Thursday, October 30, 2008

Back in Class

I mentioned in my last post that my Dad's baby brother and his wife came down to visit Mom and Dad. They stayed the night out by my barn in their RV. We got in two visits with Mom and Dad while they were here. Dad was still in the hospital and pretty out of it, but Uncle Carlos and Dad reminisced about the good old days and all their horses. One new name came up of a horse of Dad's I never heard before. The name of the horse was Grip. Nothing else about this horse was said, but I wonder what this horse did to get that name. When Uncle Carlos and Aunt Wanda left, we took photos and Aunt Wanda wanted to have a photo with this tree.

Years ago when I bought this place, Dad named the tree the "Saddle Tree". The name has stuck till this day. I guess it could also be called a swing tree, as a kid's swing would work well here. But then again, a tree house would go well in it also. This is the tree I used to straighten my backhoe's curl cylinder line on last year.

We also visited Mom in the nursing home. She isn't talking much and when she does, you really have to lean over and listen, as she is talking almost in a whisper. Monday morning we got to visit Mom as she was waiting to eat lunch. She was in the dining room in her wheelchair. She had her seat belt on and didn't have enough strength to keep her head up. She was just slumped over with her forehead on the armrest. It is a scene I don't want to see again. I didn't like seeing my Mom like this. Needless to say my eyes were leaking. We left rather quickly so I could get a nap before work that night while Uncle Carlos and Aunt Wanda got back on the road headed for Louisana.

The following Friday I purchased two small trailer fenders at Tractor Supply Co. in Conroe. I also bought two pieces of metal. I carried these items over to my favorite welding shop. He cut and tack welded the metal to the fenders to create a "wheel well". This will give me a larger area to secure the fenders to the trailer's side boards. I used the Big RED Beast's loader as a power floor jack after hitching the trailer to my truck. It is sweet to not have to drag a jack out. I primed and painted the fenders and screwed them on. At first I went with flat black paint, like the frame, but added two coats of gloss black. Now, I just need to take it down to Top Flight so they can sell it for me. I made the trailer to haul my mower over to Mom and Dad's house to mow their lawn. Now that lawn is overgrown and my brother doesn't care.

I received an insurance check from Dad's home owner's insurance company for Hurricane Ike damage. I tried to get Chase bank to endorse it, but they said I needed to pay 4 past due home equity loan payments first. I told them I wanted to do that with the insurance check and that I would do the repairs myself. They closed door after door in my face. Now I see on television that Chase will fore go foreclosures for 90 days. If that is the case, I might have time to get my attorney to proceed with another eviction hearing to evict my brother so I can sell the house and pay off Mom and Dad's bills. I will find out tomorrow. I had to threaten Chase with legal action to get them to review Dad's power of attorney (POA). One lady from Chase told me they were not suppose to talk to me, only my brother. I told this lady to have her legal department review the POA. Later that day, Chase called me back and told me they found the POA. So wish me luck.

The Sunday my aunt and uncle came to visit, I had planned on taking my two ferrets over to Christina's so I could set off flea and roach bombs. I didn't get to do it then and last Sunday, I took off for Dallas and basic sheetmetal training. I have been doing sheetmetal for thir....well, never mind how many years. After all these years doing sheetmetal, I finally got formal training! I saw the instructor I had last April for taxi and run up class, the last day of the class. He laughed when I told him I was up for the sheetmetal class. Then he added, "Your here for a week of vacation!" Which would be basically true. I have been doing all the things they were teaching us for well, a lot of years! But every class I attend I learn important stuff that keeps the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) out of my hair. With all the FAA house cleaning, if we have a wrong number on our paperwork, we can get fined and are open to having our mechanic's license suspended or revoked. When a pilot has a lightning strike on his plane, he puts it in the log book and puts in the Airline Transport Association (ATA) number code. This code number just gives a general idea where on the aircraft it is located. If we sign off our repairs and put in the wrong ATA code, we are liable for FAA punishment. Seems we have all new young inspectors that are out to make a name for themselves and literally if we don't cross our T's and dot our I's, we can get fined. So (recurrent) training is always a good thing. We had class in the mornings and the afternoons in the sheetmetal shop between the hangars.

While doing our shop class projects we had the view above from the sheetmetal shop. The plane in the photo is in for major overhaul and has it's vertical fin removed. It really is a strange sight, as one doesn't see this very often. The weather in Dallas was very crisp and the air was dry. Very low humidity caused my hair to carry a lot of static. I think my Mahindra tractor jacket contributed to the static as part of the jacket's lining is nylon. So I carried a brush and a bottle of hair spray to tame the stray hairs. Since the class was only 8 hours and my usual shift is 10 hours with about 2 and one half hours for travelling to and from, it really did seem like a vacation as the hotel is only 10 minutes away. I brought my PC with me and plugged into the hotel's ether net. Wow, talk about fast computer speeds! I really need to upgrade from my dial up modem.

