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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 22, 2017 rj5156 0

I’ve been running hard since my last post, gearing up to start work planting and trying to keep everything done up to the minute in case I am needed at Bohnert. Doing all the errands and household chores for both of us while Brian puts in very long days. Been on the go, hardly even been home this week but I was trying to be present with a friend whose child was having brain surgery last Thursday and a couple other friends who faced less dramatic but still upsetting health crisis in their families. (Everyone came out OK.) I was feeling on top of it all.

Then the flooding hit our town. We had a hundred year flood back in 04 I think. This one was far worse. Just devastating. Think the official word is we got 6 point some inches of rain in about two hours. Locals report 7 inches and they live here. At any rate it has been like watching a horror show as people started sharing pictures and we made the news and people we KNOW were rescued from their homes and businesses.

Pictures here:
http://www.wlky.com/article/photos-washington-county-flood/9886039

Video here:
http://www.wlky.com/article/raw-video-flooding-in-washington-county-1495245163/9886264

I have mostly been making myself useful since I have a public facebook page. I have shared all the information and helpful stuff I can find. Reaching out to folks we know, talking about how stress and grief are forces to be reckoned with. Doing my best to get information to those who need it. I am not sure power is yet restored to everyone? We have had the luxury of power and internet – thanks Kg! – so we’ve done our best to help.

My week is scheduled already. I will be shoveling mud, hauling it out, and trying to encourage our friends who are fighting for their small businesses. We figured the weekend would be busy with help but weekdays would be a lot slower for helping hands. I am very thankful to be in a position I can do this. Bohnert won’t even ask for me, knowing what is going on here. They are just glad we are OK.

I will try to check in as I can. Not planning to overextend myself, still have a home to run, critters to care for and our own stuff to do but most of that will wait. Be loading up a wet / dry shop vac, scoop shovel, gloves, buckets, and a dump bed wagon in the S-10 and spending a day with each small business owner in the order of how hard they were hit.

No one was seriously injured. It will be a lot of work and take a very long time but small communities are at their best in hard times and it will be fine. Prayers would sure be appreciated though.

Edit to add:
I have set my privacy to none on facebook. Our page should be accessible to everyone if I understand how it works. It is alternately kind of boring with public service announcements that don’t apply to anyone who doesn’t live in the area, hair-raising with pictures of the flooding and discussion with friends about losing a child and other hard things, and we try to post things for morale, pictures of Syd and stuff. I’ll get it caught up here in time but if you are interested much of our news is posted there too.

https://m.facebook.com/renee.clark.7771

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Sun May 21, 2017 7:17 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 16, 2017 rj5156 0

Things often do not go as planned. I was not even aware yesterday was my birthday when I made plans with my cousin’s Mom, and it turned out she had forgotten that she had promised a grandson the day quite some time ago so we will reschedule our visit. Instead I had a delicious lunch at Christie’s on the square with Mom and we walked around to Lincks to see about a birthday suit. More about that in another post, but as always it was wonderful.

There have been a few people who have just showed up and been there with us along the way during the past few years. Who called to be present with us in case we wanted to talk about it. Who had more time and more inner ability perhaps to be with us at a level we did not expect or even know we might need. We have not done very well returning their thoughtfullness. Heck we hardly went anyplace until the last year or so because we just were not functioning socially and have not done much better in the last year.

I have known that one of these people, a really dear friend was fighting her own battles and they were hard. I have stopped by and called some but felt I was neglecting my friend in hard times and this was a poor return for someone who has reached out, showed up, been there with us. I was worried about them too. So I just stopped by to check in and gave myself the gift of being with a friend who is facing hard things.

This friend has the gift of laughter. We talked frankly about everything we have both faced and we laughed and laughed and laughed some more. I only hope to learn to face hardship with such grace and dignity and – laughter. I remembered to tell the couple how nice it is to be with them because they are so very good together. I forgot to tell my friend, when she took her do-rag off her head to show me the result of her treatment that she is beautiful. I was pretty impressed and lost my words but that is what I was thinking and I wish it had made it out my mouth like the less helpful comments so often do… I will remember another time. It was a wonderful gift just to be there.

The phone charger I use in my vehicle declined to participate yesterday. So my phone was dead and I had absolutely no interruptions. I am afraid I enjoyed that very much.

This seems to bother a lot of people but Brian and I do not need phones to get the important stuff. Couple weeks ago I was out and left my phone in the vehicle. I’d stopped to pick up a couple things at Walmart, turned a corner and there was Brian. “I sent you a text but I hadn’t heard back.” He said, and added, “I thought about it and I just knew you were here so I stopped in to see if you wanted to go someplace for supper while we are both in town.”

This has always been normal in my family. Not an intrusive knowing others thoughts but a knowing about important stuff. We once found my sister in Ohio, just driving around thinking about her. We had a general place to start and loose plans to meet but lost her phone number but it did not take long, we thought about her and looked for her, and there she was.

I have read that there is an aboriginese culture that thinks there is something wrong with us because we do NOT just know if our friend needs help carrying a deer home after a sucessful hunt, and exactly where to find them to help them. I was a little confused when I read that because of course we DO know and I figured everyone did and I was still not-talking about stuff like that. I did figure out it spooked people eventually and stopped talking about it altogether for a very long time. I think it is important so I have been talking about it again of late.

Anyway I knew too, when Brian sent me a text saying that he would be leaving work at 3pm and I knew when he was getting close to home so I asked the time and said I needed to head home. That I wouldn’t want to deprive Brian of the opportunity to spoil me on my birthday! He didn’t beat me home by much. It was not his usual time, he was running fairly late, likely due to traffic but we ended up with plenty of evening to enjoy and spectacular weather so we could be outside for most of it, where we both love it best.

We had tuna salad and corned beef out of the cans for supper. Veritable feast in the best of company!

I noticed that I am wishing I had been quick enough to get a picture of the cute baby snakes we saw, sitting outside and enjoying the evening. And realizing that I do not even have pictures of me with Mom in the past 20 years or more. That would be me…

If I hadn’t decided to try to “normalize” the public awareness of women doing non-traditional work in the fabrication fields there would be very few photos of me at all except for the annual pictures we try to get for our Moms. There aren’t any pictures of me with my friends, or even of my friends either. Huh. Maybe I can do a little better with that. I’d like to have some pictures of Mom and I would like more of us together too.

I learn a lot by sharing. Wish I had started sooner, and under much better conditions.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Tue May 16, 2017 8:15 am


No Picture

Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 14, 2017 rj5156 0

Tomorrow I get to spend a day with my cousin’s Mom. It has felt so dark, that whole deal with the horrific murder of my cousin and I have not been in a good place to reach out to my dear family. She reached out to me and I just grabbed that and I appreciate how we keep getting more chances. I am really looking forward to sharing a quiet day at our home with her. Just over a year since the trial. Nearly two years since the murder. Time marches on.

My sister found my childhood friend for me recently. Better yet my friend remembered me! We moved a lot when I was very young and while my friend was very important to me I did understand I just passed through her life back then. I was thrilled to find my friend well and happy and that was enough. It is a bonus that we can get to know each other in the now. I notice that who we are has not changed. We just need to catch up our news:)

I am connecting better than I ever did and with more people I have long valued. It feels sort of overwhelming but good overall. I need a lot of time to process new things. None of it seems especially news worthy either. Trying to share anyway. I seem to come and go on that…

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Sun May 14, 2017 10:37 am


No Picture

Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 14, 2017 rj5156 0

Tomorrow I get to spend a day with my cousin’s Mom. It has felt so dark, that whole deal with the horrific murder of my cousin and I have not been in a good place to reach out to my dear family. She reached out to me and I just grabbed that and I appreciate how we keep getting more chances. I am really looking forward to sharing a quiet day at our home with her. Just over a year since the trial. Nearly two years since the murder. Time marches on.

