In my absence I have gotten a few things done…

The wood stove is ready to go…

I cleaned four dead birds out of that thing, in addition to the one Laddie killed and two I released and shooed out the open door. The stovepipe really needs a better weathercap.

But the stovepipe itself didn’t even need cleaning at all. Better wood, hotter fires, and it doesn’t pack up with soot and creosote. Just like a hundred people have said. Today’s a lot warmer than it has been since Sunday, but it’s supposed to go right back to being rainy and cold starting tomorrow so it’s only a matter of time before I break down and start lighting morning fires.

It might be a little while before I start wanting this…

…but it’s ready to go when I do.

I finally! Finally! Got the bypass regulator plumbed to the pipe and bottles. Pressurized it, climbed under the cabin and tested all the fittings for leaks…

…then laboriously bled the air out of the plumbing and got the pilot lit. We are officially ready for winter.

And this morning I started on a sad chore that has waited a long time…

Last weekend Landlady brought Little Bear’s grave marker up. The weather’s been lousy but today it warmed up enough that I felt like opening a tube of construction cement and gluing it to the pedestal I poured a month or more ago.

Tomorrow I’ll paint the pedestal white, then I have some smoothing to do on his grave and I’ll get it set. Just in time, too, because late this month or early next Boot Hill is going to get its iron fence and become an official family plot. Hopefully for a long time yet to be filled mostly with pets, only one human-type person.

Also this morning I packed the trailer’s hub bearings…

And so it’ll be ready to go when I pick up the wheels with the new tires on Monday. Already paid for!

Anyway – I’m still having email problems but the blog is officially back in business. Sorry about the lapse in posting.

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I’ve decided on Laddie’s Gulch name…

…since – I’m sorry, ML, but “Laddie” is just a dumb name for a dog. Hell, why not “Rover?” Or “Rex?”

He answers to Laddie so that’ll probably stay, but in my heart I’m going to call him Torso Boy.

Because he’s a more-or-less normally-proportioned smallish brown dog who was the butt of a really dirty trick when they handed out legs.

Sigh – but I’m afraid we’ve figured out what he’s been after with all the middle-of-the-night alarms…

He’s fine in his own bed during the day but seems to think he needs to sleep under the blankets with a person at night. And if you let him do that, he wriggles to the bottom of the bed and you won’t hear a peep out of him till you actually sit up in the morning. If you don’t, he’ll be a nervous wreck all night long and will ambush you the moment you even begin to gain consciousness. So you may as well just let him, and then you can both go back to sleeping through peaceful nights.

We’ve been doing that the past few nights, and a lot of his nervous tics have backed off.

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And we should be back.

I’m still having email issues, but I just got off the telephone with the service guy who did the work and he says he’s been done transferring files and database for some time. So we’re back! I…guess…

Since personal computers didn’t wind up being a passing fad like Rubiks Cubes, I’m a little sorry I’m not younger and more hip to techie shit like, you know, configuring an email account. Which by now ought to be as simple as dialing a telephone. Except it’s not. Which I really don’t, in my inner heart, hold to be my fricking fault. I guess what I’m trying to say is I get really pissed off every time something like this happens. Damn it, Jim! I’m a writer, not a computer programmer.

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Plan B for Drinking Water: Inferior

We went on our regular Monday morning water run, only to find a sign on the food store door saying the water machine was out of order. Bother! That meant Plan B…

…the vending machine outside the convenience store. 35 cents a gallon, exact change only please. Bother.

I also had to haul the trailer’s wheels to the only repair shop open outside the little town nearest where I live. There was some negotiation: The proprietor gets stiffed a lot and is barely able to stay in business, and wasn’t thrilled about carrying the cost of the tires for a whole week. Fortunately I had enough cash reserve to pay up front, at which point he became much friendlier.

A quick inspection of the hubs between rain showers this morning shows it would be super dumb not to pack the bearings while I’m waiting.

I think there’s a tub of wheel bearing grease in Landlady’s barn: If not, I can bum some from Neighbor D. That makes me happy, since I really didn’t want to buy a whole tub of grease for two sets of roller bearings and then never use it again.

The weather has been terrible. I don’t recall ever needing to haul out the longjohns in early October but it’s raining and cold and apparently going to stay that way all day long. I have one outdoor chore on the cabin I can get done between showers, but mostly it looks as though this will be another of those days for sitting around indoors. The weather only went crappy yesterday but I think I already have seasonal affective disorder. It’s that ambiguous time of year when the heating infrastructure is still shut down but sometimes you kind of wish it weren’t. As soon as the sky clears I’m going to give the stovepipe a good scrub and get the woodstove ready for business, just so I can take the morning chill off the cabin when I need to.

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Barbi & Bambi @ the watering station


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The hard part is done.

Oh, I love that phrase – especially on the morning of what promises to be a quite rainy Sunday.

Yesterday Landlady and I spent several hours cleaning out Ian’s powershed, preparatory to mounting a door.

