Category Archives: Lewis projects


We built a composter a couple of years ago. I finally made a good batch of compost this year!

I say this as if I won the lottery because even though I followed directions I found in books and on the net, I ended up with the wrong combination of ingredients and ended up dumping it out (holding my nose) and washing out the inside of the composter with a hose.

I’ve finally learned to add a whole lot more yard waste and much less food waste in order to come up with something that I hope will be a good addition to the composts for the square foot garden.

I cleaned it out today because I don’t want to leave it in there for the winter. In the picture above, you can see that we used a plastic food container type barrel we bought from the hardware store. We poured a concrete pad for the composter to sit on, with stakes coming up out of the concrete. We pounded the legs onto the stakes to make a good, sturdy support for the composter. We cut the opening in the front, making it so it opens wide enough to put new items in easily or use the tool my husband made for scooping the compost out. The barrel is on rollers. We attached handles on three spots around the barrel so you can pull the barrel, rolling it over and mixing the ingredients inside. This way you can be sure everything is mixed well.

This is the tool my husband made. It’s rounded to conform to the inside of the barrel, making emptying it really easy. It has a rubber grip, and the tool is plenty long enough to reach all areas on the inside of the barrel. The tool “lives’ on its side beside the composter.

You can see one of the three handles on the top of the composter. The metal ‘wand’ keeps the latches shut and the door firmly closed. My husband made the handle for it on the mill. The end slides through the parts of the latches, or pulls out if you’re opening it up. The end also helps pry the ends of the latches up.

After cleaning out the composter today, the trash can under it is a little over 1/3 full. We can mix up Mel’s Mix behind the shop, and then wheelbarrow some out to add our own compost to the mix next spring.

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Filed under Lewis projects, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

So Lucky

Williams Sonoma Raised Bed Planter – $179.00 plus shipping.

This is typical of what is called a “raised bed planter.”  It’s wonderful because you don’t have to worry about building up your soil or heavy duty weeding as you do in typical gardens. You can grow a good amount in a much smaller space, and it’s up from the ground. This is a nicely made one offered by Williams Sonoma.

When we first started square foot garden, this is what we did. We had two rows of raised bed planting areas –  The thing is, I still had to either bend over double to plant, weed, and harvest things from this. It was good, but it didn’t go far enough.  I’m old and I can’t do a lot of kneeling or bending over double anymore.


We decided, when the wood was beginning to deteriorate, that we could do better.


When we decided to break down what we had and redo it, we made metal table-like supports for boxes to ‘sit’ in. They are at about chest level on me, comfortable to stand up and be able to reach any side of the boxes with an easy reach. I have six 4’x4’x8″ wooden boxes on my supports, with hoses stretched down each row of three boxes for automatic timed irrigation. I can spray weed killer under the boxes or around the perimeter of the whole garden without bothering my veggies.

I stretch string across the wooden boxes to create 1 foot planting areas. Then I can plant according to the advice of Mel (the square foot gardening expert), either one plant in a square (cauliflower, broccoli, etc.), 4 plants in a square (lettuce, spinach, etc.), 9 plants in a square (carrots), or 16 plants in a square (radishes.)

I can plant standing up or sitting on a tall stool. I can pull weeds or harvest without kneeling or bending over double. The Mel’s Mix (peat moss, vermiculite, and as many different kinds of compost as you can find) has all the nutrients needed for the plants, replenished when you harvest all of a plant when you add a bit more. The soil’s consistency is such that pulling weeds is easy. The planting plan makes it easy for a beginning gardener like me to see what is a ‘good plant ‘vs a ‘weed.’

I’m really lucky that my husband spoils me rotten, figuring out how to tackle things like building the square foot garden in the first place, then improving it when we needed to pull up what we had done after several years. We also built the new greenhouse recently so that I can hopefully grow my own transplants, rather than having to depend on what is sold in stores locally. I’m hoping I can get a jump on the spring season, plus have more transplants growing in the greenhouse, ready to plant in the garden at the proper time.

Trying to grow some of our own veggies, plus flowers around the yard, is one of my favorite things. There is never enough time or energy – or cooperating weather – to do all I’d like to do. :0)

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Filed under Arkansas, Challenges, Changes, Greenwood, Lewis projects, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Greenhouse Repair

This picture shows you the break in the pvc pipe rib for the greenhouse.


My husband drilled into the wood uprights on either side of the louvered fan and attached guy wires to the wood.


He used a cement drill to drill a hole in the ground at the proper angle for the guy wires, ran the wire around the stake (held in place by a hose clamp.

This picture shows you the completed guy wire fix for the end of the greenhouse.  It’s nice and sturdy now, thank goodness.


Here’s the fix from the side.

So, thanks to my wonderful husband, things are once again in good shape. He’s definitely a keeper.

When he came in, and could man the phone, I went out and got an 8 foot brick planter cleaned out where we have two really large hydrangea plants. I cut off all the branches and disposed of them. I have 4 more planters to clean out and then I’ll put mulch in them. :0)



Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Gardening, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Lewis projects

Best Laid Plans

I was PLANNING to clean out another flower planter yesterday. My husband came in and told me we had a problem with the greenhouse. The end ‘wall’ you’re looking at in this photo had broken loose because the last pvc pipe ‘rib’ closest to the lumber had broken. The rib isn’t repairable. We would have to take the whole end of the greenhouse apart and replace the whole rib,  probably resulting in more damage.

