Friday, September 28, 2012

September Update

My apologies that it's been so long since I've posted here, but we still have no internet at home. Every time we think we're going to be able to do it, something comes up. Today, it was a new tire for both vehicles so we have working tires all round as well as usable spares. No sense risking losing our jobs because of no spare tire, after all. (Though considering I had to swerve around a jerk from work who jumped out at my car and made me do a serious curb check pulling into the library, I know I have to check tires when I leave in a bit and hope I don't have flats from bent rims! Q would be cheesed off if that were the case!) But anyhow, here's the up-to-date news, split up by date of when I actually wrote the stuff and hoped to get it posted!

And oh, yes, at the end, there are photos, as promised.

September 10, 2012
We've settled in at the property, and are happily beginning "real" homesteading, as a friend of ours recently put it. Almost feels as if what we've been doing up to this point isn't "real" in their eyes, but in ours, it's all been prep work to get to this point. And so far, it's been a blast getting to this point, and with what we've done so far. I've actually got some photos to show off from things I've written about and kept forgetting to shoot, and we'll get to those a bit later on.

The news of late isn't half bad. We're all unpacked and know what few pieces of furniture we still need to eventually get our hands on, which isn't much. We're slowly working on the outdoors, and this weekend, we hope to begin some serious work on an indoor project, our woodstove. We have to prep the corner it's going in first, so we can safely run it. That means concrete board topped by stove board under and behind it before we even get the woodstove and install it. That's not even mentioning all the little goodies we need to keep it going, like the ash shovel, poker, the grate for inside it, and etc. There's a lot more to putting a woodstove in safely than most people think about. Thankfully, with living on 5 acres of woods, there's plenty of trees to cut down, along with stuff that's already downed, that can be cut up for firewood. The woodpile's starting to get a bit more impressive, if rather lopsided, as we've lately been basically just tossing the logs on willy-nilly so they'll be out of the way.

Q found these neat gadgets at Race Brothers in Harrison for stacking your firewood, that are iron braces you hold together with 2x4s, so your wood stacks neatly. It'll sure help out near the house, the rest we think we're just going to kind of stack up without being overly picky about it all. There's just too much to do in that respect to be picky about how the wood is stacked to dry to begin with.

There's been some fun, too, in the wildlife department. The other day, around 930 at night, I heard a horrendous scratching at the door. Looking out the front window (which still didn't have a screen at that point), and using the big flashlight lantern to see what it was, I discovered ... Well, let's just say I had fun with the hubster the next morning as he was eating his supper and I was having breakfast. "Honey, I have to tell you something. Last night, we had an attempted break in by a masked bandit!" The look on his face was priceless. I just dissolved into laughter, and followed up with, "We had a coon try to get in last night. Scratched up the door and even tried sticking his paws under the door. Bouncer had a blast playing 'pat the paw' with the coon." Quentin started laughing himself, admitting that a coon did qualify as a "masked bandit." I should note that the front door has no weatherstripping right now, that'll be fixed by wintertime. This weekend, we at LEAST hope to get the screen door and install it, so we can keep the inside door open when the weather's nice and allow even more crossbreeze through here.

There's also been the local big buck deer ranging around, and he's mostly sticking to the trees, but he did come down and play havoc with the one end of the woodpile not too long ago, which is another reason we're not worried about keeping it neatly stacked. If he's going to keep knocking it down, there's not a lot of point to trying to keep it stacked up right now.

We have a skunk that likes to hang around the junk pile that the former tenant left by the deck. There's nothing there for it to eat, but it likes to come around and rummage anyhow. It was kind of funny the other day, as Quentin went indoors to get the car keys so he could move the vehicles around in preparation for us to go do our Saturday errands. He came out and shouted, "Oh, s**t!! A SKUNK!" ran back inside, grabbed the pellet gun, and came back out to plink the furry little stinker with it and scare it off. Last night, I had to plink the stinker FOUR TIMES in order to get it to go away and stay there. It just doesn't take NO for an answer very well.

