Have I mentioned that I hate painting?

The topic may have come up from time to time.


And I came by my attitude quite honestly. If you spend 45-50 hours a week working, plus a frustrating 2 hour/day commute, would you rather be handed a beer when you get home or a paintbrush? One alternative suggests appreciation; the other just says “quit your bitching and get at that cove molding. Neatly, damn you!”

I never formally swore never to look at another cutting brush as long as I lived once I became single again, but the intention was implicit. Which is why I was so surprised to find myself doing exactly that nine years ago when the cabin’s first siding and trim were at last complete and in need of paint. I’ve noted before that the Secret Lair started as one thing and sort-of ended as another because the project became ever more complex as the years passed. Unlike the cove molding, it became something I actually cared about.

Now we’re pretty much in the maintenance-only phase, and I find to my surprise that, though I still think painting is one of the more tedious activities mankind ever cursed himself with, I really don’t mind doing it.

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Bunch of stuff…

I’m supposed to be painting right now. I’m working on the porch, starting from the bottom and this morning is/was scheduled for removing [what passes for] the gingerbread and painstakingly painting the middle section.


Unfortunately…


…right now the weather isn’t cooperating. The day dawned cloudy and blustery, and Tobie and I got home just in time to avoid a rain shower so we’ll have to see how it goes. In the meantime I’m taking this moment to update on some access to tools issues… Continue reading

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Hot…and also a defense of my flour storage process

June in the high desert is often – not always – the hottest month, depending on what Monsoon does. It can get hotter in July and August but if Monsoon is doing its thing the heat in those months is mitigated by storms and evening breeze. Right now it’s just hot.

So I typically spend my late mornings and afternoons hiding in the shade. The earlier you can get your outside stuff done, the better. Morning walkie, for example…


Yeah, I’m sweating before seven.

This morning I needed to do something I’ve put off for two days. I’m out of bread. So I hit that chore as soon as the voltmeter showed the solar panels were having some effect*…


…because using the oven when the cabin is already hot doesn’t increase anybody’s comfort.

Once we’re done with that…


…I can go back to mostly loafing. No pun intended.

This morning we finally hit the bottom of the flour bucket…


I have a procedure for that. In my situation it’s actually possible to run out of flour due to it not being sold locally. I ran into that even before the various shortages caused by the covid thing, so I plan ahead…


…by always having at least one spare full flour bucket. But some years ago I learned to my cost that it’s possible to plan too far ahead, since flour in paper sacks has a definite shelf life. So now I try never to have more than three buckets’ worth of flour on hand – roughly 100 pounds – or otherwise it’ll sit too long and not be so good for baking. I have now rotated my second bucket into use, and I’ll take the empty to Ian’s place where I have about a bucket’s worth stored in anticipation of this day. It’s cooler there, dark in the storage area, and bugs have never been a problem. Once I fill my empty and put it in the corner under the kitchen counter waiting for the current bucket to hit empty, I’ll start gradually accumulating 35ish pounds of flour at Ian’s place. That seems to work pretty well: I have enough to ride out unexpected shortages, but not so much that I exceed the shelf life of the flour.

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*My newish oven works much better for baking than the old one but it doesn’t have a pilot flame. The heating element that lights the gas pulls YUGE wattage so if the solar power system isn’t in full operation I have to run the generator or draw the batteries unpleasantly low.

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Water is life…

It’s water day. All the empties are already in the Jeep, and all I need to do is get some quarters and deal with this bottle here…


…which has a little less than a gallon left. I hate when the working bottle is nearly empty on water day, and I hate pouring good drinking water down the drain. It’s not the money – I can afford a quarter a gallon – it’s the opportunity costs. I like to get my full value from a trip to town.

So I start thinking of all the places the water will go…

*The ready-use pitcher
*Two cooler bottles
*Tobie’s water bowl
*The tea pot – but not too full, propane costs more than water
*Oops, don’t forget the water bottle on the nightstand
*How much is in the trail canteen?

