Happy Place

Hello everyone!  I thought I’d try to write more often so my blog posts don’t turn out to be giant long tomes. 

I had a great week! It was cooler for several days, which in turn makes me a much more cheerful person. I just HATE heat. This week it’s back to the 90’s though. I’m trying to get some work done in the very early morning, between 6 & 8 a.m. I’ve started to work on the front porch. It will make the house look so much cuter, and more importantly, it’ll shade the whole front of the house from the sun, and should keep the house much cooler. I borrowed a posthole digger to set 4×4 posts to support the porch floor and roof, and right away ran into problems. It’s rocky here. I ran into a big rock only 3” down. I poked around and it didn’t seem as though I could get around it, and it’s too big to dig out. So now I have to go in a different direction, maybe dig as big a hole as I can, working around this rock, and then fill the cavity with cement and set in a metal post holder into the cement. I’m thinking if I clean off the top of the rock really good, the cement will bond with it and make it all a huge anchor. I have to anchor the porch really well or the high winds here will come in under the roof and blow the whole thing away. So that’s where it stands now, I have to go get the post holders and some cement. Cement is a bit of a problem because I can’t lift the 60-80# bags, I’ll have to leave it in the back of the car and scoop out of the bag until it’s at least half gone. I think that’ll work.

I made a cheapie $4 birdbath, using an old tomato cage and two 12” plastic pot saucers. (two because they’re really flimsy) The 12” size fits into the top of the tomato cage perfectly! I think I need to paint the bottom of the saucer though so the birds can see it better.

I also made a little oasis for the cute little stripey lizards that abound here. There are at least two that live under my steps and every time I step outside, they run like crazy (scaring the crap out of me every time!). I got this idea when I was getting water from my big tank and saw a lizard right there, so I dripped a little near him and he ran right over and got a drink! 

I accidentally left the water spigot on a teeny bit the other day and the next morning there was a huge puddle of precious water on the ground! Now my 275 gallon water tank is less than half full. The previous two years I only used one tank per year but this on is only going to last about 3 months, what with me wasting so much, and using so much to water the plants.

I continue to lose plants to some evil critter. I bought some plastic mesh baskets at Dollar Tree that I’m now using to cover the smaller ones at night, and some of the smaller potted ones I can move to the workbench every night and put them back out in the sun every morning. So far that’s working but when the plants get too big for the baskets, I’ll have to try and think of something else. Cages made of ¼” hardware cloth would work but would make it hard to harvest any tomatoes or peppers (assuming they actually get to that point).

I managed to replace my shredded tarp over the camper a couple days ago. It’s hard to do that by myself. I had just had the thought that I should carry my cellphone on me if I’m working on ladders when I was up on top of the stepladder stretching a really fat bungee cord from the camper over to the 4×4 post and somehow I lost my grip on it. Pow! Right in the kisser! Oh boy, did that hurt! I finished the job and then went right in and put arnica gel on it. It was really swollen with a big blister on the outside of my upper lip and a cut on the inside. I looked like Botox Gone Really Wrong. I thought, thank God everybody’s wearing masks these days! But that arnica stuff is amazing….by the next morning, I just had a small dark red spot in the center of my upper lip, not even noticable. The cut on the inside is taking a little longer to heal but it’s way better than I thought it would be when it first happened. 

I’ve been trying to get Roxie groomed, a little bit each day. She hates it and it’s a gigantic fight every day, usually ending because I’m afraid she’ll have a heart attack or something. After all, she is 13 years old now. Yesterday I decided to sit on the floor with her instead of trying to do it on my lap. With my wonky knees, I have always had a lot of trouble getting down to floor level, and even more trouble and pain getting up. Well I got down there, worked on her for awhile, and then got up on my knees to get up. IT DIDN’T HURT! I even tried crawling a little bit, and it still didn’t hurt! I haven’t been able to crawl without intense pain since 2001 when I originally tore the meniscus!  Wow. So I consider my knees fully fixed! At least for now. I owe it all to my wonderful doc, with his Traumeel injections, PRP and wearing the knee braces. 

I realized yesterday afternoon that right here and now, I was completely content and happy! I wonder how many people can say that. I’ve taken a more relaxed stance on getting the house finished. I’m done with stressing out about having the money to do anything. Yeah, it’d be great to have power to the house and refrigeration, but aside from that I’m find with living in the house as it is. I have no urgent need to have finished walls or floors. I’m not going to feel guilty about what I can and can’t get accomplished. After all, I’m retired.  I have no pain, I have energy and I just feel really good right now.  !!!  I guess I’ve found my Happy Place.

I’ve changed some things (I think!) about the type size so I hope you can read it easier. Please someone who was having trouble before, let me know if this has helped!

 

 

 

Posted in Arizona, DIY Micro House, DIY Tiny House, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Disasters and Discoveries

I had an interesting week…….my precious tomato plants are being devoured by SOMETHING, I don’t know what! It happens at night. They are all in large plastic buckets, around 5 gallon size. I figured that would be tall enough and slippery enough to keep the mice and rabbits out, but now I’m not so sure. Strange that they waited til the plants were over a foot tall to start munching them! I thought perhaps it was deer but I set up a solar motion light yesterday and two more tomato plants got mostly eaten. I think a bright sudden light would scare deer away. And I’ve never seen a deer here (though the neighbors have). So it’s all a big mystery but I’m heartbroken over the plants I raised from seeds, babied and watered so diligently. So far they’ve left the bell pepper plants alone but maybe after the tomatoes are all gone….OH! They ARE all gone, except for one little stub, and one that’s never been transplanted yet.
I am trying to salvage one of them that’s still about 7” tall and has a baby tomato. I put it up on the workbench outside. I am not sure whether or not the critters can get up there, but it’s worth a try. I don’t have any other nice tall places for it except the glass patio table; I raised all the seedlings there and nothing has ever been bothered. But I don’t think that table will take the weight of 5 gallons of dirt.
Yesterday I bought some small plastic mesh wastebaskets at Dollar Tree that I’m going to use to cover the smaller plants at night. Once they get too big for the baskets though, I’ll have to think of something else.
Oh I just had a brilliant idea! Maybe. I sprayed the sides of the buckets with WD-40. I think that will make them really slippery so they can’t be climbed?? Time will tell, but I thought it was worth a try. I think Pledge would work well too, but since I don’t have furniture, I don’t have any Pledge. Maybe silicone spray too?
My hydroponic tomatoes were the first to go. They were doing so well, had several baby tomatoes and everything. One day they just started wilting. I changed their nutrient solution but by the 3rd day, one plant’s leaves were all crispy. I’m holding my breath on the other one but it’s leaves are very droopy.
I got three Chocolate Mint plants from the neighbor. You can’t kill those things, right? They take over the whole garden, right? Yeah…well….they died, even though I watered them 3x a day! It’s so hard to garden in the desert, the ground and low humidity just dessicates everything so fast! All the flowers in the flower garden died too. I give up on planting stuff in the ground!!
So that’s my sad gardening stories.
Thank goodness I still have the little geranium plant that a friend sent me from Amazon, it looked pretty sad when it arrived, after delivery delays. But now it’s feeling great and blooming like crazy!! It’s so nice to have SOME color!
Another success is that I’ve been growing sweet tomato slips, and they are doing really good. I happened to have an old organic sweet potato that had shoots, so it started from there. It grew like Jack’s beanstalk, inches every day!! So now I’ve taken some shoots off it and they are also growing roots. I think I’ll try putting them in the really big pot, if the WD-40 spray works. Not that I eat sweet potatoes right now, but I think the vines are really pretty.
Last week I was driving to town and turned on the A/C. The vent between the blower motor and the cabin air filter are clogged with mouse nests that I can’t get out (I tried last summer too) but it still puts out slightly cool air. When I turned on the fan, I heard Clunk Clunk, Crunch Crunch and then a cloud of…..mouse hair?…..came shooting out of the vents, right at my face! EWWW!! I turned it off real quickly but….well, just EWWW. With the low humidity, it never did get terribly stinky but I tried turning it on yesterday (I shut the vents first) and it does smell a little funky.
At a thrift shop I found a little $2 DC fan that plug into the accessory thingy in the car, and I can aim it right at my face. It’s been in the low 90’s here for a week or so, and only two of my car windows are operational so it’s pretty hot driving.
Also pretty hot is my house! By afternoon, the inside temp is as high or higher than the outside temp, even with all the windows and drapes closed. It’s so miserable! The high inside so far was 94.6 degrees…pretty unbearable, but I have to bear it. I feel as though I should move back into the camper, as it has a powerful roof vent fan that would make a big difference. But it’s so depressing to think of going backwards! I love living in my little house, and I guess I’d rather suffer the heat than move out. (How many more days of summer???) A friend did a huge thing, she ordered from Amazon a solar pure sine wave generator and a special 100 watt folding solar panel!! It’s totally silent except for a very quiet fan, and it allows me to recharge all my kindles, laptop, phone inside the house instead of down at the camper, plus it runs a 10” battery fan! The big fan is so much better than the little 5” battery fan I was using. The wind doesn’t make any difference to the heat in here but it feels good. I just got more SS money and ordered the cords from Amazon so I can charge it from the solar panel, and run the fridge off it !!! Of course they’re taking 3 weeks to get here….sigh. Amazon sure isn’t what it used to be. Right now I’m recharging the generator from the inverter in the camper.
I don’t remember if I told you that some folks that have an organic produce farm near me decided that they’d like to use their Stimulus money to help others. The woman saw a photo of my little house and it resonated with her, something about the little heart on the door reminded her of her mom who’s passed away. So she said they wanted to get my solar system set up for the house! She is friends with the solar company guy in Taylor, and they came out and looked at the 245 watt solar panel that I have, and he said he knew just what he wanted to do. He said he’d mount the solar panel on the roof. I guess that’s OK but it sure might be a stinker to get up there to clean it! Since there’s no rain to speak of here, it’ll get pretty dusty. Anyway I don’t know what else he had in mind but I still need batteries and a charge controller. He said he could bring an insulated, weatherproof box with hinged lid that could go at the back of the house for the batteries, charge controller and the 600 watt pure sine wave inverter that I ordered when I heard they were doing this. Apparently the solar guy was providing the components at his cost, and was going to donate the labor. Well I’m afraid that deal was another of those promises that don’t actually materialize, as I haven’t heard a thing for about 6 weeks. If I had that, I could make a little evaporative cooler that should make a big difference in the heat in here. It requires power to run a fan and a small water pump. I haven’t 100% given up yet, but I have a sad history of waiting and waiting and waiting for these empty “promises” to come true. It doesn’t really matter, I can’t buy the stuff myself so it’s not like I can DO anything if they don’t come through. I do wish I hadn’t spent $100 on that inverter though, I sure wouldn’t have done that if I’d thought there was a chance it wasn’t going to happen. Oh well, live and learn! I need to stop believing what people promise. But that makes Sharon’s gift that much more precious, as it WILL run the fridge, once I get all the stuff together. And get someone to help hook it up too. I’m not sure how the wiring goes.
We had 3 days of really high winds, 40 mph+. That’s what made the AZ fires grow so quickly, I’m sure. It shredded another tarp on the camper roof. The roof skylight has a couple leaks so if it ever DOES rain, I need it covered. I can’t reach the places that need new caulking. I think that’s the 4th tarp shredded since last fall. BTW I am at least 100 miles from any of the fires, I’m safe.
I got some good news on the health insurance front, I qualified for a Plan G Medicare Supplement Plan! I didn’t think I would, with a brain tumor and old stroke. It’s going to cost $66 more than I now pay for my Advantage Plan ($166 plus Medicare) so that’s going to be really hard to come up with, but if anything big ever comes up again, it’ll be paid 100%. Given my age, I’m assuming that things will come up no matter how healthy my diet. Starting next month I’ll be spending 21% of my income on health insurance. It’ll leave me with $265 a week to live on, Eeeek! That’s gonna be difficult.
I think I have finally figured out why my weight loss had stalled. I have always done Clean Lazy Keto. Clean keto is without processed foods & processed meats, fast food, etc. Lazy Keto is when you don’t keep track of the macros for protein, fat and carbs. It worked just fine for most of the weight loss but as you get closer to the goal and there’s less fat to lose, then you have to work harder to get the weight off. I think that’s true of any diet. It seemed like such a hassle to look up all those macros for everything I cook! It’s not like I can just get the info off a package, since I don’t eat processed or packaged foods. But the other day I started a spreadsheet, looked up the values for everything I normally eat, and started keeping track. What a revelation! It turns out I was eating way too many carbs and protein. I also saw a video by Dr. Nick Zyrowski about drinking apple cider vinegar to help stalled weight loss. You drink 2 tbsp. ACV with 1 tbsp. Lemon juice, some sweetener and 10 oz of cold water before every meal. UGH. It’s not quite pukey, but I have to hold my breath and just drink it fast. The lemon juice does help, and it helps to have it really ice cold. So I changed things around and in the past week or so I’ve lost another 4#! WOW! That’s pretty impressive….it took 4 months to take off the 10# before that! I hope I can hold onto it and not have it start bouncing those old 4# up and down again. I now weigh 134#. I’ve decided to aim for 100# loss, that would be 127#. Boy I haven’t been that skinny since high school! After that I don’t know what the heck I’ll do, as I’m scared spitless to stop this diet. I’ve never been able to maintain weight loss before, and I desperately want to this time.
I’ve been amazed, feeling all the bones that used to not be there! I now have hipbones, collarbones, ribs…..wow! Unfortunately I still don’t have any cheekbones. I guess that’s a lost cause.

