That’s a source of anxiety out of the way…

In my capacity as the local hermit I don’t need to deal with many scheduling conflicts. When L called me yesterday afternoon about Ghost’s euthanasia I momentarily forgot that I had also promised to help Neighbor D put up hay. I’ve been hyperventilating ever since, just knowing that the two calls would overlap.

Neighbor L (The other L – it gets confusing) got thrown from her horse and is still on light duty, she’s lucky not to be in a body cast, and so my attendance wasn’t really all that optional this time.

They keep 50 bales on hand, restocking 25 bales at a time. So hay day at D&L’s works up a good sweat without being a big exhausting ordeal. I blew out my rotator cuff last year so I’m not so good at bucking bales five high. But I’m fine for getting it off the trailer and handtrucking it into the barn. D has always been stronger than me, but he’s over 70 and a smoker. So I have better wind and can work steadily without distress, and he can perform feats of strength between breathing spells. Between us, we’re one strong man.

And I got a bale of straw out of the deal, which the Fortress of Attitude has needed for quite some time. “The smell of chicken manure is a sign of poor management,” somebody truthfully said.

Now I’m waiting to get the call from the other Neighbor L, to go help with Ghost.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Last of the Old Gulch Guard

I got a phone call from L yesterday: The local vet is making a housecall on Ghost this afternoon, and then it’ll be my job to fill in that grave we dug a week or two ago.

I have to agree it’s time. I saw him Saturday evening and he could hardly walk; his legs are just gone. He has moments of pleasure still but he’s bloated and deaf and in clear pain pretty much at all times now.

I’m already booked to put up a load of hay this morning which means the whole day will be busy, so I’ll put together a better/longer post maybe this evening. I’ve said many times that Ghost wasn’t my favorite dog because I wasn’t his favorite human even though we lived together for some eight years. A guy gets tired of being Perpetual Plan B, and is especially not prepared to take it from a dog. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t like him. It’s not a good day.

And he’s the last one – the last of the original Gulch pack.


Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

I need to get serious about a Plan B for drinking water.

Since the very memorable July 2013 I’ve been hauling my drinking water from town, and it hasn’t worked out very badly in all that time.

In summer I keep a 10-gallon reserve but there’s no good way to keep it from freezing so in winter I just go with my 3 3-gallon bottles. Sometimes we come down to the wire, especially since now Little Bear drinks the same RO-filtered water I do, but we’ve never actually run out.

But this morning I didn’t want to go shopping at all, because I’m broke. Therefore I didn’t want to take 2-3 hours out of my day to go all the way to town just to buy 9 gallons of water. But I needed the water. So I went, and it was really irritating.

Of course I have a perfectly workable short-term Plan B: There’s nothing actually toxic about the well water, it’s just very hard with calcium. When it comes out of the tap hot in summer you really have to force it down, but it’s not bad in winter at all. But now I’m used to the filtered water. LB started having obvious bladder problems a couple of months ago and I put him on the same water I drink – something I should have done years ago – and the problem eventually went away, so I’m not much interested in going back to well water even temporarily.

Which means I think my winter project is going to be a solar still.

Screenshot from 201
I’ve had the plans for one on my ‘pooter for years. It’s a clearly imperfect solution since the output would necessarily be very low but if it works at all it would be better than nothing. And “better than nothing” would still be better than the well water.

Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments

Trojan Vs. Interstate: Long-term Battery Review

It’s a beautiful day in a string of beautiful days, certain not to last, and I thought I’d better duck into the powershed and give my batteries a bit of maintenance while I can be outside and still feel my fingers.

That in turn got me to thinking about the relative quality of the two sorts of battery I’m currently running. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Finally found the sweet spot, I think…

I’m still trying to determine whether to mark the new propane space heater “emergency use only.” It depends entirely on whether I can afford the propane to run it every night, which I’m currently doing just to gauge consumption but the past few nights haven’t gone below freezing so it hasn’t kicked on at all and I’m just wasting gas on the pilot.

I’ve also been trying to find the Goldilocks setting on this annoying cheap thermostat, and I think I finally did.

I’m forced to guess at which part of this little sliding scale I want. Too warm and I’m wasting propane and kicking off blankets, too cold and I wake up shivering and wishing I’d piled on more blankets. It’s a nice sort of problem to have, don’t get me wrong, I mean first-world problems are the best kind. But it’s still an issue. I can get a better thermostat locally but it’s $30 I don’t currently have and will certainly be able to find better uses for even when I do.

This morning dawned ever-so slightly cooler than yesterday morning. The thermometer said 53o and the heater wasn’t on. The addition is on the shady side of the cabin in the morning so I could expect the temperature to continue to fall a bit – and at 49 or 51 degrees the heater kicked on.