I hauled two full wheelbarrows of dirt, nesting material and rat turds out of that building. Killed one snake – unfortunately a bull snake, the light was quite bad. My bad, but it shouldn’t have coiled up and shaken its tail. Continue reading

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Zelda will get a kick out of this…

Today’s big project is cleaning out Ian’s powershed prior to fitting it with a door…

It’s been that way since we built it in 2009 and you can imagine the rat situation. It contains the power system but we also stored a crap ton of building supplies in there, most of which went unused and which now need to be hauled out and sorted through (mostly) for disposal.

I did some exploratory sweeping/scraping yesterday afternoon and was immediately glad I had splurged on a thing I really thought at the time would be expensive overkill…

Now I just hope it’ll be enough.

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Care Packages – Look at all this food!

A couple of Generous Readers, emphatically including Big Brother, seem to fear I’m going to starve!

All this is from BB:

I’ve got snackies to last me the month – or until 3PM today if I left it out, so I hauled by far the majority up to the loft where it won’t be in sight and in mind.

Ditto most of CH’s gift…

…though I left the pizza makings out, because pizza. And canned meat! I love this stuff. And between the two gifts there are eight cans of Spam, which along with eggs is the protein staple of my diet. Fried Spam, people. It is the answer. I don’t even care what you pick to be the question.

In answer to last month’s lament about my little first world problem, two people sent me 12-ounce packages of their favorite coffee for my sampling pleasure. Plus that little envelope of Hawaiian Paradise, about which I know nothing but I left it down so I can try it right away. I’m less than two weeks into the last can of Trader Joe’s House Blend, so it’ll be most of a month before I can crack open one of the new ones.

And a kind soul hit my wishlist for something a little more frivolous (as opposed to coffee, which is a life necessity)…

Claire recommended this movie some time ago, I’ve never seen it, and I impulsively put it on my wishlist. Thank you!

In regard to the dog treats in that first photo, Laddie has biscuits to last him a while (I had just stocked up with a big box when LB got really sick and died in June, and then J&B brought another big box and I haven’t opened either one, and now here’s another medium box) but he has recently discovered these flavored rawhide sticks to be to his liking. Laddie has rather exacting standards*: He doesn’t know what to do with a rawhide bone and isn’t interested in learning, he burned out on pig ears right away, but he does seem to like these rawhide sticks.

Speaking of Amazon, that gift card above is for $25 which will get me a good ways toward a personal purchase I suddenly have to make. It can’t be said too often, you guys rock. Sometimes you keep me going. Thank you!

*He came with preconceived notions about treats, which it has mostly been my responsibility to figure out. He thinks he needs a biscuit after every expedition outdoors, AND he wants a cellophane-wrapped treat of some sort before he will settle down in his bed at night. He’s worse than a toddler.

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kavanaugh - first scandal

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The babies are getting big…

Yesterday I took the big cage out of the chickenhouse. I left it in there with the door propped mostly closed so the pullets could get to their own chick food without being hassled by hens, lest the hens eat it all themselves or chase the pullets away from the main feeder…

…which they’re mostly not doing. In fact the hens are taking this whole invasion thing quite phlegmatically, for Rhode Island Reds. RIR extraflock – and too often interflock – relations often involve a thick slice of psychotic violence.

They’re remaining two distinct groups, but the groups are getting along remarkably well compared to some earlier attempts at integration.

This just in: The pullets have hired Michael Avanatti and filed a class action suit against the hens, something about inappropriate pecking. Kids today…

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Guess what! Presumption of innocence is still a thing!

…if you’re a #resistance prog who got caught doxxing republican senators, that is. If you’re a republican nominee for the Nine Nazgul, fergetaboutit. You dirty pedophile.

Cosko’s defense attorney, Brian Stolarz, told Fox News his client acted alone.

“We all need to take a deep breath,” said Stolarz. “In this political climate everyone wants to jump to conclusions. We need to put the conspiracy theories aside and focus on the allegations. Jackson Cosko is innocent until proven guilty, and we intend to challenge the charges.”

I’d have to find the video to answer my only question, which is whether Stolarz managed to say any part of the above with a straight face.

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Handrail for the front stairs – rather more improvised than planned.

I’ll have to re-do this once I find better-looking hardware, but I don’t know when that’ll happen and Winter Is Coming.

Eh. It works.

Unfortunately, I have learned the terminal limitation of my beloved cordless drill…

Been using it near-daily since Spring 2015: The motor could be stronger but otherwise I’ve been delighted with it. Until today, when the motor smoked. And snapped, and crackled. It still works, sort of, giving me time to gather the money to replace it. Fortunately I got paid for roadside brush clearing, so once that’s in the bank I’ll buy another just like it. I have lots of compatible batteries and the next-better one costs twice as much, so it’s not worth upgrading. Until I let the smoke out of it, I liked this little drill.

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Elk! At last!

Early last night at the cattle watering station…

And then two and a half hours later this big boy showed up briefly…

I knew they were around – I even know they come around the watering station because of the scat piles. But this is only the second time the game camera has photographed any. You can go years without laying eyes on any elk – and then turn any corner and nearly crash into a frickin’ herd of’em.