I had some photos to add but as you can see, they’re not here. I tried three times and could not get them to come over to the laptop from the phone. Sorry.

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Posted in Arizona, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Gardening Time

Hello everyone! I’m making great strides in the garden but not so much in the house. Gardening is a good excuse for me to NOT attempt to do the things that I find scary or hard. I’ve got hydroponic Rutgers tomatoes that I grew from seed, now they are in ½ gallon jars with roots 18” long! But they’re starting to fade. I’ve changed their nutrient water and am hoping for the best. They have blossoms!  The hydroponic ones are huge compared to the ones in little pots of dirt so I hope they live.

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Lots of roots! 

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These two plants are the same age! 

I’ve also got several organic bell pepper plants in pots and 5 gallon buckets and have planted organic green beans and some cosmos, marigold and vinca flower seeds. Pots everywhere! I hope being in fairly large/tall pots mean the mice, rabbits & packrats won’t be able to get them. I planted some pretty petunias in one small garden with snapdragons and the petunias got eaten right down to the ground. My other garden with zinnias in it has not been touched.  There are some clusters of really cute tiny white daisy-type flowers growing wild so I dug some up, thinking they obviously were not attractive to mice. They had a taproots and are not very happy today (the day after transplanting). I hope they revive, as they’d be nice perennials, assuming they don’t take over the whole garden! 

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Container garden

 

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Before the petunias disappeared

Here’s my little bitty bicycle planter, isn’t it the cutest?! I bought it for $4 at a thrift shop two years ago and have been storing it ever since. I love that it’s still got the training wheels, handlebar streamers and a bell! It’s got petunias that are doing fine, I guess because the critters can’t climb up there. It sure is heartbreaking when stuff gets decimated like that, especially since I really HATE getting my hands dirty. That dirt under my fingernails, ugh!! 

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The Face Flies are back. I’m sure they have a REAL name but that’s what I call them. They get right up in my eyes & nose in a cloud, trying to suck the moisture. UGH! They don’t bite but they sure are annoying, especially when they get between my eyes and my glasses. 

And my big Snaky is back too. We both scared the crap out of each other last week when I was heading to the camper and he was slithering out from underneath it!  He’s about 5′ long. He’s marked like a rattler but is harmless.

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I’ve made a startling discovery. I’m COLD! I never used to be cold. It had to be below 65 degrees in order for me to sleep, and when everyone else was wearing sweatshirts and jackets, I was comfortable in a tee shirt. And I suffered horribly in summertime temperatures. Well all that’s changed! The other night I was FREEZING with two blankets on the bed, so I got up and turned on the heater. When I climbed back up into bed I looked at the thermometer and it was 72 degrees! I guess that’s the price for losing all that nice insulating body fat. I hope this means I won’t be as sensitive to the summer’s heat. NOTE: Two days later it’s 90 degrees and I’m plenty hot, so I guess it doesn’t work that way. 

90# lost as of today. I’m 137#!!  I’m thinking about just keeping on and get down to 127#, that would be 100 pounds lost! Amazing. But I think it’ll be way too skinny for me. I guess that would be about a size 6. And I’m tired of buying new (thrift store) clothes all the time. Plus it would probably mean a zillion more wrinkles in my face. It’s really awful, all the loose skin and wrinkles. I even have wrinkles on my ankles!! 

I had some visitors from Phoenix last week, my old camping buddies Jeanne & Joanne, and Joanne’s two adult Grands! They camped in a beautiful dispersed site in the national forest only about 5 miles from Show Low. I wish I’d known about those campsites when I was here looking for land. They got here on Monday and on Tuesday we went for a two mile hike!! That’s farther than I’ve hiked since 2001. And nothing hurt!  We used hiking poles, I guess that makes a difference though it doesn’t FEEL like it does.  I am so ready to go camping myself, but the camper isn’t. It needs new tires. I thought I’d get tires with the Stimulus money but that was the fastest spending spree ever! I had a long list of “wants” so of course it didn’t stretch far enough. I did get a new (refurbished) propane stovetop though, it’s only 12” wide compared to my present stove’s 25”. (Has front & back burners) When you only have less than 6’ of countertop space, that extra 13” will make a huge difference. I’ll keep the present stove/oven in the cabinet underneath the counter and just bring it out when I need to use the oven. 

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R to L: Jeanne, me, Joanne

I’m hoping to go on a mini road trip in the Fall, maybe late October or early November, to visit Deb in Pahrump, NV and go to Valley of Fire State Park & Death Valley.  Since I don’t have thermostatic heat in the house, I’ll have to go before the freezing temperatures hit so everything in the house doesn’t freeze. Keeping my fingers crossed that gas prices will stay low and I can save up some gas money. 

I’ve figured out how to “fix” the refrigerator being up too high, without spending any money. I just need to remove the piece of siding that’s got the present vents in it, cut about 10” off the bottom, reinstall the siding lower and put the cut-off piece on top! Easy-Peasy, only it isn’t. I started to remove the screws holding the siding on the other day and it’s difficult where I’ve used silicone caulk to cover the holes where the screws went in (prep for painting, which I never got done in back). It’s really hard to get that caulk out of the screw heads. But I still think it’s possible. That’s one of the jobs I’m avoiding. I’ll have to get help lifting down the siding panel, but I could have most of the screws out in advance…….

I’ve been very upset this week, because I lost two pairs of shorts. There’s just not that many places to put things around here, so it was really puzzling and quite scary. I looked everywhere about ten times! I even looked in the unused refrigerator and the pressure cooker, just in case my brain tumor was getting frisky or I was starting to get demented. Thank GOD I didn’t find them there!! After three days of stressing over these lost shorts, I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered a place I hadn’t looked yet…..a box under the camper bed for out of season clothes. Voila!! Boy was I relieved; I’m NOT CRAZY!  (Well I guess it was kinda crazy to put them there, but hey, at least they were in a reasonable place, not in the refrigerator or pressure cooker)  

I found some real goodies in 3 boxes that Jeanne and Patricia had stored for me for 5 years! It was like Christmas, opening those boxes. One is my cute fairy door that friend Tam gave me. I love it!

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Also in one of those boxes was this fabric, which I also really love. I can’t figure out what to do with it though, it’s only one yard. I wish I had enough for curtains. Funny to think that I must have had this color scheme in my mind as long as 5 years ago!

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Someone requested photos of my land and views, so here they are. Except for looking over the valley, everywhere else looks about the same. Lots of cedar trees, small and large. And lots of rocks in about 2/3 of the acreage. (1.05 acres, 150′ x 600′)

 

 

Posted in Arizona, DIY Micro House, DIY Tiny House, Micro House, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Spring or Summer, you choose.

Hello again everyone. I hope you’re all surviving the Social Distancing thing, and staying healthy. Don’t you hate how you can’t tell if anyone is smiling when they’re wearing a mask? Oh yeah, you can tell if their eyes are crinkly but that’s no good. My cousin made a darling smiley mask and I wanted one, so I made a no-sew one. My mouth is a little bit crooked but I like it, even though it’s not as good as hers. I’ve been staying home as much as possible, though we are having a heat wave with temps in the 80’s, so I need to go buy ice every 3 days again. I had hoped to have the refrigerator up and running by the time it got hot. The average temps for right now are only supposed to be in the low 70’s! And I was also caught on the hop without ANY summer clothes! Well I do have a couple pairs of shorts but they’re “for good”, not for schlepping around the house. I found one tank top in size XXL which keeps trying to fall off me, and I broke down and paid full retail price for a pair of $4 shorts at Family Dollar. So now I have exactly one piece of clothing that didn’t come from a thrift shop! I’m hoping I can hold out til my favorite thrift shop opens back up; on Wednesdays you can fill a kitchen-size trash bag full of clothes for $1.50! On the other days it’s $3.00. I think I’m going to have to undo what I’ve done with the refrigerator. It’s just way too high up off the floor. I don’t think I can live with it. I can pay another $37 and get an additional wall vent to go under the existing one, and move the fridge down about 16” lower. That’s a lot lower than I’d like, but I think it’d be more acceptable than having the darn thing too high. That would still leave me with space for a 12” high drawer underneath it. I’m thinking if I could find someone with a bottle jack, I could support the fridge where it is while I reposition the supports, then lower it down without having to remove the closet wall and lift the refrigerator down, then back up onto the new base. It SOUNDS like it should work, anyway.
I’ve been babying my hydroponic lettuce and celery but at the first sign of 80 degree temps, they pretty much all bit the dust. I think I would have gotten an edible crop if only the weather hadn’t ramped up so quickly. Somehow we skipped the 70’s and zoomed straight to the 80’s, and it looks like they’re here to stay. It’s supposed to be 88 by Wednesday! The spinach is struggling, I keep it in the back of the house where it’s shady almost all day long. I do have some promising Rutgers tomato plants that I started from seed, two in half gallon hydroponic jars and three more in dirt. I have some organic San Marzano tomato seedlings coming along, and some bell peppers. I’m going to try planting them in a huge tub I found along the side of the road after one of our big windy days, and some 5 gallon buckets. I’m hoping the sides will be too high for the rodents to climb. I planted a bunch of mini carrot seeds in a large planter but only one came up. So I guess my carrot garden will be exactly that….one carrot!
I took a pickaxe and loosened up the soil for a flower garden, and hauled the top 3” of dirt out and dug in some Home Depot garden soil. The yucca plants in he middle were growing wild there. I lined the outside with Good Rocks that I collected the whole 3 years I was on the road. I carried over 100# of pounds of rocks in my car for all that time! And I couldn’t believe it, there weren’t enough Good Rocks to go all the way around! I had to fill in with the ugly gray cinder rocks that are laying all over the place here. I may not be able to keep that garden going though, unless we have a pretty good monsoon season, it’ll probably take too much of my water supply to keep them happy. With it being so dry here, the plants dry out horribly fast. In another spot up against the house I dug up a small bed and will scatter some Nasturtium seeds. I read that they thrive on poor soil and abuse! They sound perfect. I lined the outside of the flower spot with all the Good Rocks I picked up in my travels and hauled around in my car for 3+ years, and I couldn’t believe it, there weren’t enough of them!
I had to fill in with the ugly gray cinder rocks from the property.
A friend I’ve never met but I feel close to, sent me a lovely geranium from Amazon! I did not know Amazon sold live plants, did you? It got delayed in transit so the flower was dead but the plant looks amazingly OK and has lots of other buds on it. I needed some color in my life! Update… it’s losing a couple leaves every day so may not make it.
I’ve been pretty happy with how the house is handling the heat. Even though the gable ends don’t have any insulation yet, the house is staying comfortably cool. I kinda missed the boat on doing that insulation; I intended to get it done before hot weather hit, but I forgot about the windy season. There’s no way I can work with 4×8 sheets of foam in 30 mph winds! Duhhh.
I finally had my cardiology appointment after several delays. Just as I thought, it was all a storm in a teacup. I have some slight valve leakage that’s pretty common for my age, but the heart function is good. He said I don’t need to go back. Yay, I think that’s IT for the specialists!! I am having more trouble with my speech; the slurring comes and goes pretty often but sometimes only lasts for 5-10 minutes. It is what it is, there’s nothing that can be done about it at this point. It would have to get a whole lot worse before I’d ever think about having brain surgery.
I’m still wrestling with the last few pounds I want to take off. It’s been over three months now that I’m bouncing 4 pounds up & down, over and over. I guess I’m OK with it but I’d like to quit doing this super-strict diet and relax a bit once in a while, and I just can’t understand why I’m struggling so much with the final few pounds when I haven’t changed my diet at all. I’m ready for some toast, or a baked potato, or popcorn! Well I apologize if no photos show up. I’ve been fighting with this issue for 4 days…tried both with the laptop and the phone app. I give up.

