Sunday, November 04, 2007

Last look at the gates

This is a shot from down the driveway. The gateposts are stuccoed and if you look hard enough you can see the railing on top of the spiral stairs. The railing was made from a bike rack that I picked up at Habitat for Humanity re-store, like the stairs themselves and the doors for the gates. A little cutting and welding and a lot of grinding and it fits and looks good.
It really comes together now and we can move to the inside for the winter. I still need to finish out the skylight and paint the bathroom, two small jobs I've been putting off too long.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Did I Say Homey?

Here's a shot from the inside which makes it look more like home. The bunker has been livable for more than a year but it seems like all of the pictures are of the outside. This is the kitchen/dinning room/living room/entry/hallway to the bedroom, etc. In a small cabin like this you don't have room to dance (unless it's one of those huggyup styles). We will live mostly outside when I get the courtyard finished anyway, " small is good".
I am looking for a telescope for the roof although I know that it is cold up there even in the summer. It's a shame to let those high altitude, dark nights go to waste. We have been up there at night and you can read a newspaper by starlight. If there is a moon you could get a bad case of moon-burn.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lookin' good

The bunker is beginning to look like like a finished project (from the front anyway) and with a little grass cutting it should be done. We went out last week and painted the gates and did a few other fix up projects. Barb painted the spiral stairs and learned that you have no room to turn without getting into the paint. Her right arm looked like a raccoon tail. It was Wednesday before it all came off. The crane is in the back and for the first time in a long time the front looks homey. Next trip I will stucco the gate posts.
We tried a new restaurant Saturday down in Marfa. It came highly recommended but it was a minor disappointment for us because we are more steak and potatoes types.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Time for Some Photoshop

The gate posts and beam will be done in the same color as the bunker. The gates get painted next trip and I will probably remove the front door and paint it too just to keep the colors the same. Time for the crane, seen on the right side of the picture, to move to the rear of the bunker to get ready to build a carport or something. That will open up the parking area in front of the gates and keep things looking trim.

West Texas views

A friend sent me this link with some really neat web cam shots of Fort Davis and Guadalupe peak. There are a lot of shots of El Paso but I'm sure you'll like them all. They are updated 4 times and hour and run 24 hrs a day which makes for some night shots of El Paso which are spectacular.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Return to the Bunker

Well, it took a while but we returned to the Bunker this weekend. I was concerned that I couldn't do much so I lowered my expectations to just finishing the gates. As you can see it turned out really nice. Each of those slabs weighed 150 plus and I was able to wrestle them around in spite of the knee. I only had trouble when I dropped something or was working close to the ground for some reason.
I may not be 100% yet but close enough to continue where we left off. I have decided to hold off on building the addition for a while, at least until I am able to spend more time at the bunker. We are still not finished with the courtyard and that West wall so we have a year or so to make up our minds. In the meantime I can make the drive without stopping every hour to stretch that leg and that means a trip every four weeks or so and things will move along at a good clip. More later.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


This is a shot of the sign while the sun was still high. Looks pretty neat though. The glass blocks on the gate wall show well too. All in all it was a pretty good trip. I can hardly wait to have enough strength in my legs to get back to work. Most of the remaining work involves concrete or SIP panels so I'll need all my faculties.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Texas Roadhouse

Went out to the bunker this weekend and couldn't do much so I hooked up the neon to see how it looked at night. Wow, I bet the neighbors wondered what was going on. It showed up down on the highway, about a mile away, and I was waiting for a tourist to come up looking for a cool one. I did a few other, easy, things like hooking up a few more electrical sockets in the kitchen and installing another TV set in the living room (a 900 ft/sq cabin with three TVs and one is a 96" projection set up just for football games). I did have some trouble with my knee because of the uneven ground and the 6 hours of travel each way but I'm getting better each week. My next visit to the "saw bones" (in this case a true statement) is the fifth of June and I expect he will release me and I can go on with my life with just a twinge now and then. I'm ready.

