Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Once in a while you can get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right."

A very strange yet believable thing happened to me one morning almost a year ago this month. We had just returned from Alaska, our 2nd re-con trip to scope out the possibility of moving. When we returned I think we both knew in our hearts that we wanted to live in Alaska, and just needed the courage to move forward to make it happen. Of course, the first question that goes through ones mind at that point is, "are we doing the right thing?" or "am I sure this is what we should do?". Ok, there are a few other general questions that go through ones mind at that stage, but all along the same lines. I remember laying in bed one morning...as I often did in the mornings..... I always enjoyed looking out our skylight, and it was intentionally positioned right over our bed so we could scan the treetops, and whatever other scenes that would come into view. Sometimes a chickaree peering through the glass down at us. Sometimes clouds drifting by, or snow wafting earthbound. Was always very relaxing and we loved our skylight. But this one morning, I saw something that would forever change how I looked through our skylight. After this particular morning, I was truly never able to look through it again without seeing and feeling a strange comfort, yet I was always at a loss of words to describe what I would see and would think that I was...well, crazy! But it was real, and the circumstance in which it transpired....breathtaking.
You see, it was this particular morning that those questions of "what?", "is it the right thing?","holy crap what are we doing?" were flooding my mind, and I just wanted someone to tell me what to do. And then like a flash of lightning, it was there. Like someone had opened the flood gates all at once and I was washed with a chill and the feeling of, "it's gonna be ok." It was Jerry , man. He was looking down upon me through the skylight, and I just knew at that moment that it was going to be ok. I knew at that instant what we had to do. Now this is no joke, no props. This is a real image, from our skylight, and a true story of what led up to this. I had never seen it a day before this particular morning, and I looked through that skylight religiously. And from that morning until we moved, he was there everyday. Look to the middle left of the actual skylight in the photo. He is there with a grin.
I cropped the image to give a better perspective. Now I don't want anyone to think that Jerry Garcia, fallen frontman of the greatest rock band of all time, the Grateful Dead, was the reason we moved to Alaska. In fact I think we were on our way regardless. But this jumble of thoughts and questions, and then the strange unprecedented apparition, I could only see this as one thing. So for those who think...."what the hell is he on?" Or those who are going "far out man...". Or yet to those who are saying, "....yeah, whatever...." I had to tell the story, and share what I saw. You decide for yourselves, and see what you want to. But for someone who wasn't sure where their life was about to go, or whether or not it should go there, this morning was somewhat of an inspiration. It calmed the nerves, and allowed me to see things from a different perspective. If nothing else, it was a moment of needed relief, in a tempest of insecurity, and indecision. If nothing else, it cleared the senses long enough to have a chuckle, and lighten up. He sang it himself, his words to a 'T'. "Once in a while you can get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right."

Our 100th Post & We're Still Here

Wow, this is our 100th post. It's unbelievable how FAR we've come to be here on 100.
Yes, hello, it's me Maryann....I know, It's been a long time. Greg has been harassing me to do a post and I finally have a chance. I just think it's kinda funny that my post comes in at 100. :0)

Well, life here just keeps getting better and better. We find ourselves happier and more excited everyday. Sure we have our down moments but with every new experience comes so much more appreciation for this place and our love for one another as a family. Does that cause you to have a tear? It does for me. I find myself contemplating that Greg and I are growing older, our son is becoming such a man and one day here soon he will be on his own and ready for life outside of ours. It is very exciting but also scary for me (and Greg) because our life has always been centered around John and his well being and what will happen when that day does come? Well, I can tell you this, Greg and I will be very supportive. John has always been a free spirit. John has always held a job and saved his dollar wisely. He's never confronted Greg as "just his stepfather", he has always called him dad and has always respected Greg. That makes me proud immensely. As of yet John has never been unruly or a typical teenager; defying his parents or saying mean and nasty things ( like I once did, sorry mom). John is a wonderful person to say the least, we have friends in California that absolutely adored John and didn't want us to leave because of the bond they had with him. He is just extraordinary and a wonderful person. What can I say, I am biased. :0) But knowing that that day may come soon, I cherish the moments we have together as a family, together, here.