My sister found my childhood friend for me recently. Better yet my friend remembered me! We moved a lot when I was very young and while my friend was very important to me I did understand I just passed through her life back then. I was thrilled to find my friend well and happy and that was enough. It is a bonus that we can get to know each other in the now. I notice that who we are has not changed. We just need to catch up our news:)

I am connecting better than I ever did and with more people I have long valued. It feels sort of overwhelming but good overall. I need a lot of time to process new things. None of it seems especially news worthy either. Trying to share anyway. I seem to come and go on that…

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Sun May 14, 2017 10:37 am


No Picture

Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 14, 2017 rj5156 0

I don’t remember when I stopped talking or if I just never did ever talk to anyone about how I felt. The kind of sharing that everyone else seems to do so easily and used to make me physically uncomfortable. I think I learned way too young how much people I trusted could hurt me and after we learn that one we seem to have a hard time learning to avoid more people who will hurt us, like it gets to be “normal” and we do not know how to expect or hope for anything different?

I feel fortunate in that I did have a handful of people I could be as close as I knew how to be with, who are remarkably good people. I failed to appreciate them at the time of course. Mostly I chose not to participate with people for as long as I can remember. I read far more than anyone I ever knew and that would be a form of escape. I actually walked around school reading.

I always related to animals. They are honest maybe because they do not have words to use to hide behind? Except our cockatoo Syd does have some words and she cannot seem to use them to lie. She can withold words as in when I ask if she knows where my coffee cup is and she does not answer, though she DOES know because it is funny for her to see me look for it. Or that time I asked her if I had food on my face and she said no words but gave me a little half-rise of her feather crest like kind of yes and made me go look. And then she laughed and laughed but that is not a lie like I mean here. That is a cockatoo joke. Animals do not pretend about how they feel and people have always been confusing for me because they sometimes do.

Three years ago I started that thread about what it is like to have a house fire on a public forum and I promised me I would share about how it felt because I figured out pretty quick it was a fairly common and really traumatic life event. A lot happened very fast after that. Again it was mostly pretty common to the human experience but I have long noticed we tend to not talk about how we are dealing with them so I kept sharing. And when the horrors happened I kept right on talking out of habit maybe.

It looks like the habit stuck. From where I stand today I highly recommend it too. It might be hard to share and it might be harder to be fully honest to the best of our ability. It still feels scary sometimes. I think it helped though and I also think maybe it changed the world around me just a little bit. People who are not comfortable to confront what IS and willing to try to deal with it tend to slip back while those who are comfortable, or maybe want to be, start to open up more. I am SURE I have seen a growing level of sharing about the things that actually matter from the people in our lives and I try to be sure and thank them. Because I know how hard it is.

It is easier for me if I am not WITH others, to share. I never liked or really understood eye contact, and the whole body language thing is a language I still don’t understand very well though I have studied everything I can find about it. Or maybe I get it on the level it is spoken and I just short-circuit when it says different things than the words that come with it? I am not comfortable with it and used hand-work to avoid it most of my life. Yeah, I DO see the trend in avoidance over my life;) I am trying still to learn to use my body language and eye contact so others will be comfortable.

There are other hazards interacting not in person. I do try to give it more thought before interacting. What I think comes right out my mouth in person and that is not always helpful… I have to guess here if I might have said or done something that others are not comfortable with and I am still pretty likely to say what I really think. Often, proofing something before I post it gives me a chance to see if I might say it more diplomatically and that helps. I still mess up. I make mistakes. I try to see it when it happens and go back to make it right. No doubt I miss it sometimes.

Blanket apology officially offered here and now if I have stepped on your toes and I have to be told most of the time so if I have been inadvertently unkind to you, you can just tell me. I will feel terrible about it and I will apologize, do what I can to set it right and not do it again. Lot of folks don’t give others that opportunity even in person. Some folks just stop speaking to someone and never let on why. I suppose everyone gets to decide for themselves on that one.

I was going to share publicly for a year. That was the deal I made with me. So many traumatic things kept happening and I did choose to keep sharing at the year mark because we had so many followers we could not believe it. We came to think this meant our experiences might be meaningful to others and we found so much comfort in that. If you have been through the whole journey with us, we appreciate your presence and we treasure you for not turning away when it got REALLY hard. Thank you again and again.

I am thinking after all we shared maybe people were waiting to see if we would be ok again. We tried to be as ok as we could all along and the point of it all was about choosing how to think about what we experience. What we think often determines how we feel and mostly people don’t seem to notice this so we wanted to talk about it. We learned that there are some things we just get to feel too. Well, we can choose to feel them so we are not crippled by choosing to try to not feel them. That one has been the hardest part for me.

I see I have continued to distract myself from it all some. I think that is why I am sometimes absent online for fairly long periods of time. Not avoiding, just trying to balance living in the now with working through it all. I need a lot of alone time. I need some “normal” to have solid ground to stand on to do the work dealing with it all. Sometimes I just need a break. I keep coming back and I mean to keep doing that. I want to reach a point where we can just share about life now but we are still not quite done dealing with then and it is still a fair amount of work. Looks like our lives are now forever divided into “before” and “after” on a number of really hard life event hits and maybe that is just a thing that is, not something we can work through?

Kind of rambling along here. It has felt like a long journey in a foreign land and it still does to some extent. But it is starting to feel like I am learning the language a little bit. I am not feeling like I am very good at it and I am still not entirely comfortable with it. Most of my life I have experienced things other people do not seem to be comfortable to hear about. And I could not read their “I am uncomfortable” signs. That seems to alienate people. I might be a little better at that. Or I might be choosing people who are more comfortable with my directness?

I shared that we were not able to get excited for a long time, like our get excited chemicals in our brains were all cooked out. And the was no joy either for what felt like forever. We worked hard to be satisfied with being gratified in having done our best but that was not the same. I shared recently that I noticed it scares me a little bit to feel joy because we were so very happy and hopeful and had so many good things happening right before it all came crashing down and life as we knew and loved it was just gone. Seeing that it scares me frees me to choose to feel that fear. Because the joy is right on the other side of my fear and I want ALL of my joy back. Not just the smaller amount that feels safer.

We think we are pretty much ok now. Been a lot to process and we are learning that does not seem to have an end, it just keeps getting a little bit easier. The thing about life altering events is that it will never be the same. We are working with that. Maybe we can just make what we can as much better as we are able to and go on to find a new kind of happiness? We do seem to be well on the way. That might be as close to ok as it gets? It is enough. We are thankful.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Sun May 14, 2017 10:30 am


No Picture

Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 14, 2017 rj5156 0

I don’t remember when I stopped talking or if I just never did ever talk to anyone about how I felt. The kind of sharing that everyone else seems to do so easily and used to make me physically uncomfortable. I think I learned way too young how much people I trusted could hurt me and after we learn that one we seem to have a hard time learning to avoid more people who will hurt us, like it gets to be “normal” and we do not know how to expect or hope for anything different?

I feel fortunate in that I did have a handful of people I could be as close as I knew how to be with, who are remarkably good people. I failed to appreciate them at the time of course. Mostly I chose not to participate with people for as long as I can remember. I read far more than anyone I ever knew and that would be a form of escape. I actually walked around school reading.

I always related to animals. They are honest maybe because they do not have words to use to hide behind? Except our cockatoo Syd does have some words and she cannot seem to use them to lie. She can withold words as in when I ask if she knows where my coffee cup is and she does not answer, though she DOES know because it is funny for her to see me look for it. Or that time I asked her if I had food on my face and she said no words but gave me a little half-rise of her feather crest like kind of yes and made me go look. And then she laughed and laughed but that is not a lie like I mean here. That is a cockatoo joke. Animals do not pretend about how they feel and people have always been confusing for me because they sometimes do.

Three years ago I started that thread about what it is like to have a house fire on a public forum and I promised me I would share about how it felt because I figured out pretty quick it was a fairly common and really traumatic life event. A lot happened very fast after that. Again it was mostly pretty common to the human experience but I have long noticed we tend to not talk about how we are dealing with them so I kept sharing. And when the horrors happened I kept right on talking out of habit maybe.

