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!

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

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.

 

 

Posted in Arizona, DIY Micro House, DIY Tiny House, Micro House, Off-grid living, Owner Built Tiny House, Tiny Homes, Tiny House, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 30 Comments

More and More Progress!

Yahoo! It’s looking more and more like a house! I can’t tell you how excited I am about Move In Day, which realistically is still quite a ways off. Once it’s sided, I still have to block in the eaves and install the vents in the eaves; Do all the 12 volt wiring (and a tiny bit of 110V wiring from the inverter to the kitchen, for a crock put and a few other plug-ins), plumb the drains for kitchen sink and shower, and insulate. THEN I could move in. But there’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel now. Yesterday Tyler met me at Lowes and we got the siding, door and a bunch of odds & ends like z-flashing, drip edge, paint and some materials for my front porch foundation. Cost—a little over $500! Just the material for the trim was $120!! Yikes. I hadn’t really budgeted for all those little side expenses. The loan I just got was supposed to cover siding materials, insulation and Tyler’s labor. I hope I have enough left over to be able to buy the insulation later.

House w studs in gable

Yesterday I worked on framing for the octagonal window that goes in the back gable end. An octagonal window, what a dumb idea! I never thought about having to make a 2×4 frame for it. But I’ve finally got the angles all figured out, just struggling with my saw to cut the pieces. My circular saw has lost a bolt that keeps the saw at right angles to the base plate and it’s really infuriating. I can order a new bolt from Dewalt for $10…..a $10 bolt for a saw I paid $30 for on ebay!  I wonder if I could find something that would work at Lowes or Home Depot.  Right now I’ve got Gorilla tape holding it together.

octagonal

This is the back of the house.

It’s heating up here; up into the high 80’s and even low 90’s. I just don’t do well at all when the temps are over 80. But it’s heavenly around 6 pm when it starts to cool off, and we have the BEST evenings and nights! It always cools down to around 60 at night, no matter how hot it was during the day. In fact I just quit using nighttime heat 3 days ago! The lows have been around 50, so I had been getting up in the wee hours and turning on the heat to take the chill off. It warms fairly quickly once the sun comes up, which is VERY early here. Since we don’t do Daylight Savings Time and I’m on the extreme Eastern side of the time zone, it’s light by 4:30 a.m.  Too bad I’m not able to roust myself out of bed then and get to work while it’s still cool.  But no, I just roll over and go back to sleep for another hour.

Yesterday afternoon was had an amazing storm….lightning, thunder, heavy rain, wind and quarter-sized hail! It sounded like rifle shots on the camper roof, and Princess Roxie was VERY unhappy.  She hates thunder. So I brought her up on the bed and put down some tee shirts that she could burrow into. That’s the ONLY time she will consent to be on the bed; when she’s terrified.  I was kinda hoping my car would get hail damage and I could get an insurance payout, but I checked and it’s fine. Darn!

Tyler brought me a quart of goat’s milk so I made yogurt yesterday, but I’m afraid to try it. I didn’t like how it smelled…..not like it wasn’t fresh, but just…..weird. I really wanted to make Greek yogurt but I found out that goat’s milk makes really thin yogurt, more like drinkable rather than spoonable. I’m afraid if I try to strain it, it will all go  right through the cheesecloth.

Something odd has happened that I hadn’t even thought of.  Sure, losing weight is all fun and games until somebody outgrows their knee braces. Yes, mine are too big! I’m going to have to shell out another $80 to get smaller ones.  Not happy. Also, I thought I could wear my too-big shorts for working around the place but I’ve discovered that if I put my phone or a tape measure in my pocket, it drags them down and I look like a very large version of those baggy-pantsed boys whose pants are always about to fall down. And I don’t have any interesting boxer shorts under them to show off, either. Just ol’ granny panties, and for sure nobody wants to see those.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Arizona, DIY Micro House, DIY Tiny House, Micro House, Off-grid living, Ownen-built tiny house, Tiny Homes, Tiny House, Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Roof Saga Continues

