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 wait outside your door and the second you open it, they seem to almost be sucked in by the sudden change in air pressure. The pesky and painful Yellow Jacket. Now you have to follow it around the house with rolled up newspaper or other weapon of your choice until you get it because if you don’t, you know it’s there. Hiding, waiting for you to accidentally reach in somewhere and, zap! Pain.

I got stung twice this summer and my husband once. His was worse because he was minding his own business sleeping when I heard him groan in pain waking up. The pain apparently was really bad judging by his reaction as he grabbed his index toe.

Thinking fast, I asked to see it and recognized a sting wound. I quickly crawled to the bottom of the sleeping compartment and sure enough, there was either a yellow jacket or hornet or wasp there. I squished it and confirmed what had gotten him in his sleep.

What a rude awakening.

It hurt him for a couple of days unlike mine. When I got zapped, I was also minding my own business walking and all of a sudden, sharp pain on the top of my foot. Again, I realized what had happened right away and I grabbed my foot and put hard pressure on the sting mark and held it for about a minute. Surprisingly, the pressure seemed to help and I barely felt it after that.

The second time for me was again, minding my own business when I shifted my leg while sitting on a bench. There went the pain and the instant recognition of what had happened. I put pressure on it again but this time the back of my leg swelled up considerably over the next two days.

Wondering if I’d had an allergic reaction and not wanting an emergency, we looked it up online and the swelling is called a large localized reaction. It’s a sort of allergic reaction but not of the systemic kind. If you have that sort of reaction though, your chances of having a more severe reaction in the future rise somewhat.

The things were rampant this summer. When we went to get spray and other means to control them, most, if not all the stores’ shelves were cleaned. Apparently the scourge was worse than usual this year.

We tried suggested DIY techniques for repelling them and trapping them over the course of the several weeks when they were at their worst. We were more mindful of them because we’re outside most of the time. Probably more so than a typical house dwelling human might be and they were everywhere.

The paper bag fake hive trick didn’t work but most of the water bait traps worked fairly well. They love meat and especially hot dogs. We’d place one in a shallow tub surrounded by water and the bees would miscalculate the landing and end up in the water. Add dish soap and it was almost instant death.

We watched some videos on youtube featuring professional bee exterminators and one of them used just soapy water to subdue them and take out the hive initially. He would spray it on the hive and the actual bees and just having it on them would somehow suffocate them.

We found a couple of hives on our property and used that method and it worked like a charm. You shoot the soapy water at them and the hive from a safe distance and you’re done. My husband remarked that there’s a pattern to their behavior when attacked. They go through the extremely aggressive swarm phase initially but if the nest is taken, they go into defeat mode wherein the survivors simply hang around the area, apparently knowing it’s all over.

The most fun technique for dealing with a hive was the BB gun attack. We would just shoot the hive until it was so riddled with holes it would just shred and finally fall down. That was my husband’s favorite. It was carried out at a safe distance, of course.

That wouldn’t work for other types of Apoidea from what we saw on the exterminator shows. Depending on the type of bee involved, the exterminator would sometimes have  to evacuate a two block radius before dealing with the hive. That’s how aggressive some types of bees are. My husband said those types have already begun to populate Washington state.

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 or more as me. It was a primary water source during an especially dry summer. I was told by someone that their sting is more potent and that they’re meaner when water is scarce. Sounds believable to me.

I would climb down into the hole to dig and for the most part, they’d leave me alone and I them but sometimes I would get tired of them and bring my waffle iron sized swatter with me and whack the crap out of them until I reduced the immediate popularity of the hole for a minute or two.

It was fun to play yellow jacket batting practice too. It was hard to miss with the homemade swatter I made out of PVC pipe and a piece of loosely wired mesh I secured to the PVC pipe, which was the handle.

I would sometimes make a game out of standing by the trailer and swing at every one that would happen by. I counted upwards of a couple of hundred per session. I would use the back and forth maneuver, the backhand, and the close quarters anti yellow jacket ninja move if they entered my personal bubble. I suppose I’m lucky I didn’t get stung while engaging them. It was always when I was minding my own business that they got me.

I would sometimes go over to a swarm and swing away at them while they collected in larger numbers around something they deemed tasty in their twisted little yellow jacket heads. Like tuna juice.

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

We used the tuna juice against them also. We bought a fly trap at the hardware store that had a one-way top. It came with fly bait but we put the top on an empty plastic gallon milk jug with the tuna juice inside and they went nuts trying to get in.

It was pretty gross actually; we’d watch the jug fill up with yellow/black buzzing bodies climbing over each other trying to get out. Baking in 95 degree plus weather. It was a grotesque genus Vespula fest. Better in than out.

It’s now officially fall and they are showing up in fewer and fewer numbers. I couldn’t find a live one to take a photo of so dead it is for the featured image.

Not sorry to see them go for the winter.

 

A Rhyme

Written after being left out to graze for too long.

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 an off-the-grid woman I am through and through

 

That last line made me almost wretch but I couldn’t think of ANYTHING to rhyme with “you”.

 

 

 

I’ve Lost My Marbles

Cosmic meaning in slingshot balls.

Little white marbles. 400 of them. Just when I thought I was getting good at slingshot.

I figured I should find them before the first snow or before my husband gets his dream lawnmower next spring.

As I poked around through the brush and trees, I fell into a sort of trance or meditative state and started to see things differently. I saw symbolism in my search.

As I’ve mentioned, I suffer from depression and it’s been quite bad lately so I’ve used the opportunity to kind of try to let the negative feelings flow through me and out rather than sticking and hurting. It’s difficult but looking for the balls allows me to enter into a temporary state of mind where I can separate myself from the waves of emotion and observe almost from an outsider’s perspective.

While in this state of mind I begin to see patterns; messages, what have you, while I look for those hidden objects in the grass.

I understand this probably sounds a bit strange but even can see what my head is going about and in some way it’s profound. Interestingly enough, I feel as if I’m interacting with the balls in a small scale illustration of quantum theory and spirituality. I believe the two are one and the same although seemingly different. The post I wrote about nature and science refers to that.

What if math is beautiful?

I believe meaning in general, the “answers”; truth, is encoded into symbolism; as it is with spirituality and religion. Tonight as I wandered around I let thoughts and feelings flow through me as unaltered as possible and here are some things I thought about:

What if the balls as a collective represented spiritual truth? Then these were my observations:

  • They are ironically easier to find in the darkness rather than the light
  • The harder you look for them the more they sometimes elude you
  • Sometimes they are right at your feet and you miss them
  • Sometimes you miss them the first time then see them when looking from a different perspective
  • Some become ground into the dirt by carelessness 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?
  • They are 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
  • They may become buried under snow but they will always be revealed with the melt
  • They will most certainly fuck up your husband’s lawnmower next spring if you don’t find them.

Do you think I’m crazy? 🙂

The Man, the Bear and the Truck

If that man had woken up…..

The bear had been seen along a forest service road on the south side of I-90 close to Snoqualmie Pass. Warning signs were posted throughout the area warning campers.

We were camping off that road ourselves during the summer of 2017 while we looked for land to call our new home. We were living in the little trailer we’d bought after selling our house in the city of Snoqualmie (not to be confused with the pass)

My husband and I were taking this road back to camp when we spotted a truck parked just off the road with the tailgate down. No one was in sight and a bear was ransacking the occupant’s camp circle at the end of the open tailgate.

Since we didn’t see anyone we were worried about the owner of the vehicle. We pulled over and the bear took off. 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 destroying his goods. I woke him up and told him what had happened.  Can you imagine if he had woken up? No where to go as there was a canopy on the bed. How lucky was this guy?

Our family has camped in the Snoqualmie National Forest for over 20 years and have indeed run into a bear who repeatedly came in to our campsite to raid our supplies; even after the first encounter after which we stored our food in our car.

