Monday, February 28, 2011

I Am Addicted To Crack (Thanks Indiana!)

And by crack I mean green tea lattes from Starbucks sans syrup. Their matcha already has sugar mixed into it, I don't see the need for the syrup - it really just makes my teeth hurt. The man (and one of my favorite baristas) thinks they taste like grass, I think they're awesome.

Alas, my relationship with said crack is sometimes strained for one of two reasons: 1) I'm unemployed and broke and the $3.77 could be spent on groceries or gas, and 2) I'm trying to be productive and going to Starbucks = leaving the property = not being productive (unless I'm also going to upload several blog posts and look for jobs online).

Thankfully, on the days that I don't go into town, I don't need to be without my crack. I make one at home.

It's actually pretty easy to make foamy milk (notice I did NOT say 'steamed') at home. My Dad heats milk up in a saucepan and stands over it with a whisk and twirls the whisk meticulously to make a nice foamy milk for every latte he has every day (this adds up to oodles. Just so many cups of coffee....). Or he did until I got him a nespresso. The best gift I've ever given him. Especially since they weren't that popular when I got it for him and they were a good $20 cheaper.

There's also the microwave option.

I don't have a microwave, and I'm not going to stand over a saucepan with a whisk. I'm just not going to do it.

This is my solution:

Utensils. Not shown: spoon.
Heat milk on the stove. While milk is heating, add desired amount of matcha and sugar to jar with a lid. A new lid. Not last year's jam's lid. You'll thank me later when hot green milkiness stays in the jar instead of spewing out all over the place.

Add a teensy bit (like a tablespoon or so) of hot milk to the jar, and stir/smoosh with a spoon to get rid of any lumps. You can also swizzle with a whisk, but that defeats the purpose of making it this way - you could have just done the whole thing on the stove with said whisk. You can also ignore this steps if you don't mind getting some small lumps of green tea at the bottom of your jar. I don't care and usually don't want to get a spoon dirty.

Pour the hot milk into the jar. Close the lid. Firmly. Check to make sure it doesn't leak. (If it does, just wrap a kitchen towel around the band and hear me chanting "I told you so" in your ear as you curse last year's jam's lid). Shake like hell.


Crack. Not very green, as my matcha is not very new.

Where do I get matcha powder? Honestly - from my mom. She lives in Vancouver and has better access to Asian goods. Asian grocery stores usually carry it, and you can get it online from amazon and tea companies and the like. Beware of tea aisles in conventional supermarkets - 'matcha teabags' are a trend. A trend that makes no sense to me, whatsoever, btw.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Snail Mail Inspiration

I had written about my daily walks to the mailbox at the end of the day, before, but today the act of it saved me.

As I mentioned previously,  I’m having a rough week. Things are just really, really hard. Long winter, long unemployment, long bout of being alone, long distance relationship – things just kind of seemed to stack up against me.

But I walked back to Melvin through the upper and then the lower meadow (I know I know! I have mentioned a map before. STILL working on it! I can not draw, and Google Maps does not enlarge to the fine detail needed to map my puny conquered territory. I will make dinner for anyone who volunteers to. Quick! Before the driveway’s muddy again!), and I couldn’t help but have my mood lifted. No mean feat, I may add, as it was 76 degrees yesterday and topped out at 40 today. The weather has been up and down, and really cold at spells, and there the trees were starting to bud. It always comes as a sort of surprise – you know spring is going to get here eventually and then every year the trees spring to life after seeming dead for months, and yet you can never quite believe it when they do. I stood there freezing my ass off and being completely blown away by the sheer survival power in them. And then I fell (again. Twice in two days. This is bullshit.), and almost landed in the biggest clump of wild roses I’ve ever seen, and all I could think was, “I hope I get to see these guys in full bloom!”.

And, I decided, that’s how I feel about this whole farm. And yes, there’s absolutely nothing growing on it yet, but this is a FARM. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

So You Want To Grow Your Own Food, Huh?

