Cleaning up and more prep for winter

October 24, 2014

There was a massacre of dust bunnies and old spider webs today at Casa de Chaos. I have been working on my fall cleanup both inside an outside and today it was time to clean up the rooms I don’t use daily.  I have to say I have sort of ignored those rooms as far as cleaning regularly and boy did the need some attention.  It wasn’t truly bad as I got most of the work done with the vacuum and semi-damp sponge for dusting.  I moved some old PC cases out to the shop for parting out along with the counter top microwave to clean up one of the bedrooms that has become a catch all.  I trashed my laser printer that died this year.  It looks like my desktop PC motherboard finally bit the dust. Time to get new parts to upgrade the machine. I can reuse the a lot of the old PC parts but the motherboard, CPU and memory sticks will have to be new.  I figured the  new parts will cost about $190.00 through Amazon. I checked and I’m saving about $40.00 and getting a slightly better CPU.  Plus I can buy the parts over time so there is no huge one time cost. I setup my laptop for now and it works fine as my backup until I buy the new parts.  I’m a firm believer in repairing stuff if you can and always take a shot at repair, as you really can’t break something that is already broken. But if you can’t repair it, get rid of it and move along.

If you are a smoker the walls will get stained but one of the better cleaners I have found for walls is Florex carpet stain cleaner. It works as good or better as sudsy ammonia and it does not give off the ammonia smell that can be quite unpleasant.  The walls need to be repainted using a gloss or semi-gloss rather than flat latex paint. The gloss paint is easier to clean as the flat paints seem to absorb dirt and smoke.  One of my winter projects is to get the walls repainted and use a good paint which has gotten very expensive in the last few years.

I’m very pleased how the elm is burning in the wood stove.  Having the wood rack on the porch is working even better than I thought it would when I bought it.  So far I am not seeing elm as a dirty, nasty smelling type of wood. Now the grain of elm wood twists it can be a lot of hard work to cut and split, but my Dad has a hydraulic wood splitter so I have dry elm cut for my wood stove and my physical effort/work with the elm has been minimal for wood cutting.  I think elm smells okay while burning though it seems sort of neutral not good or bad  to me.  I don’t find burning elm unpleasant at all. Now the elm I got is dry, so the odor might be more pronounced if the wood is green.  A neat little trick for your wood stove or fireplace is add a little bit of newspaper on top of your wood stack to light first and that will heat your chimney and get it warm to draw air well and then light your paper and kindling.  I have added new lithium batteries to the smoke detectors but I need to add another Fire extinguisher to my preps.  The carbon monoxide detector is new  so overall I am ready for winter wood heating. The chimney sweep seemed very impressed with my basic set up but I prefer to go above and beyond the basics as I have lived through  a chimney fire and it was very ungood.

Some good news Mom got the big knee brace off today! Doctor recommends she put it on if she does any heavy work to protect the knee but now she can start working on increasing her mobility and strength.


Prepper fatigue

October 20, 2014

I have seen quite a few people either burn out or give up if they are a prepper. I understand as it can get tough to keep your spirits up and stay motivated in the face of so much doom and gloom.  You might not have many friends or family that supports what you are doing or even ridicule you, which can make it doubly tough to keep on going.  I think many of us have gone through those stages at least I can say I have dealt with it and I have done  a few things that seem to have helped me get through those times.

  • Take a vacation from prepping and the news for a week or two.  If you have more than 6 months worth don’t go shopping for prep items for a week or two and live on your preps for awhile.  You are getting a little payback/reward for all that prepping you have done and you can see it as sort of test but the main thing you are doing is recharging yourself mentally and spiritually.
  • Get out of dither mode:  I did this a lot, as I had a hard time figuring out what to do next so I would of blast off in all directions and not have a goal I wanted to achieve so I wasted time, energy and a little bit of money.  One thing that helped keep me focus is I would put myself in disasters in the news and how I would handle it. It might be a power outage, no tap water,  a storm or a riot and I would start walking through the steps mentally and even do a test of that situation.  The test can be a simply or as complex as you want to make it such as, if you are running a generator are your power cords in good shape and working?  Have you tested the cords recently and know they work?
  • Start working next year’s goals and write them down.  Then write down the steps of the plan to make it happen. It doesn’t have to directly related to prepping but I bet in some way it will end up being a skill or product that will be of value if only to you. Don’t be afraid of failing as that is often when I learn the most about doing something.  Also LIFE will come along and screw up all your plans sometimes and you will have to adapt. I believe the ability to adapt and not panic will be one of the most useful skills you will learn if the SHTF.  So don’t look at as a failure, think of it as redefining your objectives!
  • Try to stay positive and moving forward towards a goal. This is probably one of the hardest for most people as it is very easy to become pessimistic.  I tend to be more of a natural optimist and it takes a lot of work sometimes to keep that sort of outlook when everything seems to be falling apart.  Remember the only thing you can control is yourself and your actions!  I think that was the hardest lesson for me to learn as I have a tendency to want to fix things and there are just some things I can’t fix.  So rather than “bang my head against a wall” I just stopped playing the game.

