Friday, December 19, 2014

Week 2 Clothing Experiment

Well, this week I got one compliment.  From someone at the library who doesn't know me.  She liked the lavender sweater. 

No one at work as noticed a thing.

The order of sweaters was:



 Wednesday   (Note the use of a black t-shirt as the baselayer):
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Thursday  (changed it up with a brown turtleneck rather than last week's cream turtleneck):
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Friday  (note use of brand new thrift Eddie Bauer red turtleneck.  Very Festive):
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Still wish I had black jeans...must get some Rit dye and sort that out.
 This would have been a snazzier outfit with dark pants.

I may try the brown carharrts next week with the lavender sweater though the butt on the carharrts is paper thin and could blow at any moment.

But seriously folks...had I bought these new (one was "new" actually...Friday's sweater is the one that had the tags still on it) and at retail prices we're looking at $ 160 + 330 + 330 + 270 + 250 =$1260 worth of sweaters I wore this week.
I'm estimating my prices from Dale of Norway online stores, and from the tag on the Pendleton.  
How did no one say anything except the woman at the library...who is a knitter?

Next week I will try to see more people.


In the words of a kindergarten student known to my cousin Courtney (Hey Courtney):
Well, she sure f*#ked that up!

Yeah.  So, you know how I try to have a minimum 24 hour waiting period on purchases of non-necessities? 
This is recommended by many many thrifty folks.  Some have much longer waiting periods but I got with 24 hours since I've been living in a town without stores.  Most purchases are out of town so the 24 hours is usually a de facto week waiting period in practice. I sees this great deal on something I've wanted.  A video projector.  We're all familiar with my love of the movies.  I figure a projector I can hook to my laptop would be the way to go.  Small, easily storable, and shouldn't take much electricity.  But, they are usually quite spendy.

Then I look at the Grocery Outlet ad because I'm going to be in a town with one of those.  I see this:

Now that is a good price. I read a couple of online reviews and see that it's sort of a crap shoot but hey, 40$ right!

I stop in for groceries (which were a fabulous deal!  1lb of organic tahini for 2$, avocados 3 for 2$, etc) and grab the last one of these that is available.

When I get home I go to hook it up.  It won't hook to the computer.  After much hemming and hawing, I go to thrift and pick up a used DVD player with no remote for 10$.  OK, 50$ in to this now.

It does hook to the DVD player just fine.  I pop in a DVD I have from the library and do a quick test.  Yes.  All systems are go.  As I was warned in a couple of reviews, while it will project up to 120" wide (10 feet!!!), it looks like you're watching the movie through a screen door.  BIG PIXELS.  Not a huge deal as all movies used to pretty much look like that, but his is more of a chain link fence than a screen door.  STILL, I figure, cheap and kind of awesome. Even has a speaker.

At this point I notice that I grabbed a the DVD player with play, pause, and eject as the only options.  Damn.  Can't fast forward, go back, or skip between scenes.  There were no players with remotes but some did have "skip forward" and "skip back" buttons.  As it is, I will need to just sit and watch the movie.  If I stop, it will be back to the beginning (pause didn't last long) and just watch all of that again.  So, no problem.  We USED to just sit and watch an entire movie.  It's what the directors want.

I go get a cup of tea and settle in. I move the player to a better location after shutting it down and then plug it in.  It turns on without me touching the "power" button.  Hmmmm...
I try to shut it off.  the button doesn't button anymore.  No clicking.  No effect.   But the movie is starting so I just watch it.

The movie has subtitles which are a bit of a challenge at chain link fence resolution.  I keep going.  I pause it long enough to darken the room a bit more.  I watch the rest of the film.  It's a great film.  Too bad I can't access the menu to see the extras.  Maybe later on the computer.

I try to shut off the projector.  It won't respond to the button.  Those of us who have used these know that the light bulb in there is blazing hot so you need to use the button.  It lets the fan keep running after shutting off the light.  Once the bulb is cool and won't bust, the fan automatically shuts off.

I keep punching the button.  Nothing.  I try unplugging and replugging it in just comes entirely back on.  Crap.  I lower the brightness to the least bright possible in hopes the bulb won't be so hot.  I let that run, fan on the whole time, for a bit, then unplug awaiting the "pop" of an exploded bulb.  Nothing.  I got away with it.

But alas, this is not going to be a worthwhile thing.

So, I pack it up as I will be back at Grocery Outlet the next day.
I return it and they do a refund.  Sigh.
Of course I can't return electronics to the thrift store.  So, I'm out 10$ for this little lesson.  Had I thought it through and researched a bit, all of this would have been foreseeable.  Lesson Learned.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Week 1...wee clothing experiment

I didn't take good photos...but I kept the background consistent by using the nice mirror in the employee crapper.

Here is a rundown of this week's sweaters.  Well, every week's sweaters but the order of appearance for this week.

Monday, the "new" used lavender Dale of Norway cardigan:
With a cream turtleneck because I didn't have a better color.  And photo in the home crapper for variety.  The rest are in the work crapper.

