Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Life in the Country

Living alone in the country means never having to say "Would somebody else please do my laundry for me?" ... and since I'm off the grid, I use some low-tech solar/wind technology for drying.

Also known as a clothesline.






But being a semi-rugged manly man, I couldn't be using some girly clothespin bag...

...so I found me a heavy canvas "Drywaller's bag." Perfect for the job, and it keeps my masculinity intact.

 

It came with a ridiculously short belt.. obviously made for a (ahem) younger drywaller, so I just belted it to basket.


Bathroom cleaning, country style

Rural Mailbox Incident

This is the view when Molly and I walk down to get the mail.  Beautiful pasture across the road, and the mountains of Mexico in the distance.


Unfortunately, a young local driver was unduly distracted by the scenery, or his cell phone, or (most likely) a few adult beverages one Friday night, when he came around the S curve much too fast and...




He took out the mailbox, post and all.

That tiny black spot in the distance is the actual box, 50 feet into the field.


I went to the lumber yard for a new post, grumbling to all who would listen about "damn drunks," but the next day, a very polite and nervous young man came to my door to apologize and offer to pay for the damage. He said he just came around the corner entirely too fast, and was very sorry.  

Took a lot of guts to make the long walk up my drive (for some reason he parked on the street; maybe it was his mom waiting for him to make the walk of shame) and face who-knows-what kind of rural psychopath lived in that little green house way off the road, so I let him off the hook and told him I was just glad he came by.  Restored my faith in human beings.

The Rural Deer Incident

This one happened in Missouri, when granddaughter Macey and I went back for the annual Rodeo Ride, and the non-drunk driver was Yours Truly.

What happens when you hit a deer at 55 MPH
 We were on a dark two-lane road in the middle of nowhere, heading to my cousins' house from the Omaha airport at about 1:00 AM.  Suddenly there was Bambi in full leap, right in front of us and Bam!  He put the Bam in Bambi.

No injuries except the poor deer, and the car hung in there the rest of the way and all the way back to the airport a few days later. The rental agent declined my offer to walk around the car looking for dings and scratches.






Sadee's annual cool-down bath

In the guest room where I was staying, I found a picture of a house that belonged to cousin Joy's grandparents in 1924.  Did a double-take, because it looked just like my house!



The Big Beautiful Wall

Back at my house, my only crop so far is two tomato plants, which are (hopefully) protected from gophers by a wire basket underground, but were getting eaten by some illegal alien rabbits above ground.  So I Trumped 'em!

Now if I could just get the rabbits to pay for the wall...
That's the news from Lake Morena for now. I went and turned another year older, although I'm not sure about good friend Sherryl's assessment:


Adios for now from Sábado, where it's always 5 o'clock.









Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Welcome Guest and a Bit of a Scare

Molly and I walk down our long dirt driveway every evening to get the mail, and lately I had been noticing these enormous footprints in the dirt.  They were obviously from some kind of bird, but they're about 9 inches long and 6 inches wide!

I have some kind of Bigfoot bird visiting me!
Today, in broad daylight, I looked out my window and saw Bigfoot.  He's been here before, and I even photographed him once, but thought it was a fluke. Judging from the number of tracks I've been finding, I think he might have moved in..


So what's a big beautiful heron doing on my little homestead in the boondocks?  Don't they eat fish?

Apparently that's not all they eat, because after stealthily moving across the field (I thought he was just afraid of me), he suddenly darted his head into the soil and came up with...


A gopher!  One of my millions.  That makes Mr. Heron a very welcome guest at Sábado!

The Scare

One of the things that made this property affordable, in addition to the lack of electricity, is the fact that there is a road easement cutting right through it.  If the County ever has money to burn and decides to straighten out the S curve that wraps around me, they could re-route the road right through my place.

The easement is that Miss America sash cutting across my place.
 Currently, and for as long as the locals can remember, the road sweeps around me in a big S curve.  It's been that way since it was dirt.  But if they ever decide to straighten it out, the road would go in front of my house, and I'd probably lose my beloved circle-drive oak tree.


