Dry wall class, two new pekes , update on the fan/mister setup

June 29, 2015

Mom and I did the Home depot drywall repair class Saturday morning. It was very informative about basic repairs and the tools for cracks and small holes. Saw a demonstration of a neat patching tape, how to spray on texture as well as when to patch and when to replace a section of drywall. I have tried the cheapest and easiest form of repair first and some times that attitude has “bit me in the butt” occasionally wasting money. The guy giving the class was great about giving info for repair when to use KillZ primer and why to use it. Added some old school ways of fixing holes using masking tape and some tips on how to caulk stuff properly. Overall I was pleased with the class.

I saw a couple of older pekes at the canyon county shelter so Mom and I went and  look at them. The peke’s owner had died and the shelter wanted both dogs to go to a new home together and waived the adoption fee for both animals for Mom because she is a “senior” and she took both animals.  The new dogs had a blast exploring the backyard and while younger peke “Tucker” wanted to play chase the chickens, he stopped quickly after being told “NO!” and called a “bad dog” one time. Tucker also wants to play chase the cat and can jump up on the furniture so Smokey the Cat is very displeased as her previous safe areas are no longer dog dog proof.  I’m sure we will have to re-enforce the lesson a few times but I was a bit surprised how quickly he stop chasing the chickens.  Smokey the Cat is hanging out in the basement and coming upstairs when the new pekes are sleeping or out doors.  The new dogs seem to be settling in well though I think the pekes are a bit out of sorts,  from losing their owner, going  the dog pound, to a shopping center and then to our home.   Mom and I tend to have schedules and as smart as these dogs seem to be, I’m sure they will adapt and settle in within a week. I brushed out the small peke “Tucker” and cut out a few mats of hair and did the same for “Diana the peke”,  Mom brushed out “Buddy” the older peke and he was so calm he went to sleep!

Lessons learned  on running the “Arctic Cove” fan/mister setup in 100 + temps  so far… The 18 volt Lithium/ion battery will run both the water pump and fan on low for about 2 hours. Water usage for the mister pump in a bucket is approx. 1 gallon per hour.  I want to add another 18 volt battery as soon as I can afford it. The 18 volt lithium battery is about $45.00 via Home depot or Amazon.  Using just the fan and a hose water hook up (no pump) I get about 6 hours worth of fan power. With temps hit a 100+ having misters/ fans and off grid power have been a huge help keeping the pekes and chickens cooler.  Mom’s chickens seem to prefer the freestanding mister along with the 12 volt clip on fan powered by a 12 volt battery jumper pak for cars. I used and old Black & Decker power pak with the 12 volt fan and recharge via the grid at night.

The 14 watt solar panel takes a bit of practice setting it up correctly to get the Maximum of sunlight.  I think the panel puts out a good voltage but a person might do better charging a small battery power pak first via the solar panel and then use the battery pak to charge a tablet, laptop or smart phone. A couple of ways to charge your gadgets faster and or reduce power use is dim your screen as much as possible and turn on airplane mode.  I set up my car battery jumper power pak to be charged by a couple of  5 watt solar panels.  The jumper power pak is just a bit on the low side for voltage. If the small solar panels will charge the battery pak, great! If not I still have time to plug the pak into the grid and charge it up.   So far so good,  as we have heat warnings via the weatherman but no warnings about brown outs or rolling blackouts.  A forecast of 100 + days for over 3 weeks in early July is a bit unusual.

I wilted a bit this weekend doing yard work though I did get many cooling/energy  tests done. Today I got the back yard raked up of all doggie poo and little green apples and moved stuff back in place after the chickens free ranged. I got the front yard watered, cleaned out some grape vines and trimmed back some of the volunteer elm tree branches.  Weather is a bit odd as the timing seems to be off just a bit. The last couple of years the snow pack has been a bit low but spring rains have been a bit high.  Th god I learned about mulching as my soil is retaining moisture even in 100 + temps.  Mom added straw to the last of the garden beds and with all the wood mulch I added this year the soil is retaining a lot of moisture.

I repaired a couple of hoses and we have a professional plumber coming on the 1st to clear the sink clog and hopefully do a few other jobs cheap because I already bought all the parts. I have $200.00 dedicated for the plumbing work and Mom can add another $ 50.00 to try and get all jobs done.  Clearing the kitchen sink clog is the first priority and then installing the new bathroom faucet with new shut off valves and new hoses. Last but not least is fixing the washer drain installed correctly!  I think we can get at least two of the three jobs done for a couple hundred bucks. I’m just not aware how well having parts already on hand will cut down on the plumber’s costs and billing.

