Category: lakehouse

Sun. Jan. 8, 2023 – all work and no play…

Cool and damp, or warm-ish and damp, but certainly damp…   we got a rainstorm right in the middle of the afternoon yesterday.   Before that it was sopping wet.  During it was pretty wet.  After it was pretty wet…  definitely a theme yesterday.

So I got less outdoor stuff done than I’d have liked, but I did get the stone unloaded from the trailer.   I don’t get much practice backing up trailers.   I’m amazed I got it under the cover in the dark with only a bit of to and fro.   Took me about 12 tries to put it back in the same place after pulling it out to clean all the debris out of it.  If I can look out the back and SEE the trailer, I can do it no problem.  With mirrors and backup cam, well, it must have been entertaining for any watchers.

That’s me, entertainer of the year…

Today will be some tidying up and some stuff from the list that doesn’t involve a lot of time or commitment.   There should be no shortage of jobs.

Then it’s back home.  I’ll return the trailer Monday morning.   Truck pulled the trailer no problem.   ~5000 pounds and I was doing 80 when I didn’t pay attention.   The gas mileage widget said 10.5 mpg though.  Putting the cruise control on, and dropping to the limit of 75 mph got me 11.6 mpg.   Truck normally gets about 15-18 mpg the way I drive and with the extra stuff in the cargo area.   No way an EV truck would work for me.  And as a BOV, an electric is a complete non-starter.

The world situation continues to get more dire.   The US has political prisoners.  Canada has quasi-government agencies that wants to re-educate an outspoken and contrary person because his beliefs don’t match theirs… We’re sending even MORE hardware and weapons to the proxy war in Ukraine, escalating that conflict.  In far too many western countries “mohamed” has become the most common baby name.  The new owner of the ‘public square of the internet’ has joked that almost every conspiracy theory about it was true [that would be the publishing service that banned a sitting President’s speech.]   And our food and energy situation isn’t any better than it was last year.

So plant a seed.  Literally and figuratively.   Stack food, friends, and skills.


Sat. Jan. 7, 2023 – supposed to get gas today…

Warmer than Houston, and damp, but still chilly.  Had a nice clear day to get my stuff up here, now I need one to unload.

Made all my appointments yesterday, but by the skin of my teeth.   The Uhaul reservation had the wrong pickup time, so that was a challenge.   Then their checkin system now needs pix of everything, including me “for their facial recognition system” so they “can tell who’s driving”… with pix of the DL and a scan of the data fields on the back.   And 15 opportunities to upsell services, and 12000 or more times to be goaded into taking their insurance, which I managed to decline eventually.

One thing I couldn’t do was get my pallet jack on the trailer.  Couldn’t get it out of storage.   I will be unloading the stone piece by piece I guess.  Not the first time, as mentioned before.  Just takes a bit longer.

I am supposed to meet with a driver and a gas truck in the morning.   Maybe leaving a message that I’d hook up BBQ bottles prodded them along.  Whatever, as long as they fill the tank, and we can work something out about the pipe.  All this ‘provide your own infrastructure’ business is a pain.

Wife plans to put down flooring in the master bedroom today, and I’ll be doing something, probably electrical and plumbing, but certainly moving stone.

Work.   Work.  Work.  Joy.  Joy.  Joy.   Time to make the donuts…


Stack it up,



Fri. Jan. 6, 2023 – pickups, deliveries, lots of driving…

Cool and damp again.  Hopefully clear, as that will make all my driving nicer… It was 50F when I went to bed.  National forecast is for more of yesterday, so I should be ok.

Didn’t get much done.   It’s mostly mental, but I’m still not 100%.  I feel better, but tired, and weary.

Plan for today is pick up rental trailer, use it to pick up two pallets of stone, and some geotextile, then pick up my pallet jack, and whatever else I can get on the trailer and head to the BOL.

If everything goes well, and I’m lucky, maybe I’ll get there in enough time to meet the gas guy and maybe we can work out some temporary reprieve so we can at least have hot water while I get the line replaced.

Which is sub-optimal but may be unavoidable.

Family will join me later today if there is hot water and heat….

