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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for the ‘Home improvement’ Category

Claire Wolfe

Brink of Freedom

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Lovely subject line, isn’t it?

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:

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Oy, whotta day. Or how I got to look cool, calm, savvy, and prepared, all with minimal effort

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Yesterday was … a day. It was a Monday that fell on a Tuesday and a Friday the 13th that fell on the 29th. Yeah, that kind.

Or maybe it wasn’t really so bad but my hermitty, deadlining writer self just doesn’t deal well with the particular type of chaos that involves people in and out of the house all day, asking questions, wanting to chat, making alarming saw, hammer, and cuss noises, and hauling mounds of deconstruction rubble through my living room.

All for one little ex-bathroom. But bathrooms are complicated, and therein lies where I got to look cool, calm, collected and smart without even trying.

Mid-afternoon, just when things seemed to be calming down, the guy gutting the bathroom went under the house to see if water pipes were still connected before moving the tub. Most of the pipes in that room weren’t (the room hasn’t been used in years), so I wasn’t surprised when he came to the front door a moment later and said, “There’s no pipe connected any more.”

I said, “No problem,” and he said, “No, you don’t understand. There is no pipe. There was a pipe and there was water running through it, but it just … disintegrated. It came apart in my hands! And now there’s water going all over the place!”

This guy is good at what he does, but tends to be defensive. He had already run a Sawz-All through a live electric wire about an hour earlier and not told me about it, so I think he was expecting to be in Big Trouble. The look on his face was TEOTWAWKI.

But stuff happens on construction sites and a plumber had previously Pronounced Dire Warnings about the ancient galvanized pipes under the house. So I just said, “Oh. Well, then. Here’s the meter key” (an uncommon tool I got to pull oh-so-coolly from behind a convenient door, as if every woman naturally keeps such things on hand). “You shut the water off while I call a plumber.” (Typical of older houses, this place has no master shut-off valve, in case you’re wondering why nobody just went and turned a handle.)

Once that was done, knowing that none of the local plumbers were likely to show up in the next few days, he asked, “Will you be okay without your water?”

Will I be okay. Ha. Will I be okay. “Of course. I’ve got at least a week’s supply on hand, and if I need running water, I’ll just go out and turn the meter back on for a few minutes then shut it off again.”

Now you and I know that this is just what people like us do. I’m not trying to sound like I’m hot stuff or anything. I know I’m not hot stuff.

But apparently I made an impression on him. Before he left he told me that I reminded him of some woman he knew in Alaska who split her own firewood and slaughtered her own hogs or whatever. (Baloney; if I were like that I’d be sawing through my own wiring and breaking my own plumbing pipes.) Then he thanked me for “understanding what happens on construction sites instead of going, ‘Eeeeeek! Eeeeek! Oh-no-panic!’”

The latter is a compliment I’ll accept, even though I know full well it has more to do with being of silver-haired age, having seen more than a few construction oopsies, and stocking a small number of supplies.

Still, having that meter key right behind the door did make me feel pretty damn slick. :-)

Claire Wolfe

The penny floor; oooooh, I want one!

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

A room floored with pennies. Never heard of such a thing until yesterday, but now I want one.

There are various ways to do a penny floor. They all seem to produce gorgeous results and, if you discount the DIY labor of installation, are fairly cheap as floorings go (about $2.88 per square foot in pennies plus some adhesives and coatings).

Most of the objections raised here are easily answered. Except the one about … oops, metal being conductive. So, you science-minded types: would a penny floor, well covered with an epoxy coating, threaten life & limb? The phrase “to die for” leaves me a little uneasy in this particular case.

Claire Wolfe

“See the happy moron …”

Monday, July 1st, 2013

(A rant that I fear doesn’t show my most likeable side.)

Sigh. Happened again. I got caught in a long, jaw-grinding, blood-pressure raising trap with a person who has zero sense of responsibility.

I’ve written before about my disgust for people who make commitments they then make no effort to keep — a problem that seems endemic among independent contractors. In fact, I even wrote about this particular person recently before I knew he was one of them. Turns out he’s one of the world champs of irresponsibility.

After too many bitter experiences, I made a general rule that the second time somebody makes a commitment and blows it off without a word, I cut him loose. Unfortunately several factors tied me to this guy for most of a month as he let me down, wasted my time, and demonstrated the futility of my persuasive powers again and again and again.