Tuesday, the zipneck black Dale of Norway:

Wednesday was my most comfy sweater.  The classic black ski sweater by Dale of Norway from 1992:

Thursday I had a more formal meeting so I chose the new thrift Pendleton merino wool cardigan:

 I really liked it and wished I had a dark red or royal blue turtleneck, but the old shabby navy one had to do for now.  I look like I lost weight but it was just the sweater.

And today, Friday, the sweater was another Dale of Norway cardigan.  The black and cream one I've had for a while.
And yes, that's the same cream turtleneck.  I'm short on shirts to wear under these.

 No one said a word but I didn't see many people twice this week.  And I wore a different sweater each day. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Another Wee Clothing Experiment

Been a long time...blah blah blah.

Anyway, I'm settled into winter digs in Moscow, ID.  Froze out of the camper in October.  More on that some other time.  Or not.

So, thanks to some crazy good thrift store finds, I'm doing a clothing experiment.

In the last 2 weeks I've found 2 amazing wool sweaters at thrift stores.  The most recent was on Sunday at the Moscow ID Goodwill Store.  A lavender and cream Dale of Norway brand cardigan with the pewter frogs.

Here's a full shot from the web:

$7.99.  It has a couple of pulled threads that need clipping but that's all.  Lovely and about $150 on ebay.  New they run $200-400 for that style and that brand.

A couple of weeks ago I found a Pendleton brand black and white button down cardigan at a different thrift store in another town.  Basically the same price.  It had the tags and spare button still on it (in fact it still does as I have yet to wear it).  The original tag price is $158.   Not bad again AND it's brand new.  And it's merino wool.  Really soft.   I don't have a photo but it's basically this without the deer:
70s -Charlie Wolf- Womens black, natural white and tan longsleeve wool ski sweater with silver button front, round neckline, reindeer and snowflakes design and box cut bottom hem.
 These two join the 3 I already own (who were formerly joined by one more but I gave that one to Fred).  The 3 I owned already are all Dale of Norway brand.  One similar to the lavender and cream one shown above with pewter clasps, but blue and white mainly.

Similar to this:

 One is a 1992 (the date is knit into the design) crew neck ski sweater in black red like this one:

Mine is not as busy as that one but I don't have a photo.

The final one is more modern, black and straight with a standup collar and 1/4 zip at the neck.
It's this model but a different pattern:
dale of norway

And I'm not as hot as that guy.  For the record the sweater in this picture is $318.

I got the sweaters I already own for 15$ each for 2 of them and I think the last one was about 10$. 
So that's $56 for 5 amazing sweaters.

Now for the experiment.  I'm going to wear one of these sweaters to work everyday until someone says something.  I can wear something else on my days off, and I can change into a field shirt if I have to go to a hazmat site or somewhere else that could result in having to wash the sweater.
Like tomorrow I need to go to the clinic and get a wound cleaned on my hand.  I don't want to bleed on a sweater so I may wear something else while I'm in the appointment.

Maybe I'll take photos in the bathroom mirror and make a look book while I do this.  I hear about the young people doing that.

I could use a few more decent turtlenecks to wear under these or mock turtlenecks.  I've only really got 3 and it's going to get to be a bit of a strain.  But, so it goes.

I'll rotate which sweater gets worn on which day.  We'll just see how long it takes.  I did it last year with 3 sweaters and it lasted a long time and no one seemed to notice/care.

This will inform my "how many clothes do I need" inquiry.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Frugal Reset

With 2 moves in 2 months, a 2 week trip home, a trip to the coast, another vacation coming up next month (I have to cram travel into about 4 months of winter due to job duties in the field season), an out of town conference or two, and perhaps random food costs shot up.

Too much eating out.  Too much road food.  Too much prepared food.

Another factor was canning season.  Once I got back into a place with a kitchen, the apartment I have for the winter, I wanted to get some things put up for winter.  I couldn't really do that in the camper with such limited space and stove smaller than the canner.  I didn't get outdoor accomations arranged.

So, food costs shot up.  It's easy to have that happen.  When traveling, entertaining, having visitors, etc and especially when working more than 3 blocks from home now that I commute, it seems easier to just buy something for lunch or hit up the local cafe for a sandwich.

But alas, those lunches, about 2 a week on average, were costing me 10$ a shot, double that if I was treating a friend.   That adds up compared to bringing lunch.

I have made SOME effort to have lunch ready at the office.  I found cheap soups at Grocery Outlet.  When I remember to eat them I'm spending $1.50 to $4.00 per lunch (because I don't JUST have soup...a piece of fruit or meat or bread or crackers to go with completes the meal). 

So, what would I save if I cut back on the store and restaurant lunches and made more of an effort to have my lunch pre-planned and brought it in?

Turns out there's an app for that.  Actually a calculator:

Lunch savings calculator

 Even with 0% return, if I ate 20 lunches from a brown bag (or you know, from groceries etc) for an average cost of $3.00 per lunch, vs eating out and buying grab-n-go stuff at the store for an average cost of $10.00, I would save $1680.00 per year!   OK, not quite that since I don't eat 30 lunches out per month right now.  Even if it's half that, $840.00 per year, that's pretty damn good.  $70.00 per month.  Probably double my utility bill. 