The morning after we put most of our food elsewhere, we still had some canned goods in our campsite. The bear came and bit into a can of spaghettios and sucked all of the juice out of it through the tooth holes. They’re not stupid when it comes to goodies. We reported the bear to Fish and Game and I believe they may have relocated it.

Bear will do anything to get at food; even inside a car. I heard a story recently about a bear who ransacked a guy’s rental vehicle. I mean trashed it after he’d been warned not to store food inside.

We now carry bear spray wherever we go for protection from cougar also. There was a recent story about two men who were mountain biking near North Bend, not far from where we used to camp regularly. They were attacked by a cougar, one of them ran, and he was killed by the animal. This was just months ago.

Cougar Attack

We now live in an area where we never know what might come up to our door step. We live in their space now. A neighbor had a bear attack her dog in their carport a few years ago.

The lesson to all this? Bear will search and destroy to get to your food.  We don’t go into the woods any more without a can of bear spray. If those cyclists had been carrying some, the end of that story would most likely have been different.

 

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 500 feet of hose, put the hose in the trailer water input pipe (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, plug in the fridge because it was turned off when plugged into the solar, and then you can sit down and have the f******cking coffee.

Shit.

Thank you for the quote irevuo.

Progress

I needed a taste of the carrot.

I’m up early again but at least not 4:00am. The solar went out again but that’s because we ran the fridge for several hours yesterday. That’s a first in the great solar power experiment.

The best thing so far about today is that it’s noticeably warmer in here this morning. Progress!

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

  • Pulled and repaired our fresh water tank.
  • Tried an on-demand hot water system-jury’s out.
  • Skirted the small trailer with foam board.
  • Insulated small trailer’s water pipes on bottom of rig.
  • Insulated various areas in the small trailer with the regular fiberglass insulation.
  • Put foam board insulation on the outer bottom of the slide-out.
  • Put bubble wrap on the window of the pull-out.
  • Put leftover insulation on the floor of the basement to 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.

This could be a full time job. I feel like I eat, breath, smell, taste; do nothing but think about what’s next on the getting-ready-for-winter checklist. The daily trip to the Do-It Center for weather stripping, Great Stuff foam insulation, that tin foil looking stuff with bubbles, bubble wrap, screws, bolts, wire, gas fittings, water hose and fittings, duct tape, tools for the job, a candy bar. The candy is to get me through the damned job.

But it’s all paying off.

I walk the line mentally in wondering if I’m too obsessed with this stuff but I consistently come to the conclusion that I’m not over estimating what we need to do before winter hits. We had frost on the inside of the small trailer we were crammed in last winter. The cat’s water dish froze every day; inside. We didn’t have running water for months. My son and I went to live in an emergency shelter in town for 3 months.

I believe my thinking and actions are quite reasonable.

We make the daily, sometimes more than once a day pilgrimage to the Do-It Center here in Colville and the folks there are getting to know our story pretty well. There’s one particular young man who’m I’ve talked to more in depth because he seems genuinely  interested in what we’re doing. I told him I started a blog after he mentioned we inspired him with our determination. I told him to just not do what we do.

Shout out to the guy at The Do-It Center (just in case he actually reads this)! Like I’m some special person who’s opinion counts. 🙂

BTW, we looked for someone to do most of this work because it’s so overwhelming but didn’t get any takers. The guy who ranted at me over the water pump does RVs by trade but I didn’t want his help after that little incident.

I really want to make coffee right now but that would involve putting on a coat and walking to the top of the property to get the siphon going from the spring to our RV. How bad do you want that cup of coffee Linda? I ran out of water while testing the hot water on demand system last night. I didn’t get to rinse the conditioner from my hair. Actually, it’s really soft and silky this morning. I kind of like that.

I’ve been reading some of the blogs from those that have followed me (I’m now following them in return) and am gaining more knowledge about how this blogging thing works. BTW “blog” and “blogging” keep coming up as misspelled on my computer. Funny.