No use going into the details. These things are drearily the same. But when he finally showed up Saturday (sparing me a whole hour of his presence after my two weeks of begging), I was struck by how much he sounded like an Ayn Rand villain. You know — one of those guys who owns “Amalgamated” Something or Another or “Associated” Thingamabob. When they fail to deliver, they’re always going on about, “No one could have foreseen …” and “No one can blame me because I had the best of intentions …”

Except that Rand’s villains are whining and defensive when they go on like that. This dimwit, on the contrary, was extremely pleased with himself.

He clearly thought it was silly for anyone to be concerned about various projects being neglected and abandoned (e.g. the lawn he promised to mow every two weeks going on 3.5 weeks now and beginning to resemble the Amazon rain forest). He considered it absurd even to hint that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t developing into a good professional relationship. Because after all (he beamed chirpily and oh-so-reasuringly), “Of course I haven’t forgotten” and “I fully intend to do the work.”

Sometime. In the future. Whenever, y’know? It’s just that right now I have better things to do.

Apparently his mother never informed him where good intentions without actions lead.

But these days it doesn’t matter. Suffering consequences for being a wastrel is so old-fashioned.


There’s a little verse that runs through my head occasionally:

See the happy moron,
He doesn’t give a damn,
I wish I were a moron,
My God! perhaps I am!

While the possibility definitely exists that I’m a moron, it’ll never be because I don’t give a damn. My best virtue — and also my most probable cause of moronity — is that I give too damn many damns about too damn many things. (I expect many others hereabouts share this problem.)

The guy of whom I write, however, is definitely a moron and definitely doesn’t give a damn — about anything. Which just about made me hate him over the last four weeks — but which makes him one of life’s winners.

He’s relentlessly cheerful and upbeat. He’s a proud, playful father and happy husband. He’s got tons of friends. He doesn’t “waste” his time on planning, making to-do lists, or fretting about whether he might let somebody down. He brims with confidence no matter how bad a job he does. His self-esteem is top-of-the-line. Sunshine follows him everywhere he goes.

He is indeed a happy moron precisely because he doesn’t give a damn. He literally doesn’t even know — or care — how offensive repeated broken promises, no-shows, and abandoned projects are. He doesn’t even consider the possibility that his behavior may be anything other than pleasing to one and all. He is simply wunnnnnnderful!

Me, I’m merely a recovering grouch (having finally found a way to tell him to get lost after he — are we surprised? — abandoned the project he finally began on Saturday). And I’m not particularly liking myself for it.

How easy it was for this slob to jerk me this way and that for weeks without even trying! To tie me in knots. To leave me banging my head in a ridiculous effort to try to find words that would finally switch on a lightbulb over his skull. To remind me over and over of my worst self. In the end he won a moral victory over me. My belief in responsibility made me a jerk (though I tried not to show it on the surface) and a complete loser (since the projects didn’t get finished and my protestations made not the tiniest dent in his shiny bubble of perfection). But him? He came out of this crappy month as one of life’s amazingly content winners, utterly untouched by crass, ignoble concerns such as mine.

“See the happy moron … I wish I were a moron …”

That is, I sometimes wish I were his kind of moron, rather than the variety of moron I obviously am.

Claire Wolfe

Thoughts while painting a porch

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

It was sunny yesterday, O wonder of wonders. I spent the day painting the back porch. It’s a tiny porch, but has four different colors and a couple different wall textures and it kept my body occupied for hours.

But my mind had better other things it wanted to do.


I found myself thinking about Amy Fischer, the “Long Island Lolita” and her main squeeze with the perfect tabloid name, Joey Buttafuoco. Why the heck would I be there in the sunshine thinking about some long-eclipsed “crime of the century”? I have no idea.

That’s so 1992.


I thought about whether the “Starbucks for pot” would work out.

Great idea. But you gotta do something about that unpronounceable name.


I thought this was the most hysterically funny headline I’ve seen all week.


I was thinking about people who have no sense of responsibility. It scares me that about half of all the people I’ve hoped I could count on over the years don’t have one.

I wondered if the neighbor I just hired to trim shrubbery and cut brush would actually show up and do it. He seems bright, eager, and knowledgeable. But I realize I’ve quit expecting anything until I see it happen.

I thought about the first time, many years ago, that I got an inkling that a lot of people make promises they don’t try to keep. I was coordinating a community project and a young woman never showed up to do her bit. Nor could she be reached for days beforehand. It turned out she’d known all along she was going to be out of the country that week.

When I asked incredulously, “Why didn’t you let me know?” she shrugged as if anyone with a brain would understand. “It was only a volunteer project,” she sniffed.

I was too dumbstruck to ask, “So your word only counts when you’re getting paid?”

