Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dry Stack Stone Walls

While growing up in New Jersey I spent two years of my early life working on a farm.  One of the chores before planting was cultivating the fields which unearthed a lot of rocks which needed to be dealt with before we could plant.  My job in this endeavor was to ride the stone boat that was being dragged by the tractor.  As we came upon a rock I would hop off and pick up the stone or attempt to roll the stone onto the boat.  After the boat was full we'd go to the edge of the field and place the stones on the ever expanding stone wall that had been continually added to every spring for decades.

This said, I had an immediate appreciation for the stone walls in England and Wales.  The stones there were flatter and they acted as fences to keep animals, mostly sheep, in or out of the fields.  Some of the fences had been there for a thousand years or so.  Houses and barns were also built stone.  Very few structures were built of wood.  Even new construction is mostly comprised of stone.  Roofs were tiled or slate.  These homes were made to last for centuries and the will last.

I quickly realized that much of Europe is still living in the stone age, which is a good thing.  We are always looking to build with natural materials.  Stone homes keep the homes cool on warm days and keep the homes warm on cold days. Bricks and blocks are used as well. Stones are weather resistant and fire proof.  The tile or slate roofs last for generations.  Added to that there is a personality and a sense of permanence with stone structures.

Though stones in the ground are somewhat of an inconvenience to those who want to farm and garden.  Really large stones are a major undertaking.  I have been fortunate with all the digging I have done over the last 30 years in Oregon I have only come upon one stone and it was a rather small one, the size of a fist.  However I now have stone envy.  I'd love to build some dry stack stone walls at my place.  The possibilities are endless.

Here are two images of a 2,278 foot stone wall built by Andrew Goldsworthy in 1997-1998 at the Storm King Art Center that we visited three years ago in New Windsor, New York.


Monday, June 18, 2018


OK, I'm blogging again.  Why?  Because the laziness had to end sometime.  By laziness I mean that all of my recent creativity has only been my finding cleaver photos on Tumblr and posting them to Facebook; often without even a caption.  When I've been really creative I post things to Instagram, mostly without explanation or any photographic skill.

Historically this blog has consisted of observations and stories of things I've experienced that I personally find fascinating.  Well, I've recently three weeks in Europe.  This was my first venture across the pond. Things are so different there that my observations should be written down, not only for the dwindling readership here, but for the sake of my own memory.  I don't want to forget this stuff.

This is the first observation I'd like to share.  While traveling through Amsterdam, Belgium, quickly through France, and then two weeks in England and Wales I noticed that it is rare to see the flag of what ever country we were in.  You might see them on a government building like a post office, but flags are generally not seen anywhere.

I asked someone about it and they told me that flag waving is looked down upon as vulgar nationalism.  Basically he was inferring that the nationalism that is displayed in the United States is crude and vulgar.  All that pre-game National Anthem, standing with hand on the heart, flag waving BS that Americans do is distasteful.  We made our flag into a a crude spectacle, akin to big penis competition.  I have to agree.  When I drive by one of those over-sized flags, or when I drive by a house with a flag displayed I think to myself, "Hey Asshole, put your dick away!  This isn't a competition."

Monday, January 01, 2018

Death Pool 2018

I only got Bob Barker last year.  Here is this years list in no particular order.

Kirk Douglas
George Bush Sr
Sandy Kofax
Carol Channing
Billy Graham
Cloris Leachman
Angels Landsbury
Doris Day
June Lockhart
Bob Dole

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Death Pool 2017

Is there anyone left to die after 2016?  Which, by the way, no one on my list made it ever died.  Not even Glen F-ing Campbell.

OK, so we'll try this again:

Sean Connary
Judy Dench
Garrison Keilor
Pope Benedict XVI
Mikhail  Gorbachev
Henry Kissinger
Barbara Walters
Bob Barker
Bill Cosby
Stan Lee

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Facebook Sucks

It looks like I may be coming back here again.

To All my friends on Facebook.  This may be goodbye.  This site wants to shut down my account because of the name, Guy Whowritesthis.  I used this moniker because it was an extension of my blog, Astoria Rust.  Someone turned me in for not using my real name, probably because they were offended by one of my posts.  I've been shut down before with my Jaysus H Christ account.  Fun times.  I’ve had this problem with another account where they made me switch it to a non-personal account and it has no charm at all.  I can’t get to see or know any followers the way I can with a personal account.
If I am shut down in the next week I will start blogging again and you will find me at http://astoria-rust.blogspot.com  I am also considering a tumblr account.  Any other ideas out there will be welcomed.

