, almost completely bucked and the larger rounds ready for splitting.

Then stacking.  And then throughout winter, every week about three wheelbarrow loads of wood needs to be brought up and stacked on the covered porch.  And every winter day wood is brought inside to keep the house warm.   There's some constant action, forearms, legs, back.

And before the wood ever gets to that point, where it's burned as fuel, the downed trees and limbs have got to be brushed.  And then all the slash that creates needs to be burned.

And all that work happens on a hill.  Up and down, up and down, up and down and all around.  I'm getting tired just thinking about how many times I go up and down this hill.  

Who needs a gym?  I'm building a homestead on a hill.  And when I sweat, the sweat intermingles with all the dirt and dust that has landed upon my person from everywhere I've roamed.  Then it cakes upon my skin and I look like I have been laying on a beach in the tropics.  

It tastes like mud.

While it may seem to some of you that I have recently been a bit lackadaisical about posting to this blog,  rest assured, I have not been resting upon my year long laurels.  As a matter of fact, I need some rest.

I've got a couple hammocks out back in Hammock Land, but do I ever partake of their effortless ease?  Hell no.  I walk by many times per week, think about how good it would feel to simply sway in the breeze, and then carry on with my appointed chore.  They sure do look nice though, swaying there in the breeze.  A little Jimmy Buffett in the background...

I have been doing many things around the old homestead, and I do have quite a few upcoming post ideas now stacking up for your entertainment.  At least two.  What I haven't had was the time to sit here and scribe about all the silliness I do.

Since the first of the year, I have been working on another literary project that has taken up most of the absurd words that float in and out of my cranium on any given date.  That project has finally wrapped and is currently going through the edit process.  I hope to have that manuscript available in one format or another later this fall.  I'll keep you posted.

Two worlds will collide, even though nobody, not even me, has any idea who I really am.

Way back when I started Chicken Fantasia Land, essentially refurbishing an old goat pen the previous owner, Meathead Hoagie had built, I also had to address the ingress and egress issue.  I mean, I would have to visit this place at least a couple times a day.  While the location is perfect and relatively close, it's also on the up hill side of the equation.

The previous owner, Tweedle Doodle, had made zero attempts to access the goat pen save for compass, machete and a degree in gymnastics.  When I first completed Fantasia Land, with sweat and shovel I began the access issue.  I turned this inhospitable blockade of wood and dirt

into this, with no more than pick and shovel.  And sweat.  Besides widening the walk to 3 feet, I also initially took it down to the base of the retaining wall so that I could replace any rotted wood.  Then I tarred the dirt side of the wood and filled in the path at a comfortable grade, finishing with a several inch deep gravel top. 
The grade of this walk is nice and easy, but at the top, where you must make a hard left to get up to Fantasia Land, the grade gets steeper.

I initially made a cinder block landing, because at this point two walks behind the retaining wall converge and it was rather steep.


At this point I was debating whether or not to just add a hand rail all the way to the top or continue on up with some form of steps.  I had been contemplating cinder blocks, but those buggers cost over a dollar each now and I was going to need more than five.  My overall budget for the project was sweat, so I was going to be going way over budget real fast.

Then, as when a happenstance occurs, or as when circum stances, which is much different than circum cisions by the way, I happened to be visiting my son.  He was living with an old high school chum, and that chum had recently purchased his place on a short sale.  He had all sorts of projects going on, and one of those projects was to put decking all around the house.

The house is on some acreage waaay out in the country, almost in the middle of no where.  The previous owner, Buffalo Chip Brain, who lost the place in the real estate bust, had made up some pretty rip torn walk ways all over the place with some pretty nice rock.

The question begs where and how this inspired chowder head got all these really nice rocks and why he brought them to no where.  Maybe to make a really nice planter with mortar and pasties?  Nope.  Schnook Salad made walks.

Really fucking stupid walks.  The kind of walks that can kill you.  Seriously.  The walks were all uneven, sharp, jagged edges jutting up from the already uneven mosaic pattern like so many bozos on a bus.  Or like so many kernels of corn on a calibrated and syncopated kazoo.  They sat ready to add major insult to injury once someone had taken the inevitable toe stubbing tumble that was surely going to happen more than once.  Especially the way those boys drink out there.

As he was discussing his decking project, I began to notice the rock.  A lot of it was flat and had straight edges, and as I sized it all up I figured I could use it instead of cinder block.  I asked him what his plans for the rock were, and he said he was just going to cover it all up with the decking.  I asked if I could take some, like all of it, and he said help myself.  Total cost: sweat.

Three car trips later this is what I had.  By the way, most of those weigh more than a cinder block.

More sweat.

And then I got really sweaty and creative with a pick and a shovel.

Eventually I will plant some form of moss or ground cover around the rocks for added looks and stability.  I have left it all a little loose because I have to run a couple underground irrigation lines somewhere through the maze.  In the meantime, it's all solid enough for daily use and has already made the upward trek just a little bit easier.

