Apocalyptic Homesteading (Day 308-314)
Apocalyptic Homesteading Day 308-314!
The Grass Grows, Gaming Failure, A Peculiar Dream, Mental Legwork, The Novelty Of Technology & No One Behind The Curtain
Yesterday, I took a break from writing and did not begin a new entry after finishing up the last one and getting it shared. Taking a day off from it was refreshing and I should probably do it much more often than I do. The sun has yet to come up here and although I awoke several times previously I finally roused myself from bed a little after five-thirty, let the dogs out and started the espresso brewing even though I kind of wanted to curl back up with the dogs and drift back to sleep. Not that I initially wanted to do that (drift back off to sleep) but once I opened the cabin door and felt a blast of the chill autumn air outside I absolutely considered doing just that.
The weather stayed rather nice yesterday and the bird seed that I spread around the dog yard has continued to do very well even though the ground is becoming noticeably drier. Sometime next week it looks like there is more rain on the way and as soon as it happens I am going to double down on my seeding efforts. I am also going to see if I can get some more grass seed and some straw (in whatever form that I can get it) and properly seed (and cover with straw) everything in and around the dog yard that I can. What I am thinking of doing is getting several varieties of grass seed and see if I can find one (or more) that does well in the soil here.
As a side note, it still might not be a totally bad idea to cut some plugs of sod from that meadow where the grass grows well and use them in a few places around the base of some trees where they will not get trampled by the dogs. Basically I am thinking of trying to get some small clumps of the stuff growing in the hopes that it will spread itself over time. I do not know if I ever mentioned it but I did investigate that meadow for potential sod cutting and although there are some nice varieties of grass they are growing more or less directly from the hard-pan because there is not much topsoil in that area given how it was excavated by machinery in the past. In other words, I would have to cut the sod from either very low (mucky) areas or from areas where the grass roots barely penetrate into the top layer of what looks like mostly clay and small pebbles. Either way the sod from those locations (if I can manage to cut a real plug) would be poor at best but if that is all that I have to work with... I might just have to give it a try.
Anyway, I should note what happened with getting that video game working that I mentioned in my previous entry. Long story short... after nearly three days of downloading the game crashes when I start it and gives me an error message that it cannot initiate the graphics card. Apparently the script kiddies that remastered the game made the twenty year old game engine (that literally runs on almost anything) totally broken for anyone on older hardware and especially for folks using onboard graphics cards. It is frustrating to say the least and although they could easily make the game more compatible with older hardware I doubt that they will. As with all too many game titles these days the developers tended to not include backwards compatibility and require high-end hardware and everyone else 'should just upgrade' which is total crap in my opinion. I find it all aggravating to say the least but I had pretty low expectations for it working to begin with so there is that also. The biggest achievement from the entire ordeal is that I will not need to do that massive download again and have the game (and its proprietary launcher) backed up for future use when/if I upgrade my hardware. I have lost track of how many things I have tried to launch the game with but I think that I am going to try one last thing and see how it goes before calling it quits for the time being.
Alright, it is another morning and after waking up at a little after three and not being able to doze back off I decided to brew some espresso and begin the day. Having fallen asleep before dark I am surprised that when I awoke the first few times (between twelve and two-thirty) that I did not get up and was able to squeeze in some more rest. If the dream that I was having had not been so involving then more than likely I would have gotten out of bed the very first time that I awoke. At least I got to see how the dream played out and although my memories of it are already fading the one thing that sticks out is there were all these buildings that I had built out of logs, mud and stone but I had opted to live in this tiny little flimsy building that was not much more than a glorified tent. Even in the dream the oddity of it hit me and I recall thinking something like: Sure those buildings are nice but this little shack works just fine for me and other folks can use the buildings!
On a different note, I once again spent way too much time fiddling with trying to get that video game running properly. Although all my attempts at running it on Linux failed I did get it to run on its native operating system. Even though it did so very poorly and was far from playable... it was still a minor success. I never had much hope that it would actually work and have pretty much just used the experience to try to gain some understanding of what I will need to run it properly as far as software goes. Obviously the video card that I have is somehow inadequate (even though it meets the minimum requirements) and the only way I will be able to play is by upgrading it. I still think that is total horseshit for a twenty year old game engine to function so poorly and to give you an example of how horrible the coding job on the new game is... this computer can run four instances of the original game simultaneously (and yeah flawlessly) and it cannot run a single game instance of the remastered one. Okay, I better not get off on too much of a tangent here and suffice it to say that as far as major label games go I expected better and yet am totally not shocked given the quality of PC game 'coders' these days.
