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The life of Wagster
A tale of a city boy in the country.

-This will be the last post on this blog, as my bloggings have moved to a new home:  http://thetaleofwags.blogspot.com

-I am leaving livejournal because the ads are annoying and I can do a free blog at blogger with no ads.  I dislike ads intensely.


Current Location: The Country Estate

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-A few pictures from the recent raising in Essex, Massachusetts:

The finished product, sapling and all.

Fitting the cupola, which was 7'x7' and about 8' tall.  My left
hand is signaling 'cable down' to the crane and my right
hand is guiding the cupola post tenon into its mortise in a
purlin.  My feet are about 24 feet off the deck.  I am
harnessed to the cupola support purlin.  You can't see him
but my coworker Andy is on the other side doing the same

A good shot to show the scale.  That's me just down and to
the left of the cupola.  The crane had a 92 foot boom. 

This one shoes the height of the first story.  Its about 13 feet
to the bottom of the girt from the floor.

Notice the long beam sticking out of the gable end.
This is a 'loft beam' or lifting beam for hoisting
stuff into the hay loft, in this case it will actually lift

The crew, and the only picture I have of my truck. 

-Sorry the pics are so small, I don't know how to upload bigger ones and I'm not interested in figuring it out. 

-Over the weekend Andy, Josh and I raised a 24x32 (with two ells, both about 13x13) hemlock frame down in New Harbor.  it took about a day and half.  We had the good fortune of having good weather and our favorite crane driver, J.R. Williams, behind the levers. 

-We had KT's dad and brother Shane come visit for the weekend.  They came to see the raising and were pretty excited about what they saw.  We went out for fish ( for us) and lobster ( for them ) at Shaw's Lobster Wharf, and then we spent the rest of the afternoon walking on the rocks at Pemaquid Point.  They decided to stay an extra night when I announced that I was going to light a campfire in the back yard and cook hobo dinners. 

-This week the crew is down in Maryland raising that scissor-truss pool enclosure.  I'm left behind to scrounge up work at the shop.  I've been given the task of cutting down a few acres ( hyperbole ) of brush in front of the shop so we can have more visibility from the road.  I started out with a chain saw, but moved on to an Echo brush cutter.  In my humble opinion the best modification you can make to a brush cutter is to throw out the blade they give you and fit an 8 1/4 " carbide-toothed circular saw blade to the head of the machine (and be really careful with it).  It cuts so nicely and quickly that you only need to start the chain saw for brush and small trees over 3-4".  Even with the right tool, I am plum-tuckered-out.  More of the same tomorrow.

-The fall weather is growing slowly colder.  We've had frost the last several days.  Tomorrow the high temperature is 43 degrees.  The trees are either at peak color or just past.  It is still quite a pleasure just to drive around and see the colors. 


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: sore sore

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-when people ask me what i'm up to these days, I often tell them I'm workin! which is not to say that I am not enjoying myself. on the contrary, I get to build these timber frames.  despite many of the difficulties and struggles involved in the business of building, it still beats a sharp stick in the eye,

-a frame went up without incident in Essex, MA this last week.  I should have some pictures soon of that raising.  The barn will actually have tractors and hay in it, which is a nice feeling.  It was in a nice spot on the tidal marsh.  It was the first frame that I 'climbed' during the raising.  We had the good fortune of staying right on the water at the Cape Ann Marina Resort for three nights and sampling the local cuisine of nearby Gloucester. 

-as nice as northeastern Mass was, it was an exceptional feeling to be back in Maine again for a long weekend of balancing getting it done and relaxing.  This coming week will be a long one beginning with four days in the shop and then two days of raising a side project.  I am looking forward to it.

-the week after, the rest of the boys are going down to Maryland to raise a douglas fir scissor truss frame which is to cover a small swimming pool.  I get/have to stay back and hold down the fort.  As soon as the frame we are working on now is done we'll be heading to Ellington, Connecticut for three or four days to raise a four bent, two story barn/home.  And if they finally get their site done up on Swan's Island, we'll head up there if its not too cold by then and raise that frame.  The logistics of getting a frame (and us) out there are a headache due to the island's lack of a bridge. 

