Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How I Spent my New Years Eve

Ran in the woods
Cleared the lot line path of debris
prepared a fire bundle for a new years fire
went to target to get discounted Christmas candy, lights, and decor
Ran away from a weirdo that was following me in Target
Listened to the entire Oceania album to and from Athens
Struggled to get my fire started
Coaxed and messed around with my fire for an hour
Listened to the coyotes wish us an early Happy New Year
Watched the New Year's ball drop
Kissed my husband and daughter
Kept going back out to the fire to put it out but couldn't bring myself to do it
Played Super Luigi World
Went back out side and called back and forth to the coyotes nearby.
Burned prices of paper with things I wanted to move on from in 2013
Welcomed 2014
Put the fire out.
Went back in to play Super Mario with my family.
Happy New Year

Monday, December 30, 2013

More Adventures in Vermiculite

I've been doing a little research, trying to find out who was the last person to know that there is vermiculite up there. I suspect it is the previous owner, who checked "I dunno" on the asbestos question. Now, how do I go about proving negligence or liability? I guess first things first, I need to have it tested. If I'm lucky, it will come back negative, via the "Cincinnati" method. Then I can have the results certified and everything is fine. But, if it comes back positive we might have a big expensive problem on our hands. Does liability fall with the home inspector who should have known that in an older home there is often a mix of insulation types and that some may not be visible? Or does it fall with the previous owns, who most likely knew since he was having the home renovated and did a lot if the work himself. Is it the contractor he hired? Or the insulation company? It becomes a game of, "I didn't see it there" but some one did. I need to put on my Ms. Marple hat and get to work. It's a small town, but you can't screw this Jew. Just kidding, I'm only Jewish in distant ancestry. Maybe no one knew, or just didn't know what the stuff was. You know, true ignorance. It's hard to say, and unfortunately for me, even harder to prove. I know what to look for next time. And, yes, you need to be there for the entire home inspection. You really need to baby sit those guys. There isn't a regulatory board for home inspectors, at least not in Georgia, so there's no QC for them either. Basically anyone can be one. I know they are only human, but this was a big mistake. Bigger than the  not up to code broken drain pipe for the laundry room, and bigger than the leaky toilet basin. No, this is a potential hazardous material, costly clean up, mistake. So yeah, I'm a little perturbed.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Woke up today to rain. I looked out the mud room window and saw a bird lying on the ground. It's neck broken from flying into the window. In the shrub above, his mate sat waiting for him to get up. I put him in a box and placed it under a holly bush to stay dry. Just incase he's only knocked out. I think he's dead. No rain while we we're gone. But torrential the day before we left and then of course rain the day after we get back. The nights are long and dark, no snow to reflect the light. When it rains or is dark, this house is suffocating my small. Perhaps literally suffocating, what with the vermiculite in the attic and all. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

V is for Vermiculite

One may say I'm particular even fastidious, or picky. I just like things done right and preferably up to code. Well, I made the mistake of trying to brush off the bathroom exhaust vent and it started to pop out and re-pop out. Each time it did little flakes of what looked like mica fell out too. I wasn't sure what it was and though it was something to do with the sheet rock. Now I'm watching "Holmes Makes it Right" and they are redoing the insulation in a porch roof and he found vermiculite, which looks like mica, turns out it's an old form of insulation which, yay, contains asbestos. So I'm really excited about how much more of that is up there. You know, I paid a lot for the home inspector that came out, with all his glowing reviews. His first mistake, he didn't bring the radon test I requested. And even said it wasn't worth his time to come back with one another day. He also missed a lot of big issues, like the leaking toilet, the broken and no conforming washer drain, the wasp nest in the chimney, the nails sticking through the shingles and the roof boards and into the attic, the loose un-boxed wiring in the attic, the mis-matched note up to code circuit breakers, oh yeah, and the vermiculite. The realtor was right, why pay more for an inspector, they apparently miss the big things. This guy was supposedly an air force mechanic. Sure.
So what is vermiculite?
Vermiculite is a mica like mineral that puffs up like popcorn when heated. It was used in homes as insulation between 1920-1990. Most of the vermiculite insulation came from a mine in Libby, Montana which contained a significant amount of asbestos contamination. If you find vermiculite in your home, it's very likely that it came from the Libby mine and it's probably contaminated with asbestos. About 80% of all vermiculite insulation produced between 1920-1990 came from Libby, MT. 
So now what to do? There's no reliable testing methods, so you're best to just assume that it is contaminated and do the following:
Limit trips to the attic, stay off the insulation, and try not to store anything up there.
So now my attic is a useless toxic waste zone?
Where a properly fitted mask rated for asbestos if entering the attic.
Seriously? I've already been up there and the stuff is falling into my bathroom!
Seal around penetrations in your ceiling such as attic the attic hatch, cracks, holes, light fixtures, ceiling fans, and heating vents.
Well this is getting funner by the minute.
If planned remodeling will disturb the vermiculite, have it removed by a trained , certified, and properly trained asbestos abatement contractors.
Should this have been on the disclosure? Can I sue my home inspector?
If the vermiculite has been disturbed, have an accredited asbestos testing firm come and test the air for asbestos fibers.
I'm sure the bathroom exhaust is blowing it all around.
So this concerns me. We have a goofy bathroom exhaust situation. It basically just blows in the attic and directly onto the cellulose insulation. So all that stuff in the attic is just blowing around every time we turn the exhaust fan on. No that vermiculite has fallen out of the celling when I was cleaning around the exhaust fan, I'm worried about how much is up there, and how much is being "disturbed". I'm feeling disturbed to tell you the truth. There was a lot of incorrect information on the disclosure from the owner, and a lot of stuff left off the disclosure that the home inspector missed. Is there any sort of remediation, financially, or legally for this? Or with homes, is there no legal recourse? Next stop, Legal Zoom. 