Last night Greg and I were taking a pic of the moon rising above the lake when we heard what sounded like an animal walking just feet from us in the dark. Scary but I had a sneaking suspicion it was a moose and it was. It's amazing, moose are like cows they just graze and move, graze and move. And as long as you keep your distance and the dogs aren't out, your good to go.

It's been cold enough that I'm not too concerned that it may be a bear or wolf, but I still try to keep my distance-which is good, we have porcupines here. Ouch! :0) We're currently waiting for the next snowfall so Greg can spend another 20 hours or more plowing, he's getting the itch. A friend of his calls plowing"Pennies from Heaven".

I'm doing well, I have my moments when I miss certain aspects of California, friends and family but one day I will be back for a short stay to come back home to my piece of heaven here. I once lived in Mukilteo, Washington for 3 yrs and loved it so much that I cried driving back to California to start life anew (another story). I feel like I'm living back in Washington state again only it's 100% better and I am at home. This is my home. And if one day I change my mind, at least I can say I experienced Alaska and I loved it. But, don't hold your breath because life here is Awesome......Take care, love ya M.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy 4th-giving!

Hopefully this post finds everyone recovered from turkey hangovers and pie highs. May the leftovers be abundant and different ways of preparing such be new and exciting....and that those extra pounds you were dreading disappear before the next round of culinary overindulgence at Christmas! Ours was nice. We were invited over to our Realtors house to join her family for a gourmet dinner. I mean nothing was standard issue. This woman is a chef and left no room for the plain old ordinary! I call it 'sexy' food, but however you cut it it was divine cuisine. Maryann did have to go to work for a split shift at 6:00P and afterwards John went to forage more leftovers from friends' house....he was invited. Apparently John was really impressed at the amount of friends who invited him over for Thanksgiving dinner since he was new to the area. Of course, he denied all of the invites, because he just absolutely wanted to be with his parents for Thanksgiving....wrrrriiight! We did have something to be extra thankful for this year. Just being able to be here, together, and living a long awaited dream.

In typical Alaskan style, the Thanksgiving holiday is extra special here, as another big holiday is celebrated at the same time. Every year in Kenai, the Friday night after Thanksgiving day is the long awaited celebration of the 4th of July. They have a 4th of July parade after the sun sets, complete with Santa Claus, and then a fireworks show. 4th of July for Thanksgiving! So it is definitely different around here this time of year, and alot of locals look forward to this time of year because of it. Now of course Friday after Thanksgiving day was the fabled 'Black Friday' shopping day. You see, everyone throughout the peninsula flocks to Fred Meyer in Soldotna to hit the day after sales. Isn't much in the way of shopping on the peninsula! Freds is about it. The big excitement for those who would rather not shop til they drop, is to sit in the furniture section of Freds and watch the herds of people scampering about mindlessly scoping out the best buys.....this in itself can be wholesome entertainment for the casual observer! There was a time long ago when Kmart was in Kenai. When Kmart closed nationwide, the one in Kenai closed as well. There was an ensuing crisis following the closure. The good people of Kenai had nowhere to buy socks and underwear! Thank God for Fred Meyer. Sad thing is, is that everyone in the area has to wear the same kind of socks and underwear....in fact it is a spoken rule of shopping here, that if you don't want to look like your neighbors, you have to go the 4 hour drive to do clothes shopping in Anchorage to get variety. The things one has to deal with to be original. I am thankful that I don't particularly care, myself! ;) And for the record....I get my underwear mail order from Campmor.

The weather has cooled down again, and seems like it is drifting towards snow. Could that be considered a ...'snow drift'....? I was asked today if it snows on the beach? Yes, in fact it does. Quite an oddity. In fact the inlet does ice over once the heavy freezes set in. We are hoping that we get more snow soon, especially now that I am kind of relying on it to make some winter cash flow with the plow. The last round we had last weekend found me going out plowing at around 2:00AM Sunday morning, and not getting home until 10:00PM Sunday night. I was just a little tired to say the least! But nonetheless it was fun. Remember, I am a little weird like that...I mean what I consider fun....and I am told it just keeps gettin more funnerer. ;)

