Monday, August 8, 2022

I've seen Fire and I've seen Rain (NOT!)

Little Juvat's Daughter (LJD), is doing well.  1.5 Lbs and, as of last Monday, 12".  They've removed most of the things sticking in her and, best of all, she seems to be becoming aware of her surroundings and interacting somewhat.  The nurse put her on her side, and she rolled back over onto her back, a couple of times, before staying on her side.  I'm told that's actually a good thing, although preventing bed sores was the reason for shifting her.  

What do I know? I'm not a Doctor nor have I played one on TV.

Thanks for all y'alls prayers.  They're definitely working.

Other happenings, of somewhat lesser import, happening around the 'Burg.

 Earlier this week, Mrs. J was working on a major project (subject of a future post) and called me into her office for my opinion.  (Yes, Beans, that happens....occasionally.) So, I go offer my opinion and she starts typing it into her computer.  Her desk does not face the window, so, as I had not yet been dismissed, walked over and looked out.  My intent was to take a peaceful, relaxing view of Rancho Juvat.  However, something caught my eye.

That got my attention!  We've been under a Burn Ban for forever, or so it seems, to prevent this sort of thing from occurring.  Since we've had little to no rain in months, there's also little chance this was caused by lightning.  What follows is second hand from a guy who's got several friends in the local VFD, so...grain of salt.

It seems that because of the Burn Ban, cleared brush can't be burned.  Duh!  However, the owners of a large ranch about 8 miles from us hired some local itinerants to run the brush through a wood chipper.  Which sounds like a good choice.  But, you have to use one carefully and under the procedures outlined in the manual.  For instance, don't let the machine get too hot. 

You know what's going to happen now, right?  Oh, did I mention that the wind was blowing pretty steady at about 20 knots?  So things started burning.  The itinerants didn't have cell phones, so drove into town to alert the Fire Department.  In the time to do that and have them respond, the fire had burned 20 acres.  As of Friday, the Fire Department said the fire was 80% contained but had burned 1459 acres.

7 fixed wing airplanes, to include a DC-10, and 2 helicopters were involved in trying to control it. 


We're not that far away from that picture.  6 or 7 miles.  So...Thank you Lord!

In another aspect of this week, while Little J and LJW were in San Antonio doing the Parent thing, I decided most of my other projects were done, on hold or abandoned, so I no longer had an excuse.  So, I started finishing the inside of the workshop.  

Over the course of several hours, I managed to get 2 sheets of 1/4" plywood hung.  


Pitiful progress, I know.  However, it wasn't the hanging it that was the issue, it was getting it into position.  First I had to move it into position to mark where the wall sockets were.  Unfortunately, it's fairly flexible and it kept trying to fall away.  Once marked, it had to be hoisted onto the table for cutting.  Finally figured out to take it by the short end to the short end of the table, then drag it, slowly, into position on the table.  

Did learn something else new.  I didn't know that interior plywood has a front and back side.  And if you mark the position of something with the back side facing out, chances are really good it won't fit when you turn it around. Like really, really good.

So, called it a day and came back the next day, with Little J in tow.  Amazing how much easier hanging it is with two people.

The cutout for the window took a little bit more effort.

But that's the opposite corner from the first picture. I also bought some knock together shelving to start some organizing.  And so I can walk around and not trip over things. 


Work should resume while you're reading this.  Hope to have the bottom half done at that point.  I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to finish the top.  Some pegboard of course, but I don't think I want it all to be.  Probably some combination of pegboard, shelves and French Cleat, but, I'm very open to suggestions at this point.  

On a different note, Mrs. J, Little J, LJW and I had a little Flappy Hour last Saturday night.  (Flappy Hour being Mrs. J's name for sitting out front of the house with an adult recreational beverage, watching birds and telling stories.  It's only done when the Temp is below 100o.  So, hasn't happened a lot lately).  We're watching, with excitement, a large cumulonimbus heading our way with something coming out the bottom of it.  

Huzzah!  We're going to get some...

Not so fast, juvat!

That was the direction the thunderstorm was coming from not 20 minutes before.  No, we didn't get any rain. It just disappeared. 

Lastly, one evening this week as I was entering the barn to feed the horses, I noticed this.

