Plumbing, using the wood stove and cutting kindling update

October 17, 2019

I got the kitchen drain cleaned out last week and I can say it was an unpleasant job. I learned how to use the plumbing snake to pull the clog out of the pipe, rather than trying to push the snake through the clog.  I did not realize that I needed a bit more patience to work the “snake” through the pipe and into the clog.  I’m not sure if  clogs normally come apart in bits and pieces but that is how my clog got cleared.

My wet/dry shop vac did a darn good job sucking most of the water out of the kitchen drain pipe.  I used a sink plug and wrapped a damp dish rag around the vacuum hose at the kitchen drain and sucked about 2.5 gallons of water out of the drain even though my vent pipe placement kept me from sealing off all the air in the pipe.  While there was some gunky water that came out after I cleared the clog.  I did not have to deal with a flood of smelly water coming out of the pipe clean out.  I had about 2-3 gallons of water and clog (gunk) I collected in a couple of buckets after the clog was cleared.

I doubt I’m the only person that escalated into using a caustic drain cleaner you can pour down a sink drain before they try using a plumbing snake.  I had a couple of my cleanup towels absolutely shredded by the two week old and diluted caustic drain cleaner. If you decide to use a caustic drain cleaner  use a shop vac to get most of the water out of the pipes so the cleaner can work on the clog rather than just sit in your pipes.  A Drain King pressure water blast will clean many clogs depending on the vent pipe location.  Last but least for DIY cleaning out clogs is the plumbing snake that you can buy for under $50.00 and will do most jobs but will take some time and effort.  I have a basement that has exposed plumbing pipes and I’m not dealing with scooting around in a crawl space under a house.  If my house had only “crawl space access” to my plumbing. I would have called a plumber and paid the couple hundred bucks to have the clog cleared rather than DIY the job.

It seems almost all of my DIY plumbing jobs take at least 3 hours.  Now some of that is I’m learning but some of that is I have an old 1910 house that has had been “renovated” a few times and lets say a few of the renovations were not up to to current year (2019) codes.  I’m not exactally a code nazi but when I see some thing as a new DIYer that makes no sense other than “slapping something in place” via this is what I have on hand and it works short term.  I totally get why people now try to renovate to code.  Or at least common sense level of making stuff easy to maintain/repair in the future.  Then again common sense is not that common!

Learning to use the wood stove to heat my house.  SW Idaho winters can be a challenge but the cold and snow are only a problem from November to February.  I heat only with wood heat, though I keep a couple of electric space heaters on hand to warm up cold areas of the house.   I’m doing the wood fires different and burning hot fires in the wood stove.  I’m building up coals for lingering over night, rather than adding wood to smolder/smoke without flames.  It is early fall and it has not been all that cold this month.  What I have noticed is the glass window of my wood stove is staying much cleaner and not “sooting” up and getting dirty like it did last year.  My wood stove window needed cleaning every 1-2 weeks now the window is still mostly clean after burning wood for 3 weeks.  So I think the stove is burning wood more efficiently and cleaner.

Another change is burning poplar like I burn pine or Doug fir.  The wood you can burn is very specific to your region.  Telling me to buy maple or oak firewood in Idaho is nearly impossible or very expensive per cord of wood.  The Inter mountain west have forests of pine, fir and cedar not stands of hardwood trees.  Maple trees are almost considered an invasive species here, as the trees tend to die off quickly after a couple of decades.

Fruit woods like apple, cherry, peach and apricots seem to grow well in this area.  Those trees are not always an available resource for firewood.  So I’ll have to deal with the wood I can afford to buy and burn it as efficiently and cost effective as possible.  Actually it does not matter except for a burning the most efficient clean burn wood fire.  I’m burning poplar clean in my wood stove and my Doug fir is burning clean in the wood stove.  I’m will be warm this winter and I’m very good with that situation!

I cut up more kindling to fill my “kindling box” and I’m worn out.  I did a basic job of splitting some doug fir for 30minutes and then cut into kindling. Splitting wood into kindling takes a lot of time and the work cutting kindling is not easier than splitting wood as it takes a lot more time chopping wood. I split a bunch of doug fir into smaller sizes to be cut into kindling in 20-30 minutes. I spent over an hour cutting some of that wood into kindling and I still did not get through all of the cut wood!  I’m guesstimating but I have at least 4 weeks worth of kindling for myself and mom.

I had to quit cutting kindling because it was getting dark and I was getting tired. I sanded off some rust on my Charcoal grill and added some high heat paint.  Once that paint cures for a day I’ll sand and add another layer of High temp paint.

