Posts from — June 2008

Update
by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 29, 2008 - 2 Comments in WRETHA

The monsoon season has finally started, we get some rain once or twice a day, I haven’t had to water my garden in about 4 days (woo hoo!). Today has been mostly cloudy, but it hasn’t rained yet. The only drawback to the rainy days is we don’t get as much solar power… it means we have to really watch how much electricity we use, can’t run the computer all day, or run the refrigerator.

The hottest part of the summer has passed, the nights are cooling down, the days are still fairly warm/hot, but once the sun starts going down, I start looking for something to cover my arms, this morning it got down to 59 degrees F, I’m even starting to think about firewood for this winter, only have a couple of months of warm days & nights.

The garden is doing pretty well, but there has been some insect eating some of my plants, chewing the stems and killing the leaves, I’m pretty sure it’s cut worms. I know about using collars and such, I am looking for BT, that has always worked good for me in the past. I ordered some diatomaceous earth and a duster to apply it. I also ordered a hose end sprayer, I’m going to use an organic mix to spray for fertilizer.

We have been seeing lightening bugs, just a few at a time, but more and more each night. I’ve been told that before the summer is over, it will look like Christmas trees all lit up, I can’t wait to see that. :)

I have been cleaning a lady’s house out here, it’s much more fun cleaning someone else’s house for some reason. She thinks my house must be super clean because I do such a good job on hers… I hope she never sees my house! Living in a small, barely 2 room cabin/house, yeah, it’s clean, NOT! Hehehe, I tried to tell her that, but she doesn’t believe me… oh well.

This lady wants to sell her house and she wanted me to detail clean it, from the ceiling fans to the corners of the rooms, it’s been quite interesting… she is an artist and a very nice lady. The first day I worked over there, about 3 hours in, she asked me if I wanted to go into town, I said sure, we went to the bigger town nearby, then she took me to another town where I hadn’t been yet, we went shopping and I took advantage of being in town to stock up on foods and goods, I don’t think she was expecting me to get as much as I did, but I went as fast as I could, and she had plenty of room in her vehicle, it was quite the fun day. She has offered to take me into town any time she is going, like I said, a very nice lady.

I finally broke down and turned off my cell phone, it was a hard thing to do, I have had this same phone number and service going on 8 years… I got it when I worked for Best Buy, I had an employee deal and I’ll not be able to get such a good deal again, but since it really didn’t work for me out here, it was money spent that I could use on something else, like my internet service! I called Sprint and told them I wanted to stop service, of course they tried to get me to sign up for another service, but I explained that I didn’t work for Best Buy any more, and my phone didn’t get a signal out here, or at least it barely gets one when I am on my mountain, it does not get a signal at all when I am out on the roads, well Sprint understood and was willing to let me go. My phone will work until the 10th, then it will be turned off… bummer. Oh well, all good things must come to an end, it was a good 8 years. The biggest drawback is I will not be able to do pictures for the blog until I either find my digital camera or get another one, I had been using my cell phone to take pix, it may be a while before I am able to post pix again.

That’s about it for now, except for one thing,

HAPPY (LATE) BIRTHDAY TO MY SISTER!

Wretha

2 Comments

Anonymous seth said…

wretha…..was wondering if you ever got the email i sent you about where my property in west texas is located, was just wondering it’s any where near you guys?

June 30, 2008 10:27 PM

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Blogger Wretha said…

Seth
Got it, just replied, hmmm, close is relative… probably closer than most of the other people who read my blog (grin).

Wretha

July 1, 2008 5:04 PM

Mountain Man Bob
by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 24, 2008 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

You might be a mountain man if you look like this:

Rather handsome I’d say, and pretty handy around the house too! :)

Inexpensive (Cheap) Solar Panel Kits ala Harbor Freight
by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 23, 2008 - 5 Comments in WRETHA

UPDATE 6-24-08
One of my very informed readers passed this site to me:

http://www.sunelec.com/

They have solar panels for as little as $2.98 per watt, as long as you buy in quantity.

FYI, Harbor Freight is selling their 45 watt solar panel kit for $179.99 again! Here is the link:

http://www.harborfreightusa.com/usa/tabviewer/
startBrowseBook.do?bookid=210&preview=&type=RET&simple=

This expires : 07/07/2008

I’ve heard that you might even be able to use one of their 15% off coupons with it, though I haven’t seen any coupons lately, if you have one, (lucky you!) USE IT! :)

I have one set and will soon have 2 of 3 more, this is a real bargain, they normally run about $250, $199 on sale, this price is well worth checking out.

