Friday, October 12, 2018

Christy Geis

Haven't you ever thought, "I need a t-shirt that says: Blah blah blabbedy blah." Or "Jason is ALWAYS saying XYZ... I need to get him a mug with that on it." I have your connection right here!

This week's entrepreneur is my cousin Christy! She recently went back to school and decided that a crafty entrepreneurial venture would fit better with her school demands than working for someone else on their terms. She started Christy Jean's Creations in 2016 with wreaths for all occasions and has since expanded to her description, "seasonal happiness for your home or for gifts. I make wreaths for any/all occasions, T-shirts, personalize tumblers, and I have even began to dabble in a tad bit of wood signs. I make your ideas come to life."
Wine glass tumblers!
Customized as you like it.
I asked Christy my generic series of questions and she brought up a couple of topics that artists of all types can identify with. Her favorite part of the business is "making customers happy when they receive their goodies!" But, of course! Artists love hearing, "this is even better than I imagined." Usually when a customer asks for a customized item, it is with the knowledge that they don't have quite the same level of skills or eye to do it themselves. They give the task to a creative person with the tools and the eye to do it for them. The problem comes when there is a different conception in the customer's mind or there is some element of miscommunication. Christy admits this is the worst part of artsy entrepreneurship. This is not unusual at all. I can say from personal experience that sometimes, we, the customer, have too much vision and don't trust our hired artist as much as we should. I find it works best to turn the whole idea over to the artist and let them do the job we trust them with. Christy has an eye for color and artistic balance that I think is completely trustworthy!
T-shirts for families, businesses, or one-off ideas.
One of my favorite Christy Jean projects was a series of Halloween wreaths she did. It might be a little late to order a custom Halloween wreath this year, but if you're in the northwest area of Houston and could avoid shipping, you might be able to squeeze in a request. I'll leave you with this last photo... Like her shop on Facebook and see if she can't make someone on that Christmas list of yours happy!
Wahahahaaaaaaa.... Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 05, 2018

Lisa Klein

Of course, I wouldn't interview someone I didn't like or didn't respect, but when I asked Lisa the same series of questions that I ask all of my entrepreneur interviewees, what I got back was inspiring and uplifting. This is another time that I will basically cut and paste what she had to say. She is just too eloquent and positive to butcher her phrases.

I have known Lisa Klein for some years, first from our workings at Texas Renaissance Festival, and now as friends and supporters of one another's work. She etches, she sketches, she enamels, and makes pretty things with stones. Her work is divided into three businesses although they do cross paths. IvyMoon is her main business. She makes geek-pins and fun things for the Renaissance folks. The Copper Bone, which started her entrepreneur empire in 2006, is where you can find unique and fun pet tags and pet jewelry. Her third branch is Ely & Ivy (pronounced Ellie) where she gets to have fun with more intricate patterns and jewelry ideas.
These Trekkie cats love their jewelry!
Here's what Lisa has to say about life as an artsy entrepreneur:
  • Did you go to school for this? 
I did go to school for this!  I have a Bachelor of Fine Art in Sculpture specializing in Jewelry and Metalsmithing from The University of Houston.  I was actually an Interior Design major.  My parents had lectured it into me that I must find an actual paying "profession".  At U of H, the Interior Design department was part of the School of Art.  As an Art major, we were required to take one semester in every specialized line of study.  So, my second year, after floundering through Interior Design, Drawing, and Painting, I was finally introduced to both Sculpture and Jewelry and Metalsmithing.  I was in heaven!  I had definitely found my calling and I informed my parents that I was going to change my major to Jewelry and Metalsmithing.  
Beautiful mandalas.
  • What is your favorite part of artsy entrepreneurship?
Absolute freedom and the people I meet.  I love being surrounded by other artists!  Every new person is an inspiration.  When I say freedom, I am only a slave to what I put upon myself.  If I want orders, I work to get orders, then I have to fill the orders, which can be very time consuming and take weeks at a time.  If I want to do a show, I just sign up for that show, which means I obligate myself to all of the time constraints, pressure to stock inventory, rules of the show, etc.  However, it is entirely my choice what I do and when I do it.  I know what I need to do to make my business successful and that's what I do.  There are days when I only work an hour or two (typically this is a bad sign because it means I have very few orders at that time!) and there are days when I work 18 hours just to get my items created for my customers.   The flexibility is very nice, the creative freedom is something I just crave.  I'm not sure I'd ever be able to give up my own business because I simply cannot give up my creativity.  It's not something  you just turn on and off.  
Badges of honor...
  • What is the worst part, or what do you fear?
Retirement.  Doing this on my own is tough and while I have job security (I'm never going to fire myself!), I work straight commission.  Which means I live sale to sale, twenty dollars at a time.  Every penny I make goes towards my living expenses or back into the business.

Right now I have a part time job that I love. I often think about moving along to another full time job with benefits and vacation time, but I know that even if I did that, I would never be able to give up my business. When I look at the jobs that are out there and consider that I've been running my own business full time for nearly eight years, I realize that even with the benefits of a steady paycheck, I still earn more at my own business, where I make all of the rules.   Then I think, "Wow!  What if I had a job working for someone else AND I ran my business??"  It's fun to think about the combination of both benefits and artistic freedom, but then... when would I sleep??
  • Self-care… It’s not always easy to be your own boss. What do you do to be kind to yourself?
I'm not someone who can sit still unless I am utterly, totally exhausted. Plus, I am an admitted television addict!  I learned to crochet from my mother and have taken that to an extreme with intricate blanket patterns, which is what I do to relax at home.  I make crocheted blankets while watching hours of, as my friend calls it, my "Stories."  I am obsessed with Outlander, amongst many other shows.  I also spend a few nights a week playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends.  As an avid reader, it's hard to find time to read, but I listen to audio books whenever I'm in the studio or in the car.  And finally, whenever I can, I spend time with my brother and nephews, who live out of state, and my father, who lives very close by!
Birthday gift, anyone???
Lisa touched on what I think is the hardest part for most self-employed artists, retirement and benefits that come with working for a steady paycheck for a company. We work when there is work, which is often far more hours than normal people because you never know what tomorrow will bring. It's a good thing we love what we do!

Lisa makes really beautiful things that would make your gift-giving struggles much easier!!  Check out her shops :-)

Monday, October 01, 2018

Dublin

Dublin, Texas, that is! I'm quite excited to be going to Dublin, Texas this weekend to check out the new Things Celtic, recently moved from Austin. I'll be playing a show there from 2 to 4 for the town's celebration of transportation. I plan on getting there early enough to enjoy some ice cream!!

Come enjoy some Irish music amidst small town Texas history!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Brian Kay

It's Entrepreneur Friday! This week's self-employed artist is Brian Kay. I'm not sure how long ago I met Brian, but it's been at least a few years now. We've done several gigs together for Istanpitta Medieval Music Ensemble. Brian's voice has a clarity and the rare ability to give life to songs from distant times and lands as if these songs were right here in our back pockets all along. Aside from a gorgeous voice, Brian is an extremely varied musical talent, so varied, in fact, that he is working on a series of YouTube videos on his channel to answer the often asked "What kind of music do you play?" On the same YouTube channel, you can hear/see him perform, and he has plans to interview other musicians. I highly recommend following his channel. I enjoy watching him grow as an artist, and I have no doubt you will too!

