Not the best way to start the day

Our drip coffee maker broke this morning. It wouldn’t make me any coffee. Just before I started hyperventilating from the panic, I remembered that we have this wonderful thing:

A stove top percolator. It makes damn good coffee. We won’t be replacing the electric drip coffee maker.


I never thought I’d hear myself say….

…that I miss state toothpaste.

State toothpaste is that wonderful, multipurpose substance issued to guests of the gated communities that the government uses to manage the lives of those who’s lives have become unmanageable. I was one of those people before I got clean. State toothpaste is made by the Bob Barker Company. No, not that Bob Barker from “the price is right”; just some dude with the same name somewhere in the Carolinas or somewhere like that.

State toothpaste is good for many things, including (but not limited to): brushing one’s teeth, gluing stuff to cinder block walls, treating pimples, taking paint off of metal bunks, cleaning one’s sneakers, and bleaching one’s clothes. Bonus points for whoever figured out that the best way to clean your whites in the gated community is to take state soap, state toothpaste, and the blue wrapper from a package of rolling papers; make a paste with it, and pretreat any spots; then the remaining paste gets watered down until it is the consistency of liquid detergent and used to wash said whites.

This morning,  I realized that I need to clean my shoes and boots. Most of my sneakers have white soles, and the white was no longer white. 

Since I’m not willing to revisit the gated community to get some state toothpaste, my best free-world alternative is Pepsodent toothpaste. However, with the gas crisis happening in the state of Texas thanks to Harvey, I’m not driving to town for Pepsodent toothpaste. 

So I broke out the next best alternative.

I used baking soda to make a paste.

I used the paste to clean a pair of my sneakers.

I’ve still got all the other pairs left to clean, and I’m bored with the task already. However, I need to make my shoes last so I can take the money I would have spent on new shoes and use it to buy some things for the house. I’ll finish cleaning my sneakers with baking soda, then I’ll bust out the leather cleaner, leather conditioner, and leather sealer; and I’ll deal with my boots.

There’s something calming in the simplicity and repetition of the task, at least; and I can take comfort in knowing that I’m being responsible and not adding to a glut of used clothes and shoes flooding charity shops and resale stores and African villages and whatever else they do with all those things we donate to feel better about ourselves.

Final note:  I’m not judging anybody who does donate stuff to charity shops, because I do it too. It’s definitely better than tossing things into a landfill. I’m just trying to do my part to stem the tide of cast-offs from so much consumption.  If you like to stay on top of the latest trends, that’s great (I really mean that, I get it, I like clothes and shoes too); just be sure to donate the cast-offs so they don’t wind up in landfills. Even the torn and ruined garments don’t go to a landfill when donated, they get sold to textile recyclers.

Composting class

Mr B has a friend that is pretty knowledgeable about composting. This guy has invented a large-scale tumbling composter, and he’s found a freegan spool to make an even larger version of it for me.

I can’t reach all the way to the top. That’s how big this thing is!

Side note: this guy says we’re almost composting on an industrial scale, what with all that backdoor fruit my boss sends home with me. Whoa.

I got to pick his brain about composting. He says my compost heap stinks because it’s gone anaerobic.  It’s gone anaerobic because I haven’t been putting enough brown in it. Brown is stuff like sawdust, wood chips, rotten sticks. He and Mr B had some cellulose left over from one of their product testing experiments, and Mr B and I tossed it into my compost heap. I’ve been instructed to keep my ratio of brown to green roughly equal.

This morning, I went out and added some newspaper and egg cartons, toilet paper and paper towel cores, and plain brown paper from deer feed bags to the old compost heap and started a new one with our household compost bucket contents and more of the paper products.

Sunday, when I go to work, I guess I’ll be doing my boss a favor by cleaning up all of the wood chips all and bits of bark around his firewood stacks so I can at least start trying to match the amount of backdoor fruits & vegetables I bring home. 

Monumental peach jam?

My boss dropped over a bushel of peaches on me yesterday. The texture was off on them, so he asked me if I’d want to try to make anything out of them.

I had to send out a call for help, because there was no way they’d survive the day in my truck in the Texas heat, so I radio’d Mr B.  His sister lives near my work, so she agreed to put them in her very well air-conditioned house until I headed home.

Sunshine just shook his head as he helped me get them in the house.

I don’t blame him.

This morning,  I’ve been getting my shit together to do something with all of these peaches.

I’ve got plans for some peach syrup, some vanilla peach jam, and possibly some canned peaches.

Mr B was gracious enough to come help me get the peaches peeled and sliced.

We got through about half of them before we started running out of containers and counter space. I need a real kitchen desperately! 

I’m now in the early stages of making syrup. After that, jam. Then canned peaches, if I have the energy. I do have a full day of work tomorrow,  after all is said and done today. 

I’m keeping usable food out of the landfill, and I’m using all parts of the peaches. The skins and pits are being used to make the peach syrup.  The small bits and mushy bits are going into the jam. The firm bits will be canned. If I have the energy, that is. This is a lot of fucking peaches. When I’m done for the day, everything unused (or left over) will go into our compost heap.

It’s going to be a long day. Wish me luck!

Electrical plans

The electrical engineer we hired has been great to work with. He came into our project as a friend who already knew that I had been nicknamed “change-order”, so he has double and triple checked that he’s understanding my needs and desires. In exchange,  I’ve been trying to be accommodating when one of my desires is adding a new & difficult twist. 

