Monday, September 18, 2017

WHEN not IF

As I followed the fellow swerving onto the shoulder and across the center line driving 15 miles under the speed limit which was only 35 mph, it seemed like an excessive amount of caution for a mid afternoon drive across town with the kids still in school and most people still at work. I had an epiphany of sorts. Two decades ago, I would have assumed the fellow had an all night bender and was drunk driving. It wasn't a rare event but it didn't happen too often. I remember a time when I followed a fellow five miles who kept swerving from one ditch to the other ditch. Lucky for him they were very shallow ditches and we met no oncoming traffic on his way into town where he finally made it up a side street. These days, I would have called on my cellphone and had the police waiting for him upon his arrival.

Times have certainly changed. The swerving and very slowly driving fellow I was following wasn't drunk. I knew that because I could see the cellphone held up to his ear the entire way into downtown. By my count, he committed four traffic violations by failing to use his turn signal and caused one other driver to slam on their brakes hard when he started to proceed from a stop sign into the path of an oncoming car. He also figured it out and hit his brakes three feet into the intersection.

On my way back to the edge of town, I fell in behind another car also driving slowly and failing to use any turn signals because, you guessed it, I could see the phone held up to their ear. Up ahead, a car was coming down a side street, drove through the stop sign by ten feet and ended up with her bumper two feet into our lane. The car ahead of me still yakking on their cellphone never noticed. I however did and slowed down because there was oncoming traffic and it was a tight squeeze now that my lane had been reduced by two feet. As I slowly went by, the young lady in the car was looking towards the direction I was heading and of course talking on a cellphone. Just as I was directly in front of her, she hit the gas and started going, assuming without looking that I was already past her. I wasn't. I saw the car coming out of my peripheral vision and hit the gas while she finally saw me blocking her entire windshield and hit the brakes. I waited for impact but it never came. She must have missed me by inches.

What gets me is that I see this kind of thing DAILY. It isn't a rare event like seeing a drunk driver of decades past. The streets have become a jungle. Our state finally took a stand enacting a new law this summer than bans texting or use of social media while driving but unfortunately doesn't ban the use of calling or talking to someone while driving. It worries me because there isn't a lot I can do to defend myself. I already assume that anyone at an intersection can turn in any direction because most people don't use turn signals, impaired by cellphones or not. The only way I can prepare is to make sure I have good insurance to take care of me WHEN someone yakking on a cellphone plows into me, not IF. I often wish people used more common sense and this is another one of those cases.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Dam


I live in a small rural town sometimes referred to as the City of Bridges since the city straddles the river in my blog header and there are 4 traffic bridges, one pedestrian bridge, one railroad bridge and one maintenance bridge above a dam that crosses between the sides. As I walked along the river the other day, I noticed that the latter bridge was being worked on or more accurately, some of the dam gates that control water levels was being worked on. As a result, the pool above the dam seen above was probably a good 12 to 15 feet below normal and the river was essentially freely flowing under the gates instead of over the top.

I've lived near this dam my entire life and I can't recall a time when I've been able to see the river freely flowing or the intakes to the hydro electric plant below. It made me want to grab a kayak and float that section of the river although I may have been shouted at. I probably certain I would have had to duck to get underneath the opened gates as well. Alas I settled for just taking some pictures and watching the work on the gates for awhile before continuing my walk.


Bonus feature: Below is a film clip from my great grandfather's film collection showing this very dam under construction almost 70 years ago.

video

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Just when you've heard it all....

While waiting for kitchen quotes to roll in, which is like waiting for pigs to fly, I got a message from a neighbor up the street saying she is moving and wants to sell her house. Would we be interested? We've actually really liked her house since we moved into this neighborhood and have been in it several times. We've joked that perhaps we might buy it to ourselves if she ever decided to sell. Although it still doesn't have a kitchen like what we want, it does have other things that interest us and I think we could get the kitchen we desire much easier and without any additions. 

