Friday, April 30, 2010

Open House at the Fair

Upon the urging of everyone, I attended the Open House at the Fair Grounds on Wednesday. This was the first open house in memory and though it was publicized the optimistic 168 chairs that were set out only 15 seats were filled, five of which were filled by Board members. That’s right, ten people came, of which three were children. No one was there from the media. No one was there from County Government. It would have been nice to see a commissioner or a candidate present.

What the open house was all about was support. Gary did a slide presentation of what the money from the tax levy was used for and I was impressed with the tide gate installation which will one day dry out the lower field so it can be used more than two months a year. He made improvements to buildings, built a new arena and also got modular removable flooring for the big arena. This is good because years ago there was mention of putting down a permanent hard surface in the big arena which would not have been good at all.

Gary wanted everyone to spread the word about extending the tax levy, Ballot Measure 4-148 . This time around they are asking for less money. Last time it cost the tax payers $9 per 100k in assessed value. This time is will cost only $7 per 100k in assessed value. They are working toward self sufficiency buy attracting more events as they add infrastructure. They plan on adding some meeting rooms for smaller events. Basically they covered all my concerns except the rental price, but that looks like it is par to the industry standards.

I was generally pleased with what I saw on Wednesday. My only displeasure was that it was so poorly attended. Also, they are appealing for volunteers to help with the up-coming rodeo in May. If you have some time to spare on Friday or Saturday, May 21 and/ or 22 let me know and I’ll hook you up with who to contact.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I’m having kids! Well not really. I have a friend who wanted to incubate some eggs so I gave her a dozen and she happily reported that after five days candling reviled all eggs are developing chicks. Blue isn’t shooting blanks.

I have five varieties of hens and Blue is an Araucana. Araucanas/Americanas have blue colored legs and the hens lay blue eggs. It will be interesting to see how Blue’s genes mix with the other hens.

On the same topic I have one Orpington hen that has become broody. Every day I see her sitting on a clutch of eggs and I feel bad removing her from the next box and collecting the eggs to find her back there the next day sitting on a new batch of eggs. I’m letting her have her way. She probably has six eggs under her right now and I’ll let her sit and hatch some young.

One may think I’m crazy for doing this, but I realized that all my hens will be a year old on August 4, which means they will be molting this winter and their egg production will decline greatly. Hens born in May will start producing eggs in September of October. If I get roosters, which I’m sure will be 60% of the hatch, October is a good time to slaughter. I hate cleaning chickens when it’s warm out and there are flies buzzing the scene.

Aside from all that, this topic will give me at least a few more blog posts and I will share photos.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Nova is Born

Yesterdays post talked about a workshop I taught at on Saturday. This workshop usually has someone from the press in attendance, but this year there was a film crew there. It was a Pacific University film project and they were filming a documentary on the industry.

The crew of three stayed and filmed two of my presentations. They attached a remote microphone to me and filmed away on two of my forty minute segments and they wrapped it up with a brief interview.

On my drive home I realized that the reason they probably stayed through two of my segments was that I have a more natural, less intrusive philosophy of the craft which is much more organic than the industry standard. I’ve made friends and enemies over talks that I’ve given and articles I’ve written, but that’s OK. I’m not going to change and I don’t expect those who manage their operations differently to change their beliefs.

I don’t know what the working title is or when it ill be released or anything about the distribution. The remainder of my 15 minutes of fame may end up on the cutting room floor, but it was fun being a star for a little while. I wonder if they filmed the hole in the ass of my pants that Critter noticed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You've Got Mail

I spent the day Saturday teaching/demonstration at a beekeeping workshop. I participate in this event every year and every year I am pleased to go home at the end of the day to find several email messages from people that attended my sessions. Some are messages of thanks; some are questions that the students thought of on their way home. I spend the rest of the evening replying to all the messages.

One really wonderful thing happened several years ago. There was an elderly woman with a European accent teaching and demonstration at this workshop. She was of the really old school philosophy, using methods that she had learned from her grand father back in the 1940s. This woman only taught at this workshop once and she made a big impression on me.

So here I was demonstrating techniques I have learned on my own and from many teachers I’ve had in the past. I mention that I learned some really cool things from a woman that demonstrated at the workshop several years ago. After I mentioned a few cool techniques I heard a voice in the back saying, “That was me.”

