Sometimes it’s so nice just to be. We forget that. Well, I do, anyway.
This weekend was perhaps the nicest of the summer. We’ve been having glorious weather for the most part, but often way too hot. A few weeks ago, the southern Oregon coast sweated through several days of 100+ temperatures, and it got to at least 97 here. When it’s that hot it saps you, even when you’re huddled in the shady house with a ceiling fan spinning. I know you folks in the midwest and south have it worse; so no complaints, really.
But this weekend was everything a summer ought to be. Temperatures around 70. Cloudless afternoons after cool, maybe misty, mornings. A little breeze blowing. The kind of weather you don’t even have to think about because it’s precisely what weather ought to be.
In the mornings, I grabbed a pair of loppers, a squeeze-bottle of Off!, and a bucket and picked some lovely fat blackberries while the dogs hung out and ate their share.
At home, after ritual coffee, I trimmed the inside of the front door and started on the next 1/3 of the Infamous Ceiling. This section was originally going to be the fraternal twin of the bit I already did. When I realized how (pardon the pun) over my head I am, I figured it would be more like a half-sibling. Now I’m aiming for third cousin once removed. More drywall; less beadboard.
I do think that old beadboard would make better wainscotting than ceiling. Since finding the amazing Lost Vanity, my thoughts are turning to a nice wainscotted bathroom.
Today I started cleaning up Ye Olde Vanity. It’s coming back to life quickly and well. Some gouges I’ll never gracefully get rid of and one inlay piece is missing, which is beyond my ability to fix. But it’ll be close to its old self. That spare garage-sale sink I had out in the garden shed is going to fit it, of course. An hour of scrubbing the porcelain and scraping old caulk and that was like new.
An hour or two is all I’ve been doing. Just enough to resume steady progress while still doing other things and enjoying what’s left of summer.
No long, sweaty, achy, brain-hurting days of labor. No depression or anxiety* or self-doubt or anger. No being among the walking wounded. Just quietly getting things done, and even doing them reasonably (if far from professionally) well.
Yesterday I ended the day taking a long walk in the woods with furrydoc and her bounding lab mix — like Ava, 10-years-old but still unstoppable. Robbie trotted right along behind us. In June and early July I thought he was at death’s door. He’s rallied remarkably. But even with him doing a little better, we don’t usually walk so long these days, nor does he keep up as well as he did yesterday evening.
But then, he had his girlfriend to impress (he’s got a polite crush on furrydoc’s dog). He did a good job of it, too.
Days of contentment. They may not make for exciting, fiery blogging, but they sure make for good life.
* Well, there was some anxiety a few days ago when I woke up at 1:00 to Ava rambling randomly about — and shortly realized whe was distressed by a bat swooping around the living room and kitchen. I was eventually able to shoo it out the backdoor and never came in contact with it, but those were some not-happy moments. I know this is the season when juvenile bats, not yet fully possessed of their bat-sense, get into houses. But all the doors and windows were closed. So clearly I still have some structural gaps to fill.
Mid 60s with a gentle breeze. A few horsetails of high cloud in a blazing sky. Going to be ice tea weather in a few hours.
This year’s wild blackberry crop is enormous and right on schedule. The dogs and I enjoy handfuls of sweet berries on our morning walks. I’ve so far done no serious gathering as I don’t have a stove to make jam or syrup (and a hotplate is too tippy). I’ll soon head out with a bucket and grab some berries for the freezer.
The dogs wait patiently for their share. They could easily gather their own from the low vines, and they do when I’m not picking. But the moment I stop to grab a handful they stop, stare, and wait for the meager share I dole out even though they could get more, faster, on their own.
No doubt there’s a message about the effects of the welfare system in there somewhere.
Though the berry harvest is exactly on schedule, the September spider crop has arrived early. I have to be careful when I step out my back door or when walking in places where vegetation presses close on the logging roads. Ick! To get a faceful of spiderweb — or worse yet, a mouthful of spider!
First sign of fall — too soon. What with the conspiracy of minor disasters that kept May and June so unproductive, it seems more as if summer should just be beginning.
I finished that one segment of ceiling Friday (pix later) and am now plunging in to delayed spring cleaning.
