All posts by Ishimo

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Wow, been a lot going on, where to start?

Last post I had the generator loaded and was bravely headed off into the world of light switches, running water and semi automatic toilets. After touching base with Mad Al Yankovic (no relation to Weird Al Yankovic) I learned that I could return the generator to the place of purchase. So the next morning I set off on the nearly 600 mile round trip. Later that evening and nearly $300 dollars later I pulled back into the campground with a brand new generator in the back. Many thanks to Al as I could have never pulled this off without his help.

The pig tails for my solar panels came in. Now I have to decide whether to mount the panels on the floor of the balcony, build a skeleton structure to mount above the balcony, or put in a full tilt frame and roof. Right now I’m leaning toward a skeleton just to get the ball rolling with a roof added at a later date. At least with the skeleton I expect it to leak so I won’t be disappointed when it does.

I bought a used 120v/propane refrigerator that appears to be in excellent shape. I had to transport it on its side so after unloading this morning we leveled it and are allowing it to sit at least 24 hours before testing the 120v for cooling. Right now it’s sitting in a friends shop in town under a camo tarp until we get back to it. I just hope we can find it when we get ready since camo hides everything.

These refrigerators were designed to go in RVs so they aren’t really easy to install as free standing. No problem, I called the manufacturer. They were incredibly unhelpful. I was warned that I had to do it correctly or the stars would come out of alignment, chaos would ensue, then the earth and all life on it would be consumed by a rogue super massive black hole. I’m thinking that possibly they overstated their case but I took their point to heart. Don’t hook a nuclear reactor up to it and not expect a melt down I guess.

I picked up a pair of led solar powered shed lights while Al and I were off the leash in the big city that promise “up to” 8 hours of light from a full sunny days charge. So I can expect maybe four hours at best which is OK since I’m rarely up more than a couple of hours past sunset when out in the swamp. A nice feature about them is that the panel to light cable is 15 feet long. With it I can pretty much mount the panel on the balcony then mount the light just about anywhere in the shed that I want. At some point I need to take all my solar lights apart, replace the leds with super bright leds which are 10 times brighter and draw much less current.

I also returned the charge controller I had for another. The one I had was giving me trouble with the buttons not actuating properly so I figure I would head off a failure. At some point I need to dedicate some dollars to a quality controller but hey, when you are boot strapping a project with only one boot you dance with what you brung.

I ordered two 110 ah batteries which are scheduled to arrive next week. Crunching numbers and doing battery calcs I’ve decided I should be able to charge batteries, run fans and power the 12v control circuit on the fridge during the day. At night I should be able to run the air conditioner for about four hours before I hit a 50% discharge level. There’s a very good chance I might run the ac during the day then run fans at night since I’m comfortable sleeping in 70ish temps. However I have several options available once I get the solar up and running so I’m getting a bit more optimistic about this particular project.

Back in the swamp and still a lot going on. Got the new generator unloaded, put together and ran for about four hours. So far so good but I’m still watching it with a suspicious eye. I started the framework to mount the solar cells only to realize that it isn’t large enough. I haven’t tried to put the cells up yet so I’m not positive that they won’t all fit. Naturally the mounting hardware I had bought wouldn’t work so I had to go back to town to exchange it for new material. Tomorrow I’ll find out if I can fit all the cells so I’ll know if I have to expand the frame or not. Since I dearly hate working with wood I’m hoping I can figure out how to fit everything.

My batteries were in when I got back to town so they were loaded in back for the trip out. On the way out I ran into McGuyver who wanted to see the batteries. We opened a box only to discover that the attaching hardware as pictured on their website was nowhere to be found. There were just two empty threaded holes in each battery. So back to town I went for the third time today. Need I say it? They aren’t a standard battery post thread. Thankfully the sweet young lady helping me solve this problem had no reservations about describing the low life idiots that would ship a naked battery with non standard threads and no fasteners. I was so infatuated that I bought some extra cable I really didn’t need but will put to good use.

Of course I got to the swamp just as it started raining. Not hearing any thunder or seeing any lightning I went ahead and unloaded in the rain. I didn’t want the new batteries which go for $200 plus each sitting around in soggy boxes and possibly shorting out.

I checked on one of my science projects and have good news to report. I started with a precision grade blue plastic toy bucket and wrapped it in precision grade fly paper in a precision grade manner. Don’t mind the wrinkles, you guessed it, they’re precision grade IMG_20160707_113950106_HDRwrinkles and worked out to my benefit.

I’ve noticed that the local yellow fly muzloids love that shade of blue. I have a blue Lowes bucket that they like to hang out on, smoke, joke and launch terrorist attacks from. So I decided to IMG_20160713_165944714_HDRgive them another mosque in which to gather. After about four days somewhere around 50 of the evil little jihadis had got themselves stuck which has to be some kind of world record for flypaper in that period of time. I need to check with Guiness on that. The wrinkles work well since they will land on it and strut around going “Dirka, IMG_20160713_165958836_HDRdirka, jihad, jihad!” hoping for some action then get stuck behind a wrinkle. Soon it will be time to send them on to aloha and set up another snack bar. It’s not perfect but until I can develop a final solution it’s the best I’ve found so far. Just think, if Hitler had gone after yellow flies he would be a national hero in every civilized country today.

Sometimes, Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Just a quick update. Well I hope it’s quick. You never can tell. One of the aliens in my head may take over and I’ll be here typing all night. I hate it when that happens.

Well the solar panels came in. I was all excited opening the first panel until I noticed that it had a special connector on the cabling. After some research I learned that it was a MC4 connector and in order not to void the warranty I had to use a matching UL listed connector. I’m sure you can guess where this went. They are expensive. And they require a proprietary crimp tool. I already have a dozen crimpers rusting in tool boxes so what are the chances that one will work? Absolutely none. In order to not violate UL you have to use the special low drag go faster crimp tool. I ordered a set of pig tails for each panel and will run my own connectors and cabling from there.

Then I got to looking for the mounting hardware for the panel. There was none. Checking out their site I found some lame assed excuse for not including mounting hardware but they would be more than happy to provide hardware at only $30 per panel. Yeah, sure. Three panels would be nearly enough to buy another panel. Let me see, hardware or a new 100 watt panel? DOH!

So I raided the storage unit to load up a couple hundred pounds of hardware. One of the benefits to being a pack rat and working construction for so many years is that I have at least a ton of hardware in there.

So I headed to the swamp a few days ago all happied up about being able to get the panels mounted so I could do the final hookup this weekend sometime after the pig tails arrived. I arrived late in the afternoon and after unloading and settling in it was time to cook and get ready for dark.

Getting set up for dark is a big thing for me. I have to bring in the solar lights and preposition everything I’ll need after dark. When it gets dark out there it is really, really dark. On a clear night you have some starlight plus maybe the moon when outside. On overcast nights walking outside is like walking into a cave and turning out your headlamp.

I’m not scared of the dark by any means, but there are bears, bobcats, panthers and raccoon out there. There’s already been reports of rabid raccoon this year so I’m justifiably wary. I’ve seen bear, bobcat and panther tracks within 100 yards of the shack so I know they come close.