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Even *I* Am Bored!

I feel like I should have blogged sooner…sorry. I’ve had super limited internet for the past 6 weeks; due to a series of stupid problems. I’ve been using mostly the TracFone data which costs $10 a gb! I’ve also tried the library, but since it’s closed, the signal is really weak and slow when I’m sitting in the car trying to use it. I finally had to purchase a new phone and new internet plan. 

In the midst of Social Distancing, I find it amusing that my life hasn’t changed much at all. As an introvert, I pretty much live Socially Distant all the time! Still I feel bored right now, and wishing I had TV to watch. I guess it’s because I CAN’T go anywhere instead of just not wanting to. Am I the only one whose house is spotless these days?!  This is a long post but maybe y’all are so bored, it’ll be entertaining.

Here’s the view from my front door. Pretty nice, eh? Well except for the junk. It’s the LONG-RANGE view I was referring to, LOL!

door view

 

I was very worried for the first couple weeks of virus hysteria, as I was out of money and couldn’t join in the buying frenzy. I finally made it to Walmart’s Senior hour (6 a.m.) on Tuesday and even though there wasn’t much to buy, I feel better about having something on hand. I haven’t eaten processed food for over a year so I didn’t have any non-perishable foods!  I managed to spend $80 on what I consider to be “crap” food that I hope I won’t have to eat. My biggest worry now is that too many truckers will get sick and the supply chain will fail, and I’ll run out of food. I think I’ve got about a month’s worth right now, though I’d be real short on protein and would have to eat rice and beans; yuck. I have about 120 gallons of water and 100# of propane. 

I’ve been nurturing a new sourdough starter for about three months and have just started to make bread again! What a joy! I love to make bread and I love to feed people. I’ve been giving it away but now I wonder if anyone will want bread that someone else has touched, even though I made sure to wash my hands thoroughly every time I handled the dough or bread. I still don’t eat bread at present but I bought some more flour in case I’m forced to go back to eating bread. I miss it and won’t mind too much if that happens, though if I start gaining weight I’ll be REALLY mad.  (85# lost so far and still going) I finally passed the top end of the “normal” range. I was within a couple pounds of it for two months, always thinking it was gonna happen any day. 

I’ve also started my hydroponic lettuce again, I have two plantings of seedlings, one week apart. Romaine and some kind of leaf lettuce, plus I’ve started some bell pepper and tomato seeds. I’d really rather get pepper and tomato starts but in case I don’t get out to get any, maybe I can grow some from seeds. I’ve not had any luck getting pepper seeds to germinate, so we’ll see. The lettuces are happy little things that sprout right up in only about two days, and right away start turning their little faces towards the sun. So cute! Because it’s the windy season, I’ve had to rig up a clear plastic windbreak so they can be outside on my patio table. I’m hoping the nasty lettuce-eating critters won’t be able to climb up the metal legs of the table and murder my babies like last year, when they were just placed out on the ground. I cut the ends off some organic celery and romaine and put them in water too (changing the water daily) and they are already pushing up new growth.  Here’s the windbreak and plants:

Plant Table

I’ve been doing some projects that I already have materials for. I’ve had a small bookcase from Wal-Mart for awhile and was reluctant to assemble it because I thought it would be a huge hassle but I finally did it, and it was easy and it fits the area next to the door perfectly! Now I can have undies & socks in little bins and don’t have to shuffle boxes around to get to them. 

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A couple weeks ago I got a friend to help me move the refrigerator into place! I made a huge mistake on the outside vent placement though and the fridge is up too high off the floor. When the freezer door is open, I have to stand on a footstool to see what’s in it! And it looks stupid, that’s the worst thing. But it’s not fixable; the bottom of the fridge needs to line up with the bottom of that vent in order to service and get at the fridge controls from the back. Sigh. My first real major blooper.  I’m sure it won’t be the last. I really hate that RV refrigerators aren’t magnetic. How the heck are you supposed to plaster the front with magnets?? Here’s my first refrigerator art, entitled “Out on a limb”. 

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I’d been using the fridge as an ice chest but when the order came for staying home, I moved everything to an ice chest on the back-side of the house., where it’s always shady. Out there, a block of ice will last 5-6 days but the fridge in the house, only 2-3 days. One of these days I’ll get batteries and be able to get the fridge hooked up to propane! Boy that’ll be great, to not have to use ice and deal with melted icewater all the time. And have a freezer!! That would really be helpful right now, when I can’t just go get more meat & perishables every 4-5 days. That’s one of the first things I’ll do if I get the stimulus money, IF the RV parts store and the gulf cart store are open. Somehow I doubt I’ll be able to get the batteries. 

Because the fridge is now in place, I also have…..a CLOSET!!! Wow. I need to put something up as a closet rod, then I could have most of my clothes in one building.  

I put up a crude little shelf in front of one of the windows so the lettuces can see out.

Eventually I’ll have shelves lining the inside of both sides of the closet, between the studs. Today I made one shelf with a backer bar (since I don’t have a wall on that side of the closet yet) for my bedside table stuff…glasses holder, flashlight, thermometer, water bottle. On the other closet wall I’ve done two shelves for canned goods. 

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I was given a little round handicap shower chair that I’m not using since my shower isn’t operative yet. I’ve extended the legs to their full height and it’s a perfect little table for one! Eventually I’ll have a drop-down table between the living room chairs but first I have to do the wall finish. So……possibly never! 

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I really love my bedroom/living room setup. During the day, the bed is folded up against the wall, a homemade Murphy bed. That reveals two comfy chairs and a storage hassock that acts as a table & footstool. At night, the bed gets lowered down over the top of the chairs and it’s just a short two steps up to the bed! It’s working out really great. And it’s not dangerously high; if I sit on the edge of the bed and put my feet down, they are not much more than a foot from the floor. So I can easily just step onto the bottom step of the little stepladder. 

I put together these really cute solar mason jar lights and I love them! They cast an amazing amount of light onto the walkway at night! It was a cheap kit from Amazon containing 6 jar lids with solar panels on the top, connected to a small amount of fairy lights. I got 6 shepherd’s crooks at Dollar Tree and they’re perfect! Love love love them. And they actually cast enough light to see where to walk! I had a photo of them lit up at night but it’s on the old phone and I don’t have any way of retrieving it anymore. One of these days I’ll have a real walkway instead of old pieces of plywood.

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A couple weeks ago I noticed that one of those sheets of plywood walkway was sticking up on both ends so I cleverly just flipped it over. Voila, all fixed! Then I walked on it and found out why it had been placed that way…….took two steps, got a nail in each foot! That plywood is full of small ringed flooring nails!! They barely penetrated but I thought I’d better go get a tetanus shot. Good thing I’m so much lighter now, if I’d been at my former weight I’d probably still be stuck standing on that plywood! 

I’m hungry for some flowers. If not for the new travel rules, I’d have gone to Lowes and gotten me something pretty. Now I have to be content to watch my cute baby lettuces grow. 

A camping friend, Patricia Parker, sent me this amazing painting of my house!! Isn’t it the cutest? I treasure it! 

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I went over and met my new neighbor last week. I’ve been hearing the tap tap tap of his hammer for several days. He was up on his roof so we kept a good distance. He’s an older gent from Wisconsin who’s building an 8×8 shack to live in. Seems nice but doesn’t appear to have any knowledge of building. It’s foundation is several stacks of small 2×4 pieces! It’s all 2×4’s….walls, roof and floor. I’m thinking a 2×4 doesn’t actually have a span of 8’ as a floor joist but I’m not sure. He’s going to have a leaky roof for sure but I didn’t tell him that. I’ll be really surprised if our high winds don’t blow it off the “foundation” soon too. Oh well, at least it’s small and will be easy to fix. UPDATE: I went past there yesterday and the entire structure is gone! Apparently he has dismantled it and hauled everything away, or else it blew away. Huh! 

Another mystery is the mouse situation here. I have a 5 gallon bucket partially filled with water pretty close to the outside house wall, and in the past week, 22 mice have committed suicide by drowning! I wish I had a critter-cam to see how the heck they’re getting in there. Swan diving off the roof? Somehow climbing up the house wall and jumping?? And WHY?! There must be zillions of the darn things around here. Every morning there are 1-4 dead mice in the bucket. Last night when I walked Roxie, there was one dead and one still alive. There was only a couple inches of water in the bucket and the poor thing was standing up on his hind legs to keep his cute little face out of the water. So of course I had to get him out of there. I thought about doing some teeny-tiny artificial respiration but decided not. He didn’t make it. And now you know why I had to stop going fishing. Too much empathy for the suffering of other creatures. And yes, fish DO feel pain!! They put an irritant on their lips and the fish kept rubbing their lips on the sand in the bottom of the tank. But I’m still going to keep the bucket there; I put more water in it so they won’t have to suffer for so long. 

I hope everyone is being good and staying home as much as possible! Stay healthy, y’all!

 

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Just Hanging Out

Lately a lot of friends have been asking if I’m OK so I guess that must mean I’m way overdue for a new blog post! I don’t really have much to report; I’ve been terribly lazy lately. I’m just enjoying my life in a real house! 

I did recently do some clearing in the front yard. I had two small, very scraggly trees near the house and they weren’t actually throwing shade on anything, so I cut them down. I carefully saved the cute plants that were growing at the base of the larger one. I’m not sure what they are, some kind of century plant or aloe.

Original yard

Original Yard

That opened up the front yard and made it a LOT bigger, and made this interesting tree more of a focal point I guess. I like how the branches go out horizontally, though parts of it are dead and need trimming.  Maybe some day I’ll feel brave enough to get up on a ladder wielding the sawz-all. Every time I go out the door now and see the new yard I go “WHOA”! I like it.

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New expanded yard

I’m really looking forward to planting some flowers this spring but I really need to build the porch first, so I know where to put the beds. I’m going to try and work on that as soon as the ground quits freezing at night. I have to dig two 3’ deep post holes and I’m not sure I can do that, but I’ll try. It’s awfully rocky here so I’m skeptical about being able to actually dig a hole exactly where I need it. If that doesn’t work I’ll have to use those pre-formed cement pier things, but I wanted to get the porch posts into the ground to be more resistant to our 60-80 mph winds. I think I have all the materials I need to build the porch and I think it’ll really make the house lots cuter, if that’s even possible. (I sure do love my little bitty house!) 

