“What’s that sound?”

I’ve been up since 4:30. Woke up trying to identify that constant rushing noise, that didn’t match anything in my head’s catalog of noises-the-cabin-makes. There was the clock ticking, check. Little Bear grumbling in his sleep, got it. But what’s that constant noise, like an engine or motor? Can the space heater make that noise? Sort of, but no, not that loud.

What is it?

Finally woke up enough to realize – it was raining! Seriously raining, not just a drip. And now it’s quarter to six as I write this para, and it’s still raining. Hasn’t done that in so long I’d never really registered what that sounds like in the insulated and drywalled bedroom.

Coming back over the western hills from the Big Town yesterday evening Neighbor D and I saw a band of really ugly black sky in the eastern distance. “Somebody’s in for rough weather,” said D. I replied, “I hardly ever say this, but I kind of hope it’s us.” It’s been that dry. A week or two ago the cattleman dumped 160 presumably-pregnant cattle on us and I don’t know what he expects to happen – there’s virtually nothing here for them to eat at the moment. Last Monsoon was a bust here locally, and there’s been barely any moisture all winter. Nothing but juniper is green. They lost a bunch of cattle last spring, and local forage wasn’t nearly as bad as it is right now.

I kind of like it green, but to me rain mostly just means mud. If I were the cattleman, I’d be praying to my Satanic Majesty for a month of solid rain.

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Okay, so more like nine and a half hours…

Nothing went wrong, in fact it was a relatively stress-free trip. Just took forever is all. I had my eye appointment, which ground on and on, and then we had a 45-minute lull which was just enough for a lightning trip to Wal-Mart, which no longer carries my favorite fire starters which were the principal reason I wanted to go. Then we made it to Neighbor D’s knee appointment which lasted almost two hours. A side trip to run an errand for L, then a late lunch, then a ruinously expensive trip to Lowe’s where I scored…

*all the pipe I need to fix the Lair’s sewer
*a new and hopefully more predicable thermostat for the bedroom heater
*hopefully enough lumber to finish the addition’s exterior trim
*four sheets of rigid insulation for the addition’s floor, which I really should have done before winter. Not that it mattered much given how mild the winter has been.

…and not one bit more than that. I had it in mind to buy the interior trim, but learned to my utter shock how much that stuff costs. I don’t know how you guys do it, I really don’t. Interior trim may be a more gradual process than originally planned.

The ophthalmologist visit was neither as scary nor as expensive as planned, I’m happy to say. Interocular pressure is up quite a bit, which I expected given that I stopped taking one of the prescribed meds several months ago. Discussed why I stopped taking it: If it’s raising sores on my eyelids, what’s it doing to my eyes? Got the prescription changed. They didn’t run me through all the rigmarole I expected given that it’s been nearly a year since they could shake out my pockets, so I still had a little jingle when I left. Might even have enough for those new glasses I want to replace the current functional but scratched-up pair. I’ll be trying mail-order again. What’s the name of that on-line glasses place? I can’t remember.

Anyway, Little Bear probably slept through the day but then dinnertime came and went and there was NO DAD!!! And I really expected I’d be paying a price for that, but he was a very very good boy. He just had an extended meltdown when I finally got home.

I ditched the hardware in D’s workshop, and it’s too late and I’m too tired to go back with the trailer right now – and D made it clear he was done for the day as well. So LB will get an enhanced Jeep ride in the morning. I’m gonna have an adult beverage and go read myself to sleep now.

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I hate this part.

The only bad part about being a hermit? Sometimes you have to step out of the desert, and it’s always a big scary deal.

Once in a great while somebody will throw a compliment about how I’m not really afraid of anything in the boonies but breed bulls, how I can live on next to nothing, “improvise, adapt and overcome,” and all the other good things about the solitary life. That’s nice, but as I’ve said before nobody becomes a hermit in the desert because his life was going so great outside the desert. Outside the desert I’m afraid of pretty much everything – mostly because when something goes wrong in a city you usually can’t just shoot it or hit it with a wrench until it stops bugging you one way or the other. You have to actually deal with it, and I’m no good at that.

Eleven years in the desert haven’t exactly attenuated that effect. So now I’ve absolutely got to go to the eye doctor, and since I haven’t been to the big town about 50 miles away in almost a year I’ve got a helluva shopping list which means Wal-Mart and Lowe’s as well, and I’d almost rather be shot. I’m sure everything will turn out all right, but in the meantime it’ll be five hours of nervous twitches and a cramping gut.

Pray for us sinners, I guess. Here we go…

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Please don’t make me defend Jeff Sessions.

He’s not my favorite person. He’s not even my favorite Attorney General, and how high a bar is that to clear? Fact is, I despise the man.

But this is ridiculous.

