Guns, Shovels and Signage

A long overdue rant.

Enough is enough.

We’ve decided to move.

You expect a different mindset in different regions but what we’ve experienced over the last three years has been completely off the charts and it’s getting worse.

One of our neighbors has installed a bunch of “funny” no trespassing signs on our two shared easements and more on his fences. Last count was about ten. It looks like a used car lot from hell – tacky and cheap.

shoot shovel shutup

As I creep through the gauntlet in my dusty Durango, I almost expect a salesperson dressed as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre killer (only he has a shotgun), to step out from behind a tree into the car’s path.

In this particular scenario, I look nervously around from the driver’s seat as he walks around to the window and growls “Can I interest you in a vehicle? Just got some new ones in. Turn around real slow and have a look at the inventory.”

I look over my shoulder and see a field with a cow and a couple of goats as he jerks his head around at his house and yells, “Ma! Get the John Deer fired up! Gotta’ customer wants a test drive.”

You would need the John Deer to disappear a whole Durango.

“Never mind the dog – beware of owner” one sign says. We’re bewaring all right. He adds more every day and I wonder if he has one of those programmable electronic signs on order from ebay with maybe some of those frilly flag thingys thrown in.

I am not opposed to guns. I am not opposed to second amendment rights. I’m not on either side politically but I am irritated that this guy assumes we all want this kind of welcome mat.

Will this affect our property values?

What is this guy so threatened by? The government?

Did I mention this is no other than Cowheadguy The Totem?

At any rate, this is another example of a situation that forces us into either a  pushover or busybody position. We need to find our assertive position but I think we’ll end up waiting until the threat of being shot passes to object or let it go.

I miss the quiet we had during that first year after we pulled the Jayco Lite up the long dusty driveway. We’re looking for property with a larger buffer a little closer to a metropolitan area but still away from it all.

We do, however, have one card up our sleeve: this particular neighbor has inquired into buying our land when we leave.

Payback is a bitch.

What We Found In Our RV Air Conditioner

More heat wave fallout

I usually write in this blog sporadically but the past few days of record breaking temperatures have been memorable.

Our RV is a heat magnet, being poorly insulated and ultimately not meant to be lived in long-term. Although we insulate and skirt it during the winter, for some reason, we pull it all down in the spring.

Not this year.

As a result of the climbing temperatures, all of the insulation came back out of the shed today and ended up in places we’ve never put it before.

The front of the fifth-wheel is now draped in tarps for awnings and as of this morning, the front walls, or broadside where our entrance is located is newly plastered with tacked-up odd shapes of foam insulation. The walls resemble a cracked hard boiled egg but I don’t care.

My priority is to survive, no matter how that looks.

We’ve been trying since yesterday to troubleshoot our air conditioning unit. It would run fine for awhile plugged into our heavy-duty generator, then turn off.

The unit was installed in 1994 so there could be a lot of things wrong with it. After making the generator more comfortable in the heat by cutting a larger ventilation hole in it’s shed and adding oil, it ran out of gas.

That wasn’t the only problem though.

I noticed the kitchen light fixture was filled with brownish water. It needed washing anyway so I cleaned it and hung it back up. That was yesterday. This morning it was filled with the same brownish liquid again.

Putting two and two together, we came to the conclusion it must be from the A/C unit; condensation most likely. I browsed the internet looking for a clue and discovered the drain pan was most likely clogged, causing it to overflow rather than be directed off the outside of the RV.

I told my husband and was surprised to hear footsteps on the roof a few minutes later. I went outside to see my him crouched over the A/C, asking for a screwdriver. I threw one up and he took the cover off.

I went back inside then heard scrambling. I darted out the door to see him practically sliding down the ladder. He pointed to the skeleton of the air conditioner.

It was occupied.

DSCN4156

Several wasps nests clung menacingly to the structure. My husband was lucky to have escaped without a sting. Any further maintenance would have to wait until we took care of the nests, leaving us to look forward to another day of 100° + heat.

main hive

While he got the ladder and sprayed the nests from a distance, I dragged The Trough closer to the RV and began to fill it again. Later, I put about twenty feet of PVC tubing together to form a long arm, climbed up the ladder, and knocked the nests down.

shroud and nests

Tomorrow morning, my husband will go up again to look for the drain pan and clear any clogs – if there’s a drain pan. Regardless, I figure anything we do is an investment into a more comfortable existence in the months ahead.

Once this heat wave is over with, 90° weather is going to seem like Spring.

Heat Wave 3

The battle for A/C

It was 115° in the shade at 3:00p.m. today.