So…..as of this morning, I’m only about 1 pound away from a Normal weight (145) for my height!! I’m not counting any chickens as yet, because a couple weeks ago for no reason at all, I started gaining weight and I gained 9# in 12 days, without changing my diet one bit!! I was freaking out and I still don’t know what the deal was, but I was able to turn it around, thank goodness. When that happened, I was only 1# from normal weight. I’m thinking to try and go down an additional 10# or so, because surely as soon as I eat one mouthful of carby carbs, I’ll gain some back. I don’t know what I’ll transition to from Keto, or if I can maybe still do Keto with occasional forays into the land of carbs. It’s been 13 months since I’ve had anything with sugar or any kind of sweetener at all (besides monk fruit extract, which has zero carbs and doesn’t affect glucose levels). I’m jonesing for some ice cream, I think even the Keto ice cream would be great! And popcorn, a baked potato…..ooooh, a piece of toast!!  Yeah. I’m definitely ready for some cheating, but not until I’ve lost all the weight plus a little extra. Hopefully I won’t go hawg-wild and run amok. 

Here’s a photo of the Fat Me, and I probably weighed 10# more than this when I started the diet. And Skinny Me, taken a few days ago. I went from size 22-24 to size 8-10! I won’t lie, it was very hard work. There’s no Magic Bullet. I didn’t cheat a single time; I didn’t eat any of those processed Keto-friendly snacks like disgusting pork rinds, or even anything that had fake sweeteners in it. The only processed foods I eat are salad dressings (I tried to make my own but didn’t like them.)  I can take weight off, but the hard part for me is keeping it off. I always say “never again” but so far I’ve always failed at that.

 

I know a lot of people think Keto is terrible for cholesterol because it’s high fat, but actually it’s not, and it doesn’t have to be high fat, or “bad” fats. I usually eat lean meats but add good fats like olive oil on salads, and I cook with avocado oil or organic ghee (clarified butter). The fat is for satiety. If you’re not hungry between meals, you don’t need to eat a lot of fat. I just had a cholesterol test and my total cholesterol stayed about the same; right at 200 but HDL went from 79 to a whopping 103!  Triglycerides went down from 103 to 52; LDL stayed the same, 93. The ratio of HDL to Total Cholesterol is supposed to be under 4.5 and mine is 2.0. So no worries! 

I’ve been wearing a heart monitor for 28 days; got 2 more to go and I can’t WAIT to get rid of the thing! The sensor is stuck to my chest with super-glue; I swear. I have to peel it off and recharge it every 5 days and it seems like it takes 3 or 4 layers of skin with it every time. Then when I apply a new patch, I first have to scrub the skin with one of those rough scrubbies like you do dishes with!! More skin gone, and it always goes back on the same spot.  It’s getting pretty irritated under those patches. But hey, it could be worse; it could have been summertime and I’d have a weird oval-shaped white patch in my tan. I also had an echocardiogram and haven’t gotten the results back from that yet. I’m not too worried about either heart test; I really feel like there’s nothing wrong there. I really think these tests are sort of a “CYA” thing for my doc. I feel perfectly fine, honest! 

My tailbone has been really hurting a lot lately though. I think I broke it as a kid while ice skating on Gillett’s pond and I figured it had developed arthritis. I got it x-rayed and they said there wasn’t anything wrong with it, but that there was “moderate” deterioration in my lumbar region. I knew about that; that only hurts if I’m doing something that requires much bending. Building the house foundation and subfloor was really hard; I could only work on it for 10-15 minutes, then had to go lay flat for 30 minutes to recuperate.  So…there’s nothing wrong with my butt. Does that mean it’s all in my head? And does that make me a hypochondriac butt-head??? (Asking for a friend)

I had to back out of a camping trip for the end of this month that I was really looking forward to, but I just couldn’t justify paying $110 for new camper tires and $60 in extra gas when I have so much other debt. You know the good and bad angels that sit on your shoulders? The Good Angel won out in the end. She’d been yelling at me the whole time, saying “Are you NUTS?! You can’t afford this!”  She yelled a bit louder than the Bad Angel who kept saying “But we really wanna go!!” Oh well. I still plan to meet up with friends at Mesa Verde at the end of May, no matter what else happens. 

Here’s the view out my front door…it’s hard to see in this small photo but I have some great long-range views out over the little valley.

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So that’s about it for me lately…..nothing very exciting, but I sure am loving my little house. It’s been super easy to heat with the 4,000 BTU Buddy heater; in fact unless it’s under 30 degrees at night it’s TOO easy! I have to keep getting up and turning it off, then getting up and turning it back on a few hours later. If it’s a sunny day (and it usually is), I can open the drapes and turn the heat off by about 10 a.m., even on cold days.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

Posted in Arizona, DIY Micro House, DIY Tiny House, Micro House, Off-grid living, Owner Built Tiny House, Tiny Homes, Tiny House, Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Living & Loving It

I’m in love with my new house!! I moved in on Dec. 29 and I’m loving it. It’s so cozy and warm, and I know people will think I’m crazy, but it feels so spacious! Compared to the 58 sq. ft. camper, that is. I have a full 6′ x 6′ of open floor space!!  That means I could actually fall down and not do a face-plant into the heater, which is something I always worried about before.

As you know I only half-insulated most of the house. The bedroom/living/dining space is fully insulated but the rest, just 1 1/2″ of foam insulation. It needs another 2″ of foam which should be done before the summer heat hits.  There’s zero insulation in the gable ends!  In spite of that, I’m having trouble with being too warm at night. Unless the temps are down around 20 at night, I’m too hot and have to get up and turn the heater off for awhile, then get back up and turn it back on in a couple hours. That’s OK. I really thought I’d have to make a false ceiling at the 8′ level in order to keep warm but I’m sure glad I didn’t do that; I’d be sweltering! I’m using a Mr. Heater Buddy for heat; the small one that goes from 4,000 to 9,000 BTU’s.  On sunny days I get enough heat from the sun through the windows that I can turn the heater off by about 10 a.m.

My door has huge gaps on both sides but I’ve decided not to seal them up, as I do need some fresh oxygen. This way I don’t need to remember to open a window when I turn on the heater. And the place still stays quite warm enough!

The only thing I really hate is the floor.  I used OSB for subfloor and it sat out in the weather for months, so it’s kinda flaky. I kept getting splinters in my feet until I laid down every little rug and towel I could find! The other day I was able to buy two really nice 2×3′ rugs for $3 each at a thrift shop! Now it’s very comfy and cushy with two layers of rugs. I’m sure I’ll soon be wishing I had a vacuum cleaner though.

I am completely off-grid right now, I’m not able to set up the solar because I don’t have a battery for the house. And too, the space for the battery is not available right now; the refrigerator is sitting there.  It’s one of those Catch-22 situations; I need to frame in the space for the fridge but it’s in the way, and it’s too heavy for me to move.  Anyway, I’m still able to recharge my Kindles, wifi, phone & laptop over in the camper. The biggest problem is lighting at night. I’m using those free lights that Harbor Freight gives away and one solar Luci Light (which is GREAT!) but it’s really hard to get good light for cooking. I try to get all my cooking done before it gets done, because the place really is filled with light during the day. I worried a bit about it being too dark because the windows are so small, but it’s fine.

I moved in well before I was truly ready but I was so tired of being too cold in the camper! So all the walls are just the foam insulation board, there was no shelving, no place for clothes or kitchen storage or worktop. I had bought three 16″ wide melamine boards at ReStore awhile back so I used one of them to support the cool Camp Chef outdoor stove &  oven, and another to be the countertop. I’m already jonesing for a wider countertop…..16″ is definitely not deep enough! But for now it’ll do.

Here’s the kitchen when I started out, and after I set up the base support & countertop:

KitchenBefore

KitchenAfter

And here’s how it looks now. I saw this $10 fabric shower curtain and thought that kind of thing would make a cool wall. Then I decided, why wait!  So for $10 I got my wall. I ripped the last 16″ melamine board into a 10″ and a 6″ wide piece and made shelves, and added an Ikea rail system. I like how it turned out, though I wish I had figured out a way to get the creases out of the shower curtain before I nailed it up there!

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And as you can see, I’ve put the heater up on a small table so Roxie can’t get too close and burst into flames.

Here’s the “open-air” bathroom!

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And here’s my bed. It’s about 40″ high and I can easily get in and out of it using the little stepladder. It’s super-comfortable with a 3″ inflatable pad under a 3″ foam mattress and 2″ memory foam.

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One of the things that makes the house feel larger is the nice high peaked roof. The way I insulated it is called “Poor man’s blown-in foam”. It is 4″ slabs of foam that are sealed all the way around with Great Stuff.  (The orange squiggly lines) The foam I bought was used, plus it sat around for a year here, so that’s why it looks grubby. I decided not to seal the sidewalls because I was going to be heating with propane. It produces a LOT of condensation, so a really tight tiny house would be weeping rain inside, the whole time the heater was running.

RoofInsulation

RoofInsulation

Well that’s about it for Show and Tell today. It’s been horribly windy and cold here so I haven’t been getting a whole lot accomplished, and I don’t care! I’m just enjoying the heck out of my new house!

 

Posted in Arizona, DIY Tiny House, Micro House, Off-grid living, Owner Built Tiny House, Tiny Homes, Tiny House, Uncategorized | 13 Comments

We’re IN!

Yes! Janis and Roxie are Home at last!! We moved in on Dec. 29 after a very cold night in the camper. The low was 9° and even with the heater and stove burner running all night, it was still quite cold in the camper. I think the heater is not putting out as much heat as it’s supposed to. Anyway, that very day we moved over to the house, as it was going to be 9° again the following night. I have a Buddy heater in the house and it’s doing a great job! I was nice and toasty; even a little too hot at times. I had to keep it on Low. I’m surprised that with these 11.5′ high ceilings, it’s so easy to heat. I thought I’d have to rig up a lower ceiling with canvas drop cloths or something.

Here it is on our very first night. What a joy to finally see it occupied and the lights on! Please excuse the “rope” coming down; it’s the Christmas garland that got blown off. I need a ladder to get it down and right now they are snowbound.

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Our Christmas was very low key as usual. Stayed home and had leftovers for dinner…just another day in Paradise. Really! The name of our subdivision is “Show Low Paradise”!

I got Roxie a new dog bed for Christmas, bigger than her normal size and quite cushy. It was on sale for just $8. Well she HATED it. She never used it and insisted on sleeping on the icy cold floor, so I finally brought her old grubby bed back in and she climbed right in  immediately and acted like “Ahhh…at last I can sleep again!!” Oh well, I tried.

In November I applied for energy assistance from NACOG (Northern Arizona Council of Governments). Based on my income (or lack thereof) I got an $800 propane credit! I must go to one certain propane seller in Show Low to refill, and they just take it off my account. Wow, that sure helps! I’m pretty sure I won’t use that much but it’s good to have it. I bought a used 30# propane tank from them too, and that came out of the $800 credit.

My friend Jeff has a propane heater about the same BTU’s as mine and he uses a 30# tank every 6 days. He’s heating a smaller space with less insulation so I’m thinking my usage will be about the same. That’s going to be a pain since I only have one 30# tank and one spare 20# tank, as it’s 25 miles to town to refill them. I’m hoping to find another used 30# tank soon

I’ve had the heater sitting on the floor but yesterday we had a near-calamity; I was working at the kitchen counter and Roxie was standing next to me fussing about something-or-other. I didn’t pay much attention until I smelled the horrible burning hair stench.  Roxie was standing right in front of the heater and almost became a fireball! As it is she just scorched some chest hair but it was pretty scary. I’ve put the heater up on a small table now so she’s not in danger. It makes the floors a little colder but that’s OK. I wish I had a place where I could mount it on the wall but I can’t find anywhere.

