Sunday, December 29, 2013

Year's End

Here it is Sunday night, and I'm content. Warm dinner (made hot sandwiches) and a hot shower make for a comfy evening. Just so y'all know, a solar shower bag even in winter makes for a short, but lovely, cleanup. With no real heat in the bathroom, but having spent time over warmer weather getting the hubster to insulate that stupid UNinsulated water heater closet outdoors that backs onto the bathroom, it's not too bad. Basically, just open up the curtain between the bedroom and bathroom to let heat in there for a few hours so it's not TOO cold, and hang up the full shower bag and have a go at it. Ok, so you do have to heat the water on the stove instead of putting the bag out on the deck in cold weather, so you get a nice, hot shower for about ten minutes, but it's still much better than a sponge bath and feels a lot more pleasurable.

But with an essentially unheated bathroom, how the heck do you manage with a solar shower bag from Coleman to keep even halfway warm while bathing and dressing after? One thing that helps a lot is making sure I have something hot to drink, some snack-type food and my laptop and/or a book handy next to the bed when I get done. Some tips:

1 - Get the water a bit hotter than you really think you'll need. It will cool off quicker than you think. Use the full five gallons if you can heat up that much and easily get it hung up.
2 - Add your cold water to the shower bag first. This allows the bag to not get weak spots or leaks from melting due to hot water hitting any weak spots in the bag. QA is great with these things, but it can happen.
3 - Don't necessarily use the string to hang up the bag, even though it comes with the thing. We use a couple of screws put up near the ceiling in the shower stall, about 2 inches apart. A small step stool in the tub helps us to get to height to lift the bag onto the screws, then the stool goes back into the master bedroom closet. Make sure you have a good bath mat or a really thick towel down on the floor to stand on afterwards. If need be, use two or three towels.
4 - Get undressed AFTER you have the bag hung up, the curtain closed, and the towel over the shower bar or hung in very easy reach. Put your clothes in easy reach of the shower stall. We use a small table right next to the shower stall, because the vanity is just a foot or so too far away for easy reach to clothes afterwards. Get in the shower stall quickly and get that curtain closed!
5 - Wet your hair and washcloth or bath pouf quickly and first of all when you climb in. Turn the water off. If you use shampoo, lather hair first. Then wash your body. Your body loses heat quickly in this kind of situation, so your goal is to get clean while losing as little body heat as possible. Hang up your pouf or cloth as soon as you're done lathering up.
6 - Turn the water back on and rinse off. Use all the water out of the bag if you want to, though it doesn't hurt to leave a bit in there. Try to keep the kinks out of the hose, as it does tend to bend and cut off the water flow if you aren't careful. Not a problem, per se, just an annoyance. Rinse hair first, then your body. This warms your head (worst heat loss area) quickly, then your body, which loses heat fast when you are wet. Don't worry about closing the valve once you run out of water, you can do it after you are dried off and dressed.
7 - As soon as you are done, do NOT open that curtain! Grab your towel (we put ours over the curtain rod so it's really handy). Towel most of the water out of your hair first, then dry your body. Don't be afraid to rub hard when you do this. You are going to chill quickly, even in the close space of the shower stall, from the water on your skin. The rubbing helps stimulate blood flow to your skin and warms you up a little bit.
8 - Hang your towel back up and reach around your shower curtain or crack your shower door (do NOT open it all the way!) to get your shirt. Be sure you put a shirt on FIRST of all your clothes (if you're a woman, this is one time to skip the bra). This will help cover your body core and start trapping heat next to your skin again quickly so you will stay warmer. Then go for underthings, then open the curtain and step out onto your bath mat or towel(s). Get your pants on, then socks and shoes/slippers. Extra shirts if you need them. In this short time, your arms are not going to get that chilled, because your body heat is starting to generate good again and your clothing will keep it next to your skin. Once dressed, towel your hair AGAIN, getting as much of the water out of it as possible. You don't need to use a blow dryer, but you do need to get the water out so your head can stay warm. In the winter, I often put a hat on to trap head heat and dry my hair faster.
9 - GET INTO BED. This is where having stuff handy on the nightstand before I get the shower bag full and hung up comes in awful handy. Kick off the slippers or shoes and climb under the blankets to make sure to get toasty warm. Since for me, my feet and legs get cold easily, getting under all the blankets helps keep them warm while my body completely recuperates from the shower. It may have been a nice, hot shower, but in winter, cold air makes even hot shower water cold pretty quickly. I just sit here in the bed and stay cozy and have a snack and something to drink and write or read on the laptop or whatever tickles my fancy.

As it is, the boys and Quentin are all curled up asleep in or on the bed. Smudge is SNORING. I know Quentin's tired because he never goes to sleep this early (840 PM) even on a weekend. Work has been running long days lately to make up for the snow time we had, and with two holidays in a row coming up, and thus more time off, him being on second shift means a few really long days ahead. As it is, with New Year's next week, I'll see the Times Square ball drop by myself - he'll be working. He was worried about me getting home that night safely. I told him to worry about himself. I'd be getting home when all the revelers would be going out to GET drunk. He'll be coming home when they're done partying and are driving home WHILE drunk.


