Great shopping this week end and trying to help Mom

June 30, 2019

Albertson’s had a good sale this week, but what it a great shopping weekend for me is the additional 10% off for veterans.  Oh and some additional coupons for chicken thighs at about 70 cents per pound. A couple of 3 plus pound packages of petit-sirloins and the freezer is about full of meat for the next several months.  True Value Hardware had a ‘pedestal fan’ on sale for $16.99 that I bought.  I like this fan, as the round pedestal is very heavy, so the the fan does not seem prone to tipping.  I prefer a solid sloping pedestal fan rather than a fan that sits on on a X of metal legs as the base of the fan.  No toes getting hung up/kicking the fan base. I will buy another of these fans for the living room to help circulate cool and warm air this summer and winter. Having the correct fan in place to circulate either cool or warm air is critical for me as I no longer use any sort of “Central Air/ Heating system.  Even with adding all the additional fans to move air my power bill is still much lower compared to using my old “central system”.

I did not get to help Mom much this weekend.  I had about 4 hours sleep on Saturday.  My attitude and emotional outlook was “problematic”.  I had no desire to inflict my poopy attitude on Mom so I rescheduled for Sunday.  Mom did not feel good/tired and her attitude was not conducive to getting much work done on Sunday.  The day was not a total loss as I got Mom some sale stuff from Albertsons and I installed one of my old blinds in her kitchen window.  Mom wants to replace the guts of her toilet but did not get everything needed for a total replacement.  That is okay, as I did not bring all the tools needed to do the replacement of toilet “guts”.

Speaking of tools.  Having good hand tools for a variety of DIY jobs usually does not get much attention on prepping websites. It is all buy antique hand powered tools or battery power tools and we don’t see how multi-functional a good set of vice-grips, channel lock pliers or screwdriver set can be a critical tool.  I’d say if you are looking for 2nd hand tools check out your local Pawn shop. Most of the tools are “contractor grade” and can be had for a good price.

Last but not least.  I will say, you should try doing a few small DIY jobs.  Buy the tools as you can afford so you tackle larger jobs.  Also if you think a job “in home” may be to big to tackle in a 2 days get a good contractor to do the work. If you are working in the yard or your shop take all the time you need to do the job.  How do you find a good contractor?  Educate yourself about the job and ask questions of the contractor.  You don’t have to be an expert, just some basic knowledge about the work you want done and how that work “should” be done.

You will screw up and make mistakes, that is part of learning a new skill. Sometimes the difference between failure and success is 1/8th of an inch or less.


Good shopping this week….

June 26, 2019

I did good overall on the grocery shopping this week.  Got a good price on some beef steaks and a roast at Albertsons Tuesday the 25th.  Albertsons gave me an “unlimited”  digital coupon for chicken thighs for 80 cents per pound so Mom and I will be stocking up this week.  Albertsons is having a special buy on seafood and additional 10% discount if you are a Vet, or Military member on the 28th and 29th of June.  This is a great time to get that shopping list ready for that additional discount for the military and Vets.

Some of the other shopping I got done is adding a few more of the cotton bath towels and wash cloths from Bi-mart in Caldwell Idaho. The towels and washcloths are very good though not not Extra-fluffy towels you can buy at a much higher cost.  I washed the towels before using them and the towels, wash clothes seem to be above average in quality to most towels.  Especially considering I spent less than $4.00 for a 36 inch x 54 inch long bath towel.  There is nothing wrong with paying a higher price to get a good quality product.  What I hate is paying a high price in stores when a discount store offers the same or better product and I pay for “Marketing”.

I stopped by on of the 2nd ha stores and got a “new” coffee maker.  The new Cuisinart coffee maker uses a Thermal insulated carafe rather than a hotplate to keep the coffee warm.  This is great as there is one less failure point in the coffee maker.  I can’t burn the coffee or anything else because I forgot to turn off the coffee maker.  It seems that this model of coffee maker costs about $72.00-75.00 new and has many good write ups and reviews. I paid about $8.00 dollars for it.   I cleaned up the 20 year old Procter-Silex simple coffee maker to stash in a cubby until need again as a backup coffee maker.