I guess the insulation in the attic was previously vermiculite until they replaced it with the annoying, every falling out of the attic, cellulose. At least cellulose has a good R value and no asbestos.
While cellulose, when installed correctly, does offer superior insulation options. I question if the guy installed his right. It's not in a smooth consistent layer, it's in lumpy piles, and the roof above the front porch, which has a gable that opens into the attic, isn't insolated at all. I'm not sure if that matters, since cold air falls.

So everyday it's something, isn't it. More than I had anticipated. I wonder, a lot, if we should just sell, before we find more things. Plus, to be honest, this house is really damn small. A good agent, which I question ours, wouldn't push a tiny house on a family of 3. It's 2 bedrooms, one tiny bath, and 1082 soft. Most of the time I'm about to start screaming from the noise. And ever since we moved in my daughter has been acting really weird. Making a lot of weird noises, stumbling around, whining, crying, unhappy, bored. 10 acres to run on and she's bored. I'm am too. It's like she's having a nervous break down, and the wood floors and small rooms only amplifies the noise. I can't send her outside because people come down the road at 55mph even though we are 100 feet from the stop sign, there are fire ant beds, a gully, and probably snakes. I guess I'm not in Wisconsin any more. What the hell am I doing here anyway?
But I'll try not to complain. Too much
But let's he

Thursday, December 19, 2013

It All Depends Upon What You're Into

These are honest musings, the sort that gets you into trouble, makes enemies, doesn't foster friendships, in general, drives people away. But I don't care. Anyway, I have something wrong with me. The angry gene, the depressed and discontent no matter what gene. The latter has been expressing itself since birth, the other has come and gone from time to time. Mostly stimulated by frustration and the inability to accomplish what I want. Although I wanted children, having children has made me even more frustrated than I've ever been. I feel like a perfectly able race horse, forced to stand and rot, nursing an over grown foal in the paddocks. Maybe this is extreme, but at times it's really how I feel. As age takes over and the arthritis spreads, I just become older and more uninteresting. Looking back and longing more than looking ahead or enjoying the now. I pine for the ability to just go back and work, forever, the age of 24 at Badger Federal, the job I cursed well into the late hours for keeping me out so long. Now it seems like pie, so easy, just drive, take a break if you want, when you want, just get from point A to B in a reasonable time, and be willing to do some creative logging for the owner and you'll never get fired. Unless you do something really bad. Like a DUI or cussing him out in front of his staff. That's a no, no. Summer you see Wisconsin in it's full glory, it's a short season, but it lives out to the fullest, as if it knows that time is short. Fall blows in by October and the nip in the air and the wind that makes your eyes water tells you that winter is not too far away. By November you're bringing out the heavy clothes and bundling. It's dreary, but the first snow usually comes in November and for me it's all worth the misery and rainy drudge of autumn. The Holiday season is ushered in with the promise of bright lights and specialty foods, and my favorite, Christmas music. I amassed a collection from the bin at our Goodwill in Oshkosh, $1-2 a pop and it remains the best music I've ever collected. Mostly instrumental. This whole time in my life stands out as the pinnacle and I didn't know it was at the time. If I did, I would have milked it, like the neighbor's Holsteins. I would have told my ex husband thanks but no thanks on our second date when he revealed he was "agnostic" and I would have married myself to Badger. For better or worse, it was the best job for me.