And it brought the bedroom up to mid or high fifties, and then it politely turned itself off. 😀


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Things you immediately assume are part of a joke…

…but, sadly, aren’t…


Remember, kids! Never try to play without the instructions! That way lies horror! Rumors and embarrassment! Title IX proceedings!

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

I thought I had trouble with scrounged hardware…

“I was sad that I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.”

The Last of the Iron Lungsironlung

These days her biggest concern is the canvas spiral collar that creates the seal around her neck. She used to have to replace them every few months after they wore out and stopped keeping a seal. Back then she could get them for a few dollars each, but she recently bought two from Respironics for a little more than $200 each. She said the company wouldn’t sell her any more because they only have ten left. For years she’s been trying to find someone to make a new collar. She uses Scotch guard on her current supply and tries not to move her neck around, hoping to make them last as long as possible.

I asked her what happens if she runs out. “Well, I die,” she said, in a matter-of-fact tone.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Pizza and propane problems

My diet tends to be pretty monotonous – I eat a lot of bread. I could do better, I have a lot of ingredients and access to the Internet. But I’m lazy and in general food isn’t really all that important to me. It’s just fuel.

But once in a blue moon I look at a couple of random ingredients on a shelf or somewhere, a few disused synapses fire, and I think, “I could do that.” And so it was that yesterday I decided to try my hand at pizza.

Guilty secret: There are two (and only two) things I remember fondly about southern california: The weather, and the knowledge that ham and pineapple actually do go together very well. Seemed like abomination when I first heard about it, like unto the way people there like to smear pulverized avocados on everything. But it works, and it became one of my two favorite ways to eat pizza.

But I’d never made pizza in my life. I’m just not much of a cook.

Yesterday I gave it a try. Looked up a pizza dough recipe, not to my surprise it’s very simple. Bread is something that doesn’t intimidate me, and pizza is just a really big flat piece of bread with stuff on it, right?

I didn’t have to improvise the bread, but everything else was catch-as-catch-can…

Big Brother had sent me a couple of big cans of “canned ham,” really compressed pork bits with lots of salt. Between you and me I prefer spam for sandwiches, but this stuff goes to pieces very well and so except for the saltiness it makes an acceptable pizza topping. I had one single can of pineapple chunks, I believe also from BB. Of course I keep at least a dozen cans of spaghetti sauce on hand. And that’s it for this foray, really.

Pop it in the oven at 400o … and it came out ten minutes later warm but very gooey. No sooner had I put the pizza in the oven, it seems, than the propane bottle ran out of pressure.

It happens.

It happens.

Yeah, but I hate when it happens while I’m baking, you know? It always ruins the bake, and while it’s hard to go very wrong while baking something this simple, dough with a whole can of spaghetti sauce on it really ought to be baked quick. This…wasn’t. I brought it out of the oven after ten minutes and it was still gooey. So I had to replace the bottle, take the pizza and the rack out of the oven, re-light the pilot, heat the oven, then do the bake again. The results were imperfect.

I couldn’t scoop it up and eat it like a sandwich, as with proper pizza. And the dough really didn’t profit from that second impromptu rise. But pizza is its own reward.

Cold pizza in the morning, BTW, has always been a favorite breakfast. :)

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

“BBQ gun” is not an expression I’ve heard before…

…but I understand the idea.

Do you have a dressy handgun and/or holster you only carry for nice?


My handguns are too beat-up to fit the description, but Tam (who wrote the linked article, BTW) once gave me a SERPA holster that sucks too bad for carrying but is therefore still shiny and scratch-free, and I wear it socially along with that unstained pair of pants I keep for the same purpose. So it’s a thing, but we’re weird out here. I wonder how wide-spread it is?

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

I don’t go out socially without LB very often…

But it does happen. Apparently often enough that Little Bear knows the signs.

So this is LB being “helpful” while I get dressed…

He could be on his bed in the main room and out of the way. He could be on his bed in the back entrance and out of the way. Or he could be a speedbump between the bedroom and the closet…

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Better yet, let’s try NOT doing that.

Senator Schumer, I roll my eyes in your general direction.

Bring a chart to Thanksgiving dinner to bash GOP tax plan, Schumer says

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told his Twitter followers Tuesday to prepare for tax politics at the Thanksgiving dinner table, and then he took a shot at Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The New York Democrat instructed his followers to bring a chart from a left-leaning think tank on the Republican tax plan to their holiday dinner in case a relative “tells you the Republican tax bill helps the middle class.”

I’ve actually been invited to a sort-of Thanksgiving lunch/dinner tomorrow, accepted with thanks, and I don’t expect GOP tax policy to come up in conversation. But in the unlikely event that it does, I’ll just have to muddle along somehow without Schumer’s dumbass chart.