Well, getting home Monday night was a lot of fun. It got super cold, in the teens, by shortly after sunset, and so while the house is comfy, it's darn cold out there. I felt so glad to get done with work, knowing it was snowing. Ozarks snowfalls usually aren't that bad, other than the fact that everybody laughs because we end up closing pretty much everything down whenever it snows. I know, I know. It's just snow. Why shut down? Well, Ozarks snow is different from northern states snow. Back home, up north, y'all get all these lovely fluffy, fat, wet flakes that pack. Here, we get snow all right. In pellets. Little, tiny ball bearing type snowflakes. So you drive on them and go sliding everywhere. I know how to drive in snow. I grew up in it, I drove in it for ages, and it doesn't bother me. What bothers me is going slipping and sliding around on it when there's no excuse other than the blasted stuff won't pack and gives no traction. Drove home tonight doing 35 and felt blessed to do that, though there were a lot of spots I slowed down even from that.

The mountain road just about did me in, though. I got up to the halfway point at Cliff's and decided to give it a whirl. I was doing a good clip anyhow, and figured I could get up the other big incline that causes to much hassle without much of a problem.The snow had stopped mostly, the trees were blocking what little was still comin down, and all the ice and snow had melted from the previous mess. Eeeek. Major scare, as I got halfway up that incline and then ended up starting to lose traction. It took some real fast footwork to goose the gas and get the steering wheel turned enough to get the tires to grab traction as best they could. I was shaking pretty bad when I finally got past it and into the driveway.

But Quentin knows that despite the freaking wind chills, he will likely be parking at Cliff's and walking that last little bit home to be safe. If I barely got up the road before it got horrible, it's not too likely he'll manage to get up the road all the way. He'll get to Cliff's if he's lucky, and that only because he's put about 400 pounds of wood from the woodpile in the back of the van, right across the axle, since the van is rear-wheel drive. He's got to be able to be safe or else he's not going to make it home after work.

One thing is for sure. The house is warmer than last year by a long stretch. I may be a bit chilled right now because this place isn't the best insulated place in the world, but the thermometer we installed in the living room says it's 60 in here. That's a whole ten degrees more than it was this time last year, and so it's much more comfy. You wouldn't believe what a difference a mere ten degrees makes. Though I think the dishes may have to wait another night to get done because I'm just that chilled from the shock of the drive home and all. I'm about to take laptop and munchies down to the bedroom and huddle under blankets to make myself feel better. Especially since it's only supposed to hit about 37F tomorrow for a high, but Chirstmas will be 46F, and from there, it's up to 50F and up the rest of the week. Woohoo - grab the shorts and t-shirts and swimsuits! (Just kidding, but it will be nice!)

Though it will make for a heck of a boring evening. I've gotten rather used to being in the living room and having the boob tube on for some background racket while I work on something. But it's just too blasted chilly right now and I want to be warm. Also, I'm sleepy and want an early bedtime, because things kept breaking at work and it was a nightmare and I'm glad it's over but I have to go back again tomorrow and do it all over again. Ugh. I just hope things don't go breaky breaky all day long again.


Christmas Eve - at least things went well today and the day went by pretty quickly. The road was a bit slippy in a couple spots this morning going down, but with the daytime temps up near 40F, it got warm enough that all the messiest stuff was gone again by the time I got home tonight. So I was able to park in the drive again, yay! Dinner is planned for tomorrow - pork chops, mashed taters, green beans and gravy. It's chilly tonight again though, so I'm enshrined once more under blankets in the bedroom. The living room thermometer says it's still about 60F in there, but the wind chills are bad enough that the living room is pretty cool underfoot. That makes it hard on me, because if my feet get cold, I'm cold all over.

So, I grabbed the afghan I'm putting together, a pair of socks I'm working on in the Blacklight yarn, my dinner, and the latest seed catalogs that came today (Jung's, Gurney's, and Henry Fields) and took them all with me down to the bedroom in small armfuls while my dinner heated up. (Leftover meatloaf and mashed taters, and an apple and cheddar cheese. Also a small thing of chocolate ice cream I grabbed at the store tonight - weird, I know. It's frigid out and I want ice cream. Go figure. *laughing*) With dinner done, it's time to veg out with seed catalogs or yarn stuff or a good book (currently reading Jingo by Terry Pratchett, from the Discworld series). And I need to call Mom yet this week and catch up with her.

Apparently also, there are Christmas goodies in the van, which Quentin will bring in the house when he gets home from work in the morning. It's Christmas Eve and second shift has to work a full shift, plus a bit due to having tomorrow off, so it's likely he won't get home till near dawn again. Going to be the same thing next Tuesday with the New Year and all. But I'm not griping about it, it's just one of those annoyances you have to deal with when you work for someone else.

Did find something interesting laying around at the laundromat Saturday that I forgot to mention - a slightly out-of-date catalog from FarmTek. So I need to remember to go to their website and order a current catalog. They've got some things that I want for the homestead as far as gardening items, but I need a catalog that's not two years out-of-date. So anyhow, I'm back to my book and my dessert and snackies later on and calling Mom, and all the other things I have to do to keep busy in the slightly warmer than the living room bedroom end of the house. (Only slightly warmer because it's a bit better insulated, so cozier for the really chilly evenings!)

Besides, I have reading to do other than for pure pleasure. Pratchett is incredibly funny, especially if you enjoy British humor, or at least a rather dry humor that requires what is, in comedy, "the straight man." If you grew up watching (as I did) Carol Burnett, Laurel and Hardy, or Abbott and Costello (though I missed Burns and Allen and Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, even in reruns) ... well, Pratchett is humor for you in written form. Then there's always the reading to learn. I'm dabbling between my ebook copies of Carla Emery's "Encyclopedia of Country Living," which is always a treat, and John Seymour's "The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency."

