The Great Leveling

Jammed door syndrome.

Our house is crooked. Rather, it isn’t level.

It’s a fifth wheel and being a recreational vehicle meant for travel on the road, every time you park it and unhitch, you have to level it; that is, try to distribute the weight of the rig as evenly as possible all around as well as getting it on an even plane.

If you don’t do it properly, everything will be slightly twisted and the doors and access panels will not open and shut.

It doesn’t help that one of our hydraulic landing jacks isn’t moving up or down. I think it’s a damaged sheer pin and I’m not sure we can fix it by ourselves.

We had to dig ruts in the uneven ground before we had the RV delivered to compensate. The ground slopes up quite a bit on the front end side so we’re having to dig an extra deep hole for the tripod that stabilizes the bedroom portion.

We almost had the most difficult portion in the front done when the jack broke. We could only adjust so far by digging so if you put a marble (or anything else that will roll) on the bathroom counter – off it goes towards the rear of the place.

I’ll try to get used to it but my internal level screams “off-kilter” whenever I walk through the bathroom.

Too bad I can’t adjust my own inner bubble.

 

 

Another Man’s Treasure

A hillside tells a story from another time.

The last people who lived on our property left in the late 1950’s.

We’ve narrowed the time down by going through their trash.

Back then, people who lived away from town dumped their garbage on their own property away from the house.

When we first found bottles laying on an embankment near our trailer, we excitedly set to work sifting through the dirt and piles of garbage. We pulled out bottles, cans, car parts, broken cookware, the first TV dinner trays, and other stuff dating to the early 1920’s.

We noted, through the artifacts we uncovered, the evolution of man’s refuse from heavy iron objects meant to last a lifetime to the beginning of the disposable age of cartridges filled with replaceable razor blades, the TV Dinner trays, and old tubes of toothpaste and Preparation H (hemorrhoids are nothing new, after all).

spoons and vacuum tubes

Holding someone else’s possessions in my hands after so many years left me wondering what their former owners were like. Of course they did dishes, cooked, cleaned, cried, laughed, drank, and read books……all of the things we do today but was the culture different? I’m sure their leisure time was spent much differently with the exception of some old standbys Endcap Entertainment.

The land passed through a succession of owners but no one saw fit to stay here for sixty years – to care about the place. It sat quietly waiting with only the deer, the ants, the trees, rocks, and soil to occupy it’s time.

DSCN2332
Toy plane.

But these family’s stories have been preserved, ironically, in the things they cared least about at the time they were left behind. An egg beater thrown near the base of a young tree is disappearing into decades of its growth.

old english

Tin cans, rusted into scraps, litter the slope. Parts of machinery that held up better under the gentle onslaught of time, still insist they are useful.

Salad forks, spoons, lamp bases, marbles, and can openers lay encased in the dirt inches below the soil. Protected from the elements, souvenirs from Japan, a hand poured heart made of lead, vases and every other type of thing a family would use during the early to mid-twentieth century stayed behind when they moved. I wouldn’t think of taking my trash with me, either. 🙂

One day, I found a bracelet bearing the name Tommy Best, tossed down the hillside with the rest of the trash. Why, I wondered? I called him and asked:  Blast From The Past.

bracelet tommy best
I found the owner of this engraved bracelet. He’s now eighty years old.

With every mundane object or broken keepsake we unearthed, I wondered what the family might think of us happily digging up what they threw out after dinner one night in 1945?

Would the lady of the house mind that I polished up her can opener and was using it again for the first time in sixty years? I bet she wouldn’t.

wouldn’t mind if I was a ghost.

PS As I was finishing the editing on this post, a cupboard door in my kitchen quietly opened by itself. I really wonder if they’re watching now. 

Cold

Inspired when the inside of our trailer froze last year.