My roof is now 99% complete! It just lacks a bit of shingle trimming, and I told Tyler to hold off on doing that until it’s less windy. He is afraid of heights and the house sways a LOT in the nearly 40 mph winds we’ve been having. Adding the siding should stop the sway, so it will be much easier for him to trim the shingles once that is done. He did a great job on the roof framing but I am not happy with the shingling job at all.  I’m trying to just “let it go”. Thankfully you can only see the roof from a small area of the road and a small area of the driveway. Basically they installed them wrong. I thought it sounded wrong but I’ve never worked with architectural shingles before, and he sounded SO sure about what he was doing! In addition to overlapping the shingle rows, which of course you’re supposed to do, he also overlapped the sides of the shingles, which you are definitely not supposed to do. It resulted in a lumpy-looking roof with the shingle pattern all messed up. I did make him add some roofing tar under the shingles that were sticking up, so hopefully our high winds won’t catch and rip them.

DSCN8013

I have asked Tyler to help me with the siding too, so I have been studying exactly how to do it, so we won’t screw that up. We are going to Lowes to pick up the siding soon. We were all ready to go on Tuesday morning but in the middle of the night Monday, his friend and business partner (also named Tyler) and his dad  were involved in a domestic dispute, were both shot by their brother/son and airlifted to Phoenix, so my Tyler had to take a couple days off to help the family.  Here’s the news story, if you’re interested: http://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/arizona-news/show-low-police-searching-for-armed-shooting-suspect

I’m hoping to hear from Tyler soon on when we can start back on construction. Frankly I was more than ready to take a little break; 70 year old me trying to keep up with a wiry 30 year old carpenter was taking its toll on me! I didn’t cook or do dishes for 4 straight days; I’d just come in and collapse on the bed, usually ready for sleep by 8 pm.  Obviously, he works at a MUCH faster pace than I. I was the go-fer, bringing shingles, nails and other supplies  to them up on the roof; picking up trash, etc. while also measuring and cutting the short studs that fill in the gable ends.  Every time I’d take shingles up on the ladder to them, when they would take the shingles from me, a bunch of those little shingle granules would fall in my hair. Nice. I’ve washed my hair twice since then and I’m still finding those little granules in my hair!

Here’s one of the gable end studs:

 

The short studs that go in the gable ends are tricky little monsters; they need to be angled to meet the roof pitch plus have a notch cut out to fit behind the 2×6’s that form the gable roof, so I’ll have something to nail to on the outside and the inside.  And following the roof rise,  every one needs to be a different length. Finicky work, not my favorite. I’d be working more on that right now except that Tyler folded up the big ladder. When I thought I was going to have to build the roof myself, I bought one of those big multi-position ladders that makes a 20′ extension ladder, 9.5′ stepladder or a 3′ high scaffold. It never occurred to me that it might be too heavy for me to lift! It weighs 40#!! I guess that wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s big and awkward to boot. It sure has come in handy though, all I have besides that is an 8′ extension ladder and 6′ stepladder. They never would have been able to build the roof using those.

Hey did you know that if you fall down while wearing two knee braces, you can’t get back up? Huh, neither did I, until the other day.  I was getting some groceries out of the car and stepped on a rock and fell backwards onto my back. Every time I tried putting my hand down to push myself up, it landed on pickers. Ow. It seems the braces don’t let me bend my knees enough to be able to get up on my knees. I really did need a Life-Alert!! I felt like a turtle unable to right itself. Finally I gave up and hollered for Jeff, and he came and hoisted me back up. Sheesh.

The weather’s heating up!! Temps are now in the mid to upper 80’s. Ugh…time to get this house enclosed!!!

 

 

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It’s Got A Roof! Part 2

Well I guess we were over-optimistic about getting the roof done in two days. The problem is, they’ve only worked 7 hours total in the past two days! I believe our estimate was right, that it’s a 12 hour job for two guys. But it’s going to take 3 days.

They were supposed to show up at 10 a.m. today but Doug, yesterday’s helper, decided at the last minute that he didn’t want to work. It’s too hard, his shoulder hurts, blah blah blah. So Tyler had to find someone else to help, and they didn’t get here til about 11:30. Then they had to leave at 3:30 today!

They did get the rafters on the bedroom bump-out, all the plywood on and part of the drip edge. They’ll come back Sunday to finish up the drip edge, tarpaper, shingles and roof vent.