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You guys get a .gov text yesterday?

I’d forgotten all about that, never having been more than peripherally aware of it to begin with. But I got a phone call from a neighbor around 10, asking if I’d gotten this FEMA “emergency alert” text. I said no, I guess they don’t think I have the need to know. She wondered because she hadn’t gotten one either.

Turns out she had the time wrong, and at precisely 11:15 I got this annoying “emergency” message telling me there was no emergency. Thanks for the help, FEMA.

Now that I think of it, I should fire up a burner phone and see if dumbphones got it. If I start getting daily texts of Trump’s twitter feed I’m going to become a nevertrumper.

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I’m a little disappointed, Laddie…

This “break in a new dog” thing is requiring more adjustment than expected. I did not see this coming…

This happened yesterday evening, and it gave me a real pang. What am I to say about a dog that doesn’t like peanut butter?

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Well, okay. Now it’s raining.

And raining, and raining. All night long. Some tropical storm over Mexico, says the Jeep’s radio. Insert nonsensical rant about illegal aliens.

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Another drippy day

I really don’t know how people in rainy places put up with it.

It’s barely even raining raining. Just dripping. Once in a while it’ll briefly rouse itself to work up a light rain, then slump back to dripping. It’s like the weather is doing an impression of a teenager with her ennui face on. “I’m bored.”

I just got back from morning chicken chores, and I’m seriously thinking of just going back to bed. Sheesh.

Good timing, though. I suppose. I mean, I said I wanted a couple of days off from work to rest my back, and then it gets so miserable outside there’s nothing to do but stay inside and read? Timing. I guess.

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One of those days…

Sorry, not much going on around here today. Went to town for the Monday morning water run, during which nothing much exciting happened. Earlier Laddie and I went for what by recent standards was a pretty long walk in the wash. Laddie has decided that coyotes shitting on “his” territory is extremely offensive – this morning it does seem we encountered an unusually large quantity of coyote scat, and he felt called upon to personally piss upon each and every deposit. At one point, apparently out of ammo, he squatted and shat on it.

So I guess that means he’s seeing this as his place, and not just the latest place he got dumped. That’s good, but I did try to explain to him that his ass was writing checks his teeth wouldn’t be able to cash. Guess it would have been funnier coming from a pomeranian or a chihuahua, I mean he’s stumpy-legged but he’s not that small, but in the betting as to how long he’d last in a real dog/coyote encounter, I’m guessing the winning bid would contain the word “seconds” rather than “minutes.”

He’s a sweetheart. The word “adorable” has been heard. But when it comes to moving around in the desert he doesn’t have the sense god gave a butterfly.

Anyway, it’s been cloudy all day and started raining a couple of hours ago. Not a lot of rain, just a constant drizzle that’s scheduled to go on for the next couple of days maybe. So I’m resigned to sitting around and waiting it out.

Doesn’t make for much in the way of blog fodder. I can say something snarky about Brett Kavanaugh if you’d like.

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The Official Bird of Joel’s Gulch…


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“Prepiquette,” by Commander Zero

“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” -Proverbs 17:28


“It is better to close your mouth and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” -unknown


“What need not be known should not be known.” -me

I am, to put it mildly, a socially awkward man. It’s easy to come across as glib and breezy from a keyboard, but in person unless I know you well – and sometimes even then – I am often alternately tongue-tied and ratchet-jawed. I seldom know the exactly right thing to say or do and sometimes careen wildly between nothing at all and the exactly wrong thing. I was virtually made to be a desert hermit. Cary Grant, I ain’t.

This trait unfortunately comes to the fore when faced with personal questions. I was an extremely private person even before slipping off the radar – now, I probably break a handful of federal and/or local laws before breakfast on an average day. I am strongly in favor of keeping the details of that to myself*.

But in social contact with other like-minded people, awkward questions and situations sometimes arise naturally. It’s nice to know that otherwise relatively normal people have these problems: They’re excruciating for me.

You’re a survivalist, Im a survivalist, we’re survivalists. And although we’re on the same page on a bunch of things, one of the things we really need to be on the same page about is privacy and not being offended when someone leaves you out of the loop, to a degree, to protect their privacy.

Example: I’d had some back-n-forth online with a fella for a while and we agreed to meet for lunch one day to talk about guns and generally get to hang out with like-minded individuals. As we wrapped it up and we were leaving the BBQ place, it turned out we were both walking in the same direction to our vehicles. And walking. And walking. And…walking. See, he didn’t want to get into his vehicle and have me know what he was driving (and, presumably, catching his license plate info) so he walked past his vehicle. And I walked past mine for the same reason. And…kept walking. We still laugh about that.

That situation would probably make no sense at all to normals. But normals are lame. Having done similar things myself, I laughed out loud.

The Commander offers some specific suggestions for conversation etiquette, to which I have nothing to add.

*Yes, yes, let’s have no undue fuss about how inconsistent that is with running what amounts to a lifestyle blog. While I’m throwing quotes around, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Since “Consistency” is actually my watchword, you could say inconsistency is written into my every day. :)

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