This is a transcript from a live chat I just had with an Obamacare agent. Notice how she never answered my questions, intact she didn't respond until I asked if she was even there. Then she just passed me off to the 800#. 

[12:36:03 am]: Thanks for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. Please wait while we connect you to someone who can help.
[12:36:06 am]:  Please be patient while we're helping other people.
[12:36:19 am]: Welcome! You're now connected to Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat.

Thanks for contacting us. My name is Avionce. To protect your privacy, please don't provide any personal information, like Social Security Number, or any other sensitive medical or personal information.
[12:36:57 am]: Suzy
[12:39:05 am]: Suzy
I just completed my application with out income and social security numbers and house size, but I still don't see that we are elidgible for an subsidies
[12:39:08 am]: Avionce
[12:39:41 am]: Suzy
I was only able to say that we are claiming one dependent but really my husband claims 3 himself, me, and our daughter
[12:43:08 am]: Suzy
are you still there?
[12:44:09 am]: Avionce
[12:46:51 am]: Avionce
Complete the applications fully wiyh income social security ,and house size
[12:47:27 am]: Avionce
You may also call the Marketplace at 1-800-318-2596 for help with completing an application
[12:47:32 am]: Suzy
I did, we're unemployed and make a monthly income from a stock of $1285
[12:48:32 am]: Suzy
It said we didn't qualify for medicaid but could still submit if we wanted. I chose not to because I know we will be denied. Do we need to submit to qualify for subsidies?
[12:49:30 am]: Avionce
Call the Marketplace at 1-800-318-2596 for help with completing an application
[12:50:19 am]: Avionce
Do you have any other questions that I can help you with?
[12:52:32 am]: Avionce
[12:52:55 am]: Suzy
I'll just call, thanks
[12:53:09 am]: Avionce
Thank you for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. We are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
[12:53:21 am]: Your chat session is over. Thanks for contacting us, and we hope we've answered your questions. Have a great day.
[12:53:21 am]: 12/20/2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Little Monsters

At first I thought I was buying a home with a large section of old crab apple trees from a now defunct nursery program. Well, maybe I'm close. The neighbor's, who own a large section of land in the area, produced a small leaf magnolia variety, and has large stands of cedars, and magnolias. So maybe this was some of their stuff too? I don't know. All I know is the Callery pear and the migrant robins produce a lethal combination resulting in copious amounts of bird guano on visiting cars and this afternoon, me.
Check out this tie bit from the NPS Weed of The Week page about Callery pear trees: 
30-50 ft. tall, 20-30 ft. wide; young trees may be thorny.
That last part is no joke, I tried to cut some fall branches for decoration, but the thorns are so large and sharp that it wasn't worth it. 
The tree are also spread by birds that eat the fruit and proceed to have raging diarrhea all over the place.
I guess my winter activities will include pulling up small saplings, and sawing down older trees and treating the stumps. A pain in the ass, like many other things that have made themselves know with this property. When I first thought they where crab apple trees, I thought maybe I could sell them. Know I realize I'm stuck with worthless weeds that need to be destroyed before they take over like the kudzu, and the fire ants. 
If I was going to have an orchard, I'd rather it be pecans or apple trees. Not this poop projectile making ornamental nuisance.
Sad really.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Doing Battle with Invasive Species.

I got a little crazy after taking this picture. There's an overgrowth of some sort of vine in the side garden and it started getting into the A/C unit. That whole plot was looking unkempt and rough so I decided to address it. To be thorough I started digging up as many roots as I could. Lots of big roots down there from old bushes or something. I kept bringing up prices of some old terra cotta pipe so I decided to stop. I could see a tunnel headed under the driveway, but have no idea what I was digging up. Hope it's not a functioning drainage system I just ruined. The house is from 1943, so what could it be?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's Raining Sunshine

Today was the first day in a while that was sunny and not dreary and rainy. When it rains and we can't frolic outside, I start to wonder what the hell are we doing here? Is this home a small money pit? Then there's a sunny day and we can walk the land with out getting caked in red clay and everything seems to make sense for a while. I finished hanging the icicle lights, which was a pain. I realized near the end that I had forgotten to test them before going through the effort to hang them. When I turned them on, a few strands didn't light, plus I found them unimpressive. The icicles are all scrunched up from being packaged and I don't know if they'll ever straighten out. But I think I'd rather run color lights along the house and fences anyway. They're cheaper too. I always wanted icicle lights, but now I think I'd rather do something different.

