Overall a good week of getting stuff done

November 19, 2019

I finally got some work done this week!  I got motivated to get some of the “little tasks”completed around my house and got to help out Mom with her house and some tree cutting cleanup.

Mom’s tree cutter did a less than optimal job lifting a tree and leaving debris all over the yard and hanging on the fence.  It’s a bit like claiming I’m barber/hairdresser and then cut only bangs badly!  Well the situation sucked but Mom got a lot of cleanup work done last weekend. So Mom and I jumped in with our little chainsaws and cleared most of the larger branches hanging or laying against the fence.  I know that my B&D 20 volt chainsaw can cut about 3-4 inch diameter log that is wet.  The B&D went through 2-3 inch dry wood branches like butter.  I did change out 20 volt/1.5 amp battery about 20 minutes into the work.  I think the first battery was partially discharged as I add a fully charged battery and it easily cut the 3-4 inch diameter log into 5 or 6 firewood size chunks of wood.

I got a couple of tree stumps  from the job helping Mom for about 45-60 minutes of labor.  The Plum wood stumps are perfect for wood cutting other than not having a level surface.  Having a cutting stump about knee high seems about perfect for splitting wood.  Cutting kindling requires a stump of about 18-24 inches high for me as I’m 5 foot 6 and female.  I had a tall cutting stump that is great for cutting kindling but a shorter stump makes splitting logs easier as you get a gravity assist .  As a 5′ 6” female I know I can generate more cutting energy directed at a stump 24 inches tall rather than 30 inches tall.  OMG that plum wood is hard and dense. I’m still learning how to sharpen an axe and My axe bounced off the Plum stump.  This axe cuts through Doug fir, white maple with no problem.

Speaking of wood. I got a call from a wood supplier that asked for cash upfront for a wood delivery  because his truck needed an engine rebuild and I never got the wood nor any info.  Well this weekend I got a call from this person and said they owed me a load of wood.  My thoughts were less than charitable at first.  He was correct he did owe me a load of firewood.  Perhaps he felt bad and was trying to fix the wrong he had done to me and possibly other people.  I started thinking about the offer of wood that I had pre-paid for wood to help him get cash to rebuild a truck engine.  Perhaps he lied/overstated the issue but he seems to want make thing right.  I’ll call him back and take delivery of the wood or the $250.00 I paid him.  What more could this guy offer to make things right?

I have screwed up with people in my life and have apologized, tried to correct a problem and be met with silence.  As nothing I could do could mitigate the “TRANSGRESSION”.  It really sucks for me to treat another person the same way.   I have room for a cord of good wood and I can always top off Mom’s wood pile.  So at this point it looks like a win/win for everyone.  I/Mom get some fire wood and this person fixes/ makes thing right in his business dealings.  Happy ending for all!

I got the lawnmower out to clean up the leaves and the day was perfect for work.  I filled two 65 gallon trashcans full of yard debris.  The front lawn is cleared of most leaves so no lawn/leaf mold should develop. I filled up the porch wood rack and added a box for firewood that is smaller split firewood size but larger than kindling.  I should be better at maintaining a fire.  Sadly I am not, so I’ll have to open a window of to cool the house and practice my fire building. I have a wood stove rated for a well insulated 2000 sq. ft. home when I bought it I had a poorly insulated 1200 sq. foot home. Now the house has new windows, additional insulation and vinyl siding.  After 2 years  I’m still  not good with maintaining a temp. in the house.  It goes against the grain to open a window to vent heat from the wood stove.

 


Sorry about not posting….

August 20, 2019

I seem to have pulled a muscle in my back and gosh it hurt!  If your back is hurt everything you do becomes a challenge. Heck, just finding a comfortable potion to sleep is a challenge.  I spent some time in bed laying on the heating pad, putting on a lot of the essential oil pain cream and using the TENS device “electric muscle stimulation” to help clean out the “waste” that causes muscle ache as well as keeping the muscle moving despite me resting in bed.  Movement is critical to healing the back/muscles as not moving makes your body weaker and it hurts a lot.

I did not get a lot done for about 48 hours.  I vacuumed my carpet, washed dishes and mowed my lawn. There were a lot of other projects that did not get done because my pain level was to high for me to do the work.  One of the things I learned about becoming disabled is:  Some times you can’t do the work because your body can’t do the work.  This is not about using an injury or handicap to excuse you not working.  I know the difference between being lazy and being hurt.

Anyhoo, I got some jobs done by working up to each job and taking rest breaks to see how the injury reacted.  There were some major twinges but I did get a couple of easy jobs done.  It is okay to take time to heal and test out that healing in stages.  Trying to do much to quickly often bites me in the butt, so I have to remember remember slow and steady wins the race.  Learning what does not work for you is just as important as learning what works for you.  Failure is just a way to learn about what does not work.   I’m still in recovery mode with the pulled/sprained muscle but the pain cream is doing great but it’s tough to rub cream on your back yourself.

Mom got the rope and PVC tube secured under the tarp to help prevent the tarp from being lifted by the wind.   One thing I have learned about working with chicken wire is I hate it!  Yes, I know it is cheap, but that is the only positive attribute to using chicken wire fence rolls.   Chicken wire shred protective tarps and leave anyone working with it battered and bloody.

