Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Christmas day! Merry Christmas! I have been going non stop for the last 8 days. Seven nights working to get off 10 days straight. Sunday night, my last night to work started with warming up the truck. I came in the house to finish getting ready. Booger was barking at the deer, so I went back out to hush him. When I did, I heard my truck going tick, tick, tick, tick, in a fast ticking cadence. I grabbed my flashlight and popped the hood open to see my fan laying at the bottom of the shroud and the truck still running. Horror.........my last night of the year to work and my truck is dead with a water leak and an AWOL fan. I know the guys at work would think I was fibbing to stay home. I called work and told them I had no transportation. I stood in my bedroom trying to collect my thoughts. I knew Luke was on his way home, but had no clue when he would be home as he wasn't answering his cell phone. A few minutes later he drove up. He could hear my antifreeze draining and I told him the bad news. He said I could take his Mustang. I really wanted to go to work to be a trooper, as I also knew we would get off early. An easy night with full pay........or no pay and the guys thinking I was gold bricking. I took Luke's Mustang. It is a tight car with a 5 speed. Fun around town, but not in rush hour. As I would be coming home Christmas Eve morning, there would be no rush hour. Hardly any traffic at all. I was planning on being at work an hour early with a lot of the crew to finish early, but the truck breaking down changed that plan. I was assigned the vertical fin for the night. Easy job. About an hour opening panels, a little grease on the rudder hinge fittings, let the inspection poke around and close it up. She was a good plane and we finished around 1 A.M. and I was on my way home at 1:15. I brought my head light home so I could remove the radiator when I got home to take it to the repair shop when I took Luke to work. It was 20 degrees outside. I thought about driving it to the barn, but the barn still doesn't have sides, so with a clear sky, I had it all apart, a bath and I was in bed by 5. I couldn't sleep, so I read some more of the book, For A Few Demons More by Kim Harrison. If you like to read about Witches, Vampires, Werewolves, Elves, and Pixies, get her books. You won't be disappointed.

Christmas Eve day I found the radiator shop closed. I bought what I could from O'Reilly's Auto Supply. All they had was one radiator hose. I ordered one and priced a radiator. They want $200 less then the Dodge dealer. Any place I went, the radiator had to be ordered. So I went back home after finding all this out and let Luke off at work. I then turned my attention at taking the fan clutch's broken mounting nut off of the idler. I took the whole idler off to lock it in my bench vise to remove the broken nut. This is when I realized the bearing was worn and the idler had enough movement to get the fan a vibrating. I rushed back to the Dodge dealer planning on buying the whole idler assembly. It had to be ordered and was over $500 dollars. They did, however, have the bearing for $194. But the old bearing needs pressed out and the new bearing pressed it. I rushed to the machine shops. All were closed. So the total when all is fixed will be over $700. I would imagine me wanting the hydraulic thumb kit for the Big Red Beast's backhoe will have to wait. Santa didn't leave one either, so I guess I am on his naughty but nice list.

So I gave up on getting the truck running on Christmas Eve. I then picked up the fried turkey then went home to clean up and start cooking. I did manage to squeeze in a two hour nap. I only had the energy to bake a pumpkin pie and my favorite burnt sugar and butter candy, which is like peanut brittle. I gave up on trying a new buttermilk pie recipe, as I wanted to make the crust according to that recipe and I couldn't find my rolling pin. I had a nice time in the kitchen cooking Green Bean Casserole, Candied Yams, Yum Yum Salad, Dressing, and of course buttering up and warming the fried Turkey. I realized this morning I forgot to get gravy fixins'. Luke is a gravy man and I asked him if he could whip something up. He gave up, so we used yam juice for gravy! It really is good on turkey.

Luke, Rebecca, and I finished the day watching movies. I sit here typing this thinking what is around the corner tomorrow, next week, next year. But first things first, I need to get my truck running so I can go play on the Big Red Beast, before I go back to work next year. Check back later to see what is happening for the New Year. Be sure to see the new photos I uploaded.