I really need to get these as hard copies, and with Quentin working full-time and the hump of getting him back to work over with (along with that awful pricey fuel pump repair), I can start to do things like get me some clothes I need, get things for the homestead and garden and such, and get a lot of books and things that I want or need for reference and the like. So yeah, it's busy time, even if it is winter. (And the next time someone tells me that since I homestead, I simply MUST be able to volunteer for such-and-such because everybody KNOWS that homesteaders have all this free time on their hands ... I swear I'm gonna have to really fight not to deck someone on the schnoz that really deserves it for sheer stupidity.)


So here it is, Christmas Day afternoon. I feel a little badly because with everything cutting into my paycheck, I didn't have a chance to get anything for Quentin for today. He went to the Dollar Store and got me something, though, so now I feel really bad, lol. He says not to, I gave him a great Christmas present just by helping him to stay on an even keel all this time till he got back to work. So what did he get me? A lovely knife block set. It comes with a bunch of different knives that are useful in the kitchen, including a boning knife, so now if I get a joint of meat, I can cut it up better. All I need now is my own darn steel so I can sharpen them properly. If Wal-Mart opens back up later tonight like it's supposed to, then we'll go down and do the holiday gifting we meant to do. He doesn't know it yet, but he's getting a can of his favorite ground coffee and a personal coffeemaker, one of those that makes one cup at a time. He likes coffee, I don't, but he'll get something he likes that's not tools or a "normal" guy gift.

I might get me some more yarn, too, while we're there. With good checks coming in for both of us now, it makes it a lot easier to do the things that are needed to do. So what else am I doing with my holiday? Well, I called Mom for a while last night and caught up with her, and thankfully, despite all the storms, she still has power. It's like my hometown is an oasis of light in the middle of nowhere, because her brother and sister, on opposite sides of her in other towns are without, and my Aunt is not likely to have lights back before Saturday. Aunt Sandy's oldest boy got her a generator so she can have some heat and lights, but it's not good for them. Most of my family has no clue how to deal with the grid down. At least with being a homesteader, I have options. Limited right now, but there's options.

I'm doing a lot of needlework and reading, and laundry finally got put away and I've got dishes soaking. They've needed doing, but with the temps the way they've been, it means holding off on them until I can do them in daylight so I don't freeze while I'm doing them. That unheated kitchen is just a bit too unheated at night for that, ya know? And while batches are soaking, so the clean up faster and easier, I'm working on my spreadsheet for my seed orders. Now that there's two incomes, I can at least get seed and tuck it away. Maybe get some five-gallon buckets this year, drill drainage holes in them, and put some topsoil or something in them to grow some of the permament stuff like berries and fruit trees. (I dunno, would it hurt fruit trees to be planted in buckets and then down the road a few years, be transplanted into ground? Anybody???)

The only downside to doing my spreadsheet is I'm only a few pages into wandering through the Pinetree catalog for entering "wants" into the thing, and I've got a heck of a list already. Maybe I should stay away from half of this stuff, but gosh, just a few seeds of each thing would make for a heck of a nice garden .... not to mention if I actually had the time to plant and care for all of the stuff I want. SOMEday ... it will happen. And each day brings that closer. (And the seed listing is not even counting the plants and trees and the books I want! Though the books can be bought used off Amazon, which helps somebody else that wants to work from home to make a little bit of money.)

The bad part is, I'm only logging in things that we would eat ourselves or that would be for sale at the farmer's market, never mind things like grains for livestock we don't have yet. Excess can always go to the farmer's market and get sold there, or put up extra for us, or get composted. But ya gotta get it going first, and there's the rub right there, because there's just not enough clear space here to do any growing, unless a lot of stuff gets cleared out and it all goes into containers to start anyhow. (With all the crap around here that's been just dumped on the ground over twenty years prior to us, I'm not sure what all's even IN the ground, so I'm not too keen on growing directly in the ground here anyhow.) The really bad part is that I'm only on page 22 of the Pinetree catalog and already have around 150 varieties of various things I'd like to grow. I haven't finished the veggies, greens, or herbs yet. Methinks this is getting just a wee bit ambitious and will have to be seriously trimmed back or a lot of seed is going to get held onto until I have a place to plant it all.

What a lovely Thursday this was. Work went fast, dinner was good (homemae pizza, and I ate too much), and I'm just relaxing and not really doing a whole lot of anything, though there's a bit of spinning going on and when my fingers tire of drop spindling, there's always knitting or sewing up that afghan. So there's things to be done - yeah, right, I have loads of time to do nothing, so I can volunteer any time someone says jump. I hate to disillusion folks, but even with this place in the shape it's in, there's a ton to get done. Trash to pick up and burn or bury, the Merlot to scrap out, the house to keep up, trees to clear out and turn into firewood or burn, and that's just what I can come up with off the top of my head.

Thank goodness it's Friday. Today was just a rough day, and I'm glad it's over. The weekend calls and I'm ready for it with my knitting and the afghan and my spinning, and my books and my garden catalogs. Oh yeah, I got a couple more today - Stark Bros. (which has merged with Miller Nurseries) and R.H. Shumway, which I haven't gotten before but is turning out to be kind of fun in an old-fashioned catalog kind of way. Ah well, dinner's done, and it's time to grab the afghan and get sewing some stuff together, because I really want some more done on it. It may be a bit difficult ... there's a "Castle" marathon going on on TNT tonight, and I like that show.  So, um, sorry folks, but I want some TV time and some afghan time, and the rest of the news is going to get shorted for those.

