Tuesday, April 2, 2019

How To Remove A Stump Cheaply

For those who don't know about YouTube, it is a site where people give expert, detailed, step-by-step, instructions on how to do stuff. For example, if you want to replace the engine in your car, you can find a video on YouTube showing you exactly how to do that. My neighbor, Leon, and I were not aware of how helpful YouTube could be, until recently.

Leon cut down a double trunk pine tree that was forty feet tall. When the wind blew, the top third of the trunks would bang up against the edge of his cabin roof.

After Leon cut that tree down, he called and asked me to come over and help him remove the stump, mainly because I have a pickup truck. He told me to bring a strong rope. Within minutes of my arrival, I tied my truck to the big stump using the rope I had purchased at Wally World. I put my truck into gear, eased forward, and immediately broke my new $3.00 rope. Leon said it looks like we gonna need something stronger than a rope. We found an old logging chain that Leon had used to tie his two ten foot yachts to a tree on shore. He had replaced the old chain with a galvanized chain that wouldn't rust. His cabin is on the lake, where we go fishing.

We wrapped the big logging chain around that tree stump. I secured the other end of it to my heavy duty, solid-steel trailer hitch. Then I started the big 5.8 liter V8 engine in my 1995 Ford F-150 four-wheel drive truck. I shifted the transmission into four wheel drive low, the granny gear. When I started pulling on that stump, my truck was straining every part the factory had used to assembly that truck. Sounds were coming from my truck I'd never heard before, but the stump was not budging. Leon yelled for me to give it some more gas. I pressed down on the accelerator pedal. My truck lunged forward. I thought the stump had finally broken loose from the ground, but the chain had snapped. Part of the broken chain came through my back windshield, busting it all to pieces, before remnants of the chain shattered my rear view mirror. Luckily, the mirror saved my front windshield from a similar fate.

Leon ran up to the truck to see if I was still alive. I told Leon, right then and there, I was not going to do no more stump pulling. Shortly after that, he gave me another beer. A six pack later, Leon, called another friend of his. Supposedly, someone who had greater knowledge than Leon and I combined.

This fountain of wisdom, named Harvey, told Leon we'd never pull that stump out with a pickup truck. I was glad we got that settled. Harvey said we needed a big Caterpillar bulldozer or dynamite. Those were our only viable options to break that stump lose from the ground. Leon got depressed because none of the three of us knew anyone who owned a big bulldozer or dynamite. Fortunately, Harvey brought over some more beer to help keep our level of encouragement at an all time high.

By the time it got dark that evening, all three of us was inebriated quite a bit. We had not been able to come up with any more ideas for removing that stump. I suggested Leon carve the stump into the image of a bear and leave it in front of his cabin. Something about idea did sit well with Leon. Leon started criticizing my truck. He said my truck wasn't worth spit, if it couldn't pull out no dang pine tree stump. Softwood, he called it. There wasn't nothing soft about that tree stump.

Harvey was no help, because he was passed out in the outhouse, sitting upright, with his pants down. Once was enough for us. We'd didn't go back to check on him anymore that night. If he was gonna to die in there, so be it, Leon said he'd only known Harvey a month. Had no idea Harvey couldn't drink more six beers.

As the night progressed on, Leon and I sat on the stump drinking beer and watching the moon move across the sky. About the time the moon reached its highest point above the horizon, Leon spoiled the moment. He said my truck was so puny it probably couldn't even pull down an artificial Christmas tree. That truck had been good to me over the years so I felt like I needed to defend its honor. My swing went a bit wide. My fist landed on the outer edge of Leon's left ear lobe. Apparently, my dynamic brutal punch created hurricane force winds that knocked Leon's hearing aid loose.

Have you ever tried to find a hearing aid somewhere on the ground at night with a cigarette lighter? Sure as the world, we found it. Leon had spilled just enough gasoline earlier that day, trying to refill his chainsaw, that some of sawdust on ground caught on fire, giving us the light we desperately needed to find his hearing aid. The fire would not have been a problem, except for one minor glitch. We did not know this, until I started to stomp out the small fire with my boot. Right where I had planned to place my boot lay Leon's hearing aid. It was smoking quite a bit. We couldn't even save the battery.

Leon and I ain't talked in over a week. It stormed pretty bad and poured down rain two nights ago. That plastic I taped over my back windshield didn't hold up and my truck got wet inside, seats, dashboard, steering wheel, everything, including the remnants of that rusted chain still lying in the floorboard. Does anyone know how to take rust stains out of original factory Ford carpet?