Merry Christmas hugs, Brandi


The day after Christmas, I bought a new radiator for the truck and had the new fan idler bearing pressed in. Total out of pocket cost.....$812. So no hydraulic thumb kit for a while. I got it all back together and running. But my windshield washer is not working. I would have troubleshot it, but I needed an extra hand to push the washer button while checking voltage with my mutlimeter. I now can collaspe on the couch and nap! BW

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Weather

I find it hard to get into the Christmas Spirit without having cold weather. Warm, humid weather belongs in the summer. The weather has been excellent for Christmas shopping lately. Nice cool days, low humidity and almost cloudless skys. But the nice cool days did not stay around for Rebecca's Commencement ceremony from the University of Texas back on the 8th. It was warm and humid. Luke and I had a nice drive to Austin. We picked on each other the whole trip. He had his headset hooked up to his MP3. I tried to keep the volume of my truck's radio low, but when a good song would come on, I would turn it up. This caused Luke to give me a funny look and turn his volume up. I had a hotel room reserved months ago just in case Luke would come. If not, I would sleep on Rebecca's couch. Imagine my surprise, after we had checked into the room, when Luke stated he needed to get back to do his homework. I asked why he didn't bring it with him. He stated it is all on the computer. So it would seem he needs a laptop.

My friend Sara and Josephine met us there, but they were late. Thank God for cell phones as there was around 700 graduates and their families. Finding someone in that crowd without a cell phone would be impossible. The whole ceremony only lasted two hours. They moved those kids across that stage like cattle at an auction. Afterwards, I took photos of Rebecca in her gown. A couple of photos with the state capital in the background, but those didn't turn out good. Check out the photos I have uploaded here. Rebecca had dinner reservations for 9 o'clock. She made the reservations for 8, but we had 10 in our party. Oops. The only way we got to eat was splitting up into two groups. Which suited me fine as I could eat at a different table from my ex and with my friends and Luke. We stayed until the restaurant closed. Luke and I returned to the hotel, only to get our clothes and check out. Three hours later I was home soaking in my tub.

The next night I met my friend, Angel, at her church to see the Christmas musical her granddaughters were in. It was really nice, with church members of all ages in it. I had two vacation days (nights) left to use before January, so I took Monday and Tuesday nights off. Monday night I met Angel again, this time at Conroe High School for the winter concert of the string orchestra. Her son, Tony, plays cello and was a soloist. The orchestra only played 4 songs, so it was over in 30 minutes. I hurried home to get comfortable. I finished my Christmas cards and gift wrapping on Tuesday night. I also did some cleaning for Mom on Tuesday and talked Dad into buying a new toilet. While I vacuumed the floors, he drove into Conroe and made it back with the toilet in good time. But he forgot the wax "donut" seal. Friday morning, after work, I installed the toilet for Dad and also a new wood seat.

Dad's baby sister and her husband drove in Saturday evening. They live in Oregon, but flew to Texas and rented a car to go to their granddaughters college graduation in Longview. Then they came here. Mom and Dad and I had lunch with them on Sunday and supper with them on Monday. I worked Monday night, but saw them again for breakfast Tuesday morning. Then I went home to bed. They spent the day with Mom and Dad and flew out Tuesday evening. Guess I will have to go visit them next summer, as I have never been to see them. So this brings us to the week before Christmas when I have to work 7 days straight of 10 hour shifts with an hour drive to work and an hour home. This puts me in work, sleep, and eat only mode and gives me no time for playing on the Mahindra. Christmas is Tuesday, but I am looking forward to Wednesday when I can go dig in the dirt with my 6520. I will have 10 days to play on the Mahindra, so that makes the 7 straight work days worth it. Stop back by here in a few days to read about what I dug up, tore up, or moved with the Big Red Beast.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

