Checker at the grocery store, apropos of nothing:

Do you have kids?


Was that a choice?

What do you mean?

Well, sometimes you make a choice to have kids, and sometimes stuff just happens.

Isn’t that the same thing?

Things are not boding well for her unborn child’s future understanding of personal responsibility.

Baling wire and duct tape in one handy package

These are the tools you use to fix your muffler, right?


Behind the beauty

It’s not all pretty flowers and beautiful trees. It’s lots of big and loud and heavy machines, diesel and clouds of dirty exhaust, hydraulic fluid, thick and sticky grease, sweat, ugly plastic pots, mud, plastic tubing, beavers, gophers, moles, coyotes, deer, rabbits, and cast-off machines and broken parts relegated to the back forty. And the creative artistry necessary to force all those ugly parts into a coherent, beautiful whole.


Table Mountain

Table Mountain is in the North Cascades in the Mt. Baker area. The photo above is taken after we’d been hiking for awhile. We ended up on top of that flat-topped peak on the left. These photos are from August 13, 2016. I’m not sure how long it should take to drive up to the parking areas, but it took us about 14 or 60 hours to the lowest parking lot because of all the bike riders on the road up who apparently forgot about the “share” part of “share the road.”

This is a hike that almost anyone can do, as long as one can walk uphill, and then downhill, for hours, because it’s not technical. And, you’ve properly accomplished something when you get to the top. It’s steep in places, but people were on the trail in Tevas and tennis shoes. One woman proved it could be done in a flowy skirt and barefoot shoes. When I stepped aside so she could pass me, she said, “No worries, no hurry. Do any of us really have anyplace better to be?” She was right.

Near the top an older man – who surely would be welcome outside the fence, next to the cooler with Hank Hill and his pals – was coming down and lost his footing briefly.  Another older guy on his way up, clearly a veteran climber (no mere hiker) said, “Would you like to know a trick to coming down?” The guy now sitting down after having just arrested his slide, rocks raining down on people lower on the trail, said, “Not be from Texas and never have done this before?” When I admired his shirt with a picture of Reagan and the caption that said, “I smell hippies,” he said, “Ain’t it fun?” in that Texas way where each word sounds two or three words long. People are awesome.

In the interest of capturing this hike, I voluntarily stayed behind the rest of our party of four so that I could take pictures of them up ahead. One of whom, when asked if he could ride the billion miles up the steep, windy mountain road with the rest of the bike riders said, simply, “Yeah.” If that were true of me, it would be tattooed on my forehead. Documenting the hike: that’s the only reason I stayed in the back and begged them to not wait for me.


Backing up the lawnmower trailer has paid off for the boy

Many years ago I was talking to my mother-in-law on the phone when I looked outside and said, “I gotta go! My birthday present is here!” “Oooh, exciting! Call me back!”

When I was done instructing the driver where to deposit my birthday present, I called her back.

“Tell me! What did you get?”

“A dump truck load of gravel!”

“You did not ask for gravel for your birthday.”

“More than once.”

She was accustomed to receiving a different class of rock as gifts, albeit not by the dump truck load.

It feels like my birthday because we just got lots of gravel. Very nearly 30 tons, which is three times more than that long-ago birthday present. According to the quarry, there is approximately 1.3 tons per yard, a figure I find hard to fathom. I’m pretty sure I’ve spread at least one yard of gravel back in the day, which means I’ve moved at least 2,600 pounds of rock with a shovel and a rake. My trophy must have gotten lost in the mail.

I did not move one ounce of this load. Not until I get my trophy.

It occurred to me that I know someone with access to a big truck, and the quarry where they make gravel, where all the local gravel-sellers buy it and then sell it for more than double what we ended up paying for it (which does not include truck time), is close by. I could not be more excited.

C1 backing into our driveway. Only he, Captain OCD, and I believed he could do it. That’s why the relatives showed up to watch. He did it.

gravel 01

The ferry traffic will just have to wait.

gravel 02

Nana is doing a good job of making sure he stays off the lawn.

gravel 03

So far, so good.

gravel 04

The next tricky part: he has to essentially jack-knife the truck, in not-much room, in order to dump the load.

gravel 05

Jack-knife achieved. Captain OCD’s sister/our next-door neighbor. Lens hood in the way.

gravel 06

Now, we dump.

gravel 07

gravel 8

Is that all there is?

gravel 10

Yep. Still gravel.

gravel 11

It’s not going to spread itself, ladies.

gravel 13

gravel 09

I don’t think those LED lights are stock. It wouldn’t be the first work truck that he doesn’t own that he’s outfitted with after-market parts.

gravel 14

Nana riding shotgun. C1 has been driving things like this for quite a while, but it’s only just occurred to me that he gets paid to do what his younger self could hardly have dreamed of. Before he could talk, before he knew what his dad did for a living, he was fascinated by big trucks and machines. He first controlled a Bobcat when he was three, sitting on Captain OCD’s lap. At five, he dug part of a pond (to the left of the wire fence), with an excavator, while sitting on no one’s lap. We ran outside when we heard the excavator start, because, uh oh, where’s C1? But we won’t tell CPS that.

gravel 20

Watching Captain OCD operate machines is like watching a ballet. You wouldn’t think he and diesel-powered heavy metal would be graceful, but you would be wrong.

gravel 21

That pile didn’t look like enough. Now we know: 30 tons of 3/4 washed is enough.

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