It looks like the habit stuck. From where I stand today I highly recommend it too. It might be hard to share and it might be harder to be fully honest to the best of our ability. It still feels scary sometimes. I think it helped though and I also think maybe it changed the world around me just a little bit. People who are not comfortable to confront what IS and willing to try to deal with it tend to slip back while those who are comfortable, or maybe want to be, start to open up more. I am SURE I have seen a growing level of sharing about the things that actually matter from the people in our lives and I try to be sure and thank them. Because I know how hard it is.

It is easier for me if I am not WITH others, to share. I never liked or really understood eye contact, and the whole body language thing is a language I still don’t understand very well though I have studied everything I can find about it. Or maybe I get it on the level it is spoken and I just short-circuit when it says different things than the words that come with it? I am not comfortable with it and used hand-work to avoid it most of my life. Yeah, I DO see the trend in avoidance over my life;) I am trying still to learn to use my body language and eye contact so others will be comfortable.

There are other hazards interacting not in person. I do try to give it more thought before interacting. What I think comes right out my mouth in person and that is not always helpful… I have to guess here if I might have said or done something that others are not comfortable with and I am still pretty likely to say what I really think. Often, proofing something before I post it gives me a chance to see if I might say it more diplomatically and that helps. I still mess up. I make mistakes. I try to see it when it happens and go back to make it right. No doubt I miss it sometimes.

Blanket apology officially offered here and now if I have stepped on your toes and I have to be told most of the time so if I have been inadvertently unkind to you, you can just tell me. I will feel terrible about it and I will apologize, do what I can to set it right and not do it again. Lot of folks don’t give others that opportunity even in person. Some folks just stop speaking to someone and never let on why. I suppose everyone gets to decide for themselves on that one.

I was going to share publicly for a year. That was the deal I made with me. So many traumatic things kept happening and I did choose to keep sharing at the year mark because we had so many followers we could not believe it. We came to think this meant our experiences might be meaningful to others and we found so much comfort in that. If you have been through the whole journey with us, we appreciate your presence and we treasure you for not turning away when it got REALLY hard. Thank you again and again.

I am thinking after all we shared maybe people were waiting to see if we would be ok again. We tried to be as ok as we could all along and the point of it all was about choosing how to think about what we experience. What we think often determines how we feel and mostly people don’t seem to notice this so we wanted to talk about it. We learned that there are some things we just get to feel too. Well, we can choose to feel them so we are not crippled by choosing to try to not feel them. That one has been the hardest part for me.

I see I have continued to distract myself from it all some. I think that is why I am sometimes absent online for fairly long periods of time. Not avoiding, just trying to balance living in the now with working through it all. I need a lot of alone time. I need some “normal” to have solid ground to stand on to do the work dealing with it all. Sometimes I just need a break. I keep coming back and I mean to keep doing that. I want to reach a point where we can just share about life now but we are still not quite done dealing with then and it is still a fair amount of work. Looks like our lives are now forever divided into “before” and “after” on a number of really hard life event hits and maybe that is just a thing that is, not something we can work through?

Kind of rambling along here. It has felt like a long journey in a foreign land and it still does to some extent. But it is starting to feel like I am learning the language a little bit. I am not feeling like I am very good at it and I am still not entirely comfortable with it. Most of my life I have experienced things other people do not seem to be comfortable to hear about. And I could not read their “I am uncomfortable” signs. That seems to alienate people. I might be a little better at that. Or I might be choosing people who are more comfortable with my directness?

I shared that we were not able to get excited for a long time, like our get excited chemicals in our brains were all cooked out. And the was no joy either for what felt like forever. We worked hard to be satisfied with being gratified in having done our best but that was not the same. I shared recently that I noticed it scares me a little bit to feel joy because we were so very happy and hopeful and had so many good things happening right before it all came crashing down and life as we knew and loved it was just gone. Seeing that it scares me frees me to choose to feel that fear. Because the joy is right on the other side of my fear and I want ALL of my joy back. Not just the smaller amount that feels safer.

We think we are pretty much ok now. Been a lot to process and we are learning that does not seem to have an end, it just keeps getting a little bit easier. The thing about life altering events is that it will never be the same. We are working with that. Maybe we can just make what we can as much better as we are able to and go on to find a new kind of happiness? We do seem to be well on the way. That might be as close to ok as it gets? It is enough. We are thankful.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Sun May 14, 2017 10:30 am


No Picture

Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 10, 2017 rj5156 0

My routine changes with the seasons of course. Not done very well remembering to schedule in time for keeping our posts updated. I HAVE done a good job of getting pictures resized and uploaded as I take them so I do not feel overwhelmed like I have, when I have not kept up as regularly as I might like to. Usually I have a couple days running the generator a week doing laundry and such, and I tend to use that time to post online. Lately I have been running the vacuum sealer instead and it sure keeps me hopping! I can just about keep it going full speed if I apply myself. Fortunately that’s done now, until we see something on sale that is;) Be biting that off in reasonable size jobs from here out. Might do some deeper pantry storage in bigger containers but we are hopefully done with the marathon project. It was worth it by the way.

The medicinal herb project is ongoing and I’ll have more to share about that. We’re still learning and work continues on food storage, keeping a year supply of food on hand for two hard working adults is no small task and our next project after we finish the herbs will be a hard look at how much of that food we can reasonably produce ourselves. May be next year before we get very far with that but more time planning and researching often pays out. So we’re back on track on most fronts now.

Three years. We notice a lot of it it is not very clear in our memories now, and figure that might be a kindness. Guess we started here a few months after the fact, and I would have to look to see just what month the fire happened. Seems to me it was June. Coming right up. We might still be a little bit anxious about leaving the place but we figure that has more to do with the overall stress than just the fire. We’re sleeping well. I am READING!!! Enjoying Catherine Ryan Hyde a lot right now. Having a little bit of a social life. Getting out with Mom. Got projects planned at her place. I am holding around 130 pretty consistently. See how long that lasts when I dig into the summertime work here but my clothes fit again. My hair grew back as thick as it was before. Haven’t had that painful tic under my eye in a very long time. We do not levitate when the phone rings any more. We just see who it is and hope it isn’t a trash call.

Not doing as well with some long-term projects as we’d like but that’s probably pretty normal. We are all individuals but I do not think we have taken “too long” to climb back up. I expect we’ve thought we were doing better than we actually were all along. We did make ourselves a fair amount of work through being stressed and stupid or under a gun to deal with something we were NOT prepared to do in our usual fashion. Some we knew we were doing and some we just did not have the resources or ability to think through at the time. Think we’ve mostly gotten through that now.

I do not think there is a right or wrong with stress and pressure and loss. We all do the best we can and whoever we are and however we manage is just good enough. I feel pretty blessed that we had that moment when we thought to think and talk about how we would behave and choose to think and feel after the fire – before the worst of it all hit our lives. I believe that has helped us more than we can even suspect. I hope our sharing has helped others who struggle.

Laundry calls, left the loads with lots of small stuff to fold for last. Hung some out and it’s clouding up, might have to run out and collect it off the line. Not heard from Brian yet. If he has a very long day I might carry on catching up our news for a while today. Been making it a habit to keep the evening free and have all the day’s projects put away so we can really enjoy the time we do get. Took longer to get some things done but it has sure been worth it.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed May 10, 2017 3:04 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 10, 2017 rj5156 0

The Mexican and Indian food is also about learning to eat what we can store most easily. Both rely on grains and legumes, with plenty of spices to make it more interesting to eat. There is a lot of crossover in the spices used too, which is why we chose these two as our recreational cooking project for the moment. Ginger and garlic paste is a big deal in Indian food. We can grow garlic. Might even be able to grow ginger but keeping it is another matter. We’re experimenting with fermentation of course. Finally figured we were ready for a serious food processor and we’re making good use of it!

Equal amounts of ginger and garlic. Usual tablespoon of kosher salt per quart by volume.

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It is pretty!

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Worked up a pepper mix too. 6 each pobleno, ancho and jalepeno peppers. Seeded and de-veined, chopped fairly fine and we added a quarter cup of plain yogurt. This is a general version of a specific recipe we found online that said the yogurt helped peppers ferment instead of molding as they are prone to do. Let you know how that comes out.

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Didn’t take long. Cleanup wasn’t even much work.

