Halfmoon's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue May 02, 2017 7:59 pm

Well...I thought I posted here yesterday, but it vaporized. I didn't realize the degree of my addiction to this site until it was gone. :shock:

@7Wb5 & GeorgeTOO: I've been reading Possum Living (in between obsessively checking the forum for signs of life). I found it somewhat childlike at first, but then it roped me in. Thank you!

So now for some more story-telling...

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Tue May 02, 2017 8:54 pm

THE RETIREMENT YEARS

WINTER GAMES:

As I mentioned before, we didn’t retire in order to go fishing, travel the world or lounge on the beach. We just wanted more time to work on our own projects. I liked to call it Empire Building. Three seasons of the year, we worked our tails off because we were weird that way. Winter, on the other hand…

After the first year of interior finishing, we generally didn’t do much work during the winter. There were always standard maintenance tasks: splitting and restocking firewood, keeping the stove going, cooking and baking, melting snow (before we had a well), clearing the driveway with our homemade drag plow, cleaning the solar panels and shoveling snow off of things that couldn’t take the weight. We learned this lesson after our fiberglass greenhouse collapsed. Fiberglass isn't very good at bouncing back from adversity. ;)

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The rest of our energy was mostly taken up with cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or just hiking, dependent on the snow depth and quality. We’d usually take backpacks so we could remove our skis and lash them to the packs when we hit rough going or crossed sunny hillsides where the snow was sometimes melted. Trying to descend into a ravine, cross a creek, then climb up the other side through fallen logs and brush – all while wearing skis – is not fun. Those were minor obstacles, though. When the snow was deep and sparkling, when could see all the way to Canada without sight or sound of other humans, life was good.

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Sometimes we’d stop on a snow-free south slope, make a fire, and have a hot drink or soup. We also carried Snickers bars in our packs because one of us (me) would invariably start whining that exhaustion and starvation were imminent if sugar and chocolate weren’t administered.

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After returning home, we’d eat ridiculous quantities of food and collapse with a book by the fire. Tough life. :D Winter was pretty much our vacation time.

Every few weeks or so, we went to town. This was generally an epic event that involved driving our 4WD van with heavy-duty chains on all 4 tires down the mountain, removing the chains, driving to town for supplies (and sometimes laundry), then putting the chains back on to grind our way back up the mountain. These tire chains were nothing like the cute little things you put on your car. They were more like logging chains, heavy and cleated. Putting them on took about half an hour of working together; removing them maybe about 15 minutes. We needed chains even more in spring when the snow began to melt during the day and freeze up at night, bringing the sheer drop-offs into acute focus as we crawled down the mountain. No guardrails* on this road.

*DH refers to guardrails as ‘interfering with natural selection’.

Sometimes we walked to the nearest tiny town instead. The trip was 7 miles each way, and the town offered a post office and a little general store complete with pay phone (if you’re under 25, you may need to look this up). ;) They also sold beer, which presents a dilemma when you’re carrying everything in a pack. Just how badly do you want that beer? How often are you going to stop on the way back to “lighten the load”? :lol:

One year, when I had caved in to begging and actually agreed to take on a long-distance accounting client, I needed to pick up some time-constrained paperwork at the post office. For some reason we couldn’t make the drive that day, so DH skied down the first 4 miles to pavement, ditched his skis, walked 3 miles to the post office, then 3 miles back to his skis and 4 miles back up the hill. He made the deadline for me, but he was pretty tired. I couldn’t have kept up with that pace (too much terror on the steep downhill; too much whining on the steep uphill), so I stayed home with the dogs.

Another winter entertainment was feeding wildlife so we could spy on them. We knew a butcher in town who would give us beef tallow for free with the understanding that we weren’t going to eat it ourselves (hear that, brute?). We would fasten big chunks of it onto trees or posts, then have a ball watching the woodpeckers and weasels feast. The weasels would always try to pull the whole chunk off and abscond with it. Unfortunately, I only seem to have a photo of a weasel’s tail. I fail at photos.