Tyler has a really cool contraption that lifts heavy sheets of plywood or sheetrock! It sure comes in handy, especially when you need to lift it way up in the air.

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Tyler mentioned that I’d better not wait too long to do the siding, because our fierce winds could come in under that roof and lift the whole thing up in the air! So I guess I’m going to go get another Balance Transfer on my VISA card (gulp!) on Monday and do the siding. The materials alone will cost nearly $500. Plus labor, but I’ll be putting myself to work and Tyler won’t bring a helper. I’d say that it should go fast, but you know about those Famous Last Words. I’m not making any predictions!!

Before Monday, I’ve got to fill in the studs in the gable ends and put the cross-members in the window openings. It’s suddenly gotten hotter here (81-85 degrees predicted for the next 10 days) so I’ll need to get out there early. I melt easily in heat!

 

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It’s Got A Roof!! Part 1

By a strange set of circumstances, I’ve got myself a roof….finally!  Jeff, the guy who’s camping here, needed some car repair. He asked if I knew anyone in the area and I didn’t, but I posted on the local Buy/Sell Facebook group, and got contacted by Tyler’s wife. He came out last Friday to look at the car and see what parts were needed. I don’t even know why I did it, but I asked Tyler if he ever did any carpentry work. He said that was actually his profession; he just worked on cars in his spare time. So he walked over to look at the house and he was instantly impressed because I used double top plates. That’s how you’re supposed to build a proper stud wall, but he says nobody around here does it. Huh!

He came back on Wednesday to fix Jeff’s car. Oh and Jeff is going to stay here all summer and pay me $100 a month.

Tyler gave me a quote of $500 to do the roof, that would be him and his partner working together. YES! Finally a reasonable quote!! So the very next day (today) he’s here to start work! He didn’t bring his usual partner; that guy was working on another job. He brought his neighbor Doug who has done work as a roofer. He’s way too chatty and Tyler has to keep  bugging him to get back to the job at hand, and he knows next to nothing about building, though he doesn’t seem to know it. Tyler and I are have to keep correcting him when he says dumb stuff. He’s pretty insistent with his ideas.

Tyler also had never built a roof using common rafters and a ridge board, so I walked him through that process and he caught on quickly. I had built a 2×4 contraption that sits on top of the stud wall, right in the center, and the ridge board just slides right into a slot in the top to hold it in place. I designed it so the height of the ridge board would be perfect for nailing the rafters onto.

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My ridge board holder

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Ridge board is in place; attaching first rafter

At first I know they thought it was really weird and dorky but by the end of the day, they really liked how it worked. The board holders got screwed in place at each end and the ridge board slipped into place. The first time they tried to get the correct placement for the ridge board, it seemed to be a couple inches too short! We couldn’t figure out what the problem was, as it was all level. Finally Tyler measured the ridge board and it was a pre-cut! So it really WAS a couple inches too short! They went back and chose a nice straight 8′ long board and it fit perfectly. They attached the middle 3 sets of rafters first, then those held the ridge board in place after they removed my board holder contraption so then they could install the rafters at each end.

I asked them to measure the top of the stud walls diagonally from each corner, to check that it’s square. I was pretty proud when it came out to be just 1/4″ out of square, same as it was at floor level. That’s well within acceptable tolerances.

The guys took a break and drove up to the general store to get drinks. Doug ONLY drinks Dr. Pepper and he didn’t bring any with him. When they got back, they said they’d been bragging about me at the store, this 60 year old woman who was building her own house, and doing a pretty fine job of it, too! I told them I was 70 and they said “Oh damn, that would have made a MUCH better story”!!

I didn’t have the rafters ready for the little bedroom “bump-out” portion because I needed to figure what angle I wanted on them. In order to do that I needed to have the main house rafters in place. So once the rafters were done, Tyler held up a board and moved it around until the angle looked good, and then he marked it for the birdsmouth cut, the length and the soffit end angle.

I have all cordless Dewalt tools, which are really very good, But I just have the 18 volt batteries, because the 20 volt lithium batteries require a pure sine wave inverter, which I don’t have. They can explode if you charge them on a modified-sine wave inverter. That’s just what I’d need, a THIRD total loss house fire! The drills work great on the 18v but the circular saw really requires a lot more power, I end up using one whole battery to cut one board! And it really really difficult to cut angles with it. So I struggled with that first board while the saw kept bogging down. Finally Tyler said he’d take the Master plus 4 more 2×6’s home with him and cut them with his saw. So that’s where we left things today. Isn’t it cute?!  It’s a 10/12 pitch.

