It’s gonna get cold and breezy!

October 28, 2019

Winter is coming to Casa de Chaos! I was just puttering around getting wood on the porch fire wood rack.  I raked up some leaves and saw this weather warning.

IDZ012-014>016-029-030-290530- /O.NEW.KBOI.WI.Y.0013.191029T1000Z-191029T1800Z/ Lower Treasure Valley ID-Upper Treasure Valley- Southwest Highlands-Western Magic Valley-Owyhee Mountains- Southern Twin Falls County- 209 PM MDT Mon Oct 28 2019 …WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM TO NOON MDT TUESDAY… * WHAT…Northwest winds 25 to 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph. * WHERE…Portions of south central and southwest Idaho. * WHEN…From 4 AM to noon MDT Tuesday. * IMPACTS…Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Small tree limbs could be blown down. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS…Wind chill will be near zero Tuesday morning. Light snow is also expected with local blowing and drifting snow, slick roads, and reduced visibility. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects.

SW Idaho tends to get unpredictable weather being a convergence zone of three different wind patterns.  Warm weather coming up from SW/ California.  A Pacific wind/moisture pattern from the west that is absorbed by the Blue Mountain range in Oregon and Washington. We can get cold weather that comes out of the Arctic and travels down the West side of the Rocky Mountains. It all depends on pressure fronts and how the high Jet stream winds are blowing.  This is the biggest reason it is so hard to predict local weather in Idaho.

Normally I don’t worry to much about wind storms, as my home is well protected by the homes and trees in my neighborhood.  The last little wind storm that blew through last week had a minor affect on my home, so I got all the wood tarps tied and weighted down.  I filled up the wood rack and got some of the raked up leaves into the garbage bin rather than wait to see how the storm would blow the collected leaves around the yard. There is a feeling in the air with a storm is coming and you need to stocked up and get a little bit better prepared for a few days.  Not because the storm is all that dangerous, I just don’t want to have to get fire wood when there is 0 degree F. wind chill.  I don’t expect any problems as the wind will end early in the day and most of the snow will melt off this week.  It is always nice to have a little storm to test your basic winter preps.

It seems I have under estimated the amount of fire starters needed by myself and Mom this fall.  Both of us tend to start a fire as  needed as the days cool down, rather than keeping the fire going all day in the Fall.  Not a huge problem this early into the fire wood season.  Mom has over 45 fire starters and I have about 60 on hand so I have at least 30 days to make more fire starters.  Worse comes to worst,  we can start fires with a bit of news paper like we did before I made the fire starters.


I love/hate the seasons of Spring/Fall

October 21, 2019

I love Spring because of the days getting longer. Actually about January I notice the days getting longer but by about March I have days that I feel, like I can get some outdoor jobs done.   Given my stamina levels I work about the same couple of hour blocks.  But I feel like I can get more work during daylight hours. Now in Fall the hours are shorter but the temperature is dropping and it is a relief from those hot summer days.  So it is easier to work during the “heat” of the day.

One of the biggest reason I hate Spring and Fall is the Weather systems and pressure changes that come from all those weather changes.  I have had quite a few broken bones growing up and smashed my body more when I was in the Army. So needless to say I feel those changes in the weather and my CIDP seems to make me even more sensitive to the pressure change, but not the so much the when “storm” is happening.  It’s the change in weather not the weather itself that cause me a bit of physical discomfort.

By golly we did have a heck of a storm blow through a couple of days ago.  I seldom get a lot of noticeable wind at my house even during high wind watch advisories for my area.  I had a lot of wind despite the fact that my county was not under a weather watch. I think every single Walnut was blown out of my two walnut trees and hit my roof, patio and yard like a bucket of hard ping pong balls.  My apple tree got emptied a bit but there are still a few apple still hanging on the tree.  I had a couple of tree branches fall but they were light weight and I could cut up the branches with a limb lopper so no damage occurred around my place.

These two kittens are wearing me out.  Overall they are not bad but they get in play mode or snuggle mode when I need sleep.  I have set up the front bedroom for the kittens and they will be shut in that room so myself, Tucker the peke and even Smokey the cat will have a kitten-free night.  I have not been sleeping well due the the weather changes and the kittens have made the not sleeping at night or getting my nap almost impossible.  The kittens do love the heat of the wood stove and tend to play around in front part of the house when the wood stove is burning.

The next couple of months will probably be the worst of “kitten mode” and keeping them contained at night in a bedroom with food, water and litter box should work better than just shoving them into a pet crate or pen.  I have a cat/doggie door to the backyard and once the kittens figure that out they will work off some energy.  I want the kittens to discover the doggie door themselves and have the ability to push the door open to give themselves access to the backyard and come inside the house without any input from me.

On to the things that are working out good. While getting a lot wood in May sort of screwed up my concentrating on my garden. I think having the wood stack will be very helpful to myself and Mom this winter.  Mom wants to buy some of my poplar this week and I’m good with that idea.  I’m interested about how much wood in my stack is needed to fill the bed of Mom’s  Dually one ton.  I have stacked my poplar wood in 12 feet long  and 5 feet tall stacks.  Given an 18 inch or 1.5 ft. row of stacked wood that is about 90 cubic feet of fire wood. Or about 3/4ths of a cord of wood.

I can do that for Mom.  I worked very hard this year to get firewood and don’t mind selling Mom a bit of fire wood she can pickup and saves her a  gallon of two of gas for the one ton dually.

If your home does not have an open floor plan and you are using a wood or gas stove for heat and want a fan to push the warm air.  I recommend The Hot point 12 inch and 16 inch oscillating floor fans. I have a few ceiling fans to circulate air and have used 30 inch tilting fans, 20 inch box fans and none of them have worked as well as a small 12 inch oscillating fan behind the wood stove and a 18 inch fan blowing the warm air to the back part of the house.  Last year I used all types of fans to blow warm air into the backside of the house and nothing did a very good job.

I have one 12 inch oscillating fan just behind the wood stove about level with top plate of the wood stove blowing air into the living room.  I have another 18 inch oscillating fan blowing that warm air into the kitchen and  towards the back rooms of the house. This has been much more effective on moving heat through the house than using 30 inch fans or even 20 inch box fans.


Spring and fall sucks if have arthritis of other medical issues.

Kittens will disrupt your life and your sleep cycle.

Buying good fans and working out the placement of fans is a good thing. The placement of fans takes some adjustment.

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.