New entry in my Kilt blog 9/21/2011

Friday, October 30, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Aimlessly Bicycling

Today I did something I seldom do and that is go for a bike ride just to ride around. Seems I need a goal or destination normally to motivate me but not today. Today I rode around just to ride around.
First I went to the end of my street (Roberts Dr) in Trollville parked and got off the bike less than a 1000 feet from the house. I walked around and really looked at things. The wind was blowing today but this spot was protected and it was quite nice. There is a house trailer immediately on my right but no one was home so I could daydream that this was a little piece of paradise.

By the way the stop sign means it. There is a rusted out short chain link fence in the growth that would not stop anything bigger than a bicycle.
There was a little trash in the water but not much and I think I will come down here soon and fish it out. This is actually the end of the drainage ditch that drains all of Trollville but it's always below the level of the Hollywood Canal that is it's outlet so it always has water. Hollywood Canal was dug to carry off the cypress trees back when the tree killers were raping the land by trying to cut every tree in the country. It starts at Bayou Lafourche between Thibadoux, La. and Raceland, La. and ends in a canal by Lake Long that connects to the Inter Coastal Canal a highly traveled commercial thoroughfare that connects to the Gulf of Mexico. So I can put a boat in this ditch or the ditch behind my house and travel the Seven Seas. I could put a kayak or canoe in here easily and be on my way or maybe just go fishing. I'm not on drugs, just bicycle day dreaming. I don't really need another boat but.............
I live about a 1000 feet (305m) or so back up the road.
This is our neighborhood saloon. A real high class place. I know nothing about it except what I've heard. I can't believe I've lived here for four years and haven't been in there. In my youth that would never have happened. The number of Mexican Immigrants I have seen around it has deterred me somewhat. I am going to make it a point to go there and see what it's all about. Report to follow.
The most intelligent encounter I had today was this guy cutting the grass. He didn't say much and neither did his owner. Words came out of the owner but nothing I could make heads or tails of. The dogs I chased with my bike were more fun. First they chase me then having nothing better to do I turn around and chase them. There are a lot of confused little yappers in this neighborhood now and some of them won't even come out to the street now when I pass. Poor dears. There is always doggy therapy.

Leave it to me to find a face in a goats ass. I figure I'm the only one weird if I'm the only one that sees it. It was max optical zoom then digital so it's a little fuzzy but it made the old fool giggle.

Winter is coming on. It was 76F(24C) degrees this morning at 0600. I ran the air today when it got up to 90F(32C) degrees indoors. Around 5:00 pm it went from 81F(27C) degrees to 58F(14C) degrees in 20 minutes now at 8:00PM It's 55F(13C) degrees and still going down. I'm not complaining just giving a weather report but my plants are confused.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Old Fools Journal: What? Not another Lamp

This very utilitarian adjustable brass lamp was waiting for me on my last visit to the Goodwill Store. It had a brass tube attached to the wall block that reached to the ceiling with the cord in it so obviously it was meant to be retrofitted in a room that had no wall outlet.

It's perfect for my needs which is a lamp that can be adjusted out into the main salon here when I have my sewing tables set up. I can now pretty much eliminate all the weird shadows on my work. I removed the tube of course and it will go for some future project I'm sure. I replaced the broken switch in the top of the wall block. It's wired to come on with another lamp over my desk so I can turn it off when I only want the desk lamp.This lamp came from the same Goodwill store and I actually bought it for the parts several months ago. I have one like it but in better shape that I use as a table lamp (pictured below). It was missing a knob for the switch and another little brass piece that this one had.
My favorite table lamp. Brass, copper plated with brass, completely adjustable and a pretty round stone in the base. What more can a boy want.I've tried to get a closeup of the stone but it refuses. It is the kind of stone that one stares into when one is doing certain drugs. Or so I'm told.

I thought this lamp was solid brass but it turns out that it's some solid brass and a lot of brass plated copper but that's OK too. The lamp is shown partially extended in this picture which as I said earlier alleviates the shadow problem when I have the work tables set up. Some one had painted the brass base with high quality black paint. Such barbarians. They did a good job but it was butt ugly. (Why do people use that term for very ugly? I happen to like butts and I don't find them ugly.) I quickly stripped it off with some earth deadening toxic chemicals. This stuff not only strips paint but makes you happy while killing your brain cells and giving you lung cancer. I need to get more.
As happens I had an occasion to use the lamps today. One of my kilts needed some modification to make a buckle work comfortably. That's it hanging from the machine under the sewing table. I have three tables that I use together in several configurations depending on the project. A kilt needs a lot of table space. The green thing on the left side is the settee that converts to a cutting table and then to an ironing table when constructing a kilt. Sometimes it converts to a nap table. The only problem with this trial run were that the bulbs do not give enough light. These bulbs were meant to be decorative not to give light. I have been using good quality fluorescent in the summer that are equal to 100 watt incandescent bulbs in light output. I am looking forward to replacing those for summer use with led's when they get affordable. In the winter I change to incandescent lights for the heat.