They say to join groups among your niche on Facebook. I might be burning some bridges here but the ones I requested to join had these super strict rules about not posting links. You have to answer the moderator questions and I just sort of put answers like “sure”, and “can I post links to my blog? If not, let’s pass”. I got a sort of snobbish vibe. I can pass on those if it’s going to be so touchy-feely strict.

I think the need for coffee is stronger than my desire to not set foot outside my front door. Gotta go put my snowsuit on. Exaggerating.

It’s Been A Year

Nostalgia time.

I was outside last night near where we’ve located our fifth wheel. It was actually around 1:00 am. An unseasonably warm breeze was blowing  and the chirps of the last critters of the summer drifted through the air.  It was a nice feeling and I was brought back to the early days and nights of a year ago when we first arrived in Colville, WA.

It’s funny how nostalgia works. Fortunately, feelings associated with memories are usually good even though the feelings of the time might have been less than so. When we first arrived last September, we were excited as hell to be new land owners. For my husband, it was his first time living outside of King county.

We originally had our trailer on this spot but moved it to a different part of the property thinking it was more centralized.  We soon realized there was a clear line of sight directly to the neighbors and we don’t like them. We kept the trailer there throughout the winter nevertheless but when we got our fifth wheel, we located it back to this original spot by a hillside where we could keep our “backs” to the wall. Being back on this side of our land brought back a lot of recent past memories, almost as if it happened much farther back in time.

Day 1 on the property, I explored every square inch. It’s 3.7 acres of a little bit of everything. It has two hillsides, a flatlands, forests, and the craggy windy highlands as I call them. I told my husband we should make a map of our place as a fictional land.

We bought our parcel out of a larger one that had been divided into four. Ours is #3 in the top left area. We wanted to buy the adjacent lots but someone beat us to #4.

property

We had seen “junk” piled up on an adjacent lot but I soon realized we had our own portion of the junkyard on our property. Only the last time the garbage was taken out was over 60 years ago. So their junk is now our treasure as they say.

We ordered a title search of the property at the courthouse. The land passed from the hands of the government into private in 1908. The last time it was actually occupied we figure was in the 1950’s. We had walked into a time capsule of sorts.

I think I found the original well. It’s at the top of the property in a little grove of trees in a sunken area. I found it when I was looking for a likely place for water. There was an interesting looking rock dead center in the depression that looked like it had been formed by hands other than nature. Maybe a marker? I dug a little and found the rock to be lose and ill fitting; like it had been moved there by machine to fill the well. We ended up locating elsewhere for water but I still dig up there now and then. I did yesterday and felt warmer water in the bottom as I did with our spring. Geothermal activity maybe?

 

 

In my explorations and aspirations I saw a lot to write about and decided to start a blog but I neglected it for a year. I wanted to write about the adventure we’d just landed on. I now had the biggest back yard an overgrown child could ever want!

love to dig. I grew up in a pile of dirt, in a tree, waiting outside the bar in a car for my mother…just kidding, kind of. Mom would shove us all into the station wagon with no seat belts, light up a cigarette, and make the trip to Grandma’s house several times a year. That was how it was back then.

Anyway, I grew up a kind of a tomboy so this piece of property is heaven to me. My husband told me repeatedly while we were still looking for a place, “don’t worry Babe, you’ll soon be able to dig all you want at any time of the day and no one will be able to stop you”. I have dug holes all over the place. Who does that? I have filled most of them back in for safety and aesthetic reasons.

Another example of the weird factor in myself was the night I found myself burying a salmon in my garden at 130am during a thunderstorm. I wanted to give it back to the land. I felt guilty I had let it go bad because it had been given to me fresh caught. The raccoons found it about 10 minutes later and the last time I saw it about 4 days later, it was hanging off a branch of a tree.

Nostalgia. It’s been a year. We’ve been through so much. Walking near the antiques hillside (the dump), brought it all back to me. That feeling of excitement and wonder. The pride of ownership. The explorability factor was high in this place and still is.

