Friday, December 26, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
What we made was a sweet potato souffle from an internet recipe:
Liz found it while researching for interesting wedding foods and when we made up a test batch, we all thought it was outstanding! Josh says it tastes like sweet potatoes with ice cream mixed in.
Dinner at the Benac's is always an excercise in bedlam, but we had a good time. There was lots of great food. Afterwards the Cowboys won their game, so that was a nice topping on the T-Day cake. Sadly, Ruthie had to watch A&M go down in defeat later in the evening.
I left Benac's with Joe to help him get his PTAC kit together for his big debut Friday (today) when he and Josh are doing all the PTAC units at a Red Roof Inn in Irving, as a test to determine whether they do a good enough job to qualify to do a boatload of motels in that chain. Joe borrowed a brush, two rechargeable drills, two levels, two canvas tool bags, and five Sharpie pens. And maybe some other stuff. Aren't you impressed that I had all that stuff to loan them? I was.
This morning, Sterling wanted me to put a new roll of tape in the dispenser in the art drawer. Then he wanted to keep the empty roll, and ultimately he taped the colored version on his nose to become a piggie. So then Winter did too, but Ginger just made a pig face.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
We’ve had a remarkably nice fall to date. Of course, I always like Fall best of all the seasons, but this one was great. We finally had our first freeze (low temp. was 32 degrees) about a week ago and it was slightly chilly for a couple of days, but now it’s back to beautiful, again. This is a photo of the trees on our street. We usually don’t see so much color at one time, because just as the trees are turning color we either get a good, killing freeze, or high winds. We are forecast to have a few more nice days, then over the weekend the high temps. Will dip down to the lower 50’s. We might even get another “freeze” on Sunday. Yes, winter is on her way.
We are having a low-key Thanksgiving, going to
Clear Sky Handy Men is hard to measure just now. I’ve been getting lots of good leads. Of course, some don’t turn into actual income, but what’s happened here lately is that people don’t want to start a project until after Thanksgiving. I’m sure Christmas will slow work down a lot as we get closer to it. Still, I have several large jobs to do next week that have been waiting for the turkey to die, and I have a helper lined up. Maybe I can actually make some money for a change.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
At the end of the first row there was a big exhibit by Sunbelt Rentals, which is located in the Lowes stores. They had some big lifts and heavy equipment on display so it took me a few minutes to place them. They also had a big wheel, kind of like a roulette wheel, but homemade. They had Joe spin it and he won $60 in coupons, which I thought was way cool. Then they let me spin and I gave a gentle little spin thinking I might get the same thing. As it slowed down, all the Sunbelt guys started talking and saying , "he might make it" , "it's coming up", "I think he's going to hit it" , and stuff like that. I was surprised, because they hadn't been that interested when Joe spun. Turns out what whey were excited about was that I was sneaking up on a slot labeled SURPRISE, and I did land on it. As a result, I got to choose between two Bosch tools and take it home. I was really dumbfounded! Bosch makes high-end tools - very expensive, but extremely well-made. I chose the circular saw, even though I already have a pretty good one. But this one is way better! So now when I get to the point of hiring help, I can keep my good one in the shop and have one for work.
Joe and I got through the last booth at about the same time as the show ended, so we also got lots of trinkets.
After the Show, Josh and I went out "hunting". We got there too late to do much serious hunting, but we sat out and watched the woods for a while, then lit a fire and enjoyed foil dinners with feral hog hot-links in them. Next morning, we did some serious target practice. Josh is a good, natural shotgunner. I was throwing clay pigeons and he was breaking most of them. Then we shot my carbine, and then a 30-30 I've had for a few years and that I had big plans for. I have previously offered all of my kids a gun if they wanted one. So far Mark and Joe are the only ones to take me up on it, but Josh hadn't had a chance. I told him he could have that 30-30 if he wanted it and he thought that was grand. I told him a bit of the history of the Win 94, and that they are no longer being manufactured. It is fun to see him so pleased.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I enjoyed being a scout leader but hikes with scouts were frustrating, because they clashed so horribly with my inclinations when hiking. I want to hear and see birds, but the scouts are always yelling at each other about something trivial and city-ish, which means you never hear anything, and seldom see wildlife. I like to stop and watch a bug or spider or other critter, but scouts are only interested for about 1/2 of a second before moving on, fairly often right over the top of what I'm trying to show them. I find an owl scat and they think it's disgusting to look at poop. I tell them I see a racoon and if they move really slow and quiet they can see him, too, and they all come rushing and pushing and wonder why it is gone.
Fortunately, I am blessed with exceptional grandchildren who will listen when I have something to tell them about, and will mostly obey my request for calm, slow movement. Of course, the rabbit that lives just outside our door is just too much. I'll tell them to move slowly and very quietly and not get too close, and they do it. For about 5 seconds. Then one moves forward a little and one of the others will rush forward a little more, and the others follow suit and in a flash the rabbit is bounding past the neighbor's house with Sterling right on its tail and little Ginger not far behind.
We had a cold day on Tuesday and the monarchs have all hurried past us, or froze.
Josh and I are planning to go camping tommorrow night and I am looking forward to a very pleasant time. The cool weather is good for discouraging mosquitoes, and for pleasant sleeping. The wild hogs are getting a bit desperate for food, so they're likely to come check out the feeders. My camo trailer is full of cobwebs, but is still intact and a pleasant place to spend a cozy night. Life is grand this time of year.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
One of the Benac girls had this necklace, which we thought might inspire Nancy.
At one end is a loop made by running both threads through one bead. At the other end is a button with one bead after after each button hole. It is reported to be "cute" and "clever". Chics rule!