So I get very nervous whenever I see Public Works people within a mile of the place. Today while I was watching the heron, I noticed a half a dozen people in orange vests walking down the road.  Through the binoculars I could see that they had measuring equipment.  Not good.

Molly and I jumped in the truck and headed north to find the workers' truck, and sure enough, it was Department of Public Works.  We turned around and headed back toward home and there was the chilling sign..



They were painting these marks in the road, but the encouraging thing was that the marks continued all the way around the S curve and past my place.

When I caught up with the crew, I rolled down the window and asked them if they were re-paving the road. "Getting ready to!" he said.  I told him I lived back there (pointing to my place) and he said "Then you'll be happy."

So... the fact that the marks followed the current road, with no stakes marching across my land, and the fact that he said they were merely re-paving, not re-configuring, makes me believe I live to fight another day, AND investing the money in repaving suggests that they aren't planning to make any changes to the road in the foreseeable future.

Whew!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Spring 2017

One of the less-fun tasks I signed up for was staining and finishing  the 14 doors the designer (Yours Truly) put in this house.  Each had to be toted out to the shop and given several coats, then brought back in and re-installed. 

Definitely glad to be finished with that project.

  
 

Revolving jig allows finishing both sides at the same time

Sealing with a light color, then rubbing dark stain into the pores gives an antique effect.


Laundry Room Shelves

Not very exciting, but functional.
























Defensible Space

Every year, our esteemed electric company (of which I am NOT a customer) gives grants to homeowners who live near their big ugly high-power lines, for the purpose of fire prevention.  It's my understanding that this largess is the result of a lawsuit over the fact that the above-mentioned power lines started one of our disastrous brush fires a few years ago.

If you qualify and are willing to do a bunch of paperwork, you can pay to have the brush trimmed, dead trees removed, and weeds whacked within 100 feet of your buildings.  You front the money of course, and then they come out and inspect the work, and hopefully cut a reimbursement check.

I'm at the point of having paid the money and filed the paperwork, and am waiting for the inspection.
Wish me luck.

Before
After



Before

After




























One More Thing

The "Defensible Space" thing is actually a fire department requirement, so you have to do it whether the power company pays for it or not. A lot of my building decisions, like using fire-resistant materials, the big water tank, etc. were dictated by the local fire codes.  The last little detail I needed to attend to was to have house numbers, at least 4" high, so responders could be sure they're at the right house.

So now you can find me...

...I'll leave a light on for you.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

I might have to rethink this...

As I mentioned in the last post, I've been experimenting with baking "artisan" bread, the kind you get in a restaurant - crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Having pretty good luck with it since it's so simple.  There are only three ingredients plus water, unless you throw in a bunch of seeds. The hard crust comes from baking the bread in a hot dutch oven.



 

Occasionally a little excitement...


So... I figured the next logical step is fresh home made butter!  How hard can that be - there's only one ingredient! And think of the money I'll save!



All you need is fresh cream


Lovely sweet cream... Of course it has to be organic and not ultra-pasteurized like all the grocery store stuff, which means a trip to town...

The Kitchen Aid took that stuff right past whipped cream and straight to butter in just a couple of minutes.  

 


  
 It also wanted to throw buttermilk all over the kitchen.

 

You have to wash the butter by kneading it in cold water, replacing the water a few times until it runs clear.  This is to get all the buttermilk out of it.  If you don't, it will get rancid.



End result: 6.4 ounces of sweet cream butter and a half pint of buttermilk.


... And a sink full of dirty dishes, plus a butter-splattered mixer and counter.

So... the money-saving part:

  • Fancy cream $5.00
  • Bottle deposit $2.00
  • 60-mile round trip to get cream not available in Campo - $12 (Of course I didn't make the trip just for cream)


Yield: 6.4 ounces of butter.



8 ounces of store-bought Irish butter: $3.50



 But hey... it was an experience.. And since the mixer was out anyway, I rewarded myself with a big batch of oatmeal cookies.