I looked and I saw her beautiful blue eyes and immediately knew who she was. “Helga!” I said. She acknowledged that it was in deed her. I introduced Helga to the crowd I was teaching and fortunately I remembered a good deal about her background. She seemed impressed and honored. I told the students that they should find Helga during the breaks and chat with her because she is the most experienced person I know with the natural ways of beekeeping. Everything I’ve ever heard her say is thoughtful and good natural practice.

During a break later that morning I saw Helga with a crowd of people gathered around her. Helga was a star again. She seemed pleased that one of her former students was still preaching the gospel according to Helga. I was pleased to see her again and pleased that reflections of her nearly 70 years of experience will now be present in the minds of the newest generation of people entering the field.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Road Hog

There are time when I am a road hog. Sure I usually drive slower than the speed limit, but I do pull over to let impatient drivers by. It gets worse when I am hauling the horse trailer. More driving caution is needed with that hulk behind me especially when I’m hauling horses.

Last year I used to make several hay runs and fill my garage and tack room with hay, but now I’ve decided that I will just load the tack room and park in the garage. So I now drive up to Birkenfeld every couple of months to get a couple months worth of hay.

It was Wednesday evening when I made my most recent trek to Birkenfeld. It is a couple of minutes over an hour long trip each way. Fortunately I made the entire trip without any traffic behind me in either direction. It was nice not having to pull over to let someone pass. It’s no fun loosing the momentum and regaining it.

I got home in a good mood, not at all stressed from the drive. I cleaned stalls, put out the feed and brought the horses in. I rounded up the chickens and collected the eggs, and then I leisurely stacked hay and parked the trailer. I got in the house for dinner before it got dark. My next hay run will be on a Wednesday evening.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wake Up The Sleepy Fair Grounds.

What do you call a building that isn’t used two months a year? A school. I know this is an over simplification, but it would be good to see our school buildings used more than they presently are. I do understand that with the amount of use they presently get they need some down time for maintenance and repair.

My next beef with an underutilized facility is with the Fair Grounds. I went to their web site and looked at the calendar and found there are only 42 scheduled events for the year 2010. July and November have nothing scheduled. I then went to the Seaside Convention Center web site and found their calendar well booked through the end of this year and well into 2011.

What’s going on with the Fair Grounds? IS there something wrong with the facility that people and organizations aren’t reserving it? There is a demand for space. The Seaside Convention Center can’t accommodate all the events that people want to schedule there. Maybe the fair grounds needs to build another building that can accommodate meetings and smaller events.

I’ve heard the Fair Grounds are too expensive to rent. I have to admit that I did clutch my chest when I asked how much a booth at the fair would cost. Last year it was $350 which is a lot for most non-profits and a lot of businesses that are trying to sell something. One vendor I spoke to last year broke even at 1pm on the final day and she was fortunate. She worked for four days and only made a profit on her services from 1-6pm. She was excited, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she worked four ten-hour days for a profit of around $90. She basically made 44 cents an hour.

Maybe it is a good idea to lower the fees and attract more business at the fair. More vendors will make the fair more interesting like it was several years ago. Maybe by lowering the facility rental price they can attract more events. These are just some ideas. I’m not up on all the conversations the Fair Board and management have had over the years. I could be totally wrong, but it just seems to me that more events at the Fair Grounds the more money that comes into the community and the more taxes are collected that can fund the Fair Grounds. The success of the Seaside Convention Center should be an inspiration to the Fair Board and Management.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Meat in a Can

I have a friend that was famous for her canned meat collection. Every time she traveled to another country she would go to the market to see what she could find to add to her collection.

We don’t think twice about tuna or salmon. We don’t think twice about pork and beans or even Spam in a can. I’ve seen canned chicken, though I’ve never known anyone who bought some.

I think most Americans would cringe at the sight of a can of whale meat or alligator in a can. How about yak or goat?

As it turns out my friend disposed of her collection a while back. She was afraid the cans were becoming toxic. She didn’t want to come home to an exploded can of seal meat. It would have been interesting to document her collection before its disposal.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A is for ...