I survived another birthday and got a few job done.  Not perfect but good enough for me.


The Black & Decker weed eater arrived!

October 6, 2019

Mom and I traded weed eaters a couple of weeks ago. Mom had a Ryobi and I had a B&D and Mom could not adjust the Ryobi to use comfortably cutting down weeds.  Mom bought the Ryobi to replace an old 18 volt B&D weed eater she loved to use.  I traded with Mom my 20 volt B&D weed eater for the Ryobi and Mom was pleased as punch because she could work more comfortably and get more work done.  I figured I could use the Ryobi with no problems as I have a few inches in height and better upper body strength.  I adjusted the Ryobi for my height and set up the weed eater head at a better cut  angle and I hated using the tool despite the fact it did cut weeds.   The Ryobi is a heavier and bulkier tool compared to the B&D 20 volt weed eater and honestly the Ryobi is awkward to use to get at weeds around fences and in tight spaces.

For me the best recommendation for any tool is that you can’t wait to use it on the 3rd or 4th time doing the work.  Don’t get me wrong, I really like most Ryobi tools and have many of the 18 volt hand tool family including 2 great spritzing water fans that are great patio/ animal cooling fans for summer.  I suspect the Ryobi weed eater was designed for someone that is 5’8″ to 6 foot tall and needs to clear large patches of weeds rather than a gal wanting to clear out grass and weeds around her rose bushes.

True Value Hardware had a great deal on a 20 volt weed eater and blower for $60.00.  I got my replacement weed eater, another air “sweeper” , with another battery and charger.  Heck the battery and charger alone would have cost at least $30.00 on Amazon,so I’m happy with the price.  I got out and used the weed eater today and it reminded me how much I like this tool.  I could get in and clear out weeds and grass around my roses and not cut my fall “Mums” into oblivion.  It was fun getting all those weeds cut down with the B&D.

I did a little work with the B&D “air sweeper” and it does an okay job blowing leaves away on the mulch path ways.  One of the biggest problems with my corded leaf blower is it blows away everything.  Leaves,  mulch, small pets….  The B&D sweeper blows away most leaf clutter without blowing away much of the wood mulch.  If you make wood mulch pathways you will need to replace the mulch every year or two.

Grill cleanup time:  Do you grill?  Have grates of the grill got a bit gunky in places your grill brush can’t reach?  How about your  “Self-cleaning”  oven? Has it got a bit of goo stuck on from that last peach/apple cobbler or pie.  This a great time to run the clean oven cycle on your oven and add all of your grill grates to the oven’s self-cleaning.  Most self cleaning ovens hit over 500 + degrees F. for hours and simply burn off any food residue at high heat.  Turn on your vent fan on low for any smoke and watch your oven burn your gill grates clean.  After your grates are clean wipe down the grates with a high heat food safe oil.  I use lard but peanut oil is a great food safe high heat oil.

Speaking about grills. I have moved my big charcoal grill under the patio cover and will be sanding and adding more heat resistant paint. This was about $200.00 grill.  A bit cheap when you consider I need to buy at least a $500.00 grill to upgrade.  Most “home” grills don’t have the head space to BBQ a 14-17 pound turkey and I love BBQ turkey! BBQ a turkey is easy.  Brine the bird as it thaws for about 5 days.  Use a mesquite chunk/lump charcoal and maintain about 300-350 degree F.heat for 3-4 hours.  Rotate the bird for even cooking around 15-20 minutes and it is done.   This is great job for the BBQ types that love watching meat cook and those that need to cook casseroles and pies have a “turkey free” oven space

BBQing a turkey is much safer than deep frying a turkey. Rather than buying a large bird.  You can buy a couple of smaller birds and try out different brines and seasonings or add wood chips/smoke flavors.  I could cook to smaller birds at the same time but no neighbors have asked me to cook their turkey : (

Burning poplar wood.  I’m getting my poplar cut and split so no effort on my part to to process the wood.  I know that poplar is considered a hardwood but, It really burns like a soft wood, best if you think about it as something like Doug fir rather than another hard wood wood like maple.  I lived through a “chimney fire” as a kid and speaking for myself I always thought a cool “fire” was a good fire.  Welp I was wrong!  A hot fire burns cleaner with very little soot.  Last year I dealt with a lot of ash, this year ash “so far” is almost non-existent.  If it was last year, I would have dumped at least 2-4 ash buckets. This year I doubt I have an inch worth of ash in the wood stove after starting random daily fires.

I did get most of my wood early and it was stacked to dry quickly.  I live in the west so we have lots of pine and fir forests. Very little hardwood for firewood.  Poplar is an okay wood to burn comparable to Doug fir though less easy to split.