Nancy said she had never even seen a photo of Brant, so here is a fresh, hot out of the oven photo of him early this morning.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
"Oh! The Humanity! This is just terrible, folks. "
After she also admitted that it wasn't going all that well, I offered to give it a try and this is my attempt to be creative and functional. Notice the upright is our good old Bois D'Arc? In fact, it is the same branch as the necklace displays. Of course it's not as pretty with bark and sapwood still attached, but this was a rush job and I just didn't have time for that. The base is common whitewood, aka soft pine. I'm thinking the base needs a couple of coats of black paint. What do you think? There are 19 pegs, but it wouldn't be too hard to add more.
I will ship it unassembled, but the only assembly required is to screw in a long deck screw from the base into the bottom of the branch.
The round parts are Osage Orange wood, the bases I made from scraps left over from Roko's cradle. They are about 9" long and the logs lift right off the stands so it will be easy to add/remove bracelets.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I was checking out the competition on Craigslist a few days ago and noticed a misplaced ad where somebody wanted help adjusting an “iron” entrance door. So I replied and asked for phone, directions, etc. or to call me. Next morning I had an email from the guy which included his phone #. I was just picking up the phone to call him when the phone rang from him calling me. So, I went to his house and inspected the door. It is a big, double, steel door in an arch, about 8 1/2' tall, leading into a courtyard. The upshot is that the arched door frame had been bent sideways while getting bricked in place, and that made the doors too close together and they had trouble shutting it. I concluded that one hinge needed to be cut off and moved 1/8” or so to tilt the door enough to let the two doors pass each other. It was a little over my head, but I figured I could still do it with a little help from Joe, my friendly welder. So, later we went out there and looked it over again. We loaded the door into Joe’s truck (it's too long for my Jeep) and on the way home we decided it really needed to go to a welding shop. That evening I needed to talk to the customer so I dialed the number he’d given me in his email. Wrong number, but the lady asked me who I was so I told my name and that I was calling for Clear Sky Handy Men. She said, “Handyman! I’ve been looking for a handyman. Can you do stucco?” Well, of course. So next day I took the door to a welding shop and then drove over nearly to Ft. Worth to look at this wrong number lady’s strip mall which had some wind damage to the stucco. I took photos and measured it out from a distance (it was about 15 feet up) and had Joe’s crew estimate it for her. I told Joe he could charge whatever he wants, but I’m going to add 10% for finding the lead.
BEFORE: This is a photo of a hinge on the removed door before welding (It's the big one at the bottom. Notice what a great job they did of welding it perfectly so it’s nice and smooth. --- Too smooth! It's impossible to weld that good.
BEFORE: This is a photo of a hinge on the removed door before welding (It's the big one at the bottom. Notice what a great job they did of welding it perfectly so it’s nice and smooth. --- Too smooth! It's impossible to weld that good.
IN PROGRESS: This is a photo after the hinge was cut off and re-welded. It turns out that those nice smooth edges were just epoxy, and the welder told me that actually there were only a few spot welds holding it on. As you can see he put a nice long weld on each side.
AFTER: When I got it home (I have a trailer now, big enough for this kind of job) I used plumber’s epoxy to do my best imitation.This is the welded, epoxy-ed, and painted hinge back in its door frame at the customer’s house. I turned the photo sideways so it would be oriented the same as the earlier photos. It’s not quite as pretty as the factory ones, but with its much larger welded surface it’s the strongest hinge on the two doors. And I think it looks pretty good.
This is a photo of the stucco job resulting from the wrong number call. The biggest space is supposed to be an off-white stucco about like the ground-level wall below it, and it needs to be recessed a bit. It’s about 150 sq. feet, plus those two smaller, patches that should be the darker color. I haven’t seen Joe’s estimate, yet, nor heard from the lady. I hope the job is still on. I’d hate to loose out on a good contact from a wrong number!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Here is a photo of Angela at work in our front room. Cell phone, laptop, and brilliant intellect all hard at work - multitasking happily.
After all the kids were finally settled into bed and more or less quiet, we went upstairs and found this little art decor piece in the bathroom.
All the paper cups and glasses are brimming full of water, but that's not all. Here is a view of the sink.
If they wanted to wash, brush teeth, or anything like that they were out of luck, but drinks were ready to go.
Today I was scheduled to take Roscoe out to the pig hunting farm to work on his shooting merit badge for scouting and to endeavor to find a trophy boar. Instead, I went south of Plano to buy a used LCD monitor (no answer at the house, no answer on the phone, but a repeat call brought an answer and they admitted they'd sold it to somebody else.) Then I drove out to Joe's farm to pick up Logan who was supposed to be helping, but was sick instead. When I returned, the Allred kids were here, so I ran some errands. When I returned, Allison was here to pick up her kids and took Roscoe and Haley with her to play at their house. So, no shooting/ camping/hunting tonight. Levi is also sick on his 2nd go-round. I was sick a couple days ago, and angela is also battling it - whatever kind of crud it is.
Liz got home a short time ago, after a long day at the office and a trip to the hair dresser. And now I'm headed upstairs to watch a few hours of mindless TV, hopefully at least some of it with little cuddle-bugs snuggling close.
Life is good.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Summer slammed down on us several weeks ago. So did a tornado. On a hunch, we called our insurance company and asked them to send someone over to check our roof for damage. We have a lot of neighbors who are missing shingles from the high winds, but we didn’t. Still, the roof has been there for 8 or 9 years (they are “20 year”, 3-tab shingles) which can be a lot around here. To our delight, the adjuster came and spent about an hour climbing around our roof, then reported that we need a new roof, new rain gutters, and new wind turbines. Often they specify a single storm to blame for the claim, but this went down as cumulative hail damage.