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I would expect fermented foods to keep quite a long time without commercial refrigeration. A cellar, or better yet a spring-house or evaporative cooling setup would work well. Might last longer in a fridge but if one grows a garden there would be fresh offerings for fermentation in quite a bit less than a year. I can attest that cooler sours more slowly, and foods with less starch do not seem to get as sour over long periods of time. The huge bonus is in acidifying food enough to water bath instead of pressure cooking.

Think I’ll spell out that in a SHTF situation knowing how to ferment foods might be an extremely big deal. Remember salt is not strictly necessary, it just gives the lactobacteria an advantage.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed May 10, 2017 2:36 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 10, 2017 rj5156 0

Added a quarter cup of liquid from the south African sweet potato ferment to make SURE it will go this time. Put a baggie in the jar. Folded it out around the jar. Dumped a little salt in the baggie and filled with water to just below the rim. Put another baggie on top. Rubber band holds it it place. It will spew for a few days. Put it in a bowl for easy cleanup. Set in a dark warm place and wait. Give it a week and try it. When we like it, it is done.

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Got another half gallon of garlic ferment started. Trying it whole instead of processed to a paste this time. Easy to grind it later if we like. Cannot UN grind it though. Gave it a quarter cup of the sweet potato brine too, a live brine gets the ferment going faster and insures it WILL go.

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We got some BLUE cloves!!! No one knows why this happens but it is fine to eat them. The blue ones are coveted in some cultures. It feels like magic!

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed May 10, 2017 2:27 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 10, 2017 rj5156 0

Went to the Patel Brothers Indian grocery in Louisville. Wonderful place! Found fresh frozen turmeric. Last try fermenting turmeric did not go as planned. Trying again. Got two bags. $3 something each. Thawed in the fridge before I started. Fresh turmeric has a short shelf life. Fermented foods keep well for a year or more in the fridge. We use our fermented garlic just like fresh stuff. It does not last long enough to test the shelf life!

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Tablespoon of kosher salt per quart, our standard ratio. Note I did NOT add water. Most foods make enough liquid to stew in their own juices.

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Started juicing up pretty fast. Generally give it 2-3 hours to see how much liquid it will make, before adding any filtered water.

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Smashing it down. Maybe 20-30 minutes after salting. Withon an hour it had plenty of liquid. Object is to keep the food under liquid.

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed May 10, 2017 2:23 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 10, 2017 rj5156 0

Syd did not care for curry. She said she gave hers to Smoky. She had peas for supper instead. She loves them! Shucks the peas out of the pods. Eats the peas. Tosses the pods. We try to be generous but we are afraid to give her as many peas as she will eat. Cockatoo might pop!

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Tom might die of happiness but he is remembering to keep his cool! Smokey came to join him in his window seat and he was not even calling for her. Hard for the people to catch any sleep sometimes! Brian might look cranky but he is an exceptionally good sport. He actually called me for the photo opportunity and was going to pull the covers over his head but I was too fast. He approved the photo anyway.

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed May 10, 2017 2:07 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 10, 2017 rj5156 0

Fresh cilantro. Used three bunches today.

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Beef on the left. Pork on the right. Cook for hours…

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Basmatti rice with lentils.

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We even had mukhwaas, a digestive / mouth freshener. Candy coated fennel seeds, saffron, cardamom and such. Sure is pretty! Not very good. Supposed to be good for us so I will eat a teaspoon now and then.

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Meat is optional in Indian cooking. Lot of vegetarians in India. These dishes could be done with lentils and some version of that is more usual than meat based. The rice was dressed up at the very end with a tablespoon of ghee (toasted clarified butter) that had some urad dal (a variety of legume) and unsalted cashews toasted in it, just poured over the rice and mixed in right before serving.

We’re omnivores so we went with a meat dish. With what we can keep long-term in food storage, we could make most Indian and Mexican foods. Learning to eat what we can store can be interesting and delicious! Fresh foods add a lot of course. We are hoping to graduate to growing micro greens and sprouting this next round of self-improvement. Working to keep eating more of our foods unprocessed and as whole as possible, with some good portion of those raw. This is sustainable and also sustains us.

It feels good to be progressing on our food storage again instead of just playing catch-up. We find we think about it differently now. Instead of just packing back barrels of rice and beans and pasta, our horizons have expanded. We watch sales for interesting and clean foods, more on that later, and pack them safely for long-term storage. Brian found a place to get screw-top olive barrels not too far from us and that’s on our short list now. It isn’t much fun as a project if it is just all work and it is easy to get a lot of food because it is cheap without practicing how to enjoy eating it.

This exercise brings us joy. We ARE finding joy again, in the usual places. The productive, constructive, long-term stuff that pays out right now with tangible rewards. Very satisfactory to look at the growing pile of well-packaged food, knowing just how good it will be when we eat it. The better we get at it the sooner maybe we can retire? It is a LOT cheaper to eat lower on the food chain too.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed May 10, 2017 1:47 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 10, 2017 rj5156 0

Traditional Indian cooking has a fair amount in common with traditional Mexican cooking. We read up a bit and learned that most currys seem to have a typical process. Spices are toasted, as is common in Mexican cooking. It really makes a difference too. Easier to measure them out in advance and have them lined up since it goes fast once we start. We just toast them in a non-stick skillet and grind them in a mortar and pestle. There is usually a wet mix too. Sometimes based on onions, ginger and or garlic and such. The dry spices were added to the wet mix here. It actually takes longer to describe it than it does to do it. The results are amazing.

We had a serious go at it. Beef Madras Curry and Coorg Pandi Curry (pork curry) from scratch. Basmatti rice with lentils and coconut, steamed vegetables, and our hot Indian lemon pickles with. We bought the chapati (methi paratha) bread. Be trying that soon! Took all day. Worth it!

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Working on the beef here. Wet seasonings cooking in the skillet, tomato base in the cast iron pan, toasted spices in the bowl. I seared the roast. Had to be done even if the recipe did not say so.

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Spices toasted and ready to grind.

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Ground dry spices brightened up the mix!

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed May 10, 2017 1:35 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 10, 2017 rj5156 0

Looked for a recipe to use ham and found this! Link to recipe below. We have been looking for a base recipe to make our own skillet meals using bulk ingredients. The ratio is the deal. 8 ounces of pasta to 2 cups liquid came out perfect! It got very thick because I forgot to turn it off.

This one used chicken stock and a little half and half. We substituted canned evaporated milk. We used a couple handfuls of dried minced onion instead of fresh onion sauteed in a little butter. Tossed in a handful of chunked velveeta and a generous dollop of sour cream at the end. Rich and filling! Fast too, about 20 minutes. We doubled the recipe. Lunches for tomorrow.

Fermented garlic / dill asparagus with. Syd pigged out on fresh snow peas. We were so busy shoveling it in we did not get plated pics…

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Lots of ideas for variations in the comments following the recipe:

http://www.kevinandamanda.com/peas-ham- … ent-307324

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed May 10, 2017 1:11 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 10, 2017 rj5156 0

Looked for a recipe to use ham and found this! Link to recipe below. We have been looking for a base recipe to make our own skillet meals using bulk ingredients. The ratio is the deal. 8 ounces of pasta to 2 cups liquid came out perfect! It got very thick because I forgot to turn it off.

This one used chicken stock and a little half and half. We substituted canned evaporated milk. We used a couple handfuls of dried minced onion instead of fresh onion sauteed in a little butter. Tossed in a handful of chunked velveeta and a generous dollop of sour cream at the end. Rich and filling! Fast too, about 20 minutes. We doubled the recipe. Lunches for tomorrow.

Fermented garlic / dill asparagus with. Syd pigged out on fresh snow peas. We were so busy shoveling it in we did not get plated pics…

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Lots of ideas for variations in the comments following the recipe:

http://www.kevinandamanda.com/peas-ham- … ent-307324

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed May 10, 2017 1:11 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 10, 2017 rj5156 0

Right before this round of really long days and hard work started Brian told me it was upon us. (We knew this of course. We ALWAYS seem to know crunch time is coming long before anyone involved in scheduling and planning a big job figures it out. One of life’s many mysteries.) He said he was choosing to be thankful for the work and the income, the security and stability financially. He went on to say he was choosing not to feel tired about it, that he had decided to bring his best attitude and enjoy it!