-fall is in full swing here and we are hoping to get away to the Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park area in two weeks.  After that we have few plans in the works except to play it by ear.

---for now, that's the way it looks from here---

Current Location: the country estate
Current Mood: industrious
Current Music: Josh Groban

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-We're in the middle of a fall cleaning, trying to get things in order inside and out a little bit before the snow flies. I got the grass cut real short and cleaned off the deck this afternoon. KT has been reorganizing the house little bit, finally getting around to unpacking some things that have lain dormant since our move.

-Late this last week we loaded 48' flatbed truck with a Hemlock frame along with about 6000 board feet of tongue and groove and shiplap boarding. That comes out to about 8' wide, 6' high and 49' long. It took about 6 hours to load it. It will take 1 hour to unload it with a crane.

-Tomorrow morning the crew and I are driving to Essex, Massachusetts where we are going to raise a 4-bent, story-and-a-half barn. We are hopeful that this raising will go more smoothly than the last two. I've been up in that area of Mass once before when KT and I and her aunt drove up to Gloucester (Glah-stah) just to check it out. We'll be there until Thursday or Friday.

-I BOUGHT A TRUCK ON FRIDAY! It is a 2005 Chevy K1500 Silverado with a 4.8l V8, 4sp automatic, 4 wheel drive, Regular cab, long box. It has 43000 miles on it and drives like new. I just sort of fell in love with it when I drove it (after having driven 8 other trucks), and it is just the right time to have another reliable vehicle. It seems that credit is only tightening up for people who probably shouldn't get credit anyway, because I've got great credit and had no trouble getting a good rate on the financing right away. KT's job is taking her all over the place these days, so it just wasn't feasible to go with one car right now. I still plan to drive the motorcycle to work for as long as I can, but it is getting cold fast. There was lots of frost on the ground this morning at 6:30 and it was 31 degrees. This truck will allow me some flexibility as far as commuting especially in heavy weather and also more opportunities for side-jobs.

-KT really really likes her new job!


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: Steaked
Current Music: Chainsaw and diesel tractor.

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-Somgtimes you're working, minding your own business, and in walks Steve Thomas (This Old House, Renovation Nation) and says hello and that he's going to see ol' Johnnie-boy (my boss).

-this morning Andy and I went in to work, looked and the weather and turned around and left. too wet to load a frame on a truck, tarp it and leave it for three days under the sun. that sounds like a recipe for blue-stained wood.

-this afternoon I crossed the threshold and decided to scrap the volvotron. I removed the new brake parts I had installed, as well as the radio, speakers, windows and battery. Those things might be useful later.

-I looked at trucks today at the Chevy dealership in Waldoboro. I drove three trucks: a 99 GMC 1500 reg cab 4x4 100k miles ($7500), a 2001 chevy 1500 ext cab short box 4x4 100k miles ($9900), and a 2005 Chevy 2500 ext cab long box 72K miles ($14000). The first two missed the mark completely. I couldn't stomach spending that much on trucks I didn't like. The last one was great, big, powerful, lower miles, no rust starting, ready for a plow. the draw backs are, obviously, price and fuel economy. I had convinced myself I needed the long bed for transporting materials, but, is it really necessary? Wouldn't I rather have the ext cab? It seems like its really hard to find reg cab long bed used trucks around here. I'd sure like to tell myself that we can get by with one car, but the reality is that in maine, each adult needs their own vehicle. And if I'm going to have my own vehicle, it might as well be a useful one ( ex. 2005 3/4 ton truck with ext cab, long bed, plow, hitch, mowing deck, pto, and an espresso maker ). But I digress.

-My forehead bears a nice shiner from whacking my head right into something today while stripping the volvo. Maybe next time I'll look where I'm going !!!