I’m sure most of you know that I am an Atheist. I came to this after being brought up Catholic and then moving onto Zen and Taoism. Suddenly all religions and philosophies became implausible to me so I claimed there was nothing out there and I never looked back.

It’s funny how religious symbols bother me. Being Catholic I had the whole array of religious objects; candles, crosses and crucifixes, rosary beads, all that crap. When I was into Zen and Taoism I collected books. I have more Alan Watts books than the Library of Congress. I can no longer open them.

As a residual from my religion poisoning I get sickened when I see a Jesus Fish. I won’t call a business that has a fish on their card or in their advertisement. I’m even sick of the Darwin fish.

One would think that Atheists wouldn’t get wrapped up in that sort of thing, but lately I’m noticing that Atheists are placing a stylish letter “A” next to their photos or copy. It’s starting to annoy me as much as the Jesus Fish. You "A" Atheists are turning Atheism into a religion. Knock it off you rat bastards. A is for Asshole!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

One Thing Leads To Another

I got the email below the other day from someone new to Rust. It's really cool how an Internet search that one sends in one direction often gives one more than they could have hoped for. There is a link below and I encourage all to check it out and sample all of Dave's tunes. I think his album will be big on College Radio and that's all I listen to anymore. So Dave, I hope you see an Astoria-Rust Bump. Good luck with your release.

Dave's email to me:

hi there. I'm some stranger. I just released a record about a week ago and I entered the title in a google search tonight to see which links were presenting first, yours came up on the first page. which wasn't really that strange, given we share the word "rust". but then I noticed the Astoria part. I moved to Portland to make this record and upon its completion am now moving back to LA. recently some friends told me I couldn't leave until I saw the coast, which we just did. and then I saw your first post was about the new Kaki King record, which I was listening to for the first time since buying it yesterday. so I figured it all added up to me sending you a promo copy. and that's my story.

you can get a glimpse of the record here:

or on itunes, search "piekoz". I'm apparently too lazy to link that part right now.
but yeah, if you're interested then hit me up and I'll mail you out one. you apparently have a pretty wide stance on the beast of Music, so mayhap you enjoy this kind of thing.

take care,
dave piekos

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Speed Duck

The last ten times I’ve driven into town I’ve been confronted by a duck that stands beside the road. It seems that I and the drivers ahead of or behind me slow down because it looks like this duck is going to make a run for it, though it simply stands within the fog line quacking at passing traffic.

It was then that I realized that I should get a decoy and plant it on the side of my road to slow traffic down. Like a speed bump I will call it a speed duck. Traffic rarely slows down for 1000 lb horses in the road, but ducks seem to command more respect among drivers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Swarm Info

I got a couple of emails yesterday with questions about honey bee swarms. It seems like swarms are misunderstood; so here’s the scoop.

When conditions in a hive are very good or very bad, meaning over-population by a productive queen or under-population by a failing queen that isn’t laying enough eggs; a colony will produce a new queen. There is 16 days between when a n egg is laid for a new adult queen emerges. During this time the old queen prepares to leave taking half of the hives population with her to start a new colony elsewhere. If she doesn’t leave there will be a fight to the death when the new queen emerges. However, the older queen usually leaves the day before the new queen makes the scene.

The old queen and half of the bees will eat a bunch of honey and they will take off and usually land in a nearby tree. They form a cluster that is normally the size of a football. The queen is at the center and the other bees keep her warm and protected. At this point they have no food or brood to defend and this is the safest time to deal with bees.

If left alone they may hang on the branch for two or three days, but the entire time they hang there scout bees are going out searching for an appropriate place to start a new colony. They come back and report when a good place is found. Hopefully they find a good place like a tree with a hole in it. Large bird houses are good as well (except for bird lovers that paid a fortune for the said bird house). Hopefully they will not decide your home or an out building is a good place to build a hive. If they do it will cost big bucks to have them removed. It becomes a construction issue where areas of a wall needs to be removed and replaced.

So if you see a swarm of bees somewhere call your local Extension Agent for a referral to a bee keeper who can come get them before they become a problem. Most keepers will not charge to remove a swarm (except the rat bastards in California), however it can get expensive if the bees need to be removed from a structure. The photo above is of a colony that is moving into someone's home.