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m741
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by m741 » Tue May 02, 2017 11:12 pm

I think this is my favorite journal right now. I love hearing your story!

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Farm_or » Wed May 03, 2017 8:23 am

Great stories.

I tried to learn xc skiing for a couple of years. Well meaning advice from freinds told me that I merely needed a winter hobby to cope with seasonal affected disorder. It turned out that I only needed vitamin d supplements, but that is another story.

I did a fair amount of snow shoeing too, but I really liked the xc skiing. Until I came upon significant downhills - because that always meant crashing to a stop. I even paid for lessons and they tried to teach me to plow. At least I could slow down some before crashing to a stop. Never knew that I was flexible enough to end up with arms and legs in those various positions and angles!

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed May 03, 2017 5:51 pm

@m741, thank you! As long as someone enjoys hearing it, I'll keep telling it. :D

@Farm_or, I feel your pain. DH was an accomplished downhill skier when we met, so he had no trouble coming to a graceful side-jumping, snow-throwing stop on cross-country skis. I, on the other hand, am an accomplished klutz. Seriously. If there's a bizarre way to hurt oneself doing pretty much anything, I'm the star. DH relished the steep downhill runs, whereas I would constantly try to slow down instead of going with the flow. Of course, trying to slow down invariably caused me to fall. I'm sure there's a life lesson there. ;)

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed May 03, 2017 8:32 pm

@scriptbunny, you're already on my customer list. Did I forget to inform you? :D The price of admission is reading and feedback. Getting to talk incessantly about myself to people who express actual interest is worth gold.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed May 17, 2017 10:06 am

THE RETIREMENT YEARS

THE EPIC TOWER STORY, part one:

As I mentioned earlier, our E WA property was on the north slope of a forested mountain. Since solar panels were our only source of power, we needed to find a way to raise those panels above the tree line in winter and snatch a little bit of the sun that never actually reached ground level that time of year.

And thus was born the tower obsession.*
(*Let the record show that I never actually endorsed this idea, which I deemed foolhardy. There’s no deterring a Man with a Plan, however.)

We (DH) began with planning a 40-foot high tower built with trees from our property. We already had two peeled 40-foot poles left by the former property owners, probably intended for use in building a log cabin. We identified two more standing, dying larch that needed to be removed before they rotted and dropped on our fence. We cut, peeled and measured them…oh, look! They both had at least 60 feet of solid, usable length. DH and I had been together a good 15 years at this point, so there’s no excuse for my fantasy that we would cut the 60-foot logs down to 40 feet. OF COURSE, we instead needed to find two more 60-foot logs and make the tower 20 feet higher than originally planned. :evil:

After cutting and peeling those logs, we propped them up on other logs and painted them with an oil stain. Much easier to work on the ground when possible. Then we attached 2-dimensional cross-pieces with threaded rods and stained them. I don’t know if the way I’m expressing this makes any sense, because I’m not the engineer around these parts. I’m hoping that photos will fill in the gaps.

*Edit: Lest you be unimpressed with the log length, I should clarify that these photos only include the top half of the tower-to-be. The bottom half of the logs and the bottom crosspieces are out of the picture because I couldn't figure out how to get it all in one shot. This was a project that cried for a video camera, which we didn't own. I wouldn't have had time to take video anyway, because DH has laser-sharp mental focus when we're working. No slacking.

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Before this, we installed the foundation piers. We dug wide, deep holes (because 60 feet high!) and filled them with rebar and hand-mixed concrete. If you’ve never mixed endless loads of concrete by hand in a wheelbarrow, you haven’t lived. No need to pay for a gym. An extra challenge: all four piers had to top out at exactly the same height.