So we hired a roofer with a great reputation and chose our new shingles to install. The roofer estimated a couple thousand less than the insurance adjuster, so we chose “30-year” shingles and had him do some little extras to get his price up to the adjuster’s. But here’s the thing: our house is very expensive to cool each summer (no big surprise in Texas), so we decided to take advantage of this opportunity to put in some solar cooling. We chose the whitest shingles we could find. They just happen to be top of the line, too, but it was the color that drove the decision. The old ones were nearly black. You can see our neighbor’s roof in the attached photo. It is a brown tone and lighter overall than our old roof. Not anymore!
We’ve had the new roof for over a week now and I can confirm that they have made a huge difference. Shortly after we got it installed, our upstairs a/c unit quit and we just lived without it for 2 days. It wasn’t that bad up there, which was very surprising. When I go out into my shop on a hot afternoon, it is now about 20 degrees cooler that it used to be under those conditions. We’ve started turning off one of our a/c units at night, because the house has so much less heat load that we don’t need it. I usually turn it back on at about noon. This passive solar cooling system is marvelous, and it didn’t cost us a penny. What a deal.
So, thanks to all of you who pay your insurance premiums. They’ve been put to good use.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
A few weeks ago we had a lot of tree damage from a small tornado that touched down about ½ mile south of us. That one broke trees and ripped shingles off roofs all around us. Today we had another event. It was cloudy and getting quite dark, but no actual storm seemed imminent. We had a crew putting up rain gutters – all of them on aluminum ladders except for one up on the roof. All of a sudden high wind hit the house, sending lengths of gutter into the back yard. The guy on the roof headed down the sheltered side and found an overhang to cower under. Sadly for him, the storm was rotating and after the first couple of minutes it was blowing right onto him. The other guys didn’t know where he was and were calling for him when I went out and told them to take shelter. They had no English and my Spanish is limited, so I didn’t know about the guy on the roof, but they headed for their van. When I spoke to them from the front porch, I saw two trees across the street that had major branches split off and land on the lawn. In the attached photo you can see the tree branches on the ground. If you look through the branches of our mimosa tree towards the left of the photo, you can see the yellow gash where the bigger tree split. The other tree actually had a lot more damage. If you open the photo and zoom in, you can see that it just missed the neighbor's Jeep.
The rain lasted about a half hour and when it was tapering down the roofer we'd hired arrived to make sure the gutters were going on correctly. When he pulled up to the back of the house he saw the guy under the ledge hanging on like he was really in trouble, with wide, wild eyes showing white all around. He was OK as soon as they got a ladder up to him, but he was soaking so the crew took him to WalMart to get him something dry to wear.
This storm damage was very local – what they call a “micro-burst” – so those two trees are the only ones damaged in our neighborhood. We had a new roof that was only completed last Thursday, but it was fine. We’ve had HOT weather lately and they sealed tight within a day or so. The houses (3 or 4) to the south of us on the same side of the street got enough wind to scatter their garbage cans, but that appears to be all. I don’t like these near misses, but I’d much rather have them than a full-on tornado in the class 2-4 range.
Friday, June 13, 2008
It seems like every other year or so our computer slowly slips away into the land of old computer junk. This may be related to the fact that I buy used PCs to start with, but still…
The worst thing about that is that it is a pain to try to get all our old data off the nearly dead PC and load it on to the nice shiny, new one. So, last year I bought an external 160 GB hard drive and put everything we cared about onto it. I figured we were then safe from computer death and could just move the external drive to any new computer we chose to use.
The shiny, new external hard drive crashed and burned. It turns out that when a hard disk crashes there are several levels of how hard it is to recover data. The worst possible is where the crash destroys the directory that tells the computer where to find files. In that case, they need to take it into a clean room (expen$ive), disassemble it, and install it into a special drive ((expen$ive) to read it sector by sector trying to recover undamaged data. Guess which kind ours is? I got two quotes: $1,100 and $1,300. Among other things, all our photo files are on it, including last year’s photos which I hadn’t got a Round Tuitt for writing DVDs for everyone. I have most (hopefully all) of last year’s on the old hard drive, so I can recover those. But at some point, I made the transition to this new, “bullet-proof” hard drive and all those are gone, gone, gone. Photos of Roko we took in Calif. – gone. Photos of various grandchildren who have visited us this year – gone. Photos of the great pig hunt where Keith and I took a couple of our friends to a pig-shooting ranch – gone. Photos of this year’s Dallas Blooms where we took many photos of different kind of flowers, close-ups and landscapes – gone. I still hope to find a way to recover. It’s a dim hope, but the flame still flickers.
So, that’s what’s new from sad ole Grandpa.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
It was about a year ago that Liz and I first started thinking seriously about building a kids’ play room in a convenient corner of the attic. When Joe and family decided to move here and stay with us until they could locate a place of their own, the project went into high gear. I thought it would be an easy project, but it turned out to be a major, huge, daunting, complicated, tedious, expensive, meticulous, and lengthy project. I came home from work day after day and worked in there until 1 or 2 in the morning. My body was slowly breaking down from it and by the time Joe’s family got here I could barely use my hands. The big, heavy, framing nailer was the worst. It really put a lot of pressure on my wrists. Here’s how it went.
· Phase 1: Rerouting wires and a/c ducts passing through the space. Many wires were too short to be lifted out of the way, so they had to have special handling: cut & splice, special passageway built into the room, etc.
· Phase 2: Framing and putting down a floor. I thought it would be a matter of laying plywood across the joists, but it turned out that the joists were all at different levels and had to be built up or cut down. Also, Phases 1 & 2 merged when I nailed a piece of plywood down and the nail penetrated the insulation of 3 out of the 4 wires in a duplex 120 volt cable. Fortunately I have a friend who is a licensed electrician and he was able to help me find and fix that little booboo. The ceiling didn’t leave enough room for a full-size door. We had to get the narrowest door available (24 inches) and I cut off the bottom. This made the door handle lower than normal, which made it better for kids to use. Even with that, there isn’t enough clearance and I solved that by making a jerry-rigged recess into the ceiling where the door needs to swing.