Only when all the various water vessels scattered around the cabin are completely full, or as full as practical, does any drinking water hit the plumbing so I can top off all my water bottles in town. Because I’m cheap. 🙂

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Havin’ a heat wave…

Got well into the nineties indoors and out yesterday, with nary a breath of wind. Got some yard work done early but spent the bulk of the day indoors reading E. E. Smith and drinking water. Once the sun approached the horizon we took the party outdoors…


…really for the first time this year because the flying/biting bugs started the season in an aggressive mood. Not so bad last night, thankfully. Tobie, who doesn’t seem to suffer from the heat as much as LB and TB did but definitely doesn’t prefer it, got with the program immediately and just quietly kept me company till we went back indoors well after dark.

Speaking of the heat…


…I got that new cooler just in time. The first wave of the heat wave, I went through two ice bottles daily. This morning there was still a bit of ice in the bottle after 24 hours. So that worked.

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The hell-puppy stage…

Weather’s really weird this morning. Thunderstorms are coming through heralded by big gusty blasts of wind in random directions, and Tobie found it all very exciting to the point where he forgot he’s a big dog now and started rampaging around senselessly and really annoying grumpy old Uncle Joel.

Which made me chuckle when it reminded me of this meme I saw just yesterday…

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Random Gulchy Stuff…

I spent the majority of my time here in the Gulch living on the economic edge. Which means scrounging, which is all about access to tools.

Up till about five years ago I went without refrigeration at all, which really limited the ways I could eat in summer. Then somebody was throwing away an old cooler and asked me if I wanted it, and I decided to try an experiment…


Ian’s place has a fridge, which I never used to use at all. But I stuck some old icepacks in his freezer and then put them in this old cooler to see whether and for how long they’d keep beer and condiments cool. That worked pretty well so I filled some empty juice bottles with water and froze them which worked better yet. But as a cooler, that old cooler really isn’t much. Doesn’t really matter in winter but here in the first heat wave of the summer I’m replacing those ice bottles twice daily.

And that got me to thinking, since I now have a little more money to play with…


…what if I got a better cooler? We’re going to see if this works substantially better, or if I just wasted some money.

Speaking of summer and water bottles…


I have learned through painful experience to pay attention to how much water I drink once it gets hot. Dehydration will sneak up on you and do nasty things. The cabin gets mid-nineties inside by mid-afternoon so one important function of that cooler is to let me have at least one bottle of cool water at all times because drinking warm water gets old fast. I try to empty at least three of these daily, not counting tea and coffee.

It looks like Phoebe might be getting a neighbor!


She’s still on her nest, I’m starting to think she has started a second clutch of eggs. But now lately a second nest started forming, though I’m not sure I’ve seen a second bird. We’ll see how this goes – it’s kind of late in the season for nest-building and I found it surprising.

I’m still getting over that series of allergy attacks suffered late last month but it is getting better. Haven’t been getting my assigned projects done, but I will. Except for that I’m in good health and spirits.

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Tobie’s bed needed a wash…

Somebody had a big accident on Tobie’s bed. Don’t know what happened or why, not mentioning any names, maybe a posse of ground squirrels burst in and held him down while others peed all over the window side of the bed. Not pointing any fingers here. And dark stains aren’t that rare, since he commonly chews up bones on the bed – but they fade, and these didn’t which was what got me thinking the unthinkable. This was very uncharacteristic behavior, and dammit Tobie that’s a new bed.

Tobie hates disruption of his living space, don’t blame him, so do I but this clearly called for something that had never happened before…


First thing, even before morning walkie, I took his bed away from him and out to the porch. There was some preliminary work needed, like removing the padding and a good vacuuming – and breaking out the vacuum cleaner first thing in the morning, Uncle Joel? Why are you doing these crazy things?

I hoped to have the bed back to him by evening but didn’t want him being all drama queen all day so I had an alternate plan…


…in the form of an old dog blanket that Neighbor L gave to me a few days ago. Didn’t really believe he’d accept it as a substitute but it was worth a try and to my surprise…


…he said, “yeah, okay.”

So we went for our morning walkie, taking along the bed cover to the washing machine at Ian’s place…


…where it got a good scrubbing and a long session in the machine. I was happy to see that this actually worked.

It being high summer at last, the cover dried very quickly and now…


Good as new. Probably back to not smelling right.

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Oh Frabjous Day, Mk. II

A couple of Generous Readers bought gel socks from the amputee stuff supplier, but that was a while ago and I’ve been awaiting their arrival with increasing anxiety. But today the first batch landed!

I think this is from Anon, who specifically said he bought five. A princely gift, these things ain’t cheap. This is a huge help. Thanks!

