Monday, October 8, 2012

Wait, That's Not Quite Right....

As I am sitting here working on this blog post, the words on my screen keep coming in and going out of focus. Hey wait, that's not quite right, but if I raise my head a bit the focus is perfect. Many of you reading this who are 'of a certain age' have probably deduced from that sentence that I am adjusting to my new bifocals. Yes, after a couple years of repeatedly stating 'I am going to need bifocals soon' I finally admitted that 'soon' was actually a year or so ago. My optometrist agreed, he said it was a fairly strong prescription for first time bifocals - aka 'Why did you wait so long?' I was told the adjustment period could be about three weeks and I am on day one, so I will assume I will like them better in a few days.

On the way to the eye doctor yesterday, we decided to leave a bit early so that we could have breakfast out on the way there.The local village was having an annual fall festival this weekend that included a parade at 9 AM that morning. We realized we would be arriving in town at just about that time, so we made a slight detour to enjoy the parade. Now we are used to the annual 'Corn Fest' parade in our home town up north which passes right in front of our house and consists of dozens upon dozens of emergency vehicles with lights  and sirens blaring, followed by several bands and quite a few well decorated floats created by various organizations and business. All told, the Corn Fest parade in Wisconsin lasts well over an hour.

Maybe this local politician thought a float in
the parade literally had to be able to float!
The parade we experienced Saturday was just a bit different. Yes it started with emergency vehicles (one police car, one ambulance and one firetruck). There were no bands, but I have included a picture of one of the two 'floats' that were in the parade (another chance to say wait, that's not quite right). This parade would have lasted about 5 minutes, but the fact that the lead car had to stop at the railroad tracks for a train that was coming through did double the time the parade took to do the loop around the square. Plus those throwing candy from the vehicles and floats continued to toss their goodies the entire time they were stopped at the train crossing, so much so, that the spectators actually got tired of picking up all the treats off the street. I actually heard some mothers haranguing their children to go pick up more candy that was just lying there.

Speaking of goodies found on the ground, we had a slight dilemma we had so solve recently. Our dog, Maycee, has been enjoying exploring our property around the house. She hasn't strayed beyond the yard but she has developed a penchant for finding animal carcasses. We'd realize she had wandered away from where we were working and we would see her laying in the yard intent on 'something'. I would walk over to her and as I got closer there would be a telltale crunching sound and I would discover she has yet-again found a bone. This would not be so bad, except the bones tend to be an entire skull of a small animal or an oft returning foreleg and paw with fur still attached, that one seemed to be a particular favorite.

Sometimes, when we called her to come inside, she would come trotting over to the deck stairs with the treasures in her mouth. We would command her to 'drop' them whenever she is caught red-handed and we would toss them as far as we could towards the woods (thank goodness for antibacterial hand wipes!). This process was being repeated multiple times daily so we decided we needed to come up with a solution to get her to stop finding and chewing on animal carcasses, so we made a trip to the pet store and got her a ... package bone. Wait, that's not quite right. Yes it seemed ironic to replace her 'bad bones' with a 'good bone' but I am sure she understands the difference !?!

Alan heating water for our French press
'on' our new stove. (The stove does have burner grates,
they were in the process of being cleaned .)
So, besides a trip to the eye doctor, what else has transpired this week?  The first thing that pops into my head is that I have a full sized stove and the butane 'omelette station' single burner I had been using the past few months has been packed away with the many other items that have been upgraded and are now relegated to 'preparedness status' should they be needed at a future date.The morning after we brought the stove home, Alan said 'I am making coffee on the new stove', I knew it was not connected to a propane tank yet so I glanced over, saw his version of making coffee on the stove and said 'Umm, Hon, that's not quite right." He had placed our single burner on the stove top and was making coffee with it, so technically it was being made 'on' the new stove top.

Our Sawyer Bucket Water Filter System
The well water is dumped in the square
bucket, gravity feeds through the filter.
We also got a new water filter this week. You may recall in one of my first posts, I talked about our Berkey water filter we were waiting to use until we really needed it. Due to it's cost, and the fact that once you start using a filter, the cartridges have a 6 month life, we planned on using just one filter at a time rather than the three filters in tandem which is the way it is designed to be used. A couple weeks ago, we attended a meeting of 'like minded folks' who strive to live self-reliantly and we learned of a new water filter that is now available. This Sawyer Water Filter will filter one million gallons of water, has an unlimited life-span and costs only $50. When I first heard about this filter I thought 'wait, that's not quite right' knowing the water filter we bought just a few months ago was 'top of the line' yet it cost much more than this new filter and was much more limited in how much it could filter (10,000 gallons or 6 months whichever occurs first). So apparently, just like all the tech gear in our life, our off-grid gear is also quickly outdated by newer, better, cheaper versions.