It doesn’t look like it in the picture, but it really says 115°. At 7:40p.m., we’re at 95° and it feels heavenly.

Today, being soaking wet wasn’t working any more. I no longer have my pool to dip in. I overturned The Trough because I added too much bleach, and the cooling effect of cold showers lasts maybe fifteen minutes.

I’d finally had it with the heat by 3:30p.m.

I strongly suggested to my husband  that we head down to the hardware store to put a couple of super heavy duty 10 gauge 15 amp extension cords on the credit card so we could cool off.

Forty-five minutes and two-hundred dollars later, we were back home untangling the anacondas and setting up for some air conditioning. Now the Generac 5500XL would be put to the test.

Our son lives in a smaller trailer about seventy-five feet in the other direction from the generator and his A/C unit is smaller so we started with him. So far, so good.

Now us.

I researched the watts and btu’s and all of that stuff ahead of time so theoretically we could comfortably run two units on the generator. We plugged in and turned our  A/C on low for a bit, then medium.

Ten minutes later, the generator override kicked in and shut it off. We cut a larger hole for the exhaust in the back of the shed but had a repeat. Shit. Looks like we can run it but only on low and only when we can reset it. That’ll be better than nothing.

We did the egg experiment again today but this time with a cast-iron skillet at the suggestion of another blogger. Why not try to have some fun with this? So far, no success.

egg in cast iron skillet

We also wrestled with the solar power system again.

Ironically, the heat was so bad, the batteries overheated again, even with the shed doors open and in the shade.

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Solar power my ass. 🙂 We cranked up our smallest generator to keep our power on while our son enjoyed his air conditioning.

Me? I crawled into a cool hole until the sun set.

The second spring needed to be deepened anyway.

Heat Wave 2

Cooking with Linda

I just checked the thermometer again. Two steps outside barefoot with two seconds to take a peek and my feet are singed.

It’s getting hotter earlier in the day. At 2:00p.m. it’s 108° in the shade.

Last night I decided to dredge one of our two springs and take more rock out of the bottom because of the threat of drought. I can only do this in the evening or early morning to avoid the sun. If at the end of the day, I have to coat myself in mosquito repellent to avoid being eaten alive. It’s always something around here.

I use what’s called a Santa Fe bar to do some of the work. It’s a six-foot rod made of solid steel for breaking rock. Don’t leave it in the sun then grab it with your bare hands (or anything else made of metal). You’ll regret it.

This morning I beat both the heat and the legion of yellow-jackets and wasps that share the watering hole with us by starting at 6:00a.m. By 8:00a.m., the place was getting too popular for my comfort so I wrapped things up until this evening.

Even earlier, I hung another tarp awning over our RV door because the knob has been getting too hot to touch. I don’t know what we were thinking when we originally positioned the trailer broadside to the sun.

We’ve added a cold shower with clothes on to our cooling repertoire and I now sport a wet T-shirt wrapped around my head.

Today’s shopping trip included some powdered Gatorade. Not usually a preferred drink but we live in different times lately.

We cracked an egg on a rock outside to test the “it’s so hot you can fry and egg on a sidewalk” expression but we don’t have sidewalks here. We have rocks though. We had trouble leveling the one we picked and the egg became partially scrambled during the cracking process. There it sits till later.

Speaking of rocks, a fault line passes directly under the northeast corner of our fifth-wheel (where I sleep), according to the Washington State Department Of Natural Resources geological map. The thought of lava somewhere below us in the depths of the earth makes me cringe and question once again, the placement of our RV.

Looking at a photo of two people hugging makes me feel uncomfortable. Now we practice heat wave distancing. As for dinner: who in their right mind would turn a burner on right now? Salad, Gatorade, and ice cubes sounds good.

The solar inverter started beeping again when it shouldn’t have and I suspected overheating. I remembered the large pieces of foam insulation stored away and grabbed a couple with reflective foil on one side. We stacked them on top of the battery and charge controller shack and drew them out over the front to act as shade.

Upon opening the doors, the charge controllers indicated the batteries were indeed, over heating but once the “breeze” began to circulate throughout the shed, all of the battery status lights changed to green, telling us everything was good to go. We left the doors open with the components now in the shade. Lesson learned.

It’s so hot outside the foam insulation we put around our security camera cords is melting. The cords themselves are fine.

melting foam tube

The ants are going crazy looking for water and have attempted another invasion. They seem to be moving around frantically and I feel bad for them. Even insects need water – but not from my kitchen.

This time around, I soaked a paper towel in vinegar and stuffed it in the hole where they were coming in. It seems to be working and I’m wondering if I’ve discovered a more effective strategy than my old battle plan: Ant Invasion – A Poem

I wonder if putting a dish of water outside and away from the trailer will draw them away? I think I’ll try an experiment.