My husband, who is really good at figuring out how to fix things, figured out that we could attach heavy wire (like that used in the guy wires for the ham radio tower) to the upright pieces of wood on either side of the louvered exhaust fan. He is outside as I type (waiting for an important phone call we’re expecting) drilling a hole some distance away from the end of the greenhouse. He’ll then pound in a metal stake with the sledge hammer. Then we’ll attach the wires with what I think are called turnbolts – metal things with rings on each end and a threaded length in between that you can turn to tighten the wire until it’s taught.


The stake and ‘guy wire’ type attachment should keep the end of the greenhouse secure. I’m not sure what he’s planning about the broken pvc pipe. Maybe we can just ignore it and rewrap the transparent liner stuff on the end carefully.

Anyhow, my best laid plans had to be set aside, once again, in order to try to fix the greenhouse – again before it is forecast to rain today…  I’m lucky to have a guy who can look at something and figure out how it works and what needs to be done to fix it. I don’t have a clue – although I’m a pretty good helper and ‘gofer.’

If I can get the yard under control for the winter, I’m planning to start moving things around in the greenhouse, getting ready for planting seeds later. I’ll post pics as I get things organized in there.

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Filed under Gardening, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Lewis projects

Fun in My Art Room

Yesterday afternoon I finished digging out the iris from the backyard planter. (I still need to make sure the planter is completely cleaned out, add more potting mix and  replant some of the iris, but I declared victory for the day.)

I rewarded myself with some time in my art room.

I’m working on some Christmas presents for my good friends from Lunch Bunch. (Shhhhh!  It’s a secret!) The time flies by while I’m up there, thinking of my friends and trying to make something I hope they’ll enjoy. I have quite a few things to make, so I’m hoping I can sneak up there a lot in the coming weeks.

I also have some refurbishing to do on some of our yard art. Our ‘box turtle”

needs an eye re-glued, plus some touch up on peeling pain on his back.


I found some orange “neon” paint. I repaint the orange on both sides of the jack-o-lantern, hoping the paint will make him pop when headlights hit him next year.


We have an 8 foot tall (with stem and leaves) metal flower attached to a power pole in the back yard. Some wasps figured out a way to get between the metal of the flower and the plastic saucer type thing we glued to the center and covered with glass beads. We think our spraying has finally at least caused the wasps to relocate, if not die outright – so we’ll bring this into the shop. I’ll remove the center piece, clean everything up, caulk the center back on and replace the glass pieces that have fallen off.

I’ll work my way around the yard, repairing things as best I can. We’re also looking to repair some other critters still in the shop so that we can attach them to the ham radio tower extra length part we stood in concrete recently.

We have a few things in the shop that need to be repaired or finished that we can hang on here, plus critters we make in the future. This will be our “Critter Tree.” :0)


Filed under Arts and Crafts - Teaching, Favorite Things, Lewis Art, Lewis Mailbox Decorations, Lewis projects, Lewis yard art


GE Pro Attic Mount Antenna

We’re pleased with our efforts to ‘cut the cord’ and not have to have DirecTV, DISH, or cable (we can’t get that). We’re learning more every day on how to make our stuff work the best way possible.

My husband read that if we added an antenna in the attic and got some software (simplified explanation of what we need to do) we can go through Roku or our PlayStation to record programs over the air or over the Internet to watch later. Since we’re old and doofus, even with lists we have trouble watching programs at the proper time, the right day, on the network we should be watching. :0)

The antenna and coax cable came in the mail today. My husband immediately put the antenna together and we went upstairs to see what we had to do to mount the antenna in the attic. We discovered an old mounting pole still up there, so that part of the project went like clockwork. My husband saw some coax cable up there, so we came down again to see if we had anything left in the living room.

There were TWO coax cables in the cabinet under the entertainment center. We’ve had trouble with mice eating our wires, so we weren’t very hopeful that we wouldn’t have to spend the rest of the day running coax from the roof, into the attic, out and down the outside of the house, and then into the house again under the entertainment area to attach to the TV.

We hooked up one of the cables and searched for channels over the air. We got NONE. (The smaller antenna on the shelf got us 10 over the air channels, but not many we actually wanted to watch.) We hooked up the second antenna and voila! we got 32 channels over the air!

This is the first project in a LONG time that cause me worry that my husband had to go up on our two story roof, sidle around in the awful under the house space, cause ME to do something scary, cause a few harsh words, hurt feelings, a LOT of time and money, etc. It was a total pleasure!

We spent some time looking at each over the air channel to identify it and make notes. We then moved the ones we wanted into our ‘favorites’ on the TV. We now get CBS, ABC, NBC, CW, PBS, CREATE (they were demonstrating how to use the world’s most expensive sewing machine to outline quilt a piece), and FOX NEWS!  The other channels were either duplicates or things we weren’t interested in. If the new hardware we have ordered and the software we’ve installed doesn’t allow us to DVR either over-the-air-channels or the Internet channels we get, I won’t be upset. We just won the lottery!

I usually think technology is a pain in the rear, but every once in a while, it’s GRAND.

ADDENDUM: We have since realized we don’t actually get Fox News yet. They broke in on the Fox channel to give an update on the horrible mass shooting in Nevada. We’ll look more to see what we need to do to get Fox News.



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Hummingbird Bird Bath Update

Today’s project was to clean the hummingbird bird bath we built at the beginning of the summer.


After looking at what I was taking out, we quickly decided that we needed to get out the pressure washer for a bunch of it. I took the more delicate stuff inside, but we cleaned the shells, the rocks, and the bricks with the pressure washer after I turned off the pump and got all the water out of the bird bath.

