looking forward, looking backward, just looking

I'm so glad to be putting this year behind me. Not that it was an especially bad one, but it wasn't exactly a great one either. I'm looking forward to 2014, especially when the Year of the Horse kicks off in February. According to what I've read it's to be a good one for me in particular. Here's hoping the Chinese soothsayers are right! The extra time at my parents was well spent. I got to think a lot about what was planned and decided to pare them down. Instead I will concentrate on getting used to my road legs. Some of the things like the wild desert veggie garden and wabbit hunting are still going to happen, but at a later time. The one thing that's still on is volunteering at an animal sanctuary for as long as I can. Since this is my intended future line of work I hope to determine, sooner than later, which position suits my talents best. I think and feel that helping animals is going to prove to be very rewarding when compared to my last profession. All these changes I've been making in my life have been a little bit scary. OK a lot scary. The payoff I'm shooting for is a happier and better me. I think it's worth the effort.

I sold my rifle and associated gear yesterday. Most of the money is being pocketed with a fraction of it earmarked for it's later replacement. The veggie garden gear has been squirreled away for the day I'm ready to plant. The GS puppy has been pushed out until right before I leave or when I arrive at my destination. My parents can barely handle my nephew when he's around and a puppy would only exacerbate matters. I'm still in a holding pattern on selling my property because the real estate market isn't quite where I need it to be. There are some choice pieces of property I've found in NM which would make an excellent home base. This is where I will build my shipping container cabin. I've been reading volumes of info and watching hours of tiny home videos before I kind of figured out what I wanted. I mean in that constant ever evolving kind of way that I do stuff.

I hope you and yours have a Happy and Safe New Years celebration tonight. 


merry xmas, in person

Last year I celebrated Xmas with the family via Skype from Austin. Getting to do it in person took some of the edge off my apathetic response towards this particular holiday. Despite everyone having to keep a tight pocketbook this year everyone received gifts they wanted/needed. The littlest one in this family made off with the biggest and funnest haul. His excitement and smiles made it all worth it. 

Yesterday is/was my father's birthday as well. The grandkids took him out for a birthday lunch of Korean BBQ to celebrate, and the adults (us) made him a delicious diabetic safe Xmas dinner. We ate our fill, waited an hour, and then went back for second dinner.

Growing up with a Peruvian mom, we celebrated Xmas a little differently. A huge Xmas dinner is prepared and later consumed on night of the 24th. We stay up til the clock strikes midnight where we wish each other a Merry Christmas and the gift unwrapping begins. The only gifts opened on Christmas morning are the ones Santa delivered while everyone was asleep. This is actually a lot more different than they way she did it growing up. Mom adapted it after immigrating here to fit in better with Xmas here. After all was said and done, we were thoroughly stuffed but happy.

Merry Christmas to you and your families!


running on empty

My cycling has kind of come to a stand still. I'm still doing it but I'm just not venturing out since I've seen everything I would want to where I'm at. The timing was perfect since I've not had as much time lately due to preparations for xmas. I finished all my xmas shopping three days ago and have been feeling rather reclusive so I've not left the house since. Instead I've been helping mom cleanup, rearrange, and get rid of a lot of stuff at home. In doing so I came across a bunch of family albums where I found some old pictures I thought I'd share.

Me and my first bike.

Me and my first xmas

About two weeks ago my phone stopped working. There was no warning of the impending failure, and it simply would not turn on. This kicked off what was to become a weeklong ordeal. I didn't want to commit to another two year contract but had no choice as it was the most inexpensive choice. After some research I found the perfect phone and placed my order. This was an online special for the Moto X with overnight shipping. It wasn't until after the order was placed that I learned (from the email conf) that shipping occurs after processing which takes 5-7 days. To make matters worse there was a choice for in-store pickup which didn't work nor was there an explanation why. I called "customer care" the following morning about it, and they changed it to in-store pickup. When I arrived the store reps said I could not pick it up and would have to wait for it to ship. Later that afternoon I received an email that it had shipped and would arrive the following day. It did not. It was shipping from the one of the midwest cities that was hit by the storm. I waited five more days before it arrived. The new phone is great and I couldn't be happier with it, but I really could've done without seeing what's pictured below five days later.


children and the living will

I've had a lot on my mind lately, almost too much to handle, but I've been working my way through it. Recently my sister was telling me about the hoops she and her hubs had to jump through. She asked if I had one, which I didn't, and suggested that I make one soon. Her urgency comes from a friend who had recently suffered a loss in the family. What she explained to me was a bit mind boggling. When I learned about all the details she had to consider in making out the will, I realized I had a lot more loose ends than I'd thought. The biggest one was Bridgette. If anything happened to me I want her to be with and live out her life with my family. This might seem kind of silly to some of you to worry about a dog like that, but she's what's important to me. She's alive. The rest of my stuff is just that, stuff. All those loose ends are taken care of now as well. Most of that stuff can and will be sold off to cover expenses. I purged a lot of the unnecessary stuff a few years ago which made this process I wouldn't say easier but a lot less tedious.

So when I was talking to sissy about her living will. What happens to the kids was a big part. She knows me better than I know myself, which I'm really thankful for. She'd already worked out who my nephew would be with, grandparent visitations, schools, and everything else you might think of. I suffered a mini panic attack when we were discussing it because if anything happened to my sissy and her hubs, I thought it would be me. It wasn't. She told me her main reason was because I'm on a different path and doesn't want to disrupt that. I need to finish this journey I'm currently on. That was huge and made me come to terms with the simple fact that I'm healing in a lot of ways I wasn't aware of. While we talked I finally voiced things that had been buried in me for a long time. I came to terms with a strong fear that I might treat a child the way I was and fatherhood may not be for me. I was spirited child with a father who was physically abusive and mentally abusive mother. I'm not playing the abuse card as there are aunts, uncles, and long standing family friends who have spent years telling them both to not do what they did. We've come to terms and worked things out, but are all still wrestling with demons past. They've expressed their regrets but it's also in their eyes when they see how well and differently my sister is raising her spirited son. Hearing sis say it's alright to be where I am and recognize it lifted the anxiety I was feeling. She pointed out that many people who have no business being parents irresponsibly bring children into the world. If only they recognized what I did it would've saved all involved a lot of damage. Will I ever be a dad? I don't know. I'm still working this out and maybe this was just the push to recognize it all so that I can finally figure it out. We'll see.


dim sum and then some

Oops, forgot to take a picture of the food.
It was so good!

