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Just a reminder that I'm doing all of my Politics and National Defense blogging at Old War Dogs from now on. Please don't forget to stop by there when you're done here.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Still beautiful at 54 days

Posted by Bill Faith on January 14, 2009 at 11:38 PM in Karina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

GWMA - Update

Posted by Bill Faith on January 14, 2009 at 02:01 PM in Around our place | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

GWMA - Update

Algore, Algore, wherefore art thou, Algore? We could use some of your hot air right now. They're saying it might actually get above freezing during the day starting Saturday. Maybe if we burn part of the dead wood we have piled out back we can put enough CO2 in the air to help.

Posted by Bill Faith on January 13, 2009 at 04:04 PM in Around our place | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Still beautiful at 51 days

Has it really only been two weeks since I left Texas the last time? I'm ready to pack up and head back that way tomorrow, but I know it's not practical. Aside from the fact that gas and motel rooms cost money, my body can only handle the trip every few weeks and Heather and Ryan need some time without me underfoot. As things stand now I'll be going down again in late February to try to bring Mom & Vick some pics of Kari at the same age Heather was the first time we brought her to Illinois.

In the mean time, I'm staring at a major case of cabin fever; there's almost nothing I need to get out and get done before Spring other than feeding and watering Sunshine and feeding the birds that swarm our bird feeder every day. (Mainly Sparrows but we've seen a pair of chickadees out there a couple of times and we have at least 3 Cardinals who come around frequently to help clean up seed that falls out of the feeder onto the ground.) Tomorrow I'm going to have Kyle and Brian hang some plastic tarps on the outside of the barn to make it a little less drafty inside, then unless that developer has a change of heart about offering us a reasonable price for the corner of our pasture he wants everything else can wait. It's supposed to be about as cold as I've ever seen it around here for the next several days after tomorrow and I can't see myself dreaming up work to do just to have an excuse to get out of the house.

Eventually we'll probably end up selling that corner of the field, but not till someone offers us a lot more than the turkey who wants it right now does. Lawrenceville's basically out of room to grow except out this direction. For now, there's room for a restaurant of some sort between the new Wal-Mart and the highway and another small business or two on this side of James Street, then that's it. Eventually there will be a real need for another street parallel to James but on this side of Wal-Mart, but probably not for another few years. Right now I figure if the developer that's wanting to do it now ends up coming up with enough money to do business with us he'll end up losing money on the deal.

Posted by Bill Faith on January 11, 2009 at 10:34 PM in Karina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Global warming my ass

Posted by Bill Faith on January 11, 2009 at 01:19 AM in Around our place | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Saturday, 10 January 2009

False alarm at The Circle F, apparently

It's beginning to look pretty unlikely that the turkey who wants to put a road across the bottom of our pasture is going to even come close to offering us enough to close the deal. He'd have to increase his last offer by about a factor of ten to get me very excited about the idea and at least a factor of six to get me to even seriously consider it. As things stand now, I get up mornings and look at the bathroom window to see Sunshine, about two days out of three, standing down at the end of the pasture on land that would be paved over if we'd give it up. Then I move to the kitchen table and sit drinking coffee for a while, looking across the kitchen and through my room at the tops of the trees between us and Wal-Mart, trees that would have to be cut for a road to go through there. Then when I eventually get around to moving to my blogging corner I glance up every so often to see if anything's happening over at the Grigsby place, right in the middle of where this fool wants to build a road. I won't say that for the right price I couldn't be persuaded to give that up, but the right price is going to have to take into account more than just "How much is land worth by the acre on the west edge of Lawrenceville?" I really don't know what sort of game this fool's trying to play; apparently he has it in his head we're desperate enough for money to accept pennies on the dollar for what that particular piece of land would be worth to him. He's offered Grigsbys, contingent on us selling, $70K and a house he could easily sell for more than that. I don't have any firm numbers on how much it costs to put in a street across undeveloped land but I can't believe it wouldn't cost at least as much as he's offered Grigsbys for their place. If he's really ready to spend that sort of money to increase the value of the land he owns behind us then the piece of our place he wants is obviously worth a lot more to him than he's offered us. Is he really stubborn enough to give up his plans to develop the land behind us just to prove a point or is it simply a matter of waiting him out? Time will tell, I suppose.

Posted by Bill Faith on January 10, 2009 at 12:57 AM in Around our place | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Tuesday, 06 January 2009

Six and a half weeks and still beautiful

Posted by Bill Faith on January 6, 2009 at 04:53 PM in Karina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Frustration at The Circle F

It's not at all clear at this point whether that land deal's going through or not. Our initial asking price and the developer's initial offer were only off by about a factor of ten. We may or may not end up meeting somewhere in between the two numbers. Anyway, here's a better aerial shot our place and the area right around it than I've had before, courtesy of the developer. Click it to see it bigger.

