Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Backhoe

One of the first things we built for Rolling Thunder was a pair of awnings. The winter storms that blow through the ranch can be pretty strong, so we decided awnings would be essential to keep water off of the doors and out of the house. Water has already gotten in during the few weeks we’ve been assembling the trailer, so it was important to get the backdoor awning up on this last trip. Exactly how we were going to get the awning up was yet to be determined. That thing weighs at least 600 pounds, if not more. There’s no easy way to pick it up and attach it 15 feet high. That is unless you have a backhoe.

These photos were taken after the most harrowing part.

Picture this: the awning being lifted by a backhoe with transmission problems, causing the awning to jostle up and down; two guys pulling on a big yellow strap that has been wrapped around the end of the awning, trying to keep it from falling forward; me directing Wes to “move it forward just a little more… up just a little more… you’re almost there... Crap! You’re going to have to try it again!”; Wes yelling “Don’t get under the awning! Whatever you do don’t get under it!”, and me thinking all the while “This has the potential to go very bad. I wonder where the nearest hospital is.”

Thankfully no one lost an arm and the awning was successfully attached.

These awnings are just another example of how much Rolling Thunder has become a labor of love (emphasis on the labor part).

XOXO Jelly

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trailer Park

We spent the weekend and yesterday sprucing up Rolling Thunder. I’m picking/eating the paint from underneath my fingernails as we speak. I guess I’m going to have to wait another week to get that manicure I’ve been planning since Christmas. That’s the way things go around here.

This trailer has turned out to be quite the commitment, and I believe that’s partially due to the way Wes operates. Everything’s got to be gnat’s ass (don’t ask me what that means… it has something to do with how small flies’ butts are). I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I’m the same way, but going to Lowe’s not 1, not 2, but 3 days in a row is pushing my limits. The employees practically have us on a first name basis. One silver haired employee made the comment that Wes is quite the gentleman taking his lady out to Lowe’s on a Saturday night. Wes felt bad for me... for about 2 seconds. Then he told me to go pick out the cabinet knobs and potting soil.

But after this last trip, we might actually have a trailer which earns the designation of awesome. I’ll let you decide.


The proud homeowner:
Now that's not a bad looking trailer.

And we will live happily ever after.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Airplane Baby

First things first: No, I am not pregnant. And no we are not trying to get pregnant. I know this is the second post this week about babies. Lo siento.

The inspiration for this illustration came from a conversation Wes and I had many moons ago. If you haven’t been able to tell already, Wes really likes airplanes. It’s a way of life for him. And we’re fortunate enough to going flying every now and then.

When the conversation about children and our future plans came up in the beginning of our relationship, I said I would like to have four children whereas Wes said he would like to have two. The conversation went like this:

W: Four kids! Do you know how expensive kids are?
J: Yes, but I would really like to have a big family. It’s important to me.
W: Well who’s going to pay for that?
J: You and I will make it work. That’s what happens when you have kids. Anyways, having a family will give you more worth than all the money in the world.
W: Seriously. Do you know how expensive kids are?
J: Well then we’ll make sacrifices.
W: Well I’ll agree to pay for two kids. That’s it. And if you want to have any more, you’ll have to pay for them yourself at a million bucks a kid. Because we’re going to have to buy a bigger airplane if you want any more than two kids, and I can’t afford that.

Pretty ridiculous conversation right? I know. But the conversation inspired the idea of My Airplane Baby. He’s the one that I’m going to work extra hard for (hopefully my ovaries won’t have dried up by then!), so that he (or she) can come hang out with us. Perhaps I will weave him into a story about an underdog, whose odds where never very good, but who triumphs after years of persistence and hard work. Who doesn’t love a story like that? Plus, there will be airplanes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Childhood Story

I got my hair did yesterday (exciting huh?), and my hairdresser is a very petite almost toxically sweet woman. We were engaging in small talk and exchanging updates as is common when you go to the salon, when I mentioned that my wedding is 60 days away. She did the whole obligatory "Ooooh mmmy goooodness!! How exciiiiittting! Wooooowwww. 60 daaays awaaaay!" (imagine that in the most airy, sweet and completely genuine tone you can). Then she proceeded to follow up with the question "So how long will you wait till you have kids".

Me: Oh, I don't know. Maybe four or five years. I'm only 25 you know.
Her: Oooohh. Reaallly? That's interesting. You usually hear most people say 6 months to a year.

