30 November 2010

Going to work!

What kind of work do I do? I'm a truck driver. I hold a CDL Class A license. Simply put, I drive eighteen wheelers for a living. Best thing that ever happened to me when I made this career change fifteen years ago. In the years since, I've been all over the United States, in every state in the lower forty-eight except North Dakota, and I'm told it's not much different than South Dakota... I'm partial to many places I've visited, but they're too numerous to mention in this post, so I'll save them for another time. Back to going to work...it's exciting, much anticipated, too.

I've been umemployed since mid-2009. Haven't had a particularly good year healthwise either, but all that is past me today. I am well and healthy and can still drive a big rig when I'm called upon to do it. It's like riding a bike, which I haven't done in years, or riding a horse after a long absence, and I do as often as I can. But in any case, it comes back quickly. Practice builds on experience.

Been working for a construction trucking contractor on a limited part time basis. Work days have been few and far between. It's been aobut six weeks since he called me to come in. Surpirse, surprise, got the call last week before the holiday, for a couple of long days hauling aggregate for a new road. We were in the yard at 330 AM to check out our rigs and warm them for the days work.

It was an hour and fifteen minute ride to the plant where we were loading. Load time was at 600 AM. I finally had my first load on the trailer at 640 AM, lots of trucks going to the same job. Had a map and limited directions, but didn't have a clue, so followed a couple of other trucks who were going to the same dump site. Another hour and fifteen minutes later we were there.

Whew! The sun was just cresting the mountains and in my eyes making it difficult to see where I was supposed to be dumping... was thankful the spotter was on the ground where I could see him. Flip the switch in the cab ... in less than thirty seconds I was dumped out. It was a done deal. Headed back for another load.

Back to the plant, got another load and was off running again to the dump site. Second load on the ground. Back to the plant for round three. Getting a little sore now...shifter in the rig is not cooperating, and I'm fighting it instead of letting it do the work for me. I know better. This is the first time I've driven this particular rig, too.

Concerned about fuel. Fuel tanks on this rig are small and I knew already I couldn't get the fourth load, dump it out and make it back into the yard. I would have to have fuel. Our driver truck boss assured me there would be a fuel meet after I dumped out the fourth load. I loaded my fourth load at 201 PM, the plant was closing. I held my breath and hoped I'd be able to get back to meet the fuel truck. I dumped out at 300 PM and headed for the fuel meet. Big Sigh! I made it and took on enough to get me back into the yard. By the time I made it into the yard, it was dark thirty and I was having trouble seeing anything in the yard, it's not well lit.

Scheduled to do it all over again tomorrow. Yay! Work!

25 November 2010

It's Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for the food for the table and the weather is comfortably chilly for AZ. I got up very early this morning since I didn't have a chance this week to do the 'do ahead' shopping, cooking and baking that comes with the holidays. I'd had a chance to work on Tuesday and Wednesday so I took the opportunity. So, today had to begin early.

I had my coffee and got right after it....baking pumpkin bread. When that was done, it was off to the store for much needed things for our meal. Things I hadn't shopped for the previous weeks.

Home again, it was time to get the bird in the oven... Made stuffing, yum. This year it's a combination of cornbread and turkey flavor with onion, mushrooms, and celery. Sorry guys and girls, I didn't make it from scratch, it came from a box, time was of the essence, here. Standard stuff for me. Traditional, too. Been doing this same stuffing for many years...

The bird went into the oven on schedule as I had planned. I plan to have everything ready and on the table by 2 PM. I was able to take a short break after I cleaned up the kitchen. Something I learned from my grandmother...it keeps you ahead of the mess, and there isn't so much to clean up after the fact. I watched a little of the parade. As soon as it was over, it was time to run the vacuum cleaner, dust, and spruce up the bathroom. We invited some friends for dinner, today.

Time to peel and dice the vegetables. First the squash, it's the hardest to do. This year, I chose a butternut. I plan to mash it. Then the sweet potato. I plan to mash them too. Curmudge likes sweet potato, so this was for him. He did the vacuuming for me today. Thank you. Had to wash the utensils again, they were so sticky I couldn't hold on to them. I peeled nearly five pounds of white potatoes, too. Everything was set on the stove and ready to turn on at the right time.

Got my new anti-virus program installed in my computer and the internet service changed over to Curmudge's service. This required buying a router and wireless USB adaptor. We had been out earlier in the week and bought what we needed, so I had everything I needed to get it done. It didn't take long to hook it up and voila it's running...Yay! I now have high speed internet. We can both be on line at the same time. We're a mini-network.

