Category Archives: 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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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family, Gardening, Lewis Art, Lewis projects, metal art, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

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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The Miracle of Brush Hogging

Our man-for-all-next-to-impossible-chores, Foy Brown, spent most of the afternoon here yesterday, brush hogging. He has a really nice looking Kubota tractor with a front end loader on the front and an 8 foot wide brush hog attachment on the back.

We needed to have the easement cleared where my greenhouse is – and the ham radio tower WILL be. The grass, blackberry briars, and other assorted weeds were my chest high, and sometimes higher. We need to be able to lay the pieces of the tower down on the ground in order, run two kinds of cables through it, test the system, and then put it together and haul it up.



After Foy finished brush hogging to the east side of the house, you can clearly see the greenhouse!  If you’ll strain your eyes a bit, you can see the wooden edge of the form for the base of the ham radio tower to the right of the greenhouse.


This is the view to the north of the greenhouse.



He then went across the edge of the civilized part of our back yard, where I’ve been trying to lop down and throw weed trees.  He did a wonderful job. We still have weed trees, but they’re growing in extremely rocky ground, between rocks just shoved down the side of the hill when our house was built 30 years ago. You can’t tackle this area with any kind of riding equipment. I’ll lop what I can of the remaining trees.


You can see where I’ll need to do a bit of clean up, and then a LOT of spraying with the nice weed killer that is on its way to us.


We showed Foy where he could go down past the pile up of rocks and get to the area we would like to have cleared to renew our fire break. He did a lot of work yesterday, but then a part of the hydraulic line broke. He’ll need to get a new part to repair the tractor – now in the back off the edge of our world, ready for him to climb down and repair it. He said he’ll be back before Saturday to finish up what he can do back there.

Between the help drilling the hole we needed for the radio tower and the brush hogging, Foy is worth his weight in gold.

The next step on the ham radio tower is getting 16 bags of sac-crete. Our friend Dave has a concrete mixer!  He’s going to bring it and help us mix and pour the concrete, we think tomorrow. Hooray!



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Sun/Moon Wall Hanging is Drying

I finished the wall hanging last night. We’re letting it dry, and then we’ll bring it in and hang it up and see what we think. You can’t really see the 3-dimensional aspect of the moon in this picture. I hope it shows up better when the piece is up on the wall. Will take another pic later.

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Progress on our Fight with Weed Trees

The view is opening up!

My friend, Cathy, wrote, suggesting we try a weed killing product she thinks is great. It’s called KillzAll. You buy it concentrated, mix it with water, then spray it on what you want to kill. I ordered a gallon this morning. We can use it while we’re fighting with these and after we finish, plus be prepared to spray again whenever we see their ugly heads springing up. If we spray at the first sign of green in the spring, maybe we can keep them under control without so much work in the heat!


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Ham Radio Tower Base – Take 1

Our friend, Foy Brown, is helping us get a hole large and deep enough to put stakes and grout slurry in for the base of the 45 foot ham radio tower we bought recently.

He has a compressor and a rock drill, but when I went out there to check on them, they were using all kinds of shovels, picks, pick axes, etc. They THINK they can get the hole deep enough, though it’s one rock after another, making them fight for every inch.


Foy said, “Don’t take our picture sitting on our butts in the hole.” :0)  My husband is sitting on the form they’re going to put into the ground when they can get the hole deep enough.

You can see how close the tower is going to be to my greenhouse. I’m not happy about that, but the tower needs to be at the highest point of our land 60 feet away from the closest power pole, and this was the spot. If my husband had found the tower first, my greenhouse would probably have not been built…

The tower will have strong guy wires attached to stakes going into the ground, so we would have to have catastrophic weather to cause the tower to fall on my greenhouse. If we have super bad weather, it’s more likely my greenhouse will lift up and try to wrap itself around the tower.

Since it’s hot outside, rather than overcast as we had hoped, I’m checking on them every half hour or so, bringing cold water and babbling at them so they have to rest a bit.

If we can get the form into the ground, the next step will be buying lots of bags of sac-crete to mix up in our wheelbarrow to fill the form.