And then tonight, there's the armadillo out back, rummaging in that particular pile of junk. There is a LOT of local wildlife, and while it's all very nice, sometimes, I'd like an evening where I just plain get to sit and relax without having to drive off the critters. The boys are highly interested in the critters, loving to get on a shelf or my desk and peer out the windows at them. Good warning for me to check and see if it's that silly skunk or not. We definitely do NOT want the skunk hanging round the house right now, as there's way too much chance somebody would get sprayed! Thankfully, the four times I plinked him last night, he didn't spray, he just twitched and jumped and ran off for a while. He seemed to not realize that he was being shot, but he did learn pretty fast that the door opening and footsteps on the deck meant he was gonna get stung by something that he didn't like.

September 19, 2012
Okay, it's now Wednesday, early evening, and I'm sitting at my living room desk that Quentin found for me for free, and looking out the back windows, and what do I see but a couple of dark green iridescent HUMMINGBIRDS! I didn't even know we HAD hummingbirds here! They're so gorgeous! Q says we'll have to get a hummingbird feeder next spring for them.

All in all, we're pretty content here, and truly enjoying the fresh air (which helps us both sleep a lot better), the ability to listen to the TV at a reasonable level we can actually hear without being yelled at by "neighbors," being able to park without fighting for a space ... we are so enjoying this, and so ridiculously happy. We can't wait to see what each day brings in the way of things going on here. Anyhow, now some photos, because I know you guys are all just dying for more photographs of progress!

Adding a bit more before the photos just because I have more to write. If my spacebar will cooperate, that is. Poor computer's getting a bit worn out and I have to hit the spacebar a bit harder than usual. Next big ticket item round here is probably going to be a new computer for me, after we get the woodstove in. I'm adding this a few days after the last bit ended because there are updates and I don't want to do another whole blog post just for this little bit. We did get the screen door on, but the opening isn't quite the right size and we can't cut the door down to fit, so it's a bit wonky. It works, it's just weird. We're going to start this weekend (the 21st/22nd of September) to haul some of the woodpile in, so it's handy for the woodstove when we get that far.

Right now, for basic heat in the living room only, we've got a small electric heater. We hate running up the bill with the thing, but it's been very chilly lately and we'd like to be somewhat more comfortable. It's a definite temporary thing, as we'll likely be putting straw bales around the house for "skirting" for the winter though not all the way up to the base of the trailer, to help avoid some of the rodent problems the straw will bring. We'll also be hanging heavy blankets over the doors we don't use (back door and a couple of the interior doors we use very little) and the windows to help keep heat in the house. We can always pull the blankets out of the way and tie them off to let light in. There'll also be some throw rugs tossed down for floor warmth - our feet are a bit tired of being cold. We deal with that enough at work!

The boys, aka the cats, have settled in quite well. They love all the windows to look out, and the room to play with their toys, and especially the length of the house, since it sits several feet off the ground. When they go racing up and down the house, or what Quentin calls "Kittydega," you can imagine the noise of a thundering herd of elephants around here.

September 23, 2012
Today was a good day. We've settled into a solid routine here. Weekdays are work, of course, and the fact that I leave about the time he gets home and heading to bed means he pulls in behind me and waits for me to get headed out the door for us to do a vehicle swap. I get home, change out of "work clothes" and into "farm clothes" and head outside while the weather is still nice to get as much done on the woodpile as possible. The fact that I cut primarily kindling and small logs is still good, though many would laugh at it. It's a huge contribution on my part for keeping us warm, because it means Quentin and I don't have to split kindling later on ... we'll already have it so the bigger logs can get halved or quartered or whatever is needed to make them fit the woodstove, rather than chop them into tiny bits for kindling. We need kindling to get the fire going again after one of us has been asleep for several hours, we'll have it already.

Weekends are the busy days. With our work schedules being as different as they are, I'm the one who gets a lot done during the week after I get home, because of working first shift. I get a lot of good daylight, so plenty of woodcutting gets done. The brush pile is clearing out fast now that we're living here. Quentin, on the other hand, working second shift as he does, is getting ready for work and heading in during what daylight he sees during the week, so weekends is about all the time he has to do any major projects around here. Primarily that means Sundays, because Saturdays, we spend doing all our errands in one big loop to get groceries, get building materials for the weekend's project, make the van payment, do laundry, and come home (gosh, that's still such a nice thing to be saying about this place!!), and put it all away.

So this Sunday .... it's been incredibly busy and as I write this over my lunch break, it's only about 130 in the afternoon, and we've gotten a LOT done, with more to come. In addition, I've taken quite a few photos the last couple of days, so this is a photo essay of sorts of the progress lately.