Prime example: I kind of wanted to put an outlet (that my floor lamps will be plugged into) on a switch on the wall so I could easily turn it off with a switch. When I asked about it, I could see that it was absolutely possible but it complicated things, so I let it go.

Side note: remember, I’m choosing my battles. That wasn’t one of the ones I’m choosing.

When we started painting on the walls to mark cable runs and outlets and switches, I started realizing how complex my kitchen’s electrical was going to be. As the electrical engineer started marking for Sunshine to drill the holes for wiring in the ceiling, I really started understanding how complex; however, the kitchen IS the battle I’m choosing; so I’m not backing down. 

There will be many, many lights and many many outlets. 

The switches for all the living room lights & the ceiling fan will also be on the wall in the kitchen.

It’s definitely a mess of wiring.

Side note: all of those x marks you see all over the foam blocks? Mark the locations of the concrete and steel post & beam systems buried inside the foam insulation blocks.

The living room is a little bit better, but not much. The entertainment center will need multiple outlets at multiple levels.

Yes, that is an electrical outlet in a position over 6′ up the wall. Because the teevee has to have power; and I was a stagehand who liked a clean stage with minimal visible cables and wires, so there has to be an outlet in a position to hide the cord. That’s also why the coaxial cable for our Internet service will be on an outlet instead of having excess cable piled in the floor to trap dustbunnies and hair tumbleweeds.

The walls under the bookcases will need outlets.

Yes, that’s marked LED at an outlet location. One of the outlets will have LED night lights in it, which will be near Mollie’s special place under the bookcases. My furbaby might want to go dig out a toy in the middle of the night without waking us up to turn on a light for her.

Then there’s the quad box next to the ridiculous couch’s future location. It will have one of the USB-port-equipped outlets in it.

Then there’s the lighting in the living room.

Two track fixtures will light up the bookcases and entertainment center. There will be a ceiling fan centered above the living & kitchen areas. There will also be a special spotlight aimed at the mantel area of the fireplace. That one is for lighting up Sunshine’s taxidermied finest hunting achievement that I promised the documentary film crew I would never ever post to social media or any other corner of the Internet. Sorry folks, you’ll never see that one #onhere.

The other USB outlet will go in the bedroom, on Sunshine’s side of the bed. This outlet will also power the window unit air conditioner that we will be using until we can get our geothermal system done.

We haven’t even begun to start pulling wires and such in the bathroom, which is not going to be simple. Recessed lighting over the shower, lighting for the vanity, lighting for the other side of the bathroom (which will house my clothes washer), and a fart-fan. Oh, there’s also electrical outlets, because hair dryer and iron.

For a small house, it’s got a lot going on with the electrical system. Sunshine’s probably not really happy about the expense of it all, but I think he understands that we don’t want to have to do it all again anytime in the future. We’re both of the mindset that it’s best to “measure twice, cut once”. Let’s do it now, while we’re young enough to work to pay for it; it’s only going to be more expensive to upgrade it later.

Even though there’s a lot going on with the electrical system,  most of it will be very eco-friendly and very savings-conscious. All of my lights will be LED, every single one. I will be sure to pick energy star certified appliances.  Our heating & cooling will be geothermal. I’m hoping for a front-load washer. 

We’re trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible; hence the hopes of finding as much as possible at ReStore type places, used appliance shops, thrift shops, and etcetera. It’s important to us that we don’t create waste. Where we have to buy new, I’m trying to be very deliberate in my decisions so that I’m not buying shit just to buy shit. I spent too many years in a mindless existence (active addiction) to be as careless or mindless as I was back then. I’m trying to think ahead now in order to further simplify our lives in the future.

Hustle and flow

It’s been a rough bunch of weeks for my body. It’s August in Texas, so breathing doesn’t exactly come easy to my lungs. COPD is a total motherbitch sometimes. I’ve been struggling with fatigue in a way that I haven’t felt since the antidepressants really started working. My addict brain says “get the doc to increase the dosage”; the 12 steps tell me to hold off until the weather cools back down a bit and see how I’m feeling then. It’s hard, trying to wait; I hate feeling this old, sore, tired, and generally crappy.

It’s our busy season at the produce stand, so work is 10 to 11 hours of non-stop hustle. It’s basically outdoors, and it’s a lot of lifting and toting. It can be brutal in this heat and humidity. 

We’re building a house, so we’ve been non-stop hustle trying to get the place to an air & water tight point so we can slow down a bit. I’m sick of watching Sunshine kill himself to pay for things, and would like to see him rest & relax a bit.

The fall garden is off to a rollicking good start, but I still haven’t planted the squash and beans. Mr B has promised to help me tomorrow morning,  and he’s usually good at figuring out ways to do gardening that aren’t as punishing to our old-ass bodies. Hopefully,  he can prevent the planting from being an entire day of non-stop hustle. 

My trip to Georgia for my sister’s wedding didn’t help matters any. I spent entirely too long in my truck on both parts of the round-trip drive. I actually slept til 10 one morning; my mom was so alarmed she came in and woke me up to make sure I hadn’t died in my sleep. I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with my family, and am glad Sunshine will be with me to share the driving.

Today, I’m off to help the electrical engineer pre-wire our house; another day of non-stop hustle. We really need to save on labor costs whenever possible, so tag-I’m-it.  All I know to do is go with the flow and hope the weather patterns changes soon so I can maybe feel better.