More pics to follow as progress is made.

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Metal Wall Hanging Progress

I finished the basic color blocking yesterday and then started on the LOTS of shading needed on the piece.  The size is about 3 feet across by 2+ feet from top to bottom.


Here it is with the moon attached. I did a lot more shading this afternoon, but will wait until tomorrow to take more pictures.

I took Amber out to the shop with me, but she was finding a LOT to eat that she shouldn’t. I spent more time taking things out of her mouth and trying to find ‘safe’ things she could chew on, but she wouldn’t settle. I ended up taking her back to the porch and then going back out to do some work on the piece.

I have no confidence that what I’m doing is going to work. I’ll just keep on keepin’ on and hope for the best.

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Weed Trees, Tomatoes, and Wall Hanging


Today is proving to be a busy, productive day.

This morning we awoke to Amber in distress after having eaten something bad again. She’s like a vacuum cleaner inside or outside, and it’s worth your life to try to keep her from eating TOO many weird things. Anyway, something hadn’t agreed with her, so we were out with the hoses and dog soap first thing. She seemed to be feeling fine otherwise, and ravenously hungry, so we fed her half a can of her lamb/rice sicky dog food. She has done fine the rest of the day, so hopefully this was a temporary problem.

I then got out with the loppers and tackled more weed trees. I actually felt as if I made a bit of progress, even though I only lasted half an hour in the sun, opening up another small section of our view. I’ll keep doing this each morning that I can, and then doing a 2nd session in the evening when the sun is starting to go down. I found some sturdier shoes to wear for this activity, so wasn’t sliding around so much.

I’ve started to seriously prune my tomato plants. I told you it looked like a giant had sat in the middle of the two large tomato plants in the nook planter beside the porch. I’m cutting off dead stuff, pruning leaves or limbs that are hanging way down, etc., trying to make it easier on the plants that are left when I finish. I’ll also put fertilizer on them, plus Sevin to keep the critters off. Before I started the pruning, I was able to harvest several more tomatoes. :0)

This afternoon I was out in the shop working on the metal sun/moon wall hanging. My husband was working on a small roll-around jack, putting on new casters, and we had Molly and Amber out there with us. Amber was driving Molly nuts for a bit, but finally calmed down.

I figured out a method that my husband said looked ‘really good’ on doing the shading that is such a big part of this piece. I took the sponge end off one of my sponge brushes and am using that, instead of a brush, to do the shading. I should be able to get gradations of shading with this, plus – it’s FUN!

About 6:00 or so, depending on the sun, we’ll get back out in the yard. We’ve switched to eating dinner pretty late now in order to give us an hour out there to get something done. (We find that we last a shorter and shorter length of time in the direct sun, and it’s taking us longer to recover than it used to.)

I’ll try to get some pics of the opening view in the back yard, the tomato plants, and the metal wall hanging tomorrow so you can see our works in progress.

I hope you’ve had a good day, too.

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Filed under Gardening, Lewis projects, metal art, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

I Know it’s Summer, But…

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According to the Heat Index Chart I have on my computer, it feels like 121 degrees F. outside right now. Needless to say, I’m typing at my computer instead of spending a lot of time out there.

I told you that we had a couple of things we had to figure out (the hard way) the other day – the hole for our ham radio tower and our riding lawnmower quitting suddenly.

  • My husband went out again this morning to attack the area he wants the hole for the tower. This time he was able to make a bit more progress, breaking up rock with the shovel. We’re waiting, at this point, for our good friend, Foy, to come with his compressor and rock drill to help us make real progress.
  • We figured out that we needed a new belt for the riding mower. We got one this morning. My husband installed it, and we were able to get the rest of the lawn mowed. The key to remember is when you’re bringing the blades up, move the lever S L O W L Y so it doesn’t throw the belt off.
  • I’ve been trying to learn how to cool off my new greenhouse so that I – and my plants – don’t burn up out there. I’ve read a tone of things, and there is fabric shade, more ventilation, and adding humidity – but the main thing I’ve come away with – living in Arkansas – is that the summer will be my season off to plan, organize, gather materials, etc., rather than to actually try to plant anything in the greenhouse. I’ll use it to start my fall plants and mainly my spring plants. So I’ll switch my thinking, quit trying to do the impossible, and start reading up on when to start seeds for my fall garden.
  • I have learned that there is no easy way to empty and clean Amber’s kiddie pool. The best I’ve come up with, so I don’t completely soak my shoes, socks, and pant legs, is to put on my husband’s big waterproof boots, bring out the car washing broom and the Simple Green, and have at it.