The ridge to its right is about an inch wide.

Everything's bigger in Texas!

And just for a little relevant yet mellow music

Peace out, y'all!


  1. LJD continues to improve, wonderful news. Prayers will continue!

    Rain? What's that?

    Ya gotta love people who exhibit zero common sense when it comes to extremely dry conditions.

    1. Unfortunately, we got a call from the Doc this morning, she's picked up an infection and their starting her on antibiotics. So...Little J and LJW are headed there now.

  2. And, I was expecting "but, I slept at Marriott".

  3. Good to see LJDs progress as well as the workshop moving along. Nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure is my school of thought when dealing with an arachnid that size juvat..........(shiver).

    1. Nylon,
      Normally, I'm not a spider person, but it was kinda pretty, and big enough that he might have put up a pretty good fight. Live and let live was the order of the day.

  4. Great news for the littlest one.

    Fire is only your friend when it is under control.
    I've done some industrial wood chipping at our friend's farm, and I'm not seeing how a wood chipper caused a fire.
    I wonder if the truth of how it started fell by the wayside.

    Over the years we moved away from pegboard to tool cabinets on rollers.
    Larger hand tools are either stowed in their original plastic cases on permanent shelving.
    Our latest storage is those shiny stainless storage racks with lockable rollers.
    I will send photos.

    We have not had any real rain in weeks.

    I would have reacted poorly to a spider that size.

    1. JiP,
      I've never used a wood chipper, but I got to wondering if they were just stuffing brush through as fast as they could, it might have overheated enough to heat the wood chips enough to smolder, then when it hit the wind... Is that a possibility? The Forest Service it was a "mechanical malfunction on a piece of equipment which sparked the fire."

      I think Racks might work, but I want to limit them to corners so I don't fill up usable project space. So, I want to go slowly here.

      Rain? It's been months here.

      Live and let live.

  5. Thank you for the update Juvat. Such wonderful news!

    The question of heat and equipment has come up at The Ranch as well - basically, the practice is to not use anything that might generate too much heat outside by dry anything unless there is a water source nearby for the very same reason (which means a lot of the tasks my father has done in the past will not get done until October or November, when we get a little rain finally). It really does only take a spark.

    The workshop looks great (and yes, two people for something like that makes it infinitely easier).

    1. THBB,
      Thanks, Hopefully this is just a little hiccup in the process.

      We're in a bit of a conundrum here. Our grass is very lightly tinged green, but it's not long enough to bale. Tony, the Hay Guy, said it's less of a fire hazard to leave it as is rather than cut it and leave it on the ground to dry out completely. I'm thinking it's probably 49-51 on the "better gauge". Need rain bad!

  6. Praise God for the little miracle! WOW! What a marked changed. I am always amazed with perfect little humans like that. How wondrous...

    There was a reason, as boy scouts, we had a buckets of dirt and a buckets of water located throughout the camp site. Just basic knowledge like that is so rare these days. Makes me shake my head. Probably eagle scouts doing the work with the chipper! ;)

    I used scrap 1x2's to help me put the sheet rock up in my shop. A couple small chunks to space off the floor, in case of water incursion. And another one with a screw in it about 50 inches off the floor in a stud. I used it as a rotating latch of sorts. Just screw it in enough above the sheet to clear it when it's horizontal and then rotate it down to hold the top close to the wall. Leave it fairly loose. Placing the top sheet, you can make a cleat just below the top of the bottom sheet. Slide the top sheet up to the ceiling, then push the bottom so the cleat will hold it. I rarely have anyone that is willing to help me, so I've learned a lot of lessons on workholding. For box marking, you can use a soft face hammer to tap the outline on the back of the sheet, then pull it down to cut. Or, measure well, then lean the sheet up, face side out and cut. That takes a lot of up and down, unless your sockets are high. Your knees and back will appreciate higher sockets.

    I put pegboard around the shop on two sides. Never again. It's just not worth the trouble. Every time I sneeze, poot or cuss, the pegs fall out, and I'm digging behind something to get the tool. I got a smoking deal on some old steel shelving that now lines one wall. I used bulk amounts of "take out" boxes from Costco to store my small parts in. Used a silver or gold Sharpie to write the contents on the end. Working well so far. Some of my stuff is heavy so the boxes may not last too long. But they are cheap and the clear covers let me see whats in there if I forget to mark them.