In normal post-and-pier construction, the concrete piers would have rebar protruding vertically from the top. The posts would have holes drilled into them, and the rebar would fit neatly into those holes to pin the posts to the piers. Because we were dealing with unusual post height, we wanted something a little beefier than rebar. DH decided instead to sink truck axles into the concrete piers, so we drilled extra hefty holes in the base of the logs. We slathered tar onto the bottom of the logs and into the drilled holes where the axles would go.

The final step of preparation: secure a pulley and cable in a tree adjacent and parallel to the top section of the planned tower. DH climbed a larch tree next to the tower site, wrapped a chain around the tree and hooked on a snatch block threaded with steel cable. One end of the cable was chained to the flat tower side still on the ground, and the other was fastened to our 4WD van parked on the driveway downhill from the tower site. The base of each tower support for this first half was propped at the edge of a protruding axle. My job would be to drive the van, pulling this half of the tower to a vertical position so the drilled holes could theoretically slip onto the axles and pin themselves neatly.

DH also ran cables from the top of the larch to the base of nearby large trees so the weight of the tower wouldn't pull the larch over.

Preparing the first half took several days, but finally we were ready to begin erection the following morning. We sat back and admired the massive pole construction on the ground, imagining how it would look in the air just waiting for three more sides to complete its destiny. At this point, I had drunk the kool-aid and somehow believed it could happen too. ;)

At that point, a couple who lived part-time on a neighboring property came by to look at the project. The husband surveyed our preparations, listened to the plan in disbelief, then flatly proclaimed “That’s impossible.” DH shrugged it off, but that night he lay awake wondering if the neighbor was right. He had literally never considered that his dream might not be possible, but now the doubt was planted.

TO BE CONTINUED.
Last edited by halfmoon on Wed May 17, 2017 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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fiby41
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by fiby41 » Wed May 17, 2017 10:21 am

Y'all might also like to read A Different Perspective of Walden forum thread in case y'all missed it.
viewtopic.php?t=7201

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Demosthenes
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Demosthenes » Thu May 18, 2017 5:36 pm

Ahh the cliffhanger! I have no doubts that you two somehow figured out how to erect that sucker.

DW and I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts so far. Keep it up! I think a lot of us nature lovers here are vicariously living through you.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Riggerjack » Thu May 18, 2017 7:23 pm

Damn!

60 foot poles, raised by hand? You, halfmoon, have big brass balls.

For those who don't know, telephone poles generally run 30-45 feet. We share poles with power utilies at 45 feet. If it is just telecom and cable we generally place 30 foot poles. Big transmission poles (the biggest poles you generally see, with 3 widely spaced wires on insulators) are 50 feet. A 60 foot pole is going to be twice as long as a typical telephone pole, but way heavier. Poles get smaller as they go higher, so this is like a telephone pole, and the 4 times heavier pole under it. We use a crew and heavy equipment to place 30 foot poles.

So, again, Big Brass Balls. Big enough we can't see your husband beyond em!

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu May 18, 2017 9:04 pm

Demosthenes wrote:
Thu May 18, 2017 5:36 pm
Ahh the cliffhanger! I have no doubts that you two somehow figured out how to erect that sucker.
Shhh...don't leak the ending! :P

Actually, the cliffhanger results from mental fatigue; have to take it in small bites. It's challenging for me to recreate the things we did. My memory is weirdly sporadic, especially when it comes to technical details, so everything has to be run by DH. Odd thing about memory: DH can't remember our phone number or address (seriously), but he knows every detail of projects we did 20 years ago. I can't remember those details, but I can look at pretty much any item in our home and tell you at what garage sale it was purchased, for how much, what the seller's house looked like, what conversation we had...

Huh. Put that way, I think DH's memories are more valuable. Damn.
Riggerjack wrote:
Thu May 18, 2017 7:23 pm
60 foot poles, raised by hand? You, halfmoon, have big brass balls.
Is it too late to change my username to BBB? :lol:

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Thu May 25, 2017 11:22 pm

THE EPIC TOWER STORY part 2:

(*These photos are even worse than usual. They will soon improve...really. I think we acquired a new camera at some point.)