It’s been a tough week. Continuing unemployment, breaking and then having to replace my phone ($268!), a hot and then a cold turn of the weather in a 24 hour period – needless to say in pondering how to get OUT of my current circumstances, I keep thinking about the things that got me here.
Namely, “I want to grow my own food”.
To be utterly fair and honest – and at the risk of pissing off my newly adopted home state of North Carolina in the process) - I had wanted to do this in California. “Homestead”, “Hobby Farm”,  Urban Farmer”, “Back to the Lander” – the labels are many. And they all carry slightly different connotations – that differ between user, but hey?! No one really knows what they mean anyway. Not in California where idealism runs rampant and everyone is just so sure that whatever scheme they’ve come up with with absolutely work out. Eco-engine lube out of snail slime? Industry changer!! (See my point?) And certainly not here where for the most part people have been trying to get by for as long as they can remember and honestly, who has the time to mess around with snail slime, anyway?
The decision to leave California was cinched as my parents had 40 acres of vacant property fortuitously in an agricultural area central North Carolina, that they were willing to let me run wild on. Granted this area has seen better days and the few farmers that are left are farming because that’s who they are, and if they stopped farming, life would stop for them. They certainly don’t love it, and they certainly don’t make a good living from it – it’s just their entire world. (“You want to farm?” **perplexed look**) California was great, but expensive and the whole place was starting to get to me just a wee bit. Even in the extremely laid-back and awesome northern California there seemed to be a bit of gilded on glamour that just didn’t quite fit, and it was irking me. Add to that the head-in-the-clouds tendencies, the fact that it was so damn expensive, and I was recently unemployed… a move just seemed like the right thing to do. So I came here.
And I love it here. Absolutely. The property, the region, the everything. I hate to sound condescending, but there’s an air of honesty to the place and the people that populate it that’s so refreshing. Even when the charming smiling man is blatantly lying through his teeth at you, or at the very least telling you what you want to hear – it’s hard to explain.
But I digress from the thought that prompted the title of this post. Right. Back on track now. The label thing. 
When people ask me what I’m doing, I have to do a fair amount of explaining around what it is that I want to do. “Hobby Farm” sounds like I’ve got a glamorous career somewhere and I happen to farm on the side because I thought it’d be a charming way to spend my weekend afternoons. “Homesteading” is closer to my goals here – I would very like to be able to live off of the farm 100% sustainably, but that’s really extremely unlikely. Power, water, etc, aside – I’m not going to grow wheat just so I can have bread and pasta. Nope. Not going to do it. There are people better suited for it, I am only one person, and I just don’t want to. And not going to stop eating bread and pasta, either. “Urban Farmer” – dude. I live on 40 acres of woods 10 miles out of town. People from town complain about having to drive out this far to go hunting. ‘Nuff said. “Back to the Lander” is not only totally and extremely awkward to say, but just doesn’t describe it. It sounds like I wandered off the property, got lost in the ways of chips and soda and boxed mac’n’cheese, and realized I was lost with a cute blonde ‘oops’ and then popped a U-turn. (OK – maybe that one IS closer than I thought).
So I say “I want to grow my own food”. To my credit I don’t often have to expand upon this. For one of two reasons, I think. 1) it’s pretty self-explanatory, and 2) having already established I most recently moved out here from California, it has been assumed that I’m insane and “growing my own food” are totally the words of a mad woman.
But it’s worth it. I have absolutely nothing to show for it (yet). I haven't even managed to get the raised beds built*, nor have I solved where I’m going to get the water from for the garden, where the grapes are going to go, where the fig tree is going to go, where the berries are going to go, where the money for food in the meantime is going to come from,  am I done cutting down trees for the year, or should I in fact cut down those other 6 I marked earlier…..but I can say this. Yesterday was possibly the worst day I have had in years, and I still want to be here. I forced myself out of bed this morning, and forced myself to start working outside. I had an epiphany relating to something VERY far in the future – and I caught myself dreaming about said future. And I realized that if I am dreaming about the future here, I can make something work.
My mom has told people that the one thing that you need to have with you when you homestead (and a much more appropriate phrase at that time – we were trying to get water and power and all we did ALL day was think about how to make this land habitable….) is a good cook. I would like to propose a revision to that list. You need: 
  • A good cook – mom was right about this one. If you have to physically and mentally work your ass off ALL DAY LONG, you deserve a good, tasty, meal. It does wonders for morale.
  • A good companion - I love my dog and she is amazing, but I miss my mother being out here to share the trials and the triumphs with. “I got that rock moved!” just doesn’t resonate with people who don’t know as well as you’d think.
  • A vice -  during a move into this lifestyle it is NOT the time to give up coffee/cigarettes/chocolate/whateveryourviceis. It just isn’t, and you will make yourself go crazy. Embrace it.
More importantly, though - you also need enough naivety that the daunting nature of your adventure doesn’t really sink in, but a solid enough base of knowledge to get over those hurdles when they pile on you.
All of this I have learned, and I haven't managed to grow anything yet. Just think how sanctimonious I’ll be once I pull something off!!