Monday, April 19, 2010


It’s after Mid April and you’d think I be prepared, but I wasn’t. I was driving into town this morning and I could see it there in a tree hanging down like a dark stocking loaded with plums. It was a swarm of honey bees.

You probably are a person that has the ability to see things that others don’t because you are tuned into something so well because of association. I notice horses, chickens and honeybees. I noticed this swarm from 300 feet away. It hung low branch of a fruit tree. Had I been prepared I could have walked up to it and placed the five-pound cluster into a box and I would have a new colony of honey bees. I wasn’t prepared but I hoped for the best.

I went to town on my errand and later I went back home to get some swarm gear, but when I returned to the house where the bees were I found they had already been taken by another swarm hunter that can spot bees from 300 feet away or they had flown to a new location.

Honey bees are valuable not only because of all the things they do for agriculture and mankind and the honey and wax they produce, but they are valuable because these days a good five pound colony sells for around $85. Last year I collected four or five swarms. Every year I hope for more.

So from now until Mid-July I will be prepared with a bee box and a spray bottle of sugar water in the back of my truck for any other swarms I may come upon.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Damn Chickens

Chickens are determined little critters. If you don’t think so just try to prevent them from going somewhere. My friends with ducks and geese have the same opinion.

We have some garden areas that we’ve been able to keep them out of with a three foot chicken wire fence, but anything lower than 3 feet is open to them. We’ve tried bird netting and they somehow pass through it like neutrinos. My Buff Orpingtons have recently become fascinated with a neighbor’s yard. I’ve put up bird netting where they get through, but last night when I was luring the chickens back to their coop the head count revealed two of the blonds were missing.

I called and looked for them in the horse stalls, but I couldn’t find them. I figured I’d hunt for them at the neighbors and there they were in a fenced garden plot. The gate was left open and they couldn’t figure how to back out through the gate since because they would have to walk away from the direction they wanted to go in.

Just like some people they are sure able to problem solve when they want to get in somewhere, but totally unable to figure a way out. I entered the pen and trapped them in the corner and tucked them under my arm and delivered them to their home.

It is nice to find missing chickens alive and well. Too often I’ve found dead chickens in piles of feathers and dog tracks leaving the scene of the crime. It's time for more fencing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kaki King

As most of you know I change music like most people change their socks. I will get fascinated with a sound for a short while and then my attention span goes elsewhere. Fortunately there is enough interesting stuff mixed in with all the mundane popular crap.

I just finished listen to hundreds of hours of Jean Shepherd radio shows from the 60s. After that I came out hungry for some music. I spent a brief period going back through the Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Nellie McKay and Owen Pallet, but I was really looking for some “afters” to quench my musical diet.

Fortunately I came across Kaki King, a 30 year old instrumentalist who does sing from time to time. This woman is an amazing guitarist who is able to do Indi-rock and Jazz fusion. If you recall how interesting Windam Hill’s Alex DiGrassi was when he first hit the scene with his odd tunings and crystal clear finger picking style, I think Kaki can easily best him because her style varies so much from piece to piece.

You can her virtuoso guitar style with this video.
Video 1

Or you can see her looping tracks on a pedal steel in a way similar to Owen Pallet in this video.Video 2

And while you’re at it check this one out.
Video 3

Yeah, I think I’m in love…

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Basement Steps

Someone commented last week about their basement stairs being 100 years old and well worn. They knew their house would be dozed one day for something new and shinny and the stairs will be destroyed as well.

I have an affinity for old basements. The house I grew up in was old. The basement was dug out by draft horses. Local field stone was mortared and stacked as the foundation. When my father bought this home in 1959 he improve the basement by replacing the divided windows and he had a concrete floor installed.

To enter the basement from inside the house one had to go through a proper door, which we never used, or there was also a hidden door in the hall that didn’t really look like a door. The steps were always dusty and no matter how often you cleaned you were constantly confronted by webs and dead daddy long-legs. Descending the stairs one could feel the temperature shift as your body went below ground level. One could also detect a dry musty basement smell. It wasn’t a bad smell; though it would have latched onto any thing of value such as furniture had we ever used the basement as storage.