Do as you will, but if you were looking for advice I’d advise you to leave the politics to the Internet and enjoy your holiday.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Isn’t it sad that, at the passing of a sixties entertainer who was quite popular when I was young, all I can think to say is, …

“I have no idea what his politics were, and I find that endearing even though his music was insipid like unto the Archies.”

RIP, I suppose.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I yelled “Don’t look, Ethel!”

But it was too late. She’d already been diversified.



Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Honestly, I don’t have the slightest idea what this is supposed to prove.

Uh, This Flat Earther’s Homemade Manned Rocket Launch Does Not Sound Totally Advisable

I’ve launched several rockets in the Mojave, and assisted with many more. Great fun. If someone had suggested that I build a big one and climb in for the flight, I’d have told them to get stuffed. Nobody ever did, because I don’t willingly associate with morons.

According to the AP, Hughes says he expects his new rocket to hurl him through the skies above the Mojave Desert ghost town of Amboy at up to 500 miles per hour for roughly one mile, attaining a peak altitude of 1,800 feet before it deploys two parachutes.

Sheeit. I’ve done twice as much, and my rockets came back to me…well, ahem, mostly.

…and that’s how I know never to get into any rocket I could build.

Too bad about this idiot, though.

Hughes is a proponent of the Flat Earth theory; the Research Flat Earth group is his main sponsor. Hughes does not “believe in science,” which he told the AP has “no difference” from science fiction.

“I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust,” he added. “But that’s not science, that’s just a formula. There’s no difference between science and science fiction.”

Uh huh. If you say so. Rest in peace.

Flat earth. (snicker) Everybody knows the earth is hollow. Where else could the reptilians live?

h/t to Big Brother

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Yike. Acknowledgements and a little backstory…

Guys, yesterday’s post was just blathering in lieu of something better to write about, it wasn’t intended as a complaint or a bleg.

Appreciate the thought, though. I got the following email from the Gulch’s high-power New York CFO:

You currently have $88 in [bank account], and another $145 coming over in the next day or so. You got a couple big donations yesterday, 100 from [redacted] and 50 from a [also redacted].

…apparently in an effort to make sure I don’t fade away from hunger. :)

Okay – see, here I’ll go ahead and mention a problem with being a hermit without an eight-to-fiver. One of the biggest problems I faced when I walked away from my last “job” was the voice in my head that said, “Congrats! Now you’re a bum.” (Sorry, this got long) Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

In which, having nothing else to talk about,…

…I’m reduced to showing you a picture of my lunch.

To make money you have to spend money – I have another dog-and-horse-feeding gig on the other side of the plateau coming up in two weeks, which means I’ll need lots of gasoline, and this morning I had ten bucks folding money to my name. No possibility of a cash infusion for … two weeks. I’m sensing an oncoming problem.

So I went to the Emergency Money Stash…
Awright! There’s enough coins already rolled to fill every Jerry can and possibly even a propane bottle. I’m cool.

So naturally I spent half my folding money on a package of pork chops. I hardly ever do that, almost all my meat comes from cans but sometimes I crave cooked muscle tissue in slab form. And I suppose I could go out and kill something when I get like that, but honestly the only wild game that I can actually find regularly is cottontails, and they’re not worth the massive trouble in my opinion. What very little meat is under all that fluffy fur is pretty much tasteless. I’ve tried. So yeah. Local market was selling pork chops, and I brought home a package. Sue me. I’m a spendthrift.

A generous reader sent me a bunch of packages of instant mashed potatoes, which I don’t actually use often but I do use them on special occasions like Pork Chops. Cook the chops in a nice quick gravy made from an elderly can of cream of mushroom soup, and we’ve got an unusually loverly lunch.

LB says…

Okay, LB didn’t really say anything. He just lay there and looked put-upon until he got his.

And at his actual dinner time there’s enough for special treats, so he’s making out like a big black hairy burglar today.

And good news! When I got home, broke but topped off on drinking water, I learned that my last regular monthly paying gig, which I had thought had faded away, is still active – or rather active again. So that’s a monthly cash infusion I was learning to live without, that I don’t have to live without at least just yet. A good thing to celebrate, and a good way to celebrate it. Huzzah!

I’ll also take this opportunity to thank everybody who signed up for the TUAK Patreon account, which made up for half of what I thought I’d lost from that caretaking gig. Between the two that’s $75 a month I can count on for flour and fuel. Thanks very much! I do appreciate it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

In a month this will seem balmy.

Nineteen degrees outside and falling. Woke at six to a lovely cool bedroom, thermometer says 53 which is perfect sleeping weather without having to pile the blankets a foot high. That new space heater works perfectly.