Cold By Linda Jordan

Stealing along a darkened road; it’s path crooked
Fleeting around trees, leaves shivering in its wake, grass frozen mid-bow in homage
Inspecting, watchful, it’s purpose clear
A lone traveler comes; hungry for warmth
A house in the darkness; to the porch, peeking into windows; a door ajar
Cold sees an opportunity
Leaning in like a party guest offering unwanted advice, seizing the moment to enter
Quickly occupying every nook and cranny; nesting, rooting,
Inching forward through every carelessly cracked window, down every open chimney flue
Seeping along the floor, hugging corners
Inspecting cupboards, trying on boots and gloves
Filling closets and testing bed sheets; searching
Halting in a darkened corner, cold utters a sigh; glittery breath frosting windows in the vacant night
Uninvited visitor, unwelcome guest in the quiet
Faintly, the sound of voices tug at the fringes of its weary consciousness;
Lights flicker on interrupting its blue reverie; the rising sound of laughter assaults it’s crude senses
Suddenly feeling exposed, resolve melting, Cold hurriedly gathers it’s things, shoulder’s its frosty rucksack, and dissolves into the baseboards and walls, hiding
Whispering down halls, tendrils collecting its belongings along the way, cold escapes out the door as a warm body enters, door shut rudely at it’s back
Indignant and disheveled, Cold collects itself, shrugs its pack into place, and starts once again down the road trailing winter behind it

horese snow
A snow sculpture I did last year. The picture at the top is also a snow sculpture I did and enhanced with Photoshop.

What is Black and Yellow and Flies All Over?

A very confused Yellow Jacket. Get it “”Flies” all over”?

They hover outside your door and the second you open it, they ride the air current into your house. “They” are Yellow Jackets.

If one gets inside, you have to follow it around with a rolled up newspaper or other weapon of choice until you get it because if you don’t, it will wait for you – then – zap – then pain.

I got stung twice this summer and my husband once. His was worse because he was  sleeping when I heard him groan in pain. It was really bad judging by his reaction.

What a rude awakening.

The Yellow Jackets were rampant this summer. When we went to get spray, the store  shelves were empty. Apparently the scourge was worse than usual this year –  perhaps due to the heat and shortage of water.

To keep them at bay, we set out various DIY and store-bought traps.

One deterrent is to make a fake hive and hang it up. Those didn’t seem to work but most of the water bait traps worked fairly well. Yellow Jackets love meat – especially hot dogs. We’d place one in a shallow tub surrounded by soapy water and the bees would land in the water and die quickly because of the dish soap.

We found some hives in the trees around our property and used a garden insecticide type sprayer filled with water and soap to soak the nests and kill the colonies. It worked really well but of course you have to keep your distance.

We had fun shooting down a nest that was too close to the trailer with a BB gun. By the time it fell, it was nothing but shreds of nest material. I began to shoot rocks at it with a sling shot. I still shoot marbles today but with a can for a target.

I spent a lot of time digging our spring deeper because of the declining water table and the yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, black headed whipper snappers or whatever you call them liked “the hole” as much as me. It was a primary water source for everyone during an especially dry summer and the competition was fierce.

For the most part, we shared the space in peace but every once in a while I would grab my homemade oversized swatter and smack them all down so I could dig for a few minutes without having to have eyes in the back of my head.

I also invented a game I’ll call Yellow Jacket Tennis.

Game play consisted of smacking them out of mid-air with the swatter. I used a combination of golf, baseball, volleyball and martial arts maneuvers. I was bored.

God forbid you open a can of tuna in the trailer to make a sandwich. They would smell it from miles away and swarm the door and vents, trying to get in. It was almost scary. I would have to eat inside.

We used the tuna juice against them also. A store bought one-way lid on top of a gallon milk jug served as a yellow jacket mosh pit. Dozens would fight each other to get inside only to find there was no exit. We’d watch the jug fill up with buzzing bodies with morbid fascination.

Thank goodness the cooler days are here and I haven’t seen one in a  while. I won’t miss them or the games.

Time to put away my Whackajacket 2000 till next summer.

You Have I Have

A poem about differences.

