Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Love Lists...

I love lists and organizing things. So, now that we are back in Wisconsin for a while, I have put together a lists of various categories from our first off grid experience.

Lists of Surprises
1. I was surprised how quickly we adjusted to minimal light in the evenings, how quickly it became 'normal' to carry a small LED/9volt flashlight in our pockets to pull out as needed.
2. I was surprised we did not miss TV the entire time we were down there.

Our Dragonfly Bowl and
a gift from Zeke to Grandma.
Both look great in the living room.
3. I was surprised our realtor gave us a lovely bowl made by a local potter that will match my planned living room colors.
4. I was surprised to learn our property was condemned! It is not as bad as it sounds. Remember the water department that was crossing our property, installing a county water line? We discovered that the county had to get 400 easements along the path of the water line. When they received no response from either the previous owners, or the bank when it was foreclosed upon, they filed to have the easement section condemned. Once they learned we had bought the property and were willing to sign an easement agreement, the condemnation was dropped.

List of Firsts
1. It was my first trip to a landfill. When we tore up three room of carpeting and padding we had to find out how to dispose of it. Turns out, you can take loads of garbage to the local landfill just like the city and village garbage trucks. We loaded everything into 'Truck'(I know, not a very original name for our truck, but Scoot name him), drove to the land fill and waited in line with the big industrial garbage trucks to get weighed. We then donned the required safety vests, off-loaded all the carpet at the public unloading area and returned to the scale so that our fee could be calculated.

2. First deep fried corn-on-the-cob, if it's deep fried it has to be good right? There is a local restaurant chain we tried that ended up being similar to a Cracker Barrel. One of their sides was those half length ears of corn restaurants like to serve, that has been battered and deep fried. I liked it, but Alan was not impressed.
3. First time to visit Home Depot three days in a row, and probably at least 5 times in one week. You know it's bad when you get to know the cashiers and they ask you how various projects are going.
4. First time to eat Spam with bacon. Now I do not mean Spam and bacon served on the same plate, I mean Spam that has been made with bits of bacon in it. I am explaining this clearly to make a point in another list below.

List of Skills (I did not know I had)
1. Steering both a shopping cart and a lumber cart at the same time through Home Depot. Well, as Alan was so gracious to point out, it was not so much a skill, as practice makes purpose (see #3 in List of Firsts above).
2. Ingenuity to solve problems with items on hand - strapping down the mattress set to the top of the truck cap, finding ways to use various flashlights in hands-free set-ups such as wedging them in kitchen cupboards and hanging them with looped rubber bands, and wrangling a GIANT moth out of the house using a LED spotlight.
3. Sitting on chairs Alan was assembling so that the legs would be level and they would not wobble when completed.

List of Things I Have Learned
1. Think through an entire project BEFORE heading to get supplies. Several times before leaving the house I would make a comment like 'We need to get the stuff for building the stairs to the deck' or some other specific project. Then, when we get the the store Alan would ask specific questions, like 'How high is the deck from the ground?' And I would realize that even though I 'spearheaded' the project, I never actually determined what was needed.
2. While very like-minded, Alan and I interpret plain English sentences very differently at times. Remember, I was going to tie in something that the Spam comment above reminded me of. When I wrote that item on the list, I realized it could be interpreted two different ways, and I have discovered that Alan and I often interpret things in two different ways. This becomes more apparent and humorous when working on projects. It did not take us long to learn to stop and have each other explain what we thought something meant. For example, one day at Home Depot, we were taking out a load of lumber on one of their lumber carts. I was at the front facing towards the back and Alan was at the back, facing towards the front. So, we were at each end of the cart facing each other. I told Alan to pull ahead so that we did not have a sign between us and the truck for loading the lumber from the cart to the truck. As I said this, I started pulling forward (moving backwards) and he started pulling also (moving backwards in the other direction). To him, I said pull ahead and thus he started pulling the cart, even though it meant he was moving backward. I told him 'No, I said pull ahead' to which he said 'I am'. I had to explain I was thinking of it as pull ahead not pull ahead. I asked if he were driving and I told him to pull ahead would he put the car in reverse? Then he understood how I had meant my sentence to be interpreted. Now it has become second nature, and quite entertaining, to stop and see if we actual interpret various instructions the same way.

Lists of '-ests'
1. Hardest project - Until the night before we left, we had agreed the hardest project had been pulling the submersible pump from the well (190 feet). But on the last night, I wanted to block a couple holes that had been cut in the laundry room ceiling up into the attic. The largest was 4 foot square.I came up with the idea of putting a 4x8 sheet of Masonite up on the ceiling. It was white on one side, which matched the ceiling and would not look unsightly. Being 1/8 inch thick it was very flexible, but very hard to drill through and awkward to work with when trying to attach a full sheet to the ceiling. We attempted this on our last night there, when very tired and it was the hottest, humidest (I know not a real word but it works in this list) day of our stay. But, we had success and hopefully no critters have worked their way through it.
2. Dirtiest project - Pulling up the carpet and padding in three rooms. It was extremely dusty, dirty and stained. After starting on the first carpet, I realized I better get a mask before continuing. By the end, the outside of my mask was brown so I think it was a good idea. While a disgusting job, it was also like an archeological dig. For example, in room number #1 I was able to deduce:
- it was a girl's room due to the amount of bead and sequins I found around the edges of the room after the carpet had been pulled.
- the girl had long hair based on the number of hair ties in the room
- she either had some sort of rodent or bird as a pet based on the number of seed shells on the floor

And room #2 was deduced to be a boys room based on
- a wide variety of airsoft pellets
- various Lego pieces
- much more dirt than the girl's room

3. Funniest Comments - I really wish we had kept a running list of comments like we have learned to do at our annual Turkey Palooza celebration with our kids. I know there were quite a few good laughs, but one that I remember was when Alan wanted to take a picture of me in my full protection garb for pulling up the carpets. He goes to take the picture, says 'Smile' and couldn't figure out why I burst out laughing (my protection included a face mask).

4. Funnest Part (I know, not a word again)
Definitely being able to do this with my best friend. When we pulled onto our property for the first time after the signing, Alan handed me a beautiful card thanking me for being willing to live this dream with him. I find it such a blessing to be married to such a like-minded spouse, its amazing how much humor and pleasure we share in everything we do.

Well, that's the end of the lists for now. Time for me to end this post and start making lists for the next trip we are making in a few weeks...


  1. I think you need these

  2. TJ, I think we would end up blinding each other as we gaze into each others eyes! BTW, we are contemplating how many bridges we can build on the property :-) For those of you that don't know, Alan and I have a tradition of kissing on every bridge we walk over - thus the reason we love miniature golf so much.