So if I end up missing, please know that I enjoyed my time here with you and if you want more of what I have to offer it will take a little effort on your and my part.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

It Finally Happened

I've seen it coming on for years; probably since I was 45.  It wasn't just the aches and pains.  It wasn't the ever graying hair color.  It wasn't just the point when I'd see a lovely young lady and instead thinking I'd like to date her, I started thinking of how nice it would be to have a grand daughter like her.  It wasn't just any of those things.  It was all of them compiled and compounded.

When we go out for a meal we've started to realize that we are the oldest people in the room, though my wife looks considerably younger than me, I am the one who visibly skews the average age though I am her junior by a year.  Oddly, we are older but it is rare that the offer of a senior discount ever comes to the surface.  It must be asked for, and in my senior moments I always forget to ask until after it's too late.

So the title of this post is "It Finally Happened" and here is what happened causing this post.  A short while ago we were just about to ride our horses down the road when three young women drove by and stopped and turned around.  They were asking about horse boarding facilities in the area and we directed them to one just down the road from us.  We began our ride, and then we stopped by this boarding facility to see if anyone wanted to join us for a ride.  By the time we got there the three young women were leaving and we asked the owner of the facility if the three had a good visit.  The owner said,"Oh.it was you who referred them to me...They said that an elderly couple down the road had referred them."  It is now official, we have now been declared elderly.  I guess I deserve a nap...

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Different Kind Of Douche Bag, It's Regional

I know, I don't post very often these days.  It doesn't mean I'm dead or that I've totally given up.  Ideas for blogging come to me every day, but these days I just let them pass.  I was thinking of my March 2015 Sick Day post, the one about how I hate Toyotas because their drivers have no concept of the evils of driving up on you at a high rate of speed and tail gating.  Still to this day any bad driver I see coming up on me in the rear-view mirror is in a Toyota.

My point here is that this seems to be a regional malady.  I went back to New Jersey last October for my mother's 95th birthday.  More stories about the trip may come up in the future, but for now I want to talking about driving in the Garden State and in the Empire State.

Having lived here in Oregon for the last 27 years I had forgotten what toll roads were.  Actually I had forgotten how to get anywhere after all this time and I relied on the GPS for every move.  There are people there that refuse to ever take a toll road.  I gave in and let the GPS take me from point A to point B on the shortest route.  Though the toll roads have an Easy Pass system I paid cash at every toll.  There was one exit  from one highway that exited onto the Jersey Turnpike where I paid 60 cents to drive three hundred feet to the next exit off of the Turnpike.

We also drove on the Garden State Parkway which has toll boots set up every fifteen miles or so.  I think it is so cool that the only toll road in Oregon is the Bridge of the Gods in Hood River.  I think it is also very cool that once the Astoria Megler Bridge was paid off they removed the toll in Astoria.

But I digress... The point of this post is Douche Bag drivers. I found that the drivers in New York and New Jersey were oddly very courteous; even the Toyota drivers.  You don't see many casual pick-up trucks back there so there were no little trucks with big tires.  Those with pick-up trucks were contractors.  These are working trucks, not show trucks with untethered dogs and a half rack of Hams.  Those who drove Toyota cars were actually OK.  The Douche Bags of New Jersey drove Ford Mustangs.  When I lived there the Douche Bags drove Camaro IROC-Zs, but times have changed.  The new muscle-stangs bring out the beast in the drivers and these folks can easily stand proud with the Toyota drivers of the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Sign of Spring

It was in the spring four years ago when someone dumped off two ginger tom kittens at our place.  One was pretty friendly and I named him Puff.  Puff would come to us and let us pet him.  His brother was skittish and he always hang in the background and scurry away when ever we approached.  We named him Creamcicle.  The two cats hung around for a month or so.  Having three cats at the time we didn't want to adopt more, but as they matured we wanted to capture them and have them neutered.  Oddly they both disappeared and weren't seen again as we attempted to trap them.  We would have kept them as outdoor cats.

The following year Puff returned in the spring.  He didn't miss a beat. It was as though he never left taking up residence on our steps; his favorite place to lay in the sunshine.  He would come to us and let us pet him.  He was still a tom so where ever he spent the last ten months it looked as though he was being fed will, but no one had him neutered.  We were curious as to where he lived, so we tied a string around him with a note asking his family to contact us so we would know he actually belonged to someone.  He hung around for another two weeks with his note still attached, but then he disappeared again like he had the previous year.  We thought this time he was dead.

Last year he appeared again in early spring.  Again it was as though he never left.  He took up residence on the steps again.  He was still a tom, but we noticed this time he was spraying, which is unacceptable.  He was also scratching himself quite a bit, so after a few days I got him some flea drops and got ready to capture him to get him neutered, but then Puff was gone, again.