Economically speaking we have projected defaults in the EU (Greece), Eurasia (Ukraine) USA (Puerto Rico) and in Asia China’s stock market is melting down and Japan market is in “Dead man walking”phase.  You can not eliminate risk when you invest. If you stuff paper dollars in your mattress you risk the paper currency changing, you might be robbed, heck your house may burned down. Risk might be mitigated/hedged or transferred to another party but it can not be eliminated.

I always find a bit odd that Dave Ramsey always is big on getting life insurance but hates gold and silver as monetary insurance in a collapse.  In 1964, 2 dimes bought you a gallon of gas. In 2015 2, 1964 dimes will still buy you a gallon of gas. If the dimes are traded for dollars at a local pawn shop. So is gas more expensive or did the dollar lose value compared to silver?  I think Ramsey is great for help folks getting out of debt and he has many great ideas, but I think he has a blind spot about silver and gold as insurance for something of tangible value with no counter party risk.  I think getting out of debt with the Ramsey method is the way to go. You are allowed to disagree with people and make your own path.  How I prepped may not be how you have prepped. Each person/family has different requirements and goals.






Testing new equipment, shopping, plants and the kitchen sink…. clog

June 25, 2015

I tested the new solar panel charging up my Kindle fire.  Note to self, don’t leave the kindle in the sun while charging as it heats up fast and you will get a temperature warning in the shape of an “angry” looking red thermometer on the screen. I know you lose a little bit of charge using a longer cord but keeping your electronic gadget in the shade is probably a good trade off.  The test I ran was simple, just lay out the solar panel and plug in the kindle. I did not try to set the panel at an angle to get the most sunlight and in about 30-60 minutes the kindle charged from 65% up to 77%.  This weekend I’ll do more comprehensive tests charging different electronic devices.

The Arctic Cove/Ryobi 18 volt lithium battery will hold a charge two days. Friday I will do better tests and see how well it works on the first triple digit day of the summer. I wish I could afford a second battery for this fan but that purchase will have to wait until later. So far it looks like the battery of the fan mister setup will last about 2 hours using the water pump/bucket method. I have not tested how the Arctic cove works hooked up to a garden hose. By Monday I hope to get all the tests done and a good write up of what you could expect.

I got a few good buys at Fred Meyer’s and Albertsons this week. I got 4 cans of the Fred Meyer’s French Roast and Mom got 2 cans of the breakfast roast coffee for $5.99 per can.  Getting the french roast coffee on sale was a big score for me as it seldom goes on sale.  Coffee is one of the items that is not grown commercially in the lower 48 states so if the economy collapses coffee will be one of the first items pulled from grocery shelves.  Ground coffee has a short shelf life of 12-24 months if you use about a can per month like I do storing and rotating cans should not be a big deal. If you are storing is 6- 12 months of food basics coffee’s shelf life does not matter if you rotate your goods.

I’d like you to think about what you store for Armageddon, TEOWAWKI, SHTF or whatever. How long do you think Armageddon will last? Three weeks, Three months, a year. Several smart scientist say 90 % of the population would die if the electric grid goes down.  I think that is a bit over the top as people do adapt.  I  think having a 6-12 month supply of short term  goods like coffee is a good thing. I doubt many people think of storing 7 years of basics. Some folks store bulk food in 5 gallon buckets, I store food basics in 55 gallon barrels.

Back to shopping I got two family packs of petit sirloin steaks for under $4.00 per pound. Albertsons has  a 10% off sale on frozen foods and Mom and stocked up on some quick and easy meals of frozen burrito’s and pizza. We also added the sirloins and I splurge and got 2 lobster tails for $3.88 each. You don’t have to gruel or like Dave Ramsey’s  says about rice and beans and beans and rice. You do have to be a smart shopper and know how to cook.

The new plants are in the ground. I added the two purple kale plants to the front bed, the leaks went in one of the backyard raised beds, the viola/pansy went into a terracotta pot on the front steps and the moss rose ground cover has three plants sort of close to the sunchokes and one plant went into the wood mulch bed. Neither Mom or I know much about growing moss rose as a ground cover but I want a drought resistant low growing plant that can spread and start choking out the goatheads/puncture vine and “cheat” grass in the alley.  I don’t like morning glory as a ground cover because it climbs and tries to choke out the plants I like such as my roses.

Plumbing issues again, AAAAUUUGGGHHH! Kitchen sink backup and nothing works. Not drano, boiling water, not vinegar and baking soda and the Drain king did a great job sending water up the Stack pipe but not clearing the clog.  I did a good job on the replacing the toilets and I think I’m okay on basic plumbing jobs but now it is time to call in a pro and get all the pipes fixed correctly.  I have all the parts on fixing the bathroom sink, the washer drain pipe. All I need is a bid on installation.  I have to tell you I’m really tired of playing the game of fixing stuff screwed up by a DIY’er that did stuff without a clue!


Getting Casa de Chaos ready for a heat wave.

June 23, 2015

Summer arrived this week and the temps will climb into triple digits and be about 110 by next Tuesday. I got the two stand/portable misters out for the chickens to help keep the birds cool. Mom and I are looking at adding a different fan on a battery backup in the chicken house.  I got the “Arctic Cove” battery powered mister/fan combo at Home depot wth my military discount it cost $75.00. I budgeted $80.00 so I picked up a 2 pack of 60 watt equivalent LED light bulbs for $4.97.  I really like the LED bulbs for lighting because LEDs do  not flicker like the CFL bulbs and adds no heat like the old fashion incandesent light bulbs.  I charged up the Ryobi 18 volt Lithium-ion battery for the Fan mister combo, ran the Arctic Cove for about 15 minutes as a quick test, overall I’m very pleased with the results.  I have started a full test run to see how long the bucket water and battery power will last.  By Friday all of the cooling items should be tested and hopefully be ready for triple digit temps.

Update on the “Arctic Cove” bucket mister: Uses about 1 gallon of water per hour pump set low with the fan on high! Battery power is looking good after one hour.  About 2 hours of power via the 18 volt battery using the water pump on low and the fan on high via the first charge of the battery.  I think this system is great for cooling in places that don’t have high humidity.

I’m prepping meals for cooking on the “patio kitchen”.  We are making  mostly salads, sandwiches and meats that can be grilled.  My butter crunch lettuce is ready to pick though the rest of the garden has not put out much yet.  For the garden I got some purple kale for the front beds, leeks in the raised beds and what is called moss rose for ground cover in the alley garden to start choking out the cheat grass and goat-head/puncture vine. I’ll try a couple of the moss rose ground cover in the alley way/wood mulch area and a couple of the new plants besides the sun-chokes.

I’m a little worried about electrical brown outs and black outs, as people start using a lot of power for air conditioners and central cooling because it is getting so hot so fast.  Time to break out your generators and make sure it will power your basic needs.  Mom wants to charge up her solar generator to see if she can keep the batteries charged via solar panels.  Time to test power cords, all fuel systems and confirm all gas generators work.

Get all cleaning done that requires power,  such as a vacuuming a carpet to using a clothes washer/dryer.

Do you have Ice on hand? Who has dry ice locally and what is the cost? Do you have propane, butane and charcoal and a way to cook outside. Do you have off grid lights that will not give off heat?  Have you charged up your cell phone,  tablet, laptop’s rechargeable batteries and can you stay cool if the power is turned off?  Have you checked on your neighbors and know their set up.   I don’t expect you to prep for everyone in your neighborhood, but cooler of ice cubes,  a bit of water and sharing a bit of BBQ gas and charcoal to cook a meal is not a terrible thing.

Working on self-reliance can seem to be never ending at times. If you get ready for the small little disasters you tend to be ready for the big disasters.

Summer or winter your needs are the same. In winter it is staying warm and in summer it is staying cool.  Shelter, food, water and security.  It is that simple, but most of the folks in the military realize simple and easy are not the same.

Puttering around the yard, first use of the new wagon

June 21, 2015

Mom got the garden beds weeded, watered and I got most of the straw mulch laid out in the raised beds.  The Bok Choy and Napa cabbage “bolted” almost immediately after I planted it, so we are going to add a Mom’s tomato starts to that raised bed.  The front yard beds are going to be the spot for the root and leafy type vegetables. This year I’m trying a succession type gardening on some the leafy greens and root vegetables. This Tuesday Mom and I will stop by D&B and grab some leftover/sale flowers and plants for the beds.  Mom helped me finish up the second rose bed border and it looks pretty good, though I will need to add a little more wood mulch to finish off both rose beds.

