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Another Year Older

Self portrait.  59 year old recluse

Self portrait. 59 year old recluse?

Today is the day, 59 years old, and it will go unremarked by most‘S alright.   be remembered by a few people that are unbelievably dear to me even after decades apart.  The inclination to throw a wide social loop is lessening with each day forward.  The dictionary says a recluse is a a person who leads a secluded or solitary life” and I am disposed to go along with that.  Not a result of any pre-planning or a cognizant path;  shit happens and there you are.  You can either roll with it or be a miserable sumbitch.  I have never been one to pass up an interesting opportunity or hesitate to jump headlong into a new advenure.  I have remarked in the past my true friends can be counted on less than 10 fingers easily.  That is not such a bad thing at all I am thinking.   I made a comment on another writer’s blog — a real writer, not a hack like me– regarding a friend’s passing.  I said   “Ah well, the only thing we leave behind is what, of ourselves, we give away.”   I am going to do my best to leave a rich legacy,  what else matters?

Before my hair was gray--my BFF even then

Before my hair was gray–my BFF even then

This gettin’ old stuff is for the birds though, let me tell ya.  Additions of late include a set of suspenders from Hickman Saddlery in Post Falls, ID and a tobacco pipe(s).  I do not why I waited so long to get some galluses.  Goin’ around all day hitchin’ up my britches was a pain in the butt.  It was exacerbated by weight loss from walking 5 miles every day.  I  coulda replaced all my pants with 36’s instead of 40’s but that seemed sorta silly.  Suspenders solved the problem and the ones from Hickman are extry high quality.  Ummmm, the pipe thing……

I am a lifelong smoker and I have no intention of givin’ it up.  The 5 mile walks highlighted the fact that smoking does a number on your wind and stamina. I had this to say about it back in 2011 when I started rolling my own           ” People will raise their eyebrows up and ask ‘ You smoke?’  and my stock reply is ‘Yeah, it’s my only bad habit.’   Which is not exactly true….  I smoke, I drink,  I appreciate a fine looking woman.  Sometimes I do all three at once.  Ah well, it is what it is.  Life is too short for cheap cigars, bad whiskey and ugly women.”  Over the decades I have chewed, dipped and smoked cigars and cigarettes.  I find smoking a pipe to be the most pleasurable of all whilst giving the waning lungs a break.  There is ritual,  there is variety, there is history and I find it satisfying.  Matter of fact, smokin’ a bowl in a Missouri Meerschaum as I write ths  and it is mighty fine!

*************

The guts of my water system.

The guts of my water system.

I noticed a few week’s before Christmas the water pump on the No Princess Palace would give a ‘bump’ every now and again.  Well sir, since an RV water pump has a pressure switch on it that only activates when the pressure drops that could only mean one thing  –  a water leak.   The reason you see so many RVs sold with the notation of a “soft floor”  is water leaks are easy to ignore because most of them are not running buckets of water out into the floor and they are a bitch to chase down and fix. I did some hunting and poking and didn’t find squat and the ominous bumps became more frequent.  All the while, my water heater was getting more and more persnickety to light up on gas.  Hmmmmmm, a connection maybe?  Yup, the water heater was leaking.  Bad; to the point I had to turn off the pump so the leak diminished due to no water pressure.

I looked high and low for the source of the leak and I had a bad feeling about the whole deal.  These Suburban water heaters have a penchant for tank cancer and I had procrastinated for over a year about replacing the anode rod.  I probably deserved anything I got for being such a slacker bastard.   Took me all of 10 minutes to replace that anode rod and took me 15 months to get around to it.  Somewhere during this peepin’ and pokin’ I did discover a hole in the hot water tank that would run a stream about as big as an 12 gauge electric wire whenever I turned the pump on.  It is a pain in the butt to turn the water pump on and off a hunnert times a day, let me tell ya.

