Mon. Oct. 26, 2020 – another week to fritter away

Cooler and overcast.  Maybe some rain.  Plenty of humidity I’m certain.

Did lots of little things around the house yesterday.  Actually cleaned up some things and put some stuff on shelves.  Doesn’t feel like  much and it wasn’t.

I cut the grass in the backyard.  Mower battery died after about 5 minutes.  Put it on the charger while I used the string trimmer, and even though it wasn’t fully charged it was good for the remainder of the yard.    Put it back on the charger when I finished.  Did some string trimming around the blueberry bushes.  I don’t let the lawn guys do that.  They used to just whack off the bushes too.   Cleaned the filter in the pond.  Water was still clear but flow to the aerator/waterfall was slow.   There was about a 1/4 inch of fine black silt on the top of the filter.  Flows good now…

Many ripe lemons, but the oranges and grapefruits are still a bit green.  I don’t want to wait too long, but I want tree ripened fruit!  I cleaned up the failed planting beds, and I’ll try some other seed packets tomorrow.

Plugged in lights for a couple more fake jack o lanterns in the yard.

And that was about that.  My wife spent the afternoon with her Brownie troop.  They did a couple of craft projects including making “sit upons” and decorating them.  Before heading out, my 9yo discovered the vinyl cutter.  Oh MY.  She’s turning out 3 and 4 color stacked stickers.  She’s using my wife’s Cricut cutter so she’s not drawing the shapes but she’s doing all the rest.  She’s doing a great job of making good looking vinyl too.   I might have to get her dialed in on Inkscape and my big cutter….

Today should be more of the same.  More cleanup, more auction, more wasting time on the internet with my friends…

And somehow, I’ll find time for more stacking.

nick

Sat. Oct. 17, 2020 – non-prep hobby meets today…

Cooler and damp.

It was 58F when I went to bed last night, and it was about that cool most of the day.  Overcast and misty rain finally burned off late in the afternoon.

Most of what I picked up yesterday was household related.  Of the prepper stuff, the Dometic porta-jon was brand new in the box.  The RV inverter wasn’t.  It was the old 12v power supply module from whatever RV old boy updated later with the part that came in the box.  It looks intact and included a fused multi-circuit 12v distro panel.    It will make a great 12vdc power supply for my ham radios, whenever I get around to it.  Lemonade from lemons and all that…

I harvested an actual lemon from my lemon tree.  The other citrus is getting yellower every day.  I hope some is not woody and hard, but I’ll take a dozen fruits, even if they’re not great this year, and hope for better next year.  Planting trees is an act of faith that there will be a future.

No other visible sprouts, so I’ll try replanting with different seed packets.  My neighbor at my secondary location is getting a good fall garden, so it isn’t just a bad year in Houston, it’s me.  Try try again.  (And buy more canned food.)

Lots of articles out there about people bum rushing to rural housing, buying lots of guns and ammo, and stocking up.  The flip side is I’m seeing weird stuff in the amazon (and other store) returns auctions.   Most of the online and brick and mortar stores just take their returns and auction them off in bulk to wholesalers.  The wholesalers sometimes auction smaller bulk pallets, and sometimes auction individual lots.  That’s what I mean when I talk about ‘returns’ auctions.   Well, in the last couple of months, I’ve seen some interesting stuff.   Chicken coops (reviews were that they were too small.)  Chicken waterers.  Chicken nesting pads and nesting boxes (lots of people trying to grow chickens.)    Small animal nesting and bedding.   Farrier starter tool kits (several in this week’s auction.)  Farriers!  Moon cups (reusable menstrual supplies are a prepper staple.)  Solar panels.

Of course I’m seeing lots of other stuff that speaks of the lockdown, exercise equipment, bikes, and home reno bits and pieces, home decor too.

One puzzler is the TONS of child safety gates.  I mean TONS.  Every auction has dozens of lots.   And just general human debris, as summer ends a lot of yard tools are being returned.  Freaking thieves and returns fraud.  Tents and camping gear are being returned in bulk as well.

Firearms and ammo are showing up in the consignment and estate auctions.  Not much in the way of modern defensive arms, (except Hi-Point pistols- the modern ‘Saturday night special’.)  Most of what I’m seeing is single shot rifles, old single shot shotguns- unloved brown rifles in other words.  The ammo is usually sort of “cleaned out a drawer” quantities and a lot of non-defense calibers.  It all sells for high prices, and defensive ammo or modern defensive arms are bringing eye watering prices compared to a year ago.

Surprising me, there are a couple of campers/trailers in this week’s auction.  I figured people would hold on to them as a last resort living arrangement, but there must be folks who don’t expect to get to that point, who are looking to cash in on high demand.

On another note, I drove across all of Houston Friday, all the way to Baytown, and then up to IAH.  Today I’ll be going down to Dickenson and back up through Bellaire.  I crisscross Houston fairly regularly.  I’m seeing a LOT of empty commercial buildings.  I’m seeing a LOT of ‘For Lease’ signs.  I even saw two new ones a few blocks from my house.   The landslide has just started rumbling, a few pebbles are starting to roll down hill…  I’ve got a feeling that ‘we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’  But not in a good way.

Keep stacking, and keep your eyes and mind open to opportunity.   There are always opportunities.

 

nick

Thur. Oct. 15, 2020 – Home with the kids today

Cooler and mostly overcast.  Or raining.

Yesterday was fairly cool, and mostly overcast, but not unpleasant.  Even in the attic doing the last walkthrough with the roofer it was cool.

Knocked off a couple of little things, and did some meatspace relationship maintenance.  Today I’m home so I’ll be working my list.  If it’s cooler, it will make everything go that much easier.

I’d also like to get some more Halloween decor out, and get some of the house cleaned up.  I’m hoping that there won’t be any rain though as I also need to get my antennas back up.

I checked my gardens, and it’s been long enough I should be seeing sprouts if I’m going to get any.  I’m not seeing any.  So I’ll be replanting with a different seed packet.  It won’t take long but it’s another little thing on the list.

Mainly though, I need to get stuff out of the house.  That’s hardest because I’m relying on other people.  I may have to take some interim steps and move stuff twice, just to get it moving.


Meanwhile, out in the bigger world, it sure looks like Biden has a problem to address.    In a normal political cycle, he’d be toast at this point.  Certainly a republican would be falling on his sword and looking to ‘take more time with family’.   In the current bizarro world, I can’t even begin to make predictions other than ‘standard program of denial’ and ‘accuse the opposition of doing what they say I did.’

Every chop at the rule of law, every political prosecution, every new act of violence and I want MOAR!!!!!!11!!! .  More food, more guns, more ammo, more friends, more skills, and most of all, more time.

Work on what you can.  Keep stacking.

nick

Tues. Oct. 13, 2020 – back to school

Another fairly hot and very humid day.  No rain forecast though.

Monday was so humid I was sweating just standing outside talking with the roofing contractor.  It got up into the low nineties too.  Hotter in the sun, I’m sure.  Roofing is one of those jobs that I would do just about anything to avoid.  Septic pumping is another.

I did my pickups.  Got my roof vents and the rest of my household stuff.  Not much for resale in these two auctions.

The roofers got the back side of the house and some of the garage done.  Today they’ll finish with the garage and do all of the front side.  The new color shingle looks great.  It really freshens up the look and I can’t wait to see it on the front from the street.  House will look good for the riots at least.

I really don’t like having the crew in my driveway and around the house in the back where all the good stuff is.  The generators and water tanks are pretty hard to miss if you are in the yard.  The food is a bit more undercover.  @paul would probably recognize what I’ve got going on.  I’ve used night shields (aluminized fabric set up like an old school movie screen) horizontally to cover my three sets of shelves where my canned goods are stored.  The night shields are normally used in a grocery store to cover the open face of reach in coolers and freezers at night.  I picked up three at some point.  They work great as retractable ‘doors’ in front of the metal shelves.

Hard to maintain OPSEC when you’ve got people crawling all over your house.

Once the roofers are done and gone, I’ll be able to get more Halloween decor out.  That gives me a sense of normality that I kind of need right now to counter my sense of dread for what I see coming.  Every one of these milestones I want to make as normal as possible for the kids, so if things do go pear shaped, they have that to remember.  And if they DON’T go pear shaped, all the better to have celebrated the small events, instead of skipping them.  On the other hand, I can be pretty sure we won’t be doing 4 Trunk or Treats this year.  As long as we get one Trick or Treat night I’ll be happy.

Ate one orange from my tree today.  A bit sour and woody.  Very disappointing.  I hope the others are better.  Daughter 2 wanted to make cookies, and used a box of mix Best By 2018.  It was pretty bad.  There is something bitter in there.  For everything that lasts well past its BB, there is something else that doesn’t.

On the other hand, I used a skillet flavor mix from 2018 to make chicken tacos last night and they were REALLY good.  Chicken from the freezer, ‘street truck’ one skillet flavor packet, and I made the tortillas from the big bucket o mix.  Just add water!  I’m getting the hang of it.  They aren’t round, but I’m getting them cooked more consistently and rolled out to a more consistent and thin thickness.  The dough really needs to be kneaded, and it really needs to rest.  After that it rolls out nicely.  The tortilla press was a failure again.  Operator error or just not needed, the press is going to Goodwill.  I don’t have a comal but the western rolling pin works just fine and I’ll keep trying.  Sometimes the simplest things are much harder than they might look.  That’s why we need to practice the skills.

And keep stacking.  So you have the resources to use with those skills…

 

nick

Sat. Oct. 10, 2020 – so much stuff to do

Humid and warm.  Some wind.  Probably.

It was very pleasant Friday, if windy and overcast.

I did get a few things done, but mostly it was a day of domestic bliss.  Make breakfast for 3, one after the other, lunch for 2, separately, then dinner for all of us.  That takes a surprising amount of time.  A bit of cleaning, mostly with the leaf blower, and picking up stuff.   I went through some more ebay and auction stuff.  Did some very minor stuff in the garage, and did a bit more decorating.  Lots of time got eaten with real estate research – driven by my wife…

The roofer confirmed Monday and Tuesday, so I have to get the antennas down today or tomorrow.  Late Sunday I’ll have to move some of the Halloween decorations too.

I looked at all the garden beds.  The beets might be starting.  The peas are coming in, but only a few plants.  Nothing else sprouted.   The citrus is starting to get close.   I will recheck the timing, but if I don’t see sprouts soon, I’ll open a new packet of seeds, and try again.  It’ll have to be soon though.

One thing I did mostly for fun was to take apart the slow cooker and see if I could find the fault.  I did, the thermal cutoff switch has failed.  It’s a  $2 part if you can wait for it to come from china.  I have  a whole bin of salvaged ones, but they may have a different temp rating.  I’ll check them out in a day or two.  The control board also had two swollen capacitors.   If I have the temp switch, I’ll probably change the caps too.  Then it will be back in service.   They are not super expensive, and real Croc-pot cookers come up in the auctions and at goodwill all the time, but I do like fixing things and it’s good practice.  It’s also a quick fix.  The longest time would be spent replacing the caps, second longest was taking out all the screws.

“make it do” is part of my ethos, as is fixing stuff, and I learn a lot whenever I fix something.   Valuable skills if things go south, valuable in any case even now.

Fix something.  Get something old working again.  Conserve something.  And stack what you can.

nick

Fri. Oct. 9, 2020 – week FLEW by, 20 days ’til Halloween

Dreary and warm.  Humid and overcast.

Thursday was overcast with scattered showers.  Most parts of town got at least a bit of rain.  I dodged through it mostly as I drove all over town and back.

Picked up the new desk chair to complete my daughter’s room makeover.  It’s purple mesh!!11!!111!11   It’ll match very well.

I also swung by my secondary location and did a small bit of reorganization.

All in all, didn’t get that much done this week.    Not really thrilled about the progress.  I better get something done this weekend.  Oops, probably won’t as we’ll have rain and weather.  And Monday-Tuesday I’ll have roofers messing up everything and making noise.

It was nice eating mostly out of the freezer this week, with a few canned goods.  King’s Hawaiian rolls freeze very well, fwiw.  The new temp monitors give me some peace of mind too.

The peas have sprouted and are currently growing.  None of the other seeds have sprouted yet.   I super suck at gardening.  My wife made the argument that I should just give it up as I’ve only really grown collards and carrots, and a couple of beets.  I’m going to keep at it though.  Eventually I’ll have to find stuff that grows just through blind luck, right?

The oranges and grapefruits continue to ripen.  I’m really hoping for a success there.  Unless they’re ‘woody’ they should be fine as the color is coming in, and they are a good size.  The Meyer Lemons are like weeds, they grown in spite of me.

The second house search continues.  They’re doing land office business for rural properties at the moment.  Lot’s of people planning to GOOD…

And now we’ve got Delta headed across the Gulf.  Fortunately for Texas, it is supposed to turn north, which is un-fortunate for Louisiana.  They are going to get hammered again.

Fires are burning, riots are raging, hurricanes are still coming in, and civil war 2 looks to be heating up.   About all I can say is — keep stacking.

 

n

 

 

Tues. Sept. 29, 2020 – more cool and damp?

Maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll get the cool without the damp today.  ADDED- 54F and 90%RH this morning.  Fall is here.

Yesterday was certainly nice.  It was a bit overcast for part of the day, but the sun did peek out.

