Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Leaving the State

All my family knows, so now I will post it on my blog.  Why are we moving to Colorado when I was planning on staying here in the Great Central Valley forever?  I could say that it's the politics, or the weather, or the lack of water, or the taxes, or lots of things, but those are not the reasons.  I am getting married. I have been divorced for 10 years and next year, summer of 2016, that status will change.

The person I am marrying lives in Colorado, and while future spouse (FS) has lived in California, FS doesn't want to return to California.  I agreed to Colorado but only if I can have farm animals.   FS, who hails from the city, agreed.  We now own 35 acres outside a very small town.  I have no idea what I am getting in to as I've never really experienced the cold.  OK, I have been to Antarctica, but even then it was during summer so the temperature during the day most days was in the balmy 40s. 

Both Boy and Girl are excited, which is good.  In fact, Boy thinks it was his idea.  They like the idea of the country schools on a four day per week schedule.  School starts at 8 and ends at 4, Monday through Thursday.  No more 1/2 days every other Wednesday like they have now.  FS skis so both Boy and Girl are looking forward to that, plus learning how to hunt, as well as getting better at fishing.  Yes, I am going to marry someone who likes useful outdoor activities, winter and summer. 

It's funny because FS does not want to admit being a prepper or more hard core survivalist, but FS is. Where FS has lacked is on food storage.  FS always figured that shopping once a month will always be available and if things got bad, one can just hunt and fish.  I've pushed the gardening, chickens, goats, and food storage for years during our phone conversations.  This past spring FS called to ask how to can peaches.  I had to explain canning jars, boiling water bath, and other things - over the phone.  But they came out fine...at least FS hasn't killed anyone from botulism.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

After 18 Years In One Place...

So many months of not writing.  Way too much going on in life and sometime it's just overwhelming.  But I now have time dedicated a couple of days per week to writing again.  I am looking forward to it.

The biggest news is that next summer we are moving to Colorado.  That means I have one year to sell the two properties and bigger than that, figure out what I get rid of and what makes the 17 hour trek to Colorado.  No, I’m not getting rid of Boy or Girl…

I have been working on the bug-out place, going there about one or two days a month.  Things go slowly when you aren’t there much.  I got the entire place cleaned out.  I had the windows replaced, all 23 of them!  I would have done it myself but none of the windows were a common size so each one needed to be special ordered.  I got them ordered and had the window company install them.  It took 4 workers two days to complete the job of taking the old windows out, putting the new ones in, and trimming the inside and outside around the windows.  It looks good. 

I put five new interior doors in.  I put standard height pre-framed doors in, which meant I had to tear apart the old framing.  It wasn’t the quick and easy project I was expecting but still only took a couple of days to do.  But on our timeframe, a couple of days meant a month until the next project could get started.  Boy and Girl had to figure out how to put the doorknobs on.  I patched all the holes in the walls.  I completely tore out the kitchen down to the walls.  Everything was painted.  I was ready to purchase the carpet and flooring and had just gotten an estimate.  Glad I didn’t put in the order. 

I was out at the house on a Sunday and one of the neighbors and their cousin came by and asked if I was selling the place.  Sure.  I gave them a tour of the house and said if I walk away now, without a kitchen or any flooring, nor updating the bathrooms, then I’d sell it for X price now.  If I finish the place, I’ll add another $50,000 to the property and also list it with a realtor.  The cousin said he wanted it.  I guess I’m selling it then!  It is supposed to close escrow next week.  So we will see how that goes.

Bigger issue is our home that we’ve been in for 18 years.  Since I had intended to stay here forever I accumulated a lot of forever things plus extra.  I have to figure out what should stay with the property or what I take with me or what I sell.  Will it add value to the property?  For example, I have about 250 cattle/hog panels.  These are 16’ panels that work better than any wire fencing ever could.  There are probably about 50 that I am going to take down to open the place up and make it look better.  These 50 cost about $1250.  They won’t add $1250 to the price of the property.  Do I sell them for $500?  Do I take them with me, which would fill up the trailer?  But will cost $500 round trip just in gas to drive the truck.  Sounds like I sell them and buy new (or used) ones once I get there. 