We built this (adapting it several times before we got it right) so that it works with a flapper valve in the bath itself. Water is added through the holes we drilled in the PVC pipe. We attached a trash can that has a toilet part that turns on the attached water hose when it senses the water level is too low. It runs until the sensor is happy and then shuts off. This keeps everything good without our having to worry about it, plus keeps us from using a lot of water.


We really enjoy the SOUND of the water. That, in combination with the wind chimes on the porch right next to the deck make a really relaxing place to stretch out, read a book, play with the dogs, cook out, etc. One thing the bird bath doesn’t do, though, is clean itself. When I started cleaning it this morning, the whole PVC pipe had black gunk on it and some of the holes were plugged. The rocks and bricks had the black stuff, too, and it was pretty gross. I spent into the afternoon, getting everything cleaned and put back together.


We had hummingbirds this year, but it wasn’t a stellar year, with the really cool spring with lots and lots of rain and cooler than average summer. Not one hummingbird got in the bird bath, so it’s a really good thing we like the ‘water feature’ aspect of it.  We decided, since the birds aren’t using it, we would add a ‘glug’ of bleach to the water to hold down the gunk some. With my luck, the birds will NOW decide that this is a neat place. I’ll have to add a “NO SWIMMING” sign…

While we had the pressure washer out, I sprayed off the upper level of the deck and cleaned a few trash cans that needed attention. I’m looking forward to getting more serious with the washer when my back is feeling cooperative. I LOVE that thing!

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Sweet Success!

Last night I helped my husband bring the ham radio cable into the house. He then did a LOT of soldering, matching up upteen pairs of wires within the cable.

Today when I was out walking Amber, he came out and said, “I told the rotor to move and it DID!”

I surreptitiously took this picture of him this morning. He’s now having the stuff sync up (whatever that means.) I guess it’s making sure all the equipment, both physical and electronic, are on the same page. Then he’ll start a scan that goes through the whole band width from lower frequency to higher, listening for someone talking.  (This will take quite awhile, so he’s playing tug of war with Amber.)

He tells me that our new tower is in the 10 meter band. He has a short antenna on the roof for locals. The new one is capable of reaching people across the world from us, given the right circumstances.

Some people spend hours and hours contacting and talking to people all over the world. I don’t expect my husband to do this – unless he changes quite a bit. He DID bring a pad of paper and a pen so he can make note of the call sign and frequency of someone he contacts, so he can reach them again. He mainly did project in case of disaster, so we can find out what’s happening around us. He also loves a challenge. It’s also fun, so I’m hoping that he’ll spend some time just idly contacting folks. We’ll see.  To me, it sounds like one of the old Flash Gordon movies with Buster Crabbe about a million years ago.

The big thing is, after months of work, it finally is working as it’s supposed to.

Mark one big project on our list DONE.

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Ham Radio Tower Pictures

The two guys came up the driveway on the cherry picker, leaving the truck and trailer on the street in front of our property.

They had tricky negotiating of the cherry picker to get across the back yard and into the pasture area on the east side of the house close to the greenhouse.

You can see he had to go between the trio of evergreens (which we cut back severely) and the brick planter with iris in the planter and a metal bird flying on top.

One of the hardest parts of the job was getting into position to push the tower up. It took a lot of doing, with the cherry picker not cooperating at times, but he finally managed to put the edge of the basket (with him in it) right under the tower just past the antenna.

I don’t usually think much of tattoos – and particularly ‘sleeve’ tattoos – but this guy made me rethink the issue. He has arms that won’t quit with lots of muscles. Hey, I may be old, but I ain’t dead yet! :0)

They got the edge of the basket right under the tower and proceeded to slowly move away from the top, move the basket to stay under the tower, then move some more…

Here we’re about half way up. Each time they moved, they ran the risk of shoving the tower out of position. It could have been ripped from the iron plate that held one side to the concrete pad, but these guys are amazing.

It came up inches at a time while one of the guys and my husband tried to get it into position where my husband could attach the last bolt to hold the tower on the pad.

And the tower is bolted down! My husband immediately went through the barbed wire fence to secure the hardest guy wire to reach, and then the 2 others.

Here’s one of the guy wires. We have three, each 30 feet from the base, tied down securely, plus our dog, Molly, checking things out.

This is a close up of the tie downs on the guy wires.  I then put surveyor’s tape by the stake, where the tie down is finished, and then as far up as I could reach on the guy wire so we can readily see them when we try to mow or weed whack. I’ll also re-spray the actual stakes with neon paint so they show up clearly.

This is the base of the tower with the last bolt in. Technically, we could get our cherry picker guys back if we needed to take the tower down for repairs or any other reason, but I hope we never do.

My husband is out now, figuring out how to support the two cable runs that go from the tower to the house – one for the rotor and the other for the antenna. I just helped him tape the cables to the first support. He ran the cables through heavy plastic tubing around each cable, then taped to a metal support pole. He’s going to make another support from angle iron to be attached to a telephone pole, and then may need one more before the cables come to the house. This part seems easy, compared to all that has gone before and the actual pushing up of the tower!


Filed under Lewis projects

It’s Up! We Did it!

This isn’t OUR tower, but I wanted to share our jubilation that our tower is FINALLY up. (Pictures to follow as soon as the camera battery charges up again. )

We were afraid we would get yet another phone call this morning that the guys wouldn’t be able to come help us erect the ham radio tower that has been propped up by a jack and a large step stool for a couple of months or more now. As we were working in the office, we heard a large engine noise. It was a cherry picker!

