It’s Been A Year

Nostalgia time.

I was outside last night near where we’ve located our fifth wheel. It was actually around 1:00 am. An unseasonably warm breeze was blowing  and the chirps of the last critters of the summer drifted through the air.  It was a nice feeling and I was brought back to the early days and nights of a year ago when we first arrived in Colville, WA.

It’s funny how nostalgia works. Fortunately, feelings associated with memories are usually good even though the feelings of the time might have been less than so. When we first arrived last September, we were excited as hell to be new land owners. For my husband, it was his first time living outside of King county.

We originally had our trailer on this spot but moved it to a different part of the property thinking it was more centralized.  We soon realized there was a clear line of sight directly to the neighbors and we don’t like them. We kept the trailer there throughout the winter nevertheless but when we got our fifth wheel, we located it back to this original spot by a hillside where we could keep our “backs” to the wall. Being back on this side of our land brought back a lot of recent past memories, almost as if it happened much farther back in time.

Day 1 on the property, I explored every square inch. It’s 3.7 acres of a little bit of everything. It has two hillsides, a flatlands, forests, and the craggy windy highlands as I call them. I told my husband we should make a map of our place as a fictional land.

We bought our parcel out of a larger one that had been divided into four. Ours is #3 in the top left area. We wanted to buy the adjacent lots but someone beat us to #4.

property

We had seen “junk” piled up on an adjacent lot but I soon realized we had our own portion of the junkyard on our property. Only the last time the garbage was taken out was over 60 years ago. So their junk is now our treasure as they say.

We ordered a title search of the property at the courthouse. The land passed from the hands of the government into private in 1908. The last time it was actually occupied we figure was in the 1950’s. We had walked into a time capsule of sorts.

I think I found the original well. It’s at the top of the property in a little grove of trees in a sunken area. I found it when I was looking for a likely place for water. There was an interesting looking rock dead center in the depression that looked like it had been formed by hands other than nature. Maybe a marker? I dug a little and found the rock to be lose and ill fitting; like it had been moved there by machine to fill the well. We ended up locating elsewhere for water but I still dig up there now and then. I did yesterday and felt warmer water in the bottom as I did with our spring. Geothermal activity maybe?

 

 

In my explorations and aspirations I saw a lot to write about and decided to start a blog but I neglected it for a year. I wanted to write about the adventure we’d just landed on. I now had the biggest back yard an overgrown child could ever want!

love to dig. I grew up in a pile of dirt, in a tree, waiting outside the bar in a car for my mother…just kidding, kind of. Mom would shove us all into the station wagon with no seat belts, light up a cigarette, and make the trip to Grandma’s house several times a year. That was how it was back then.

Anyway, I grew up a kind of a tomboy so this piece of property is heaven to me. My husband told me repeatedly while we were still looking for a place, “don’t worry Babe, you’ll soon be able to dig all you want at any time of the day and no one will be able to stop you”. I have dug holes all over the place. Who does that? I have filled most of them back in for safety and aesthetic reasons.

Another example of the weird factor in myself was the night I found myself burying a salmon in my garden at 130am during a thunderstorm. I wanted to give it back to the land. I felt guilty I had let it go bad because it had been given to me fresh caught. The raccoons found it about 10 minutes later and the last time I saw it about 4 days later, it was hanging off a branch of a tree.

Nostalgia. It’s been a year. We’ve been through so much. Walking near the antiques hillside (the dump), brought it all back to me. That feeling of excitement and wonder. The pride of ownership. The explorability factor was high in this place and still is.

And now I’m finally taking up that blog I started a year ago.

Art and a Hack

One of my hobbies.

Try to find a Dorodango ball for sale on the internet. I dare you. Good luck.

Dorodango means mud dumpling in Japanese (I think). It’s literally dirt formed into a ball then dried and polished over a period of time (everyone has their own technique), to become something pretty impressive.

20181001_192727
My first semi-successful Dorodango ball.

I’ve been trying to successfully make one for about a month now. It takes practice. They tend to crack and the outer shell tends to nick during polishing depending on how you do it.

I’ve tried and tried to finish one over the past weeks. I threw a few. I wrote a poem about them but deleted it because my son was silent after I read it to him. Maybe I’ll rewrite it from memory.

I finally successfully made one today. I want to sell them. Especially after I discovered I couldn’t find but one on the entire internet for sale. I couldn’t believe it. There’s a vacuum in that market. Maybe Etsy,  maybe here.

