Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Big Utility Action


9/12/23 Maple Leaf neighborhood

We received notification a few weeks ago that our natural gas utility would be doing some major infrastructure work in the ‘hood. While I could almost hear the collective groan from neighbors about traffic disruptions and parking restrictions, I rejoiced: Imagine all the heavy equipment!

On one morning, I had my pick of three machines, all quietly waiting while workers set up cones and directed traffic around them. I thought I’d have enough time to make a leisurely portrait of one (left), but before I could finish, everything burst into noisy action.

One worker used a circular saw to cut a hole in the metal plate in the street (below). As showers of sparks flew in all directions, a guy behind him held a shield to protect the grass, but the worker wasn’t wearing any kind of face protection! (Luckily for him, I was there only to sketch, not report him to OSHA.)

My favorite machine is the one that looks like a long-legged bug with a wide stance (similar to the worker cutting the hole, above). The business end was a noisy jackhammer.

A couple of days later, I went back for more. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a sketch of the opposite end of the same machine doing its business (the shovel side at left in the sketch below), which was to haul and position a metal plate in the street. One thing I like about heavy machinery is that they are multi-functioning Swiss army knives: They can all do more than one thing. 

9/14/23 Same machine, different big hole.

9/18/23 Concrete pours into the big hole.

The following week, I was rewarded with a cement mixer! When a worker came by to see what I was up to, I asked if I could expect any other big machines on the project. Unfortunately, no – the project was expected to be done in a few days, and then the whole process would be moving to the next block.

Paper and pen notes: My mustard yellow Uglybook is now full. As it came in a Mystery Pack, it was my one and only. It’s a great color – I sure hope Uglybook uses it again sometime.

I liked using a blue Posca paint marker with that yellow paper so much that I decided to reverse the combo with the blue book I went back to (started last spring before I got distracted by several other Uglybook colors) by using a bright yellow Posca.

The honeymoon is over... at least with white.

Speaking of Posca markers, my white one is behaving badly. I thought that my cap-down storage trick was working so well – and it still is with all the other colors. But something is different about white – unlike the other colors, it doesn’t flow well even after shaking and priming, and storing it cap-side down doesn’t help. Even worse, exactly what I had half-expected to happen finally did happen with white: The cap had been posted, and when I replaced it, I realized the pen’s back end (and therefore my hand) was covered with white paint from the inside of the cap.

Huh. Somehow I knew the Posca honeymoon wouldn’t last.


  1. You really caught a lot of the action!! Great sketches.

    1. I'm hoping there will be a few more... the project is moving all over the neighborhood!

  2. Love the jackhammer-shovel bug-look-alike machine. This coulda been as a comic strip. Great job reporting!


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