I got seeds in the ground in the remainder of the raised beds.  I put turnips, beets, and quick growing radishes in the beds.   I’ve still got the window boxes to do, but I feel better now with something in the ground.  The peas are coming up, and I think the beans might be too.

Beyond that it was little things knocked off the list.  Washed two down jackets I picked up for the kids.  Like new condition, real down, traditional makers, and I used a technical down wash on them. I’m running them in the dryer on the ‘no heat’ cycle until dry.  Just in time for cooler weather!

Moved some more stuff to the auction pile.  Looked through the current auction, which finally lists some of the stuff I dropped off last month.  Maybe I can drop off this stack soon.  I put back one of my UHF antennas, and moved another wire antenna.  Not super high on the list, but I was up on the roof to look at the chimney cap.  I’m not going to be changing that out for new.  The repair guy mortared it in place.   I’ll leave it until we need to have the chimney cleaned to worry about access.  At least the cap won’t blow away ever again.

Had a real nice dinner with a new recipe.  I talked about it in yesterday’s comments.  Usually my ‘go to’ book is an older copy of “Joy of Cooking”.   If you only have room for one food prep reference book, I think that should be it.  It will answer any questions, provide delicious recipes from simple and basic ingredients, and it’s funny besides.  Add a couple of other category cookbooks, preferably older or put together by a church lady, and you are pretty well covered.  I’ve got a couple of wild game books, the Fanny Farmer book, a bread book, some specialty books like on chinese cooking or low carb,  and several ‘church lady’ books.  Those are great for regional favorites, simple and hearty meals, and classic ‘church social’ dishes.  I’ve done posts or comments on recipe books before to cover the other ones I consider essential from a ‘prepping’ standpoint.  Search should find them.

We finished the night with a little campfire in the fire ring in front of the house.  We made s’mores and watched the flames for a while.  I’ve got a mexican pottery bowl half filled with sand that is perfect for a little fire made from twigs in the yard.    Just what you need for a dozen s’mores.

Later today I’m making a scrap run with a couple dozen dead batteries.  Then I’ll head out for a couple of auction pickups.  If I have time, I’ll stop at my buddy’s store and drop off some mold killer/disinfectant/odor killer.  He got some water in the house during the big rain.   And of course, all the backlogged tasks are still there too.  Maybe I’ll get some of them knocked off.

I’ll try.  And I’ll keep stacking.

n

Sun. Sept. 27, 2020 – hey, growing things are growing

Nice and cool compared to just a couple weeks ago, still damp.

Saturday was really nice out.  Cool-ish except in the late afternoon sun, with a light breeze.  I did get some stuff done, but if you sleep through most of the morning, you get a whole lot less done.

I got some more cleaning and organizing done in the garage.  It was only a little bit, but still some progress.  I moved some stuff out of the house,and moved stuff around in the house to put it away, or put it in the ‘to be sold’ pile.

On most days what I did outside would just be ‘piddlefarting’ around, but some things DID get done.  I pruned the grapefruit and orange trees.  I intend to keep them about 10ft tall and 2-3ft thick to fit in the narrow bit of my yard between the house and my  neighbor’s driveway.  I also need them to be small enough I can cover them when it freezes.  The grapefruit has about 10-12 fruits, the orange 5-6.  They are starting to get ripe too.  That will be my best yield to date.  I’m hoping it gets better every year now.

Pruned a bit off the grape vines.  They are basically done for the year anyway.  Never got a single grape this year.

Moved my weather station from the north side of the house (my driveway) to the south side (neighbor’s driveway.)  That puts it in more natural air, and closer to both displays.  It’s still too close to my roof and will continue to read higher than if in shade.  I changed the batteries again, and now I can see it on the displays in my office and bedroom.

I used the Garden Weasel ™ on the bare spots in the lawn and seeded them.

I didn’t get more seed in the garden though.  That is on the agenda for today.  Root veg.  Lots of root veg.

My peas are already sprouted in the side garden!   I better get some steel mesh over them before the tasty sprouts get eaten.  I really hope that I’ll get some viable plants and a crop this year.

Spent some time cleaning the pool.

Went through some stuff I’d squirreled away.  I keep finding stuff tucked here and there.  A lot of it really needs to be sent to auction.

Won a couple of auction items.  Another really nice battery charger.  If I’ve got a forklift to keep charged, I need a good charger to leave with it.  If I end up with a lake house, I’m sure I’ll need at least a charger there.  Having good ones makes a difference.  I’ve really increased my ability to charge batteries lately.  I also won a boat battery selector switch, and some 10gauge jumper cables.  I will look at wiring my inverter into my batteries now, with the AC charger and the switch to choose charge or discharge through the inverter… or something like that.