Of course I have bigger things to worry about in life at the moment than that video game but the technical challenges of trying to get it working offered me the chance to learn some new stuff so I guess it is not a total loss. Gaming on Linux with non-native games always represents challenges and the tools out today to accommodate it are absolutely amazing even compared to those that were around five or ten years ago let alone twenty-odd years ago when it all got started. On the off chance that anyone is interested in that kind of stuff some good tools (when properly configured) are (in no particular order) Wine, Lutris, Steam (Proton), PlayOnLinux, Phoenicis PlayOnLinux (a newer version than the original PlayOnLinux), Crossover and one that I have not tested all that much named Bottles. Simply that all those software options (and more) exist in this day and age is pretty cool and of course they will continue to improve over time. Heck, I probably had more fun playing with all the software than I would have had playing the game.
Anyway, the day was pretty nice after it eventually warmed up outdoors and although I mainly stuck around the computer I did get outside and soak up some sun late in the afternoon. Autumn is definitely in the air here and it is another chilly morning but not quite as cold as it was yesterday so perhaps I will get to doing stuff earlier in the day than I did then. One way or another I have to fully snap out of this downtime mode and get to grinding away at stuff again more than I have been of late. Sure I have been doing a bunch of routine chore stuff, hiking, thinking things through, planning and all that... but I gotta 'focus pocus' and get back to grinding away at stuff until next summer. I am itching to get back to doing stuff more and much like the inverse of that feeling I should heed it so I do not regret slacking later. Basically my inner workaholic is beginning to shine through again and I am interested to see where it leads me this time around.
All that jazz aside (and even with it) my day to day experiences are pretty pleasant to say the least in regards to having my basics covered and I do not lose sight of that when thinking about 'where I am at and what I am doing' with my life. For being only three hundred odd days into this adventure the overall progress is spectacular and that I do often lose sight of which for someone accustomed to doing a lot is not all that hard to do even when trying to be mindful of it. There is something wonderful about tuning out the broader achievements and focusing on the 'yet to be achieved' and all the small steps along the way to making more progress but when it comes down to it I think acknowledging the broader achievements helps tremendously with my own morale. I keep a pretty good attitude but there is a ton of behind the scenes mental legwork that makes that possible. Much of that comes down to how I am 'parsing down' reality to the various facets of myself in a way that is beneficial and keeps me trucking along without a bunch of maladaptive coping mechanisms mucking up my experiences let alone my precious perspective.
The sun finally came up and although it has begun to warm up outside... I am now all cozy sitting here clacking away on the keyboard! My big plan for the day is to not have any big plans so there is not much motivating me at this point aside from the need to get my routine chores done before it gets super hot outside. After seeing those bolletes growing near my compost mound last week I have been wanting to do some off-trail hiking to see if I can find more of them and of course any other kind that might be growing this time of year. Once the really cool nights begin it will be neat to see what pops up and I am still holding out hope to see some of those giant painted bolletes that I like so much. I need to keep in mind also that it is chanterelle season and take the time to look in the underbrush which is not a place that I normally would look for mushrooms. It is not that they do not grow out in the open (because they sure do) but I have just always had better luck with finding them in thick mountain laurel stands or similar undergrowth.
This morning I awoke around five o'clock and although it is now only thirty-nine past the hour... I feel like I have been awake for much longer than that. I dunno what that is all about because honestly I still feel halfway asleep and have barely drank any of my espresso. Once again I found myself falling asleep rather early in the evening and waking up later to let the dogs out one final time before drifting back off to sleep. Of all the things that I do to keep myself on an even keel, forcing myself into the habit of getting plenty of rest each day was probably the best thing that I could have ever done. Occasionally I wonder at how for so long in life I failed to notice the impact of feeling chronically fatigued and how (especially in the past) that general fatigue contributed to me feeling depressed and irritable. Sure I still get worn out, tired, have ups and downs and all that jazz but at least I am not also battling fatigue to 'get through it' when things get rough.
