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VOLUMES 217 & 218 -------- JULY/AUGUST 2020

July/August 2020 - Uploaded September 13, 2020

Finally getting started on my newsletter.

The latest news here would be the wildfires consuming millions of acres in many of the western states including Washington.  Labor Day weekend saw a weather front move through with dry northeasterly winds of near hurricane force.  One gust was clocked at 90 mph on Rattlesnake Mountain about 150 miles to our southwest.

The resulting downed power lines sparked many more fires in addition to the ones already burning. Widespread power outages were also prevalent with some being out for more than 4 days while lines were rebuilt.  Yeah, that was the Canadian cold front that brought a 60 degree drop in temperature and snow to Denver!  Let's not forget the totally unnecessary fires that began with the carelessness of some of the idiots recreating in our beautiful wildlands over the long weekend!

So far we've been lucky, in that nothing currently burning is very close to us here at the ranch nor did we lose power when many others were out.  That does not mean we aren't affected though!  As I write this on September 12th, the Spokane area air quality is in the Hazardous category due to a change in wind direction that has socked us in with the smoke from the fires burning to the south and west of us.  Needless to say we have just hunkered down inside nearly all day.

The most scary fire event for us occurred about two weeks ago when we heard sirens on the County road passing by to the northwest.  An estimated dozen or so vehicles came roaring by in the space of a half hour or so.  (Ours is a nearly all volunteer department, so it takes a while for the troops to gather at the fire station and move out.)  Turned out there was a small fire along the edge of the road 3 or 4 miles away that was quickly extinguished before it could move into the adjacent heavy timber.  We never saw a news account about the incident, nor became aware of the cause.

We have a couple of lawn sprinklers on the roof that can be activated in minutes, but with the kind of winds we had Labor Day, not sure it would do much good.  We'll just keep our fingers crossed and hope our normal autumn rains arrive sooner rather than later!

On a brighter note, Jennifer celebrated her 24th birthday with us on the evening of August 1st.  The actual birthday is July 31st, but she was in Pullman that day celebrating with some friends where she worked during her WSU college days.

The evening began with an appetizer of morel mushrooms rescued from the freezer and oven heated.  You've read in these pages about how Ann hunts morels every spring, then fries and freezes them for a treat on special occasions.

Yum! Nuf Said!

Next on the agenda some steaks were transported from BBQ to plates and were served along with salad, corn on the cob, and home baked bread.

Hard to beat USDA Prime filets

Now for the biggest decision of the evening: gift opening before dessert or after?  Okay, gift opening it is!  Rick had now joined us for the gift opening and cake.  You will note in the following photos that we were (and still are) torn up in the midst of our home remodel.

Ready or not, here we come.  Yes, we were practicing social distancing and masking

The loot table

Tearing in to the goodies

Never know what you'll find in the end of a roll of paper towels

Cash always makes a good birthday gift

Blowin' out those candles.  Gosh, it's hard to believe she's 24 years old!

So there you have the abbreviated birthday party!

Ann and I being of an age where catching COVID-19 would not be a very good idea, we continue to be pretty much homebodies.  We would normally eat out at least once a week and run around to shop
quite regularly for stuff we don't need.  Ann does play golf with her ladies' league and friends twice a week and I am on the course with my Elks Lodge friends every Tuesday morning.  The last meal we had in a sit down restaurant was March 13th at Cracker Barrel in Coeur d' Alene!  We do pick up some 'takeout' occasionally and hit a drive through window once in a while.

We have also been experiencing the frustrations and 'fits and starts' that seem to occur with any project contracted out.  As reported in the last newsletter, we are in the midst of a fairly major remodel of the house.  Everything from removing the remainder of the old 'popcorn' ceilings, to new flooring, repainting, and kitchen appliances.  With the project starting on July 6th, we expected to be well done by now.  Not even close!

We did finally get moved back into the master bedroom about a week ago after spending 59 nights sleeping in the travel trailer.

Apparently the stand downs at the beginning of the COVID pandemic has created delays in everything from getting materials, to shortages of workers, to contractors simply trying to catch up.  Topped by this one:  One of our contractor's suppliers supposedly simply 'lost' a truck
for several days that contained the lumber to finish our living room ceiling!

The lumber is found and work is supposed to resume next week.  It's been extremely frustrating and makes us grouchy.  No, grouchy is not the right word.  We just get 'pissed off.'

Back in the March/April issue, I touched upon what one does when forced to stay home more than usual and abstain from such things as vacation travel and eating out.

Some things that have occurred around here include cleaning up and sorting through decades of accumulated stuff and deciding what can go to Goodwill and what simply goes to the dump.  Ann has done the bulk of that work, but I have dabbled around the edges.  (You see, none of MY stuff is actually junk.)

I have also done a little carpentry, which hasn't happened since a way long time ago.  Years ago we bought a new bedroom suite.  The bed, with bookcase headboard and platform with underbed storage drawers, was and is simply too big for our smallish master bedroom. So, we decided to rid ourselves of the bed, go with a simple bed frame and buy a headboard that would kinda match the dresser, chest, and night stands.

Our headboard shopping did not go well.  Everything we could find in the local stores was too tall, too bulky, and (our opinion) just plain damn ugly!  Since the headboard needed to fit beneath an existing window, one criteria was a height of 40 inches or less.  We found that to be nearly impossible to find!  So, could I build a simple headboard?

After finding some oak lumber at Home Depot, and some more at Windsor Plywood, I drew up a plan and went to work.  Turned out pretty well and is even a close match to the finish on the rest of the bedroom furniture.

