Monthly Archives: February 2014

Using Amtrak in Drive-Away.

Public transportation.  Something to be dreaded or, possibly, something to get excited about.

In my lifetime, I have used almost every form of public transportation there is available.  The Greyhound bus, various taxi services, the airlines, and the train.  I have not ridden on a subway system through a large city so I am unable to comment about that.

Traveling by train for long distances is, in my opinion, more comfortable and spacious than a bus.  There is more leg room on a train.  Both Joe and Jim are over 6 feet tall and they are large men.  Their joints are not as pliable as they once were.  The extra leg room allowed on a train is a good thing for them.  As is the spacious seats that don’t cramp them into tiny spaces.

Jim on the train

Jim on the train

Joe on the train

Joe on the train

The seats recline by pressing a button on the arm rest.  The trains have WiFi for those needing to check emails or surf the internet on their laptops or tablets.  Passengers can get up and move about the train car to work out kinks or stretch weary muscles.  There are bathroom facilities near.  For long trips there is a dining car available for meals and there is a deli car for sandwiches and drinks as well.

The first leg of my guys journey was from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois.  The train cuts through the country side, sometimes intersecting with an interstate highway.  Snow covered fields are seen through the large viewing windows of each train car.

Snow covered fields

Snow covered fields

Winter bare trees

Winter bare trees

Nearing Chicago the open fields give way to the houses and buildings of a teeming city near the railroad tracks.

The outskirts of Chicago, Illinois

The outskirts of Chicago, Illinois

Approaching the large city

Approaching the large city

The grand lady of Chicago’s Union Station was completed in 1881.  Marble floors reflect the lights from brass lamps that surround the internal structure.  The lighting has been replaced in recent years and updated to energy efficient light bulbs with motion sensors.  Walls are made from Bedford limestone and fashioned into the Beaux-Arts facades.  Corinthian columns stand as giants along the stone walls and doorways.

Arrivals and departures

Arrivals and departures

Bedford limestone walls

Bedford limestone walls

Corinthian columns

Corinthian columns

Marble floors

Marble floors

Joe and Jim had a layover at Chicago’s Union Station for several  hours last night.  Joe walked the halls taking photos for me.  The two of them ordered a sandwich from a grill in the station.  The photo is a bit out of focus.

Grill at the train station

Grill at the train station

Joe and Jim boarded the train headed for Buffalo, New York last night around 9 p.m.  They both were hoping to get some rest in the seats and be fresh for the new day.  Seems the night was long and not very restful.

Sleeping in the seats

Sleeping in the seats

Daylight has dawned, snow is falling and it is cold.  The forecast for today in Buffalo will be for more snow and icy winds.  Joe has told me the trucks they are going for are not ready.  He doesn’t know when they will be ready to move.

His world outside the train’s window is waking up and going about the business of life on this cold winter day.

Train tracks in the snow

Train tracks in the snow

A bustling city ready for another day

A bustling city ready for another day

Houses framed by the train window

Houses framed by the train window

Another normal day is at hand in Drive-Away.  Uncertainty is normal.  The hoped for 500 mile driving day has just been hampered before the day even has a good start.

Hope you have enjoyed this peek into doing Singles in Drive-Away and the many adventures one can have.  I, for one, am happily ensconced at home and am getting ready to head to my craft room and take another stab at being creative.

Leslie


Moving “Singles” in Drive-Away.

I have made reference to “Singles Drivers” on this blog over the years.  I’ve mentioned that anyone that wants to get into Drive-Away can do it by being a “Singles” driver.  Having no actual experience in the “Singles” part of the industry I could not give any details about taking this job on.

Over the past 12 years my husband, Joe, and I have been doing “Doubles”.  We always took two to four trucks in this job.  Once in a while I would be given a “Single” but I always had Joe and our equipment to rely on to get us somewhere else for the next job because we had our pickup to get us there.

Joe and our friend, Jim, are now actually doing the “Singles” work.  They don’t have a ready vehicle to get them to the next pick up site.  Logistics and transportation play a huge role in this new way of them doing this business.