Wait, that's not quite right, because just yesterday I picked up a very old school appliance for our new life. I found a treadle sewing machine on Craig's List. When we first started contemplating our mid-life change (some may call it crisis) I knew I eventually wanted to get a treadle machine but figured it would be way down on the list because new treadle machines in cabinets are expensive and the old ones are hard to find in working order, most have been turned into plant stands sans the actual sewing machine or even the hardware to hold the machine in place. My next decision is do I tinker with the old machine that is in the cabinet, it seems mechanically sound and just needs a good cleaning of all the mechanical parts and a new belt, or do I buy a new treadle machine, which are reasonable in price with more features than the original ones, and install it into the old cabinet. New treadle machines without a cabinet or treadle are about $300, but the new cabinets with the actual treadle mechanism (foot peddle) are about $1300. I got the complete antiques version for $75, so even if I upgrade to a new machine in the old cabinet it is quite a savings over a new cabinet, plus it is a nice ambiance.

Oh, back to the new water filter, sorry I was distracted by my new toy. With this new unlimited filter we can now filter our well water for all purposes. Yes, I drank water from our well this week and there were no side effects. Well, maybe my blurry vision isn't the new no-line bifocals after all! We are weaning ourselves onto the well water, still bringing in drinking water from the reverse-osmosis dispenser a few miles away, but using the well water for cooking etc. Alan said he would now designate some of our previously non-potable water bottles as those for filtered water vs. those with non-filtered water which we use for flushing the toilet (yes, had to go back to that for a couple of days when the rain water tank finally ran dry). The next morning I went to grab a bottle of the newly filtered water and I saw some bottles were marked with an 'F'. Wait, that's not quite right I am not sure if 'F' stands for 'filtered' or 'flushing'. I am fairly certain it would mean those bottles have filtered water, but since I have previously discussed how Alan and I interpret things differently, you will understand my hesitation. In this case, we were on the same track and the 'F' bottles do contain filtered water.

Our hot (well OK -warm)
water heater.
There was one other water improvement this week. With the weather turning colder, cold water showers are no longer as refreshing as they were when it was 105 degrees outside. Rather than heating up water on the stove, we wanted to come up with a way to use passive solar power for warming water for showers. We painted some of our gallon water containers black and placed them in our small greenhouse we had purchased. Our original plan for the greenhouse was to use it as a food dehydrator, which we still plan to try, but for now it has been re-purposed yet again to be a hot water heater, well to be more accurate, a warm water heater. We place gallons of water inside and in a few hours the water was up to 97 degrees on a 60 degree day. One afternoon, I found myself asking Alan if there was any 'black water' available for a shower. Now, if you are at all familiar with camping terms in the RV world and you heard me asking for 'black water' for a shower you would be thinking 'Wait, that's not quite right'.

This has been a week of finding great deals. Besides the stove and the sewing machine, we also picked up a grill we having been planning to get. It has dual compartments, one is a gas grill and the other is for charcoal as well as a side burner and a smoker, so it has a lot of versatility. We were planning to buy one of these at Sam's Club this summer, but before we had funds available, they were sold out. We then saw that a farm store a few miles away had very nice ones, but they were rather expensive.Several weeks ago when we were there we saw they were on clearance from $399 down to about $249 so we decided we would pick one up after we received some payments from our most recent invoices to clients. This week, with funds replenished, we returned only to find that all the boxes containing the grills were gone. We thought we had missed out, yet again, but we asked about them and discovered they had just been packed away to make room in the store for all the winter and Christmas stock that was coming in. There were still several available and they had been discounted once more and were down to $199 - half price - Yipee!

We drove around to the back of the store and two employees loaded it onto Truck using a forklift. Great, yet another heavy box we would have to open and haul the contents up to the deck piece by piece before assembling it. I am now a bit worried because besides the grill that is waiting to be assembled, we still have some of our 'assembly required' furniture that had to be carried into the house piece by piece waiting to be built as well. If we are not careful when following the various instructions we may end up saying wait, that's not quite right as we gaze at our newly assembled bedroom cabinet with built in smoker!

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