Anyway, aside from doing all my routine chores yesterday I did not do much else besides piddling around on the computer tinkering with that game some more. Even though I had previously resigned myself to not messing with it until I can get some better hardware... I also could not resist tinkering with it to see if I could find a workaround. At some point I resigned myself to the fact that the only real solution is getting new hardware and beyond that a possibly 'okay' workaround might be to try a game streaming service. For those unfamiliar with such services they basically just provide the user with a high-powered remote computer that does all the 'heavy lifting' for you and then streams the results to your device in more-or-less realtime. Basically you can play games that your device would not be able to play on its own and although there is a monthly fee in the course of a year it still comes out cheaper than buying the hardware outright. Saying that technology has come a long way is an understatement and I firmly recall the days when if you did not have the required hardware to run something you were screwed... yet now there are options in the way of such services and that is pretty neat!
Lately I keep thinking about how wrapped up in technology that I can get. Even when I am just mucking may way through something or actually have some kind of understanding about how it works I am always fascinated by it and the contrast between it and various other aspects of my life can get rather extreme. Nonetheless the best approach for me personally to living the kind of lifestyle that I do is to utilize whatever technology that I can to better my scenario. One day the technology that I fixate on might be something as simple as a battery operated tool and other days it might be using an audio editor, or taking pictures with a phone, or whatever and I am like wow this exists because someone had an idea and it can do all this cool stuff! As often is the case the technology is only as good as the person using it but that does not diminish the novelty of it for me even if I cannot use or even understand it. What I am trying to convey is that I am in perpetual awe of technology and looking for ways to utilize it whether its something as tangible as a tool in my hand or as ethereal as having an internet connection in the middle of the woods.
It is a new morning here and I awoke at around seven minutes after five, let the dogs out and groggily started brewing some espresso. At this point I have almost finished my favorite beverage and am not all that much closer to feeling fully awake. Apparently it is going to be one of those mornings where the line between my sleeping and waking mind is so thoroughly blurred that I will more than likely spend these early hours nudging myself ever-so-slowly towards being fully awake without getting lost in some mental quagmire of half-baked ideas, day dreams and wishful thinking about how I wish my life was somehow 'fuller' or simply less encumbered by my own perceived failings and all the baggage that entails. Steering my thoughts away from all that kind of stuff has thankfully gotten somewhat easier over the last several years. I do not mind having those thoughts (and exploring where they lead me) but I damn sure do not want to get over-involved with them first thing in the morning when I am trying to set my mood for the day.
Early in the day yesterday I got super busy outdoors and finally got most of the measurements that I need to calculate the metal that is needed for the exterior of the little cabin. I also did a bunch of the actual combined calculations and created the beginnings of a material list and pretty much got everything accounted for except for the soffit. I have yet to finalize the list but hopefully today I can figure out what metal the solar shack needs and combine the two lists into one. All in all they are both tiny buildings and it will not take a whole lot of metal to do the job so that is good. Although most of it can be ordered to the exact sizes that are needed the two narrow walls of the cabin (totaling six one meter wide panels) will need a thirty-three point nine degree angle cut on them to accommodate the roof slope which is not a heck of a lot of cuts to make. To make those cuts and the one's for the various flashing, drip-edge, J-channel and metal trim uniform (and easier) I have been thinking about getting a 'nibbler' attachment for a my cordless drill and using it instead of my usual method of snips or a circular saw with a reversed wood-cutting blade on it.
After all that jazz I finally had enough of walking around one of the poles for that scaffolding that I made when I was working on the cabin and never finished dismantling. It was a bit of a mess once I got it pulled out of the ground and since I have been rinsing my hands off near it for months now it was quite mucky in the hole. I wound up digging out much of the muck with a shovel and spreading it over the compost mound. To be clear here I have a jug with very diluted bleach water in it which has a cap with lots of tiny holes in it that I tilt off the edge of the deck and rinse/wash my hands under so it is not a heck of a lot of water at any given moment but over months and months... it sure added up. Once I got the muck removed, I shoveled a bunch of topsoil and sand (from where it has collected along the bottom portion of the dog yard) into the hole and did my best to compact it down so there will not be a depression left there. Although I could have made that process much easier by using the wagon to haul the dirt I opted to walk up and down the hill with one shovelful at a time just because I found it mildly invigorating.