But Jamie the world is falling apart and I can’t possibly stop watching the news or prepping or whatever for a week or two.  Well guess what the world is always falling apart in some way and how much news do you think you are going to get if things get really bad?  I’m sure if the “Zombie Apocalypse”  starts you will pick up on it happening simply by watching those around you.  You can always cut your “news vacation” short if you need too.  You don’t be completely stressed out before things go sideways.

Lots of cleanup and organizing done

October 18, 2014

I finished up cleaning and organizing the basement and added a few more shelves that made it a lot easier.  I only need to tweak stuff  now to make it work better rather than the “Oh God!” how will I ever get this all done, sort of thing.  One nice bonus is getting my buckets cleaned and organized so I can give it a look and know when I need to start finding sales to top things off.  As I get older I find I don’t deal as well with not having things organized as I did when I was a kid or young adult. Time is too precious to waste looking for stuff so having my things organized seems to reduce my stress level and shopping lists are a lot easier to get done.  Perhaps it is the Army training of having things in it’s place and cleanliness is always a big issue. Being dirty and disorganized does not work well when I am under pressure/stress.

I ran over to my sister’s place and cut off a few tree limbs that were brushing up against her deck and gutters in a bad way.  My sister was impressed with just how well the little B&D battery powered chainsaw did on cleaning up those limbs.  The trees should be okay until spring or possibly next fall at her place with this little bit of trimming.  I dropped off the new skin salve for my sis and I hope it works. Both her and Mom really like the scent and Mom has been using it with her dry skin for a couple of weeks and likes it.  Mom and my sister have a sensitivity to citrus and they have to be careful even taking C vitamins so using Lemon essential oil is just not workable for them. Me, I would eat lemons and never had to much problems at all with any sort of citrus.  Now this skin salve mix has cedarwood, clove and tea tree along with using Rice bran oil (naturally high in Vitamin E) and a bit of lavender that seems to make other Essential oils more effective based on my experience.  This oil has more of a spicy aroma rather than a sweet/ floral aroma of the previous skin salve.  My sister also loved the little wire cap and bail jar the salve came in this time.  She thought those little jars would make great little xmas presents/stocking stuffers as they are so functional and look great.

Dad came over and fixed one of the RV vents that got trashed this spring.  With an older RV there will always be a few things that must be replaced as they age and late 70’s era plastic fixtures is one of them. Dad said we need to get some roof coating done as water is starting to attack some of the seams of the metal of the roof.  It’s nice I am set up with the pressure wand so cleaning is not a big deal if a person can climb up on the RV’s roof. Dad said he’ll replace the old battery with the new AGM battery I already bought. If he can help me remove the busted futon/sofa then the little RV will have a great start for being ready to bugout or simply go out on camping trips.  I still want to replace the RV awning with the attachable tent/cabana room but it is tough to dedicate $500. 00 dollars when you are trying to deal with everything starting to go sideways.  Especially when bugging in seems to be the priority prepping need at the moment.

Dad really liked the new wood rack and how I cleaned up the porch for this winter’s heating.  Yes, I’m nearly 50 years old and I feel good when my parents are pleased that I am ready and I get a little pat on the back and a “You are doing good kid”.  Parents always worry about their kids and age does not matter. Knowing that some of the kids can handle stuff makes less stress for parents.


I swear my head might explode with the USA’s Ebola response

October 16, 2014

I t seems that I was correct that my planning and preps for Ebola were significantly better than the Medical community in the USA!  That is really terrible news  that I’m better prepared than the entire US government and the health care system for Ebola. I still can’t believe the clip board guy was “supervising” the transfer of Nurse Vinson with no protective gear at all.  Unless things have changed a lot in the Army we never had a “supervisor” running around checking how we did MOPP4 without being dressed the same or it was an “umpire” during a training event. It sure as heck did not happen in in Gulf war one in Kuwait I’m told.   This guy touches  people and the handrail of stairs getting on the plane and appears that he took something from the guys wearing suits and the have their own suit oxygen supply(SCBA) gear.  So I find it hard to accept that he was a “safe” distance away.  Nothing we can do about the morons in charge, all you can do is get educated and top off your preps and “don’t be that guy” or take your procedures for granted.