The next morning I was full of myself and started the day on a most optimistic note. I had talked to the manufacturer about the generator problems so I was equipped with a short list of maintenance items to do then my generator would be singing like a canary. By noon I was so frustrated and angry I broke out the AR and sat on the porch hoping for a raccoon or armadillo.

Then I started calling the manufacturer. After a dozen calls, two phone recharges and a couple gallons of sweat, the generator locked up and wouldn’t even consider working. My last call ended abruptly when I began to describe in great detail the lineage and sexual deviations of the generator. This time I broke out the big AR in 308 thinking I would turn a critter into a red fog.

IMG_20160707_164215025After a few bottles of water I began thinking about how to get the generator in the back of the pickup. It weighs right at 260 pounds which is about 245 pounds more than I want to try lifting. I thought of letting the air out of the tires on the truck so as to lower the bed. Good idea till I remembered I didn’t have a generator so I couldn’t start the air compressor to pump them back up. Then I thought of digging a hole and backing the truck into it then rolling the generator into the bed. Then I had it, gathering all my extensive knowledge of Star Wars trivia I looked at the generator and said “Luke, I be your daddy.” Focusing all my energy I extended my hand, concentrated on seeing the generator in the bed of the truck and got a cramp. I think I heard a silly little faggot giggle coming from the generator.

Back on the porch I loaded some tracers I got somewhere.

My next and final attempt worked much to my amazement. I built aIMG_20160707_181744778 stairway to the truck be using pallets. I laid two out for the first step, four for the second, then six for the last. I had to take the two from the first step and put them on IMG_20160707_182035029the third once I got the generator to the second tier since I was running out of spare pallets. I placed plywood between steps to form a ramp which greatly eased getting it up, still it was a chore with many breaks and bottles of IMG_20160707_183728196_HDRwater. Still, I was concerned about falling and breaking my ass.

So tomorrow I get to take it back to where I bought it for an IMG_20160707_184151161exchange. It’s nearly a 600 mile round trip but worth it since I have to have a generator.

Milestones and Grindstones

Before I begin I’d like to give a shout out to Eddie who used the “Shop Amazon” link on the left to “Shop Amazon.” This was a huge milestone for me since anything purchased on Amazon via a link on this site will now earn me a small (4%) commission and an initial sale was required to qualify me as a sales associate.

According to Eddie it was a quick and painless experience. “I clicked the “Shop Amazon” link and was instantly transported to Amazon. For a split second I had the eerie sensation of being in two places at once. However it was a quick and painless experience.” There you have it. Quick and painless. OK, he didn’t really say that but hey, if you’re going to “Shop Amazon” why not take two seconds and launch from here? It will not only help keep this site up and running but I will also make up a name for you and fabricate some outlandish story to go with it. But you will have to tell me you did since Amazon won’t.

A byproduct of launching from here is that I now have a “click through” which search engines use to rank sites. I’ve begun to list with different engines in the hopes of generating more traffic and activity. Another biggie for engines is back links. If you have a site or a blog and would like to exchange links just drop me an email at

OK, back in town for a couple of days, got a big vodka mixed, some Enigma playing and the AC blasting at the top of its lungs. Life is good.

I’ve had a pretty good last few days. The shed is coming along nicely and is ready for sides to be installed. My hillbilly pressure treatmentIMG_20160703_171646819 looks like it is going to work well enough for a shed only intended to last a few years plus I kind of like the look it gives the wood. It does smell like burnt oil though the smell only seems to last forever. Hopefully over time it won’t be so noticeable.

I got the shed framed and ready for the roof. Since I don’t expect to park on top of it I went with ½ inch plywood. Though not heavy, the sheet is awkward to handle and I couldn’t get it to cooperate. After four tries the wood had hit the ground four times and myself once. IMG_20160703_174734856At that point I gave up and called in Amos. The next morning we spent about 97 seconds putting the wood in place thus passing yet another major IMG_20160704_111602454milestone. From the pics you can see that the roof line is strange. It slopes to the back and left. This was an entirely unintentional but most welcome result of measuring from two different anchor points. After I get shingles on I’ll put in some angle on the sides and direct rainwater runoff to a rain barrel to supplement my other barrels. We’ve had a lot of rain lately so I’m beginning to have a decent amount of water stored. My bamboo is loving it.

My generator is still acting freaky deaky and I might end up having to take it back and stink up the place until they replace it. It’s still drinking oil. I guess I could chalk it up to added lubrication but it’s using about a quart per tank of gas which is unacceptable. A quart every four or five tanks and I wouldn’t worry but this is to much. Naturally, this is going to present its own set of problems. The generator weighs in at 218 pounds dry. The bed of my truck is over 3 feet off the ground. I asked the Zigster about it and all he said was “You de Daddy. Handle it bro.” I’ll be glad when he’s over this phase.

Tomorrow I have 300 watts of solar panels coming in. Yay. This will allow me to run fans in the shack, charge devices and charge my battery during the day without using that oil guzzling noisy azzed generator. I hate generators. Maybe that’s why it’s messing up constantly. It know it. Maybe it’s just acting up to get my attention. Maybe I should put an umbrella over it, bring it flowers, maybe sing it a song? Nah. Not going to happen.

Every time I run the generator I break out a few dozen rechargeable devices and hook them up. I’m in the process of moving theIMG_20160629_090804395_HDR desk/dresser out so I can set up a battery bank and all the solar components in a somewhat orderly manner. In the meantime it is utter chaos keeping track of what is hooked to where. Yes, that is a bright purple fan.

I have my own version of a no fly zone. Next to a fly swatter fly paper IMG_20160608_071935383_HDRseems to be the most effective method for exterminating yellow flies. After a couple of weeks the paper loses its sticky but by then is has captured dozens of flies, mosquitoes and gnats. If PETA ever gets wind of this I’ll have mass demonstrations in the road out front while I sneak through the brush to siphon all of the fuel from their vehicles.

Want to know what it’s like to drive in and out during logging season? Here’s a view from the drivers seat following a logging truck. I’m about 100 yards behind a logging truck in this pic doing IMG_20160531_092721124about 15 miles per hour. You can’t pass them because visibility goes to zero as you get close. Best thing to do is hang back, put on some Abba and find a happy place in your head.

IMG_20160630_100309184_HDRSpeaking of logging. This is what a logged out area looks like when they finish. I’m always struck by the gadozens of logs that are cut then just left to rot or be burned. The land might be replanted or just left like this which will take yearsIMG_20160630_100305404_HDR to recover or some fool such as myself buys it. I’m not a tree hugger by any means but I don’t understand why a bit more time can’t be taken and some of IMG_20160630_100301542_HDRthe trees left to start things over. This area and the same size on the other side of the road was done in two days. I drove through a tree lined road one day, three days later I drove out and found this. In this case they left the road littered withIMG_20160630_100257009_HDR branches and logs to the point that I had to get out and move debris to get through.

Other times they simply block the road IMG_20160608_082237799_HDRand expect you to patiently wait until they decide to unblock it. This fellow was on lunch/smoke break. I was willing to wait a few minutes until I noticed him and others looking over at my truck and laughing. After a short and unpleasant conversation they moved enough to let me through.