The basement had a work bench and some shelving to store tools. I had a darkroom down there. I spent many hours in that dry musty basement smell and I became quite fond of it. My parents weren’t basement people. I actually don’t recall ever seeing either of them go down there, but my brother and I spent nights and rainy days down there. He’d always be down there building something and later I spent hours down there every day developing film and photos.

There aren’t many basements in homes here in Oregon. The ones that are here are usually block or poured concrete, but when I rarely see a home with a stone foundation I think back and wish I could go down my old basement stairs just once more.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hey Bud!

I guess I am a sound snob. I’ve had times where my wife offers me her car when I have to run to town, but I nearly always refuse because I have a better sound system in my truck.

A few months ago I got a Phillips MP3 player. It came with these ear buds that are uncomfortable, but the sound was so good I could withstand the discomfort. Recently the left ear bud went out. It just stopped working. I have a few other sets of ear buds so I tried them. One set was a noise canceling set, and the sound that came from them was too deep in the bass range. Another pair had no base at all, so I went to an electronics shop today and purchased another pair of Skullcandy buds for around $20. This pair was OK, but it didn’t have the range of the Philips buds. There were others there that ranged up to around $100.

I got my Phillips 8 gig MP3 player from Steals and Deals for something like $20. If it ever comes up for sale again I’m going to order it and just use the player as a thumb drive and use the ear buds for everything else.

I’ve gotten so used to good sound that I can no longer settle for anything of lesser quality. So much of the music is lost with poor sound translation. Does anyone out there have any ear bud purchasing advice?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wake Up Call

In the past I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night by wind, rain, lightening, hail, emergency vehicle sirens, the flashing lights of Pacific Power trucks, the sounds of chainsaws, Coyotes, gun fire, cats, dogs, scratching sounds in the wall, the sound of running water, The sound of my mail box being vandalized, the smell of something burning, wrong numbers, and the sounds of horse hoofs in the road once when my horse escaped.

I was awoken by something new last Saturday night at 12:35am. It was something I’d never experienced before. It was the faint sound of someone shouting in the distance. I thought maybe one of the neighbors were having a spat, bit the sound started getting louder and closer. I was able to hear what the man was shouting. “You Motha F***ers! Get back here. What the f*** do you think you’re doing? You Motha F***ers!”

I live on a dark country road. I could see no cars parked anywhere waiting for or egging this shouter on. He just kept walking North, shouting at the top of his lungs. All I can figure was he was drunk and obnoxious. He probably had the driver stop the car so he could get out and take a leak and then they drove off without him.

I fell back asleep within 10 minutes.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Beth has a post yesterday about receiving a bill addressed to her with her name misspelled. An S was replaced by a Z and an A was missing. It got me thinking about how people misspell words while texting just to save time and characters. It made me wonder if vowels are necessary in modern writing. Sure they round things off and add accent, but for basic grunting our communications would manage just fine.

I guess vowels aren't as important as most people think.
gss vwls rn't s mprtnt s mst ppl thnk.

Do you think you could get used to this?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Stuffing Envelopes Scheme

Beth wanted to know how the enveloping stuffing scheme went.

First you would see and ad in a magazine that said something like, “Make extra cash stuffing envelopes in your spare time. Send a S.A.S.E (self addressed stamped envelope) with $5 cash to the address below for information.”

A couple weeks later your envelope appeared in your mail with an instruction sheet that said, take out an ad in a magazine that says, “Make extra cash stuffing envelopes in your spare time. Send a S.A.S.E (self addressed stamped envelope) with $5 cash to the address below for information.” Change the address to your address. Then you send them a photo copy of these instructions and the money will start rolling in.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Make Money in Your Spare Time!

I was thinking back to old magazines I used to read as a kid. Somewhere in the back of these magazines one could always find strange ads inviting you to learn the secret mysteries of our existence simply by sending your name and address to the Rosicrucians. Zip by those ads and you will usually find yourself in a section where you are invited to make more money or starting your own business.

“Make money with a portable saw mill” seemed to be very popular, or at least it was a popular place to run ads. One could also make money if they took a special mail order class in things such as sharpening knives, repairing leather, taking photos or drawing a picture of a pirate.