· Phase 3: Insulation. I hate putting up insulation because it is so itchy and irritating, so you have to bundle up and wear a respirator, which makes it unbearably hot and hard to move around. The good news here is that I noticed HD had some neat foil-covered bubble wrap. It doesn’t itch at all, and it made a huge difference in how hot it got in the attic. It’s a reflective barrier, rather than much in the way of insulation, so I still had to put up bats of fiberglass, but it was a pleasant start. Last summer was relatively cool through July, which helped a lot. It meant I could get the insulation in before it got unbearably hot.
· Phase 4: Sheetrock. We were running out of time, so Liz had one of her guys from work send out a sheetrock person, and sometimes 2. I had no idea that sheetrock guys were so specialized, but I expected this guy to help me hang sheetrock, then tape and bed and finish it all off. He kept telling me he wasn’t a sheetrock guy, he was a finish mudding guy. Where he did hang sheetrock he did a lousy job – worse than me by far. He didn’t like taping and mudding. When it came time to finish the surface he was great, but the costs were skyrocketing and he just wasn’t that much help. He was here for 2 weeks and we still weren’t done, so we finally told him to go away. That left us with the job about half done, but the front half of the space was sufficiently far along that Joe’s children could use the room.
· Phase 5: Paint and finish. We primed and painted the front half blue, and I got the electrical outlets ready for use, even though they were mostly messed up from the sheetrock guy. Joe helped us lay glued-down carpet squares when he was here. We put the toys in there and the kids loved it.
It was a delight to have Joe’s family living with us, even though we were a bit crowded even with the new room.
After Joe moved into his new house, we settled into a routine without worrying any more about the new room, but that back half still needed work. Angela’s planned visit next month spurred us back into action. Joe brought one of his mudding guys over and he helped with the sheetrocking. That worked great! We knocked the sheetrock off in 2 days. I ordered a new window for the dormer, because the old one was too small, single-pane, and broken. The back room actually went much smoother and it is almost done now. I bought oversize switchplate covers, and that solved some of the worse issues with the lousy sheetrock help from the first half. I still have some molding to install and the faux fence Liz is so excited about. It is cute. The only thing we haven’t been able to complete is the wall murals. That will have to remain for the future. Forgive me the tools and work paraphernalia in the photos, but we are still working.
...>> This was taken from the closet into the back room that has never been inhabited. You can see the window dormer and the blackboard (magnetic, too).
...>> This is from the back room into the front room, and you can see the fence. We only have this small section up, but it will go fast. The little door goes into Mom’s attic.
...>> This view shows the door with the clearance groove into the ceiling. It’s an insulation issue, but it couldn’t be helped and still have enough door for an adult to walk in.
We are excited to have bunches of grandkids in here next month, and getting a chance to see the whole space fully utilized.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
A few years ago, my best friend-in-law, Keith, wrote a poem for my birthday. I think it would be fair to share it so all the World will know how highly esteemed I am.
TO EARL 1999
In Southern Utah's sunny heat
Where first he played, a gangling lad,
In Filmore born, the county seat,
That made the folks in Delta mad.
The Ashurst name he proudly bore
He gave it new dimension,
When they passed him through the public schools
They broke with all convention.
His legs were long, his body trim
His feet were just humongous.
His smile was broad, his hips were slim,
A joy to have amongus.
Yes Earl the boy was quite a sight,
In youth he was a treasure,
He'd get his way through force of will,
Being with him was a pleasure.
But time moved on and mowed him down,
It stooped his back and shoulder.
Years fell on him like globs of gunk,
And made him dull and sober.
He lost the cutting edge of wit,
All toil was tough and tax'in,
As age o'er took him bit by bit
His frame grew stale and waxen.
The food he ate in flush of youth
Was plenty hot and fluffy.
But late in life, sans gum or tooth
His fare is bland and mushy.
While yet a boy of dashing ways
His friends were all delightsome
But now his cronies show their age
They're dull like him and frightsome.
His hair is thin and barely blond
But greyness would be tragic
So weekly now he goes to town
To buy some Grecian Magic.
His hearing once was sharp and keen
His eyes were like a hawk's,
He's a fraction now of what he'd been,
Do you bear how loud he talks?
His measured footsteps slowly fall
As if climbing up a ladder.
As at night he shuffles down the hall
To drain his ancient bladder.
So Earl, old man, rest in the sun
We think your kind of nifty,
Just take it slow, don't try to run,
For after all, you're fifty.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
We had a very lovely trip to visit Mark and his family. Roko is way fun to hold and cuddle.
I thought some photos would be a good thing to post.
Angela got there a day before we did. Here she looks pretty happy to be holding Roko, but she got less cuddle time after we arrived: <<...>>Here we are at the airport, just arriving and seeing Roko in person for the first time: <<...>>
This is Mark unpacking the cradle from its matching carrying case: <<...>>
Roko in his new cradle, lovingly made just for him by his Grandpa. He's got some room to grow, but it will only serve for a few months. I'm just sorry that it didn't get to him sooner: <<...>>
And I thought I ought to include a closeup of Roko so you can enjoy him a little bit. He has a cute dimple in his upper lip, don’t you think?. <<...>>
Now, on a different note: In my previous post I mentioned once or twice that I was describing the only time I ever saw my father drunk. It pleases me that he was a better father then his was. And I hope I have been a better father than he.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Anyway, I went down to the store, selected what I wanted and took it to the checkout counter. Sure enough, they set it under the counter, found a shoe box and put a piece of paper in it with the cash register slip amount and the couple of dollars I had at that time. I did notice that it was the only merchandise under the counter and I wondered why more people didn't use this marvelous way to buy stuff.