This last year has been very difficult. Very. We’ve had some really hard times and one of the things that helped me through it was my various art projects. I had to use what we had on hand most of the time and dirt was readily available. This is a fun activity and I highly recommend it but it takes patience. Just hit youtube for some tutorials if you want to give it a try.

Onto a couple off the grid self described hacks.

I came up with an ingenious idea for keeping the hoses and water filter from freezing this winter. The spring and holding pit never freeze even in extended zero degree temps. We learned that last year.

Why not mount the filter under the water line and just keep the hoses in the water also when not in use? Theoretically it makes sense.

We hit some items on the monumental To Do list today also.

We pulled the RV’s water tank out today. Had to pull out a small part of the structure in the RV basement to get it out. We’ll replace it of course.

We put it on a couple of barrels so we could fill it up to see if the bottom really leaked and filled it with water. No leaks on the actual bottom but both inlet/outlet receptacles leak around the edges. I sprayed a coat of Flexseal on it and am letting it sit overnight. Will do again tomorrow then fill again to see if the leak is fixed.

If we can use that tank, we won’t have to wrestle with keeping an exterior water tank from freezing. Crossing fingers. One thing at a time.

We called the manufacturer of the dreaded and cherished gas hot water heater and asked them why the thing isn’t turning off. The water is getting super hot. Not safe. We’re just turning the gas off after about a half hour of heating for the time being.

They said it sounds like a thermostat. 10.00 on Amazon. It’s under warranty but why bother for such a small amount?

Incidentally, Atwood is now Dometic (maker of RV appliances and maybe other things).

One item at a time off of the check list.

But wait, there’s more. There’s always more. We believe the front right hydraulic jack sheer pin sheered. It is a sheer pin after all. The jack won’t move up or down. We’re trying to finish leveling the trailer still. Everything on the bathroom counter roles towards the rear of the trailer. Driving me nuts.

We added 2 more batteries to the solar power system this afternoon. We’re going to try the TV for a little while. I think it’s charging fine after all. Added 4 more 100 watt panels to the system yesterday. It was a challenge to figure out the wiring. It’s still really rough looking mounted on two sheets of plywood. We need to secure the panels better before a windstorm hits.

Now to reap the rewards of siphoning the water from the top of the property from the well we dug, installing a new hot water heater, removing and reinstalling the shower faucet approximately 6 times as a result of the overheated water, and installing a new water pump.

I think I deserve a hot bath.

Hack: You can use one little microfiber rag to dry off your entire body after a shower. Just keep wringing it out as you go. They work great. I’ve had to do it more than once upon realizing no towels were available.

Nature: Works of God

What if math is beautiful?

environment forest grass leaves
Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Organic cathedral constructed under God’s direction

Architect of perfection

Wild shapes and patterns conceal sublime mathematical formulae

Arches bow in natural geometry

Divine order concealed beneath seeming chaos

Tale etched in rock, microbe, DNA, atoms

Poetry scripted in God’s hand

Story without beginning or end

Unedited by malice or choice

Unmarred by Ego

Every moment now

Every place one

Seen from the unseen

Known from the unknown

Matter from nothing

Imagined by the Creator

 

Realities

You have to want something to get it out here.

I woke up at 4:00am this morning when the inverter to our solar power system shut off. At this point, it does that early every morning because we did the classic underestimate of power consumption needs. More on solar later. It get’s it’s own post.

I spent about an hour up anyway running on our RV’s batteries with  LED lightbulbs. I had to use my phone’s hotspot because we forgot to hook up the inverter to the RV batteries so we could run a cord inside to plug the modem into.

After going back to bed and waking up about 20 minutes ago, the husband’s still asleep so I got to instruct my son again, on how to turn on the gernerator but he forgot to unplug us from the solar system and into the extension cord he plugged into the generator. We have the modem for internet over here. That was why he was so helpful.

I then had to plug the fridge back in because we’re getting a propane fridge because the electric is a gas hog and when we’re on the inverter, we turn it off for a few hours and keep the door shut.

I also checked the level of our water supply and will have to go up to the top of the property to “turn on” the water. I siphon it all the way across the property to our temporarily outside 55 gallon water tank that holds water for our trailer.

Tired yet? I’m semi used to this but when my threshold for stress is down, I break down also. Most of the time I’m OK but it takes a lot of effort to live out here. I have problems with depression and when that kicks in, it weakens my emotional immune system and makes effort difficult.

