This is the story of our exploration of the human condition... continuing the adventures in our BattleWagons until something great happens or we decide it's a lost cause. Est. 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

TUESDAY UPDATE: New Job, New Goals

I started an overnight job at a group home for teens.  We have eight kids in the house, coming from all over the state of Montana.  My job is to make sure they don't sneak out, hurt themselves or each other, and stuff like that through the night.  In the morning, I get them up, make sure they've taken their meds, etc.  I may even make them breakfast one of these mornings, just because I can.  ;-)

Talking about goals, the Hetero Life Mate and I have decided to return to the roots of the BattleWagon Chronicles.  We're looking for a trailer that we can pull with our Suburban and park somewhere instead of paying as much rent for this apartment we're in.  I've talked to a guy here in Bozeman who has an organic farm and orchard, and we may be able to park the trailer there relatively inexpensively in exchange for some work on the farm.  Bonus points for fresh, organic food if that's the route we go.  Other options include renting a spot at a long term campground/RV park like a KOA.
First thing is first, though... we need to find a trailer.  We're looking for something in the 20-30 foot range.  We'd prefer a bumper-pull trailer, but we'd settle for a motorhome.  As long as it has a somewhat functional bathroom, kitchen, furnace, a bed big enough for the HLM and me (and the Baby on and off), and a separate bunk or bed for Baby and/or Little Man, we'll jump on it.

It's the time to shed the bondage of debts and paycheck-to-paycheck living.  Like so many lower-middle class Americans, we make too much money to qualify for most assistance, but not nearly enough to survive.  Society wants us to buy into this by being lemmings, pushing the idea that we must live in a nice apartment or house that we really can't afford.  Breaking these bonds are how we thrive.  We're going to live in a trailer.  We're going to have it paid for in three-months rent.  We're going to own a house, and we're going to have the ability to take it wherever we please. Life is good.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WEDNESDAY SKILLS: "Resume Work" or "The Seach Continues"

I've been in search of some better work opportunities, so I figured I'd share some of the resumes I've built to get in the spirit of things.  If you like what you see, let me know, and I'll make you one, too.
This one was my first attempt at something creative.  It's not really the best work in retrospect, but it did get me my favorite job, in Alaska.  I've since updated it.  I haven't sent it out anywhere, but I always keep it up to date.  

This is actually a copy of a resume that I built for my (hopefully future) mother-in-law.  She wanted something simple, concise, elegant, but not fancy.

This one I built to come to Bozeman.  On my professional version, it has horizontal lines across the top referencing my salary history.  As it's specific to sign-making, it's usually accompanied by a short portfolio and sheet of references, both of which were made in this same style.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Here I am, on the heels of the third job I've had in Bozeman since we moved here in February. Three jobs in six months. That's a record for me.  I never thought I'd have to step so quickly backwards and downwards to make ends meet, and still, here I am with nothing except my family, my partner, the kids, and a clean house. It has to be clean, after all. What else am I going to do with my time?

Well, maybe spend this time, really spend it, with my kids. They're beautiful. The boy is 4, and he's bright, energetic, and curious. He loves Iron Man, and he LOVES his baby sister.

The girl is 6 months here in a week or so. She's beautiful. Red hair and a smile that she busts out as if she's just reminding you that life is worth living. Big, curious blue eyes, and the beginnings of a chuckle that is as contagious as it is disarming.

I guess my point in celebrating these kids is that there is a pretty significant low in my head, a low that feels like it's drowning in a fog of failure, defeat, ineptitude, and payments for decisions made years ago. Still, in this fog, occasionally I see another face, and these faces are representative of unending love. I am so thankful.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WEDNESDAY SKILLS: Too busy to post regularly...

 I haven't really had the opportunity to create much at work, so I'm just posting a couple of pictures of some sand-blasted signs in progress.  The ones pictured above are for a local dentist.  At this stage, the two on the left are blasted out.  The rubber that prevents the sand from blowing through is still on the borders, and the inside has been painted.  The sign on the right was blown out all the way to the edge, and has been stained.
 This sign was blasted out of foam.  The background was chiseled by hand to give it the effect of being blasted from wood.  The cherries and the leaf were also carved out to look a little more three-dimensionally realistic.  The entire sign was spray painted a beige color as a first coat.  I've since painted the border a dark brown, the letters maroon, and the cherry, well, cherry-colored.

