Thursday, December 29, 2016


I am really of the opinion that good advice is worth what you pay for it; however, I am wondering whether, at 70, do I have any advice to give?
In the last five years, since my retirement and survival with the battle of cancer, I have attempted to train three different apprentices.  All of them, one female and two males,  became "pretty good" welders and all three of them, as they were learning the process of fabrication, Quite!  Each came from a minimum wage job and rose to upwards of $20 per hour.  A good fabricator can easily make double that.
As I look back on my life I realize that being self employed is not easy.  There is a lot of responsibility and no one to tell you to get out of bed.  We have a natural tendency to work harder for other people than for ourselves.  Being self employed can be an opportunity for a two hour lunch and being late for work.  The real truth is you have to work harder.  You have to have a Huge sense of
"Obligation, Responsibility and Work Ethic".
   Pay Day is no longer Friday.  Often a client will pay a deposit to initiate the project and this money is Not yours!  As tempting as it is to buy milk or diapers, pay the rent or utilities, this deposit is to fund the job and can only be spent that way!  Nothing is more embarrassing than to go back to a client and ask for more money!
   The self employed will soon discover it is like working for the Mafia!  A good job or a bad job, profit or a loss, the Government wants money!  If you have employees count on 40 percent for their share!  and if you work by yourself, it is at least 25 percent.  You will now pay both sides of Social Security, 15%
   Wouldn't it be nice to get that "Final Check" and keep it!  But there are bills to pay:  Material suppliers, Shop Rent and Utilities, Commissions and more supplies.  Then, if there is money left over, it will be yours.  Construction workers, Artists and the Restaurant Industry have the Highest Rates of failure.  They just don't get this.
   I have been told many times that a particular client requested three bids on his project and I was the only one to show up!  This seems so simple it doesn't have to be listed but it is probably the #1 customer complaint!  Be on Time and Do What You Say You Will Do! and when you say you will do it.  It is a question of Honor and Your Word.  The Two Most Valuable components to being Human!
Communication is critical.
    There is a saying:  Do a good job for a client and he might tell one of his friends.  Do a bad job and he will tell ten of them.  Believe it, it is true.
    There must be more but it is of little consequence if you don't get this first part.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Walked Three Miles...

...through the snow to school every day.  UP Hill, Both ways!
In three short days I will be Seventy Years Old.  As I get older it seems that 70 is the new 70! Meaning I am getting older and feel it.  Lucky me, I am still pretty strong, can lift my weight, still put in at least a half days work and I sleep through the night without getting up to pee!  I can think back now on "the good old days", my own youth.  Yes, times were different then, a Half Century Ago!
The economies of scale were different with far less extremes.  Then (1960's) a Chief Executive Officer of a company made as an average Six times the wages of his employees. Now it could be Thousands of Times their wages!  In the "Good Old Days"  (when America was Great!) we had a Progressive Income Tax structure.  At the Top, those who made over a Million a year, it went to over 90%.  Now, as a percentage of their income, these people pay Less than their Secretaries!
I never really had a good job in my youth.  I picked Pineapples in Hawaii for $1.25 per hour.  I worked on a Tender, the boat that collects the fish from the fishing boats and takes them to the cannery.  I made $50 per day on that job.  I made sewer pipes from creosote and newspapers and came home filthy every night after work.  I made a dollar an hour from that. I got married in 1968 while a Student at the University of Oregon and working at the local cannery.  I was making almost $2.00 an hour.
I have been thinking about then and now and have come to some interesting thoughts.  It is mostly math and based on my then minimum wage of $2. per hour to the Oregon minimum wage of $10 now.  That is 5 times more. Tuition at the U of O was $97 per term, so 5 times more would be $500.
In Reality, it has gone up over 30 times More to over $3,000.
I bought my house in 1972, admittedly a "fixer-upper", I paid less than $10,000 for it and was making minimum wage at the time.  5 times that would be $50,000.  In reality, if you could find one it would be closer to $150,000 now.  That is 15 Times the Money.
Before we bought the house we were renters.  On $2.00 per hour we had a nice little 2 bedroom house for $100 per month.  Five Times That Money, $500, will barely get you a room in a house now! The average rent for a 2 bedroom house is about $1,500 per month.  Fifteen Times the Money!
I remember distinctly when my Utility bill went Over $20 per month the first time!  Now it is Over $200 per month,  Ten Times the Money!
Cigarettes were .25 cents per pack and 5 times that should be $1.25.
A cup of coffee was .10 cents, should be 50 cents now.
Hamburger was three pounds for a dollar, a loaf of bread for a quarter.
You could actually Save Money and live on $2.00 per hour.  One year my wife and I wanted to go to Europe and we were still working at the cannery!  It was a five month season, starting with rhubarb, then beets, and corn and ending with carrots.  We saved all we could and in five months had enough saved to go to Europe, all costs and transportation, for three months!
We complain about the lack of goals for our youth today but frankly, ten dollars per hour does not do half as much as $2.00 per hour did in my youth.