I’ll be bringing up a few bins of stuff including about half of my OTC meds.   I went through and divided up the stuff I stocked up on 2 years ago, and I might end up with it all at the BOL, because I have normal stuff here already, but for now, I’ll just send half.    I need to split up the first aid and wound care stuff too.  To be an actual BOL, it needs to be stocked as if we weren’t coming back to Houston.  Yet, I need enough stuff stacked here to stay if we can’t or won’t leave….   It’s an interesting balancing act.   One consideration is that we won’t USE the stuff up there at anywhere near the rate we use it here, and so turnover will be a lot slower.  More spoilage, more waste.   Oh well, we’ll figure it out as we go.   Or we’ll get caught short.  But I hope to get  it at least 80% right.

One solution would just be stacking all the same stuff in the same quantities, starting from scratch so it’s not already aging out…   and I’m trying to take the newer stuff up there, not the oldest, but I can’t afford to simply double everything at this point.   As I said, interesting balance…

One thing for sure, keep stacking.



Sun. Jan. 1, 2023 – Happy New Year!

Cool and damp to start the new year.  It stayed pretty nice yesterday, and was 59F near midnight.  Not super cold, and certainly not ‘warm’.


So.   Happy New Year!  I am sincerely grateful to everyone who comes by,whether you just read or comment and participate in the discussion; whether you come by every day or just once in a while.  Thank you to Barbara for her continued support, and to Rick for his.   It’s been an interesting and challenging year, personally, generally, and here at the Daynotes Journal.

I’m not much for navel gazing, but I do think it’s important to reflect on what you’ve done and what’s been done to you.   It’s important to learn lessons from that, change what needs to be changed, do more of what needs doing, and to keep making progress toward your goals.   I think it’s important to have goals, and this time of year is a traditional time to set goals, evaluate progress toward them, and to focus on changes.

This past year, I finally started making progress toward one of my major prepping goals- getting somewhere to GO when it’s time to go.  Call it a BOL, a retreat, a ‘country place’, or a lakehouse… it’s somewhere to go when the time comes.  It’s also a lot of work  and a new dimension to my prepping journey.  It has eaten a lot of my ‘excess’ energy and time, which has resulted in much shorter daily posts that previously.   There should be some good blog fodder coming up though.  I’ve got big ideas and goals.

To wit, I want to look hard at water treatment, starting with storing more at the BOL, and getting set up to treat more.  I want some off grid back up energy generation.  Start with a fueled generator, add solar and possibly wind, and include battery storage.  I want to get some wood burning heating set up.  I’ve got two wood burning stoves, I’d like to get at least one of them installed.  THEN I’ll need lots more stored wood… I want to get my radio shack and antennas set up for backup comms.  I want to make more progress learning about harvesting food from the environment, to include fish and other creatures from the lake, deer and pig hunting and processing, and getting a productive garden set up.  I want to get a workshop set up and a full set of tools up there so I can be productive and make or repair what needs to be made or fixed.

On a more day to day level, I need to continue making progress on the repair and remodel of the BOL and all  the grounds and outbuildings.   I also need to get some of the neglected projects here at home finished.  I need to focus on selling stuff and having my business make money this year to pay for all the other stuff that needs doing. I also need to be involved in my kids’ lives and education.   That might mean a lot of volunteering at school, which takes more time.   My other volunteering for the Constables and HPD needs to be increased too.  I made those contacts and started building relationships, but let it go for too long.   Time to re-engage in that community.   Time to start meeting with my fellow hams again too.

Oh, and a little physical fitness, maybe some martial arts or other self defense classes, particularly with the kids, and more shooting are all “wants” for the new year.   Yep.   Lots to do.  Much of it is just expansion of what I am doing or resumption of what I was doing, but some of it is new, and all of it will be taking place in the context of work and time spent at the BOL.

Nothing like setting some goals 🙂

My outlook for the coming year is the same as it was.   Dumpster fires to continue and worsen.   I expect more economic woes, more political shenanigans as the existing order falls apart.   I am more convinced than ever that we’re already sliding down the slope into what Bob called the long slow economic collapse.   I’m also convinced we’re currently entering one of those times in world history where everything changes.   The world will look very different in a few years.  I can’t even begin to pick a likely scenario, but I’m going to do my best to get through it, and come out the other side.  If bare survival is all I can manage, I’ll take that as a win, but I’m shooting for positioning myself and my family to thrive in whatever comes next.

Part of that positioning is having somewhere to go if we have to leave here.   Part is increasing the stacks NOW while the stuff is available.   IDK what the next ‘toilet paper’ or ‘N95 mask’ will be, but something that is common and cheap now will certainly be in short supply or even unobtainable later this year, and in the coming years.  Part is getting out and networking, meeting and making myself useful to other people.  Who you know is always important, but when things go really pear shaped, who you know and who knows you can make the difference between working or not, getting help or not, being safe or not… Part of it is building skills.   A vague plan to ‘live off the land’ won’t help if you don’t know how to do it, and haven’t the stuff needed to make it possible.  Fishing is turning out to be harder than gardening, and I’ve positively sucked at gardening…

Prepping is a journey.   It’s also fractal in nature, so there is always more to do, learn, or stack.  I’d love it if you all keep hanging around, sharing my journey and taking one of your own.

Here’s to a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year for us all!



Wed. Dec. 28, 2022 – year is winding down…

Cold and damp in Houston, because it’s winter.   It was sunny and nice at the BOL, and sunny and cool when I got home.   It’ll probably be sunny and nice today.

Came home from the BOL a day early so I could drop my mom off at the airport.   Despite all the delays and cancellations, her afternoon flight to a small airport in Florida happened without drama.   The airport was not busy at all, either at checkin, or security.   As I was leaving a local news team was interviewing a woman in line to check in, but IDK what they could have asked her that would be newsworthy.    The CSR at the counter when we checked in had said it was crazy earlier in the day when I joked about the slow day.  In any case, it was nice that we didn’t have any drama.

I did get home to a busted sprinkler pipe.  Neighbor saw the flood, turned off the water, and called me.   Meatspace baby.   Things get bad, we’ll live or die by our relationships.  Things don’t get bad, it’s still a good thing to have people that will help you out.  Over the last couple of years I’ve brought their escape artist dog home, loaned them space heaters, helped a family member who was locked out, and tried to be a good neighbor.  Wasn’t hard, and it has been a good thing.

Today I’ve got all the normal stuff going on.  I’m putting the sprinkler repairs on the back burner.   Some yard cleanup, some indoor plumbing, and some general cleanup and putting the house back together after Christmas should all be somewhere on the list.   We’ll see what happens.

Stack up friends as well as stuff.   You’ll be better off with both…


Tues. Dec. 27, 2022 – driving, lots in my day

Cool to cold, damp for sure.   Supposed to be sunny and clear.  We’ll seeeeeee…..

Did small stuff all day without working too hard.   Mom cleaned.  And cleaned.  And cleaned some more.   Oh well, I couldn’t stop her, and she likes doing it.  Of course it will all need to be re-done after the mess from the next project.  Looks nice at the moment though.

No change in my propane situation, so I’ll try working that later today.

Main job is getting mom to the airport.   And maybe back to the house if her flight doesn’t go.

Wife and kids will stay another day, then we all get home for dental appointments.   End of year stuff.    Because THE END IS NEAR!!!  111!!!111!!

Well, it is!

There are various and sundry things I need to do at home too, including plumbing, that an extra day alone will help.  If I get to it.  I’ll try.

Meanwhile, continue stacking all the things.


Mon. Dec. 26, 2022 – Boxing Day. No not that kind of boxing. Put down your fighting trousers!

Cold again, and damp up here at the BOL.   Supposed to be clear for a few days.  Yesterday was, and sunny.   Warm enough for a jacket while throwing  a lure into the water…

Didn’t catch anything.

Broke a little concrete.   About 15 ft2.   ‘Bout all I could do at one time.  I’ll pick it up and maybe break some more tomorrow.    Spent some time considering what earth needs to be moved where in the front and side yards.  That’s what prompted me to get started breaking the slab of patio in the side yard.   It has to be reduced at least a foot, maybe 2ft, and re-graded, while still keeping the plumbing under the dirt.   I won my roll of soil stabilizing geotextile, so I think I’ll over dig the sand, put down the geotex, then cover with clay mix from the front yard to bring it to finished grade.      There will have to be machines involved at some point.   The geotex might help stabilize and won’t interfere with anything we’ll do in the future, so not much of a risk and minimal cost.

