Wednesday, June 27, 2012


This is what it looks like when the Jeep in your driveway has a bikini top and it looks like rain so you back it under your front porch and it does rain but then in the morning there's a not-too-shabby mountain view with blue sky.

Not pictured: rain that blew in anyway.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stepladder penthouse

I've got some uppity birds at my place. Not only did they climb the ladder to the top rung, they just went ahead and built a nest there.

This Is Not A Step. Or A Building Site.
On the bright side, I hadn't needed to use my ladder for a while. That means my outside lightbulbs hadn't burned out and I didn't have any cause to climb up and drop tools trying to accomplish something.

But when I did go to use the ladder, I couldn't help noticing someone was living there and when I took a peek inside, there were more residents on the way.

Cute little rascals.

What to do . . . what to do . . .

Omelette? No.

I went for a relocation project, hoping the new shelf was close enough that mail service wouldn't be interrupted and the parents wouldn't even notice.

So far so good. Watch out worms, these robins get up really early and their family is growing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bacon, whiskey and the truth

I made noise about this Kristy Athens lady being a person you should listen to. As evidence I present this gem.

I rest my case.

Kristy reads from her new book Get Your Pitchfork On! Thursday, June 21st, 7 p.m. at the Fishtrap house in Enterprise. See you there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sharpen your pitchforks

Kristy Athens makes milk shoot out my nose when she talks because she’s real funny and plus she writes words really good and on Thursday she’ll be here doing both when she talks and reads words out of her new book Get Your Pitchfork On! 

It's like City Mouse and Country Mouse but with people and less cheese. Also some downright insightful points about shifting to country living. Athens is a sharp one and Wallowa County folks will appreciate her take on things rural vs. places with parking meters.

Kristy and her cohort Mike Midlo are no strangers to the Wallowa country and you're probably no stranger to the OPB Art Beat shows that Mike produced, with folks like Kim Morris, Steve Arment and other crafty persons.

She's a hoot. Come help me heckle her during her reading at Fishtrap on Thursday. It’s at 7 o’clock.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wallowa Mountain Campfire Co.


Not since the invention of fire has there been such a leap in technology regarding campfires. Well the marshmallow was probably more important but aside from that it goes fire, then marshmallows and then this.

Introducing the Wallowa Mountain Campfire Company. A better way to burn stuff.

Here's the deal: this stuff comes with wood just like all the other bundles of campfire wood in the world, but hey wait a minute here . . .  also kindling, newspaper to crumple up and a couple matches to get it going? This is taking convenience too far.

Made with grass fed, free range Wallowa County trees that are only cut during a waning moon. The beauty-following smoke in this firewood is a special formula, designed to pay a compliment and keep the mosquitoes at bay, while not driving you away from the cheery blaze.  

Get this stuff while you can, because I don't know how long I'm going to want to wrap up sticks and paper – but for now these rascals are available at Joseph Hardware on Main Street in Awesometown – and only available at Jo Hard because, like I said, I don't know how much I want to be wrapping up sticks of firewood.

But this is a matter of principle for me because it's always offended my sensibilities that people pay a bunch of money for a little bundle of wood.

I wrote a column about it years ago and pissed my neighbor off who sold bundles of firewood and I could have done without that.

Finally decided that if noone else was going to package everything up you need to start a fire, then it would have to be me.

There's even a premium S'mores package that comes with the firewood, kindling and all that, plus fixin's for a marshmallow roast and S'morefest.

Now go camping.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Trash or Treasure

'And Furthermore' Chieftain column, June 6, 2012

Site's prohibition on salvage a total waste

I’ve been working on a get-rich-slow scheme for most of my life and it’s been working out perhaps a little bit too well. I’ve learned to pinch pennies. Stretch dollars. My money gets a rigorous special-forces workout because it’s got to be in peak physical condition so it can go farther and have more stamina, often working behind enemy lines on desperate missions with no backup.
Free stuff starts looking mighty good when your budget doesn’t budge much. The dump site outside of Lahaina, Maui is where I first learned the truth of one person’s trash being someone else’s treasure. Things with life still in them were set off to the side in orderly piles. My apartment came furnished with just a bed and a gecko on the wall, so the free desk, chair, lamp, radio and slightly-damaged surfboard I found at the dump were greatly appreciated. The desk was actually the surfboard sitting on top of milk crates. If you cleared your papers off and went surfing it felt like having a satellite office in the ocean.
And that’s how the dump became one of my favorite places to shop. 
Magnetic rod holders made with old speakers from the dump.
I was reluctant at first to admit to this scavenging. There can be an awkward silence when you’re asked where you got something and the answer is the garbage. But most folks appreciate a good rescue story – I certainly do – and eventually I got to prefer keeping old things in circulation rather than buying new, even when I could afford new stuff. I like things with background.
Stove, copper backing, tile and teapots: all free.
So when I started remodeling my house in Wallowa County some of the modern fixtures came out as I found better, sometimes older and recycled replacements. Swapping the fiberglass shower insert for an old clawfoot tub was the best upgrade. The wood floor in my house is a mosaic of old fir, pine and who-knows, salvaged from here and there. I did have to buy some new flooring to finish the project, and the new stuff is my least favorite part of the whole arrangement. The nicest pieces used to be panels in a horse stall. Beautiful color.
Recycled wood picnic table.
My kitchen sink came from the dump. It’s stainless steel. The real prize is the perfectly good Moen faucet that didn’t even need new washers. The sink itself is dinged up, but I decided to use it anyway so I could say I reused stuff for everything I could, including the kitchen sink. There I said it.

I had a sinking feeling when I saw this had been thrown away.
So the ‘No Salvaging’ sign at the Ant Flat landfill makes me cringe every time I see it. Here I thought we were supposed to be reducing, reusing and recycling and our local goldmine for that is off limits. I understand that liability issues may be the reason. And I suppose there are people in the world who could manage to hurt themselves while trying to fish something out of the dump, then have the gallstones to find a lawyer and slither up a lawsuit. But I helped a friend retrieve a perfectly good exterior door from the dump in Idaho City, where they have you sign a liability waiver to cover themselves. That seems like a tidy solution.
Bula's log doghouse roof: courtesy of Ant Flat metal pile.
Can we bring back salvaging, Wallowa County? I think it’s silly to have one rule discouraging recycling while we’ve got other rules encouraging recycling. If people pay you to get rid of their stuff, then other people take some of that stuff off your hands, doesn’t that cut down on the stuff you have to get rid of? That’s good, right?
To be clear, I’m talking about the construction pit and metal pile. Nobody needs to be rummaging through household garbage. That goes right in the dumpsters anyway, where it belongs. But windows, doors, metal roofing, copper wire, bikes, barbecues, lawnmowers and whatever . . . a lot of that stuff can still be usable and I think it’s a crying shame to waste it when you’ve got scouts looking to put it back in the game.
Homemade wood-fired hot tub stove built with salvaged metal.
So, to the folks who make the rules up there at the dump, can we replace the “No Salvaging” sign with one that says “Salvage At Your Own Risk,” or words to that effect? Sure be nice to revive the sensible program of letting things go somewhere other than the landfill.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bunch of liars

Finally looked up in the dictionary all those words that are supposed to have pictures of certain people with them, but was gravely disappointed. Do I have the wrong edition?

If you look up dictionary in the dictionary there's this picture.