Sunday, January 25, 2009

Run Free

I am back up and running on the computer, but updates will have to wait. For now:

Good bye to a great spirit and a dear friend. Run free Minx. May you never lack for squirrels.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Frustration on the rise

From the basic frustration of not having computer parts available locally, and not having decent relatively inexpensive internet service available, now the frustration level is on the rise.. Apparently if you want to have computer parts shipped here, they assume that it is fraudulent, no matter to what degree you can prove you are who you are and that you really do want that part. I was told over the phone directly that I must be trying to defraud someone because I want a computer fan. Thanks

The ordeal goes on..

The only positive note on this day was the harvesting of several timbers from the cedar grove back in the hills.

Days like this remind me why it is that I long for a very simple life. Fewer things, and less complexity, means fewer things to break and fewer opportunities for failure..

The death grip I have had on my computer/internet connection for the last decade has loosened significantly..

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Progress report- Timbering

Computer issues aside, and time consuming obligations overlooked, I have still been able to make a bit of progress on my own projects, which for the time being remain harvesting timber and revising plans to fit available timber and the requirements of carrying almost two feet of soil on the roof...

One of the benefits of having other obligations is that I can do a little of the hard work at a time, meaning that I can work until I am tired and then go work on my other obligations. For those who have not employed a chainsaw for anything more than the occasional removal of a limb or small shrub from the yard, using one continuously especially a larger one meant for ranch use, is very tiring. Your arms burn from simply holding the saw, and then you often also have to attach logging chains, hold the saw over your head (which is in every warning in every manual.. do not do this) all of which add to the exhaustion you feel after as little as an hour of such work.

So whenever time and the weather allows, I go up into the hills and harvest the trees which I marked on a couple of previous visits. Most of these are cedars, as my revised plan (going away from the PSP system somewhat..) calls for many many more posts, which means cedar which are great for compression, and which do not rot (especially when protected as I will be doing), though I will also be harvesting some other deadfalls, and standing dead timber where appropriate. I am gathering in some pine (easier to work and great for interior surfaces) and where I find them I take hardwoods, like Oak, Hickory, and in a sad but fortunate case or two Black Walnut.

These hardwoods when they are sufficiently large, are going to be my roof girders and beams, since their tensile strength is far greater than cedar meaning that a 12 inch diameter Oak, will be able to support far more than a 12 inch (or even 15 inch) cedar. This is important not merely for safety, which is very important to me of course, but also so that I can save effort. If I can build the roof support with 12 inch diameter wood, rather than 15 inch diameter timbers, then I have five inches of soil I need not remove from the floor in order to have the same head clearance. For someone as tall as I am, this is very important, though honestly it is equally important to anyone building their own home.

And I have to admit that there is still an element of love of what is involved, in that I would rather use a smaller timber where I can to save the large ones for where they are absolutely necessary. Remember I am (so far) refraining from taking live trees, so as to keep my impact on the local environment as minimal as possible.

Regardless, the short point is that I am still harvesting timbers, and still getting ready for construction which will be an ongoing process so bear with me. I have however found on ebay a draw knife which appears to be FAR better than anything else I have seen, and still I picked it up for less than one normally finds a new one. This is a tool I expect to donate to my "heir" (not likely I will have kids near as I can tell at my age) and hope that he/she will keep and use to donate yet again.. it is a tool for a century at least.

So for those who have so kindly asked about the progress, I thank you and welcome such questions. I am still making progress, and I am still doing my level best to keep to the budget to show that we can all not only survive the coming painful depression but do so on our own terms, living lives of pleasure, peace, and comfort, though obviously not one of uniformity or conformity.

Computers and caretaking

One of the things which may get overlooked in this adventure, is that while I am trying to live very close to nature, in my own way and at my own schedule, I am doing so while trying to stay connected to the internet (somehow frugally!?!) Most of the time the challenge to this is to find internet service at all, especially service which is sufficient, and sufficiently inexpensive. Dial up is still the norm here, for those few who have connection at all. Yet I have this week discovered that other more basic and more challenging issues in the form of hardware problems.

My primary computer which I purchased a year ago to last me for several years, went down thanks to a fan issue. A new one would run me well over $100, so I opted for a refurb fan which was supposed to run me about $60, but the site I used ( refused to even contact me about the order for a week, then canceled the order without explanation as soon as I filed my second query. Needless to say, I suggest avoiding this site completely as unreliable and disreputable.

While trying to get a response from that site, and waiting for the order they initially claimed was approved and in process, my fall back computer, a laptop from many years ago which is overloaded with data and runs so slow as to make you wish for dial up, decided to cease working properly as well.

The end result? Well today I ordered the same part from another company, one out of Texas rather than California, so I am a bit more hopeful of receiving it. I have fallen back yet again, to using the computer of the wife of my nearest neighbors for whom I am house-sitting, cow care-taking, and dog wrangling. Hopefully before they return in a week or so, I will have the new part and have my own primary computer up and running once again.

One of the lessons of frugal living comes out of this experience, in that by care-taking for neighbors, you can find alternatives which may not otherwise exist. I have no bills other than food while they are gone, I can save the propane and electricity which I would otherwise have to use for heating and cooking, as well as light and to fire up the non-working computer.

I am also generating good will, which can come in handy as well, such as when I have need of a tractor or other machinery which will make moving 24 foot timbers much easier. In these trying times many of us are forced to be frugal, without practice, but even those of us who are used to frugal ways, we must stay on the look out for any possible opportunity all the while remembering that to some degree for almost all of us, there is also a benefit of a good connection with people who have an interest in our own lives, and us in theirs.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Long Forgotten NIght Sky

One of the often overlooked or overly glamorized benefits of being away from modern developments, is the incredible night sky. Sure I am referring to the harvest, blue, and full moons which we can ll appreciate no matter the locale, but I am also referring to the appreciation of Orion traveling across the sky at night, and seeing the Milky Way in its fully glory. The last two nights I have suffered from my unfortunately recurring insomnia, but I made the best of it each night by taking a few moments to step outside, with my eyes already adjusted to the dark, and seeing a mind boggling array of stars.

I am the first to admit my own cynicism, I revel in it, but the opportunity to experience the beauty of the stars without the interference of perhaps well intentioned street lights, neon, and the other encumberances of modern culture is something to not merely not miss, but to seek out.

Just turning another page

This New Years holiday is even more anti-climatic than ever before for me, which is saying something as I just see no reason to single out one day for recognizing the passing of time and our individual lives. Yet as I say this holiday is special in its lack of any significance whatsoever to me. For me the new year began back in the summer when I began these sets of journeys which have brought me to these particular hills where I have begun the process of building not only my new home, but an entirely different life for myself as well.

Still I recognize that some folks feel a need to mark the passage of the arbitrarily determined "end" of the year, or "beginning" of a "new" year, so for all I simply hope that from this point forward you can see every day as a new beginning, every moment as one worth living, and every minute more precious than any gem. Time is our most precious asset, and life is the process of spending that time. Spend the time wisely. Live your live authentically. Enjoy that which brings you pleasure, ignoring the expectations of others.