The blue line in the above pic more or less shows the pasture area Sunshine currently has available. The red line is more or less what the developer wants to buy, and the green line is additional pasture I'd need to fence in if he does. There's enough room in the green area so that we'd still have enough pasture for one horse without the land we might be selling but there's going to be some work involved getting it properly fenced in. For now it's just a matter of waiting to see if the developer calls back with an acceptable offer.

Posted by Bill Faith on January 6, 2009 at 04:47 PM in Around our place | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Monday, 05 January 2009

Circle F Update

(Written as if it's still Sunday night, which it is for me.)

It was great to see my nephew (Cpt. Rob Faith, USAF) when he dropped in unexpectedly a little earlier. He's on his way from Ft. Rucker, where he just completed basic helicopter training, to Albuquerque for Huey training. From there he'll be going to Minot, ND to fly for SAC for a while. I'm not sure what they use Hueys for at Minot but I guess he'll find out when he gets there.

I guess we had a fairly productive weekend if I consider the fact I was feeling a bit under the weather and wasn't up to pushing the guys too hard. We got both porches cleaned off and dug a trench around the barn so it won't get muddy inside when it rains, then spread some hay on the floor to make it less slippery. Sunshine still doesn't go in there on his own but at least Vick has a place to visit with him without standing out in the wind and rain. We also spent way more of the afternoon than I'd realized we were going to burning some of the wood Matt cut up Friday. I figured we'd either make an honest attempt to get a fire going and find out the wood was too damp to burn or else have a roaring bonfire for about half an hour and be done with it. Instead we ended up with a slow fire that took about three hours to burn down to the point where I felt safe walking away and leaving it unattended.

Kyle's going to be out of town tomorrow, babysitting his niece and nephew, and I'd figured till a little bit ago that meant not getting anything done outside, since I have chainsaw work next on my list and I want a healthy safety man available while it's being done. As of about half an hour ago the plan is for Brian and Scotty to spend a couple or three hours working for me, cleaning up a little better along what used to be the edge of the woods.

Vicki and I are in agreement it makes sense to fence most of the old garden as pasture, regardless of whether the deal with Boyd goes through, and to tear down the south kennel, which that storm last week did a major number on. If it were just up to me I'd probably tear down the north kennel while we're at it but Vick and Scotty would have my hide if I did.

If I'd been thinking in terms of converting the garden to pasture when we did the repairs on the garage I'd have done some things differently. Since I wasn't, I let the guys add a bunch of boards with old nails in them to the junk pile we already intended to burn in the garden, thinking if we just raked the area real well after we were done burning things that would be all that needed done. I think instead what I need to do is have the guys dig a big enough hole near where we did the burning to hold about the top three inches of dirt from under the fire without being full, then cover up the suspect dirt and use what's left of what came out of that hole to fill in the hole under where the fire was. If we end up short on dirt after doing that I still have enough left of what I bought last summer to level both holes off.

I have too many things I'd still like to see done around here to feel comfortable planning to do them all with the amount of my Social Security settlement I still have left. It's probably a good thing Scotty and Brian want to work tomorrow afternoon; otherwise I'd spend the whole day pacing around wondering how things are going to work out on the land deal that may or may not be on the way.

Posted by Bill Faith on January 5, 2009 at 01:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Friday, 02 January 2009

Circle F update (Updated)

Basically, none of what I'd hoped to get done around here yesterday got done. Kyle woke up hung over, Matt woke up with a runny nose, I woke up with a major sinus headache, and we decided it was a good day to not try to work outside. Today, fortunately, was better. Matt cut all the trees we lost Saturday into manageable pieces and Kyle and Brian stacked the pieces. We roughly doubled our supply of firewood for cookouts and our supply of kindling, which we already had more than enough of. It'll take a while for what got cut up today to dry out enough to be burned so for now the kindling-size stuff is piled in the old garden waiting to dry out and be burned.

I told Kyle and Brian to plan on working tomorrow but I haven't decided for sure what to have them do in what order. Vicki (my sister) wants a trench and levee to keep the floor of the barn from getting muddy when it rains, which it's expected to tomorrow night, so that probably gets priority. I guess when she went out to calm Sunshine down after the storm Saturday night they were both slipping and sliding around in the mud even in the barn. After that's done I think I'll have the guys clean up better along what used to be the edge of the woods to improve our negotiating position with Mr. Boyd, the guy who wants to build the road down at the far end of the pasture a little, (more on that matter in a minute), then maybe clean off the front porch like I was going to have them do before I left for Texas if the weather hadn't turned so mean.