That's about it for now.  As I said, way too busy, but I haven't forgotten about the blog!  I'll post more when I get a hot minute!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

WEDNESDAY SKILLS: Recreating a Wax Seal

It's been a while since I've posted, and I apologize, but I've been so busy.  However, I haven't forgotten about ya'll.  Here's a project we worked on last month at the shop.  It was a sand-blasted wood sign, and the customer had asked for what looked like one of those old wax seals that you'd see in official mail and what-not.  My boss provided me with a picture and a piece of 1" thick foam.  I used a drill press to score a large recessed area in the middle, and began chiseling away at the block.
 After getting the shape roughed out, I sanded all of the harsh edges with a piece of 80 grit sandpaper.  All of the corners and rough edges were rounded and smoothed out.  Then I put a coat of plain white latex primer on the piece.
 After the primer dried, I took some regular drywall paste and filled in the hole left by the drill bit in the center.  When that dried, I put on a coat of white 1-Shot paint.  (For those that aren't familiar, 1-Shot is a paint originally made and still marketed to sign painters.  It's oil-based, and freakin awesome.)
 After the white 1-Shot dried, it was time for some color.  We chose a maroon 1-Shot for the second coat.  One of the nicest things about 1-Shot is that when you put it down, it really flattens out for a nice, smooth, even finish.  I had an idea in my head of what this was going to look like, and this really exceeded my expectations at this point.
After the maroon paint dried, I put on a second coat, just to make sure that the color would dry in a rich, color.  It wound up really looking like melted wax.  When the second coat dried, we got some imitation gold vinyl and cut out the letter and ornamental ring and stuck it down on the middle of the emblem.
 Here's the finished product.  The outside border of the sign was stained with a regular wood stain.  The background was painted with a latex beige paint, and the inner border and letters were painted with 1-Shot.  The wax seal piece really brought it all together.  Check it out!

Friday, May 23, 2014

ARTWORK FRIDAY - My Baby Announcement...

I designed this when my daughter was born.  A fun little project.  Turned out pretty good, I think.  ;-)

THURSDAY FEELS: Optimism in Brief

I count my blessings tonight.  It's been a rough few months, months that included a move across the country, the arrival of a beautiful baby girl, the loss of a job, the borrowing of money from family members, the receipt of gifts from family, friends, and strangers, and the list goes on.

I count my blessings, because, in spite of have to go to the food bank to get it, there is stuff to eat in my cupboards.  I count them because, inspite of the fact that the paint is all flaking off, it's rusted out under the doors, and it has trouble moving when you step on the gas too hard, we have a truck that gets us from A to B and even allows us to drive a short way out of town for hikes.  I count them because even though I'm not making as much money as I was making in Alaska, I have a job that I really enjoy, working for honest people, and making stuff that's incredibly beautiful.  I count them because I have a son who I get to talk to almost every day, even though he lives 15 hours away, a happy dog who doesn't realize he has only three legs, a beautiful girlfriend who told me not to stay up too late (it's 12:30 am now...), and a daughter who has already been "memed" twice at 2 months and 2 days (3 days now) old.

It's funny how true the cliche is that implies you one doesn't realize the value of the small things until you lose everything else.  We've had to sell so much stuff.  Our kitchen table has a metal folding chair and another chair I found by the dumpster a few weeks ago with no back.  We don't have a vacuum cleaner.  Some of this stuff is just ridiculous.  Still, we have free internet, which allows us to invest $8/month in Netflix, and that's a beautiful thing.

We found a church that has been wholly supportive of us.  We're going to dedicate our daughter there soon.  The Unitarian Universalists are wonderful people, and no matter what sort of spiritual cravings we have, we can satisfy those cravings there.  That, and they've really looked out for us there.  We found our mechanic through them.

Now we're ramping up to dig out of our hole and downsize even more.  No matter what happens, we'll be happy because, despite everything we lost, we have each other.  We can play rummy and watch documentaries about Nazis and re-runs of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  We can come up with 50 creative ways to cook rice.  Whatever we do, we laugh, we hug often, and we both don't waste a day forgetting how lucky we are.  When you get there, that's all you need.