 Good to know too.  These sorts of reminders help me reset the frugality meter.  Daily small choices got me the money to buy that land for cash.  It's still easy to forget how much those small things add up.

 That said, today's lunch was left over baked salmon, elk jerky, and 1/3 of a box of soup.  The soup cost $1.99 for the quart box (organic carrot ginger soup made without dairy!).  So about $0.66 for that.  The left over salmon and elk jerky were from a community dinner last night so those were basically free.  I'm also having a cup of tea so whatever one tea bag (actually, I reuse them so a fraction of one tea bag) costs.   Let's call it $0.75 for lunch today.  And it was REALLY GOOD lunch.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Guest Blog: Amtrak Cross Country Trip

I asked a relative who was taking a cross country trip on Amtrak for a review.  It's a fairly thrifty way to travel, especially one way travel.   She booked just a seat, not a roomette.

Here is her review of the experience:

The train was not a bad experience at all and I could say I would recommend it to others.  I might suggest using the train for shorter distances, the trek from Spokane to La Crosse did get a little rough on the 2nd day.  I was on the train for a little more than 36 hours and at around hour 30 I was ready for my train experience to end but it was not bad overall.

*If you don’t want my jabber then there is a summary of pros and cons at the bottom*

The positives of the train would be the seating, the carry on luggage, the food, and the views/sights.  There is no doubt that the best thing about the seats is the leg room, being a tall person this is very important to me.  I, like many others traveling alone, was lucky enough to get two seats to myself which allowed for maximum space but I don’t think it would have been bad if I did have to share the seat next to me.  The seats if front of you have foot rests as well as your seat having a leg rest or leg extender (I have no idea what to call them).  So when it came time to sleep I could lift up the leg rests on both seats and make a kind of couch to sleep on.  The seats also recline fairly far as well so I had no trouble sleeping at all. An awesome feature of the train is also that they have electrical plug-ins for every seat so I could charge my phone or iPad which was great. Another pro of the train was that the staff really couldn’t care less where your carry on luggage is.  On planes they are really strict about placing you carry on bags in the overhead compartments or under your seat but on the train everyone just had their stuff in the seats next to them or on the floor. It was nice because then I had easy access to things when I needed them.   

The food on the train would be another positive thing. It is definitely not the best food you will eat in your life, like it’s not crème brulee or anything but it is decent enough.  I was brave enough to try one of the breakfast sandwiches and it was not bad.  The food is a positive just because they offer different options.  Passengers can eat in the dining car or go to the lounge to buy food, and they have a fair amount of things to choose from.  The final pro of the train is of course the sights; you see many mountains and landscapes that are really beautiful.  I unfortunately went through Glacier National Park during the night but woke up in the morning just as we were leaving and saw a really pretty sunset. North Dakota was a little boring and offered much of the same but the Dakotas are just in an unfortunate flat and super boring geographical area. Anyway, I saw many beautiful animals and trees on the trip and the train went through some interesting cities also.

Now for the negative aspects of the train; the bathrooms suck, there is no delay information, and it may be easy to get motion sickness. The number one negative is without a doubt the bathroom.  The bathrooms are microscopic and tiny, there is barely enough room to turn your body to wash your hands.  All of the locks suck and are broken so you play a sort of toilet Russian roulette (which in my opinion is worse than the real game) when you open the doors.  I had a person walk in on me while I was going and I accidentally walked in on another woman.  A random old woman peeing is not what you want to see at 6 in the morning after you have been sleeping on a train all night (just saying).  Plus, the bathrooms are gross like you would expect them to be, they see a lot of traffic. Another con would be the lack of knowledge about delays.  They may announce an unexpected stop or how long they will be at a station but they do not announce how far off schedule the train is.  During the night they make no announcements on the train at all so then you have no idea about stops that happen while you sleep.  It was frustrating because I ended up being 2 hours later to La Crosse than I was supposed to be.  The last con would be motion sickness. Most of the passenger seating is on the upper level but the train tends to sway in the wind and I can see where it would be easy for someone to get sick.  Also, many people lost their balance when trying to walk around so I would recommend caution to older individuals taking the train because they seemed to have the most trouble with balance.

Overall, if you are accustomed to the plane experience but cannot afford to get a plane ticket the train is a very similar experience for less money.  It has the same atmosphere as a plane but more leg room, there are plug-ins, you can use electronics while on the train, there is better food, and you get to see more than just clouds all the time. The bathrooms do kind of suck but if it is for a shorter trip then it’s not so bad. So the train is a great travel option!

-a lot of leg room (leg rests and foot rests)
-most people have two seats to themselves
-Plug-ins for electronics
-food/dinner options
-views/sights to see
-similar to an airplane experience

-bathrooms (gross, small, and no real locks)
-no delays are really mentioned
-motion sickness

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Living in the RV: An Update and Commentary

How's that for a dull title?   Dull and to the point.

So, I'm living in the camper full time now.  Have been for 12 days, though 2 of those nights I was working and didn't get to be here.  I'm here now.  I think it's the first I've used my computer in the camper.  I was trying to watch a DVD but it turns out I have to be connected to the damn internet to set up the DVD player on the computer.  Cripes.  I've watched other DVDs but I think those videos were burned as computer files and would not have worked in a DVD player.  These are actual commercial movie DVDs.  Anyway, it ain't a-workin' so I'll work on a blog post that I can put on the interwebs while I'm setting up the damn DVD player.  Maybe tomorrow.