Brian, Al, Rosalind and myself at a 12th Night celebration.
I asked Brian a series of questions for this article and rather than botch his answers, I will copy a bit of what he had to say here. Every time I talk to him, I feel like I am talking to myself of 20 years ago...  yeah, that means I'm getting old - haha...  Maybe the familiarity points to some universality in the questions, ideas, struggles, and reasons for going on this artistic entrepreneur journey.
The modern musician.
What is your favorite part of artsy entrepreneurship?
There are many things to like about being an artistic entrepreneur. If I were to pick a favorite, it would have to be that there are times when it enables me to follow my muse and learn a new style of music or a new skill. I’m constantly expanding my set of skills, and lately I’ve started painting and doing wood working. Right now they are hobbies, but they could very well become another means of income in the future if I decide to pursue that route. I don’t always have that kind of free time, but the nature of my work is that I get hired for a period of time and become the musician necessary for that gig, then I might have a week, two weeks, or even a month off to work on my own artistic vision.

What is the worst part, or what do you fear?
It’s hard to say... Everybody has ups and downs in life and we all have an average level of performance. Sometimes we perform above our average and others below. But most of the time I’m right in the middle, and that middle has an upwards trajectory, and has ever since I’ve started playing music. In other words, I’m always getting better at what I do, and therefore my average level of performance is getting better. Still, there are times when I don’t feel well, or I find it hard to focus. It is during those times that I’m most at risk of performing lower than my standards. I always try to remain optimistic and be forgiving of myself when I’m unable to rise to the occasion. But I haven’t always been so forgiving of my imperfections. All of that said, I guess my greatest fear must be that I might become complacent or hit a plateau and not aspire for growth. Or that I may one day run out of ideas, which seems nearly impossible considering all of the ideas I have now. Still, it is a possibility.
Pondering his next big idea.

Self-care… It’s not always easy to be your own boss. What do you do to be kind to yourself?
I like how this question is framed! I used to be so hard on myself. I was a bad boss and a bad employee. I recently started to take better care of myself: changed my sleeping habits, diet, exercise routine, quit drinking alcohol. I have meditated daily since 2013, but I started to get more serious about my practice and to explore other methods of meditation. All of this led to me feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally. It has culminated in me being more organized throughout the day and my productivity and creativity has exploded. 

If you're in Texas like me, it's worth noting that he'll be at Ye Ol' Texas Ren Fest October 13 and 14 with Istanpitta - a rare chance for you to catch this northerner live here in Texas. Go forth and subscribe to his channel and buy his works. Snoop... stalk... go on, you have permission!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Crafty Woes

I love putting things together all by myself.... except when my skills aren't QUITE up to it and I can't figure something out! ARG!  I am so smart, I just know I am - how can this stupid inanimate object win like this?!?!?

Yesterday, I popped open the pop-up trailer. I take it to Texas Ren Fair so that I can sleep comfortably off the ground, and so that a fellow musician can as well. It's clean, airy, and has two full beds. At the fair, I do not have electricity. When I first got this trailer, I used it at a fair with electricity and everything except the overhead light worked fantastically. I had a fridge and two outlets available as I liked. Coffee maker, lamp, cook top, even the next door neighbor ran an extension cord from my camper to his because there were no more official outlet posts in the campground. I ran quite a bit of electricity through this baby.

Now, the fridge flat won't come on. The outlets come on for about 60 seconds before flipping the breaker to my house. I have pulled unnecessary wiring. I have checked over what exists for breaks or loose connections. I hate to think that the breaker box itself might have gone south because that's not exactly cheap, but it's just about the last possible problem.

Being crafty is all fine and good until the craft gets craftier than you!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Texas Renaissance Festival

Texas Renaissance Festival starts this weekend. I can hardly believe it has been a whole year. This year, I will be performing only the first three weekend of November with Istanpitta. I take a brake every few years. Al Cofrin is truly a great weekend boss, but it is good to remind myself that this is his gig and I do have outside goals. One of my "free" weekends, I will be going to Dublin, TX to perform at Things Celtic's new location. It's good to get out and do my own thing... it's also great to be welcomed into the Istanpitta team each year.

Have fun, everybody!!! <3 nbsp="" p="">

Friday, September 21, 2018

Entrepreneur Highlights

I am getting ready to write a series of posts about entrepreneurs I know. As I sit here thinking about that, I realize MOST of them are artists. Musicians, painters, stained glassers, circus performers, dancers, and owners of companies that produce shows and employ people of all types. I know so many creative, amazing, funny, self-driven people. They inspire me every day. I hope that writing about one person each Friday, I will be inspired to act toward my own crazy goals, and possibly inspire someone out there in some way. I am looking forward to knowing my creative friends better!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Bird feeder

I made some bird feeders! I used a bunch of left over materials.

First, choose a length of 3 inch or so PVC. Spray paint it the color you want or the color you have. PVC deteriorates in the sun. Cut a couple inch piece off a 2x4 - this will carry the chain up through the middle of your PVC so that it doesn't tip over. Drill a hole in the middle of a melamine plate big enough for an eye-bolt to pass. Cut a couple of pieces of wire... anything will do. Drill a hole in the middle of your wire, or if it's bare wire, from a circle in the middle. Pass eye bolt through the wire and then down through the plate. If your eye-bolt has a corresponding bolt, make sure you have a washer and attach the bolt through the plate, eye side up. If your eye-bolt is just a screw bottom, take a piece of wood and attach it under the plate as if it was your bolt (that's what that white piece of wood in the photo is).  Bend a license plate to become the roof and drill a hole in the middle big enough for the chain to pass through easily.

 Now, time to assemble. Attach the chain to the eye bolt. Send the chain through the PVC pipe. Send the chain through the piece of 2X4. Screw the 2X4 to the top part of the PVC. You may need to pilot hole and then send in the screw so that you don't split the small piece of 2X4. Send the chain through the license plate. Hold it up and hang it!
The PVC should sit down on the wire allowing a bit of space for the bird seed to fall on the plate. Birds will perch on the wire or the edge of the plate. Lift the license plate and carefully pour seed in. The first few seeds might slip over the edge of the plate because gravity is fun like that, but you'll get the hang of it and the birds will love you!

Monday, September 17, 2018

MISStanpitta

Alesha Yamal, Cayla Cardiff and I met singing and playing for Al Cofrin's medieval band, Istanpitta, during the Texas Renaissance Festival. The three of us found that singing together was easy and fun, and we each had our own harmony strengths to offer. Vocal harmony is one of my absolute favorite things on earth. There is something about it that reaches for the soul in a depth that harmony by any other instrument doesn't quite venture.

The three of us have rehearsed for several years as our schedules have allowed. The last two years we were able to play at the Texas Renaissance Festival under Al's umbrella of Istanpitta. Every now and then, he leaves us to our own devices and we call ourselves MISStanpitta.

We had a rehearsal yesterday. I fall in love with these voices all over again. Most of our repertoire is Medieval for the sake of the one venue we so far have done. We have a few other songs in our back pockets just waiting for the day when we have a house concert or other small venue where we can sing and play everything!

Harmony.... ahhhhhhh, my soul.

Friday, September 14, 2018

I am an Entrepreneur

I am a do it yourselfer to the core. I am almost toxically independent. I am self-motivated within my own goals. All of these traits led me to entrepreneurship.... these things plus the fact that I am also very frugal.