Been thinking about my last post and Ziggy getting cute. What if dogs really think that licking their butt is cute? I mean, we have no idea really what they think. Imagine Fred and Ethel Dog on their way to market when they look over and see another dog having at it. Maybe Ethel looks over at Fred and says, “Oh look dear! Isn’t that just precious?” Or maybe it’s a sign of virility. Ginger is on her way to a high end dog groomer when she glances over and thinks “Oh wow! That’s HOT!”

That’s it for now. Gotta get ready to head out tomorrow and put in panels, work on shed, kill brush, conquer the world. Have I mentioned that you can “Shop Amazon” from here?


More Idle Thoughts From the Swamp

Greetings from the shack in the swamp where it was a balmy 101 degrees in the shade yesterday. Thankfully nights are low 70s so it’s good sleeping weather.

Haven’t accomplished all that much the last few days. I met Amos in a nearby town Monday and towed a trailer loaded with wood out here. The trailer was horribly overloaded which resulted in some white knuckle time on the way here. The Boy had a vet appointment Tuesday so after unloading I took it back and spent the night in town.

The vet was uneventful unless you count me being a smart alec. When they asked me what breed he was I said “Pit Poodle”. The young lady recorded exactly that so now I am guardian of the worlds first pit poodle puppy. Just as well, I went through severe sticker shock checking out and told the boy that a hard hat, lunch bucket and steel toed boots were in his future.

Out in the swamp Amos and Co. were hard at constructing what turned out to be a very nice screened in porch. The Boy took me to heart and took overall supervision responsibilities. In this picture you can see him inspecting a footer before he gave his approval to close the floor. He wanted a few more fasteners put in and after a Zigsterfew minutes of arguing with the contractor threatened to red tag the whole project. Meanwhile Amos threatened to walk off the job if Ziggy didn’t lighten up so the Boy finally took a somewhat more diplomatic approach. After a bit of grumbling they worked out their differences and by the end of the day Ziggy was back to sitting in Amos’ lap.

Yesterday I mostly sat in the shade and watched. Sometimes being older than dirt has it’s perks. I did spend some time working on my current solar set up which it really seemed to like.

The battery I am using is several years old but has never had a load on it. I would charge it on about a monthly basis or whenever I thought of it so I had no idea what condition it might be in. When I put the desulphator on it the charged indicator didn’t come on at all the first day. The second day it came on very late in the afternoon. Since then I’ve noticed that it charges earlier every day. I’m cautiously optimistic that this is an indicator that the battery is in good condition and that I’ll get a decent amount of use out of it.

Last night I finally hooked up an inverter then connected a small fan which I ran a couple of hours to cool the shack. I failed open about 3:30 so after building coffee I checked the 73 different rechargeable devices and put the phone and my flashlight on the inverter. Since I can’t check current draw right now I have no idea how many amps I’m using so I’m calling tonight a light use night. I’ll watch the charge today to see when the battery is topped off.

Today I’m thinking of getting started on the generator shed again. If I can get the poles set, batter boards on and get it square and vertical the rest should be pretty easy. I need to fast track this so I can get my other generator out of storage and get one of the units emptied. I can also start wiring the shack for 120 and 12 volt.

Starting to fail shut so it’s back to sleep for now if I can talk the Boy into letting me have part of the bed. Later.

Been a couple of days. Amos finished his deck and left for civilization this morning. I got off my azz yesterday and went back to work on the shed. Like everything else out there I managed to find ways of making it a lot harder than it had to be.

I had laid out the posts for a 4×8 footprint then dug the holes. But when digging holes in ground with roots the size of railroad ties the holes tend to wander. It’s easy to get off by several inches and not notice. Well, I didn’t notice until the third pole was going in.

Pole number 1 and 2 were very well behaved. I set them, put on a IMG_20160626_095809544[1]batter board then trued vertically. After filling and tamping they were vertical and pretty solid. The sand sets up like concrete nearly out there so I’ll keep piling sand around them and letting the rain wash it in.

Then came time to set the third pole. Propping the batter board up on blocks I was discouraged to see that the hole was nearly a foot off. Out came the post hole digger and sawzall. An hour later I was setting the pole. I was glad no one was around to see me crying as I approached the last hole.

The last hole was only about six inches off so it wasn’t quite so bad. Soon after I had all four batter boards set and the square said yay verily it’s pretty square. I’ll spare you the visual of a fat, sweaty bald guy dancing around in the swamp. I’m pretty happy about it now. AtIMG_20160629_111127267[1] one point I was thinking of a bonfire on that very spot but I’m glad that I refrained. I’m not a wood guy at all.

At that point it was time to head back to town for a shower, ice and some more wood. Opening my first cooler I discovered that one of my guaranteed not to leak zip loc freezer bags had leaked blood everywhere. So everything that wasn’t a factory water tight seal went in the burn barrel. Opening the other cooler I decided I must have a defective batch of zip loc bags and they went in the burn barrel as well. In the morning I get the fun job of washing both coolers with detergent then sterilizing with bleach before I set off for more food, ice and wood.

Well, been to town, back out, back to town. I forgot to buy wood while in town.

Yesterday I got the floor of the shed mostly framed and put in some bracing to help straighten the 4x4s. This morning I got some plastic under the floor to help control the rampant growth of stuff what you don’t know what it is but don’t want anyway. While moving some stuff around I tossed a 4×4 on the ground and it shattered. Well, it broke. I just stood there staring. I’ve never seen a 4×4 do anything other than get crooked. This one had about 4 feet just break off. Thinking it had maybe fossilized I picked up the remainder and threw it on the ground several times to see if it would break again. It didn’t but I am glad I hadn’t built a tower and had a 450 pound barrel of water on it when it shattered.

Since today was Sunday the Boy and I went for our Sunday drive. There are miles of roads out here that are see very rare traffic. I usually just idle along and look around. The Boy just sleeps and loves the air conditioning. Today I was on an “Adopt A Rock” mission.

People come out here and abandon perfectly good rocks alongside the road. Being something of a philanthropist I adopt these rocks and take them back to the shack where they will eventually be put to good use. I also fill a couple of five gallon buckets with dirt from where they grade the road and leave piles of it on the side. I’ll not turn my driveway into a superhighway any time soon but eventually it will be flat and smooth.

Been back and forth to town again. Today ran to the big city to return the inverter and get another. They wouldn’t even talk about a discount even after I explained that it was a 120 mile round trip for me. Guess it doesn’t hurt to try.

Tomorrow headed back out to the swamp. I’m hoping to finish the shed and tackle the next big project. Big for me that is. Sometimes even the simple things are really hard for want of a hand to hold something in place. I’m becoming fairly accomplished at jury rigging stuff.

Last trip out I set up a redneck awning. It’s a tarp with two pieces of EMT to hold it up tied off with 550 cord. Makes a helluva racket in IMG_20160628_112943648_HDR[1]the wind but it does shade the west side of the shack and reduces heat inside considerably. In time I’ll break out the post hole diggers and put in a permanent awning.