It was all made kind of hectic actually because I kept getting attacked by my aggressive rooster (Bob Backwards) after letting him out of the coop to roam around. He is generally feisty and all but yesterday he took it to a whole new level and was not just attacking me head-on (after positioning himself in my path) he was also sneak attacking me (well attempting to at least) every time I turned my back on him for an extended period of time. I am talking about a wings out, beak and spurs 'seeking targets' full on trying to fuck me up attacks. It was way over the top and although I should have just immediately grabbed him and put him away in the coop... I chose to let him get it out of his system. In the end I had to drive the little bugger away from me with the water hose because nothing else seemed to work. The thing that worries me about that rooster is that most of the time when he is roaming around he is pretty chill and easy to not notice. He could really mess me up if his little mental aggro switch flips and I fail to see him so when he is out I do tend to be a bit more cautious and if the dogs are out I keep a keen eye on him in case he goes for one of them even though that is rather unlikely to happen.
By afternoon things finally got pretty warm outside and I took some time to soak in the tub and just enjoy the sunshine. Although I popped in and out of the cabin the rest of the day doing stuff it was pretty obvious to me that I had already accomplished about as much as I was going to for the day. Getting in like a six hour work day (and a short hike) long before the day was over felt pretty good but I thought it best not to overdue it especially considering that the only thing that I set out to accomplish was getting the metal for the cabin figured out. I did that part relatively quickly and after that I just bounced from one little task that I had been putting off to another until I wore myself out and took a nap. The rest of the day is pretty hazy because I mainly just read stuff and watched way more news than what is probably healthy for me but alas not even it could get in the way of me feeling good about having done a bunch of stuff earlier in the day.
Okay, so I do not know why I am here writing instead of getting on with my day because the sun is now up and I can feel those precious cooler hours of the day slipping by. The only thing that I absolutely want to do before too much longer is to go and water the fledgling vegetation growing in the dog yard. Having done so yesterday it seemed a bit more vibrant by the end of the day than it was the day before so I should stay in the routine of doing it until the weather turns rainy again. I doubt that it will get so chilly that it will affect the vegetation but the super hot sunny days sure will if I do not keep it watered enough. I am hoping that the rain holds off for another week in order for it to all get better established and give that Kentucky-31 time to pop up since I spread its seed a few days after the first time that I spread the bird seed but the rain would not hurt anything either. So far things are looking good but given how challenging getting anything growing has been I do not want to start celebrating just yet and need to be extra attentive to it over the coming days, weeks and months to see it reach its potential... or not.
Whoa! I fell asleep before sunset yesterday and wound up waking at a little after one this morning without any inclination to fall back to sleep again. I have been up for a little over an hour now perusing the good ole internet reading stuff as I often do during the first few hours of the day. There is a good chance that I will take a nap in a few hours so that I am not completely wiped out early in the day and can get in another productive day like I did yesterday. Well, at least I think it was productive even though I mainly did a bunch of minor tasks and did not tackle doing anything all that major. Overall it was a rather pleasant day and the weather was super nice so I was very content to hangout with the dogs and keep myself busy around the shelter site.
Anyway, those white mushrooms have really started to grow in on the compost mound and there are so many of them that now I want to figure out what kind they are just to satisfy my curiosity. Although they look close to the Destroying Angel... I am unsure if they are. Even though I treat them as being poisonous (like I do every unknown fungi) they might actually be edible. Some research could be illuminating but having tried to identify similar mushrooms in the past I gotta say that much like 'little brown mushrooms' those white ones can be difficult or even impossible (at least for me) to distinguish one type from another. The best thing to do would be to get some good pictures of them and what they are growing in and post them to one of the numerous mushroom identification forums.
On a different note, I keep thinking about that new video game and why I was/am so fixated on getting it setup where I could play it. My final conclusion is that since several folks that I know are playing it and the social aspect of getting to play with them, chat with them and generally have fun is what I am wanting to achieve because lets face it even with a new graphical overlay it is still the exact same game that I have been playing for the last twenty-odd years now! There are some neat differences in the newer game and what I really want to be doing is exploring those differences with my friends instead of bashing my head against the good ole 'you do not meet the minimum system requirements' wall knowing that the only solution is via expensive hardware upgrades that I still cannot quite justify let alone afford.