Maryann and I have been re-exploring the thought of finishing off the downstairs room, and renting it our as a vacation cottage in the spring and summer. I say re-exploring because we thought about it....then lost the thought about it....and here we are again thinking about it. You see, it is not uncommon for people here to rent refurbished garages, done up storage buildings or lofts, or just rooms within their homes to summer vacationers. Sometimes just any kind of space that can be livable is rented. And this is a huge industry. We originally were looking a couple years ago at properties in the area that had additional cabins on the property to rent out. Believe it or not they are out there and priced reasonably. In other words, the chances of us succeeding at renting the downstairs room out on some kind of consistent basis are good. It is big enough down there for a queen bed and dresser, small couch, tv, maybe a small cafe table and a little reefer with a microwave. As well, it has an attached bathroom...unfinished as of now. As well as having locked access through the basement/utility area (for us) it also has it's own outside entry so all someone would have to do is park their ride, walk down a set of garden steps, and they can come and go anytime they want without ever interrupting us. The outside entry is such that they would have their own private grass area, where they could barbecue, walk a short path to swim or picnic at the lake, access to the sauna. And our location to the beach, Captain Cook State Park as well as close proximity to Kenai would make our location ideal. Pipe dream this is? Maybe. However, when we made this move we went in knowing that we would have to be creative and motivated to do things differently than we have been used to doing in the past to make cash flow. We took a calculated risk moving here. We had a steady and lucrative business that we just stopped cold and left behind to start quite literally over from $0.00 dollars a month. And no joke we did start at $0.00. At this point we have to look at things like our art, pottery, and say, this extra room as investment opportunities. We have to invest in ourselves and use our talents and the resources we have available to us to make our income. This is all part of the dream, man. Maryann says, "build it and they will come". Tom says, "put an apple on your desk and the teacher will teach".....or something like that. Sorry Tom, I know it is a good saying, just get confused on the verbiage! In any event aside from some obvious finances needed to complete the room and bathroom to a rentable status, there is nothing saying it couldn't happen. It does everyday in Alaska, and we know several people first hand who have done the same and reap the financial stability from multiple income sources. It would be a sweet set-up, and has so much potential both inside and out to be made inviting. Marketed right, we know it would be a success. So anyone who was thinking of visiting someday...you had your chance to do it for free, but when that room is done we're gonna charge you! Rest assured you will be comfortable though....I guarantee it! I posted a couple photos to kind of help with some visual aid of the setting and potential. Remember, the log outbuilding is the sauna, and the mentioned room is the open door going into the house.

So for now I leave you with a thought to ponder. What is 'chance' but to have the chance? What does this mean.....hell if I know, but it sounds good! Have a good Sunday.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

When the snow starts a fallin' there's a name you should be callin'....