I used the left over cinder block to the right as a retaining wall.  That little hillside meanders right on down to the door of the old pump house.  Even though the actual well below that house ran dry decades ago, there are still relevant valves I use as well as dry storage.  In other words, I need ingress and egress, hence the retaining wall.  I have planted some Phlox in the cinder block holes, which will bloom a bright pink come spring.  I call it my cinder block phlox.

You know, it's probably a good thing I don't rest so much.  Cause when I do, I usually see more things I have to get done.  Like, I was hanging out on the front lawn with the Grand Kids a few weeks back and I took a long look at our front steps.

I have had plans to redo the front steps, but at the rate these were going I was going to have to do it much sooner than I would have liked.  The planks are still solid, so I decided to do a little quick refurbishment.

Besides the fact there were cracks, holes and crevasses, the existing brown paint was flaking.  Did you get that?  Existing BROWN paint?  Who in their right mind thinks that's a good color to mix with yellow and white?  How about Plow Head Jelly Brain, the previous owner? 

He must have been sniffing some good model airplane glue when he came up with that color scheme.  Besides the front deck steps, he also had all the window shutters painted brown as well.  And look at the stair newel posts...what was he thinking?

"Hmmh, need more glue.  Then I'll paint many things around here.  Brown.  Really bad brown.  Like Bobby.  Or Leroy.  I won't know why.   Has anybody seen my mucus membrane?"

The only lovely, ethereal, correctly color schemed apparitions in the above photo, taken when we were considering buying this place, would be my lovely wife and her lovely twin sister.

Sigh, twins.

Armed with blades, axes, hammers, pitchforks, sickles, scythes, sandpaper, a shovel and lots of caulk, I went to work.  I scraped, scaped, shaped, aped and then smoothed it all out.  It was one noisy-ass cloud of dust storm type of affair for a good two hours.  Then I hosed it off, let it dry and caulked the crevasses.

Next up was a delicate coat or three of semi-gloss white paint along the rail, and then some great Behr floor paint.  Black.  Add a couple carpet treads and it almost looks like new.


The shutters, by the way, turned black about a year ago.  It was such a small project it wasn't worth a post.
They were nailed in rather haphazardly by you know who, Puddin Puddle, the previous owner.  I almost needed a fork lift or two to get a couple of the nails out, but with enough force they succumbed to my effort.

Once down, they were all painted semi-gloss black, and then screwed back on.  That way when they inevitable exterior paint job occurs, they will pop off quite easily, without the need for a fork lift or spoon.

Speaking of small things and little victories, a Soliloquy is the act of talking to oneself.  Or it can be considered an utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or herself.  Semantics.  The speakers are usually disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers.

I'm usually rhyming too, all day.

Chicken Update

Our little bare backed flock of eight, with their harem master Goldie, are all doing just fine.  There was another commotion the other night.  We sleep with all the windows open at night this time of year, taking advantage of that cooling Delta Breeze.  That also allows this very light sleeper to be awakened by all sorts of solos in the vast nocturnal symphony of sounds.

Around 1:00 AM I heard the snap of a twig, usually indicating the presence of a deer.  Another invading bastard.  You can read more about my views on deer here at Bambi Can Eat My Drawers.

Then as I lay awake, awaiting further sound, I noticed some of the chickens were talking.  It wasn't a happy type conversation, they never gossip or tell jokes after sunset.  It wasn't a dire squawk either.   

It was more like a concerned chatter, like, "We're not really frightened, but something is concerning us."

I got up and flipped on the flood lights, one of which hits the cage door dead on.  Once again I saw furtive movement, a quick shadow scampering out of the light.

It was .22 time.  I got the gun, a flashlight, scampered downstairs and headed outside.  As soon as I opened the back door I heard the varmint flee into the leafy night.  I sat there in silence for about ten minutes, but I heard no more.

I am now getting a profile and am pretty sure this is the same creature that took down all my Guinea Hens.  He's come around 1:00 AM all three times now.  The last two times I have had a shadowy glimpse, and from what I saw I'm pretty sure it's a raccoon.  I don't think it's big enough to be a Sasquatch or Nick Nolte.

The size is right for a Raccoon, and the varmint has got to be able to climb a wire fence.  It also has to have the capability to open up a fairly tight wedged gate, which is how Ginnie the Guinea met her fate.

A raccoon meets all these traits.

Fortunately, the flock gets locked up every night in their secure perch and hay filled indoor/outdoor suite, which actually could afford them more than enough room to live in luxury their entire lives.  They do, however, get let out every day to lift weights, smoke cigarettes and bathe by rolling around in the dirt.

In the summer, they get to frolic in Lake Capon, a three foot clay bottom puddle that stays full for hours.

What the hay. 

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