The only thing that keeps making me think that I can justify it is that given the right desktop rig I could make game play videos and have the capabilities to do live streaming... which could be pretty good for me given the social aspects. I like the idea of making some gaming content but it would also open up the option for other kinds of live content and that could be a really good avenue for me to have more communication with folks which I am slowly realizing that I need more of in my life at some point. The sooner the better probably given how reclusive I have been over the last many months. Withdrawing into myself might be useful and all that but it makes staying in touch with folks consistently way more difficult than it should be. There is assuredly nothing wrong with being content with my own company and thoughts for extended periods of time but it sure is nice (and probably healthy) to mix things up a bit by interacting with others more than I do.
Even though I had not taken a nap yesterday I was up sort of late watching some science fiction and thus am in pretty slow motion this morning. At first I awoke at five o'clock but quickly faded back off and wound up sleeping until nearly six before waking again and deciding to get up and get the day started. Considering that I have now been up for almost a half an hour and I have yet to write anything besides these few sentences... it is safe to say that I am getting off to a super slow start this morning and may wind up just going back to sleep if I cannot shake this hazy feeling before the sun gets over the horizon.
It was another mildly productive day yesterday and I once again just did a bunch of small stuff around the shelter site. One big thing that I achieved was to finally get all the metal for the solar shack figured out and get it added to the metal list that I started the other day for the cabin. I also double-checked some of the previous day's metal calculations and made sure that I was not missing anything and that once installed it would all fit together like it is supposed to. One thing that I did notice is that where I was originally going to terminate the metal at (along the bottom of the cabin) might not be the best place considering that under all the skirting is the skids that the building is built on and if I install the metal too low it would hang below said skids by an inch or two. Ultimately if the building was ever moved then there would be that inch (or two) of metal hanging below the skids which would make moving it a real pain and possibly destroy the metal in the process. It is a small thing but I am glad that I caught it and it just goes to show how important it is to double and triple check stuff to minimize mistakes.
Another thing that I worked on was to get some of the pokeweed and some of the other stuff growing from stumps trimmed back from the places where I walk in the dog yard. I also cut a bunch of vegetation back that was growing through the fence as well as some thorny vines that were growing on the fence itself. Although I considered removing all the pokeweed I decided against it because most of it is still healthy, loaded with berries and the plants themselves are doing a pretty good job at controlling the erosion... so I thought it best to just leave it for the time being. Most likely I will not be cutting it (and some other stuff down) until I can get some other stuff growing there. Once removed I will definitely need straw (or something) to help hold things in place because the areas with the pokeweed growing are on a pretty good incline where stuff can easily be washed away in a single hard downpour.
Anyway, I somehow stayed busy for much of the day outdoors and by late in the afternoon I had worked up quite the appetite. The little propane camping stove that I have setup at the outdoor kitchen (which consists of just a countertop and the stove) has not been working all that well because once again the little holes in the burner have become mostly rusted shut, effectively blocking proper gas-flow and making one burner not work at all and the other to barely work. Even then the one that works only does so on a very low setting... which was making cooking anything take way longer than it should. At first I considered ordering some new ones online (which I still might do) and then I realized a quicker solution was to swap one of the burners out with one from an old stove (of the same brand) that is located in the camping area and does not look like it has been used in quite some time. It worked out good and I was able to cook stuff with way less aggravation than when I was trying to do it with the clogged burner.
Oy! I just now realized that today is the day that I need to make a post if I am going to stick to the weekly schedule that I have been recently trying to get into. Although this entry seems kind of short I guess that it will just have to do unless something else pops into my head to write about. It is already getting on in the morning and I have yet to get started on doing my chores because I keep getting distracted messaging a buddy of mine about that recently released video game that we both play. They are actually one of the people that I have not been able to play with. After hearing about some of the changes from them... it makes me want to play the game even more! I will get to play it eventually (one way or another) and for now the best thing that I can do is learn as much as possible about the new mechanics/features and do some good ole theory-crafting in regards to what kind of characters I will eventually play. Like I have said before the 'social interaction' aspect of it is pretty strong and definitely motivates me more than anything else in the scenario.