As with any kind of job…the “Grass is always greener”.  You see what you want to see.

  1. It takes only five minutes to do the inspection of a truck and be ready to hit the road in 20 minutes.  Log books filled out, route planned, fuel stops planned.
  2. Fuel economy of a “Single” truck is about 10 miles per gallon as opposed to 4.5 or 5.8 with a “Double” set up.
  3. The cost of tolls on Toll Roads is nearly half the cost of a “Single” as it would be for a “Double”.  For example, in Oklahoma, the toll on Interstate 44 for a “Single” is $5.50.  The toll charge for a “Double” is $9.50.
  4. Parking in truck stops is easier because the bobtail parking is closer to the store doors while the parking for a tractor/trailer set up can be nearly a half mile away.
  5. Delivering the “Single” truck will take about 15 minutes from the time the driver arrives to the time they leave.  For the “Double” drivers it takes up to two hours.

The reality of “Singles” drivers is this.  A rental car agency.  One of many.

Rental car agencies

Rental car agencies

Joe left  home on Wednesday, February 19th, to get a truck in Joplin, Missouri that was being delivered in Bedford, Iowa.  The cost of renting a car at home to be dropped off in Joplin, Missouri was $185.  There would be a taxi ride from the car rental agency to the Peterbilt dealership in Joplin.  The taxi would cost about $40.  Transportation charges to the pick up site would be about $225.  The company picks up most, if not all, of the transportation charges.

I opted to drive Joe to Joplin, directly to the Peterbilt dealership to save him some time and expense.  Joe was told by the dispatcher he was getting a brand new truck and he was excited about that.  The fact is, the truck was NOT NEW.  It already had over 200,000 miles on it.  Still looked pretty good though.

Truck in Joplin, Missouri

Truck in Joplin, Missouri

Upon arrival in Bedford, Iowa there was a truck waiting for Joe to be taken to Sharonsville, Ohio which had to be delivered the following day.  Once Joe arrived in Sharonsville, Ohio he got a ride to the hotel he would be staying at by the hotel shuttle.  There was no charge for this transportation.

Jim, on the other hand, was across the country and would be meeting up with Joe.  Jim’s journey began in Oakland, California.  He had a train ride from Oakland to Los Angeles, another train ride from Los Angeles to LAX airport where he would board a flight to Cincinnati, Ohio.  In Cincinnati Jim would rent a car at the airport then meet Joe at the hotel.

The two guys would be driving the rental car from Cincinnati, Ohio to Buffalo, New York where they would pick up trucks going to Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin.  These trucks are NEW.  Complete with “On board cameras” and GPS tracking of their movements.  The company that has purchased these trucks has been able to track one of the two trucks along their route.

On board camera

On board camera

One of the amenities of the new truck is the rear mounted camera that aids in backing of the vehicle.  The driver can see what is behind him/her via a screen in the cab of the truck.

Rear view camera and monitor

Rear view camera and monitor

The trucks Joe and Jim are taking are known in this industry as “Box Trucks”.  The moving trucks by U-Haul or Penske are “Box Trucks”.  These are trucks where the cargo area is mounted directly onto the truck chassis.

Box truck

Box truck

I am relying on the photography skills of my husband and his iPhone for this blog.  The photos are a bit out of focus but you can get the idea of what the two guys are doing.

Once they deliver in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin they will need to get to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to catch the Amtrak train for the return trip to Buffalo, New York.  The man who will be taking delivery of these trucks is so happy with the results thus far of Joe and Jim.  He has volunteered to take them the 40 or so miles into Milwaukee, which I think is a nice thing for him to do.

Stay tuned.  This very exciting and informative blog (ha ha) will introduce you to the life of a “Singles” driver.

Seriously, if anyone has thought about getting into Drive-Away there is a place for you.  Most all Drive-Away transport companies are always on the look out for “Singles” drivers.  You don’t need to have a vehicle or expensive equipment to do this job.  You just have to have a willingness to be at the mercy of public transportation.