Did she just insinuate that I should be starting a family in 6 months?!? Because I don't know about "most people", but this girl doesn't have the emotional, physical, economical, organizational (you see where I'm going right?), or psychological fortitude to raise a child just yet. Especially the breed of child Wes and I are destined to have. Should I elaborate? Ok, here's the dog food story:

I was a very energetic child, or as my mom would say "Jocelyn was high spirited". As a byproduct of this, I would spend most of my time outside, exploring our backyard, picking flowers from the neighbors' yards and playing on the railroad tracks. There was so much to be discovered outside with all the bushes, berries and bugs that my imagination was constantly churning. I would create stories about being in the wilderness, surrounded by giant mutated bugs, having to survive by foraging for food in the jungle and climbing trees to stay out of the hidden quicksand. You can imagine the strain playing outside for hours on end can put on a child, so picture my delight when I discovered a giant aluminum can full of snacks that my parents had left out in the yard. Now when my sister or I wanted to take a break from all the serious playing, we could wander over to the snack bin and grab ourselves a handful of the salty, crunchy treats. These snacks could easily last us weeks (it was a large aluminum trash can), and it probably took that long before my parents realized what we were up to.

And for this last part, there is video evidence:

Scene: The backyard.
Characters: Jocelyn and Paige (age 3 and 4 respectively), and Dad with a video camera.

Dad: Jocelyn, what are you eating?
Me: Dog food.
Dad: You're eating what?
Me: Dog food.
Dad: Paige, what are you eating?
Paige: Dog food.

(Our father's discovery and subsequent questioning has not deterred our munching)

Dad: Where did you get that?
Me: Right here in the bin.
Dad: How does it taste?
Me: Salty.
Dad: Salty?
Me: And crunchy.
Dad: Do you like dog food?
Me: Mmmmmm.
Dad: Paige, do you like dog food?
Paige: Mmmmmm.
Dad: So you both like dog food?
Me & Paige: Mmmmmm.

And this, my friends, is why I am scared to have children.

The End.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

60 Days Away

It's hard to choose the right words to describe this incredible stage of life. In 60 days I will be marrying one of the most awesome people on the planet. Of course, I'm not biased at all. And to be honest, I don't think what will go down in 60 days will change much.

I know people say that getting married does change things, and if you think otherwise you're in for a surprise. I understand that some things will change: I will have another outlet through which to channel my hormonal outbursts. "No you can't visit your friends because we have to go buy toilet paper together! And if I have to go buy it by myself again, then you can pretty much stop considering yourself a husband and use your socks to wipe your butt!"

Oh the awesomeness. I can feel it already.

But in all seriousness, we are making a commitment to tackle, embrace, and create life together. We won't be in it alone any longer. Which is perfect, because I couldn't imagine life any other way.

I wouldn't have this spinning doogie to beg me for food every morning:

I wouldn't have projects to keep me busy on long and boring weekends:

I wouldn't have a whole new perspective on the sky and the earth beneath it:

And I wouldn't have a partner in crime:

I am so thankful for all the things that give me purpose and push me to do better in life. I think I've hit the jackpot.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Shack Attack

The Sugar Shack is coming along. Did you know that with money and hard work you can accomplish anything you want in life? I hope you don’t come here to gather Pearls of Wisdom, because all I dish out are Opals of Obvious.

Things to note:

1) The entrance is almost done!

2) There’s a sexy man on the roof! That one’s mine, but usually there’s two other sexy men on the roof of the Shack. Apparently the roofers are skin kissed, man gods who are just as deft wielding a chainsaw as they are holding a baby; or so Wes says. He’s got a serious man-crush. And that’s cool, everybody’s got their crush. Gwyneth Paltrow would be my lady-crush (How come my hair never comes out that blonde!?! Damn her!).

3) It’s starting to look like a mighty fine house!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Adventures in Aviation, Part XIII

It’s Sunday, 9:10am and I’m late for my flying lesson. I blame daylight savings time. Has daylight savings time been screwing with anyone else as much as it’s been screwing with me this week? Usually I welcome the extra hours of daylight at the end of the day, but somehow it doesn’t seem appropriate just yet. Isn’t it January or something? Alas, it is not January, but March instead, and I’m hoping the day’s lesson goes better than the last one. Spoiler alert! No, it doesn’t.

Mr. Instructor and I do a preflight of the little red plane and discuss the day’s goals. We will make our way over to Oxnard, fly a couple of loops in the pattern so I can practice my landings, and then do some instrument training. A private pilot’s license (which is what I’m aiming for despite the fact that I SUCK), requires that pilots operate an aircraft following a set of rules called VFRs (Visual Flight Rules). That means you can only fly when the weather is relatively clear. If you wish to fly in weather that is worse than the VFR minimums (where you cannot control attitude and altitude by simply looking out the cockpit), you must get an additional “Instrument” endorsement. These rules are called IFRs (Instrument Flight Rules).