Like last April, when I spent a week in Dallas for training, I brought a sinus cold home with me. The first few days in Dallas had winds up to 25 miles per hour. So yesterday I was lucky enough to see my doctor on a Saturday morning. Yes, Saturday morning. He gave me the usual prescriptions for pills and cough syrup, along with a steriod shot. He also talked me into getting a flu shot. I have never had a flu shot,but used to get the flu. Since I have been getting sinus colds and nasal infections, the flu has left me alone. So we will see how that goes. With the heavy acorn crop this year, it looks to be a hard winter here. Anyway, I have been couped up in the house for two days with a congested head and a runny nose. I got to feeling better this afternoon and ventured outside. I decided to plug the battery charger into the 6520. That is all I felt like doing. Sigh. It would have been a perfect weekend to burn my three large brush piles. But that will have to wait a few weeks longer. Next weekend we are headed to the Frio River and Leakey Texas to see Sara's daughter get married. It will be a nice trip as Leakey is in the Hill Country west of San Antonio and the weather is suppose to be great for a road trip.

Mom and Dad are hanging in there. I have not been able to see them since last Sunday, but I talked to them today and told them I didn't want to get them sick. So I will see them in a day or two and above all, I told them I love them. Check back in a week or so to see what all happens at the wedding. I uploaded a handful of photos here.

hugs, Brandi

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Broken Hip and a Lump

My Mom fell a few weeks ago and was complaining about her hip hurting. X-rays showed a broken hip. Two days later the surgeon pinned the hip. She went back to the nursing home, where a few days later she collapsed during church service. Back to the hospital. All tests came back negative, but a review of the Cat Scan done when they found her broken hip, revealed a lump in her left kidney. I conferred with the specialist the next day and was told it might have been there for years. Because of Mom's advanced age, he wants to wait 3 months and take an another Cat Scan. He stated kidney cancer grows real slow. Which didn't comfort me much. Anyway, he stated any biopsy could be more invasive for Mom since she is just recovering from hip surgery. So we wait and pray.
In the mean time, we traveled on the 4th and 11th to Josephine's house in Baytown, Texas to help clean up the mess Hurricane Ike left in her yard.

It was the longest I ever pulled the Big RED Beast. She lives about 80 miles from me and the Cummins in my Dodge sucked the diesel. I didn't mind travelling two Saturdays in a row, but pulling 13,700 pounds in Houston traffic was not fun. I can get going 60 or even 65 miles per hour very easy, but I needed a lot of stopping distance and Houston drivers kept filling in the distance I left between the car ahead of me and my truck. So it was really hard to find a steady speed. I spread the cleanup work at Josephine's over two Saturdays, because I just couldn't do two days in a row after doing it at Sara's house the end of Sept. I needed a day of rest for the new week!
Josephine lives at the back of a cigar shaped acre size lot. We couldn't pile the debris and burn it, so we had about a 400 feet drive to the roadside (bar) ditch, where we piled the debris for county workers to pick up. This took a lot of time on the Big RED Beast going back and forth. It also allowed some limbs to fall by the way side. Josephine has a heart condition and drives one of those electric 4 wheel scooters. She was either on the scooter or on her lawn tractor zipping back and forth picking up the limbs.
Sara showed up wearing long sleeves. I thought that was odd, as she usually works outside in her work coveralls. I soon learned why she had on long sleeves. Every tree in the yard had large vines of poison sumac or ivy. I didn't get any on me, but Sara ran the saw all day and got in way too much contact with those dad blasted vines. Josephine is not allergic to the vines, so she made no effort to remove them over the years. Guess she thinks the flowers look pretty also!
Josephine's property doesn't have a border fence, but just a 4 foot tall chain link fence around a small "yard" around the house for her, at the time, spouse's dog. Make that ex spouse now. This chain link fence also had poison sumac and ivy vines all over it. I didn't touch the fence except with the 511 backhoe on the Mahindra. I found it easy (after Josephine snipped all the wires at the posts) to pull the fence in with the backhoe and stacked it directly behind the backhoe. Then I grabbed the fence "stack" with the thumb and bucket and off to the bar ditch. Funny thing with that fence out by the ditch. It didn't last long as a local character came up with his old beat up pickup and hooked a chain to the fence and off he went down the street to his house, sparks a flying.

At first it was fun working the 6520 back and forth, but by the second Saturday, it started to be like work. Sara was having way too much fun with her new "man sized" large Stihl chain saw and cut too many times on the big logs. I wanted to drag the whole tree, minus it's top out to the ditch and cut it up. Sara got "saw happy" and cut the tree trunks into 6 or so feet long pieces. With no grapple, it was no fun getting more than one trunk section into my 7 foot wide front end bucket. This meant I could only haul 2 large diameter"logs" to the ditch. One in the bucket and one pinched with the backhoe bucket and thumb. Towards the end of the second day I was ready to quit, but Sara and even Josephine got "saw happy" and they started cutting green trees down. Whoa! I only wanted to clean up the mess on the ground and go home. They were adding more work for the Big RED Beast.

The first Saturday, we attacked the most serious problem. A large diameter Beech tree was uprooted and leaning on the fork of another tree with the Beech's top hanging over Josephine's house. Another big wind and it would have crushed the house. I felt the pressure on me and my Mahindra. Luckily, Josephine's nephew was there with a 28 foot ladder and topped the tree. He cut all the large limbs at the top of his ladder. Then I got to dig the tree up at the roots with the Mahindra's 511 backhoe. When the roots where loose, we attached a chain to the loader's cross bar and I lifted while slowly backing up. This caused the tree to slide down the supporting tree right to the ground. I was sweating hard as I did this, as one slip from me or the 6520 and the tree would get the house!
About mid way through the day, a nice black Dodge pulling a trailer with a thumbed mini excavator on it, stopped in the street. They unloaded and started working across the street. These guys were from the Ft. Worth area down here doing storm cleanup. They left after a few hours. Later I saw Sara walking back with her saw and numerous small pieces of cedar. I went over to the pile they made and saw a large cedar log sticking out. I immediately pulled the log out with my 511 backhoe. It looked to be about 20 feet long. Needless to say, that log came home with me after trimming it down a little so it fit under the Mahindra on the trailer, for the ride home. If only the other log was that long, I would have two entry gate poles for my place!

Between the two Saturdays spent in Baytown, I had enough time to do my 300 hour inspection on the Big RED Beast. As you can see in the photo below, Booger is always near when I have the Mahindra out of the barn. He is laying just at the bottom of the photo, near the front tire and engine side panel. He doesn't do this while I am on my Hustler lawn mower, but comes running when I head for the 6520.

I have been trying to get Dad's log splitter running so I could sell it. Dad let it sit up too long and the carburetor got gummed up. I tried cleaning it, but that didn't work. I took it to Top Flight Equipment, to let their small engine expert have a go at it. But they were too busy and I brought it back home the day before Ike hit the Texas coast. Two weeks ago I decided to just order a new carburetor. The engine started on the second pull. Now the log slicer, as Mom always called it, is sitting at Top Flight by the parts and service front door, waiting to be sold.

Yesterday I mowed my whole place with my Hustler Fastrac. Since we had two days of rain last week, I had some standing water in the ditch that runs through my place. The Fastrac is notorious for getting "slip stuck" with it's almost smooth turf tires. Once one drive wheel spins, it is all over. Go get the Big RED Beast! I had to do that twice yesterday! The second time, Booger saw me walking away from the mower towards the Mahindra and came running. That dog sure loves my tractor!

While I was cleaning up last night, the nursing home called to say Dad fell and was going to the emergency room. I called Christina and we both went to see what happened. Seems Dad fell while trying to get out of bed and hit and cut his forehead. He had been complaining last weekend to me about his back hurting when he yawned in bed. I told the doctor this and they ran a cat scan and took x-rays. The results were a fracture in his back at T-12. He is now waiting to get fitted with a back brace. So with Mom's hospital visits and now Dad's, I am getting to know my way around the hospital in The Woodlands! I have been on three different floors visiting them in the last three weeks. If only I could get them in the same room at the same time. With me working nights, I only have time in the evening to see one of them if one is in the hospital. So I pray they can both stay healthy enough to stay together!

As luck would have it, Dad's baby brother (He is 81) and his wife came down in their 30 foot RV today from Oklahoma to visit Dad. My uncle still runs the building supply (we call them lumber yards down here) company he founded eons ago. But he goes home for lunch every day and takes a nap. The yard is closed while he naps! I'll try to get some photos of the RV and them when they leave tomorrow. They are headed for Louisiana. Stop back in later to hear more about us here. I have added more storm damage and Big RED Beast photos here.

hugs, Brandi