Sunday, April 24, 2016

A little nostalgia

I was thinking some today, remembering back a few years. Back to a time when I first came to Arkansas, when I was dating a really super man who I still care deeply for (we just didn't work out, it happens), and my life was somewhat simpler. I got up, went to work, came home and basically screwed around in my head with the idea of homesteading, while venting my frustration with things in general playing a MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) called City of Heroes. A few years ago, it up and quit without a lot of warning. Right as it had developed and released an upgrade that allowed you take your villain character and run mishies (missions) to turn them into a hero, or vice versa, they called it Going Rogue, and it was fun. I still miss COH to this day. It was a great way to waste an hour or two of general free time and kill off virutal people so I didn't want to kill real ones. It also helped my depression quite a bit, with my various successes in the game.

Right now, I could use that kind of success. There are a number of things going well, but a number also going screwball in the wrong direction, and I wish I could go back to that simpler time and tell myself it will all be okay, to not do certain things and pick something else instead, and to just never give up on myself. I've done that far too much these last few years, and it's long past time to stop.

I've learned the last couple of years to take the small accomplishment and be proud of them. Every little thing I can do is something to be happy about. With all I go through with HIM, I have made the tough decision that I absolutely MUST put myself, my wants and needs first and foremost. And so it is that I put my business ahead of a failing marriage, my homestead and job ahead of feeling miserable (because the business, homestead and job are working to free me from the misery and marriage in tiny steps).

I've been in touch with some old friends, which sadly was brought about by the recent death of another of our mutual friends. She was truly quite a dragon of a lady, and a lady she was. If I was close enough and needed one, she gave great back rubs. She was friendly and fun and funny and warm and a dark-haired vixen of a brick outhouse. She was tough and strong and ran with the boys and shooed the big dogs off the porch more than once. RIP, my friend. You will be missed.

The upside is that the friends have also reminded me that not only can I be tough, too, but I have already been tough. To put up with what I have tolerated for so long from HIM shows some serious chutzpah. This bare bones of a cabin will become a home and safe den for me over time, and a place I can invite others to for visits without feeling like I'm living in a war zone. The stress, the depression, will ease.

The downside to lately is that with no running water (it's too expensive to hook up to the local city water supply and even more expensive to get a well drilled and a pump in) and HIM unwilling to haul in large enough amounts, it looks like my few tomato plants are all I will have in again this year for a garden. I'll tend them with all the loving care I can give them, though, and keep on keeping on. Off for now to work on the store and relax a a bit with who knows what. If I could find a free to play MMO with good graphics like COH had, I'd head off to that for a bit of distraction. Goodness knows, I need it.

Hugs and love till later, all.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy anniversary to me

As today marks three years back at Tysons. It's not a great job, but it pays the bills, and allows me some free time. Sore as heck, though. My current job is not hard, but when your boss "forgets" to rotate people like she is supposed to, you end up really sore.

By this time next year, I hope to make supervisor and go back to first shift, so I can have more daylight hours during the week and weekends to get things done that need doing. Keeping this short as I have to look up a phone number and get a couple other things done, but I mostly just wanted to brag a bit. Go, me.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Back online and Q&A time

Well, I was only without power the one night, after all. The sister shop of my favorite pawn/rent-to-own had a decent generator in stock that they moved from pawned for sale to RTO, so I got that for $60 down and $22 a week. Not bad, though it's a bit tricky to start. I'm not worried as it gets the job done to power the house, so I'm good until the other one is in the shop and fixed.

Work is going well, in that I am just under 2 months away from being able to bid on a better-paying position which will allow me to make a small car payment each week, thus giving me my own transportation. That will solve ONE issue towards independence. Still have to finish closing costs on the property, insulate the cabin, and get a winter source of heat in here. Likely, that will be wood, even though it will be a new experience for me, because wood is plentiful around here, even if I have to buy it in. Propane is EXPENSIVE. I will be getting some cast iron pots and pans as well if I can get a wood stove in, and learning to cook on it.

Now for Q&A time. I get pretty much the same questions all the time, and I guess I should take a bit of time to answer them all in one shot. All start the same. How do I ...