I made some more progress on the shed. Since cash is tight I bought regular lumber for use on anything that won’t get wet or be in contact with the ground. I did apply a hillbilly pressure treatment IMG_20160628_091126615[1]which consists of used motor oil, diesel and paint thinner. I’ve already been advised that it won’t last more than about ten years but hell I’ll be dead by then so what do I care?

Have you ever noticed how critters have some psychic ability when IMG_20160629_195133247[1]it comes to cameras? They will be doing the neatest things until a camera comes out. Then it’s total bedlam. Ziggy will be completely absorbed in something until I grab the phone to take a pic. Instantly his thought process goes, “Camera. I better do something cute. What to do? I know, I’ll lick my butt!”


Solar Power, Exotic Plants and Bananas

Good grief what a crappy day. Ever have one of those days when everything you touched turned to crap? Man did I ever.

It started when I built a cup of coffee. I have one of those percolators that you put the grounds in and it percolates the water up then down through the grounds. Works fine unless you forget to turn the heat down when it starts making that strange strangling sound. I forgot and ended up with a cup of half grounds and half a coffee like substance that seemed to be evolving or something. I managed to get it down before it developed a language and began arguing with me. I just wasn’t in any mood for argument this morning.

Then I broke out all the weapons of mass destruction and began to set up a solar cell. Don’t scoff. In my hands a skill saw, drill and hammer are weapons of mass destruction. I have a mountain of badly abused wood out there that I could have sworn would fit. Well it didn’t. I had to mount the cell three times before I got it right. I chalked it up to nearly losing an argument to a cup of coffee and plowed on.

I figured I wanted to charge my deep cycle battery while doing this so the generator was being obnoxious as hell the whole time. Then it stopped. Repeatedly. Did I mention I had a crappy day?

After a couple of hours of arguing with the generator I decided to give it a rest and take a nap. After I approached it with my most menacing scowl, put my hand on my gun and said “Go ahead. Make my day.” Didn’t work. Finally I checked the oil. Yeah I know I should have done that first off but I had just checked it a few days ago.

It was gone. The dip stick said bone dry. I checked the ground, then tilted the generator up to see if there was a leak. No oil. I pulled the plug and there was no evidence of fouling so it didn’t burn it. I am completely mystified wondering where did the oil go? One of the voices is telling me that aliens needed it to super charge their inter dimensional trans warp drive but he’s always been a silly little shit so I rarely listen to him. After putting the prescribed flavor and amount of oil in the generator was most happy to do its job which was nice seeing as how I had went all in with my Clint Eastwood impression.

Back at the solar cell I was cussing myself for packaging it in about 10 layers of Faraday cage. I was obviously in one of my prepare for an EMP phases at the time. Two cuts and a broken fingernail later it was unwrapped and not at all what I expected. For starters it was 15 watts where I remember 45 watts. It is however a desulfator system which is a good thing. I’m planning on several small solar power systems so I can periodically move it to individual battery banks and tune them as needed. Also I forgot to order cells so that is high on my list when I get back to town. Still I’m wondering if I have a 45 watt cell somewhere. Heck, I can’t remember what I was thinking or doing two hours ago much less two years.

I bought an inverter and charge controller at Harbor Freight the other day just to get something up and running. I don’t need the charge controller yet but figured I’d put the inverter in even if it was overkill right now. As soon as I opened the box I was angry. Well, really angry. Hell, I was furious. The inverter is used and there’s no way I’m putting it in. It’s a 150 mile round trip to return it so the voices were especially loud.

During the course of the day Ziggy discovered the fan. I had it on the floor just moving air in the shack while I worked. When it came time for our afternoon walk he made it very evident that if the fan wasn’t going neither was he. At least it drowns out some of the noise of his snoring.

Last night was miserable. It didn’t get below 90 until about 2 am so sleep was one of those things that you just wished for. Tonight I’m ready. Charged battery, inverter in place and fan on standby. It’s in the 70s, light breeze blowing through the shack and I can hardly keep my eyes open. Go figure.

I’m really getting into dragonflies. Besides being fierce predators they are pretty smart for a bug. They will often hang out wherever you are because they know that some muzloid bugs are going to go geehawdy on your azz. They then swoop in and snip, no more terrorist bug. This guy was just hanging out on my laptop while I was trying to do a system recovery. Every few minutes I would hear a buzz then he would be back with a yellow fly. He would sit on the IMG_20160530_121459068[1]screen frame and eat his snack while I tried to get my system back. All that was left when he finished was wings and legs which I didn’t mind brushing off at all.

Actually I’ve come to like these guys so much I began naming them which might not have been the best of ideas. Dragonflies only live for a few weeks and they just don’t seem to have what it takes to learn their names in that time. I’ve noticed that when I try to use my Jedi mind power on them they seem confused at times.

Me: “Alvin! Yellow fly! Get him.”

Dragonfly Union Leader: “OK, Alvin yer up. Which one of youse is Alvin?”

Dragonfly 1: “Not me Boss. I’m Horace. Or Bill. Or maybe Jim. I dunno.”

Dragonfly 2: “Alvin? Didn’t he get eaten by a bird? Or was that Cheryl?”

Me (being bit repeatedly): “Ouch! Shit! Crap!”

Dragonfly Union Leader: “OK, Ouch Shit Crap yer up. Which one of youse is Ouch Shit Crap?”

Perhaps you’ve been in the swamp to long when you begin speculating about the conversations of insects.

Clearing brush is only the start to a battle that I don’t see ending anytime soon. I’ve learned two things about swamp gardening. First is that if you don’t want to grow it then bend over. Every time you cut it down it will come back with 20 new shoots to taunt you. Second is that if you want it grow bend over. It won’t.

Deciding that I needed some way to kill the newly sprouted brush without the use of a gazillion gallons of weed killer which would eventually leech into the water table I started experimenting. In this IMG_20160607_200227493_HDR[1]picture you can see the rare and exotic camo tarp and black sheet plastic plants. These previously unknown plants were once a Chinese state secret and only grown in the most remote regions of northern China. Farmers who had earned the gratitude of the Emperor were allowed to grow these plants that made them fantastically wealthy with some making $3.97 a year in a good year. This was a boon for their children since they didn’t have to work in the sweatshops which was just as well since children don’t sweat all that much.

These plants were smuggled out of China at great risk in the underwear of two 19 year old Chinese twin sisters I purchased on the internet for $49.95 plus $29.99 shipping and handling. After seeing the bounty they had brought I set them free, bought them both tickets to New York city and gave them two cases of Ramon noodles to speed them along.

OK, it’s a camo tarp and a sheet of black plastic. I made it all up. So sue me.

Though somewhat slow, this works. When temps reach 90+ underneath the tarp/sheet it’s a lot higher. This results in sort of parboiling whatever is growing there. The black plastic seems to work best with the brush turning dead in two weeks or so. I’m leaving it on for several weeks more in the hope that it will kill the roots making further treatments unnecessary. The camo tarp doesn’t concentrate as much heat so it is working much slower but it is working none the less. I’ve since started covering the brush with cardboard then clear plastic. The jury isn’t in on this approach yet but I think maybe the clear plastic may work even better than the black. Hopefully it will transfer more heat in and cook those suckers much faster.