This morning we took my niece out for some dim sum. Poor thing has been craving Chinese food since she started college, and there's none worth mention there. She, as well as the rest of us, devoured just about everything placed in front of us. A fantastic meal like that always leaves us all feeling fat and sassy. This is honestly one of those things I wish was more readily available nationwide; I'm getting my fill since I really missed it when living in MN and TX. It really has been a while and I'm really enjoying and loving the time spent with my family. What's funny is at first mom was resistant to my undetermined length of unemployment and insisted I take on a job. Had I done so I wouldn't have been able to do (or not do in some cases) some of the stuff I have with them. Mom and Dad didn't get to spend this kind of time with their parents when they were my age. I think they realized that situations like mine don't always present themselves and they're both glad I'm around. I know my sister and her family are happy I'm around. When I leave it won't be so bad because I'll be closer by and can drop what I'm doing to come home at almost any time. Family!

Just kidding, here's the before picture.

Oreo is a week past her dental operation and back to her old self again. Oreo lost seven teeth and was on a diet of rice and shredded chicken for most of the week. She's now back to her kibble but I've added a tablespoon of shredded chicken, and baby carrots to one of her daily meals. She also finished her pain meds, but has a months worth of Sam E and Milk thistle to go through still. This is to help repair some possible liver damage from before, but also what the pain meds added to it. She's recovered nicely so far and finally has some pearly whites to show for what she's gone through.

Thanksgiving night the girls got a mixture of bits of turkey, ham, carrots, and kibble to celebrate the holiday as well as Bridgette's birthday from prior week. They both seemed to be aware that this was a special meal; they ate slowly savoring every bite instead of their usual cruchy gobbling.


The gratitude animals show you is so rewarding when they realize that you're actually helping them. I really enjoy helping animals and believe this the right career change choice for me. I'm looking forward to next year where I'll be volunteering at a few animal sanctuaries. 


leftovers from the massacre

So yesterday morning I bought a kids bike trailer after hunting for a deal on one the last few months. It's a used double wide I found on craigslist for $40. which normally sells for $130 new. Sissy and I discussed getting one and agreed to split use of it. She'd use it for a year or so with my nephew, and I would then use it with Bridgette. This being for when she's too old and arthritic to get around unassisted. What neither of us took into account at that time was that Blake would almost ready for the training wheels to come off. Now she doesn't need it, but I'm not ready for it. The price and condition made it too good to pass up, but I don't want it to sit around in storage. At first thought it seemed kind of overkill to take with, but then the brain gears started turning. I realized I would have quite a few uses for it. I'll save gas when using it for grocery/supply runs where applicable. It may also come in handy with Bridgette and/or the (impending) puppy if I'm in an area with really shitty drivers (like here in SoCal). It can hold up to a 100 lbs which means I could haul a full propane tank (38 lbs) in it with room to spare. The gears are still cranking but those are just a few ideas off the top. The thing I like best is how it folds up for easy storage.

After getting home I helped mom with some dinner prep and then decided to take advantage the day. It was a nice slightly overcast 74° day with a mild breeze. The ride was near perfect with the exception of my right hand/wrist. It's a touch weak from my wipe out a few weeks ago. After about fifteen miles I stopped for a rest and was rewarded with a nice little vista. It's moments like these that make staying in SoCal tolerable.

An old and tired practice is people photographing feasts before they're devoured. Everyone does it, and you see it all over instagram. I'm kind of sick of seeing that. Instead I'm gonna take pictures of the aftermath. Here's our Thanksgiving day turkey massacre. That poor bird never saw us coming.


mad world

There's this odd dance that's happening every moment we're alive. The steps to it are easy enough and are simply known as good or bad. We all make them. The daily news itself is a great validation of this. The bad steps I read about there are what really takes its toll on me. This in turn validates my reasons for changing to a less crowded, less complicated life. For the time being, and in my case, the good steps are outweighing the bad ones in making my extended stay all the more worthwhile. This is the first Thanksgiving the whole family has been able to spend together since my nephew was born. As crazy as we make each other we always manage to find a way to make the best of it. For that I'm beyond thankful in a world that is positively mad!

Almost forgot. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.


every dog has it's day

Although you might think the opposite once I'm finished telling you what happened. This last Sunday the weather was perfect for a bike ride or taking the pups to the dog park. I chose the dog park since the girls had been couped up for the last few weeks with everyone having varying stages of the flu. That turned out to be a mistake. Instead I should've just leashed them up and gone for a nice walk on the lakeside with them. That would've been the smart and easier thing to do, but instead I thought taking them to the dog park would be much more fun for them. Well it was, up to a point.

Bridgette wound up getting into a fight and bit another dog. Unfortunately for me, my back was turned while I was petting another dog and didn't see what took place. Fortunately for me, several witnesses came forward to report that she did not start the fight and reacted in self defense. However the other dog was the one that got bit while B came out of it unscathed. The owner of bit dog asked me for my info and I provided it. One of the witnesses was fairly vocal about what he believed the other owner was attempting to do (sue me and/or have my dog put down), but I managed to calm him and the owner down. I told him get his dog to the vet and get the wound looked after and we could discuss how to handle this. He did and we later agreed to a no fault both parties pay half the vet bills to resolve this. Four days & $250 in vet bills later, his pooch is on the road to recovery. His dog had a puncture on his cheek which didn't go all the way through in the beginning. Things took a bad turn when the wound healed up faster on the outside creating a pocket with no way to drain. The wound filled up and his cheek was starting to swell. To make thing even more complicated his dog suffers from seizures and won't let you touch him when he's hurt so he has to be sedated in order to be treated. The little guy also bit open the wound from inside his mouth, hence why a little minor surgery was required. After cleaning it all up a tube was put in to allow the wound to drain properly. He was sent home yesterday with lots of really great drugs, soft food, and wore the cone of shame. Now that everything is set right, it's just a matter of time for him to heal. How is the other owner? He's a wreck as any good pet parent would be. I'm a little calmer about it having gone through what he did with Bridgette once before. She was attacked about five years ago and received not only a puncture in her neck, but her ear was slightly torn. She recovered fine and you can't even tell where she was ever injured. Back to the other dog. Some good things came out of this. The cost (although high for someone currently unemployed) was more than reasonable given how expensive things are these days. I also added his vet to my list for emergencies. I'm grateful the other owner is a reasonable human being who understood that this kind of thing can happen. Most importantly, he was willing to work things out in a fair way. I got to know him and he's very good people. He's in the same place as I am, just further along on starting his new career.