So I worked at little jobs that summer, making payments whenever I could. I got a chunk of money when Grandpa told me they were harvesting onions out near the North end of town. I got there when they were almost done, but they let me do one row. They had already run a plow down the rows, which brought the onions to the surface, so we picked the onions up, sometimes we had to pull or break off a clod of dirt, and put them into burlap bags. I got paid and took the money to the store on the way home. I think it was $1.25. It went that way all summer. Then Grandpa asked me how much I still needed and I told him it was whatever it was - 3 or 4 dollars. Then he told me how one of the kids in his ward played the organ in Testimony meeting. He'd stand up, give a brief testimony, then say he'd like to play the organ, and go over and play a piece. Grandpa said he'd like me to do that in my ward, and he'd give me $5.00 if I would. So, OK! I did it during the next meeting and got my fishing pole and reel and even some hooks and other gear.
I'd been very focused on it, so everyone was very aware and my Dad took me fishing up Corn Creek (near Kanosh) to break in my new pole. I thought that was way cool. So we went up there and parked at a camping area. Dad got me started and it was going to be great. Except that several men that Dad knew arrived about then. Dad got to talking to them, and drinking with them. I felt like they stole my Dad from me, so I was kind of long-faced. Dad noticed that after a while and told me to fish on down the creek into Kanosh and he'd pick me up along the road. So I did that. I knew that it's much better to fish upstream, but I did what he said. I fished all the way down the canyon and waited for a while, then started walking back. When I got there it was nearly sundown, but when Dad noticed me, he said exactly the same thing, again. It was like he hadn't even noticed that I was gone. So I did it again. I fished all the way down and walked back up. By this time it was fully dark and Dad was really drunk, which I had never seen before. He was doing things and saying things that were unlike he ever did when he was sober. This time when he saw me, he left off drinking. I helped him over to the car and in the process, I left my new pole leaning against a tree. I was kind of scared by the whole thing, especially when Dad asked me if I could drive. Of course I couldn't! He kind of drew himself up straight and I could see that he was trying to focus and do the best he could. It was 14 miles back to our house and we got there safely, somehow. It wasn't until the next day that I missed my fishing pole, and it was too late by then. This was a hard experience for both Dad and I. Dad was ashamed and I have to say that I never saw him drunk again, although he still drinks some. Beyond the selfish concern about my pole, I was upset to see my Dad without full control of himself. I was embarrassed for him. The result was that I determined that I would never, ever drink alcohol. And I never have. The next year I started milking the cow and I made enough money to easily buy new gear. In the end, I think it was a positive thing for me to get a view of what licquor does to a man.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
First, Ruth asked me to make so she can comment on my Blog. OK, that’s done.
We had unbelievable rain yesterday, as I’ve only ever seen in Texas. It rained HARD, and all day long. Keith called me and asked him to meet me near downtown Plano and I was lucky to even get there. Spring Creek was over its banks and almost over the road. It was the kind of rainstorm where the residential streets are full of water trying to get down into the storm drains, which the city has installed at about every 50 feet. I don’t just mean they are wet, I mean the surface of the water extends from the lawns above the curb on one side of the street all the way to the lawns above the curb on the other side. The kind of storm where people get killed by it. This one had a mild toll – one vehicle swept away with 2 rescued, the 1 kid playing in the water, swept away and not found yet. It’s often much worse than that with less water.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
TRANSCRIPT of reflections of Earl Ashurst (my Grandfather) and his brother, Julian. Recorded on tape in 1969.
We were on an old ranch in West Texas when any of us can remember, and
then what we heard the folks tell about the Abilene country when they
first come out there. But I, ... a lot of little things went on over the
years, but in 1910, the folks had begun to have California fever. Los
Angeles was advertised pretty big in that country then, and everybody had
to go to Los Angeles. And then drouth in West Texas at that time - most
of the time - and we took cattle out of the pasture on our old ranch
there, took them North about 75 miles, up on the foot of the pan-handle
country and found pasture for 'em up there and kept 'em there until Fall,
and took the sheep up later on. Then my Dad sold the cows and we brought
the sheep back to the ranch, and we got on the train ... and the Orient
Railroad had come through San Angelo by that time. San Angelo had been
for years, the end of the Santa Fe Railroad, but the Orient had come in,
and we boarded the train across the river at the new depot for the Orient
Railroad, and headed for Los Angeles. We had been growed up out there in
the sticks, and we didn't know houses had numbers or streets had names.
We always just said you go over yonder, and that the thing's right there.
But we got into Los Angeles, and it was quite a village then, even in
1910. We'd go downtown, and start standing looking and gawking, and
stuff, and an old policeman would come along an says, "No loitering on the
streets. Keep moving." We, we thought that was pretty bad, for, and we
wanted to get back to Texas. But, then we went on out to Whittier, and
picked walnuts out there that Fall, and finally went on out to Pomona,
where my Dad finally settled there, and had an orange grove. But, back on
the ... we just went out here to visit then, and we stayed about - instead
of staying the year, we stayed about 14 or 16 months in Pomona. And then
went back to the ranch. And, stayed about a year, then finally moved
permanently, back to Pomona. And then later on, the folks, of course,
come to Imperial Valley. But, they was a lot of little deals went on in
Texas there when we was kids - growing up together, and, my older brother,
Brook, he was married when we went back there, the last year, and lived on
the ranch there, about a mile from our old house, and I lived down there
with them about as much as anywhere else, until we moved back to
California, after about a year.
I don't know where I got started there, but when the folks come to
Abilene, why they did live there for a while, but it was open range then,
and they moved West with the - and the range was beginning to fence up -
and did finally, everything was fenced, but my Dad had about three years
there of open range, and built up quite a herd of horses, and some sheep.