AG Jeff Sessions used the phrase ‘anglo-American’ in a speech and left is freaking out

[C]onsidering every single god-given thing we know about Jeff Sessions, that is a very generous interpretation of his remarks. When you are Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, and are viewed as a racist by a wide variety of people, one would think you might consider the optics of praising “Anglo-American heritage” in front of a largely white crowd of cops.

In other news, the Winter Olympics is racist because ice can’t endure in some third-world nations.

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The AK is a versatile tool.

S’true! Let’s say you’re a bunch of good ol’ boys out behind the Dairy Queen (no offense, Milo) and the battery in one of your pickups is dead. Anybody got jumper cables? No, I thought you brought the jumper cables.

(sigh) Okay, rifles out…


h/t MJR

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There’s a pair of guns that could get me denounced by Milo Yiannopoulos…

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…


The folding stock is not a lot of help with the red dot, so I’ve been searching all over the gulch without success for an unattached wooden one. Ian used to have literal piles of AK parts lying around, but I guess they’ve all migrated back to his place. I was near to giving up until last weekend when Landlady said she didn’t care what I did with the pink AK as long as she never had to see it again.

It’s been so long I totally forgot until I broke out the sandpaper that Ian and I originally painted the whole gun pink, furniture and all, but that was way too pink so we re-painted the furniture gloss black.

So right now the World’s Ugliest Carbine is chipped camo, black, Bakelite brown and pink/black. Is AK. Is not supposed to be pretty.

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Even bad things got to come to an end…

Nine or ten years ago Ian and I painted up a pink AK for a photo shoot and later presented it to Landlady as a sort of joke – because, you know, a woman would want a pink rifle. We even coerced her into posing with it one time. ONE time. Since then it has gathered cobwebs in her Meadow House closet. Now I’m going to steal its buttstock, swapping out the WUG’s folder, and I promised I’d make the pink go away. So I’m going to bring home some decent camo paint during tomorrow’s trip to the Big Town, and maybe in the fullness of time we’ll have a rifle-painting post.

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Here, kitty, kitty…

We’re actually lousy with bobcats, but you could live here your whole life and never see one. They’re mostly but not entirely nocturnal, and quite shy.

I’ve been hoping the game camera would catch one in the act of being here, though I didn’t hold out a whole lot of hope. But a few nights ago one wandered into range…

1815:020718:45F:0000:TUAK1   :6E[087:0762]G[040:0x0036]
A few more frames below the fold… Continue reading

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Sometimes it’s best to just go redneck.

I built all the Lair’s cabinets – under Neighbor D’s watchful eye, but still – my work. So of course it’s imperfect at best. And one side of the overhead cabinets has been sagging for some time and getting worse. One joint in particular was not built nearly strong enough. I knew how to fix it but couldn’t really see how to push it back up into shape so I could make the repair. It would take considerable force at a really awkward angle.

Finally occurred to me that I possessed exactly the right tool, right out in the Jeep…

Worked great!

I’ve got it nailed and glued back into place, but I need to bring home a couple of brackets from the Big Town when I go there Wednesday. Otherwise I’ll probably be doing this again in a few years.

I was joking with Landlady over coffee this morning that the Secret Lair is suffering schizophrenia: I never did finish anything in the main cabin, but I’ll be bringing home a whole bunch of trim for finishing the addition in the Spring and I’m obsessing over colors. Someday after I’m gone somebody’s going to break in and wonder, “Did two different people live here?” :)

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Ian’s new sink

Landlady came up this weekend, and we spent an hour cutting the plywood and then laying out the boards for the kitchen counter in Ian’s cave…

That’s an old cast iron double sink, weighs a ton. Similar to the one in the Lair, which only goes to show that people throw away the damndest things.

Lots of finish yet to be done on the salvaged boards of the counter. I like the way Landlady sort of herringboned the corner.

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Just a sudden thought…

I’m heading for my weekly trip to town and actually kind of in a hurry, but I was struck with a sudden thought…

Imagine: You’re a Korean factory worker, trying to figure out what the hell a curling team is really doing.

Yeah, I know it’s basically ice shuffleboard. But it always looked silly to me and I’m from the one place in America where you get to Canada by going south. Transplant it to Korea, and I can imagine things getting surreal in a hurry.

That is all, gotta run.

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…you might be a redneck.

If you keep camo patches to repair your summer everyday pants…

I keep saying I’m going to retire my summer surplus BDUs, some of which are more patch than pants. But a friend of the blog gave me some much less worn BDU pants late last summer, which allowed me to retire the most embarrassing pair and not spend big bux at Amazon. Most of the 3-color desert camo pants are actually not in bad shape, just faded nearly white. I really prefer woodland, which makes for okay camo even faded.

Thing is, military BDUs were literally made for comfort in the desert, and they’ve been doing it so well for me so long I can barely stand to wear anything else in summer.