4 Comments

Anonymous Anonymous said…

These panels have a limited lifespan, usually MUCH less than the other types of panels. If you have the $ to buy 760 watts, they can be had for $2.98 per watt and are kick butt panels. http://www.sunelec.com/

If you want to learn LOTS about solar electric stuff go hang out on the forum at http://www.wind-sun.com/ForumVB/

The bottom line is the the HF panels are ASI silicone that do not last very many years. I do have a 20% coupon for HF if you are interested email me at:

survival@roscoevideo.com

Take care,

Skip

June 23, 2008 11:36 PM

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Blogger Wretha said…

Hi Skip, thanks for the info, I included the link in the message. If I had a spare 2 grand, I would probably order a pallet of solar panels from that company…

Email me directly about the coupon.

Wretha
wretha @ gmail . com (just remove the spaces)

June 24, 2008 4:22 PM

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Blogger Wretha said…

Oops Skip, I didn’t see your email address until after I posted my reply, I’ll email you.

Wretha

June 24, 2008 4:23 PM

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Anonymous seth said…

If you check with Steve Spence @ greentrust.org, he had mentioned on one of the yahoo groups about having the HF panels for a number of years already and they are still working fine.

June 30, 2008 10:25 PM

Cha cha cha cha Changes….
by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 15, 2008 - 10 Comments in WRETHA

You will notice some changes in the appearance of my blog, I have been working this last week to learn how to customize the appearance (and other things), I know how to make web pages, I am fairly comfortable with HTML, but the blog code is a different animal, it’s similar in some ways, but the coding language is stricter and uses a lot of cascading style sheets (CSS), don’t worry if you have no idea what I am talking about, it really doesn’t matter. :)

The point is, I am working on improving the look of my blog and you will see some changes coming down the line, I work on a separate blog to tweak, test and learn so that I will not disrupt my main blog, and any mistakes will not appear here (I hope!).

Eeek, one mistake I just made, I lost all of my widgets, the things on the side of the page! I can’t seem to get them back, so I will go in and rebuild all of my widgets… in the words of that most wise of bears, Pooh, “Oh bother…” *sigh*

I hope you enjoy the new look and the upcoming changes I plan on making. Please feel free to leave comments, I appreciate the feedback, both positive and negative, if there is something that doesn’t look right to you or makes the blog harder to read or navigate, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Be sure to let me know which browser you are using, FireFox, Explorer… and anything else that might help, monitor type and size, Windows or Mac, and the version… if you don’t have all of this info, that’s ok, I still would like some feedback if you want to give it. Thanks! :)

10 Comments

Anonymous Anonymous said…

Hey Wretha, I like the new look – it’s cleaner and easier to read. Nice job. (This is not to say I didn’t like the last look, now.) :oP

Karen

June 15, 2008 8:48 AM

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Blogger Mayberry said…

Lookin’ good Wretha (and loads a lot faster too!)

June 15, 2008 10:05 AM

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Blogger The Scavenger said…

Wretha, I LOVE THE NEW LOOK. Keep up the GREAT work. Oh yea, still looking for a can for the water filter. I’ll keep ya posted on the progress, slow though it may be.

Chris

June 15, 2008 11:32 AM

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Blogger Wretha said…

Thanks Karen and Mayberry, I’m glad to hear that it loads up faster for you, that’s probably because I lost all of my widgets :(

That’s OK, I’ll be able to put them back in the following days.

Wretha

June 15, 2008 11:40 AM

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Blogger Wretha said…

Hi Scavenger, glad you like it, I have had quite a good time learning the ins and outs of editing and customizing this blog, now I just have to reinstall my widgets. :)

Let me know when you find something for your water filter/purifier, I am very interested in how it works for you.