Simplicity not only has it own charms, it can save you time, effort and money.  Now I have a coffee maker with no hot/heating plate,  a thermal insulated carafe that will keep stuff hot without using electricity.  Perhaps the electrical savings is small but it’s money in my pocket and not in the electric company.  I don’t have to worry about the coffee pot being “on” and perhaps creating a fire hazard.   I will have to twist the lid of the carafe to pour a cup of coffee.  THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!  : )

It has been brutal to watch Mom struggle with her back injury. Mom is no wimp and she looked so devastated at the prospect of just getting her basic shopping done it just wrenched my heart!  So I played driver and got her to the shopping areas she needed to hit, and I got some items I have been going without so it all even out.  I’m going to try and give Mom at least one day a week to get jobs done around her place.  Getting the wood off  the dually, stacked and covered should be doable this weekend.  I bought Mom a little digital camera and a mouse as her mouse was acting a wonky.   The mouse probably needs a good cleaning and I can handle that job.  The replacement mouse just makes her life a little easier.

Speaking for my jobs around my house.  The wood pile in the alley can wait to be moved as it mostly cleared for any city services or blocking the alley.  I can help Mom unload the wood out of her truck this weekend.

Finding a schedule that works for me?

June 23, 2019

Monday the 17th schedule seemed to work for me.  I got 4 wagon loads of wood move in the AM before it got to hot.  When I needed to take a break from moving wood I started watering the lawn and garden.  By about 11:30 AM it is hot in the ally so I started doing some yard work in the shade of the backyard trees.  After that it was nap time and do some little jobs inside the house during the hottest part of the day.  Around 6:00PM the alley and wood area is in the shade so I can get a few more wagon loads stacked without “melting” in the heat.  Over all this schedule seems to work.  If I stay out of the full on sun when it is hot out, a lot of jobs moving from the yard, shop to inside the house. Work gets done without wearing myself out.

The stacked wood pile is growing slowly.  It seems that the 6 cords of wood “on hand” goal may happen sooner than I thought originally.  I’m guesstimating the amount of fire wood I have stacked so far is about 4-5 cords.  Not all of the wood is cut to size or split. In fact there is at least a cord of wood that either needs cut or split and Mom is getting at least another 1 ton pickup load of wood that I have set aside for her.  Even with that caveat, the carport area is filling up fast and I want to keep a wide walk way area for moving my wagon and the large trash bins between the alley and backyard.  There is some room to stack some of the Poplar in the Doug Fir area and another spot that needs a bit of clean up, that will hold  a cord + of fire wood.  This was not an issue I expected to deal with in June of 2019.

I got behind on my garden stuff dealing with all this wood, but today I got to get some clean up work done.  The frost fabric is working great on the lettuce/kole crop bed.  Nothing has bolted so far though we have had many hot days.  It seems that direct sunlight causes the plants to bolt more so than the heat in the raised beds.  Another bonus of using fabric, my dog has not dug in those beds!  I added more manure/compost to the potato tubs along with watering and hopefully the red and blue potato harvest will be good.  The back yard lawn still needs work but I’ll add more soil to level and grass seed this fall.  That should finish up the last of the repairs of that lawn.  By next spring it should be only maintenance  and dealing with small lawn “repairs”.

My big A/C window was not blocking the hot outside air coming through the open window.  So I built a 6″ x 38 ” frame out of 1″ x 3″ lumber, to hold the air inlet for the A/C in the window and then added 2 layers of thermal bubble wrap staple to the wood frame.  This little bit of framing has made a huge difference in keeping the hot air out and it makes installing the portable A/C air inlet very easy in the future.  I can store this window bracket with the A/C unit when not in use and installing the A/C next summer will be so much easier without fighting gravity and the crappy plastic fittings that come with the A/C unit.  Using two layers of the thermal bubble wrap with a one inch air gap seems to be better insulation than a thin piece of plastic.  The top part of the frame needs a tweak/adjustment for the new window blind I want to install but the basic frame idea is solid.