Roses are red, violets are teal

You have a house, I have a fifth wheel

I shovel dirt while you mow your lawn

You go to bed late and I’m up before dawn

You have a garage, bathroom sinks and a pond

I have a spring, trees, the skies and beyond

And when it gets cold you can turn on the heat

Me, I just build a big fire and cook meat

Sometimes I admit that I wish I were you

But living out here I would never undo

 

 

 

 

I’ve Lost My Marbles

Cosmic meaning in slingshot balls.

Little white marbles – four hundred of them – lost.

Slingshot balls.

Out into the trees, into the ditch, under layers of pine needles and behind clumps of dirt. Like gold, they quickly find their way to the deepest recesses where I can barely see them. When I run out, it’s time to forage.

One day while I was wandering around looking for the balls, the act of concentrating seemed to put me into a trance. I became contemplative and wondered if the universe communicates to us through symbols and if so, could I learn something from rambling around looking for marbles?

What if each ball represented a truth? Then the following might apply:

  • They are sometimes easier to find in the darkness rather than the light.
  • The harder you look for them the more they seem to elude you.
  • Sometimes they are right in front of you and you don’t see them.
  • Sometimes you walk right over them only to spot them when looking from a different perspective.
  • Some get buried in the dirt but they still remain visible if you look closely enough.
  • They are all around you but you don’t always see them.
  • They seem to appear magically in front of you with the right frame of mind.
  • Just when you think you’ve found them all there are always more.
  • Although they seem lost forever, they are there, somewhere. Or are they?
  • Are they there when observed and gone when not?
  • They are more visible with an open mind.
  • Some travel farther than others.
  • Picking them out of the pine needles can hurt.
  • You can drive yourself crazy looking for them in the snow or you can be patient and wait till Spring when they will reveal themselves.
  • Where the hell do the ones I never find go? Does some gopher have a living room full of them?

Do you think I’m crazy? 🙂

The Man, the Bear and the Truck

If that man had woken up…..

We camped in the national forest near Snoqualmie Pass during the summer of 2017 while we looked for property to buy. It was a popular area and most of the spots were full at that time of year.

Every now and then, a bear will discover that food is readily available in these places and will take advantage of the smorgasbord. One had been seen going up and down the road so the Forest Service had posted warning signs.

My husband and I were driving back to camp one afternoon when we spotted a truck parked just off the road with the tailgate down. There, a bear was happily rummaging through the truck owner’s goods – his dinner, perhaps.
We pulled over. The bear took off and I very carefully crept up to the truck hoping I wasn’t about to see a blood bath. I got close enough to peak into the back and into the shell.

There was a man asleep but very much alive in the back! His feet had been mere inches away from where the bear had been ransacking through his supplies.

I woke him up and told him what had happened. Can you imagine if he had woken up while the bear was at work? He would have had no where to go.

Our family has had our own bear encounters.

One year one kept coming into our campsite so we moved our food to the car with the exception of some canned goods. We learned that cans don’t stop bears when we woke up to find it with a can crushed in its mouth, enjoying the contents through the holes it had bitten.

It continued to cruise the campsites so we called Fish and Game. I don’t know what they did about it.

We now carry bear spray wherever we go.

Recently, two men who were mountain biking near North Bend, not far from where we used to camp, were attacked by a cougar. One of them ran, and was subsequently killed. . This was just months ago.

Cougar Attack

We now live in much closer proximity to predators.

A couple of years ago, a bear attacked a neighbor’s dog in her carport and she beat it away. There are wolf packs in the area that are being tracked for conservation efforts. They have been killing livestock which has lead to ongoing friction between the conservationists and the ranchers.

Be prepared if predators may be around: make noise so you don’t surprise an animal, be aware of your surroundings, store all food away from yourself, and carry a firearm or bear spray.

If you’re not careful, you may not be as lucky as the guy in the back of the truck.