My husband is front and center to help and we make a great team but I tend to mentally take on a sense of responsibility for the load. I don’t have to. It’s just habit, I suppose. I’m trying to learn to ask for help and to know that I don’t have to do it alone but when I realize how much there is to do before the snow hits, I get overwhelmed.

I’ll show you what I mean.

To do before the snow hits:

  • skirt both trailers
  • replace our water tank (we found out our water tank has a massive leak after we got it home)
  • seal all panels around the RV basement
  • insulate all pipes and the inside of the basement
  • finish foam insulating the small trailer and do the pipes
  • figure out why the hot water heater is not turning off (we never called someone about that)
  • return the faucet we bought when we thought the old one was broken because the hot water made it work weird
  • come up with a plan to keep the outside water barrel from freezing if we can’t replace the inside water tank
  • figure out how to keep the outside water filter from freezing
  • figure out why the solar panels we added don’t seem to be helping
  • buy more batteries for solar system
  • make sure we have a heating system in place for the basement of the RV
  • finish cleaning up the property
  • finish the roof on the shed when the truck gets home from the shop
  • pack the rest of the garbage to the dump when truck available
  • finish installing miscellaneous hardware around the inside of the trailer
  • finish the laundry (happy thought! I have a washer/drying combo in the trailer!!!!)
  • Work on blog which has become a very happy thought to me

As I said, I suffer from depression. It’s been all of my life give or take a year or two and of course I get treatment for it but it’s especially bad right now. Luckily, I’ve discovered blogging. 🙂 I can now “talk” to people about how I feel and bitch about all of the hard work I have to do living out here.

I know this has all been a choice and I would do it again. Zero regrets. But that damned to do list…..

We’re Not All Electricians

A drawing of what the wiring in my RV looks like to me.

I didn’t know how to install a water pump so I went to see the local RV repairman last week. In my estimation, he’s been doing this for over a hundred years and stopped caring about customer service in the seventies.

When I asked him how to hook up the wiring, he barked at me in an irritated voice while gesturing violently at the water pump “red is red and black is black”!

Well, I made this picture for him to show him what the wiring in my RV looks like to me. No, he hasn’t seen it nor will he ever. 🙂

wiring3

What My Fifth Wheel Looks Like To Me

A translation.

No, not a turkey. I am temporarily out of my own pictures pertaining to RV repair.

I didn’t know how to install a water pump so I went to see the local RV repairman last week. He’s probably been doing this for about 100 years now and doesn’t give a rat’s ass about customer service anymore. When I asked him about the wiring he said in an extremely tired and irritated voice while gesturing violently at the water pump I had in my hand “red is red and black is black”!

Well, I made this picture for him to translate to him what I saw. No, he hasn’t seen it nor will he ever. 🙂

wiring3

Prospecting

Our quest for gold.

I can’t figure out how to use my expensive metal detector. Steel gives off the same signal as gold, iron signals the same as gold, bottle caps signal the same as gold, nails signal the same as gold.

From what I’ve read, metal detecting is almost an art form and I have yet to create a masterpiece let alone a decent sketch. Prospecting for gold is the same – it takes patience, knowledge and experience to become successful at it.

So far, gold has totally eluded my husband and I. You could point us to a gold rich river and we would come up with only pyrite or mica no matter where we dig, how deep we dig, how much material we dig – you  get the idea. We’re rank amateurs.

All I ask for is a few little grains or flakes in the bottom of my pan – just a few. I would be able to finally sleep at night.

I downloaded some maps from Gold Maps Online for Google Earth. It’s on overlay of gold claims and mines along with data from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management).

You can plan ahead to find closed and open claims and check to see if they’re on private or public land (although that’s not always easy to ascertain). You can check terrain and roads beforehand. Like their website says, you really can do a lot of the footwork ahead of time virtually and save yourself gas and disappointment.

Our property has a lot of geological indicators for gold: iron rich soil and ore, quartz outcroppings and springs, not to mention an actual fault. Nothing so far though.  I even tried divining – still nothing.

We panned all summer near Snoqualmie Pass and around North Bend Washington to no avail. Denny Creek near the pass is supposed to bear gold but we came home empty handed.

One thing we did find recently is garnets.

I was panning and found a bunch of reddish looking sand and rocks. They were the only thing left in the bottom of the pan with “the heavies”, as prospectors say. We took them into a local jeweler who confirmed they were garnets. The jeweler said most creeks and rivers around these parts contain them.

My husband isn’t as interested in prospecting as myself but he always takes me places to hunt. He contents himself with exploring the area while I prospect. He found a wolf skull just last week.