We rose at dawn after an uneasy night and prepared for the big event.

First we checked all the chains and cables, ensuring that the connections were solid. Then we drove our 4WD van downhill from the tower site and hooked the other end of the cable to the back of the van. Between the van and the logs that would eventually -- we hoped -- form one side of the tower was the snatch block that DH had chained high in a larch tree next to the tower site. Then DH drove the van slowly downhill until the cable was tight.

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My role in this drama was to drive the van after that point, despite my kicking and screaming objections. Bad things happen when I have critical duties that require acting quickly under stress (there are stories verifying this, some of which I’ll eventually tell). DH insisted that I needed to drive so he could watch the lifting progress for issues and make changes as necessary. I reluctantly took the driver’s seat, shifted into low-lock and waited for his signal.

At the wave of DH's arm, I hit the gas and began to inch downhill. The logs slowly lifted, their bases slipping along the concrete piers. DH stood by with a large crowbar and levered the log bases minutely so they lined up with the truck axles protruding from each pier. As the logs rose higher, the holes in their bases slid onto the axles just as he had envisioned.

I kept driving, terrified that the logs would fall back down and jerk me backward up the hill, smashing DH like a bug. That miraculously didn’t happen, although he told me later that the rear wheels of the van were in the air at one point! :shock:

DH finally signaled me to stop, then he secured the structure in its vertical position with additional cables he’d attached to the logs before raising. The first section of our tower was up.

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*Edited to replace the worst photo with a slightly better one that I just found.
Last edited by halfmoon on Fri May 26, 2017 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by George the original one » Fri May 26, 2017 7:44 pm

halfmoon wrote:
Thu May 25, 2017 11:22 pm
My role in this drama was to drive the van after that point, despite my kicking and screaming objections. Bad things happen when I have critical duties that require acting quickly under stress (there are stories verifying this, some of which I’ll eventually tell).
Visions of the Land Rover being hoisted up a tree, ala The Gods Must Be Crazy, run through my head. Pity you didn't have that happen as it would have made the story so much more entertaining :twisted:

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Fri May 26, 2017 9:48 pm

George the original one wrote:
Fri May 26, 2017 7:44 pm
Visions of the Land Rover being hoisted up a tree, ala The Gods Must Be Crazy, run through my head. Pity you didn't have that happen as it would have made the story so much more entertaining :twisted:
Hold your horses, George! It's possible that something (someone) does get inadvertently hoisted up a tree (tower). All in good time...

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FBeyer
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by FBeyer » Sat May 27, 2017 5:47 am

Ze Cliffhangers Heinrich!! Zey are killing meeee...

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Jason » Sat May 27, 2017 11:02 am

Looking at that Tower of Babel bullshit, I feel both a sense of extreme unworthiness and that you are simply batshit crazy. I'm guessing its a little of both.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Sat May 27, 2017 4:45 pm

FBeyer wrote:
Sat May 27, 2017 5:47 am
Ze Cliffhangers Heinrich!! Zey are killing meeee...
Blame George. I wasn't going to tease the incident until he suggested that my story wasn't entertaining enough without some gratuitous violence. :lol:
Jason wrote:
Sat May 27, 2017 11:02 am
...and that you are simply batshit crazy.
Just to clarify: my DH is batshit crazy. He was born without the "That's impossible!" voice in his head that sane people have. His voice says, "Why not? It'll be fun!" :twisted:

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Sat May 27, 2017 5:40 pm

THE EPIC TOWER STORY, part 3:

The second tower section was pretty much lather, rinse, repeat: two 60-foot poles laid parallel on the ground with four reinforcing logs laid in two X-shaped sections between. The only difference was that this section had two poles fastened near the top, perpendicular to the uprights. These would tie the two sections together and form a base for the log stringers that would support a floor at the top.

I forgot to mention that the both sections had two lateral logs near the top. These were the side supports for the floor stringers and a railing. It’s hard to describe, but I’m hoping that the photos can make it clearer.

