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Monday, May 13, 2024

Lost another good one...

I just learned a bit of sad news (more melancholy), I found out that John Wells, of the Field Lab persuasion (https://thefieldlab.blogspot.com/) passed away from pancreatic cancer early in this year. I originally learned about John about the time we were going off-grid back at the tail end of 2007, we heard an interview on Marfa Public Radio about this transplanted New Yorker going off-grid down in Terlingua Texas, quite a bit south of us. I looked him up, we connected immediately but for various reasons, we never met face to face. I enjoyed following him on his blog, I'm sure he read my blog (I like to think so). We followed each other on FaceBook as well.

Even though we shared a lot of the same ideas, living off-grid, being conservative, our religious beliefs,  and some of our politics, but one thing we didn't have the same mindset on was medical/health things. He considered many of my ideas on "alternative" medicine to be conspiracy theories. Sadly that caused enough of a rift between us that we both stopped following each other as closely as we had before, thus the reason why I'm just now learning about his passing. 

This has made me (again) wonder about why people who are diagnosed with cancer tend to die so quickly after the diagnosis, certainly not everyone across the board, but enough that it sticks with me. I am utilizing some of what John would consider conspiracy theories to up my health, I am very much opposed to going to see doctors "just because", if I have a condition that requires medical intervention that I can't do myself, such as a broken bone, a serious infection, things like that, I'll go see a doctor. But for everyday health-related stuff, especially things that I consider proactive, things like eating better, moving more, taking supplements (good ones, not the garbage they sell in many stores that just gives you expensive pee), doing the things that are going to improve my gut health and immune system, you better believe I'm doing all of that and more. I also stopped using things topically that are not good for my body, things like antiperspirants, I changed to deodorants then went to natural deodorants, I don't use anything that contains fluoride, I am super careful about what ingredients I'm applying to my body, your skin is one of your largest organs and anything you apply to your skin will be absorbed and "ingested" by your body.

I don't write much about these things, just touching on them here and there, mainly because I don't wish to have any extra attention placed on myself by the "powers that be". I also don't want to send someone down a road that would be not as good for them as it was for me, we are all different and honestly, it's not hard to research once you are willing to see beyond the filter of Google, the FDA and other alphabet agencies who don't have our best interest at heart. It's sad that artificial sweeteners (think sucralose, aspartame...) are considered good yet raw milk is considered bad and even illegal by the powers that be, just think about that for a minute.

This just confirms my feelings about doubling down on some of the things (I can't write about) that I am doing to counteract the things that happen as we age, I know I can't live forever, but I want the life I have left to be as good as it can be. 

Well, I'll end this here, and wish a good RIP to John Wells of the Field Lab, I have no doubt as to where your eternal soul went/is going. 







All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Switching to Starlink: A Game-Changer for Rural Internet Access

Living in the remote, mountainous regions of far west Texas presents its own set of challenges, not least among them being reliable internet access. Those of us out here are mostly cut off from the world, with cell phone coverage so sparse that I've resorted to a booster just to catch a whiff of a signal. My local internet provider, though a lifeline, often leaves me disconnected, especially during the late hours of the day or, frustratingly, on weekends—sometimes knocking out service for several days.

For anyone living in the sticks, the options are slim and fraught with compromises. Satellite services like Hughesnet and Viasat are available but their data throttling tactics—where your speed is choked to a crawl once you hit a data cap—means the connection is barely usable after a short while. As someone who devours data, this setup just isn’t feasible, and waiting for installation can take months since providers prioritize areas with multiple service requests.

Enter Starlink, a beacon of hope. The decision to switch wasn’t made lightly; abandoning a local business is tough when you’re committed to supporting the community. But with my work-from-home needs escalating and another rainy season on the horizon threatening more outages, reliability had to take precedence. Hearing about the increasing shift of local customers to Starlink only solidified my decision—better to switch before being left in the lurch by a retracting local enterprise.

The transition to Starlink isn’t without its costs, both financially and emotionally. It’s a pricey investment upfront, and although I missed out on the recently introduced discounts for refurbished units, the potential for steady, fast connectivity is worth the price. Tomorrow, my Starlink kit arrives, and it’s set to go up on the fourth-story observation tower of the SkyCastle—my home. The high vantage point should provide an unobstructed view of the sky, maximizing connection stability.

I'm keen to hear from others who've made the switch. Are you satisfied with Starlink? How does it compare to other local options? Is the service meeting your needs? 

For those still on the fence about upgrading their rural internet setup, consider how pivotal a stable connection is to modern living—from everyday communications to professional obligations. Starlink isn’t just another service provider; for many of us, it’s a lifeline, transforming the way we connect from the wild fringes of society.