It’s a fascinating and amazing thing that the last two elections have given the U.S. (among other less desirable things) a strip of cannabis legalization that runs from southern Oregon alllllll the way out to the tip of the Aleutian islands, within spitting distance of Russia.
I can’t imagine there are going to be too many “Mr. Doobees” stores out there on the islands. But in a vast stretch where once ruled the hysteria of Harry J. Anslinger, a new legal business is taking shape. Now all we need is for British Columbia to join us and the north coast weed freedomization will be complete. (And yes, yes, yes, I know that state-controlled legalization isn’t Libertopia; can we just stipulate that and not quibble?)
I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that legal pot is affecting rural areas even more than urban ones. Makes sense, of course. Ag product. Cheap land. Small towns hungry for development. But still.
Even my little area is poised to benefit, and with that in mind our local Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council pulled together a terrific panel discussion earlier this week to answer questions from us locals.
We’re having another of those moments where the sky is blue, the sun blinding, and the air so mild that fleece sweatpants and a turtleneck under the tee-shirt are almost too much.
So the guy who helps with my yardwork turned up to do some long-discussed brush clearing, trash hauling, and felling of small trees. (Totally blowing my January “minimalist” budget, but that’s another story.) Twice this week he and a couple of grubby kids (one of whom is his daughter-in-law, a tough bundle of charm) have crawled down the slope across the road and dug in. They’ve attacked noxious giant weeds (which my beekeeping neighbors won’t let me poison if I want to keep peace in the valley). They’ve taken down and heaped up small, malformed trees. They’ve hauled out every sort of trash, from microwaves and broken toilets to dozens of bags of cat poop.
If you haven’t visited Earthineer in a while, you might want to take a new look.
Dan Adams has recently added the long-awaited marketplace and barter sections where members can trade with each other. Though they’re still new and smallish, he’s got something quite promising there both for “rural engineers” and for foodies. Earthineer is a labor of love for Dan and it shows in the quality of the presentation.
Among other things, he’s planning to build privacy into the trades, so only the parties involved will have long-term records of their transactions.
Also, Dave Duffy has assigned me an article on Earthineer and I’d love to hear some opinions and questions other than my own.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t describe where the political world stands (no surprise). But it does describe a cool new website and a beautifully laid-out and informative digital magazine.
Brink of Freedom is a great place. It combines a freedomista attitude, high energy, and useful self-sufficiency how-tos.
Michael W. Dean of Freedom Feens turned me on to the site and introduced me to its founder, Josiah Wallingford. (Don’t you love that name?)
Go check it out for yourself. It’s the kind of place you could spend hours. But while you’re here, here’s a little background Q&A with Josiah, as well as links to pdfs of BoF’s January and February editions:
I’m lucky enough to have several friends who keep bees. At one apiary, they strive each year to come up with a clever label.
In 2012 (which, as you recall, was the year the world ended), they had the Bee of Doom descending:
But this year they outdid themselves. Their most productive hive was also the most protective hive. Although the humans eventually “won” and took the honey, the bees put up a battle worthy of … well, see for yourself:
Note the extra “stingers” on those bees.
I’ve blurred the name and location of their apiary for privacy (I hope without too much botching of their wonderful designs), even though they assured me they’re probably already on so many lists that it really doesn’t matter.
For crass commercial purposesTo encourage you to support this blog Because people have been buying some interestingly useful stuff via my Amazon links,* I thought I’d start a semi-regular feature on what’s hot at Amazon for preppers, self-sufficient types, rebels, Freedom Outlaws, libertarians, free-market anarchists, and general hellraisers.
I’ll kick it off by featuring a theme: preparedness items. If you just happen to see something you can’t live without, you’ll be contributing to this blog (and me!) by using these links. (Even if you don’t buy a featured item, everything you do buy at Amazon after entering via one of these links will send a little money winging this way.) The following are all items blog readers have bought recently.
Bungee cords. Seriously. You never see these on preparedness lists, but has there ever been a greater invention? I keep coils of them in every vehicle and toolbox — and I can cite a dozen ways they’ve saved my backside.
Prefer to make your own jerky? (Always a very good prep idea.) Don’t forget Hi Mountain seasoning kits. The lovely Wyoming couple behind Hi Mountain are supporters of this blog and dedicated animal rescuers, to boot. They not only make a delicious, easy-to-use product, but they’re the kind of people you want to be neighbors with.