I have given Joe instructions to take photos of his train ride to Buffalo, New York.  Both Joe and Jim are a little excited about the prospect of “Riding the Rails” for a day or two.  I just hope his photography skills will be worth seeing :/

Leslie


Creativity is encouraged in this house.

Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found. – James Russell Lowell

In our truck driving job we earned a small benefit from the hundreds of nights of hotel stays.  Most of the larger hotel chains have “Reward” cards.  Points are earned for each nights stay at these hotels.  Accumulated points are redeemed for a free night stay or can be traded in for gift cards.

We had accumulated over 300,000 points over the past two years.  I put a bug in Joe’s ear before Christmas to start thinking about using the points toward gift cards for Lowe’s Home Improvement Center.  He has wanted a table saw for about 10 years.  There have been many reasons why NOT to get the table saw.

No garage.  No shed large enough to hold one.  No room in the house for one.  No time off the road to even use the saw if he did finally get one.  Not enough money to even buy one of the pricey items.  Of course, Joe has had his eye on one of the large saws with mega bells and whistles that will do everything except fetch him a beer from the fridge.  I won’t even do THAT!

Watching this creative man slip into a funk has been difficult.  No amount of harping, cajoling, or gentle prodding could pry him away from his computer solitaire or other computer card games for several years.  He just seemed to lose heart.  Work had become his life.  Truck driving had entered his heart and brain.  Thoughts of doing something different seemed impossible.  Recently though Joe has been making small noises about wanting to create something.

It was time for me to push harder and get him to redeem the Reward points.  We would lose them by the end of 2013 anyway.  That took about a week to accomplish.  He didn’t want to use the points in case there was something that I wanted.  He wanted to make sure we would have points left over for free hotel stays.  His  excuses were numerous and began to bring the harpy out in me.  He finally relented.  The gift cards for Lowe’s Home Improvement Center began coming in the mail.

That was back in December of 2013.  Since then he has been researching a table saw.  Reading the reviews of each one.  Trying to figure out what to get that would serve his needs and be portable.  Armed with a pocket full of gift cards we went to Lowe’s.  Joe got the table saw he has desired for quite a while.  His “out of pocket expense” came to $50.  Not a bad price to pay for a nearly $300 power tool.

Joe chose a Porter Cable 10 inch “Jobsite Table Saw”.  One that collapses for portability and is easy to move around.

Porter Cable 10 inch table saw

Porter Cable 10 inch table saw

Some assembly is required.  Our small kitchen/dining room was transformed into the assembly room.  The framework was assembled in the living room while the saw waited in the kitchen.  A little bit of finesse and deft maneuvering got the framework into the dining area.

Assembling the framework.

Assembling the framework.

The saw part

The saw part

Trying to get through

Trying to get through

Once Joe made his way into the dining area the actual work began.  Bolting the saw to the frame, fussing with adjusting the blade and other crazy business that is required before it can be used.

Fully assembled

Fully assembled

Leveling something

Leveling something

Leveling something else

Leveling something else

Checking the blade for another something else

Checking the blade for another something else

Once Joe had all the minute details taken care of it was time to take the saw outside.  Look at that cheesy grin!  He’s so proud of himself.  I am too, but don’t say anything to him though.

Ready to go outside

Ready to go outside

Uhm….he couldn’t get out the door through the kitchen.  He had to make a try for it through the living room.

A little tight quarters

A little tight quarters

Uhm….he still can’t get outside.  The rest of  his cr….stuff is in the way.  Folks, I think we live in a garage or a shed.

Blocked still

Blocked still

Alright, he has made it to the door and is going out.

Finally free of the jammed up mess

Finally free of the jammed up mess

The next trick will be unfolding the saw out on the porch.  That was hysterical.  He nearly tossed himself into the outside recycling bin.

Outside isn't much better

Outside isn’t much better

Try  not to fall down

Try not to fall down

Now it is time to get busy!  Get the saw set up, send me inside to get his wood.  Joe is embracing the joy of creativity, or the start of it anyway.