And later on, wound up with mostly sheep. And stayed with the sheep until
we sold the ranch in 1914, and moved to California permanently. And
that's about all I know to talk about.
Julian asked a question - inaudible
I seem to be always, where the action was on there. Claude was - maybe
the year we moved the cattle up to Mary Neal, Claude stayed, I guess to
help around the home place, but Julian went with us up there, and then as
soon as we got the cattle settled, the windmills greased up, and the water
started, Julian and my Dad went back to the ranch, and I stayed there with
the sheep. And Brook was - that was the year that Mona Rea was born. And
Brook was supposed to have met them on the day that they left, up at Mary
Neal, ... Brook was supposed to have left the ranch and come up there and
stayed with me, but Myrtle was sick. Mona Rea was just born then, and he
was having quite some troubles, so he stayed another week, and that left
me up there a week by myself with the sheep. But we had some neighbors,
that had moved up there from Robert Lee, they lived - they had a place
about a mile from there and they had kids my age, and I went over there
quite a bit. Otherwise I was by myself there until Brook came up about a
And, I don't know whether Julian remembers that or not, but we had what we
called a gramophone, and it had rubber cylinder records. And we could -
we could make records with that, and the Loughlin kids' folks was gone one
time, and the Loughlin kids was there, and we got that thing out and got
it started going, and made some records. I guess Julian wouldn't want to
tell what was on them records, but we didn't - to be sure nobody else
heard 'em, why we broke 'em before they ...
He, when he was a kid, he wanted to plow up corn - and drive the one
horse, and plow corn, but he figured his Dad ... but his Dad went to town
one day, so he hitched up the old horse and got out, and was plowing
corn. And about that time, his Dad was coming back. He thought he was in
trouble - his old man showed him just how to tighten and set the line so
it wouldn't be too tight or too loose - showed him just how to plow - and
he's been plowing corn every since. (laughing) That was one story they
told about ... (Arnold C.: It didn't upset things, at all?) No, he got
Julian Ashurst - Reflections
(Earl was there and commenting in the background)
My mother's name was Alice C. Sparks, And my Dad's name was Joseph
William Ashurst. My Dad and Mother, when they left Kentucky, they came to
Abilene, Texas, and settled on Spring Creek. And they used to have this
spring with ice-cold water, and it flowed through a little, clay trough,
and my mother would put her milk in there and let the cream raise, and
she'd make butter then out of the milk which we had - where we lived. And
she had a windmill that did that after we came to West Texas. But my Dad
went into the sheep business there in Abilene, Texas, and he got his start
in sheep there. And then, later they moved to West Texas and fenced five
sections of pasture with fold-tooth wire. And then he run sheep then, in
West Texas, and then finally got into the cattle business there.
My Dad quit smoking and chewing tobacco when he was about 50 years old.
And, that was here in Imperial Valley, but before that, there in Texas, he
used to eat all fried foods, and everybody told him he'd die young, and
after he got to California, he lived happy ever after - 82 years old when
Yeah, my Dad used to like biscuits, made with a lot of dough, kind of
high-rising ones, and I didn't like 'em with dough in 'em, and he would
get Irma to cook them - Irma would cook the biscuits like he liked 'em,
and then I'd take the inside out of 'em and roll it up into a dough-ball
and throw it at Irma. My mother seemed to allow some things like that,
but she didn't allow us to complain about the food. She'd never allow any
of us children to say it - when we got up to leave the table, if we
complained about the food - she had too many mouths to feed to put up with
youngsters complaining about the food.
This is about Earl. He used to sit - there was a couch right behind the
table, next to the wall, and he'd always get mad if someone would fall on
that couch, and then he'd pout. And my mother wouldn't give him no
breakfast, and he had to do without his breakfast. And I guess then he
got in a good humor about noon. Now Earl, I'm telling this, but I don't
want you to whoop me now.
Earl, do you remember when we went up and baled hay at Woodville? And you
didn't have no socks, and we slept in a horse manger. And we baled hay
and we made exactly $57, and we came home and the pump had - a gopher had
let water run into the pump and burned the pump out and it cost $57. Do
you remember that, Earl?
My Dad had 4 brothers that were bachelors, and they lived in Kentucky.
And they all lived in one house, and they wouldn't speak to each other,
and they all lived there for a long time. He grew up there, and they were
an Uncle of his, and he grew up with them in Kentucky. I don't what
finally ... they never did marry - they were always bachelors. And they
tried to run their business together and that didn't work, yet they still
kept living together. And that's about the story that my Dad told it to
us. He was always marveling how clean they kept everything. They'd
pick up every little stick and twig that was around, on the ranch, and
taught him to do that. And he thought there was a real saving because
they didn't allow any sticks to lay around or anything. Kind of an
interesting story about them. My Dad always told me about these four
uncles of his, that was were real prosperous, and yet they couldn't get
When we lived at Pomona in the orange grove, my Dad's three sisters came
out. Lula, Anabelle, I don't know what the other one's name was, but they
were real good to get along with. They helped out in the house, and they
wanted to do all the work. We always liked them, - and my mother didn't
get along with them too good, but, we could see why. So we all lived
there in the orange grove for - they visited here for about a month. And
then they went back to Kentucky - they lived in Kentucky. They were old
maids - lived in Kentucky there, and came out here just to visit. My Dad
wasn't home at that time. He was up North raising cotton, up in San
Juaquin Valley, and so that was the only close relatives of my Dad that we
ever knew - was these three old maids. (inaudible question from Arnold
C.) they lived between Lexington and Paris Kentucky.