I guess for some tax-related reason would be to Boyd's advantage to wrap up whatever deals he's making for land for a road by the middle of the month. Vick talked to him for a few minutes this morning and told him I wanted to discuss the situation with him. He says the next step is to get some surveyors to mark off the part of our field he needs, then he'll stop by to talk to us, tentatively Tuesday. In the mean time Vick found out how much the Grigsbys are getting for their place and it's pretty clear that Boyd wants to build a road bad enough he should be able to make it worth our while to deal with him. She also got an estimate from someone who knows the local realty market on how much we could sell the whole place for and it's considerably more than he offered us for it before. Some things Mr. Boyd's going to have to understand:

  • My baby sister's a nice person. Me, not so much.
  • It's not just a matter of how much land is worth by the acre on this edge of Lawrenceville, it's a matter of him wanting to build a road and us not really wanting a road right next to our pasture, not to mention the noise and dust while it's being built.
  • In the months that have passed since the last time he wanted part of our place my Social Security came through. He could still turn our heads with enough money but we can also afford to tell him to get lost if we decide to.
  • We now have a horse to care for, who will live out the rest of his days here. Whatever deal we work out can't result in the horse having any less pasture space than he does now.
  • The people who are converting the place just west of the lane to a bar and grill would like to buy this place so they could live close to their business. (There's no chance of us actually selling the whole place but Boyd doesn't need to know that.)

Back to my reason for cleaning up along the edge of the woods a little better. When Boyd first showed up here about a year and a half ago this place looked like something straight out of Hazzard County, complete with junk piled in the yard, derelict cars scattered around, and a garage that looked like it could fall over any day. I can see how the man might have thought he was dealing with a bunch of poor white trash too desperate for a few dollars to hold out for a fair deal. There are still some things that need to be done before this place looks as nice as it did when Dad was healthy but over the past few months I've made major progress. Goodbye Dukes of Hazzard, hello Picket Fences. Getting the edge of the woods tidied up a little more before Tuesday is another step in the right direction.

I may not get a lot of restful sleep between now and when the situation settles out. I have big hopes of Vick and Mom ending up with enough money to not need so much help from me for a while and I'm sort of looking forward to playing "Engineer Bill" some more rearranging fences. As nerved up as the matter is going to keep me for a while it's really a good thing Boyd has reasons of his own for wanting to get things wrapped up quickly.


Been sitting outside thinking when I might shoulda been sleeping but I have a lot on my mind.

Unless Boyd wants a bigger chunk of our pasture than I think he probably will I'm not sure there needs to be any land trade involved, just cash for land, which should be a lot easier to define and negotiate. The thing is, I don't think letting Sunshine pasture in the garden and having the garden available for use as a family park necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. I could fence off the garden, leave the existing gate between the garden and barn lot and put in a gate between the yard and the garden. During times the garden needs to be used as pasture in could be and during other times we could shut Sunshine out of it, throw a few souvenirs of his presence over the fence, and use it the same way we always have.

Having realized we can use the garden as pasture without giving up our traditional weenie roast area, I also realize now we can be more flexible about which exact part of the field behind us we'd have to have in a land swap if Boyd does need too much of our east end for just opening up the garden to make a big enough difference. I need more time to flesh that idea out when I have daylight to walk around out back by and after I see how much of our place he really needs, but basically it doesn't have to be a matter of moving our whole south line out by the same amount and keeping the new line parallel to the existing one. Right now what I really need to do is get some sleep.

Posted by Bill Faith on January 2, 2009 at 10:40 PM in Around our place | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Thursday, 01 January 2009

Did I mention I'm still pretty proud of my grandson too?

With all the pictures of Karina I've been posting I can't let you forget I'm still very, very proud of her big brother Ian too. Did you ever see a better looking young man? And smart to boot! (Sorry about the specks on my scanner; they aren't his fault.) More Ian pictures here.

Posted by Bill Faith on January 1, 2009 at 12:53 AM in Ian | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Meanwhile, back at The Circle F

I think we're really gonna miss that little woods they tore down:

Maybe we really did, by pure coincidence, have the worst windstorm we've had in at least 51 years two months after they tore that woods down but it doesn't feel that way. I guess it got pretty exciting around here Saturday night; exciting enough to convene an emergency family meeting in the hall outside the hall bathroom, the only place in the house with no windows and the place the roof is least likely to fall in on if things get really bad. We lost two trees along what used to be the edge of the woods and one out by the old dog kennel. I'm proud to say the barn I designed and the garage I had repaired came through unscathed. It didn't even blow "our" geese away; with the cold snaps they've already ridden out without leaving I think maybe it's safe to hope they've decided to stay near that lake for good:

I went for a little stroll around the perimeter of our place this afternoon; here's a glimpse looking down our back property line from a little south of it and a little west of our place:

My reason for being out there was curiosity about what part of that field behind us would be most useful in return for giving up part of the east end of our pasture for a road from the highway back to the field so the developer who owns the field has a better chance of being able to sell part of it as small-business lots. I couldn't remember how far behind our place the ground was reasonably level before dropping off sharply down toward the lake. It looks to me like there's enough of it that is fairly level to more than make up for the amount of pasture we'd be losing if we let go of enough land for a road. The next step in the process is to get me face to face with the developer to discuss the matter. My thinking right now is that if we're going to be tearing down fences and building new ones we might as well give Sunshine access to part of "the garden" in the process. My sister thinks we'd be better off with a bigger barn lot and smaller pasture anyway, so fencing part of the garden and part of the field behind it sounds reasonable to me. Of course that means that in addition to just the land swap there has to be enough cash involved to cover a lot of labor and fencing materials, not to mention what it's going to take to convince my sister it's OK to have a road that close to the pasture. She's convinced the developer wants to build that road bad enough to make a very non-trivial difference in our budget to convince us to let him do it. If he wants to do it bad enough to buy and tear down that first house east of us he must want it bad enough to make things worth the bother for us while he's at it. Aside from the fact I don't have nearly as much of that big Social Security back settlement left as I wish I did and we could really use the money, I know getting out and around to get that fence built last summer was good for me physically and mentally and I'm really a little excited about the prospect of having money to work with to do some more of the same sort of thing in the coming months.

Before the developer and I can get out to take a look at things without walking way out around we need to get those fallen trees cut up and moved; that needs to be done before the next time we need hay anyway. (Fortunately there was an almost-new bale in the barn lot when the trees blew down, so it's not an emergency for a few days.) My brother in law got out yesterday (12/30 -- It's still Wednesday to me) and did some of the cutting up and will be doing some more tomorrow and maybe Saturday if need be. As it stands now Kyle and Brian will be here tomorrow and Saturday, and Sunday if need be, to carry off and stack what he cuts.

Posted by Bill Faith on January 1, 2009 at 12:38 AM in Around our place | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Driving's fun again!

Still tiring (I wore out and rented a room three hours from home), but more fun than it's been for a while. Between the G6 GT I bought myself in October and the Garmin Nuvi my sister bought me for Christmas, the trip back from Texas really has been sort of fun. It's fun to drive a car that isn't even starting to breath hard at 79.5 mph on the Oklahoma turnpike system and doesn't have any trouble at all holding a constant 74.5 up and down the hills on I-44 coming up through Missouri. I've made the trip enough times I could find the way without help but is really is useful knowing how far it is to the next interchange that matters and what lane I should be in when I get there. The thing's also great at telling you what motels are where along the road ahead of you so you don't drive by the last one for 80 miles at 11 PM like I've been known to do, and at telling you where you can find something to eat after you've decided where to stay.

In other news, it sounds like things aren't done changing around The Circle F for very long after all.

The two story building just west of us on the south side of the highway is reportedly going to be turned into a restaurant and bar sometime soon. It was a restaurant when we moved to Lawrenceville 51years ago and I think it may have been a bar ("Pig & Whistle" sounds like a bar to me) at some point before that. Since then it's been a beauty parlor, antique shop, second-hand store and probably several other things I'm not remembering right now. I guess the guy who owns the place also had dreams for a little while of buying Mom's house and yard but my sister told him to get lost, probably more politely than I would have.

On the other side of us, the first neighbor east of us on the south side of the road has apparently decided to sell out to the developer who now owns the field behind us. The developer wants to build a road from the highway to the field behind us and wants to buy enough of our place so he can. I guess my sister's told him that if he wants to do business bad enough we're willing to at least consider dealing with him. What they've discussed in principal, but not in any detail so far, is us trading him some of the east end of our pasture for some of the land behind us and an appropriate amount of cash. As far as I'm concerned we can at least talk but the amount of cash involved is going to have to be a bit non-trivial. Aside from the fact he's talking about bringing in earth moving equipment and making a lot of noise not very far from the house, he'd also need to cut some trees that I think look just fine right where they are,  between us and Wal-Mart, not to mention having traffic right across the fence from Sunshine. For there to be any chance of making a deal he's also going to have to throw in enough of the land south of us so Sunshine still has plenty of pasture. Of course any deal we make with him also means Bill and the boys are back in the fence building business next summer. Building the fence we built last year was good for my health, physical and mental, so I guess as long as someone comes up with enough money to cover the job I can't complain too much about that aspect of things. I guess it all comes down to the question of whether our friendly developer is really serious about doing business.

Posted by Bill Faith on December 30, 2008 at 12:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Monday, 29 December 2008

The Mom Song

The Mom Song from Northland Video on Vimeo.

Posted by Bill Faith on December 29, 2008 at 10:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Here's lookin' atcha kid

More awesomeness here.

Posted by Bill Faith on December 27, 2008 at 11:38 PM in Karina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)