Wretha

June 15, 2008 5:52 PM

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Blogger Dragon said…

I love it. I wish I was as talented. Dragon

June 16, 2008 12:31 AM

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Blogger Wretha said…

Thanks Dragon, I don’t know how much is talent and how much is just plain stubborn determination… when I decide to do or learn something, I usually figure out how to do it one way or another, like I said, stubborn determination! :)

BTW, it’s really not that hard, it took me about a week of searching and reading on line to learn what I needed to know, there are a lot of great blog tutorials out there that make it easy to learn about this stuff. I also made a test blog so I could experiment on it without disrupting my real blog. The hardest part was picking out the colors and where to use them.

Wretha

June 16, 2008 1:20 AM

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Blogger Tracy said…

Looks good, Wretha! I like it.

June 17, 2008 1:54 PM

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Anonymous seth said…

looking good

June 17, 2008 10:12 PM

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Blogger avon_mom said…

Wretha,

I liked the old look but the new look is pretty cool too. It loads super fast w/o the widgets. I will download it for dad next week. I’m sure he will like the changes too.

Alma

June 18, 2008 7:52 PM

Finally, Some Rain
by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 9, 2008 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

It DOES rain in the desert! We finally got a good rain yesterday, between 1.5 and 2 inches, it started about 4ish, and it didn’t stop until nearly dark. A couple of times, it really rained hard, we really, REALLY needed this rain.

Here are a few pix of the rainbow that appeared during the rain. It doesn’t show in the pix, but there was actually a double rainbow. These images are looking east.

This pic is looking south.

These pix are looking west.

Man Goes Psycho In Office
by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 7, 2008 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

Sorry, had to lose this message, after reviewing it a bit, my BS meter was pegged.

If you really want to see it, go here
http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=108653&comments=1#comments

Wildfire…
by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 5, 2008 - 9 Comments in WRETHA

Well, this has been an interesting day and a not so fun night… we had (are still having) a big fire near our community. Earlier today, or technically yesterday now, I began to smell something burning, I went outside but didn’t see anything. About an hour later, I smelled it even stronger, we went outside to see what was going on, this time we could see smoke, a big column of smoke rolling over the mountains to the south south west. We have been having smallish grass fires, burning a few acres to a couple of hundred acres, the local fire departments have been able to put them out in pretty short order. This time, it was/is a BIG fire, I understand that some 20,000 acres have been burned, and it appears that the fire is still going, as of 2:24 this morning. Most of the people who live out here chose to follow the volunteer evacuation, packed themselves up and left. We talked to a couple of our friends, one set decided to leave, the other set decided to send his wife and kids out but he stayed, he says he knows the area and knows how to get out if it gets too hairy. Anyhoo, we watched the smoke roll over the mountains all day, it got bad enough to make my eyes sting on more than one occasion today. The smoke column went up high enough to begin to block the sun, it made the evening turn orange/red. We decided to stay and ride it out, at least until we could see it would get too dangerous to stay, ie seeing fire coming over the mountain.

I called a few of the other people we know out here, couldn’t get an answer from most of them, I did get a hold of the lady who owns the local store, she said she was leaving because she had her grandkids here for a visit, she got a hotel room in town (safe from the fire) and gave us an open invitation to stay with them if we decided to leave. She said she thought everything would be OK, but just didn’t want to take the chance with the kiddos. I don’t blame her.

All day we watched the smoke billowing over the mountains, earlier in the day, Bob and one of our friends went out to the main road outside the community and watched the fire, they couldn’t see the flames, just where the smoke was coming from. He was one of the people who left this evening, with his family. The wind has been up all day, and the wind was blowing the smoke and presumably the fire right towards us. I was told by the store owner that the fire wasn’t in our community yet, it would have to travel a bit further and jump the main highway, but there was a chance it could, our community volunteer fire department was waiting outside the community in case the fire did jump the road.