Now by all standards, it has been said by many native Alaskans that in fact this winter is getting off to a slow start. Should be colder by now, should be more snow on the ground. We are content, but I must admit we were expecting much more of the extremes. So this summer we are moving further north to Barrow. Now if you no Barrow, you know that there is "much more of the extremes"....if you know Maryann, she aint gonna let it happen! She is content on the peninsula!! Ok, I am too. I called her up the other day to say hi while I was out working. You see, this week found me building an outdoor entry building to access the basement of one of the apartments I maintain. I told her that I was endurance training for next winters' season of crab fishing in the cold Bearing Sea...... It was cold out that day, and snowing litely. I think it was the wind chill that had me. You know, no matter how much you dress for the cold.....you gotta keep moving to stay warm! However, I would rather layer to keep warm, as opposed to having to get naked to stay cool. So I feel it is a fair trade off. Did I enjoy my week of working outside in the elements? I am told that I live in Alaska now. So if I did not enjoy it, I better start! Like I said, as long as you keep moving. Now by most standards, that wasn't even cold. And it wasn't. When we were here in November last year the daytime highs were about 15 degrees, and the nights got well below zero, not taking in the wind chill factor. That is about when your facial hair...hell, your hair....turns brittle and cracks when you brush it with your hand. Your chest gets numb just breathing. All in all it was a gratifying experience this past week, knowing that I am slowly adjusting my California metabolic system, into a mean, lean, Arctic machine! Maryanns feelings on this? She hasn't complained or commented so I can only say she is content. Johns feelings? Well. He would have you believe that he would rather be back in California, but I think he is enjoying the difference of life here. Quite a guy he is. We are fortunate to have him with us as he has truly been an asset to our setting up and prepping for winter.
So, I bit down and made the investment. I bought a new plow for my truck this past week, and will start plowing snow as part of my services. There is a demand for plow drivers here, and I have been told by more than one that there is really good money to be made. If you remember a couple posts back I had mentioned how I am now working for another big investor in the area. He is also the Broker for one of the Real Estate offices in Soldotna. He has several other handymen which he keeps busy maintaining all of his many properties....me included....and although we are all have our own businesses, work under an independent contractor status for him. The really nice thing is that we are all a 'team'. Literally. And it is turning out that we are not only a team for Erik, but also for each other in our own endeavours. I was heavily encouraged by Erik and this team to plow, and have been given the opportunity to help plow not only the investment properties, but each handyman's own plow clients, as I build up my own route. How cool is that?! Alaskans although wanting to be left alone to do their thing, are also very helpful, giving, and caring of others. We feel very fortunate to be in this community. I look forward to continuing to work with this crew, and develop relationships.
Maryann, again, is having her work premiered in a coffee house in Soldotna. Quit amazing she is! I was so honored the other day to walk in and see her work hanging on the walls. It will be there for the month, and then she will be participating in another similar event next month. Did you know that moose grow snow on their backs during the winter here? No joke. I got to see it up close and first hand...like at a petting zoo. I was on my way back to the apartment after getting a steamer at the coffee house and checking out Maryann's display. Most of the streets in the town of Soldotna are limited to strictly 25 MPH and as well, none of the streets get plowed during the first snows. Or at least seems the case. So all the snow is packed on the road now, and pretty much ice. As I am cruising doing between 20 and 25 down this residential street, I am sipping my steamer, cranking the heater full blast trying to get hot as I can before I have to go back out in it. I think Johnny Cash' "Ring Of Fire" was playing on the radio and out of my peripheral I see something that appears to be running next to me. I slowly turn to look out the drivers window and there is a young moose running next to me. By instinct I go to apply my brakes, only to start sliding and try to come to a stop. I am going to let him win, you know. Now this is a slow speed encounter and almost seems surreal, as I slowly slide to a stop and this thing skips past me and crosses in front of the truck and disappears into....wherever moose go in the middle of town. What intrigued me, besides the incredibly slow crawl that this encounter took place, was that this thing was covered from head to ass in a dust of frost, as if it was part of the making of his fur....and it wasn't snowing this particular morning! I guess their fur just kind of freezes during the winter. Strange. Glad I am not a moose!
And so the verdict is in. I am officially backing out of the "Christmas In Kenai" show next week. Yes, my kiln is officially D.O.A. I am so devastated. Yet, although I can't figure it, somehow have to believe that there is a reason for it, and I have to find some common understanding of the situation. To be honest with you, I was tempted to use my new plow, to push the thing into the lake. ARGH! So as of now, I am only half a potter. However, we are muddling over possibly getting me a new kiln. I just want to have the piece of mind that the next one I get is not going to let me down again, when I need it most. I spent alot of focus this summer on all of the faires, weekend markets, craft shows, and festivals that take place form here to Fairbanks and I want to be a part of them this coming season. The new kilns are much more efficient which not only saves on energy cost to run them, but produce more evenly fired ware. And the technology is a little more sophisticated than their predecessors. I just decided that I didn't want to take the risk of buying another used one and taking the chance of something going wrong down the line. What more can I say about it. From the death of my effort this round, will come the birth of a promising future with my pottery. A big goal of mine in moving here was to market my pottery and increase my sales to become a more financially promising business. I know it is logistically possible to do here, and just need to be properly prepared to do it.
Well, there it is. I am not sure what happened to Maryann. Been a while since she posted. I assure you she is alive and well, and very happy to be here though. I will have to give her a little grief and get her to post more. Take care for now, and although we are happy as clams in sand, we do miss our families and friends and think of you all alot. Thank you Conitha! We do miss you and your name comes up often.....don't worry, it's good! ;) Mike, I laughed my butt off with that email the other day. I usually don't do forwards much, but that was just too friggin much! I wish there was a way to link it to the blog....is there? I am giggling again just mentioning it! Thanks for the laugh. Re-runs of '24' come on tonight in 20 minutes so I am off!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Beautiful doings, funked becomings, and the sun shone...finally!

