Thursday, May 30, 2013


Last year about this time I was adding on 15 feet on one end of the porch and 25 feet on the other side so it would run the full length of the house, plus adding a long wheelchair ramp. There was a small hanging birdhouse at the east end of the old porch that the previous owner had put up. During all hte sawing and hammering I noticed a pair of bluebirds starting to build a nest in it. Since that end of the porch was going to be enclosed with wire to make a "cat porch" the bird house could not stay where it was without the danger of them become a snack for one of the cats. I first moved the nest down about 8 feet so it wouldn't be inside the cat area. When the prospective parents didn't seem to mind I moved it again, and a day later moved it yet again. At this point it was right in front of the table and chairs on the porch. Even though we spend a large amount of time sitting on the porch they didn't seem to mind the close proximity to people, so I bought an actual bluebird nest box for them. They got right to work, filling it with grass and pine needles, and eventually laid 4 eggs. All this with fairly major construction going on just a few feet away!  They hatched all 4 eggs, and 3 chicks fledged a few weeks later.

Fast forward to this year. The bluebirds are back, and we're tearing off the roof of the house. Lots of debris being thrown off the roof right in front of the nest box but again they don't seemed fazed in the least. Here's Dad watching from a Bradford Pear in the front yard. He's very inquisitive, often sitting 4 or 5 feet away on the railing and just watching us.

Mom watching from the ramp railing.

And from on top of the birdhouse which is attached to the roof support post.

This afternoon they both left the nest and flew off across the road, so I took the opportunity to sneak a peek inside the box. They've got 4 eggs again this year!

We had a nice little butterfly visitor briefly checking out the dog leash and posing for a couple photos.

And the resident rooster wanted to have his picture taken as he was patrolling the yard. 

Todd finished the roof this morning and spent the afternoon finishing up some electrical projects: moving a receptacle, replacing 2 GFCI receptacles (Yay! Now the plug-ins work in the bathroom and kitchen!) and installing a switch and track light in my daughter's room.

That's a nice looking roof! He'll be heading out in the morning on his bicycle, heading towards Michigan to visit family, then working his way back to the southwest for the winter. He seems very happy with the compensation for his work; a new bike trailer, a small solar powered weather radio, some parts off my daughter's bike, a new tent and sleeping pad, room and board while he has been here, and $150 cash. I think I definitely got the better end of the deal though. I'm very happy I ran into him!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Name change and tadpoles

I've decided to change the name of my blog, since I don't own a Semaphore Caboose trailer, but rather an American Leisure Time Industries caboose trailer. The official name change will happen in a day or two, so if you have it bookmarked you will have to type in the new name and bookmark that since I can't figure out how to make point to the new name. And the new name will be......... drum roll.............

The new photo at the top shows a black and white photo from a Life magazine article published in August 1970 and is the only photo I've ever seen of an ALTI caboose travel trailer. The color photo is what my train wreck of a camper looked like shortly after purchasing it. Hopefully before too many years go by mine will look as nice as the Life magazine subject.

As for the new name, Night*sky is a name I've used since 1974 when I started backpacking and was told that you always use a 'trail name' when hiking. When I discovered the internet in the late 1990's I naturally used night*sky as my name on lots of different forums and websites. Prairiewind is the name my daughter uses on some forums. Since she currently live in the house here in TN and travels with me extensively I figured I'd use both in the blog name, since Nightsky alone was already taken.

Enough of that, let's move on to the fun stuff.... tadpoles! We have tree frogs here in middle Tennessee, LOTS of tree frogs!  They have been singing for the past month or so, and it can be difficult to hear normal conversation on the porch in the evening because they are so loud! We think a few of these tree frogs decided the stock tank I use for the dog's water was a great place to lay eggs. A week ago I noticed something floating on the surface of the stock tank, and sure enough, it was dozens of packets of frog eggs, each packet containing 30-50 eggs or more.

They hatched and became free swimming just a couple days after we discovered them. Thinking it would be fun to watch them a bit closer up we scooped some out of the stock tank and put them in a critter keeper. Unfortunately we also scooped up about a zillion mosquito larvae! Both species were thriving in the critter keeper, but I decided I didn't really want to be fostering skeeters and they needed to go. I dipped all the tadpoles out using a gravy ladle (there are 78 of them  lol) and poured the water through a coffee filter to filter out the skeeters. I'm sure a few got dipped out with the tadpoles, but at least the number of them is MUCH smaller! The critter keeper was scrubbed, refilled with fresh water, I added a couple of the decaying leaves that were in the stock tank and some bruised lettuce leaves for the tadpoles to eat. They seem very happy with the new arrangement and are happily munching on the lettuce.They're very small, just a "tad" over 1/4 inch long.

I believe it takes a month or two for them to metamorphosize. Once they grow legs and can get around on dry ground  we'll let them go in the yard. And once the thousands that are in the stock tank grow legs we'll tip the stock tank and stop raising mosquitos!  LOL

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Home remodeling

Since I still haven't started work on the Caboose I thought I'd post what I have been up to instead. I was going to Home Depot to get some WD-40 and ran into a fellow who was looking for work. He's a full-timer, on a bicycle! He's been peddling around the country for many years, and when he runs short of cash he either looks for construction type jobs or looks for a gig playing his guitar. We got to talking, and he said he was a licensed electrician and also did other home improvement, so I brought him home to help work on the master bath that was in sore need of some help. The rest of the house has been completely redone, but I moved furniture into the master bedroom and somehow that stalled all work. Anyway, Todd agreed to take on the project, which consisted of removing the old hot water heater from between the closets, tearing out the wall that framed the closets, building a new wall and putting in a bathtub and installing the new hot water heater.

There was originally a double sink vanity under the mirrors behind him, the stool and shower are in the tiny room to his left, and the 2 small closets are in the wall on the far right side of the photo.

The water heater was behind the wall between the closets.  There's a walk-in closet on the other side of the room and I will gain 2 feet of floor space by taking these closets out.

Here most of the walls have been removed and the old water heater is also gone.

The new wall is up!

The new tub is set in place and the new water heater has been installed behind the wall at the head of the tub.
  At this point I can finish setting the vanity and toilet, hang the tub surround, paint etc. so I figured Todd was about finished here, but while he was working on rerouting the drain vents he had to go up on the roof. Hmmm.... it seems the roof is in worse shape than I remembered, and he mentioned he would be willing to put a new roof on, so this weekend that's what we tackled. Tear-off was done yesterday, and today we got all the new paper down, and he started laying a few shingles. This photo was taken mid morning with half the paper done. With luck we can finish it tomorrow or Tuesday, depending on weather. It gets too hot to work on it in the heat of the day, so we take the middle of the day off.

Once the roof is finished there are a couple small electrical jobs for him to do, then he'll be heading down the road again. He's been staying in my Class C motor home while he's been working here, and other than room and board I'm out very little, we gave him a tent that we picked up at Bonnaroo last year, and a new sleeping pad, he cannibalized Fran's old bicycle for parts to fix the bike that he got (used) in Sturgis SD last year, and I bought a new trailer for him since his is getting quite long in the tooth. When he packs up I'll give him some cash and make sure he's stocked up on groceries. He said he'll be heading to northern Michigan to visit family, then heading southwest again for the winter. So if you see a crazy guy peddling down the road with a guitar strapped to the top of his bike trailer wave at him for me!