Once upon a time, I was working at the SPCA/Humane Society in Austin, Texas. I was a clinic nurse assisting with spay and neuter surgeries as well as vaccinating and examining all incoming animals, and preparing their paperwork for adoption. One day, as I clocked in with one of those old fashioned time card stampers that make the loud KATHUNK every time someone clocks in or out, I looked over at our bulletin board. On that bulletin board was a flyer advertising the sale of a pet-sitting business. This was the very first time I had ever heard of pet sitting. It was also the very first time I heard of creating, naming, owning, and then being able to sell a service business. Business that sell goods, that's one thing, but service businesses... I guess I thought the grew like trees and just died when it was time. And maybe, they actually do.

I called the lady who was selling her business and asked many questions like, "How long did it take you to build this business?" "How long have you been in business?" "How much are you looking to sell the business for?" "How many clients do you care for in a week?" Her answers sparked my interest not in buying her business, but trying to start my own. It took 3 years to build her business to full time. She had been in business for five. She was asking $30,000 for her business. Well, if I could build my own business in three years while I worked part time somewhere else, why pay $30,000 for a list of clients who may or may not choose to hire me over someone else?

It wasn't long before the few clients I had took enough time that my schedule at the Humane Society was not compatible. I found a part time job at a vet clinic. Both the Humane Society and the vet clinic referred odd cases to me because of my medical care experience.  In one year, my business was in full swing and I let go of the part time job.

When I divorced and left Austin, I sent a letter to my clients offering a list of pet sitters I knew and trusted. I chose to begin a career in music. The process of building this business was much the same. To fill gaps in both my brain and my calendar, I began offering services as an organizer. The blending of service businesses is a great way to keep my creative music mind fresh and keep the sometimes monotonous chore of organizing from become too much of a chore.

I love entrepreneurship. I love shifting my businesses and ideas in directions that feel right to me. I like serving people of my choosing in the way I wish to contribute.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Container Kitchen Complete!

In the right hand margin of this blog, there are a list of labels. I encourage you to click the "Container House" label to see all of the posts showing the container as it progressed.

This container was an annoying eyesore from the day I moved onto the property. I tried to give it away, but it is wedged between powerlines and mature oak trees. It would not be easy to remove. The roof was hole-y and rusty which in turn rotted large portions of the floor.







Anne pulled the rotted floor out. She also scrubbed and scraped the rust from the roof. I designed a deck style floor so that water could pass through the floor rather than collect and rot. We installed this new floor the very day it arrived from Lowe's. I primed and painted the roof with a serious coating of paint sealer. I got to use my Wal-Mart sale sprayer to spray the interior and the exterior of this metal box. I bought it for $65 to spray the container house and it did a great job! I never expected to be able to use it again, but I guess I cleaned it well and on it sprays. Anne and I moved the garage shelves that previously lived beside the cabin creating a wall between the new outdoor kitchen and my new garage. The kitchen got 16 feet, and the garage got 24 feet. The container is 8 feet wide by 40 feet long. I cut windows and doors which we lifted to make awnings over every new opening.







Monday, September 10, 2018

Things Celtic, Dublin, Texas

I'll be singing some songs for a couple of hours at Things Celtic's new location in Dublin, Texas on October the sixth... I am looking forward to it! Come and visit!!


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Cat Drop Off Day

It's been a get-things-done kind of week. Stoli and I came to Austin today. He will stay safely at his Auntie Pat's for twelve whole weeks. We arrived and within minutes it looked like he owned the place.

As an ex-on-the-road musician, I stayed on-the-road for a couple of months at a time before finding rest in a friend's home here and there. This upcoming stretch may be the longest on-the-road stretch I have ever done... it is certainly the FARTHEST I've ever road-tripped.

I have a few simple goals:
1. Don't stress out. Like ever. There is absolutely no reason to.
2. Take notes every day... details. I forget stuff later. Take notes.

Well, honestly, I think that's it. If I can manage to maintain my zen and take notes... everything else will be easy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

For the Money

"Would you rather sell 100 book or give away 1000 copies to people who would read them?"

Why do we assume it's ok to ask artists to work for free??? If they really love art, they will just do it, for free, right? Wouldn't they rather their art be available in the world even if they don't get to eat?

Do doctors work for free because they love saving lives? Do teachers work for free because they love kids? Do lawyers work for free because they want to see justice done? Do police officers work for free because they love to make people feel safe? Do accountants work for free because they love numbers????

Ideally, we would all love our jobs. But whether we love our job, or rather our contribution to society, we should all get paid what the contribution is worth. Art is a contribution that can't even be quantified. It is found everywhere and makes nearly all facets of our lives better. From the architectural art of a building to the layout of the magazine in the doctor's office to the music you hardly notice in the grocery store. Art is everywhere and it matters. Artists should be paid whether they create art with love or with tortured hatred.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Building

Today, I built the counters in the outdoor kitchen. Everything went very well. Anne assisted as needed. There were no injuries... and now, I can't wait to finish it!!

Next: tile, trim, plumbing and finish the electrical... Keeping it simple and clean.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Outdoor kitchen sink

I made some progress on the planning of the outdoor kitchen. I'm using 3 inch PVC pipe as legs, leftover deck material for the sink counter, used plywood and tile for the prep and stove side. All things have been measured, counted, collected and prepared for cutting tomorrow.

The electrical art project is still progressing. We live in such a small town that no hardware stores are open on Sunday. Progress continues and the hardware store-forgotten-stuff list grows.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Fiddlers Frolics

This is THE Hallettsville event of the year. Fiddlers Frolics is a competition for Texas style fiddling. Saturday out-of-staters compete. Sunday, Texans compete. Both days have some good fiddlers, but Sunday is by far the more impressive player after player.

I'm taking Anne today to enjoy the music, the church-lady bake sale, the civic organization fried chicken and green beans, and the Shiner beer. I can't wait!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Alaska proofing

You know how young parents kid-proof their home, making the place indestructible and safe for their new baby? I'm doing a similar thing to the camper for our trip to Alaska.

Everything that has bothered us over our travels so far is being fixed - a box under the sink for miscellaneous appliances, a wall under the sink so that things do not slide to where you can't reach them, a place for garbage and doggy poo bags.

I am also prepping for the colder times, specifically for the dog. Her space is a large cavern under the bed. It gets cold on a floor with no insulation against the back wall that is also un-insulated. I blocked off about a foot of space with foam board insulation and made a foam mattress for her floor that snuggles a water and food bowl holder. Her space is now warm and secure.

Finally, The sun doesn't really set in Alaska during the summer. I made velcro tabs for our curtains to securely black out light. I also made covers for the two skylights and the window in the door. A trip is no good if you can't get any sleep!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Next trip

We've been home just a few moments, but as of today, the Alaska trip is ready! It is the highlight of our travels. It makes sense that it is the priority. It just feels a little funny to barely be home before turning around and finalizing the next departure.

I'm excited. We have plans to stay with old family friends. Big fishing trips are in the works. Hikes, breweries, tour boats... So many plans!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Dewberries

Dewberries grow wild around here. They are basically smaller tarter blackberries. Every other day, we take a walk around the perimeter and collect all the blackest ones we can find along the fence and in the brush near the mowed path. The dog and cat go on these walks too. The dog follows eating things she finds on the ground. The cat gets distracted about every other minute and, so, also follows slowly.

