Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Texas Landowner

I bought 5 acres of prime desert land in the Terlingua Ranch this morning, which is near Big Bend State Park in the great state of Texas. It was cheap enough that I could just buy it outright; no payments! All mine!

Location of my 5 acres

So with that accomplished, as time and finances permit, I will get on with the process of making it a home. I'll need a survey so I can get some fence up for the dogs. I'm sure the girls would stay pretty close in shouting distance, but PD (my greyhound boy) could be playing in the middle of the highway in a matter of seconds if he was let loose. Or in the next county if something ran and he was inclined to chase it.

Tara's foot is healing very nicely. Her stitches come out this coming Saturday, and after that I'll allow her to have fun again. Though I think she kind of likes not having to play with her sister 24/7...

Didn't get much organizing done this weekend, just some of the paper pile on my desk, and found a few things I've had stored for 6 months and have not used; those got tossed.


Here's a screenshot of the POATRI map. My 5 acres are the easternmost 1/4 of 4919 (henceforth known as 4919-D). The Legion is right there at the 118 graphic underneath the crisscrossing red lines. 
Here's a black and white version, with a green rectangle where my property is:
The GPS coordinates listed with the property are in another section entirely, so I choose to believe the tract maps are correct :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010


That was the sound of my money vanishing. Spent a good chunk getting the van roadworthy, and yesterday Tara cut her foot somehow: over $300 to the vet for surgery/stitches. Ouchy. Also used up some vacation time so I could stay home and keep an eye on her. She's supposed to "rest" for 10 days.
Stitches on Tara's right hind foot
Just now got an email from the gentleman I was looking to buy land from; he got a substantially better cash offer but was willing to honor the contract he sent me, even though neither of us had signed it yet. What a nice fellow! With the whooosh of my cash being half gone, I told him he'd be nuts not to take it :)  So... back to land shopping and hopefully motivating myself to get back to working side jobs to make up that money.

I must also note here that my organizational state is a shambles. I've spent so much time on the computer lately that my papers are not filed and things are not put away as they should be. I will try to remedy that this weekend. I hate living in chaos.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Safety first

Got the van looked over today, and glad I did. I already knew it needed new front tires, and boy did it ever! Both of them were down to the mesh in places. Also needed new brakes and a wheel bearing. Got about half of that done today, and will drop it off in the morning to get the rest done. So that will set me back a bit, but I get the reward of knowing I'm driving as safely as I can.

Still looking at cabin options, and I can't tell you how many bad designs I saw tonight. The people that design these things have obviously never tried living in one. Kitchens with no drawers, or any other storage to speak of. Folks, if the place is under 200 sq ft, I'm not going to be entertaining, so don't try to squeeze a full sized kitchen into your design. Give me as much counter space as possible, and lots of storage. I don't need a double sink, a range, or a full sized fridge. Do try to get a small washer/dryer combo unit in there, I'd love that!

Speaking of washers... check out the Electrolux Shine. It's a concept that comes in either a wall mount unit or under bathroom cabinet unit. Spiffy! I wonder how much power they'll use? I think I read the wall unit uses only a gallon of water per wash, but I bet it only holds as much as the Wonder Wash.

I also like the Smev single burner cooktop sold by Aery on ebay. Their sinks are cool, too.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I have a van!

Did the vehicle exchange tonight! The van is a really tight fit coming into the garage, I mean like 2 inches to spare on either side. I wrestled out the middle seat and turned the floor mat so it covers the holes where the seat was and all 4 dogs piled in. They loved it! I'll try to take them for a ride tomorrow.
PD between the front seats. I expect he'll probably ride here regularly.

PD, Tara, and Devi happy with the new ride! Natoli was unavailable for comment.
Roomy! The back seats are pushed all the way back.

The sales agreement for the land is now in the hands of a local real estate attorney for review. He said he'll get to it and let me know how it looks by Thursday.