A few days ago, well a couple of weeks ago, I started a shed for my generators. I cleared the brush, leveled the ground a bit and set to it. I began by laying down plastic sheet to stop future growth then nailed together two pallets which would give me a 4×8 foot shed. This is a convenient size since most of my on hand lumber is 8 foot long. Then I decided it was to close to the shack so I cleared another area and set about leveling it. Then I decided I wanted a permanent shed and not something that would blow away. So I started digging holes. No need to mention the WMD needed to dig a hole. Then I started setting the poles. 12 foot 4x4s were way overkill. So tomorrow I buy some 10 foot and hopefully start nailing some lumber.

“What you eating Daddy?”
“It’s a banana Ziggy.”
“I know what it is. Can I have some Daddy? Not the peel this time.”
“It’s a banana. You sure want it Ziggy?”
“Yes please.”
“OK, here.”
“No thank you Daddy. I don’t like banana. I just wanted to see if you would let me have it.”

So Many Words, So Little To Say

Back in the swamp and time for another installment of “What’s that smell?” Oh wait. That’s another story. Never mind. Maybe later.

As usual, things are stumbling along at a pace somewhat akin to watching paint dry. Hauling brush, picking up trash and wondering what bit me and how the hell did it get that far up my pants leg just isn’t all that exciting. Well once it was. I’ve wiped out several colonies of fire ants and I believe they have put out a fatwa on me. I had a couple of fire ant suicide bombers make it all the way up my pants leg and inside my underwear. I’m very glad no one saw me running around with my pants to my knees screaming at the top of my lungs while slapping madly at,,,,well, you know. I don’t believe anyone who witnessed it would describe it as exciting. On the other hand I’m pretty sure I heard some tiny little voices yelling “Aloha Snackbar!”

I finally got the last of the bamboo in and it is doing OK to gangbusters. I put some mild lawn fertilizer on which seems to really agree with it. I now have four different varieties which are supposed to grow from 30 to 100 feet tall under ideal conditions. But it has to be watered which has led to a water shortage. Yeah, I know. I live in a swamp. Water everywhere. Except close to where the bamboo is.

The closest water is about 200 yards away and running away rapidly. I don’t know if this drying trend is a seasonal thing or an indicator of things to come. Anyway, water weighs 8 pounds per gallon. For the first month or so each plant should get a gallon in the morning and one at night. Thankfully we’ve been getting afternoon showers this week so I only have to deal with the morning water.

Some good friends came to visit a few days ago and we had a good time visiting both the local sights then journeying out to the shack. We started off with a visit to the town boutique specializing in everything you never thought you wanted or needed. No kidding. This shop is great and I never go there that I don’t find some hidden treasure that I will never use but just can’t live without. They were no different and left with some treasures as well.

Then it was on to the seafood buffet and more calories than a school bus full of illegal alien children should eat. I especially enjoyed the 4000 calorie blackberry cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream. I really didn’t want it but sure didn’t want to leave it for some illegal to snarf up. Besides it was good.

We visited the swamp the next day, took a walking tour, shot some tin cans and in general had a very pleasant time. Hopefully I’ll have the shack better prepared the next time they visit and they can stay longer.

Today I woke up ready to go so I broke out the brush cutter and set out to cut a path I’ve been wanting to open. As before the existing path took a rather meandering route as I would take the path of least resistance or spot the occasional “shiny” that I just had to see. The new path will allow me to sit on the porch and see the west end IMG_20160531_071258859[1]of the hog wallow that I previously thought were two wallows. Once finished I’ll be able to sit on the balcony and mercilessly exterminate Miss Piggy on four different lanes over 90 yards long. I lasted about three hours before it got so awful hot I had to quit.

When you get between two walls of brush there isn’t a hint of a breeze. The heat just builds until it becomes hard to breathe. Throw in the fact that you have on heavy boots, long sleeved shirt, heavy gloves, a face shield and a somewhat restrictive harness to support the cutter and it gets really hot. The brush cutter itself puts out a tremendous amount of heat as well. The manufacturer recommends running it at about 10 thousand rpm which is fun but man does it ever heat things up even further.

Tomorrow is a toss up. I may cut some more path or maybe put up siding. Or maybe sit on the porch and doze all day. Can’t you just feel the excitement?

I really need to get the siding on the north side done and sealed. I bought some thinset Monday since the bag I had got wet. It’s remains are resting in a shallow grave out in my parking area. If I can remember where it is I’ll silently mourn its passing every time I drive over it.

There was a very strong storm here yesterday which had me concerned about the siding I have up now. After I did an inspection and was relieved to see no obvious damage. Maybe I got something right for a change.

The north wall is proving to be much more of a challenge than the east wall. For one, I didn’t know you should glue the siding with liquid nails so there isn’t a bit of glue on the east wall. After the first row it was just a matter of sliding the board up a ladder, then up the wall, setting it in place then screwing it down. With glue it’s an IMG_20160607_200447776_HDR[1]entirely different matter. You have to push the board up a ladder until it nearly touches the wall. Then you have to lift it out while continuing to push up the ladder. Once in place you set the board all in one fluid motion. Yeah, right. I have liquid nails everywhere. In my hair, on my shirt, gloves are caked and the wall looks like some modern art piece smeared with glue everywhere. Naturally the wind picks up just about the time you start to lift the board in place. Whereupon you are holding a 26 pound 3 by 5 foot sail that wants to go anywhere but over the area you previously applied glue to. There’s a piece of siding over in the brush now that I regularly cuss on every trip by that is destined for a shallow unmarked grave out in my parking area.

It’s very hot tonight. Not a bit of breeze, I have a hole in the air mattress and the Boy is snoring like a chain saw. It’s going to be a very long night.

Speaking of the boy snoring. A few weeks ago he went missing for longer than usual. I usually check several times an hour to see what he’s up to just in case he goes wandering off behind some new and possibly deadly adventure. Realizing that I hadn’t seen him for several hours I started the hunt. First stop was his favorite hide out

This is bullshit daddy. Amos doesn't make me sleep on the floor. When's Amos coming back?
This is bullshit daddy. Amos doesn’t make me sleep on the floor. When’s Amos coming back?

in the brush that he doesn’t know I know about. I always walk by it real casual like and never look directly at it. If he’s in there I keep walking and pretending that I don’t know where he is. Nope, he wasn’t there. By now I’m calling him and hitting the buzzer on his shock collar like a hive of angry bees. Nothing.

So it’s off to the road which is usually a total waste. Amos was out for awhile at the time so I decided to stop by his place to see if the Boy had visited. Just as I got to his trailer Amos was coming out for the call of nature. “Looking for Ziggy?” he asked. “Yep. Has he been up here?” “Yep, he’s inside asleep on the bed. I heard him outside whining and when I opened the door he came in, jumped in bed and went to sleep. I just laid down and went back to sleep.” I wasn’t really sure what to say at this point so I played it cool, “When he wakes up will you send him home?”