Ya’ll have kind of seen the cycles of our work. It isn’t like it used to be when we were just building big components on our own in our shop and it was ALL our responsibility. The stress level is a lot lower when it is someone else’s responsibility overall and THEIR problem if something does not go as planned. We are appreciating that. When it was just us, building our reputation, we worked all day and all night more than once, until something was done and done right. With others involved there is someone to say “That is enough. Go home and get some sleep.” There have been a couple situations that rated all day and most of a night but not many and boy does it build appreciation that we are willing to do it if need be.

I got right on board of course. I can do it all here. I can keep making progress on the projects and goals we want for us at home too. Can’t say I like doing it all by myself as much as I enjoy doing it with Brian but I can enjoy it more knowing we are on the brink of another big leap in growth in the overall build – which has nothing to do with the little metal trinkets we put together. It is hard for us to describe what we have worked so long to build but we’ll just keep showing you as it develops and maybe that’s the best way.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed May 10, 2017 11:49 am


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 10, 2017 rj5156 0

We have both been working really hard for some time lately. The due dates have been pushed up on a couple of jobs, I have a long list of things I hope to accomplish this summer – and I live on standby, we signed on to make a go of this huge build process quite some years ago and we are committed. If they need my help I drop everything and go. It is keeping me a lot more collected in our lives. I am living pretty caught-up and keeping ahead on everything I can. Not making plans ahead much, and those are subject to change. That’s fine with me.

I have talked some about how far this undertaking has come. Just learned that we’re part of a growing business again. Be a larger facility needed to build the latest job and we’re curious to see how that evolves. Be more jobs building, better jobs running the finished equipment and a lot of long, hard, days in a row getting to that. Guess this is our definition of happiness at some level. We ARE part of building the things we want most to contribute and that is pretty gratifying.

The food storage project is pretty much done and it IS easy to keep up with now that we have a handle on it. Still a few odd bits here and there but we’re feeling really on top of it and enjoying the rewards of a well-stocked and organized pantry again. Got some pics to share about things I’m learning with all that.

I realized last week that I could not remember the last time I just did something for fun, by myself. Most of my life I have taken me places and done fun things and had a great time, left when I was ready and enjoyed it all completely. Even in relationships it is rare for any two people to enjoy ALL the same things so I’ve put in a lot of time doing and going on my own over my life. We reached a point pretty early where we just said “yes” if our partner invited us to do something. I’ve done most things with Brian and honestly he is one of the very few people I enjoy doing things with more than I enjoy them on my own. I did remember to tell him so.

Anyway, Brian had a couple of weeks of very long days and I had it all in good order at home so I decided to take me to a plant nursery about 40 miles away. I always shop locally before ordering online and we have not had time to do that together. I did think to call Mom to see if she would like to join me, though that is not her idea of a really fun time. She has a pretty full schedule and wasn’t able to make it. Think she would have gone just because I asked otherwise. I am trying to be more social. Not very good at it. Not sure I am getting better either. So I asked a friend who DOES like plants if they would like to go. Glad to have a few people I can imagine spending a day with and enjoying. Probably should do that while we are all still young enough to make the most of it? Short notice is not very good for most people so I got to go by myself.

I gave me an “A for effort” and counted it as a good try. Had a wonderful day out. Found a fair amount of plants on my list. Made a note to do things like this more often. I do enjoy my own company a lot and shame on me for not getting me out more. I’m working on making a deal with me that if I make the effort to be more social I can reward me with outings on my own. I may never be a social butterfly but I expect I can keep doing a little better?

Got to go to another local plant nursery with Brian last weekend. He is a lot of help, he remembers everything, he loves to drive and it hurts my shoulders and hands to drive so that’s a bonus. I do not ride with anyone but Mom and Brian because I’ve had some pretty hair-raising learning opportunities about people that I would have given a lot to never know. Couple of people are fine with consuming alcohol when they drive and that’s a sticky wicket to get out of and get home safe. We found LOTS of plants on our list and had them packed in pretty tight on the way home. Stopped a couple places to see if we could find more and of course we did. The gardenia tree didn’t make it over the winter and when Brian found another we figured we could get it in with us somehow. I finished the ride home with my nose in the blooming gardenia tree, closely surrounded by plants I’ve been looking for. About as good as it gets in my world and I noticed I was feeling great about that – and a little bit anxious too.

Like if I am too happy something bad will happen.

I know better of course but we WERE really happy with everything in our lives when we had the fire and it sure went downhill faster and longer and a lot farther than we could have begun to imagine and in a strange way it makes sense. Explains a lot about unhappy people I have known. Glad I caught me thinking that. I watch me closely and pay attention to what is going through my head and how my emotions are behaving as a result, check my body for signs of tension and so on. I am sure I miss a lot anyhow because it looks like that is the big joke in the human condition. Other folks issues are as plain as the nose on our face but our own are carefully hidden behind layers of our unwillingness to face them, even when we try to be willing.

I am still thinking about it. I wonder if we set these traps for ourselves such that if we can’t have EVERYTHING we want, or some ONE thing we want badly, we focus on that instead of what we do have and allow this to steal the happiness we could be enjoying. I see me doing a little bit of that and I am choosing to stop. My happiness does not depend on helping my community. It is ok for it to depend on me trying to help my community but I do not have any control over how my overtures are received. I am choosing to be glad for what we CAN do and just keep trying with the rest. I am seeing that I might choose to stop trying at some point and perhaps that is ok too. As long as I know I did my personal best that has to be good enough.

I’ll bring that up for discussion and consideration with Brian at some point. I will think about it and see if I can do better with it first.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed May 10, 2017 11:43 am


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

May 10, 2017 rj5156 0

Been fairly boring lately. Not sure why but I sort of feel like I “should” have really interesting things to post about though I know it IS the everyday stuff of life that’s the good stuff. I think the most important topics we have to share about are not things at all though, so I’ll start back up with that.

We noticed a week or so ago that we were laughing about a story Brian told about his Dad. That it felt good to laugh. Brian has been taking the chicken house and pen his Dad built down so it is easier for his Mom to deal with mowing and yard work. His Mom is not particularly interested in dealing with chickens though she enjoyed them a great deal when his Dad had them and cared for them. It was a big concern when Brian’s Dad was in the hospital so much, and then unable to care for the chickens. They said they did not know US. They informed us they had no intention of minding us. It was another layer of frustration and upset for everyone and I think the chicken setup is a visible reminder of that?

Our Dads both built things to withstand a hundred year storm. Brian was telling me about how his Dad used six inch long lag screws with eyes on them to hang a gate. Hard to get lumber that size on a scrounge budget so his Dad had nailed a couple boards together to make a post thick enough to take all that lag screw. Brian was shaking his head some talking about taking it apart.

He said he was taking the last lag screw out and heard his Dad plain as day “Now you put that up someplace. It’s about good as new and you might need it sometime.” Brian could not even imagine a situation where he might need that much lag screw with an eye on it but he said he tucked them up and felt his Dad approved. And we laughed because we DO experience this and it does not matter if it is “real” or if we are “imagining” it in the end, really.

Then we realized it didn’t hurt. That it was good and we were thankful.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed May 10, 2017 11:24 am


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 25, 2017 rj5156 0

I do not seem to have sense enough to stop lately. Soon be time to start work in the herb and vegetable garden and I am so close to finished with the pantry project that I may actually finish the closet too if I keep moving.

It is interesting and a little frightening to see how badly we dealt with our normally well-organized food storage in the past couple years. We had never lost any food to expiration but I have found a fair amount of stuff we moved in when the house was mostly habitable after the fire. Toted out a couple good-size boxes of badly expired canned goods and condiments just now. Depressing. Given the circumstances it is hardly surprising though.