I have to say the new wagon is a joy to use! Unlike the “cheap” wagon, this new one is much less prone to tipping over.  I think the Lock nut and washer setup is not a good set up for some one using the handle and hooking the wagon up to an ATV or Yard tractor, but a bolt/cotter pin or regular bolt and wing nut setup is an inexpensive and quick fix for the wagon handle.

Big Shopping week planned. Home depot has the battery powered fan/mister bucket set up for $79.99.  I don’t know how well a mister would work in areas with high humidity but where the air is dry like high desert they are great for cooling a person down.  What I like is the fan/mister combo runs on a Ryobi 18 volt battery and you can use a bucket of water or a hose for your water source. As long as you can charge the battery and replace the water you will have a good cooling system for summer.

Speaking of charging batteries, I ordered a fold-able 14 watt solar panel setup from Amazon that can charge both a “smart phone” and laptop at the same time! I’m a bit dubious about that claim but I figure I can charge some of the slim backup battery banks via the solar panel and then use the battery bank/backups to charge my electronics.  Apple products are very particular about direct charging power, as long as the power will charge up your external battery banks/backups  via solar panels, the backups should recharge your I gadgets. I don’t own any Apple products so I won’t be able to give a complete review on how the solar panel preforms.

Sales: Big 5 Sporting goods has Coleman cots for sale at $36.00 until the 25th of June. I’m sure many people plan on sleeping on the ground or using a foam mattress during a bugout or camping situation. For some of us older and disabled folks having a cot is not a luxury but a necessity.  I used to joke about those commercials “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” That was funny till it happened to me. I don’t like foam sleeping pads as most I used in the US army tend to sweat and make your sleeping bag damp.  A thin self- inflating air mattress worked as a better insulator for cold ground and it does not “sweat” like most foam mattresses.  Another thing I like about this Coleman cot is my Rubbermaid “roughneck” boxes will fit under the 17 inch cot height with an inch to spare.  Trust me on sharing a tent with other people, everyone must minimize their foot print on available floor space.  Cots and roughneck totes minimize floor space and the totes can work for make shift seats or chairs.  I was Tactical signal and had vehicles to carry my gear. I usually slept in a tent and had a cot. Grunts live a lot more austere when training and in war. I ain’t a grunt and I couldn’t handle that sort of physical effort before I was disabled.

Make a realistic assessment of what you can do daily! I don’t want you to give yourself a heart attack but do you train your body physically? Believe it or not, many 20 somethings kids can’t even walk 2 miles as they never had to do it in life.  I’m not knocking the younger generation as they rode the bus to school  be it 2 blocks or 2 miles there was no difference.  The  PTBs did not want healthy people, big pharma has lots of drugs for the unhealthy!  Start slow and walk around your block 5 days a week. Use tools that maximize your physical energy.  My electric rototiller can do in 30 minutes to an hour in one day what would take 8-16 hours physical energy spread over a week.

Cheat working hard and work smart! Don’t do things the hard way if you have a choice. There is a story about a guy that was given 8 hour to cut down a tree and he spent the first six hour sharpening his tools and the last two hours cutting down the tree.

It’s time to sharpen your tools.


I got the new heavy duty garden wagon today!

June 19, 2015

The first yard wagon/garden cart I got cheap and it was rated for only 350 pound loads which was probably a bit of marketing hyperbole. But I have to say I used that little wagon a lot for over two years, moving firewood, mulch , dirt and even groceries and boxes in Mom’s move.  So I got my moneys worth on that little cart and even with the handle broken the wheels and axels are solid and may help my neighbors repair another cart!

This new cart has a 700 pound load limit and the steering handle and more solid under carriage that can be repaired via bolts and nuts. No worries about the pintle shearing off with the new cart!  The new cart handle can be converted to hook up to a yard tractor or ATV which gives me some more options for the future.  I wish the instructions had a full 3-D  expanded view of the cart but I have learned to install all the nuts and bolts sort of loose until I make sure I have things installed the correct way before I tighten them down solid.  While the instructions said to build all wheels and support brackets first, I found it much easier to add the wheel assemblies/support to the “floor” of the wagon without the wheels first, because I did not have to fight the weight or awkwardness of the wheels on my bench.

I filled up the mini-van with real gas and stopped by the local farm store and got some great flowers and a decorative Kale for 50% off we can add to the the front beds.  I got a few more of the “Gypsy peppers” to replace some plants that did not do well in the raised beds.  Mom has been a huge help and expanding my knowledge base on my garden beds.  She is out watering and weeding in the morning and the plants are loving it!  I am very open to adding all sorts of plants in all beds in the front and backyard. I think it is a new thing for Mom to have the ability  to add plants wherever we have space instead of being limited to a small garden bed. I put the white flowering kale in one of the front beds and I want to get some more kale in purple to add to the front yard beds. Mom planted the petunias in a large box type planter in the backyard by the park bench and I think they make a nice contrast with all the dark green plants in that area.

I want to ask you prayers as the home directly across the alley has come up for sale. I think this home would be great for Mom though she would need to add a wood stove. While I’m not sure a christian should pray for a equitable divorce settlement, but looking at the future I could have Mom close at hand and I can help her and she can help me! It will be a timing issue though a 2 bedroom 1 bath is harder to sell compared to a 3 bedroom/ 1.5 bath or more. Heck I may get my shop floor area back rather than storing furniture!

Speaking of the shop, I talked to my neighbor J and he will let me park my mini van at his place while Mom and I organize her stuff stored in the shop. I won’t say things are a complete mess but we were more interested in speed and getting the move done rather than any sort of organization. I can start organizing my stuff and start using my shop as a work shop rather than a big catch-all/storage unit now that I can afford to buy some tools for DIY projects. Mom and I signed up for a Drywall repair/installation class at Home depot and want to take a more classes for basic home repair and maint. The classes are free so a couple hours of my time is a bargain.

Diana the peke is recovering very well using the steroids and has not needed to use the pain meds.  Mom’s peke “Bear” is going downhill and we are trying to keep him comfortable until he is “put down”.  Bear had a  open sore on his rear leg and we cleaned it up a bit and added some of the “band-aid” brand lidocaine /anti-septic and it worked great. This is a product I will add to my 1st aid kit and at $3.50 for a small bottle it might seem a bit pricey but it works! The lidocaine deadens nerve endings and gives the injury time to heal especially with critters and children.

Busy yard work day

June 15, 2015

Mom got out early to weed the garden beds and a couple of her plants to the “sunny” raised bed.  Mom sprayed down the plants with a mix of Dawn dish soap and water. The bugs are really bad this year, I think letting Mom’s chickens free-range has helped. . I usually cut my lawn for the last time around Thanksgiving. In 2014 we had very cold weather in early November and a relativly warm winter. Back in the early 1980’s, 10- 20 below zero F. was the norm in January.  It is weather and climate and these things move in cycles. I wonder what the PTBs think is a “perfect” temperature? While an average of 75- 80 degrees  F. works well for humans it is not great for all plants and animals.

I started installing the borders and got 1/2 of the  front yard Rose beds done. Added weed & feed to the front lawn  and watered the lawn. I’m not sure how I want to add the wildflowers in the front yard.  I can add the flowers along the fence line but I’m not a big fan of squares and rectangles. The rose and holly beds are established so I don’t have a lot of options on borders.  The wild flower bed is limited by my imagination, cost of borders and fence line.

Mixing up another batch of the essential oil pain relief salve.  I know many people won’t believe an essential oil salve can work almost as good as Oxycodone or Vicodine for pain relief without the side effects. It works for me and I have not used Hydrocodone/Vicodine for 24 months to control my pain.  Using the pain relief salve does not stop all pain and it does not work for all people, but for me it works good enough.

Mom’s little wood camp stove arrived and I got a start on burning off the cheap paint.  I forgot just how much heat that small stove can put out but it nice sitting in the back yard with the little stove burning even if it smoked a bit.  Mom got the wood stove and little water heater for the stove for $90.00 at Amazon which I thought was a pretty good deal. On the little kettle/hot water tank you get two washers, one flexible plastic/rubber and a metal washer for the tap. Place the Plastic washer in the nut on the tank and the metal washer between the tap and nut of the tank spigot.  I did not get a perfect seal and there is a very slow drip at the nut, but it was the best I could get without any instructions and breaking out my plumbing tools. I saw no leaks at the tank seams and I think better quality washers would stop all leaks at the tap!