I take back what I said about the west coast: they’re every bit as hot as us. I hope this isn’t a trend.

Oregon is down to two fires now. Everything is like tinder. Crossing my fingers for eastern Washington this summer.

Three-and-a-half hours to today’s high and counting. I’m going to look at the thermometer and egg again but this time I’m wearing my shoes.

It’s 2:40p.m. and it’s 109°.

The egg is not cooking.

Heat Wave

How we manage not to melt

I’m sitting in a dark place, sopping wet – on purpose: because of a heat wave.

We are in the midst of a week-long, possibly historical weather event with an excessive heat advisory across Washington state. Over the mountains to the west, it’s slightly better but still hot.

Looking at a heat index map, we are smack-dab in the middle of a region marked by a deep red color – the darkest and hottest – according to the legend.

The thermometer inside is pegged past 90° and the one outside reads 105° in the shade.

Leave butter out for any length of time and it’s broken down into its various liquid components. Cheese sweats profusely. Hell, I think my clock is doing the same, Salvador Dali-style; or it’s that hit of acid I took when I was sixteen finally coming back to haunt me.

We’ve closed all of the windows and hung tarps as a canopy in front of the fifth-wheel to see if we can cut a few degrees from the highs. The tarps make us look classy.

tarps on rv

The solar power system is loving this. We are running an electric energy hog of a refrigerator (long story), and everything else on it. The inverter alarm was constantly going off but we discovered that four of our panels were off-line and  fixed the problem.

20210626_142115

The cats only come out at night. I don’t know where they go during the day. They simply “appear” at about 6:30p.m. or so, after the temperature gauge is well into its journey back down the scale.

Since we can’t disappear during the day like them, our main defense is water, or keeping wet.

Here are a few ways we do that:

  • The livestock trough: what I bought last year after my first swimming pool debacle The Pool. It’s a big tub meant for watering animals but it works just fine as a dunking pool. I’m using the now-defunct swimming pool filter/pump and bleach to keep the water from turning green.
  • The sprinkler: hold the hose up and make it rain on yourself.
  • The garden mister: a larger version of the spray bottle.
  • Lakes or rivers: there are  plenty around here; just get there early and plan on scaling a nearly vertical slope in places to get to the water.

lake panorama

Another option is our Generac 5500XL generator. It could easily power an RV air conditioner but we need to wait until the first of next month to pick up heavier duty cords – when the worst of this has already passed.

But we’re in for a lot more according to longer-term forecasts.

In addition to the current heat wave, a drought is forecast for this summer and we’re ready to dig the spring deeper if it gets low.

Wildfires are a danger in weather like this. Oregon currently has three active ones. They got torched along with California last year. I finally bought personal property insurance after several local fires came a little too close. We need to finish trimming the lower branches of our trees as a fire deterrent.

It’s 3:00 p.m. – still three hours of rising temperatures until the red on the thermometer begins to slowly fall for the day. It doesn’t fall enough. Sleep is difficult. The temperature has risen two degrees since I began writing.

We in the Pacific Northwest aren’t the only ones cooking. I was originally indoctrinated to be skeptical of global warming but what I’m seeing year after year with my own eyes and what I’m gathering from credible sources has lead me to have a more open mind on the subject.

My latest thoughts are that we, as humans, need to get our shit together soon.

sun fire

Soap Making With Linda

A cautionary tale.

I am the queen of imperfection and soap making is no exception.

I’ve made homemade coconut oil soap before and the measurements and timing are really important. Mixing too.

I used my food processor and discovered how much you try to cram into it matters.

I don’t do this too often so I watched a video on the subject by a woman whom I’m now blaming for the disaster that ensued. Doesn’t matter that I didn’t follow the instructions.

I’m jealous because she built a log cabin by herself and she has her own Youtube channel.

She made the measuring easier by using an entire 54 oz. bottle of the oil, adjusting the measurements for the other ingredients accordingly. “Great”, I thought, as I dug fifty bowls and utensils out, my alcohol inks (for color), my essential rose oil, a scale, a thermometer – and my beloved food processor for mixing.

The normally solid coconut oil was already in liquid form from the heat so I wasted no time and poured the entire container into the mixer.

Then oil started seeping out of the machine.

I’d clearly overfilled it and it was leaking through the blade attachment. I thought fast and poured it into the container that was resting on the scale, zeroed out to measure the lye. In the process, oil slopped all over the place so I put the mixer container in the sink and grabbed the bowl that was on the scale to dump back into the original bottle.