They had a bit of trouble getting through the back yard and into the area to the east of the house where the greenhouse and the tower are. Then the cherry picker wasn’t happy with the lack of level ground, sounding an alarm and refusing to let one of the guys lower the basket he was in. They finally inched it over, working with it until it was finally workable again. They had to try several positions before they could actually get the edge of the basket under the tower just below the antenna in order to slowly push the tower up.

They couldn’t get any closer to the antenna without messing it up. (We had to put the wires on while it was on the ground. They had to be a certain length in order to get the right frequency. And the two sets of wires on the antenna weren’t the same length! I have no clue why it’s that way. We propped the whole tower up, moving it up inch by inch so that we could get it up high enough that my husband could run tests to be sure the antenna was working correctly.) That could have been undone in a second by the tower erection guys.

We had a couple of dicey times, where we all held our breaths, but they got it up. They held it in place while my husband put the last bolt into the plate that attached to the iron beneath the concrete pad. He then had to climb through the barbed wire fence to run the hardest of the guy wires. There were a total of three, and we got those tied down.

The wonderful guys left and we spent the next half hour taking things back to the shop. We still need to run the big wires that go from the rotor to the house and the one that goes from the antenna to the house, but the hardest part of the project is DONE!


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We had our fingers – and all other appendages – crossed that today would be the day we finally got the ham radio tower erected. Our hopes were just dashed with a phone call. They’ll try to get here tomorrow morning now…


My husband has wanted a good ham radio tower for several years now. We lucked out, finding a ham guy who had an old 45 foot tower for sale, plus the controller for less than the price of the controller itself. We hauled it home in pieces.


My husband repaired parts of it, got the controller going, researched how to do the antenna (different lengths of wire between the arms yield different band widths). We brought each of the 4 ten foot sections, plus the finished antenna, out to the far east side of our property, close to the greenhouse.  He and I worked and worked to get the tower jacked up high enough to get the antenna attached so that he could test it to make sure that we were getting the band width he wanted BEFORE we pay to erect the tower. (We really don’t want to EVER have to lower it down and then pull it up again.)


We drilled, dug, backhoed, then did it all again until we finally got a hole approximately 3 feet on a side and 18″ deep. It took 33 bags of Sac-Crete to fill it up. (Thanks to our friends, the Taylors, for bringing a portable cement mixer and vibrator to help us make and pour the concrete for the pad. My husband made a heavy iron plate we sunk into the concrete, and then another heavy iron plate he attached to the bottom of the tower. One end of the plate is bolted to the one in the concrete. When the tower goes up, we’ll attach the third bolt to hold the tower steady.


We have three guy wires attached to the tower, ready to be tied to stakes we laboriously drilled holes for and then used a sledge hammer to pound into the ground. We have special attachment thingies to hold the guy wires to the stakes. Each stake is 30 feet from the base of the tower in prescribed places to make the tower as secure as possible.


We were really hoping to finish this part of the project today, but this is yet another one of the character-building exercises we’ve endured lately. We’ve waited several months, having trouble finding a company who could get their equipment up and into the part of the yard where we need them, and who gave us an estimate we could afford. We wanted to be super sure that there would be no problems, no accidents, no worries. Maybe tomorrow will be the day.

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Thing Two – Tower for Critters

We had an extra section of tower when we got the parts for our ham radio tower awhile back. My husband had put it in the pile of stuff we would take to the next city clean-up. I suggested we use it to display some of the critters we make.

My husband made a form recently and dug the hole a couple of days ago. Yesterday we got 4 bags of Ready-Crete, mixed them up and poured the concrete for the tower. This pic shows the project before we started mixing the concrete.


Here’s a close-up of the hold before the concrete was poured.

We plan to attach things like shovel birds, dragonflies, and other weird things we make to the tower at various points. The tower is beside our ‘watermelon’ propane tank and will greet people when they get to the top of our driveway.

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Filed under Lewis Art, Lewis projects, Lewis yard art

Ham Radio Tower Project

We have had to put off erecting the 45 foot ham radio tower we put together for a month or so, due to nearly constant rain here in Arkansas. I’m NOT complaining – certainly not in the face of what the good people of Texas and Louisiana are currently going through. We’re on top of a ridge line and this has just been a minor annoyance, at best.


We have contacted various people, trying to get this thing standing up and then tied down into place. One company said they couldn’t get their equipment up the hill or through the relatively small space between trees, the house, and the place where the tower is. Many companies didn’t even return our calls.  We have a friend who did a lot of brush hogging for us, who thought he might be able to help. We also thought of the man who uses a tractor with a front loader on it who might be able to help, but my husband is worried that the tower could be hurt with those, or that the tower might end up on my greenhouse.

We called a new company yesterday, now that our land is relatively dry. The remnants of hurricane/tropical storm Harvey are forecast to go to central and eastern Arkansas, missing us. This company is supposed to call us and come out today to give us an estimate. Fingers crossed we can finally schedule the tower to go up.


The angle of this picture almost make it look like the tower is on top of the greenhouse. It’s closer than I would like, but once it’s up and bolted down onto the concrete pad, and guy wires attached in three places in the ground, it should be as secure as anything can be. Here’s hoping that the new company can, and is willing to, help us, that we can afford it, and that it can be done soon.