What about the food and household supplies?  It’s an interesting dilemma.  If I want to keep a supply of at least one or two years of food and household supplies on hand, do I move them?  Do I use them up and start stocking up in Colorado on each trip I make out there?  What if TSHTF when I am in the middle of using up these supplies yet due to whatever circumstances, we can’t head to Colorado?  Then what?
Where are we headed?  Our new home, which is now just an empty plot of land with a good well, is just a hop, skip, and a jump from a fellow blogger’s place who I’ve communicated with quite a bit over the years.   It wasn’t planned that way but it is nice to know there are like-minded people in that community.  While many people use the area as their second home, it will be our permanent, full-time place.  The barn will be built and should be finished this summer.   The house will be started but probably not finished by the time we are ready to move. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dangerous and Stupid Driving Incident Today

Today I had a meeting in the city.  We were all to gather at a restaurant for lunch then head to the meeting afterwards.  Since I was in the city I decided to visit a friend that I rarely see.  This friend doesn't live in a great part of town but I figured during the day wouldn't be bad.  I visited for an hour then had to head out to the lunch and then the meeting.  Not wanting to be late for lunch, I made a couple of stupid decisions.  Fortunately all ended up alright.

After leaving my friend's apartment I headed towards the freeway.  I try to stay away from this part of town.  It's not the drive-by shooting during the middle of the day area, but it's still an area with a nefarious crowd.  If you observe the people during your two mile stretch prior to getting on the freeway it you will notice lots of people just wandering: the drunks, drug deals, prostitution, gang members signaling to each other, etc.  It's not a place that I would ever be at night...daytime is bad enough.  But I was there.

On my way to the freeway there was some construction going on along the road.  The two lanes in my direction were moved into one.  The signal at the corner was not working which meant it became a four way stop sign.  This was a very busy corner as the other three directions all had two lanes going straight and one lane turning.  Couple that with the jam of the two lanes in my direction being squished into one lane, it was a very slow process getting through that intersection. 

I should have turned right to take a side street but I didn't.  I figured that even though the traffic was slow at least I was on the main road.  A better place to be when in the bad area of the city.  About four or five car lengths before coming to the intersection is a railroad crossing.  This railroad track is very busy with a train coming every ten minutes or so. 

Today I figured I'll just drive the Prius.  I'm going to be using the truck this weekend, so the truck didn't need to be exercised.  Now I know what I think of a lot of Prius drivers, even though I am one...I remind myself that my "real" vehicle is my pickup!   As I was driving down this road, a large pickup pulled in front of me.  Get on in there, mister.  You are bigger than me, I'll just get behind you.  Doesn't matter to me that I'm one whole car length behind where I would have been. 

We were all in the line of cars.  Slowly the first car would go through the intersection and the rest of the line of cars would creep up one space.  I'm almost to the intersection!  The truck in front of me just crossed over the track.  I'm next and was waiting patiently for the next person in line to go so I could cross over the track.  I don't want to get stuck behind a train.  Knowing my luck it would be one that takes 10 minutes to go through rather than 30 seconds!  

After what seemed like forever the first car went through the intersection.  All the cars in the line moved forward.  I crossed the railroad track then slammed on the brake.  The truck in front of me stopped.  He had lots of space to move forward.  He just didn't.  I honked my horn.  He didn't move.  And there was my car with the back end on the track! Can't back up.  I looked to the right and to the left.  No train.  How am I going to get out of this jam? 

There was no where to go on the right.  But on the left was the very beginning of the turn lane.  I found a way out.  Get into the turn lane and make a left turn.  But no.  I decided to be stupid.  I don't want to turn left.  It will take me out of the way. I want to go straight.  I see the freeway entrance just past this intersection.  Instead, I will make a plan.  If I see a train I will pull into the other lane and make the left turn.  Then it crossed my mind that maybe the left lane will fill up and I won't be able to get into that lane.  Maybe I should just get into the left lane now.  No, I don't need to, I decided.  Since the lane was just starting, if the train arms were coming down then the traffic would stop and I would be able to change lanes and not get smashed by the train.  

Finally, after what seemed like forever of being parked on the train track...no the train didn't come...the front car crossed the intersection and all the vehicles moved up a bit.  Including the jerk in the truck.  Yes, I'm sure he had a good laugh.  Finally  it was my turn to cross the intersection.  As I was crossing I look in my rearview mirror.  There's a motorcycle cop behind me with lights on.  Surely he's not trying to pull me over...there must be an accident ahead or something that he's in a hurry to get to.  So I pull into the right lane to let him pass.  He pulls behind me.  Busted.  I knew right then that I was getting pulled over for getting stopped on the train track. 