Oh yeah, and my "want list' is up to 151 items now, and I'm still only at the lettuces in Pinetree. I have a feeling my seed list is going to be huge just for the vegetables. Never mind any flowers I want to get, too. Or supplies. Er. Yeah. Good thing Quentin's got his job back, because my paycheck is paying off old bills, fixing up a few things and buying garden stuff and fiber stuff and stuff to resell. Ulp. Good thing we almost always get 40 hours, because I'm gonna need the dough. Heh heh heh.


Ummm. It's Saturday night and we finally did some Christmas shopping to gift something to each other. I think we did pretty good for ourselves. Mom had sent down a big gift card for us a couple weeks ago, and when things were a bit tight the last couple weeks with short checks from the bad weather, we used that for gas and groceries so our checks could pay the bills and do what gas and groceries they could. Two incomes is nice, but when the checks don't total a whole lot because you only worked five days total between the two of you for two weeks solid, it ends up with those checks not stretching very darned far.

So what did we get? I thought of getting him a personal coffee pot and some coffee, but with his teeth, he can't really drink coffee the way he likes it (lots of sugar). It would just set his teeth off and send him to the doctor for some major painkillers. So instead, I let him pick. I gave him the price limit and let him go to town. It wasn't much, but he picked out an all-steel Stanley hammer that he's been eyeing for a long while. On one income, we couldn't even manage to nickel and dime to save up for it, but it was fairly easy to manage today. He got me a knife block set the other day which I'd been wanting anyhow, but he surprised me today with getting me a pink, fluffy bathrobe so I can be really warm after my showers or at night when I don't really want to be in a lot of layers to stay warm. It's even got a zipper instead of snaps or ties or whatever to keep it closed. Goodie!!! No gaps to let cold air into my warm cocoon. And that's my week, so now it's time for BOOKS!




Sunday, December 22, 2013

Drying Out

Working on this throughout the week again, as it's just easier than trying to remember everything and cram it all into a single bash of writing. With Christmas next week, our house looks pretty bare - Quentin doesn't like decorating, I do, and so the house stays bare. No tree, no decorations, nothing. It really bothers me, because this is my favorite holiday of the year. My family always laughingly tells me that I'm banned from putting up lights and anything in the yard, because as much as I throw up ornaments and garlands and things, if I added lights, I'd have airplanes trying to land in the yard.

The weather means we're putting the holiday off until probably mid-January so we can do the little we wanted to do for each other, family and a few choice friends. But that's ok, just gives me more time to knit up things. Of course, that means less time next year to knit up things for the holiday, but so it goes. If it's not one thing, it's another. The road right now is completely free of ice, but it all melted so fast that the dirt, which is Arkansas clay, is still slippy and nasty. It's not so bad when it's cool enough that it gets solid, but in the 40s and up, it gets really bad right now.

Quentin is crazy enough that he wants to try to get the van up the road all the way anyhow, and he'll likely get it stuck like he did the other day. And this time, there's not a soul that can be up in the middle of the night to help him get out of the ditch. Eric had to come help Sunday night. I keep telling Quentin not to worry about it until the road dries out, but he keeps on about how he hates the walking. Well, try my end of it, buddy. My car won't even get the halfway up the road to Cliff's place that the van will, so I have had to walk a MILE, mostly uphill, for well over a week. He only has a half-mile with an easier slope. And I'm older and in not as good a health as he is, with my heart having issues, but I do it every day and don't gripe. Sheesh. Wimp.

For some reason, I'm reminded, I meant to write about this a couple of weeks ago. Amber called me out of the blue one Friday night, as apparently she was out with some friends doing all her Christmas shopping. It was a fun call, considering how Amber is not the most talkative person on the phone. She's like me in that respect. I don't like talking on the phone much, either, other than to Mom every week or so, and of course, to her any chance I get. Anyhow, the conversation went like this (remember, she's 20 and excited about the holiday) that Friday night.

A: Mom! What do you want for Christmas?!
Me: I dunno. Whatever you think I'd like. I'm not picky.
A: I don't know what you'd like. Help me out here!
Me: Well, I can email you a list this Sunday, and you can ...
A: NO! I'm doing all my shopping tonight, so I need to know now!
Me: Ummm ... Gramma still has that list I think, that I gave her a few years ago of things anybody can get me for birthdays and Christams, and be safe.
A: NO! Gramma might not answer the phone and even if she does, I don't think she has the list anymore. I need help, Mom! (Turns out later that she didn't have the list any more ... oops.)
(Background chatter from Amber's friends.)
A: How about some alcohol, Mom!
Me: I don't drink, honey.
A: How about a nice bottle of wine, then? How about a nice bottle of chardonnay?
Me: I still don't drink, and you can't ship alcohol through the mail.
A: Drat. (more muttering with friends) How about a nice memory foam pillow, Mom? Would you like a nice memory foam pillow?
Me: I don't need a pillow, sweetie, but it's a nice thought.
A: What do you want then?
Me: By now, you know books and yarn and candles are always a good choice.
A: Okay. Hey, Brandon! Is that a JoAnn's over there in that little strip mall across the street? It is? Great, we're heading there now then. Drive, man! Ok, Mom, you're getting yarn for Christmas. Bye! *click*

You have to admire her tenacity in trying to figure out what to get me when she's bamboozled, despite knowing for years what I like as gifts. She's just got so much on her mind right now. At that point, her college vocal ensemble was preparing hard for their holiday Madrigal at the Masonic Temple in downtown Flint (which that building is three stories of magnificence, complete with a single-level dinner theater on one level). Semester ended the 12th, but she still has/had to prepare for all her juries, which means she has to prepare to sing for judges to determine what her next semester's vocal classes are. She's going for a Bachelor's in Vocal Performance, and she's quite good.