Getting set up

Getting set up

Giving him the wood

Giving him the wood

Another bit of fussing and measuring before the first bite is taken out of the wood.  Then the sweet pure sound of metal cutting through wood being sacrificed to creativity.  The smell of saw dust and the plume of shredded wood being exhausted out from under the machine.

Measuring for the cut

Measuring for the cut

The first piece of wood to be cut

The first piece of wood to be cut

Saw dust exhaust

Saw dust exhaust

Joe is making me a Press.  This will allow me to make journal covers without using my heavy cast iron dutch oven anymore to apply the necessary pressure.  This is a Win-Win situation.  He gets to play with his tools and I get to benefit from his play.

The beginnings of my Press

The beginnings of my Press

His playtime is a whole lot messier than mine is.  I don’t care.

He's pretty messy!

He’s pretty messy!

Joe has been freed.  His thoughts are no longer on computer games to pass the time.  He is thinking of things he can make now that he has the proper tool.  Our hallway will become the “Library”.  A long line of bookcases will gradually replace all of his cr…..stuff that really needs to live outside in the shed.

I will have to keep this in mind as I encounter the saw in our entryway for a while.

For now this is the saw's home.

For now this is the saw’s home.

The price I have to pay for my husband to be out of his funk is so worth it.  I might hurl some bad words at times trying to get the groceries into the house with the saw in the way.  Seeing the spark back in my husband’s eyes and hearing the long lost lilt in his voice and the excited timber as his mind whorls….PRICELESS.

What can I say.  I love that man.

Leslie

 

 

 

 


More cleaning, some maintenance, and letting the “Big Dog” out.

Joe has been helping me with the maintenance of our kitchen while I go about the tasks of cleaning.

Thursday I pulled the stove out to clean that nasty space, and the gross spill over messes.  The last time I did this was about 7 years ago.  If you will be attempting this nasty challenge…the first thing on your list is to get the power shut off to the stove.  Go to your breaker box and find the switch/fuse for the “Range” or stove and flip the switch to the OFF position.

Shut off the power to the range

Shut off the power to the range

If you have a “Self Cleaning Oven” move the latch to the closed position.  This will allow you to pull the range/stove away from the wall using the oven door handle.

Latch the door closed and pull away from the wall

Latch the door closed and pull away from the wall

This is not as nasty as I figured it would be….but it was plenty NASTY!  The side of the stove had quite a bit of dried up spills.

Nasty dried up spills

Nasty dried up spills

The floor where the stove had been was in dire need of a sweep and mop.  Unplug the range/stove before you go to sweeping and mopping in there.  You can push the stove further away for easier access to this area.

Unplug the stove, sweep and mop the floor

Unplug the stove, sweep and mop the floor

The counter strip next to the stove needed to be cleaned, as did the cabinet walls and the back wall behind the stove.

Counter edge next to the stove

Counter edge next to the stove

The builders of this home slapped stuff up in their efficient hurry to get on to the next house.  We live in a mobile home so the construction process is done with less than quality materials.  The Formica strips at the counter edges were coming off or had completely fallen off over the years we have lived in this house.

Formica strip had come off

Formica strip had come off

Formica strip coming off

Formica strip coming off

Joe prepped the areas where he would be working.  Protecting the cabinets from any spills of Contact Cement.

Protect the work area

Protect the work area

Contact Cement can be purchased at any home improvement center or hardware store.

Contact Cement

Contact Cement

One of the cans had dried up.  The other can was still good.

Dried up and unusable

Dried up and unusable

Product still good

Product still good

With a paint stir stick, give the product a slow stir.  You won’t need to whip this stuff into a bubbly frenzy.  Work the stir stick all around the bottom of the can and the sides to get all the chemicals mixed together.

Stir the contents well

Stir the contents well

This REALLY needs to be done in a well ventilated area.  With the single digit temperatures we are experiencing the cold air coming in the front door was welcome.  I had nearly every ventilation fan running in the house.  This stuff will make you dizzy and give you a headache from the fumes.