He gets off the motorcycle and walks up to the window.  Before he even asked for my license he started lecturing about how dangerous it is to stop on a track.  YOU are responsible for making sure that your vehicle will have enough room to cross the track.  Great, I thought.  He knows the jerk in the truck caused me to get stopped on the track and he's going to give me the ticket anyway.  But polite I was.  He was right and I had been stupid. 

Not only did I cross that track without knowing for sure that there would be space, when I did come up with a good way to put myself into a safe location I chose not to.  I would have been inconvenienced by not getting to go directly onto the freeway.  As he was writing up the ticket a train did go by.  He made sure to point that out to me.  He handed me the ticket and said that I needed to make sure I read the bottom line.  Warning Only - No Court Appearance. 

He had me sign the warning ticket and then told me that they keep track of warnings.  If I do it again they will give me a ticket.  Don't worry.  I won't do it again.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The weekend is over so quickly!

We had a high of 70 today.   The chickens laid some eggs this weekend.  They haven't laid eggs all winter and I certainly wasn't going to buy any at $4.00 a dozen.  For store bought eggs!  Never!  We have still eaten eggs this winter.  During summer when we had so many I froze some.  I know you can separate yolks from whites and freeze them separately if you want.  I didn't.  Instead I cracked the eggs and whisked them up like I was going to make scrambled eggs.  I didn't cook them, just mixed them all together.  Then I froze them in the ice cube tray.  Two egg cubes equaled one egg.  After they were frozen I individually wrapped each cube.  I didn't have to, I could have packed them six or eight cubes into a baggie or at least wrap two cubes together, which makes one egg...but I didn't.  I then took all the wrapped cubes and put them into a couple of big freezer bags.  We did use them sparingly or we would have run out.  But this next summer, I am going to freeze them a little differently.  If I know we can use six eggs while making scrambled eggs for breakfast then it would be convenient to freeze those six eggs into a baggie.  Each bag could then be taken out of the freezer for a meal.  You defrost them in the refrigerator over night, or in our case, if we didn't plan you just defrost them in a bit of water and break the cubes apart with a fork.  The little bit of water will cook away so it's not a big deal. 

Since I forgot to finish pruning the fruit trees, yes really I did, I figured I'd better get started.  I got several done today.  Since last year I did such a good job, many just need a slight trim rather than a full pruning.  The prune plum needed a lot of work.  The tree tried to fall over a few years ago and now is just at enough of an angle that it's really hard to prune it well without it completely falling over due to too much weight from a good crop. I probably have to spend another day or two trimming trees but if we keep having warm weather I may run out of time.  I got the cherries trimmed since they are the first to bloom. 

One of the nice things about living in the Great Central Valley is the variety of fruit that I can grow.  I can almost grow everything I want.  Almost.  Today I picked oranges, lemons, and grapefruit from the trees.  Just last week I picked the last of the persimmons before they got too soft and the birds finished them off. 

I also watered all the trees.  It's the first time I've turned on the drip irrigation since last summer and only one of the hoses had a hole in it.  I also tried to water the raspberries but one of the sprinkler joints was cracked and water was spurting out in the wrong direction.  The ground is still damp from the little bit of rain we had last week.  Normally at this time of year the ground is saturated and you can't walk through the trees without sinking down into the mud up past your ankles.  I decided to water to try to saturate the ground.  I'm concerned that if we keep up the dry winter that this summer will be really stressful on the trees.  I water them each week from spring on because we don't get any rain at all during the summer and very little once April comes.  So now, I'm trying to recreate what a normal winter would be.  I will water again next weekend, and every weekend until we get some rain...if we get some rain.

Blind cat has made great strides this week.  First he relearned how to use the cat box.  He has been afraid of the cat box since he went blind.  He didn't care wear he was in the house or outside, he would just squat and go.  This is not good!  Fortunately I don't have carpet in the house or I know I'd be a lot less tolerant.  I found some cat litter that said it was guaranteed that the cats would use it.  I put it in my room and had to pick him up and put him into the cat box two or three times per day.  He'd jump out and I'd put him right back in.  And he would use the box.  He wouldn't go in on his own but would go every time I put him in.  The past few days he's gone on his own!  Hallelujah!  He also has been jumping onto the cat food table (I keep the cat's food elevated so the dogs don't get to it) and eating out of the regular cat dishes.  I'm not heating up his food and putting it next to the water bowl.  And just today, I was moving my finger in front of his face.  He was tracking me from directly in front and going towards his right side.  He has vision in his right eye.  Real vision!  Nothing in the left eye, but he can see and eat and take care of business.     