As for now in the camper.  It's been fine.  I don't miss not having electricity.  The LED lights, battery, are fine.  I found cheapo and reasonably ecologically responsible, though not rechargeable batteries at an outdoorsy store the other day and replaced the batteries in my 2 main LEDs and WOW what a difference.  It's like daytime in here at night now.  Still, I'm trying to mostly follow the sun for a schedule.  I just use them to read in bed.  I've only needed them as flashlights one night that was quite cloudy.  Otherwise my eyes adjust to the dark and there is enough moonlight and starlight to get to the composting turlet without a flashlight even if I have to make a run in the wee hours. 

I am missing having a nearby water source.  I'm hauling in water by the gallon in jugs which is fine and most of the world would be delighted to have 10 gallons of clean water at one's disposal at all times.   But, hard to wash produce from the CSA and other things without a spigot and running water.   The sun shower is fine.  The inconvenience is that I live in a draw and the sun goes behind the trees on the west side a couple of hours before actual sunset.  At that point, the water in the sunshower starts to cool.  I've got about a 20 minute window before it's cold enough to be uncomfortable.  When I hit it just right, it's lovely.   It does mean that I don't want to do heavy work that would make me sweaty after the shower.  Right now that's at like 6:30pm.  I'm trying to save making dinner and other non-strenuous activities, but I'm missing quite a few productive hours.  A source of warm water and a shower (so I don't have to sleep sweaty and stinky in the trailer and make the whole place reek of armpits and feet) later in the evening would be nice.

The composting toilet...had a bit of a struggle there.  I don't have the "bulking mix" (peat moss and hemp) from the factory (cost, allergic to hemp) so I had been using straight peat moss.  The turlet started to stink.  The point of the turlet is it is not supposed to stink like an outhouse.   Hmmm....   So I called the company.  I told them I could not use the mix they market due to the hemp so was there something I could do.  Yes...wood shavings like you get for your hamster mixed in with the peat.  2 parts shavings to 1 part peat.   I've been adding just shavings (you add a cup of mix for each #2, or a minimum of 1 cup per day per person using the turlet) at a higher than normal rate until I catch up.  It started stinking less right away.   I also added more of the enzyme that is supposed to "activate the composting process."   I was also having trouble with ... um  ... "material" falling into the lower drawer (that's how the unit is emptied when full) when I did the periodic mixing.  (The whole thing is a rotating drum on a horizontal axis.  There is a door that you line up with the toilet seat.  The door falls open and ideally falls closed as you mix.  Turn the drum the other way to empty and the "material" falls out into the drawer to be emptied as fully composted non-stinky product.)  The nice lady at the composting turlet company said that sometimes the hinges on the door get "clogged" with "material" and have to be scrubbed out with a toothbrush and the enzyme spray.  I, AS A JOKE, said, "I guess that shouldn't be the toothbrush I'm currently using."   She, not getting the joke, replied, "A toothbrush you will never use for anything else.  Ever."   I found one for 50cents.  I had to buy one because MY toothbrush is a handle that little fresh brush heads fit into.  I've kept dozens of used plastic toothbrush handles out of the garbage stream (not much but one does what one can) not to mention the packaging.  I wasn't about to even get the handle anywhere near the "material" clogged hinges.   Now I have a turlet toothbrush.  If you visit, do not get in the bucket with rubber gloves and a yellow toothbrush and use that toothbrush.   Just saying.
After a quick, and icky, scrubbing, I did a test mix and VOILA!  It works!   Now I'm just missing the little rake used to clean out the "material" that might escape the cleanout drawer.   I'm sure something will appear at a thrift store that will be just the ticket.

I'm still considering switching to a simple sawdust bucket toilet after reading "The Humanure Handbook" but so far I haven't taken the plunge.  It does sound simpler, though harder to get past the county permit and health inspectors. 

Cooking at the camper has been interesting.  The stovetop works and it has become clear that I brought too many kitchen items.  I brought maybe 10% of what I had in the single-wide.  Still too much.  I've used the skillet, the tea kettle (for hot water for washing dishes mostly, couple of cups of tea), and a small sauce pan.  I did well with the knives though.  I brought 3.  A Rada paring knife (thanks Sher!), a serrated 5 inch "ginsu" type knife, and a 6 inch chef knife (thanks again Sher).  I also have my filet knife.  I've used the first three every time I've cooked.   Very handy.  The spork I got at "The Silver Spork" in DC is my main eating utensil.  Fun.  (ooo...gorgeous sunset tonight!  pink storm clouds).   I've been eating mostly off an antique enamelware pie plate.  I have other plates but I haven't even bothered getting them out.  I've been doing my mixing in (like for french toast) and eating salads out of an oval GI issue stew plate/bowl thing.    Coffee is made either in my wee bialli style espresso maker (though it had an issue this morning and may need a new gasket), or my french press travel mug. 

