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

-the crew and I completed the first phase of the Botanical Gardens raising in Boothbay, ME yesterday.  Lots of blood (not mine), sweat and tears, but we got it done.  The most memorable moment came when I, as ground man, was slinging timbers to send up with the crane.  I looked at the plans for the next piece to fly and looked around and couldn't find it.  I said, "Nat (the foreman), I have a sick feeling that we're missing something."  I couldn't find the pieces because they had never been made.  Two guys had to run back to the shop to make the pieces out of some material that was lying around.  We'll be back in a week or two to raise the pergola, a sort of half-ellipse that fans out from the main structure.  I'll post pics as soon as I get them.

-today andy and I loaded a tractor-trailer with a frame bound for Deere Isle, about 20 miles north of Stonington or 3.5 hours north of here.  we leave for that raising on Tuesday morning at 6:30 AM. 

-while picking up materials and tools for several jobs today, I came across a sale at Woodbutcher tools in Montsweag, ME.  They had a deal on a Panasonic EY6590 18volt 1/2inch Hammerdrill/driver that I couldn't pass up.  It normally lists for $300, but the sale had it 50% off!  you can't even buy two 18v batteries for $150, let alone the drill too!  I've basically decided that I can't afford to buy cheap tools.  Here's a pic:

-the volvotron died, again.  what a piece of junk.  I think I'm going to look for a mid-90's Chevy 1500 W/T.  That old green truck never did me wrong.  the benz on the other hand runs just fine.  We went ahead and bought tires for it.  Last Friday evening the front right tire got really low due to a nail stuck in the inner sidewall.  On Saturday, I called Sears in Brunswick to see if they had some Michelin's for it and voila, 3 hours later I've got brand new Michelin Primacy MXV4's on there for about $650.  Only problem was that the tire-monger got grease on Everything he touched in my newly detailed Benz!  I'm going to send them a bill for the cleaning (which I did myself of course!).

-I'm still putting in a bunch of extra hours on a sidejob with a co-worker, hopefully making enough to last through what may prove to be a rough winter employment-wise.  we've been enjoying ourselves, however, by having campfires in the back yard every weekend and trekking up to Camden for clmbing and such.  KT is job hunting and may have found a job, but she's not sure yet if she's got the job or if she really wants it.  we'll see.  change is in the air.

-and finally, what a strategic move by McCain today!  The plot certainly thickens. 

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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: new tool!

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-What weird weather.  lots of rain and cool temps in august?

-The powers that be at work have announced to the crew that we have the possibility of doing six raisings in a row from the last week in August to the first week in October.  In this order: Boothbay Harbor, Deere Isle, Swans' Island, Essex, MA; Maryland; and Connecticut.  Five of the six are four to five day travel raisings.  The frames are nearly complete except for the last one which hasn't been started.  Raisings are exhausting, so it could turn out to be an exhausting early autumn.  I will be out for two weekends in september so I might miss the Maryland raising.  Too bad, I hear the raisings in Maryland are DE-Luxe as far as accommodations and extra-curriculars like boating and fishing.  All that to say that I think I have steady work into the winter months right now.  Projects in the works still include a 40x80 barn for another customer in Maryland (a billionaire), an octagonal gazebo for Boothbay Homebuilders, and a couple of other leads on barns in Maine and elsewhere in New England.  I've also got some side-work coming up on another frame--got to make hay while the sun shines. 

-The volvotron is fixed. mostly.  the e-brake still doesn't work.

-The berries are still in season. 

-We put the TV in our attic under a blanket.  A good place for it.  No more Law and Order binges for ol' wags. 

-I made a fire ring from stones last week. 

-We're thinking of moving north next year-ish.  Towards Waldoboro.  Or maybe we'll get a house boat and live on the water.  Life is full of possibilities. 