There are six lamps in this view. One is a candle lamp. I do love the light and the light givers.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Old Fools Journal: It was a nice day for a ride

On one of those days last week without rain I went for a little ride in a part of town I had not biked before. The occasion was getting a flat fixed for my bride. She had hit some debris in the road, something that is a daily hazard here. The streets, roads and highways are not swept. The airport runways and taxiways are not even swept. I flew out of that airport for 7 years for a living and I have seen sticks of wood, cigarette cartons, flashlight batteries, bolts, airplane parts and once even a beer bottle. Everyone throws their trash out of the windows. Saves on trash bags.This empty parking lot was such fun. It's been many years since I could ride around in circles and figure eights just riding round and round for the shear joy of riding round and round. If you don't understand that then you don't ride a bike. What a foolish old man I am.

The neighborhood in which I rode was really nondescript, full of fast food joints, strip malls and Walmart. It did have sidewalks in ill repair. They are used by the few bike riders and fewer pedestrians. Believe me a bicycle or a pedestrian will not last 3 minutes in the street here. From my experience even the sidewalk is not safe from cars. It's not much more than a widening of the curb. Standing on the curb cars were passing close enough and fast enough to blow my mustache around. There seems to be more animosity toward bicycles and pedestrians lately so don't think the sidewalk is safe. A week ago I experienced some horn blowing fist shaking road rage from my local school crossing guard because I was on my bike and in his way to park at his duty station. I was signaling for a left turn to the library and waiting for the oncoming traffic.

The only local color was a snowball stand (In Hawaii it's called shave ice. It's a paper cup full of ice with syrup). The strip mall above really stood out to me. There are six or eight small stores there and the parking lot is nearly the size of the Walmart parking lot. That's a lot of empty concrete and this is just before noon. I guess business is a little off.
I found this store front with rather confusing signs in the windows. Why do they call it a Money Store if there is no Money in there. I did discover a new Thai restaurant and I believe it is the only one in Houma, La. I've got to try it. SWMBO (she who must be obeyed ) and I love Thai and have not had any since Hawaii. Maybe I'll ask her out. Maybe I'll get lucky. She has been looking really good lately.

Later in my own neighborhood I snapped a few more pictures of how we take care of trash. This ditch leads off the main road into a subdivision that was a planned slum from it's beginning I think. Divided into 50 foot wide 100 foot deep lots to park house trailers. Just big enough to put 14 foot wide 80 foot long tornado magnets on. It's still a slum but some bought multiple lots and built houses with some room around them. For instance I have 1/2 acre with a very small but very old house and they did not bulldoze the trees down to build as they do in new developments. A large part of Trollville is small rent houses and old trashy house trailers owned by people that live in more affluent neighborhoods. There are people living here in places that are not much more than trash heaps.

This ditch is were people throw their plastic drink bottles, cans, beer bottles, MacDonald packaging and tires. It doesn't look like very much in the picture but that is just the top layer and it goes all the way to the corner in the distance. Under that is a layer of grass then more of the same.

As you get deeper into the neighborhood you see more evidence of the mindset. The trash is thrown from the windows of cars but the bicycles are in front of their houses. A good example of why the American poor stay poor. If I go pull these out of the muck and the ditch and take them home to fix up for someone else it's called stealing. This is only a small sample.

People here are afraid and insecure so it is difficult to draw them into conversation. I have been here four years and I know nothing about my neighbors. The only people that have neighborly connections are related to each other. That is the majority and they don't like each other. I suspect that some of the parents were related before marriage. It was so bad when SWMBO was driving the school bus that some of the related children (cousins) had to be carried in separate buses. There were at times heated arguments among the parents at the bus stop. At least I think it was arguments. Arguments and conversations appear to be about the same since in both the participants stand and yell at each other at the same time. There doesn't appear to be anyone listening. The height of this ridiculousness was when the sheriff patrol would meet the school bus and follow it through paradise to prevent violence.