hugs, Brandi

Friday, December 7, 2007

Holiday Vacation

I made it through Thanksgiving. Mom, Dad, and I had a quiet dinner. As usual, they left not long after eating. Luke came home a little later after spending the day with my ex's family. Rebecca came home the next day. All we did that evening was watch DVD movies. Rebecca did bring a surprise. She brought a Calico Tabby cat back from her MawMaw's lake house. Her cat's name is Sammy and she is a sweetie. Sammy stayed back in Rebecca's old room all weekend. She ventured out into the living room a time or two, but only when Milo (Luke's cat) was back in my room. They hissed at each other when close together. Sammy had mixed responses with my two ferrets. The first chaperoned encounter was okay. But the second encounter she started hissing and growling. Rebecca and Sammy left after dark on Sunday. A few minutes later Rebecca called to tell me she found an injured cat on the side of the road. The cat seemed to be fine to Rebecca, but was just lying there. I told her to bring the cat home. When I tried to stand the cat up, she just walked in a circle dragging a rear leg. I called to make sure the emergency vet clinic was open. I went back out to the deck and saw that the cat had it's tongue hanging out and was bleeding out it's nose. I talked gently and told Rebecca we could spent a lot of money on this stray, but I though it had internal bleeding. I offered to put the cat out of it's misery and bury it. Now it had been raining non stop that Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving, but the rain had stopped when Rebecca left for Austin. It was cold, but the rain was gone. I took care of the poor cat and got the Mahindra out while thinking how many times in my life I had dug a hole to bury a pet. This was the first time I didn't use a shovel. I normally have fun playing in the dirt with my backhoe, but this time I was sad while digging the hole as Rebecca watched from the deck. I had to keep shoeing Booger away, as he was sniffing all around the burial spot while I finished grading the grave. Normally I bury family pets under one of my two large cedar trees, but in the dark with the Big Red Beast and holding a flashlight in my mouth, I didn't want to get the Big Red Beast near my beloved cedar trees. I do need to buy some more lights and mount them on the ROPS or canopy for backhoe use. The one light on the 6520's fender brace just wasn't designed for a backhoe. So my two week vacation started with a new cat for Rebecca and a stray cat that ran out of lives.

Monday, I took Mom to have her leg get an ultrasound. At the last moment, Mom didn't want the ultrasound even if I held her hand. So we came home with me kind of miffed at Mom. It was a small room and she is claustrophobic. I tried to talk her into doing through with the procedure, but she insisted her legs were fine and wanted to go home. Tuesday, I went into Houston see my friend the dermatologist. The rest of the week involved putting up Christmas lights down both sides of the driveway, shopping for gifts, and trying to get 6 strings of icicle lights to work. A big time consumer was getting invited to www.nettractortalk.com. I have been on www.tractorbynet.com for a while. Anyway, the new forum took up more time then I had planned. Luke and I didn't go for a tree until Saturday evening. We were going to get one on Thursday, but I couldn't fine the Boy Scout tree lot as they had moved it. Friday evening was out as Luke had class. Luke and I got the tree up and I put lights on Saturday night. I just had just finished putting ornaments on when the ferrets found the water pan under the tree skirt. Then Milo found the cheap lower hanging ornaments. That is always fun watch the cat bat the balls.

Sunday morning found me up early and sitting on the deck steps with Booger. After 30 minutes of solitude, Booger and I went for a walk. I found myself across the gully thinking it would be nice to have a clear view from the house up this side of the gully. So I thought just a few minutes on the Mahindra and I could see up the hill side. So for the first time, I ran the 6520 on a Sunday morning. 4 hours later I parked the Big Red Beast back in the barn! I had been clearing brush for 4 hours and had a ball, never stopping for a break. This gave me a second breath to take on the stress holidays seem to bring. Don't get me wrong, it is my favorite time of the year. Now with two weeks vacation, I can decorate and shop at my leisure. Last Monday is a blur now. I continued decorating and made it to town for some more lights and decorations. Tuesday was a big day for me, as I was invited to MahindraUSA headquarters in Tomball, Texas. I live about an hour away from them. Brenda Bradshaw, whom I first met on TractorByNet, invited me down for lunch. Brenda is MahindraUSA's online Customer Relations Representative. It turned into a two and one half hour visit. I learned a few new things about MahindraUSA and the new 82 hp cab model, but most importantly, I forged some new friendships. I had a blast talking shop with their Production Support & Service Representative. He is Brenda's go-to person for technical problems. I would mention his name, but he is shy. I also met the President and the Head of Sales and Marketing. They are wonderful people and I hope to have more talks with them. Wednesday found me visiting with Mom and Dad and getting around to the Christmas decorating project I was thinking about since last year. I built a large cross and added new LED lights on it and mounted it on the roof of my barn. It was made real easy installing the cross with the loader bucket on my 6520 serving double duty as a work platform. I have uploaded pictures of it and a few other photos. Check them out when you get the time. Thursday I helped Mom with some house cleaning and I wrapped more Christmas gifts. This morning I had a surprise message from the Administrator of Net Tractor Talk. He wants to post a link on his forum to my blog. Wow! Talk about making someones day!

As I type this I am thinking I need to wrap it up, as tomorrow will be a long day. Luke and I are traveling to Austin to see Rebecca graduate from the University of Texas. Hook'em Horns! It seems just yesterday she graduated from high school. Where did those four years go? I didn't even get to see a UT football game with her. Oh well, there will always be grad school. How long with that take? I have no clue. Stop back later to read more.

hugs, Brandi