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: throbbed

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I stood in my driveway yesterday morning at ten after six, drinking coffee and looking at the horses across the street. It was about 54 degrees and the sun was just starting to rise. I think it hit me right then why I moved to Maine. The problem is, I can't quite describe it with words. I supposed I could say something about about the smell of plants, trees and earth or something about hearing the wind, the frogs (in May), the coyotes (in February), the absence of sirens, and the rain, or I could even say something about seeing the fiery brilliance of the autumn leaves, the rocky coast of the sea, or the general green lumpiness of the landscape, but all of that would not really give you a good idea of the kind of belonging I feel right now. I'm not sure it will last a long time, but right now, I prefer Maine to anywhere.

This last weekend, I had the distinct pleasure to stand up in the wedding of one of my very best friends. The whole weekend was a celebration of a great relationship; a celebration without parallel in recent memory. What a joy it was to see my good friend be so well matched to his new wife. I expect great things to come of their committed union. I expect that the Divine Love of Christ will flow from their new home together. It is times like this that I know deeply the "why" of life.

-In other news:

-The volvotron is going to the junkyard this Friday, come hell or high water (a hurricane just missed us and hit Nova Scotia!)

-I am still riding my motorcycle. I plan to ride until ice covers the roads. Could be any day now.

-KT starts her new job tomorrow.

-We have been very happy lately to have seen almost all of our immediate family recently. I even saw my brother-in-law Bryan during a 4 hour layover in Philly on Sunday.

-my best goes to those honest people in the financial sector who are weathering the storm. I hope the people who got us into this get what they deserve (a lifetime living on minimum wage sounds about right), but we all know that they'll get million-dollar severance packages and we'll just keep working, like always. Maybe Bill O-Reilly is right, the American working people will pull the country through this, time after time.


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Current Location: The Country Estate

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-There was ice covering my motorcycle tarp yesterday as I pulled it off before the ride to work.  The coldest day that I have taken the bike to work so far has been 36 degrees.  At 60mph 35 degrees computes to a 17 degree windchill.  That explains why I'm freezing when I get to work. 

-yesterday I wore my stocking cap for the first time this season.

-we spent thursday through saturday in Milwaukee with my parents where they had a short but very sweet ceremony to renew their vows.  It was a little like a family reunion with all my brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and grandmas (and one aunt). 

-tomorrow i fly to mInneapolis via philly for my good friend's wedding.  It will be my first time back in Minneapolis since we left 9 months ago.  Has it been that long?  It feels like ages.  The circumstances of our lives feel so very different now. 

-the volvotron is officially dead in my mind, I've actually begun looking for a junkyard that will come get it out of my yard.  I've also started looking for a truck, but I think I can be without on for a little while. 

-looking at a pay stub the other day, i realized that I did not get paid overtime for a forty two hour week plus a paid holiday.  bummer.

-KT starts her new job as a parent education professional next week wednesday.  woot.

-the leaves are starting to turn.  the temperature is dropping at night.  we've turned the heat on. 

-I've started reading Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation.  And its GREAT.  

-What gets me the most about this ridiculous presidential campaign is that these two senators HAVE A JOB TO DO.  Aren't they supposed to be in Washington DC voting on things?  For heaven's sake, they've been campaigning for TWO YEARS!  I wish i could take two years off for traveling round the country flapping my jaw. 

-Solutions: Legally limit campaigning to the six-months before the election.  Also, institute term limits on all congressional seats: two terms.  Get the cronies, hacks, lackeys, and good-ol'-boys outta there. 

wishing you a pleasant evening,


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: radiant floor heat
Current Music: Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation

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-Some folks say, when it rains it pours, others say, feast or famine.  I say, I'll take more rain and more tools.  After I got that drill/driver two weeks ago, I got some new tool boxes and thought I wouldn't be buying any more tools soon.  However, on the way back from Deere Isle I stopped at a couple of antique shops and found a 1931-32 Stanley Bailey-style #4 smoothing plane with a relatively uncommon "Sweetheart" iron.  The plane is in perfect working order and was only $32 (compare to a new Lie-Nielsen #4 ~$350).  I got it all tuned up and ready to go, only to spend the last two days chiseling spline pockets.  I'll have to wait a little longer to try it out I guess.