Originally uploaded by neilsmth.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Imagine an arched beam across the top of the gate. The doors will fit high and tite to this beam to give me about seven inches of clearance above the ground so four inches of compacted sand and two inches of paver can run under and three feet out front to make an apron in front of the gate. The pavers will cover the courtyard and make a realy nice patio.

Planning time

While I was grounded with the knee I had lots of free time. I had a stack of foamboard too, so as you can see I tried my best to model the bunker. I know it looks amateurish but that's the best I could do with a ruler and a razor blade. The picture is from a high front angle and shows the wall at the rear of the courtyard and the gates in the front. Not so noticeable is the low fence which runs along the right side of the courtyard. All in all it is a fine representation and I'll be glad if the real thing turns out as well.... In the mean time I am regrouping and planning my next few trips. The gates will go up on the next trip, if I can work with this leg, as you can see it takes four exterior doors and makes a heavy pair of bifolds. I have two six by six posts which will bolt to the wall on each side of the opening and provide a plumb frame to hang the doors. If I find that they try to sag I can use a barn door track and wheels to keep them in line. Once they are up I'll stucco both sides and the arch over the doors. It'll look great.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I'm Back

While I am not 100% yet I am getting around like a three legged dog. My pain threshold is high. Living with three females and working for two more will do that to you. It still hurts though. I go in for PT three times a week and will for a while and the girls there make sure I suffer too.
This knee thing started back at Christmas when Barb and I were on our way to Mexico for a short vacation. Didn't make it through the airport in Houston and had to come back home to eventually get the darn thing replaced. I owe her a nice trip but I have trouble traveling so we will stick to Texas. A few days in Kerrville and I am going to visit the bunker but I'll just walk around and take stock of the things that need to be done. We will make the trip a little slower, probably two days each way.
Chapman Building Systems, in Kerrville will supply the SIP panels which will make the West wall of the courtyard and, if I finish the project, the addition. I will meet with them Thursday to discuss the project and to make sure I'm on the right track.
Back to work next week on a light basis but I need to give John a break because he has been covering for me all this time. Thanks John.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

UPDATE, UPDATE: 4/2/07......Nothing to report for the last three weeks, I am just trying to do all the exercises and get my feet back under me. Yesterday I did my day walks (1/4 mile around the block) three times. I felt so good that when Barb got home I took her for a walk only this time we did the full neighborhood (1.1 mile) so I made my goal plus a little-bit. I'm not 100% yet but I'm coming along.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Try, try again

Tomorrow is the day. Tuesday the 13th. The Dr. will turn his skills with a drill, a saws- all and pair of pliers into a bionic knee replacement for me. Oh, I forgot the hammer. I don't know if I'm going to the hospital or a muffler shop. By noon it should be over and then several weeks of teaching the muscles to live with a foreign object. I'll be ship shape in a month or so. My personal goal is to be able to walk a mile in three weeks. Once I can do that I'll be ready to go back to work in another week or so, if they will take me back. I need to get back to work on the bunker too. It's time to do the gates and the wall around the courtyard. All the parts are there and a couple of trips should be enough to get it under control.

UPDATE: 3/15/07.....Home already. The knee went like clockwork and the pain was so tolerable that I didn't have to resort to morphine at all. I was up walking Tues evening and on Wed morning I walked the whole sixth floor hall (between a quarter and a half mile). Dr was pleased and sent me home today and the pain is still tolerable but worse. Like a giant charlie horse, the joint is not involved but the muscles that hold every thing in place hurt like a tooth ache. I'll work on it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Eclipse at the Bunker

Originally uploaded by neillsmth.
The eclipse was almost over when the moon came up. The bite out of the top lasted about 10 minutes and by then the moon had lost its red glow and was just another Full Moon over Fort Davis. I doubt it looked any better from the observatory across town. Oh, and by the way the temperature was about 15 degrees this morning but at least the wind wasn't blowing like it did Saturday.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Update on the Hawk

Since I didn't get the new knee on the 23rd I was able to check out the Cushman. All I found were rotten gas lines, a bad fuel pump and dry brakes. Replaced everything and it started and ran like a top. Still don't have any brakes (the horn works) but that should be an easy fix when I'm able to get around on my new knee. Even if I have to replace the whole system I will come in well under the 500.00 I was hoping for. The knee should be on the 12th of March so I am still limping around on crutches and a cane.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Curses, foiled again!