Every genre of magazine had mail order home study schools. Photo magazines had some that promised to turn you into a photographer and sold you all the equipment you’d ever need to go professional.

Other magazines had home study courses on becoming a fishing or a hunting guide. Some ads wanted student to learn to fly a plane from home. There was an endless stream of classes and products that promised to make the practitioner more money or lots of money.

I came upon the photo above while looking for egg incubators on line. It was a book that told you how to make money by building an incubator and hatching chickens. It brought back memories of so many advertising schemes I’ve seen in the back of magazines. The illustrations looked like they were done by an illustrator that was moonlighting from his job at Awake or Watchtower magazines.

Remember the ones promising to make you rich by stuffing envelopes? Anyone remember how that scheme went? If not I’ll do a post on it some day. Things always looked so interesting and potentially profitable, but you didn’t have to scratch all that far under the surface to see the only person that could potentially make money was the person running the ad.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


One major fantasy most humans have at an early age is to have a twin. Having an identical twin could be so cool until one realized that they and their twin would battle over who gets the better end of the stick.

When we are older we think about how cool it would be to have a clone that we could command to do all the things we find unpleasant. Then we come to the realization that our clone could get us into a lot of trouble. If your clone screws up, guess who will be blamed.

When one gets even older, the fantasy changes to bilocation. How convenient would it be to be two places at once. I have so much work to do at home, yet my services are needed in other locations. It would be so cool to wake up in the morning and walk into a splitting device (after breakfast, two can eat as cheaply as one if one doesn’t eat) and then off we go in our different directions.

Some say this is already possible. The device is called money and with it you can pay someone to do your bidding and you can stay home and take a nap.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Spirit of the Floor

I’m going to linger for only one more day on old places. One thing I find charming is an old worn floor. I’m not talking about a business that doesn’t care about its appearance and neglects upkeep. I’m talking about a floor that is clean, but one that has earned veneration through decades of foot traffic. I love seeing a shop where the floor is well worn at the entrance. This is a shop that that marks time one and two feet at a time at a time. This is a shop doesn’t need a welcome mat; the welcome message is warn into the floor by those that have been welcomed there before. You are welcomed by the ghosts of eons of shod feet that previously crossed that threshold.

Though you can detect that layers of linoleum and paint have been worn away to expose a wooden or concrete floor at the base, there is a good feeling about it because it is smooth and clean.

A long while ago I wrote of an old diner in my home town. This diner had brick steps. Most foot traffic came to these steps from the left. People would place their foot on the first step and pivot their direction to head up to the door. After generations of feet doing this the first couple of bricks were worn into a bowl shape. When it rained the water that collected was close to two inches deep in this bowl shaped rut.

I guess I’m trying to raise awareness of the floors we walk on. I’m not talking about the floor at your local super market that will be replaced every couple of years because of so much traffic. I’m talking about the floor that is the very skin and bones of the establishment. One on which we are honored to walk upon.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

More on Doors

Donna’s comment on shops that had screen doors back in the day brought on some more memories of how stores operated when I was a kid. Many of the shops I went into had heavy wooden screen doors that had a layer of half inch hardware cloth over the screens. Doors that saw that much action needed the extra protection to prevent the fragile screens from being knocked out or ripped on a daily basis.

It was in the 60s that store fronts started migrating to metal framed windows and metal framed doors with a full panel of tempered glass. Even as a kid I didn’t like this transition much at all. I’d much rather enter a shop with an old wooden door than one with a heavy metal and glass door. The metal doors have handles that are cold and impersonal to the touch. Though wooden doors often have metal door knobs, they are very personal and historic.

Every time I enter a store like Utzinger’s Hardware, with doors like the photo above, I feel myself going back in time. I can feel the presence of the tens of thousands of people that have entered that store through that old wooden door over the decades. They come with a problem that Grover and his staff was able to solve with a simple tool or device. Yes, there are items that are sold there that are wiz-bang-golly-gee-plastic modern things, but much of the inventory is ageless and timeless as are the displays. If you don’t see what you need, you can bet it’s there in a drawer somewhere. This isn’t the case with most hardware stores with metal doors. If you don’t see it they don’t have it.