*I built 2 raised beds the day I wrote this post. Just after I wrote this post.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I have a very large family. I suppose when you start looking at all the tenuous branches that branch out from a family tree, it’s going to get big regardless, but mine still seems to be big. None of us have all that many siblings – there are just a lot of multiple marriages and whatnot that have a tendency to up the number.

Especially since a good part of my family either has the cultural background or the social tendency to count EVERYONE mildly related as family.

For example, I have been extremely lucky in this venture in terms of family. Granted the NC relations aren’t extremely close, but they’re more related than many of the cousins I know very well. When we descended upon Burlington, my great-uncle and great-aunt, and their daughter and grand kids have been nothing but extremely generous and hospitable. My cousin (loose term) has been called upon to manhandle the gas auger for the anchors for the shed, and to pull poor Esmeralda out of the mud (pre-awesome mud tire, of course!).  They opened their house and their hearts to us, and we are forever grateful. And it has been great to have an excuse to get to know them better without some holiday/function/time constraint involved.

Then  there are those members of the family that you don’t ever exactly expect to meet – and it surprises the hell out of you when you do. When I was going away to college (in Minnesota, and I was coming from Japan), my grandmother off-handedly told me I had a second cousin entering the same college at the same time as me. I thought this was pretty cool, and while I told my new friends about it, I must admit I did very little to try to find her. 2 or 3 days after starting school, I was at a party and my friend introduced me to my cousin. Evidently she had  off-handedly told my friend she had a cousin at that school, and my friend put two and two together. We were instant friends.

But I was completely blown away by the generosity from an unexpected direction the other day – my mother’s first (? Second? Oh Lone Reader – you wanna clarify?) cousin sent me a box of goodies. I have never met her, and my understanding is that she and my mother lost touch (the occasional Christmas card does not count) after their childhood. My mom, her sisters, and that whole round of first cousins had a reconnection recently at a family reunion in California, and they have been in touch since. Ironically she lived in the south bay and I lived just north of San Francisco, but everything for them came together as I was getting ready to leave, so alas we never got together. 

And now that I am on the east coast and she on the west, we have been friends on FB (the evil I love to hate) and she sent me a care package full of kitchen and bath goodies (and deer whistles!) that managed to arrive right when I was having a bit of a down moment. It was so nice and unexpected of her to do – I am still blown away. A beautiful letter was included, and that in of itself would have been more than enough to put a smile on my face. 

Long story short, family is family in whatever way you define it. For me it’s whoever comes into my life and makes me want to put a smile on their face – tenuous blood relation, close relation or no blood shared at all. Family is family and it makes the difficulty of being out here alone and doing this way scary thing by myself less daunting, and more of an adventure.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Very Proud of Myself

I am extremely proud of myself.

I am still scrambling to get enough trees down to let light into the garden area (which I have YET to build the raised beds for….yikes!), and I am almost there. OK. On Wednesday I was almost there. I have been cutting down one or two trees in the morning with the chainsaw, and then spending the rest of the day using hand tools to cut up the branches off of them and burn them as I go. I hate the massive brush piles everywhere from when we were in a rush to get places cleared for the driveway, the camper, the shed, and the well – we just didn’t have the time to deal with it at the time.

So on Wednesday I was cutting down the last tree I was going to do that day, and I was on the last cut. The saw was an inch from where it needed to be for the tree to come down. And sure enough the damn thing leaned AWAY from the notch, and pinched the saw.  I cut it off and hopped out of the way so I could take a look at the thing and see how stable it was.

It wasn’t going anywhere.

Since I no longer have the assistance of my forestry-savvy father, OR The Beast, I took a seat on a stump and sat there for a while.

I decided to throw a line up into it as high as I could and see if I could yank it off the saw (if not down). Except the only line I had was 75’, and I got it so high up in the tree, by the time it looped around, I wasn’t NEARLY far enough away to want to pull this 16” diameter tree towards me.

Thank you Grandpa, for giving me that tape measure oh so many years ago. I would not have gotten the line so far up in the tree without it on the end.