Speaking of window blinds. I went to Mom’s place to try and fix the blinds on the window that now holds the small A/C unit.  The blinds are old and the plastic brackets were so brittle that they just cracked when installing the screws.  I’m using a 1″x 3″ bit of lumber and pre-drilled all the holes and it was very frustrating to do all the right things and have the brackets just crack because of age.  It is not all bad news as I found some good blinds that should work for my windows that have no cords but move up and down by hand rather than using cords to move the blinds up and down.  I bought the blinds at Family Dollar and they are China made and cost only $8.00 for a 35 inch wide blind. Guess what these new blinds feel heavier and better quality than the cheap China made blinds I bought from Big Lots a few years ago.

I have been wanting to upgrade or at least replace many items around the house to make life more comfortable as well as replacing items that are just getting old and worn out.  One of my carpets is wearing out and it will need a new sub floor at least because of a squishy spot.  I have a peeling linoleum in my kitchen and the small bathroom.  My kitchen faucet is on it’s last legs and because the previous owner did not install proper water cut off valves or good plumbing pipe, it will be a more costly job for me.  Getting the shut off valves for the kitchen sink is the last of  repairing the “stupid plumbing” done by the previous owner and all of my plumbing will be straight forward and easy to do DIY repairs when things go wrong in the future .


Back to work!!! My A/C is installed and I got some wood stacked!

June 15, 2019

I finally got a good 6-7 hours of sleep.   While I have stayed awake for several days in the  US Army.  I tend to get very unpleasant missing out on sleep.  Now with my physical limitations, not getting less than 6 hours of sleep really makes me a cranky and feel like a bit of mush.  I can do the “power nap” thing, but I’m not a happy camper and what is worse is I let everyone around me know how unhappy I feel. FYI if I get a get a bit terse with anyone, you can blame my lack of sleep and not me trying to be nasty.

I got both of my window A/C units installed and the house is a nice 75 degrees F.  I changed the setup placing the portable A/C unit out of the bedroom and to the library room so the unit has a straight path to cool the Living room.  So far that is working out great!  This sort of set up may not work for people in a high humidity climate.  In the Inter-mountain west high desert,  a small A/C window or larger BTU portable A/C unit will have lower electrical costs compared to an old “Heat pump” or Central Air system.  Usually in High Desert the night cools down quickly when the sun goes down so the fan kicks then the A/C unit becomes a window fan blowing cooler air into the house.  That won’t work in Georgia if you have 100 degrees F. and 90-100 % humidity.

I got started early stacking wood, by about 11:30 the sun was beating down hard.  I can deal with the sun early in the day with cooler temps or work in the shade after 6 pm.  I’m good with this approach for stacking the poplar. The Doug fir wood area was too narrow to bring the wagon load of wood as the wood racks make for a constricted work space.  Another lesson learned is using the garden wagon to move wood under the carport is it  saves not only time and effort but my arms don’t get bloodied and beat up carrying wood to stack.  While I don’t mind getting a bit bloody, bruised and cover in sap.  It is nice to let the wagon do the work and I stay some what clean and not so bruised stacking wood. I’m about 5′ 5″ so if I’m tossing wood over “eye level” I am probably stacking wood about 6 feet high, accounting for the average size of the split wood.

I have been a bit off on my timing this year by a little bit.  I am doing more wood stacking and have paid less attention to the garden in June.  While this has been less than optimal for growing plants.  I have really stocked up on wood for winter and created systems that will keep me warm this winter.  I’m doing better, as the wood pile needs a few more days of wood stacking.  I’m only 3 months out of phase with the seasons.