Turn the bird was the next order of business and turn on the veggies. We're getting there. Then our neighbors let us know they weren't going to make it over for dinner...short notice is always nice especially after the invite was offered a month ago. Another friend called to cancel too, but in this case, I'd already expected he would have dinner with his folks, since it's usually what he does every year. Their loss.

I'm thankful for what we do have. Plenty of leftovers. We'll eat turkey for a long, long time. It's a big bird 16.62 pounds...stuffed probably more like 18-19 pounds....and with all the other fixin's, I have enough to feed a small army if they're not hungry, eight to ten if they are hungry.

The bird is ready, the veggies have been mashed and are being kept warm in the oven, while I make the gravy and plate stuff up. We're close, so it's time to get away from here and get it done. Good groceries, better food, let's eat, it's finally ready. I'm running 7 minutes behind schedule. That's not bad.

I cooked up the giblets for the kitty's, their treat for today. They deserve it for not being under my feet while I've been trying to cook.

Happy Thanksgiving! To everyone who reads my blog, thank you, too.

19 November 2010

Care Packages and 'yummy' foods from the past

My sister sent me a care package! Woohoo!

In the box, I discovered a can of 'Boston Brown Bread'(yum, yum), a jar of whole onions, a small turnip, and some miscellaneous things she threw in to make the box look more stuffed. Why these particular things? I can't buy a can of brown bread anywhere in AZ. The same goes for the jar of small whole onions. Fresh turnip is hard to come by as well. I got a kick out of the empty soda bottle, too, but understood it was for packing material so the glass jar might not break in transit.

I like my brown bread with hot dogs and baked beans. If you don't care for hot dogs, subsitute kielbasa, smoked sausage, or bratwurst. Have to warm this bread (follow the directions on the can) and slather it with butter, or whatever spread you use.

I know, I know, slathering butter? Artery clogging thought, EW! Yep, makes the bread more tasty, but then this is my personal opinion. The bread is high in calories, 99% fat free and no cholesterol. It's pretty high in sodium, too. I wouldn't recommend it if you're on a low sodium diet or counting calories, but it's a wonderful addition to an otherwise bland meal.

When I was growing up, on Saturday's Mum would fix big pot of baked beans and we would have homemade baked beans, hot dogs, and brown bread for dinner that night. As I recall, it was a weekly staple in our house.

I've missed having these little whole onions on my Thanksgiving table since we moved to AZ. Just a little something for extra variety. They're not pickled, nor are they for putting into cocktails. Just warm them and add to any meal, but my preference is during the holidays especially at Thanksgiving. Good anytime of the year, though, with roast chicken, beef or pork complimenting mashed potatoes gravy, stuffing, squash, peas and cranberry sauce.

As I mentioned before I've had trouble finding turnip in AZ too. I don't know too many folks who like turnip, (it's probably the taste) maybe that's why they're not found out here frequently. I like turnip with my Thanksgiving dinner, I get my fill and don't think about it again until the next year. I cook turnip the same way I cook potatoes (for mashing), except I don't use milk, just a little chicken broth and some butter or margerine.

Six days and counting to Thanksgiving. We've invited a few friends to join us and I will do all the cooking. There's a lot to do, and I can and will get it all done...mostly before hand, except for cooking the turkey (the day of). Because of this little care package, dinner will be a success in a traditional New England way.

I wanted everyone to know what a wonderful sister I have. You've made my life better in so many ways. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

10 November 2010

It's a tad nippy this morning....in Arizona

For those of us who live in Arizona, this is a welcome time of year after the summer heat. Yes, it's the middle of November almost, too. The thermostat reads 68 degrees, and I've just gone to find my slippers, my feet are cold. Yes, cold! I put a sweater on too. It's just before sunrise, the coldest time of day.

Curmudge remarked he was cold an hour ago when he was getting ready for work. He was all bundled up when he went out the door. I had to laugh, though I'd never admit to being chilled. Time to get out the blankets and comforters. This is Arizona after all, it never really gets cold here, right? Bah! Yes it does get 'chilly' after you've lived here as long as I have. This is the desert, too!

I've had the AC shut down since early last week, though temperatures have been hovering in the lower eighty's in the daytime, it's off. Before you know it, Curmudge will want the heat on. I can live without the heat, don't need it, don't want it. Put a sweater on .... get up and move around, get that blood pumping and circulating. Mother and Grandmother would remind us all of this fact when we were growing up and complaining about the cold.

I haven't lived where it truly gets cold for more than thirty years, so this is a wonderful welcome time of year for me. I look forward to it, welcome it. BIG SIGH, it gets here later and later every year it seems. I'm reminded of the 'heat island' effect of this sprawling metro area. This is why I live on the outskirts of the city where there are farms and ranches. It stays a few degrees cooler.