Woke up this morning and decided to go to town for a day or two. I was out of ice, out of food and out of vodka. Besides that I have about 374 actively itching bug bites that need some benadryl and calamine lotion. I was planning on a late afternoon departure time but the wind died while I was putting up the last few pieces of siding on the second row of the north side and I smelled me. I moved my outgoing flight up to noon and set about stowing everything.

It’s been several days and I’ve been back and forth several times. Not a whole lot of news to report other than dam is it getting hot. I’m in town for several days while I get over a mild case of trench foot and toxic levels of bug bites. I have another post nearly ready to go so I’ll get this up and work on it a bit.

I’ve been asked to post some of the stories about the characters I’ve met on my journey here. Since the night is yet young and I’m getting half potted why not? I’ll give it a go and if anyone enjoys it I’ll do some more.

Chatty Cathy – Ever see a sight that just made you want to wash your eyes out with bleach? Chatty Cathy is one of those people you wish you could unmeet. (not a word I know but it fits) My first encounter with Cathy began when I was moving here and had a large enclosed trailer to unload. I stopped by my friends shop and asked him if he knew anyone who I could hire to help me unload. He said he knew someone but I would have to go pick him up. I was warned that he was “a nut” but I foolishly assumed that he was simple and crazy like me. After a phone call I set off to pick him up.

When I got to his place I honked the horn about the time he walked out of his trailer. Sitting in the truck with a diesel engine running, 60 feet away I wondered who he was talking to. My best guess was that he had a wireless headset and was talking on the phone. When he got to the truck there was no headset, no phone and he was still talking a blue streak. I told him he would have to sit in the back seat since Ziggy was kind of freaked also and not about to get that far away from daddy with this guy in the truck.

So we set off to the storage unit with Chatty Cathy talking all the while. And talking. And talking.

At the unit we pile out of the truck to start unloading. Did I mention that he was talking the whole time? By now I had realized that he was not the sort of person to let conversation get in the way of talking so I didn’t even bother to grunt or wiggle my ears to acknowledge the constant stream of words issuing from him. I began unloading.

In the trailer and in passing I could understand part of what he was saying. Some of it was comments about the boxes we were moving such as “Gun stuff. Oh, wonder what you got in here.” One comment in particular came back to haunt me when he was holding a surplus back pack I had picked up at the local Army Navy store, “Oh you were there to. I was there. We’re brothers.” Like everything else he was saying I just tuned it out and kept going. When I was outside the trailer all I heard was some mumbling sounds that just increased in volume as I passed him then died out a bit as he moved something into the storage unit. He was a worker though. We unloaded the trailer in half the time I had estimated which I attribute to whatever drugs he was taking.

At the end of the day I paid him with a belt sander he was particularly enamored with and took him back to his trailer. In nearly three and a half hours he hadn’t stopped for breath a single time and had covered every topic imaginable. I tipped him 20 dollars and told him that no one needed to know my business and to keep what he saw to himself.

Weeks later I had a truck to unload. Steeling myself I made the call. I told him the day I would be there and could he help unload. He told me he might be baling hay and that he had to work his trade after all. Baling hay is a trade? What has happened in the 50+ years since I bailed hay that it has become a trade?

Time passed and I began settling into my new life. While visiting with my friend at his shop he told me that Cathy had stopped by. Seems that Cathy wanted to tell my friend about helping me with unloading my trailer. “That guy has some stuff in there if you know what I mean (wink, wink). But I don’t want to say any more. I’ve said to much already.” I wasn’t happy.

Not long after that I had stopped at the local truck stop for a grease bomb and fries. Upon leaving I walked by some homeless guy only to hear “How you doing tonight?” I just grunted and kept going. Then I heard “Aren’t you that guy that I helped unload a trailer?”

I stopped dead in my tracks and looked closely. Oh shit, it’s him. And he’s winking. “Yeah” was about all I could think to say. “I thought you were going to call me to help again.” he replied while apparently trying to blink something out of his eye. “I did” I answered. “You never called me back. And what’s wrong with your eye?”

“You know” says he “we were over there together” while nodding in the general direction of the truck stop parking lot. Looking over to the corner of the parking lot all I could see was a Dollar General and some unmarked truck. I had no earthly clue what this nut case was talking about but I was quickly becoming concerned that he might be dangerous or that at some point he might start humping my leg. Then I remembered. Afghanistan He had babbled about being over there when he saw the back pack. “No, I’ve never been to Afghanistan” I said then hurried to the truck for a quick escape.

A few days later I was in a local hardware store when I heard “Well hello my friend! How are you?” Oh shit, it’s him. And he’s winking like a broken traffic light after being hit by lightning. And he’s coming toward me. I started backing up and wondering if “He was humping my leg judge” would stand up in court here. About that time I had a very pleasant collision with a very pretty and very buxom young lady who simply said “I’ll handle this.”

“Go on! Get out of here! Quit bothering the customers.” Peering out from behind her I was tempted to throw in a “Yeah! What she said!” but held my tongue.

I haven’t seen Chatty Cathy since but then I don’t hang out in dark corners of truck stop parking lots so he may be out there still if you know what I mean. But I don’t want to say any more. I’ve said to much already.

Good News (maybe?)

I’ve added disqus to the comment section on here. Now you can comment using your disqus account and not need to register here.

Hopefully this will let me get a feel for if anyone reads this drivel and if I should keep writing it.

I’m Back

Gosh what a week it’s been! As my good friend Plume has already said, I’ve had technical difficulties and posting was the impossible dream. But my laptop has returned to the fold and it appears that all is well. At least until the next great disaster. In any case a great big thank you goes out to Mr. Plume for lending a helping hand.

Soon you will notice links in my posts when I am talking about equipment and material I’m using. These will be links to Amazon in case you are remotely interested in purchasing said stuff. I will also be starting to post product reviews with links as well. If you click on the link and purchase the product, I’ll make a few cents. Who knows? Maybe in 20 years I can rent a movie.

I was keeping a running journal right up until my laptop died so here it is.

Well, it’s Thursday, of that I am fairly certain. I’ve been here since Sunday with one lightning fast trip to town. Ice and a shower, what else?

My neighbor to the north, Amos, was out for a few days. We built a table, shot the hell out of some tin cans and for my part, didn’t reallyIMG_20160517_071822989 accomplish much of anything. The table is really nice and serves well as a stand for the gas grill and Coleman stove. I had forgot how nice having an extra set of hands was when doing some so simple as building a table.

While construction was underway there was a major disaster. My generator went breasts vertical so running the air compressor was out of the question. Running the saw was dicey but we managed to
get by. Our first guess was bad gas and of course there is absolutely no provision for draining the gas short of hiring some full scale bio-hazard facility. So we let it run. And run. Along about nine o’clock that night it finally ran out of gas.

The next morning I cautiously circled the generator ready to battle while quietly confident that it was going to behave when I added known quality gas. Nope. Asshole just kept up the bad behavior.

By lunch I had taken every readily removable part off, cleaned it, lubed and re-installed. Then totally by accident I found a cable cleverly hidden behind a bunch of stuff. After a bit of tweaking I got it loose and gave it a go. Success. Needless to say I was relieved since I had read the fine print in the warranty. It essentially said “In case of failure, you’re screwed.” I have a spare generator in storage but it’s of questionable reliability.