I'm going to have a good variety of things to do at work this week.  Monday and Tuesday will be normal long days, Wednesday I have a meeting in the city so I will be home to see the kids off to school and may even do some yard work before I head into town.  We are meeting for lunch at Red Robin prior to the meeting and the boss is buying.  I always bring home extra fries for the kids.  Thursday I will get a ride in the company helicopter and fly over the mountains for a meeting.  It's a cool part of the job!  And this Friday I am off.  Although I'm off every other Friday, this will be the first one in almost two months where it will just be me.  No grandkids home for school vacation, no doctor appointments for Girl.  Just me from 7:30 until 3:30.  I'll probably do yard work.  Unfortunately Spring is just about here.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Trying out an Emergency Essentials dinner meal

What a day I had yesterday.  I started off the day by forgetting to say good morning to Boy before I left the house.  I said good morning to Girl then got distracted.  Then I almost hit a fox that was drinking water out of a puddle on the side of the road.  The car scared it and it ran right in front of me.  I was able to slow down and missed it.  Got to work and had a good, smooth day, until almost time to go home. 

Army daughter, her husband, and cute little granddaughter moved to Houston in October.  On my way home AD called to say that they may move back within the next six months or so.  What? They are making rash decision after rash decision and losing a bunch of money each time they do.  I told her if they aren’t going to stay in Houston then think big.  Why come back to the Great Central Valley?  Didn’t you want to leave because of the bad air quality?  Now is the time to really plan something.  You can choose anywhere in this country.  Anywhere!  And I’m not promising that I’m going to stay here so don’t come because I’m here.  AD said that I’m here now, so they may move back just for that.  Stupid decision.  On the other hand I’d love to have them back.  I could use someone to watch Boy and Girl when I travel.  And I miss cute little granddaughter, oh, and AD and son-in-law too.

AD will want to talk about it more later.  As I was sitting at my desk with my mind wandering…sorry about that great employer of mine… I got a phone call.  The person asked for me.  They said I didn’t know them but they had a report I wrote back in 1996 and the regulators are asking that someone updates the report since it’s so old.  This person wanted to know if I would be interested in updating the report.   A day in the field and a day on the computer:  Two days work for about a week of pay.   I may just say yes, other than I’m not sure if I want to give up a weekend.

I won a contest! Luck of the draw.  I won the book  A Time to Endure by Kyle Pratt.  Looking forward to reading it and I’ll give you my thoughts on it when I finish.  Thanks www.ApartmentPrepper.com!  (And my name isn't Dee.  Dee didn't respond to the email that she won, so they picked again!)

Last week I bought Emergency Essentials Dinner Bucket One Month Supply for $119 less a $10 off coupon plus free shipping from Overstock.com.  It sounded interesting because it had 126 individually packaged single servings.  That’s a little less than $1.00 per item.  Sounds good until you realize that 62 of them are individual drink servings.  That’s ok, it still means about $2.00 per serving for a meal or meal portion.  I thought it would be good to keep the bucket at work or even in the trailer and car.  We were very excited when the bucket came in a plain brown box.  No screaming FOOD PREP here!  While I’d rather buy from a small prepping company, I’m not always thrilled when the boxes have their name splashed all over. 

We opened the bucket and each meal was individually packaged in heavy white plastic. (*note -Tonight I used the potato soup mix and noted that they are in Mylar pouches not plastic.  But the Mylar is covered with a white layer.) The air wasn’t removed.   It was not easy to tear open the packages so I cut them open.   While it said a month of dinners, not including the drinks there are 64 packages.  Some items used two packages (noodles and sauce) and some of the items you were instructed to open use more than one package for your meal.  There was also a menu sheet that told you how many of each item to use per meal.  It included two drink packages per meal.  All you do is add water.  Easy.

We only made three drink packages, with each making 8 ounces.  I looked at the nutrition label for it and although it had some vitamins and minerals in it there was no vitamin C.  I thought that was odd.  You’d just sort of expect fake orange drink to have vitamin C.   The drink tasted like orange Koolaid.  The grandkids said it was better than orange Koolaid.  I’m not getting into a Koolaid debate.  It was flavored sugar water.