-We got a nice soaking rain today, just enough to keep the Sheepscot river high enough to have some nice whitewater.  I was thinking about paddling it today, but time has gotten away from me as it always does.

-Sounds like we'll be going a bit of raising down in Boothbay next week and then heading down to Maryland and Massachusetts the first couple weeks of October.  It also sounds like we might have two November raisings.  Get your stocking cap and sheepskin-lined gloves ready!

-Is anyone sick of politics?  Throw away your TV. 


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: understandably
Current Music: crickets

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-there are somethings in life that aren't your fault, but you'll have to endure them anyway.  when asked about those experiences, its usually best to respond by saying that you're just glad its over.  Hurricanes, tornadoes, Star Wars: Episode 3, the 2008 presidential election etc.  all fall into this category.

-my most recent experience in that category was last week's raising.  Richard Nixon's admission that "mistakes were made" is about the best way to describe the situation without using various creative combinations of four-letter curses uttered only when one feels one's life may be in danger.  Lots of mistakes were made, both beforehand and on-site.  The week was positively hellish.  Maybe the phrase, educational experience is the right one.  As the "new guy" who knows very little and is able to do even less, I came away learning a great deal while feeling responsible for only one minor mistake which took place months ago in the shop.  I chamfered both sides of an exterior brace.  A cardinal sin.  I am very glad its over and glad to be back in the shop working on a scissor truss frame for a customer in Maryland.

-KT got a job offer from the University of Maine for a parent educator position.  She is going to take it.  She is excited.  Woot!

-We are just at the very beginning of starting to begin to commence looking for a house (or build one!!).  There is slightly handsome farmhouse for sale in Jefferson about 15 minutes from here that I kind of like, but it may be more trouble than its worth.  They're asking $125,000 for a 4 br house with 2.5 baths, attached 2 car garage, attached barn sitting on 2.8 acres in a beautiful spot.  Sounds too good to be true.  Maybe it is. 

-This week's Quaker meeting was particularly powerful for me with people speaking messages with a common theme of God granting us the strength to maintain faith, hope and love even in personal and general times of struggle and uncertainty.

-At 6:15 am and  51 degrees F this morning's motorcycle ride to work was absolutely freezing.


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: utterly chilled
Current Music: Joan Baez-Day after Tomorrow

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-hopefullly your labors have been rewarded with a relaxing and good weathered-labor day.  my heart and prayers go out to those on the gulf coast who are now weathering the storm.

-the volvotron is home after a small and frustrating adventure.  i got it started in the parking lot at work and got it about halfway home before it died again, not to be restarted.  I called AAA only to find that my membership had expired and I had to buy a whole new membership in the Northern New England Club.  They have a rule about not letting 'new' members buy the AAA plus coverage until their second year.  Fortunately the car was about 5 miles away, so I didn't have to pay extra.  In any case, unless I can do a cheap reliable fix, i'm going to junk it.  I think the problem is an ignition problem.  maybe it needs a new coil.  doesn't matter.  we can do a single-car life for a while because KT's job starts later than mine and ends earlier.  I may also start car pooling with a co-worker.

-we have had about 6 days of perfect weather.  today we're going to Damariscotta Lake State park to sit on the sand, read and maybe even take a dip.  the last time we were on the lake it was like bathtub water. 

-last nite the stars were so brite you could see the 'milky way' strip across the sky

-tomorrow morning i leave for Deere Is for what I hope will be a smooth raising. 

-get up from your computer right now and enjoy the outside.  it will be winter soon.


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: labor day
Current Music: Lingby

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