We shot the dog crap out of some tin cans. After awhile it turned into a competition. Amos is a former Marine so needless to say he wiped the floor with me. I’m not a great shot anyway. I have a belief that quantity has a quality of its’ own. Why shoot once when you can shoot twenty times? And I broke my glasses recently so I was really at a disadvantage. Still, I won a couple of matches. I tried shutting one eye or another. I believe the best results were when I was shooting by braille with both eyes closed. Still I believe he pulled his shots a couple of times so I wouldn’t get mean and surly.

It rained for a couple of days. I ran to town the day after and the roads were a disaster. Where I was running 35 to 45 I was down to four wheel drive since the lumber companies are hauling in looseIMG_20160521_091319688_HDR sand to grade the roads. Add a good rain and it’s a real mess. On the way back in a few hours later the roads were drying well but I have to wonder what they will be like next time out.

The road in front of my place seems to have taken the rain in stride. I drove around checking swamp levels and was surprised to find that they are only slightly higher than before the rain. Before the culvert was put in they would have been flowing across the road.

Today was a big cleaning day. I did prune the muscadines back. Looking at them I doubt I’ll have any grapes this year but hopefully next year. I haven’t as yet planted the blackberries so next year is probably the best I can hope for also.

The yellow flies are getting pretty bad. This afternoon I was bit several times and probably killed about 20. They’re nasty little assholes. Their bite hurts like hell then itches like mad. The bad part is there is no known repellent or traps for them. I have fly strips up everywhere loaded with insects but very few yellow flies.

I bought some strips on Amazon that were sposed to be the ultimate deer fly solution. So Amos and I put them on our hats and walked around for two days with these strips guaranteed to stop deer flies on our hats. At the end of two days the score was a bunch of bites and a whole big two flies trapped. Guess the strips are kind of like a thirty dollar fishing lure. They catch a lot of fishermen but not all that many fish.

Woke up ready to go today. Built some coffee, put on the boots, grabbed the brush cutter and set off to slaughter hundreds of innocent brushlings. I’ve been wanting to cut a straight path to the southwest swamp so I can sit on the porch and see what is going on there. The current path sort of wanders a bit since I cut it by following the path of least resistance.

Anyway I was happily engaged in wholesale carnage when I noticed it was getting dark. The weather prediction for today was 20% chance of showers so I was sort of freaked to see the entire sky IMG_20160520_094337141_HDRcovered in black clouds. I reluctantly left the anguished screams of dying brushlings and hoofed it to the shack. By then it was thundering and lightning so I was passed by a brown streak as the Boy went by. So now we’re sitting inside waiting on the rain to quit. Actually he’s racked out sound asleep and I’m thinking of building more coffee.

Well it continued to rain off and on for the rest of the day. I was able to run out between showers and finish cutting the path. I still have to go back and clear some more on a couple of areas to be able to see everything but it’s nearly complete. A short while ago I was looking at it and realized that part of it was moving. Grabbing the binoculars I was able to make out about six baby pigs before they made it into the brush. About six a light steady rain began and it’s been raining since so I’m done for the day.

Amos brought a couple of electronic fly swatters
with him this trip. Initially I was amused by them and didn’t expect them to really work. They work. With a fresh set of batteries a mosquito or gnat will simply flash and be no more. A yellow fly will put on a light show for some time. As the batteries weaken the flashes aren’t as gratifying but impressive none the less. At one point we were surrounded by a cloud of mosquitoes. We held down the buttons and began swinging at random. Every swing resulted in flashes while filling the air with the smell of charred insects. In one night we reduced the insect population more here than I’ve been able to do the whole time I’ve been out here. I’m still using the original set of batteries so I have no idea how long they last. I was picking a fly out today and got a decent shock since I was dumb enough to have the button pushed. I want to buy some more then see if I can supercharge one using a 9 volt battery versus 2 AA cells.

Soon I have to get back to siding and painting. And put up a solar cell so I can get away from flashlights supplemented with solar powered yard lights. I have some 12 V dc compact florescent bulbs with bases so I should get moving on that. My inverter has a low voltage shut down which protects the battery but I am powering some 12 volt loads so no protection there. I’ve decided to put in a 120 volt relay then run the 12 volt hot lead through it. Lose 120 volt, relay opens, no 12 volt load. So I went to the local hardware store and asked for a 120 volt ice cube relay of about 30 amps. I was shown ice trays so it’s back to the internet for material.

Tomorrow will be another lightning fast trip to town. I don’t need ice as yet but I’ll stock up anyway. What I do need is Ziggy food. It was on the top of my list last trip but naturally I didn’t take the list so it was forgotten.

And then the laptop went south.

I did kill what I think was a fly but I’ve never seen a fly this large before. It’s possible it’s an alien visitor from another galaxy here on a peaceful mission but I don’t really think so. In the picture that is a AAA cell below it. I threw it in to show just how huge that suckerIMG_20160519_103019857_HDR was. I was afraid to try the electronic fly swatter on it just in case it really was an alien fly with Jedi powers which could cause me to beat myself to death with the swatter. So I zapped it with wasp killer.

So Little To Say, So Much Time

I have very little to report this time. Other than a walk about all I did today was get everything put away for my trip back to town. I got here about noon, took a shower, did my vegetable imitation for a couple of hours took a nap, then tried a different vegetable for a change.

Anyway here’s some rambling stuff from the shack in the swamp.

Back in the swamp again.
I was up early today, ran to town for some last minute stuff, bought 140 pounds of ice, loaded the Boy and headed out. The roads on the way out were in very good shape so I made decent time right up until I got to my road. Even then it was fairly dry with no white knuckle driving required.

At the shack unloading was uneventful except the cooler. With 80 pounds of ice it always merits a short porch sitting event. There was a strong wind blowing so after I opened the place up it was fairly cool within minutes. The strong wind reminded me that I hadn’t finished nailing down the steel straps holding the roof on so I spent a couple of hours getting them tied in. I did a rough count and there were a bunch of them (more than 10, I didn’t take my boots off) which makes me feel better about the upcoming hurricane season.

I spent some time spreading a snake repellent that was highly recommended online and found at Ace. Afterward I was nearly regretting it since it has a moth ball smell mixed with some foul odor I didn’t even want to identify. The smell went away after a couple of hours or maybe every smell sensor I had is now fried.

As I was spreading it I thought “I wonder if this works?” Then I thought “How would I know?” It’s kind of like vampire repellent. Do you see any? In truth this came up in a conversation with a good friend but it sounds better when I tell it this way.

Then I went on my regular walk about. This is where I walk some of the property and the road in front. Ziggy loves it because he gets to run up and down the road at top speed and hopefully (in his mind) splash me with mud when passing a puddle. Not sure what he’s going to do if the mud ever dries out. Spit at me maybe. Dunno, we’ll see.

The swamp is down a lot. There’s no water flowing across the road and I could see mud for several feet on both sides instead of water. I was hearing logging going on south and west of me so I’m wondering if they have done something to open the flow up. Sometime this week I’ll take a ride that way and see if I can tell what has happened. Tomorrow morning I’ll walk to the back swamp on my property to see how far it has dropped. It would be nice if I had 5 or 6 acres drying out and available for use.

