Adventures in an Aluminum Can

So it is the day of new year eve should be getting ready for my new mattress and box springs delivery. Well, that’s not happening. Changes in delivery so I won’t have a bed until mid-January. I can deal with that you can’t miss what you don’t have right?  Instead of getting ready to go to town for tonight’s festivities my toilet tank stops filling and I become a master plumber.

Why doesn’t it fill? Google says I need a new fill tank thing. In the meantime I take my spanner and dis connect the flexible hose that runs water into the tank suspiciously nothing is coming through. But what do I know Google says it is the tank thing which doesn’t look like any one I have ever seen. I bang and scrape a bit knocking off calcium and other crystals and a tiny drips falls.

Okay, it is noon and nothing seems to be changing so it qualifies as needing a run into town. Off I go first to the Dollar stores and finally to my friendly but expensive hardware store. Blah blah blah the salesman shows me this and that. Bob and weave and I rush back to try his suggestions. Now they close in 45 minutes and nothing has worked so I race back down the mountain. This time I speak to the plumbing expert who tells me it sounds like my pipes are frozen.  That doesn’t make sense since all the other water spouts work but she thinks I should crawl under the aluminum can and inspect the pipes.

That is not gonna happen!

I do know that when she starts talking eventually she will strike gold. She shows me a replacement kit and flexible hose. Tells me to get a wire and clean out the hose and….. her voice goes into Charlie Brown mode because I think the hose is the problem. Just in case and since it is new years eve and no one will be open tomorrow and I would like to be able to flush for a few days I buy all the parts. The first piece I replace is the flexible hose and water flows.  I knew it wasn’t a frozen pipe. As luck would have it the piece I just bought is too short. So before I start breaking parts that look like they might just still work I push the wire through the old hose run it under hot water to clear it out reattach, turn on the water flow and bingo the tank starts running like a river. All is well and in two days I will return the unnecessary purchase.

I did learn a number of good survival techniques and truths about living on well water. One of her suggestions was to buy a water filter that goes on the pipe bringing water into the alum can. That sounds like an excellent solution for avoiding new crisis.

So the old year closes on a high note and welcomes in a new adventure.

photo 1photo 2I know the aluminum can doesn’t look like much now but just wait until I post what the inside remodel looks like and create a veneer.


A day in the Life

Last night I received a wonderful gift package from Vermont, White Cheddar and pure maple syrup. Fresh cup of hot cowboy coffee and cheddar cheese pancakes with maple syrup and everything is better. The morning visitors came for their treat earlier and after a friendly game of tag I went inside to make breakfast. And think.

Where I live is on the side of a desert mountain about 6 miles north of Mexico. The town put in a 3rd street light just before Christmas and I see some unwanted construction happening. Rumor has it a development is being built. Although I am uncertain as to whom might be interested in living here. Back to subject. This land where I live is a project to put it mildly.

There is a single wide trailer or mobile or manufactured home depending on how fancy you want to get. It is from the ’50’s so aluminum can would be the best description. The roof leaked like a waterfall of sludge and it was missing two walls and had no door to lock. With the help of a builder I have framed and built two walls which walled off the leaky spaces and cut down on the living area. He built a magnificent wooden door so I can now safely lock my space. The wood stove heats the place and with my new chain saw I am warm all night. Next months project is the electric system and the water heater will need replacing soon.

Don’t go getting depressed it is warm and dry. I painted the kitchen which is huge, a lovely lilac with violet trim, the bedroom is a minty seafoam and around the wood stove I did some textured mud design. One area of trim is decorated with bottle caps saved from my residency at Wildflower Village in Reno, NV. That is a place everyone should visit. Presently I am working on a paperbag floor. Being that it is a mere aluminum can the floor can not hold tile without being reinforced and torn paper bags look like a wonderful stone floor with the added benefit of being soft and warm underfoot. The only drawback is the town has banned all plastic bags and sells paper ones .5 cents, ( have you noticed the computer keyboard no longer has a cent sign? I wonder what that means.) so it is not like walking into the market and grabbing a handful. There are many people who are closet paper hoarders and willing to share their bounty. I did buy some colored construction paper for added color and visual depth. I will be posting photographs as the work is completed.

I am thinking about news articles and funny pages in the bathroom.

After the floor I will move on to the art studio.  I have tested the soil which is 100% perfect for cob or adobe building. The wooden structure is in place which will save time and labor. Inside I will build a rocket mass heater under a wall length seating bench, get someone to frame and reinforce the roof for a green roof, build a loft for sleeping and cover inside and out in cob. The south is full glass and the east glass and wood the west is totally wood and north is mostly wood and window. I want to imbed lava rock and bottle on the north side to help insulate and warm it during the winter. The southern view will have inside solar screens but being an artist the light is necessary. The bottom to ground will be stone, so if anyone from CT or VT who knows about building stone walls wants to volunteer to help you are welcome. Actually I will be looking for apprentices to help with the cob building and will announce the search in future time.

Guess I have procrastinated long enough and need to get back to my paper bag floor.

Chainsaw Love

Chainsaw Love
Nothing like a chainsaw to help you make it through the night snug and warm.


Two Morning Visitors

This cold frosty morning I had two friendly happy visitors. They come by for an early treat and game of tag.



Insights & knowledge

1. Frozen wood is difficult to light
2. When something fat & black runs across your floor and is over 5″ round think twice about using your size 5 shoe to step on it
3. When the world is frozen and you open the front door to let in the heat there is something off balance

Frost is on the Cactus

Early morning frost


You know it is cold when steam comes out with your breath and you are still inside.


It may not look like much right now but this is my magnificent lemonade tree. When the berries are red and orange you pick them. Give a quick rinse then set aside. Boil enough water for a cool summer drink pitcher. Perhaps a gallon. Pour the boiled water over the berries (1/4-1/2cup) and let sit about 15 minutes drain and chill.
If you bite into the berry you are rewarded by a wonderful lemon tang on your tongue. I was told to bite and spit it out.



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