Filed under Lewis projects


We’re always working on something, but lately we just have TOO MANY PROJECTS going on at the same time –

  • We hurried to get our quarterly blood tests this morning and get back again, trying to meet the man who is going to shore up our back porch ceiling after we stopped a rain leak. He wasn’t here and hadn’t called when we got home, so I called him. We’re on the list for today, but he was at another job and his wife couldn’t tell me when he would be here. That means we’ll have to wait until he comes and goes again before we can do our errands –
  • We have a call in to the man who uses a tractor with a front loader attachment to drive up and down our driveway, smoothing things out as much as possible from time to time. We want to ask him if he will use the tractor to help us stand up the ham radio tower. The people we called before didn’t come and didn’t call, so we’re hoping that Eric will be willing to help us. If so, we’ll also have him fix the driveway so he’ll make enough money for his time.
  • We wanted motion detector flood lights attached to the shop. In order to do this, I had to climb the ladder on the outside of the shop and hold the fixture steady while my husband attached it from inside the shop, also up on a ladder. I’m ‘height challenged – both in shortness AND being afraid of heights, so it was all I could do to go almost to the top of the ladder to hold the fixture. I had to go up fast, too, because my husband had shoved the screw through the fixture, but that loose screw was ALL that was holding up the fixture. We got that done, and in the next day or two my husband finished the wiring. ONE PROJECT FINISHED!
  • We’ve been working for a couple of weeks to install a 4-camera security system. We got a cheap one, knowing we would have to run wires for it. This turned out to be a bigger deal than we had imagined, with a lot of hair pulling and hard work to get it done. Now my husband is trying to (1) get the sensitivity level decreases so it doesn’t think bugs flying are intruders; and (2) figure out how we can get the pictures to show up on his computer, rather than on a screen down in the basement.
  • Our brains for our irrigation system suddenly died.  We’ve been really busy, plus we’ve been getting rain, so we didn’t notice it until we had lost a couple of plants. We ordered another one. My husband programmed it, but neglected to specify what day it was today, and had a.m. instead of p.m., so it took a couple of days to be sure it was turning on when it was supposed to and was watering for the correct amount of time, plus that the second side started up when the first side finished. SECOND PROJECT FINISHED.
  • We’re spraying KILLSALL on our weed trees and other overgrown areas to try to get things under control. We can actually SEE that the weeds are wilting, so our efforts are not a waste of time. My husband said last night that if I would mix up a batch, he would lug the 2 gallon sprayer around, since my back has been giving me fits lately.
  • We’re trying to cut the cord and get rid of DISH TV.  To this end we bought some stuff, researched a lot, and things are finally starting to come together. We have managed to get most of the channels we want now. Our viewing habits will need to change, since most of the stuff is now streaming, rather than taped. We had bought a TiVO, thinking we could get a bunch of networks over the air. It turned out that the reception isn’t great, even though we have a good antenna. We found a combination of ROKU plus paying for CBS All Access, plus paying for HBO will get us almost all of the channels we’re used to getting. Instead of paying $92/month for DISH, we’ll be paying $25/month.  We can also sell the TiVo, since we don’t need it, and go to either streaming only or cancel our subscription to NetFlix.
  • We have other projects – like training the new puppy – but these are the main ones right now. Since we’re working on everything simultaneously, we’re as crazy as bedbugs around here!

I hope YOUR life is full and fun – but not as crazy as ours.

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Filed under Attitude, Lewis projects

Custom Air Tool Holder

I don’t want him to get a big head, but my husband is really creative and handy.

We have bought air tools over the years we use with our air compressor in the shop. He saw an air tool holder in a catalog. He thought it was pretty neat, but it only held 6 tools. We have 10 and may get more before we croak, so he decided he would build a custom air tool holder for us.

He hung it from the shop rafters, so it’s good and sturdy. He measured out where the holes for the tools to hang in needed to go so each would hang straight, not bumping into one another. He made the hanger out of metal tubing we had on hand plus angle iron. He painted the holder with truck bed paint so it won’t rust.

This is a little different view and shows the connection to the rafters better.

And he planned for growth, allowing us to hang 4 more air tools if we would like.


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And We Pronounce It Finished!


We just hung up the Sun/Moon Metal Wall Hanging, pronouncing it finally, “Finished.”


It’s about 4 feet across by 2-1/2 feet high. The moon is a separate piece.

We hung it in our office, over my computer area. I learned a lot doing this piece, and look forward to doing more air brush work.


Filed under Lewis Art, Lewis projects, metal art

4th Time is the Charm?


This is the wall hanging we’re trying to make.

Yesterday I scraped off all the yellow my husband insisted we add. I’m going to paint those parts either black or the background color. When those dry, I told my husband we could add a BIT of yellow to some of the sun flame ends. Hopefully, we can agree this time that the piece is officially finished.

One really nice thing – my husband decided that instead of being forced to buy cans of compressed air to hook to the air brush, he would run a line from our air compressor over to my art table! He spent most of the day on the project yesterday, after we went to Yeagers and bought 30 feet of pvc pipe, some attachments, etc.  He had ordered a regulator from the net, plus 6 feet of hose, plus a DVD on how we are supposed to be using the air brush. We need to get another adaptor at Yeagers today, but the project is almost done!

Please wish us luck?


Filed under Challenges, Lewis Art, Lewis projects, metal art

Ham Radio Tower Update

We’re cleaning up here, almost ready for the tower to be lifted into place and then tied down.


We painted the stakes with Day-Glo Neon Bright Orange paint so they can be seen and avoided from a distance. We tie the guy wires to 3 stakes, each 30 feet away from the tower.