So far, things that have gotten photographed for this particular post are:

This is the stupid little 78 cent piece of electrical conduit that the power company threw a fit over it being broken. Since it came into the box from the top, we really think they should have fixed it, but oh well. Ridiculous that it held up power for three or four days, though. For want of a nail, a shoe was lost and all that.

This is the non-functional ceiling fan in the kitchen that's going to come down one of these days. It hangs a bit low and we really don't like Q having to duck around it so he doesn't bash his head.

This one is the non-functional kitchen sink light. Annoying as all heck that it doesn't work, but I am able to put the globe for it to use. I found the globe in the sink when I originally cleaned it out, and kept it with the intention of putting it back on the light once the power was on. It doesn't need to be up there, so it became a storage doodad on the corner of the sink for things like hanging my dishrag, and storing my scouring sponge when it's wet, and my bottle brush for the bottles I use to carry my juice with me to work. Gotta scrub them out so they don't get nasty, and by using the globe in an otherwise unconventional way, it repurposes it to good use of keeping wet, nasty things off the counters. I have to wash them enough, I don't want to purposely make them messy!

Here's our entertainment area in the living room, prior to the satellite going in. The DVR sits in the shelf area below the TV. We have a LOT of videos but not nearly enough for us to be happy. Things go wonky with the satellite come bad weather, we want to be able to be entertained. This only shows part of our DVD collection, and Q's old VHS tapes that we haven't replaced yet with DVDs.

There's the screen we found out back, installed in the same size living room window. It's been up for a bit now, and it's nice to have the cross breeze through the open windows. The boys like to sit on a bookshelf we put under the window for more movies, and watch out the window for various wildlife. Bouncer especially is fond of it and cries at the wilidlife to come play with him.

This is the plywood we took off the deck that was warped ... well, the bigger piece of it. The smaller piece got cut up to patch a few of the holes in the baseboards and floors for the moment. The flooring is a wintertime project, after the woodstove is installed.

The plywood piece acts as a bridge over this trench we still haven't had a chance to get gravel for to bury the conduit that carries our electrical wires.

This is the woodpile where the deer crashed through it and knocked it over. I give up stacking neatly. We've talked about it and we're just tossing it into a pile, willy-nilly. It'll get stacked a bit better when it comes in the house. Till then, if the deer are going to keep knocking it down, there's not a lot of reason to stack it up. Oddly, they have tons of room to go AROUND the woodpile, but insist on going THROUGH it instead.

Our power meter! It's digital, so it's likely a smart meter without our express approval, but apparently, our power company got rid of all the ones with the spinning disk on them. As long as we have juice till next year's hopeful big project of solar panels (to possibly be paid for by tearing out the Merlot and scrapping it to buy the solar equipment), we'll be okay. Though the sooner we have solar, the better we'll like it.

A look down the easement toward the main drag, now that the easement is greening back up a bit. You can't see the main drag in this photo, as we're about a mile and a half up the mountain road from it, but you can see how the road winds back and forth up the mountain.

Here's Quentin putting in the valance extension over the kitchen sink to give me a light in the kitchen, particularly for cooking and doing dishes. (Reminds me, I need to get them done up this afternoon, as the pan I need to make dinner in is in the dirty dishes. Oops.)

And here he is putting up my flourescent light! It plugs into a surge strip that plugs into one of the wall outlets that I also use for the electric skillet or the hotplate or griddle for the majority of our cooking. It does a great job lighting up the space we need lit the most, and gives enough light that even in the dark, we can find what we need.

The bird's nest I found in the sapling. I have no idea what kind of bird built it, and it looked abandonded. No signs of recent activity and in reality, it looks a bit on the ratty side.

This is Bouncer relaxing in one of the seats Quentin pulled out of the back of the van for more room in it. We put it behind the front door and Bouncer claimed it as HIS spot for naps.

Smudge, on the other hand, at that point, had decided the bookshelf by the window was a perfectly good place to sit and read the kitty newspaper.

This ia a pair of socks I handknit for myself. I like knitting socks, and especially wearing all those nice, warm, woollen things to work. Despite having fuzzy liners in my boots there, it does get rather arctic temperature at times, and without my warm socks, my poor feet would freeze. This is my favorite pair I've made.