I brought 3 thermoses (is that the right plural?)  thinking I'd heat up water in the evening and store it in a thermos so I could wash my face in warm water in the morning.  Haven't bothered.  I have an ice-tea-jar with a spigot on it on the back of the sink.  I fill that with water and it makes for a reasonable faucet for tooth brushing and hand and face washing.   I use "Camp Suds" biodegradable soap for everything so far.  It looks like one small bottle will get me through this time no problem.  For showers and handwashing after using the toilet I put a squeeze bottle, like you'd have dishsoap in,  with mostly water and a bit of the Camp Suds mixed in, near the turlet/shower area (under the west side of the spruce tree) and that's been working just fine.  I couldn't tolerate not washing my hands after I use the toilet.  I have the toilet covered with an old sheet (so the sun doesn't wreck the fiberglass it is made of) and I've been using that as a hand towel.  I had hung a hand towel up there but it kept blowing off the hook/twig.  I'll just wash the sheet like I would the towel.   I do admit that after having to scrub the hinges and otherwise deal with the toilet the other day, I didn't find the squeeze bottle wash very satisfying.  So I walked 10 or 15 minutes to the far north edge of the land, crossed over to the rest stop next door, and used the sink there with hot running water and industrial soap.  The irony is that that industrial non-biodegradable soap will end up in the septic drain field for the rest stop...which is on my land.

That little trip brings us to another fun bit of living here (over all it's fabulous!).  On the way to the rest stop I was walking over the septic drainfield vicinity, which I don't often do.  At the very north edge along the east-west fence on the boundary with neighboring properties...GIANT POO!  Either moose with a mild case of diarrhea from too much fruit, or a bear with a bit of constipation from too much grass.  It looks more like the bear poo in my poo field guide.  But I've seen moose poo at the north west end, and this was the north east end.  Exciting.   On the way back from the rest stop I accidentally flushed a large family of quail!  I added them to my notes in the bird book (Thanks again Sher!) of what I've seen.  There were cedar waxwings eating bugs over the pond the other day too.  Very cool. I haven't identified the humming bird who eats at the feeding hanging off the camper.  I'm sure it's not exotic but I just haven't grabbed the book while it was actually there eating.  It has a surprisingly long beak and isn't very colorful.  Must be a female (due to coloring, not beak format).

Gram and a variety of other relatives got me an excellent wildlife camera with external solar panel back up on the battery.  I first set it up on the island (now peninsula because most of the water is gone) in the pond.  I put it on a milk crate as there wasn't a tree or post.  I set it for motion detection and to take photo every 15 minutes.  I went back a couple of days later and grabbed it to see what I had.   Well, it seems after a couple of hours it fell over.  I had many many photos of blurry ground.   A couple photos of me setting up the camera.  Sigh.  I decided to put the camera somewhere handier while I learned the ins and outs of it.  It's quite a hike to the pond and I didn't want to use up my precious pre-shower-post-work window running after it.  Now it's on the front of the camper on the non-active propane tank.  At last check, I had about a hundred really nice photos of an empty hay field.  I'd like to point it west past the toilet but I don't have anywhere to hang it that wouldn't also shoot me as I use the toilet and shower.  No one wants to see that.    Once I get the hang of it, I may try back up at the north end, or if I can find something to hang it on, I'll point it at the culvert crossing the creek on the east side of the property.  There is plenty of poo on that so I know things are crossing it.  I also know these things are deer but photos of deer would be more interesting than photos of an empty field.

It's 8:07pm and quite dark now.  I think I'll bag it for the evening.  I'm sure I'll wake up at 4am per usual, but such is life on the land.  It's not just that the sun is about to come up and things are getting light at 4am, that's also the time the semi's start going up and down the road again and I don't have much sound isolation from the road here in the camper.  I don't mind though.  It doesn't really matter which 8 hours I sleep as long as I sleep.   The lack of security lights shining in the windows is wonderful!  In the single wide I had 3 layers of dark fabric over the south windows and "room darkening shades" over the east windows and STILL I could practically read without turning a light on.  I was having trouble sleeping.  Not here.  It's dark and the wind and frogs and crickets are quite soothing.  The occasional thumping on the camper weirds me out but so far it's come to nothing.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dateline Waverly: Fred Wins Tomatoes

No one ever needs to grow tomatoes again.  Fred won.

I was talking to him and he said the tomatoes were 7 feet tall and I said that sounded like BS.  I'd have to see a picture.

Well folks, here it is:

Those are some tall tomatoes.  No word on how much stock he has in any particular fertilizer or gmo company.

Pam did the photography so we can be sure that she planned the tomato leaf in his eye.

What is in front?  GIANT chard?  Mammoth spinach?

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Local Garlic Harvest

Apparently this garden blog thing is a hit.  I got unsolicited photos of an amazing garlic harvest at a friend's garden.

OK, I have NO IDEA why the photos insist on going in upside down.  I think our gardener is a trickster.  I got one to turn rightside up, but then the other two just aren't having it.  I artfully arranged them so hopefully you won't notice.

If you're seeing this blog on a laptop, then just turn your computer over for a more satisfying experience.