The day his dog was being treated was also the day we were getting Oreo's teeth cleaned. We had a feeling it was gonna be bad since she'd never been in for one before. When the call came the vet said Oreo's had gingivitis and three molars with exposed roots needed to be pulled. This was in addition to the one loose tooth we already knew about. She also had 4x the normal amount of ALT in her blood which I can only assume was worse before I switched to a premium brand food and put her on a diet. By the way, she reached her target weight of 20 pounds last month and looks great. We gave the go ahead and went back to worrying/waiting again. During the op the vet found three more loose teeth making it seven in total that were pulled. This vet did a fantastic job in that she mitigated the pain and anesthesia meds used to go easy on our old girl's liver. She even gave Oreo a free dose of morphine for the road. She was the best dog ever on the ride home. Normally she runs from side to side and looks out the window or winds up pawing at the button to opens it; this time she just laid there and groaned a little. We were sent home with 5 days worth of rimadyl and a prescription to buy some Sam E and Milk Thistle to help her liver heal itself. I can tell she's still in quite a bit of pain; it's gonna be a rough week for the poor girl. Even B is helping to look after her. Earlier I caught them laying next to each other but missed catching it on camera.

Despite how bad this whole experience might seem; all parties are on the road recovery. I even made a few new friends along the way. I've also made the decision to never visit a dog park again. The risk is simply too much and not worth it. Walks around the lakeside and later the desert are the way to go.



Slightly before my partial incapacitation I managed to lift the old man's spirits from the onset of the winter blues. In addition to that, dad has also been mourning the death of his old electric hot pot (known as Shabu Shabu (translates to swish swish) the Japanese name) cooker since last winter. I was ready to buy him a replacement when I arrived, but chose not to say anything until last month. My dad is kind of like a kid and would've wanted me to buy it then had I said so last June. I was right and glad I waited to say anything. He started scouring for deals the second I told him I would buy him one. We shopped around and read all the reviews for a week before finding one with a decent warranty at a local Asian supermarket. We got it and picked up all the ingredients for dinner that night. Dad was uber thrilled and acting a lot like a kid at xmas that night. We must've had it at least four times for dinner that first week. The good thing is it's excellent and something you don't tire of easily.

For anyone interested. Hot Pot was invented by Temujin or Genghis Khan as the world knows him. He was also the greenest leader in the world to date, look it up. He had come up with this method as a means to conserve fuel while keeping his troops fed. Basically the troops were given thinly sliced cuts of meat along with vegetables where they would use communal pots of boiling water to cook it in. The fast cook time also allowed the food to retain most of it's nutritional value. Unlike my tater tot casserole pictured below. Not at all healthy but just as tasty and filling on a cold day.

So I've got an upcoming camping trip where I'll really by putting the Kelly Kettle thru its paces. In addition to the usual canned or dried soups I plan on using it as a mini hot pot cooking system. I'll see about taking some  more pictures and video of it in action too.



Last weekend I had the misfortune of hitting a slick patch and wiping out while out on a bike ride. None of the injuries were life threatening but they did back a little. It was a few bruises, road rash, with the worst of it being a bruised wrist bone. This was the one attached to my dominant hand. Getting around wasn't too bad outside of trying to use my laptop. Instead, I relied on my tablet and the google voice dictation feature helped me to keep up with emails and what not. It definitely made a difference! Today is the first day I've been able to do anything normal with it, so instead I chose to update my blog.

Here's an exchange between me, gramps, and my nephew from last night. He's almost four.
Grandpa: Say girl
Nephew: Gwrl!
Me: How do you say girl?
Nephew: Gwrl!
Me: Do you like girls?
Nephew: Yes.
Me: Me too
Nephew: I also like naked girls
Grandpa & Me lose it!


guess what day it is?

So I was searching for something I'd posted on my blog a while back and realized that I started this blog three years ago. It was a little bit of a slow start but I've been posting fairly regularly now. It feels like forever ago when this began for me too. Well, I don't want to reminisce too much since not all the memories were happy ones. I'm just glad the unpleasantries are well behind me and I can share this little moment with you.


october progress report

Sorry for the lack up posts this month. I can't say it's been a busy month, but it's not been a lax one either. I've been spending most of my days cycling the trails in and around here and communing with nature for the most part. There was a failed attempt at getting the beagle to run alongside as I biked, but she was having none of it. She seems to think anything moving on wheels is unnatural and should be bayed at with extreme prejudice. Everything else has moved along as planned but I've had to delay my departure. Well, it's not exactly a delay so much as adjusting to circumstances. Since I'm not leaving just yet I'll be headed to my favorite stomping grounds. Joshua Tree! I'm probably going to spend a few days or weeks there so I can clear my head. 

Here's how everything else panned out so far this last month. 

Building the tiny house on my CA property is out since real estate is improving again. I'm out to sell it raw now since I can get a fair price for it again. My intent to buy and build a home base in NM is still a go. Point of fact that is my land sale should net me more than enough to buy at least twice the land owned now.

The generator has been purchased, practiced, and test with now. I'm all set for power should I need more than solar/batteries can handle. 

I picked up a nice solid U bike lock, and am looking into a GPS tracking device should the lock fail me. I learned about it in a bike lock review article a few weeks ago. They're activate when the bike moves and automatically email you location updates. 

LED bulbs ordered and should arrive any day now!

The gazebo has come to a complete stop. Due to a lack of funds to cover the ridiculous disposal fees CA sees fit to charge we've had to postpone this until it can be afforded. We managed to dispose of what was removed without cost, mostly by the skin of our teeth. 

Air rifle gear has not sold, but I have received trade offers. None were worth the cost though and I'm kind of frustrate at all the low ball offers even when after saying "no low ball offers accepted".

No GS puppy yet. I held off because of family obligations. Mainly it would make training difficult with my attention split. Someone will have a fresh batch of puppies when I'm ready, and raising her in the desert with my other girl to help teach will be easier without distractions.

Other than that all is bueno!


the tiny house

No I'm not throwing in the towel nor do I have plans to anytime soon. Settling down someplace quiet and out of the way is and has always been part of the end game for me. Preferably while I've got plenty of time left on this rock. The cabin is something that I've thought about for years and recently started toying with the idea of building one on my piece of property in CA. One reason is that I might stand a better chance of selling it sooner with a cabin on it. The sale would allow me to buy land and build again in a more preferable state. Out of all the building methods I've researched this past decade, I found the shipping container to be the best all around base material and most inexpensive of them all. Adding to that the Tiny House Movement has really helped in planning this out. There are so many people out there doing so many different yet amazing things with their projects that I've really learned how limitless the possibilities are.

My plan is to turn this ...
Into this, sans trailer wheels.

