Tobie’s new favorite toy…

$3 at the dollar store. Just like his old favorite toy, which finally broke under the stress of a great many games of tug’o’war. I was impressed! Oh, the rope didn’t last a month and probably neither will this one – if he takes to flinging it like he did the last time I’ll cut it off myself before he breaks something expensive. But he sure loves that plastic tire, the last one of which proved surprisingly durable.

He knew what the new one was for right away. Played with it all evening till he fell asleep. Funny – Absolutely none of the previous dogs understood the concept of toys. Tobie has a collection that he uses constantly.

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Still 3.80/gal.

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You can’t see him, but he’s there.

A couple of days ago I started baking bread around noon of a sunny day, and almost the instant I was committed the clouds rolled in thick. Now, I can use the oven on a cloudy day but there’s a price. I started paying that price the next morning…


…and because I’m psychologically incapable of deliberately causing a voltmeter to go closer to 12.0v than that, I mostly walked around in the dark for the early part of the morning. No problem, it’s a small cabin and I know where everything is. Everything except…


Tobie has one bad habit I haven’t managed to break him of*. He sneaks up close behind me when I’m cooking breakfast, just in case I need him to clean up something I dropped. Since I’m fully aware that “broken hip after falling over dog” is high on the Big List of Ways Joel Could Die Alone, this usually isn’t a problem. I don’t heedlessly step back from the counter, and anyway Tobie is big and hard to miss in a 100 sq. ft. space.

But when it’s that dark, extra caution is called for. I’m a cautious kinda guy.

—-
*Okay, one bad habit that’s in discussion during this particular post…

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It’s been my friend for a long time. Not always a very GOOD friend, but…

Regular readers know my everyday handgun is an unusual choice. A 5-shot .44 revolver wouldn’t be anybody’s idea of a proper gun for a gunfight, but I live way back in the boonies and don’t worry very much about getting into gunfights.

Still, I figured that if I ever did need a fighting handgun I probably wouldn’t go too far wrong with my old 1911. ‘Cause I’m a boomer, and when I got into competing with centerfire pistols in the ’70’s there was only one. Since then I just naturally stuck with .45’s until I moved into the boonies and changed my mind. Continue reading

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The Low Oil Shutoff Switch…

…also works when the oil is really cold. Remembering this will make you look less stupid.

I had an incident 4 years ago where I had to start the Honda generator when it was VERY cold, in front of other people, and it really truly didn’t want to start. At the time I thought it was because the tank had been completely drained and the carb was having a hard time priming in the cold. But a reader pointed out at the time that the real reason was probably the Low Oil Shutoff switch thinking the oil in the crankcase had turned to molasses. Probably right.

This morning I wanted to cut some wood and needed the generator again. Brought it out of the still-very-cold powershed and guess what, the generator did not even pretend it wanted to start. This time instead of working myself into a lather over it I just left it in the sun for an hour…


🙂 First pull. Live and learn.

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“Oh dear. OH DEAR!”

A couple of years ago Landlady gave me a great gift: A french butter dish. It works wonderfully well in summer to keep butter fresh outside a refrigerator.

In winter there’s a problem: The only way to load the contraption is to first soften the butter, and that probably works better in a house with central heating. In fact I think I’m just going to get a regular butter dish and keep Frenchie for summer, because the only way I’ve figured to soften a whole stick of butter in winter without outright melting it is to stick it inside my overshirt for an hour or two.

Yesterday evening I learned the full consequences of something I had already figured out without putting it to the test: It’s vitally important not to forget you put it there


Yeah – those shirts went straight into the hamper…

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Lord of all he surveys…

Here’s a bit of irony: Tobie used to get excited when he saw me sorting laundry, because it meant a Jeep ride to visit the nice lady who always had jerky treats. Now he gets excited because it means a walk to Ian’s place…


…where he can hang out in the yard and watch life go by across the wash.