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End of Day 1

We should finish up tomorrow!  I spent nearly the whole day on my feet, but was wearing my knee braces so my knees are fine; I’m just totally exhausted and my arms feel like limp noodles from all the carrying 2×6’s and cutting, . I’m gonna be hurting tomorrow, I’ll bet.

I’ll need to decide whether to do another Balance Transfer on my VISA card so I can keep going & do the siding or not. I think I really want to keep progressing, and I’d love to be able to hire Tyler to help me with it. He actually listens to me! I’ve caught him before he made a couple big blunders, and he’s done the same for me too. I think he & I could work together very well.

My former camping buddy Deb has come for a visit!! She’s on her way to her new home in Pahrump, NV but can’t get into it until June 1,  I’ve loved having her here! Just like when we camped together, we only see each other for probably a total of 30 minutes a day, because we’re both introverts. A little human contact goes a long ways with us. She has a mini-van with a cot in back that she sleeps on.

Yesterday Deb & I went to the Hon-Dah Casino in Pinetop. We signed up for the Players Club and got $5 in free play plus a $6 discount on food. I ran through my free play in a very short time on the penny slots, and when I got up to leave, I found a lucky penny on the floor! We ate  their buffet lunch, which ended up costing only $2 each. Deb  bought mine. Thank goodness the desserts didn’t look THAT delish; I was able to resist. Then Deb wanted to play the slots a little more. I ventured a whole dollar and ran through it in no time, just playing once cent at a time! Some lucky penny that turned out to be. No wonder the other person threw it on the floor. Deb placed a $.50 bet and won $52.50! So it turned out to be a pretty good morning’s work for her.

She’s leaving tomorrow. I will really miss her.  She’ll still be my geographically closest friend though, only 9 hours’ drive away.

Here’s a couple bonus photos of ME, sneakily taken while I was cutting a board. Note my very fashionable knee braces!

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Me

I look like Mr Magoo, with those squinty eyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Arizona, DIY Micro House, DIY Tiny House, Micro House, Off-grid living, Ownen-built tiny house, Tiny Homes, Tiny House, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Wind, snow, rain……

The wind is here with a vengeance. Day after day, winds of 30-55 mph so we spend nearly all of our time indoors. On May 20 we had snow off & on all day! It would accumulate enough to cover the ground, then melt, then we’d get blizzardy conditions again, etc. etc. I am grateful though, that the temperatures have been very cool, highs in the high 50’s for the past week or more, and nights in the high 30’s, low 40’s.  This is nearly 20 degrees below normal! Temps are slated to reach the low 70’s starting tomorrow and since I’m “allergic” to hot temps, I’m fine with this.  I just wish the wind would stop. It seems like the high winds usually only last until mid-June….hope so. I am ready to start working on the house again.  Of course that’s real easy for me to SAY while it’s impossible to work!

Oh, I just looked out and it’s snowing like crazy again.  Sigh…I guess we can use the moisture.

My guest Jeff and his Australian Cattle Dog “Manny” are working out well; they’re no trouble at all.  Jeff keeps to himself and so do I. I do feel really bad for him to have to be cooped up in his teeny teardrop trailer because of all this wind though. He had a nice little setup with a 10×10 canopy that had a tarp across the back on the windward side, but it blew all to pieces on the first 50 mph wind day so he had to remove the canopy and cover everything up. With the cool temps and that wind, it feels more like the 30’s out there, so being inside is a must.

My nylon canopy is holding up very well in the wind, even though it’s not properly anchored down yet.  As I had hoped, it has solved the problem of my horrendous camper leak. (I have looked many times and can’t find where the water is getting in)

Jeff has asked if he can stay here for a few months, and has offered $100 a month rent. Since  lost the extra income from Amazon, I decided to take him up on his offer. The only real drawback to having him living on the property is that I have to be fully dressed when I go outside.  There is a large cedar tree between his camper and mine though, so there’s still a good bit of privacy for us both. Pat, a mutual friend, is planning on coming to this area to buy a large piece of land in August, and at that time Jeff & Manny will move onto Pat’s property, perhaps permanently.  I was thinking it might be really nice to have someone else around when I’m up on the ladder doing construction, in case I fall on my head or some stupid thing.