Someday, someday soon!

kelly kettle: review and first cook

My first ever video review. There was kind of a steep learning curve and a quadrillion mistakes were made but it's finished. I know this attempt is mediocre at best, but please don't allow that to reflect on the product itself. The Kelly Kettle delivers and is more than worth the cost in my opinion.

I originally wanted to prepare something exotic that would really showcase the Kelly kettle, but time constraints prevented that from happening. This actually worked out since exotic ingredients are harder to come by in most, if not all, rural markets. I instead went with ingredients anyone can find and put together a simple faux Asian vegetable noodle soup. I also made the mistake of recording more audio than there was video to go with, so my narration ends abruptly with the video. What got chopped was me Thanking you for watching and hope that my review informs and helps you in arriving at a decision.

Here's what didn't make it into the video. I did too much at once so some things suffered. Cooking was a little awkward since this was my first time. I should have cooked with it a few times before taping. They're not kidding when they say this boils water fast. Even though I'd read and knew it would take three minutes, I was still caught off guard when it happened. I also recommend not filling the water chamber up to the edge of the lip since it splashes out when boiling. Hilariously, I almost put out my own fire because of this. My tea kind of tasted a little metallic, but I've experienced this with new kettles before. It goes away by the second or third boil which I confirmed with this mornings tea. Clean up is a cinch as is packing it all away when finished. The inside of the kettle and potholder turn black from use which is normal. I know there are ways to clean it back to an almost a pristine state, but it doesn't bother me. The kit is simple, straightforward, and easy to use. Finally. I think the best thing about Kelly Kettles is that all the parts can be individually replaced should any become damaged. You don't have to buy a whole entire kit just to get one rare part, nor are any of the replacement parts overpriced.

[The Recipe]
The noodles dominated the Kelly pot when they were finished cooking, so you can split the pack if it's too much. However if you love them then leave it as is. Depending on your dietary preference you can add or switch out anything below with whatever you prefer. I had also meant to add bits of chicken to this but forgot to defrost it in time for the video.

16-20oz chicken stock (add more as the noodles soak it in)
1 top ramen or maruchan noodles package w/out flavor packet
1/2 star anise
1/2  teaspoon of salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic minced
1 baby bok choy
1 sliced green onion
1 teaspoon sriracha


kelly kettle: arrival & unpacking

My Kelly Kettle arrived today!!! It only took two days from order to delivery, but that's largely due to it shipping from a neighboring city. I purchased the mid sized stainless steel Scout kit which weighs in total at two pounds two ounces. I had two reasons for picking this size and metal. The first is because of how well stainless steel holds up over time and the second was the almost doubled water capacity of 37oz versus 19oz with the smaller version. I read many reviews with most of them being positive, but wanted to share something regarding the few negative reviews read. The reviewers generally tended to focus on claiming how thin the metal was and how easily it damaged. I can only assume they purchased the aluminum version. The stainless steel used to make the kettle is thicker than most camping cookware and will shrug off the average drop. From what I'm seeing it would have to be hit with a fair amount of force to cause a dent. Oddly enough the stainless steel version weighs less than the aluminum version. I also noticed that most people neglected to mention some of the more important rules of use. Most are common sense but I can see how some people might overlook them and damage the kettles and/or themselves.

For the sake of safety here are the rules.
1. Never heat the kettle without water in it.
2. Never heat the kettle with the stopper in place.
3. Never hold the handle above the chimney when the kettle is lit.

I might have went a little overboard with the pictures but I wanted to share my excitement in unpacking this little beauty!

The box

The opened box

Makes sense, I'm in California

Can't wait to go Chef Boy R Lee on this

They do love their boxes

Kettle and fire base

Cookware set.
Pot, Fry Pan (doubles as pot lid), Grill, and Handle

Grill on fire base

Potholder disassembled

Potholder assembled

Potholder assembled in kettle

Pot on assembled potholder in kettle

Must I explain everything?
Trying out a Paula Deen recipe

Yumm, butter soup

Everything packed into the carry bag

Part two of this will be a video review where I prepare a meal. Preferably something ethnic if possible.


taking care of business

It's a beautiful, cool, overcast, and 71°'s here today in Socal. Because of weather like this over the last week I've been able to catch up on a lot of things that were previously postponed. I've got to also tell you that I was fiercely wishing I was still up in the NM or AZ mountains the entire time. It made it really hard to focus on what my mind should've been on instead of daydreaming and/or sweating for doing nothing. I somehow managed it and am loving that feeling of accomplishment that comes after.

My parents are doing very well now. Mom's test results came back negative and is making it a point to stay properly hydrated. Dad made changes to his eating habits by having smaller meals as well as practicing moderation with even the things that are good for him. Sometimes you're never out of the woods and this was never more true than this past weekend. Sissy had to make a trip to the emergency room which turned out to be a minor issue that's easily corrected. She'll be fixed up via some minor outpatient surgery next week. Thank fuck!

Truck/Travel trailer insurance
Truck wheel balance and rotation
Paid off minor charges
Jetboil Flash sold/Kelly Kettle ordered
Check engine light is now off via O2 sensor mod
Bought Sissy's $175 amazon.com gift credit for a rainy day

In Progress
Gazebo - Is being dismantled in small pieces daily
German Shepherd puppy - I found a few great candidates and am deciding which
Air rifle and associated gear (selling in favor of replacing with a break barrel model)

I'm waiting until the last possible minute to complete the following since they're mostly of use to me on the road and not here.

Honda generator
LED bulbs for trailer
Fan-tastic vent 3 speed reversible fan
Truck maintenance (oil, spark plugs, trans fluid)
Bike Lock

One last bit of good news. My niece left this morning for college. Sissy's family all went up to help her move in and get settled in. Unfortunately my niece had forgotten to do something that was very important during all her preparations and packing over this last week.

A reminder of what she forgot to do.


under pressure

Things are moving along but my departure may be delayed. Both my parents took ill recently. My father's ailments were attributable to some bad dietary practices. He's made the needed adjustments and is on the mend. We also had to make a few adjustments in the kitchen with what mom cooks for him. The main issue being that she tends to cook dishes without regard to his diabetes and gout. I also had to take my mom in to see a doctor the other day. He agreed with my assessment that she was most likely dehydrated based on her symptoms. However, as a precaution they did take some samples for testing but I'm expecting that the tests will only reinforce what had happened. She's on the mend now as well. I kind of shudder to think how they would've handled this had I not been around. They seem to only make changes when the SHTF. Otherwise the rest of the time they just stay the course and slowly damage themselves. My sissy would've stepped in for sure but she can't possibly handle them in addition to raising a toddler, sending a daughter off to college, and working the family business. 