Headboard made from an oak 1x12

Next thing I knew, Ann had an idea to provide still more floor space while maintaining all the drawer space in the rest of the furniture.  She asked, "Can you stack the two night stands so they will go in the space beside the slider door?"

A little ingenuity, sawing, fitting, and a few screws, accomplished that chore; making, in effect, a narrow chest of drawers.

Stacked night stands making a 4 drawer chest

We decided that the tri-fold mirrors attached to the dresser could go bye-bye too, so with a little judicious 'corner rounding,' the center section of the mirror was rotated 90 degrees and mounted on the wall.

Heavy duty 'flush mount' hardware securely placed the mirror on the wall above the dresser

I commented to Ann after putting everything back together in the room, "Heck we could hold a square dance in here now!"

Some of you may remember that I have handloaded ammunition for many years.  I have even presented seminars on the subject at a couple of gun stores in the area.  At that time I put together a narrated Power Point presentation for beginning to intermediate reloaders.  I made the program available on disc and sold some to members of an online shooting forum I used to belong to. 
That project is another interest that has been dormant for a few years.

One issue with the Power Point presentation that I was never happy with, was the quality of the narration for the slides.  I tried recording the narrative with the computer's built-in microphone as well as two or three different external mics I have around here but it never sounded right to me.

With the thought in mind of someday re-recording and cleaning up that narration, I began looking at various studio quality USB microphones.  I have been hot and cold on the idea for a year or more now.  With Covid forced time on my hands, I decided to head to the local Best Buy and pick up a Blue Yeti studio microphone I had looked at a number of times.

Must be a lot of other people with time on their hands!  The shelves where the USB microphones are normally displayed were empty!  So much for instant gratification on that!  I returned home and began an online search for a Yeti Professional and could find NONE in stock in any store in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene!

As has been necessary a lot in the last 6 months, I finally just ordered online.  Staples online store had one in stock, in one color only, and my credit card still worked.  My Blue Yeti Professional arrived in about a week.

Blue Yeti USB studio microphone with headphone jack

After learning how to set up and operate the dang thing, I revised and re-recorded the narrative for the 63 slides in the reloading presentation.  I can honestly say that the new recordings are much better than the old  ones.  However, there were several 'plosives' throughout the presentation
that are a bit distracting.

Naw, I had never heard the word plosive before, or if so don't remember it.  I know what they are, and have been familiar with them nearly all my life, but can't remember hearing that word.  I have played guitar and sang and spoke into a microphone since I was a teenager.  When doing that, one has to take care about the "P" sound.  (Also the "B", "D", and "T" sounds can be a problem.)  When saying words like "Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers," you're gonna have a lot of plosives.

We all recognize the effect when this happens and understand it is caused by the little blast of air hitting the microphone when we make those sounds.  Other than directing the plosive sound a little off the center of the mic, the best cure is said to be the 'pop shield.'  We've all seen pictures and videos of someone in a recording studio singing or speaking through a little circle with a screen in it.  That's the pop shield.  The screen is supposed to stop the little air blast while allowing the sound to go through unaltered.  Now I gotta have one so I can redo the narrative again!  We'll see how that works out when Little Heifer gets wind of this.

At any rate, I have deleted the 'Reloadin' Stuff' material on the oldmissourihillbilly site and moved it here to jimparman.com.  If you have a minute, navigate to the 'Reloadin' Stuff' page, then click on the Demo link, and let me know what you think.

I'm gonna start winding this down now.  I could get on the soapbox and spend a week talking about the political scene and the demonstrations and riots going on, but I won't.  Let's just all be sure and vote on November 3rd!

I believe I have mentioned before, that I do not Facebook.  Ann is the Facebooker in the family and will occasionally call my attention to something that might interest me.  I especially like many of the jokes!  Some of the other stuff, makes me shake my head and wonder what some people are thinking?  There are a number of behaviors that I have observed that really leave me scratching my head.

So, what if people actually did and said, in person, some of the things they do on Facebook?  Here is a satirical look at some of those scenarios:

Facebooking in person

Here is a challenge to you Facebookers.  Instead of posting all that really important, intelligent stuff online from the security of your computer or smartphone, just do it in person.  Here are some examples:  (execute in random order)

Walk up to people in your local shopping Mall, show them a picture of your dinner plate from last night and tell them who you were with.

Approach everyone in Safeway with a printed selfie picture, show it to them, and hint that they should tell you how pretty/ beautiful/ handsome/ sophisticated/ you look.

Fred Meyer patrons especially like to see pictures of your dog/ cat/ parakeet/ gerbil/ iguana/ and for you to describe how clever/ smart/ cute/ they are.

Random strangers at Walmart love for you to approach them and introduce your spouse/significant other, by their cutesy nickname that you never use except on Facebook.

While standing in line for movie tickets, tell the person in front of you that you are with the person behind you, even though you don’t know either one.

When you observe a drunk hanging on to a street sign, puking his/her guts out, walk up and give it a loud “LIKE.”

Pick a random ten people you encounter during your daily activities and walk up and loudly ask each of them for their “Friendship.”

A good one for Nordstrom’s is showing random customers pictures of your legs and feet, explaining how wonderful it feels to sit in the sun on your patio.

(The last person who accepted the challenge made it through almost two of the listed items before being escorted, first to jail, then to a psychiatric ward!)

This month's hillbilly wisdom is "A Cowboy Blessing" from wrea.org:

May your belly never grumble
May your heart never ache
May your horse never stumble
May your cinch never break

Don't forget to visit the Stories From The Past page.  Some true stories are better than made-up ones.

Well, it's time to shut down here, so. . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!

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