I drove to Lowe’s (seriously. My family should own stock in them at this point, we spend SO MUCH money there), hoping for inspiration. I called my parents, mostly because complaining to Zora just doesn’t quite cut it. I also got a hamburger for sustenance. Sometimes a giant burger is just the thing one needs. (The rest of the time it’s usually BBQ)

I got 2 lines at 100’ each. I attached on to the line already up in the tree, got almost all the way on the end of it, and heaved. Yeah. It swung about 6 inches at the very tippy-top of the tree. I scratched my head, and remembered I had bought 2 lines. So. I heaved on the first one as hard as I could, wrapped it around another tree and tied it off.

I went back and threw the other 100’ line up in the tree right where the first line was (thanks again Grandpa!), and looped it around the same limb. I was kind of afraid that if I kept pulling on the ropes where they were looped the limb might break off, but I figured then I’d have less tree weight to try to maneuver, so I thought I’d go with it anyway. I got the second line at a 90 degree angle to the first, and heaved. This time the tree didn’t even put up a fight and came right down, neatly dissecting the right angle in the middle.

I managed to squish my wheelbarrow (it was clear of the first two potential paths, just not the final one…oops), but my saw is fine, I am fine, the dog is fine, and that SOB is down.

But I’m not only proud of myself for getting the tree down (for which I am mighty proud of myself) – I am proud of myself for not doubting that I could, and for not getting super frustrated at any time during the whole process. In fact, the thought that I couldn’t bring it down never crossed my mind. The only thing that bugged me was that I lost a day to getting it down and to rebuilding the wheelbarrow (it’s almost as good as new. Almost). Then I remembered that it could have gone much much worse, and once again all was well.

And 70 degree weather with a gentle breeze and a beer at the end of the day in front of a fire that consisted of mostly branches from said tree was priceless.


Post-tree, pre-rebuild. It's (almost) as good as new now. I highly recommend this wheelbarrow. Tough as hell!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Beloved Tin Can

Several people have asked me what it's like living in an Airstream. If you've never been in an RV or a boat cabin, it's kind of hard to describe. And if I can't describe it, you can't imagine it.

Thankfully, some dude made a video on YouTube that is a little walk through of the exact year, make & model of Airstream as my beloved Melvin. Melvin is a little bit more beat up here and there, but is still in great shape (to the eye. Some of the water systems etc are having issues....) So. If you'd like to attempt to wrap your head around what I call home, knock yourself out:

And keep in mind, it's 31ft long. The whole thing.

I love mine, and I have yet to meet (or hear of) an Airstream owner that doesn't.

Zelda Cake of Awesomeness

As many of you may or may not know, I LOVE making cakes. I do. I can't help it. It's like playing with play dough that you get to EAT. It's awesome.

Mike's favorite video game is The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past.

(Pause for dramatic effect and for the man to stop wanting to kill me for blogging that).

When I was in elementary school, Nintendo decided to blow the roof off the video game industry and change the face of home entertainment forever (IMHO). In 1992, when Link to the Past was released, I was living in the seat of Nintendo geekdom: Japan. We were not allowed to get a Nintendo. Not when they came out when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade, not after I moved to Japan in 1990. I hold my mother responsible for my awkward social engagements later on in life when I desperately tried to get OUT of playing video games in a group setting - if you didn't play as a kid, there is no way you could keep up by the time I was in College. So. Thanks for that mom. But here I go off on a tangent.

Mike had a birthday a few weeks ago and all I wanted to do was make him a really cool Zelda cake. I schlepped all the supplies over here to his and everything. And then I succumbed to the sickness. It sucked, and to make matters worse I couldn't make the cake.

This past week, I decided that I was feeling better and that since I was coming out here this weekend, I'd surprise him with a cool Zelda cake. I had asked a bunch of my friends for input on the Link to the Past specifics, and I send out a big THANK YOU! to them.

Not bad for an Airstream creation, methinks.

He liked it. Or at least he had the decency to lie and say he did. (Also important)

I could literally sit and watch the mixer spin for hours.

I have major issues with Valentine's Day (usually I'm single and not happy about it), and so I decided to make this cake do double duty as a Valentine's Day cake as well as a belated birthday cake.

Nice crumb on this one.

We ignore the bumps as the buttercream and I had been fighting.

Many a food coloring was harmed in the making of this cake.

I really felt that it needed a lake. Especially since my dog's name is Zora

And it HAD to have a treasure chest, no?

