Monday, December 30, 2013

Taking stock of 2013

As the end of the year approaches, it's a good time to report on a few updates to previous posts and to consider what I said I'd do this year in light of what I actually did. At least I hope to do that, if my computer and Blogger effect enough of a truce to allow me to complete the post.

When I wrote this post on how Mike and I keep phone service costs low, we did not have a cell phone. I admit I felt somewhat smug about it. It was a small way for us to resist creeping digitization and its requirement to be available to anyone at any time as well as a cost saving and environmental benefit. However, it became clearer every time we traveled out of town that pay phone availability has diminished too much to not have access to a cell phone when we are traveling. Since Mike's mother had given us a couple of her no-longer-used cell phones to recycle properly, we charged one of them up, determined that it worked, and now buy 30 minutes of phone service every three months so we have a phone to use when one or both of us is away from home. We don't need or want text service so we don't pay for that and it is a dumb phone since we can get access to the Internet through library computers when we are away from home. It adds $40/year to our phone costs, an annoyance but the cheapest way we know of to have phone service when traveling. And we did not have to buy a new phone to get service.

I discussed our continuing use of obsolete computers in this post. It probably shouldn't surprise me that not long after I completed the post, the Mac SE's monitor image started to develop a waviness that I understand is common as it ages. Apparently there is a fix, but because it involves opening the case I have been reluctant to make the fix, or to put it more precisely, to ask Mike to open the computer and make the fix. So far I have been able to ignore the waviness and it tends to lessen after the computer has run for a half hour or so, but I do not know how long I have before the fix will be required to see the monitor image.

Meanwhile, the OS that this computer uses grows more obsolete. While the computer itself works fine, browsers for Internet access are a major issue. TenFourFox is the only one being maintained and it doesn't seem to be working well with Blogger. I've experienced considerable frustration getting the last few posts put up and I'm still not sure how I got the previous post up. It may be time to look for a somewhat less obsolete computer that doesn't require wireless service. Or else time to write posts at home and put them on a jump drive so I can post them from the public library's computer.

In this post I discussed the gutters Mike hung on our garden shed so we could collect rainwater. The tank filled by late October so I could use the collected water when I planted the garlic and potato onions. All was fine until the first four inch snowfall earlier this month. Yes, I'd forgotten to take account of the effect of snow sliding off the shed roof onto the gutters. The gutters are now on the ground, where they will stay until April. Unless we come up with a better system, we'll put up the gutters up in April, about the time the growing season starts, and take them down when the growing season ends in November.

Now that the updates are done, let's take a look at my goals for 2013 and see how they compare with what we actually did.

Reducing the impact of drought: because we had much above rainfall through the end of June, I confess to not being as motivated to research into swales and add mulch to the perennial beds as I should have been -- especially since we experienced a flash drought in late summer and fall. But we did add the gutters and downspout to the shed roof and started collecting rain in the 500 gallon tank. Call this one a partial success, with plenty left to do this year.

Creating a shaded place for summer sitting and cooking: we accomplished this with a sturdy tarp made to hold down loads on trailers, which we attached to the conduit framework over our existing patio. It proved to be sturdy enough and well enough attached to not be damaged by the close approach of the May 2013 tornado. Later in the summer we purchased a barbeque pit that is large enough to roast a turkey in; Mike roasted one last month over charcoal and a little fruitwood and it was delicious. He also built a rocket stove which so far is only a partial success (we need to use it more so we learn its peculiarities). But since we now have the basics of a summer kitchen, we accomplished this goal.

That's enough for today. Sometime in the next month I'll post my goals, garden and otherwise, for 2014. In the meantime, have a peaceful and pleasant New Year!

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