Getting the stove got us thinking about doing some car/ tent camping plus do some testing our bugout setup this summer.  I have few more items I want to add to my setup. Amazon has a very nice folding 14 watt solar panel for $65.99 with lots of connectors for cell phones, tablets, laptops and a 12 volt battery. I want to add a couple of small power sticks to take advantage of that solar power to recharge my gadgets and those cost about $6.00-$30.00 depending on stored amperage.  Home depot has a neat little fan and mister that has a small pump and runs on Ryobi 18 volt Lithium batteries and cost $80.00.  The reports on both items are very positive though the solar panel is a little “iffy” charging Ipads. I figure if you can charge a small battery unit and then charge an Ipad you should be okay.  I don’t own an Ipad or Iphone but I have read they are very particular about using any sort of  backup power.

Out and about committing random acts of kindness and senseless beauty!  I picked up a few little plastic storage cups. Nothing fancy though you might store some dried herbs or small nut/bolts.  Any how I filled the small container with my essential pain salve and handed it out to a few neighbors that have been doing hard work and might need a bit of pain relief.  Now I bet a few folks think I am being a bit foolish giving stuff away for free. But all of these people are young and are willing to work to make their lives better. Those are the sort of people I want to have around me.

I get so pissed off at all congress critters and our so called elite wishing they could change the system yet find excuses not to do a damn thing.  My answer to them is “you are part of the PTBs” and you really don’t give a damn about the common people.  All Senators have the power to introduce all sorts of laws and you still pander to the corporations and other ruling elite. The Republicans told the Tea party give us the House and we will de-fund Obamacare, oh wait give us the senate and we can override any Obama veto.  Who is working with Obama with TISA and the TPP it is Republicans!

So all you Presidential hopefuls need to act now to get my vote. I don’t give a damn about what you will do as President. Other than Hillary and Perry you are are all in elected offices and may introduce bills at any time.  So you can introduce legislation to limit SSD/ EBT, revoke both the 1968 and 1934 acts against firearms.  If a female can invoke my body my choice for abortion why can’t a person invoke my body my choice for drugs?  Presidential hopefuls want to play it safe. I don’t want that,  I want some one that will take stand  and find a hill they will die on in the literal sense.  If you can not do those those things I will not vote for you! I’ll vote democrat and give them all they want and more so we crash the system and a folks may wake up.  I’m prepared for that are you?




Air conditioners installed, outdoor cooking and yard work

June 11, 2015

This is the first year having air conditioners in Mom’s front bedroom and my back bedroom.  This is the third season I have used my small 5000 BTU A/C so installing it was simple and straight forward. Installing Mom’s A/C took a little more effort because the window in her room slides left to right rather than up and down. Another issue was not to block out natural light from the window because it is a dark room.  We got lucky as my garden stakes are the perfect width to brace the A/C unit in the window and the screen from my bedroom window closely fit the open window area above the A/C unit. I got out the plastic window kit I bought at the Dollar store and we taped the plastic to the window screen so we block hot air coming in and keep the cold air in the house.  While not perfect the plastic should work short term and it seems the dollar store double-sided tape is comparable to the tape in more expensive window kits.  I’d like to get a piece of Plexiglas cut to size for the window from Home depot or lowes. We could use Styrofoam or cardboard as a cheap fix but plexiglass would last for years and will let in natural light!

We got all of the window blinds mostly cleaned up and installed after much “wailing and gnashing of teeth”.   Mom says she noticed a big difference  in temp. after hanging the blinds. Plus the A/C units are  keeping the house about 75 degrees F.  in nearly 100 degree F. weather, via the two 5000 BTU AC units on opposite sides of the house. Generally in high desert the evenings are cool, but the last two days have not  cool down at night and the A/C compressors have to work a bit and that costs electricity. That is on a 1200 square foot house.

I have not cooked dinner/supper in the house for several days. My $15.00 yard sale Weber gas grill has made outdoor cooking very simple. I season the meat and let it set a day or two. I tried baking bread on the gas grill via the “pizza stone” and the heat got away from me and spike to 500 degrees F.  The bottom crust was burnt and it was just a little doughy in the center. I just need to work on the temperature control, and get an old fashioned timer to assist in my cooking/baking times, rather than run it and out of the house using the oven timer!

I tried out the Swanson’s Cajun flavor infused broth I got from the Dollar tree. I made a sort of gumbo without okra or sausage just using leftover rotisserie chicken. It wasn’t bad but it was not great either. That being said I do think it has  potential for making a good tasting, quick and easy meal.   A new poll came out a few months back that more people eat out than make meals at home. Many of us complain about “convenience foods” but so many people have no concept of making any food from scratch using basic ingredients if they don’t eat out or can “nuke” a meal they won’t eat. While homemade stock is cheap, simple to make and a great way to use up leftover bones and veggies. I think many people are a bit intimidated by the time factor as well as trying something new.  I think having a few boxes of  different stocks, packets of sauces, gravies and bullion cubes can be a great way to start learning to cook from scratch without jumping in with both feet.  Another thing to consider is your time and energy. I am sometimes too tired, worn out and sore to cook a meal from scratch so those packages of stock and gravy/sauces can be a great time and energy saver for making a good meal in a short time.

To use a metaphor or an analogy, forgive me I can never keep those two straight. Learning to cook from scratch is sort of like learning to start a fire.  You should practice starting a fire using a fire bow, flint, a magnesium stick and steel to make a spark, but I also recommend you store plenty of matches and bic lighters!

Been busy around Casa de Chaos

June 6, 2015

Mom’s divorce thingy has been moved out to mid-July which sort of sucks. Though it seems that the settelment is getting a little closer to locking in.  It looks like both parties will end up pissed off, but I suppose that is very common in a divorce.  It makes it tough on Mom as she wants to get her own place and have her own stuff around her. She can’t do that as all my extra space is filled up and all we can do is add some smaller items she will need here and there.

Neighbor N and L got started cleaning their front yard to sort of help Don & Sarah sell the home. I walked over a set of very good “loppers” and we filled their little truck with branches from their maple tree.  I got my front lawn mowed and most of the weeds pulled in the front yard rose beds. I trimmed my big elm tree a bit and swept in the front sidewalk and curb in front of my house so my place is looking better overall.  I still need to add the plastic border around the mulched rose beds and my holly bushes but overall the front yard looks good. My golden raspberry and black berry bush are doing very good this year. In fact I think the golden raspberry bush has added nearly four inches of new growth since Mom hit it with a little Miracle-gro and I moved the plant to the front yard.  The blackberry is growing a little slower but it is green and vibrant and seems to be bushing out horizontally rather than going vertical.  I was able to add two of the cracked glass globe solar lights to my front yard.  I think they look great and I will add a more when they go on sale again.  While I can’t say it is a conspiracy, most on the block working to make yards look good this summer and if it helps Don & Sarah sell their home so much the better. I hope I’m not going into “Gladys Kravitz” mode, I was stunned by how many people stopped by Don and Sara’s home last weekend.  About 30 people  stopped and checked out the house, and I think the crazy green and yellow paint job really makes the house stand out. I would not be surprised if they get a few offers at their asking price soon.

In my back yard I added six of the cracked glass globe solar lights. These lights have the option of a white light or a changing color light and I like the changing color mode the best.  I got the backyard raked, cleaning up dog and chicken poo along with some leaves and little green apples.  The chickens seem to be doing a good job of working the back yard and keeping the grass sort of trimmed up.   While I never thought of chickens as a natural lawn mower. They do seem to keep down grass growth without taking the grass to bare ground. At this time Mom lets the bird free range for 1-2 hours per day but the neighborhood has a couple of other homes with chicken that seem to free range longer and their lawns look great and they can keep the lawn looking great with just a weed wacker or a small lawn mower.

Speaking of Chickens the bird flu has a mutation and has shown up in Idaho along with a few other states in the west. I don’t think average homesteaders or urban chicken farmers needs to panic. I do think if you eat chicken or want a turkey for Holiday meals you should stock up now while the prices are low.  I know that paying $1.59-$1.89 per pound for turkey sounds crazy but I expect that may seem cheap in a few months.  I bought a small 14 pound turkey for $1.59 per pound and stashed in the freezer. Gosh I hope I am wrong about poultry prices and this avian flu thing. Perhaps the cost will drop in the future and your “dollar cost averaging” will make up the difference. Pork and beef prices are dropping now so getting a Ham or Prime rib is a more affordable now. I can only tell you what I think may happen and what I’m doing to mitigate the cost hit.  On Monday I will go an buy a 10 pound deli style turkey for $1.88 per pound and I consider it a good deal.  If I find chicken for a dollar a pound or turkey under $1.60 per pound I will consider it a steal!