Went to the hospital this morning for the new knee and at the last minute the Dr. postponed it. I had the usual "springtime in Austin" problem with allergies. It turns out that ANY infection in the system could migrate to the new knee and hide there. The complications would be detrimental to the new joint and how it is accepted by my body. Who knew. Anyhow they started me on an aggressive antibiotic and sent me home for a week or 10 days when we will try again.
My friend John, who was going to cover for me for the next six weeks, is off the hook for now and I will have to go back to the office and un-hug all the girls that hugged me for luck. I really want it over with because the pain is bad and hobbling around on crutches is a real drag.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Originally uploaded by neilsmth.
This is the next addition to the bunker. A local landscape company had this really neat Cushman Hawk setting next to a shed waiting for parts. Three years, no one remembers anything. The boss said get rid of it so there you are on the spot. What would you do? Right, drag it home and take a chance that it will run. It will have to wait till I get my new knee and break it in but this I know.
The 16hp BS twin is free and seems to have plenty of compression. The alternator is gone but the brackets are there and the starter is on the motor. The brakes are nonexistant but it is a cable/hydurolic system and there is lots of slack and little fluid, maybe just an adjustment and top off. Seats are sunburned and need to be replaced. I'm betting that less than $500.00 puts in in running order. It will be nice to have around the place if only for hauling rocks. The bed is the right height to work from and it will make a mobile workbench too.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Originally uploaded by neillsmth.
I have been looking for a new car to make the trip to the bunker and I think I've found one. BS says there is not enough chrome for her taste so I guess I'll stick to the truck.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Back to the Bunker

Since I will be tied down with this new knee for a while I thought I would run out to the bunker this weekend just to make sure it is still there. I wanted to go the 23rd because the cowboy poetry gathering will be down the road at Alpine that weekend but that's the day the new joint gets placed. Drat!
I'm not too surefooted right now so I won't get much done, unless that skunk is still under the front porch. He was there last trip but waddled off before I could get the gun. This time he may meet hot lead. I hope he's gone.
Dr. says I'll be able to do most things that I can do now, just don't fall down and stay away from ladders. I'll remember that when I do the roof of the addition and what about the spiral stairs aren't they a sort of ladder. Oh well take it one step at a time and I will have a lot of time.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Originally uploaded by neillsmth.

Back to the keyboard

Posting has been light (non-existant) for the past few months. Problems on the home front involving the "C" word and an unrelated knee replacement. The knee is still to be done but it's going to to happen.
The knee blew while running across the Houston airport to catch a flight to Guadalahara on Christmass day. We turned around and went home and I've been on crutches ever since. Tomorrow I will see the bone doc and schedule the replacement. I tried to avoid the new knee but I just can't get rid of the pain so it has to be.
The other problem has been in the works since September when a major jump in the precursor caused a mild panic and really messed up my fall. After seeing several Dr.'s and many more tests we scheduled the surgery for the 15th of January. I opted for a high-dose radiation procedure and it involved the inplanting of 16 Very long hollow needles into which a cable with a radioactive tip would be inserted and left for varing lenghts of time. This was to happen four times over two days. No one took the weather into account though and with the ice storm hittng that day we had to do two treatments on the 15th and re-implant the following Monday with two more tratments. It will be a few months before we know if it took but the Dr. is positive and so am I. I'll be 100% before you know it and get back to work on the bunker.