That is enough rambling from me today.




October updates!!

October 3, 2019

I have sort of located my kitchen sink clog and it is in the drain pipe, but  after the vent pipe for the kitchen and laundry drain pipe.  I used the “Drain King” and shot pressurized water out the vent stack on the roof.  The problem with the kitchen sink drain is I don’t notice a slow drain until there is a hard clog.  All of my other drains are working great so I’ll have to “snake the kitchen drain” after clearing out the pipe access area in the basement. This job must be done no matter who cleans the pipe of the clog.  Either myself or the local plumber needs access to the pipe to clean it out.  Cleaning out the clog will be the easiest part of the job. Having buckets and dealing with the “mucky drain water” will be unpleasant.

The new High rise sink faucet is working out great in the kitchen.  I’m using tubs to catch water from any kitchen sink jobs like washing dishes and dumping the water in all of the other house working drains.  I love the high rise sink faucets and levers rather than push/pull/twist type sink and shower faucets. When  I became disabled and lack the strength to twist a key in a car to start the engine.  I got a better but twisting a door knob but a door knob is problematic for me.  I might be biased, but I think levers work better for disabled folk like me rather than the push/pull twist sort of mechanisms around most homes.

I have found the fan setup to push the heat from my wood stove into the back part of my house.  It’s early days playing with the wood stove this fall but there were a couple of frosty/35 F. type nights and the house got a cool 65 degrees F. and feeling a bit damp.  I fired up the wood stove and the 12 inch West point oscillating fan behind the wood stove and a larger oscillating  fan placed in the corner pushed the heat to the back part of the house.  I spent about $125.00 on fans and a small electric heater to test.   I thought might direct air flow and on a few fans that I knew would make a good air flow corridor next summer.  I’m very impressed with the small Honeywell heater for putting out a lot of heat via it’s fan.

If your home is well insulated, getting it warm can be costly via what ever sort of heat you use.  Keeping the house warm is about making the best use of heat resources.  It is early days but these new fans seem to push the heat from the wood stove to the backside of the house. I’m using only 2  small fans rather than using 20 inch and 30 inch fans.  I think I’m setting up the wood stove to burn hotter and cleaner and not damping down the wood fire early before the wood gets burning clean.  Burning a hot fast fire that burns clean is much better than a smokey fire that adds little heat to your house and much soot to your chimney.  I have changed how I burn wood based on the chimney sweeps recommendation for my wood stove.  If you burn the wood stove properly the glass “should”  stay soot free on double combustion wood stoves.

I really like burning the poplar wood this year, as I’m getting better about getting the fire burning hot and clean.  Poplar seems to burn best if I treat it like Doug Fir and get the fire burning hot and clean rather than trying to make the wood burn a long at a low heat fire that you can get from hardwoods like oak, elm or maple.  It is early days but with me burning the poplar hot and fast.  I’m generating almost no ash and my wood stove glass window is staying much cleaner compared to last year.  This year I started stacking wood in May/June. So the wood has more time to dry and season compared to years that I bought and stacked wood in late August into early October.

I live in high desert, with hot summers and low humidity with a daily breeze to help dry and season wood quickly.  If you live an area with higher humidity of 70% and higher.  Drying and seasoning wood might take a bit more time.

Kitten update: I love the different personalities of the kittens.  Ash is into everything and Teeg is more mellow.  While Ash is obnoxious at times, sitting on my shoulder, makes the little kitten very likable. Teeg is a little less demanding of attention and seems to have adopted my peke to love on and “mark” even when Tucker the dog gets a bit protective over food.


New Kitchen Faucet installed and a kitten update

September 21, 2019

I stopped by True value to get some stuff for unclogging my kitchen sink and the store had a nice looking high-rice faucet /with sprayer for a kitchen sink that cost $65.00.  I have been looking for this type of faucet for the kitchen the last couple of months and so I bought it and installed it this weekend.

To say that the plumbing in this house is “problematic” is excessively kind.  Most of the plumbing is a hodge-podge of different materials that seems to have been done cheap and quick rather than done correctly.  Now I’m no plumbing expert but mixing materials like copper, steel, aluminum and plastic pipes along with what looks like “copper brazing” attaching steel pipes to a simple metal shut off valve has made those valve completely ineffective as a shut of valve.  Because those valve are not working I had to shut off all water to the house to replace the Kitchen faucet.