I have more shopping to finish up and overall I’m feeling a lot better. I have a few yard jobs waiting like cutting back the grape vines and weeds.  I need to start filling up my kindling wood box.  Filling the box is a challenge but I would not be surprised that filling that box full would give me 6-8 weeks worth of kindling this winter. I’m buying paraffin wax for the “fire starters” and last but not least looking for a Chimney sweep to clean the wood stove by the middle of September.  My goal is to have all of the jobs for heating with wood this winter will be complete by the end of September.

 


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.


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.

 

 

 


Plants are going into beds. Huzzah!

May 18, 2019

I think I suffered a bit of a CIDP flare this last week and did not get much done as I felt less than chipper, during the good outside working days last week.  I was able to run my errands and get a bit of shopping done but until today I was down, and in recovery mode.

I did get a lot of great buys via Fred Meyer’s Founder’s sale this week as  Pet-it Sirloin steaks are $2.69 per pound and 70/30 Hamburger is only $1.79 per pound.  With all the flooding in the midwest and the crazy trade war talk, Stocking up on beef/meats  is one of my missions this spring.  Getting the freezer full is high on my to do list this spring.

We got snow in the mountains around the Treasure Valley and the weather went from 85 degrees F. for a high to 55 degrees for a high in less than 24 hours.  Saturday the 18th was about the only dry day to get much work done in the garden or on the yard.  I finished mowing the front lawn about 9:15 pm while my solar lights were on.  Thankfully my electric mower is somewhat quiet and I did not disturb anyone partying on a Saturday night.  I normally would not mow so late but this is the last dry day for the next 7-10 days.  May tends to be a “wonky” weather month around here,  as I have seen 100 degree days as well as snow in the valley as late as May 18th.

I did get one of my garden beds full.  I added two types of romaine lettuce and Napa Cabbage starter plants to my “Cole crop” raised bed.  The broccoli and cauliflower plants that have been under the Agri-born frost cloth are growing very slowly and may need a little more sun though the onions seem to be to be doing well  for “scallion” type growth.  The Agri- born cloth seems to inhibit sunlight a bit more than I anticipated so I have cut the cloth in the middle to allow more mid-day sunlight to hit the crops in the raised beds.  One of my biggest problems with my past gardens is crops bolting, if the Agri-born cloth helps mitigate that issue I will be extremely happy.

I finally figured out what to grow in the former tomitillo raised bed.  I’m going with melons and flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums.  I want to play around with natural bug control and edible flowers/landscape plants.  Plus I’m growing a very  different plant/rotating the crops so that should help mitigate any bug or soil problems.  While I want to go vertical via trellis with the small melons,  this bed has the most area for plants that tend to spread out.

Great news my blue potato buckets have a few plants are starting to come up and put on some greenery.  I was about to give up on those plants but that is the best thing about using big planter buckets/pots as you can try new stuff and give the plants time to grow or fail, without affecting your main garden.  City gardeners like myself that use raised beds or containers always seem to find others that want to know how plant experiments work out.  It’s not snark when some people have great success or another person has a less successful growing of a plant.  It is about finding what worked, and did not work for each individual garden.

Last but not least I had some quail wander through my backyard and it was wonderful watching those little birds check out the backyard.  I’d love to expand my backyard into an urban wildlife habitat. Yeah, some critters are annoying, but there are many bonuses to having wild critters around to eat insects and such.  Never discount a potential protein source in your preps.


Mowed the back yard grass patch

May 6, 2019

I had a few tall grass “bunches” in the backyard that I knocked down with the weed wacker.  I ran the mower on a high setting over the backyard lawn.  Basically I’m trying to level the grass from the old stuff to the new grass growth. The new grass is seedling are a bit delicate and only about an inch tall so no carpet like lawn is possible yet!  But the grass seed is growing and filling in the backyard area.

I set up a new watering system for the front yard that waters my plants and does not water my windows or siding of my house.  My irrigation water is hard and watering windows or siding will leave a scale on on the house.  Best to water the yard and garden beds and not my house.  I’m not sure that my front yard re-seeding project worked but that part of the yard did not have as many weeds this Spring and the lawn is a bit more level after raking in compost/manure.

I’m starting to transplant plants from the starters from March.  This process is new to me but I think I have the basics down.  Mom and my neighbors say they will take any transplants so I’m using Styrofoam cups as a larger “pot” for the plant to grow.  I’ll be adding many seedlings to the pots rather than tying to separate the plants.

It never really crossed my mind that I might start plants from seeds.  I see plants growing and it always stuns me.  I know I have built the soil, a watering plan but to see theory result into food plants is stunning to me.  While my little backyard lawn patch is no big deal in the world.  It makes me happy and my dogs love it.

Get self reliant now. Practice everyday, every little bit helps you.  I’m not buying 4 cords of wood because I love Idaho power!  Buy a little solar panel that powers your phone, a light or whatever you want powered. Can you cook a meal, boil water off grid?  If you can do that you are better prepared than 90% of americans.