That's not just Mom-talk. She's always been a good vocalist, and she's pretty, and has the talent and drive to make it. It's just a matter of getting her through college so she has the serious work to put her voice to it's best use, and she's loving the time and effort. Her life is music, music, music. Very little else. But she's happy with her choice and that's what counts, I think, more than anything, for her. She may end up spending most of her life saying, "And would you like fries with that?" to make a regular paycheck, but her music is her life. She's good at drawing manga, too ... if she lost her singing voice, she could still make a darned good living drawing manga. That young lady got the best of everything that her genetics could give her, she is just that blessed - looks and talent and brains. In her, I hit the trifecta of motherhood ... a child who was and is everything that I could have ever hoped for. Okay, enough about my darling daughter, who makes my world so special.

By Wednesday, the road had finally not only melted off but had dried up enough that I could get the car all the way home and in the drive! YAY! No more walking - at least for now. There's still a couple minor slippy spots, but nothing really bad as long as you're going fast enough to ramrod past them. Even in my little subcompact, I can do a redneck yeehaw up the road and get here most of the time, so getting up the road tonight was really nice, and when Quentin called at his break to find out whether I had to walk or not, he was surprised ("Come on, tell me you're joking and really didn't get all the way up the road!") as well as thrilled because it means his walking is over, too. Whew. I don't mind the exercise, but it was getting a bit ridiculous.

Update on that stupid hospital bill garnishment, which is getting fun, lol. The six months on the existing garnishment ended, and of course, the hospital's attorneys went back ASAP for more money with another garnishment. But they made some serious mistakes this time, which meant I got to write a nice little three-page letter to the court about it. Mistakes like changing the amount of what's supposedly owed to a different amount (slightly less, but still - a different amoutn), and oh yeah, the amount they stated as what has been paid so far was off by a good chunk. Like a $599 chunk short.

So off went the letter, along with copies of my spreadsheet showing all the payments, my latest pay stub showing the whole amount garnished so far, the court order showing the "extraordinary medical expenses" section, and a whole host of other documentation (three page letter to the court along with a dozen other pages of documentation - think it's enough?) ... along with a demand from me for this all to be fixed to my satisfaction. Oh yeah, they've woken the sleeping dog, and I'm a MEAN one when that kind of thing happens. Heh heh heh. They sure as heck are not going to like me when I'm done.

And the afghan is coming along nicely. Nearly four rows completely sewed together, and that's a good amount. I've also been working out the way I want to do the edging, so it will look nice when it's done. I can hardly wait to get it done and be able to show you pictures of it. I'm having such a good time this winter, compared to last winter, despite the issues of the ice and snow and the walking up and down the hill and all the rest of it. Yuletide is nearly here, and that means that the days will grow slowly longer and warmer, and I'm feeling really blessed by it all.

Friday and it's nice to have the work week over. Hard to believe that Christmas is just days away and the new year literally right around the corner. I'm wondering where in heck 2013 has gone. So weird to think that counting this post, I have a whole two blog entries left in this year before I start writing in 2014. I sit here and I'm both happy it's over for all the bad things that happened, but sad, too, because it's another year over and the end of the year always brings a few tears for me. But there's hope, too, because a new year always means  a new chance to get things done that need to be done.

We found out today that the broken x-ray machine (mine) is not likely to get fixed any time soon. It's in need of a new camera inside, which is at least $50,000, plus another $50,000 or more for the service call to get it in and the machine working right again. And since the company just had to shell out about $100,000 to fix the OTHER one that broke a few months ago, they're not too likely to want to shell out that much dough again any time soon. Kind of ouchy financially, but it will have to be fixed one of these days. It just means that we have to look for bones manually in the meantime, which isn't as fast or as accurate, but it gets the job done.

My section, x-ray, did a bit of a Christmas party today (Friday), in that many of us signed up to bring a dish to pass (I made ham roll ups, and I make them with bacon as well as the other stuff for extra yummy), and I have to agree with the one guy in x-ray who said as many desserts as people brought, it was going to be a game of Who Gets Diabetes First? He also said instead of doing Jell-O Shots, we'd be doing Insulin Shots. We all got a good laugh out of the joking. There was a lot of good food and we all ate like little piggies. I went crazy for the green grapes ... yum. And cheese and crackers and chips and dip and the joke guy made a homemade turtle cheesecake that went as fast as my roll ups. There was nothing left when we got done of those two things, and we were all full.

Still getting the car up the road by ramrodding it up the inclines, because while it's all clear and the daytime temps are nice, the ground is pretty frozen, and our part of the Ozarks is supposed to get some heavy rain between tonight (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) night. I got home ok, but it's starting to mist and there's some serious fog, so it's going to be fun for Quentin, because from the number of trucks that were ordered for second shift tonight, it's not likely he's going to get done before 4 AM ... what a lovely time to be driving home up the road. At least it is supposed to be cold enough that any mud will have chilled down so it will be somewhat easier for him to get up the road. He'll just have to worry about the fog.

Now it's time to make some dinner, and that means spaghetti! I want some yummy, saucy, cheesy, hot pasta, and I'm gonna git it! Then I want to work some more on that afghan and maybe do some spinning and also work on some new socks. When I was at Wally World last night (had to get some gel insoles for my shoes - all the standing on concrete that I do hurts after a while, and the ones I had were worn out), I also picked up yarn for the border on the granny afghan as well as spying and buying a couple of skeins of regular acrylic yarn for some really wild and warm socks for work. Wool is great, but sometimes, I like to whip out a quick pair in worsted weight (what most people think of when they think "yarn"). They aren't as waterproofish (wool tends to wick moisture away from you), and often get really warm, but considering I work in a really cold environment, there are times they're fun. If you get a chance to find the colors Dayglo or Blacklight in Red Heart, that's what I got. Talk about some really eye-popping colors for socks. Folks are gonna need some shades to look at them when I'm done, lol.

Friday night about 10:30 PM to early Saturday morning, it rained like crazy. Poured buckets. There are places on the mountain road that are swamped with water from the rain, and the seasonal creek is running awful high. Too much more of this and the local creeks are going to flood, and they're near cresting already. I really feel for the folks in Oklahoma and Kansas, because the Friday night weather showed they were going to get completely shellacked by a foot or more of snow on top of what they've already had dropped on them.

I have to admit, this area has, like every other part of the world, it's own challenges to survive. Summers get hot and dry, spring and fall are usually damp and chilly, and winter is usually cold but not overly miserable. This winter was different from usual so far, making it a generally okay winter but with a bit of craziness to it with the ice and snow we had recently. Makes me remember that one of the reasons I moved south was work, and another was avoiding the long winters with all the snow and ice that Michigan has. I love my home state, don't get me wrong on that, but I do not miss the blasted winter weather one bit. I can live happily without snow at all. Okay, maybe a little dusting on Christmas, but that's about it. I like being able to take a broom out to sweep away the snow rather than having to drag out the snow shovel and the ice melter and such. The long nights are now over, though, with this weekend having the winter solstice, so days will be getting longer and longer by about a minute or so a day. For me, that means the worst of things are over, because it can't stay crappy outside for long when there's more sunshine to make it go away.

Quentin and I did manage to get out most of Saturday and get errands run and such, so that's a good thing. Cupboards are full, trash is out and burnt, laundry's caught up again, and oddly, we still have a good chunk of money left. The good thing about two paychecks is having money left over after the bills are paid, over and above what you need for basic groceries and gas for getting to and from work. At this rate, we might get out of debt by midsummer with any luck. I'm planning on it, anyhow. We shall see.

Of course, having extra money means also being able to do our holiday gifting in a couple of weeks, and a few after that, finally getting internet at home, and then working on getting a website set up for the farm, so things can get going in that direction. I have so many ideas of what to do and how to do it, and all written down, it's just a matter of getting it all done. Once there's internet here, it means a lot more can get done in a week than I can do now with one day available. Ain't that gonna be just grand? I think it will be. But it's time to get busy with the freebie books for the week, since I couldn't do much for a couple of weeks. See y'all later!

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Okay, I'm running out of time today to add more goodies to the list. I can't wait to get internet at home, because then I can share so many more goodies with you!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

After The Blizzard

This is what I wrote over the last several days, as we struggled through the aftermath of our blizzard. I feel so badly for the folks northeast of us in MO that are getting completely hammered by the snow and ice. I went through forty years of that growing up and living in Michigan, and this is the first real Michigan-style bit of winter I've had to deal with since the move down here, and it does little but make me remember why I hate winter so much. Enjoy our little bit of fun the last several days, boring as it is! Oh yeah, and I got me a new mouse today ... my old USB mouse was starting to get old and not left-click properly all the time anymore, so I splurged and got me an optical mouse. I am learning to already like this wireless option on it, haha!

December 9 - Monday
Sort of after, anyhow. It's Day 5, I think. I'm losing track of the days. The house remains comfy, thank goodness for a few inches yet of snow on the roof, though it's starting to thaw, to help hold heat in, along with all the winterizing that was done. Makes it rather cozy. Now if Quentin had just worked all year, so we'd have a propane heater or the woodstove in, we wouldn't have a $165 electric bill due to having to run electric heaters, and things would be a lot peachier.

The county was extremely nice to everybody in this horrible weather. While the mountain road is still not driveable unless you have 4WD or AWD, it's a lot more walkable up and down, without having to slog through and over snow and a lot of ice. They came through over the last couple of days and have pretty well plowed all the roads, even the dirt county roads like ours, which they normally don't do. This makes it much easier to get in and out, though the walking uphill is still not fun. Takes about 45 minutes to walk down from here alone, due to trying to avoid walking on what slippy spots there are, and uphill is about double that, for the same reason. There's a lot of bare spots, but not enough is bare to drive up and down safely for several days yet in the van, and it will be a few days after that before it's clear and dry enough to get the car up and down safely. Too many inclines and curves to risk hitting a tree or getting stuck in the snowbanks!

On the bright side, once the main roads are a bit more cleared, I can get to work, likely Wednesday. This is fine - I have plenty of points to burn for this kind of emergency, which I don't like to use, but as my friend Christine, who I work with, said when we talked last night for a few minutes, it won't take long to work them off (28 days and you work one off, so the ones I do have will be gone sometime in early February), because I'm there pretty much all the time. We did get the car unburied and turned around after quite a while of towing with the van and digging it out, but far too late for me to even try to get to work today. Ugh. Hate that. We went back to full production, but the main roads in spots are still not that great, and with me driving a compact car, I'm a bit leery of risking it.