Another thing come up during all this as well.  Y’all know I am particular about my potable water.  The thing that makes it truly safe to drink is the UV sterilization light as the final phase.   Just by rote, I will stick a finger in the stream coming out of that special spigot occasionally.  The UV light heats up the water a skoosh when it is not being used and if the water coming out of the spigot is warmish, I know the UV light is on.   The other morning I stuck my finger in the water and it was stone cold.  WTF!  This thing has been pretty danged foolproof for years now!  What with the water heater and the UV light, I was snake bit for sure.  It is a bitch to work on that system underneath the kitchen sink.  The two canisters barely fit as it is and I have to do all the wrenchin’ stretched out flat on my belly in the kitchen floor.   At the same time,  I don’t want to be drinkin’ buggy water and getting sick! I managed to get the two canisters out without spilling more than a gallon of water across the floor and started the troubleshooting up at the top of the flowchart.  I got out the one piece of equipment a serious RV boondocker cannot live without  —  the Fluke Multimeter and checked to see if I had any power going to the light.   This particular UV light is 12v and I wanted it that way; less dependent on 110v when you are off grid.  I discovered there was NO POWER going to the light and that was odd because it was wired in with the 12v water pump and the water pump worked just fine! Well sir, laying there in the floor amongst the wet towels and such it dawned on me the light would work just fine when the pump was on and it was powered up!  Dumb ass me!  If the pump was off except for a quickie every so often when water was needed stands to reason the UV light would never have a chance to heat up the water!   Talk about a senior moment!  I tell ya;  if there had been anybody else around ‘sides Tuco the Dog I woulda cussed and raised hell and blamed the cat!

Scratch made biscuits and country ham

Scratch made biscuits and country ham

A new Suburban 6 Gallon Water Heater is a bit over $300 and I have a new one on the way. In the meantime, I decided to see if I could rig up the old one to at least get by. There are two indispensable items you have to have out here in the puckerbrush. Several rolls of Alabama Chrome and a couple packages of J-B Weld l Steel Reinforced Epoxy . Out comes the JB Weld and I daubed a good sized glob on where I best-guessed that hole was and bypassed the water heater for 24 hours to give it a good set; not like I had much to lose, right?

The good report is the JB Weld reduced the pressure leak down to just a slight drip.  Not perfect but a damned sight better to what it was.  I can live with it and now I can replace the water heater on my schedule instead of going after it like my hair is on fire.

*************

I am still finding comfort and accomplishment in my growing cooking skills.  I am certainly a far piece from being a good cook but I get a little better week by week.   I am at a disadvantage because I can’t run to the store to pick up every little thing for a recipe.  Good example?  Buttermilk  biscuits when you got no buttermilk?  Hell, I didn’t even have any milk in the fridge!  I made do with some evaporated milk and white vinegar.  The biscuits were damn tasty with a slice of country ham in ’em!

San Francisco sourdough plus Boos maple cutting block

San Francisco sourdough plus Boos maple cutting block

When Little Blondie skedaddled south, I didn’t even have a can opener or measuring cup left in the kitchen.  I have been slowly replacing the kitchen goods and one of the more recent is a John Boos Maple Cutting Board. I bought Little Blondie the much bigger and mucho expensive big brother to this block last year for her birthday.  This little ‘un will do just fine for me.  See that loaf of sourdough bread sitting on it?  Finally, after 3 months of failed attempts,  I may have this sourdough thing down pat – or close to it anyway.  You know, My Mom is an excellent cook and whenever she experienced a rare failure, she would blame it on the humidity.  Sometimes it was too  humid and sometimes the air was just too dry with no rhyme or reason.  It was almost mystical in its’ own way.  All I got to say is that humidity has been out of hand around my place lately!    Good thing is Tuco the Dog is happy to clean up most of my failures.  For the most part……….  I made some venison chili the other week that I couldn’t eat and she would just turn her head and look the other way when I set a bowl of it down in front of here.  It is hell when a dog snubs your cookin’!

 

 

End Note: Memories  by Barbara Streisand  from the 1973 movie The Way We Were.  Quite a departure from my normal end note, huh?   You know I firmly believe everything happens for a reason and I DVR’d this movie weeks ago and for some reason decided spur of the moment I would watch it on my Birthday Eve.   I had no expectation it would be so poignant.  Good memories of life 40 years ago,  loves won and lost,  dreams less than pragmatic,  ideals still perched on a lofty shelf.  It was good to think back to when I was 18.

