FYI: My email is working again.

Thanks to Landlady.

And I wish to have it known that the problem wasn’t even my fault. The service stopped working when it hit “inbox full,” but I do practice basic file hygiene and my inbox – and junk and trash lists – were anything but full. In fact at the moment they’re completely empty. However for some reason the server retains everything whether I delete it or not, and while I have theoretical access to those lists I would have to know little things like the fact that they exist as well as their address and password before I could fix the problem. Landlady being more cognizant of computer stuff and also able to communicate with the server guy, she bailed me out this morning and I can receive emails again. And I now have that information so the problem shouldn’t repeat.

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Solar panel rack is back upright…

I had strong doubts about success, until things suddenly started going well.

You might recall that the front legs had completely collapsed, pulling their piers right out of the ground…

We put some forward pressure on the rack with the Jeep and tow strap but clearly needed to raise the front so those piers could fall back into their holes. We still hadn’t figured out what we were going to do about the piers, but clearly lying on the ground sideways was not a good look.

So we ended up raising the whole front of the rack with 3 jacks after loosening the lag bolts holding the uprights to the ramps so they’d swing free when we got them high enough. And sonuvagun, that worked. Took forever before it became apparent that it was going to work, though.

As soon as the piers were pivoting in their holes, I pulled the Jeep forward slightly and eased the whole thing upright.

Turned out we needed a more even pull, so it turned into a 2-Jeep job. Props to Terrapod: That super-long length of heavy nylon rope came out of the Jeep kit and saved the day.

And then with the Jeeps keeping forward pressure on the rack, we dug two new footers, lag-bolted a couple of 8-foot 2x6s to the rear of the rack diagonally between the long uprights and the footers, then filled the footers with rebar and concrete. I kinda forgot to take a picture of that, but you can imagine rear diagonal braces against the wind. The Jeeps are kind of stuck there, holding the whole thing up until tomorrow when Landlady goes home.

The front piers are currently just sitting loose in their holes and we’re not too thrilled about that but I personally believe that once the new concrete sets up the rack will actually be more secure than it was. But on her next visit we plan to prop the front with jackstands and then rebuild the piers and uprights – doing it properly this time with more depth and some rebar.

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Good news on the new leg issue…

I’ve been dreading the matter of repairing/replacing my prosthetic leg, a thing that really does need to be done this year, not because of the cost since I did manage to drag it over the “eligible for Medicare” goal line but because the only functioning prosthetist I’m aware of is many many miles away. I could conceivably get it done but it would mean imposing on friends to put me up – and being away from home, which I loathe – for weeks. Not in a hurry to do that. But since it’s now official that both ends of my leg are literally falling to pieces, there’s only so much procrastination allowed before you start getting ridiculous even in your own eyes.

There’s a prosthetics/orthotics office in the big town about 50 miles away, the same town where I get my eyes abused and examined, but I was in there several years ago and they only made braces. In my urgent desire to avoid spending another summer month in a city far away I overcame my reluctance to talk to strangers on the telephone, called that office and asked again about whether they’re doing prosthetic limbs there. And surprise! I accidentally connected with the fairy godmother department, which informed me that they do indeed make limbs there now. And I have an appointment for week after next, which I can keep if I can A) arrange for a ride, probably no big deal, and B) get a doctor’s prescription sometime between now and then. Yes, you need a prescription for prosthetic appliances because otherwise you might contribute to the epidemic of prosthetic limb abuse.

There really shouldn’t be a need for a “let’s buy Joel a new leg” fund, because Medicare. Basically you’re already buying it. 🙁 But I do appreciate the thought and will keep y’all posted on progress.

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It’s always a problem when your leg falls apart.

So everything’s going great, right? Had my walkie, did the chicken chores, went over to see S&L about a matter. Got home and was washing breakfast dishes when it seemed the socket on my leg suddenly became a lot looser. Like, “can barely stay on while I walk” loose.

That’s the soft insert that goes inside my prosthesis socket. And yeah, it’s kind of ragged – it’s 22 years old, which is super old in prosthesis years. But more importantly, it’s in two pieces and that’s not normal. That smaller piece is the wedge that cups over my knee and holds me more or less firmly in place when it’s forced into the socket. It’s important.

Actually I got really lucky. That wedge fell right out of my pants onto the floor, and if it had happened out in the boonies I’d have lost it forever and been screwed. Also, I recently got a care package from BB containing a carbon fiber repair kit, including a bunch of stuff that I’d have otherwise had to improvise to make this repair, like mixing cups and acid brushes. And I had an unopened package of epoxy, so this was going to be a breeze to fix.


Unfortunately I can’t say how long I’ve had that epoxy. Still sealed, but the resin was completely congealed in the tube. Useless.

BB’s repair kit had 2-part epoxy but it’s of the super-slow and need-to-measure-very-carefully variety. Seriously I’ll have to research and practice how to use it, and anyway it takes 24 hours to even set up.

Fortunately I had a more useable Plan B in the form of my favorite contact cement Seal-All. Hope it works; if it doesn’t no harm will have been done…

But I think it’ll work. I’ll give it some more set-up time, spend the balance of the morning on crutches.

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Boy, winter came back…

Wind’s a’howlin’, though nothing at all like Monday. I have the stove prepped and the woodbox full but it unexpectedly turned really sunny and as long as it stays so I won’t need the fire till the morning. It burned most of this morning, though, till the sun got high.

That nice Carhartt coat someone contributed is on its fourth winter and is still in perfect condition. Nicest coat I ever owned by far. I haven’t really gotten much use out of it this season but it’s definitely been needed today. TB and I just got back from afternoon chicken chores and I’m planning to just stay in for the rest of the day. We’ll go out for a short walky in the evening but that’s it. The weather’s supposed to moderate by tomorrow – of course that’s easy to say; it was supposed to moderate by today, so pinch of salt.

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Windstorms cause property damage, pt. 2


Neighbor L saw this yesterday and told me about it. I went over this morning for fear it was doing damage to the new fence, which it isn’t so this can wait. But clearly we need better anchoring.

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Political theater gone rancid…

Watched the news this morning and saw something precious.

I did not, of course, watch the SotU speech last night any more than you did, in fact didn’t give it a thought – but it was all over the internet this morning for something related to what I had, candidly, been wondering about.

I mean, how awkward is this? I’d be more welcome to address the local chapter of Moms Demand Action while actually wearing my .44 than Trump was to stand up and praise himself in front of the house of reps, right? And I gather he took the opportunity to crank the Pandering portion of the pageant to twelve, with military families reunited, the deaf made to hear, the blind made to see, and the halt made whole. All on pre-arranged camera to the sound of thunderous repub applause and thunderous dem stony-faced silence. None of that is news, I suppose; they crank the bullshit up every year like they’re competing with the Superbowl halftime show.

But what did catch my eye was Pelosi’s bit of answering political theater…

Yeah – she went there. She actually tore up the speech, right on camera. About two pages at a time, either to stretch out the moment lest anybody miss it or just because she’s like 90 and has no remaining hand strength.

And I couldn’t help wondering, because ol’ Hermit Joel never had any people skills to lose and so really doesn’t rate an opinion: Was this brilliant or stupid? I mean, she’s speaking to her side, which has been whipped into what the dems sincerely hope is frothing Trump hatred since before the inauguration, so maybe it was smart?

But everybody saw it, or will by the time the news is done with it, and it was so amazingly petty…

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Another day in paradise…

This has been a very mild winter so far, so much so that this might rank as the coldest morning recorded this season by the Lair’s sophisticated meteorological equipment if it goes down just two more tiny degrees before sunup.

But the wood stove is rumbling happily away behind me and the jacket will be off before I’m finished blogging.

ETA: Made it! Coldest morning of the season. So far.

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Windstorms cause property damage…

And we had a masterpiece of a windstorm yesterday.

Seen while on today’s walky…

I know what we’re doing this weekend.

I worried about that when it was put up, but it was 3.5 years ago and before yesterday it was fine. Should have gone ahead with those rear braces.

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This turned into a fine day to stay indoors…

It was forecast to turn windy but this is taking it way too far.

Temperature-wise, this would have been an even more pleasant day than yesterday; not even noon and already mid-fifties in the shade. But that’s about to change big-time and major temperature change often announces itself with a windstorm.

