Friday, February 22, 2008

15 Years

Since I had problems last fall with Southwest about getting back to work after my on the job injury, I have been leery of management. Our base manager that was in on keeping me from returning to duty has been transferred to Dallas. The night manager was promoted to assume his duties as Maintenance base manager. The other day I was standing in line to punch out and the new manager asked if I could stop by his office after I punched out. I am the type that doesn't like to wait around, so I said I could come now. So I followed him to his office, the whole time walking with him I kept thinking, what have I done now. Imagine my surprise when he didn't close his office door behind us, but instead reached behind his desk for a small box and handed it to me while extending his right hand and stating.........."Congratulations on 15 years of service"! Wow, what a relief. I knew I was doing well, but I always worry too much. Inside the box was a ladies silver wrist watch with SWA's wing logo and the words...Southwest Airlines 15 years. Also in the box was a gold plated wing shaped pin with two very small rubies. I guess we get two rubies to balance out the wings on the pin!

I started working on the back side of the barn. I hung the door track and flashing for the 10 wide door. That is when I realized the 20 from the fence to the barn wasn't enough for the Big Red Beast to fit in perpendicular to the barn and work out of the bucket. This called for some careful thought as I didn't want install the whole back side metal from a ladder. So I researched some other work platforms built on front end loader buckets while online and came up with a stable, proof tested 4x8 foot wooden work platform.

I wish I would have built the platform before I installed the siding on front, as it sure made it easier than working out of my Mahindra's 7 foot wide bucket. I can now just tilt the 6520's bucket up at full loader height to reach the top ridge of the barn, with all my tools at hand's reach. Before building the platform, I removed the 6520's exhaust stack and took it to work to install a new notch to fit the muffler. This will allow the stack to blow the exhaust away from the loader arm while at full height. Now I just need to clean the soot off of the loader arm. I hope it isn't stained into the paint!

I really enjoy being out working on my barn. Booger is always near and when he wants some attention, he makes his presence known to me. While on the wooden work platform, one of the two Red Shouldered Hawks that stay near my place came flying over just a screeching. Then he (she?) landed in a tree to look down on me and watch me, only to fly off and soar in a circle and screech some more. It truly is breath taking watching this bird of prey. I am very lucky to have them around. If only I could get a good photo of them. The camera was down in the barn on a makeshift work table. From now on I will have my camera with me while outside working.

I didn't get to work on the barn this last weekend. I was in Mesquite, Texas for the Texas State Rifle Association's annual meeting and awards banquet. I was informed the first week in January that I was to receive a Presidential Citation award for testifying last spring in front of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. I testified about why I own a handgun and have a concealed handgun licenses (CHL), along with the written individual agreement Southwest Airlines has with their employees that have CHL. The bill I was testifying for is to prevent employers from firing employees, that have a legal Texas CHL, for having a firearm in the employee's car while on company property. My friend Ken, was there to support me and cheer me on! We also attended the gun show on Saturday. I don't think Ken bought anything, but I ordered a new purse as my old leather bag is on it's last legs. Anyway, drop in later to see what interesting things have "popped" into my life. I have uploaded more photos, so you can check them out here.

hugs, Brandi

Monday, February 11, 2008

Barn Building, Again

With February's warm weather and sunny days, I am on a roll with finishing the barn. I had the week off and really took advantage of it. I ordered door track flashing on Monday from Mueller Metals. This is the place I bought the roof metal from. I had bought the door rails from Tractor Supply Co. and had hopes of buying the track flashing from them. I had a brochure on the door track installation from the manufacturer, National Mfg., when I approched Tractor Supply's employee. He called National and said I could order ten pieces. It is then I told him I only needed 5 pieces of flashing. He stated I could talk to the area manager. That is when I left to go back to Mueller Metals. Mueller has a plant just north of Willis, so I didn't have to go far. I ordered the flashing and some more corner trim. It only takes them 4 days to make it. So I went ahead and installed the siding over the trailer shed and over the door track.

I had previously installed some roof rake trim on the corner with the front of the barn that now I had to fight to measure and install the siding. This exericise was made simple with the Big RED Beast's bucket doing double duty as a work platform. While installing the center siding up to the ridge, the 6520's bucket was at full height. To drill and install the screws near the ridge, I had to stand on the upper lip of the bucket. While doing this, I thought of work where we have to wear safety harnesses and lanyards attached to inertial reels. Nothing like that here, but a huge oak tree to hang a rope from! When I got to the far end, I ran my first full length pieces and then went back the other direction with the 10 foot lengths to fill in under the door track. While putting up the door tracks and siding, I continually snapped photos and uploaded some of them so y'all can see what is going on. The next day I picked up the track flashing and trim. I had the flashing under the door track and header made in red. As I think back now, I should have had it in white. The red won't be seen much and the white is a whole lot cheaper. Oh well. I will get the back side right. I should have installed the back first so all my mistakes wouldn't be seem much.

Another mistake I made was not shimming the door track further from the header. The door hangar hits the top of the siding crowns or ridges. I experimented with a scrap piece screwed in place and I smashed the ridges down with a ball peen hammer and a short 2x4. It worked great and looks, well....., presentable! I left all the siding above the door track loose with just a couple of screws holding them in place. This was so I could slide the track flashing across over the track with the siding loosely in place. This worked better than expected. But the back of the barn will have the flashing installed over the track before the siding. So I will not have this double work again.

In between all of this "fun", I had to meet the home health care nurse at Mom & Dad's. Home Health Care will be coming back out to help Mom with her baths and school Dad in all the meds Mom takes and when to give them to her. Yeah right. I can only pray Dad gives Mom medicine at the right times. Dad wants a maid to come in and clean the house good just once. Now I need to find a trust worthy maid. Any ideas?

With all the rain we are having, I spent Saturday cleaning out my old workshop. I say old as I built it 25 years ago and moved it to my 5 acres 12 years ago. It is only 10x10 feet. I stopped rebuilding the rotten 2x6 foundation I put it on when I started building my barn. So when the barn is finished, I will tear it down and reuse a lot of the materials. Before tearing down the workshop I will move my helicopter tail rotor ceiling fan to the barn. I built it back in the early 1980s from pieces of wrecked Bell 206 parts. When I move it, I will add a new motor as the old washing machine motor I had driving it died and gave up the ghost.

I went ahead and worked on the back door header and tracks Sunday. I did this because it takes two folks to join two rails with the track rail splice and Luke is off work on Sundays. One person to hammer the track into the other track and the other person line up the track and splice and squeeze the other rail end. Luke gave me a hand and it popped right on like a glove. I removed the 2x6s at 8 and 10 feet. I had the door header at 8 feet high, but the 6520's canopy hit it and knocked it loose! I then added doubled up 2x8s at the 10 foot level.

I only have 20 feet from the barn to the back fence,so it is hard to get the Big RED Beast back there and the bucket square to the barn as a work platform. So I will need to rig up a platform in the bucket and support it with chains from the bucket hooks. Then I will be able to park the tractor beside the barn and work from one side of the bucket platform. Check back later to hear about more progress on my barn and everything else that is happening.

hugs, Brandi

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Aging Parents

Well, I did it. I got my parents back in the Medicare provider that Mom and Dad's old Doctor uses. Two years ago a Medicare provider's salesman sold them a lie. He told them they could continue to use their doctor on his company's policy. Mom and Dad ran up $2000 in bills at their doctor's office before the clinic realized the insurance had changed and they didn''t take Mom and Dad's policy. Dad also messed up getting their medicare provider changed that fall. Then another medicare provider sold them another policy that they couldn't use with their old doctor. Last November I made sure to attend a provider meeting to get Mom and Dad registered back with Texas Health Springs. They got their new ID cards and I made an appointment with their old doctor, only to find out their old doctor isn't taking any medicare patients he hasn't seen in over a year. So now they just go to my doctor. At least they know him.

Dad and I are trying to get Mom into a nursing home, as Mom's memory is just too far gone to have Mom do anything but eat and dress herself. We have to tell Mom everything else to do including sit down and relax. It is sad, but that is what Alzheimer's does. While I am trying to get Mom and Dad into Medicaid, our doctor is getting home health care for Mom. I had thought Medicare pays for long term nursing home care, but it is Medicaid that pays for long term nursing care. If I would have known that, I could have applied last year.

Last week I had the chance to take the Big REDBeast's loader bucket in for some straightening and reinforcement. The upper lip had been abused and bent by either a stump or large logs while making a burn pile. I thought when the welder finished straightening the lip it would be nice and straight. When I picked up the bucket, I was shocked to see the bend in the lip was still there and the 3/8 inch 2x2 angle was welded on. Talk about a sow's ear out of a silk purse. Well, I took the bucket back home and reattached it to the loader. I cringe every time I look at that bucket. But it will do what I want and being clean and pretty looking isn't for a tractor that works to earn it's keep.

After almost a year I finally got back in the barn building mode. Numerous things including 2 on the job injuries kept me from working on it. Last weekend I started adding the siding, only to realize I needed to install the sliding door rails first. This weekend I bought the rails and door wheel hangars. I then realized the 2x6 door header wasn't wide enough to mount the rail and have no gap with the door. So I removed all but 4 feet of door header and installed 20 feet of doubled 2x8s. The barn poles are round and slightly tapered, as in not machined straight, causing parts of the barn frame to be off. I went with round poles to save a few dollars over treated 6x6 timbers. I will never cheap charlie barn poles again. The round poles are not quite true. So this makes some interesting shims in the structure. The door header needed a 2x6 shim added under the header on the center barn pole, which includes longer bolts and some major tugging and prying 10 foot up off the ground. What should have taken a day to install the door rails took a day and a half. Never again.....will I build anything with round poles. Never. Today I installed 24 feet of the door rail. The last 3 feet really needed about 3/4 inch of shim. Instead of shimming, I just sucked it down with the bolts. I think the door will handle the slight deviation. If not, I can add shim after I hang the door.
While working on the barn last Saturday, my neighbors, Von and Lori rode up with a spare horse and wanted me to ride with them. I tried to explain I just got in the groove and was on a roll with the barn siding. I didn't convince them. They forced me to ride with them. We took a quick ride around the subdivision. Wow, that sure brought back memories. The horse I was riding had a hackamore on him. I never have rode a horse using a hackamore. Only bridles with bits. The whole time it felt like I had to hold back rein on him. All seemed fine until we turned for home. I tried to stop, but he kept going faster. I then turned him and stopped and waited. Telling him all along that he would have to think about standing still instead of getting home. That always did the trick in the past and it worked with him. So I think hackamores have a place, but give me a bit to rein in a horse.

I had planned on going to Tulare, California this week for the World Ag Expo, but instead I will be paying Rebecca's apartment rent. Ouch! She is still looking for a job, but hasn't had any luck. I am still taking the week off, so I should get finished with the barn siding on front and back. I don't have the siding for the sides yet. But the sides have a 12 foot shed added on one side where I park my gooseneck trailer and 12 foot shed on the other side for two future stalls. So the sides do not get rain with the shed roofs keeping that area dry. It suppose to rain this week, so I will just build the sliding doors. That's my plan at least.

As of February 1st, I got my weekends off,...back. I won a permanent bid to leave my Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights off and now have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights off on the same crew. Now I won't have to remove and replace landing gears! Starting February 16th, I won a temporary bid position on my old crew of 14 years. I have this bid as long as the mechanic I replaced is off work with his injuries. That might be 2 months or the rest of the year. Please check back sooner than that to see what else has happened or will happen. Check out the pics I uploaded also.

hugs, Brandi