Shrubbery and texture detail. I had 2 kinds of cobblestone and brick on this puppy.

The topper. In all of it's "doofy" tree glory.

Almost done... just needs the tree and shields on top.

Crystals, Super Bomb, Zora flipper

Bow and Arrow, Crystals

Pegasus Boot, Boomerang, ubiquitous Crystals

Heart Piece. Yet another goddamn Crystal.

Recovery Heart, Crystal (ugh), Fire Rod

Fire Rod, Crystal (how many of those ARE there?!?!), Super Bomb

Finished cake with super wiggles waiting patiently to tear into it.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Seeds in Dirt. Holy Crap.

I have been living out on the property affectionately called Stoneyhaw (website coming soon! Just have to design the damn thing. Oh. And start a farm for content!) for 4 months now. While it is just me now, for several weeks my father was out here, and my mother was out here for a tad over 2 months.

In that time we have gotten SO much done. We cleared the driveway, acquired a camper (which is how, in turn, I acquired my fix it man, but that is a whole entire cute story in of itself), cleared a tract for the power lines, had power put in, got a shed in, got a water system hooked up to the old well.... the list goes on. Until now this has mostly been preparatory stuff. Either for long-term residency in general, or for the farm. Mostly for the farm. Everything has been an indirect path to farmness.

Until now. I have seeds in dirt people. This is super effing exciting. I have a secret fear that NOT A SINGLE THING will grow, and I will remain unemployed AND not have a food supply, but I did get my paperwhites to bloom in a sub-zero camper (ssshhh! Don't remind me of the chemicals they lace those things with. Give me the points, OK?) so I'm feeling ahead of the game so far.

I did decide to start stuff indoors (I don't actually have anywhere for any of it to go outside yet. Yet, she says, optimistically....), but my shed is not insulated. So I had to come up with some creative ways to keep the little seedlings lit and warmer than the frigid air in there.

A trip to Lowe's later, I got something rigged up, and stuff in dirt. Woot!

That is a boot mat. And tin snips. And an LED rope light. This will (in theory) provide heat for the little seedlings. Just enough to keep them from getting too too cold.

Zip ties!

I *may* have gone slightly overboard with the whole zip tie thing, but I was having fun.

All trimmed up and ready to be covered in plastic. They're actually rated for outdoor use so they *could* get wet, but I drilled holes for the zip ties, so....

The plastic sheeting that I happened to have had on hand for the greenhouse/cold frame I didn't build.

That's right. Celery root. Suck it.

On the lights, under the dome. Ready to go.

The family jewels.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Water. The Saga. Part 3: Maybe Some in the Kitchen?

Water and me seem to be fighting. The various water systems in the camper just don't seem to want to stay working for me... which is making my life interesting, to say the least.

While getting ready to go to the man's house last week for an impromptu sick childcare visit (and it turns out both the child and myself ended up uber sick, so interpret that phrase however you'd like), I was rummaging around in the storage space under the sink for cake making supplies. (sadly, I never got to make the cake I wanted to make.... it will be sprung on the man at a future, as of yet undetermined, date) I got what I needed and as I was packing up I kept hearing a dripping noise. And not a drip.....drip....drip..... noise. A fast dripping noise. I was in a hurry to get out as it was getting late and I really didn't relish the thought of driving for 3 hours at a later time that night, so cursing all things aquatic I shut off the water heater (that I had FINALLY gotten to stay lit not 2 days before...) and shut off the water and left. Had I NOT rummaged around for stuff under there, I would never have unintentionally moved a metal bowl to where I did, the water would never have hit it making a racket, and I would not have noticed the leak for a very long time. And who knows what damage would have happened.

For the record, I said a little prayer/chant to the water heater before I turned it off.

Upon my getting home almost a week later, I knew I wasn't going to be able to get up under the sink to fix something by myself. To my credit, I really could have spent several days figuring it out and getting SOMETHING going, but I figured the man could do it in a fraction of the time that I could. So I waited for him to get here.

Once he took a gander at it, he decided the whole faucet was shot and needed to be replaced. Easy enough.

Exiled to the outside while it gets a new mate. The dirty dishes are to help make it feel more at home.
Damn copper pipe. Looking so innocent. Asshattery is at hand. Meanwhile, the avocados look on in disbelief.
Off we went to Lowe's, where we purchased the relevant parts to put in a new kitchen faucet and shut-off valves to both the hot and the cold water.