Our little trip to the heart of Boringville has a purpose! Mr. Instructor brought a snazzy pair of glasses called Foggles that I would be wearing during a portion of the lesson. The Foggles would block out all my visual references forcing me to use just the instruments (attitude, airspeed, and altittude indicators, heading bug) to fly the plane. Sounds like fun, huh? But before I could experiment with the Foogles, I would have to get some pattern work in.

We make it over to Oxnard without incident. Unless you count the part where I’m trying to communicate with Oxnard tower and Mr. Instructor jerks the plane to the right telling me I cannot go into their airspace until they respond to my call. Airspace? Don’t you think I would have to look at a map to understand where their airspace is? And don’t you think it’s your responsibility as an Instructor to go over that map with me? Minus 10 points for you!

We land at Oxnard and immediately take off to start our pattern work. I remember Mr. Instructor complaining that I was pulling the stick back too aggressively on takeoff during our last lesson (which could cause a stall), so I decide to be less aggressive by getting us off the ground first and then slowly pulling back. Things happen quickly when you’ve got full power and you’re airspeed’s alive, and apparently my slow pull back approach was not a good one. Mr. Instructor does a little spasm in his chair and gets his hands on the controls. Fast.

Mr. I: Whoa, what we’re you thinking? Did you see how the plane was dipping? We almost had a prop strike!
Me: Well last lesson you said I was being too aggressive with the elevator and that I should get us in the air, confirm that our airspeed was increasing and then start pulling back more. So that’s what I was trying to do.
Mr. I: Ya, but don’t let the plane sink back to the ground. That’s how prop-strikes happen. And I don’t think Wes would be very happy with you if you broke the prop.

The way he said it is very funny now, as though Wes would be more concerned about the prop than my safety if a prop strike was to occur, but starting a lesson where your Instructor basically says YOU SUCK, makes you feel like you suck. And that’s how the rest of the lesson went.

Scenario: I’m coming in for landing a little too fast. I touch down but my airspeed’s too high. The plane starts a little up-down, up-down number along the runway. Mr. Instructor says that when the plane starts lifting on and off the runway when you’re landing, the effects will double after each cycle, eventually causing you to slam into the ground if not corrected.
Conclusion: I suck.

Scenario: We’re taking off, and the plane is veering to the right. Out of habit I apply more right rudder (you generally need to do this to counteract propwash) sending the plane WAY to the right. Mr. Instructor forcefully responds to my mistake by applying left rudder and taking hold of the controls. He tells me to apply the corresponding rudder pressure IN THE DIRECTION I want the plane to go. If it’s going to the right (as it was in this instance), apply left rudder. Left rudder is still on my brain as we’re taking off for the next loop in the pattern. Except this time the plane was veering to the left and my reaction sends it swinging EVEN MORE left. Mr. Instructor forcefully responds to my mistake by applying right rudder and taking hold of the controls.
Conclusion: I double suck.

All this time Mr. Instructor is commenting on what a beautiful day it is to be flying. That’s like a guy telling a girl “It’s not you honey, it’s me. We need to take a break so I can work out my emotional issues”. Really? I get it. The weather’s perfect, you’re practically Instructor of the Year, and I still can’t fly this damn plane. It’s me. I have the issues.

But I will have you know that the instrument portion of the lesson (where I got to wear those awesome Foggles) went pretty well. I didn’t crash! And I remained positive despite Mr. Instructor’s comment that 60% of pilots who fly into clouds without the appropriate instrument rating DIE. I think he actually said it like this: Here are Foggles. We will use them to simulate what it’s like flying in the clouds. Although, NEVER fly into the clouds. You WILL DIE if you fly into the clouds.

Mr. Instructor's really good at scare tactics, and all the stress of this last lesson has remained with me throughout the week.

Wes (that's him above, the shadow with the small head) had the courage to ask me whether there was anything else stressing me out this week. Oh you mean the wedding I still have to plan and the plane I can’t fly? No, I think that’s enough stress thank-you-very-much.

There is one upside to the fact that I’ve been stressed lately. I’ve given myself license to drink lots of champagne. And it's helping.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Flying Low

I had another flying lesson this past weekend. I don't have the energy to write about it just yet because I'm still trying to recover. Nothing insanely bad happened, just another blow to my confidence. And instead of hammering on about how stressful my life has been lately (boo hoo Jocelyn), I will end with this:

Dear pilots of the world,

How do you effing do it? You guys are my heroes. Seriously, there's something in your genetic makeup that makes you far superior than anyone else. You wield a power much like Zeus wields a lightning bolt. I accept my inferiority. But like a disillusioned human, I will persist, perhaps futilely, to attain the power that you hold. My ego will lie awake and discontented until I succeed. I must try… or die trying. I cannot give up. Thank you for the inspiration.