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-I spent half the morning making two 6"x14"x34' Douglas Fir timbers into two 6"x12"x34' and four 2"x6"x~17' fragments.  The timbers had been mis-ordered to the wrong (bigger) dimension and I had to rip them down to the right size.  Because they came at the 14" dimension, the mill had not been able to plane the 6" faces, so I had to plane those as well.  Forcing a circular metal blade through 34' feet of fir is quite a task no matter how many amps your motor has.  They turned out to be not the squarest timbers I've ever cut. 

-We received a delivery of Douglas Fir this afternoon from PacWest.  The driver missed the turn no fewer than three times and was quite late.  I can't imagine that its very easy to find a spot to turn your 18 wheeler around if you miss the turn.  I had the pleasure of unloading a shipment with the fork truck for the first time.  It wasn't the most graceful driving I've ever done, but I didn't wreck anything.  Its a little unnerving though when you have 5 or 6 thousand lbs of wood on the forks and the left tire is losing air.  Your whole world starts to lean to the left.  \\\\\\\\

-Later in the day I had my first 'whoopsidaisy' with the fork truck.  I was moving a small shed frame from one shed to another and on the way in to the second shed, I didn't see the ends of the rafters on my left until it was too late....BONK!...I ran the ends of the bottom of the pile right into the post.  It took a little co-worker ingenuity to get the pile back together again.  By then it was raining steadily and we were losing steam so we called it a day. 

-The rain continues.  Is this August or April?


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Music: Power tools

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-You've got to stay open to different possibilities. 

-For a couple of days last week I played logger with a co-worker as there were no timbers to cut.  We were sent out in to the woods on the shop property and given a bunch of trees to fell and cut up for firewood for the next few years.  I woke up a few mornings after, feeling pretty tight in the arms, legs and back.  It was great fun felling trees, especially getting them to fall in specific directions ( ex. away from the power lines! ), and then dragging bundles of them out of the woods using our fork truck (much bigger than a simple fork-lift).  It makes me want to get a chainsaw for my own use.  Put it on the list.....

-The weather has been particularly wet and cool for late July, early August in Maine.  I'm told it should be dry as a bone and as hot as 90 right now.  It has rained 5 out the last six days with rain forecast for 7 out of the next 8 days.  It puts a damper on the motorcycle riding for sure.  I'll riding in some drizzle or just after the rain, but if its raining steadily, I'd just as soon not get soaked through. 

-on sunday afternoon we had the opportunity to check out the 2008 annual exhibit of KT's dad's cousin, john paul caponigro who is a renown digital-photo-manipulator-guy.  His art is wild at times.  Check his stuff out at www.caponigroarts.com .  Anyway, his wife invited us in for lunch (because we're family) and we got to meet her sister and nephew who are visiting from Italy and speak very little if any English. 

-later in the day we were invited by some retired folks we know to go sailing on there 22 foot yawl-rigged longboat.  Even though the breeze went from debatable to non-existent, we spent about 3 hours on the tidal portion of the St. George River tacking and jibing and coming-about while listening to story after story of sailing here and there and what life was like back in the day.  when we made it back to their house, they invited us in for a dinner (standard Maine hospitality, we have found) of spaghetti and fresh zucchini tomato sauce.  you've got to stay open to the possibilities. 

-after playing logger again yesterday, it was back to timberframing with more adventures in hemlock.  We've been working on this ridiculous pavilion with a pergola attached to it.  apparently people are going to get married there etc.  The main frame is stained a green-yellow color with a solid stain and the pergola is covered in this grayish bleaching oil that looks awful.  Work is work when times are lean and the jobs are slim pickin's.  Douglas Fir is on the way! for a scissor-trussed swimming pool enclosure in Maryland!  I've been fortunate to have found some side jobs with a co-worker doing timberframing elsewhere.  They should help out if there is a major slow-down in winter. 