    I don't mind spiders in the wild, but I don't like them in my shop. Daddy long-legs excepted. That thing looks like it could catch birds... or small aircraft....

    1. STxAR,
      Thanks for that technique! Read through it and thought "Duh, should have thought of that yourself, dummy!"

      Your pegboard assessment is pretty much the same as mine. I had it in my previous shop and very little that was on it was anything I used with regularity. My thinking now is to put some in the corner by the door where the shelves are and hang things like brooms/dustpans and such on it. "Take out Boxes"? Are those the ones with adjustable sections kinda shaped like a briefcase? I've got a couple of them now and like them. I think there will be more in my future.
      The spider is guarding the barn. I wish he'd take on the grasshopper invasion we've got going on. Mrs. J's garden is taking a big hit from those bastiges.

    2. Nope, not those kind. I'm too dang Scottish for that. I usually get a pack from AceMart every other visit. There's one downtown, one on 410 between Bandera and Culebra and also on Austin Hwy just inside the loop. 12 bucks for 50? They stack well. I'll put up a quickie post on my site so you can see how I use them.

      These things here:

    3. Those look great! And it's located in the area where my Granddaughter is staying. Another, but not necessary, reason to visit her.

  7. I was sitting on the porch shelling peas when I saw the smoke from what was called the Big Sky fire. As I understand good news from the fire was no dwellings were damaged/destroyed. Good on the VFD's and Forest Service!
    As Sarge said, "Prayers Up" for LJD, guidance for her care givers, and comfort for the family!

    1. Cletus,
      That IS good news. Didn't know that. Supposedly there were people that drove up to see the fire. Talk about another term for "Stupid Donkeys". YGBSM!
      Thanks, Believe me they're going up from here.

  8. Praying for LJD. The good Lord has her in His Hands.
    Spiders - not so much. For me anyway. We used to have another species (black with a red trim, you know) in the storage shed. They seem to be in the strangest places sometimes. How do they get there and why? There doesn't seem much to eat. Do spiders eat? Or are they just mean? I would have found the closest newspaper.

    1. LtFuzz,
      In this case, there were some bug carcasses in his web this morning, So, he's doing his job. Black with Red Trim ones however, have very short lifespans once spotted by me.

  9. Hope LJD kicks the infection and continues to make progress.
    You can have some of our rain - being stormy almost every afternoon for several weeks now here - including flash flood warnings prompted by really heavy periodic downpours. I've never had a summer I can remember where our grass has remained green this long into summer.
    The spider picture reminds me of doing field work around Lake Whitney back in the 70's. We had to dig a latrine for our camp and put up black plastic sheets for privacy screens. Boy, did those big black and yellow and white spiders love that location. Was really creepy having to make a head call in the hours of darkness! They were benign, but still intimidating!
    Glad you were upwind from that fire. I was in Oklahoma and north Texas earlier this year when some really big wildfires broke out. Amazing how quickly they spread and how much damage they can do. The relatively flat land means you can see them really far off.
    Your shop's coming along nicely. I've gotten to be pretty good at drywall doing a friend's clinic and a house and concur with STxAR's suggestions, tips and tricks. Also reminds me that I really have to organize my garage and get rid of the majority of 30 years' accumulation, which will require a serious conversation about what I really need to keep.
    Ah, I'd almost forgotten about Texas grasshoppers - really can make a mess of things in more ways than one. If you don't know them, you'd be surprised how big some of them get, especially out in west Texas. Clogged radiators, opaque windshields, devastated gardens. Good luck with those buggers!

    1. Tom,
      Well...We now know where Texas's allocation of rain went! ;-)
      The Forest Service report from this morning said the fire's 95% contained and burned acreage is still 1459. So, maybe soon.
      As to Grasshoppers, I remember driving back to Lubbock one night and wondering why my headlights seemed to be getting dimmer and dimmer. Then I heard a thwap from one on the windshield. Learned an important lesson that evening. Do NOT use your windshield wipers to try and clean them off. Had to pull over and use a T-Shirt and some water from my cooler to clean the windows.