Friday, November 25, 2016


Happy Day After, it is Black Friday and so far (the day is young) there have been THREE SHOOTINGS, all over Parking Spaces on this Glorious Religious Holiday For Shoppers!
We take Greed Seriously!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

It is Really Simple!

You don't need a bunch of laws.  You don't need new regulations.  We don't need the Dark Prospects of a Trump Administration.  We could enforce and Honor the laws and Treaties and obligations we already have.  Lets look at the Dakota Pipe Line.  It (the Demonstrators) is on Private Property.
The Pipeline goes through an Indian Reservation (that is OK, we have Never honored those agreements!), meaning it Belongs to the Indians.  God knows we took everything else!  The issue is Water, or the Law, or Private Property, of Rights of Indians or Oil, all depending on how you look at it.  It is no big deal to me if that pipeline leaks (lie they all do!), I live in Oregon.  We have clean water and lucky for us, no oil.  But it is Thanksgiving and we killed off a lot of Indians to appreciate this day.  Can't we talk about something nice?  The police don't belong on Indian Reservations, nor Private Property where no one is likely to get hurt.  The Only argument I can see to Stop the Protesters is WE WANT CHEAP OIL.  Yeah, Happy Thanksgiving!
Trump wants to same the compressor plant in Indiana. That is a good thing.  Don't send those 1,400 American Jobs to Mexico.  The Power is in US.  Don't Buy Crap from Mexico.  It is really That Simple.  Check the Tags:  made in Mexico, China, Bangladesh. Do Not Buy It.
I remember years ago, even Walmart tried to support American Made Products.  Next to each other, 2 products, American and Foreign with a $3 Dollar difference in price.  The American, better made and made here at Home didn't sell.  We want Cheap, face it.  Walmart knows this.
We have met the enemy and he is us.

Friday, November 18, 2016

If Gardeners Ruled the World!

In American Politics we don't have a Cabinet Position for Chief Organic Gardener but maybe we should.  I think people who like to garden should rule the world.  Our experience with the soil and nurturing tiny seedlings to full production is a transferable education applicable to any Cabinet Position.
We don't make quick uneducated decisions.  We research a lot, spending the Winter months pouring over catalogs, always wanting our next year's garden to be better than last.  We invest heavily in the infrastructure knowing the paths we create will determine which plants thrive and which may get stepped on.  We are protective of the smallest while honoring the biggest and want equal sunlight and nutrients for all.
We like diversity in our garden and realize that is Nature's Way.  Different plants growing together make the garden stronger, encourage pollination and help fend off dangers to the garden.
We realize that a garden is a lot of work and expect those who pick its harvest will contribute to its weeding and watering.  We are protective of its boundaries and will fence off predators.
We nurture and baby the struggling plants, hoping for their survival.  We save seeds from the successful plants, knowing their history and valuing their contribution.
We don't mind getting dirty and realize that this is a labor of love.  Many of us have flowers spread among the vegetables, liking their color and realizing their scent attracts honeybees.  Good for all of the garden.
Perhaps most of all, Gardeners enjoy sharing.  It is part of who they are and sharing their bounty with others creates the most joy.  It is a special kind of giving, not even particularly to people who may need it.  Just an act of giving because that in itself is so wonderful.
I have never met a gardener who didn't give something away!      

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

No One Wants the Truth

It is a bad sign when we blame others for our shortcomings.   The nasty Jews the Germans killed off in the War.  Oh, first just the "Bad Ones", the criminal Jews and no one cared, then the "probably criminal" and added the sick and infirm, the Gypsies to the list, then, of course "all of them" by the train car loads.
It is funny that Rural America pushed Trump to win this election.  Rural America and farmers.  Who will pick their crops now?
It is always bad when someone gets up the ladder by stepping on those below.  The Truth is Humans are a selfish lot and blaming others is the easier thing to do.
We are so quick to forget the oiling of  Louisiana, the Entire Coastal Area, Destruction of the Gulf Coast.  The Exon-Valdez oil spill that trashed the Alaskan shoreline.  The Dakota Pipeline, a bunch of Indians are after clean water, what the heck is that about when I can get bottled water at Walmart!
We want Cheap Gas and just won't admit it.
I think secretly we hate this planet, want to use it all up.  I see more Trash every day, the new normal.
We keep our cars clean.  It is just expected that we toss the garbage out the window!
The latest statistic I read:  we watch television (streaming Netflix) 600 hours a year!
The "New Normal"  live in a cubicle, throw trash out the window and watch Netflix.
and Cheap Gas, at any cost.  Seriously? 

Monday, November 14, 2016

No Politics, Please!

just blog about tomatoes and grandchildren and maybe the weather, oh, no, not the weather! The deniers are in charge and there is No Global Warming!  By declaration, they said so!  Life would be so pleasant if we just didn't talk.  as in, not voting, can't be bothered.
This "revolution" could have happened at any time.  We could have had our jobs back a long time ago.  We just don't want to go to any effort or expense to get them back.  It is easier to have others force this upon us.  We always had the opportunity to "Buy American", but face it, Walmart is so easy, just down the street, one stop shopping and cheaper!  We want cheap gasoline and will frack the hell out of the earth to get it!  Open up those coal pits and let the miners die of black lung disease, the air get filthy, the water poison.  Drill, baby, drill.  We have not destroyed the Oceans...enough!
    Is any one old enough to remember that previous to our entering WWII there were Serious Debates in our Congress as to which side to join?  We are just a hair breath away and it is frightening.
   We want to go back in time and "Make America Great Again".  Great but not gracious.  In the 1950's and '60's when our Freeway systems were constructed, when NASA was created and we did go to the Moon, we had a Progressive Income Tax.  In those days the wealthy paid their share.  Income tax went to 90% and they still grew richer.  No one is talking about that now.   I wonder where the money will come from?  Reduce SS, Reduce medical, Reduce Education.  It will come from the working poor.
   I am not really worried about all this,  History Swings this way and that and Our System still moves slowly.  Women will suffer now and maybe for 100 years to come, just more of what they had for the last Centuries.  I hear they are tougher.  Minorities have always gotten the short shift. We only believe in equality as long as we get ours!  I worry about the Planet, the garbage, the strip mining, the water and air we breath.  We have never been good stewards of this planet and I think we will get worse.
Like spoiled children.  What a Wonderful Gift we have been given, and we just trash it.

Friday, November 11, 2016


Is that really  word?  That is how I feel.  How you could ever explain American Politics to a foreigner is beyond me.  A reality Star for President! Seriously?  and naked photos of the First Lady to be on the Internet.  Really.  Sons who shoot endangered species for sport. Open pussy grabbing season. Open up the coal mines, bring on Armageddon, drill Baby Drill.  Cancel Row Vs Wade, set women Back a hundred years!  Tax Cuts for the 1%er's!  And I am worried about who he will surround himself with:  Sarah Palin, Mike Huklebee, Chris Christie, and others.
I am not mad at Donald Trump but I am disheartened at those who voted for him.  42% of single White Women!!!!  What in the World were they thinking?  It must be better to be loved by a wife beater than on your own.  I am reminded that female genital mutilation is favored by more African Women than men!  We simple fail to vote our own interests.
I think we can get over this, maybe recover.  There are more elections in two years.  I am not sure the Earth can take more trash and am more worried about that.  I don't want the water of Mexico or the sky of China.  Always wearing masks and drinking bottled water as the new normal.
Either way he will soon become our President, then we will see what we have done to ourselves.
Whatever happens don't blame him.  We did it.  and saying "I didn't know that would happen" will be the only excuse we can come up with because   we    are    that    stupid.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Pass the Torch?