This one Aunt lived in Paris, Ky., and we were visiting there, three years
ago, and they was always friendly. They came out to Pomona and visited
with us. He was an engineer on the railroad there - he owned a little
ranch there, 2, uh, 80 acre ranch. Kentucky was beautiful country. But
we never did get acquainted with many of Pappa's kin folks. They were of
the William Penn tribe - they married into the Penns. My Dad's Dad
married one of the Penn girls, and they lived in Paris, Kentucky and were
My Dad said, in Texas that he was beginning to have stomach trouble, and
he wanted to come to California where he could eat fruit. And my Mother
said, Yeah he just had stomach trouble to come to California, and that was
all. But anyway, he come out to California, and he had a - bought a 20
acre orange grove. He had all the fruit he wanted. Then, they came to
Imperial Valley from the orange grove and went to raising cotton and sheep
here in Imperial Valley.
(inaudible, something about staying a year so nobody could say they
didn't like it there.)
And that's when he bought the orange grove. The first time he come out
here, he bought 5 acres down on Grand, and then Claude stayed out here.
Funeral remarks by family members.
Arnold C. Ashurst:
We are here to remember a remarkable man, my father, Earl Ashurst.
Throughout his working life, he was honest, hard-working, and fair in all
his dealings. It seemed as though he would rather that the other fellow
got the advantage, if there was one. I think there was no one on this
Earth he owed anything to. So I would like to think of the good times we
had when he was younger and healthier. He was a farmer and loved to see
crops growing, liked the freedom of the life, and was always interested in
his and his neighbors' success in growing. He loved fishing, hunting,
camping with his grandsons, and visiting with his granddaughters. As he
had grown up with horses, he liked to ride and was good at it. My
grandfather, Joseph William Ashurst, married Alice Cochran Sparks in
Kentucky, and they brought sheep and breeding horses to Texas where there
was open range for a few more years. They settled near Abilene, near
Spring Creek, later moving west near Brownwood. Their children, including
Earl, were born there, and they prospered with sheep, cattle, horses, and
cotton. There was drouth in 1910, causing Grandad to move the cattle, and
later the sheep north to the higher pan-handle country where there was
pasture. That Fall, after selling the livestock, they boarded the Orient
Railroad for Los Angeles. Grandad bought a 5 acre orange grove and tried
some cotton in San Juaquin Valley, until 1912, when most of the family,
including Earl, went back to Texas. In 1914, after selling their
property, they moved to California for good, and Grandad bought a 10 acre
orange grove in Pomona. Earl worked around Pomona area, with the good
team of horses he owned, and met my mother, Othelia. They were married in
1916, and moved to Strathmore, where Earl farmed. Their first son, Earl
William, was born there, and later they moved to Delano where their
second, and last, child was born (Arnold C. who is relating this
account). My Grandfather was farming, and in the bee business near
Brawley by then, and as Earl thought the well water was being depleted
there in Kern County, he brought the family and a herd of sheep to
Imperial Valley in 1928, and stayed the rest of his life.
The following is by James Ashurst, his Grandson:
...Grandfather, but he was also... to me he represented the link with the
past. He was a contact with the time that has disappeared, or is rapidly
disappearing, and with a set of values that went along with that time.
And this was quite important to me. I used to try to get him to tell me
about those early days and the things that helped to form him the way he
was. He grew up on a ranch in West Texas, with his family. They were
quite self-sufficient out there - they lived a long ways from town, and
they had to rely largely on their own resources. They didn't have many of
the conveniences we have now days. The shopping wasn't close by. There
wasn't any doctor within 30 miles, and of course, in those days, with
their transportation consisting of either traveling by horseback or by
buckboard, that was a considerable trip. They had a good, strong
community in that area, even though it was quite thinly strung. There
were people lived a long ways apart on various ranches. The ranch they
lived on consisted of 5 sections, or 5 square miles. But the people there
were supportive of each other. And they would help each other a lot, and
they were dependable. They, quite often, if someone was heading into town
and they would pass by the ranch, they would do little chores for each
other, and sometimes they would save money up that needed to be deposited
in the bank, and they didn't figure they'd be heading into town to go to
the bank any time soon, so they would send that money with a neighbor, if
a neighbor happened to be passing by. And at times they trusted their
neighbors with thousands of dollars, which was a considerable sum of money
in those days. But they never lost any money doing that. The money
always made its way to the bank, and the people were supportive and
He attended school in the one room school house there on the ranch. His
father built the school house and hired the school teacher, and the
school basically consisted of his family. At times there were other
families that had kids they send to that school if they lived in the area,
with kids. Basically, it was a school that was set up for their family.
The school teacher lived with them, and was part of their family. And I'd
imagine that would make it rather difficult for him to cut up very much
the way kids like to do in school. It couldn't have been very practical
to cut classes or got very far out of line knowing that very evening their
school teacher would be taking their meals with their parents. The church
that they attended every Sunday was a community, non-denominational
church, and it was a little over an hour's ride by buckboard, to the
church house. People took turns preaching there. As often as not his
father was the preacher. His father was considered to be kind of a
part-time preacher, but at times they also had circuit preachers, who
would be traveling through the area. These were people who would travel
into an area and preach for a Sunday, or maybe two Sundays, and then
they'd travel on to another community. With that sort of variety, with
people who came from all kinds of religious backgrounds, and different
preachers there was bound to be conflicts from time to time, and he told
the story of one time in particular, when a traveling preacher got up and
was preaching a sermon and made some statement about baptism, that maybe
reflected his own opinion. One of the ladies in the congregation had
pretty strong opinions on the subject herself, and jumped up and pointed
her finger at him, and told him, "That's a d--- lie!". I think that was
probably pretty entertaining to those young cowboys.