When we make it back to the kitchen with our harvest, I slightly smash them and add a tablespoon of sugar. By the next morning, they are sweet and juicy and great to top off a tiny bowl of cantaloup, pineapple or any fruit we have in the fridge. The pint of sweet dewberries lasts us a couple mornings and then it's time for another slow harvest walk.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Summer Tanager

It's spring... in South Texas, spring is almost over! I've mowed the wildflowers when they started looking pitiful. The trees are bursting with new growth. The hummingbirds are fighting over the feeder. We are in a pretty good migration path for birds heading north from Mexico. It's really fun to notice the birds that are just visiting. This year, we spotted a pair of Summer Tanagers. The red almost had me dismiss the male as just a cardinal. We have tons of those. But then, I saw the yellow. Time to grab the binoculars. Turns out there were two! I'd love it if they became residents, but alas, not likely. Good luck, visitors!!! 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Normal?

We are home, and we are both hovering over our computers writing. Seems like all is back to normal. It's chilly. That's not normal Texas weather. We both have colds. That's not normal. Everything is so green and flowery. If it was this way all the time, I would never even consider leaving. It's definitely a nice scene to come home to.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Cantaloupe

Anne's sick. I am too, but clearly not as sick as she is. Pretty sure we caught the same cold from our host in St. Louis. We've had scratchy throats since then, and there's really no hiding it now. Anne's sneezing her face off. She went to the grocery store and bemoaned the fact that she couldn't sniff the cantaloupes properly. As a result, we cut into a fairly bland unripe melon. I don't mind. It's still refreshing... and a little less messy.

In other news, upon inspection, it appears the automatic watering system I installed for the garden did not work. The plants survived but clearly need more water than they received. Sigh. As far as we can tell, that was the only fail around the property. Not so bad.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Driving

I have a hard time sleeping the night before driving. I always have. I woke up at 2AM and never went back to sleep. Anne had said yesterday that no time was too early to get on the road, but 2AM seemed a little excessive, so I let her sleep. At 4, she got up for a run to the girls' room. I hit the coffee button. It would be ok if she wanted more sleep, but if she was really ok with an early start, coffee would be needed. Stat.

She returned to the camper filled with the smell of fresh coffee. And we began the final pack-up. We were on the road by 4:30.

We plowed straight through Dallas at 9:30, hit some traffic, but did just fine. We drove with the wind pushing us along and made it to Los Cabos in Hallettsville at abou 2:30. Impressive. A long day of driving, but I felt great. Maybe it was the reward of a margarita and Mexican food that I knew would be good! Whatever it was, this was possibly the easist 10 hour drive. and we only stopped three times.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tulsa Day

We went on a lovely morning hike and then communicated with an old high school friend of mine about going into Tulsa for dinner. Turns out that lunch worked out for all of us even better.

We drove into downtown which is nothing like driving into downtown Austin or Houston. It is a nice downtown, just not so big and hectic. The first thing we noticed once we began looking for a parking spot was the signage. There were "two hour parking" signs attached OVER what appeared to be older "pay at the corner" signs. The "pay at the corner" was just visible but the words partially covered by the new "two hour parking" signs...  uh, so... is it pay or 2 hour? Or both? And what city hangs a new sign OVER old signs. It was weird. We looked for a corner pay booth, but there were none on our corner.

We visited Prairie Brew Pub. Amy showed up shortly after we arrived, and she looked EXACTLY the same as the last time I saw her more than 20 years ago. It was a lovely lunch with talk of our parents and her kiddos and Texas.

When we left, I half expected a ticket for not understanding the awkward signage, but there was no ticket... however, as we approached the truck, I saw a snake hanging out on the step rail under the passenger door. A good sized snake. As we got closer he tucked into the truck's under carriage. Not knowing this snake personally, we decided to give him some space and go have another beer.

When we returned, the snake seemed to be gone. Either that, or better tucked for the long journey back to camp or even all the way to Texas!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Keystone State Park, OK

Keystone State Park near Tulsa, Oklahoma offers all types of camping from primitive tent to deluxe cabins. They offer a small number of campsites for online reservation. We chose the one closest to the bathrooms minus the handicap accessible campsite. No one was in the HA site which was lucky. The row of online reservable sites were VERYVERY close to each other and if someone had been in the HA site, our trips to the bathroom would have been awkwardly long walks around their site. As it was, we got to walk directly through on a sidewalk to the restrooms and showers.

These were possibly our least favorite showers so far across the country. The water never got fully hot. One shower had a heater, the other did not. The shower with the hotter water and the heater had two sprayers, a crotch-level and a face-level. The crotch-level sprayer sprayed bullet-streams of water while the face-level sprayed a good practical pressure. Yes, there was a handle to change which sprayer sprayed. When turned, it cut off the UPPER sprayer leaving the lower sprayer to emit even stronger bullets of water. No amount of turning cut off the lower sprayer.

We were determined to hike here. This made showers very important. We did all the hikes we could on this first day. All that's left is to walk the loops of campsites. Being determined, we managed to hike loop upon loop.

It's a lovely park on a beautiful lake that is sure to become even more beautiful as the weather warms up. If we hadn't needed the use of showers, the visit might have been nearly perfect.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Quail

We drove away from St. Louis with two homemade sandwiches and a six pack of donuts from Strange Donuts our host gave us. We were now hauling about 200 extra pounds of cast iron stoves, so I was prepared to take it easy. The wind blew directly at our faces the whole way. Gas mileage tanked... but otherwise, the drive was uneventful.

We arrived at Keystone State Park just west of Tulsa, OK. I stopped and went into the camp office where they gave me a map of the place. In the brochure were sponsor ads... This included a map with those sponsors' locations noted. Very convenient! There were a couple of steak type restaurants in the neighboring town of Mannford as well as a grocery store that advertised delivery service. Sounds like we hit the big time!

We drove into Mannford and cruised the main drag which was only about a mile long. We located the grocery store and the two steak places. There were several cars at the one called Freddie's so that's the one we chose.

Upon entering the restaurant, we noticed that most people were in the bar, but even at 4PM, there were a few diners. We were asked if we were there for the crawfish boil - all you can eat for $$$. Interesting, but no, we'll just take a menu. Cajun music played in the dining room. Big windows looked out onto the lake. Kids were running around in the yard. It was just warm enough that most of them were wearing their sweatshirts tied around their waists.

There was a regular menu as well as two specials. I was having a very hard time deciding. I like it when restaurants have a menu of things they are truly proud to serve rather than a generic list of generically expected foods. We asked the waitress what the restaurant was known for. She quickly responded that the Lebanese items were very popular, the cabbage rolls, homemade hummus, tabouli, etc. I do like cabbage rolls. They were listed as a side. Still unable to decide, Anne told me I should try the quail that was one of the two specials. She said she, herself, wouldn't like it because the bones are too much work, but she knows how I can strip chicken wings like a velociraptor. Sold. I'd have the quail with tabouli for my salad and cabbage rolls as my side. Odd meal, but whatever.