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I have only moved a few things over but still am already out of storage space. I  need lots of shelves! Yesterday I used some 16′ wide boards I got at ReStore for $2 to make a kitchen counter. I think I made it too tall. The camper’s countertops are way low and I couldn’t remember the proper height so I made it 36″ high and it seems high. Oh well, it’ll be fine. Supposedly it won’t be permanent (famous last words). Here is the kitchen Before and After. Those white boards are what I used.

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Kitchen Before. Stove it sitting on an ice chest.

 

KitchenAfter

Kitchen After

Here’s my bed when folded down from the wall. I have not yet brought the good mattress over from the camper; this is the old camper mattress with two 1″ memory foam pads on top and a 3″ thick inflatable camping pad underneath. It’s really comfy but that 3″ pad is too thick; it won’t allow me to fold the bed back up to the wall. The camper has a 1″ inflatable pad and I guess I’ll have to use that. I hope that will solve the problem! I use a little stepladder to get up there and it’s pretty easy.  It’s 42″ high.

Bed

Here’s the space with the bed folded up against the wall. The underside of the bed will eventually have nice horizontal pine paneling on it & so will the wall, so it should all blend together and look more built-in..

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And here’s the bathroom, still with peekaboo walls!

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Today I hope to get some shelving up on the kitchen and bathroom walls both. I also have an Ikea hanging rail system to install. But I MUST go to town first! I haven’t gone grocery shopping since Dec. 18! First I didn’t have any money and then since I got more money, we’ve had snow and yucky roads. Even the people with 4 wheel drive haven’t been going out!  The paved roads are fine but our subdivision roads have packed ice and are really slick. I’m hoping today the “bad” hill will have melted enough for me to get out and back in safely. Otherwise I’ll be eating 3 meals a day of tuna fish and green beans.

 

 

 

Posted in Arizona, DIY Micro House, DIY Tiny House, Micro House, Off-grid living, Owner Built Tiny House, Tiny Homes, Tiny House, Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Birthday and Snow!

My birthday was great this year! Almost as good as last year, when a group of friends were camping in SC on my birthday and they had a long-distance party for me! They  had a decorated birthday cake, went out for ice cream and dinner, and throughout the whole day they’d send me photos and a video of them singing to me. Weird, I know, but it made it a good day.

This year I had a doctor appointment that morning,and the day before I’d made a batch of knockoff See’s Butterscotch Squares. If you’re from California you know how good these are! It’s like brown sugar fudge, covered with chocolate. I used to make 1/2 batch a lot in Ecuador because friends really liked them, but I never covered them in chocolate there, I just left them as fudge. This time I covered half in chocolate and left some plain. I boxed them ALL up (Yep, I didn’t even taste a single one!) and took them with me to my appointment. I figured SOMEONE should be getting a birthday gift! I got a huge surprise when I arrived; the receptionist said “Happy Birthday, Janis” and handed me a card signed by everyone and a cute little glass jar of bath salts! Cris said that Dr. Matt shopped for them himself! Then the whole staff came out into the waiting room and sang “Happy Birthday” to me! I love those guys! To them it was probably a small thing but it totally made my day. I hope they liked the candy. Here’s the recipe: Homemade Butterscotch Squares

Thanksgiving I just had leftovers from my roast beef birthday dinner (which was tough as nails even after being cooked in the pressure-cooker for 35 minutes). We were expecting a ton of snow so I was all prepared to be stuck here for a week or so, with plenty of propane, water, toilet paper, food, DVD’s and Kindle books to read. When there are big snowfalls, the snowplow doesn’t make it out here for 3-4 days, and I don’t have 4 wheel drive so I just sit tight.

The snow didn’t actually start til Friday morning but it came with a vengeance; we got 2″ of snow in the first half-hour! With 40 mph winds, oh what fun. Then it settled down to a steady light snow all day and into the next. We ended up with a foot of it. Ugh. I shoveled a path from here to the house (because all my food is over there) and I’d just hook Roxie up to her long leash and shove her out the door while I stayed inside with the door open a crack, just enough to let the leash extend out and in. She didn’t spend any extra time outdoors either!

This was my view out the door on Friday. Usually these branches are well up out of my way but that day, they were waiting to dump snow down my neck as soon as I went out the door!

SNOW

Friday was sunny but very cold, a high of 34 I think. The floors in this camper are not insulated at all so I can go get a whole day’s worth of food and keep it next to the door on the floor, throw a towel over it and it stays nice and cold! I just measured it with my instant thermometer, at 10:30 a.m. it is still 38 degrees on the floor near the door! Perfect refrigerator temp. My poor feet FREEZE in here, and I feel really sorry for Roxie sleeping on the floor but she doesn’t seem to mind. She doesn’t even use her cushy dog bed except at night!

I got some birthday money so I spent some time on line and took advantage of some of the Black Friday sales; nothing fun, just vitamins, some food items from Thrive Market and a few parts needed for the propane hookup of a heater for the house, but I did order some new eyeglasses from Zenni Optical’s sale; only $45 with progressive bifocal lenses,including clip-on sunglasses! I don’t know what terrible thing I did to my current glasses but they are so scratched I can hardly see through them. I always vow to take better care of my glasses but somehow I never do.

That darn snow seems to be really hanging on. Even though it was sunny all day yesterday, the car is still covered with snow and it’s still hanging on all the trees. I admit it is pretty, but I just want it to all go away now.

Snow Next Day

Last week we had 3 days of rain and this week the snow….I did not get all the insulation done so I could move into the house. I should know better than to set deadlines! I have to be able to cut the foam sheets outside. And now they are covered with a foot of snow but I’m hoping by the weekend I’ll be able to get back at it. I also have a huge issue with my door. Every time it rains, almost the entire floor gets flooded. Thank you Tyler, for setting the door in the wrong place! I’m going to have to try and remove the threshold and move it into the room more and I’m not sure I can get it up without a lot of hassle. But I can’t move in and then be constantly flooded with water. Last night it got down to 17 degrees and it was like an indoor skating rink!

OK, enough whining for now.

Posted in Arizona, DIY Micro House, DIY Tiny House, Micro House, Off-grid living, Owner Built Tiny House, Tiny Homes, Tiny House, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Moving Right Along……

Last week I had some excellent helpers come to visit! Tom Warfield and Donna Morey are both fellow members of the AZ A-Frame Campers group (same kind of camper I have).  Boy, did we get a lot done! Tom can do ANYTHING, and he does it well, which was a nice surprise after Tyler’s work.

Donna arrived on Wednesday and right away there was a problem with her battery system. That’s bad when you’re boondocking!  I loaned her my Buddy heater and a couple 1# propane cylinders for the night. I’m glad I picked it and a smaller Coleman SportCat heater up from the storage unit! Then around 9 pm that first night, I ran out of propane and went out to change the tank. I got it all hooked up and SSSSSSSS! The hose had developed a bad leak.  So I went without heat that night. I could have gone and gotten one of the propane cylinders from Donna but then her heater would have run out and she’d be cold. I figured I’m probably more used to the cold than her, so I toughed it out. It wasn’t too bad; I think it was 43 inside the camper in the morning. I had gotten a spare comforter out of  the car and I just kept under the covers and I actually slept better than I usually do!  Good to know, but I really don’t think I care to trade good sleep for warmth. The next night I used the little SportCat heater. It only puts out 1500 btu’s but kept the camper at 54 degrees, not too bad.  Friday my friend Jeff Cox went to town and he brought me back a new propane pigtail.

Tom arrived on Thursday and right away went to work diagnosing Donna’s battery problem (a bad converter). He bypassed something-or-other and made it so Donna would have power for heat at night, and each day he charged her battery with his generator. He also repaired my camper door that kept trying to fall off! It was coming out of the C-channel frame so he used pop rivets and a metal plate to hold it all together. When the new propane pigtail arrived, Tom installed that too. What a handy guy!

Donna and I worked on insulating the bedroom/dining/living room area. That was probably the hardest place in the house to do, as by the time I got to that studwall I was nearly out of 2×4’s, so I used some that were really badly bowed and/or twisted. So cutting rigid foam insulation to fit the bowed studs was a real adventure. And we needed 3 layers in there to fill the cavities: two 1.5″ and one .5″ thicknesses.  Tom set about with the Great Stuff Pro gun and ran a bead of foam along every rafter and filling all the gaps. They call that “poor man’s blown in foam” because it makes an airtight seal. Boy the Great Stuff Pro gun works SO much better than those nasty aerosol cans! You have way more control over the size of the stream, and when you let up on the trigger, it stops coming out, unlike the aerosols that keep drooling out foam for 5 minutes afterward.

work1

I have NO idea why Tom looks like a giant and I look like a dwarf in this photo! He’s not THAT tall, and I’m not THAT short!!

Here I am, working hard! Rasping off a piece of styrofoam to fit the wall cavity better.

work2

It’s hard to tell but I am completely covered with white foam dust!

The next day Tom installed the two vents in the back of the house for the refrigerator. That’s something I’d have been scared to do; cut into the house wall!  He drilled holes for the wiring and also pulled all the rough wiring. Got my wall bed built with his engineering brain figuring out how to accomplish what I wanted, and finished installing the deadbolt lock on the door. We built the drop ceiling for the bedroom area, and he wired a new 7-way camper plug on my car! The cover on the old one had broken, it was falling off and the plug receptacle part was so full of mud, it never would have worked again!  I think that might be all. ALL!  I was thrilled with how much got accomplished in one week!

Wiring! In this one you can also see where the orange foam has been applied to the roof seams, and also where the fridge vents cut-outs are. We covered them back up so it’s not so cold inside, since I’m not ready to install the fridge yet.

wiring

And insulation! We faced the foil towards the outside on the first layer (to reflect back the sun’s heat in summer) and faced it towards the room on the last layer (to reflect back the heat in winter) Well that’s the idea anyway. Hopefully it’ll work that way.

insulation

So here’s the living room setup. Notice the wall bed. It will be disguised with nice pine paneling later.

liv-rm2

The bed base extends 7.5″ out from the wall (because my mattress is 7″ thick) and there will be a shallow bookcase under that behind the chairs, against the back wall. It will have a small drop-down dining/game table that will go between the chairs. When the bed is lowered, it just clears the top of the chair backs. With the mattress on, it is 40″ from the floor, so I can easily climb up on my little 2-step ladder, though I will be making (hopefully) a clever end table that converts into steps at night. The wood on the wall is what I’ll use to finish all the walls in that room.  The TV will be mounted on the wall above the bed.

liv-rm-bed2

I have discovered something wonderful! Keto Pizza! It’s not as good as pizza with a real crust, but to someone whose lips haven’t touched pizza for 9 months, it’s fantastic! No, not one of those nasty cauliflower crusts, either. I don’t eat things that look like cancer. The crust is made of mozzarella cheese! You let that melt together, then add the pizza sauce and whatever else you like (for me, it’s bell peppers and pepperoni) and more cheese on top. I like to use whole milk mozzarella but I found out that was a big mistake. It’s way too wet. I was blotting and blotting the liquid that oozed out! It’s better to use part skim mozz or provolone for the crust at least. I make it in my tiny 4″ egg frypan and it’s the perfect size.  I’ve been eating a lot of it lately…..I’ve gotten into a rut and tend to eat the same things over and over, so this is a wonderful change, and when I do a finger-stick 2 hours afterward, my glucose is never over 100 after eating this and a salad. Tonight it was 79! Intermittent Fasting has actually cured my Insulin Resistance, but that’s a story for another time.

keto-pizza

I’m down 72 pounds! Very nearly two full 20# propane tanks’ worth of weight….a full tank weighs 37#. Can you imagine toting around two of those suckers 24/7?!! Wow. That’s a lot. People are starting to bug me about being “thin enough” but I think they’re just not used to seeing me at a normal weight. I still have another 9# to go before I get to a normal BMI, or to hit even the top of the Ideal Weight charts! I’d like to go maybe 10# beyond that point, because I’m sure when I ease up on the diet, I’ll gain some back. I’m great at losing weight, but I’ve always been bad at keeping it off. I hope to do better this time. (I say that every time). I sure hate all this excess skin though. My face is so wrinkled, I look at least ten years older than my age. Sigh.  My fault entirely; if I hadn’t stretched it all out so badly and waited so long to lose the weight, I wouldn’t be dealing with this now.