Sort of bummed a travel iron of Landlady’s that she’d stashed in her barn. Important to use it only during sunny days. I’ll stitch the edges this evening while watching a movie or something, then toss the pants into the laundry so a washing will soften up the patches. It works, as long as you’re not planning to wear them to the Oscars. And I don’t think I’ll be nominated this year.

I keep saying I’ll retire this pair, but…

…trouble is, they’re my favorite pants. :)

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Well, we were promised flying cars.

You may already be aware of this but I just saw it. That big SpaceX launch a couple of days ago? I heard it went well except that they didn’t get the center booster back. They did indeed launch a Tesla roadster into solar orbit.

They launched a car into deep space, and I knew that. What I didn’t know is that they put a space-suited mannequin in the car, and also some live-feed cameras…*

screen shot 2018-02-07 at 115302 am
And that’s really cool and amusing and all, but I had to stop and sort out why it also kind of made me mad. And the reason is this: They can do that kind of shit just for publicity stunts, but it’s going on 50 years after Apollo and they’re just now re-learning how to reliably get things into orbit. They should be finding excuses for starting economic wars with the space-based culture by now – but instead the powers that be have successfully prevented that culture from ever becoming, and even prevented substantive research on whether such a culture is even physiologically possible.

It makes me mad, that’s all.

But carry on, Starman. You’re likely to be last guy for a long time to visit the Belt.

*Be aware that that’s a link to a 4-hour+ Youtube video, in case you have bandwidth limit issues.

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Got to wondering about something yesterday, and tried it overnight…

No, it doesn’t work. :)

The efficiency of the new space heater would certainly benefit from a fan right there, but running an electric fan overnight – though I don’t think it’s unfeasible – is just instinctively bad medicine in a small solar power system. I wondered what would happen if I parked that woodstove fan there.

What happened, overnight, is nothing at all. I woke at about 3:30 while the heater had been on for a while and it was just sitting there.

This morning while the fan was on the woodstove and spinning merrily along, I put it back on the space heater which was also burning. It continued to run, very slowly, I think because the fan body was already hot. As it cooled the blades ran slower and slower but never entirely stopped. It certainly wasn’t doing any good, though.

I’m impressed with that heater’s design. We went way overboard in protecting the wall from its heat, since it’s built to send heat out the front and nowhere else. The top gets uncomfortable but never painful to the touch, the rest of the case barely heats up at all. Inside the case is a different matter, of course. It came with a rubber hose to connect the propane bottle to the valve, and that was a dangerously bad idea. It gets really hot inside the case near the firebox. But having done a few dumb things with propane over the years, I knew that up front and bought iron plumbing for it before the permanent installation.

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Weather went wonky, cell signal went away.

Quite abruptly around 2 PM yesterday, just when the weather started to change.

Since September I’ve gotten all my internet access through the iPhone Landlady gave me (and pays the rent on, so don’t think I’m complaining.) It works perfectly well when it works, maybe a little slower than that Verizon hotspot but without the lying, dishonest, never to be sufficiently damned draconian bandwidth limit. But when it doesn’t work, it stops working right now. It’s prone to do that at a sudden change in the weather, which we got yesterday afternoon right on schedule. Wind roared, clouds rolled in, and that was all for what we laughingly call our cellular service out here in the boonies.

Overnight it cleared, stilled and got cold, and I was surprised to find on rising that the phone still didn’t work. Came back on line just now, for no apparent reason.

The forecast says this is a brief mild lull in the week-long streak of magical weather we’ve had – it’s supposed to be back tomorrow. This is the first morning in the past five or six I’ve even bothered with the wood stove. Mid-forties indoors when I woke, and it seemed quite shivery. Speaking of the stove…

You gotta get yourself one of these. This one of the latest care packages, which I believe I mentioned at the time. It’s an electric fan that somehow gets its power from heat radiating off the stove top and up the vanes of the fan, and it doesn’t take a lot of heat. Starts slowly rotating while the kindling is still burning, and by the time the iron is good and hot it’s spinning cheerfully – and silently – away. Spreads heat around the room noticeably well, seriously, it’s an immediate improvement. I saved the box, because it’ll be stored very carefully during the warm months.

Despite the beautiful weather I’m in Winter mode right now and don’t really have anything going on until I can replace that sewer pipe, which is already dug out and waiting. Yesterday when the Internet threw me to the curb I picked up this book Big Brother sent me…

I wasn’t aware Andy Weir had written a second novel – this was published last year – and looked forward to this because I really enjoyed The Martian. Started it late yesterday afternoon and finished this morning after chicken chores, so it’s not a ponderous tome. It’s a quick, light caper story based on the moon with okay characters – moves right along and kept my interest, and it has that light touch I enjoyed in Weir’s first one. Recommended, but don’t expect The Martian.