I don’t remember it explaining in the ad that each item needed to be cooked for 10-20 minutes.  It says to boil the water, stir in the food, then simmer for that amount of time.  That would be a lot if you were concerned about cooking fuel. I could boil up the water and then use much less of the water and mix it together and put it into my ice chest slow cooker and leave it there all day.  It would probably cook up that way.  I will have to try it.  For last night’s dinner we just used two pots on the stove.

Boy and I had the Chicken Teriyaki.  Girl had the Beef Stew.  We had some left over spaghetti noodles from a couple days ago that Girl had smothered with peanut oil.  I figured that would be good to go with the dinner, especially since I didn’t know how large or small the portions would be.  For the chicken teriyaki, the picture on the label shows nice chunks of chicken on top of rice.  Boy opened the package and asked where the chicken was.  See these little specks of white that aren’t the pieces of rice?  That’s the chicken.  You were expecting large pieces?  The final product was a little runny.  I could have cooked it more but since we were putting this over the noodles I figured a little sauce would be good.  And it was.   

Girl loves DInty Moore beef stew and will eat an entire can for a meal.  This smelled like Dinty Moore so I thought she would like it. It didn’t look like Dinty Moore.  There were no chunks, just small pieces.  The peas were probably the largest pieces of food or vegetable.  Even the potato pieces were half the size of the peas.  And meat?  I think it was all TVP with beef flavor.  As I said, it smelled good.  Girl took a taste and said she couldn’t eat it.  Too salty.  She passed her bowl on to me.  I took a taste.  It tasted like stew flavored salt.  Even the bottomless pit Boy took a taste and said no!  What to do with the stew?  I tried to feed it to the dogs and cats.  They eat anything…except the Emergency Essentials Beef Stew. 

The bucket suggested that you should use more than one package for your meal.  Most meals use two or even three packages.  One package did make enough for one person, if they were not a big eater.  If we didn’t have the noodles we would have walked away hungry.   

I will also use my slow cooker method to see if cooking them that way will work.  The texture doesn’t compare to Mountain House, or even the bucket that I bought previously from Costco.  I am hoping that the beef stew package had an accidental double helping of salt and the rest of the beef stew packs will be alright.  I won’t plan a dinner around it though!  We will try the other dishes soon. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Just a typical day off

I had a Friday off and was home to see the grandkids off to school - they were both in good moods this morning!  That started the day off right.  Army daughter is in town for a few days.  She has Boy and Girl for the evening and will bring them home after they see a movie.  So what did I do today  other than writing this post?  Odds and ends chores.  What else?  I do like puttering around the property so it seems logical that I would be doing chores. 

After I saw them onto the bus, I met with a window contractor and we headed up to the bug-out place.  While I could replace the broken windows myself, there's still so much that I need to do up there and I don't have unlimited spare time, I figured I'll see what the estimate for someone else doing the work would be.  I may end up doing them myself if he wants to charge more than what I think he should.  The entire bug-out house is cleared out.  The walls all have a first coat of paint.  I still need to remodel both bathrooms and the kitchen but first things first are the doors!  There are only two interior doors left in the house.  Son punched holes in them and removed the rest (and probably sold them).  Both bathrooms still have doors.  Unfortunately the hall bathroom door doesn't close because he "rebuilt" the door frame.  So while I was there I took the measurements of all the door openings.  Maybe this weekend I'll purchase them and bring them up there.  After that I will repair the bathrooms, then put in the new flooring, then the kitchen. 

It takes three trips to the bug-out place to fill up the truck and trailer before I make the dump run.  I still have several more trips to go to get the stove, dishwasher, sink, and heater out of there.  It could all be completed in a week or two of solid working on the place but I don't want to take vacation time to work on it.  This means that we get up there on average about two times per month.  It makes the process go very slow! 

With my schedule this week I left each day before the sun came up and got home after dark.  Today I had a day off so it was a good day to check on everything.  I figured I'd better bring out the bowl of food scraps for the chickens that's been on the kitchen counter all week.  I got out to the chicken coop.  One chicken was dead.  The rest were doing fine and none were pecking on the dead one.  Most of my  chickens are on the old side and they are just dying off one by one.  I have one young hen that is broody all the time.  This spring I will put a bunch of eggs in her nest and we will hopefully have a fresh crop of chicks.  I have incubators to raise the eggs inside but since we have the broody hen I may as well try to get some chicks the natural way! 

We lost a goat last weekend.  The goats were all fine in the morning.  We left for a few hours and when I pulled back into the yard I noticed her sleeping in the goat shed.  That was just odd for the middle of the afternoon so I stopped the car and got out only to find her dead.  I don't know what happened.  She was pregnant but not due for another month. 