I spent some time this morning looking at solar power panels and components. I still have no idea how much power I'll need, but there are some good deals out there. One of my LCD monitors says 1.5A. Can that be right? Just seems kinda low. The Dell all in one computer is 130W. I wish everyone would either print amps or watts, one or the other. I keep forgetting the math to convert it all. The netbook, cable modem, and wireless router all say 1A. And there is a DC adapter for the netbook, pretty reasonable, so I might get that.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Van test drive

Finally found someone looking to trade their minivan for a car! We did a mutual test drive tonight up in Hull, and I think we were each happy, but we're taking tonight to think on it and will discuss tomorrow. It sure would be nice to be able to take all 4 dogs somewhere all at once! For those who don't know, I have a 2005 Ford Focus 4 door sedan. PD the greyhound takes up the entire back seat all by himself, though Devi can squeeze in with him. All 3 girls can ride back there, but not with PD. Thankfully, I have not had to take all 4 anywhere yet, but the time is coming, so I need a van!

I think I have to nix the shipping container idea. I'd absolutely need 2 of them, and the cost of the containers, mods, and shipping (especially the shipping) is just too much. Really, I think my best bet is going to be finding a good builder down there to make me a shell that I can finish myself. Papercrete and it's kin seem like very good desert options - good R value and can handle high winds and bug resistant. I've seen some neat pics of straw bale and adobe type homes out there. I need to revisit that house plan I drew up and see if it still works based on the new things I've learned from others blogs.

Saw a UGA listserv post today that there's a local charity for computer stuff. I'm going to see if they will take my old printer and the shuttle pc and the other pieces-parts I have lying around here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Water bill up

Drat. The water bill was WAY up from last month.  The electric was way down, though. I need to come up with a new water conserving method of dish washing I guess. It was so much easier when I lived in the Casita and I knew I only had 16 gallons in the fresh water tank and how long it had to last me.

Spent a good bit of time today trying to find pictures of existing shipping container homes, real ones, not computer models. There's not much out there. I did find a place near Atlanta that sells the containers and does mods, so I might call them and get a quote once I figure out what I'd want. I've seen a couple that have an oversized large canopy roof that would be perfect for both shade and water catchment. Those containers are really narrow, though. The greyhound needs a lot of room to turn around.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Plugging away at the "stuff"

Last month, I treated myself to new kitchen things that match and that I like, and got rid of almost all of the old stuff. I missed some glasses, and decided I don't really need the egg cooker, much as I like it, so those are set aside to go to charity. I decided to only have 4 of everything - flatware, dishes, bowls, mugs, etc. I also tried handwashing the dishes all last month. I should know in a few days what effect that had on the water bill. Also turned the AC up a bit higher and the weather was fairly cool, so maybe the electric won't be that bad this month.

I need to figure out how to do roasts in the dutch oven that came with my new cookware set, then I can bear to part with the crock pot. Is it possible to do a roast on a gas cooktop in a dutch oven? I've really been enjoying the little Coleman camp stove/grill I got. It has one burner, and the other 2/3 of the surface is a non-stick grill. This has really helped me get back on my Neanderthin diet! Grilled meat is the best!

Found a few acres out in Middle of Nowhere, TX that I'm probably going to buy. I should get the sales agreement next week in the mail. The owner is very kindly willing to finance it for 2 years at 0% interest. Can't beat that with a stick. I'm sure I'll pay it off early, but the payments are more than affordable. Power and water are not available on the property, but DSL is - how awesome is that? Broadband in the boonies FTW! I've been finding and reading blogs written by folks that live out there;  I'm learning a lot.

Time to get serious about my downsizing and simplifying. I still have stuff all over the house and I need to put everything in my bedroom, and I do mean everything! I'm planning on having a cabin not much bigger than this 12x12 bedroom, and everything needs to fit in that cabin and look good while doing so. I do not want "stuff" stacked in corners. I want everything to have a place to be put away out of sight. Having everything I own in this room will really help me to make some decisions about what to get rid of, and then do so! What's left will tell me where I'm lacking on storage solutions.