We're lucky the van still runs, though, after the silliness Quentin did yesterday afternoon while we were at the laundromat. He wanted to add more wiper fluid to the van's reservoir and wasn't paying attention, and ended up putting a whole jug into the RADIATOR reservoir. I'm glad we were only a couple of miles from an O'Reilly's at that point, so we could grab a cheap siphon pump and a gallon of antifreeze, and he could stand there in their parking lot to drain out the wiper fluid and top off with real antifreeze.

I got paperwork today on the darned garnishment again. The last six months on it got done a few weeks ago, and here they are, going after more. They really want that money that I don't owe them. And they are not doing their numbers correctly. The amount they say has been paid as of the date on this one is $599.00 short of what HAS been paid, so I'm demanding some things from the court in response. One is that the amount paid be corrected. Another is that the 17% I'm supposed to have paid by pre-existing court order be honored, which means they owe me about $2000.

I'm putting the court, the stupid hospital and their attorneys on notice in this letter that if the excess over the 17%, plus whatever they collect in the meantime till this is fixed, is not sent back to me forthwith, they bleeding well better be prepared on the part of the hospital and their attorneys for a nasty lawsuit from me for ALL the monies to be returned, plus court costs, attorneys fees and damages. Yeah, I'm that mean. I don't mind paying my fair share (about $1200 all told on the 17%), but I'm not paying the biological father's share as well, when the court order specifies otherwise.

The hospital and their attorneys have several copies of the court order from years ago when this all first started (like FIFTEEN YEARS), they just choose to ignore it. I'm not taking this lying down. It's high time they got smacked in the face with their garbage, and I'm just the one to do it. We shall see what happens with this, as I'm sending not only my letter, but copies of my spreadsheet showing all the payments, my last paycheck stub with a garnishment on it, the court order, and anything else to support my case in a big packet to the court. Heh heh heh. They ain't gonna like me much, ya think?

Ah, must be mutual washup time. The boys are curled up at the foot of the bed, taking turns washing each other. Smudge loves it when Bouncer grooms him. He just lays there with his eyes shut and a happy look on his face and lets Bouncer wash. Then they swap, and Bouncer's the happy kitty while Smudge washes him. One way for them to get their faces and ears clean, I guess. Oh yeah - the camera batteries are in the charger, which I finally found knocked on the floor, so I can take some photos tomorrow on my last day I'm making myself take off so some of this can clear up a bit more and I'll feel safer driving to work. Forty years of this crap in Michigan, and I know what I am safe driving on, unlike some of the yahoos I work with!

So for me, it's curl up with that box of granny squares and sew a few more together. I want an afghan for the couch darn it, and somehow they all end up on the bed!

December 10 - Tuesday

Gosh, the house is so nice today. Still can't get the car out quite yet, over the ice piles at the bottom of the road, which means another point, but I'd rather take the points and lose the pay than risk my life or the car, as I'm sure most of y'all would do for yourselves. On the other hand .... having one more day off has meant:

The end of the driveway got shoveled out.
Snow is being melted (finally) to fill water jugs - something Quentin has said for three days that he'd do and hasn't, nor has he let me get busy on it. (Why is it that I get so much more done when he's not around? Is this a universal thing with husbands, or what?). So far, I'm filling jug three of ten empties, because it takes a while to melt an eight-quart stockpot full of snow so I can pour it into the empty jugs. But if I pack it in good, a potfull will melt to a half gallon of water.
The granny afghan has almost two full rows done at eight squares a row.
Photos got taken, including of the latest pair of socks!
A couple of books have gotten read, which is good when you have about a zillion of them in your "to read" pile.

So while we've had some really crappy weather that's made for some days of no work or having to call in and take points, there are things getting done anyhow. I like getting things done!

Wednesday, December 11
I did manage to get to work today, though it took a bit of help from Eric (who was getting to his car about the same time as I was to mine) to push it off the ice it decided to sit on and just spin the tires. Bummer, that. But a good shove and my little car went vroom-vroom on the road and off I went to a very cold day at work. The blast door still isn't fixed, so debone (my overall department) is freaking cold! NOT a lot of fun, but it was nice to be back and find out how much I was missed. People were gone a lot the last couple of days, and there's still a lot of folks in the more outlying districts who can't get in. It's quite possible we'll have to work Saturday, which is fine with me. More money for me, yay!

I've put aside the afghan for the moment, in favor of something to keep my hands a bit toastier on the way up and down the mountain road for the next week or so. I'm not working with a pattern, because I keep forgetting to get one when I'm at McQuack's, so I'm just kind of knocking the pair out as I go, trying to make them fit a bit loosely so they go over the lighter gloves I already wear. Warm, warm, warm, that's my motto in this frigid weather, which isn't likely to get better any time soon. Hey, it's that close to winter solstice, and Yuletide is the official start of winter. One of my favorite times of the year.

I know, I know. How the heck can I so enjoy the cold weather like this? Well, there's lots of time to be indoors doing fun things with fiber, or reading, or playing computer games, or loving on the kitties. Plus it's the time of year when I do a lot of baking, and enjoy tons of get-togethers with friends and family. So my family has to be called and thus the get-togethers are on the phone, but still ... it's the tradition, darn it! Not to mention that, given half a chance, I will decorate the heck out of the house. No lights though. I go a little manic on the decorations, and if I added lights, I'd have airplanes trying to land in my driveway, lol.