All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, March 8, 2024

Friday, it's time to do stuff!

Things to do today...

First thing was to wake up early enough to attend a Zoom meeting from the company I'm part of. Next had to feed the puppies, well they aren't exactly puppies, Mr Pups is 12 and Sweet Pea is 8 according to the vet. I have to sneak in their antibiotics before giving them breakfast so they will actually eat it. Next was to feed hubby, since it's the end of the week, all the fun to eat convenience foods have been eaten already, I'm also just out of a lot of things in my pantry and fridge, so I had to improvise. Not a problem usually, but I had the makings for dirty rice, a dish that PB traditionally doesn't think he likes... he ate some recently and has decided it's pretty good, so I made another batch today, still need to work on the recipe, and since I don't want to test it myself (I fast everyday and don't eat until after 3 at the earliest), I had to rely on PB's description of what it was missing, I'll give it a go later today and see for myself.

Now for the rest of the day, I'm going over to a friend's house to "service" her composting toilet, yeah I know, but that's what friends are for. She hurt her knee and isn't able to do the dirty job, so I am doing it. It's honestly not that big of a deal, I'm more "worried" about digging a hole in our rocky ground out here, cleaning out the poo and rinsing it isn't a problem... I'll hang out with my friends after that. At some point today, maybe before I leave to go to my friend's, I'll grab my new vacuum and hit the floor, I almost hate to do it right now, the pups are sleeping so soundly... if they don't wake up while I'm getting ready to leave, I may wait until I get home.
How is your Friday going?




All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Fresh water kefir grains instructions


FIRST FERMENT

Large glass container, 1 quart or larger, wide mouth preferred
Non metal strainer and stirring utensils 
Coffee filters or cheesecloth or other clean breathable cloth to cover the lid
Rubber bands to hold it in place

1 qt water, room temperature 
1/4 cup sugar (white, brown, raw.. No honey! No artificial sweeteners!)
1/4 cup kefir grains

Optional
1 t unsulphured molasses 
------------------------
1 pinch sea salt
OR
1 pinch baking soda

-------------------------------------

Dissolve sugar and any of the optional ingredients in water, it doesn't have to be completely dissolved. Pour into your glass jar, make sure it's at room temperature, cold is OK but hot will kill your kefir. Add the kefir to the water. Cover with a coffee filter (or other clean cloth) secure with a rubber band.

Note the date (I write it on the side of my jar) and place wherever you want as long as it's room temperature, you can cover the jar with a towel if you want, kefir work best in the dark.

The warmer it is, the faster the kefir ferments, in summer it could be completed in 24 hours, in cooler temps it could take 3-4 days. Taste your kefir water after 24 hours, when it's complete it will have a yeasty, almost vinegar smell and taste, it should be very slightly sweet. If it's still very sweet, let it go another day, up to 4 days. If it's not sweet at all, you are at risk of starving your kefir, don't let it go too long. The water will also become bubbly. 



SECOND FERMENT

Gather some glass bottles with good lids, make sure these will withstand carbonation pressures. Strain out your kefir grains, pouring the kefir water into a container that is easy to pour (a large glass or plastic measuring cup with a spout). Pour your fermented kefir water into the bottles leaving enough space to add 1/4 the volume of fruit juice and/or fruit AND still leave a couple of inches of head space in the bottle. 

Cap tightly and let sit at room temperature for a day, up to three days. The warmer the air, the faster the ferment. You will start to see bubbles on top, that is a good thing. The longer you let it sit at room temperature, the fizzier it will get. Don't let it go too long without checking and burping the bottle, it can explode if too much pressure builds up.

You can use pretty much anything to flavor your kefir water, fruit (fresh, frozen or dried-unsulphured), fruit juice, ginger... If you want the end product to be a bit sweeter, you can add a pinch of sugar to the second ferment, it will ferment a little faster with the extra sugar. Also, the longer you ferment at room temperature, the more sour and fizzy it will get. 

Once it's at the flavor profile you want, place the bottles in the fridge and enjoy as you wish. This naturally fizzy beverage will be full of great probiotics. 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

As soon as you empty the kefir water from the first ferment, you can immediately start another batch. It's recommended to keep back a little of the first fermented water to act as a starter. Merely repeat the directions for the first ferment.

Chances are your kefir grains will have grown and multiplied, if they haven't multiplied too much you can keep the all together in your original jar to do the next batch, understand that with more kefir grains, the batch will ferment faster. You can also divide your kefir grains and either start another jar, or you can sell or gift your extra kefir grains.

You can also store your kefir grains in the fridge for up to a week if you need to, or you can dehydrate your kefir grains to use later. There are two different dehydration methods, both require you to rinse your kefir grains until they are translucent, you can spread them on a non-metal surface in a single layer and place in a very dry spot to dehydrate on their own
OR
You can use a dehydrator set on a super low temperature (too hot and you'll kill the kefir). Once dry you can store them in a jar until you are ready to use again. It will take a couple of times to fully activate your kefir grains from dry, just follow the first ferment steps above using a couple of tablespoons of the dried kefir.

You can add any extra kefir grains (fresh) to a smoothie, feed them to your pets, chickens, ducks, livestock, you can even put them in a compost pile

Some  like to add a few raisins to the first ferment, I personally prefer to go simple with my kefir grains, I don't want to risk contaminating them with anything that might be detrimental. If you want to experiment, wait until you have some extra kefir grains, then if you lose a batch, it's not your entire batch if kefir grains.

Remember, these are a living thing, they need to be fed and kept warm to survive and thrive. Keep your jars, bottles and anything else that touches the kefir grains and water clean. Don't use anything that could harm your kefir, metal, chlorine and fluoride in your water is not good, honey has antimicrobial properties that can harm kefir, never use artificial sweeteners, your kefir needs real sugar, the sugar is for the kefir grains, not for you, once your first ferment is complete, there is very little sugar left. Make sure any dried fruit does not contain sulfur additives. Too much heat will also kill your kefir.

Bottom line, the measurements above are approximations, not exact, don't worry, have fun, enjoy your tasty healthy science experiment.

If you accidentally let your ferments (first or second) go too long, no worries, the brew just becomes more sour, if you don't like the taste, you can use it to water plants, it's good for them too. 






All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, October 24, 2022

Kefir, second ferment

Well, I have exceeded my expectations with my kefir! I am so glad I purchased fresh kefir instead of dry, I'm sure I could have succeeded with the dry, but it would have taken me longer to get to the finished drink.

I think it took me an extra day at both ends, the first and second ferment, the reason being because the SkyCastle is on the cooler side, and cold temps slow down the activity of the kefir. I let the first ferment go for 4 days, I tasted it on days 2, 3 and 4. The point here is to get to a slight sour, yeasty, yet slightly sweet, it is complex. I watched so many YouTube videos, so many were tasting the first ferment, they described it so exquisitely, I wondered if I would be able to recognize when the first ferment was complete...
I had nothing to worry about, I was able to detect the flavor of a completed first ferment with no problems. I pulled out 3 bottles for the second ferment. 2 large Topo Chico bottles and one smaller bottle that originally contained a commercially available kefir water, the first one of its kind I tried.

I filled each bottle, leaving enough space to add juice, fruit and still enough head space for the carbonation to happen. I also started a second batch of kefir water, the kefir grains were apparently very happy, they had doubled in size and quantity. I was able to split off 2 batches to give away. 

I took the remaining kefir grains and started another batch. The first batch of water kefir that I drained went into the next bottles, I added grape juice to one, a mix of juice in another, and in the smaller bottle, I put in a couple of lemon slices. I capped them tightly and set aside for the second ferment.

It took about 3 days for the first bubbles to appear in the second ferment, by the 4th day, they were fizzy! I had been tasting them a little bit on each day, I placed the 2 larger bottles in the fridge, the smaller lemon flavored bottle didn't last long enough to be refrigerated.

I did notice the way the fermentation slowed in the cold and increased in the warmth, I had placed my second fermentation bottles near the wood stove, they really began to bubble vigorously. I didn't allow them to get too warm, I didn't want any accidents, explosions, or dead ferments. 


It turned out to be just enough, the end product was tasty, fizzy and all around fun to drink. I can't wait to have enough going to be able to drink as much as I wish. For now, I'll just keep working both ferments.

My second batch I added grape juice to one bottle, and apple cider to the second bottle, on the smaller bottle I stayed with the lemon slices. I expect to be able to start drinking those in a few days. 

If you live close by to me, ask me about getting a batch of kefir grains from me, otherwise, if you want to get the same ones I have, go here KEFIR LINK and order from Amazon, thanks!





All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, October 17, 2022

It's Alive!

I am a strange combination of healthy eating and eating absolute garbage, well not actual garbage, but snack foods and less than healthy foods. I like to feel that I'm making up for the less than foods by consuming much more healthy fare.



My healthy food of the week (hopefully it will last more than a week though), I'm doing water kefir now. I am somewhat familiar with commercially available milk kafir from the health food store and the healthier sections of the grocery store. It's much harder to find a commercial water kafir drink, I finally found one and wanted to try it before going to all the trouble of making my own water kefir drinks.

Turns out I did like it and began to learn everything I could on the subject, fortunately it is so so SO simple! No special equipment, no expensive tools, no complicated or long methods are involved. I went ahead and purchased a batch of fresh (not dried) kefir grains to start with, that bypasses the first steps involved in STARTING or activating the growth, I would be essentially starting in the middle of step 2, and since there are only 3-4 steps in total, and I tend to want (almost) instant gratification, I couldn't argue with that route.


So, just what the heck ARE kefir grains? Well, first off they aren't actually "grain", what people are calling a grain is a tender but rubbery, bouncy, almost like a soft gummy bear like texture nodule that this bacteria and yeast grow in, these living organisms grow their own structure to live in, and much like a happy sourdough starter, once you start your own colony of kefir, it will multiply, it will grow larger and you will most likely end up giving it away to your friends and family.

The kefir grains live and grow in a sugar water solution that you supply, that's all, you should also give it minerals, so brown sugar, molasses, anything like this that contains minerals will make your kefir happy. As they consume the sugar in the water, they ferment and create probiotics which happen to be super healthy for us!

So I ordered from a person on Amazon (Kefir Link), I wasn't exactly sure how much I would receive, there seemed to be lots of measurements and numbers being thrown around, it said 1/4 pound, then 7 ounces, I just don't know what 1/4 pound or 7 ounces of kefir looks like. The reviews sounded pretty good, it was going to be fresh (not dried) grains, the price was reasonable, so I pushed the button.


After I did that, I began to look around the SkyCastle for large enough glass jars and containers. I am a bit of a hoarder, I blame that on my dad who grow up in the depression, you don't throw away ANYTHING that might come in handy, no matter how far into the future that might be... much to the annoyment (is that even a word???) of PB... we have had this long term battle over how many glass jars and bottles I NEED to save, he is constantly asking me if I'm done with a jar or bottle, translate that to: can I throw it away now? Wellll, if it is of a good size and has a decent lid, then the answer is almost always NO, you can't toss this, yet. Eventually he does wrestle away many of my jars and bottles, but I manage to save back just enough.

I looked through my bottle/jar stash and found just the perfect couple of containers for my new pets. Hmmm, pets, well they are a living entity, they grow and multiply, I am feeding and caring for them, I'm not exactly eating THEM though you can, just their by-products. OK, enough of that visual.

I had a large 2 quart Mason jar that I saved from a cold coffee making setup, I just don't make that much coffee, hot or cold to use that size of jar, the other jar was from a cold coffee concentrate that I had bought from the grocery store, it's 32 ounces or 1 quart. The second jar has a small mouth, but it's the perfect size, honestly when I bought these originally, I knew I would be saving those jars for something I would do in the future.

My kefir showed up a bit earlier than I expected them to, and they stayed in my mailbox for a few days, in my defense, my mailbox is some 6 miles away and I don't tend to make a special trip just to check my mail, I knew I was planning on going to town in a few days, and the temperature was going to be mild,  so I figured it would be OK, I had read a couple of reviews from people in hot places who said they had left theirs in their mailbox for a few days in the heat of summer and it turned out just fine.

Once I got my kefir babies home, I still wasn't ready to start so I popped them in the fridge for a couple of days. I had read mixed thoughts on that, most said it was OK, a few said that wasn't ideal, the directions on the package even said not to do that, I'm such a rebel, I did it anyhow.

Fast forward to last Thursday, that was the day, the day I would get everything ready and start my kefir farm. I found 2 suitable jars, I had coffee filters and rubber bands, I didn't have the exact sugar I really wanted to start with (a less processed, more natural sugar), I did have some regular brown sugar, that would work for now.

My water is about the most perfect part of this, it's well water so no chemicals, no fluoride, we do put bleach in the tank, but just enough to make the water safe to STORE, it's actually pretty good water otherwise. It is also high in minerals, which is something the kefir likes, so it's not a worry.

I had 2 containers of kefir grains, tightly packed in these things that you would see in a food take out for your condiments. I added about a quarter cup of brown sugar to the water and added the kefir grains. A few hours later, I realized I wanted to mark the level of the kefir grains at the bottom of the jars so I would know how much they grew, I could tell that they had already puffed up a bit. 

I placed the covered jars in a darkish cabinet and covered them with a towel, apparently kefir are shy and prefer to work in the dark. The following day, I marked a second line to show their growth, one jar seemed to be doing better than the other, it could have been the fact that my jars were 2 different sizes and the smaller jar just made it look like those kefir were doing better. 

So today (Saturday), it had been 2 full days, the kefir grains had puffed up, gotten larger and definitely multiplied, some of the grains were floating, a really good sign, and there were bubbles, at the top of the jar and buried within the kefir grains themselves.

I considered going another day, but thought I should taste my experiment first. I didn't know exactly what to expect, except for the descriptions of those who described what theirs smelled and tasted like. The descriptions were yeasty, fermented, sour smell. Mine definitely had all three of those things going for it. It is said that a properly developed liquid would no longer taste sweet but rather yeasty, fermented and slightly sour, well it also had all of those things going for it as well. I could barely taste a hint of the former sweetness it had started out with. 

I wanted to do a second fermentation, which is where you drain off the liquid, saving back the kefir grains and a little bit of the fermented water, then you place that liquid in another glass container with a good lid, at this point you can add fruit, fruit juice or a myriad of other things to add a flavor and wait for the juicy bubbles to form.

Yes, it does get fizzy, at least what I've seen on other YouTube videos on the subject. It's not supposed to take very long either, just add whatever fruit or juice you wish, bottle and wait. That's where I am now. I managed to hide back a hand full of large glass bottles with good lids, I filled 2 of the larger ones and a smaller one. I added grape juice to one, a mix of fruit juices for another, and for the smaller one, I cut up a lemon and put that inside of the bottle.

I closed up the lids tightly, something that may or may not be risky, if you want lots of fizz (and I do!) you have to tightly cap your bottles, but you have to either burp them, or don't let them go for very long. I've seen on YouTube from 6-12 hours, or 24 hours, I suspect it depends on the fruit or juice you add and the temperature where you are storing your capped bottles. The warmer it is, the more it ferments and the bubblier it can get. Right now we are at the cooler end, not cold enough for a fire in the wood stove, but definitely cooler, generally in the 50s F inside of the SkyCastle.

I keep looking at my bottles sitting on the shelf, I know they won't explode, at least not yet... it's been around 6ish hours, I did open one of the bottles just a little to see (or hear) if it was building up any pressure, and I'm happy to announce, it did release a tiny bit pressure! So, success so far. 

I'll probably pop them in the fridge tomorrow and later in the day, give them a taste test, I'm hoping it turns out and that I like the flavor. I just remembered that I have some cucumbers in the fridge, I wonder how that would taste??? 

I also started my second batch of kefir water, this time I had the sugar I wanted to use, a turbinado style sugar I order from Sam's Club, I also added just a little regular brown sugar, I thought I had some molasses, and I might, I just can't find it. Brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses added so it should be just fine. 

My kefir critters have easily doubled in size and volume. I'll have plenty to share around in a very short time. I know of 2 friends who are very interested, and I'm sure once word gets out, I'll have quite a few people wanting to start their own kefir farm.

How about you? Are you familiar with water kefir? Have you hade it? Do you grow your own? What are your favorite flavors to add?

If you wish to order some fresh kefir grains, you can order from the same place I got mine, they are alive and thriving, click here Kefir Link


All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

It's October!!!! Dogs and wok..

Can you believe it's October already????? I just don't know where the summer went, but in all honesty, fall or autumn is my favorite time of the year, our rainy season has pretty much ended, there is still some greenery around, but grasses and other plants are starting to get that golden tinge around the edges. Our trees don't really change color, we have mostly pines and oaks, the pines pretty much look the same year round, the oaks keep their green leaves all winter, waiting until spring to turn color, fall off and grow nice green leaves in just a few short weeks.

The nights and mornings are getting cooler now, I have had to start breaking out my cold weather sleeping gear, it's not quite time for the down blanket, that will be next month.

The dogs have fallen into a regular routine, up at daybreak, eat around 8ish, I take them for a walk most days, I try for 2 walks a day, but I don't always get it in. They do very well on their leashes, I finally got a second retractable leash so they both have one now. They sleep most of the rest of the day, then it's dinner tine around 6ish, another walk if I'm going to walk them a second time, then they go to bed whenever we do. The little one sleeps next to me, Mr Pups is too big for getting in our bed, he has a nice soft bed at the head of my bed, all I have to tell his is to get into his bed and he does. They have their own dog door so they can come and go as they wish. At night I close them in so they can only go out if I let them out, that's mainly because of the critters that may be out and about, skunks are the biggest worry, it's no fun to wash a stinky dog in the middle of the night, ask me how I know...





Here's something I'm excited about, I finally got the wok I wanted! Last year (I can't remember exactly when) I bought an el cheapo wok from WalMart, it was $5. I just needed to know if I really wanted to cook on a wok often enough to justify buying one. 

 
Turns out I do like cooking in a wok, that began my journey hunting down a good one. It had to be small enough for me to use, that meant a 13-14 inch wok. The next thing was deciding between a carbon steel (traditional) or a stainless steel. I'm very familiar with cooking and frying in stainless, it doesn't stick if you do it right, which means heating up the pan first, pouring in some oil, wait to see the oil shimmer-almost smoking, then add the food, it generally cooks/fries without sticking. You can also get woks in non-stick and in cast iron, neither appeal to me, I don't like non-stick coatings that flakes off and smokes at high temps. The cast iron would just be too heavy to be practical.

I really couldn't decide between carbon steel and stainless steel. The carbon steel has to be treated much like cast iron, it needs to be properly seasoned and washed & dried properly. I really love my stainless steel cookware too. I had several of each kind in my Amazon cart, it turned out to be price that was the determining factor.

One of the stainless steel woks dropped in price, very significantly, it had been around $80 and dropped to $24.99, that's all I needed to see! I hit the buy it button and waited for it to arrive. It's still that price as of now.

I got it a few days ago, even though we had already eaten dinner, I really wanted to try it, so I made popcorn in it. The following day I got out my stir fry goodies and made a proper dinner. I quickly realized that my little RV stove just doesn't have enough horsepower to really get the wok up to stir fry temps. So a couple of days later, PB put together a separate high horsepower burner just for the wok. I can also use it for boiling large pots of water and other things.

That is what has been going on this week, hope your week is going fantastically!  Let me know what you are doing to get ready for winter.



All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, September 10, 2022

I've got a running buddy!

Well, it's more like I ride my ebike and my 4 legged buddy runs along side of me. The new additions to our family, Sweet Pea and Mr Pups have merged with us in such a perfect way, it's incredible, almost unbelievable, it's almost like they have been with us for their whole life. A few weeks ago I needed to take a run to the church, it's a couple of miles up the road from me, it was a semi-sunny day, between the rain storms we have in our monsoons, I decided to take my bike, I noticed as I got my bike out and took it down the hill to the road, Mr Pups followed beside me in such a way that I thought he just might make a good running buddy. I couldn't take him that day because I needed to get to the church to check on the water up there, it was far too far to expect him to run beside me and I didn't have time to do anything with him right then.




Fast forward to yesterday, we finally had a break in the rain that had been falling for days, the roads had dried up between the two low water crossings that frame my property and a few properties down the road. I got out my bike and asked Mr Pups if he wanted to go. He was all excited, following me down to the bridge, when I told him he could come with me and opened the gate, he hopped around like a kid!

As I began to ride, he fell in right beside me, not too close, not too far, he didn't run ahead of me, he seemed to know exactly what to do. Once we got down to the low water crossing that had water in it, I stopped and turned around, I wasn't sure if he would stay with me or continue across the water, to my delight, he turned with me and fell in right beside me again. I let him set the pace, he ran full out for the first little bit, then slowed to a nice loping pace. We proceeded down about 4 properties away, I'd say around a 10th of a mile. I didn't want to go any further because my neighbors/friends down that way have a couple of large dogs that are of unknown behavior, they are normally inside of a fence but they did get out last week, I also didn't have Mr Pups on a leash, and I also didn't want to run him too hard or far the first time we did this.

We did this circuit about 3 times, stopping on the second round to visit my next door neighbor LL for a while. On the third round, he was visibly going much slower, he is an old man of 8 or 9 years old according to what I've been told about him.

Today he seems to be in pretty good spirits, he doesn't seem stiff or sore, though I can't imagine how he isn't at least a little sore, that's the most activity he's had since moving in with us last month.

Here is my plan, the big guy runs great beside the bike, I want to get a harness for the little dog, one that I can use to strap her on me like a backpack but in front. I can get a tiny helmet for her and she can ride the bike with me as he runs alongside of us. My neighbor LL also wants to get a bike like mine, she has a little dog, she can strap her dog on too and we can ride all over, I'm thinking this will be great fun!






 

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Wretha,

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Sunday, September 4, 2022

What a wet couple of weeks!

The seasonal creek in front of the property
and the bridge that PB built.
It's been an eventful couple of weeks, first of all, rainy season, our monsoons have hit full blast, it seems to have come a bit late, but in fact, as it has been pointed out by a good friend just up the road (thanks Robert!), it's normal for the wettest part of rainy season to hit in August. It's just that the last few years have been not so spectacular in the rain department, it's easy to get lulled into a sense of security, forgetting just how much rain changes things. 

There are a few things the rain affects out here, first and (perhaps most important) is the internet. Our internet is, well it's just bad. That has a lot to do with the fact that we are so far from town and in a hard to get to place, line of site doesn't exist because of the mountains. We don't have that many options for internet, I chose to go with the local route, it's slow, expensive and getting someone out to do any kind of repairs when lightening strikes one of the transmission points or anything else happens is near impossible, and our internet has a habit of going down over the weekend, meaning no one in the office at the internet place 2 town over. I also don't have much of a cell connection, I do have a cell booster which helps, but since I'm working from home now, I've burned through the majority of my data allowance for the month and I have over 2 weeks left in the billing cycle, so I'm trying to go easy on that as much as I can.

We do have super high speed internet at our local community center, and it's free, the problem is our second problem that happens during rainy season, the roads. Living in a rural, mountain community with unpaved roads that stay dry most of the year, when we do get major rains, either hard rain or unrelenting rain (sometimes both at the same time), our roads really suffer. They either become very muddy or completely washed out, complete with boulders that get pushed into the roads at the low water crossings, rocks that you can't see under the rushing muddy water, the kind that will tear up your vehicle... it's best to stay home if you can. Our little community FaceBook page is full of people asking if their road is passable, or posting pictures and videos of their roads being washed out. So getting up to the community center where I could use the free highspeed internet is a challenge to impossible.

We do have our own private community road crew that maintains our roads, the county/city does not maintain our roads in any way, they do the best they can to repair the bad spots as they happen, but there is only so much they can do, they are wonderful to have around, I'm very grateful for them.

The other thing that happens during the rainy season, cloud cover, which is not so good for solar power. The photons are not getting through as much and the ones that are getting through are mighty thin... We have 3 separate solar systems, I really like redundancy, we have 2 separate sets of lithium iron batteries with their associated solar panels and all the goodies that go with them, and a third set of old deep cycle FLA golf cart batteries on their own solar system with all the associated goodies, that one is typically used only for the refrigerator (chest freezer to fridge conversion).

Normally if one system gets used more and ends up running out of power, we have the other two to rely on to get us through until the sun shines again. And generally, even with the cloud cover, our solar systems are robust enough to charge fully, usually... but with the excess cloud cover, especially those days with an extra thick layer of clouds, the kind the roll through the valley between the mountain tops, it just isn't bright enough to really tickle the solar panels. So we don't get a really good solid charge. Combine that with the fact that we are having to run a sump pump 24 hours a day for days in a row, the "basement" to the SkyCastle is dug into the mountain side so during the heavy rains, we get water seeping up through the ground, we have to run a sump pump to keep it from becoming flooded under the house and potentially undermining the structure of the SkyCastle itself.


That sump pump has priority over all other things right now, we cannot allow the basement to flood, that means even the fridge and freezer, internet, lights, water pump, any and all other things take a back seat to keeping that pump running. There have been a few nights that we had no power to spare for anything else, PB got up a couple of times during each night to check the pump and plug it to another power system as each one was drained of power.

We've managed to get through this, as we do each year, the sun does come up, the solar systems do charge back up, the clouds and rain eventually do go away, the roads dry up and are repaired, it's all part of the price we pay to get to live where we do. It's not for everyone, but we love it. It's an adventure everyday.

During the worst of our power woes, I had to, HAD TO get online to setup some meetings between my employer and a potential client, the internet had been working (barely) well enough, but the power fully went out on 2 of our systems, the third was dedicated fully to keeping the sump pump going. It was one of the super thick cloud cover days, it was soaking wet, the ground saturated, the road was a mucky slimy mess, 2 of the low water crossings I would have had to drive through were near impassable, I decided to walk. I grabbed my laptop, phone and an umbrella and took off on foot to get to my friend/neighbor/employer's house, essentially a block away, you can see it in this photo that I snapped from my property, the light colored roof is on their property. Fortunately another friend was driving past in a high clearance, 4 wheel drive truck, going the right direction for me, she picked me up and dropped me off where I needed to be, that meant I showed up with less mud on my shoes LOL. I was able to make the necessary connections online to get the meetings setup, it was a very productive day.

That has been what I have been dealing with the last few weeks. I hope your life has been good, in spite of what I just wrote above, I love this and wouldn't change it for anything. Autumn is here, winter is just around the corner, I am loving the direction my life has taken with my new job. I'm still not used to staying home as much as I have been, I do miss the people I used to interact with, but not bad enough to go back to that chapter of my life, it's time to move on and embrace this new chapter.

I have some fun and exciting things to talk about in future posts, looking forward to writing more!



All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Cha, cha, change...

Change,  I know it's necessary, but I've never been one to really like it, I tend to like things to stay the same, somewhat predictable, I have a bit of a loyalty streak that runs pretty deep inside of me, so that when I get a job and I like, I tend to stick with it for a long time. I know that is not the way of things today, but it's who I am and what I do. With that being said, I just made a major change in my life, I changed for the better, nothing bad, but still a major change...

Those of you who have followed me for any length of time know I was in merchandising, I did it for 10 years for Best Buy before moving to my off grid life. After moving to west Texas, I worked at a couple of jobs, one was a job at our (very) local country store, it wasn't a regular paying job, I worked for barter, how ever many hours I worked, I could trade that in for food, fuel and the such. I did that for a few years, then I became a paid home healthcare caretaker for a good friend, I did that for about 5 years. Then a friend, the then current pastor's wife asked me to work with her as a merchandiser, I jumped at that chance, I knew that job well, eventually she moved away and I took the job fully, even going to work for multiple merchandising companies.

That had me travelling a lot, I was putting on 300-500 miles a week on my truck, I didn't mind except for the fuel costs, which fortunately for the most part were reasonable, until this year. When gas hit $4 a gallon, I quit going to my farthest store (Van Horn) every week, actually I quit it altogether but since it is near impossible to find someone to cover my store there, I agreed to go monthly, and that turned out to be every other week instead.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, a good friend, who happens to be the COO of one company, and CEO of another, both green technology companies, asked me to take over the duties of personal assistant and admin for him, the lady who had been doing that job was about to have a baby and go on maternity leave, my friend has a very busy schedule and really needs someone to help manage that for him. I heartly agreed, it was becoming well past time to move on from merchandising. I enjoyed the job, but the traveling was becoming tiresome, risky and expensive. I had hoped to give 2 weeks notice, but ended up only being able to give 1 week, that gave me a chance to tie up some loose ends and let my stores know that I wouldn't be servicing them anymore.  I'll miss the actual job and the people.

I have been doing this new job for a week now, the first few days were a bit nerve wracking, I have so much to learn, fortunately my "boss" is understanding, I was given some homework to get to know the job and the people involved in the various associated companies. Unfortunately about that same time, my internet started having troubles, it's our rainy season and we have been having lots of storms with the accompanying heavy rains, wind and lightening. It has been really messing with our local internet, I just spent the weekend without internet, I've been using my cell phone with a cell phone booster, it makes it possible for me to do limited internet things, checking email, setting up online meetings and the such. But since I only have a 15 GB data plan service, I need to be careful not to burn through all of my data.

The internet went out late in the evening Friday, and just got turned back on late in the day Monday. I'm thankful it's back on, but honestly I'm seriously considering jumping over to StarLink (anyone using that? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think about it so far), as soon as I have the funds, I'm going to sign up for them. I really hate leaving our local provider, I have been a very vocal advocate for them since day one. With the prices they charge, and the slow internet they provide (I'm on the 6 MB - yes that's megabyte!) tier, for just a little more each month, I can get much MUCH faster speeds and no worries about interruptions if the local power goes out for whatever reason.

Back to my job situation, the last week I worked for the merchandising companies, I thought I'd be much more sad about leaving, but as each day passed, I felt freer and freer, it felt like weights were dropping off of me. The last store I worked in with my work partner, it was a major mess, it was a very difficult medicine reset, about an hour into the job, the lights went out in the store, they stayed out for a couple of hours, we ended up working by flashlights, we couldn't leave the job partially done because I wasn't going to be coming back, we had to get the job completed before we left. The lights finally came back on, and we finished the job, I was happy to be done with that and out of the store. 

It's been really nice to be able to stay home and work, I miss the people I used to see every week, the store employees and the regular customers, I'll also miss the deals I would get from time to time, being in the right place at the right time...

This is also good timing, with our heavy rains, there would have been days where I couldn't get out of my neighborhood, and worse than that, there would have been days I could get out, but wouldn't have been able to get back in due to flooding and muddy road conditions. This has just been a blessing all the way around. Oh and I can't believe how much money I'm saving on fuel, it was costing me $50-$100 a week and it wasn't getting any cheaper no matter where I bought gas, and that wasn't even filling up my truck completely! How are fuel prices where you live? 




All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!