I sometimes wonder if I’m a self-righteous ass***e about things like this. It’s possible.


I thought, “Nope, I’m not going to poke that hornet’s nest again.” But 35-year career Marine, Dr. Jimmy T. (Gunny) LaBaume, now he can poke at it all he wants


I wondered whether the Hancock clan’s new plan for their Freedom’s Phoenix newsletter will do well. After 24 issues focused on events in the world, they’re taking it more personal with articles like this on neighbors and suburban survivalism.

Great pix. Great ideas. Would like to see more words to make the concept clearer.


I thought about Yahoo Mail going the way of Gmail. Sigh.

Funny that they ask their subscribers to consent to scanning and targeting of all their mail — but folks who merely write to their subscribers aren’t given a choice in the matter, even though they get just as thoroughly spied upon.

Before Gmail launched, I swore publicly that I’d never correspond with anybody with a Gmail address. It was an empty threat. So many people, including close friends, embraced Gmail that I never carried through (oops, does that mean my word can’t be counted on, either?).

Now I’m seriously thinking about renewing that pledge, for any known spyware email system. Maybe. Problem is, if the hints are true, there are darned few email systems that aren’t somebody’s spyware, these days.

Katherine Albrecht’s and StartPage’s StartMail sounds promising, though details are lacking at this point. Beta testers wanted (at the link).


I thought about Potemkin prosperity. (H/T Wendy McElroy)


I sent some thoughts (and hope you will, too) toward Bradley Manning, whose trial finally begins today. He’s already spent three years in durance vile, sometimes subject to inhumane conditions, and could spend the rest of his life in prison. All for trying to make government more open, just as the politicians are always promising to do.


Then the sun headed down. I washed up my brushes, rollers, and pans. I admired the paint job for a while (as much as I was allowed to admire it with Ava dropping her tennis ball at my feet 3,000 times a minute, which she does any time I don’t appear occupied; she must think I’m stupid for being so slow to take her hints). Then my mind and I wandered on into the house, tired but satisfied.

Claire Wolfe

After-action report and onward

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Oy. That vacation was WERK!

You know I took the week off from writing to focus on the Organizing of Stuff. A lot of gear has sat heaped in garage, attic, closets, and laundry room these last two years while I’ve focused on home improvement. Some of it never really got unpacked after the move; some has accumulated since then.

I blame garage sales. Accumulation is totally not my fault. Clutter and I are enemies. I figured: one week and clutter is dead. I, Bold Clutter Slayer, will Overcome All.

Sigh. I forgot that the Organizing of Stuff requires the Building of Shelves. Which requires the Painting and Trimming of Shelves. Which kept the house in chaos the whole time I was trying to slay chaos.

I WERKed until I dropped into bed exhausted most nights, sweaty but too tired even to take a bath. I got a lot done (including building several seriously large shelves in two rooms using scrounged materials and $15 worth of fasteners and trim). But I didn’t do a lot of what I was aiming to do.

There was one glorious moment, though. On Monday morning when I woke up, I took a mental look behind me and I saw all deadlines completely met. I cast a mental look ahead and saw that I didn’t have a single commitment to anybody in the world. I didn’t so much as owe anybody an email.

I only had to answer to me for one, solid week. I can’t tell you how light I felt.

As the days went on, things began to pile up again, both in my inbox and my brain. But that couple of hours Monday morning was worth everything.

Now onward …


An Aussie Red Dawn

I just watched Tomorrow When the War Began, the 2010 film from the famous young-adult book by John Marsden. Neither the book series nor the movie are exactly what you’d call Great Art. But their hearts are definitely in the right place.

Seven teenagers from a rural Australian town go off for a remote weekend campout. They return to find the country has been invaded, with their own area being one of three points of entry. All the adults have either been rounded up or killed, leaving these seven first to save their own lives then to become guerrilla fighters.

Definitely not great art, but some good characters. Self-reliant, resourceful country kids (and game townies). Decent character development. And the movie has some fine booms and crashes.

Can’t recall which freedomista turned me on to the book a couple of years ago, but thank you.


Cop frees a trapped dog. And then …

You must watch this video. I swear. All the way to the end. (H/T C^2)


Back to work now. It’ll be a relief after all that vacationing. Thanks for sticking with me.

Claire Wolfe

What I’m doing on my sorta vacation

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

What I’m doing on my summer fall vacation

First I fixed a broken gun.

It’s an old .22 single-action plinker probably not worth a gunsmith’s fee. That morning I met someone who claimed to be a gunsmith and he was such an ass & irritated me so much I finally tore into the thing myself. It was either fix it or get one of these. Which I really don’t need.