He learned responsibility at an early age, living on the ranch. He
learned how to work very early. The chores were shared by all the members
of the family. When they had a drought one year and they had to move all
their livestock - they'd leased some pasture up in the Texas Panhandle and
moved all their sheep up there. Then the rest of the family returned home
to the ranch and left him by himself to look after that herd of sheep for
a couple fo weeks. He was about 13 years of age at the time, so this was
a considerable responsibility for boy of that age. He was not only
responsible for his own well-being and sustenance, but for the well-being
of those sheep, which represented a substantial part of the family fortune
at the time. There was a family that he knew, in the neighborhood -
living in the area, but he took his meals with them at times, but he was
basically on his own.
When they decided to move to California, he decided that he didn't want to
go. He decided that everything a young man would want was there in Texas,
and so he determined to run away, and he hatched a plan to do so, that
involved a friend of his, and the friend was going to
come to the railroad depot the day they were scheduled to leave, and he
was going to bring an extra pony with him. And just as the train was
about to pull out, he was going to jump off and get on that pony, and they
were going to gallop away. And they felt that the rest of the family
wouldn't have time to try to run him down, because they had a train they
had to catch. But the plan didn't come to fruition, because his friend
didn't show up. So he ended up in California, in spite of his efforts,
and that may be how some of us ended up to be here, too.
He worked a wide variety of jobs and did a lot of different things in his
younger days, before he was settled in to owning his own farms. One time
when he was staying with his brother, Brooks, in East Texas, for a period
of time, he got a job working on construction, on a bridge. He was
working for salary, but most of the other men working on that job were a
prison labor force - they were a chain gang. So in the evenings, they
would be put in their manacles and taken back to prison, and he would
simply go home.
He worked as a goat herder for a period of time, in the Pomona area, in
California. He herded goats up on the Forest Service land, on the
fire-breaks, to keep the vegetation down in those fire breaks. And while
he was doing this, he stumbled on a mystery that, as far as we know has
remained unsolved every since. He had a dog named Taft (named after a
President of the United States) and him and his dog were up herding goats
one day, and they came upon an old abandoned shack, and laid down to rest
beside that shack. And the dog started to kind of digging under it,
whining. So he took a look under the shack, and he found a man's leg.
So, of course, he notified the Sheriff. But that was all that was ever
found, was the leg, and nobody ever found out who it belonged to, or what
happened to the rest of the body, or anything. And as far as I know, it's
still a mystery.
He had good times and he had bad times, and I believe, probably, about the
lowest time of his life was during the depression. At that time he owned
a herd of sheep, and he brought them down to the Imperial Valley, and he
leased some pasture land, to raise them out on. And he found that he
could not sell those sheep for as much as he owed on the pasture bill.
And he had shorn them and had the wool stored, and he found that he
couldn't sell that wool for as much as the storage fee at the warehouse.
So he was hopelessly in debt, and he lost most of what he had. And he had
been brought up to believe that a man could succeed by hard work and by
being thrifty, and by being honest, and he found that this wasn't working
anymore. That by working hard, he was only getting himself in deeper.
And it caused him a considerable amount of mental agony, I suppose. And
when he was telling me about this a year or two ago, it was - he was
visibly shaken, even just recalling it, even though it's been 50 years or
more. But he stayed with his values, and he kept on working hard, and was
thrifty and was honest all his life. And this started paying off from
that point, and every since then, I think he was - steadily improved his
lot, until eventually he prospered pretty well.
He always treated us Grandkids good. In fact, I think he may have spoiled
us at times, more than he should have. But I don't think I ever heard him
say anything bad about any of us, or to any of us. It was a lot of times
we probably deserved to be read out a little, but he never would do it.
He was always - treated us wonderfully. Us kids from California (Utah)
used to come down here during the summer to visit Grandma and Grandpa, and
he always treated us to a real good time. He used to take us to San Diego
at least once a year, and we'd go over there to the zoo and various
things, and see all the sights in San Diego. And he went to quite a bit
of trouble to do these things for us. And, of course, then we'd go back
to Utah, and a lot the kids that stayed up there had not done much in the
summer, so some people considered that we were pretty cosmopolitan and had
been aorund a lot.
We used to love to have him come up to Utah to hunt with us. He like to
go up there and spend a little time camping out in the mountains with us,
and with companionship and all. The hunting seemed to be just kind of a
side-light. He didn't really seem to care whether he got a deer or not
that much, it was just mostly the idea of coming up and participating in
it with us. There was one year, we was up there and he hunted a little,
and then he kind of decided not to take it too seriously, and he'd
returned to camp and was doing some of the camp chores. He had the
coleman stove going, and was washing dishes and what not, by himself. He
looked and saw a deer on a hill just outside of camp, just looking down on
him, washing. And his gun was off in one corner of camp, and his bullets
was put away, and he didn't even try to take a shot at it. He just kind
of watched the deer, and the deer watched him until they both seen all
they wanted to see.
He never in his adult life attended church very much, or if he did, I
don't know what church it would be. He never talked much about what his
religious beliefs were, or what denomination he was, if any. Church
didn't seem to play an important role in his life, as an adult. And yet,
at the same time, he was an extremely moral man. He had the highest of
moral statures. He was absolutely honest in everything he did. He didn't
seem to be capable of lieing to anyone, about anything. He was easily a
patient man. He was thrifty, and he believed in hard work. He believed
strongly, that a man should work hard to make his own way in the World.
He believed in paying all his debts. And if he had what HE considered to
be a debt to someone, he would arrange, one way or another, to even
accounts. It may take him decades to do so, but he would do it in the
end. He was a charitable man, after his own fashion, but he didn't like
open charities, or charities with a lot of show. He preferred, if he was
going to give someone something, to do it quietly and under the table, and
with as little fanfare as possible.
He had a strong sense of humor, and he had a dry, slow way of talking,
presenting stories, but he liked to always put a little, clever twist to
it. He had a dry sense of humor that was really enjoyable to be around.
It made his stories something that we always liked to hear.
So, I think that to me, he was more than my Grandfather, I like to think
he was also my friend.