-today KT and started to bring in the harvest of wild blackberries today.  in about 30 minutes we filled a large mixing bowl and a colander and we didn't even scratch the surface.  They're not even all ripe yet.  We're going to freeze them, give them away, make pies, cobblers, jams, and mayber even wine!  Amazing, food just grows right out the ground for no reason other than to make more berry plants!!

-my eyelids are becoming heavy


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: Makin hay while the sun shines

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-Adulthood, or something like that is creeping upon us.  First we take regular jobs, then rent an apartment, finance a car, pay for health insurance, what next?  Decide that the two week road trip in September we planned to take is just too expensive.  We had an acute bout of financial prudence and observed that neither of us can afford to not work for two weeks at the end of September.  The actual cost of a two week auto excursion to Minneapolis and back (~3400 mi) is still cheaper than flying, but not working means the actual cost is about triple.  So instead of driving out to the two weddings of friends and relatives, we're driving to one in Connecticut and the next weekend, I'm flying to Minneapolis for four days for the other one.  KT had hoped to go to both, but its just to expensive.  I had hoped to be able to stop in Milwaukee for a few days, but that will have to wait until more times-a-plenty. 

-We've been 'in the soup' in Maine here for the last week or so.  Thunderstorms, rain, clouds, fog, muggi-ness.  Only yesterday did things begin to clear up a little bit.  I skipped out of work on Friday at noon to go on a historic homes walking tour with a co-worker.  I felt like I was playing hooky the entire time, but I went in next day to put in the rest of my 40 hours.  Somehow, I've managed to keep from riding my motorcycle in the rain, even though it has rained just about everyday this week.  With the Volvo up on jackstands and KT had the Benz up in Orono at a conference, I had no other wheels but the bike. 

-It looks like I'm going to be able to pick up some timber-framing sidework in the coming weeks.  It will be hard to work six days a week for a few weeks, but the financial windfall will be helpful as it looks like the winter could be pretty lean.  Although there are signs that the economy is not so weak as we are led to believe.

-Lately I miss the life we had in Minneapolis, knowing a lot of people, being out and about on bikes, always running into friends, playing music, seeing live music.  I miss the friends there most.  Comparing that life to the one here in Maine is like comparing apples to oranges though.  The circumstances and the context are so different. 

-Speaking of Minneapolis brings to mind the hordes of hipsters hanging out out at the Triple Rock, The Nomad, Lee's, Stasiu's, and the Turf Club.  I picked up a copy of Adbusters in Barnes and Noble yesterday while waiting for a movie, and I found a spot on description of hipster-dom therein.  The author describes certain friends of mine to a T, right down to their V-neck T-shirt, tight jeans and tall-boy of Pabst Blue ribbon.  They have co-opted the aesthetic of the working class without adopting the ethic of the working class.  Hipsterdom is born out of a decadent and meaning-free consumer culture where marketing and advertising operatives are prowling 'the scene' to see what is cool and then sell it back to hipsters at a profit.  Sounds a lot  like manuring a hay-field to me.  The cows eat the hay fertilized by their own manure.....The article's conclusion that the hipster culture signals the end of western civilization is a bit far fetched.  The magazine in general insists on chanting the mantra 'decline of the west, rise of the east' which I find to be a tired song in the 'progressive' press. 

-anyway, like the Gates Foundation, I hope you all are living healthy, productive lives. 


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: rested

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-It is not often that I comment on politics or current events in a serious fashion.  Normally, I am content to relate the mundane and exciting happenings of a couple of city/suburban kids all growed up and trying to make it in the country.  I know there are plenty of folks out there that know (and care) a whole lot more about politics and current events than I do.  I used to care more and have more to say when I was younger, but somewhere along the line I started to think it was all a bunch of hot air and hype and power-struggle.  I consciously and unconsciously turned to self-reflection, hard work, caring about those really wonderful friends and family I have, and mostly just trying to have good clean (if not sometimes wild and risky)fun.  I also endeavor to have at least two distinct hairstyles per year, at which I have been phenomenally successful by the way. 