Maybe I didn’t really have to tear it down into such itty-bitty pieces; I don’t know. This hoogie-ma-jigger here turned out to be the whole problem.

Instead of turning the cylinder (its job), it was keeping the cylinder from turning. It also kept me from being able to remove the cylinder to see what it was hanging up on. Taking the gun apart was educational. Putting the hammer and trigger back together was like getting a Ph.D. in cussing. But I did it. Works now. Pretty proud of me.


Then the back fence and the tree came down. Somebody else did the work. I just helped with the Heaping Up of Things. That and shouting, “OMG!” at the most hair-raising moments. I’m sure he found that helpful.


Monday I went to the beach. I laugh at your assumptions about bikinis and sunlit basking. This is a scary gray beach where you see sights like this.

And this.

And where you find the unexpected sitting on the sand (the chair, not the dog).

The place made me feel like writing ghost stories. If ever there was a haunted beach, it’s this one.

Ava carried our picnic lunch on the walk out. After we ate cold chicken breast and veggies, I removed her backpack and leash and she did zoomies like a crazed puppy the entire mile back to the car.


Yesterday I commenced the Official Organizing of Stuff (the ostensible purpose of this entire week’s break). I began with guns, ammo, and gear. It took all day.

Not because I have so many guns, mind you, though I’m sure I have enough to make some guy in Boston think I’m a dangerous, paranoid weirdo.

If I were really a sufficiently paranoid weirdo, I’d take better care of these things. The reason it took all day was that it took at least half the day to find everything. Much of the other half was taken up re-labeling mystery boxes and cleaning guns that have lain neglected at the backs of closets ever since I moved back from the desert two years ago.

You do not leave guns unprotected in random places in the NorthWET. They rust. Fortunately, only a few were affected and those not too badly. A.G.’s WD-40 trick took care of that little problem. (And not to worry, I used WD-40 only on the exteriors. Despite the miraculous wonderfulness of WD-40 — it being one of the four fundamental forces keeping the universe intact and functioning — I know it’s a Foul Sin Against Nature to apply it to gunworks.)

In case you ever need to know, a toothbrush and a slightly dull fileting knife will get dog hair out of shotgun mechanisms. Okay, maybe you wouldn’t recommend that method for your $6,000 engraved Italian sporting clays gun, but it works in a pinch.

I realize this all sounds terrible, as if I’ve been some sort of sloven, letting my gear get so foul it can only be scraped clean with a knife. But trust me, most of the gear was well stored and in good shape despite my best efforts to neglect it and lose track of it. And I’m joking about the knife. Mostly.

I wrapped up with the Glock and my brother’s old Cub Scout .22 that I somehow inherited.

The Organizing of Stuff is a nasty job because you have to make a huge mess hauling things out, sorting, and cleaning them before you actually get anywhere. So there you are, trying to solve casual, but mostly hidden, disorganization by creating total chaos from one end of your life to the other. Ugh.

But it feels good when it’s done.

Well, except for those “what on earth is this?” items and those “I thought I had that but where could I possibly have put it?” items. And worst of all the “I don’t dare throw this out, but where the heck am I going to put it?” items.

Claire Wolfe

Taking time off

Friday, September 21st, 2012

This coming week looks like a nice, long pause between rounds of deadlines. So I’m taking time off.

I hesitate to do it because I have this terrible fear that all you lovely readers will stampede to somebody else’s blog if I miss more than a few days and never return.

Yeah, I know better. If you’ve put up with me so far, I have faith you’ll put up with me a week from now. Besides, even in my absence, there will probably be conversations going on in the comment sections. And there are always Amazon links in need of clicking. (Yeah, shameless plug. Sorry.)

In any case, every time I say that blogging will be “lite,” that’s exactly when I get inspired to write something brilliant insightful devastatingly witty else. So who knows? Possibly I’ll even get a chance to prep and advance-schedule a few blog entries to magically appear.

Mostly, I’m going to stick around the house and perform serious Organizing of Stuff. Not just preparedness stuff, as I wrote about the other day. But stuff-stuff. After two years of constant construction chaos, I want everything finally neat and in its place for the cabin-fever months ahead.

I’ll also be working with a yard guy to take down old fencing, remove a nasty-looking tree, and lay the groundwork for as large a veggie, chicken, and (maybe) bee area as my tiny property will hold.

But I might also go wild & crazy and take Ava out to the ocean. There’s an interesting beach within day-trip distance, but I haven’t gone there since returning to the NorthWET. It’s about time.



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