Also, to make our day complete the dollar store finally had one of Tobie’s favorite toys…


Not that it immediately matters because his current one isn’t completely dead yet. But it’s getting there, and I’ve had my eye out for a(n inevitably necessary) replacement.

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How to abuse your lungs without really trying…

or, Revenge of That Bush in my Yard.

So a couple of days ago I cut down two of the many intrusive bushes that have taken over my yard between the woodshed and the wash…


…and I really should have paid more attention to the fluffy stuff on the ends of the second one’s branches…


…because as soon as I started cutting that one I was constantly in the middle of a cloud of pollen. And I thought at the time that given the state of my allergies so far this warm season this might not be a good thing. But I was expecting to just spend the rest of the day emptying another tissue box.

Instead I was wheezing before I even got indoors. My windpipe basically closed, and though I seem to be better this morning I’m still constantly clearing my throat.

I am undeterred! I own a paint respirator, and I’m not afraid to use it! But it does seem as though everything’s trying to hurt me lately…

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The bushes in my yard are out of control…

I don’t know why but in the past couple of years what used to be mostly bare dirt has broken out in big dense bushes. Not just here, either – it’s happening all over.


I wanted something like a string trimmer but with substantially more authority, one that could reach into a bush and slice the branches out. The sort of thing I’d normally use loppers for, but these bushes are too thick and tangled for that.

Finally got something I hoped would work…


Allergies or not, I’ve been really looking forward to trying this out. I started with two bushes that have been bugging me for a long time…


My new brush cutter isn’t very expensive, and as feared the price of that was a not-very-powerful electric motor. But it does have reach and at least a little authority, so once I figured out something resembling a technique…


…those two bushes became big piles of brush in the driveway in less than one sweaty hour.

Now I’m paying for it with barely being able to breathe again. But that will pass. I must demand a little more respect from the plants in my yard. Still have some raking to do.

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Allergies are wearing me down…

After a pretty good day I had a night that seemed to last about 48 hours. Some of that was the heat – the first heat wave of the summer has arrived to smite us sinners in its righteous wrath – but also because I can’t sleep if I can’t breathe


On the plus side, I was able to restock my tissue supply at the Palace of Food day before yesterday. So I have that going for me.

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“Moms Demand Action” makes a lot more sense now…

This made my morning. You’re familiar with Markley’s Law, right? It refers to the musty old joke that an interest in owning/carrying guns is driven by a desire to compensate for small male genitalia*. Guns are phallic symbols, people unhappy with their own phalluses are drawn to carry them in order to project power and aggression that they would not otherwise feel.

It was always just a slur, nobody ever tried to actually quantify whether it’s true or not.

Or have they? Actually it seems somebody did.

I don’t know who sponsored the above-linked study but I can only assume they didn’t get their money’s worth. Because the study** turned out to purport the exact opposite.

Size Matters? Penis Dissatisfaction and Gun Ownership in America

In this study, we formally examine the association between penis size dissatisfaction and gun ownership in America. The primary hypothesis, derived from the psychosexual theory of gun ownership, asserts that men who are more dissatisfied with the size of their penises will be more likely to personally own guns.

We find that men who are more dissatisfied with the size of their penises are less likely to personally own guns across outcomes, including any gun ownership, military-style rifle ownership, and total number of guns owned. The inverse association between penis size dissatisfaction and gun ownership is linear; however, the association is weakest among men ages 60 and older.

😀 I’m not suggesting that the above is in any way important or meaningful or even truthful. But it did get a chuckle out of me.

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*the fact that it may or may not be true in my case is not an indication of truthiness in regard to the general population. No part of my aspect has ever graced the cover of a romance novel, or ever would – on the other hand I don’t actually own that many guns.

**which may or may not be any more accurate than the slur it was intended to reinforce, I’d have no way of knowing.

h/t

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Back from the Palace of Food…

First Wednesday of the month is senior day. Yay. We went early this time and it wasn’t very crowded but this is my first visit in three months and I started out kind of hyperventilating anyway. But I got over it.

Somebody knew right away there’s something in those bags for him…


Abandonment issues and all, Tobie kind of likes it when Uncle Joel goes to the Palace of Food.

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Worst Spam Ever…


I think this was composed by an AI whose first language is not English.