Q - Cook?
A - I have a microwave, a hot plate and a propane camp stove. I use the microwave to heat up leftovers and cups of water for tea. The hot plate is my primary cooking surface. The camp stove is for backup or extra burners, if I'm doing a lot of cooking. One thing with a camp stove is that they are generally for outdoor use only, so if  I am using that, I make sure to have a nearby window vented. When I am done with it, I take it apart and put the cap back on the little propane bottle so that none leaks out.

Q - Get online?
A - I have power with the gennie. With that, I can run anything electrical that doesn't overload it, just like with standard house power. A modem and router don't use that much electric, so they are plugged into regular wall outlets. There are cords going from the gennie that are hardwired into the outlets, and there I am - power for the internet stuff!

Q - Do laundry?
A - Laundromat to wash and dry for now. Once I am a bit further along, I'll be getting an umbrella clothesline and hanging out the wash on nice days. On bad days at that point (cold or wet), I'll have an expanding indoor line to hang the wash across the width of the cabin in the living room area to dry.

Q - Wash dishes?
A - By hand. I use a lot of paper plates, though pots and pans still need cleaning. A couple of plastic dishpans do the trick for washing and rinsing, and I have a regular dish drainer on the counter for drying. Soak the dishes for about 15 minutes and all the crud pretty much just slides off.

Q - Have a toilet?
A - Composting toilet. I've also used a sawdust toilet. With that, you use a bucket, a luggable loo lid, and a lot of sawdust to absorb moisture and odor. TP goes into a small trash can and gets burnt with the regular trash. With a composting toilet, you can put your TP in it but you also use sawdust to absorb. You will need an air freshener doohickey no matter what in warm weather. They do have a bit of fragrance to them that you don't notice after a while, once you get used to it.

Q - Have hot water?
A - Right now, one of two ways. In bad or cold weather, there is the hot plate and a pan of water on it to heat. In good weather, Coleman makes 5-gallon solar shower bags. Fill it up, put it on a towel on the porch, lay it on the towel with the dark side down, and wait a few hours. Works fine for dishes or whatever else.

Q - Wash up daily?
A - Hot water from the pot on the stove or the solar shower bag, depending on what day it is. Work days, it's the pot on the stove. Weekends, more likely it's water from the shower bag.

Q - Take a shower?
A - I addressed this a couple winters ago in detail, but in short, the solar shower bag. Either I will heat it up on the porch with sunlight, or I'll heat up a pot of water on the hot plate and then fill the bag. If it's the pot of water method, you add cold water first, about a gallon, then hot to about half full, then cold to your preferred temp. Take a Navy shower. (Strip, rinse off and wet hair, shut off water, lather hair/body, turn on water, rinse off.) It's not nearly as harsh as it sounds and is pretty good. I have a portable camp cabana thing that's about 4 feet square at the base that acts as bathroom and shower stall right now. When I want to take a shower, I take out the small composting toilet, the sawdust bucket and the small tote that keeps the cats out of the TP and the trash can, then put in a BIG tote to catch the water, and take my shower. When I'm done, I dump the catch tote outside and put the bathroom back together. It's a bit primitive but it works.

Honestly, off-grid homesteading is all in what you make of it. If you think it's all hardships and deprivation, then that is likely what you will find. If you are able to find things to keep busy that don't require power, at any time of your day or night, you will find you are more fit, healthier, more relaxed and happy, and also a LOT more tired at the end of the day.

For now, I need to spend a little time reading and working on my webstore so it can be more income for me as things improve. Hugs and love, all!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Major oopsie

On his part, that is.

My post to Facebook just now:

I may be unavailable for a while, since the generator, my only source of power at home, now needs repair. Mr. "I know how to fix small engines" broke it so it will attempt to fire but not catch now. Not sure if it is the choke or what. Spark plug was okay earlier but who knows. So if you don't seem me on for a while, don't worry. I will check in via phone when I can, but don't expect regular updates.

So if I don't post for a good while, you'll know why. Worst comes to worst, I will have him drag me to McDonald's on Sunday's to get an update done. Etsy shop is on vacation for now until this is fixed.