I learned a lot about my house plumbing on this job and the house water valve needs a little extra push to stop all water coming into the house.  3.5 and 5 gallon buckets are your friends for containing water from water pipes that have water in them and not completely depressurized of water and add towels to sop up the water.  I have been replacing water valves under toilets and sinks as I go but the kitchen sink faucet metal base was starting to disintegrate/leak and needed replacement as soon as possible.

I’m not sure when the old faucet was mad but it was basically 3 copper pipes soldered together with an aluminum cover.  I’m guessing the age of the faucet in the 1980’s age range.  The metal in the old faucet disintegrated and I had to sweep up all the metal chunks that fell away as I removed the old faucet.

After dealing with all of the water issues  and the crazy install of the old faucet, I installed a Homepoint High rise faucet that has the ADA compliant and easy to use lever type handles.  The sprayer works great and overall the faucet looks good.  I had a bit of good luck getting all the water fittings tight before I turned on the water main and I had no leaks.  That ability/time to run down to the basement to turn on and off the water and check for leaks made this job a bit more stressful.

I love how high rise faucets make filling up large stock pots to my Mom using the high rise faucet in the bathroom to wash her hair and put a perm.  I’m putting new faucets that have levers rather than the push/pull/twist sort of faucets.  My strength can get a bit “iffy” with my CIDP, but I can certainly push/pull a lever without fine muscular control. My outside door all use levers rather than door knobs.  Evan I on my worst day can use and elbow to push a lever.  Turning a knob is more difficult.

Onto the kitten assimilation at Casa de Chaos.  Well Tucker has allowed the kittens on my bed. Of course the kittens are a bit of pain to me but they seem to be slowly learning not to get in my face.  Tucker seems to be doing more “admonishments”  rather than going after the kittens from instinct.

I still have a slow drain in the kitchen.  I have run the drain snake as far as I can work it trough the kitchen pipes.  I’ll try the “Drain King” pressurize water “blow out” of the clog.  I don’t hate plumbers! Most of them could have installed the kitchen faucet in about 30 minutes or less.  It took me over 2 hours to install a kitchen faucet. That time is money/time/value.

New kittens are named and are settling in.

September 14, 2019

The 2 new kittens are named Ash and Teeg.  Ash is grey with some Tabby stripes but the reason for the name is that kitten jumped into the ash bucket by my wood stove. Teeg is fascinated by Tucker the peke.  Teeg has rubbed all over Tucker, walked under Tuck’s belly, ate the dry dog food and generally just disarmed most of Tucker’s anti-cat behavior.  Tucker will not share my bedroom or allow the kittens on my bed but over all integrating the new kittens is going much better than I had anticipated.

These kittens seem very smart and can be trained on basic behavior.  I’ve had the kittens for few days and both are using a small kitty litter box.  Ash is the “explorer” and jumped on my computer desk.  I removed Ash from the desk  to a chair or the floor and seemed to get the desk is off limits.  Of course Ash climbs my Computer chair and climbs on me, but in just a couple of days this kitten generally avoids climbing on my PC desk.

I’m keeping the “doggie door” blocked to stop the kittens from going outside.  I like having out door/indoor cats but the kittens are so small and don’t have a mama cat to train them about my yard and safe areas.  I’m going to give them a few weeks to get used to my house being the safe place, before I let them outdoors.  Smokey the cat is not happy about the kittens but she has ate the dry kitten food and is stand offish.

While I have had cats.  I have not dealt with 8 week old kittens in decades.  These kittens have been a great distraction from the death of Brodie not only for Tucker but for myself.  I miss Brodie but the kittens remind me life goes on.  Over all having 2 new kittens at Casa de Chaos is looking good.


Things are getting crazy, I got a credit card and Brodie my dog is gone

September 11, 2019

From what I see on the internet there is a growing backlash at the MSM culture. From the Boycott of Disney Star Wars to Comics book artists and writers going with independent or self publishing.  We see some of this from self published books via Amazon but now Amazon is starting to ban authors for “Wrong Think”.  Now some people are trying out digital downloads/ serializing their books via a website or using Patreon or Indegogo to publish paper/hardback books. Now I’m not a comic book reader but I love books and using a kindle to read new authors at a low price is great.  I’m invetigating how I can buy a writer’s work directly from the authors website.  Amazon is easy and convenient but they can drop an author for any reason or no reason at all if they( Amazon) gets pissed off by “wrong think” and in this PC/Cancel culture that can happen quickly to anyone.  I have been re-reading the series from Jay Allen and Ryk Brown books that are Military Sci-Fi genre.  If you like Weber, Ringo type authors you will probably like these books.