Unfortunately, the oil had stuck the scale onto the bottom of the bowl, releasing it into the sink full of water at just the right moment.

I swiped it out, grabbed a rag, and began the cleanup.

Because our RV isn’t perfectly level (a sheer pin in one of the hydraulic jacks sheered off before we could finish the job and I’ve lived with the fact that in our bathroom anything that rolls, will head west when placed on the counter), the coconut oil also headed west.

It was on its way to the edge of the counter so I hit the most threatened areas first then turned my attention back to the motor unit of the food processor. I sopped up the pool in the tray on top, wiped off the suction cups on the bottom and put it aside while I finished cleaning the counters.

I scraped wave after wave of the skin conditioning, nutty smelling stuff into the sink and down the drain. I figure I lost about a third of the container.

I again picked up the motor unit and noticed a huge puddle of the viscous liquid on the counter I’d just cleaned. Upon holding the gadget above my head, I spied oil coming out of the motor compartment.

So long food processor.

You can actually dry some electrical components out but I’m not taking a chance with this one.

I put the fifty bowls, utensils, alcohol inks, the scale with the now-cloudy digital readout, the essential rose oil, and thermometer away but the food processor unit is now sitting in the hot sun, still oozing – destined for the garbage can.

The moral of my story? Life ain’t perfect but at least my hands are soft.

Holdmybeerguy Now Has Dogs Or Someone Visiting With Dogs

What would you do?

The barking began two days ago. It’s worst in the evenings – and goes ALL night long – NONSTOP. I want to emphasize this isn’t intermittent and it’s LOUD.

The first night it started at around 11:00pm with the racket still echoing over the hillside when I finally went to bed around 2:00am. Last night it started even earlier. They were still barking at 2:00am when I finally fell asleep.

I woke up to the cacophony at 4:00am.

I tried to use high frequency noise after the first few hours yesterday but nothing. I discussed things with my husband – the fact that once again we were in a position wherein a totally thoughtless neighbor had backed us into a corner from where we had to react.

We considered giving it a couple more days in case this was a visiting relative of Holdmybeerguy and live through it rather than end up in yet another confrontation rather do something immediately.

We asked ourselves what kind of person lets their dogs bark continuously most of the night without a care in the world. I sure don’t know, but when I woke up at four this morning my mind was made up.

I was pissed. No more.

I walked up along our shared property line and looked for the source of the noise and saw a small pen set up with one or two medium to large dogs inside with one running around outside the cage. All of ’em were barking.

I yelled across their property for them to quiet their dogs then turned around and added “you have one hour before I call animal control”. Realizing it was pretty early, I quickly decided it was more prudent and reasonable to go down the work-things-out-directly checklist before I made any calls.

I went back to our trailer and scribbled a note telling them to quiet their animals and that I’d be more than happy to meet to discuss the matter in person because we have to sleep sometime. I taped it to the post along their road with Gorilla tape. Two tiny pieces of paper from a notepad with extra wide industrial strength adhesive tape bigger than the note. Maybe I was trying to make a statement.

That was about twenty minutes ago, then I came in to vent.

What would you do? How long would you be willing to listen to three dogs bark all night long before you approached the owners, called animal control or the sheriff?

This is the guy who stole one of our UPS packages and ripped a full grown tree out of the ground with a chain right on our shared property line where we had trees that could have been damaged. This is also the guy who threw huge chunks of asphalt all over the easement when it got muddy making it almost impassable so I’m thinking that aggressive, swift action is the way to handle this situation.

Wish me luck. I don’t like confrontation but you have to show people like this that you’re not going to put up with their shit. Incidentally, we love dogs and have owned them. We don’t right now because we don’t have a fence as a guarantee of keeping them from wandering. As for the barking; no way in hell would we ever allow that kind of behavior.

Why us? Why the neighbors from hell?

I wish I had a nice poem for this one but I don’t think I’d be able to find enough expletives that rhyme.

Coffee’s Comin’ Down The Tracks

Morning ritual wakes us up.
Pound of coffee in your cup.
Black as night and heavy too.
Man, this is your kind of brew.
Coffee is so thick and dank.
Roles in like a Sherman tank.
Busting rivets, twisting guts.
Loosening your bolts and nuts.
This pot it has a coal car.
A fireman and crew.
Hit that mountain running.
Son, you have no clue.
Clear the way to Uncle John.
Pave the streets and tell your Mom.
Ticker tape parade with bands.
Don’t forget to wash your hands.
When it’s done and all is quiet.
Feel like you’ve been on a diet.
Have another cup my friend.
I’ll stay with you to the end.