Had ya worried with that last post, didn't I? Sometimes it's healthy to have an alter-ego. Sometimes. But in actuality I am just fine. We are just fine. True, it seems like the sun hasn't been out much for a couple weeks now due to constant rain or overcast, and lessening daylight but we are still loving it. Anyone who has seen "The Shining" could appreciate the last post....those of you who haven't need to see it! I think I had to throw a bone to all those who took bets we wouldn't make it the first 6 months! Not losing it, not trying to escape the looming grip of winter, not looking at the dogs like tomorrow nights' roast....just loving it! Sanity prevails. The sun is coming up at 9:25 AM now, and setting around 4:15 P.M. but daylight continues to get less each day. Maryann took this picture a few days ago out the front door, as the sun was coming up.

If it seems like our posts have been fewer and far between, it's by no means that we are huddled mumbling to ourselves in complete darkness, losing our fragile minds, or that we are trying to find comfort in a 'light box', rather we have just been staying busy. Native Alaskans tell us this is what you do to keep from going nuts in the winter is keep busy. So far it's working....with the exception of the last post...lol. : ) The temps have been pretty consistently cold now. Dips down into the low 20's to teens at night, and stays around the mid to low 30's by day, however the wind chill has been much colder. Been a little snow flurries, but no significant accumulations yet. It's very beautiful out though and it never gets boring to look at. This morning Maryann had to follow me into Kasilof right about sunrise and as the sun....yes, today had some sunny moments...as the sun was rising it was hitting the frozen tips of the aspen, and birch trees along the highway and they were literally lighting up as if they were being illuminated by strands of white Christmas lights. So vibrant! Never have the camera when you need it. Took all we had to stay on the highway, as you couldn't help but marvel at the magnificent beauty. It's little things like this that have stimulated the senses and make us truly appreciate where we are and how blessed we are to be here. And everyday brings something new and breathtaking. The other night I was coming home at sundown and as I was crossing over the Kenai river at the tidal flats, I was in complete awe to see that the high tides of early winter in the bay were literally spilling the Kenai over it's banks there at about the last mile or two of the mouth of the river. Thus they call it the "tidal flats". So the tidal flats become somewhat of wetlands.....until they freeze solid! In any event, I was really intrigued by what I saw. Again, as each new season has come, we discover new and exciting phenomenon and happenings of the land in which we live. It is duck season now, so you see a truck with a dog kennel in the back parked along the highway at the tidal flats now and then. Never see the hunters though. They are pretty elusive....huh huh huh huh huh!
I personally met a double blow this week. A leg injury that I acquired back in July came back to haunt me, tweaked out on me Friday night, and caused some serious inflicting pain, and major swelling. It is healing...again...much faster than in July, so I am thankful that it wasn't as bad. Maryann bought me a really good brace today, and I am going to get back to work tomorrow God willing, and see if I can at least fake it the rest of the week. I also had a major system failure with my kiln Sunday morning. I had it all loaded and ready to go with everything I have thrown for the 'Christmas In Kenai' show next week. Got up at 5:30 AM Sunday and started it up to do the first firing, and went back to bed. Woke up and went out to check on it at 9:00AM, and it was barely hot.....not a good sign. In 3 and a half hours, things should begin to glow in there. So with a bunk leg and complete disappointment, I fuddled around with it Sunday and this evening trying to figure out what is wrong. I have been in touch several times with the tech guy with Cress Mfg in Carson City and he is guiding me through the trouble shooting end of it, and I think we have it down. Bad news is I would have to pay out the nose to get the parts 1 or 2 day air, and then pray that they get here by Friday, I can get them replaced and they cure the problem, and then pull off 2 fires including glazing before Thanksgiving. Can it be done? Oh, it will be a hard run, man. But by the grace of God it can be done. So I am just remaining positive that I will be at that show come the Friday after Thanksgiving, and it will work out. I have really been looking forward to this one, as it is a big thing here every year. I will truly be bummed if I miss it. In fact, I will be buying a new kiln if I miss it! I will spare you the expletives that would follow that statement! So there you have it. Beautiful doings, funked becomings, and life rolling forward in the last frontier. I would write more, but I have an ensuing cramp in my right ass cheek due to the leg injury, and I have to walk it off! I leave you though with a couple pics. Two weekends ago when we were doing the weekend jaunt with the dogs on the beach, one of the pictures I took with Maryann and the dogs caught a boat in dry dock having some work done on it. Then, last week when we were out on the beach Monday, on our way out I saw the same boat sailing out into the inlet. The beauty of this sequence was the backdrop of the snow covered Aleutian Range poking out above the clouds across the inlet and the perception I had of this vessel, watching it sail into the storm that loomed ahead. Winds howling, black clouds prevailing, sea churning. Where as just the week before, we had the warmth of watching it obtain repairs and prepare for the voyage to sea completely unknown to us that we would one week later watch it set sail. Take care for now, and any donations for a new kiln would be much appreciated!! ; )

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Today found me feeling a little stressed....

It's getting dark. The thought of little to no light is concerning me....deeply. The cold. Not the cold....the damned wind chill. Cant even open my mouth without getting tooth-chill. The sun hasn't shone in near a week now. Just want to sleep every morning til the sun comes up, and then I cant drag myself out of bed. What am I doing here. What was I thinking? I want out. This was a bad idea. If something doesn't change, I am going to loose it! They say it's only $400.00 bucks to fly to Hawaii. Get me out of this frigid hell so I can think straight again. They tell me to keep busy with things and I'll make the winter just fine. Just fine. I want to go back to bed now. I'm cold. It's cold. The humanity of it! It's just a good thing I have my family to keep me straight. Tomorrow may bring salvation....or some sunlight....or warmth.....something better than today. I just love ALASKA. Hogwash! Get me outa here.....

Friday, November 2, 2007

That was wild!

We had our first taste of whats to come the past several days. What came to mind in the midst of the tempest was the story of the Three Little Pigs. I was laying in bed the other night listening to the gusts of wind battering the side of the house, flipping the spa lid, slapping the bathroom vent pipe, and making our windchims sound like a bad Manheim Steamroller soundcheck, trying to remember what structural materials the 3 pigs finally used to build their house that the wolf couldn't blow down. I didn't remember it being 'logs', therefore worrying me a tad of the fate of our home. As it turns out, if the 3 pigs had used logs as opposed to bricks, in fact they would have found that logs do hold the same bearing force load as bricks, and it probably would have been cheaper to build.....you live and learn. No snow in this one, but alot of rain. The average daily temps were only 39 degrees, but the wind chill was 18. So every time I would smile out in it, the chill would whistle through my chops and send shearing pain into my aching gums......I learned real quick to keep my mouth shut....tight! But hey, this was nothing I am sure, as I have heard the stories of when it starts getting down to -40 below 0 with the wind chill at -70 below, and how life tends to somewhat stand still for a couple weeks. Can't wait! And you think I am kidding. Reason #8 why we moved to Alaska.....to experience real winters. The whole episode also brought back some childhood memories of a windstorm in La Crescenta one hallowed night many years ago. I think the statute of limitations would have long since expired regarding this story, therefore I suppose I can safely tell it. We lived at the base of the San Gabriel mountains in a canyon town outside of Los Angeles called La Crescenta. I was little....can't remember how, but little. We had a terrible wind storm one night, as many times the Santa Ana winds would blow, but this one was different. I woke to this horrible clattering sound. The best I could describe it as was...well, Santa's sleigh with all his reindeer in tow landing on our roof. At first I was too frightened to move. You know, as a kid when you are scared shitless and literally freeze in place under the covers. I finally couldn't take it anymore and made a mad running dash into my parents' room. But they weren't there. I find my mom in the living room, and she tells me don't worry in a frustrated voice. It's your dad up on the roof she says. So naturally, as 'Dad' is a boys hero, I figure he can only be saving the house from blowing away, right?! Come to find out the next morning when I woke to find roof shingle strewn throughout the yard, he was up there in the dark, ripping shingles off in the wind storm. We wonder why our insurance rates are so high! I guess the neighbor looked out the window that night to see what the commotion was across the street, and could only say to his wife, "looks like Roger is at it again". However, the new roof the nice insurance man paid for was sturdy and true, and never again would I have to worry in a wind storm of our house blowing away.... My dad was a little hell raiser back then! He used to be a welder, and him and one of his neighbor buddies would go out late at night into his garage and they would fill these huge oversized balloons too the hilt with oxygen and settling from his welding tanks. They would go down in the caldesac where his buddy lived and would tie long fuses to these balloons, lite the fuses, and let go as the balloons floated upward in the peaceful night sky. These things would get a couple hundred feet