Tabouli and Anne's salad were brought to the table. Quite tasty. Then my cabbage roll arrived. It was hearty so I tried not to eat the entire thing knowing the best was yet to come. My plate of 2 quails with lemon pepper sauce arrived... and it was delicious. Anne was right that she wouldn't have been happy with all of its bones. I carefully and methodically ate every tiny bit of those birds down to the tiny wings. I found the large portion of meat that allowed one to taste the actual meat rather than the manner of cooking. It had a flavor and fine texture closer to chicken liver. The rest was ordinary bird flavored by the lemon pepper. There was a hidden gem of fat just below the wing. This was my first quail. Good choice.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Free stuff

Free stuff is my favorite stuff. Surprise free treasure stuff I never thought I would find or be able to afford is the most awesome thing ever.

Our hostess, Lucy, took us to this used outdoor gear store. It's a small shop with carefully chosen inventory that changes frequently. She and her family visit the store with regularity. We looked around and found lots of great stuff but nothing we HAD to have. The store had a large cast iron pot belly stove along with a smaller cast iron wood burning stove. I commented on how much I loved those kinds of stoves and had looked for one for my container house project. Alas, they were always too expensive or in horrible shape. Lucy immediately said, "I have one in the backyard. You want it?" I looked at her with confusion. She then told us how she had rescued a Ben Franklin fireplace from a house that was being torn down and how she had a second wood burning stove similar to the little one in the shop. She repeated, "You can have it if you want it... both if you want." Seriously? YES!

Now, my container house is now finished. I don't want to remodel to include this fireplace, tempting as that idea is. But I do have a few other ideas! The only way I accept a gift like this is if I can acctually put the gift to use. By the time we made it back to Lucy's, I had several ideas and several back-up ideas.

Both stoves were in the backyard under a tarp. Lucy told her husband that I wanted them and he instantly sprang into action. He had been trying to urge her to get rid of them for some time. I got to work making room in the back of the truck. The Ben Franklin is a heavy monster that took two men and some cussing to load. The little stove is much more manageable.
They fit!
I can't wait to get them home and clean them up!

Friday, April 13, 2018

An Ordinary Day

It's laundry day. We were invited to do laundry at our hosts' home, but with a few loads to do, we find it easier to go to the laundromat and be done in an hour. There is a brand new one near the house, easy peasy.

Since we were already out, and with the truck, we decided to stop by the grocery store in case they had beers we needed to take on the road. And there is Penzy's spices. Oh, but wait. We decided we should eat first. An old counter style diner called Tiffany's was our solution. The man at the flat top cooked us a grilled cheese and a bacon cheese omelet and gave us both a side of hash browns. Watching him cook, dipping a paint brush in greasy buttery substance, slapping that substance onto everything, made my arteries tighten a wee bit, but turns out it was so delicious, I didn't mind.

Anne grabbed a couple of spices at Penzy's and home we went.

We relaxed most of the day. Our hosts grilled pork steaks and brussels sprouts for dinner. Afterward, we played Cards Against Humanity and called it an early night. Simple day with friends. Good food, good laughter.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Eggcellence Update

Today is my day to post in the Eggcellence blog.... The week's event: HERE!

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Stupid Internet

My fabulous friend Kelly volunteered to take us to one of her favorite hidden gems of Ohio. The museum of things swallowed by people. She drove is to Lima, Ohio to the Allen County Museum. There are other things of interest and she descreibed them all with flair as we decided this was indeed where we should spend our day.

We arrived and the very first thing the museum clerk told us was, "part of our museum is closed for construction." Ah, the very parts of the museum we had just driven an hour and a half to see were ALL closed. We visited the rest of the museum and sadly left never seeing the most unusual and amusing parts.

Kelly was the most sad because she had even checked their website to be sure of hours, etc. No mention of this closing had been on their website. Oh well...

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Elizabethtown

We are on the road today from Natchez Trace State Park in Tennessee to Caesar Creek in Ohio. Once again, we have our site and GPS set to a brewery as a break in our travels. This time Elizabethtown is our chosen destination rather than trying to battle the traffic of Louisville which is also on our path.

Elizabethtown does not look terribly interesting, and according to our bartender, it's not... yet. There seems to be a movement to bring in and/or build businesses such as this brewery. Flywheel Brewing had its own beers available on tap as well as a few other locals. The pub is big and open with an amazing stained glass window. Good stop for the day.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Worth Buying

I have this thing where I must make large purchases "worth it." Campers are particular pet peeves of mine. People, too often, buy them planning to travel only to end up sitting and rotting (the camper, not the people).

This Egg Camper is the most expensive camper I have ever purchased. It needed no real work, just customization. It is the right size and the condition was great. Now, I have to make it worth it!

I have a journal where I enter the places we camp, how many days that makes in total for this camper, info about the park and our site if we should ever choose to return. In the corner with how many days we have camped, I divide the price I paid by the number of nights. So far we are at $300 per night by my calculation. Plus the cost of the campsite...

My goal is to bring that cost per night down to $20. If we do that, this camper did its worth! Even at $30 per night for the campsite fee, $50 per night is cheaper than one would pay to stay nearly anywhere with the added advantage that you have all your own things clean and tidy where you like them.

We have a few more nights to go... but I'm thinking, by the end of the Alaska tour, we will be much closer... all in its first year of travel!

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Mexican't Food

I know better than to expect much out of a "Mexican" food restaurant east or north of Texas, but I get hungry for the food of my Texas home made by the people that feed Texas... Texans, by and large, would starve without Mexicans.

We ventured into town after a three mile hike. We ran in to WalMart for any long sleeved shirt that might be on sale. The we ran into the Food Giant which had all sorts of local foods that we do not see in the usual Texas market. By this time, I was ready for a small lunch. There was a Mexican food place that had cars in its lot for lunch and it looked well established. Luckily, there was beer, but that was where the lucky ended. We ordered a small nacho... I ate it because I eat everything, but it was not very good. Oh well... I knew better.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Hike finally

We were not hike-lucky in Arkansas. We knew the weather would be cooler here in Tenessee, and they had also had plenty of rain. Luckily, there was sun and a four mile hike to be had. It felt good to stretch our legs and breathe some fresh air.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Hot Springs

Today, we drive. We've mapped out two stops - one in Hot Springs, Arkansas and the other close to our next camp in Jackson, Tennessee.

Hot Springs is beautiful. We arrived before the brewery opened. With the trailer, I have to scout a place to park, and we did so down a side street. We walked the main road and through part of the park where you can see one hot spring reserved for squirrels as humans could not reach it. The squirrels appeared content and relaxed, so I suppose the therapeutic properties of the springs were doing their job. Superior Bathhouse is now home to a brewery. Anne liked their Juicy O the best and I enjoyed my Foul Play Stout as well as a big fluffy fresh baked pretzel served with three delicious dipping sauces.

We drove through the national park campground for the use of their bathrooms, if you must know. The place was clean and full of friendly looking retirees. We might have to check it out later, but patience may be in order - the place looked fully booked up.

The drive to Jackson, TN was mostly uneventful. Rock n Dough was our destination with both brewery and pizza. Pizza was great and so were the beers. Our waitress was rather young and seemed unimpressed with her job, but she managed.

We arrived to our campsite in pouring rain. We decided to crack open a beer and wait for a break before getting out and setting up the trailer. After just one sip, the rain stopped long enough to unhook the camper... Whew.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Random

It's colder now and into the forecast than I had planned. A trip to the local Wal-Mart is the best we can do to make up for my lack of long sleeves and pants. Anne has the same problem. She took my advice and had agreed based on her forecast watching. Oh, well. Long sleeves should be on sale by now... and luckily they were.