Found 3 laptops in the trash at my secondary location.  Grabbed them.  I had a charger for one, a dell inspiron with win7 installed.  Someone shut it off during an update and now it’s boot-looping.   It’s a nice widescreen machine in good condition.  I’ll set it aside for now, but will likely get the OS fixed, or use a linux bootable to see if it will run.  There are a lot of ham related things to do with older laptops.  One was an older compaq that probably isn’t worth even booting and I didn’t have a psu handy for it, the other is a really big Toshiba gaming machine.  I might order a psu for that just to see what it’s all about.  I think it has discrete nvidia graphics, and about a 17 or 19″ HD screen.  It’s a giant with full sized keyboard.  Funny that 15 year old machines are still usable for something.

What can I say, I like older stuff that works.  It’s cheap.  I like fixing and using it.  If it lasted this long, it’ll probably last for a while longer.

“Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without!” a plan for the coming unpleasantness.  Keep stacking.

 

nick

 

Today is the two year anniversary of the death of Dave Hardy, or OFD as he was affectionately known here.  There’s not enough Moxie and pretzels in the world for what’s coming.  Miss you.   -Absent friends-

 

Sat. Sept. 26, 2020 – still asleep if all goes to plan

Cooler, but nice out.  That’s the plan anyway.

Started heading that way yesterday.  It was sunny in places,overcast elsewhere and generally cooler than it had any right to be.  Still saturated though as my driveway still has standing water on it.

Ran my errands, and now have another alternative for Things That Go Bang(tm).  The current ammo situation points up the validity of having a couple of different systems in the safe.  556 or 762.  Why not both?  There was an argument to be made for .40S&W when 9mm was hard to get, and the agencies were all dumping 40s after the FBI changed… but I didn’t move on that.  I’ve always been bi-curious when it came to rifles though….

Enough of that tomfoolery 🙂

I’m at home all day.  My wife is off looking at another lake with a friend from the neighborhood who has decades on that lake and more than one property there.  That should mean I’m working in the driveway, garage, and garden.  I guess we’ll see.

And hopefully the females of the household let me sleep in today.  I’m been short of sleep and very run down.  Not a good place to be during a global pandemic.  If not, I’m making waffles for breakfast.

Maybe I’m making waffles for brunch…

So much to do and so little energy.  I better get started.

Tiny steps, big steps, doesn’t matter.  TAKE A STEP toward improving your position.  Stack something!

 

nick

Thur. Sept. 17, 2020 – getting close to my wife’s birthday….

Hot and humid.  Overcast with possibility of rain.

Yesterday was a little bit cooler but so humid that puddles in the driveway never dried out.  It was overcast which helped a lot for comfort.

I did manage to get some things done.   I got stain and preservative on my teak outdoor furniture.  It needs to be power washed and the oil renewed every year or so.  Looks great now and should last for years more.  Quality pays off in longevity, with a little bit of care.  The chairs will probably need another application, and all the bolts tightened.  Domestic bliss will undoubtedly break out.

I swapped out my weather station for a replacement.  I got one new in the box for $12 so I took a few minutes and changed it.  I haven’t seen an update on the display yet, so I’ve got more messing with it to do.

I also got some seeds in the ground.  I got snap peas, some sort of green bean, spinach, and radishes planted.  I made some more progress installing the drip system for my window boxes.  The feed line is in place now.  That was the biggest problem I had with the window boxes- I didn’t water them enough.  Having the drip system fed by the grass sprinklers will mean they get watered on a schedule.  That should help.  Ag Extension says next week to plant the turnips and beets…  If I had plants for my dark green leafies, I could plant them but I don’t have any this year.  I suppose I should have started some, or gone and bought them.  Too much else going on.

Couple of things to do today outside the house.  We’re going to a lake house for my wife’s birthday.  I need to get the presents, cake, decorations, etc today, and do an auction pickup that is entirely stuff she wanted.  The lake house is on a lake we’ve been looking at for a while.  We’ve got one family we know up there, and it’s nice.  It will give us a retreat from hurricanes and somewhere to ‘vacation’ that is close and not infected.  It wouldn’t be an ideal bug out location, but it would be one… and it turns cash into stuff which is a hedge against hyperinflation.

So I better get to it.  Hunter/gather mode engaged…

 

n

 

 

(keep stacking!)