Adding to the fray I received a notice from my bank that the Franchise Tax Board aka The State of CA's tax collection office had placed a levy on my account. After a few phone calls I managed to find out what was going on and got it straightened out. The story is that I possibly owe them back taxes from 2008 but neither of us is 100% sure. The reason being that at that time I withdrew my 401k that year. The first half of the year I was a resident of CA, but not for the second half. I withdrew those funds while I was living in MN which is why neither side is sure. I paid the balance due and stopped the interest while filing a protest. So I might get the money back, I might not. I'm leaning towards not getting it back given how the state govt of CA spends money like a bunch of drunken sailors. Also, the reason why they finally got around to dealing with something from 2008 was because they couldn't seem to find me after I moved away from MN. The best part of all of this for me was the levy was placed on an account with nothing in it. 

This month I'm due to spend a lot of money which always causes undue stress on me. I've just become very opposed to spending large amounts money even when needed. The backtaxes owed wasn't a large amount but every bit adds up. 

My truck is due for an oil change as well as maintenance. Based on what it costed in the past I'm expecting to spend about $250. It would be more but since I purchased my tires from a nationwide tire store chain I get rotations/balances done for free there. Technically my oil change was due when I arrived in June but I've been holding off until before I leave. 

My insurance is due in a few days. I used to pay monthly until I learned how much I would save by paying it all up front for the six month run. This will cost me about $980. 

The generator will cost me about $1000.

The budget for the german shepherd puppy is $250., but I'm also shelling out $400. for the Banfield puppy wellness plan. This will cover all the costs of the innoclations, visits, spaying, testing, and treatment within the norm. 

Speaking of pressure. The cost to repair the valve on my compressed air tank is $90. It holds air, just not the 4500PSI it's supposed to. I've been considering selling all of my PCP air rifle & gear in favor of a break barrel air rifle. I won't have these worries about how to power it since it's all self contained. The downside is that I only get one shot if I miss with a break barrel versus the magazine bolt action of the PCP rifle. That and I lose a bit of range and power too. 

A decent bike lock will cost me around $50. I've been debating on getting a bike rack or just storing it in the trailer when traveling. I would need the lock either way, but can lock the bike to the trailer tongue. 

The worst of it is that I have that potentially bad catalytic converter that may need to be replaced. I'm hoping it's just bad O2 sensors, but I may still have to replace it. I have a cousin here who is a mechanic and may be able to help me do this for less than the $1k Honda is asking for. I'm also considering a bypass since I'm not a resident of this state nor do I have to pass smog in my current state of residency (TX) or future state SD. 

I'm not rich by any stretch. I saved and earmarked finances to cover all these expenses earlier in the year. Honestly I'd be just fine if I didn't have to take it all on at once. I'm hoping the upside is that I won't have too many worries like this in the coming months since I'm dealing with it now.

That all being said I'm supposed to turn in a 30 day notice with the RV storage park which I didn't do. I'm debating on turning it in next month and possibly leaving in early November, or wait it out until after xmas. There's still so much to do here and I want to be sure I leave my parents in good health. 


can't take this town

Over the last two weeks I've been living in what the locals call a heat wave. This is refered to as a hot day in Central Texas and lasts about five months instead of two to three weeks. The title isn't about the weather so much as the place I'm in, geographically and mentally speaking. I know I've been MIA these last few weeks so let me get you current.

The hiking/playing Ingress/diet changes definitely helped to get and keep the lipids at a mangable level, but the cycling is where the changes became noticible. Over the last month I've managed to shed four of the most stubborn pounds in about two weeks time. I've never been overweight and have always been the tall slim type to the casual observer. Even though I managed to get a little fluffy (at least to me) the worst I did to myself wasn't visible. Meaning my prior lipid issues.

Well, it's been almost a month since I bought the bike and in that time I've managed to log 100+ miles on it. To be fair most of the riding took place in the first two and a half weeks. Then it got a little too hot. I've got the right gear and could have still ridden, but instead settled for early morning or late evening walks with the beagle. Which, sadly, were fewer and further between than we both wanted. We managed to console our guilt by eating ice cream inside an air conditioned house together. The downtime was put to good use. I repaired some minor comfort issues with my bike headgear and frugally shopped online for a few more needed items (cycling and full timing). I did manage to sneak in a few early evening rides but couldn't stay out long as I wanted due to the lack of a head and taillight.

The freaking gazebo! It's almost become the bane of my existance, but I'm more than determined to see it demolished. I was held back by the diposal issue (which we have resolved), but had two other issues stop us. One was my bro in law (who owns a big truck w/a large bed) was on vacation for a week. His truck is key based on how we have to dispose of the wood. The second is the current heatwave we're still waiting out. Once it's over the removal will go very fast. Mostly because I've spent more time studying how-to dismantle than what it will actually take.

Honda generator. I've lined up a few places with best prices where I'll buy it but am waiting until a week or two before I get it. I figure I can give it a decent shake down, weed out any possible problems, and get them resolved in that time. I do (still) have plans to add solar power to my rig, but decided to wait until after I'm out on the road a while. Mainly I want to see who has what and how it's setup on their rigs. I've done a lot of research and have a list of the best recommended items for my needs but still.

Madeline (the german shepherd). Some of you might recall her from my hunting and gathering post over two years ago. She's one of the things I've been shopping for and am within a few weeks of getting her. As I've always said I love and adore my beagle Bridgette, but she's absolute shit when it comes to protecting me. The family is excited about this and looking forward to having another little one around (regardless of species). Well, most everyone is excited. Mom isn't too crazy about it, but as I explained to her it's only for a short while. That and since we put Oreo (sissy's dog who lives with them) on a strict diet, she's dropping much smaller steamers these days. Backyard cleanup is also much easier since I've been around to help out. I say that tongue in cheek and mean it within the bounds of her OCD. Anyways. Puppy! Looking forward to adding to my little family, and putting all those lessons in patience the beagle put me through. They do say raising the second is easier. We'll see.

I attended one night at the behest of a few very close friends and family. While it was great reconnecting with a lot of friends whom I hadn't seen in years there were as many acquaintances I could've done without seeing. It would've been nicer had I only reunited with just the ones I wanted elsewhere instead. Still I managed the survive the night and make it home in one piece. This event is held at a hotel near LAX which means I've got to drive through most of the crap I really hate. Los Angeles. Don't get me wrong I have a special kind of hate for Orange County too, but it's a far cry more tolerable than the former. Part of it is sharing the road with the special breed of idiot who drives there, but most of it is the miles and miles and miles of manmade everything. Being here this long has started to damage my calm and I think the time for me to take my leave is fast coming! At the very least I need to get out of town for a few days and recharge my batteries.