Propane and Propane Accessories

Well nothing has exactly "fallen" into place for us here. First off, the washer waste water pipe backed up into the house because it was broken and clogged with roots. When I asked the previous owner about it, he said that he had no idea and that he had been doing his laundry in town because his washer wasn't filling with. Probably because water was backing into it and the auto shut off kicked in. Anyway, a few trips to lows, digging, and hog sweat on a couple of 78 degree december December days in Middle Georgia, and we fixed the damn thing ourselves. Now for climate control. The previous owner left us with an almost empty propane tank that once the cold weather came around. My husband went by Amerigas Monday with our tank at about 5 gallons. They said they'd work us into the route this week. When he called again Wednesday they said they'd be out Friday or Saturday, but never did come or enter us into the system. So I couldn't get an emergency fill up. It wasn't so dire, but I was able to get in touch with a local operation in Eatonton and they came first thing Monday. They also need part time drivers, so there's hope for me yet. Propane is not cheap. My fill was $1.99 per gallon. We have a 500 gallon tank and they filled it to 85% which came out to an $800 something bill. Our house is small, so maybe that will take us a while to use. Other items on our list that need attention are the leaking toilet bottom, and putting a slab and cover on the well. The previous owner either didn't know his washer pipe was clogged and his toilet was leaking. Or he wasn't living here and using things so he could see the place with these items hidden. Since wet spots dry, and you can't test a "broken" washer. Who knows.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Start Up Costs

I knew I would regret not being able to hold onto my dad's tools, and that day is today. My dad had an asortment of every tool known to man. Table saw, jeweler's saws, vintage tools, and new tools. Then there was the plethora of garden tools. None of which where kept when my mom sold our house to downsize to yard free living. It just wasn't feasible to bring all that stuff with. I think most of it was given to friends, so atleast they live on. But man does it suck to have to buy all new stuff.. Especially in this economy when stuff is being made even cheaper.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

First Time Buyers

The joys of home ownership. We closed the 22nd on a prince of property with a nice bit if land and a small home built in 1943. We went back and forth about it, almost tried to back out, but decided to just do it. We closed in escrow and took a couple days to rest and regroup. I'm too tired to blog this. Monday we picked up the Penske truck and the movers came to load it. I originally had a Uhaul arranged. But they misplaced my appliance dolly and wanted me to go pick one up. No. Driving the Penske truck was almost a spiritual experience. Whenever I'm driving a large vehicle, hauling freight, I feel reconnected with a part of myself that is missing. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Land Scarlet!

buying rural property has been a bit over whelming. There's more involved than mortgages and home inspections. There's a well, septic, acreage, special insurance circumstances, TV and internet issues. Nothing is simple when trying to live the simple life. I think I'm about ready to drop dead from stress.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

How to Find a Homestead

This blog is more of an auto-biographical, learn as we go, this is my experience kinda journal. So please don't think I'm presenting myself as the Joel Salitan of homesteading, or Les Stroud of wilderness skills. I'm not. I'm just a student wishing to know more. Due to bad decisions, frequent job changes, an attempt to change careers mid career, grow disillusioned and then quit without notice, add the current economy and unemployment rate, and you get a situation that has made me pretty undesirable to employers. Despite my skills.
I've always had the desire in me to farm, naturally. To live in harmony with nature and coop with it. I've never had the desire to divide and conquer it. Rather to live in peace with it, and what ever it gives me and my family, and anything extra to sell at market. I do not wish to stuff pastures full of beef or broiler houses full of hens.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Como Se Llama?