At least we’re making progress on how to – or whether to – attack each problem…

Going out to paint on our new metal wall hanging now!

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New Metal Piece

This is the latest piece we’re trying to make in the shop.

My husband has done his part, cutting out the pieces (he cut the moon out separately so that it could be mounted above the rest, making a bit of a 3-D effect), and adding a hanger.

Now it’s my turn. I’m intimidated by this one, because of all the shading. I’m concentrating on doing just the color blocking right now, and then will take a lot of time trying to study the piece on my computer for the intricate shading.

I just hope I can do a reasonable job on it.

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Filed under Lewis Art, Lewis projects, metal art

We’ll Just Find a Way

Abraham Lincoln – Zen to Zany via Cathy Ruggiero


We’re ‘finding a way’ on several things around here lately.

  1. We’re trying to dig a hole to act as a base for my husband’s new-to-him 45 foot+ ham radio tower and antenna. He’s called all around trying to find someone who will drill a hole for us. We had someone give us an estimate of $1500! Someone else came over and told us they couldn’t get their equipment to the place we need the hole.

Finally, we called an acquaintance of ours who has helped us do weird things in the past. He’s going to bring over an air powered rock drill that takes a big compressor to run it to drill several holes as deeply as we can through our rock in a 3×3′ group. We’ll put 3 foot stakes at different angles into the holes and then put grout the consistency of slurry in the holes to hold the stakes and our pipe where they are. My husband built a 3′ x 3′ box form for concrete.  When we get that over the pipe and stakes, we’ll start mixing sac-crete in our wheelbarrow and fill up the form. We figure about 20 sacs of sac-crete if each one makes 1 cubic foot of concrete.

Today, my husband went out with a shovel to start the hole for the drilling. He wanted to get the dirt out down to where the rock started. He soon came back to get a pick axe. He swung that twice and was done.

He then decided that at least he could mow the high weeds that would clear a path for the dig-the-holes project. He got that mostly done, but the riding mower was complaining when he was almost finished. We took it back to the shop to discover it had thrown a belt. My husband got that back on.

I was going to take the mower out again to mow the yard. I got to the spot where I wanted to start mowing, but when I pushed the lever forward to engage the blades, the motor started making a bad noise. We ended up pushing it back to the shop to be looked at later.

2. So now we have to ‘find a way’ to get the riding mower working again.

It makes me a bit afraid to start anything else….


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New Work



My husband found this design on the net and we both liked it. I found the source, but not the name of the artist.  We both liked it a lot and we’re in the process of trying to make it.

My husband used the CNC table and the computerized torch to cut this out. The piece is about 3-1/2 feet wide and about 2 feet from top to bottom.  The piece is so much work for the torch that it overheated. We had to stop the cutting process and wait for the torch to cool down, and then start it up again, fingers crossed it would remember where it was in the design. Thankfully, it did. My husband still ended up having to cut out parts of it by hand.

He made the blue moon separately so that we could mount it on a spacer. We’ll attach it to the main piece through the back with a screw to give the piece more of a 3-dimensional quality.

I marked the metal yesterday.

If we can get our a/c fixed today, I’ll start the painting soon.

This will be a really difficult piece to paint. There is a LOT of great shading on the piece, making the sun look 3-D, for example, and the rays look curled up and wavy. I’ll give it my best shot.

This is the first piece we’ve seen in quite a while that got us excited about cutting out and making something.  If it turns out all right, we plan to hang it on the wall in our office.

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Molly and the New Gate

After a lot of effort today, we got the 2nd Carlson Walk-Thru Pet Gate from installed across the office doorway. I don’t know if the product description wasn’t clear or I read it wrong, but we had a hard time getting this one to fit, even though we had extensions.

