Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Blood Moon

As with so many nighttime meteorological events, what happens?  It's  beautiful all day, then when it's time, the clouds move in.

Of course it happened with the Super Moon. Walt Kowalski, Power Tower, and I were out by the fire when we could see the clouds starting on the horizon. Even as we ate dinner on the patio in rain sprinkles we were hopeful.

They stayed out by the fire after dark, I went inside to finish my chores and joked "call me when the Super Moon comes through the clouds."

A little while later, they came knocking the back door.

We got to see the moon twice through the clouds.  Once as it was just rising, there was a break in the clouds.  The moon so clear and bright.  Brighter than normal. It was the perfect moment.

Then the clouds came

But about a 1/2 hour later, there was another break in the clouds and we could see the start of the eclipse.  Beautiful.

With the clouds on the moon and the trees blowing, it had a very Halloween feel in the air.  Just as quickly as the moment with the moon came, it passed.  Bigger clouds started and rain started.  At least we were able to see the Super Moon for a moment.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


It has been a rough couple of weeks at a the Cat Ranch.  Not terrible things. Just normal life stuff.  I'm certain not more than any other family struggles with daily. 

So today I will just give you two, beautiful photos.

This was on the way to work a few weeks ago. The rain was moving in.


This was last night. After mowing (Walt Kowalski) and washing windows (me), we sat and watched the sunset.

The mosquitos enjoyed us watching the sunset. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Quiet Night

It was a quiet night at the Cat Ranch. We worked on the brick pile for a bit (more about that in another post), came inside early, had dinner at a reasonable hour, and got to bed early!  (Early for us is 9:45pm. Anything before 10pm is great. )

It was perfect sleeping weather.  Windows open, cool breeze, no fan needed.  Just one thin blanket ready for the early morning chill. Ahhhhh

Around 2:45am, I was searching for that blanket and flip flopped over to look at the clock.  Yes, I still have 2 more hours to sleep. 

Snuggle down in under the blanket.  Ahhhhh.

Then about 10 minutes later.

CRASH!  A huge crash. Walt Kowalski and I both jumped up out of bed.

It was really dark.  2:55am is like that. No porch lights. No headlights.  We couldn't see a wrecked vehicle.  Looked out the front window.  Nothing.  Looked out the side window.  Nothing. 

I opened the side window in the kitchen and said to Walt Kowalski "I hear music." He listened.  He said, "I don't hear music."

We waited for a car to come by so the headlights would aluminate the guardrail.  No car.  Except, I heard a car and looked out the front window.  The drug dealer on the top of the hill was leaving his house.  Hmmm.  Odd, but then I'm not usually up at this hour, maybe it's normal.

Still no car lights.  Now we could hear sirens in the distance.  Ok, there was a wreck and someone else in the neighborhood heard and called.  Finally, a car drove by and we could see the smashed guardrail, but no wrecked vehicle. 

It was difficult to believe a vehicle could wreck that big and then drive away.

Ambulance came.  And drove by and left.
Fire truck came. and drove by and left.

Second department fire truck came.  Drove by, turned around and came back to see the guardrail. More fire trucks came and left.  Too weird.

We went back to bed.  10 minutes later,  we saw more blue lights reflecting on the ceiling and more cars.  State Police were here and were searching down the lane.  They were looking with flashlights in the woods.  Then they left. 

OK this is all too weird. Back to bed we went.  It was a restless sleep for the next 2 hours. 

In the morning, we could see the damage to the guardrail.  When we got home in the evening, we could REALLY see the damage to the guardrail.

But no vehicle.  It looks like you can kinda see tracks where a vehicle HAD been.  They must have pulled it out while we were at work.

While I was taking pictures, the Farmer called up to us that we could get a better view from below in his yard.  I said I was ok from here, thanks.  But he insisted.  "Really, you'll get a much better view down here.  Come on down."

He was right. You couldn't see the vehicle from the road, but you could see it from his yard.  When we first approached I could see a front end of the vehicle that was majorly damaged.  Then as I walked around the other side I realized and exclaimed "The truck is upside down!"

It was so damaged at first sight I couldn't tell that!

The big crash we heard was the vehicle hitting the guardrail, going airborne, flipping over, crashing to the ground, and sliding through the trees. Never heard a crash like that before.  Don't want to ever again.

The reason the first ambulance and fire truck never came back past our house is because the driver climbed out of the truck and started walking! He had only head injuries.

I really have no words for this sight.  It's amazing that he survived.  (that says at lot about vehicle safety.)

He hit so hard and so fast, the roof is embedded in the ground.

But there is more to the story.  One of our neighbors was leaving for work just after the wreck and an other car was blocking his driveway.  At the same time, the drug dealer came back home (only 5 minutes later. Really?  Where do you go at 3am that you are back in 5 minutes? Our neighbor had words with the people in the car blocking his driveway and then left towards the drug dealer's house.  
All of this JUST before the police and fire trucks arrived. Coincidence?  Nothing is a coincidence in our neighborhood.  Especially at 3am!
After talking to the Farmer and his wife he asked the State Police to leave the truck there and he would have it removed, because they wanted to cut down the trees to get it.  The trees are his defense against a wreck of this type ending up in his house.  He's now thinking about installing a concrete barrier in the woods, too.
The State Police also said that a local company called this morning to report that one of their employees didn't show up for work and that one of their trucks was missing.  The police said "White truck? Yeah, we know exactly were it is." They believe the driver was high (which, amazingly, probably saved his life) and knowing the recent activity in our neighborhood, he was probably going to get another fix.
We can't get these people to move soon enough to suit us. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Beam Me Up

With a long weekend ahead of us, (we put the labor in Labor Day) we decided it was a perfect opportunity for beam raising day.

We already had the temporary wall in place.  Walt Kowalski need to do some clean up and prep work.  He had to cut out a section of one of the old studs to create a pocket for the beam.

You can see the holes the previous owners cut in the main rafters.  Really?!? Let's just cut through this main support beam for the house and put in a piece of duct work. 
Power Tower was there to help.  I can do so much, but with double the height, he can do so much more high things without ladders.  I spend most of my time moving my ladder.  (Stilts!)

Basically, we screwed together three 2"x8"x12' boards to make our beam.

There were no photos of the actual beam raising because I was helping to lift. We made a pocket in the wall on one side, lifted the beam into the pocket, then made a support on the other side and lifted the beam into the support.

It was tight.  Very tight.  Which is good, but also made it more difficult to get the beam in the exactly location. he exact location being directly under the wall upstairs and directly above the supports in the basement.

Then we *very* carefully removed the support wall, one 2x4 at a time.  The second floor shift only slightly down into place on our beam.

Now the most important part, admiring our work and talking about the next step. You can see the slight gap between the beam and the ceiling. on the left side. We expect that because the floor upstairs had a slight bow in the middle. Walt Kowalski will fill in that space as needed.

We did something correct because as we were removing our support wall, we heard one of the support jacks in the basement fall out onto the floor.  The temporary support wall had been pushing down on the first floor and up on the second floor. By removing the temporary wall, the first floor raised up from the supports and the second floor lowered on to the beam. Now we could tighten all of our jack posts in the basement and know the second floor was resting properly on the beam on the jack posts.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


What does LST stand for?
Local Services Tax.
Let's Start Talking.
London, Liverpool Street.
Linux Support Team.

For Walt Kowalski and I, yesterday it stood for Landing Ship, Tank. A landing ship, tank is the naval designation for vessels created during World War II to support amphibious operations by carrying vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly onto an unimproved shore. these ships are the largest ever designed/built to place tanks, troops, & cargo onto a hostile beach, then retract. 1,051 were built for WWII, 70% were built on the Ohio and Illinois Rivers.

We didn't have to go to an unimproved shore, only the North Shore.  This one came up the Ohio River and parked on the North Shore.  It was nice to spend the day as tourists in our own city.

This LST was built in Pittsburgh in the 1940s and was used on June 6, 1944 in

The anchor is as big as my car, Little Red.

It was a floating museum.  They had photos of the ships in use in WWII.

The porthole to the galley and mess.

On deck was large enough to hold jeeps, guns, tanks, and even land a helicopter during the Korean War.

The hallway to the head (bathrooms and showers.)
Walt Kowalski, being over 6 feet tall, couldn't get over the size of the bunks.  He would have had to choose between his head hanging over or his feet hanging over the bunk. Up to 200 soldiers could sleep in the LST. 

It was difficult to portray the size of the ship in the photos.  The deck was 230' long and 14' high. It could hold 20 Sherman tanks. It's even more difficult to imagine that this is a small ship in comparison to the current aircraft carriers. 

And of course, we went on the hottest day of the year!  95 degrees!  It was hot, but it was totally worth the trip. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Well is not Well

We've been struggling with our water pressure. 

There is a well at the Cat Ranch.  Always has been.

A few weeks ago we noticed the water pressure in the shower was diminished.  It wasn't bad, just not as strong as it used to be.

Last week I noticed that the water pressure in the shower would start out strong and I could stand at the back of the shower.  Then as the shower continued, I would have to get closer to the front of the shower. Then closer.  Then closer. Pretty soon, I was standing UNDER the showerhead. By the end of the shower, it felt like I was just being dripped on.

Not relaxing. Not refreshing. 

I also noticed the same diminished pressure when I filled the water bottles and tea kettle. 

The pump we have has a tank with a bladder inside (think big, vinyl balloon).  The bladder is surrounded by air. The well pumps the water into the tank, the bladder against the air creates the pressure. When you open the faucet, water comes out with force.  As the air pressure lowers, the pump kicks on to fill with more water.

Over time the air can slowly leak out.  I asked Walt Kowalski to bring home the air compressor to add some air to the tank. This helped the last time the pressure was low, about 4 years ago.

Walt Kowalski added some air.  Same water pressure.
Walt Kowalski added some more air.  Same water pressure.
Walt Kowalski added some more air.  Slightly better water pressure.
Walt Kowalski adjusted the on/off motor switch, also.

I started doing a load of laundry.  As I was walking through the game room to take a basket upstairs, I could hear the pump.

On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off.

Oh that's not good.  Now the on/off switch isn't working. 

Walt Kowalski added some more air.  No water pressure.  No water!

No!!! I want to be able to take a shower tonight!

Maybe the pressure gauge needs to be increased on the pump.

Nope. Still no water.

Turn it off.  Throw the breaker. Maybe it's overheated. Let's just wait a while.
So we did.  He was in the middle of splitting wood.  These things never happen when you've got nothing to do.

And we tried it again. Turn on the breakers, turn on the water valve.

On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off. On. Off.
No water.

Let's go back to the beginning.  Readjust the on/off switch.  Let out some of the air out of the tank.

Maybe there is a possibility that we have run out of water. It has been dry.  We've been through dry spells worse than this, but you never know what is going on underground.

Let's go back another step.  The filter is on the pipe before the tank. Let's take off the filter and make sure we have water coming IN to the house.

Removed filter.


OK! We have water.  Lots of it.  (Get towels! Lots of towels.)

Ok, let's put the filter container back on the pump without a filter and see what happens.

Pump is pumping normally. 
Water pressure is high.
On/off switch working.

Ahhhh. Water.

Then we remember and looked at the filter. Last month, we tried a "better" new carbon filter that catches more particulates. That's great, but it also fills up faster because it's catching more particulates.  When the filter is full, the pressure drops.

Yes, it's good we're catching more particulates, but it fills up in 2 weeks rather than 2 months. At least we know what the problem is. We will alternate between the good filters and the better filters.

Walt Kowalski jokingly said "Look at the water pressure.  Do we really need a filter?"
Me: "YES! I don't want to drink that stuff."
Walt Kowalski: "Well then we'll just have to drink more beer and cocktails."
Me: "You use ice cubes in your cocktails."
Walt Kowalski: "Rats. Wait, we have a filter on the ice maker!"
Me: "What about coffee?"
Walt Kowalski: "Rats."

Power Tower, who was helping at the time, said "I don't know why you just can't buy bottled water."

NO! Not even going to start that.  We have the best water.  We've had it tested, too.
We don't want the sediment in the washing machine or toilets either.

I can tell you I have an even greater respect for the water when I turn on the faucet now, especially after not having it for an afternoon.