This morning I let our cats out as I always do at around 4:30AM, and they are usually ready to come back in by 5:30, but they weren't standing by the door as usual.  No big deal; it wasn't raining so I figured they were both perambulating the parameter in the drier than normal conditions.  I saw the true reason they hadn't returned when I went out to feed the horses at 6:15.  Puff was back and our cats were hanging out with him hearing of his adventures last ten months.  Puff looked fat and I couldn't see if he was still intact, but I'm sure I'll have the opportunity to make a closer inspection before he disappears again until next spring.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Death Pool 2016

I only got one right last year, Mr Burt's Bees.
Here is this years list.

Dianna Ross
Pat Robertson
Chevy Chase
Dick Cavett
Joanie Mitchell
Bob Dole
Burt Reynolds
Glen Campbell
Charles Osgood
Doris Day

Monday, August 03, 2015

Sick Day, August 2015

One thing about not blogging very often is that the things I get sick of start building up to the point where I nearly have to do a Lewis Black rant.

Here is the most recent list:

1. I'm sick of all the O stickers that are on cars in Oregon.  So you like a University in Oregon, big deal.  Do you realize that once you are 500 miles out of Oregon no one has even heard of Oregon, let alone the University of Oregon.  It's just another school.

2. I'm sick of Washington Drivers.  When in Oregon, can you simply observe what the Oregon drivers are doing and mimic our behavior.  This means not coming to a full stop at every intersection that doesn't require it.  This means the speed limit is the speed you should be traveling; not 15 MPH below the limit if you are in front of me and not 15 MPH faster if you are coming up to tail-gate me.

3. I sick of the Minions.  I haven't seen the movie or perhaps movies, but I'm totally sick of seeing them on the Internet.

4.  Both Astoria and Seaside now need a bypass.  There is no way to get out of town quickly which makes me wonder how many more people will die if we ever have the quake and tsunami that is expected.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Sick Day

Other than not doing a post in quite a while, it has been ages since I've done a Sick Day post (first Monday of the month).  Well, lately I've been becoming more and more annoyed by those tricked out little Toyota pickup trucks. You know, the ones that are lifted, with over-sized tires and more lights than a base ball stadium. Between the exhaust system and the knobby tires these things are so loud that I once was outside waiting for a delivery of 12 yards of crushed stone and I heard what I thought the dump truck approaching and as it turned out it was one of the local hill-billies driving the back road.  All that noise and he was probably only hauling a half rack of Hams.

I can only assume that the speedometers on these trucks are factory mis-calibrated 25 mph under the real speed, because I have never seen one of these trucks go any slower that 25 over the limit.

I must admit these little trucks are oddly very stable since their center of gravity is probably two feet off the surface of the ground and with speed being a factor; I'm surprised the ditches on curvy roads aren't littered with trucks of every color.

Now a note to you hill-billies that drive these things...  Instead of spending all that money on after-market crap to trick these little toy trucks out, why don't you put your money towards a real truck that can actually do all the things you are trying to create the illusion that your truck can do.  Until then, just realize that people with real trucks view your truck as an annoying gnat that shouldn't share the same road.

Back on the east coast in the 80's all the real douche bags drove a Camero Iroc-z.  Out here in 2014 they drive little tricked out Toyota pick-ups.  Time to grow up little men...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Just the Way I Like It.

We drove to the Portland area at the end of December and when we got home I found that I left my phone there because we ended up taking a different car home.  Not to worry, my phone was in safe hands.  We finally made a trip over to Portland again on Tuesday and retrieved the phone after attending a scheduled appointment.

I wasn't bothered in the least by not having the phone over that period of time.  The funny thing was that when I turned it on there were no texts, or voicemails waiting for me.  There were no missed calls.  I think I have finally reached my goal of keeping out of touch.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2015 Death Pool

I didn't predict even one correctly in 2014.  I usually get one, but last year none.  Joe Cocker was on my list for 2015, but like Gerald Ford a few years back, they died predating the publication of my death pool list.  So here is the 2015 list.

Al Roker
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Burt Shavitz (Burt's Bees)
Bob Dole
Charles Manson
Sidney Poitier
Kirk Douglas
Angela Lansbury
G. Gordon Liddy
Kaye Ballard
David Rockefeller Sr.
Carol Elaine Channing

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Me and My Goose

It seems that every holiday has a patron saint, usually a singer.  Christmas was Bing Crosby, New Years was Guy Lombardo.  Halloween was Frank Zappa.  I'm not sure how it was here on the West Coast, but on the East Coast Thanksgiving belonged to Arlo Guthrie since 1967.  It was like how TBS now runs marathons of the Jean Shepherd tale, "The Christmas Story"; the radio stations would always include several airings of Arlo Guthrie's 23 minute, Alice's Restaurant around Thanksgiving time.  Folks would go out and rent the video and watch it rather than football games during their get-togethers.