I did find a lot of great buys and did even better than I expected.  Cash and Carry actually had vinyl gloves on sale 100 count box for $3.29. I picked up a 100 count box of the blue Nitrile gloves for $4.99 and a 100 pack of disposable aprons for $9.07. At Home Depot I got the full face shield for about $12.00 using my military discount and another 20 pack of N95 masks for about $18.00.  I know the prepping blogs I like recommend a N or P100 full face respirator but my budget just can’t stretch that far yet. I think I have time as we don’t have an International airport so we should get a bit of warning if Ebola gets to Idaho or goes exponential.

Stopped by the Local True Value store and I got the last 20 gallon metal trash can for $15.00. This metal can will become my burn barrel if needed and for a savings of over $20.00 I can drill my own holes in that little rascal.  I have been wanting to get something for a burn barrel setup for some time for my sanitation preps if the SHTF and I can’t depend on trash service.  With the Ebola thing, the burn barrel moved to a higher priority as it seems fire is the best way to deal with the contaminated waste.  While I was at True Value they had all of leftover seed packet in a big bin and they were 50-75% off. My stored seeds underperformed this year, I think because of age so I got selection of 20 different non-hybrid seeds for the garden.

I added a lot of the double sided poster tape and I finally found some chalk for my “blackboard” labels for reusable (I hope) canning jars and beer bottle labels. I had no idea that chalk had become a seasonal product and many stores do not stock it year round. I found the chalk at Joann’s Arts and crafts. I can see a lot of potential uses for those blackboard labels and chalk from inventories to labeling buckets and even shopping lists. Especially if paper is hard to come by if TSHTF.  Lists are a great thing as you can take your time making them and it is easy to check it off or erase everything and start again if it is needed.

I stopped by the local farm store and got some of the doggie treats that my cat loves. Yes my cat love the doggie treats and my dog actually prefers the small cat treats. I did name the place Casa de Chaos for a good reason. I got a 70 pound “tube” of sand for my burn barrel set up and the patio kitchen as an additional safety measure around any charcoal grills and stuff.  Added a few more packages of beer yeast and set aside $20.00 for the IV purchase for the sickroom/re-hydration.

I know it’s tough to shift or even try to add things to your shopping list when a disater or something blindsides you. If you are on the lower end of the economic food chain you tend to lurch from emergency to emergency and there is often nothing left for an “Emergency Fund”.  I can’t speak for others but for myself I handle these little disasters of stocking up the best I can given my availible resources.  I think it is a very bad idea going into debt to prepare. I know it is tempting as I now have a darn good credit rating and all kinds of people want to loan me money. I suck at credit cards as they are just to easy for me to rationalize spending for preps as I do need them. But no matter how much I save short term,  I will always lose out to compounding interest. Please don’t think I’m condeming those that use a credit card and pay it off monthly. Some people can do that, I ain’t one of them!

Harry:  Me and Diana the peke had a nice evening by the fire she got a nice brush out and I watch Galaxy Quest and had a few laughs.  It was a nice relaxing night.

Looks like I got toilet repaired finally and watching people

October 14, 2014

I replaced the guts of toilet in the small bathroom but I had a heck of a time with the water supply  pipe leaking at the tank. For me it is often a good idea to walk away from a repair project for a short time and double check the book/instructions to make sure I followed all the steps.  I’m not exactly sure why but the water supply line seems to be good after I tightened up one of the nuts.  I could have sworn I did all that before but obviously I was mistaken. I have a couple of paper towels wrapped around the the supply line, that will let me know if  any leaks occur. So far so good as it has been several hours and I’m not seeing any leaks and the paper towels are still dry.

Getting my small bathroom up and working has been a critical part of my sickroom preparations.  I want to have my big bathroom so it can be dedicated for sickroom support. I don’t want anyone that is ill walking through the house to use my small bathroom and I sure don’t want a healthy person having to go through the sickroom plastic just to use the bathroom. If you don’t have a bathroom you can block off  specifically for the sickroom add a potty bucket and wash tubs for cleaning up the patient.  More work but it will also help if the patient feels they are doing all they can to help themselves stay clean.  I have been so ill that I could not even comb my hair and when I started getting better being able to do little things like combing my hair or making a small pot of coffee were incredibly important to me.  That is one of the reasons I focus so much on the morale of the patient. I can’t speak for others but for me, feeling helpless and dependent sucked!  Of course I was helpless and dependent which made all those little things I could do for myself so much more important.