  10. Prayers for your little one...

    Skip the peg board. I put some drawers on the underside of the work bench to hold the simple, everyday grad tools. I have portable power tools on shelves and in drawers, my table saw & band saw are on "step down casters". I could actually put the work bench on casters too.

    For all that upper area you're not using yet, you know where the studs are so could could cover it with more plywood and (later) hang most anything on it.... shelves, french cleats to support cabinets, a shadow board if that's what you think you need.

    Give some serious thought to storing wood, you will end up with 4x8 sheets waiting for their turn, 8' & 10' boards too, pieces of scrap that you WILL need in 6 months and so on. Having that planned out and ready before you begin is good thing.

    In the end, you have a work space with air conditioning!

    1. Rob,
      Thanks, Between you, STxAR and John, I'm starting to think about really minimizing the peg board use. I didn't like it in my old shop but thought it was just because of the very small size and layout.
      As to Wood storage. The second woodshop pic from the top, shows 1 of the two built in areas for it. Gotta add some shelving/racks to keep it organized, but I've got plenty of room....Now.
      Yeah, it was in the high 90's low 100's all week. VERY comfortable in the shop.

    2. Agree with not pegboard - I don't think it can handle much weight over time. Would suggest the paneling, then (knowing where the studs are) install horizontal pieces of board or 2x4 (tastefully stained to match) that you can mount some serious hooks and fittings for hanging stuff on.

    3. Don,
      Yeah after reading all y'all's comments, I'm pretty sure that's what I'm going to do. If I do use pegboard, it'll be on the door and I'll limit the hanging to broom and dustpan.

  11. Prayers for LJD, may she thrive! The folks in the NICU are generally the best in any hospital. I can empathize with your lot; our great niece was premature because she has Wolf-Hirshhorn Syndrome (a genetic defect) which compounds issues. She spent over a month in the NICU.

    Your shop seems to be coming along well. I wish I could insulate our shop but it is just too big. I have been looking at a couple of YouTube channels on woodworking. In the right side recommended column there was a video on French Cleats. Out of curiosity, I watched one. They are an interesting looking solution to wall storage in a shop. French Cleats appear to be the forerunner to some of those storage system they sell in the Big Box Stores that have the long horizontal rails. For me, peg board is the current solution. So far, I haven't had the issues STxAR has had. And another thing for a woodworker, lumber has dropped considerably lately. It might be time to stock up on wood.

    1. Bill,
      Thanks. Everybody I've met there has been superb. Very nice and oozing confidence. You could definitely tell that they knew exactly what they were doing. Which makes us feel a bit better. Concerned still, of course, but a bit less worried.

      Yeah, I'm having fun putting it together and I think Little J enjoys helping also. Focusing on something else takes his mind off of other things. As it does for me..

      I probably viewed the same French Cleat videos and really thin that might be a good option. I tried a few in my old shop, but they didn't work real well. One of those videos showed me what I was doing wrong. So, maybe this time, things will be better.

      Cheaper maybe, but plywood still ain't cheap. Much like gasoline.

  12. Fingers crossed and continued prayers up for LJD.
    Go re-read what Rob said about gonna need lumber storage room...cause every woodworker I have ever known lamented how they did not have enough lumber storage space. I suspect it is like book folks with shelf space...never enough space.
    Ask at your friendly neighborhood lumber/big box store about a contraption to hold a sheet of plywood/sheetrock being able to move it around the shop, and hold it up for you while you line it up and screw it down. I can't think of what they are called, but they are handy. Maybe you could rent one for a few days or so...
    And thank goodness for being up-wind of that fire!!! 6-8 miles is not very far at all with a 20MPH wind blowing!!!
    Speaking of you folks have bug-out bags, in case the next time someone runs a wood chipper, they are up-wind of you instead of down wind????
    Spiders--ugh!!! But I leave them alone as long as they are not in my house...inside they have a very limited life span...outside, they had better be eating lots of flies and other biting bugs!