It is assessed higher in value than ours by around what I thought might be the cost of adding onto our kitchen. I asked her what she wants for her house and she promised to get back to me after thinking about it. (I don't think she thought we would be interested and caught her by surprise.) Perhaps if the price comes back to something affordable, perhaps we might end up just changing houses instead of adding on.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Bank Bistro


Perhaps a year ago, we saw this restaurant showcased on a local PBS show about ingredients that are grown around our state. We made a note to visit it sometime and then forgot about it until recently when we saw it once again on the same show. Since it happened to be a holiday weekend, we called and they were open so we made reservations and hit the road.


It was only an hour and a half drive, about the same as driving to the urban jungle, so we didn't mind. The town itself is largely dead town with only residential places showing any life. There was a gas station and post office but other than that, everything but the bank was boarded up and deserted, including the silos above. They just grabbed my fancy so I had to take a picture. If this were a thriving town, I might have made an offer on them and turned them into a unique mansion.


The two partners of this restaurant bought a bank and literally turned it into a restaurant, leaving all the bank details in place. There are only maybe a dozen small tables in the entire place so seating was very limited and it filled up immediately upon opening which made be extremely glad for our reservation.


The concept of this restaurant amazed me. It was essentially served tapas on steroids family style. So instead of getting little appetizers, you got enough to go around the table but still served tapas style, i.e. they came as they were ready and not all at once. As a result, they might make up three or four meat and cheese platters seen above and send them out to three different tables and then start working on the next round. Their menu only had about twelve items to choose from so the chances of having multiple orders of each item were high. My favorite on this platter was the spice meat on the lower right with the wedge of mustard seed laced cheese right next to it with one of the pickled red tomato looking peppers all on toasted bread. One of the more unusual but very tasty things on the platter was the pinkish pile in the upper left. It was feta cheese creamed together with beets. I had never thought to do something like that but man it was out of the world good. The little squares of fruit pate were also unique and tasty.


Our first dish was actually lamb ka-bobs with a tomato sauce served with toasted points and a cucumber sauce. It was so delicious that we forgot to take a picture. Above, our third dish was shrimp scampy that we spooned up onto our toasted bread pieces and ate. It tasted as good as it looks.


Our final dish was the dish shown on our local PBS show that got us interested in going to this place, pork belly tacos with pickled red onions on top among other things. They were great as well but definitely not as much of a delight to my taste buds as the meat and cheese platter which we mainly just ordered for the kids but they refused to touch. In the end, they mostly just ate the toasted bread while the rest of us at everything else.

It was worth the stop and we now have another place to stop on date night. The only problem is that there is nothing here to do after eating except drive back home or onto another destination.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Mini Project


This past spring, I was cleaning up my shop and found a scrap of fir lumber from some previous project and decided to make something from it. I looked online awhile and finally settled on some airplanes for my girls to play with. I had intended it to be a summer project for them where they could spend some scorching hot day inside painting them and then more hours/days playing with them. However, other pressing projects and eventually the scorching hot weather itself drove me out of the garage and into the house.

Now that the cool mornings and seasonable afternoons have come back to our area, I have been able to spend more time out in the garage and in-between other projects, I did some work here and there and finally finished them, at least as far as I'm going to work on them. The finishing part will be left up to my daughters to complete as they desire.

The fir was miserable to work with for some of the intricate details. The plane on the right splintered badly when I went to drill out the holes for the engine cylinders to the point it was unusable. I tried two more times on scrap pieces of wood before getting a successful one and then cut off the nose of the plane and glued the scrap on. Once painted, it won't be noticeable anyway.

The planes are based off Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis plane. I had fun working on them and it was challenging figuring out how to drill off-perpendicular holes on it with my limited tools. I ended up using a good chunk of the fir making jigs as I did making the planes. However now that fall has arrived, they are hiding out in my garage until perhaps Christmas time unless they get found first.