We are expecting nasty weather for the next three days & nights. Windy with rain and snow showers; perhaps a little bit of accumulation. I won’t be able to cut the foam insulation because it has to be done outside. So an enforced vacation. I don’t mind taking a few days to read, but I really REALLY wanted to move in before my birthday next week, which means I’ll have to work my butt off Saturday-Tuesday to get it done. In most of the rest of the house, it’ll just be one layer of 1.5″ foam because that’s all I could afford to buy. It should be fine for the winter, but I’ll need to finish insulating before the hot weather hits.  I can’t WAIT to move in! Every time I go over there I’m struck with how spacious it seems! I know that’ll sound crazy to you folks who have adult-sized homes, but the tiny house is 1 1/2 times as big a space as I’ve been living in for the past 4 1/2 years!  85 square ft. vs 58.5 sq. ft. I’m also often hit with the realization that it turned out to look almost exactly the way I pictured it in my head for all that time when it was only an idea on paper. That, to me, is a miracle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting Closer!

First I want to send a big THANK YOU to the folks who donated money to the “cause”!!  I love you guys! I was able to buy about half of the insulation I need for the walls, and I bought a used 245 watt solar panel for only $95, and I paid Tyler to come and help me install the roof insulation. Yeah, I know; why do I keep inviting him back and then complain about the work he does? Well, because he’s the only person I know to call.  He brought a new helper this time, a guy who was actually a really good worker! And he had all his front teeth so maybe he wasn’t a meth-head like Tyler and his other helpers.  It took most of the day to cut and fit the foam between the roof rafters. What a nasty job! The 4″ styrofoam had a layer of fiberglass cloth stuff on the outside. Some had it on one side only and some had it on both. We found that the best way to cut the 4×8 sheets was to use the sawz-all, which kicked up a lot of fine fiberglass and foam dust that stuck to our clothes and skin. With the low humidity here, we are all just giant static cling machines. UGH!! Nothing worked to brush that stuff off us. That was one day I really wished I had an indoor shower! It was much too cold to shower outside. I washed off with a washcloth but it wasn’t nearly as good as a cascade of water.  Anyway it’s done, with a bunch of gaps and cracks that I now need to fill in with Great Stuff foam. I got some Great Stuff Pro foam and gun which is supposed to be much easier than using it out of the aerosol cans. With the gun you have much better control plus when you stop pressing the trigger, the foam stops coming out immediately. With the aerosol cans, it just keeps drooling out for several minutes after you want it to stop!

But first my neck has to recover a bit; I’ve had neck pain for more than a year and looking up at the roof all day really aggravated it.

Here’s the insulated roof! Yeah it looks crummy because it was used stuff and then it sat out in the weather for 6 months.

Roof Insulation

Oh yeah…my brain tumor! Well the neurologist said it’s nothing dire; we’re just going to wait and watch it for now. He said it did not cause the speech problems; he said those were just because I’m OLD! (At least he didn’t call me Elderly) I’m puzzled by that; I know lots of old people and none of them have intermittent speech defects without any underlying cause like a stroke. I might get a second opinion if the speech problems crop up again, but really, I’ve about had it with driving 4 hours each way to Phoenix to see specialists.

Yesterday Tyler came back and after much discussion we figured out the best way to install my shower pan. I did not want to cut holes in the floor, as that would involve messing around with the continuous mouse-proofing hardware cloth that’s stretched over the bottom of all the floor joists. So we made a fake floor riser just high enough for the drain assembly to be installed; ran the drain hose to an outside connector with a garden hose connection. I’ll be able to drain the shower water into a bucket, portable RV waste tank or just run it into a hose to water the trees.  Next I need to build the stud walls around the shower, and build a flat ceiling in the bed/dining/living room area.

Here’s a photo of the shower pan. Note that the shower pan IS the whole bathroom floor! I’ll step up into the shower for all bathroom activities. It is 24×40″ and it actually is larger than a friend’s camper bathroom, so I guess it’s workable. Heh heh…good thing I lost all that weight! The old Me probably would not have fit in there at all. I never wanted a “wet bath” but I just didn’t have space for a separate shower.  My bucket toilet is going to take up half of the bathroom! I can remove it when I want to take a shower. One of these days I’ll build a “dry” toilet that’s smaller than a 5 gallon bucket. I ended up with a 9″ step up from the main floor, over the lip of the shower pan and then a 5″ drop down into the pan, which is a bit much but I think it’s do-able. Maybe I’ll put a grab bar at the doorway to help the ELDERLY.   I was afraid it was going to end up even higher, and it would be like trying to step into a bathtub every time I need to pee! So this is better. Really!

Shower Pan

I got a cute little tiny wooden heart at a thrift store, it’s perfect for my tiny door!

HouseHeart2

Two friends are coming this weekend to help install the foam insulation in the walls! It will take 3 layers to fill the 2×4 cavities…two 1 1/2″ layers plus a 1/2″ layer. Triple the work! I bought enough to fully insulate the little bed/living/dining section and enough for      1 1/2″ in all the other walls. That should be enough to make it through the winter; I’ll need to finish it up before the summer heat hits though.

Look at the darling fabric basket my friend Tam Milostan made me! The inside fabric is little pink piggies….too cute!

 

The other night Jack Frost was really hard at work! Am I the only who sees a beer bottle in the upper right corner? What is Jack trying to tell me?? (It’s actually where the frost started to melt)

jack frost4

My hydroponic veggies are doing well. I mean they’re still alive. The bok choy has started to really take off but the lettuces are very slow. I am still holding out hope for them though.

Hydroponic nov 5

I guess this is Apache County’s version of repaving the roads. We’re poor, you know! The road has lots of cracks in it so they went along and sprayed hot tar on the cracks. I guess that will keep the moisture out of the cracks so the frost doesn’t get in there and expand them, but I’ve never seen that done before!

road repir2  road repair1

Cracks…no cracks!

 

 

 

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Fall is here! Or is it winter?

I’m so glad to see the hot weather retreat, but I’m not sure I’m ready for Fall, either. Or maybe we skipped straight to winter? Tomorrow’s low is supposed to be 22 degrees!  Yikes! Daytime highs are still in the 60’s and 70’s though.  I’m trying to figure out what to do with several plants that I’m sure can’t take those kinds of temperatures. The house is the obvious place, but since I have continuous soffit and ridge vents, it’s no warmer in there than it is outside. I guess my boxwoods, geranium and succulents will have to go in the car and hope it stays warm enough.  This time last  year we’d already had snow! This year the snow has been replaced by wind. Lots of wind!

I have kinda-sorta set up my living room! Sometimes I take my Kindle and go sit out there and read, though neither of the chairs are as comfortable as I had hoped. They’re fine for a short while but not for long term.

LivRmEpic

I have come to realize that I’m just not going to be able to move into the house before Winter. Probably not before Spring either. My medical bills have not been astronomical like a lot of unfortunate people. but they are pretty overwhelming for someone of my limited income. They sure don’t allow for any extras. So far I’ve had a CT scan, MRA (Angiogram) and MRI with and without contrast of my brain. Even with the Medicare co-pays, they are not cheap, and every time I go to a specialist I have to pay $45 per visit.  These co-pays have to be paid up front, you can’t pay over time.  I also had to repay my old Medicare Savings Account plan back $785 for excessive utilization, since I quit the plan on July 31 and went to a different Medicare Advantage Plan on August 1. Ouch! Last month a few days before I got my Social Security money I was down to less than $3 in checking and saving accounts combined; this month is even worse and next month looks no better. But it looks like by March I may be able to start saving up money again for the $600 worth of foam insulation. That sure sounds like an awful lot of money for such a tiny house, but I need the best insulation possible for the hot summer temperatures. I could probably get through the winter with half of it, since it’s sheet foam, I have to do it in three layers anyway; a 2″, a 1″ and 1/2″. Three times the labor! But no one around here sells 3 1/2″ foam. Well that $300 or $600 may as well be a million, as neither one is do-able.

The health care in my area turns out to be not that great. We do have a hospital but it’s only a Level 2 (Out of a possible 4) Trauma Center, and there are not a lot of specialists. They don’t even do joint replacements there! (Not that I want one)  I’ve been having to go to Phoenix for interventional cardiologist and neurologist appointments, and it costs $60 in gas and 8 hours drive time  just to drive there and back! Plus $45 for each doctor visit.  I hated the cardiologist so I am going to try to transfer over to the cardiologist here. He is booked up til December and my Dr. Matt wanted me to see someone before then, but now I think I can wait for the local guy.

So here’s the bad news. Could be worse. I have a brain tumor! I have thought so all along. If any of you know what Kinesiology (muscle testing) is, I’ve been doing that and it consistently said that I had a brain tumor, not fatal, and that no surgery would be needed. I bet I did it 50 times and always the same answer. It was very puzzling then when neither the CT scan nor the Angiogram showed it. I was beginning to doubt!

It is a small meningioma, which is usually slow-growing and benign. Let’s hope mine will be also. It’s great to finally get a reason for the speech problems I had back in July! I don’t know why it didn’t show up on the CT or Angiograms The CT scan showed a slight stroke at some point in the past. Must have been very slight and happened while I was asleep because I’ve never had any symptoms. Then the Angiogram showed two blocked cervical arteries  but both the cardio and the neuro said were OK, there’s plenty of other blood flow to the brain and it would be more dangerous to do something about them than to just leave them be.  I hope I don’t have any more speech problems but for now there are no plans to do anything about the brain tumor. I go back to the neurologist on Oct. 23 and I guess I’ll learn more then.  Looking at the bright side, I can get a lot of mileage out of this….now I have a good excuse for every stupid thing I do or say in the future!!

I think I need to just quit going to my doctor; all he does is order expensive tests, then give me bad news. “You’ve had a stroke”. You have two blocked arteries”. “You have a brain tumor”. Geez, the news gets worse every time I go see him! But……I love him, so I guess I’ll keep going.

I have started some hydroponic greens! I hope to have “free” salad fixin’s in a month or two. I now spend around $8 a week for organic romaine, celery and spinach so it would help a lot if I can grow some of it myself. I’m using a technique I learned from a You Tube video. How did we ever know how to do ANYTHING without You Tube?   I am using mason jars and 1/2 gallon pickle jars. A lot of people use plastic bins but I prefer not to grow or store my food in plastic. I have covered the jars with foil to keep out the light, so the nutrient liquid doesn’t grow algae. It’s not very expensive to get started. Just watch the short video by FrugalGreenGirl, it’s very simple.  Hydroponic Gardening in Mason Jars   If you use jars besides the standard wide-mouth mason jars, you may have to either get different size net pots, or be creative. For my 1/2 gallon pickle jar, the opening was bigger than the mason jars but I found that an inverted mason jar lid fit the opening perfectly, and then the 3″ net pot also fit perfectly inside that!  I also planted spinach seeds but none of them sprouted! I have to replant and try again.