    1. Suz, I live appx. 6-8 miles from Juvat. When we were "wet" last year some "non documented aka illegal aliens" in my lexicon, accidently started a small fire near our area. They didn't even make the effort to drive 5 miles to town to tell the FD. Thankfully, it didn't go anywhere due to all the I have to offer kudo's to those who at least make an effort to report the Big Sky fire.
      However, in the late 90's we lived near Kerrville and during a dry period an illegal let his cooking fire get away from him on a ridge across the valley from us. A passerby reported the fire, and eventually there were appx. the same no of aircraft Juvat describes, dropping retardant and helicopters dropping water from from the Guadalupe River on the fire. After watching it burn for a while, got the livestock penned, trailers hooked up and friends with their trailers standing by ready to load and go. Finally the fire was under control, and things returned to normal. But I slept with one eye open for several weeks.
      So, yes some form of bug out plan is always handy.

    2. Hey Suz!! A panel dolly for moving sheet goods around is what you are thinking of I bet.
      Juvat, if you got that book from Taunton Press, "Small Workshops", they have a section in there about a very narrow space to store wood in. I always thought that would be a great idea. If you don't have it, I'll dig a bit and see if I can find my copy and shoot a pic of the relevant parts.

    3. Suz,
      Thanks, The Doc said it was a lung infection and that it was not uncommon in babies in the NICU. Lung infection sounds "Bad" to me, but what do I know. They're aware and treating it and that's all that can be done. We shall see what we shall see.

      As I replied to Rob, the second workshop pic includes the wood storage area in the shop. Directly above where I was taking the picture is it's identical cousin. So, I've got space for storage, primarily wood, just got to work out the racks/bins/space things.

      Mrs. J and I do have bug out bags already packed. We test them when we go on vacations as one of the contents is our portable CPAPs. They're our carry on bags for airlines and our meds are in a 14 section daily dose case for grab and go, or a Box with the bottles in it.

      That having been said and something Cletus said, reminded me of a big omission. I need to solve the what to do with the horses problem. It's highly unlikely I could get them to put on seat belts in the back of my truck. So, a trailer just went high on my "buy soon" list.

    4. Cletus,
      Thanks, you reminded me of one big hole in our bug out plan...the horses. Gotta figure that one out, but I appreciate the input.

    5. STxAR,
      Great minds think alike. I picked up that book a couple of weeks ago. Working my way through it now. It's been great so far.

    6. Better get a trailer...can't really see your lovely bride sitting on the back tailgate holding onto the reins of your horses as ya'll lead them away from flames/embers/smoke, etc. Wouldn't be MY idea of a fun time anyway.
      Reason I thought of it was my sister lives in the San Diego area, and their daughter is horse-crazy...the stable where she rides and works was threatened by wildfire about 5 years ago now, came very close (a couple of miles away) but then the wind changed and it veered off. Jan had said it was pretty scary, and the usually pretty bidable horses were pretty clear they wanted to be anyplace else but where they were. Guess they were getting trailers loaded, and it wasn't fun. She suggested wet towels over heads to keep critters calm helped a little. Just a suggestion...have a bag, and a plan...

    7. Looking into the trailer as we speak. Thanks for the how to get them in tip.

  13. Prayers continues for the little one. FWIW, I'd recommend at least a sheet or two of OSB for the top of the 1/4 plywood. OSB can be used to 'anchor' any number of things... Just sayin... ;-)

    1. Thanks, Probably should have put that up underneath. But I do know where the studs are now, so should be able to attach things to them.

  14. With that fire, I do hope you get the rain. I chuckled at your term "local" itinerants. I don't think they're local! haha. I will add an extra round for LJD tonight.

    1. Thanks, Tuna. She showed improvement overnight, not out of the woods, but moving in the right direction.

      I'm virtually certain (Ok drop the "virtually), they are not local. There wasn't anything in the official report, but my friend said they spoke no English whatsoever.

  15. I am late to the party as usual... prayers for LJD. My grand-niece was 1 pound 15 ounces delivered after emergency Cesarean. She is now a beautiful 13-year old young lady playing piano and performing ballet. We adapt to her quirks and rejoice in her life. May you be blessed with the joys of your grand-daughter.

    1. Apologies for the second post but right now I have tears in my eyes. She was so small she would have fit in the palm of my hand if they had let me hold her. Believe in her, pray for her, support her and make allowances for her if she grows to adulthood.

    2. Crap. "As", never "if". Always have faith in God's plan.


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