Monthly Archives: September 2013

RE & Tiger

Clients Can Drive You To…


I ran out of thinset at about 4:15 yesterday afternoon while laying floor tile. The customer had left me a tub, but it was dried out. I debated on running to Depot to pick up another tub since I only had about 10 square feet left. I decided against it because I had a lot of diagnal cuts to make, so I decided to go in and finish it this morning.

I sent the customer a text about another facet of the job for Monday when I was at Depot. He called back and asked how the rest was going.

Client: “Did you tile under the cabinets?”
Me: “No. There isn’t enough tile for that. There is just enough to do the kitchen running up to the cabinets.”
Client: “Did you tile up to the door?”
Me: “The entry door? No. You asked me to tile the kitchen.”
Client: “I was hoping you’d do it like apartment #5.”
Me: “I’ve never been in apartment #5.”
Client: “You haven’t? What were you in?”
Me: “Apartment 1.”
Client: “Apartment 1 isn’t like that at all.”
Me: “No kidding. We don’t have enough tile to do to the door. Where did you buy this stuff?”
Client: “Wow. Let’s see. I think it was on clearance at Lowes for 99 cents a tile.”
Me: “Frack me.”

As it turns out, I got lucky running out of the thinset. I would have finished off the kitchen and been done with it. With the little hallway and entryway getting tile, the diagnal cuts are now unnecessary. Not that it matters, Lowes no longer has the tile.

They call it clearance for a reason.

Live at the Blackhawk

Miles Davis Live at the Blackhawk

Way back in the day, when the world was young (at least in my eyes), and libraries in small midwestern towns were housed in beautiful, grand old buildings just off the main square, I had discovered something really cool. It was so cool, that none of my friends at the time understood what the hell I was going on about. This particular library in question, forced one to walk up a set of immense steps to a large porch with a set of majestic pillars, before you had to make your way past a thick wooden door to enter a world of books. The books were stacked in rooms with dark wood floors, criss-crossed with trails where the passage of thousands of feet had worn off the varnish and stain. Stair cases seemed to be in every corner, leading you up into the high ceilings to even more rooms of books. Damn, as a kid I absolutely loved that library, and my mother took me there weekly.

This library loaned far more than books, of course. It also lent out vinyl, and they had an entire room of nothing but LP’s. It was there that I was initially introduced to the world of Jazz, and the first album I checked out was by a trumpeter called Louis Armstrong. Soon after, I took up the trumpet myself, and I wasn’t all bad… when I practiced.

Armstrong inspired me to try my luck at playing, but it was Miles that really hooked me to the music. I was really young when I came across the album: “Miles Davis In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk”. It’s important to note, that it wasn’t the Friday Night Album, nor the Saturday Night Album, because I had scored the Complete Album of both nights. And I spun that vinyl over and over and over again.

I kept that double LP until 2007, when it was lost to the ages. I eventually downloaded the iTunes version, which turned out to be the really “Complete” Album, but I still missed the LP. As luck would have it, I once again stumbled upon the Friday and Saturday Night double album on vinyl recently, and I still prefer to spin that when the fire is going in the woodstove and the stars are blazing bright like they are tonight.

I wish the Blackhawk was still around. I’d like to sit back with a Scotch & some friends, and listen to some jazz there, just to know I had done it once. It must have been one hell of an experience back in 1961.

Just because…

Damn nice Rover

Everett Ruess

Ruess:burro:curly 1931

In 1930, Everett Ruess, at the age of 16, started his travels into the American Southwest. Usually walking, or occasionally riding one of his burros, Ruess traversed across California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. He left behind a prolific bundle of writing, in both letters and journals, documenting his travels.

Everett was one of the first Anglos to venture into this desert wilderness solely to immerse himself in its beauty. He wasn’t a prospector or a rancher, just a young man who investigated cliff dwellings, painted water colors, cut linoleum prints of landscapes, and he wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

In November of 1934, Everett Ruess walked his two burros into Davis Gulch near Escalante, Utah, disappearing into history at the age of 20. He was never seen again. His body, paintings, equipment, and gear were (allegedly) never found. A search party found his two burros in a makeshift corral that Everett made in the canyon bottom of Davis Gulch.