You know you’ve addressed this to someone who can’t confidently define what an app is, right? No. You didn’t know that, Robbie Robot. I award you no points.

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The Four O’Clocks are out early this year…

This is normally an autumn flower…


…but they’re already showing up in May/June. A little confusing, especially since it hasn’t been wet.

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Sorry, guys, but allergies have got me…

I had a few days’ reprieve, where I was getting work done and feeling pretty good about life, but now I’m back to barely being able to breathe, see or sleep. Otherwise I’m fine, nothing is seriously wrong, but I don’t promise scintillating blogging in the very near future.

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Oh frabjous day!


It was a TUAK reader quite a few years ago who turned me on to gelsocks. The prosthesis I had before my current one, I got so long ago that there was no such thing then, and when it no longer fit very well I frequently walked in – I don’t think it’s too theatrical to call it extreme pain. Gelsocks fill the gaps and cushion the pressure and they’re so ubiquitous now that my current prosthesis really wouldn’t work without them.

Alas, they’re very expensive, like $42+ each, and not particularly durable. Even before they get all rotten and tattered, they pretty much lose their squishiness and you end up doubling and tripling them to fit in your socket at all. As such, ever since I discovered them they have been both the salvation and the bane of my life.

So naturally when I got on social security last month, I planned to remedy the sad state of the socks in my nightstand drawer. A little at a time, of course, because $42+ each. I bought two earlier just to make sure I was getting the right thing, since I hate buying important things online but really have no choice*, and then I just took delivery of five more. And! Two Generous Readers heard about this and pledged more which I’m informed are inbound. So I’m gonna be set for a while.

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* The big noise in prosthetic and orthotic devices is Hanger Clinic, which demands you get a doctor’s prescription before they’ll sell you any. Apparently there’s a scourge of orthopedic textile abuse of which I was previously unaware. The online companies like Amputee Supply never heard about it – they just sell them.

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Second coat on the east wall complete


And a first coat on about half the south wall of the main cabin, just to use up what was in the tray. The south wall got complicated a lot with the bedroom addition, what with door trim and downspout and such; a lot of that will be brush work.

The plan now is to move to the porch roof and railing and window/door trim, most of which is brush work and will go really slow because it’s fiddly and bendy (hard on old Uncle Joel’s back) and boring as hell. I’m leaving the west bedroom wall until last, to give Phoebe time to raise her babies and begone. I may not do more than clean bird shit off the north wall of the main cabin, which doesn’t get a lot of sun and doesn’t really need painting.

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“I immediately regret this decision,” said the coyote…

I’ll be damned. Quarter to five in the morning and I just took my first shot at a coyote in something like 11 years.

In all the time I’ve been here I have only ever killed – or at least wounded, I never recovered a body – one coyote, a female that came into the yard when the dogs were elsewhere and the chicken yard was new. That abruptly ended coyote incursions into the vicinity of the Lair for a really long time. But beginning last Fall I started getting scat in my driveway closer and closer to the cabin, until at last in December I got a picture of the evildoer in action. I resumed my old practice of dumping bottles of pee on bushes at all the likely entrances to my yard and that seemed to close the issue for a while.

Lately poor Tobie has been getting serenaded just before daybreak, day after day. This morning was no exception and he really didn’t appreciate it. Seemed very close, too. I leashed him up to go out for a pee as soon as I was vertical, not expecting to see any coyotes. Mind you, I almost never see coyotes when I’m afoot: It’s very rare.

But there was a small ‘yote in the wash, sauntering to the north like it owned the place. And while I watched it stopped and stared at me – I must assume insolently.

Okay, I’m loath to actually kill things without a very good reason. By far the majority of the times I fire my pistol for realsies I’m really just trying to make something rethink its decisions without bloodshed. But this thing was crossing a pretty serious line. If it’s not afraid of me, and if its packmates aren’t afraid of me, they could conceivably become a threat to me or Tobie. And this sort of thing, rare as it is, is why I have a strict policy of never leaving my porch unless I’m ready to go to war.

I missed high, either because the zero’s off on the new pistol (see previous post) or because I was ambivalent about killing the coyote and really wasn’t aiming carefully. Pretty long shot at a small target anyway. But I missed close, and the ‘yote got the message. Wiped that insolence off its face in any case, and saw how fast a coyote can run.

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