On our way home from our shopping trip, we stopped at a place called Hooked Up. The boast bait and burgers. That's pretty much it. It was worth the stop. We ordered. The woman made the burgers, handed them to us. When I tried to pay, she said to wait until we finished our meal. They were simple, real, good sized burgers with the normal fresh fixings.

We tried to take the one remaining hike in this park. It had been under water when we arrived. It's been a couple of days with no rian. Sadly, it was better, but not THAT much better, and of course, the mosquitoes were way worse. We retreated. After leisurely packing up our outdoor things, we enjoyed some more of our book and decided where we would stop en route tomorrow.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Easter Fool's Day

Can't help it if Easter and April Fool's Day fall on the same day - Happy Easter Fool's Day! We took a Sunday drive since we had already done the one hike we could do. There were several streets and "towns" that seemed worthy of a quick drive.

Jacks Isle turned out to be a tiny community with absolutely zero shops or restaurants.

In Ogden, population 180, we were intigued by the sign that said "business district." We found a closed shop and a volunteer fire department. That was it.

Yarborough Landing had a restaurant that had good reviews online. It was closed on Sunday.

Finally, we drove through Ashdown, the town closest to the park. It is a large enough town with a Domtar plant. The place smells like fertilizer or fire ant killer. I looked up Domtar. It claims to be a sustainable paper mill. There are certainly enough logging trucks driving around the area to give credance to the paper-mill idea. But, heavens, do paper mills really smell that bad?

As we finished up our Sunday drive, I was going to get some gas in Ashdown. The card readers at two places did not work. Fine. We need to come to town tomorrow to get more food anyway.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Millwood Lake

It's obvious that it has rained plentifully recently. The water in the lake is high and murky. The shoreline is rough with the trees under water at the water's edge. The two hiking trails are nothing but long puddles in some spots. We managed to hike the 1.5 mile loop, but most of the start of the 4 mile trail was impassable and we gave up - it's probably just fine right after where we gave up.

Macy is on her blanket at my feet beside the picnic table where I type. Anne has gone to the shower house where I just received a luke-warm shower. The plus side is that the bathrooms are spotless and spacious and little used in this day of fully equipped RVs.

The crows squeak like dog toys as they fly from tree to tree on this sunshiny spring day. A cool breeze blow-dries my hair. When the breeze stops, the full 77 degrees can be felt watming my back through my blue shirt.

I could sit here and write about the sights and sounds all day, which is good because there is not much else to do here. We thought there were some nearby breweries, but I was fooled by my searches of "near Ashdown" that pulled up things an hour or two away. I am certainly happy to sit around camp and relax, but we are doing people. We like to actively do things. It's hard to settle down in a place for three days of nearly nothing. The trees and sky, bird songs and campfire smells are enough to make me happy. Just be. Just relax. We will be in busy places soon enough.

Friday, March 30, 2018

On the Road

We woke at 5:51AM. Anne pressed the coffee button which is like hitting the snooze button - the coffee takes 9 minutes to percolate. At 6AM, we sat in bed sipping our coffee and waking up like two spoiled civilized ladies of leisure. 6:20 was our planned "get-out-of-bed" time, but Anne proclaimed the excuse, "it's still dark," so we lingered a while longer. The irony of this is that she was formerly in favor of waking up and getting a move on our day much earlier than the finally agreed to 5:51.

We left this morning at 7:30AM with a first destination, other than gas stations, of Rose City Draft House in Tyler, TX. We arrived just before they opened at 1PM. This gave us time to walk the dog and stretch our own legs.

The place was nice and well decorated and had more than enough taps with a wide variety of beers. It felt a bit like a college town bar. We were the only patrons the whole time we were there. No food is served here, but you can bring your own food, including the pizza or Asian food restaurant's offerings next door.

On we went and arrived at Millwood State Park just before the office closed. The staff members were super nice and we made it to our site easily. We decided to set up our screen room with our lawnchairs and table because it seems like there are a few evening mosquitoes and there are two concrete pads at our campsite - why not use one?

The bathrooms are a little far - we do not have facilities in our own camper - but the bathroom/shower rooms are each individual and spotless. The lake and tall pine trees create a lovely scene... g'night!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Scurry Day

We leave tomorrow. Do you know how many things need to be done the day before one leaves a ten acre home? There are categories. Clothes items. Kitchen items. Property shut down items. Vehicle prep items. Food items. Toiletry items. Writing items.

There is a growing list of things that can't be done until the last minute, meaning the hour after getting out of bed and actually driving out the property gates. That's the list that makes me the most anxious. Those are the little things that, if left undone, could lake a small leak ruin an entire floor. I make sure to write this list down and check it one last time before we leave.

The entire day is filled with these little seemingly insignificant things. It's a busy-bee kind of day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Errand-Land

My trips to Austin are so filled with errands that I am left with little to no time to work for organizing clients much less visit with friends. There are times when this is very frustrating. I want to see people. People want to see me. I want to take care of my clients, people with whome I have developed an ongoing relationship. Here's how things go...

Plan with Pat when will be good for me to bring Stoli and spend one night. I try to arrive around four which puts me at her home before rush hour traffic. She and I usually have some simple dinner of pizza or pot roast that she prepared. We catch up on all of her family news. Stoli gets used to his retreat home quickly and is soon rolling on the floor waiting to be noticed and petted.

The next morning, I wake early. If I have planned to work for a client, I try to work as early as possible. Other times, I have a list a mile long and get started at some place like the oil-change place that opens at 7.

I knock out errand after errand. It is then time to drive home, tired, in the middle of a weekday. No one is available for a 3PM happy hour on a Wednesday and I want to get out of toem before traffic gets crazy again.

I feel satisfied that I got so much done, but I do miss friends. I do miss clients. It's just hard splitting time away from home when there are also things to be done at home.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Time-Share Cat

I am so lucky. I have a dear friend who takes Stoli anytime I leave town. She has taken him for a couple of weeks or a couple of months. She took care of him during the winter trip this year and is planning to care for him for the entire summer. Because she cares for him so much, we call him a time-share cat. It's more than just caring for him, he's at his vacation home.

Today, I brought Stoli to his Auntie Pat's. He's been here frequently enough that he gets used to the place in about 15 minutes. There is the regular routine perimeter check, and then, he's ready for a toy or some scritches.

All of this sounds blissful, doesn't it? Yeah, tell that to Stoli. He is the biggest POUTER I have ever seen. It doesn't matter is I am hauling to Pat's or back home, he does not want to GO anywhere. And so, he POUTS. He slinks down into a low spot and barely lifts his eyes as he whispers a meow. When you go to pick him up to laod him into the carrier, he lets all 16 pounds of his fluffy kitty body go entirely limp. It's pathetic. He used to scream the entire drive. That's 2 and a half hours of cat-wailing. Luckily, he only pouts these days and rides quietly in his saddest looking position.

We arrived safely. This pouting session is now concluded.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Garage door

We managed to lift the garage door into place. It is not as high as I hoped, but it was much heavier than I thought it would be. We cut and lifted the kitchen door a couple weeks ago. It is fifty inches wide with three braces. The garage door is eighty inches wide and has four braces.

Kitchen door/awning.
 I decided to embrace the lower lift on this door. It is easy to walk in and out of the garage from the sides of the door. I added a bench so that it is obvious not to enter from straight out; you will hit your head!

Garage door and bench.
Looks like I should add a bus schedule.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Floor finished

We finished the floor yesterday and I started moving stuff over immediately!
Floor finished!
The next step will be to move the shelving from my old garage area into this new container space. That means I have to move all of the junk off of the shelving unit, cut it to fit into the container, move it, reinstall it, and then organize junk before we leave on our Spring trip ina few days. In installing the shelving unit, this will cut off the kitchen space from the garage space. See that door to the left? That's the kitchen door.  That door way at the end on the right is for the garage.

........

Later: The shelving is moved. Most of the garage junk is moved over. And I built the wee deck for the garage door area. We ran out of steam, power, muscle to lift the door into place, but we will do that first thing tomorrow.

The future outdoor kitchen!
Garage!


It's really a garage!!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Container floor

In the Piece of Junk Container, the floor had rotted out in places to the point that your foot would go right through if you stepped wrong. We ripped out the entire floor. Those shipping containers are floored with one inch treated plywood. They are made to last and not be torn out. Anne easily tore out some sections, and on other sections, had to practically dynamite the floor out. In the end, she won with only minor injuries.

I decided that, with the holes in the roof that will remain, and the fact that we wouldn't mind some air flow of sny kind, we would install a deck style floor in place of the old plywood. It will be more weather worthy than plywood. It will allow for airflow. And it will be less like a place for vermin to hide in the dark, damp, uninhabitable shadows.

Lowe's delivered the materials yesterday: 30 sixteen foot long deck boards and 34 eight footers. The container, measured from the outside, is eight feet wide and has 26 metal rails running across to support the plywood. I ground away rust, primed the metal beams, and then covered each one with a piece of wood. It's possible that I didn't need to do that, but the metal rails are rusty and old; a little extra support never hurt anyone. And then, the sixteen footers go lengthwise.
Floor going IN!
Yesterday, delivery day, I cut all of the eight footers to fit over the metal beams. Anne placed all of those as I cut them. Then we cut and placed a few sixteen footers. We were pretty tired and hungry by this time, so we stopped working and went to town for Mexican food.... See next post!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Lowe's Delivers

Today, finally, is delivery day. I live in the boonies. When I was building more frequently, I had a small trailer to haul materials home. Now, I only build for a small project. I sold the small trailer and I choose to pay for delivery instead. Basically, one delivery charge is what I paid for annual registration. So, if I have one delivery made per year, I'm not out any money and I don't have to replace tiresd or tail lights or worry about tha darn lights not working... or worry about the stuff I'm hauling flying off. I just pay that same money to a professional who brings me stuff and offloads the materials to a location of my choosing on the property. Pretty awesome.

There is a catch. Timing. Because I live in the boonies, I am essentially the LAST place any delivery person or company wants to be. I was originally scheduled for the 20th. An hour later, I was told that the 21st would be better. On the 20th, Lowe's called to say, "I know you're scheduled for the 22nd, but can we change that to the 23rd - one of our trucks is having trouble." I know we are the lowest priority, but come on. You guys don't even know what day you were scheduled?!... But what I said was, "OK," because I know arguing or being a smartass won't solve anything. My choices are to cancel my order or say, "OK." The choice is simple even if a wee bit annoying.

Our delivery man was sweet as punch. He called that morning to give me a noon to 2PM delivery window. He showed up at 1:05, forklifted the materials to exactly where I showed him, and was back out of the gate by 1:30. We began installing the deck floor immediately... See next post!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

To the big city

Off to Victoria. Anne drove and dropped me off at Lowe's. She continued onward to the mega-HEB just down the street.

Lowe's quickly and kindly matched my gray paint color. I chose a very awesome color for the exterior even though I won't be painting that until we return from our spring trip. I left with 2 more gallons of gray and two gallons of an awesme amazing exterior color.

Anne bought all kinds of delicious things at the giant HEB and away we went home.

Two more gallons still was not enough, but I prioritized and got done what needed to be done. The entire garage, the entire ceiling, and all the doors and windows are painted. I could not paint the kitchen walls. This is good, maybe. Anne can choose her kitchen color. That gray really is a grage color.
Kitchen walls didn't make it.
Truly a garage color.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Garage paint

My dad gave me a gallon and a half of some exterior gray paint that was left over from a deck project he had done. This seemed like the perfect paint for the interior of my container garage. I have a sprayer that I used on my container home. I figured this would be a piece of cake activity compared to the back breaking painting of the roof I did yesterday.

The good news:  the sprayer still works!!  Woohoo!

The bad news: 1.5 gallons wasn't even CLOSE to finishing the interior. I really ideally need to finish painting the interior before laying the floor which is now scheduled to be delivered on Friday. Turns out delayed deliveries aren't all bad.

My back is still killing me from yesterday, and so, I seriously wanted to cry when it was obvious there was no way I could finish with the amount of paint I have. It will be off to Victoria tomorrow for more paint. To cheer myself up, maybe I'll choose and buy the exterior paint too!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ow ow owwww

I have a to-do list almost every day. Not only does it help to keep me on track, I can look back at my notebook of daily to-do lists and see when I clipped the cat's claws or filed my taxes or bought birdseed.

Today the list was short. We had a bunch of errands to run in town. That had its own list and took about and hour and a half. The rest of the list was this: Finish cutting the garage door on the Piece of Junk container (only about 5 feet to cut), clean the interior of the PoJ container, and put a second coat of paint coating on the roof of the PoJ container. The cuts went smooth and easy. This was also a very satisfying task. The cleaning went fairly well. The wind finally died down enough to paint the roof. This task took about three hours. I had to scrub the pollen gunk off before painting. By the time I got off the roof, I was in serious pain. But I finished!

I am now sitting in bed with Stoli. The electric blanket is on "preheat" which means "almost on fire"... which feels really good on sore bodies. Anne made me some of her amazing popcorn and put two ibuprofens in my hand before sending me off to bed. I have just a couple of computer things to finish. Then it will be off to sleepyville.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Food

Usually we are very good about food balance. Most of our meals are very healthy. If we have a not-so-healthy meal it is balanced with activity and/or a series of lighter meals.

Right now, we have five half gallons of ice cream in our freezer. It was on sale and we found the first two we bought to be so tasty, we had to have more. It is the silliest happiest horrible indulgence. It is also an instant reminder of of how sugar and fat affect your body and moods in both good and bad ways. What joy we have eating our cones after a hard day of work. How bloated we feel as we lie down to go to sleep.

As much fun as it is to joke about 'ice cream forever!', this might be the last take-home ice cream we ever buy.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Post St. Patrick's Day

I gotta say, this was probably the nicest St. Patrick's Day I have ever had. OK, maybe I missed seeing friends who were all at gigs drinking beer, laughing, and having a good time. Then, I would see the posts of a few of my more honest friends, the introverts, the old-enough-to-say-so friends. These friends would comment on the drunkeness, the innappropriateness of the "Irish" stereotype, and the exhaustion of the under-appreciated hard work.

Instead of fighting crowds (and we did consider going somewhere for a pint), we went to Los Cabos, our favorite local Mexican food restaurant. We enjoyed a slightly green drink... a margarita, that is. It was lovely. It was calm. We were served ample amounts of food with happy quick service just like any other day of the year.