There is still a lot of concrete to move and a lot of dirt too.   Oddly, I’d almost swear that someone took one or more of the giant root balls I had dug up from the shrubbery that was removed to make room for the septic tank.   I was going to try burning one today, and it’s not where I left it.   We’re talking about a ball 1 ft thick, 4-5 ft around, and a couple of hundred pounds.   Who the heck would want something like that?

Very dark last night.  Little sliver of a moon set early, and the sky was black and clear.   Wife says the stars were big and bright, but the telescope was too big to move for just a little viewing.   Maybe tonight we’ll set it up.   It was uncomfortably cold last night, which played a part in the decision too.

At some point today I need to unload my antenna tower.   I can unload it one section at a time if I have to.  I’d rather not, but I’m not superman, and my neighbor isn’t up this week.  On the plus side, if I separate the sections (they are nested for shipping) I should be able to read the actual model number and serial number.   Pretty sure the company will want that before selling me the attachments and accessories I need.   I want to be sure I have the right feet, hardware, and load ratings too.

Always something to do.   My mom said I was too old for this place, that I’d be working on it the rest of my life.   She’s got a point, but after hearing about what some of you are still up to, I think I’m ok with that.  After all, I’m stacking up the future for my kids.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, a little respite at the end of the year.   Now, get back to stacking!



Sat. Dec. 24th, 2022 – Christmas Eve

Still cold.   Still damp.   Still windy.   26F when I went to bed, and likely still pretty close to that at the start of today.  It did get above freezing, at least in the sun, for a bit yesterday.

We had some frozen pipes.   Namely the cold water supply to the on-demand water heater, which we moved from inside the house, to outside when we replaced our tank water heater.  All the lines were insulated at install, but for whatever reason, 8 inches of galvanized pipe coming out of the house and a valve were not insulated.   The bypass valves at the heater unit were also not insulated.  Predictably, that is what froze.   It took a while to slowly thaw, using an incandescent light bulb applied to the big valve and cold water line, and then later adding a ceramic ‘personal’ heater under the pipes and the unit, but we escaped without damage to the pipes or the heater itself.

Some lessons were learned.  I forgot about the hot water heater.   I forgot it was hanging out in the wind on the side of the house, and I didn’t even check to see if the pipes were insulated.  When my wife thought of it, I was already in my jammies ready for bed, and didn’t go out to check in the 17F wind.  I decided to go to bed and let fate take its course.  LAZY!  Of course I woke up to no hot water.   I don’t know if the additional insulation would have kept the pipe from freezing.   I don’t know if the “skirt” I’d planned to build to enclose the lower half of the unit and cover the pipes would have been enough.   The combination probably would have been, especially if I put a lamp bulb in there to raise the ambient temp.

So ‘prepper fail’ for sure.   If the job of installing the heater had been properly finished, likely no issues.  If I’d checked, no issues.  We got lucky.   Now, I did have the propane fired on-demand water heater we’ve been using for the outdoor shower at the BOL I could have plumbed in if the heater got damaged.  Or I could have used one of the two used on-demand heaters I’ve got stored in the attic at my rent house, or even the used on-demand heater I’ve got stored at the BOL, because if the heater got damaged, there would likely be a lot of people with damaged heaters and zero in stock to buy.   That happened last time.   I didn’t want to be in that position, so I bought the used one at the BOL as a spare.  NOT breaking the heater would be the best option by far.  And I didn’t take the steps I should have taken.

I also have most of my plumbing supplies and tools at the BOL.   I would be hard pressed to do more than very basic stuff here, and probably wouldn’t have the fittings.  I certainly wouldn’t be in a position to help other neighbors like last year.  Now my neighbors at the BOL- them I could help, and I let two of them know where the stuff was and how to get to it if needed.  It’s clear  that managing stores and logistics for this house and the BOL, making decisions about what and how much to stack at each location, is going to involve duplication and some compromise.  I need to get more serious about equipping the BOL with its own set of tools and supplies.  Can’t compromise the place we live most of the time, and don’t want to be moving stuff back and forth all the time.

That goes for food, water, meds, household supplies, etc.   I really need to make a place for a lot more stuff to be transferred and stored up there.  That is why I bought the shelving units from the circus estate.  Need to execute on the plan…

The biggest difference between this cold snap and the last one is that we didn’t lose power.  That makes all the difference.   Also, it’s going to be a much shorter event.  Probably.   Touch wood.

Today I’ll be in last minute present wrapping and food preparing mode.    Then we’ll open most of the gifts tonight.   Some will be tomorrow morning.   We’ll eat Christmas dinner here, then head to the BOL later Christmas day (probably.)  Or we might just stay here, and mom will see the BOL next visit.   Don’t really know.   I might end up driving up by myself to unload my tower, and check on everything.   It’s all kinda fluid at the moment.

Enjoy the days.   I hope you get some good preps from the jolly fat man.


Fri. Dec. 23, 2022 – we’ll soon know if we can stave off 3rd world status for a while

Cold.  Don’t know how cold when I am writing this but I know it will be cold.  Also, relatively damp.  ‘cuz Houston…   it was 20F when I went to sleep and that is pretty dang cold in Houston.  Don’t know what it got down to at the BOL, I’ll probably find out later today.  No precip in Houston.

I guess I’ll also find out if the outdoor water heater survived.   Kinda forgot about that, since this was our first weather event since we installed it.   It is outside the building envelope and not very well protected from cold.   Nothing I was willing to do at 1 am. when I thought about it.

I had a pretty normal day yesterday, probably should have done more cold prepping.   Instead I got my antenna tower (it’s in good shape, a couple of minor things will need fixing, and the missing stuff will need to be ordered, but otherwise- never installed.)  Wife got mom from the airport.  I went grocery shopping, we did some half-hearted preps, and spent the night decorating the tree and wrapping presents.   I’ll deal with aftermath later.

Worst case, if the heater is trashed, I’ll bring the propane one from the BOL home, and temp it into the plumbing while we find a replacement.   TOTALLY don’t want to do that, but missed the boat on weatherizing it.  It was working at 1am.

If the grid holds together, it’ll prove we can still do maintenance and planning.  If not, we’re skiing down the slope.  I’m hoping for “holds together.”

But I also know/believe we are on the slope, headed downhill, and accelerating.  Any gains will be local and short lived.

So stack the things you will need for a while.  Be flexible, and resourceful.  Plan to survive.


Wed. Dec. 21, 2022 – what to do, what to do, oh, I know, work!

Cold and wet, leading to more cold.  It was pretty cold and wet yesterday both at the BOL and in Houston.  Although cold is relative and it is going to get COLD soon…

I did get the dishwasher installed yesterday, and the wall insulated.   I didn’t quite get the kitchen back together but it’s pretty close.

Ran into my fishing neighbor on the way out the door and he’s fine, just been busy.  I hadn’t seen him in a couple of weeks, so I was starting to get worried.

The propane company didn’t refill my tank and left a note that they needed to talk to me.   Well, I found out why.   They don’t like the type of flexible piping I used.  Which sucks, because it was marked on the packaging for direct burial, but I didn’t keep the package.  Everything I can find online supports their position.  I did find the original amazon listing, which says “suitable for burial installation”, but I don’t think they’ll take that vs. what they know.  I might have to dig it up and replace it (or put it in a conduit, which is only specified by size not material).  I can’t tell you how much that would suck.  I will be meeting with their guy after Christmas.  We’ve got enough gas to get there easily.  So for now I’m punting.

Today I need to arrange pickup for my antenna tower, some geotextile I’m hoping will help stabilize some of my yard, and some stone veneer that I won.   I will need a trailer, and to figure out the schedule to combine the pickups and get the stuff up to the BOL, and unloaded.    It’s all big and heavy.  Nothing I haven’t managed before, but I don’t usually have my mom coming for a visit, or Christmas looming… or just a day or two to make it happen.

But that’s life.

Oh, and there is planning for extraordinary cold weather thrown on top of all that… in three different cities.


Any day above ground is a good day.   Keep stacking.


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