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Stupid dwellers of flyover country, playing right into nefarious Russian hands!

Ignorant diseased savages. Don’t they know who’s pushing this so-called “second amendment?”

See, this is why Americans need to be ruled. They just won’t stop picking at their ringworm scars long enough to learn what’s good for them.

And now I suppose I should go look up who this “adam schiff” asshole is. I gather he’s a politician from the bankrupt devastated wasteland that was once california, and so not really important.

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Your outrage is not about Trump, lady. It’s about you.

And if I may presume to speak for “rednecks” for a moment, we’d appreciate your leaving us out of it.

Presented for your consideration, an adventure in missing the point:

I detest Trump, but a ‘redneck’ fixed my Prius with zip ties

After the [DC Womans’] march, Katherine and I hit the road in the late afternoon, feeling good; we had done our part to express our outrage. We were about 90 minutes south of D.C. when I heard a terrible popping sound. I assumed I had blown a tire and headed toward the nearest exit. The popping was followed by screeching — were we now driving on metal? Luckily, there was a gas station right off the exit.

Before I could do anything but park my gray Prius, a man rushed over. “I heard you coming down that road,” he said. Before I could say much he started surveying the situation. He didn’t so much offer to help us as get right to work.

It turned out that I hadn’t blown a tire; a huge piece of plastic under the front bumper had come loose, causing the screeching as it scraped along the road. After determining that he couldn’t cut the plastic off, he ran over to his car to grab some zip ties so that he could secure the piece back in place.

He did all of this so quickly that I didn’t have time to grab the prominent RESIST sticker on the side of my car, which suddenly felt needlessly alienating. As this man lay on the ground under my car with his miracle zip ties, I asked if he thought they would hold for four more hours of driving.

“Just ask any redneck like me what you can do with zip ties — well, zip ties and duct tape. You can solve almost any car problem. You’ll get home safe,” he said…

She seems shocked at not finding herself in a Deliverance remake.

Trump’s cruelty and mendacity demand outrage and the most vigorous resistance a nation can muster. Yet the experience with the man at the side of the road felt humbling. It reminded me that we are all just people trying to get home safe. It felt like a sign, that maybe if we treat one another with the kindness and gratitude that is so absent from our president and his policies, putting our most loving selves forward, this moment can transform into something more bearable? I want to come away from the march with that simple lesson, but it begs this question: How do we hold onto the fire fueling our resistance to the cruelty Trump unleashes, but also embrace the world with love? I wish I knew.

You might have considered asking that “redneck” you were so prepared to despise at first sight. He seems to have it figured out.

reddest of them all 2

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Certain things, if they must be done, are better done while sober.

Automotive vandalism, for example…

The drunken antics are funny enough, up to the serious head injury, but the color commentary is hilarious.

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In which Joel is reduced to posting pictures of his lunch…

Slow day at the Gulch. I’ll probably go out and dig at the sewer pipe for a while after lunch but you don’t need more info about that.

Private to that guy who left me a bunch of food in September…

Two bottles of this stuff! The use-by date is sometime in 2010, but I seem to recall divers have pulled amphora of the shit out of ancient greek wrecks and it was still good. (I haven’t actually tried to fact-check that.) Either way, this stuff is still fine. Way better for roasting than the gallon jugs of dollar store vegetable oil I normally use for everything. Some of this in a roasting pan makes a big difference, as I’m sure everybody but me knows perfectly well.

When I became single for the second time and craved “home cooked” but didn’t know how to do that, one of the most important lessons I learned was “just put the bird in the oven.” What had often been presented to me as some sort of inbuilt instinctive skill exclusive to females was really just a matter of patience. Nothing is simpler than roasting chicken.

I started putting up cheap cuts of chicken in Ian’s freezer back in October or November, in anticipation of the awful money drought that would just naturally coincide with a record-breaking cold winter that would begin to taper off sometime in June 2018. Instead it’s the first week in February and the forecast promises springlike weather in all our forthcoming days. Cool, if true, and so we may as well go ahead and eat. :)

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When home-made sewers go bad…

Okay, this is the problem I set out to fix…

I had to leave that section of sewer pipe between the cabin and the septic tank above ground, because that’s where the outflow ditch from the gully behind the cabin just naturally has to go – at least without a lot of dirt work. Now I’m thinking maybe I should scrounge a piece of small culvert if possible, because burying the sewer pipe its whole length turns out to have previously unexplored advantages.

I scrounged all my sewer pipe back when I laid out the system in early 2011. This part just sort of flexed itself in two, which I didn’t know it could do.

(sigh) Okay, I have enough pipe to patch it, but in order to do so the whole pipe needs to be able to move back and forth for the slip joints. So I started digging it out from the ditch to the septic tank. And at the fitting over the tank, I made a very unwelcome discovery… Continue reading

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