There is a gal that walks at the mall and she is very smart and pays attention to what is going on. I need to cultivate her as she seems to have been a healthcare worker, does sewing crafts and speaks Chinese though I don’t know what dialect.  Talk about a bunch of great skill sets and this is only what I have found out chit chatting in the local mall during my walks with Mom.  There is another gal that is from Canada and her husband is a US Veteran and she is a smart gal. There is a young man that I gave the jello/pudding to that works one of the cell phone kiosk that is very ambitious buying a home and looking for another to buy. Well he can’t be earning a lot of money but he is mostly debt free and can leverage a bit. I ‘m trying to give him ways to save money but he seems to be a natural salesman and if you can sell you can make money.  I have to say I’m not much on the whole “gray man” philosophy. I have no problem with those that go gray, I just don’t see it as a viable strategy for me and my disability.  For me my strategy is to be somewhat visible and have a skill set that is valuable if the SHTF.

I don’t think anyone can guarantee you will live no matter what steps you take. All we have to do in this life is die and I believe we all will at some point.  But how you live and what you do in this life, even if it only affects a few people is something precious and I think you should value it.


Moving on to winter preps

October 13, 2014

With the shopping list mostly finished up it’s time to get back  to work on winter preps. An important item is getting the basic oil change and fluid check done and have my tires and brakes inspected on the mini-van. I have a coupon for one of the local oil change guys that runs an independent shop and are super good about letting you know about any additional problems. These guys are old family friends and always do good work!  I will stop by Les Schwab and get the tires and brakes inspected and basic maintenance done for free which is part of the warranty.  Most of my emergency kit is set up for winter but I need to double check one of my small boxes for any out of date stuff and make sure all the batteries/ flashlights are working.  One thing about Idaho is the weather can change fast so it’s usually best if you plan for the worst in winter and you won’t be disappointed.

I need to rotate some of my gas cans to ensure I have good fuel for the winter. I got some neat little stick on labels that are made for chalk and they should work for dating my gas cans. I’m rethinking my strategy for gas cans for mini-van in a bugout situation. Almost all of my cans are 5-6 gallons and while I use a contractor trash bag to transport and fuel up those cans in my mini-van. It would be best to have the cans outside the van in the roof/luggage rack for a bug out. Each gas can weighs about 50 pounds and would be difficult to load at the last minute so getting some smaller cans in the 2.5 gallon range is a new addition to my bugout plan.  A plus for getting some smaller cans is it would make gassing up  the generator quicker and also a better size for handing out to family or for barter.  I have some good tie downs for securing the cans to the rack and if I load 10 gallons worth of fuel it won’t exceed the roof rack’s load limit.

The garden is still producing but the squash leaves have mostly died back so I can get started on some garden clean up. I’m going to let the tomatoes keep going until we get a frost warning and then pick any green ones left and let them ripen on the counter. I have been very pleased with my garden this year. I learned a lot about proper soil and composting so I have high hopes for next year’s garden.  There is some maintenance to do on garden tools and I have many things to do moving from theory to practice.  A big one is storing tools in a bucket of sand with some oil that is supposed to keep lawn tools from rusting.  A very nice time/money saver because I have moved to using mostly electric and battery powered tools is I don’t have to worry about oil, gas or spark plugs with my lawn equipment. If you have not used some of the new battery /electric tools you need to check them out as they are very good.  For a small/urban homesteader these tools can sure make your life a lot easier.

I did a test of of some of the elm in my stove and it worked great. The wood was dry, burned very well and the chunk of wood lasted about six hours. Having the wood rack on my front porch made it very easy to stack up wood and the wood isn’t taking up space in my small living room.  I cleaned up the front porch and have a place for kindling sticks I gathered from the lawn as the trees shed small stuff.  About the only thing I’d like to add  is one of those paper log rollers but overall I’m feeling very confident in my heating preps.  It’s sort of strange as I look at winter as being a cheap energy  season compared to how expensive using electric to heat a couple of years ago. I’m a little bummed I have not paid off the loan early but 2014 was a year of little personal disasters that simply needed money to fix.

Overall things are in darn good shape here at Casa de Chaos. While less than pleased about the potential epidemics the PTBs seem to be courting. I have to say I upped my game as far as 1st aid and medical preps. I’m in good shape for most disasters and if not perfectly ready I have enough on hand to at least have a chance at surviving.

Wow I made 48 years old as of Oct. 12th!

October 12, 2014

Goodness knows quite a few would have doubted that happening including myself. Especially considering how many times I temmpted fate, not counting Gravity and Inertia!

Well it’s my Birthday and I do have some songs I really like and I think you might enjoy.  I love to sing, but I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. So check out these 2 ladies singing.

And now Ms. Aretha Franklin.

I think a person would be very proud to have someone like Aretha Franklin cover their song. It’s sort of like Weird Al doing a parody that shows you made it!

Well we need a few laughs.

Personally I think this is one of the best wedding/romantic songs ever written.

Oh course this might be a close second


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