Right now, it's time to dump the latest potfull of melted snow into a jug to cool off before it's capped and stuck into the metal cabinet we use for holding the full jugs. Plus I want to work on those mittens some more - the first one's nearly done, and it would be nice to whip the pair out tonight before bed if I can.

Thursday, December 12

Not a blasted thing got done tonight after supper. Not that I didn't want to, or felt I needed a night off, but oh my god, the freaking migraine that started setting in. I barely made it through work, it hurt so much, then getting home was a right treat. Made it halfway and had to stop at the gas station in Alpena to rest for a few as I could hardly keep my eyes open, they hurt so bad. Hate times like this, it really is NOT a lot of fun. So sum total of today was work, get home, eat supper, and collapse under a warm blanket on the couch to listen to the TV. And I do mean listen ... I burrowed under that blanket all the way to over my head. The TV just provided background racket on the quiet side to rest to till I was tired enough to go to bed and sleep.

Note - if you have a migraine caused, as this was, by muscles in your neck getting overtight and pulling your vertebrae out of whack, don't use muscle rub to loosen things up. Not sure which hurts worse, the neck, the migraine, or my skin from the icy-hot sensation of that muscle rub!

Friday, December 13
Staying home today because the migraine afteraffects are a bummer. Got up to double vision and lightheadedness, which makes for nothing major if it hits at work, considering my job isn't that complicated, but for driving? No thanks. I'll take yet another point and call it even, especially since we're scheduled to work tomorrow anyhow, to help make up for the snow days. Production is way behind, so there's a few weekends of work ahead to play catchup.

Right now, it's mid-afternoon, and I'm finally up and dressed and have had some lunch that is actually staying down without a fuss. Note to self - migraines don't let food sit well, remember the peppermint tea next time to go with. Quentin's off to work, hope he gets there safely. The mountain road is getting much better, but we still can't drive up it without a lot of hassle and worry about icy spots, because it's so shaded by trees. And today makes it worse, because it's warmish out, around 40F, and it's raining. Guess it helps some with melting off some of the blasted ice off the road so it will go in the ditches and get out of everyone's way on the mountain, but goodness gracious, it's a mess out there. Rather a bit slippy in spots, Quentin texted me when he got to the truck.

Guess it's a good thing I didn't feel up to work, I would have worried the whole time that the roads were going to get too crappy for my little car. I really, really want a 4x4 to drive right now ... my next vehicle is going to be an SUV of some kind. Victor the Aveo will stay with me, as a backup car, and maybe someday get fixed up enough to go into local car shows for the larks of it. Goodness knows they put enough oddball stuff into some of them. (Saw one last summer where someone took a VW Beetle and painted it Razorback red and put feet and a head on it to make it a Razorback!)

And yes, I know, I'm a bit potty at the moment ... been reading a bit too much Terry Pratchett's Discworld, methinks. Though if I had a choice of fantasy worlds to go live in, I think I'd pick Pern. Speaking of reading, I'm also busy working my way through a PDF copy of Carla Emery's "Encyclopedia of Country Living." It's so enjoyable. So much there, and I'm only to Chapter 3, on Grasses, Grains and Canes Contents. I'm so inspired in homesteading by her and so many other people who've been doing it for practically forever, and it fuels my dreams.

Mind, I'm not averse to slimming back the dreams if need be. I'm willing to give up the livestock (except perhaps the chickens and rabbits) if need be. I'm not willing to give up the garden, the fruit orchard, the berry plantings, the flowers and herbs. I love living things, and growing things, and making things. I grew up in a little house sitting on a three-quarter acre lot on a dirt road in very suburbia "country" in Mid-Michigan. Okay, it wasn't a homestead per se, but I was so thrilled to grow up there. It had established Concord grapes (oh the jelly from them!), apples, tart cherries, bartlett pears, and plums. We got so much out of those trees, and the back yard was open enough that I had a rather large garden out there. Lots of fun then, and there's got to be a point one of these days when I can make a lot of that kind of thing happen again. (I miss that yard ... but the house was oldish, and didn't heat well at ALL in the winter, worse than this trailer, and the winters in Michigan are freaking LONG.)

Anyhow, it's time to make some supper, and then melt some more snow before it ends up all getting rained away, because it's not likely we're going to be able to get the van and car all the way up the road for a few days yet. Though I'm glad the temperatures are a bit warmer right now, as it's helping to melt the ice off the road. It's even supposed to get up near 50F this upcoming week, for which I am grateful. While the snow is melting for the water jug refills, I'm going to eat and work some more on that afghan. The freaking migraine kept me out of it for most of the day, so I've only added another three squares. Bummer.


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And now it's time, while I have it this week, for a few Kindle freebies!!! And yep, incentivised again - just wait a few seconds and skip the ad, thanks! For those wondering how much, if anything, I get for the links: about $0.0004 per click. However, that's only if the clicker has Java, Flash and cookies enabled, is not using a proxy server and waits for the five seconds for the ad. Also, they can't do more than five per day ... but still, every bit helps. Not sure how many I'll get done - the internet at McQuack's is being flaky as usual, and when I got here today, I had to go to Wendy's to get lunch and come back, because half of Harrison was without power - including the only one of the two McQuck's that has internet! I need to note - not all of the links are links ... with limited time, I paste the Amazon links first, then edit them to make the hoplinks to be shortened. Today, just not enough time to do it all. SOON!!!! I will have internet and then there will be daily postings!



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