The Jelly Logger

Monday, March 14, 2011


Did you know that Wes and I got ourselves a brand spanking new mobile home? Actually, someone else had purchased it previously and set it up, only to have it repossessed when they fell out of escrow. Mobile homes are a commitment baby, and some people manage to get in over their heads.

Anyhoodle, you know I can’t stop talking about Rolling Thunder, and to put the icing on the cake, we decided he (or is it a she? What gender do you assign a trailer?) needed a proper sign which we could display at the entrance. So without further ado, here’s the Illustrator masterpiece I’ve created for the Thunder:

Wes wanted the lightning bolts, and I thought the “And they lived happily ever after” was equal parts humorous and exact. It might need a little more “flare”, but I think it’s a good start.

Who knew a trailer could elicit such creativity?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How Was Everybody’s Weekend?

Does that seem like a strange question to ask on a Thursday? Perhaps, but this Tuesday and Wednesday was my “weekend” and I spent it up at the ranch working on the glorious Rolling Thunder. Does real estate and pain-in-the-ass rhyme? Cause it should.

Also, do you think we could submit this project to MTV to be included on an episode of Pimp My Ride? Because Rolling Thunder’s got tires, so it’s technically a vehicle. See:

Those are tires; tires that can be reattached on a moment’s notice.

We’ve been doing some major pimping too. On the trailer that is. I had the pleasure of painting The Thunder this weekend (read: yesterday). I painted the stairs (again) and did touch up around the windowsills and doors. There’s a problem with giving a girl who meticulously grooms her fingernails (with her teeth) painting duties. She ends up eating a lot of paint. That’s how I feel today: like I’ve eaten a lot of paint. Wes is tired because he basically did everything else we needed to do on the trailer: welding, assembling the sewer line (let’s hope he doesn’t groom his nails with his teeth like I do), building up the awning, roofing, nailing, caulking etc. He drove both ways as well.

This guy didn’t do diddly:

And these guys didn’t do anything either:

So if I seem a little discombobulated today, I blame it on the paint. I ate too much of it. But my fingernails look great!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Come Sit on Our Porch: Rolling Thunder Edition

Well what do we have here?

Did you ever think you would get to read two blog posts about porches back to back?

Apparently porches have become my life as of late, so you’ll have to suffer through reading about it. Look, it’s better than actually having to participate in the build of said porches. My butt is sore man! Wes decided to disregard my suggestions about building it in pieces and assembling it later, so instead we built the behemoth in entirety, then PICKED IT UP to load onto the trailer. Me and the sweet Asian neighbor (who likely felt bad for me) muscled that thing up while Wes pulled along the jack on which it was precariously perched. I was having visions of losing one of my toes (I have no idea why I choose to wear flip flops during our weekend construction projects).

But after all that work, we will now have a proper entrance into that little slice of paradise we call Rolling Thunder.

Steps pre-paint:

Steps after paint.

Wes's masterpiece in all it's glory:

Jocelyn's contribution (the beautiful paint job done in "Terra Cotta"):

We're thinking of getting some rocking chairs so we can sit out front and chew straw like real hillbillies. I'll probably have to get a banjo then too.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Come Sit on Our Porch

Time for another Friday Remodel Roundup!

Many people will tell you that the entrance is one of the most important parts of a house. It's the first thing people see when they arrive and it establishes the feeling of the place. The Sugar Shack needed a new entrance; something that commanded attention and indicated sophisticated design. But something to also make people feel welcome.

Well in our case, progress...




Soon we'll be able to invite you to come sit on our porch! Except I'm using the term "our porch" very loosely. I haven't had much to do with it, besides the profound photographic evidence you see here. And I actually think Wes took one of those pictures, so again I'm incorrect.

Anyhoodle, Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Adventures in Aviation, Part XII

This past weekend I thought I’d give myself a break from flying lessons and catch up on my reading. All this crazy talk about soloing has made the reality of my ill preparedness very clear. I also generally go to the airport when Wes goes to the airport, and as of Friday, it appeared this weekend was going to be an airport free weekend. Well things didn’t turn out that way, and I figured since my significant other was going to the airport on Sunday, I might as well go too.

I managed to catch up on a little reading before my lesson. Nothing important, just boring old flight instruments and Federal Aviation Regulations. Not like I’m going to need to know that stuff. Then it was in the plane and off we go. This time I wasn’t as frazzled with the responsibility of communicating and operating the plane without Mr. Instructor’s input.

Camarillo is always busy on the weekends, and as we pulled up to the run-up area, it became apparent we were going to have to wait awhile before taking off. It’s during this time, while we’re waiting for our turn to depart and listening to tower direct airport traffic, when I wonder about the stress levels of the air traffic controllers. They have to manage dozens of planes coming in and out of their airport, not to mention the random bozos like me that take forever to repeat back commands. They must be stressed out!

On this particular Sunday, tower was frustrated with two planes that were responding to their call at the same time. Tower would call “Five three charlie bravo, state altitude and current heading” and the plane would respond with “five three charlie, bravo. One thousand feet, at two six zero, inbound” plus a weird echo repeating the call. You can imagine the danger involved if two planes were to follow the same instructions from tower (can you say collision?), so the air traffic controller became increasingly frustrated with these continuing communication errors. Even though we were still on the ground, it made me nervous to hear this incident unfold over the radio. But then the tower said “It sounds like someone’s communicating with a ground radio”, to which a child’s voice responded with “Ya, it’s me. Is that bad?” Tower: “Yes, it’s very bad. STOP TALKING”. It appears that some little kid got ahold of a radio and onto tower’s frequency, and after hearing all the exciting airplane talk, decided to pretend he was a real live fighter pilot! Yay for him! NOT.

I asked Mr. Instructor if we could keep the day’s lesson down to an hour and focus on touch-and-goes. He agreed and we made our way over to Oxnard. Our first landing at Oxnard was a full stop. Mr. Instructor wanted to “set up” for the day’s lesson: having me do three loops in the pattern without him saying or doing anything. If I can demonstrate competence in being able to fly the pattern and land without his help, he thinks I will be soloing in the next couple of lessons. That may sound exciting to you, but I’ve been having nightmares and spontaneous bowel movements because of it all week long (sorry, I know that’s disgusting, but I’m trying to emphasize my nervousness). Anyways! Back to the story!

So off I go to do my three loops in the pattern. Pattern work isn’t difficult for me and my landings are generally acceptable. Except Sunday it was breezy, and I had to follow a retard flying the pattern in front of me. Seriously, he was going extra slow and would fly out a mile farther than he was supposed to, which meant I had to do some serious compensating to ensure I wasn’t flying my little red plane up his butt. It was annoying. Then as I’m flying along, the plane starts spontaneously turning to the left. Freaking out, I turn to Mr. Instructor and say “I’m not doing that! What’s going on!?” He calmly recommends I apply subtle pressure to the rudder pedals because he believes the tail wind we’re experiencing is causing the unusual turbulence.

Hello God? Are you there? I don’t want to die when I solo. Yet it’s all I can think about lately. Please give me my confidence back. I keep trying to compare my flying lessons to when I took driving lessons, and I don’t remember feeling like I was going to die the first time I drove a car by myself. So why do I think I’m going to die the minute I’m in the plane by myself? Wes tells me that statistically I haven’t been flying long enough to have an engine quit on me, but I have a funny feeling this isn’t about statistics. Maybe it’s about you hearing how good my cooking is and wanting me to come up to heaven to make you dinner. Trust me, my cooking isn’t that good. It sucks actually. You don’t want me making you dinner. So please don’t let me die when I solo. I’d really appreciate it.

Well I didn’t die in the turbulence, and I managed to complete three loops in the pattern plus three ROUGH landings without Mr. Instructor’s help. He did say it was unfair to judge my flying because of the wind. I think he saw how freaked out I was and was trying to make me feel better. After we got back to Camarillo, Wes and I had lunch at the airport cafĂ© and then walked up and down the rows of planes. It was a perfect, relaxing way to end the day. The nightmares didn’t kick in until a day later.

And I almost forgot! Check out the awesome new plane we’ve been flying.

It flies great even with the duct tape.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hello my name is ... Wait, what is it?

Does anybody else feel like they’ve put up a no parking sign in their mind lately, but nobody cares to abide by it? I’ve got a whole lot of crazies who’ve parked their scooters and lifted duallies all up in my brain’s business. Or maybe it’s just a wedding, work, flying, hormones, the fleeting nature of time and aliens that have been making me feel off kilter. To make matters worse, a leafy green object has crept into the remaining nooks and crannies of my sanity.

If only my hair was as full and had as much body as that ivy has.

Wow. It looks much better on the sign than it does on me.