Oh yeah, here is what finally happened with that stump. After Harvey sobered up, enough to regain consciousness, he came out of the outhouse about midnight. He yelled he had a new idea. He stumbled over to us in the dark, holding his smart phone up. We thought he was using it to light his path. No, his phone was playing a YouTube video titled, How To Remove A Stump Cheaply. The expert in the YouTube video made it look easy enough. If a woman could remove a stump that way, surely the three of us men could, too. We agreed to get it a try, but Leon, Harvey, and I needed rest and daylight before attacking that stump again.

The next day, after the three of us had consumed a dozen eggs, a pound of sausage, and drank three gallons of water, we began following the YouTube lady's instructions. Leon started up his chainsaw and made two cuts across the top of the stump, perpendicular to each other. When he got about a foot down into the stump, he stopped cutting and turned his chainsaw off. With the hard part done, we then saturated the stump with gasoline. We didn't have any charcoal lighter fluid like the woman in the video used. Finally, we lit that stump on fire using a handheld propane blowtorch like the lady showed using in her video.

I can report that our final attempt to remove the stump was successful. There is absolutely nothing left of that stump, nor of Leon's cedar-sided cabin. Have you ever tried to put out a big fire with a garden hose, connected to a shallow well that runs dry pretty quick?

Leon has moved into the storage room above my garage. Harvey is researching YouTube videos on how to build a cabin cheaply.

Leon, Harvey, and I want to thank the YouTube lady for her expert advice on how to remove a stump cheaply. If any of you have a stump you want to remove cheaply, you can find out exactly how to do it here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Portrait of Conspiracy

A romantic suspense novel. Thank you for your support. .Click here to download this free ebook

What happens in Paris does not stay in Paris. A police detective places her career at risk, when she decides to help a wealthy man search for a woman who has been missing for seven years.

Philip Lewellan discovers a mysterious painting. He’s sure it’s proof his missing wife is alive … and may be living somewhere with a child, his daughter. The thought of being a father is more than enough to get Philip to turn to the one person who might believe him.

Sandra Copeland, the original detective assigned to the missing-persons case, chased far too many bogus leads, after Philip—against her advice—offered a million dollar reward. Legitimate private investigators quit taking Philip’s money. Nothing could be found, or any evidence to indicate RenĂ©e might be alive. Copeland is not about to reopen an inactive seven-year-old missing-persons case based on what could only be another bogus lead. That is, until she sees a photo of the oil painting Philip has found in a New York art gallery. Their investigation unearths a staggering conspiracy impossible to believe, or to ignore.

This gripping tale mixes elements of mystery, romance, and danger, bringing a thrilling new twist to an old tale of greed and vice.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Read An Ebook Week at Smashwords

Find free and discounted books this week at Smashwords

All of my ebooks are free this week.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Book Reviews

Often, one of the worst things a new writer can do is ask a new neighbor, who has never written a book review, to read and review one of the writer's stories. This is like asking a person who has never baited a fish hook, to describe their favorite catfish bait. 

Unfortunately, I got the crazy idea that since said neighbor enjoyed drinking the beer I took him on move-in day, he'd devour my latest novel with a similar zeal. The key words here are new neighbor. My other long time neighbors are well aware of my shortcomings in fiction writing, which is why I no longer ask them to write book reviews or take beer to them.

Of course my new neighbor, Harvey, readily agreed to read my story. The case of Bud Lite hanging from my right hand may have helped seal the deal. Two days later I realized things had not gone as well as I had hoped.

Harvey's book review:

This book review is written without bias and had nothing to do with the author giving a case of beer to me for my trouble. I understand that Amazon requires this type disclaimer for book reviews.

Anyway, here is my review of Jack LaBloom's romantic suspense novel, ON THE RUN TWENTY WAYS FROM SUNDAY.

This story is about a man named Jack Sandstone and a woman named Janet Oliver. There is a warrant out for Jack's arrest. The opening scene gives no indication if the warrant is for unpaid parking tickets or capital murder. I assumed the worst. Otherwise, I would have quit reading right then and there. There is nothing exciting about a guy on the run for unpaid parking tickets.

Janet, bless her heart, drives an old beat-up car and is using a credit card she stole from her ex-boyfriend, Bruce, who is also referred to as snake man. Before leaving town to get away from Bruce, Janet charged a few clothes, on the stolen credit card, at a women's petite apparel shop located on the corner of Main and Twenty-eighth street. Two days later, she purchases a burger twelve hundred hundred miles away in another state. No wonder she has to shop for clothes in a store for petite women. If she is only eats one burger every two days, it's a miracle she is alive. Anyway, she is keeping to the back roads, heading west.