Since Amber was either slithering under the gate my husband made years ago, or leaping over it, we gave up using that one. Now she can’t get over or under it, and it’s securely attached to the doorway, so even if she jumps up and puts her paws on it, she can’t get out.

I invited Molly to come into the office. She has a bed under my computer counter, plus another one to the right of the picture above. She was afraid to me through the doorway.


I kept trying to get her to come in, but she would just look at me from the doorway. I finally enticed her with one of Amber’s treats, and she was over the problem.

I just put Amber out on the porch because she was driving me nuts. I invited Molly in, and she readily came in and settled into her bed under the computer counter with one of Amber’s new rawhide bones. My husband points out that Molly doesn’t NEED one, because she isn’t teething, as Amber is. I pointed out that it was the BALANCE of the thing – that Amber shouldn’t get all the toys or treats, and that Molly wanted one. He acquiesced.

Today seemed like a long day, with errands first thing, then our friend helping with the rotator for the ham radio tower, then getting Amber excited about the rawhide bones, fixing her dog run attachment piece, putting up the 2nd dog gate, taking Amber out several times, planting stuff in the garden, weeding, dinner prep, etc.

We’re ready for a nice relaxing evening. I only have a bit of prep left on dinner, which is in the oven. If we don’t have a rented movie, we’ll either watch one from our collection, or we are both in the middle of good books. We’ll bring Amber into the living room and see if we can get her to calm down enough to stay awhile. :0)

When it’s dark we need to go out to the shop and weigh the ham radio tower antenna. (My husband tried to do it earlier, but he couldn’t see the readout on the scales in the sun.)

I hope you’ve had a fun, productive day.



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Good Morning!

Source Unknown

I found this a long time ago and neglected to get the source. There is a signature across the the image between the leaf and the butterfly on the right, but I can’t make it out. Sorry. I think this is really, really nice.

I hope you’re having a good morning, too.

The ham radio operators are having the 2nd day of their annual field day today in Bell Park, Greenwood, Arkansas. Sometime yesterday a 24-hour contest began to see who could get the most contacts in a 24 hour period at a certain bandwidth. Last year there were about six different bandwidths represented. This contest is across the WORLD. Each operator uses his ham radio call sign, making contact with someone. They exchange call signs, recording them to be verified later. There is no ‘prize’ as such, but the winners are announced and bragging rights will never end. :0)  When we were watching and listening a couple of years ago, one man was talking to someone in Uruguay!

The work on my husband’s new-to-him antenna. He’s having a good friend come over and help him make the rotor work as it should this coming week. Meanwhile, he’s built the base it will sit on and is working on the complex 4-plex antenna that will sit on the top.  When we were talking about it yesterday, I suggested we assemble the whole thing on the ground and then hire probably the smallest crane there is to come help the two guys pull the whole thing up and hold it while things are tightened, guy wires are hooked up, wiring is finished, etc. My husband thought about it for a bit and then said, “You know, that’s actually a good idea!” (I ignored the fact that he sounded surprised :0/)

I’m going to put my different style thermometer up in the greenhouse today, and plan to start some spaghetti squash seeds to see if they’ll make. I’m also planning to attack weed trees with a vengence – if the temperatures will stay at some reasonable level. If not, I’ll see what I can do this evening.

I hope you have a wonderful day, too.

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Filed under Bright Ideas, exercise, Gardening, Lewis projects, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Creaky and Crispy

Write Now

Today I’m feeling twice my age –

I’ve told you that my husband got a new-to-him 45 foot ham radio tower and rotor through his ham radio club. Most of it is in a pile close to my greenhouse, but one segment of the tower plus the rotor, are in the shop. My husband is making a base for the tower out of 1/2 inch iron. This weighs a TON – give or take a few pounds.

Meanwhile, we’ve been looking for someone to come drill a 10 inch in diameter, 6 or 8 foot hole in the ground, put a pipe down in the hold and fill it with concrete. He’ll weld the heavy base on the end of the pipe. He’s contacted two drilling companies who don’t seem to be interested in such a small (for them) project. Finally, my husband remembered the name of the man who drilled our water well 30 years ago, Mr. Musgrove.