Neighbor D and I filled water bottles on the lee side of the ice plant on the other side of town, where the wind can work itself up over a fetch of several miles of flat prairie. We were happy to have some shelter but the dirt was swirling around so much we wanted goggles and masks we didn’t have. Happy to get back into the truck, then happy to have the whole thing over with and get home to my hollow where the wind gusts and rattles things but can’t go far enough in a straight line to be very damaging. Usually.

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The song in my head goes full Greatest Generation…

It never fails – every morning I wake up with a song in my head. Sometimes there’s an obvious reason for this, like if it’s something I was listening to the night before. But usually I couldn’t begin to tell you why this particular old tune is in my ear.

And sometimes it’s genuinely mystifying; it’s a song (obviously) that I’ve heard, but it isn’t anything that should have occurred to me naturally. It has nothing to do with me.

This morning’s earworm was a masterpiece of mystification…

I was alive when this song was ubiquitous on the radio, but almost certainly too young to know about it or care. I heard it from time to time growing up, and neither liked nor disliked it particularly. It was done in a style that died with Buddy Holly and I was never much of a music consumer anyway. It’s simply as irrelevant to me as big band music.

So what the hell was I dreaming about last night?

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It’s days like this I wish I’d built the cabin differently.

Because if the old one-legged man could get up on the roof, even with trepidation, cleaning the stovepipe would be so much simpler.

But since I’m not going to risk what remains of my creaky life up on that steep roof scrubbing the soot down into the stove, I have to plan on making a big mess in my bitsy little cabin.

Unscrew and remove the lower stovepipe section and take it outside. I can clean that at my leisure on the old sawbuck. Move the stove out of the way, spread a tarp and tape the far sides to the walls. Then…

Either put on an old shirt or wait for a warmish day and strip down to a t-shirt because you’re going to be soot to the elbows. Wrap a cloth around your head. Screw the brush to the first section of pole and get scrubbin’.

It’s a little less than 12 feet from the bottom of the section of pipe that dangles from the ceiling to the cap – which I had to dragoon Ian to fasten down with screws after the first time I knocked it off the pipe with the brush eight years ago. Twelve feet is three 4′ segments of flexible brushing pole. And the single disadvantage of having finally gotten over my chimney fire phobia so that I’m no longer cleaning the pipe every week or less is that quite a lot of soot can build up in there. Not pipe-plugging quantities by any means, but enough to make a pretty good mess…

…so that site and body cleanup takes considerably longer than actually scrubbing the chimney. Most of that could be skipped if I could just walk up on the roof and do the deed that way. But that’s the way it is, and I always feel much better about life when it’s finally all done and put back together.

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I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep…

I went on a rather longer morning walkie than originally planned – it turned into such a beautiful morning I ditched my coat, hat and gloves at Landlady’s during morning chicken chores and just sort of went thataway.

I ran into some mulie does, quite unexpectedly because usually when the cattle show up all the ungulates head for … somewhere else entirely. Silly twits just stood there staring at me, not 50 yards away. I watched them through the AK’s scope just to be an asshole and they didn’t run off until it suddenly occurred to me to stop doing that and take a photo with that perfectly good camera in my pocket. So you’ll just have to take my word – and the evidence of all those gifs I’ve posted in the past – that at times we’re up to our collective armpits in mule deer around here and they don’t seem heavily hunted.

I really want to go outside and play some more, and I probably will – but not right now. I do have one deed to do. Today’s big chore, as soon as the ashes cool a bit more, is to pull the woodstove out and give the stovepipe a scrub.

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See? I can be a hipster if I want…

Lordy, what a beautiful day! I had a bunch of morning chores mapped out including battery day at Ian’s and Landlady’s places. As it happens I store my bike at Ian’s, and by the time I was done with his batteries, which was the last of the morning chores, it was just past noon and already in the fifties in the shade. So I impulsively put the bike on its carry rack and did something completely out of character…

I electric-motored to town. No real reason, it was just a beautiful if rather cool day to ride a bicycle in the sun. I basically drank half an overpriced coffee and then came right back home. But I did end up coming home the long way through the wash, so the Jeep ride from the county road took longer than the bike ride to and from town did.

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There’s only one downside to living in the back of beyond…

…At least if you run Apple products. They really, really don’t like getting too far behind on updates and after a while they’ll just refuse to play. My attempts at loading updates while sitting here at the Lair’s desk have been uniformly unsuccessful. The cell signal is too slow and undependable down in the hollow.

But there is one thing that works. So this afternoon after chicken chores, Torso Boy and I sat in the Jeep at the top of a ridge more or less in line of sight with the nearest cell tower for the better part of half an hour, listening to the radio and updating the Mac.

I don’t believe Jeremiah Johnson had problems like this. 🙂

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State of Situational Awareness: Needs Improvement

I tend to walk with my eyes glued to the ground in front of me. It’s a habit I’ve battled, mostly without success, all my life. As a consequence I don’t usually trip on rocks, but I do tend to walk into a certain amount of tree limbs. Walking into animal herds is another possibility…

Okay, I saw the cow pie quite a long distance away, and had figured it into my plans. Plans didn’t seem to require a lot of revision, after all; just step over it when you get there. The sun was directly in my eyes, which aren’t that great anyway; maybe I could be forgiven for not seeing past the gooey obstacle to the clearly visible large animals just beyond. But when I got to it…

…and it was literally steaming – then, then I looked around. I looked to the left and saw a departing and rather distant cow, probably the cow pie depositor. I looked, belatedly, to the right…

Boy, you can tell these cattle have been in feed lots for a long time, I’d guess all their lives. In fact I’d guess they’re first-calf heifers…

…because the cattle I’m used to are generally at least half feral, but these just don’t care. I haven’t seen such tame cattle outside a milking barn.

Good thing, too, because I walked right into the midst of them. That’s a sin that can carry its own punishment, especially with breed bulls around.

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Meat pie!

Quite some time ago somebody, I think Big Brother, sent me a few packages of DIY pizza…

…and as pizza, especially for a single guy old enough not to be able to inhale an entire pizza in an afternoon, it has its limitations. I opened a box last week, made one pizza, and could barely finish it. The remainder stood around rather longer than was quite proper waiting for me to finish the package.

Today I finally decided that the box wasn’t going to get finished – at least not as designed. But I couldn’t let that open half-can of ground beef go to waste, and there was this package of perfectly good ready-mix pizza dough. And you know what I’ve never successfully made?

Meat pie! And it turns out, as expected, pizza dough is perfect while bread dough is not.

Yum! Needs some brown gravy, though. I’ll do that when I eat the rest this evening or tomorrow.

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I’m not a big Trump fan but I am a boomer and probably a rube…

So maybe I should bend a principle and vote Trump after all. If only to wipe that look off Don Lemon’s face…

Somebody ought to tell these very smart people that this is not how you persuade others to your point of view.

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Y’know, I don’t mind people disagreeing with me…

I don’t even always mind people disagreeing with me when they’re in a position to enforce their opinions with cops and courts, because I don’t know everything and I’m not really all that smart.

But I do object to someone displaying absolute ignorance, at length, in confident and scholarly tones – to the audible mirth of his better-informed audience – learning nothing from what should be an utterly humiliating experience, and then casting votes locking his idiocy into enforceable law. Enforceable, let us not forget, with the very guns he claims to be saving his victims from.

This goes on too long but I urge your patient endurance: This is one of your rulers, your clear moral better, cheerfully and obliviously telling you what’s good for you and how you’re going to get it good and hard despite his not knowing one single thing about the subject.


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Okay, Murphy! Uncle!

I literally don’t recall a prettier day than we had yesterday…

Nary a cloud in the sky and shirtsleeve temps by noon. A day so nice I opened the windows for a few hours and aired out the cabin for the first time in months. So nice I took enough of an afternoon walkie to leave my stump raw and sore for the whole evening. So nice that I was tempted to hubris, as with yesterday’s unfortunate temptation of fate and even…

…brought my ebike out of storage to air up the tires, take a few turns around Ian’s place and check the battery. As if that could make any sense at any point in January.

So naturally…

I woke to the sound of rain on the bedroom’s metal roof, and of sepulchral laughter.

Just when the mud was mostly dry…

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