I'm in a current small scale legal battle over my T-shirt design called, "Como se Llama" I came up with in 2005. I originally designed my shirt using clip art of a llama, but once sales started to pick up in 2010 I redesigned the shirt using my own art. My sales topped out around Christmas of 2012 and it was after that other cafepress members began copying my design. So I applied to copyright my design. Now this is tricky business, the phrase, "Como se Llama" alone is not something you can copyright, I can copyright my llama image. I feel there is a copyright infringement issue since it's the image of a llama and the phrase that makes the design unique and hopefully funny too. The copyright office does not protect slogans and phrase but what about artwork with a phrase as a combined piece? What's interesting is I received a cease and desist letter from the lawyers at Chic Fil-A in 2006 about a shirt I was selling that said, "Eat more vegetables" obviously they were not within the legal rights of the copyright provision to sue me, but they were certainly hoping to scare anyone who was naive to the provisions of the copyright laws. I feel I have more of a case than Chic Fil-A since my sales are being negatively impacted by other people copying my design. My, "Eat more veggies" shirt wasn't impacting Chic Fil-A's profits. But since other people are using the phrase and a different llama image, does that mean they are legally copying my design? Is this how Naked Castaway is able to basically compete Survivorman's format without any legal fallout?
Como se Llama

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chemicals and ADHD

So I'm reading about how all my daughters favorite foods are soaked with organophosphates. There goes my joy and relief that she loves green beans and strawberries. How are these pesticides even aloud to be used when they are being linked to ADHD and prenatal brain damage? I mean I can't get my own acreage fast enough. But now even the organic stuff is being contaminated by persistent herbicides. They don't break down, that's part of their charm, and down fall. So now your compost or manure might be contaminated with a Persistant herbicide that will kill and contaminate your crops.
They also have linked phthalates in baby shampoos, lotions, and powders to ADHD. It's a fragrance chemical.
Look out for lead. Especially in older homes. its not just an issue of lead paint, but in the plumbing. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures, and solder pipes. Did we learn nothing from the down fall if Rome? Newer homes which should have lead free plumbing, can legally contain up to 8% lead. And with the slap up cheap rush building jobs of the 90's you can bet there's some lead in there some where. Chrome and brass fixtures can also leach lead so look out for those too.
Be careful with your garden, lawn, and house hold pest control sprays. In fact, your better off just ditching them for a more natural approach. Like planting native plants, and organic natural forms of pest control. Like attracting birds and lady bugs.
Lastly, avoid smokers, they're gross, they smell bad, and their nicotine laden clothes can absorb through your child's and your skin.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Things to Consider

Going off the grid alone is one thing, going off the grid married is another, and going off the grid with children is still quite another. Where ever we buy a home or land, we have a few things to consider; safety, schools, healthcare, clean water, and clean air. It's getting harder and harder to not be downwind or down stream from pollution. It's getting harder to live some where safe, with the economy in the dumpster, our nations need to take on more immigrants than there are jobs, high unemployment, college graduates with no jobs available. Look at me I'm an ASCP laboratory technician with a Class A CDL, all my endorsements, and 7 years of driving experience. I've been unemployed for 6 months, mostly my own choice, though. I've had it with the rat race. This nation, the employment market, and everything in it, is akin to rats racing to the mast of a sinking ship. I want off the ship, period. All this has made people, even God fearing people, desperate, more people are turning to drugs and alcohol and crime to solve their problems and fulfill their needs. So my advice is to get a shot gun and a dog. A dog is better than a gun any day, but having both at least gives you some piece of mind. No one's gonna bother the crazy hermit with an angry German shepherd and a double barrel shot gun. I'm not going to anyway. As for schools, well, unfortunately Georgia is known for having some of the worst schools in the country. So finding an area with land near a good school is going to be the biggest challenge. Now most of a child's education and spiritual upbringing starts and ends at home. But sending them to a failing school isn't going to help them reach their potential either. Neither is bothering with a church that has nothing important to say. We are planting seeds here, seeds of knowledge and faith.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Going off the Grid, in Georgia

Georgia presents it's own unique challenges for going off the grid, but I also think it may offer it's own advantages. Coastal Georgia has an abundance of sunny days and ocean breezes that could be harnessed for solar and wind energy. But what about the interior, or mountain regions? We are currently scouting out land in the northern Georgia area for our possible homestead sight. I need to figure out what would be best. land with hills, flat, open, tree cover, water access, maybe all of that? Is Georgia just too hot for off the grid living? Then again, they were off the grid longer than most of the country. You need to employ the passive home building technology that was lost when air conditioning was invented. Think Dog Trots, wrap around porches, pyramid roofs, angling the house away from direct sunlight, placing the home in the path of prevailing winds, ect. It can be done. Then you add today's sustainable technology and you're off to the races. We have a few options, but fewer than perfect since we don't have unlimited funds, but more than many. We can either buy land and put up a home, or buy land with a home and green up the existing home, or buy land with a decent trailer and built our dream home later or over time, or buy land, a trailer, build our home and sell the trailer. Build our own home or have it built? Prefab or local builder?