I hope everyone enjoyed the celebrations in whatever way made them happy... Mostly, I hope everyone took proper care of the musicians, the heart of the celebration!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Old container adventure

Today saw a milestone with the work on the old "Piece of Junk" container. I completed the cut for the kitchen door way. The fun part about corrugated metal is that it wants to curl. I knew this and had originally planned just one supporting 2x4 at the end where I would also secure the upright posts when the door was pushed out as a big awning. When we installed that first 2X4, just after cutting the bottom along the floor, it was obvious that this large 60 inch wide opening would need more than just that one cross support. With just the bottom cut up about 6 inches from the floor, the metal began curling inward so badly that the support board was a challenge to install. Two more supports were immediately added to the plan and installed before much curling could occur. Why not install them before cutting at all? Because the wood support would physically be in the way of the angle grinder. On the garage door which is 80 inches across, I will cut even more minimally, install the supports, and then finish all the cutting.
It feels really awesome to see this part of the project successfully completed. Onward!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Saint Patrick's Day Celebrations

This Saturday is Saint Patrick's Day, the day when Irish musicians play their hearts out or we stay home. I have been a SOLO Irish musician for some ten years. On the few occasions that I was honored to play a gig with other awesome musicians on St. Patrick's Day, I had a blast and I will do that again anytime! Being solo on Saint Patrick's Day is like going to a Valentine's Day dance and being the only single person who shows up. There are so many reasons for Irish musicians, both solo and whole bands, to stay home.  Here are a few:
  1. Playing music in the corner of a bar for drunk people who are shouting louder than you can sing with a microphone turned to 11... gets really tiring.
  2. Singing over a bagpipe band literally ten feet away... gets really tiring.
  3. Hearing pickup lines that include something like, "you're probably not as crazy as my first through fifth wife,"... gets really tiring.
  4. Working your fingers, voice, and heart to death while everyone else parties... gets really tiring.
  5. Dragging all your gear from gig to gig while everyone asks if you'll be playing "Danny Boy" soon... gets really tiring. 
  6. Sleeping in the car after the gig because it's safer than driving through Drunk-town, USA... gets really tiring.
  7. Eating junk food between sets because you can't leave because you'll lose your parking spot (where you're storing gear between sets), and the bar is too busy to serve you... gets really tiring.
  8. Having to run around trying to find the busy manager who has my paycheck... gets really tiring.
  9. Having to create my own stage, pissing off the waitresses but doing what the owner said... gets really tiring.
  10. Free beer for the band.... oh, wait, THAT doesn't get tiring. 
All that said, if you go to a Saint Patrick's Day celebration, be kind to the band. Tip them, or ask if they'd like some REAL food. They'd probably rather you didn't touch their gear, but you could offer to hold the door. Every Irish musician I know loves, truly loves, the music they play. Let them know you appreciate the heart they bring to the celebration. You know it wouldn't be the same in silence!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Rusty Roof

I wish "Rusty Roof" was the name of an ice cream flavor instead of the current battle of my daily existence. Over the last few days, Anne and I have been trying to clean up the roof of the Piece of Junk container. She has done the scraping and prepping of the roof, and I have primed it section by section after her.

Today I coated the roof with a thick sealer type paint. I applied it over the primed roof which had mostly kept the rust from bleeding through. Now, after checking on the drying of the thick sealer paint, it appears rust is bleeding though all over. I am rather disappointed, but the roof is/was REEEEEEEEALLY bad. I always wanted to get rid of this stupid monster because it is pretty much impossible to save this roof. If we can slow down the progress and cover the roof in about a year, hopefully, this scraping and painting we just did will be worth it. Today, seeing this, it feels pretty worthless. Oh well. We did what we could.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Giving myself an A+

It's been over three months since I started trying to get in a post each day. Some days there is not much, other days I have felt like I wrote about some very important things that occupy my mind. I have not posted every single day, but I make sure to fill in the blanks from my notes and that has worked out well.

Reading has also become a major part of the daily routine. We have several books going at once right now. I also have one I am reading alone... a book we vetoed from the potential "us" books. It's not that great, but I'm going to finish it because that's what I do.

All in all, I feel good. I'm getting projects done here on the property and balancing reading and writing and not feeling like I am wasting time doing what I enjoy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Junk for free

Today is the day to get rid of the amassed piles of junk. I have purged the garage and various areas of the house over the last couple of weeks. We have the trash pile. There is the 'junk someone might want but goodwill probably won't take' pile. A pile of metal is growing ever taller. And a pile of Goodwill donatables is taking up residence in the back of the truck.

We don't have ordinary trash collection out here in the boonies. That only means I minimize trash. Paper type trash is used to start fires. Recyclables are saved for recycling which only leaves plastic garbage really. I put all garbage into grocery store bags so that most of the time, this small bag can be thrown away every couple of weeks at the gas station garbage bin when I stop for gas. This pile is the garbage from the garage area. Things that have broken, etc. I place these things into small bags, but there is too much for the gas station. This can go to the big dumpster by the recycling.

We pulled all of the old metal scraps out of the barn, bits of roofing, and things like that. I save them temporarily because they could and have come in handy around here, but I think we are done with that phase for now. All of this metal could be recycled or possibly used by someone around here. This will be listed for free on facebook or Craigslist.

Junk someone might want is only a wee step above total garbage: tools that don't work, pieces of construction material, old paint. This pile of junk will also be listed on Facebook for free. I always make it a TAKE IT ALL listing. Don't just come pick one or two things. Someone always is happy to collect the pile of junk.

And the Goodwill pile will be dropped off when I take Stoli to Austin in a couple weeks.

All tidy!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Home Depot and Lowe's

Dear Home Depot,
You had the exact product I wanted, so I followed the website and made the order with home delivery. Home delivery to my location is $79, totally worth it if you have no way of transporting 16 foot boards! I put in my credit card and all the required information. *Website Crash*

I called 1*800*466*3337. Told the representative that I was ordering for home delivery online and the site crashed. She took my first model number. Recited the product description and then told me that can not be delivered.

This whole thing took well over an hour. I have tried to order from Home Depot in the past and for one reason or another, the process never works out. This time, I tried because of the precise product. Lowe's does not carry the exact thing that I want. Alas, once again, I will order from Lowe's. It will be delivered even if it is a slightly different size than I had wanted.

Home Depot to-do list:
1. Fix your website! It crashes way too often going to error messages and losing my place.
2. Give customers correct information! This shouldn't even have to be said...
3. That's it...  those two things would make life much better.

Sincerely,
Abby Green



Dear Lowe's,
Thank you for offering store to home delivery service. This incredible kindness ensures that I shop in person at Lowe's whenever I have the option. I am sure that home delivery, especially out here in the country, is a pain, but it helps me more than I can express.

I have had three successful deliveries here in the past. And I look forward to the upcoming arrival of 72 boards.

In case you are curious, the product I was looking for was a 1"X4"X8' treated board. I settled for 1"X6"X8'. It wasn't very much more expensive than Home Depot's 1X4's... it's more that I just don't need 6" wide boards. Why waste the wood? But this will be just fine. Who knows, maybe I'll be glad in the end.

With sincere gratitude!
Abby Green