And yes — more seeds. People have really been buying a lot lately. Many are buying heirloom seeds packed for storage, like these 20 Easy-to-grow heirloom varieties, which supposedly can grow up to an acre of veggies.
And don’t you just have to have an EcoQue Portable Stainless Steel Grill? Well, I have to have one, anyhow. And it seems a few readers agree. It’s my very favorite alternative cooking method, which not only cooks on just nine pieces of charcoal — or darned near any other burnable you stick into it, but makes everything delicious and folds flat for carrying and storage.
And surely a CCTV security camera is just the thing for spotting feds zombies before they knock down your door.
Well, mostly nothin’. I did use up the rest of last year’s amazing apple crop making two kinds of chutney and lots of applesauce (some of which will turn into apple butter). But I’m done with that phase of my life now.
The dogs are glad it’s over. Boiling chutney makes them sneeze. The tang of fruit cooked in vinegar with pungent spices makes the house smell really nice for days (IMO; NSM in the dogs’ O).
Other than that, nothin’.
I did start re-reading Atlas Shrugged, which I got last Christmas. Hadn’t visited it in maybe 10 years and my first thought was, “Wow, I like this story as much as ever, but everything anybody ever said about Rand being a leaden writer was absolutely true. How did I ever get through this — let alone be awestruck by it — when I was 19?”
Then the story and its meaning caught me up. Pretty soon, I was reading it while stirring chutney because I didn’t want to put the book down.
Rand got so much right (even foresaw sloppy loan-to-anybody practices like those that helped trigger the 2008 crash) and got so much wrong (totally missed the consumer culture and innovations in technology that would sustain the U.S. for years after its industrial base collapsed).
Above all, Atlas gives comfort and inspiration for any individualist living in a collapsing, collectivist world.
Though Rand barely mentions guns, reading Atlas has helped me get my mind & spirit out from the shadow that’s loomed over them since the Newtown shootings.
Commentariat — pat yourselves on the back! I’m not at all surprised, but gratified nonetheless, that … well, erm … you don’t actually need me.
In fact, that worked so well I think I’m going to make a freedom question a regular Friday feature so people can keep coming here over the weekend for the discussion even when I’m laying low.
Laying low was good, too. Actually, it took about four days for me to quit being restless. It took time — and a 1200-page dead-tree book — to detach myself from news, politics, and other less-savory aspects of ‘Netly reality.
Laying low. Reading books on paper. Hitting the kitchen — or the home-improvement routine. Does wonders for one’s sanity.
Also one afternoon I had to drive a friend to the Medium-Big City where her car broke down and she needed to pick it up from the shop. This is not the little market town I jokingly call The Big City. Nor is it the genuinely Big City. But this is one big enough to have Real Stores. Not cool stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. But good enough.
While there I grocery shopped at a Safeway. Now, you who live in Civilization may wonder why anybody would bother to mention anything so mundane. But for me it was like a trip to Disneyland.
Wow. A store whose Greek yogurt section is bigger than the every, single kind of yogurt section in the local stores. I stood there amazed and took 15 minutes just to choose. Imagine that — choose! (I still make my own yogurt, but not in winter when my house never gets warm enough to enable the yogurt maker to produce anything beyond a sort of yogurt-flavored soup.)
Wow. A store with strange veggies I’ve never seen in actual person before.
Back when I lived in Civilization, I took stores like Safeway for granted. Mostly I didn’t even like them (for their obnoxious “club cards” and the like). But somehow that hour I spent wandering those clean, beautiful, abundantly stocked, and softly lighted aisles lifted my spirits. In fact, that hour in Safeway was the thing that set me on the path to a better mood and, finally, a feeling of renewal.
Almost made me think I could handle living in a town again.
… Nawwwwww, not gonna happen. Nice to visit, though.
Then there came the bounty of California sunshine — in the form of dried fruits — that two Great Gentlemen blessed me with this week. Some of that sunshine went into those chutneys where it’ll keep on giving.
Thanks again to K, P, H, A, M, and anon, whose gifts, past and recent, helped make this week more fruitful.