Sadly, at least two of his journals are missing. One was stolen by a huckster who had claimed to a distraught family that he was going to write a biography on the young vagabond. That journal is in the hands of a private collector from Indiana who refuses to let anyone read it, including the Ruess family. The other, of course, disappeared with Everett.

Ruess packed a lot of life into 20 years; more than many do in a lifetime. His tale is a fascinating one. In his last letter to his brother Waldo, Everett wrote, “This had been a full, rich year. I have left no strange or delightful thing undone I wanted to do…”

Photo Courtesy of EverettRuess.Net All Rights Reserved

NEMO 1934

e ruess w:dog & burro

“The perfection of this place is one reason why I distrust ever
returning to the cities. Here I wander in beauty and perfection.
There one walks in the midst of ugliness and mistakes. …
Here I take my belongings with me. The picturesque gear
of packing, and my gorgeous Navajo saddle blankets make
a place my own. But when I go, I leave no trace.”

Everett w:burros

“As to when I shall visit civilization; it will not be soon, I
think. I have not tired of the wilderness; rather I enjoy its
beauty and the vagrant life I lead, more keenly all the time.
I prefer the saddle to the street car and the star sprinkled
sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail, leading into the
unknown, to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the
wild to the discontent bred by cities.

Ruess, Pegasus & Curly in Zion

“Say that I starved, that I was lost and weary
That I was burned and blinded by the desert sun
footsore, thirsty, sick with strange diseases,
lonely and wet and cold, but that I kept my dream!”

“I have been thinking more and more that I shall always be a
lone wanderer of the wilderness. God, how the trail lures
me. You cannot comprehend its resistless fascination for me.
After all the lone trail is best. I hope I’ll be able to buy good
horses and a better saddle. I’ll never stop wandering. And
when the times comes to die, I’ll find the wildest, loneliest,
most desolate spot there is.”

— Everett Ruess


First Snow

The first snowfall of the season fell overnight. As long as it doesn’t last… September is just too early to be working on the snow pack.

Turning the Corner

It was 16 degrees here this morning. I did not plan for time to run the defrost to warm up the winshield, so I went through a quart of washer fluid as I drove waiting for the defroster to do its thing.

It’s coming…

Simpler Times

Samson Hardware Float Plane

This is my favorite photo of the Old Samson Hardware. It was taken post-WWII 1940’s. I love how the floatplane ties up to shore along with the boats to pick up supplies.

The Rose Building is in the background. It was also on the NRHP, but it was one of the first torn down for the duplicate bridge and road rerouting.

Photo courtesy of University of Alaska Archives

Fairbanks to Valdez

Bobby Sheldon River Crossing

A photo of Bobby Sheldon crossing a river, probably on his 1913 trek from Fairbanks to Valdez. Sheldon was an interesting character, even by Alaska standards. He was the first civilian to drive an automobile the length of the Old Valdez – Fairbanks trail. It took Sheldon 4 days to travel the 360 miles in a Model T.


He also built the very first car in Alaska in 1905. In fact, it remains the only vehicle, on record, ever manufactured in the state. When Sheldon built the car in Skagway, he had never seen a car first hand. It was built by pictures and diagrams.

End Of Soapy

As a Skagway newspaper boy in 1898, a young Bobby Sheldon witnessed the death of the notorious Jefferson “Soapy” Smith in a gunfight with Frank Reid. Smith died there on the Juneau wharf, Reid died of his wounds 12 days later.
Sheldon on what he saw: “He (Smith) was sprawled out with his Stetson lying there, but nobody dared put his feet together or place his hands over his heart. They didn’t dare show sympathy for fear somebody would pull out a gun.”

Sheldon's Pope Toledo Auto Stage

Sheldon brought up the first Model T Fords for his “auto stage” which ran between Fairbanks in the interior and Valdez on the coast. Eventually he included Pope Toledos and Studebakers entered service in the 1920’s.

Sheldon went on to become an Alaska road commissioner, a Fairbanks postmaster, he served in the Alaska Territorial Legislature as well as the first State Legislature when Alaska was granted statehood. Bobby Sheldon died in 1983 at the age of 99.