Readying the garden

It's finally decent weather here. The last of the bitter cold seems to have passed. Plenty of rain heading this way the next few days, so hopefully it will hold off for tomorrow. Lots to do outside. The generator and the mower I was given both need new spark plugs, the mower also needs the blade sharpened and a new air cleaner. The yard, such as the little patch around the cabin as is a yard, needs mowing. The rest is all grass and I am letting it go since there is no way I am attempting to mow five acres or so of thick grass with a push mower, and no one will do it with a rider for a reasonable price. If I can find someone to do a hay lease with, they can have around three to four acres for now to hay out.

The flowers I planted a couple of weeks ago seem to be starting to pop up. Nothing on the lilies, but the rest seem to be showing a bit of germination. I can tell that what is popping up is not grass, but I am not sure what all it is yet. Could easily be clover or something else. We shall see.

I picked up four tomato plants today at Home Depot, as they were having a 4/$10 sale on seedlings that are normally nearly $4 each. I wanted to get a couple of Arkansas Travelers again, but the two that were left looked pretty miserable and limp, despite being well-watered. I got two Rutgers and two Cherokee Purple, which I hope to plant out tomorrow. I also priced out tillers (the cheapest I could find was $139 at Home Depot, but I may be able to make do with a $22 tiller/cultivator from Wal-Mart, where you step on it and twist it out). Like this:

It will take a LOT of time with something like that, but it is better than using the shovel for hours on end for the same job, what with having to dig and break up the soil.

I also picked up a 72-cell mini-greenhouse, which will do triple duty. As it's warm enough, the lid and bottom try will get small drain holes poked in them so I can put dirt in them and use them for drills to start tiny stuff like carrots and onions. The cell packs will be used for tomatoes, peppers and such. Corn, beans, peas, squash, and such will be direct planted. I'll replant every week for succession plantings.

So, other than the flower seeds I already planted a couple weeks ago, what all am I putting in this year, now that I have space?

Flowers in the bend of the driveway, so will be driving around them to get in and out from the front of the house:
Cosmos, Single Sensation Mixed Colors
Helichrysum, Tall Double Mixed Colors
Hummingbird Wildflower Mix
Cosmos, Sea Shells Mixed Colors
Aster, Crego Mixed Colors
Alyssum, Carpet of Snow
Zinnia, Lilliput
Flower Garden Mix
Bachelor Button, Cyanus Double Mixed Colors
Marigold, French Dwarf Double Mixed Colors
Alyssum, Royal Carpet
Forget-Me-Not, Annual Firmament
African Daisy, Mixed Colors
Cottage Garden, Wildflower Mix
Marigold, Crackerjack Mixed Colors
Zinnia, Dwarf Pumila Sprite Mixed Colors
Sunflower, Mammoth Russian

Flowers in front of and around the house:
more Angel Trumpet
Morning Glory, Clarke's Heavenly Blue
Sweet Pea, Royal Mixture
Morning Glory, Choice Mixed Colors

And for the veggie garden, because I gotta eat, and I love me my veggies (plus the additional can be sold, so there's that):
Broccoli, Calabrese
Squash, Buttercup
Squash, Dark Green Zucchini
Garden Bean, Top Crop
Pepper, Grand Bell Mix
Eggplant, Shooting Stars
Tomato, Brandywine Red
Corn, Ornamental Rainbow Mix
Pea, Maestro
Pea, Alaska
Tomato, Mortgage Lifter
Sweet Pepper, Carnival Hybrid Mix
Squash, Straightneck Early Yellow
Tomato, Roma
Tomato, Super Sweet 100 Hybrid
Garden Bean, Bush Blue Lake 274
Garden Bean, Blue Lake 274
Winter Squash, Early Acorn Hybrid
Carrot, Danvers 126
Squash, Mammoth Table Queen/Royal Acorn
Sweet Pepper, California Wonder
Turnip, Seven Top
Ornamental Gourd Mix, Large & Small Fruited Types
Collards, Vales Non-Heading
Tomato, Large Red Cherry
Radish, Gourmet Blend
Lettuce, Black Seeded Simpson
Eggplant, Black Beauty
Radish, Sparkler White Tip
Lettuce, Iceberg
Corn, Peaches & Cream
Carrot, Tendersweet
Lettuce, Grand Rapids Leaf
Onion, White Lisbon Bunching
Cantaloupe, Hale's Best
Squash, Waltham Butternut
Cucumber, Marketmore
Cucumber, Straight Eight
Cucumber, Sumter
Spinach, Giant Noble
Carrot, Chantenay
Pepper, Jalapeno
Spinach Mustard, Tendergreen
Pepper, Hot Mix
Watermelon, Sugar Baby
Swiss Chard, Neon Lights Mix
Turnip, Purple Top White Globe
Okra, Emerald
Broccoli, De Cicco
Sweet Pepper, Mixed Mini
Onion, Sweet Spanish Utah Strain
Kohlrabi, Early White Vienna
Pumpkin, Jack O Lantern