With the rain and snow came green grass and FLOWERS! Lots and lots of these pretty purple flowers have sprung up everywhere. I love looking out at them….color here in the desert is so rare! I was worried about them during the wind and snow but they came through just fine. Good hardy desert plants!

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Remember Deb, who traveled with me a couple years ago? She is coming to visit! I am very excited; I haven’t seen any of my friends for at least a year and a half, maybe longer.  She’s stopping off for a day or two while on her way to Pahrump, NV where she’s going to buy an older 5th wheel in an RV resort where she has a membership.

 

 

 

 

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Canopy Project

I have a canopy over the camper to keep out rain and the sun’s heat! It was quite a project and I’m still not done, but it’s up and functioning pretty well. I just happen to have a big cedar tree on one side of the camper and a big multi-trunk stump on the other. I wanted to somehow stretch a rope that went across the top of the camper so I dug a hole at the base of the stump and used super-strong cable ties and rope to hold a 2×3 upright.to it, with a piece of 4×4 block as a spacer so it stood upright.

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Then I had to take it all apart because I’d forgotten to attach the rope to the top, and it was too rocky and uneven to set up the ladder so I could reach it. Oops!

The other side was harder, because I had to somehow thread the tope through a bunch of cedar branches in order to get to the trunk. I tied the end of the rope to a 1×2 and pushed it through and then got on the ladder at the tree trunk and pulled it on through. I didn’t quite get it high enough though, so I had to cut some branches with the reciprocating saw so I could get the rope high enough.

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I have some big heavy metal fence posts I still need to hammer in, so the ends will be held away from the roof a few inches. I got one in and then discovered it was in the wrong place, and now I can’t get it out! Another one needs to go where there’s a rock so I need to get my pickaxe from storage and see if I can get it out. I hope it’s not gigantic!

I got cinders delivered last week! He did a great job of spreading it while dumping and it looks really nice. I hated to spend the money but if I want to be able to get in and out of here when the monsoon rains hit (early July?) I’ll need the gravel base.  One load was enough to cover the whole driveway loop, plus the 30′ part where  I park.

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I have a guest! It’s a friend of a friend who is looking for property in this area. He’s been living in a tiny teardrop camper for the past 4 years! Wow there aren’t many people who live in something smaller than my own camper. He’s got a nice little setup though, with a 10×10 canopy for his “living room”.

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It’s working fine having a guest; he pretty much stays to himself and so do I. I was hoping he’d be someone who could help me with the house, but Jeff has a back back and shoulder. Darn.

I got my car paid off! Then a couple days later it started making a weird sound in the front….ain’t the way?! I had to get new struts to the tune of $917.

I also got a couple quotes from carpenters, to build my roof. It’s just labor; I already have all the materials and I even have all the rafter angles figured and rafters cut. It’s just 5 sets of rafters, 8×11 structure. Both guys agreed that it would be about 12 hrs. for two guys. Well the first guy quoted $2000, which is CRAZY!! That’s $85 per hour per man. The second guy quoted $3000 ($125 per hour per man)! I don’t get it; carpenters here make $25-30 per hour!  I guess they just didn’t want the job. So it looks like I’m going to have to build the roof myself after all. I’m scared to death to be up that high on a ladder, toting 2×6 rafters & ridge board, and sheets of plywood! Heck I can’t even pick up a sheet of plywood any more; I have to drag it The only way I can see to get the plywood up on the roof is to cut it into smaller pieces. I cried and cried but now I’m OK, I can do this thing. I’ve decided to build the interior wall first, the one for the closet, fridge and bathroom. It’ll have a small storage loft over it, and if I build that now it’ll give me a more stable platform to work from than a ladder.

I bought the 24×40 shower pan that will be the bathroom floor; I wanted to make sure I build the walls to fit. I’ll have to do the drain plumbing first though. Instead of cutting holes in my floor & messing up the insulation and rodent-proof mesh, I’m going to put a second floor in the bathroom, on top of the existing floor. I’ll just have to step up a bit to enter the bathroom. It will be a “wet bath”; the shower pan is the whole bathroom.