Okay, at this point I am procrastinating both the editing of this entry and doing my chores so I am going to go unplug for a while and do some stuff before it gets too hot outside. Alright, it is now much later in the afternoon and although I never got this edited (nor took a nap) I figured that I would dive back in here and see if anything else bubbles to the surface because there is often nothing like a little compulsive writing to snap things into focus! The whole writing thing has been on my mind a lot of late. I keep wondering if I am ever going to dive back into the fictional stuff or keep mucking about with these entries... or what... because time is slipping by and the itch to tell the stories in my mind grows ever deeper without much in the way of me actually doing anything about it.
Do not worry, I have always had the same dilemma with it all (since I first began writing as a kid) and at this point so much stuff actually has been written that the manuscripts themselves are daunting but there is something deeper I think that is getting in my way and eventually I hope that I find my way around the obstacle. As with most of my mental blocks once I notice enough of what the block is not comprised of I can begin to deduce what it is comprised of... eventually... maybe... hopefully. It is probably just a bunch of untidy unresolved residual emotional stuff jacked into self worth and all that jazz in such a way that I could chase my tail forever trying to solve it and get nowhere. Or I can continue on as I always have before and when the words come... simply write them down and do not overthink things beyond that... except that is exactly how I got to where I am. Writing one thing after another and storing it away so that I can 'deal with it later' and not have it get in the way of writing the next thing. Of course most of it is probably not all that awesome or anything and that is okay because it is at least my own but at some point I just feel like a hoarder of the stuff. Perhaps it is just that as I begin advancing in my years I am looking to preserve what little I can show for my life not for profit or anything like that but to simply free myself from the burden of it via the archival process.
Well, it seems that was all what was worming its way around in the back of my mind and it feels better to have spelled it out. I gotta say that it has been one incredibly strange journey over the course of my life and even though I have captured what I can of it in words, being a reader of words I know how little they can (and cannot) convey the author's perspective (let alone the intent) behind said words but hey I guess that is what the imagination is good for. Even if that imagination takes us way off the beaten path and leads us to some fathomless extraordinary dimension where it abruptly abandons us with the following endearment: Find your own way back.
I am unsure what the moral of the story is there but the best way that I can sum it all up is that once in a while we 'pull back the curtain' and to our great alarm there is no one their leveraging the levers, mashing the buttons, pushing the pedals nor toggling the toggles... and all of the machinery is covered in a thick layer of dust... unused and in disrepair. I guess that the real question in that moment would be: What are you going to do about it? Drop the curtain and return whilst you came? Or step forward and let the curtain fall behind you as you pick up a rag and set to work cleaning up and testing out the machinery? Maybe I am making it too complicated and should just say that it is kind of comforting (and frightening) to think their is someone behind the curtain 'running the show' because it is way less scary than no one running the show.
Looking back over the last few paragraphs I should say that it is very late in the afternoon and I brewed some late in the day espresso to give me the 'oomph' to work on this entry more and hopefully get it edited and shared by this evening. So yeah I am a bit ragged around the edges at this point in things which is why I generally avoid putting myself in such a position but alas here I am. Nonetheless I want to stay on task and get things wrapped up so I can stick to my weekly posting schedule. I did manage to get a few pictures on some of my hikes so hopefully more of them turned out better than they did last week. Doh! I just looked and only two good pictures!
I hope that everyone is doing well and has a nice day/night.
More about me: I have been doing property caretaking (land stewardship) for many years (decades) and live a rather simple life with my dogs doing what most folks would consider to be an 'alternative minimalist lifestyle' but what I often just think of as a low-impact lifestyle where I get to homestead and spend the majority of my time alone with my dogs in the woods doing projects in the warmer months and taking some downtime during the colder months.
Nearly four years ago I began sharing the adventures (misadventures) of my life via writing, videos, pictures and the occasional podcasts and although my intention was to simply share my life with some friends it undoubtedly grew into much more than that over the years and now I find myself doing what equates to a full-time job just 'sharing my life' which is not even all that glamorous or anything but hey folks seem to enjoy it so I just keep doing it!
The way that I look at it is that I give it all my best each day and while some stuff I write is better than others I think that for the most part I do a pretty good job at doing what I am doing which is simply 'sharing my life' as candidly as I possibly can and whatever folks get (or do not get) from it there is always the satisfaction of me doing what I set out to do... which is to simply share my life.