Metal Work during the Middle Ages used to be a Secret Society and you could be put to death for teaching the wrong person the trade.  Keep it mysterious and secret and you can get more money for it!  It was a Guild Trade with long apprentices and high expectations.  I have been searching for an appropriate student to take over what I have started for at least the past five years.  You would think this would be simple, yet there is so much more to it than "just welding".
I can teach anyone to  weld in about five minutes.  It is mostly about losing fear and not being afraid to get dirty.  Like any trade, practice makes perfect.  When I started welding about 26 years ago I brought to this trade 20 years experience in the Construction Industry and a lifetime "eye for art".
My competition were, perhaps, better welders, but they were trailer builders and had, maybe 2 or 3 set designs for fencing and gates.  Frankly none of them very good.  I brought my designs and creations to the local Home and Garden Show for 25 years without missing one and could get $50,000 worth of work from a single Show and I did this twice a year.   You would think I would have people standing in line to take over what I started!
I never wanted to Sell this business.  In reality, without me, it is just a welder in a shop.  I wanted to give it away, but give it away to someone who would take it.  That takes someone willing to put up with the "wax on, wax off" kind of experience!  It is not just welding and fabrication I have to teach but art appreciation and the satisfaction of a "job well done".  Passion, and the constant desire to do the next job better!  This should be true with every job, with Life, and whatever we do.  It should be incorporated into who we are.  Yet, it is almost impossible to find!   I have taught over a dozen people to weld.  I can't teach Passion!   You want to be a good welder?  Study Art!  Spend hours pouring over abstract paintings.  Reconnect synopses.   Dream.
    My latest and maybe last apprentice I found on Craigslist about a year and a half ago.  I had some cleanup and construction around my house and needed help and he offered to work for $10 per hour.
I told him I couldn't pay anyone less than $12 so we got off to a good start.  Most workers, even good ones do what they are told and minimize the task, doing nothing more, reaching no hire than expected.  Carlos always does much more.  When confronted with an unexpected situation he will research the issue and tell me what he discovered on YouTube the next morning.  To improve a job he will put in his own time.  I know lots of people who won't do this and Carlos does it every evening!
As the construction progressed and came to a close I offered to teach him to weld.  Without pay.
Carlos is a fast learner and that lasted less than a week.  He would weld on scraps, learn a bit on fabrication and study on the Internet in  the evenings. Always better the next day.
A year and  half later he can make $2,000 in a week!!!  I think I have found some one.
 Nice measurements, great fabrication, perfect fit and strong enough to tie a horse to!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sort of Like a Tomato!

Well, certainly the Same Gardening Principles Apply:  Good Soil and Good Amendments, all Organic and No poisons!  I don't smoke it although I probably should because of the neuropathy left from the Chemo when I had cancer (all Gone now!).
Well, it is Totally Legal in Oregon so I had to give it a try!

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Forest Fence

I just finished another job!  about 165 feet of fence, enclosing a clearing in a woodsy setting for the protection of the owner's dogs, or at least so they won't run off and chase the cougars!  So the trick was, how to create a fence that

 won't shield the beautiful view and maybe look as if it belonged there?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Marijuana Dispensaries

I love New Businesses!  It is the American entrepreneurial spirit, that "can do" attitude and taking advantage of opportunities.  For Oregon and a select few of other States, that is Marijuana!  There seem to be as many Marijuana Shops in my town s Starbucks!  and some give me work!
 They are very Security Conscious, wanting grills over the windows to prevent robbers and most have the often seen 4" on center bars, looking like a jail. This particular dispensary had some imagination and allowed me the freedom to clean out my shop with odds and ends!  Art to keep out the bad guys!
There is a Huge Walk is Safe with a huge safe door they wanted covered in my metal art,
so I made this!  
Marijuana is a money making business and the State is like the Mafia BOSS and they are reaping Millions!  They anticipated 4 million the first year and are over $20,000,000 so far! I might go into crime for that amount, certainly the /state did!
Oh, I am not complaining!  I got work from it too, and maybe even in my retirement years I have found a "Product"  These Metal Grids could be shipped all over!
Lucky me, there were five windows in this shop! and they have candy, candy, candy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Learning to use a new tool

Anyone can build a fire, right?  I am discovering how to use my newly constructed Pizza  Oven and what can be done with it.  It is like any other tool I have acquired in my life, I want to master it.  There is a lot to learn!  I have had four fires now and the first one was a disaster!  Way too cold and during construction I filled the Oven with sand to stabilize the curve of the bricks as they were being mortared into their arch.  I did not get all of the sand out in the cleaning process and we had under cooked and sandy Pizzas!  The second fire was better, I got the oven to 500 f. degrees but it wouldn't hold the temperature and they were "eight minute pizzas".  Not sandy anyway. You can make great pizzas with a two hour head start on the fire but this last, forth try I was after perfection and I wanted to see what this oven was capable of.  I began the fire at 8 AM for a 2 O'clock cook time and did I ever get it HOT!  I used a very dry mix of Oak and Madrone, filled the very back and built a pretty Big Fire in the front.  When the "front fire" was down to a bed of coals I spread them evenly around the hearth and left them there for an hour before pushing them to the back of the oven igniting the logs left there.  By 2 O'clock the fire in the back was a foot deep bed of coals and the oven registered
over NINE HUNDRED DEGREES!  Even four hours later, without adding to the fire it was over 700 degrees. Pretty amazing.  We cooked Pizza in 74 seconds!!!
The Party was a lot of fun.  We had people from 4 months to 74 years old, three guitars and four singers!  It was a fun "old people's party" of neighbors and friends.  2 o'clock to 7 PM.  Perfect!
We made 25 pizzas, two chickens and a fantastic blueberry cobbler all in the Pizza Oven.  We could have cooked all night!
I also cooked a Brisket on the open fire pit with the rotisserie.  Even Jimmy Torres (You can Google him!) said it was the best brisket he had ever had!  Cooked for 7 and 1/2 hours over a bed of coals on a well tended fire.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cook me something

Next to sex and sometimes more intimate and even better is the sharing of food.  We live in a warm it up and three minute microwave world and too often end up eating by ourselves or hurrying through a meal to get onto something else.  The whole concept of sharing a meal, sharing a process, enjoying a preparation has been lost in our ever busy world.  I am sometimes jealous of dirt poor societies with a single cooking pot, families gathered, strangers invited, talking, laughing, happy, appreciative of the ceremony of sharing a meal.
   The very Best Art can be eaten!  I was once told that you can change the flavor of an onion by the way it is sliced.  Food presentation has been reduced to slop on a plate and we have forgotten how to say "thank you".  Cleaning up and doing the dishes has become a hated chore.  It is a shame that eating has been reduced to feeding the engine and is no longer a social engagement.  We are missing out entirely on the concept of "breaking bread", sharing our Human Existence.
   I like my new Pizza Oven but after two fires and beginning experiments, I suspect it won't get used very much.  For Hundreds of years the Oven was the center of  many households and small villages may have had just one, rivaling a Church as a central gathering place.  An opportunity to share stories, enjoy the bounty and laugh together.  When did we lose the joy in giving away food?
   It takes two hours to prepare the fire in a wood burning oven and then, without adding to the fire, you have heat for 10 hours of cooking.  Maybe Pizza first while the oven is hottest, then a roast or chicken, then maybe, a soup and still hot enough to bake a week's worth of bread!  It can all be done without an I-phone or apt but you have to actually do something! and it seems we have run out of time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pizza Oven!

I made a Pizza Oven and now my Outdoor Kitchen is complete!  It is pretty Big, the outside measuring about 3 feet wide, 3 feet tall and 5 feet deep.  The walls are over 7 thick and it can sure retain the heat!  You can make pizzas one day and the next, without adding to the fire, bake a loaf of bread!  This is my design but I watched a lot of U-tube videos to get ideas.  It is really a much bigger job than the 30 minute videos would let us believe!  If you really look at the photos you will see a 5' girl in the oven!!!
I think there is a philosophy behind Pizza Ovens that goes beyond the standard Bar-B-Que.  Both, of course are about the gathering of family and friends but what do you do with an oven that is capable of baking for 24 hours without adding to the fire?  Pizza Ovens are the ultimate in sharing, of cooking a lot of food, and then the fun of eating it and giving it away!
 This  would be a drone view if I had a drone.
I stood at the top of a 12' ladder to get the complete kitchen in view: fire pit, charcoal grill,
propane burner, electric frying pan and, of course, the kitchen sink! and the Picnic Table! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How to Get Rich!

The advantage of being almost 70 years old is that I know a lot of people.  Some of them are Rich, even 1%er's!  Yes, they have 40, 000 Dollar appliances and don't spend their money as I would, but most of them work 12 hours a day, and some maybe sixteen.  It is like being Lucky!  The Harder I work the Luckier I Get!  My favorite story is my Mexican Friend, story book sneaking across the desert  when he was 17!  Picked apples for nothing a pound and mad a Hundred Bucks a Day!

He found Paradise and was willing to work to keep it.  Eventually he went through hurdles and jumps and became an American Citizen!  I bought him an Apple Pie!  Now he is the lead painter where I get my metal work powder coated and makes decent money with even some benefits.  He started at the very bottom, part time and minimum wage.  And earned his way to the top.  He deserves it. He bought a nice 3 bedroom house after living in a trailer for 5 years, always saving his money!  He works a lot of side jobs, in the evenings and most every weekend.  He is doing this for his children, puts all of his side job money into a separate account for his children.  And considers himself very lucky to be able to do that.

In order to "get rich" you have to have a cause Bigger than yourself.  You do it for the World, your children, community, something extend beyond yourself and beyond the now.  Most of us get money and spend it.  I once gave an employee a thousand dollar bonus and it was gone in a weekend! I am sure he and his wife had fun for the weekend but then it was gone.  Vanished.

Really, the idea about money is to keep it.  When I first started out in the construction business I worked for someone else and got paid every Friday.  One Friday I would buy a book (on construction) and the next Friday I would buy a tool.  When I could afford it, a nice tool and when I couldn't, a dollar screw driver, but always a tool, always establishing a habit.  Tools and books and learning became my investment.  I was just starting out and there was no reason anybody would hire me.  I got some experience by driving around the neighborhood, stopping at different houses and from the street, in my truck I would draw blueprints!  I would draw an addition to the house, then figure out the material list, all the steps involved to build what I had drawn.  When finished I would toss them in the garbage.  It was just practice but I got good at it.  So good in fact that I could bid any job in two hours or less.  No one paid me for this practice.

A friend of mine wants to be the World's Best Horse Shoe Expert.  He is pretty good but every day he makes ten horse shoes on his forge and throws them away.  Practice..

So many people have the idea that if they are not getting paid they won't do it. That is the route to Poverty.  Even to make a good cake you need to make some bad ones.

Next I will tell you the story about a friend of mine who took a notion to build a yacht.  He did and went sailing for five years.  Nice Story.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Billion and a Half! really  a little over 400 Million! so you lose a Billion from the get go. Deceptive advertising appealing to our basic greed.  They say you should get an investment adviser, as if you need a lot of interest from this money, because, really, is $400,000,000 enough?  The chances of winning are slim, of course, but with my luck, I would have to share it with someone with the same numbers!  Then it becomes 2 hundred million, or, God forbid, split 4 ways to become a paltry Fifty Million!
I don't know about you but I would have to drive 50 miles to collect my check!  That works out to be about $500,000 per mile, talking closer to money I could, in theory at least, understand.
They say that if you win you have to move.  I don't like that idea at all.  Most Americans move every seven years but I have lived here for almost 50 years!  I would miss the house, the shop, the garden. At my age rebuilding it all somewhere else would mean hiring it all done and that is just never the same.  I have agreement with five or so people that if I win I will give them a Million Dollars.  In Cash.  In an old worn out suitcase with straps!  That would be a fun experience!  And, they would do the same for me if they win. I really hope they win!  A Million in a suitcase would be so much more fun than a Billion and a Half and all the headaches that would bring!