We ran into airstream being extremely out there in their choice of materials, yet again. I'm not going to get in to the whole story, but suffice it to say that "3/8 inch" could evidently mean a variety of sizes. The poor man took a bunch of time to get everything resized to fit, only to find it was leaking slightly. (Oh. And this involved a second trip to Lowe's). At which point we decided to ditch doing things the right way, and just get the damn thing plumbed. We set out for WalMart (the only thing open at 9:45 at night around here) and managed to stop at a gas station half way there and acquire the hose clamps we were seeking. Home to connect the flexible hosing to the copper pipes by hose clamp, and turn on the water heater.
He can do anything. And look good doing it.

The man did have a stroke of genius, even for him. Need to bore out the inside of a copper ring? Chainsaw file + power drill = awesome.
 All Mike wanted was a shower.

All he got was the water heater REFUSING to stay lit. Did this surprise me? I wish I could say yes, but alas at that point it was pretty par for the course.

Several trips outside late at night, in the dark and in the mud, to check the thing later he got it to stay lit.

And I have a new kitchen faucet with hot AND cold running water.

For now.

Doesn't it kind of look like it wants to fly away from the evil water system?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Organizational Spasm

In all my panicking this winter, I felt like I HAD to do something constructive to keep from going insane. This winter is sucking, and there's only so much I can do yet.

So I decided to make the shed more usable and a home to my little seedlings that I hope to get started soon.

For the past several months, the shed has been used to house everything, and pretty much everything lived on the floor.

No longer!

Where the baby plants will go. Recognize those futons?

The other side.  *shudder*

I got those puppies up there by myself. Woot.

Grow lights!

All sheds need a little bit of kitsch, no?

As well as relics of the past, covered in mud from the present.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Water. The Saga. Part 2: Hot might be nice, too.

For a while after my water got plumbed, I managed to have hot running water, too. Seriously. Once I got the man* to get the heater lit properly the first time, we were off to the races. And it WAS one of those annoying instances where he seemingly did the exact things I did, it just decided to stay lit for him. Sniff.

And then all hell broke loose. After I managed to get the water to stay running in general, my hot water went kaput one day. I went around back, only to find that the pressure relief valve had blown and the water heater was draining out onto the pilot light assembly. Oh joy.

Tough to see as I took these pictures with my phone, but you get the general idea. Hopefully. That's as big as that pic gets.
 I went and rummaged through the tools in the shed only to find that the largest wrench I had (OK, other than the 48" wrench we use for the well) didn't begin to fit around the valve. So vice grips it was. Not the nicest on the palms, but oh well. You work with what you got.

Finally I got the damn thing off.
Unfortunately for me, I had only closed the shut off valve to the water heater as illustrated in the manual. The water system has been monkeyed around with so many times that who the hell know what that actually turned off, as this happened:

 Thankfully, the water heater is located less than a foot away from the main water inlet, so I shut of the water and the flow immediately stopped. Whew.

So. Old valve in hand, off I went to Lowe's thinking that a new one would be pretty easy to get. A pressure relief valve is on every water heater made, how hard could it be?

Really effing hard.

First of all, Airstream doesn't use the industry standard ANYTHING. I found this out while trying to get a waste pipe fitting so I could empty the tanks, and it was the case here again. A PRV in a 1/2 inch size is practically impossible. And then the BTU and PSI settings were both significantly lower than what you might find on your water heater at home. Why? Because my water heater is 10 gallons, and is heated by a relatively small propane flame.

When you look at it that way, it makes sense. When you're trying to replace a part, you want to kill someone.

It was going to take Airstream over a week to order me one in, and it wouldn't be exactly right.

So I went from store to store until, at my wit's end, I planted myself on a stool at the last plumbing contractor supply store in Burlington hoping that they would hook me up with SOMETHING. They did.  The extremely nice guy that works there decided it was absolutely fine to sell me a PRV rated far and above the BTU and PSI I needed, and he got me a coupler to put on it so the 3/4-inch valve would fit my 1/2 inch pipe. Whoa. Concept. (was that really so hard, other guys? hmmm?!?!)