It turned out to be a MUCH bigger job than I anticipated. I hate chaos. I have planned ahead and worked to keep the place as tidy as possible through the project. Drag out all the stuff after Brian leaves and try to have it all stowed when he gets home. Plenty going on otherwise too so I hit a lick whenever I can. The organization is the hardest part and I have at least a full day sorting when I am done packaging.

I had been avoiding thinking about where to put it all when I got it done. Been searching some online and looking at pictures of other people’s pantrys! I happened to look up in discouragement one day, and noticed those 2 X 6 joists in the ceiling where the loft is. EUREKA moment! Since we have realized that dry goods in jars store fine on their side and started looking for smaller plastic totes to put vacuum bagged dry goods in the space between those joists looks a lot more interesting. Be next winter before that project goes very far but we have a solid plan for cabinets and dry goods storage at this point.

Back on top of the rotation again. I read someplace about learning to eat and enjoy what can be stored, rather than trying to store the sad stuff most folks eat. Thinking about what we can most easily grow from that perspective too. We’ve used a lot of convenience foods through the past few years and that is not normal for us. Some folks seem to think we have a lot of food. We know that one adult eats roughly a ton of food a year and we know we do not have a year supply on hand yet. Starting the rotaton over from scratch really set us back. We can see it from where we are now and we are adding interesting foods instead of just loading up on corn, pasta, beans and rice.

We had just started getting serious exploring South American traditional foods and started looking at traditional Asian food when we had the fire. Makes beans and rice and corn a lot more fun to eat. Went to the Patel Brothers Indian grocery recently. Found a whole new world of spices, lentils, pulses, grains and vegetables! Ordered “India The Cookbook” and we are off and running making our own healthy Indian food from scratch! Naturally we will try the junk food too;) Saving seeds from vegetables as we try them. See what will grow here. The prices for bulk dry goods are quite reasonable and we have added a sampling to our pantry. Be going back for more!

The workload for builds has hit high gear. Living on standby is nothing new for me but it makes everything more interesting!! I’ll be putting in some quality time in there but everything else will stop when I get my medicinal herb order. It has to go in the ground as soon as I can get it there! Brian had a few days off before this round hit and managed to get the heavier yard work done for his Mom. He even got our grass mowed! I will be putting in some time with my Mom, getting her yard work done in the next week or so. Think I will volunteer to do some for Brian’s Mom too. We all enjoy it and it is more fun working together.

Brian reminded me yesterday that I need to take a break sometimes, said he needs me in good shape. I agreed and here it is 4 o’clock and I have not had lunch yet… Sure did get a lot done today though;)

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:19 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 21, 2017 rj5156 0

Got all my technical problems taken care of. I am totally portable and fully functional – and running on almost nothing for power!!! Doesn’t get much better in my world:) Had to accept the cloud storage to get there. The tablet does not support a flash drive. I looked pretty hard at “rooting” it, which would allow me to use the external storage but also void my warrenty. If I had understood all that BEFORE I picked up the tablet for cheap I might have shopped harder and paid more for it but this is working for me. All I do is photos and text for the most part. I synced a gamail account and installed the photobucket app on the android devices. Off and running!

I even installed the kindle and nook apps in the end. No info on this device and it is about the size of a book. Not used it much yet but I am seeing I will love it! I’ve resisted the ebook thing for a long time but I am there now.

I think it was worth it. I can keep email up for Mom, it’s her preferred communication. She never learned to love texting or chatting. She can sure enjoy a few hours on the phone too, and I think we’ve got that in good working order at last.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:09 am


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 21, 2017 rj5156 0

Fermenting asparagus. Found it cheap at Sam’s Club, that membership has really paid off for us. We got two pounds. Steamed one and ate it up. Found a recipe we liked for the rest of it. Usual brine, one tablespoon of kosher salt (non-iodized) per quart of filtered water. Half a dozen crushed garlic cloves and about as many whole peppercorns (to taste) in the bottom of the jar. Recipe said to wash and dry it first. Drying it seemed strange but we did it.

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Looks kind of murky but it sure smelled good!

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The recipe said to put the asparagus in the jar tip down for best results. It called for a sprig of fresh dill. Didn’t get a shot but we tied that in cheesecloth and tucked it on top, then weighted it with a baggie of salt water and put another baggie over it as usual. Recipe promised we didn’t need any pickle crisp to keep them crunchy so we did not use any. They ARE crunchy too! Think I already posted a shot of the finished asparagus. I could have liked it with some hot pepper in it too but it is yummy as it is! The asparagus taste shines through, the garlic and dill are surprisingly good with it. Couldn’t taste the pepper really but it surely added something? Might crush them a little next time?

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:56 am


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 21, 2017 rj5156 0

Found some frozen tamales at Sam’s Club. Cooked us up a nice mexican dinner!

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Product review. We love cilantro! Hard to keep it fresh. May try fermenting some, it does not dry well either. Meantime, keeping a tube of this stuff in the fridge is a great compromise. It tastes wonderful!

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:47 am


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 19, 2017 rj5156 0

The dry goods business is not very interesting… When I got started on the spices I got a nasty surprise. Brand new bottle of mace I found on sale, never been used. The new cardboard seals on the new and improved flip-top jars have not been sealed very well. I am underwhelmed and irritated. We have just about finished replacing our spice collection and to have something go bad before we can even use it is a major bummer!

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Tried to get a shot showing the clumped mess in the bottle. Very sad.

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This arrangement is not going to work. We do fight some with humidity and I am not planning to lose any more spices. Individually they may not cost much (though some sure do!) but the collection is pretty expensive overall!

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It took me another day but I got them ALL sealed in jars under just light vacuum. Won’t be finding rocks of tomato powder, garlic powder, etc. now! We might not own every spice and herb known yet, but we are closing in on it. We really love to use them too.

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:20 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 19, 2017 rj5156 0

The dry goods business is not very interesting… When I got started on the spices I got a nasty surprise. Brand new bottle of mace I found on sale, never been used. The new cardboard seals on the new and improved flip-top jars have not been sealed very well. I am underwhelmed and irritated. We have just about finished replacing our spice collection and to have something go bad before we can even use it is a major bummer!

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Tried to get a shot showing the clumped mess in the bottle. Very sad.

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This arrangement is not going to work. We do fight some with humidity and I am not planning to lose any more spices. Individually they may not cost much (though some sure do!) but the collection is pretty expensive overall!

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It took me another day but I got them ALL sealed in jars under just light vacuum. Won’t be finding rocks of tomato powder, garlic powder, etc. now! We might not own every spice and herb known yet, but we are closing in on it. We really love to use them too.

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:20 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 19, 2017 rj5156 0

It took Gabby a couple weeks to get back up to speed. She was not even interested in food at first. Tom does not especially like dogfood but he is helping Gabby be interested here.

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And being company with her while she eats it. He has come a long ways since he arrived here. He is not just tolerating the dogs, now they are friends. I was thankful. We had not been able to coax her to eat anything ourselves.

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She finally tucked in like she liked it, and Tom left her to it.

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Everyone was worried about Gabby. Rambo is just touching her with his paw here, that’s about as much as she can stand. They would all love to get her down and wallow her but she does NOT think that is fun!

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:19 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 19, 2017 rj5156 0

It took Gabby a couple weeks to get back up to speed. She was not even interested in food at first. Tom does not especially like dogfood but he is helping Gabby be interested here.

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And being company with her while she eats it. He has come a long ways since he arrived here. He is not just tolerating the dogs, now they are friends. I was thankful. We had not been able to coax her to eat anything ourselves.

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She finally tucked in like she liked it, and Tom left her to it.

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Everyone was worried about Gabby. Rambo is just touching her with his paw here, that’s about as much as she can stand. They would all love to get her down and wallow her but she does NOT think that is fun!

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:19 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 19, 2017 rj5156 0

Thought we were losing our Gabby dog a couple weeks ago. She slept for days, we actually had to pick her up to move her and she slept through it. We thought she was just shutting down. She IS ancient. She got back up. Tom was an unexpected ally and helped coax her to eat. Now she is back to her usual self! Amazing.

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Hanging out with her friends.