Strong fumes, use caution

Strong fumes, use caution

Joe painted the Contact Cement to both surfaces on the strip that was coming off.  Paint the stuff on the counter board and the Formica.  He stuffed the paint stir stick between the strip and counter to keep the two painted pieces from touching while the Contact Cement dried to a tacky state.

Apply Contact Cement to both the strip and the counter

Apply Contact Cement to both the strip and the counter

Don't let them touch during the drying process

Don’t let them touch during the drying process

Joe painted the Contact Cement on the counter edge where the pieces had fallen off.  He then painted the strips themselves and left them to dry to a tacky state on the table.

Strips that had come off

Strips that had come off

Applying Contct Cement

Applying Contact Cement

When the Contact Cement had dried to a tacky state the strips were put back on the counter.  Using a “Maul” and a piece of wood, Joe tapped the strips into place causing the cement to fully adhere to both surfaces.  While he was at it Joe fixed the strip at the other end of the counter as well.

Tap the strip well to adhere it

Tap the strip well to adhere it

Joe put a smear of Vaseline on the blades of the electric plug before I pushed it into the socket.  He says “The Vaseline will keep the plug from getting corroded”.

Vaseline

Vaseline

Smear it on the plug blades

Smear it on the plug blades

Plug the range/stove back in, push the appliance back into position, then restore power to the unit from the breaker box.

Joe had an opportunity to go to Fort Worth, Texas for a “Single” move coming back up to Oklahoma City.  I went with him yesterday to help him with the move.  I think the “Big Dog” deserves to be let out after all the work he has helped me do 😀

Single truck in Fort Worth, Texas

Single truck in Fort Worth, Texas

He is ready to go

He is ready to go

Look at that face :D

Look at that face 😀

Following the delivery

Following the delivery

Team work is what this is called 😀

Leslie


Cleaning and sorting your pantry.

I’m still going clockwise in my kitchen this week.  A couple years ago I sorted my pantry and had everything all nice a organized.  Life happened and all that hard work went unchecked.

Disorganized mess

Disorganized mess

While Joe and I were out running errands the day before yesterday we stopped by Lowe’s Home Improvement Center.  There were some pantry baskets I wanted to get.  They are $6.95 each.  I bought all they had on the shelf.

Storage baskets

Storage baskets

I had some wire baskets from the last time I organized this mess.  I had to dig them out of the clutter first.

Hidden baskets

Hidden baskets

My intent was to lay the canned goods on their sides so I could readily see what I had and how many there were.  Joe had other ideas.  He came in to give me his advice and thoughts of proper use of space in the baskets.

If you stand them up you will have more room

If you stand them up you will have more room

See.....more room

See…..more room

Thank you, love of my life, for your organization skills.  Now would you please do me a favor and figure out how to put these baskets together for me?

What?!  Are  you banishing me?

What?! Are you banishing me?

Don't worry.  I've got this!

Don’t worry. I’ve got this!

So while Joe is busy chasing the little tie wraps and trying to make them wind around the wires to attach the baskets together….I’ll get back into the business of organizing the pantry.

Put “Like with Like”.  Get all your groupings of food items together and situated in baskets so they fit well.

Sort and organize the goods

Sort and organize the goods

You will find that there is more than one of anything and everything.

Thought I was out of spaghetti sauce

Thought I was out of spaghetti sauce

Noodles of all kinds appeared before me.

Noodles of all kinds

Noodles of all kinds

Some Mexican and Asian foods, and some canned fruit I didn’t know where to put.

Mexican, Asian, and fruit

Mexican, Asian, and fruit

Joe says “We need mayonnaise and I’m out of pickles”.  Well, not anymore you aren’t.

Mayonnaise and pickles

Mayonnaise and pickles

Peanut butter, jelly, and salad dressings.

Peanut butter, jelly, and salad dressing

Peanut butter, jelly, and salad dressing

Oh, wait.  The Ramen Noodles.  They’ll fit on this shelf.

Make room for the Ramen Noodles

Make room for the Ramen Noodles

I didn’t know we had all this sugar!

Sugar

Sugar

I had to get into Joe’s stash of boxes because I ran out of wire baskets.  Baking items are in this box.