All in all things are going as expected and I'm on schedule to hit the road. I'm still shooing for mid to late fall or winter at the very latest. That is if I'm wrong and my sister is right about her friend whom she keeps saying I will hit it off with. You know me, I never put all my ducks in a basket! Or is that eggs in a row? Never say ever? Can't seem to think straight in this heat.


the accidental cyclist

Mine, mine, mine, it's really all mine now.

After waiting for a sale that would never come, I went out and got my new bike last week. The local bike shop sold out of the model I wanted so I had to call around until I found another shop had one in stock and it was $20 less. Yay! After taking it out on a few rides I realized that I needed bike stuff, badly. So off I went and picked up a helmet, blinking tail light, moisture wicking short-sleeve riding shirt as well as boxers, and a smartphone holder at my local REI (still a dangerous place for me even with my newfound miserly powers). I learned on my first two rides that I really dislike being circus freak sweaty and prefer a drier feel. I kind of forgot how mentally challanged most CA drivers are which is where the helmet and blinking red taillight come into play. I'm hoping this is a case of have not need, and save the helmet the duty of saving my bacon. The smartphone holder is waterproof and keeps my phone safe while allowing me to still interact with it. This allows me to not have to reach into my pocket while riding to work with the bike ride tracking app (Strava) I use as well as being able to play Ingress

Since I hadn't ridden a bike since I was a kid I'll offer a few Am-Tips (amateur tips) which I hope might help out anyone looking to ride again. First off I rode the thing like I was ten years old. I went balls to the wall when I should've been pacing myself. I got real dizzy halfway when the thought dawned on me and I slowed down. After that things got easier and the burning in my legs subsided. However I needed the help of a few beers and aspirin to coax the soarness completely away. The other thing is, if you happen to get a bike with 21 gears be sure to read up before going out and trying them all out. This was a major contributor to my pain from the first ride. Turns out even though you have 21 speeds you can't actually use every single one of them. Technically you should only be using about 13 of them because you'll stretch your chain based on the angle of the gears. There are volumes of info explaining this in better detail so I'll leave it for you to find as needed. Luckily my mistakes took place on the first ride allowing me to have a smoother time of it on the second one. I even doubled the distance. Can't wait to ride w/the beagle this winter out there. The major coup is that I'll be saving gas money on market runs while keeping the healthy activity up. 

On the emotional and/or mental side of things. I fucking LOVED it!!! The kind of freedom it invokes in you is unsurpassed. I get that it's just a bike ride, but you reconnect the kid with the adult in you in an unexpected way. I suppose this feeling might be magnified since I'm also crashing with the folks this summer. You can't help but feel like a kid no matter how old you are when in the precense of your parents I guess. It's one of those physical activities that allows a Zen state of mind where you can really focus thought. Ok getting way too inner something here. Sorry, choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep.

She was extremely unhappy about
not breaking them in today.

While I was there I found a drastically reduced set of the Ruff Wear XXS shoes with Vibram treads for the beagle. They released the new line of shoes Summit Trex just like they said last April in I've got dreams and were priced at $55. The prior model of Grip Trex shoes I found were only $18, and in her size. Baby's new shoes were scored! 


now you're cooking with ???

Up until now I've been half planning my mobile life as if resources will remain intact. I know at some point, even in this lifestyle, that I will most likely have to live it on leaner ground. My current form of cooking is based on using prepackaged fuels of one sort or another. I'm aware of all the cool little gadgets out there that utilize renewable sources to cook with but none of them seem to suit my needs. I even purchased the Jetboil as an alternate means to cook with, but to be frank I use it mostly just to heat water for my tea. That hardly fills the need for prepackaged fuel free cooking. I had my eye on the lodge dutch oven, but the amount of natural fuel I would need fuel it would most likely have me violate some sort of gathering law. While the Biolite Stove is really neat I came to conclusion that it falls short for what I need after seeing it in action. 

Recently a very good friend of mine turned me onto something that's been around for a very long time. The brilliance of its simplicity can't be matched. You'll quickly recognize how it's been imitated on its base operating principal, but more impressed at how clever it was implemented with the original version. From my understanding this has only recently made it's way into the US market. Despite how new it is, it has demonstrated that it is worth more than it's weight in gold. So without further delay here is the Kelly Kettle.

This is the large model.

The model I've been drooling over is the medium sized kit sold on Amazon.com which I'm about to order now. The part at the bottom is where all your fuel goes. Twigs, pine cones, or anything that burns. The mouth at the top is where you can add more fuel. The angled mouth at the top side is where you can add water to be boiled. The kit includes an apperatus which fits on the top allowing you to place a pan/pot to cook with. Since I'm something of an avid tea drinker the ability to boil water while I make dinner is a plus. I mean in addition to all the applications of boiling water while cooking off the same flame. Can't wait for mine to arrive!



What is it that drives others to do this? I mean especially when one is happy already. Several friends have attempted to set me up, well before I had left even Texas and returned to California. The answer, at least in my case in part, is my friends hope to anchor me here on a more permanent basis. Even my sister has lined someone up. Seriously though, what is it that drives one to do this? I've never even felt the slightest urge which makes the whole concept alien to me. I don't mean to sound unappreciative of the thought and effort behind it.

It took me a long time to put things into perspective after my last breakup. I even swore off dating just as a means to get my head into a better space with the intent to resume again later. After I got to that better head space I had learned that I really enjoyed being single. I'm better at it than any of my past relationships. I think I just suck when it comes to relationships. Oddly enough there's a direct correlation between my attempts to be a better partner and my worst relationships. The ones I didn't care as much about were the ones that were more fun and at least ended amicably.

Starting sometime last year I've had a friend whose been trying to set me up. Here's what's transpired thus far. The first girl was deported to Canada because of a mistake her mother had made years ago in the paperwork, and she was Asian. Her ethnicity has no bearing other than it struck me funny that my friend chose her of all people to set me up with. Kind of like we were the only two Asians she knew. The second girl is a mutual friend and bat shit crazy. My sister is a friend of crazy girl and can verify the veracity of my claim. Sissy also laughed at the suggested pairing. The third girl is a coworker of said friend's boyfriend and I even received a picture this time. Honestly, the girl is pretty and all but I spotted the crazy eyes on her so that was an absolute no. I don't know how to describe crazy eyes other than you can tell that there's something (very) not right based on the look in their eyes. 