It's going to be a nice, nice day. I'm not going to spend it inside, though I haven't quite decided what I will do outside.... I'll figure something out. What a gorgeous day!

06 November 2010

This doesn't work...

I can't work with Puzzle sitting on my desk! It's an absolute impossibility! I started this project more than an hour ago. Had to chase her off my desk finally. Then because she walked across my keyboard when she departed....

The pix I was downloading from my camera disappeared. Oh no! Then my new computer told me that there were no new pix to download. They're still on the 2GB memory card I have....but I don't know how to get them off it now! I'm so confused!

I still haven't figured it out either. BUT, they weren't really lost! They just went somehwere else, not where I'd intended them to go. Anyway, after some searching, I finally found them. It took a while to restore everything she'd so innocently tried to help me with. Now, maybe I will remember where to find them when I need them again. My picture folder system isn't the best.

I'm still trying to figure out this Windows 7 Operating System. I have a book for reference (for dummies like myself), but sometimes even that isn't giving me what I'm looking for.

They say patience is a virtue. Apparently, I don't have much this morning. I got really frustrated and had to walk away for a few minutes. Of course, it probably doesn't help that I'm not quite awake, haven't had enough caffiene, and have too many things going on in my head either.

Now, I can't remember what I was going to post about. Oh well, I'll think of it later....

02 November 2010

How did I get my CB handle?

In the late 1980's and into the 1990's I was an electrician's apprentice. I didn't do well bending pipe so the boss put me on the wire pulling crew.

The wire pulling crew pulled all the wire on our jobs. We were a small group. Usually only three or four of us in the crew. Once the wire was all pulled in an area we went back and tied the wire together for the devices that would go in the walls and ceilings. Usually, I was the one first sent back to tie wires together with 'wire connectors' aka wire nuts.I kept my supplies in a grocery cart and it went everywhere with me on the site. The wire crew always knew where to come when they needed more wire nuts. So, they started calling me Wirenut. It stuck.

I started CBing before I went to truck driving school and I was looking for a unique handle to use. Someone on the crew suggested I use 'Wirenut'. Eveyone thought I was nuts when I told them I was going trucking. Ironically, they were mostly retired over the road truckers. They would be sorry to see me leave, but wished me well and success. I took the handle with me. To this day, I'm known as 'Wirenut' on the road.

Elk Mountain, Wyoming

The first flurries of the season were beginning to fall in the higher elevations of Wyoming and Utah. It was the middle of October, my first winter out as an over the road truck driver. This would also be my first expereince driving over a mountain at night. We were just outside Evanston, Wyoming where we had swapped drivers. I was nervous, but I knew I could do it. My co-driver had gone to the bunk for some sleep.

The road was wet and mostly deserted. I had set the volume low on the CB so I wouldn't disturb my partner's sleep. It wasn't long before I heard a voice call out .... 'Hey Covenant, where ya headed?' I keyed up to say we were headed into Oklahoma City. 'Whatcha ya doin' way up here if you're going down to Okycity?' That's how our night long conversation began. Four hours into the run I was starting to get a little sleepy. I said as much to my faceless companion on the CB. I was assured he wouldn't let me fall asleep as we kept on trucking.

I don't remember drifting off to sleep. When the steering wheel whipped out of my hands and I felt the rumble of the wheels...I knew I was headed off the road. I was awake now! I could hear the panicky voice on the CB, too.... 'Wirenut!!!!Wirenut!!!!!' My co-driver was instantly in the passenger seat. He'd heard the tires hit the rumble strips.

In a calm soothing voice he said, 'Careful now, don't jerk it, nice and slow, ease it back onto the road...' I pulled the steering wheel gently to the left and the rig righted ittself returning to the roadway. I glanced in the mirror to see the trailer follow me. 'Good job....the road's getting slick, so don't gun it, okay?' My co-driver said. I sighed a big sigh. This scenario was one of my worst nightmares, falling asleep while driving.

An hour later, my faceless CB companion and our two co-drivers were having breakfast and coffee in the big truckstop in Laramie. My faceless CB companion's handle is 'Jersey'. I wouldn't see him again for a long time after that. We would meet again in the Covenant drop yard in Phoenix, AZ.

Posters note:
The elevations of Elk Mountain in Wyoming is 11,156 feet above sea level. Interstate 80 runs east and west through there. I estimate the roadway is probably somewhere in the vicinity of 8,000-8,500 feet above sea level. Snow comes and goes from those elevations from mid-September to mid-May, sometimes earlier and sometimes later in the year. Elk is also known for high wind and ice advisories throughout the year. The handle 'Wirenut' was and still is my handle when I'm trucking.