So, think I'll have enough growing over this summer? I have plenty of extra seeds for carrots, onions, lettuce and other greens, so I can do lots of successions with those. That is going to be one big garden, but it will make lots of yummy food for me and for sale. Go, me!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Trying to relax

But it's difficult for a couple of reasons.

The most prominent is the gennie. Only two weeks into off-grid living, and it's popping while running. Runs smooth for a bit, then popopopop, and so forth. Probably just nothing, considering I didn't find anything negative to speak of online. Might just need a new spark plug and the carburetor cleaned. HE says he can do small engine repair, but who knows. HE says it ran rough a few days ago when HE took a day off work because HE "was sick." (Playacting. I've seen better out of the kids when they were little and trying to get out of school.) Guess I just have to live with it till he kills it and then no power for anything until a new gennie can be gotten or a small solar system gotten, which could be MONTHS the way HE spends money.

The other difficulty is my mother. Not that she's awful or anything, but she called me early yesterday. Someone cut her off in traffic and she swerved to miss them and ended up rolling her car. She is lucky she didn't get hurt other than a strained ankle and some bumps and bruises. Due to her age, the hospital kept her overnight for observation. She's home now but no car and nothing seems to be going right for her.

HE was a nightmare today, as usual. The wind was blowing and HE was trying to build some kind of gennie shelter a bit better, and cussing up a storm. HE never asked for help, said HE should n't have to ask, I should just know HE needed it. Right, I'm psychic now, too.

This is what he built:

The cords get our power to the cabin.

Making it taller so HE can walk in upright for filling the gennie.

That's as finished as the frame is going to get.

HE is covering it with tarps for shelter.

Butterscotch sleeping on HIS side of the bed. His head is to the left of his upright leg. HOW do cats manage to sleep like that?

I planted yellow iris here by the left front corner of the porch as you are looking at the front of the cabin.

Next to that, I planted some Angel Trumpet.

Out back, I dumped these out.

Two kinds of sunflowers on the highway side of the house.

Other things plants along the side of the house along with the sunflowers. Rudbeckie, something called Hopi with really tiny, round seeds, and two kinds of Coreopsis (Striped and Cosmic Eye) that had been given me in a seed swap a couple years ago, We shall see if they grow.

This is all the other flowers I have yet to plant. Things like two kinds of Alyssum, Bachelor's Buttons, two kinds of Marigolds, Zinnias, a couple types of Cosmos, and I have no idea what all else. That doesn't even BEGIN on the veggies.

The inside of the half circle drive that is being driven down. I want to put the rest of the flowers here. HE wants to put a patio - in full sun!

The smarter choice for a patio spot is  here, next to the cabin and the trees. Fairly level and lots of shade.

A slug I saw crawling on the side of the gennie shelter.

I filled the pot to heat water for my shower and spilled a little water on the floor. HE griped about "the mess" and said HE wasn't cleaning it up. Not that I had asked him to, but the attitude and tone were not fun.

As for messes, this is my side of the bed. Notice there is no trash on the floor. The white things by the trash can are my extra liners for work.

Then there is HIS side of  the bed. Who knows what is in the piles and the bags. There's a pile of trash there, too, that I had to sweep up because he won't put a trash can over there. HE is all about how HE won't clean my my messes, even though I don't ask HIM to, but I am expected to clean HIS. It's "women's work," apparently. And what did HE do before we got married, I would like to know?