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:17 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 19, 2017 rj5156 0

Thought we were losing our Gabby dog a couple weeks ago. She slept for days, we actually had to pick her up to move her and she slept through it. We thought she was just shutting down. She IS ancient. She got back up. Tom was an unexpected ally and helped coax her to eat. Now she is back to her usual self! Amazing.

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Hanging out with her friends.

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:17 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 12, 2017 rj5156 0

What’s up at our place.

Squaw root
Conopholis americana
Orobanchaceae (Broomrape Family)

Mushroom hunters probably recognize this one. It grows as a parasite on oak roots, does not photosynthesize. It is reported to be edible, and used for women’s troubles, hence the common name.

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Lots more info here:

http://www.psu.edu/dept/nkbiology/natur … wroot.html

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:37 am


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 12, 2017 rj5156 0

What’s up at our place.

Squaw root
Conopholis americana
Orobanchaceae (Broomrape Family)

Mushroom hunters probably recognize this one. It grows as a parasite on oak roots, does not photosynthesize. It is reported to be edible, and used for women’s troubles, hence the common name.

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Lots more info here:

http://www.psu.edu/dept/nkbiology/natur … wroot.html

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:37 am


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 12, 2017 rj5156 0

Feverfew
Tanacetum parthenium L.
Asteraceae

Feverfew is already getting big!

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It is a member of the aster family and allergies are fairly common. It should not be used by those taking aspirin or blood thinners. I took this, dried in capsules, three each day, for many years. I never had a migraine while taking it and had them often without it. Doesn’t seem to work for everyone. As a bonus it helped my arthritis and PMS. I finally outgrew migraines, mostly. I may have one once or twice a year now. I did stop taking it daily some years ago. It is said to help with migraines even in the acute phase. Next time I have one I will try that and let you know how it works for me. Number of other uses listed on this site:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210009/

I will save seeds to share this year. Post about what I get collected when I get it done.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:35 am


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 12, 2017 rj5156 0

Feverfew
Tanacetum parthenium L.
Asteraceae

Feverfew is already getting big!

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It is a member of the aster family and allergies are fairly common. It should not be used by those taking aspirin or blood thinners. I took this, dried in capsules, three each day, for many years. I never had a migraine while taking it and had them often without it. Doesn’t seem to work for everyone. As a bonus it helped my arthritis and PMS. I finally outgrew migraines, mostly. I may have one once or twice a year now. I did stop taking it daily some years ago. It is said to help with migraines even in the acute phase. Next time I have one I will try that and let you know how it works for me. Number of other uses listed on this site:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210009/

I will save seeds to share this year. Post about what I get collected when I get it done.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:35 am


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 11, 2017 rj5156 0

I am closing in on the techie stuff. Got all our devices talking bluetooth except the iphone, which will not do that. At least I can get the photos off the phone and onto a computer. Got most of the accounts I need for all the google play and istore and so on set up. Not managed to get an itunes account set up yet and we probably need to set up a shared account at some point.

Think I have all my usual sites with login and password info going again. Not gotten the cloud stuff going but I think it’s on the list. I DO have google drive, we’ve got some dropbox and airdrop stuff that would help us share data and info between our phones and computers that neither of us has set up yet but it’s on the list. Still trying to get processed to go ad-free with photobucket. Hacking up hairballs over that one but surely if I persist I can get there.

Ordered a micro USB to standard USB adapter. Should let me use a thumb drive in almost all our devices. I am learning to save things to the thumb dive each time for backup. Lot faster than trying to remember which device I used to do something and find a file on it later. Saves time doing backups too.

Got a bluetooth keyboard. Works great. Happy with that. Evaluating book readers. Kindle is pretty darned nosy about what it wants access to. Of course I have NO data on the device I want to put the reader on so it’s only a matter of principle. Still.

Brian has discovered itunes and apps. Think he finally got the topographical map of the ENTIRE United States downloaded. He’s getting quite an eclectic music selection too. He sent the Syd bird into dancing and singing transports of joy with his new bluetooth speaker Sunday. Don’t think he’d ever experienced the sing-along cockatoo. He’s running on the three month free trial and didn’t think to set it up for the family sharing. He gets frustrated with it fairly quickly too…

I am trying to warm up to the iphone. I may have figured out how to send a text to my Mother on my iphone without having to set up an email address today. THAT has been driving me nuts.

Found the iHandy Carpenter apps and now own the set, ruler, protractor, carpenter’s level, surface level and plum bob. Brian will be jealous. Syd is right. That DOES make it better! Starting to shop me some tunes for the first time since DRM started. I used to buy music online.

See if I can get a propitiatory cords and for jacking the audio out. Looking more seriously at bluetooth speakers myself because the small one Brian got so he can hear his phone for GPS directions and such really impressed me a lot. Like some BIG ones, at least a pair of them. And some mid-size and some smaller ones, and high shelves around the house to put them on. I grew up with a real house-shaking, neighbor irritating sound system and I can sure enjoy me some LOUD!!!

Wondering if anything I’ve got will talk with the new gadgets.
I’ve been right there on computer sound for a lot of years and only lost track of that in recent years when the music industry started with that Digital Rights Management nonsense and I could not transfer my music between devices without downgrading it.

Kicking and screaming into the modern day technology.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Tue Apr 11, 2017 4:07 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 11, 2017 rj5156 0

The catnip is up. I have had plenty of “help” as I work outside! Smoky is working on it here.

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Fidget is not usually interested in outside projects, beyond laying comfortably in the shade. She’s a big fan of catnip though!

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We ALWAYS have a cat on “patrol”. It is like they take turns napping so someone is always on lookout. They do not miss a squirrel cracking a twig or a bird rustling a leaf either. Most of them actually puff up like a basketball, growl and carry on if anything they disapprove of – like cars driving on the road – is going on. Smoky has not been approved for guard duty to this point but she might be included this year?

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Tue Apr 11, 2017 2:40 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 11, 2017 rj5156 0

Since it is officially spring, and I cannot resist a great clearance sale… I was not going to plant much of anything this year, beyond the medicinal herbs. The scope of that project is still really huge. Been saving my pennies and working on what I think we really need and I think I’ll still have something near a $500 order (including shipping from Canada). Going to grow a good number of them from seeds, or try to.

I do have a special place in my heart for the traditional spring bloomers though. I had quit trying because Rambo dug them up and brought the bulbs to me for several years. I have always planted them where we can see them out the window. Syd monitors them and seems to enjoy reporting to us about them. She is watching for the hummingbirds now. Won’t be long! She tells us right away when she spots them too. Usually at high volume…

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He’s too old and lazy for that now so I put them in a tub to enjoy now and will move them out with the sedums (planted behind and to the right of where the tub of flowers is actually sitting) when they are done for the spring. Something to look forward to next spring!

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It sure is cheery to sit here looking out the window with traditional spring blooming bulbs, the dobwood and redbud blooming down the ravine, green leaves just coming on the trees and our clear view of the green valley below still open enough to enjoy. See if I can get a shot of that before it fills in for summer.

A close up. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Tue Apr 11, 2017 2:31 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 11, 2017 rj5156 0

It is officially spring!!! We do spoil our toads. Most of them like to be held and petted. Especially when it’s still cool out! All the creatures love Brian. He reported that these guys didn’t even pee on him!

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Wondering if this is a Solomon’s Seal, or a false one? Watch it and see.

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Close-up of the blooms. Pretty!

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Applemint we planted in a big pot last year. It’s the first one up and if I remember to cut it I may get several harvests from it this year.

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Tue Apr 11, 2017 2:19 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 11, 2017 rj5156 0

We found asparagus cheap, cheap. Got two pounds. Steamed one and ate it right away! Found a recipe to ferment the rest. Tips down, 1 tablespoon of non-iodized salt per quart of filtered water, think we used 10 or 12 cloves of smashed garlic and an entire pack of fresh dill from walmart. Added the dill several days into it, put it in a piece of cheesecloth and shoved it in the top, covered it all back up and let it run another week.