And now I’m finally taking up that blog I started a year ago.

Art and a Hack

One of my hobbies.

Try to find a Dorodango ball for sale on the internet. I dare you. Good luck.

Dorodango means mud dumpling in Japanese (I think). It’s literally dirt formed into a ball then dried and polished over a period of time (everyone has their own technique), to become something pretty impressive.

20181001_192727
My first semi-successful Dorodango ball.

I’ve been trying to successfully make one for about a month now. It takes practice. They tend to crack and the outer shell tends to nick during polishing depending on how you do it.

I’ve tried and tried to finish one over the past weeks. I threw a few. I wrote a poem about them but deleted it because my son was silent after I read it to him. Maybe I’ll rewrite it from memory.

I finally successfully made one today. I want to sell them. Especially after I discovered I couldn’t find but one on the entire internet for sale. I couldn’t believe it. There’s a vacuum in that market. Maybe Etsy,  maybe here.

This last year has been very difficult. Very. We’ve had some really hard times and one of the things that helped me through it was my various art projects. I had to use what we had on hand most of the time and dirt was readily available. This is a fun activity and I highly recommend it but it takes patience. Just hit youtube for some tutorials if you want to give it a try.

Onto a couple off the grid self described hacks.

I came up with an ingenious idea for keeping the hoses and water filter from freezing this winter. The spring and holding pit never freeze even in extended zero degree temps. We learned that last year.

Why not mount the filter under the water line and just keep the hoses in the water also when not in use? Theoretically it makes sense.

We hit some items on the monumental To Do list today also.

We pulled the RV’s water tank out today. Had to pull out a small part of the structure in the RV basement to get it out. We’ll replace it of course.

We put it on a couple of barrels so we could fill it up to see if the bottom really leaked and filled it with water. No leaks on the actual bottom but both inlet/outlet receptacles leak around the edges. I sprayed a coat of Flexseal on it and am letting it sit overnight. Will do again tomorrow then fill again to see if the leak is fixed.

If we can use that tank, we won’t have to wrestle with keeping an exterior water tank from freezing. Crossing fingers. One thing at a time.

We called the manufacturer of the dreaded and cherished gas hot water heater and asked them why the thing isn’t turning off. The water is getting super hot. Not safe. We’re just turning the gas off after about a half hour of heating for the time being.

They said it sounds like a thermostat. 10.00 on Amazon. It’s under warranty but why bother for such a small amount?

Incidentally, Atwood is now Dometic (maker of RV appliances and maybe other things).

One item at a time off of the check list.

But wait, there’s more. There’s always more. We believe the front right hydraulic jack sheer pin sheered. It is a sheer pin after all. The jack won’t move up or down. We’re trying to finish leveling the trailer still. Everything on the bathroom counter roles towards the rear of the trailer. Driving me nuts.

We added 2 more batteries to the solar power system this afternoon. We’re going to try the TV for a little while. I think it’s charging fine after all. Added 4 more 100 watt panels to the system yesterday. It was a challenge to figure out the wiring. It’s still really rough looking mounted on two sheets of plywood. We need to secure the panels better before a windstorm hits.

Now to reap the rewards of siphoning the water from the top of the property from the well we dug, installing a new hot water heater, removing and reinstalling the shower faucet approximately 6 times as a result of the overheated water, and installing a new water pump.

I think I deserve a hot bath.

Hack: You can use one little microfiber rag to dry off your entire body after a shower. Just keep wringing it out as you go. They work great. I’ve had to do it more than once upon realizing no towels were available.

Nature: Works of God

What if math is beautiful?

environment forest grass leaves
Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Organic cathedral constructed under God’s direction

Architect of perfection

Wild shapes and patterns conceal sublime mathematical formulae

Arches bow in natural geometry

Divine order concealed beneath seeming chaos

Tale etched in rock, microbe, DNA, atoms

Poetry scripted in God’s hand

Unedited by malice or choice

Magnificent works, engineered by Creator