The Olney General Store has a grand old door and a nice old screen door. Though the displays and the refrigeration is up to modern code, this place still has a lot of old charm, and a lot of that charm comes to you as you enter through the big wooden door or through the screen door in the summer.

It seems to me that a shop with a wooden door has a living history and shops that have metal doors have a history that ended when they remodeled.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Old Screen Doors

I was thinking this morning about my favorite screen doors. I’ve lived in houses that have had those crappy aluminum storm doors that converted to a screen door in the summer. I think of them as artificial doors and I don’t like them at all.

The house I presently live in has three doors. One is a slider off one of the guest rooms and that has a sliding screen; eh… The main door is a divided glass double door with no screen door. The final door has a side panel on each side of the door that opens and that those side panels have screens in them.

I really miss my old houses with the wooden three panel screen doors. There is something about the weight of a good screen door. There is something about the sound it delivers when the door closes. There is something about the sounds of the creaking springs when ever the door is opened. There is something special about the light and air that come through these screen doors. There is something special about how things look on the other side of these screen doors.

I need to mention that these doors can only have metal screens. When new, the screens glisten like a newly minted penny. When old there is a build-up of dust and what ever lands on the screen when the wire is moist from the rains or even the humidity. They can be cleaned, but the patina of an old screen is a mark of distinction only to be replaced when they disintegrate from a light touch.

Those of you with such a door need to count yourselves as fortunate. Most homes no longer have this type of door. Please think of me the next time you hear the squeaking spring or when you hear the sound of the door closing against the wooden frame. I celebrate with you.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


I think that everyone out there understands how easy jobs are when your tools are sharp. It can be something as simple as a pair of succors, or a kitchen knife. Wood workers need everything sharp from saws to chisels to drill bits. Gardeners need sharp shears and clippers.

One of the most important tools that I need to be as sharp as possible is my chain saw. A saw with a dull chain really over-works the engine and wastes fuel. There is something really nice about cutting wood with just the weight of the saw bearing down on the log.

As soon as your chain contacts dirt or sand you loose your edge. You can try your best but you are always going to contact dirt or sand especially if there is any moss on the bark.

In my shop I have grinders, stones, files and diamond blocks, but my favorite sharpening tool is my chain saw sharpener. For years I fiddled with filing the chain teeth. It took so long to sharpen the entire chain, and I never got the sharpness I wanted. Then I started dropped off my chains at Clatsop Power and let them sharpen them, but that was an expensive alternative.

I always keep three chains sharp and I keep them all with me when I’m cutting. Every time I refuel and add bar oil I take a few minutes to put on a fresh chain. I never cut more than three tanks gas. There is a nice balance to it all now.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Douche of the Month

Normally I do a Sick Day post on the first Monday of the month, but recently I’ve been thinking that maybe I should mix it up a bit where instead of just being sick over things I can actually do a little more finger pointing. So, some months instead of a Sick Day I will run a “You’re a Douche” post; beginning today.

One thing I don’t like is public restrooms. Yes, I will use them when I have to, but I don’t like it. Even the cleanest public restrooms in the nicest places are soiled, seemingly intentionally by douche bags that feel the need to mark territory. I mean, these people are standing in front of a urinal yet the seem to have the need to piss on the floor. Let’s not forget those that don’t flush. It’s like they think their turds are works of art that others need to see.

What really gets me going is when I see someone has spit their chewing gum into a urinal. Do they do this to remind the people that have to clean the urinal that they have a crappy job?

People that defile public restrooms are Douche Bags!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Frog Eyes

I’ll use yesterdays post as a springboard to today’s post. It was the sounds of the frogs that bring all sorts of memories to mind.

I recall fishing after dark one evening. My brother and I were in the boat heading toward our home dock. We cut the engine and drifted the last 100 feet because our dock was in a very shallow area of the lake. As we got closer we shone a beam of light from our diving light to locate the dock, but as we got closer we could hear a symphony of frogs. I cast the beam on the sandy shore and we were surprised to see every inch of the shore occupied by frogs right at the waters edge and they were all singing.

We took up the oars for a diversionary stroll up the quarter mile sandy shore line. The entire length of that shore that was sandy had singing frogs. Their eyes reflected the light of our beam. It was strange casting a beam of light down the shore and seeing tens of thousands frog eyes reflecting back at you.

If I were to compile a list of the top 100 things I have seen with my own eyes; this sight would easily be in the top ten.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Plugging Along

I’ve been hearing the frogs in the swamp peeping and croaking since January this year. On warmer mornings and evenings there is quite a symphony going on out there and I am reminded of a time in Canada as a lad.

My brother and I would go fishing every hour that we were awake when we were at the lake. We had our favorite spots for certain times of the day or certain weather patterns. There was, however one time of the day that seemed to be the most special. It was in the late evening when you could no longer detect the color of anything due to darkness. That’s when fishing turned to magic.

I’m sure you’ve all heard you need to sneak up on fish, and with most fish this is true, but not true at all with bass. Make a noise and they will come to check it out. If you catch a bass you can see other bass come around to watch the struggle.

As it got dark the surface of the lake would become mirror smooth. One could see fish jumping all over the lake, rising to eat insects that had come to the surface of the water. We would start using a lure known as a Hula Popper, which was a simulated frog with a simulated grass skirt to hide the hooks. It had a big red mouth and as you jerked the line the popper would pull some air under water and make a big gulp sound. It would attract bass like sharks to blood. We would catch a fish on every cast and we could have done this all night, but we usually quit when it got too dark to see the lake.

Though I stopped fishing a few years after I moved out here; I often wonder if it was just that lake at that time, or if I could re-create this feeding frenzy on any body of water that contains bass.

Friday, April 02, 2010


I guess there are enough predators here on the coastal region of Oregon that the rabbits tend to keep a real low profile. I notice the lack of rabbits every year as Easter arrives. I know Eastern Oregon has big problems with Jack Rabbits, but I rarely ever see a hare out here. I have seen some tracks in the snow on the upper portions or my property, but it’s nothing like the rabbit presence I had on the east coast.

When driving through the suburbs in New Jersey at night one will see rabbits scurrying all over as your headlight beams cross someone’s lawn. Having had pet rabbits one quickly learns how destructive they are they will dig through and chew and eat just about everything. Gardeners back east fence their gardens or run a low slung electric fence to keep rabbits out. However it is odd how little damage the wild hares do to property. I’ve had more damage from moles, rats and birds than I’ve ever had from wild rabbits.

It is rare that I ever see a road side rabbit. There is a couple I occasionally see when I drive by Fort Clatsop. There is a couple I see over at a neighbor’s house. I see them rarely enough to make a rabbit sighting special to me. I rarely see coyotes and they are special, too, though rabbits are quiet neighbors, and I hear coyotes nightly. I probably hear them after they score a bunny for dinner.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A Hidie Hole

Our chickens are free-range chickens. When we let them out of the Super Max they run to check out the horse stalls. Then they break up into groups where some head for a dust bath in the dirt below one of our decks. Others head to one pasture and some go out back by the manure shed. From there they randomly visit everywhere on the property. If anything has grown or if a new insect shows up they take care of it.

I though I found all their egg laying areas outside of the coop. Sometimes there is just a real good spot where there is a covered area or some hay and they make a nest and lay an egg. This is why I keep my hay storage room closed at all times. One day I left it open to air it out and I later found ten eggs scattered on bales of hay.

Yesterday evening I was taking care of the horses and I noticed one Orpington scooting herself under the hay room. I intentionally built this building off the ground on pier blocks to minimize moisture. There is probably eight inches between the ground and the bottom of the floor joists. I had never seen a chicken go under there before so I got down on the ground to get her out before she got stuck.

Once I got her out I saw some eggs under there. I would reach several of them that were at arms length, but I had to get a flash light from the house to take a good look before sealing up. When illuminated I saw a vast storehouse of eggs. I had to go to my shop to get something with a longer reach than my arm. I came back with a four foot bar clamp.

I lay on a stall mat raking eggs out of the space. My horse was concerned that I was on the ground and not standing up tending his food issues. After a few moments I felt confident I got them all. In the end I retrieved 30 eggs that all had to be turned into compost. The chickens started laying in December and some of the eggs may have been there since then.

I stapled some bird netting over the space where they were getting in. Now I need to poke around and see where else they may be laying.