-In any case, while reading some news articles today, I learned that the Barack Obama campaign for the presidency has a goal of raising $300 million with John McCain's  campaign aiming to raise something akin to that.  Apparently, Obama's campaign has the largest paid staff in the history of presidential campaigns (According to a Boston.com article).  I guess I don't really know anything about politics or the media, but it seems like $400-500 million could be put to better use than TV ads, flyers, and paying bright-eyed, idealistic Young Republicans and Young Democrats to knock on doors and make cold campaign calls.  When people with 'real' jobs are facing layoffs, pay cuts and rising cost of living (lets not get into the downward slide of the Dollar on the open market), it seems like a crying shame and horrible waste to to see these two candidates spending this kind of money blasting away at each other with America being left with the check.  Half a billion dollars would be a nice start towards alternative energy research, modernizing infrastructure in any number of places or kickstarting new industries that could help the American economy by building things that people actually need instead of useless throw away junk. 

-And now, I step off of my soap-box to go eat a sandwich on whole-wheat homemade bread and then on to take apart the dash in my '87 Volvo wagon.  I wish the Swedes at Volvo had produced a tank-model 240 with tracks and a big turrent.  I swear the chassis could handle it.  Yee haw!


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: Ee-he-he-heezy now!
Current Music: Birds outside my window.

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-Yesterday, KT tells me there are some LARGE flying insects digging up our yard and generally looking angry.  Upon further inspection, we discover they are Great Golden Digger Wasps.  Here is one caught in the act of Katydid-o-cide:

I asked KT if she wanted them dead, and she say yes.  Its not that we are brutal people, but they're in the walk way and its either them or us.  I told her : "I KILL FOR YOU!"  First, I attempted the blowtorch method, but decided the likelihood of buring down the yard (and our house) was too high, plus the Great Golden Digger wasp is pretty fast.  We then opted for the chemical option by way of an aerosol can of RAID.  My first assault ended  in retreat with me waving my arms over my head and running around the yard after having tossed the can.  The second charge was more successful.  I haven't seen any GGDW's since soaking their precious holes with poison.  The one in the jar that I caught croaked too (some serious structural ambiguity for the linguistics student here.)

-Three days ago, I took my hair from a #2 buzz down to the skin, for no real reason except that it might be a little cooler in the hot weather.  It is.  I left my inch-long full beard though.  Too bad our camera quit working, I look pretty interesting.  Shoulder-length dreads to shaved bald in a year. 

-The volvotron is still on blocks awaiting parts:

I still haven't decided whether to keep it long term or not.  It all depends if I can get an inspection sticker for it.  If so, I'm going to fix the tailgate wiring harness(es) which power the rear defrost, lic. plate lights, wiper, and high mounted brake light.  They only cost $17, but times are lean for everyone.  Since I've got tomorrow off, I think I'll tackle the broken odometer. 

-The motorcycle got 50 mpg on the last tank and is getting 45.2 mpg over the last 8 tanks.  Seems to be well worth it, but it will be a long time before it is actually paying for itself in fuel savings.  Probably not until next season.

-The Benzomatic is doing well at 27.8mpg on the last tank and 25.8 mpg since we bought it.  We just replaced the left tie rod and gave it a dee-luxe full synthetic oil change with a special fleece filter and 8.5 quarts of Mobile 1 Euro spec ($8/qt)--only the best for it.  I need it to last to 300,000 miles to recoup my investment.  At our current usage trends, it will have almost 200,000 on it by the time we pay it off.    The 27.8mpg is probably a result of the full syn oil change and a bunch of highway driving.  I would really like to get it to 30mpg on a highway trip, but I think that will have to wait for our upcoming roadtrip in September. 

-Tonight I made two huge burgers doused in bbq sauce, whiskey and a little cheap beer for good measure.  The result was, mmmm, a little strong perhaps....