The inspiration for this poem.

How Many Extension Cords Does It Take To Fill Up A Pool?

This is not a math quiz.

It’s about a matter of necessity or what you have to do when you can’t turn on a spigot with access to an unlimited water supply (although we technically do – from the mountains). Resources are precious out here, regulated not by the water company but by Mother Nature.

Winter is done and somehow we’ve skipped by spring rather quickly and belly-flopped straight into a summertime heat advisory. Today was in the nineties with the prediction tomorrow being the same or higher.

Not being content to wallow in the livestock watering trough I’d bought in the stead of my failed pool venture of last year, I found myself digging through the dust-laden shelves in search of the plastic heap that was The Pool. Or rather, I asked my husband to find it.

The thing requires approximately two-hundred-thousand gallons of water to fill it which is problem when the springs have suddenly dried up or at least the rate of flow has dramatically decreased because of said heat-wave.

You have to have sense of determination around here at times.

We have two springs at the top of the hill. The original and The Squitzer as we call it after my husband broke some rock away when we were digging it and excitedly exclaimed “look at this – we have a squitzer”!

The water was literally squirting out of a crack in the bedrock under pressure. It was a nice sight. It fills up faster than the original but we haven’t had to use it over the winter months and I needed the water from both springs to fill the pool to capacity.

This meant I had to hunt for an extra thousand or so feet of extension cord to reach the top of the hill because The Squitzer required the pump. We can’t siphon it because it’s sunk deeper into the ground, unlike the other spring.

After about an hour of locating cord and lugging it up the hill, I had to dredge the damned spring. Once a year we clean out months of accumulated clay and debris from trees that’s fallen in and decayed.

This is a lot of work to fill up a pool but it’s freakin’ ninety-plus degrees; about two-hundred in front of our trailer. Even the cats have retreated into the “basement” of the fifth wheel to sleep through the worst of the heat of the day at this point.

After the dredging, I have to pump the dirty residual water out of the hole lest I create a mud pit rather than a pool. I want pristine water. Sparkling, shimmering, bug-free with no pine cones floating around. And warm, dammit.

I dragged the blue-vinyl mass into the brush and found a sunny spot and spread it out. I inflated the ring after I cleared the spot of branches and pine cones.

Now I needed power. Not a problem thanks to good ‘0l Mr. Sun and our solar power system.  I made my fiftieth trip up to the top of the hill carefully checking the connections of the two-thousand feet of extension cord, placed the pump in the now pristine waters of The Squizter and plugged it in.

Believe it or not – it worked.

I ran two miles back down the hill for the six-hundredth time to the pool in the wilderness and found, to my delight, that water was coursing out of the hose into the pool.

To the best of my calculations it will have taken about two-hundred thousand feet of extension cord, five-hundred thousand gallons of spring water and one week to fill the pool up.

Then I can recreate.

Generator Genius

OK. So we’re not small engine mechanics but after three years of not having city or county utilities, we’ve gotten to know The Generator pretty well.

That’s because we run the shit out of them.

We have solar also but our system is 1200 watts and it’s limited in the off-seasons. During the summer, however, the sun runs EVERYTHING.

The rest of the year we use generators: small ones, big ones, efficient ones, gas guzzling monsters for the 220 volt jobs, loud ones, quiet ones, two strokers, 1500 watt ones, 3700 watt ones, orange ones, green ones, generators from Walmart, gens from North 40.

We got ’em all in a generator graveyard behind our shed, but not before we go through the “keep ’em alive” checklist before one or the other finally kicks the bucket:

  • check the oil when it’s shut down and the oil is in the pan, and do oil changes
  • spark plug – pull it out and clean the gap with sandpaper or get a new one. They get carbon deposits on them.
  • fuel filter – if it has one. I’ve never seen a generator with a fuel filter but I guess they exist. Replace if it has one?
  • air filter – wash and dry it if it’s soaked with oil and/or dust.
  • spark arrester at the exhaust – yes, this can impair airflow through an internal combustion system. Remove it and clean it regularly.
  • check that the gas doesn’t have water in it. You can add a product called  Heat, which gets water out of gas but I can’t say how effectively. You can always drain the tank and refill with good gas.
  • the carburetor gets mucked up with hundreds of hours of usage and might need to be cleaned. We take it to a shop for this or, to keep things running in the interim, spray carb cleaner directly into the butterfly port while the engine’s running. It’ll bog it down temporarily then recover.

I’ve probably forgotten something, but there you go. If all else fails, buy a new one and retire the old one to the graveyard or sell it on Craigslist for repair.

We may not be able to fix them after a certain point but there are people out there who can.