 

 

One more thing….my diet. Here’s a photo of the New Me, so far. Oh I’ll see if I can find a Fat Photo for comparison,.  I started in late January with the typical reduced calorie diet but by May I was in a terrible plateau and didn’t lose a thing for 6 weeks! I am also diabetic so I started tweaking the diet to help with my glucose readings and before long I realized….I was doing the Keto diet! So I learned more about it and I’ve been following that for about 3 months, and losing a pretty steady 2# per week. I am also doing Intermittent Fasting every other day. That’s when you eat all your food for the day within a certain window of time, such as between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. You don’t snack or eat anything outside of that time frame except plain coffee, tea or water. So you go from dinner to 10 a.m. without eating….not that hard! And the benefits are amazing, especially for diabetics. I started out with an A1C of 7.3 and I go tomorrow for another A1C test. I expect it to come back as a 5.6, which is NOT DIABETIC AT ALL! Not even pre-diabetic.

I am really strict about it though, I have not cheated a single time since January. I’ve cut all sugar, dairy except a small amount of cheddar cheese, grains and gluten, beans, and everything white. Interestingly, I just had a hair analysis that measures sensitivities to over 650 things and it showed I was very sensitive to grains, gluten and dairy!  I wonder if my glucose response to those items is somehow connected to inflammatory response. I couldn’t even eat 1/2 slice of high fiber bread without a huge spike in my glucose.

JanisFat2

Fat Janis in Oatman, AZ. The burro was after some carrots I had in my hand, he was NOT trying to bit me in the boob, honest!

 

JanisOct1

(Relatively) Skinny Janis with friend Jeanne. (I’m the tall one) Down 67#! I still have about 25# more to go.  But that’s OK because frankly, I’m afraid to quit! I just found out yesterday that I have shrunk 2″! So now that I’m only 5′ 4″, I have even more to lose than I thought to get to a normal weight.

Hope everyone has a GREAT fall! Drink some apple cider and eat some warm apple cider doughnuts for me!

 

Posted in Arizona, DIY Micro House, DIY Tiny House, Micro House, Off-grid living, Owner Built Tiny House, Tiny Homes, Tiny House, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Exterior

Exterior – done!! Except for some trim and paint, the house is 100% closed in! I’m so glad; I was really getting burned out with this project. I feel like I need to get out there 7 days a week, since I can only work on it for a couple hours in the mornings before it gets hot. But I told myself to take Labor Day off. So I did. And then I also took the next 3 days off…oops! But now I’m back on duty. I think I will take the occasional day off though.

HouseAug27

Next comes the roof insulation which I am dreading like crazy. I got a STEAL on 4″ thick 4×8 rigid foam panels, only $12 each! They’d be around $40 each new. But I’ve discovered that they are not 4″ thick as advertised; they are sandwiched between some strange wallboard/fiberglass surface, so they actually are 4 1/2″ thick. That’s bad, very bad. I have continuous soffit & roof vents for hot air to escape, and it needs a 1 1/2″ clear air space . 4″ foam would have been perfect but now I will need to tack on a 1×2 strip on the bottom of each rafter, to give more air space.  It’s not terrible, but just a little more money and a little more labor. (It’s always something, isn’t it?)  I’ve read that when you cut this sandwiched foam stuff, little fiberglass particles go everywhere. Oh how fun. One of the reasons I’m using foam insulation is because I can’t stand working with fiberglass!

I have rigged up an outdoor shower though, so at least now I’ll be able to wash the fiberglass bits off. It’s wonderful! It’s a 3 gallon solar shower bag suspended high up in a tree next to the water tank. It’s so warm outside, I don’t need to lay the bag in the sun; it warms up nicely just hanging there. I strung a couple wires and have four $1 shower curtains enclosing the space. I have hung some towel hooks and a shower organizer thingie from bars around the water tank. I stand in a shallow tub that’s meant for cement mixing. I’ve taken more showers in the past two weeks than I took in the previous four years combined, LOL! It really feels luxurious to cool down and get clean.

I brought a couple of thrift store chairs over from storage and set up my living room. I’ve been doing some reading there, as it’s usually a little cooler in the house than the camper. Unfortunately, neither of those chairs is very comfortable for long-term sitting. I’ve got to find something really small, really cheap and really comfy! The bed will be hung from the wall at the 36″ high level, and will drop down over the top of the chairs so nothing will need to be moved to convert from living room to bedroom. I’ll just need a little step up in order to get into the bed.  Oh and there’ll be a small dining/game table that will be hinged against the wall under the bed, ready to be pulled up for use.  Living room, dining room and bedroom in 21 sq. feet! I just bought that tall door mirror on sale at Walmart for $6. It’s the first time I’ve had larger than a 6″ mirror in four years!

liv room

Here’s a very unhappy Roxie in the house. She’s not at all comfortable in there yet. She has always believed that she can’t go up and down stairs, so this 2″ level across the doorway is enough to make her think she can’t get out.

RoxieInHouse

It’s been very hot, in the 90’s. I bought myself a kiddie swimming pool marked down to $2.75 and was all excited about sitting in that to escape the heat. I brought it home and put a few inches of water in it and left it for a few hours to warm up, and then was ready for my “swim”. But in my excitement I forgot that even though my knees don’t hurt any more, they still don’t work quite right. There’s no way I can get down and sit at ground level, not to mention what gyrations I’d have to go through to get back up on my feet afterward!  So that idea was a bust. Maybe I can use the pool as a planter or something. I’m glad I only paid $2.75 for it!

In early spring I had purchased two hummingbird feeders but I never put them out. Lately I’ve been feeling really sorry for the hummers who kept coming up and checking out every fake flower in my little hanging basket, as though they couldn’t believe there could possibly be so many flowers with nothing good in them! So I got out one of the feeders and made up some nectar. It was only out there for about 10 minutes before it was discovered! It’s been 4 days and now I have a regular parade of visitors. I hung it right outside the camper door, where I can see it easily. I can’t get photos of the birdies though because my camera won’t focus through the window screen.

I have a new neighbor, a small Praying Mantis. He’s constantly hanging around my door. Every time I go outside he gets startled and waves his little arms around but he doesn’t move away; he’s always somewhere close by. Do you see him? I’ve named him Manny, not to be confused with Jeff’s dog Manny. Jeff and Manny left a week ago; moved over to a new property that our friend Pat purchased nearby.  I miss him. I was surprised at how comforting it was just to know someone was within shouting distance, in case of accident. Poor Jeff, I’m sure he was very sorry he was within hearing distance when I’d get frustrated at my house projects and start yelling!

On the health front, everything has been fine for the past few weeks but can you believe it…I STILL don’t have the pre-authorization from Humana for the MRI/Angiogram of my brain! The first order got thrown out after 13 days of waiting, because they called a really old phone number for my doctor (even though I had given them the corrected number!) and since they couldn’t get him, they just deleted the order without giving me a chance to straighten it out. Then my Dr’s office put in another order which miraculously got approved within a few hours! But she’d designated the wrong provider. I don’t understand why the provider would make a difference, but she tried again and we waited another 10 days, only to learn that Humana had no record of it, even though Cris had a confirmation number for the conversation. Note that every time they call Humana, it takes about an hour of their time and they often get disconnected and have to start all over again.  Cris tried again and managed to get another authorization for Summit Healthcare, yay, at last! She faxed it to the hospital and I called to make my appointment. Well not so fast. I was told it was no good; I needed yet another pre-authorization!!! My order said “MRI with angiography of brain with and without contrast”, and the hospital here does not do angiograms with and without contrast. So I need authorization that says just MRI with angiography. Can you believe I have been waiting for this pre-authorization for FIVE WEEKS!!  Good thing I’m not dying. Hopefully it’s not imminent.

Huge THANKS to everyone who contributed to my PayPal last month! It really helps!

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Little Projects

I have this very awkward little corner where the bed/living/dining room bump-out wall meets up with the main part of the house roof. I’ve worried over this darn thing for months. It was supposed to be part of Tyler’s job but now I’m really glad he left it for last, because I don’t think he’d have had a clue how to do it. It needs flashing where the house wall meets up with the main roof, and it needs something called “kickout flashing” to keep the water from pouring down that bit of roof right onto the window, and to direct water into the gutter instead of just running down behind the siding.

roof flash

I tried buying kickout flashing everywhere and nobody in town carries it. Most workers at the lumberyards and Lowes/Home Depot have never even heard of it. I could have ordered one on Amazon for about $17 and definitely would have if I’d known, but now I don’t have the money to spare. So I made my own, with the help of several You Tube videos. How DID we get anything done before You Tube?  I’d watch a video and think “Yeah, OK, that’s what I’ll do”. Then go outside and pick up my flashing and go “Wait…what?” And back inside to watch it again. And again. Finally I just brought my tools & the piece of flashing inside and did it while pausing the video.

This is the kind you can buy on Amazon. See, it goes at the bottom of the roofline and directs water away from the side of the house, and into the gutter. Nice! Mine is much more crude (and much cheaper) but it should serve the purpose.

kickout

I’ve cut and attached the tarpaper, made the kickout flashing, cut step flashing and have started cutting the shingles that I’ll need for that little space. Step flashing is another thing that I couldn’t find anywhere in town, and it’s the ONLY long-term solution for water running down that side wall onto the roof!

That’s about where I’m at now. I’ve got the weird-shaped piece of siding cut and I painted it this morning. Needs another coat then it can be installed, though the flashing goes first. I’ve stuck that ultra-sticky foil flashing tape everywhere I think it might come in handy.

Remember the pretty purple flowers I had near the camper? Well they died but then sprang back to life, and there are whole meadows of them EVERYWHERE all along the road! It’s so pretty!

Purple Flowers

The big nylon tarp I had strung up over my camper for shade and rain protection bit the dust.  It got absolutely shredded in a big storm. Now I have a smaller tarp just over the front skylight, which leaks badly.

tarp

This morning I almost stepped on this giant 5′ long snake!! I think it’s a Sonoran Gopher Snake or King Snake; very feisty but pretty harmless unless you’re a gopher, rat or small rabbit. Still, a pretty startling sight early in the morning when your eyes are barely open. I read that they can climb trees. Oh joy…now I’ll never get any work done because I’ll be constantly looking down at the ground and up in the trees for giant snakes!!

snake3

Snake1

On the health front, (or should I say ILL health?) I’m waiting for Dr. Matt to get pre-authorization from Humana for an MRI and Angiogram of my brain. My blood pressure has been going nuts lately, ranging from 170/110 to 90/95, and my heartbeat also, going from 66 to 174 beats per minute. I don’t know WHAT’S wrong with me. All these things are pretty much unrelated! My speech has deteriorated a little in the past day or so too.  I can tell because I can’t say “lisp”. That’s the hardest word to say when you have a lisp! I also have trouble with the “CH” sound, it comes out like “SH”. Why does all this weird stuff happen on the weekends?? I didn’t feel like I should be working on the house with the super high blood pressure OR the fast heartbeat, and I know I’ll be losing between 3-14 days of work after the angiogram. Grrrrr!

 

 

Posted in Arizona, DIY Micro House, DIY Tiny House, Micro House, Off-grid living, Owner Built Tiny House, Tiny Homes, Tiny House, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

A Woman’s Work is Never Done

I’ve been working pretty steadily, though I usually only work from 5:30 til about 8 a.m. (Assuming I can drag out of bed at 5:30) After that it’s just too hot for me, and I spend the rest of the day lounging around reading.  Here’s the house as it is now. Not much different, but I did get the molding around the door and I added the pink gingerbread gingerbread trim. I made that gingerbread myself! The corbels I bought to use there & on the future porch are at a 90° angle which would have been perfect for the 12/12 pitch roof I’d planned, but I changed the pitch to 10/12 so it didn’t fit at all. I tried shimming it out and it looked terrible, so I just tried to duplicate the others but at the correct angle. It’s pretty crude but since it’s up high, I think it’s OK.

house pink 7 27

My doctor gave me some base molding that he had left over from a mother-in-law apartment that he built! I figured it up and the amount I need to do the base molding for the whole interior is….13 feet!! Hahaha! One whole wall is kitchen cabinets so I don’t need any there, another whole wall will be a storage shelving unit, so none there, there won’t be any in front of the exterior door, or closet and bathroom doors. So there was plenty of it left for me to use as door molding. It’s not exactly the right thing but it’ll do. The molding I was using for the windows was too narrow to cover the big gap on the one side of the door…..instead of centering the door in the opening, Tyler set the hinge side snug against the studs which left a giant gap on the other side.  (I’m finding lots of things that Tyler didn’t do Quite Right.) Oh yeah, I kinda fired him.  I was nice about it but the week he wanted off to take care of his kids had stretched out to a month!