As if that wasn't enough. Ever since I got back my dad has been trying to get me to the local Chinese newstand to meet a girl who works there. In his case I think he's just jonesin for more grandchildren.

And then sissy (sort of) enters the fray. She's been taunting me about meeting a friend of hers whom she says I would hit it off with and were it not for some difficulties in her life, that we should date. This kind of thing always sends a clear and concise message to me. She also said that she's my type which is funny because I've never really had one, but she swears by that statement. Now I've dated all kinds of girls from all walks of life. They've never shared any physical or personality characteristics other than being female. I'm kind of proud of that because I feel it important to love anyone for who they are and not what you want them to be. Then the picture comes out. At this point I gotta give in because she really is every kind of pretty I've ever liked. And the eyes were of the kind and sweet variety. I haven't met the woman, yet. I'm almost a little afraid to because I think sissy has pegged me pretty well. 

Whatever the case what the future intends for me only time will reveal. I'm happy and life is good!


be like water

In recent years I've done a lot more planning, with a more successful execution of said plans than in the past. Nothing is pefect and there are always unexpected setbacks to be overcome. This success partly comes from what I'd read in Bruce Lee's books on the philosophy behind Jeet Kun Do. The philosophy of remaining fluid became a great lesson when I entered the ever changing IT support field. Life also reminded me to not plan too rigidly when I had forgotten, sometimes gently, sometimes not so much. The lessons held this time and I've been able to complete each stage of this lifestyle change successfully. I'm very aware that I'm in what some consider to be the infancy of my plans, and that life might kick my ass again. That's life.

Despite how creepy I believe some craigslisters to be, it's still a great resource for stuff. Especially free stuff! I found a guy giving away one of those industrial plastic 55 gallon barrels there this week. Why would I need 55 gallons of water? Normally I kind of wouldn't, at least not all at once. Here's why. My rig is classified as a price point travel trailer by the manufacturer and was made with only a 10 gallon freshwater tank on board. Because of this I carry two 5 gallon expandable containers to make up for the smaller tank. Odd thing is the grey is 15, and the black is 9 which leaves me with about a 14 gallons of leeway before being full. The veggie garden plans dictate that I'm going to need a lot more water. Hence the free barrel, but also having an extra source of water is never a bad thing. It's a little bit bigger than I need, but I won't be filling it until I reach my destination. I won't even fill it completely if the refill point is close enough. However I'm keeping my eye open for a 25-30 gallon square tank which would sit better in my truck bed. I'm hoping to trade the barrel for it. We'll see what craigslist turns up between now and go time.

As a side note. I kept track of a lot of things like water consumption and waste disposal on each trip. In comparing notes recently I learned that I reduced both on my last trip. This was all prior trips before my last combined together. For those keeping score the last trip was nine days, and total combined priors to that was 14 days. Those trips also took place during the winter months with the recent one in summer.


the houseguest

So maybe I'm spending too much time with the family. At this point my parents have already started to drive me a bit mad with all their idiosyncrasies. These are the very things I've spent the last several years unlearning while living away from them, or anyone else I knew. It's not regret speaking. I'm very aware of and happy to regain some of those lost moments you miss when you're living a few states away. However, I can see and feel how different I am now compared to who I was then. It's odd how much you can change when you're not influenced (directly or indirectly) by those who've known you for so long. I mean to say friends as well as family. Some family and friends have treated me based on this growth accordingly (and vice versa) while some have not. Despite what this stay is doing to my psyche, it seems to be improving that of my parents. Mom is thrilled that there's someone whose helping her out around the house and can also fix things when they break. Dad is just happy he can watch his Chinese kung fu novelas (mostly) undisturbed.

There've been a few changes regarding project desert veggie patch. It's still going to happen. I'm simply shifting ideas on how and where. Nothing was written in stone to begin with, so no biggie. Why the shift then? In short, the welcome mat was never out as I had mistakenly thought. So the location of the farming community is out as I will not be going there. Instead I'm switching back to my original plan which was in an entirely different geographic location to begin with. Less resources there, but the challange is still accepted. I believe the garden will be easier to manage since I'm planting for only one. Well, ok, planting for two since the beagle is fond of certain veggies herself.

While I'm still here ... I'm almost ready to start tearing down the gazebo but have a new problem I need to solve. Where to dispose of the leftover wood? I found a few places that handle this kind of recycling but they want me to pay $30 per load. It will take me at least three trips, and I'm not willing to shell out $90 for disposal. I'm still looking into alternative solutions and will commence with dismantling it once said inexpensive solution is found. In other news the backyard no longer smells of dog urine; it's completely gone and you only smell fresh soil. In order to get my mom kickstarted on maintaining a garden again, I took her shopping to the local garden nursery where she picked up some nice flowers to spruce up the front of the house. She went the extra mile and even picked up some of those solar powered led lights for the pathway.


it's august, wait what?!?

I was aware that the end of month was fast approaching but had kind of stop keeping track since arriving here. Now it's August and I can't believe that spring ended, and we're already a little more than a month into summer already. The weather has been blissfully mild here, at least compared to what I endured while living in central Texas. That being said, I am already looking forward to vacating this major metro area as soon as the weather cools to somethign livable in the nearby deserts. I miss it dearly and really need to recharge my batteries.

Earlier today I connected with a friend whose "living out there already" and gather some preliminary info on starting a desert veggie garden. She's been living there for over a year, and as a local has amassed the kind of resource information that's crucial to make this work. To be honest she was a touch skeptical about the idea when I presented it but was swayed as I explained it in greater detail . My excitement level was bumped up when she agreed it could be done, but also found a way to up the ante. She brought up the desire to setup a wood burning oven. That put me over the top because I love cooking in as many old fashioned ways as is possible. Food simply tastes the best that way to me. I'm hoping to build, or if they build one before I arrive, at least get to use a brick oven to cook with by the time I make it out there.

I'm a little ahead of myself so let me take a step back. Our discussion was pretty long and involved. The first challange involved composting in the desert. Based on the lack of moisture and lack of certain elements it will have to be fed and maintained differently than a traditional one. Still, the discussion was uber productive and set us on the right path towards making it happen. The surroudning area also happens to be the bed of a large farming community which I believe will grant us access to more resources. If not, I'm ok with that and am looking forward to creative ways of making what we have work for us.

Challange accepted.


veggie tales

It's been a long time since I planted a vegetable garden. The last time I planted one was at my parents old house which was some thirty plus years ago and I realized just how much I'd forgotten in that time. I've spent the last week boning up on all the latest methods and am a little overwhelmed. I'm doing this not just for the veggie garden I'm going to help my parents setup in their backyard, but also for a garden I'm hoping to plant at one of the places I'm staying at this winter.