The POINT is that Erika grew a ton of amazing garlic.  She even braided the soft neck varieties.  

 I'm in awe of her allium skills.

See if you can spot the photo bomb.   (Also...great gams Erika!)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Roof Top Garden in Denver

A friend was visiting his friend and sent photos of that friend friend's garden.  This is on a roof in downtown Denver and is pretty darn amazing!  

Here is a view of lovely flowers with  a bit of cityscape:

Followed by a closeup of tomatoes with what appears to be a parking garage int he background .


Check out those wee yellow tomatoes!

 The gardener hard at work and dwarfed by a humungous pot that looks to have dill, tomatoes and what might be squash btu I'm not at all sure

And a stunning pepper

And finally a still life I call "gardener and HVAC"

Pretty astounding what sort of productivity she's getting here.  I would think all that black roof space would cook the plants right on the vine!  (Note to self:  Send a solar cooker.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Yeay Craigslist!

Just a short entry today.   As we all know I'm downsizing a bit.   I needed to sell my awesome but huge tricycle.  Yes, tricycle.

I posted it on craigslist a few days ago and just now met a woman and she bought it.  Our negotiations went like this: 
Her:  What's your lowest price?
Me:   What's your highest offer?
Her:  (she says something 50$ more than I figured my lowest price would be)
Me: All right.  

We were like shrewed skilled traders...or like two older women who had done lots of research and knew what was reasonable.   Hope she enjoys it!  I did.

There it is in all it's glory.   She'd called around clearly and talked to the guy who had done some maintenance on it. 

Here's hoping the price I got covers most of the brake job I'm getting on the Subaru tomorrow. 

I'm thinking I may sell the electric lawn mower on craigslist too. That's where I got it last year.  I'll add the heavy duty electrical cord and see what I can get for it. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Very Wee Garden

Here is another friend's garden.  She lives in an apartment that is the main floor of an older house.  The only restriction on use of the yard is "no eyesore"...hmmm.  Thus she's proceeding with care.  Since there is another apartment in the house and they get to use the house too, best to be polite.  The yard is also quite small.

She's gone with a container garden.

Here's an overview photo:

 The black thingy in the background will eventually be a water feature and sunk in the ground.  She's been here barely a month.  Things are proceeding quickly.

Making good use of the back steps.  I think that's a lemon tree on the top step.  It will be inside in winter.

 A tomato!

 And more tomato plants!  Pretty impressive.  I like the tiny flowers on the left.  They look big given the small size of the garden.

The whole thing is on the east side of the house.  This is fine given the intensity of the sun around here in the summer.  The fence on the north side of the lawn, about 5 feet from the garden, and the protection of the house to the west, will probably extend the season a bit after a frost will have hit bigger gardens that are more exposed.  And of course with containers one had the option of bringing the plants into the house on frosty nights.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Medicine Wheel Garden

This isn't my garden.  It is at the house of some friends.  It's lovely.

It's built around the compass and each quadrant is based on a color.  I may have the colors wrong and will edit after the gardener corrects me.

White, yellow, red, purple/blue.   A lovely tree is in the center and a ring of rocks defines the edge.  I have to admit that being Princess Practical, when I first saw the design as it's going in I thought "you can't put a garden under a tree!"  That thought was immediately followed by "says who?"    The 2nd thought was the correct one.  You can put a garden wherever you want.

 Here it is with the rocks and a few baby plants.

And here it is this morning.  You can see the added mulch of wood shavings which looks great.  It has a substrate of cardboard and paper.  I'm stealing the idea for the area around my camper I think. 

A bit of the "yellow" quadrant featuring a calendula plant.  I've never gotten calendula to grow at all so I'm impressed.

A bit of the white quadrant

Red quadrant (poorly centered)

 More lovely plants.  I like the mix.  Mostly herbs and whatnot with decorative grasses.

 Bit of art near the center.

It's really lovely.  I find it fascinating that a mullein, with yellow flowers, planted itself in the yellow quadrant.  

The garden follows most of the principles I just read about in Sepp Holzer's book on permaculture.  Trees, rocks, mulch, microclimates.  This tiny garden has it all going on.   


Monday, July 7, 2014

Simplicity Through NOT Facebooking

So Facebook has been messing with your head of late...what with the psych experiments.  But of course, if you're on the f-book, it's been messing with your head the whole time in my view.  I have friends (real life ones, not f-book friends) who like and use and enjoy f-book.  Good for them and as you know I believe in each person doing as she/he pleases.  

For me, not f-booking is simple and frugal and brings me lots of peace.   But, you f-bookers may wonder, how do you "stay connected" to people?  How do you know what everyone you've ever met, and some you haven't, are feeling like at every moment of every day?  What if you want to post something interesting but you aren't on f-book?   Well, I don't care.  Moods pass quickly so why do I need to follow each up and down of the entirety of my acquaintancy?  I don't.  The close friends, I follow them because we talk and email, and GET THIS...write letters and MAIL them at the POST OFFICE!  OMG!  Did you know that the post office still exists?