This is another pair I recently finished. As I knit to my feet (which are a tiny 5 1/2 woman's foot, so finding storebought socks that fit well is a bit of a problem. I always seem to either have to wear girl's socks, which are usually too small, or women's socks which usually don't come in anything less than a six. With them, I end up with the heel halfway up the back of my leg or the toe tucked uncomfortably under my toes! I long ago learned to knit, and several years ago realized I could make socks for myself that would fit my feet perfectly for length on the foot, fit on the foot and leg, and go far enough up my leg that I didn't feel like they were falling down all the time. I've been making my own socks ever since. In both, you can see the little electric radiator heater we had to get till we get the woodstove in, because there've been some mighty chilly nights here lately, totally uncharacteristic of the Ozarks in late September, and we got tired of freezing our butts off. We only run it a couple hours here and there to take the chill off but it's nice to have it around, despite what it's likely doing to the electric bill.

This is our bed, all made up. I made all the afghans. Yes, I crochet, too. I can do most any kind of needlework, have been doing it since I was a little girl. At our apartment, the afghans were more pretty than functional, hardly getting used, and usually folded up and stuck in a corner somewhere. Here, they get a LOT of use. They keep us warm at night so we sleep comfortably, and the really huge one that is darn near bedspread size for a queen bed I'll likely lay on the living room floor later today for a rug to help keep our feet warm. (Rats, hubster denied that. Though that it upset me enough that I was trying to make things nicer for us and keep our feet a bit warmer almost had him giving in ... he just kept telling me that he didn't want my beautiful afghan going on the nasty floor, and besides, had I thought about how heavy it would be when it had to be washed afterwards???? He won, barely. He admitted after that if I'd held out for another fifteen seconds, I would have gotten to put it down. I gave in too soon, dagnabbit!)

For those wondering how we keep sawdust handy for the toilet, this is how. Quentin took one of our old scoopable kitty litter (our boys are spoiled or we are totally pwned, we're not sure which), cut off the top where the pour spout was, and we fill it from the sawdust bale in the storage room every few days. It sits under the bathroom sink where it's handy but where the boys can't get at it. Q is in charge of changing out the toilet waste bags, I'm in charge of making sure we have sawdust to use in the toity.

We got a little burning done today, too. The one nasty old recliner sitting in the trash pile closest to the road really offended Quentin for some reason, so he put the hitch on the van, tied the rope to the chair and the hitch, and pulled that son of a gun out of the pile. Then he used his muscles and the rope (I wasn't allowed to help, I would have apparently just gotten in the way of He-Man here) to haul the thing to a shallow depression we found near one side of the easement. It's a bit away from the treeline and the power lines, but it does the job of containing trash that needs burning.

We got a bit of other stuff and this week's trash, and set it off. It made a nice, warm bonfire once it was totally ablaze. WHOOSH!!! Yes, I know, burning the foam filling in the chair isn't exactly environmentally healthy, but it's either put that nasty stuff in the van and haul it to the landfill 30 miles or so away and pay a dump fee we don't have all the time, or get trash cans and haul stuff alllll the way down the mountain to the main road and pay $70 or $80 a month for somebody to come get the trash, or burn it. We choose to burn as much as we can, rather than pay to get rid of it. Sure cuts down on the trash around here in short order. The fire looked so pretty, and was what Quentin called an "inferno," because it did get kind of high when the chair really started in going.

We should have done the fire ring first, but hubby got on a roll with the chair and a couple other things and the week's trash, so once it died down some, the fire ring became a me project, while he did another small project he wanted to get done during daylight. I think it's a pretty good fire ring. It's big because there's still two or three chairs and a couple of sofas or love seats at least to toss in the thing and burn. While the fire was going, we kept a close eye on it so it didn't get out of control. Thankfully, it didn't but it sure made a nice chunk of heat for a bit! By the time I got the fire ring done, the chair was pretty much down to nothing but the metal frame and a bit of wood from near the footrest. So much for THAT bit of eyesore.

And here's our wonkily-done screen door. It's funky, but it works. We've got spring-loaded hinges on it, but also a hook and eye on the inside and outside because of the boys. That way, whether we're inside or out, if we have the entry door open, they can't push the screen open and get out and get hurt.