Last but not least Diana the peke was really a hurting unit.  I got her to the vet and we tried another steroid course of treatment.  The results are almost instantaneous of how she recovered.  Even her limp in front paw is almost gone and we did not have to give her pain killers!  I’m going to ask the vet. for a backup course of steroids just in case Diana has another episode. Hopefully steroid tablets for dogs is not a drug that gets a lot of scrutiny by the government.  She is a dog with a limited life span so if she gets another 2-5 years relatively pain free I will be very very pleased. I can’t afford to put a few thousand dollars for surgery into a 12+ year old dog.  But if I can afford to buy a few drugs that make her mostly pain-free and she has a good quality of life… I’ll try and get them!  If I can’t do that I’ll have her put down.

For all you idiots that try to equivocate putting an animal down is the same as assisted suicide. Humans have reason and can think, animals are a bit more basic. Perhaps I’m a tad more sensitive to the argument as I got smashed to rock bottom but I always thought my life had value.  I would not want some bureaucratic pinhead in charge of valuing my life via some profit and loss statement.

I’d like to give my take on this moron’s little missive in the Wall Street Journal.

June 3, 2015

Jon Hilsenrath wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
Dear American Consumer,

  • Sir,I’m not an American consumer but a Citizen and as such I should be represented in Congress. But I’m not a high profile corporation that can afford lobbyists I have only two options to offer. My vote and my money, It’s my choice so far how I spend both!

We’re writing to ask if something is bothering you.

  • Yeah! something is bothering me, Accounting for even the minor inflation the FED will admit too. Real wages are about equal to 1998 in terms of buying power. Over 93 million american citazens are unemployed/ not working. Actual inflation on the things we need to survive day to day like food,energy, housing and mandatory spending on healthcare has spiked in cost.

The sun shined in April and you didn’t spend much money. The Commerce Department here in Washington says your spending didn’t increase at all adjusted for inflation last month compared to March. You appear to have mostly stayed home and watched television in December, January and February as well. We thought you would be out of your winter doldrums by now, but we don’t see much evidence that this is the case.

  • While sunshine is nice it has very little nutritional value and really has no effect on most peoples wages.

You have been saving more too. You socked away 5.6% of your income in April after taxes, even more than in March. This saving is not like you. What’s up?

  • Actually we are not saving any money. With what little is leftover for survival is going towards paying off debt!

We know you experienced a terrible shock when Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008 and your employer responded by firing you. We know stock prices collapsed and that was shocking too. We also know you shouldn’t have taken out that large second mortgage during the housing boom to fix up your kitchen with granite countertops.  You’ve been working very hard to pay off this debt and we admire your fortitude. But these shocks seem like a long time ago to us in a newsroom. Is that still what’s holding you back?

  • I got to tell you that we have not recovered from the asset wipe out/shocks as you put it. The average “consumer”  does not have a window for REPO rates like the banksters to take advantage of ZIRP!

Do you know the American economy is counting on you? We can’t count on the rest of the world to spend money on our stuff. The rest of the world is in an even worse mood than you are. You should feel lucky you’re not a Greek consumer. And China, well they’re truly struggling there just to reach the very modest goal of 7% growth.

  • I feel sorry for the Greek people having a government work in colusion with Goldman Sachs to cook the Greek books to make them eligible for entry into the EU.
  • I really don’t feel for communist China and their slave labor nor environmental rape of their provinces to simply keep us paying for Igadgets and Nikes. So Apple and Nike can off shore their profits and engage in stock by backs using central bankers ZIRP to boost CEO pay offs.

The Federal Reserve is counting on you too. Fed officials want to start raising the cost of your borrowing because they worry they’ve been giving you a free ride for too long with zero interest rates. We listen to Fed officials all of the time here at The Wall Street Journal, and they just can’t figure you out.

  • Please show me any middle class investor or a home owner that has been given a zero percent interest rate.  College students are not getting anywhere close to a Zero interest rate. The only ones getting a near 0% interest rate is the TBTF banksters and they are not lending. What is the basic credit card rate at JP/Chase? or Citibank or Bank of America? It is 12%-24% for a credit card at best. So Mr. Jon Hilsenrath who in the middle class is getting a zero interest rate?
  • You are an economic dilettante at best. Gold always runs uphill. Get money in the hands of the poorest people and they will spend it.  Yes people tend to be dumb financially speaking, because you have controlled the education system.  You want people to spend dollars you must give them money to spend.  Of course giving money to the serfs will probably ignite rampant inflation.

Or you could bring back Glass- Stengel, make the US Treasury coin real money of silver and gold with intrinsic value, and kill all Central banks.