This is not meant to be a negative report. I am actually quite happy. The streets are smooth, the streetlights work and there is only the occasional drag racing manly man drag racer careening by. I have seen in the last six months more people walking and riding bicycles than ever before in this neighborhood. Some I have seen before and some are new (to me) but they are doing it purposely not because they have to and they seem to be happy. My only complaint is a incurable, terminal ear infection that keeps me in when it's cool and the wind is blowing.
Best of all my time machine seems to be working well as I travel into the future one second at a time. Some day I will build a visually representative time machine contraption but for now my brass wind up alarm clock will have to do.

So there you have it, the latest report from Trollville.
"Be excellent to each other and party on dudes." from Bill and Ted's excellent adventure.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Dilemma

I thought I would make a steampunk head light and matching tail light from these candle sticks. They are the perfect size in diameter (3.5 in or 9 cm) and the part I would use is the base which unscrews. The candle holder could then be screwed to a used beer can or into the cap of an old gin bottle and still be a candle stick just not as classy. Good enough for this part of the world though.

When I got to messing with these ladies (they are too pretty to be guys) I found that they made more than serviceable bells. They have a clear and beautiful ring to them. Each distinctively different from the other. So plans change. I'm never going to ride my bike in the dark anyway except at gunpoint.

So now how to fabricate a super ornate steampunk bell with these gems? If I mount them side by side with a clapper that strikes them alternately It would be such a big package that mounting it on a bicycle would be difficult. It would be like mounting a suitcase on the handle bars. I guess I could put them on a trailer and tow them. Making two bells would be more practical. Nah, it's getting too complicated.

Oh well the decision is made. SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) just came in and likes them so now they are hers. It is so seldom that she likes what I like and besides she's roasting a big piece of dead pig for dinner. The aroma makes me weak.

They are entirely too nice to use for anything else than what they were intended anyway. They appear to have never been used but no matter they are pleasant to look at and she will sacrifice candles in them.

Cost two dollars American. It's back to the thrift store in the morning to see what other treasures I can find.

The do not have the usual made in China or India marked on them but I'm sure they came from somewhere in the East. They are identical castings, inlaid with hand painted jade colored porcelain. The finishing on each is slightly different so it appears the master did one and the apprentice did the other.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Whittling

It occurred to me yesterday that now that cool weather is upon us I really need a coat rack. Throwing my coat into a chair by the door is so tacky.

Might as well have a place to hang a hat or two as well since I'm whittling,

and a place for my shopping bag and backpack.

A hook for my coolie hat is also necessary. Oh yeah I have a coolie hat. Much cooler than a pith helmet and it goes with everything. If you are going for the red neck image (as many do here) it is not a good choice. It is dual purpose hook holding my old headset as well as my coolie hat.
Thirty years I've had this old bus and I finally have a place to hang stuff by the door. I don't like to rush things.
All these hooks and racks are of live oak given to me by the very old grove of live oaks that I serve.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Old Fools Journal: From the Log 23 days out of Hanalei Bay, Hawaii


It's turned cold overnight. It wouldn't mean anything to you northern folks but it was 50 degrees this morning and it was a terrible shock to my system. Going from sleeping with the air conditioner to sleeping with a heater and a blanket will do that. It's times like this that make me think of moving further south.

Needless to say I was reluctant to venture out early so I was making some adjustments and cleaning my hovel. I came across the log books to several boats I have sailed and of course I was sidetracked. The excerpt below is from the log of the "Serenity" on the trip from Hawaii to California. Reading this brought back powerful memories complete with powerful emotion, an over abundance of which I've had lately. I'm glad I did these adventures while I was young enough. I use to say I wanted to do that stuff while I still looked good nekkid however I am more than a little thankful that I don't have to do it again.

Tuesday June 5, 1984
Excerpt from the log.........23 days was written in the margin.......explanation in parentheses ...

L31*40.0N Lg127* 52.3... 107 (miles last 24 hours)
1927 (7:27pm) Spoke yacht "FRIDOLF" a yawl, 4 days o/f (out of) Santa Cruz (California)
430 mi. to C.I. (Channel Islands, Oxnard, Ca) 68*m (68degrees magnetic)

You would think that with the immense size of the Pacific Ocean that you would never see anyone much less run into someone. That is not the case. If you are not constantly vigilant there is every chance that you will run into another boat/debris or be run into. Everyday we saw Styrofoam cups, liquor bottles, boxes and several times large beams or telephone poles. Twice I've altered course to not run into a ships far at sea. We had to alter course to not run into this vessel. It was manned by a solo sailor bound for Hawaii and he was below deck. He didn't see us until he was coming back into the cockpit and we were past. We then spoke on the radio, exchanged salutations and positions. We both knew where we were or we were both lost because we agreed. It was good to speak to another yacht.

From this point on my log starts to deteriorate SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) and I both were getting really tired. The autopilot had stripped a gear two days before and we had little luck getting the boat to steer itself. For a time we were relieving each other every hour at the wheel and sometimes every half hour as we both were suffering from back pain. SWMBO has tremendous stamina and on at least one occasion stayed at the wheel for over four hours so I could sleep. She never complained once. At the time she weighed about 95 pounds or less. Weaker sex my ass.

The next day at 1700 we saw a ship but they did not respond. My log keeping was really bad at this point so it was just a scribbled note. I did plot a position.

0100 Thursday June 07, 1984 - another ship. They did not respond. No matter

This is from scribbles in the log and memory.
1315 - A gale has come up but the wind direction is favorable and we are hauling ass. Swells are on the port quarter and huge so are protecting us from chop. We are getting wind blown spray. Thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of Portuguese man war in the water. We sailed through them for hours.

At this point we had been out of beer for sometime, SWMBO had been out of cigarettes for a week and we'd been wet about that long. But we are cheerful and looking forward to making port.

Friday June 08 - Still overcast, gale, no position for 3 days but I'm sure we are sliding off south of our Course. (I wrote "punchy" in the log and I seem to remember writing that so I would remember what a mess I was).

The reason for concern about position is that we were trying for the Santa Barbara channel. If we are off to the south it's not so bad if it's enough to miss the Channel Islands in the middle of the night in really poor visibility. It's pretty hard to miss the big island of North America but it's nice if you see it before you hit it.

Stay tuned for the dramatic ending but that's all of memory lane I can handle right now. What a rush.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Chicken Fat

Only a very special person could drip fried chicken fat on her shirt right over her heart and have it come out like this. This has to be a sign of some kind. This is SWMBO's chicken fat heart. Random, probably, but I'm going to be nice to her anyway just to cover my ass.

I may have mentioned in the past that I ain't scared of anything except lightning, flying in thunderstorms and SWMBO. Not necessarily in that order.

(SWMBO = She Who Must Be Obeyed) She smokes cigerettes, drinks beer and cusses like a sailor but is the epitome of Grandmother. She can cook too. Best fried chicken in the world. Each piece takes a year off your life but it's worth it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Charles Leslie Swaim

Charles Leslie Swaim

I had just about given up on learning the fate of my biological father. Imagine my surprise when I received an email from a stranger who was looking for the same person with questions of her own. She presented enough evidence in that email to convince me that she was indeed looking for the same person. This stranger turned out to be one of my step-sisters that I never even knew about. Suddenly I have accumulated three step-sisters, one step brother and one half brother. I want to know them and they seem to want to know me. I am overwhelmed.

If your parents divorce are your step-siblings divorced from you as well? Or do you get to choose? Blood siblings are forever even after you die and I think that may apply to step-siblings as well. If I have my way that's the way it will be.

I had only a couple of months to get use to this but I have suspected that I had a brother for 40 years or better. Now that it is a reality with pictures, family stories and voices it is overwhelming. It is as scary as facing a storm at sea on a small boat which Is something that I am familiar with. I am approaching this with even greater trepidation knowing that there is no changing course.

Why the trepidation you ask? Well there are all sorts of fears in human relationships and I want you to know that they don't go away or even get less important as you get older. You still want to be wanted, respected and loved.

What if they don't like me? I have met a number of people in my life that did not like me and I just moved on but this is family and not easily replaced. I know that my dad just moved on more than a few times, started a new family and I suspect finally died alone. I would like that not to be so.

What if I don't like them? You can make me not like you but it's pretty hard to do. I may want to avoid you because I think you smell bad or are too stupid to deal with but I have had a lot of dogs and some of the most stupid I liked the most.

What if they need something from me I am unable to give? That would be the worst failure of all.