Today I am not paying homage to the Alices Restaurant movement as I am sure they are doing so on the East Coast as I write.  Instead I will pay homage via Youtube to another Arlo Guthrie song for those of you who will be dining on some sort of bird today.

Please click this link Me and My Goose

Me and my goose
Me and my pal
We had some very good times
Me and my goose his name was Al
And he cost only a dime
Over meadows we'd stray
Playing all day
I missed him at night until dawn
Then one day I found he wasn't around
I wondered where Al could have gone
I looked everywhere he just wasn't there
Where could a goose be all day
I miss my pal
I miss my Al
It's sad that things turned out this way
Then mom brought him
I remeber her grin
Stuffed with his feet pointed straight
I'll never forget the night that we ate
Al off of the old yellow plate

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Autumn on the Coast

I've come to miss the signs of fall that I grew up with on the east coast.  Back then  there was a nip in the air and the leaves would turn wonderful colors and eventually fall into big piles that we used to play in and one would be surrounded by the beautiful sounds and smells of the crisp leaves.

Here on the Oregon Coast there are signs of autumn, but it isn’t the changing colors of the trees.  Yes, some trees change color; like some maples and aspens but trees like the alders start shedding their leaves in early August but the colors don’t change.  The leaves of the alders are all gone by the time the first autumn wind storm happens.

The signs of autumn here start with roads.  Chipmunks cross the road in confusion and though one might slow down and hope the animal has decided on where it wants to be you will inevitably hear a thump under your rear tire as you pass. 

The next road hazards are the Woolly Bears.  These are the furry black and orange caterpillars that find it necessary to cross the roads.  I always try to avoid them with my tires, however when looking in the rear-view mirror after I pass them I find the wind from my vehicle blows them away and they roll up in a ball to try to defend themselves.

Wolly Bears are interesting creatures because according to folk lore you can use them to predict the severity of the up-coming winter by the amount of black fur they have.  The more black fir, the more severe the winter will be.  If they successfully consume enough food they will turn into a yellowish moth known as the Isabella Tiger Moth which will mate and lay clusters of eggs under leafs and the whole process begins again.
Though we have had our first rain and wind storm of the season the Wooly Bears are still crossing the roads, even in the rain.  Soon we will have our first frost and that will signify that that the process of autumn is nearing its end.  It will be green here throughout the winter, even if we get a dusting of snow.  

All the fall and winter rains will assure the first signs of spring in February with the sound of lawn mowers cutting the lawns for the first time as the crocus bulbs come alive with the sounds of the frogs chirping in the swamps.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

LNG, A Win-Win for Both Sides

If you've been following this blog over the years you may remember that at first I came out against LNG.  My mind was changed while driving home one late night or early one morning and I drove by some homes of anti LNG advocates and I noticed that the exteriors of their houses were lit up with all sorts of outdoor lighting and porch lamps. It was then that I realized that if they could waste electricity like that they had no right to complain about LNG. 

All these many years later I found a win-win solution for both sides of the LNG advocates and detractors.  The way I see it, the conservatives want LNG and the progressives don’t.  So, to break the stalemate I say the progressives give in and let LNG be developed in Warrenton.  If nothing goes wrong we will have a lot of new jobs in the area and the added revenue in the form of tax collection will go to schools, public safety and infrastructure.

Now, let’s say there is a problem and the LNG site blows up and vaporizes all of Warrenton.  Well this is the payback for the progressives because who lives in Warrenton?  Conservatives; and lots of them.  They are religious, Tea Party, Obama effigy hangers... and now they have been vaporized and the progressives will have a bigger share of the vote for generations.  The only conservatives left will be easily recognizable because most conservative men have blond wives… No shit, think about it... But you may say that the Democrat District Attorney of our County has a blond wife, but consider this, he is pro death penalty, he's against medical marijuana dispensaries, he is good friends with Lars Larson and was even married on Lars's boat... Now how can you do any of that and still call yourself a Democrat?  One simply cannot.

Another benefit will be the increase in tourism.  Nothing says tourist dollars like a good disaster.  What is one of the biggest draws to Clatsop County right now? That’s right; the ship wrecked Peter Iredale, a historic disaster.  What about New York…Ground Zero.  Tourists love disasters and the LNG crater would be an economic boom (pun intended) to our area for generations.