Oh yeah, bad news about my Amazon Associates account. They kicked me out. There’s a really long Operating Agreement with lots of legalese and I did read it, but I guess I didn’t catch all the rules. They say I told people how to bookmark a link, and that’s a big no-no. People are supposed to use “live links”, not enter from a bookmark. They take a real hard line on not following their rules; I know a couple other bloggers who got booted out for doing something wrong.  That’s a real blow to the budget, I relied on that $150 or so extra income every month. They pay two months in arrears so I’m also not going to get the $363 that I earned for the past two months. So anyway if you’re using my links to order from Amazon, try to find some other deserving blogger to get the credit.

 

Posted in Arizona, DIY Micro House, DIY Tiny House, Micro House, Off-grid living, Ownen-built tiny house, Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Anti-inflammatory Supplements

 

Several people have asked what anti-inflammatory supplements I’m taking for my arthritis, so here’s a rundown on the ones I take that I think are most effective. A word of caution though; all the anti-inflammatories here also have blood thinning properties, so if you are already on a prescription blood-thinner, you might want to discuss using these with your doctor. I take a lot of supplements and I had to go off any blood-thinners and anti-inflammatories before my PRP procedure, and I was shocked to discover that I was taking SIX different blood thinning supplements! No wonder when I do a “stick” for a glucose test, it’s still bleeding five minutes later, LOL!

I’ve spent hours on line trying to figure out which supplements are most effective and best for the money. I can tell you that buying most supplements at Walmart, CVS or Walgreens is a waste of money. Supplements are one of those things where you pretty much get what you pay for. It’s difficult to figure out the actual cost per serving when all the brands have different strengths and different number of pills per serving.; when researching on Amazon you have to click on every one of the products to get that information.  A good research tool is the website https://examine.com.  They use science-based studies, give the references and don’t sell or take advertisements for any supplements

Omega 3 Fish Oil: I use Arazo Nutrition Omega 3 Fish Oil  Research has shown that you need to take at least 2700 mg per day in order to be effective. Many of the studies use dosages of 3000-4000 mg per day. These capsules are large but go down easy, and no fishy burps if you take them with a meal! The recommended daily dose on the bottle is 3 capsules (4800 mg Omega 3) but I just take two, for 3200 mg.   $.34 per day.

Curcumin: I use ProHealth Optimized Curcumin 1000 mg  Wow, there’s a lot of different opinions on this one, but Curcumin is great stuff! Probably the best thing I take. This is the most confusing supplement I’ve researched. Apparently curcumin from just plain turmeric root is very poorly absorbed. You must get one with either Bioperine,  “Longvida” process turmeric root, one that uses 95% Standardized curcuminoids, or theracurmin (teeny tiny particle size 100x smaller than the others, so it’s readily absorbed)  The one I take is Longvida and pretty pricey but I get 1000 mg in just one pill. $1 per day.  I’m thinking of trying this one next time: Bioclinic Naturals Theracurmin 2X . It is not as strong but is supposed to be 27x more bioavailable than the other kinds. It would cost $.83 per day.

Cat’s Claw: I use Source Naturals Cats Claw Defense Complex 1000 mg Cats Claw is an immune system booster but it also helps with arthritis pain. This stuff REALLY helped with the pain in my fingers when I lived in the humid NC climate. I could tell a big difference if I didn’t take it for a couple days in a row!  One per day, $.12

Hope this helps.  When I had to go off these supplements for 10 days, I noticed a definite difference in my pain levels in fingers, neck and knees.

I’ve been trying to walk about a mile a day. Thanks to Dr. Matt (and maybe the supplements), I’m able to do this without knee pain!!  Two months ago this would have been impossible. I have a little track that’s about 500′ long, and it take two minutes for each lap, so I have to go round and round 15 times. It’s pretty boring, but it’s difficult to walk on the deep cinders in the road, plus I don’t want to have to go past the neighbor’s house in case she’s outside and I get trapped into talking to her. I’ve had to get it done before noon, when the kidney pain starts up. I must say though, the pain is GONE since I took the herb Chanca Piedra for three days! (It’s also called “stone crusher herb”) My Dr. Matt told me about it…..he’s brilliant!  I love that he uses both holistic and traditional Western medicine.