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16 comments to Another Year Older

  • Joel

    Happy birthday, Andy. For a couple of months, we’re the same age.

    I smoked pipe tobacco for about three years in college. This was my favorite:

    http://www.pipesandcigars.com/pipe-tobacco/75718/balkan-sobranie/

    Re: buttermilk, I keep powdered buttermilk on hand:

    http://www.sacofoods.com/products/view/cultured-buttermilk

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  • Lynn Brashears

    Happy Birthday & Many More! I keep powdered buttermilk on hand too, but never smoked a pipe! Gave up cigarettes & started eating. Need to start walking, but it will be sometime before I could do 5 miles. Congrats, kudos to you!

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  • Wallace

    Happy birthday, Andy, you old cuss! We, your faithful blog readers, wouldn’t have you any other way. My brother smoked a pipe for many years, & I always thought that it smelled good. Congrats on your improved cooking skills; if I ever get a chance to visit you in the puckerbrush, I hope you’ll feed me some of your fine, home-cooked vittles.

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  • Michelle Huron

    Happy Birthday Andy! Hope your day is filled with many well wishers and greetings. I enjoy all your blog posts and all the posts from you and every ones posts on your forum. Salute!

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  • David

    Happy Birthday Andy!

    You and I are the same age for almost 9 months.

    I must admit I got a cuckle out loud with your UV troubleshooting adventure.

    David

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  • Brenda

    Happy Birthday, Andy! Nothing like a fine pipe smell to take me back to sitting on my grandpa’s lap, comforted, and feeling all is right with the world.

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  • Joel

    Back in the day, I also enjoyed this as a break from the latakia:

    http://www.tobaccoreviews.com/blend/916/peter-stokkebye-luxury-navy-flake

    For maximum enjoyment I kept one of these around. The long stem keeps them from slurping:

    http://www.amazon.com/Churchwarden-Clay-Pipe-16/dp/B003NEZVSG

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  • Byron

    I too reached the 59th year in September! Happy Birthday Andy, you sir are an inspiration and I don’t say that lightly. May you have many more filled with joy and happiness! Stay strong and live long!

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  • Bryan

    Happy Birthday Andy. I hope you were able to enjoy a sip or two of fine whiskey.

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    • Andy

      Thanks Bryan. Running solo on a frac right now, no whiskey for me!

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  • Larry Worsham

    HBD!!…….59 yrs old. Youngster. lol! Enjoying the blog very much and hope you have a GREAT New Year. As my wife tells it….cooking is practice and chemistry. That is why I stick to smoking meat. From San Marcos, Tx, Larry

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  • Andy

    Thanks to everyone for the attention and kind wishes!

    I do believe 2015 is going to be one helluva ride.

    Let me close out the year with some Longfellow……

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

    A PSALM OF LIFE

    WHAT THE HEART OF THE YOUNG MAN
    SAID TO THE PSALMIST

    TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
    Life is but an empty dream ! —
    For the soul is dead that slumbers,
    And things are not what they seem.

    Life is real ! Life is earnest!
    And the grave is not its goal ;
    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
    Was not spoken of the soul.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
    Is our destined end or way ;
    But to act, that each to-morrow
    Find us farther than to-day.

    Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
    And our hearts, though stout and brave,
    Still, like muffled drums, are beating
    Funeral marches to the grave.

    In the world’s broad field of battle,
    In the bivouac of Life,
    Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
    Be a hero in the strife !

    Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant !
    Let the dead Past bury its dead !
    Act,— act in the living Present !
    Heart within, and God o’erhead !

    Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
    And, departing, leave behind us
    Footprints on the sands of time ;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
    Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
    Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate ;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.

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  • Joel

    And here’s my new years wish for you, Andy:

    “May you never cease your growing,
    And your learning as you grow;
    May the things that you discover
    Be the things you want to know
    May you gain in strength through sorrow,
    And may all your love be true;
    May you turn your hand to something
    That you really want to do.”

    ~Al Grierson

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  • Jim

    Happy Birthday big guy!
    It’s even better when your dog takes a bite of whatever food you made, coughs it out, and turns around to lick her butt! I guess to get the taste out of her mouth…..LOL

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  • Belated happy birthday, Andy, and have a good 2015!

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