Baking items

Baking items

There were still items left on the counter tops and table that needed to find a home.  I used more of Joe’s boxes to contain things and stashed other items in places that would be a likely spot.

Organized and done

Organized and done

Now…where did I put the salad dressing?  I can’t find it!  A minute or two of searching I found it :/  Organized chaos!

You can find a lot of pantry storage ideas on Pinterest.  You can drool over the large walk-in pantries with wrap around shelving.  See all the colorful baskets used to store the items.  Get some ideas for your pantry storage items.

Sooner or later you will need to get the sugar and salt granules that make their way to the floor then get tracked through the house.  Once you get your pantry organized, stand back and take a look at the work you did and feel the satisfaction of getting the job done.  Don’t think about the weeks and months to come when the pantry might get back into the shape before all this has been done.  Just enjoy the moment.

Leslie


Joe’s home for a few days.

Joe got in last night at 11 p.m.  He drove all the way from Flagstaff, Arizona.  That man was dedicated!

This morning, when I presented him with his cup of coffee, I was told “I’m hungry.”  Followed by “Are you hungry?”  Then “What’s for supper?”  Before I could respond with some acidly biting comment I was gifted with this.

That cheesy grin of his

That cheesy grin of his

I couldn’t help but laugh.  I love this crazy man!  I’m glad he is home and I can hear his laugh.

 

I love his laugh

I love his laugh

This week, with Flylady, the Zone is the kitchen.  We have a lot of errands to run so I am going to seriously do just a small amount.

I don’t think I have cleaned the top of this island cabinet since we have lived in this house.  I know it has been well over a year since the wooden bowl was put up there.  The toaster oven has been up there for about five years.  The silver bowls come down at least once a month when we have a popcorn night.

 

Way up high

Way up high

I had to get the step ladder to see what was hidden up there.  I was getting prepared for spiders, dust, and all kinds of scary stuff.  I was pleasantly surprised to find just a small amount of dust up there.

Step ladder

Step ladder

Only a little dust

Only a little dust

What I found in the wooden bowl was the most frightening.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Good grief!

Good grief!

I’m going to be using my DIY All Purpose cleaner on this project.  It is 2 tablespoons of dish washing liquid and tap water to fill the bottle.  I’ll be using a microfiber cloth as well.

 

DIY All Purpose cleaner

DIY All Purpose cleaner

Spray the cabinet doors with the All Purpose cleaner and give them a good wipe down.  Make sure to wipe the inside doors and the shelf fronts while you are at it.  This takes just a few minutes.  That is if the grease build up is not bad.  Thankfully, it seems the grease build up was all on my living room fan :/

Spray and wipe doors

Spray and wipe doors

Wipe the insides as well

Wipe the insides as well

A little purging of the counter top, a good wipe down using the All Purpose cleaner.  I even used it on the wooden bowl and toaster oven.  Now that area is done for a month!

Job done.

Job done.

I almost forgot to wipe the baseboards under the cupboard.  That is another place that gets neglected in my cleaning.  Looks like it needs it!

Clean the baseboards

Clean the baseboards

Toss out the cookies left over from Christmas :/

Dried out cookies

Dried out cookies

As for “What’s for supper”….it will be pork chops, baked beans, and stuffing.  I use my FoodSaver.  A LOT!  Those little aluminum loaf tins bakers use at Christmas to distribute there tasty treats as gifts.  I use them to put a serving of Joe’s stuffing he makes.  The stuffing is from Thanksgiving and has been in the freezer since.  Baked beans, Joe made his wonderful stuff for New Years and I put a portion in a tin and then in the freezer.  The pork chops were separated after I came back from the grocery store in September of last year.

What's for supper?

What’s for supper?

Once the pork chops thaw out, I will drizzle them with olive oil and rub it around on both sides.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on both sides, then a very light dusting of dried Rosemary or Thyme will be added to both sides of the meat.  Remove the stuffing and baked beans from the FoodSaver bags and put it all in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Okay, time to get a bunch of running around done.

Leslie