Anyway.  It is my contention that f-book can mess with your head, actually I mean MY head, at all times.  Even when there is no overt psych experiment.  I tried it for like a day and hated it.  I know people who check it frequently to see if anyone has "liked" something they've posted.  Um...what?  I know what I like and it makes me happy to not care if anyone else likes it.  Of course, I'm an introvert.  If you care to know if other people like it too, then by all means, f-book it.

I'm clearly not entirely against social media...what with the blogging, but at my core I really really really don't care if anyone reads this ever.  I care even less if anyone "likes" or "dislikes" it.  I rarely check my "stats" to see if anyone is reading.  I'm surprised when I get a comment.  I understand that others aren't like me in that.  Peachy keen.

What  I don't understand is the surprise that f-book would do something like run a psych experiment on the users.  The "privacy" policy....which last time I read it seemed to be an agreement to give up all pretty unreadable so I have no doubt that somewhere in there it states that f-book may use itself against you.  Maybe blogger will at some point too.  I couldn't be bothered to rummage through the policies in that much depth.  I doubt I'd be surprised if a similar situation occurred.  Chagrined, but not surprised.

So, that's the rant.  Remember that everything at all times is "user beware."

My life is simpler by not getting caught up in a social media situation geared to extroverts and lots of information.  I prefer the blog where I put things out there and then move on with my life.  As I move into a camper in the next couple of weeks even this could go by the wayside.  Maybe I'll post paper bills around town with flour paste decrying my latest opinion.  Who knows.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The New Addition to the Homestead!!!!!

It's pretty awesome!

3 people showed up yesterday to help at the homestead.  I was expecting 1.  3 is more than one.

Thank you to Maia, Erika and Cass and the puppies!

This made me feel completely secure.  If I lost my job today (knock on wood that doesn't happen...I would still like a well...but I'm just saying) I have a really lovely place to live.  It doesn't rain much here in the summer so this should be peachy for months! Thank you thank you thank you!

I'd asked if someday Cass could come help me with turning pallets into an outhouse to shelter the composting toilet (see composting toilet post).   Cass had replied via other folks that he'd think about it.  I thought that was fair enough because it's alot to ask.

Apparently Sunday morning he thought "yep."   They showed up with supplies, food, water and tools and 2 vehicles.  I had already been at the land before I got the message and thought I was doing something entirely different so I had no water, snacks, supplies or tools...not even the toilet!
No problem.  They dug right in.   Cass suggested that rather than construct a pallet building to shield my naughty bits from the highway drivers who may gawk (is that a tennis ball in a flesh tone tube sock?  (swerve)), he looked at the giant spruce tree next to the trailer and asked if I'd be OK with putting it back in there.  I said "Sure."

So, he got loppers, a sawsall and organized the help.  Erika was on weedwhacking and the weeds (hay really and other plants) are fully whacked.  I have a little wee yard around the camper, a path around the tree to the otherside where the bathroom is, an area for firewood and a place to stack supplies (like the mismeasured wood I had cut the other day...different story...totally my fault).  Meanwhile Maia and I are assigned to move the branches and whatnot that Cass is taking out from under the lower bits of the tree.  So we do.

Not long after there is a really nice clear spot.  It's quite a bit larger than I envisioned.  As I said, I had not brought the toilet (and was having a special ladytime issue that required access to a sink and a flush toilet) so Maia and I ran up to Plummer to retrieve one turlet and use another one.  We get back to find that Erika and Cass had cleared out the side of the tree next to the trailer, leaving branches hanging nearly to the ground.  The tree is in a sort of bank about 3 feet high. The toilet is on the west/high side and the trailer is on the low, east side.  A giant root makes a natural bench in what is now the living room.  Cass was willing to open up the space even more but I  do like to have the drapes drawn so I asked to have the cutting stop and declared done for the day.  You can cut branches off later, but you can't really put them back on.


Here are a few photos.  I'm sure you'll all be jealous of my bathroom, with storage area (which is important when you need buckets of dry matter like sawdust or peat to keep the thing going).
The sun was a bit harsh, but that's the toilet under the tree and the grass is actually quite green.  A few pallets behind it for a feeling of privacy beyond the natural tree branch view blockage.

The living room!  Hard to tell, but that sideways root is really comfy.  The chairs are because company is coming next weekend so I wanted to have the place all tidy.  I'd just picked up the reed rug at a thrift store for 8$.  The chairs (there are 3 in view and another out of view) were a total of about 10$.  I already owned one chair.  Pardon the badly framed photo which includes the sheet covering what I hope will be an outdoor kitchen base...but my construction skills leave EVERYTHING to be desired so I covered up my shame.

I think that bookclub when they come on Saturday will be pretty impressed.  It's shady and cool under there with a nice breeze.  Sure the breeze is off the toilet but I'll use that judiciously before they get there.  Maybe throw in a tictac for good measure ( does not stink, it's just getting set up).  You can see a bit of the toilet privacy pallets on the side by the red chair.

And the piece de resistance.....(drum roll please)...the view from the throne:

I expect to have important insights during my morning constitutional.

Cass Erika and Maia are AWESOME!  I wish I had useful skills to exchange with them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Won't This Break the Space/Time Continuum?