I got a credit card but I’m using it a completely different way than what I was taught as a “debt instrument” or short term loan over a couple of months.  I hate debt so getting a credit card is crazy, right?  But what if you only buy items on sale in between pay checks then pay off the card the next week or two weeks?  No interest is accrued on the card because you always pay off the debt before the 25 day billing/interest cycle occurs/rollsover into next months payment.  From what I have seen this is how financially smart people use credit cards.  The smart people never carry a credit balance over 25 days but pay off the debt the next payday.

For me I see a great sale on food items but the sale happens5-7 days before I get paid. I can use the credit card to take advantage of the savings and then pay off the credit card when I get paid.  I am not using a credit card to live above my means. I’m just expanding the opportunity of getting good sale prices on weeks I don’t get paid.  Credit card debt is very easy to fall into the minimum  payment rather than paying the card odd every month to avoid interest.  I have been in in some ugly debt and I have gone mostly cash for my living expenses.  I’m going to try out using the credit card and see if it saves me money or costs me money.

Brodie my dog, is over the rainbow bridge.  He was having some tummy troubles the last 7-14 days and losing weight fast.  The vet confirmed he had a tummy tumor and at 15 years old I did not think any medical treatment could give him a good life for additional year or two.  I did not request for a biopsy because any surgery would have been physically hard on him.  Brodie was “uncomfortable” when I took him in but he was aware and could bark at other dogs at the vet shop.  Godspeed Brodie… Until we meet again!

Mom is bringing over the kittens for a tryout in my house with Smokey the cat and Tucker the peke.  I read about German Shepard mix that is 3 years old that might be a good addition to Casa de Chaos.  We will see how Tucker likes the dog at the pound’s meet and greet.  I will set the parameters on the meet and greet not the “shelter”.  Me and Tucker the peke will test out several dogs at the pound and see what fits for both of us.  I won’t get a dog that won’t fit in with my current pets.

Is someone Phishing?

August 31, 2019

Had a strange call from my Mom about some one calling her about a reference I supposedly made and who owned/lived at my address.  Mom did not give out to much info but she did verify my first name and that I am her daughter during the call.  I don’t think the call is not that nefarious other than the person making the call was pfishing  awkwardly for info about me and my home.  But I don’t know that person. Nor did that person leave a name and number with my Mom for me to contact him/her.

Now I don’t try to hide my identity on line but I don’t do facebook and/or twitter sharing my entire life online.  The first place these scammer go for personal information is social media.  Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google itself stores and sells all of the data you give them and shares that data with each other and anyone who will pay for that data. I’m sure you get scam/robocalls on your cell phone at least a couple times per week, empty voice mails, text messages etc.

Many people got wise about the Robo-calls spoofing phone numbers with out of state area codes. So the Robo-callers spoof you by using your local area codes.  It is a lot harder to not answer the phone for local calls. The scammers also prey upon your feeling to help a person.  I bet you have received a call asking for Robert or Mary and if you are not named Robert or Mary they say perhaps “you” could help them….  This scam does work with some people because it happens all the time.  These scammers have computers auto dialing random phone numbers 24/7/365. All they need is 1-5% of 330 million USA population to make the scam is profitable.

What can you do to stop this nonsense?

  1. Stop sharing private info on social media platforms.
  2. Keep your private family groups protected.  Much like STD’s. Sharing info with friends on social media means you share all of your info with “friends” who share all of their info on social media.
  3. Never give out your cell phone number:  This number has become the “tracking device” of the social media mob.  If you need a cell phone # to sign up  to a site that is a big RED FLAG to check what you are signing up for….
  4. Don’t answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number.  The robo callers are getting smarter as they wait for a vocal response.  Be quiet for 5-10 seconds after you “pick up” the call.
  5. Use a search engine to check out the call.  If it is a business you want info from, the search engine should give you some sort of feedback even if they don’t  have a webpage. Honestly if a business is not on a search engine that is a big RED FLAG!
  6. You are not required to be nice, helpful or even answer a phone call.  If you want to interact with these idiot robo callers always ask for a callback number or ask to speak with the lead/manager/supervisor.  I’m guessing these robo callers or the computer dialers create a list of phone numbers not to call.
  7. Watch your language:  Never say “yes” to these sort of call as they will use that as an acceptance of the scam they are running.  Some might threaten a lawsuit and getting a lawyer for simple stupid shit will cost you money.  Hello should be safe and if the call is BS just hang up/end the call.
  8. Always ask for a name and call back number if you answer a robocall.  Never give your name or information over the phone to anyone you can’t verify.

I know many people run business over the web and you are promoting your products via social media.  This post is for just an average person on the web trying to be safe and protect some of their personal data.