I think blind cat may be getting some vision back.  Either that or he's just getting more confident in his ability to get around.  He climbed a few feet up a tree the other day.  He's also jumping up and down on furniture, and although I'm not crazy about him getting on the furniture, I'm pleased that he's getting around.  I'm still heating his dry food in the microwave twice a day.  It's a trick the vet taught me.  When you heat dry dog or cat food for about 15 seconds the fats in the food heat up and liquefy.  It makes the food smell really good (at least if you are an animal).   

I fired Pest Control a few months ago.  We just kept getting bugs and moths in the kitchen and home store.  I figured I couldn't do any worse than them at keeping the house bug free.  I had been keeping track of what they were using both inside and outside.  I was able to buy the same exact products on Amazon and have them shipped to the house.  I bought a sprayer dedicated for the pest control.  The house has been pretty much pest free since I took over the task!  I 've bought moth traps, bug spray, sticky pads for catching mice, etc. It's costing me a lot less than the $35 a month that they were charging as well.  I just have to make sure that I schedule the time to do it.  If I don't schedule it on the calendar I tend to forget!  Now Girl is complaining because she needs to feed her pet newts some bugs and there aren't any in the house.  Poor Girl has to dig some up in the yard!

I also cleaned out two shelves which hold all the medications.  When Mrs. Bug-out renter used to visit she'd clean me out of Tylenol, Excedrin, Advil, as such.  So I kept way more on hand than we'd ever need.  But she doesn't come around as much so now we have lots of stuff that's outdated.  I don't know how long that stuff all lasts so it's probably time to get some more.  How much of that is enough anyway?  We hardly ever get sick but one thing that the doctor did tell me to do was when I come in from a day of  heavy lifting or yard work to take a Tylenol and Advil as preventative measures for aching muscles in the evening.  I do this one or two times per month and it works well.
I got a sweet tooth craving while I was kneading the dough for our weekend loaves of bread.  Instead of the normal loaves we now have a pan of cinnamon raisin sweet rolls and a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread.  Well, we did have a pan of sweet rolls.  There's a few missing!  I put the rest into a plastic container.  No one will be the wiser! 

The weeds are taking over the garden walkways.  I go out each weekend to pull weeds and the next weekend they are all back again!  The chickens enjoy it and it also means they eat less of the store bought grain, so I'll just keep on pulling weeds.  There aren't too many in front and I can usually keep up with them each time I go out front to check on the goats.  There's a good outdoor light in that area so I can pull up a few weeds each day even when it's dark outside. 

It's almost time to trim the fruit trees.  Boy is still too small to do the task.  Girl can do it but she doesn't quite get how to do it right.  I had the older grandsons do it for me a few years ago but they aren't around here anymore.  So I guess it is my turn.  There's about 25 that need to be trimmed while they are dormant.  There are a few citrus that need some trimming but that can be done at any time.  These dormant ones need to be trimmed first.  I just keep waiting for it to get cold and rainy.  It's not doing either. 

I also keep going on-line to check out some property locations in different states.  I'm still not sure if I want to take the leap and move but it's fun to look.  At some point I'm going to have to go see these areas in person as looking at pictures and actually seeing the places aren't the same.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cleaning and cooking

This weekend I was in a spring cleaning mood.  Yes, I know it is not spring.  Tell that to the weatherman.  We had a high of 65 today.  Our low will be in the mid-40s.  There is no rain in sight.  So today I tackled a closet.  Not just any closet, but the junk closet.  This closet is 6x7.  It held a lot of stuff.  It does have cases of Gatorade and water along the back wall.  Wow, so much stuff in front of it that we haven’t been rotating those bottles.  Some of the water was dated 2010.  Not that water goes bad but the plastic bottles start to denigrate.  Some of the Gatorade was dated 2011.  Need to get those out and rotated. 

What was piled in front of the drinks?  Buckets of rice and wheat.  No wonder I wasn’t rotating the drinks.  It’s a pain to move those buckets!  What was in front of the buckets? Papers, clothes, and just stuff that got thrown into the closet to get it out of the way.  It started filling up the closet so much that there wasn’t much room to walk in anymore. 