Couldn’t say the same for the main cabin, though far from freezing it seemed shivery compared to the addition. But I expected that, took all winter precautions. I laid the season’s first fire in the woodstove yesterday afternoon, fired it up while I heated water for the first cup of the morning…

The kindling is enough to get the dust burning off the top of the stovepipe, a smell I still hate after all these years but that’s life. Once the kindling is well-involved I stack on some hardwood billets from those pallets I cut, and soon the cabin will be toasty throughout. I must say, though, I’ll probably spend this whole winter exclaiming monotonously over how much I love that thermostat.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

My own private little mountain range…

Should have gone out and taken the picture a few minutes earlier, when the hollow was still completely in shadow. This time of year is the only time you can get that shot, with the cliff on the far side of the wash brightly lit while everything in the foreground is still dark. Nearing the winter solstice the Lair’s interior gets direct sun later and later in the morning, bottoming out at 7:45 right at the solstice. By then everything around me is well lit if the sun’s out, but the cabin stays in shadow till the last moment. Then I can have fun through the cold part of winter watching the mornings get earlier and earlier.

This morning, for the first time, we got some genuine frost. Chicken water didn’t freeze, but that’s coming…

If the nighttime temp is really going into the teens, I’ll be bringing the waterer indoors for the first time. And lighting the fire for the first time, too, tomorrow morning.

I knew the weather was going to change, because yesterday we had a scary afternoon windstorm. Things flying around the yard, wind moaning around the building corners – I was really glad I’d seen to the powershed roof, I can tell you. Afternoon windstorm often brings a change in weather, and it did. Our unseasonable warm spell is over.

For once I’m not completely unhappy about that. I’m as ready for winter as I’ve ever been since moving here except in the matter of the pantry. I’ve quite a shopping list of canned goods written down and waiting for my next cash infusion, but at this point that’s just neurosis. I’ve been over that and won’t bore you with it again, but I am going to stock up on canned fruit and veggies at the first opportunity, just so I can know I have it.

Hey, I noticed this morning that Harry Flashman said something nice about TUAK and me:

Joel’s Gulch. Joel and his dog live in the Southwestern Desert. He is a past master at using what’s to hand to make a sustainable habitat in that environment. He’s very good at innovation, and his blog is very interesting.

Thanks for the link. TUAK hasn’t really been very interesting lately, I fear, since I’m slowing down for the winter here lately. Since spring it’s been work work work around here, and I can look back on the warm season’s accomplishments with no particular shame but I’d rather be sitting in a chair reading a book – and now I’ve got a lovely place to do it and have been, rather to the neglect of the blog. Sorry about that, though I don’t promise any immediate change. :) It’s coming on winter, when sitting around with a cup of tea is the only sensible course.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

AR modification for sleeping enemy



Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The only thing more tiresome than privileged people exempting themselves from the rules…

…is privileged people acting sanctimonious when the rules momentarily become convenient and other privileged people go under the bus.

The news has been full of rich’n’famous people dealing with accusations, often decades old, about things they’ve been doing with their hands and tongues and wangs. Perhaps you’ve noticed. People who’ve been working right next to the miscreants or their victims are shocked! They had no idea! Sure.

I keep trying to come up with jokes about it and they keep falling flat before I’ve finished writing them down, because it’s just all so tiresome – people have been pushing social limits about sex since the invention of la différence, people have been getting caught at it for about that long, and the infractions have been greeted with outrage or shrugs according to the style of the moment. I myself, while never anything remotely like a magnet to women, can think of at least two youthful indiscretions involving places my hands didn’t belong under the circumstances, that would have me very worried if I were currently in Hollywood or congress. Is it wrong? Yeah. Sure it is. It’s also human nature. Did your hands wander? Bad. Did you return them to your own lap when asked to? Tough shit, your political enemies (and former friends, apparently) will still crucify you if they can, or hand the executioner the nails if it will provide a moment’s advantage.

But posing for the photograph is just...well, that's Anthony Weiner-class stupid right there.

But posing for the photograph is just…well, that’s Anthony Weiner-class stupid right there.

Personally I find the odor of sanctity harder to take than the (often quite tame) misbehavior. People’s Exhibit One, from someone who hasn’t been accused (yet):
McConnell, R-KY: “As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable – in the workplace or anywhere else.”

Really? When did this start? Because unless this is very recent Senate policy, McConnell should maybe call it the “Except For Ted Rule.” Because (do correct me if I’m wrong) I believe Mitch McConnell was in the senate at the same time Ted Kennedy was and this iron rule never seemed to be mentioned back then. And Kennedy just had the highest profile, he was hardly the only one.

So forgive an old man, please, if I fail to be shocked by Franken’s adolescent vulgarity or McConnell’s new-found sanctimony. They’re both perfectly welcome to visit the underside of the bus and I hope they lose everything – but for reasons other than where they’ve been keeping their hands and other body parts.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments