The End






Posted in Uncategorized

Summer Cabin


The light changes by the hour.


Posted in Trees, Pine, White Pine

White Pine



White Pine. I found two of them growing behind the house, back in the brush, and it was obvious they were leaning toward the light, desperate to capture the sun. They were about four years old, three feet tall, and an inch in diameter. I moved them out into the open front yard where they get sunlight. They are about twelve years old in this picture. With plenty of rain, and fertilizer, they add eighteen inches in twelve months. We’ve had a lot of rain this spring.


The picture above is dated 2010. The weather was much dryer that year and the greenery shows it; mostly weeds. The grass does very poorly without rain. The two little white pine are barely visible.  Most years the summer drought started early in June and continued until late fall.

I bought twenty-five more seedlings, planting them around my two and a half acres. I think I have about ten, maybe twelve that survived. Some were covered up in tall grass and the lawn mower got them.

Trees are surprisingly fragile things; susceptible to weather damage, and in this case White Pine Blight, a fungus infection. You have to trim off the lower branches to prevent the blight. The fungus spends part of its lifecycle on current bushes, and I thought it was said on Raspberries. Now I can’t find the cite. You can have berries, or white pine, but not both. The wild berry bushes I have don’t produce fruit, so they get ripped up. With water and fertilizer, I could probably get berries, but I would rather have the trees.


The tree on the right is a red pine, I’ve been told, and is a feeding station for a sapsucker that has nearly killed the tree. The two next larger pine, are the two white pine moved from the back to the sunlight in the front. The smaller are seedlings now about five years old or so. Part of the reason for trees in the front is the summer sunlight makes the front yard an oven. The hottest days of the summer warm the house to an uncomfortable degree. Most often the summer high is mid eighties, but there are years when one hundred degrees last about ten days, and that is misery as we are acclimated to a temperature range from thirty below zero to around sixty above on the Fahrenheit scale.  As I write this, the current outdoor temperature is forty five degrees. We have had a lot of rain this month. Every day, every night, rain. Heavy rain at times. The White Pine are growing like weeds. The Cedar tree in the middle image is reaching close to the power line, the high voltage distribution line. What the previous owners were thinking when they planted the White Cedar beneath the power line is difficult to guess.


Posted in Trees, Pine, White Pine

Earth Rise


This is a NASA image taken by Apollo Astronauts. When the space program was first expanded, it was said that everything NASA learned would be in the public domain. Now, after many years, we learn that research data is the property of the Primary Investigator doing the research. I don’t know if NASA holds copyright to any of these images, or if the astronaut/photographer can claim copyright. This image comes in various versions, taken by different astronauts on different missions. I don’t remember which on this is.

This image invokes many feelings as I imagine living in a tiny capsule, or in a small tin can, or crowded and cramped living quarters on a moon base. I so much want to go to the moon, to Mars, to distant planets and have always wanted to travel in space since I was in grade school.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Nathan Lowell’s Books

Nathan Lowell

I am just now recovering from a four day book bender, maybe it was a six book marathon; no sleep, no food, until I had to stop to eat something, and sleep for a few hours.  I couldn’t stop reading.


Start with Quarter Share,

A young man, soon to be a university student, is forced to enlist in what we would call “The Merchant Marines.” He is not dragooned by press gangs, nor Shanghaied by other Merchant Mariners who have crew slots to fill. Ishmael Wang is a victim of circumstance and has only two choices left to him; join the military, or go into space on a trading ship.  

The genre of this tale is Science Fiction, and there are rocket ships, but they could just as easily have been twentieth-century oil tankers, or eighteenth-century Yankee clippers in the age of sail. It is the characters and the inter action between them that makes the story interesting. It is an idealized universe, populated by mostly good people. The rebels are mostly just misunderstood troublemakers who just need the proper guiding hand to motivate them into becoming respectable citizens, and the motivating factor is money and how to make it, honestly. This is a story about trading for profit. The truly bad guys are rarely encountered. In one of the following books there is – are – will be bad Captains, and bad Officers. It isn’t Ishmael that sees to it that the bad guys get their just desserts. It is more like a learning experience for our young man.

It is also a bit naïve; a tale for boy scouts and how to be a better boy scout – work hard, respect your superiors, be brave, thrifty, honest, and educate yourself to earn a higher rank, and higher pay grade; be kind to those you work with, and those who might someday serve under you.

If the characters hook you, you will read every word, and buy every book. At least, I have, so far. I may have to draw the line at “To Fire Called.”

I do the same thing with movies on DVD; five dollars here, eight there, fifteen for a blu-ray, until I find a yuuuge pile of DVDs at my feet and I add up the cost of several hundred movies on disk.


Half Share

Full Share

Captain’s Share

Owner’s Share

Owner’s Share is very much like the pilot to the TV series “Firefly” without the violence. There is very little violence in Mr. Lowell’s universe. Violence exists, but is rarely encountered.



In Ashes Born


To Fire Called


Pay no attention to the reviews; you will either like or dislike the books, and the deciding issue will be the political ideology to which you subscribe.


Posted in Books | Tagged ,

Hauling Limestone

Bulk Carrier unloading limestone.


This is a Great Lakes Freighter, a self-unloading bulk carrier. Marquette, Michigan is a major port for iron ore with a major iron ore mine nearby. Freighters like this one, bring in limestone (called flux stone by the iron smelters), and haul Taconite pellets (Iron Ore) out. They also bring in coal for two power generating plants, and coal for the open pit mine. The mine mixes the limestone, with the ore, to concentrate the ore, and produce what it called Taconite pellets. The limestone mixes with impurities in the ore during the smelting process, combines with silicon, and floats to the top of the pool of liquid iron.  


This is a 42 wheeler, gross vehicle weight is 160,000 pounds. The rear trailer (called a pup) is a full trailer with a fifth wheel and a draw bar which connects to the lead trailer, (called a lead), which is a semi-trailer and connects to the truck tractor with a fifth wheel on the truck giving three degrees of articulation. You will learn how to back this rig up. There is a remote control locking mechanism that will lock the fifth wheel on the pup, leaving you with two degrees of articulation. You get good at backing up or you don’t work.  The truck has an eighteen-speed manual transmission, and you will use every gear in that tranny, except for low-low gear. There are hills to climb, and descend, and there is an upgrade at the mine that will drag you down to a complete stop if you don’t shift gears correctly, and a second upgrade at the ski hill that is equally as steep a climb. If you screw it up, you will use that compound low gear and everyone will laugh at you if they are not stuck behind you cursing you for making them wait. Worst case, you have to get the mine loader operator to pull you up the hill.


Somebody had the bright idea of organizing a bicycle road race, and brought in racers from all over the country, and routed the race up that same ski hill while we were working. We had to climb that hill in low range, with some imbecile on a bicycle inches away from sudden death, riding alongside the truck. The day that President Bush came to visit, I refused to work. Which turned out ok because the Secret Service shut the operation down for that day. No oversize, over weight trucks on the road when the President is in town.

During the summer months, we hauled twice what the mine needed, called ‘stockpiling’ because the bulk carriers don’t operate when the lakes are frozen over in the winter. We hauled limestone half way to the mine where there was a rock quarry operation that had space to store the several hundred thousand tons of limestone that we hauled in. During winter months, we hauled those tons of limestone the remaining distance to the mine.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Albuquerque, New Mexico



Albuquerque, viewed from the west, just off of I40. The backdrop is the Sandia Mountains, or more like Sandia Crest. There is a aerial tram that runs from the edge of the city up to the crest and there is a restaurant there where you can watch the hang gliders launch. Behind the ridge line, to the east, is a road that will also take you up there.

I liked Albuquerque, back in the nineties; don’t know what it is like now. I liked New Mexico because there is a lot of BLM land where you can get out and recreate. Living in the city isn’t too bad, depending on the neighborhood. Like all large urban areas, some neighborhoods are ok, and others are not.

The climate is dry, of course, but the summer weather report is always the same; twenty percent change of rain. They even have a ‘monsoon’ season, but the twenty percent prediction means that it will rain somewhere in the valley, and there is a twenty percent change it will rain where you are. It might even rain hard enough to cause local flooding, and the drainage system in the city does get flooded for a few hours. Flooded sufficiently to over top the roadway.  If you have any degree of elevation above the Rio Grande River you can see the rain clouds somewhere ‘out there, in the valley’ Visibility is often what the aviators say is unlimited. There is, or was, smog.

It does get cold in the winter. Cold enough to ice up the roads. Do not drive on those rare days when the roads are icy. Not because it is impossible, but because ‘people’ don’t know how to drive under those conditions, and you probably don’t have the right tires for it anyway. It is only one or two days a year. Just stay home that day.

There is/was, a city bus system, that I hated. I usually went everywhere I wanted to go on a Honda 350cc motorcycle. Something that small isn’t what I would call a ‘motorcycle’, which is why everyone says ‘bike’ even though bike means bicycle to me. I especially liked the Honda because I rarely spent more than two dollars a month for gasoline. It did cost me a broken collar bone, and cracked ribs. The ribs healed on their own, the collar bone required medical supervision and medication even though the doctor didn’t do anything except take x-rays, and prescribe pain killer. I knew the bone was broken because I couldn’t raise my arm, and I could feel the ends of the bones grating together. The Emergency Medical Technicians had a ‘look at that moment’ when they asked me to take my shirt off. So I concluded you could see the break.

I wandered around a bit, going to Arizona, and finally taking a long haul truck driving job because of the movie ‘Top Gun’ where Goose asks Maverick about the 800 number for the truck driving school when it looks like they are going to get thrown out of the program. So I went to the truck driving school, took out a student loan, paid a lot of money for a few weeks ‘training’ because, for that amount of money, I expected ‘placement service’ where the school would get me a job. My father was a truck driver, and it has always been one of those jobs where you have to know someone to get in. After that school, and after getting a job, I learned that community colleges offered training for a whole lot less money, and those programs were often sponsored by a company. You passed the training, you went to work for the program sponsor. Maybe it has changed since, but long haul – 48 state – irregular route – truckload carrier jobs are not ‘good jobs.’ It was better than any other job I ever had, but it was hellish work. Long hours, no life, no family, and a lot of risk.

Of course, this was after the Interstate Commerce Commission was rendered obsolete by ‘deregulation’ where new regulations replace the old regulations and a new bureaucracy replaced the old one. Freight rates collapsed which was a good deal for shippers, but it also meant that driver’s wages collapsed right along with the freight rates.



Posted in Uncategorized