This closet has a double rack for clothing along one of the side walls.  There’s nothing in that closet that I wear.  What was in there?  Cute dresses that Girl wore when she was little.  Old uniforms of mine when I worked for the government.  Lots of uniforms.  There were two different unions: one just gave people money for uniforms and hoped they spent the money on uniforms, while the other reimbursed you up to a certain amount each year.  If you didn’t buy uniforms you didn’t get a check.  Those who were just handed a check wore crappy looking uniforms and those who got reimbursed always looked good.  And the public expected us to look good.  I was in the group that got reimbursed, so I always bought new stuff each year. 

I didn’t get rid of the old stuff because we were always supposed to have a bag on us that included two weeks worth of clothes.  My bag always included seven pairs of pants and 14 or 15 t-shirts plus a couple of uniform shirts.  That’s in addition to my closet full of daily uniforms that I would wear.  So in total, I always rotated about 20 sets of clothes.  We really got so filthy that we had to change every day.  By the end of the second day the pants would be standing stiff without me in them!  

Now that I don’t work for the government I have all these clothes taking up almost five feet of space between what’s hanging and the stacks of folded t-shirts.  I retired from there two years ago already.  So I put them all up for sale.  Pants, t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, sweaters, you name it, it’s for sale.  Boy was pissed off.  He wants them.  I do let him wear some of the t-shirts.  In fact, all the grandkids have been given old t-shirts to wear.  The kids at school think the grandkids are cool when they wear them!  Don’t worry Boy, there will still be plenty for you.  There are some of them that I can’t sell because they have special designations on them.  Only the generic shirts can go for sale. 

There were three huge stacks of papers and books.  Some of the papers dated back to when I was in college.  Not only were there reports that I wrote but also class notes and articles.  Who needs that?  Not I.  OK, maybe the really cool A++ paper from when I was in 8th grade.  It was a history report and I interviewed my grandfather, who came across the US in a covered wagon…they were really poor because it was in 1904!  He told me about them living in Utah on 1/3 acre and had 100 chickens in the yard.  He was also the oldest of 5 kids and they lived in a three room (two bedrooms and a main room) log cabin.  The four girls were in one room.  His parents in the other.  His bed was the kitchen table.  So I still have that paper.  I’ve kept it over 40 years, so why not keep it longer?  But, really, class notes and articles for The Evolutionary Development of Homo Sapien. Cognitive Brain Development.  and Applied Statistics.  Those all went into the recycle bin.  So did the papers I wrote for those classes.   I filled the entire recycle trash can.

I was pleasantly surprised that there were no mouse droppings to be found in the entire closet.  I don’t know how that could have happened but I’m sure glad it was clean.  I’ve had so many problems with moths and there weren’t any moths trying to attack the buckets of rice or wheat.  Yes, they are in mylar bags and then in five gallon buckets but those moths are amazing in what they can get into. 

The kids start back to school tomorrow.  Finally.  Three weeks of Christmas vacation is a week too long.  Boy did ask to do some chores for money today.  He got all his regular things done so I put him on a task that I said I’d pay by the t-post (every 8 feet).  I had him clearing brush.  It was a miserable job and I was happy that he wanted to take it on.  He cleared 9 posts for 72 feet.  8 posts to go if he wants to earn more money.  

During their vacation I had each of them cooking dinner for us.  I didn’t want them to use the stove while I wasn’t home but microwaving was fine as was getting all the ingredients together and then cooking them when I got home.  Some of the dinners were easy, like chili-mac.  Boil noodles, open a can of chili, and top with grated cheese.  On Friday, Girl decided to make a broccoli/cauliflower casserole.  She made a white sauce, added seasonings and cheese, reduced it in the oven, poured it over the steamed vegetables, then baked it in the oven.  It sounded good and looked good.  It was awful.  I guess we should have determined if we all liked that much turmeric before she made it!  I told her to write directly into her cookbook the date she made it and what she liked and didn’t like about it.  She also put a note in there that if someone doesn’t like turmeric they won’t like that recipe.  Boy made meatballs in a broth over egg noodles for dinner tonight.  The meatballs were mushy but had good flavor.  I had seconds.  Girl hated it.  I want them to get used to reading and understanding cookbooks.   It certainly brings meaning to using fractions and measurements.  I’d like to say it gives me a break but it doesn’t yet.  I still supervise and remind them to go in order and not accidently leave out main ingredients, or in boy’s case today one teaspoon of salt, not one tablespoon!  But sometime in the future I will be able to come home from work to a piping hot, tasty dinner made by two very talented young teens.