up and when the lit fuse hit the balloon, would just cut loose a powerful blast that would light up the sky and send out a kaboom that would reverberate down the canyon and rattle the neighborhood windows. The cops never did figure out who the mad-bombers were! Fortunately it was a tight knit neighborhood, and everyone would just giggle anytime something happened...."Roger is at it again"! I remember one time he was having a huge problem with fire ants tunneling under his driveway. Now, times were tight and money was hard back then, and my pop was too cheap to waste money on a pest exterminator.....when he could just take care of it himself. No, he decided he would fill the cracks of the driveway with oxygen and settling, and run one of his infamous fuses into the main crack. You should have seen the dust billowing out of that cracked driveway. Remember the end of the movie "Caddyshack"? Needless to say the ant problem was solved and the driveways cracks were a couple of centimeters bigger. Then the story that sticks in my mind the best was the story of Plunket Volkswagen, where he worked as a VW mechanic. One day at lunch break the shop was empty as all the mechanics were at lunch. Dad decides to put together one of his oxygen/settling balloons in the tool room. He proceeds to go out into the shop and lites the short fuse, lets go, and runs the other direction. I guess he didn't quite make it out of the shop when that thing cut loose.....KAAAABOOOOM... It was so loud that paint was literally falling off of the ceiling. Judy Plunket, the owner, this wirey little guy with bottle glasses comes out of the front offices his eyes as big round as his glasses and plastered to the lens' screaming. "What the (blankety blank) happened". "I want the (blankety blank) who did this....." I guess Judy's sphincter was at 'pucker factor' 0 that day. Yes, this was my dad! He has mellowed with age thankfully, and meeting him, one would never guess the mischievous little hellion he once was. So the winds have died down, and are possibly going to get some snow tonight. Not alot, but the temps will be cooler for the next several days as we eagerly await winter. I started working with another local investor as an independent contractor this week. I was referred to him and he seems to be very happy to have me on board working maintenance on his properties. Needless to say, since I dont have welding tanks, he won't have to worry about exploding balloons going off in his shop! He is a really nice guy, down to earth, simple and has a great team of a handful of handymen who independently contract with him. They are into teamwork and really make working an enjoyable and supportive item. So I am looking forward to moving forward with this client. As for my Real Estate class. I have to finish the hours this week and study like no other to get the test done. It is going to be a challenge, as there is alot to learn, and I am new to this kind of exposure. But I am still eager and will push ahead. Remember that D.E.C. incident with that leaking fuel tank. You know, the one I allegedly rolled into the lake. That whole thing turned into a fiasco. Apparently that tank had been leaking for a long time. The contaminated soil seemed to go down forever...to China even.... John and I gracefully backed out of that deal, as it was apparent that the owner would need some heavy equipment to complete the task. As for the D.E.C. agent, I am sure he was sad to see me go...... What a mess that turned out to be. I don't think I ever mentioned the outcome of the fabled tank. I was able to get a guy that runs a used tank disposal business out on the highway to take it off my hands for a 12 pack of Corona. Saved me alot of trouble. Getting rid of those things is like trying to pass off spent uranium. We just had to change out the 25 gallon propane tank we had here. It is one of those outdated ones that doesn't have the new safety valves. I'm gonna use it as a pontoon for the dock I want to build lakeside. Well, I am going to go now and settle by the fire and await the arrival of my lovely wife from work. At least I know my house can't be blown down, and 'crazy Jack' isn't a welder ;) Before I go I left a couple of pics. We take the dogs out for a walk on the beach every weekend. They like this....alot. Funny thing is, they tell us what day it is. You see, they have come to know that Maryann and I are both home on the days we take them to the beach, unlike the weekdays when Maryann is home and I am working. So they literally go ape, and won't give an inch until we take them to the beach on the weekends. Who says animals aren't smart. Good night!