While she is driving, she calls her best friend, Cissy Haperton and tells her, if anyone asks where she is to tell them she is still in New York City. From the conversation, I learn that Janet's choices in men, so far, has verged somewhere between bad and awful. She has it in her head the good men must live out west.  Therefore, her plan is to drive to California for a fresh start, get far away from snake man, and find her a mister right.

Bruce, the bad guy in this story, has a tattoo of a rattlesnake that goes across his back and down both arms. The rattlers are shown on the back of his left hand and the head of the snake is depicted on the back of his right hand. Snake man is tracking Janet by monitoring her purchases on his credit card.

Well, as luck would have it, Jack and Janet both end up at the same gasoline station located way off the main highway somewhere way out in west Texas. The reader does not know this until a dust cloud that was formed around the gas pumps clears, after Janet pulls her car to a stop in front of the pump. That is when the reader gets a glimpse of Jack's truck and a sign beside it that reads Last Gasoline Station For a 150 Miles.

Jack steps into the store to buy a bag of peanuts. I don't know why he was only buying peanuts. That was not explained in the story. My first thought was why not also buy gas while you're at the only gas station around for the next hundred and fifty miles?

Jack bumps into Janet near the checkout counter. She turns and glares at him.  He immediately apologizes and gazes at her. Based on a long descriptive paragraph about facial expressions, the two obviously have an instant attraction for each other. Her unpleasant looking gritted teeth changes into a smile, which quickly reverts to a frown, after Jack tells her that her car has a flat tire. She gets upset and appears frightened. She assumes Bruce has found her car, slashed her tire, and is waiting for her to come outside. Finally, on page six, there is some suspense.

False alarm, turns out Janet just ran over a nail. The short-on-front-teeth old coot who owns the gas station tells Jack and Janet he had a new roof put on the store last month, and the boneheads, who did the work, spilled a box of roofing nails in the driveway. Due to having a bad back, he has not been able to bend over to pick up all of the nails. This explanation made sense to me, because I wondered how a nail would suddenly appear out of nowhere and get into her car tire.

Jack gets his hands and face dirty while changing the tire on her car. She is really beginning to like him now. I based that on the fact she scrambles into the car to check her makeup in  the rear view mirror, while Jack wrestles with getting the spare tire on her car. The dirt smudge across his forehead probably sealed the deal for her. After placing the flat tire in her trunk, and telling her goodbye, for some reason, Jack's truck won't start.

That is something else that's not explained in the story. I wanted to know why his vehicle wouldn't start. Made no sense to me that his newer, dent-free, Ford F-150 extended cab manly white truck wouldn't start, and Janet's old beat-up clunker cranked right up. In my opinion, this part of the story is very unrealistic. My Ford truck has never failed to start one time since the day I bought it in 1995. Then it comes to me. If Jack had driven away alone, there could be no romantic relationship developed between the two of them.

So here is what happens next. Janet offers to give Jack a ride to the closest auto parts store, which is twenty-six point eight miles down the road in a small town called Hellish. And it just so happens that Snake man is having lunch at what the locals refer to as the cesspool dinner, which is located across the street from the auto parts store.

All that was in the first chapter, which is as far as I've read, because I'm getting sleepy. It's hard to get hooked on a story in which a Ford truck won't start. At this point I'm thinking three stars, but after I wake up and read some more, who knows, it could go either way, depending on which truck part Jack buys at the auto parts store.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Field Guide for Romance Writers or Maybe Not

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a romance writer? Wonder no more.

Romantic Comedy

Told he has one year to live, Jack Lamont, a thirty-six-year-old bachelor, decides to advertise for the perfect pretend family, a beautiful women with two well behaved teenaged children. Mary, a desperate widow with kids to feed, lost her job and recently evicted from their home, responds to Jack's ad for a pretend family. Not quite meeting the man's criteria, she has to be a bit creative with her reply. Mary is expecting a platonic relationship, in exchange for Jack's cabin and college money for her kids, when he dies. Jack is expecting Mary to only have two kids and to look like the woman in the photo. There's no love at first sight, but reality finally sinks in. Jack and Mary are both running out of time. Jack learns that having a family often requires sacrifices of the highest order? Mary comes to the realization that her kids will lose another dad, even though he was only supposed to be a short-term pretend one.