He was pretty dubious about it at first, since I never made him stay cabled up outside before. But he quickly warmed to the idea until he preferred it to staying inside Ian’s Cave. Now he runs right over to “his” column and happily soaks up sun while I wash laundry.

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The big temperature swing

It’s already after nine ayem and I have things to do outside today, but…


…this time of year it pays to display a little patience. Tobie gets his long walkie, but then Uncle Joel settles down with his second cup and waits for the sun to do its thing.

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A perfect Joel’s Gulch Thanksgiving…

Everybody’s gone to cities to visit their families, and later I’ll make the rounds to do their chores for them. 🙂

Now if only they’d stop sending me Happy Thanksgiving texts. 😀

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Wow, time to buy flour.

Baking day!


Accompanied by a periodic chore I knew was coming…


…the every-few-months filling of the flour bucket.

Now: I used to stock roughly 90 pounds of flour up in the pantry, which is enough to fill the bucket three times and ensures me on the order of a year’s worth of bread. Alas that’s a long time to store flour in paper bags and I was getting a lot of clumping so I ate my supply down to the point…


…where that’s it. Six bags, 30 pounds…


…one full bucket.

So no question – it’s time to buy flour. Naturally this coincides with one of those unpredictable periods where it’s hard to find flour, but I have months to work that out. The question that is raised, though, is do I want to keep storing my flour this way. And looking over the supply of available empty food buckets, I’m going to go with no. I’m going to free up enough buckets to increase my flour supply back to a comfortable level and store it out of the paper bags.

Also…By the Power of Greyskull!


Note to self: No more early bread baking until it warms back up. I totally forgot that overnight resting voltage is lower when the nights get good and cold, and I damn near tripped the undervoltage shutoff on my inverter with the oven’s heating element.

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Poor Tobie…

Normally he’s philosophical about the Monday morning water run. When he sees me fiddling with empty water bottles he knows he’s not going with, and he accepts that without undue fuss. Normally.

But this morning he decided a little negotiation couldn’t hurt


Yeah, he wanted me to know very clearly that if I needed company on that long Jeep ride I take at least once a week, he was there for me. Once the special stinky treat came out (he gets half a Pupperoni as a consolation prize) he knew the jig was up and went back to his bed.

But that never stops him from rushing into the bedroom as soon as I’m out the door…


…so that he can hurl guilt rays at me through the window as I pass. 😉

And this morning, for the first time in a long time, he at least considered retaliation. I found my lined gloves on the floor by the counter where I had left them – but for a wonder they weren’t all slobbery or chewed to shreds. He got over obsessively chewing up my leather stuff a long time ago, so I’m tempted to believe he did that just to register protest without actual punishment. I dunno: He can be pretty smart that way.

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Saw a funny one yesterday…

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“Uncle Joel, you’ve been up for two hours!”

For the past week or two I’ve been sleeping in; sometimes even past six o’clock. Basically, if I wake up and light isn’t peeking over the window curtains, I roll over and try to go back to sleep. But this morning I kind of reverted to form: I woke up at four and knew I was just done sleeping. So I turned on the light and rolled out of bed. Tobie expressed approval.

But then, as far as he was concerned the morning dragged on…


…and besides breakfast nothing constructive was happening, and at last he had to take action for my own sake. Clearly it was time for the morning long walkie, despite it being dark outside with the temperature in the teens.

Yeah, we went. My toes still hurt. Should have named him Alice. Because then “One of these days, Alice…” could be my new motto.

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The seep becomes a spring…

There are places here and there in the wash where water comes to the surface. Prior to this summer I only knew of two, but there’s lots of wash I never explored. In the Gulch the wash is commonly used as a road but there are other places where strangers are unwelcome.

Anyway, when this one appeared so suddenly so close to the Lair I didn’t find it that odd, given the oddity of the Monsoon we just suffered through. I also didn’t expect it to last. I’ve sort of grown used to getting things I don’t expect, so now I’m assuming this one will be with me for a while.


It seems to come out in the neighborhood of these big fallen rocks – possibly underneath them…


…and it flows. I obviously can’t show that in a still picture but water is actively flowing downstream…


…saturating the entire width of the wash for roughly 100 yards before it runs out of volume. That’s a lot of sand. A lot of water just naturally coming out of the ground. In Michigan and the mountains of upper California there’s nothing unusual about artesian springs but they’re not the norm in the desert. The water table is too deep. I don’t know enough geology to understand how this works.

I do know from the tracks that it’s attracting a lot of wildlife, and not just the damned cattle. Maybe the mulies and elk will hang out closer to the cabin now.

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Crap. We’ve got cattle again.

They all got rounded up and hauled off a month or so and I thought that was the end of them for the cold season. Apparently not so.


They’re baaaack. Just chased this bunch out of my yard.

I hate frickin’ cattle. At least this time of year they can’t eat my flowers.

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It works!

It works at a glacial pace, but it does work.


Interested in keeping track of time, I set up the distiller but didn’t turn the flame on till 8am exactly. Not surprisingly, it took a long time for anything at all to happen.


The distiller is in three stainless steel pieces: Bottom to top, they’re the water pan, the collector pan, and the condenser pan. I filled the water pan with bottled drinking water trucked in from town and the condenser pan with well water. Four hours later I feared I was going to regret that last thing but it turned out all right.

Continue reading

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Look what I got!

…from a Generous Reader…

Early this year there was a shortage complete absence of distilled water available anywhere, and it went on for quite a while, expending my stored supply. Literally down to nothing but still having a bunch of lead/acid batteries that needed monthly maintenance, I tried my hand at home distillation using expedient materials. The results were not very encouraging, almost not of any use.

Shortly thereafter, supplies of distilled water miraculously re-appeared and the crisis ended. But I didn’t forget – and happily, neither did a Generous Reader! So expect a rematch and a review in the very near future.

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Getting some idea of the replacement interval on a pistol sight battery…


This has been on my mind, wondering when the pistol sight would fail me and whether – as per tradition – it would do it suddenly and at a really bad time.

In fact I was surprised when the LED just kind of faded over a couple of days. At first I thought it was my imagination but this morning it was barely visible against a sunny window and clicked right off every time I tried to dial it up. A new battery fixed it. So…

I installed the sight on the Model 69 in mid-June. From then until the yoke screw broke in early July I mostly kept the sight turned off. That was proving a colossal pain in the ass so after I fixed the pistol in September I just left it on, having already bought a moderate pile of replacement batteries. So that’s in the neighborhood of two months continuous use, always keeping in mind that I have no idea as to the actual condition of the battery the sight came with.

I marked it in my ledger, same way I keep track of a lot of other consumables. Nice to know when to expect your stuff to let you down, when it isn’t always instantly replaceable.

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Well, the price of propane finally caught up with the price of gasoline.


$63.20, or $3.80 a gallon. The good news is that I’m very happy I topped off the bottles when I did, at the end of last winter. Not real common for me to make smart financial decisions: Maybe I’m finally growing up.

The bad news is everything else. Suddenly becomes worth it to replace that slightly leaky pigtail hose.

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Traditional annual shoutout to the Generous Reader who…

…sent me this heat-actuated woodstove fan about five years ago. Still works great!

The original version of the heat-actuated fan comes from Canada and is quite expensive. Also quite good: D&L have a couple of them in their workshop and they’ve faithfully whirled away for well over ten years now. One might be excused for not automatically assuming the Chinese knockoff would behave as well, and I’m happy to be a testbed of that notion. In fact so far, every time it comes out of its box in November, it has worked flawlessly. Apparently the only way to wreck it is to violate clearly-printed instructions on the back, put it too close to the stovepipe collar, and fry the wiring.

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