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.


in my life

I'm almost caught up with seeing all my friends despite the earlier delays; I even managed to make a few new ones along the way. In addition to the close current friends I also reconnected with some very very old friends from my prior incarnations. The most notable ones are the twin sons of someone whom I grew up with but am no longer friends with. I honestly was only expecting to reconnect with current friends but this time at home has gone much further into my past than before. It makes one wonder what exactly life is grooming one for.

Project Delete Gazebo has come to a standstill since I'm still waiting on someone to deal with the electrical stuff. Hoping to get that taken care of this week. The urine smell is completely gone and the yard has that fertile ready to plant aroma to it. Well, ok you do smell dog poo too but that's only we don't pick it up right away. I have plans to setup a small compost in the corner so we can take advantage of the free fertilizer. 

I also got around to taking care of something that I'd left unfinished for a very long time. I sold a wedding/engagement ring set from an aborted marriage attempt twenty years ago. I was young, stupid, earning a lot of money, and she was a hot mess. The worst possible combination. I pulled out of that dive one month before the date and got the ring back to boot. I got back about a third of what I'd spend originally. This was expected given the jeweler I purchased them from are notorious for their markups. Here's where I remind you that I did say I was young and stupid then. The only reason I had them for this long was my complete lack of knowledge in selling jewelry. I only got around to it now because I had a new need.

Technically this isn't a new need. I was looking at purchasing a scooter or lower cc motorbike previously for market runs while I'm living "out there". As much as I love scooters the bicycle is a greater benefit to my long term health. Also, instead of a basket or rack I realized that a pet trailer would serve me better for holding the groceries. At this time the beagle is in great health and she can trot alongside. However the day will come when my little old lady is just a little too old but still need her strolls. Alternately it will serve as a great way to keep the German Shepherd pup someplace safe; at least until I can trust it trot alongside safely as big sissy does. 

Oddly I didn't purchase the bike as soon as the cash was in hand. I'm holding off until right before I leave and/or it goes on sale. I think this happened  because I've developed an aversion towards spending money unnecessarily. Weird, huh?!? I'm kind of turning into a cranky old man, but I have portable wifi. GET OFF MY LAN!!!!


baby baby

So I finally got to see my friend, kind of. I saw his kids and wife while he was at work. I did take lots of pictures and texted them to him while I was there. I didn't want the poor guy feeling left out.

Mr Wyatt
It'd been a while since I held a baby much the less fed one, but I managed ok. Their mom was cracking up at how delicate I was being with them, but they really feel fragile at this age. I can tell Wyatt is a thinker by how quietly he watched and studied everything. I think he's gonna put his mom and dad thru some interesting experiences once he starts doing stuff for himself.

Miss Camberly
This little one slept just about half the time I was there. She finally woke up for her feeding and never once stopped making cute noises the entire time (awake or asleep). And my god can that little girl fart up a storm. It was nonstop, and is something I cannot wait to bring up when she gets older.

Presents for the kiddos
We got them a nice pair of his and her boxes stuffed with all kinds of goodies for them. Thank god sissy was there to help me pick out stuff because I was at a complete loss in the infant section. Had I been left to my own devices I would've brought back a bunch of puppy toys and supplies instead.

It's taken a little over a week but me and daddy finally managed to schedule dinner together. Looking forward to seeing him and a few other very good friends tonight!


running to stand still

It's been almost a month and I've not yet gone to visit a single friend of mine. This is killing me because one of the ones I really want to see had their first babies a few months ago and I've got some gifts for the little ones. It's not without good reason as you'll read but I do still feel a little guilty for not having made it out. You already know about half of what has kept me occupied so here's the other half.

I've been going through and over everything my parents do and/or need done while I'm here. One of those things is their backyard. Small as it may be, there's a huge (slowly rotting) gazebo which takes up half the yard. Both my mother and sister nixed my plans to slowly take it apart because they're worried about me possibly being injured without health insurance. The folks don't have the money to hire someone to handle it so I don't see any other way. Besides I have a truck and can haul the dismantled lumber away easily enough. I would've started already (regardless of their concerns) but am waiting on my cousin to remove the big lamp attached to it. Electricity is one of those areas I simply won't take a chance with, and best left to him since he's the electrical engineer. What I have done so far was removed the excess stuff that had accumulated. In truth it wasn't much stuff but it was still an eyesore. The other thing I did back there was to till/water the small L shaped corridor of soil there because it hasn't been touched in about six years. They gave up planting anything because sissy's dog kept on peeing on and/or attacking whatever was there. I've been doing roughly every 3 days which seems to have freshened up the place a bit. There's no longer a strong stench of urine coming from the dirt even tho there are two dogs fertilizing it now. Oddly enough I've read that urine is one of the best things for plants to grow and helping the soil retain nutrients. In the next week or so I'm going to plant some summer veggies and see if there's any truth to the urine thing. I'm ready to plant but first me and Oreo are going to have a long talk about what we do not do to the nice plants. I can't help but feel I'm about to embark on a lost cause.

Oreo in her anime pose

The other big thing that has occupied my time has been going through the kitchen with my mom. Mostly we're been getting rid of whatever is no longer used and reclaiming a lot of lost space. I'm also glad to say that watching all eleven seasons of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (UK & US editions) has payed off. Most of it was stuff I had personally put into practice based on preparing for this lifestyle, but I also learned a lot of things I did not know about. This knowledge is getting put to use on not only mom's fridge, but also sissy's kitchen too. It's nothing as nightmare'ish as you see on the show. Some of the practices are mildly unhealthy but mostly I'd like the family to be around as long possible. Standards!

Now that things have settled down a bit I've also had a chance to review (yet again) my list of stuff to buy to go fulltime. Mainly the solar power stuff and portable genny. Everything has thankfully remained the same pricewise along with the usualy few minor improvments that come with time. The plan is to start buying when I'm a month away from departing and getting eveything setup while I'm someplace where I can fix it if need be. I hate trying to make repairs while on the road and hope to mitigate that pain by doing this.

That's all I got for now.