It’s warm today, around 75° and very sunny (and windy, that goes without saying these days) so I’m wearing shorts. And my knee braces. I realized while walking today that my lily-white legs are going to get a very strange tan this summer…..with a weird 11″ white spot above & below my knees, where the brace goes!

I have a little bit of house news; I’ve contacted a roofer who’s going to come out and give me an estimate on doing the roof! If it’s a decent quote, he said he could do it one day next week….woo \-hoooo!!! It would be so nice to get a little more progress on the house!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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April

Howdy everyone! No progress on the house to report, I’m sad to say. I spoke with Wyatt about 3 weeks ago and he agreed to help for a few hours, to square up the frame and get the first and last sets of rafters up, securing the ridge board. I thought maybe I could manage to set the in-between rafters. (Haha, no way, but it sounded good at the time). Since then we’ve had some pretty crappy weather on the Saturdays, but this Saturday looks really good…warm and not windy!  And I’ve decided that if I don’t hear from Wyatt this week, I’m going to go ahead and hire a couple guys to do the roof for me. I REALLY would like Wyatt to do it because I know he’s really good, but I just can’t wait around forever. Summer is going to be here soon and I really don’t want to be stuck having to live in this hot-box of a camper.

Last week I got PRP (Platelet-Rich-Plasma) in both knees. It’s half the cost of stem cells and seemed to be the best way to go right now; it contains several different growth factors that should prod my own lazy stem cells into going back to work and making some new cartilage. That’s the theory, anyway. They take some of my blood and spin it in a special centrifuge, then draw the platelets off the top and inject them into my knees. I always have a hard time getting blood drawn; my veins see a needle coming and they somehow manage to squirm away from the needle. It happens every time. Two people tried and it took several sticks. They needed to get 60cc of blood but gave up once they got 50cc. It turned out okay; they ended up with about 25cc of platelets and they only needed 10cc to do both knees.

So now it’s a waiting game; it takes a couple months before we’ll know if it’s working. In the meantime, my knees are pain-free! I’ve even been walking for about a mile most every day, which would have been impossible a couple months ago. I think it’s from wearing the braces and also the anti-inflammatory supplements I’m taking. I had to go off them for about a week when I got the PRP and boy, did I find out how well they worked! My fingers, neck and back all started hurting. I’m back on them now and already feeling better. Sometimes it takes more than one PRP treatment but I’m hoping I’ll get lucky and only need the one.  I’m seriously thinking about getting PRP treatment in my poor neck in a month or two also. Before I went off my supplements, it was feeling really good. Now it feels really bad again and I’m back to getting the weekly homeopathic Traumeel injections. I’m sure glad I have that to fall back on; it really does help a lot. But a more permanent fix would be nice.

So. Fixed the knees, now guess what? Kidney stone.  Yeah. I’ve been having that awful back/flank pain for three weeks now. For some reason it never hurts overnight or in the mornings; it starts up around noon every day, so I have to get out and get my chores done early.  I’m just waiting for the darn thing to work it’s way out, which I hear is terribly painful but really, I’m ready for it. I’m so tired of the unrelenting back pain! It seems like there should be a comfortable position but there’s just not. I just hope I don’t end up in the ER with it; who can afford that?! I checked and that lithotripsy procedure that they use to bust up the stones costs $5,000-$8,000! Gulp!  I don’t usually miss having electricity but this is one time I’d love to have enough power to run a heating pad; I hear that helps with the back pain. I guess I’ll buy a hot water bottle, but that’s a lot harder to lay on than a nice flat heating pad.

The weather is behaving, at least this week! Last Friday we got enough snow to  cover the ground, but it melted quickly. We’re starting to get temps in the 70’s, and around 40 at night. Nice.  Here’s a photo taken yesterday when they scraped the road near Big Lake, AZ which is at 9200′ elevation. Still a bit of snow up there!

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Here’s a link you can use to access Amazon. From there you can use Amazon’s Search Bar to find everything your little hearts desire! THANK for using it! It really help me.

Village Candle Gardenia 26 oz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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