I also have to interject the fact that I'm blond, kinda busty, female, not a contractor myself, have a foul mouth and am not easily intimated. In the south. In a contractor supply store. Covered in mud, thanks to my driveway. I left stunned and speechless guys with their asses hanging out of their pants in my wake. I'm not convinced I didn't thoroughly scare a few of them also. Oh. And I drive a pretty urban car with fantastic redneck mud tires. Only on the front.

The old, the new, the ugly tool.
 A couple of strips of teflon tape, a few falls in the mud, and a cup of coffee later, I had the new valve on.

Shiny! And if you look closely, you can see that the flame is lit and going.
 I got the flame lit, the hatch closed, went inside, and an hour later had no hot running water. I tried off and on for 2 days to get the damn thing to stay going, but it just wouldn't do it. This happened to coincide with a rather large puddle in the middle of the bathroom floor (unrelated to the afore-mentioned spewing of the water heater), the crumbling and deteriorating of said floor, the driveway being impassable for the umpteenth time, and a massive freak out on my part, so I ditched. I packed up and went to said man's house for a week.

I got home that next weekend, thought I'd give lighting it a shot - and it stayed lit. I had tried drying out the pilot light assembly, cleaning it, I even got in there with ether, and everything before I left, to no avail. I guess I just couldn't get it all the way dried out and it needed to sit for a week before it was good to go again.

Almost as if nothing ever happened.... almost....
Regardless of why, I am hoping - hoping!! - that this particular part of the water saga is behind me. Especially since I've got two more going on parallel to this one and I'd like to end up with fewer things to try to get fixed - not more!

Only time will tell, I suppose.

*really I'm being nice to him by not dedicating a whole post to his awesomeness and listing all of the amazing fixit stuff that he does for me, but it's killing me. Really. A testament to how much I want to keep him, this whole NOT writing about him thing.....

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Getting Ready to Spring

Pun intended. Ish. Really it's the best I can do at the moment...

While the water saga continues, I'm still managing to make a bit of progress towards having SOMETHING in the ground this spring. My soil will not be as fortified as I'd like, I may or may not be ready for chickens, I won't be putting in any fruit trees, and I only have one grapevine (and haven't figured out yet where I want to put him). BUT. If for no other outcome than to find out what I can and cannot kill easily, things will be put in dirt, given as much sun as possible, and watered.

So what am I up to this week? Other than being sick and hanging out with a sick six year old for a greater part of the week, the following:
  • planning, planning, plotting, scheming, planning
I bought a binder, and have been plotting out indoor planting times, outdoor planting times, and contemplating where I'm going to plant the 60+ kinds of seeds that for some reason I bought. To my credit I edited down, but still. That's how many I *had* to have. Te reassuring thing is all of the accounts of first-time gardener's, hobby farmers, homesteaders, etc, all have over-ordering and over-planting of seeds in common their first year, so feeling like that's ok. I figure anything that survives this year's turmoil and lack of preparedness will be a keeper.
  • panicking
(holy shit I don't have room for all this, I don't have beds prepared for ANY of this, I haven't figured out a water system yet, I'm going to have to BUY dirt, there are still too many god damn trees where my garden's gonna be, I have no idea what I'm doing, I need a job, what if NOTHING grows, holy shit holy shit holy shit)
  • preparing
Maybe I should get something rigged up to start seeds. Outdoors is pretty much not gonna happen, so I tackled organizing and setting up grow lights in the shed. Yay! One thing done! 
  • panicking
(I can't plug in the grow lights, as I don't have a power strip. Will the soil stay warm enough in the uninsulated shed? holy shit holy shit holy shit. Why is it 75 degrees in here in this shed on the ONE day I decided to get stuff done? It was 29 degrees last night. Damn Carolina weather! holy shit holy shit holy shit)


And there you have it. I have to say - with the weather being cold and blah, it's tough to get outside to do the stuff that needs to be done, and there's only so much you can do from inside an Airstream with no internet connection. And then the weather turns warm for a day or two and your brain goes sixty million miles an hour in a frenzy to try to cram as much into the day as possible until you realize the day has passed and you've gotten a minute portion of what you wanted to do done, and and and.....

As my extremely level-headed man keeps telling me, winter's tough, and this winter in particular has been brutal. But all will work out in the end and spring will spring and once it has sprung I plan on being panicked for entirely different reasons. 

This cilantro plant is a freak of nature. It has been covered in ice multiple times and has endured temps in the teens  several nights in a row. Yet it still is putting out new growth. Holy buckets of freakshowness.