I remember him well because his first question on the phone was which side of Mt. Harmony Road we lived on. When we told him, he said, “Ok. I’ll come. There’s water there. There isn’t in any other direction.” He came with a Dousing Rod! It looked like a stick to me, but he wandered around our property with it – and either due to its working or a really good dramatic flare, the switch suddenly pointed down to the ground. He dug down and found water, plus Fool’s Gold, at 168 feet. We put some of the Fool’s Gold in a sandwich bag and hung it, plus his notes – framed – on a wall in our dining area.

Mr. Musgrove is now 85, but his sons are carrying on the business and they should be contacting us soon about the drilling we need.

This news sparked a lot of activity yesterday from us. We have a trio of large evergreen trees on one part of our property. They’re so close together we thought for a long time that they were one large tree. My husband took the ladder, a large extension cord, and the chain saw out to the trees. We worked for about an hour, taking limbs off the evergreens that are in the way of a truck driving through there to where he wants the hole drilled. He cut and I either held the cord so it didn’t cause him trouble, held the ladder still, or hauled off what he cut down. This morning he took out a barbed wire fence post that was also in the way, so we think, other than having to undo one end of Amber’s dog run, we’re fixed for the truck and equipment coming in and out.

As a result of my labors the last several days, I was stiff and sore when I went to bed last night. I woke up in the night with my back and hips hurting. I took some pain medication and slept on the heat pad. This morning I slathered on Sports Creme (I know – athletes would cringe at this old lady using their stuff) and took more meds. I’m still stiff and sore, but functional now.

We have declared that today will be a rest day. It will also be a yoga day. (I planned for this yesterday, but the branch cutting took precedence.) I MAY set up to start tomato suckers in the greenhouse today, and I MAY spray weed killer on the ground under my raised bed planters, and I MAY prune stuff in the trio of brick planters in the front yard – but I MAY just ignore these things and take a nap…


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Nothing via Cathy Ruggiero

I used to want to have ‘something to do’ each day – somewhere to go, people to see, activities. I realize that wanting the opposite is definitely a sign of old age, but I’m embracing it.

Today there are no scheduled appointments, no ‘have-to’ errands, no commitments. AHHHHHHHHHHHH!


Yesterday my husband and I both worked most of the day in the hot sun.

My husband was trying to relocate a microlink to our computers in the shop. This is not a thing we HAVE to have, but it used to work and yesterday it wasn’t. In order to get it to work again, my husband had to move the equipment on the house end from the front of the house to the back and mount it on the window bars. This involved a lot of cable making, stapling inside the wall of the garage, welding and painting for the piece that mounted to the window, testing of cables, switches, and links, etc. It took my husband all day, but he got it working. Now he just has to put his tools away and cut down several branches on a tree between the house and the shop for a clearer line of sight.

In the garden, I planted two celery plants, pulled out the last of the spinach and lettuce plants, pruned the plants that were left, and weeded the raised bed planters. The only thing remaining in the garden to spray the weeds on the ground with weed killer.

I took some stuff out to the greenhouse in preparation for starting some tomato suckers, but the thermometer showed red all the way to the top – over 120 degrees – so I just put the stuff inside and came out again.

I dumped the water from the kiddie pool, washed it out, and refilled it.

I cleaned Amber’s porch up, hosed it out, then squeegeed and mopped.

I mowed the yard on the riding mower after helping my husband with the microlink several times.

By the time we finally stopped for dinner, it was almost 9:00. I cooked, we ate and watched a movie.



There are things I’ll do today, but I’m concentrating on doing things INSIDE while the sun is at its hottest – as we SHOULD have done yesterday – and OUTSIDE when the sun is going down, with only the finishing touches on dinner to do.

I’m going to also take time to read more of my latest “In Death” series book by Nora Roberts while I’m relaxing.

Because my back is letting me know I overdid yesterday, I’ll try to work in a session of yoga.



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Filed under Attitude, Changes, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Lewis projects, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds