Tag Archives: Rio Rancho New Mexico

What Can You Make From A Pile Of Old Cedar Fence?


When we moved into the house on 33rd Circle in Rio Rancho, NM, the fence at the back of the half-acre lot had blown over in a storm.  It had suffered through many a wind storm this area is known for, but after forty or so years it took its last lick a few months before we moved in.  The landlord replaced the old fence with a stucco wall.  He hauled most of the fence to the land fill, but there were still two or more sections of the decaying fence piled in the back by the new wall.  He promised to have it hauled away and I told him to leave it.  I would cut it up and use it for kindling in the fire-place.  Nice dry Western cedar.

So I set up the table saw and started to tear apart the remaining fence.  I’d been working on it for several days when a thought came to me from something my brother, who used to own a framing gallery, once did with old barn wood.  He made some fantastic frames out of it, and put the history of where the barn wood originated on the back of the frame.  I have one hanging in my living room with one of the Wyoming Centennial (1890-1990) 16 X 24 prints of an old barn with the Tetons rising majestically  in the background.

That’s when the “Barn Bird Collection” was born.  I could make a flock of “barn birds” rising on spring wires from a base, perch one on a high wire between two telephone poles, put one on a barbed-wire fence, and on a rail fence.  My creative juices started to flow.

My daughter has sold crafts in a Christmas craft fair in Rio Rancho for several years, so I told her about my barn bird idea.  She thought it might work, so I decided to start getting some ready for the fair.  I added the “Barn Bird Birdhouse” to the collection as I went along.  Well, the “Barn Birds,” led to the “Post People” and the “Crayon Trains” and the “Mailbox Sitters,” and the “Candy Cane Sledders,” and the “Gumball Machine,” and the “Rubber Band Guns”, and the “Big Blue Airplane.”  So that’s the reason I haven’t written anything in my blog since September 23rd.  I have generated a lot of woodcrafts though.  Now I’m worried I won’t have time to finish them all. 

Barn Bird on a Fence

D-Day for the Rio Rancho “Holiday Arts and Crafts Festival & Santa’s Workshop” is November 20th.  D-Day, of course, is well-known as the day the allies crossed the Channel and invaded France in World War II.  Do you know why it was called D-Day?  Did it stand for “Deliverance-Day,” “Dooms-Day”, “Death-Day”?  Nope.  The “D” stands for “Day”  just like the “H” in “H-Hour” stands for “Hour.”  Until a few hours ago, I thought that D-Day for the crafts fair was November 22nd.  November 22nd is emblazoned in most of our memories as the day Lee Harvey Oswald fired three, or was it four, bullets from a 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano rifle.  He bought the rifle mail-order from an ad in “American Rifleman” and used it this time from a sixth-floor window of the Texas Book Depository.  The same as 9-11 is emblazoned in our minds for the day two American Airlines, Boeing 767s slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center from different directions.  Okay, the date I have to show up at the Sabana Grande Community Center is and will not be as memorable as either of those dates, but one thought led to another.  From what I can tell, nothing of much historical significance ever happened on November 20th.

A Flock of Barn Birds

So the “Barn Birds,” “Post People,” “Crayon-Trains,” “Mail-Box Sitters,” “Candy-Cane Sledders,” “Rubber-Band Guns,” “Big Blue Airplane,” and my wife got involved with her “Christmas Wreaths,”and “Aroma Kitchen Kozys” and whatever else we can come up with, will be available for purchase at the Sabana Grande Recreation Center on November 20th, from 9-4.

Here’s an example of the post people characters made from landscape timbers, 1 X 6 pine, a scroll saw, glue, paint and some branches.

The Christmas Post People.

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Water Seeks Its Own Level – The Conclusion….For Now.


Like a giant eyeball, isn't it?

Wally assessed the situation, allowed himself a little chuckle or two, then ran back across the street to his garage.  What he came back with was a piece of quarter-inch thick rubber, which he had cut into a three-inch by 4-inch rectangle.  He reached in the pool, into the light bell and placed the rubber over the hole where the conduit attached.  The flow of water stopped.  It was a miracle.  The water pressure on the rubber piece held it in place like a stopper in a bathtub.  What a genius.  Wally, in case I never told you, that solution was genius, and that solution was nowhere to be found in my head.

I got out of the hole and ran inside to try and stave off the onset of hypothermia.  If you’ve read any of my previous stories, you’ll know that a person will go unconscious in water below 50 degrees in about 30 minutes.  I had been sitting in it for well over an hour.  And one of the things that happens to you pretty quickly when your core temperature drops is mental confusion.  That’s the excuse I’m going to use for not being able to come up with a solution to my problem.  I warmed up and everything seemed to be okay…for now.

After repairing the electrical conduit to the light bell, putting in the necessary chemicals for the winter hibernation, and covering the pool with a recently purchased pool cover, the project was officially done for the year.  For the remainder of the winter I just worried about what the water would look like in the Spring, what kind of bacteria and mold awaited me.

It's late April in New Mexico, and, just so you know, this is not a heated pool. Don't see anyone else swimming do you?

To my surprise, the water was CRYSTAL CLEAR when we uncovered the pool in late April.  We were working to finish off the landscaping, getting gravel down around the pool to keep the dirt out of it.  There would be a wood deck built around the pool, attached to the fence structure, but that was planned for a later date when funds were available.  The pool was heated with a solar blanket only, so it took well into May before I would venture into it, but I finally made that cannonball into my own back yard pool. 

My first jump in the pool. Almost one year to the day when we started the dig.

Now, you know most of the near neighbors, and some others had known about the pool project.  But I was a little surprised when I got a call from someone who lived four streets behind me.  He said he called the pool company to see if anyone else in Rio Rancho was building this pool, and they gave him my name.  Could I come over and give him some advice?  After I picked myself up off the floor from laughing, (come on, he’s asking me for advice.) I went over there.

He was in some serious trouble.  His grade was off, his “fence” had huge gaps in the seams, he had no “Bondo’ on the imperfections, nothing really seemed really square or level.  I went home and got the hose level and gave it to him.  My pool ended up 1/16 of an inch out of level from one corner of the pool to the other.  His was off by more than 3 inches.  The one thing I found interesting though, was the answer to this question:

“Did you get a building permit?” I asked.

“Yeah, I did, but they never showed up, so I just tore it up.”

He probably didn’t have enough building permits for all the deck he had going on out there.  He had pretty much decked the entire back yard.  A lot of treated lumber, bridges, and seating areas on the way to the pool at the back of his 1/4 acre lot. 

I worked with him for a couple of days getting everything up to snuff.  He was using the uniform 3′ deep liner in the black color.  By the end of the week, we were installing the liner.  It was really different, using the black liner, but kind of interesting.   Still it was another successful Leisure Pool, and the only two I ever knew about.

I know you’re probably sick of the pool project by now, but there is one more story I have to tell at this junction.  The pool continued to generate stories long after I moved out of the house, just to be warned.  But one afternoon in June, I was driving home from work, and coming down the middle of the street was a torrent of water.  I kept going towards my street and that was where it was coming from, in a pretty healthy flow.  Right out of my street.  Worse, it was originating from in FRONT of my house.

As soon as I parked in the driveway, a city truck pulled up with a backhoe (could have used that a while back) and started digging in the street directly in front of my house.  The flow of water had stopped.

Now, I’m not going to admit that I thought for a minute that the pool in my back yard had somehow sprung a leak and flowed underground to come to the surface in the street in the front of my house, but my neighbors did.  Every single one of them thought the pool walls had given way and the water was flowing back to the ocean by way of the street.

Turned out a water main ruptured in front of the house and everyone was without water for most of the evening.  They completed the repair around 9:30 pm and we sat out on the yard in lawn chairs and had coolers full of beer watching them work. 

“Sure thought that was your pool,”  Wally said for the hundredth time.

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