I’ve been dealing with some health issues, and I couldn’t even begin to tell you if it’s serious or not. I just don’t know yet. I had to get a CT scan of my brain and now I have to get an MRI for further clarity. Poor little brain! I think it’s just overworked.  I have been having speech difficulties; lisping and slurring and sounding like a drunk. (It’s much better already) The CT scan didn’t show any reason for it so for now my doctor is calling it an unknown brain inflammation, and I’m on a 6 day course of Prednisone which is supposed to take care of that.  Oh how I hate that stuff!! It’s already raising my glucose readings into the stratosphere, after I worked SO hard to bring them down! I just started it today. I sure hope it doesn’t cause me to be even MORE irritable than I already am.  Nobody likes a cranky-pants. The only good thing is that now I can use “brain damage” as an excuse for forgetting and doing dumb things!

Getting the CT scan was a bit of adventure; I couldn’t afford to have it done at the local hospital because it costs around $3000-4000. I decided to drive to Phoenix and get it done for $124 at an imaging center. My car’s air conditioner is broken and it was going to be 106-108° in Phoenix so I reserved a rental car. Well they called me at 7:15 that morning and said they wouldn’t have a car for me until 3 pm. My appointment was at 4:15 so obviously that wouldn’t work! I had to drive my own car. I left within minutes of getting that call in order to try and beat the worst of the heat. I got there around noon and went to a friend’s house; she drove me to the appointment in her nice air-conditioned car. I left at 5:15 a.m. the next morning so I could get outta there while it was still “cool”, though it was 85 degrees there!

I stayed overnight with the sister of one of my best camping buddies and got to visit with her and her sis; she happened to be there visiting! It was really great to spend an afternoon and evening with them.

The bed I slept in was sooo comfy! It really brought home to me how truly horrible my bed is. It’s just a very soft piece of cheap 3″ foam with 2″ memory foam on top, and an inflatable camping pad underneath it all. That pad won’t stay inflated, so I’m basically sleeping directly on plywood.  So I came home and ordered a piece of 4″ firm foam. I hated to spend the money but I really need a good night’s sleep. On this bed I wake up many times in the night. In the bed at Joanne’s, I only woke up once!! I can’t wait to get it. The bed in the house will be the same size, so it’ll work in both places.

I will be able to get the MRI done locally though, as I just switched my Medicare Advantage plan to one that costs $140 a month but covers a lot more. For instance, the co-pay for the MRI is $264. I’m going to have to repay my old Medicare plan $785 though, as they pro-rate the amount of money available to spend and I was only in the plan for 7 months but spent most of the money. It’s confusing, I know. My old plan was something new; a Medicare Savings Account. They give you $2520  in a special account with a debit card at the beginning of the year  and I had to pay all my own medical expenses out of that fund. Once that money runs out, I’d have to pay all my expenses up to $8700 out of my own pocket. Yikes! If you don’t use all the money, the balance rolls over into the next year. I thought it was a great idea back when I chose it, and I only went to the doctor once a year!!

I have been chipping away at the jobs Tyler was responsible for. We still have two strangely shaped triangle pieces of siding to go up at the top of the bump-out section, and the one in front is tricky because it meets up with part of the gable roof. It needs flashing between the two, then there’s a little tiny bit of roofing that’s not done where the two meet. I  tried a pretty bizarre way to make a template to use when cutting the siding, and it worked! I pulled off about 12′ of heavy duty aluminum foil and folded it in thirds. I pressed that into that strange triangle opening and voila! I had the impression! I just traced it onto a piece of cardboard and cut it out, did a little fine-tuning and here’s my template! Oh it’s upside-down and backwards in this photo. Naturally the back side of the house is not quite the same so I’ll have to make a new template but that sure was an easy way. Sometimes it’s good that my brain thinks differently from most people. When I told Tyler about trying that, he thought I was nuts.

Template

I installed the deadbolt lock on the door the other day. It took forever but I got it done! I’m not very good at following written directions. I need lots of pictures. I haven’t cut the hole in the door frame where the bolt goes in just yet. Yesterday I installed the door threshold and I’m happy to report that after today’s torrential rain, the house floor is DRY! Yay!

I seem to have lots of unfinished projects. I haven’t finished painting yet because I’ve run out of paint and don’t have money to buy more this month. I have some stuff to do on the back of the house but my nifty ladder is so heavy, I haven’t felt like dragging it around to the back.

After today’s rain there was a beautiful double rainbow. It’s faded here, but look closely, it ends right on top of my tiny house!! And I really did get a pot of gold! Some of my friends from my dog show days went in together and donated some money to help with the medical expenses! What an amazing generous group of people….and I haven’t shown dogs for around 20 years. English Cocker people are the best!

Dbl Rainbow

I truly HATE asking for money. But it looks like I might be facing way more medical bills that I ever imagined, and that means house construction will come to a screeching halt. If you enjoy the blog and have ever thought about giving a little bit to show appreciation, now’s the time! There is a link at the top right that goes to Paypal. $1, $2, $5, every bit would be greatly appreciated!!

 

Posted in Arizona, DIY Micro House, DIY Tiny House, Micro House, Off-grid living, Owner Built Tiny House, Tiny Homes, Tiny House, Uncategorized | 17 Comments

The Big Reveal…The Snuggery!

Ta-Da! THIS IS IT, my baby house! Isn’t it just the cutest tiny house ever???  Well I think so. I was afraid this day would NEVER get here! I was hoping to have it a little farther along but it’s going to take more time than I thought, so here’s what it looks like right now.

Big Reveal2

There will be a little covered front porch, just 30″ deep. And hopefully some gingerbread trim at the roof peak, but I’m having some trouble with that.

I posted the picture to Facebook and it got more comments than any other post of mine! Everyone was very complimentary. I think a lot of them seemed surprised; they probably thought I was building some boring little box. Hah! I asked for name suggestions and got some good ones, but decided to go with one I’ve had in the back of my mind for a couple years:  The Snuggery. It means a snug, cozy, comfortable place.

I thought it a good time to show the costs of the completed shell. Naturally it came to more than I thought it would, because I had to hire more labor than I ever imagined. I thought it would cost about $2000 in materials, but that was actually $500 too high!I am pretty sure this is accurate, because I recorded every box of nails, every paintbrush, etc.  I did not include the costs of tools purchased.

Foundation and Subfloor                                                                                         $  648    Exterior Walls (stud walls, siding, house wrap, etc) Incl. $300 Labor            $1296        Roof:  Including $600 Labor                                                                                     $1206        Door, Windows  & hardware                                                                                   $  383                                                                                                                                                          $3533

Locally you can buy an 8×12 storage shed with the same number windows and a house-type door for about the same price but it would have a very shallow roof angle, no roof & soffit ventilation, and it would be just a plain square box, it would have no interesting architectural details like mine does. Who wants to live in a plain box?! Not me. So. Let us hear no more helpful suggestions about “Gee maybe you should have kept the purple shed”. Look at this house, and go back and look at the purple shed below. (Jan. 2018 post) Yeah, it’s kinda cute, but there’s just NO COMPARISON!! Let us hear no more about the purple shed.

PurpleShed

 

It took a terribly long time to get the siding done; a job that should have taken maybe 3 days. The guys I hired have zero work ethic, and no communication skills. They’d say they were coming the next day, then never show up and not call or text, either. I really think there’s some substance abuse problem going on there. When they did show up, it would be usually 10:30-11:00 and they’d only work til 2:30. Then Tyler got a piece of wood in his eye and lost a few days, then the 35-40 mph winds returned, blah blah blah. So the siding job dragged out for more than two weeks. I was SO anxious to get it done and painted so I could show it off, I nearly lost my mind. It’s close to being done on the outside, but there’s still more work to do and I worry that Tyler will never show up again, because the two trickiest places to fit are still not done.

I guess the question that’s on everyone’s mind now is “when will I move in?” Well, I’ll move in as soon as it’s more comfortable than living in the camper. Technically I guess that would be once it’s insulated. But before it’s insulated I have to run the 12V wiring and the plumbing drain lines. I’m thinking about taking a shortcut though. I plan to use foam insulation, and I need to get 2″ and 1.5″ sheets in order to fill the cavities between the 2×4 wall studs. That’ll cost around $500 and I don’t have that, so in order to speed things up, I’m thinking I could buy the 1.5″ thick sheets ($220) and install them. That would leave space for the wiring and plumbing lines plus the 2″ thick sheets later on, and maybe it would be enough insulation to make the house comfortable enough to move into!  So far the house is very energy-efficient. Since we got the door on, I’ve been checking and the temp inside the camper has been 88-89 but inside the house, only 80. I want to move in NOW! (I hate heat)

I’d have to jerry-rig a kitchen counter and build some kind of temporary bed but that’s OK. I have a portable 2-burner propane cooktop with oven, a dorm-size 1.9 cu. ft. propane fridge, and a nice Kohler cast iron kitchen sink. I’m not sure how complicated it is to hook up a propane fridge, but I do know that the RV place charges around $200 to do it (including the cost of coming out here). So I guess I’d have to continue using the ice chest for awhile longer, but it could be INSIDE the house! Wow, now THAT would be real luxury, not to have to go outside to get food!  I’m sure ice would last much longer if it was in the house too, not sitting out in the heat.  And I could have my comfortable chair, and even the TV, for watching DVD’s!  Wow. I’m getting all googly-eyed.

I admit that the weather here is really crappy. If it’s not too hot or too cold, it’s too windy or snowy. Oh and did I mention we had quarter-sized hail the other day? I can’t comment on the monsoon weather because I haven’t experienced it  yet, but just the word “monsoon” doesn’t bring pleasant images to mind. BUT to make up for it, we don’t have mosquitoes, ticks, or other biting insects; no rattlesnakes, tarantulas or scorpions. I have just discovered there is a very annoying insect though. I guess last year I left for the higher elevations before they emerged…..Face Flies! They are about half the size of a house fly and at first I thought they were baby house flies that were too stupid to know where to go. They don’t bite but they want to suck the moisture from eyes and noses. So they get right in your face and just won’t quit. Aarrrgh!! They live around cattle, and this is free range territory. You can’t eradicate them because they lay their eggs in cow manure in pastures. And I’ve not found any repellents that work against flies. I really hate them!

Good news from the doctor’s office Thursday though! Remember three months ago I finished up the Supartz injections of artificial joint fluid, and then the following week I had PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) injections in both knees. Well yesterday he had me swing my legs back and forth slowly while he held my kneecap, and…..hardly any grinding and crunching!! (It’s officially called crepitus) So one or both of the procedures worked! My knees never hurt any more but I’m still wearing the braces any time I’m going to be on my feet for very long, and they also help a lot. But….sweet success! And I’m up to 41# of weight lost. Yay. Every pound of excess weight is about 4# of pressure on the knees, so that’s a whopping 164# of pressure relief!  If you are wondering what diet I’m on, I’m not really on any specific one. I’m not just trying to lose weight, at the same time I’m trying to reverse my diabetes, so I have to take that into consideration. I’ve greatly reduced my carbs. My diet is simple…..if it tastes good, spit it out.

 

 

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