I visited hog wallow number 2 which is also drying. I might be able to IMG_20160513_092026776walk it this week without sinking up to my knees and get a feel for
how big it is. At some point I want to dig a pond. A hog wallow is an ideal place since there is no foot deep root mat to deal with.

On the way back from my walk I stopped and looked at the shack for IMG_20160505_194908463_HDRa minute. Holy crap what a dump! There’s piles of material, tools everywhere, half finished projects at every turn and no end in sight.

My priority this week is get the siding up and build a shower. I’m going to have a shower this week if I have to stand on a ladder and dump water on my head. I want to mount the water tank about 10 feet off the ground. This will mean I have a tank of water that weighs about 350 pounds ten feet up. Question is how do I tie it down so it doesn’t blow over?

First idea is to pour a pad and tie the 4x4s to the pad. Problem is I have no concrete right now. So I would have to dig and level an area, go to town, buy concrete then come back. Then mix and pour about 20 bags of concrete. That is a lot of work. A whole lot of work.

I could bury the 4x4s about 2 feet in the ground. Then in about 2 years have the whole thing collapse on my dumb ass while I was in the shower. It’s looking like I’ll have to make a concrete run this week.

It’s supposed to get down to 50 tonight. Which means that it will be in the 40s out here. I’ve lit three candles which surprisingly do very well at keeping the chill down. I set the kerosene heater out just in case. I’ll know it’s time to light it if the Boy gets in bed and dives under the covers tonight.

This morning it was pretty cold. Not light the heater cold but cold enough I didn’t mind sharing the bed with Ziggy. Boy is like an electric blanket. Then it happened. Noise on the porch!

I grabbed a pistol and headed that way. I expected Ziggy to be excited and ready to attack. All I heard was marauding raccoons and some faint snoring coming from underneath the covers. So I charged outside, shined the flashlight around and didn’t see anything except the mess they had made. Meanwhile back in bed Ziggy wasn’t in any mood to negotiate space at all. I looked at the clock and put the water on for coffee.

Tonight I have a surprise for the little democrats. I’ve blocked off part of the porch and spread mouse traps everywhere. It might not do much to deter them but at least I’ll wake up laughing.

Had a good day anyway. Walked the back part of the property and IMG_20160513_085931724the swamp is indeed down overall. The band of marsh which keeps me from getting to the back 20 acres might be dry enough soon that I can get a footbridge in. I would really like to see what is back there.

Broke out the tools, generator, air compressor and was all set to put up siding. Then disaster struck. I remembered that I’m afraid of heights. Along about noon I kicked myself in the butt and started climbing ladders. By six I had one side completely done except for a strip that I’ll do on the balcony tomorrow.

I’m planning on completing a side before I move on to the next. The new ladder is heavy as hell so moving it is a study on sweat. So I’m going to finish screwing down the top, seal the seams and paint before I move on.

I’ve become concerned about the screws holding the siding on. I didn’t learn until today that I should be using screws and liquid nails. Many of the screws are in nothing more than 1/2” plywood. So I have all these screws sticking through the walls. I’ll be putting insulation over them but feel like I should reinforce the joint somehow.

I might buy a ton of shoulder washers and a couple of quarts of fiberglass resin then just fiberglass them in. No individual joint would be all that strong but overall it would significantly increase the integrity of the wall. Might not be a bad idea to do the screw heads outside as well. A layer or two of cloth on the inside would really strengthen the joints. I don’t like working with fiberglass but the idea is really appealing.

I’ve decided to leave the first floor unfinished inside and finish out the second floor. This is based on the belief that the second floor will become living quarters and the first will be storage and guest quarters. Not that I won’t appreciate my guests comfort if I have any but a bed, a fan and Ziggy is about all anyone can expect.

Been a couple of days. Went to town Sunday night for some air conditioning, a shower and a bed that doesn’t slide around when I move. Next morning I made a quick trip to town for some material and ice (of course) then headed back to the swamp.

I have the siding complete on one side of the shack with most of the base coat of paint on. The backer board and thin set soaks the paint up like a sponge so it is going to take a lot of painting before I’m convinced that it’s well sealed. I started with some OD green then went to a gallon of khaki I had bought by mistake. (two gallons truth be told) I started pouring the remainder of the green in so I ended up with several shades of green and some khaki. Once I got to the second floor I kept going out to the road to see what a color looked like through the trees and brush.

I found out it really didn’t matter much. Just about any shade of green faded into the foliage and pretty well disappeared. Except for the window and roof line. I can paint the frame of the window and hide that but it will still be a large rectangle of glass and screen that sticks out like a sore thumb. The roof line will more or less disappear once I get the nerve to climb up there and paint the 6x6s. By the time I get to using a rattle can I’m confident I can convince the eye to look elsewhere.

I’m not expecting total stealth yet. Once the bamboo and trees grow enough my shack will be totally concealed from the road. Hopefully that will be late summer this year. If not next year for certain.

Speaking of bamboo, the giant bamboo I put in the ground about a month ago is over two feet tall now. I’ve read that under ideal conditions it can grow up to six feet a day. I’d settle for 30 feet by the end of this summer. From the looks of it that might be a realistic goal. The other plant I put in the ground about three weeks ago appears to be settling in and is beginning to show signs of growth.

It’s finally happened. I’m losing it. On my walk this morning I noticed a dragonfly on my shoulder. I thought this was a rather nice surprise so I began to talk to it. I explained that I really admired the dragonfly race and that I would really like to be sort of an ambassador to the IMG_20160508_080237789[1]dragonfly kingdom. (for anyone who doesn’t know it dragonflies are fierce hunters of mosquitoes and yellow flies) I then invited him and all his buddies to live at my shack and follow me around all they wanted. I even offered to build little dragonfly houses with a white picket fence and a station wagon with wife, kid and shaggy dog on each seat. At just about that point he fell over dead. So much for my skills as a bug whisperer.

I tried an experiment that I hoped would help rid me of stumps. I have zillions of stumps from brush sticking up and some of them are 2+ inches in diameter with as many as a dozen in a group. Below ground they are a mass of roots with thicknesses that cause a mattock to go “Sproingggg!!!” when hit.

So I thought why not build a small very hot fire over the stumps to burn them and the roots out in one fell swoop? So I tried it. I poured a couple of pounds of charcoal over the stumps, put a steel fire ring down to contain the heat and blaze then lit that sucker off. Then lit it off again. Then added some lighter knot. Then poured more lighter fluid on it and lit it again. It finally lit. And burned for 14 hours. Well, at least burned then smoked that long. By the end of the day I was all excited when running over to check the results. You can imagine how I felt when I realized I had about a dozen flame hardened stumps to deal with now. All I can figure is that the roots were able to pump enough water to the stumps to keep them from burning. Maybe I should bury a spinning hub cap under one of the stumps then let it leak to the local mezcan population that one is buried somewhere out here.

"KKK? Yeah I like them. Taste like chicken."
“KKK? Yeah I like them. Taste like chicken.”