I miss watching the birds, so  I cleaned up the bird baths.  I have restocked the bird feeders and added filling the bird baths/cleaning/replacing the water to my daily schedule.  If you hate mosquitoes never have standing water for more than a day or two.   It may seem a bit silly but watching the birds and other critters  is more entertaining than Netflix and cheaper than paying a subscription.


Summer Update; Air Conditioning and wood deliveries

June 9, 2019

Mom’s big A/C  (heat pump)  system was not cooling her house during the 90 F. degree days this last week.  We have backup A/C units to help keep the house cool.  I have used and set up a portable 8000 BTU in my house, so it is Jamie to the rescue.  Setting up one of these portable A/C units is simple but most of them are set up for windows that open up and down vertically rather than the windows I and my Mom have that slide side to side on a horizontal axis.  With the side to side slide type windows gravity is not your friend.

After about an hour of getting everything set up with minimal gnashing of teeth.  The little portable A/C unit started cooling down the house.  I played around with the cooling system thermostat settings and left it on to circulate air in the house.  I’m no HVAC guru, actually I’m a complete idiot about HVAC,  but I wonder if the cooling part of system needs the compressor to run in order to get the cooling pipes/or coils filled with (gasses).  Perhaps the A/C part needs a recharge and slow cooling on the first hot day of summer with FAN on but no cool air is a sign you need to have the unit serviced?

It is possible Mom’s  Digital Thermostat had some old programming that I cleared out with my futzing around resetting/ canceling all prior programming.  I would be interested in hearing form people with a heat pump/ Air Conditioner/ Central heating and cooling system that have seen similar issues and if it is maintenance/ tune up issue or the system is broke and needs a repair issue.

Mama nature gave us a cold front of cool semi damp weather and I feel like crap.  I have a few twinges but not really in pain.  It’s like my body feels as unsettled as the weather, not bad, as much as blah!  It is supposed to warm up to the 90’s F. this week so installing the A/C units will probably be needed.  I’m trying to put off using air conditioners as long as possible this summer because of electricity costs. The better I can acclimatize and use minimal A/C the better it is for my budget.  As far as installing the smaller A/C units goes it is very simple since installing the new windows.

I got the poplar wood delivery on Friday the 7th.  While there is a lot of wood to stack the alley road is clear and Mom’s wood is accessible, though I got a couple of cords of poplar delivered/dumped.  I can get the Kia out of the garage/shop and my new plant area was not harmed in the wood dump.  One thing I like about stacking wood in the carport is I have so much space to work in stacking wood.

I will have to say I “screwed the pooch” receiving so many wood deliveries in short time period.  Don’t get me wrong as I want as much firewood on hand as I can stack as early in the year for firewood heating season.  Now stacking the wood will take a bit of time.  I should be able to get this poplar firewood stacked in 1-2 weeks even working a couple hours per day. But overall I should have about 5 cords of wood stacked and drying for this winter.  Getting firewood early maybe the best thing if you take more time to stack the fire wood to dry.  I think getting your firewood early is generally a good idea.

A thing that is tough for me about dealing with the weather and a CIDP flare is I don’t feel like doing anything.  I get lazy in a way when I hurt and it can be difficult to kick myself in the butt and get back to work.  I know many people that can power through those moments and I do my best.  Sometimes you just have to stop and let your body recover.  There is also a trap I can fall into of ” Do I hurt because I hurt, or am I using my hurting as an excuse to stop moving.  Pain is a big de-motivator and when you have condition like CIDP or Fybro or something with similar symptoms, I question myself about am I lazy or do I need some time to recover?  Heck even starting a new exercise program can make you wonder if you just ache or have you damaged something?

What I do is get back to some basic jobs around the house that you know you can do in about 10-15 minutes of physical effort.  Make your bed, make your breakfast.  You don’t have to start with the big jobs, but complete those small jobs around the house like mowing part of the lawn or even weed wacking the yard. Clean the bathroom or wash your clothes, heck brush your cats/dogs.  Get some thing accomplished each and every day that gets you moving and getting something done.  Set some easy goals and then make them happen.  This weekend I set a goal to have a semi-clean house. Yeah, it took me 3 days to do the work in 10-15 minutes blocks but the house is clean.  The yard is mowed and the wood pile did not get stacked.