I’ve yet to find any gold but my day will come. I’ve heard that when you see it you know it and that you will never mistake a piece of mica or fool’s gold for the real thing again.

Ticks and Sticks

A theoretical game involving ticks.

Note: Ticks carry disease. My suggestion of playing a game involving them is a joke.

Ticks and Sticks is the name of a game I came up with one spring day as my family and I were looking for something creative to do outside. I imagine the rules would have involved something like going up to a bush and whacking it with a stick. In the spring, the bushes are loaded with ticks.

We played kickball instead.

Ticks are nasty spidery looking parasites that cling to branches in underbrush while they wait for an animal (or human) to latch onto. They flourish in the spring and can infect a human with Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other dangerous diseases if they burrow into your skin to feed on your blood.

We eat garlic during tick season as it repels them according to what I’ve read but don’t take my word for it – do some research and protect yourself if they live in your part of the world. If you have animals such as dogs and cats, be sure to treat them appropriately. They will bring ticks into your house – believe me.

pexels-photo-3760420
Photo by Erik Karits on Pexels.com

I never saw one until we moved to eastern Washington and then I saw way too many.  I found several on myself the first spring we lived here. They would appear at the most inopportune times.

There is nothing like the look on someone’s face when they see a tick crawl out of your hair. Imagine this happening on a first date? Once, a guy I was talking to deftly snatched one off of my forehead as if it was nothing and crushed it. He obviously had experience with these things.

I have a theory that they don’t like fluorescent light because they would almost always come out in the library or other public building.

What purpose could such ugly, dangerous pests have in the scheme of things? I’m sure they have their place – just not on my head.

Pine Bugs

A poem.

Pine bugs here, pine bugs there

Pine bugs they are everywhere

Little smelly sticky things

Fly around on crispy wings

If you try to flick them off

They will stick like glue to cloth

Think that they’re a yellow jacket

Freak you out until you whack it

Knobbly legs with little claws

Eat them pine nuts with their jaws

Found one in my swimming suit

Found one crawling up my boot

Summer find them high and low

Never find them in the snow

Although they may seem annoying

Pine trees are what they’re destroying

 

 

20180929_222216.jpg
Notice the fly with the attitude. I had to follow this little pine bug/beetle around the table to get a couple of good pics of him and this fly shows up and he’s like “this my piece of paper ya’ll”. Pine bug just says “ya, whatever”.

 

Hitting The Road

Picking up the trailer and we’re off.

pexels-photo-696680

The evening we picked up our temporary home – our new/used travel trailer – I hadn’t pulled one in years.

We had closed on our home were headed out of town and into the foothills of the Cascade mountain range where we would live until we found a place to set down anchor.

After a final inspection to make sure everything was buttoned up tight, I climbed behind the wheel and pushed on the gas. With a gentle lurch, we pulled forward and were on our way.

I was a little nervous hauling a rig for the first time in quite a while so both me and my son kept looking out the back window to make sure the trailer was still behind us. It became a joke to say “it’s still there”.

Out and away from town and into the foothills we drove – trailer still behind us.

There was a truck stop near the entrance to the county road that led to where we were camping. It had showers for only fourteen dollars a pop, a laundry, and a gift shop with everything a trucker might want to ease their travels – or us, ours.

We stopped to fill the water tanks then pulled out for the last leg of our day’s journey. It was getting dark and we wanted to get to the campground before late.

The county happened to be paving the dirt road out and had placed a billion red cones smack in the middle for the entire length of the narrow road. I had to maneuver the trailer carefully around every single one of them. We took a couple of them out – on accident, of course.

Then we came to the bridge.

It was also under construction and had been temporarily made into one lane. I slowly rolled up to it, sizing the situation up in my head. It looked like I would have about five or six inches to spare on each side of the trailer. Some skill would be needed – or stupidity.

What if we got the rig stuck halfway over the bridge? I didn’t want to think about it and rolled forward, my son cheering me on. Gritting my teeth, my fingers practically breaking the steering wheel, we moved forward at a moderate speed. I figured a little momentum would help if things got too tight.

Yes, speed would help us in a jam.

We “narrowly” made it through the tight squeeze without losing any exterior trailer parts and continued on to our destination. One more challenge awaited: backing the trailer up into the parking pad.

I’ve never been good at that. Turning the steering wheel right makes the trailer go left, or right, or something. The next thing you know, you have completed a two-mile per-hour jackknife.

Tonight, we got lucky. I didn’t take out any trees or picnic tables and we settled in without incident for our first night on the open road.