As the sun went down, we could still see and smell the smoke, once it started getting dark, we saw a very ominous site, we could see a red orange glow coming from the other side of the mountains to the south, the fire was still going strong. I had been talking to my dad on my internet phone when suddenly, the phone went dead and at the same time, the radio went dead too… we still had power, but it took me a few minutes to realize the community was without power, we still had lights, and the computer was still working, but without power, the internet tower across the valley didn’t work, therefore I had no internet and no phone. I tried my cell phone but was getting little to no signal, bummer…. I took my phone to my neighbor’s house, I figured if the power was out, maybe the phones would still be working, I have a cheapy corded phone, doesn’t need power to work, good for this situation. (Big hint, if you don’t have one already, get a corded phone that doesn’t rely on electricity to work, if the power goes out, your cordless phones will not work!) When I got to my neighbor’s house, sure enough, no power, nothing was working, including his phone, a cordless phone, I unplugged his phone and plugged mine in, bingo! It worked! I called my dad back, he was worried about me, I had just been telling him about the big fire just over the mountain, and we get disconnected… yeah, he was worried. I talked to him for a bit, assured him that we wouldn’t stay if things started looking worse. I took my phone and went back to my house, we sat out on the deck for a couple of hours watching the red glow fade and grow, occasionally we would see a really big puff of smoke get illuminated by the glow. But we never saw flames. We would occasionally see a car drive by, they must have wondered why we had lights when no one else did, I guess if they know who we are, they must know that we are on solar/battery power, I can (almost) guarantee that we were the only people still here with power, not that there were that many people still here.

I started packing up a few things to take just in case we had to bug out, my laptop for one, my corded phone, my cell phone, some important papers, a change of clothes for each of us and a couple of bottles of water. These things took up one small bag and my laptop bag, easy enough for us to carry, even if we ran out of road and had to hoof it.

Eventually the glow faded down and it appeared that the fire was coming under control, I also found out that the power came back on, the internet started working again. We still are not comfortable just going to bed while this is still potentially going on, you can still smell the smoke and there is still a slight glow over the mountain, the wind is still blowing and gusting pretty hard. A fire this big doesn’t get put out this fast. I have to assume there is still some danger, so we decided to take turns staying up, I took the first “shift”, I tend to stay up late anyhow, Bob went on to bed. I’ll wake him up later on this morning, probably close to or just after day break.

The glow has nearly faded away, but I can still smell smoke, I don’t trust going to bed, it’s just to risky, out here we are essentially on our own, if the fire flares up again, we will have to get ourselves out, it’s a bit scary, but that’s the price to pay for living so independent. I do wish the wind would die down, I know that has been a big hindrance. I sit here in front of my computer, next to the window, every now and again, I lower the laptop screen and look out the window where the glow had been, it’s still looking pretty good, I do hope they got the fire out, I also hope no one was hurt or worse, and I hope no one lost any more than a bit of grass.

Last night I thought scorpions were a problem, funny what a bit of perspective can do for you. :)

9 Comments

Anonymous Laurel said…

Wretha, WOW! That sounds amazing and terrifying. I am glad you guys are OK, and I hope you don’t have to evacuate. I love the tip on the corded phone AND on bringing it with you in case of evacuation.

Hopefully you’re getting some rest and the fire is being controlled. I would be interested to see what is left when it’s gone, and how it changes in the weeks and months after. I remember in school being fascinated at how nature recovers from stuff like that.

June 5, 2008 7:05 AM

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Blogger HOLLIS said…

Stay safe and keep us updated. When life gets back to normal for Bob & you.

June 5, 2008 7:40 AM

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Blogger Wretha said…

Thanks everyone, so far so good though we aren’t out of the woods yet, I’ll keep everyone posted.

Wretha

June 5, 2008 11:48 AM

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OpenID lornkanaga said…

{{{Wretha}}}

I knew about cordless phones, but I hadn’t thought about bringing one with us if we had to bug out–good idea as not everyone has one! (heck, I won’t get digital/cable telephone because of what happens when the power or cable goes out; I gotta have my land line–hehehe)

Glad you’re safe. Keep us posted.

TheMajor’sLady

June 6, 2008 4:18 AM

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Blogger Wretha said…

We are doing better now, there are still fires burning, I heard today that they have the fires 65% contained, some 50,000 acres have been burned, no structures lost, no loss of life or injury, I really praise the men and women who have been fighting this fire. I can still smell smoke, but it is nothing like it was the first day.

Wretha

June 6, 2008 12:14 PM

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Anonymous Anonymous said…

I seem to remember that the old bag phones (pre-historic mobile numbers) make good emergency phones, even if left disconnected. Believe Texas has law which states if phone is used STRICTLY for 911 emergency types of calls, they will allow the call to be patched through.

Look this up, but I believe that this is still the case – I hope this helps.