This one is Quentin when he was getting the satellite cable unhooked from the dish and sliding PVC pipe the length of it after running it behind the deck and stairs which the cable guy didn't do, and rehooking the cable to the dish. The TV works fine, but with all the trash around here and rodents, we want to make sure that they have as little chance as possible to be chewing the cable to bits and taking away entertainment. Especially after I saw a ROACH in the house the other night while I was making dinner. We got roach bait this weekend and they are down in the important places. I refuse to deal with those particular little pests any way but killing them, which the one I saw I did manage to squish.

And now it's 200 PM, and I need to get some water heating up so I can do dishes. More pictures to follow, I think, as a later today project is going to involve Quentin installing the clothes rod and shelf in the master bedroom closet tonight after he's done fixing the one back door on the van. He calls it his truck, and I guess it essentially is an enclosed truck, since it's on a Ford F150 chassis, but it does sometimes seem a bit silly. It's got ambulance doors on the back, and the one doesn't want to open properly, so he had to fix it so it would open right again. He just walked in the door and announced he had the "truck" done, and is off to do the ... TA DA! ... CLOSET! The paneling is popping off the walls in a few places, so in the closet, he put some 1x2 pieces up against the bottom of the shelf support already there, and used those to not only push the paneling back on the studs, but to give the rod/shelf brackets a bit more support. I took the photo after barely starting to get things put away. He did a nice job, though he thinks it's not that great. I figure we have a way to hang up all our stuff now instead of dressing out of boxes, so it's all good.

Till next time!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Isaac strikes the farm

The last couple of days have been eventful, thanks to Hurricane Isaac's remnants. Thursday wasn't so bad, other than the fact that we moved the last of our stuff from the apartment Wednesday, offloaded a lot of it right before I went to work Thursday, and so I worked on little sleep. I don't think Quentin really got any, either. Friday was when the remnants went through here, and it rained and rained and rained and ... you get the drift. Mostly just a steady sprinkling, but the mountain road hadn't been graded in a while despite me calling the local County Judge right after the electric company had been out brush-hogging. That was a couple of months ago, right? (Should note that the County Judge is also the head of the road maintenance crews. Yay. NOT.) Considering the road's not been graded in close to six months, all the rain from Isaac turned the two steep rises coming up to our place into a bit of a mess.

That's kind of an understatement. The bottom rise wasn't so bad, but the top one had been torn up by someone plowing through at high speed with a heavy truck. I'm cruising along up the road in my little five-speed standard compact, which NEVER has trouble with this road, EVER, and hit that. I nearly made it up through it, getting about ten feet from the top of the soupy mess, when my tires lost traction. Doggone it, I had to back up downhill around curves to get the car back onto solid ground. I should have stopped there, continued snaking my way downhill to the drive for Red Fern Glass, and turned around there and gone back down to the cow pastures at the bottom of the road. But nooooo. I had to be a brave little homesteader, and got stupid. I tried again to get up the hill, figuring I almost made it once, surely I could get through it this time!

Nope. I got just a bit past where I lost traction before, and got stuck again. This time it was worse, in a way. I put my little car into reverse, and just as soon as I touched the gas lightly to start backing down again, the car lost all traction and literally slid downhill. Fast. I tried to steer out of the skid, but the car was going too fast. One of the ridges left from the last time the crews graded caught the car, and I was slipping fast enough that the whole car ended up hung up on one, high-centered really badly. I had only the left front tire still on the road. The right front was just barely touching the ridge, and the rear tires were totally in the air. Q was later able to touch the car and rock it on the ridge. I was lucky I hadn't gone a bit straighter down the hill, because just behind the ridge and up a slight rise is a big tree I would have slammed backwards into.

I say it was all worse in a way, because nobody likes to have something like that happen, and my inner voice from childhood started telling me what a total screwup I was to have something like that happen, leaving me dependent on others to help. I hate that, I'm a bit OCD about doing it myself so it's done the way I envision it. I tried to call Q, but he didn't answer. Plus since I was the one who got hung up, and was first in line, my car served as a huge warning to everybody as to just HOW bad that mess really was. I tried again, and again, and finally texted him to answer his darn phone. He finally answered, and was thankfully not too far away, but I told him what had happened. We almost ended up getting the van up through the soupy spot, but Q almost got stuck, too. He started backing down to Cliff's place at Red Fern Glass, and then a neighbor was coming up the road in her small sedan. Bobbi and her husband Eric are good folks and we knew Eric from before we moved here.