Writing and The Faucet

More than just a faucet.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

― Louis L’Amour

Yeah, only in my case, you have to dig the damned well, install a water filter and about five-hundred feet of hose, put the hose in the trailer water inlet (it puts the water in the trailer or it doesn’t get the coffee), turn off the water pump that you realized has been on all night pumping air, make the coffee after you get enough water in the tank to make it, check on said status of water refill, run in and check on coffee making status, run up to the top of the property again to “turn off” the water (pull the hose out of the spring), run down again and turn the coffee to low for perking, turn on the generator sometime during all of this, and plug in the fridge because it was turned off when plugged into the solar.

It’s then and only then that you can sit down and have the freaking coffee.

Thank you for the quote irevuo.

Progress

With a little help from our friends.

We’re making headway on the list of repairs and improvements that promise to make our lives more comfortable.

Here’s what we accomplished over the last couple of days:

  • Pulled and repaired our fresh water tank.
  • Installed an on-demand hot water system.
  • Skirted the small trailer with foam board.
  • Insulated water pipes under small trailer.
  • Insulated inside small trailer.
  • Put foam board insulation on the outer bottom of the slide-out of fifth wheel.
  • Put bubble wrap on the windows of the pull-out on fifth wheel.
  • Put leftover insulation on the floor of the basement of the fifth wheel.
  • Picked up door insulating kits for both trailers. Will install today.
  • Came up with an idea to secure the solar panels and picked up half the parts; forgot half the parts.
  • Had a family skirmish about everyone taking this seriously.
  • Finally found hot pads for the household. Still looking for a butter dish.

This could be a full time job.

The daily trip to the Do-It Center (our local hardware store) for insulation, tools, parts, and candy makes me wonder if we should just put up a tent in front and save some gas.

I sometimes wonder if I’m too obsessed with preparing for winter but then I remember last year and all doubts fade. We had frost on the inside of our trailer and the cat’s water dish froze (inside the trailer) and we didn’t have running water for months.

I think I’m being reasonable.

Thank you to our friends at the hardware store for helping us to improve our lives, bolt by bolt, screw by screw and candy bar by candy bar.

Together, we make a difference.

It’s Been One Year

Feeling a little nostalgic.

I was outside around one this morning near a hillside filled with litter from decades ago, as an unseasonably warm breeze blew and the chirps of the last critters of the summer drifted through the air.  It was a nice feeling and it brought me back to the early days and nights of a year ago when we first arrived at our new home.

It’s funny how nostalgia works. Even if times were rough, thinking back on them often leaves us feeling good. As I stood in the darkness, I thought back to those first weeks.

We were excited as hell to be new land owners and it was my husband’s first time living away from Western Washington.

On the morning we arrived, I explored every square inch of our land. It was like having huge back yard. It had two hillsides, a flat-lands, “forests”, and The Craggy Windy Highlands as I call them. I thought about how I could make a map of our place as a fictional land.

The parcel we bought was one of four that had been divided up from a larger piece of land. Ours was number three in the top left area of the “map” below. We wanted to buy the adjacent lots but someone beat us to them.

property

There was a farmer’s dump on the parcel next to us but we had our own portion of the junkyard on our property. The last time anyone took out the trash was over sixty years ago. Their garbage is now semi-valuable as antiques that we have sold.

Wanting to know more about the history of our new acquisition, we ordered a title search of the property from the county courthouse in town. The first owner in the line of succession bought it from Teddy Roosevelt (the government), in 1908. The last people who lived here left in the late 1950’s as near as I can tell. I wonder why?

20190428_203857(1)

This place has been quiet and still for over a half of a century. Now we are here to wake up the ghosts of days gone by.

It’s been a year since we first drove up our driveway pulling the trailer behind us. We’ve been through so much. Walking near the farmer’s dump this morning brought it all back to me. That feeling of excitement and wonder – the pride of ownership. The explorability factor was high then and it still is.

It was those early days of adventure and discovery that inspired me to write so I wouldn’t forget.

Besides, this is the biggest, bestest back yard I’ve ever had and I want to tell the whole world about it. 🙂