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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.

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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!


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.


Thanks for visiting!

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.


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