With one win under our belts, we were more confident about lifting the second tower side. It went off without a hitch, the bases sliding neatly onto their axles and the perpendicular top logs slotting just above their lateral supports. The van even managed to keep all 4 tires on the ground! DH secured everything with multiple cables, and we felt as though we’d conquered the world. Now the scary part began.

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DH laid our tallest ladder against one tower side and climbed the ladder as far as it went. Then he struck out on his own, shimmying up a side pole until he reached the point where one of the perpendicular logs lay across its lateral support. He chained a pulley to one side and dropped a cable down to me. I hooked a bucket with tools to the cable and raised it back up to him. Balancing precariously on top of the logs, he began to drill holes and pin them together with threaded rods.

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Once DH had a log square secured at the top, I raised log stringers up so he could secure them across the square. After that came flat floorboards. We would eventually put cross-bracing on the two sides that had none, but at that point, the only thing holding those two tower halves together was the platform DH was building. It was an incredibly difficult balancing act for him, and it wasn’t accomplished in a day. I’m still amazed that he came out of it alive.*

*When I was writing this, I asked DH why he didn't wear a harness to secure himself at the top. He shrugged and said, "We didn't have one at the time." :roll:

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Jason » Sun May 28, 2017 7:37 am

When I first started looking at these pictures demonstrating the obsessive tendency (bordering on insanity) of man's desire to conquer the natural universe, I felt the stirrings of a comparison but I couldn't locate it. Until this morning.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitzcarraldo

I'm guessing for you guys watching it would just be reminiscent of a typical Saturday, but for those of us enjoying life within the grid, its a compelling cinematic experience.

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by George the original one » Sun May 28, 2017 11:39 am

Fitzcarraldo: LOL about
Herzog believed that no one had ever performed a similar feat in history, and likely never will again, calling himself "Conquistador of the Useless".

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Jason » Sun May 28, 2017 12:12 pm

I'm guessing there aren't many cinephiles on this thread but it rivals Apocalypse Now in its effort vs. absurdity and brilliance vs. indulgence quotients. And I do not intend to hijack The Wooden Tower installment of Halfmoon's thread, only to pay homage to it, as it seems well on its way to eclipsing aforementioned dualities.

halfmoon
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Sun May 28, 2017 2:50 pm

After great struggles, they successfully pull the ship over the mountain with a complex system of pulleys...
Yep; sounds like my DH. I was in the barn yesterday and counted 5 come-alongs. That's completely aside from block and tackles setups, snatch blocks and maybe a mile of cable, rope and chains. I don't plan to check if the library has this movie, because he doesn't need the encouragement. :D

Werner Herzog was also born in Munich. Maybe this is a Bavarian thing?

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Dragline
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Dragline » Sun May 28, 2017 3:41 pm

It's strikingly similar in some ways to Herzog's "Aguirre, The Wrath of God", which he made about 10 years earlier with a lower budget, and also starring Klaus Kinski. He was seemingly obsessed with the jungles of South America and the follies of adventurers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojwxrzmAkdA

And a mini-documentary about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvrTIjVB0CM

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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by halfmoon » Sun May 28, 2017 9:13 pm

@Dragline, I don't usually click on YouTube links due to data constraints, but I gave in this time. It reminded me that I'm clearly missing the Art Film gene. The last German film I saw (The Marriage of Maria Braun) was 38 years ago, and it was similarly depressing.

I also disliked Apocalypse Now (covers head and ducks).

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Dragline
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Re: Halfmoon's journal

Post by Dragline » Sun May 28, 2017 9:50 pm

AN was highly derivative, despite the good acting. If you are going to watch Brando, I'd go with "On the Waterfront" any day over the later stuff. "I coulda been a contenda"

And the madness leader genre is best represented by Conrad's original book, Heart of Darkness.

Sometimes I think "Office Space" and "Agueire" are actually the same movie, though.

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