So I was at a thrift store and saw this:

Micro Master

It was a different brand but you get the idea.   It's a microwave pressure cooker.   If the microwave isn't fast enough...add pressure!  Cripes.

I was wondering if that really was the draw....speed of cooking.   Yep.

They've taken the 2 fastest cookers and combined them!   Uh...what?  Why?

Of course, cooking food faster does not make for tastier food in general.  The exception may be deep frying.  You want that to happen fast.  You don't want a donut or french fry that's been slowly simmered in oil.   Otherwise, food is better when cooked slowly.   Roasted.  Braised.  Stewed.

Someday I'll tell you about the ex-beau who thought that pressure cooking a steak was a good idea.  Nothing like a tepid grey lump of meat.  Barf.

(by the way...this is apparently my 400th post!   Wow)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Farewell My Molars

So, on Monday I went to the oral surgeon.  After valiant attempts to save my 1st molar on the upper right (also known as tooth #3) ...  Failure. It had to be removed.  The upper jaw cat scan showed that it was massively infected (which I suspected for about a year but anyway, too late to worry about that was also cracked and the cold/hot sensitivity was that as well...and the crown and yada yada yada).    This was figured out when it stopped hurting, but was a bit loose and had a gross puffy bit on the outer gum area.  I learned that this is an abscess.  Nice.  It only hurt bad once, when I was on a plane.  I went in and the dentist found it was cracked to the root and ended up crowning it.  It felt a lot better.  I have a super high pain tolerance or no pain sensation.  So, my expression of "it's not comfortable but not painful" did not raise a red flag to the dentist.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago with the abscess.  Clearly infected and no more sensation at all.  I thought this was like a zit coming to a head and thus the thing was cured.  Nope.  It was dead.  Nice.  I read up on it and that wasn't good.

So, I decide to go for an extraction and probably an eventual implant.  I meet with an oral surgeon.  He does a cat scan of the upper jaw.  This was to see if I could have an immediate implant.
Here's a copy of a panoramic xray (not quite the cat scan, but still cool)

You can't really see it in this, though you can in the 3-D cat scan, but there is a giant hole in the bone over the infected/dead tooth.  Nearly into the sinus cavity and nearly through the bone on the cheek side.  Next time I think "that's not quite right, though not really painful" I'm going to insist to the dentist that we be a bit more aggressive in the diagnosis and treatment.  I'm taking "pain" out of the list of symptoms for me (remember when I walked over a mile on a broken ankle?  Either I'm some sort of superwoman with giant pain tolerance, or everyone else is an extreme wiener).  (OR I just don't have the same pain sensation as other people.)

The two back uppers on the "R" side ended coming out. It was supposed to be just the one with the full crown (shows up as the biggest shiny white blob).   Turns out the one behind it had the roots in the same hole as the one that had to come out.  That back one was also the one that my idiot orthodontist (don't get me wrong, I needed the braces and appreciate the folks paying for them but that doesn't mean the orthodontist didn't f'up this one tooth) wrenched to the point where it jutted out sideways into my cheek.  I haven't been able to chew with it for 40 years.  AND it probably ruined my career as a supermodel since I could not suck my cheek in on that side.  (Well...that tooth and my fat ass ruined my modeling career.)

So, I agreed to have that one pulled too.  He said that with the lack of bones around the roots, the bone graft for the dead tooth area would not heal properly.  I'm thinking that I don't want to do this twice so with two people's fists in my mouth I said "uh huh" and out came the 2nd tooth.  The surgeon did write off the cost of the 2nd implant, though the 300$ for the extraction seemed a bit much.  It takes less than a minute to pull a tooth.  They are surprisingly easy to pull out.  Good to know.

Speaking of the teeth....they gave them to me!   Cool!   They even offered though I was going to insist.  Now if only Pam would agree to suck it up and string them on an earcuff for me.

He was pretty chagrined that I insisted on only local painkiller, no general, no gas, none of that "forget what's happening" crap.  Honestly.  It's just teeth.  I don't use any novocaine or painkiller of any kind for fillings, onlays, etc.  It just doesn't hurt.  He didn't like me being conscious for the procedure, but I preferred it.  Pretty interesting.

The teeth were easy to get out.  30 minutes though to scrape out the infection.  30 minutes or so of packing in equine bone graft (which is apparently bone dust), and 15 minutes of fighting to suture it up.   Then they covered the area with a plastic substance (I'm generally against plastic, but with a 1inch hole in my mouth filled with extremely expensive bone dust...I went for it).   I have a follow up next Friday to see how it's healing up.  It will be months before the bone is all set for an implant.  I have to see what's left on the insurance for this year and if they are going to cover anything.  I do still have a chewing surface on the other side of my mouth so this may all be considered "cosmetic."  We'll see.   I may have 50 years left to live and I would like to be able to eat.

I wonder if I can get one long implant or if I have to get two separate teeth done.  The oral surgeon hates when I ask questions so I'm sure the conversation will be pleasant.    I'm sure he'll be thrilled that I will still refuse anything but local pain killers for the implant.  But seriously, after those butchers I had when I was a kid...and the pain tolerance's just not a problem.  (Again...not criticizing the parents for dentist choices.  It was a different time and there you have it.)