They show up well now, don’t they?


My husband used the chain saw to cut a ‘tunnel’ through heavy briars and trees and other greenery to make a 30 foot long path. He then drilled an 18″ hole and then used the sledge hammer to pound the stake in.


This was hot, heavy, exhausting work, but there was no way around it. The stakes have to be 30 feet from the pad and 45 degrees from each of the other stakes.


The Holmes Erection people were supposed to come Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. No calls, no one came. My husband called them again a few minutes ago. He was transferred to someone who said, “What about we come right now?” My husband said, “GREAT!” and they’re on their way.

He still has to install hardware on each of the stakes to hold the guy wires, but we’re ready other than that. Hopefully we can get this tower up and tied down securely in the next couple of days.

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Chain Sawing a Path

My husband just came in from trying to chain saw a path from the ham radio tower pad through the woods 30 feet to where he wants to drill a hole through the rocky ground and sledge hammer a guy wire stake.

He said he has to rebuild the chain saw before he can do any more, but ALMOST got as far as he needed to. He is, of course, super hot and exhausted, but he’s resting and drinking fluids. When he has rested, he’ll go up and take a shower, then come down and hopefully rest some more.

The people from Holmes Erection Company in Fort Smith are supposed to call and come this morning to look at what we need to do and where, and give us a cost for the job. Hopefully, this will all work out, because it’s the safest way to stand the tower up and hold it in place while we bolt the end of the base to the metal center of the pad and attach guy wires to the three stakes in the ground.

We’re nearing the end of this project, and the start of what I hope will be some fun for my husband. This is one of his long-time ‘wants.’ We lucked into the 45 foot tower, antenna, rotator and control box, getting the whole package for less than we would have paid normally for the control box alone.

So – the next step is to fix the chain saw and hope the people call and come today to give us an estimate.

We have four 10 foot sections of tower that look similar to this. On the top we have a humongous antenna, called a ‘quad’ type, a square of metal, fiberglass, and two rounds of wire at two different lengths for two different purposes.

I will be out there trying to get pics of the tower going up if these people will do the job for us. Soon now!

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Hooray! It’s Sprinkling!!!

Daily Express

We’re having a wonderful afternoon.

First, it rained overnight and it’s sprinkling again now. We’re thankful for every drop.

My husband is on the driveway pad working on drilling holes in the antenna spokes for the ham radio tower and running a new length of wire around it. He says the sprinkling rain feels super good. :0)

I just came in from doing three things:

Thing One: 

I harvested two of my first-ever spaghetti squash!


When I bought one from the store, I washed the seeds and dried them. This spring I planted a couple of seeds in the house in small pots just to see if they would sprout. Not only did they sprout, they did well enough I transferred the plants into my raised bed square foot garden. The plants continued to do well, making yellow blooms and vines. As the other things in the garden came out, I just let the vines go where they wanted to in the squares. I harvested these two today. They’re almost as large as the ones I buy at the store. I have at least three more in the garden, and this was from TWO seeds!  I also got a handful of ripe grape tomatoes to add to my stash. :0)

Thing Two:

My husband and I took Amber with us out to the garden and then into the shop. She was wearing the new electronic collar. The whole time we were out – from the house out to the garden (waiting while I harvested), then to the shop – waiting while we painted – and then  back to the house, passing one of the cats – she was zapped twice. It’s as if we have a different dog! It’s becoming a pleasure to walk with her, rather than a “paying- attention-every-second-trying-to-anticipate, second-guess, and retain-control-whatever-happens” time.

Thing Three:

We went out to the shop to experiment with the air brush in the redoing of our sun/moon metal wall hanging. I felt really intimidated, since I’ve never used an air brush before. This made me determined to at least TRY it. I used paint thinner to make sure that the air brush and tube in the bottle were clean and ready to use. The other end of the tube is attached to a compressed air bottle. We then switched the bottle to a black paint for the shading we were trying to do. I practiced on a cardboard box until I was achieving a reasonably uniform, light spray. I had used tracing paper to mask some areas I didn’t want any shading on. I was able to achieve a darker shading around the sun face and along one side of the moon, with lighter shading on the flames of the sun. My husband and I looked at the picture on the computer together, deciding where the next shading should be.

Tomorrow we’ll look at what we’ve done, decide if we need more shading, or if I can move to a repaint of masked areas.

So far, I think the air brush is really fun. I’ve seen some beautiful things done with an air brush. If I can just get a subtle shading technique, I’ll be happy as a clam!

I’ll take pics of the metal wall hanging soon and post them.

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Ham Radio Tower Setback

After fighting to get the antenna on the tower and then jacking things up so the antenna could rotate and be tested, my husband found out that the antenna had been tuned for 11 meter band – which is CB radio. He needs it to be tuned for 10 meter – ham radio.


So we laboriously unbolted the antenna from the tower, carefully brought it down, and carried it to the driveway pad where my husband can work on it. Apparently, the trick is the length of the wires in the antenna. We need to shorten the wires so that we have an antenna that will resonate in the 10 meter band. My husband will need to measure carefully, drill holes into the arms of the antenna where the shorter wires need to go and then install them.

Once that is done, we’ll carry the antenna back around to the other side of the house and install it again, and then test to see if we got it right this time.  One step at a time…

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It was overcast when we first woke up this morning, so my husband grabbed the push around weed whacker and I mowed the yard.

My husband then decided that it was a good time to lift the tower up high enough that he can rotate the antenna on the ham radio tower, hopefully getting it turned in the proper direction to pick up the frequency he wants. He can actually test the system to make sure it resonates properly. This is Greek to me, but a lot of what we do is…

The sun came out with a vengeance, of course. The tower is VERY heavy now. My husband can’t lift the end any higher without some help. We ended up using a mobile jack, a 5 foot metal hollow pole he had in the shop, and some wooden vices to hold things together. He jacked it up a bit, and I tried to wedge one of our ladders under the tower, bit by bit.

The pictures show the antenna where it was before we began to try to lift it up.

At one point, the whole tower shifted away from us and the whole thing came down. No one was hurt, thank goodness, and the antenna seemed to survive, as well. We got another couple of ladders. I wedged one under the top edge of the antenna. I then wedged another one under the tower at a different point so that if it got away from us again, the ladder would catch it.

We took a short break at my insistence. I was rattled when the thing came crashing down, picturing all sorts of awful things that could have happened. Once the ladders were providing a bit more security, we tackled it again. We needed to get it up another 6 to 8 inches for the antenna to be able to rotate freely.

We think it’s up high enough now, and are taking a break to cool off and drink water. My husband is going to go back out in awhile and use his analyser on it to see what’s happening with the tower and the antenna.

Once we get it resonating at the proper frequency, we’ll figure out where the guy wire stakes should go. This may be another awful part of this project because the stakes won’t want to go into the rocky ground. We also have to do some chain sawing to get to the place the stake needs to go on one side.

Once the stakes have been pounded into the ground and the guy wires have been attached to the tower, we’ll be ready to ask our friend Dave to bring his special equipment over to help us stand the tower up and tie it down.


Here’s the way it looks now, before antenna testing. My husband used some weather-resistant duct tape to tie the wiring in increments to the tower.  You can see the jack in the middle of the picture.

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Brush Hogging is Done

We look almost civilized since Foy did his hard work with his brush hog. He’s done all he can do now, since there is no way he and the tractor can get up on the pile of rocks in the back, but he’s performed a miracle.  You can now see my greenhouse from the house!


Isn’t this amazing? The weeds between us and the greenhouse were higher than my head.


This is behind the greenhouse, looking to the north.


And this is looking south.


This is the area across the back where I’ve been trying to hack down weed trees.




The weeds around this metal flower we made were so high and thick you could no longer see the flower.


The only weed trees left I’ll spray with the weed killer.

We have penciled in for Foy to come back in the fall, and then in the spring, when the weather is much more cooperative and comfortable and he can work us in between jobs.

I feel a lot safer now that we have a clean break between years of greenery and our house, should a wild fire threaten.




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2nd Try on Sun/Moon Wall Hanging


Once I got over the initial disappointment at my efforts on the sun/moon wall hanging painting, I got excited about a do-over, trying to make it come out more as I had hoped.


This is the picture and design my husband found on the net. There is a LOT of shading involved, and I chose the wrong color for the background initially.  Yesterday we got another sample can mixed at Yeagers and I got busy.


This is the initial try. I didn’t like the background color of the sun, and my husband didn’t like the shading. Other than that…. :0)

I got more of a coppery brown color for the sun this time. Yesterday I scraped off a  LOT of the paint and all of the accent lines. I then rubbed in the new background color with a cloth. Today I’ll use a sponge on the sun to get rid of the remaining ‘lines.’

When that is done, I’m going to mask off a lot of the painting and try using an air brush to do the shading.

It’s fun to learn a new technique. I’ve never done air brushing. I’ve seen some beautiful work that can be done with one by someone who knows what he/she is doing. I’m just hoping for a more subtle shading.

Wish me luck!


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2nd Try

I finished painting this and wasn’t satisfied. It just didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. My husband tactfully agreed. Today I started scraping off a bunch of the paint. I’m going to repaint the two parts with background paint the best I can. Then we decided, as we were discussing what might be done, that I might try to use a used air brush setup I got a long time ago but have never used.

So, I’ll finish scraping paint, redo the background colors with sponge or cloth, and then we’ll see what we can do with the air brush.

Maybe we can do a better job this time.

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We’re winning the Battle on the Weed Trees!

Foy Brown brush hogged from the guy-wire on the telephone pole and behind it. He can’t get to the ones further away, since they’re growing up through the really impressive pile of rocks the builders shoved there when our house was built. I received the weed killer I ordered, so when Foy finishes the fire break for us, I’ll spray these trees and see what happens.

  • Update – Foy got the tractor going and is out there now, brush hogging away, so the fire break project is back on track!

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Progress on Ham Radio Tower

I wanted to make sure you saw a picture of THREE 10 foot sections of the tower put together.

Yesterday my husband made a mounting bracket for the rotator controller that will live in the office. He hung the box nicely on the bottom of the shelf in the ham radio corner of the office. It’s now ready to be attached to the tower rotator.

Yesterday we also carried the 4th 10 foot section of the tower, the section that includes the rotator, out to the yard. It had started to rain, and it sure was welcome relief from the heat!


My husband attached the 4th section to the tower yesterday. Today we started trying to lift up the end in preparation for adding the 9 foot square antenna. (We’ll need to get the end up at least 10 feet so we can attach the antenna in preparation for wiring of the rotor and the antenna.


Here’s a view from the rotator end.


And a view from south of the tower so you can get a feeling for how LONG this thing is. Add another 5 feet or so for the antenna and the tower is 45 feet tall. The next step is wiring the rotator and then we’ll bring out a ladder to try to move the end up where we need it. It’s coming along!




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Progress on the Fire Break?

Our good “man-for-all-sorts-of-difficult-jobs” Foy Brown came over at 8:30 this morning, tractor part in hand. He had to order it from Kansas City and it took all week for it to arrive.

His tractor looks similar to this one. It also has an 8 foot wide brush hog attachment on the back.

At the beginning of last week he brush hogged our side yard, around the greenhouse and over the place we need to construct the ham radio tower. He started brush hogging a fire break for us in the back, but broke a hydraulic part. He and my husband went all over Greenwood, and then Fort Smith, trying to find a replacement, but were unable to. So Foy ordered it.

He’s out in the back now, trying to install the part and get the tractor going.

His wife, Judy, was sitting in the car when I came out. I invited her in for coffee, but she had her little dog, the newspaper, and seemed quite content. She said she would stay until she heard the tractor going – after making sure Foy has his bottle of water, hat, etc.

Hopefully he can get the tractor going and get the fire break done today. It’s too hot to be spending days outside around here. We’ll watch to make sure he takes breaks and is all right.

Fingers crossed he can get the tractor going!

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Ham Radio Tower Progress Report – July 21, 2017

Last night my husband attached the 1st section of the tower to the base plate on the pad we made. You can see that there is a base plate on the bottom of the section that is now bolted to the base plate on the concrete form. This is so you can lay the whole tower down if needed.

He’s going to put the 4 ten-foot sections together on the ground, add the antenna propped up on a pole, and pound stakes in on three sides for guy wires. Once the whole thing is together and cabled, he can test it to make sure all is working as it should. Then our good friend, Dave, will bring over his equipment to pull the tower up into place and we can tie the guy wires to the stakes.



This is a better picture of the base plate on the bottom of the 1st section. There will be another bolt to hold the base plate to the concrete when the tower goes up. There are four sections of the tower, each 10 feet tall, plus the antenna, which is square – 9 feet on each side.  The whole tower is about 45 feet tall.

This will all take some time, and I’m fighting with my husband about trying to do too much at one time in the sun. I’ll take progress pictures as we work.


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Ham Radio Tower Base is Done!

This morning we made sure we had electricity and water at the ready for the pouring-the-ham-radio-tower-base project. My husband and I emptied the back of the truck of the 16 sixty-pound bags of Qwik-Crete, stacking them on the ground close to the form. I then went back to Yeagers to get 14 more bags.

By the time I got back, our good friends Dave and Laufrain were here. We started at 10:00.

The concrete mixer would handle up to 3 sacks at a time. Most of the time we kept it to 2 sacks. But the mixer did a wonderful job. They also brought a vibrator, which was an electric vibrating pole-looking attachment that got the bubbles out, made sure the mix was good, and really did miracle work for us. There was very little hoeing to be done – mainly to move the poured concrete to the opposite side of the form when necessary. Dave finished the top off with a regular concrete smoothing tool, encasing the metal attachment base in its proper place in the middle of the concrete.

The tower base will attach to the metal we encased today. It is meant to ‘open up’ allowing one to ease the tower down on its side if necessary, and then be pulled back up into position.

We’ll bring all the parts of the tower (4 ten-foot sections) plus the huge antenna top, and will lay them out, ready to be cabled and then put together on the ground. The actual antenna will be off the ground, supported on ‘something’ so that my husband can be sure it’s responding to the correct band width level before we haul it up into place.

We’ll install guy wires on stakes pounded into the ground to keep it secure.

Here are some close up pics of the base.




My husband wanted me to put the date on one side


and his call sign on another. He was okay with me using my finger.

When the concrete sets up a bit more, we’ll use a brush on the metal in the center to get the concrete off.

We would have been dead trying to mix this much concrete by ourselves, with hoe and wheelbarrow. Our friends made it a much more bearable process. Dave will also bring another tool he has that will help us stand the tower up when it’s ready.

As partial payment for our friends’ efforts, my husband is going to replace the rickety wooden ‘arms’ on the cart the mixer is on with some nice metal arms that will probably outlive all of us. :0)

We’re lucky to have such great friends.



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Hummingbird Birdbath Update

We’ve had a really poor year for hummingbirds.

How many we have varies from year to year. One year we remember fondly we would try to keep our heads perfectly still and count the number we could see. There were SO many, we would be laughing, unable to get an accurate count.

This year we had seen a few, but far between, in that our spring was longer, wetter, and cooler than normal. While that was wonderful for humans, I think it discouraged the hummers from coming to see us.

We went ahead and built the hummingbird bird bath above, hoping that when they finally came, they would enjoy it.

All of a sudden yesterday, while I was in the front talking to our wonderful handyman Foy, I saw FOUR at one time in the wisteria! I was amazed. Either our wisteria hasn’t bloomed enough or at the right time, or I wasn’t in the right place at the right time, to see them.

Since then, I’ve seen TWO at once several times going to the deck feeders.

But not one have we seen even TRY the bird bath!

I decided months ago that it didn’t really matter to me if the hummers, or any of the other birds, liked the birdbath or not. I love the LOOK of the thing, and I’m even happier with the SOUND. I find it very relaxing to stretch out in a chair, cold drink or hot coffee at the ready, feet propped up, closing my eyes and enjoying the sound.

Foy and Judy had some iced tea before they left yesterday and Judy mentioned the ‘water feature.’ I told her it was built for the hummingbirds, but that they didn’t seem to like it. She just looked at me and said, “Their loss.”

Isn’t that a great attitude? :0)

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