You can make yourself crazy if you get anal-retentive about what you did not do this week.  Millions of dollars go into Cancer research by super smart people and they work daily on the little stuff that create new treatments. They have not stopped cancer but the survival rates are expanding from all that research.  Focus on what you got done daily. While I feel like I’ve been a bit lazy, I did stack 2 cords of doug fir, got a wood delivery of about 1.5 cords of wood and separated out the “trash wood”and set up my Mom to get some good firewood.  It will take about a week to stack the delivered fire wood. You have to start on those big jobs by doing a little bit each day.

Do the work, many people will always say you are not doing enough to satisfy the “Crowd”.  Some of the crowd “unironically can’t can’t make a meal that requires boiling water or change a light bulb!  It’s okay if you get a little lazy for a few days, rest up and then get back to work.



Working on the woodpile plus other odds and ends

June 3, 2019

I made a big dent in the wood pile under the carport. Some of my work today has been moving and throwing away “trash wood” that has been treated such as Fence and even old power Poles. The wood hasn’t been all bad.  I got quite a bit of hardwoods (white maple?) along with some elm.  While I need to cut and split about half of the wood I will have plenty of hardwoods for over night fires this winter and that is a very good thing!

Speaking of splitting, the little 3.5 pound splitting maul and 3 pound sledge hammer worked great on the hardwoods!  My 6 pound splitting occasionally just bonked off a chunk of hardwood. Having a handle on the wedge to drive into the wood then use the small sledge hammer to drive the wedge through the wood was relatively easy.  I recommend that small splitting wedge and sledge hammer combo for any one that has limited upper body strength or if you have problems swinging a heavier spitting maul.  This combo of tools might work great for people (me) that look like they are trying to scare a splitting maul into the wood rather than making good contact with the splitting maul.  Using an axe, maul and other wood splitting tools is a skill that takes time to learn.  While using smaller sized tools may seem a bit like using training wheels on a bike.  I think it worthwhile for several reasons…

  1. You get to accomplish your goal splitting wood as you learn. These lighter weight tools would be great for youngsters and women to start splitting fire wood!
  2. Using a smaller splitting wedge and sledge hammer is less intimidating.
  3. Less chance of smashing your fingers and thumbs trying to drive a normal splitting wedge into a chunk of wood.
  4. If you need to split the wood just a little you don’t have to use the big heavy tools.
  5. Using the lighter weight tools lets you slowly build your strength and stamina.
  6. If you ever become handicapped for whatever reason, such as a broken wrist/arm you can still keep the wood stove going.

Overall I’m very pleased with the 3.5 pound splitting wedge and it looks like more places/stores are starting to carry this or something similar to this tool.

I mowed the backyard grass area and there is still one one semi-bare spot but I’m very happy with spring grass seeding experiment.  I doubt I’ll win awards for the best looking grass patch in the neighbor hood. The grass area looks 100% better than it did in early Spring.  This Fall I will be able to fill in those thin spots if the grass does not fill the spots this summer.  I added some soil and compost to the back alley mulch area. I’ll add the mossy rose to a small area I hope won’t get crushed under a wood delivery and I have ran a hose so I can start watering that area rather than just depend on Mother nature.  I have a plan for the alley area, until all of the wood is stacked I have to wait to plant, as well as move the gravel  and lay down cloth/cardboard to block weeds…..

I lent a sprinkler to a neighbor to water the garden I gave them starts to grow.  Every person you help is a potential ally. It could backfire but so far it has not for me.  Something as little as giving out starter plants or lending a sprinkler might make a difference in a person’s mind.

I got a good 4 hours of work today and that felt great.  Yeah I had a couple of twinges of pain but I think I have moved beyond my CIDP flare.   I have a little muscle fatigue from playing in the wood pile but I should be able to mow the front lawn and keep up appearances.