You see there is plenty of reason for trepidation and at my age not a lot of time to correct any mistakes. In flying there are a two places as you are about to land that are really important. One is on "Final" which means you are approaching the runway with time to correct big mistakes or oversights in most cases. Then there is "short final" which means you are going to land no matter what. If the earth opens up you are going to land in it. "Final" is measured in minutes and "Short Final" is measured in seconds. So I think I am on "long final" but that is not a good place to kick back and read the newspaper. There is not a lot of time to correct mistakes.

I have spoken to three of these brothers and sisters and exchanged emails with a forth. I have these strong emotional feelings that I can't identify and believe me when you are 70 and you have feelings like that all kinds of physical and mental things happen. Concentration was the first thing to go. All I want to do is think about this. Sleeplessness and digestion succumbed next but it's sort of like falling in love (whatever that means) it's terrible but you want it anyway.

It's also habit forming. Due to hearing rumors about other escapades of dear old dad I "feel" (notice I said feel) that there is at least another brother and a sister out there somewhere. The names Michael and Anne have come up. Many years ago it was thought by my mother (I think but my memory ain't what it use to be) that there might be another Richard as well. That would be strange because the tradition in this family is that the first male child is named Richard and I was first. I would be more than happy to share.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Old Fools Journal: View From The Deck "Keehi Lagoon"

This is the deck of which I speak. The good ship Serenity.

Most of these pictures were taken with a cheap camera on 16mm film and they are 20 to 30 years old. I enhanced and restored with "gimp" the best I could. This group taken in and around "Keehi Lagoon" Honolulu, Hawaii.Low lying rainbows such as this were common against the backdrop of land. The "little people" had to get the pots of gold really close together to make this happen.Trimarans come here to breed I think. I know their owners did a lot.
Many multi-hulls large and small.Many mono-hulls as well.
Little islands abound. I think all of them had squatters and they used all manner of homemade boats to get ashore. If I ever locate the rest of my photos I'll show you some really imaginative contraptions. I use to say that Keehi was where people went to reinvent boats.
This person built himself a haul out facility. Sunsets.More sunsets
and even more sunsets. One a day. All wonderful.
The last few years that I was there I got to stay at this dock when I was in town. As you can see land and sea here has merged. The only dock I ever stayed on that you still had to wade to go ashore.

This was quite a place. One of my neighbors had a Corvette and one morning when he went to use it he found the front up on blocks and the wheels missing. He went back to his boat to use the phone (this was pre-cell phone) and while he was reporting the theft to the police the thieves came back and took the back wheels. He did get four nice concrete blocks though.
Lest you think this was a peaceful place get a load of this KC135. These tankers were the original Boeing 707 airframe running the original straight jet engines with straight pipes. They always took off fully overloaded and as you can see no thought was given yet to the black stuff coming out the back. They were so underpowered that they were only 4 or 5 hundred feet in the air when they went over in a slight turn away from Honolulu to keep from running into the buildings. OK, so I may be exaggerating a little but not much.
No telephoto lens needed. They are close enough to not need one. No one could shout loud enough to be heard over this.

One last little story. One warm day in this very location I was showering on the deck of the good ship Serenity and watching the airplanes take off. I heard the big radial engines of the DC4 that made the daily newspaper run to the other islands coming my way. I have an affinity for these old antiques so I was paying attention when it lifted off and came into view. As it cleared the end of the runway and came out over the lagoon the number one engine fell off. Having no lift and losing power because the fuel line had separated it flew like a brick making a perfect one point landing in the water. It did not float. The pilot after saying "oh shit" and probably doing just that made a nice U turn and landed downwind on the parallel runway. It gave real meaning to the phrase "We have lost the number one engine".

The paper was late that day but I was thoroughly entertained. I won't say that it was the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me while showering but it is the most exiting thing that has happened while showering alone.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Hot Air Engine

Apparently simple minds like simple things. I found this very nicely done piece of tin work at my favorite thrift store last week but because the weather has been so nice I have been playing outdoors. This morning it started raining just before dawn so today was a good day to check it out. It is a three candle power heat engine. It's only purpose is to turn around and cast light images on the walls of your yurt, hogan, cave or tepee. When running it emits the smell of candles. I love that smell. Unfortunately it has a voracious appetite for candles. It's candle wax mileage is not very good.

The candles ran out before I got tired of staring at it. Like I said "simple minds" you can see I am easily entertained. I love this thing.

If I was into meditating this would be perfect for that and if someone were to see me staring at this device they might think I am meditating. It ain't so. I'm just vegetating, staring at it turn and probably thinking about lunch.

Below is a picture of the innards.