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: burgered.
Current Music: Martin Sexton-Seeds

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Here are some pics from yesterday's camden hills excursion:

Yours truly on Brown Eye, 5.10a, The Verticals.

Same route, different angle.

My good side.  Thrashing it up the lower section of Brown Eye.

KT and I atop Mount Battie.  Camden Harbor just behind us. 
Can you find the spectral apparition in this picture?

We're about to head out to Popham Beach to see the fort and hopefully hike out to the island (and not get stuck out there at high tide!). 

Back to the old grind tomorrow, hopefully there is more work after this week. 


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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: Wind
Current Music: Wind

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-A happy fourth of July to all of you.  I hope you's get plenty of parade, brats/hot dogs/burgers and grilled corn, and fireworks and whatnot.  All things considered (if that's possible), I think in this country a person has a pretty good chance of turning hard work and prudence into a productive lifestyle.  Its big enough country that if a person doesn't like where they are, they can move to some place totally different and still be in the same country.  So I wouldn't trade those things and others for anything.  I like 'my' country. 

-KT and I are down in southern New England visiting various relatives.  We'll be in Enfield, CT, Holyoke/Amherst, MA tomorrow, and Boston on Sunday.  As I understand it, our plans include lots of eating.  Woot!

-The Benzomatic safely carried us through some really stormy weather on the outskirts of the Boston area last night.  It has a 'rain sensor' that wipes the wiper only when its wet.  I'm waiting for a car that can make me an espresso. 

-I've started the process of selling the Volvotron.  The guy who sold it to me might buy it back for $800 or so.  I would keep it, but it won't pass inspection in Maine again without lots of finagling with rust and rear lights.  The car hasn't moved in week already.  We might buy something for me to drive for the winter, but until then, I can ride the motorcycle.  I've already starting looking at motorcycles for KT and an upgrade for me.  It is a great way to get around if you're careful. 

-Again, Happy Fourth of July everyone. 


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Current Location: Enfield, CT
Current Mood: Coffee and Bagel
Current Music: Martin Sexton

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The Joys of Mercedes-Benz ownership:

-The repair manual for my E320 4-matic wagon is $197.00, but wait!  If you buy the manual AND the OBD-II Code reader the whole shenanigan only costs $277.00

-Class 1 1 1/4" receiver hitch $220-280 depending on where you get it from.  The only way you can get a heavier duty hitch for this car is by smuggling one out of Germany or fabricating one yourself (apparently Mercedes-Benz doesn't sell the factory hitches here due to liability concerns.  It seems like everything cool from circular saws to cell phones isn't sold here!).  Looks like I'm going to learn how to weld.  We've decided to get a hitch and trailer soon to facilitate motorcycle collection.  When one rides older motorcycles, it is prudent to own a trailer as well. 

-Left outer tie rod-$90

-Mann Fleece Oil filter for synthetic oil; $15.25.  Full syn oil: $5/quart

-And $3 extra every fill up for premium fuel.  It actually makes a noticeable difference in the way the engine runs, not sure about fuel economy yet--though I'm told it helps that too. 

-I keep telling myself that this car will run to 500k.  "It'll be worth it, It'll be worth it, it'll be...."

-We climbed The Verticals at Camden Hills State Park yesterday until the clouds rolled in and it began to mist and then rain.  It also rained cats and dogs here this morning, but we let them all go. 

-For my next trick, I am going to buy a not-quite-running motorcycle for $300 or less to take apart and rebuild, so I can understand how they work and hopefully be able to rebuild my current bike. 

-This coming weekend we are going out to Connecticut, then Massachusetts, then Connecticut, then Massachusetts (Boston) for the Fourth of July and several birthdays of relatives. 

-Tomorrow back to work at the shop.  It'll sure be nice to have a paycheck again. 

-Finished off the pot-roast today for lunch....mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

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Current Location: The Country Estate
Current Mood: cloudy
Current Music: finally got a fm transmitter for the ipod!

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