The type of garden I'm hoping to plant is the Three Sisters Garden (corn, beans, and squash). I will grow other types of veggies as well in this garden, but figured the sisters might be a good start as I'm familiar with growing corn already.

Any readers with experience on growing in the desert who can offer me advice so that my first attempts are not a total disaster will be greeted and treated to a delicious home cooked meal by me.


hablas ingress?

In April I blogged about a game I started playing called Ingress. In that entry I explained how this game lent itself to those living the fulltiming lifestyle. At least for those who have an interest in this kind of thing. Because of the game I got to see a few more things than I planned on due to the games ties to various historic and/or artistic type landmarks and locations in the real world. One of the highlighted moments of my recent trip happened on my visit to Montezuma's Castle as there were also eight portals on site. The other aspect of the game is that it can be as social or anti-social as you want. In my case I'm ok with and like meeting new people; this gives me a nice in when connecting with local area players. I sometimes learn something about whichever area I may be visiting that isn't in the books or maps from them.

Shortly before I made level eight

I've been casually playing this game since the beginning of April and have reached the coveted maximum level 8 in about three months time. The game is still in beta so that could always change later. Here is some info mixed with some thoughts on the game.

You need a smartphone with a data plan to play.

The backstory to the game is clever and tied to a lot of history as the story is now starting to reveal. If you love a little bit of mystery you'll enjoy this. They release weekly video news reports which pushes the story along and also shows you what other players around the globe are doing. Very creative and fun stuff!

I love to walk and hike a lot as is, but have walked much more since I started playing. My lipid panel from last month shows my numbers as slightly better than normal now. It's nice to have my body love me again and not try to murder me.

Many of the people playing this game come from all walks of life. I've meet computer profs to stay at home moms to educators to truck drivers to college students playing the game at any given time. Here's a cool article about the Demographics of Ingress for anyone interested. 

The game is free to download and play. However if you have a limited data plan you can exceed your monthly data allotment and add to your monthly phone bill. I have an unltd data plan with my provider so it costs me nothing extra. See next line.

Gasoline isn't cheap, and it's generally more expensive in CA. Since I'm in a major metro area with lots of portals I walk most of the time to play. If I drive someplace it's only when I'm running errands, and only play if there is something on the way or at the destination. Please see next line.

If you lean towards being obsessive compulsive DO NOT PLAY THIS GAME. I've seen many OCD types just about lose their minds in not being able to hold a portal or area. I can't tell you how much money people have wasted in fuel costs alone because they can't let something go. 

I've accidentally discovered and learned a lot of history I might not have learned about in playing this game. More often than not the history was right under my nose. 

The game is a battery hog. You can and will eventually and completely deplete your phone battery during play. In portable power solutions I blogged about a car charger (which most with smartphones already have) but also a backup battery which is a great thing to have even if you don't play the game. They are both inexpensive and superior to anything Bestbuy had to offer. The one I purchased can recharge my phone five times over before I have to recharge it.

You as a player can submit portal suggestions if you happen to know a place of historical significance, statue, modern artwork, or landmark as long as your smartphone has a signal. 

The best benefit is how much more your dog will love you for taking them on all those extra walks.

This is yet another reason why I'm really looking forward to my fall/winter departure and seeing what lies on the road ahead.


it's the little things

Life and the circumstances surrounding it are progressing here as much as can be expected. Some of it good, some of it not so good. The not so good stuff is the ongoing matter of income and the economics of sustaining the lifestyles of my parents and sister's family. This was the main purpose of this homecoming and the results of that effort have been fair to mixed. All my preparations for a full timing life have really come into play here. I've managed to help with management of food and eliminating waste. I've gotten my mom to take stock of unused stuff to sell on craigslist where she'll regain some much needed space as well as cash in pocket. Sissy is moving in a few months but has the buying/selling thing mastered. This is how she's managed to keep my nephew in the latest toys for a fraction of the cost of new.

Times is hard, times is hard

Oreo has dropped about three pounds in almost two months. Although I credit one of those pounds as belonging to the hair the groomer shaved off a few weeks ago. She's looking more like a dog and not a tiny barrel with a head and legs sticking out of it. She's adjusting well to the new reduced diet/feeding schedule but is also overcoming some issues from her prior weight and inactivity. As you can see Bridgette has had no difficulties in molding herself to whatever life demands. She's been a real trooper when it comes to motivating her cousin on their walks.

Sink or swim?

This was a small victory for me and a big win for my mom. The main problem was a leak that was getting worse with each day. I had to go several rounds with her about even doing it before she finaly gave in. The original faucet was corroded and coming apart which was the cause of the leak. The sink also needs to be replaced due to rusting. Mom fought me because she wanted to replace the two simultaneously but doesn't have the funds at this time. I had to convince her to replace the corroding faucet/leaking pipe with an inexpensive alternative, and then get the faucet of her dreams when she replaces the sink. Installing this took me all of about ten minutes and mom is happy with the results. 

Add some vodka?

I found this little feeder for $2 and powder nectar mix for $1.50 (at Lowes) when I picked up the new faucet. With the immpending vegetable garden I figured now would be a great time to start building my army of insect eaters. The troops already started drinking up but are camera still. 

Top contributor to the compost pile

My cousin showed up a few days ago and disconnected the power lines so I'm almost ready to start dismantling the gazebo. I say almost because his sister may be interested in taking it off our hands. The main structure is sound and would only need to be refinished. Once she's decided I can begin. I'm looking forward to getting this going since my mom really needs something to do. She has a bad habit of going OCD on unimportant details and annoying each family member to the brink of committing murder before moving onto the next one. Planting and maintaing a vegetable garden will be the perfect diversion for her. Farming is in the family DNA and she's as great in the garden as she is in the kitchen. I look forward to seeing what she does with the various veggies we plant. This will be great later on because I'll be able to restock my fridge when I come home to check in on them. Ultimately this garden will reduce my parents gas/grocery bills which will reduce some financial stress.

Bow chicka wow wow!

My first month has passed and I haven't even bothered looking for work. I honestly had already made up my mind before I ever left Texas and knew I wasn't going to work while here. Mom is kind of freaking out at the thought of me cashing out my 401k based on how she and my father are struggling. I'm leaning towards the Amazon route but need to figure out when I can do it based on my timetable. I've got a few projects that will keep me busy in the meantime and I'm not hurting for money. Mostly, I'm enjoying this prelude.