Eric hadn't gotten off work yet, and Bobbi was dismayed to say the least when she found out how bad the rise was. On a three-mile-long or so county road, when you live a mile (more in Eric and Bobbi's case) up the steep hills, that kind of a walk is not fun. Thankfully, there's only those two spots that are bad at all, but the second one was bad enough. They both had small sedans, a bit bigger than my car but not by much. Eric also has a big old 4x4 with mud-bogging tires and a hitch on it. Bobbi walked with us up the hill through the muck, and slogged up to her house. Later she told us that the soupy patch was the only really bad spot on the whole road, and one of the neighbors had ordered a few loads of gravel to be put down there so that the soupy spot isn't soupy anymore even in lots of rain.

We decided to haul up a bunch of stuff from the van to the house that Q had bought to help run electric around the house to be able to have our entertainments. This is great, but two trips down to the van and back up to the house for stuff just about killed me, or so it felt. I'm not in the best of shape physically, but who ever said homesteading was easy? (Eric and Q think they are lucky fellows to have wives that are willing to live in the middle of nowhere like this and not gripe about it. They really are, but we won't tell them that.) Bobbi got to her place, and her mom and aunt were out doing some grocery shopping, before they came home. (Bobbi, Eric, her mom, aunt and gramma all live in a few small houses up at the very top of the road.) So she grabbed a shovel, walked back down and proceeded to shovel the heck out of enough of the rutted up mess to get every vehicle up the road but mine. Even her mom and aunt were able to get up the road safely. Poor Victor was still hung up. By then, we'd managed to get ahold of Eric, and he was willing to help get the car out of trouble, and our tow fee was cheap. Q offered Eric and Bobbi a bottle of beer each. I offered to have them over for dinner one day when we get a bit more settled. They took the beer and said they'd love to come for dinner. Just let them know when.

Eric and Q went down to the car with Eric's 4x4 and a tow chain, and quickly had the car off the ridge and hauled up past the messy spot, so now the car and van are in the drive. The van can make it up and down the road without a problem, but if the road isn't fixed by the time Q leaves for work Tuesday afternoon, I'llhave to park down by Cliff's place so I have less of a walk, and do things that way for a bit to get back and forth to work. At least it's a pretty walk through the woods.

It's now the next day, and once stores open up, Q and I are heading to Harrison to get some sawdust for the toilet, and so because he got stubborn and I decided it wasn't worth a big fight to be right (I learned to pick my battles a long time ago with the kids when they were little, and husbands aren't much different than overgrown kids, right ladies?), I let it go. But now I get my sawdust toity like I wanted. He's still fixated on a camp toilet from Coleman's or a regular toilet that would flush out into the sewage lagoon, but I'm not too fond of the latter. I got a look at the lagoon a few days ago, and it's just a shallow depression in some rocks. It's not a deep hole in the ground, like he thinks it is. I do NOT want that going on for sewage waste. I'd rather compost the heck out of it and put it around the eventual fruit trees!

On the upside of it all, we're completely unpacked, barring finishing up the electronics hookups, and I fixed dinner last night so we had a nice dinner for the start of our first weekend up here. Q is sleeping in a bit yet, I'm relaxed and having fun writing so I can post this later, and even though it's still threatening more rain, I'm feeling pretty calm about the whole thing. We're home, finally, and the homesteading is starting off with a bit of hassle, but it's not like we haven't made it through tough times already. This is just another hurdle to get over.

Until next time, Gentle Readers. I need breakfast!

Finally, we're moved! and a book review

August 30, 2012

It's Thursday afternoon/early evening as I write this, and while we have electricity, due to demands of a few minor repairs that need doing, we won't be calling the TV/interwebz folks till probably next week or the week after. That means this post will be coming to you LIVE!!!! from the library local to my job, posted one day after I get off work at the plant in Huntsville. Yay, us! We are finally moved. I talked Q into stopping with the fiddling around now that we have lights, even though we still need some things up here to be more comfortable, just so we can get UP here. So we are official homesteaders now, though the homestead still needs a ton of work.