So all you progressives out there, you should learn to embrace the eventual coming of LNG.  If you presently live in the blast zone, now would be a good time to market your home to a conservative. Just post your listing on every church bulletin board in Warrenton and Hammond and you'll get that place sold for sure.  Remember, net floats hanging on your fence is a real draw.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Dennis Richardson is a Douche Bag

Dennis Richardson is an asshole and a Douche bag... Driving back home from Portland on 26 tonight I saw that there was at least one of those political signs for his bid for governor every mile and some even closer than a mile. This was from Hillsboro all the way to Cannon Beach Junction. At least 70 or 80 signs in total which are destined to become more land fill; that is if his supporters ever go back to reclaim them from littering one of the most beautiful roads in Oregon. Richardson, your campaign has more money that the organizers have brains. I hope he doesn't even make it past the primary...Douche... I mean really, when has a political lawn sign ever convinced people to vote for any particular candidate.  I know the more signs I see the less likely I will for the candidate...even if I liked them in the beginning.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Death Pool 2014

So how did I do on on last years death pool?  Better than most years...  I got  Margaret Thatcher, Hugo Chavez and Nelson Mandela

Here is my 9th annual list for 2014:

David Peel (If you don't know he is you weren't a Hippy)
Henry Kissinger
Bob Dole
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Penny Marshall
Doris Day
Billy Graham
Willie Nelson
Loretta Lynn
Carol Channing
Pat Robertson
Another Kennedy

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

After I finished the garage roof I had another project to start; the kitchen remodel.  I've learned to be suspicious when a task looks simple.  The task was to remove the old cabinets and drop the ceiling to 93 inches and lay down a new floor. 

We have been living without a kitchen for well over six-weeks now because it got complicated.  Taking out the old ceiling I found buried electrical junction boxes that couldn't be covered up and all the wiring was 14-2, so I ripped out the walls to replace all the wiring with 12-2 and added more receptacles and some for the under-counter lighting.  The problem with taking out the walls was I found two layers of sheetrock covering shiplap. 

Like the garage roof joists, the wall joists were varied in spacing from 12 inches to 26 inches apart so the room needed to be reframed.  The former sink had feed pipes and drain running through the floor so that needed to be rerouted through the walls. 

During the reconstruction we used a folding table as our food prep area with a microwave and a toaster oven on it.  I put the sink from the laundry room in the kitchen so we’d have a sink.  I must say that I really missed having a dish washer.

Finally after several weeks of a big mess in progress it got even messier with the dry wall and mud and sanding, but I finally finished painting and laying the new floor on Sunday.  The cabinets were installed on Monday and Tuesday.  I was able to install the dish washer a few hours after the installation was done.  Tonight I will install the water line to the ice maker in the fridge.  After that I will install the under-counter lights and the above stove microwave and then the new light fixtures.  

The counter will be installed on the 31st and then I’ll move onto the next project.

It’s a good feeling knowing that civilization is returning to the house, one day and one piece at a time.  By the way, the photo above is what our recycled glass counter top will look like.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The BMW That Broke My Heart

It was a nice car.  It was a 528i that was intended to be my wife’s car, but she just couldn’t love it so it fell upon me to host this machine.  Sure it had quirks that I fixed as soon as they popped up, but one day it started to over-heat.  I did something counter intuitive to get it to cool down.  I raced the engine and the temperature came down.

Eventually a pattern developed where the temp would inch up and just before the red-line was reached the temp would go down.  There was air in the coolant line.  Now with BMWs you don’t just pour coolant into the reservoir. You have to jack up the front end and bleed the air out of the system as you add coolant.  I would do this and all would be good for a couple of days and then it would happen again.

I replaced every hose, the radiator, the thermostat, the heater core, the fan clutch and then it still overheated.  I replaced the head gasket.  And it overheated again.

The only thing I could figure that there was a crack in the block, probably in a cylinder since coolant never leaked out; air just got in and the only place it could get in with more pressure than the coolant was through the cylinder.

I was going to replace the engine, but then the transmission light came on.  So here I was, stuck with this lemon.  It was great to drive when it was drivable, but it was so unreliable and expensive to constantly have it in the shop.  We decided to trade it in.  Fortunately it was drivable to a dealership.  I made a full disclosure of all the problems with it, but they wanted it anyway and gave us 1/10 of what we had into it.  That was worth it, just to get it out of my life for good.

We replaced the BMW with a Mini Cooper, which is ironically made by BMW.