June 6, 2008 12:40 PM

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Blogger Wretha said…

Bag phones, hmmm, I knew that any cell phone, active or not will work for 911. :)

Wretha

June 6, 2008 12:52 PM

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Blogger The Scavenger said…

Wretha, glad to know you and yours are safe and sound. I have a friend who lost a house to fire and I don’t think he ever recovered from it. He still talks about things that he had before the fire. Keep your eyes on the hills and be ready if need be. Keep safe and you will be in my prayers.

Chris

June 6, 2008 11:23 PM

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Blogger Wretha said…

Thanks Scavenger, all seems to be ok now, I can still smell smoke, it’s like we live next to a BBQ place. :)

Wretha

June 7, 2008 9:31 AM

Scorpions & Such
by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 4, 2008 - 5 Comments in WRETHA

Found our first scorpion inside the house, it was bigger than the ones I have been finding outside. I am glad we found that one, I’m not happy it was inside the house, we have been working on tightening up the house, putting up screens and such. But in spite of all the bugs, I am still happy to be living here.

It’s been H O T! Fortunately the humidity is typically low, right now it’s 95 degrees F and 16% humidity, the wind is blowing so it’s all good. I’ve been heating our dinners outside using the sun, I still don’t have a proper solar oven, so I have been using a black roasting pan, it gets plenty hot. Yesterday heated a turkey and dressing meal (pre-made), these are supposed to be heated in a microwave, I had been heating these in boiling water (anyone remember boil-in-bag meals?). I took them and set them inside the black roasting pan and set it out in the sun, it gets toasty hot in about an hour. I wanted more dressing/stuffing, so I got some Stove Top, divided it between 2 plastic containers with lids, I added enough water, put the lids on them, shook them up and put them in the roasting pan too. Everything was hot and good.

Hmmm, let’s see, what else has been happening… we ate dinner at our friends house the other night, I’ll call him JB and her PB, they are a very nice couple. She made homemade spaghetti, she is a very good cook! They have lots of kids, started late in life, I can’t imagine raising young kids now, our (respective) kids are grown and living their own lives (even having their own kids). Anyhoo, their kids are great, and quite unusual out here, there just aren’t many kids living out here. Oh well… JB is helping us with some material, he has quite a spread with lots of stuff, some might call it a mini junk yard, but it’s all good stuff, and he seems to know what he has and where it all is. We saw him today on our way to the mailbox, we saw him outside and stopped by to say HI, he is really a very nice guy.

Oh well, enough rambling for now… don’t seem to have much to say. I’ll try harder next time… :)

5 Comments

OpenID lornkanaga said…

Other than the occasional scorpion, life seems to be pretty good. Bless your neighbor with his “junkyard” as he sounds like someone who truly knows how to recycle (g).

TheMajor’sLady

June 6, 2008 4:22 AM

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OpenID lornkanaga said…

Oops. Forgot to ask something about your make-shift solar setup. Have you considered cutting three sides off of a box (leaving a bottom and two sides), then covering that with aluminum foil to increase the reflective heat generated for your pot?

I never thought of using a solar oven for microwave dinners! I kinda doubt it would work for microwave popcorn; too bad, as I love the BoyScout’s Trail’s-End popcorn.

TheMajor’sLady

June 6, 2008 4:52 AM

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Blogger Wretha said…

Thanks TheMajor’sLady, life is pretty good out here, the scorpions aren’t really that bad, just gotta remember to check shoes and clothes before putting them on, and be careful where I am putting bare feet when I walk around the house, can’t put bare feet in places where I can’t see… ;)

I actually have a cardboard solar oven, it’s under my bed right now, I need to get it back out and start using it, it’s not as sturdy as one made of wood, but it does work, I don’t know if my black roaster would fit in it though, I think I have a smaller one, somewhere…

Wretha

June 6, 2008 12:01 PM

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OpenID lornkanaga said…

With a three-sided box, your roaster could hang out a bit and you’d still get loads of reflected heat. (Of course, don’t take apart the one you already have.) Also, you could prop up two pieces of aluminum (if you have any left over from your roofing project).

TheMajor’sLady

June 8, 2008 6:21 AM

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Blogger Wretha said…

TheMajor’sLady, I did find my small roaster, gotta check to see if it fits in my cardboard solar oven… I think it should. I’ve been eyeballing all of my empty glass jars, those can be painted black (leaving a small vertical strip clear to see the food inside), those are great at heating foods like soups and such.

Wretha

June 8, 2008 11:43 AM


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