But we got 'er done last night (Wednesday) after hubby got home from work. I finished the packing up and got the car loaded to the gills prior to going to bed for a bit of sleep. Woke up when he got to the apartmnet, and while it was two hours before I usually get up, I figured I better get my butt up and moving, because he had the pet carrier from Wally World and was ready to load the boys in it, load the van up, and head out. We actually did head out about 4 AM, which is usually when I'm getting up and ready for work, so I can leave by 5 AM for that horrendously long drive. No more - both our commutes are now about 22 miles one way, and only around half an hour. Well, forty minutes for him, because he goes the slightly longer way through Alpena to get to work, so he can stop at the main gas station there and get himself a giant 44-ounce Mountain Dew to drink on the way to work and while he's waiting till he can clock in and get his gear for the night.

We got home (gosh, it's so nice to say that and mean the property not that apartment!), unloaded the boys and their stuff, and while it was later than usual for their "breakfast" of a can of wet cat food, I'd prepped for this by putting their dish, a can, and a spoon into the one drawer of the nightstand so we could lock them in the bedroom and feed them before unloading stuff. We put their litter box and food in the bedroom for now, with the intention of moving it once we're unpacked, so that they'll feel a little more comfortable near Mom and Dad (us). Bouncer, being the consummate traveler that he is, was totally unfazed by the move, and dove into breakfast. Smudge, on the other hand, apparently yowled all the way here, then promptly tried to find a way under the bed (there isn't one, since it sits on the floor), before giving up and finding his way behind the toilet in the neighboring bathroom, where he sat and screamed for what Quentin says was about three hours before his voice gave out.

He's currently exploring the bedroom but won't go very far beyond the doorway out into the hall. Despite having a happy home for over a year, since he was eight weeks old, Smudge is still very much instinctively feral, and his instincts right now tell him that this is NOT his home, so he's pretty scared. He doesn't much like being held, but when I got home from work a bit ago, and got him out from behind the toilet, he curled up in my arms and snuggled close. He knows Mamma won't hurt him or let him be hurt, and he let me hold him for nearly five minutes, which is a record with a kitty kitty who usually won't let me hold him for more than thirty seconds. But at least me being home for the night has him out from behind the toilet and exploring a bit. Bouncer? He's already explored the whole house, and met me at the door when I got here, promptly attempting his usual Houdini act (one of his nicknames is You Furry Little Houdini, for good reason), and getting nowhere with it. He is having a blast, and if we only had one of the boys and it was Bouncer, and we lived in an RV, traveling everywhere and nowhere, he would be the perfect traveling companion cat. Not to put Smudge down, he's a wonderful fellow in his own way. He just isn't a traveller.

The house looks like a disaster again, but this time it's the mess of a new move, not the mess of someone's trash that was left behind. I look forward to organizing the mess, and with all that could have broken on the trip up the rough mountain road, my little laptop is one of them that I thought sure wouldn't survive the trip. Boy, was I wrong. Guess packing it in the big tote in the middle of all the clothes really helped pad it, because it booted right up with no problems at all. Whew! That's a relief; I'd hate to have to try to get a new computer right now, with so many other things we need to work on that are more important.

And now for the book review I mentioned in the title. I won't often review products, because I don't think that's the point of a homesteader blog, or at least not this one. But thanks to a Facebook friend of mine, who is a person I've long admired as a BNP (Big Name Person) in a shared hobby of model horse collecting and exhibiting, I got my hot little hands on a good book. Marie J.S. Phillips writes some darned good stories, and she was participating in a blog hop. The prize off her site for the blog hop was a copy of her book, "Khan: A Maine Coon." I joined in for the heck of it, figuring my chances of winning a prize of any kind, let alone a book written by someone I semi-know and admire as an artist, were next to nil. You can guess who the lucky slob is that won the book. First two guesses don't count.

Khan was a real cat. He was one of Marie's babies for eleven wonderful years, before cancer took his life. The story is semi-fictional, in that Khan was a shelter rescue, so the first bit of the book, before he is adopted by Marie's husband at pretty much literally the last minute before the shelter folk took the kitten off for The Big Sleep, is, I believe, made up. The rest of the story, written from Khan's point of view, is both biographical in that it covers details of Khan's real life, and fictional, in that the story involves details in felinoid. It's beautifully written, not overly long so it's a quick read, yet long enough to give a reader a few hours of pleasure. Well, except when Khan has to go to the vet for The Big Sleep, because the cancer's just done too much damage, and what should have been a seventeen-pound or more Maine Coon was instead less than half that. I cried over that, and yes, I'm a sentimental slob. Ge the book, you'll love the read.

It is so good to be HOME!