Here it is a couple days ago. Just about suits us. Let it go a couple more days, I’ll take the weight bag out, remove the dill and tuck it in the fridge today or tomorrow. Wonderful crunch! Classic garlic / dill flavor! Gotta get an asparagus bed in for sure!

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This is why stetting up a desktop computer is a problem right now. I have pretty much filled the prep table in front of the windows with the desktop and accessories today and there just has not been room for that with what I’ve been doing. I work in stages, rotate around through the day. Asking a lot of my poor, sore hands, with prepping the ground for the Richter’s herb order and hand-sealing jars with the brake bleeder. Our chamber type sealer doesn’t really adjust for lower vacuums. It has not done anything pretty with powdered stuff either, no matter what I try.

I am only pulling maybe 8 inches of mercury on the small jars and I increase it as the jar size goes up but for short-term I’m not going for anything over 20. The vacuum sealer pulls 28. I cannot remove the lids reasonably at that and do not think it is necessary for what I’m doing now. I want something that is easy to use and reseal. Once this is done it will be a walk in the park to keep it up. Meantime, it is an unbelievable mess! Closing in on it. Once I see how big the pile is in various categories we’ll be on our way to figuring out what we need for a place to put it!

Here I’m working on our bulk herbs. Most of those came double bagged, clear plastic inside mylar. Very durable storage but not very usable. I am filling quarter pint jars of things we’ll use everyday, quarts and half gallons for things like herb teas and longer-term storage of bulk herbs.

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It takes a while. Some fun and games with “will it fit?” entertain the cockatoo.

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I am decent at the game but still lose sometimes. Object is to get the jars as full as possible – without having anything left over. I already sealed a quarter pint jar of white pepper and the rest of the pack went into a pint and a half jar. Just.

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Buying herbs by the pound and storing them by volume has been a crapshoot. A pound of ground pepper is not nearly so much volume as a pound of whole peppercorns. We do try to shop accordingly but when it is only a couple dollars more to get a pound than a smaller amount, we tend to cave and get the better value.

We are using half-gallon, quart, pint and a half, half pint and quarter pint jar sizes. All of them in other words. Half-gallon is quite big enough. We can use bags and buckets for larger volumes. Looking at that but we are not ready for that phase yet.

I am starting to think about inventorying it. We never got that collected before but it is looking like it might help us buy in bulk, much less often.

Thinking three jars on their side is a good use of a cabinet division. We can slot the cabinets so we can move shelves and dividers of course, and it will be a lot easier to do from the start than it would have to go back and change it later.

Recall we were just about ready to take on some finish work in our home, including building kitchen cabinets, when we had the fire. Perhaps it is better we did not get that done. Think we’ll be happier with what we get in the end? We will just live with what we have for a while and see how it shakes out. Get an idea for what we use most often and how much of it we go through.

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Tue Apr 11, 2017 2:12 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 11, 2017 rj5156 0

Rambo is the beloved kitty dog. We have no idea why. Cleo crept up on him when he was sleeping soundly. She wriggled in and got all comfy between his legs with her furry little butt tucked snugly against his chest.

Rambo does not love quite that much closeness which is why Cleo just waits until he is asleep. I thought I was going to get a picture but Rambo heard me and woke up. He lifted one leg off Cleo and scooted away some. Cleo wasn’t giving it up easily. She scooted right along with him!

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Still working on pictures with Syd bird. Gave her a piece of chicken to keep her busy, thought I’d snap a quick picture.

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Syd has not dropped the chicken, but she’s moving in on the camera.

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She’s still got the chicken. And she is licking the camera. Sigh.

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:50 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 11, 2017 rj5156 0

Brian found a harness that fits Tom better. We have been practicing with him, trying it on, making over him some, taking it off. He had his maiden outing Sunday! We got him all gussied up and carried him out the door, around to the window we leave open for the cats when it is nice out. He needs to know how to get back IN if he does decide to go outside. Rambo came along to be company. Sheba, Cleo and Fidget hopped in and out the window while he watched.

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Honestly Tom was not excited about going out. Nor was he thrilled to be out. It was just ok. Mostly he wanted back in. He’s lived pretty rough in his earlier years, he arrived as a young adult cat and skulked around the barn until Brian’s Dad befriended him. He never liked being shut in. He showed up for catfood and social hour but he ran pretty hard. Maybe the beating he took slowed him down. He says he is a house cat now! I think he will change his mind when we are cooking something wonderful on the grill and eating out in the yard. We’ll see.

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Don’t think I’ve done a Checkers update in a while. Checkers inspects EVERYTHING! Here he is checking out the open tube frame of a good-size build.

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He went all the way through of course. No one was fast enough to get a shot of him coming out the other end. Another way to clean out the inside of stuff?

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:44 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 11, 2017 rj5156 0

Tom is still creeping up on Smoky. This is as close as he has EVER gotten to her without Smoky having hysterics. Recall Tom is ORANGE and Velcro, our orange tomcat, has been pretty strict with Smoky’s bad attitude and manners. Smoky HATES to be looked at. She fuzzes up and wails at us if we look at her! Tom is fascinated with her.

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He has figured out she hates to be looked at though. He looks politely away pretty quickly. Smoky just leaves if he doesn’t.

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Tom keeps walking just a little bit closer past Smoky. He lays as close as he can, without spooking her. He is just dying to play with her of course.

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She’s having none of THAT! So he looks away and pretends he does not notice her.

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:36 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 7, 2017 rj5156 0

Using 1\2 and 1\4 pint jars for herb and spices. Pulling 6-8 inches of mercury. Dry herbs keep a long time in optimum conditions. See if a light vacuum extends shelf life. I can get a spoon in the jars and they fit nicely in space we have. They make clips that hold jars by the top ring. A shelf with a rail to keep them in place would work too.

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Got room for a couple rows all along. Need to look at under cabinet lighting before we invest much effort in it. Make sure we keep it all accessible.

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Got 3 1\8 inches here. Found some hardwood narrow rolling shelves that will fit with a little modification. Could tuck a lot of spices in that!

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Got 6 3\4 inches here. Again I found some narrow rolling shelves that would work. Face them with stainless or wood to match the cabinets and it should be chipmunk proof!

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This is largely still in rough planning stages. Thoughts and ideas are most welcome and appreciated!

Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:51 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 7, 2017 rj5156 0

Making real progress but it sure feels slow. Vacuum sealer sure is handy where it is. Towel covering it was destined for laundry that day. Thought I had it all tidied up for the shot too!

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Loving the stainless toolboxes for base cabinets! Peek in a couple drawers.

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Works well for all the baggies and wraps and such.

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Again this was taken a few days ago. I have made considerable progress since then.

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:29 pm


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Stories and Fiction • Re: Homeless? Life After a House Fire.

April 7, 2017 rj5156 0

The “before” shot. We never got our food storage organized again after the fire, largely because we felt it was better to replace it in stages over time. I still think it was the way to do it but we got bugs in the pantry, first time that ever happened to me. Last time too. That’s why the vacuum sealed jars. It has been a dreadful mess. This is the last of the job. Our deep pantry storage was sealed as we got it, so we did not lose much overall.

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Haven’t been able to find boxes to fit under our bed for canned and dry good storage so I cut some down. Not willing to invest much in it because we are looking for a bed frame with built-in drawers. Bet we will have a hard time finding one that will take the load we want to put in it but we still hope!

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We got our first microwave recently. Thinking about where we might want it permanently. It is perfect for Brian on top of the little RV fridge. May leave it there. Just grouping like items in the milk crates on the shelves now. Kitchen towels and linens get to live in a drawer eventually.

Once we get through it all and see what we have we will be able to think about how to lay out upper cabinets to store it most efficiently and effectively. Looking at Rev-a-Shelf products. Since we know we have to build it to get what we want we might as well have exactly what we want!

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Found industrial food service shelves to replace the white plastic set. Some lazy susan’s will make the bottom shelves useful. Webstaurant’s online store is actually far cheaper than any other place even with shipping and they carry sizes we could not find otherwise too. When we see what we need we will have them shipped to the shop, business addresses get a nice break on shipping costs.

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Statistics: Posted by rj5156 — Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:16 pm