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Archive for January, 2010

I’ve decided that when I blog from the bus to call it “bus entry”

Two blog entries, oh boy are you lucky, my gentle reader!

Okay, I’ll be back in a sec … I need to shut down the damper on the stove because it is getting a bit warm in here. First I have to clear my lap of the dog, who never really understands why he has to get up. Dang I let it burn up too much wood, but that is okay I really don’t need the fire anyway, it is just nice to get the chill off of the bus. Right now the thermermeter says 60* but I don’t think it is accurate. I forgot to see what the temp was when I got in tonight but it was not lower than 44.

What I wanted to write about was this little 15 watt compact floresent light bulb that is hanging above my head. It is funny how much I missed it. Well, it has been here the whole time but it has not had power. See, it has not had the ability to work for some time. This winter has been unusally foggy, if you ask me though my memory could be selective for the simple fact that I just did not care about it one way or another because it did not apply to me until I installed solar.

I have a small solar system, just 90 watts of panels, that in actualality are two of those Harbor Freight kits that used to be such a good deal. Like with everything else you can buy solar panels for cheaper than I bought mine now, but I digress.

Fog means that no solar power is generated. Also, I was in that 6 week range around the winter solstice where it is hard to get adequate power. Three weeks before and three weeks after are my weak points. I just “need” light to feel better, not a lot because as I wrote before a single 15 watt CF light will do the trick! My first winter down here, before solar, was miserable for me around the new moon. i can tell that there is a new moon coming this time of year 5 days before it happens because I can feel the darkness. I will catch myself saying “It is so dark” and I’ll look at the calendar and I will find out that I am right.

I decided on Christmas Eve this year that a propane lantern would do the trick. I found a single mantle lantern on Ebay and waited patiently for it to come via UPS and it did. Well, i guess I need to back up a few steps. When I mention that I live in a bus I am asked or even told that it will rain in the bus. People have been very emphatic about it. “It WILL RAIN in your bus from CONDENSATION. Rain I tell you. what are you going to do about it? How are you going to keep it from raining in the bus?” …. I always flat out tell them these two things. *ONE* I have wood heat, which is notorious for making the air dry. *TWO* I will not be using propane for extended periods of time. HA! Did you catch that second one? So, you guessed it. It started to “rain” a bit in the bus. I learned how to deal with it so it is not that much of an issue now if I choose to use the lantern. it does a good job and I like it, except for the noise. Oh man that thing is noisy! Nothing like coming home to a nice quite house and kick back only to have to listen to that thing! %&*#$

As for solving the condensation problem this is what I do… i only use it on the nights that I do not have electricity and when I am going to have a fire. In the mornings I try to have a fire if at all possible and I wipe down all the windows with a towel. I have found that only the windows at the very back of the bus are the ones that are the worst if I limit the time the lantern is on (I think it has something to do with the temperature back there.) I also wipe down any metal that is “sweating”.

Another thing about the fog and the dampness is that my solar wood dryer is not working as well as it should. I had a eventful fall and did not get my wood in under cover like I should have so I thought that I should just put my wood in the windows at the back of the bus and it would dry out. Well, because of the fog it did not do the job as well as it has in the past and I even have a bit of mold on some of the wood. Yay. (sarcasm)

A friend did give me quite a bit of bone dry fir and I’m telling you I guard that stuff like gold and only use it when I have to. I’m so blessed to have it.

Okay, back to the light issue. So, my batteries are not charging because of the weather so I unhooked them to keep them from draining one way or the other. I took a measurement with the volt meter and sometimes it would say they were almost dead and then they would be full and then they would be dead again the next day. I could not figure out what was going on and to tell you the truth I still am not sure. Now, there is a vehicle accessible “road” (laugh laugh) between here and the real road but it is not improved. Basically I’m driving through the pasture so you get the point. In fact it would be better if I really were driving through the pasture and not on the “road” that I have used for the last few years … so I drive the truck down here and load up those batteries. they must weigh 45 pounds a piece and I’m pretty strong. I take them up to the house and I hook them up to the battery charger to see if they are dead …. if they are dead then the battery charger at mom’s will not charge them and then they go back to the store while they are still under warranty. I hook them up and it says that they are charged. So I put them back in the truck and drive them home a day or two later (I had to wait for the road to dry out some). Then yesterday I took them down here, back up the truck to the camp trailer that serves as my “solar shed” and unload the batteries. I get them in the shed and decided to put the meter on them and it reads 11.45 or something to that effect. CRAP! Somehow in the last 48 hours the batteries have dumped their load! They need to get back to the store. I load them up again and take them up to mom’s. On a lark I decided to hook up the other volt meter to the batteries and it gives me a reading of 13 for both batteries, meaning that they are full … topped off … 100%. OKAY! So, one of the volt meters is malfunctioning? This is just wild. I decide to put the batteries BACK on the charger and sure enough they are topped off.

So here I am, sitting under the light typing away at the keyboard. I hope I have not bored you to death and I’m glad that you read this far. It is amazing what we take for granted in this life. One thing for sure is that I know that everything will get better with time and it does. The fog seems to have gone away and I know that spring is around the corner.

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update january 14th

There are quite a few things to report since my last entry.

First of all I wanted to report that my jewelry sales went quite well thanks especially to my friends. I have enough in the bank for an eye exam and also to get eyeglasses and if there is money left over maybe once again I will have contacts.

Second is that I have a job online working as a subcontractor writing web page content. Right now I am not making minimum wage and I am still trying to remember HOW to write but my boss is great and she is working with me to get me to the point where she will not have to edit my work as much. I have this terrible habit since high school of letting the way I speak slip and then when I started going online I started writing like I speak and there you go … a slippery slope indeed! There is a lot of unlearning and relearning to do. If I really get rocking then I may be able to make $200 a month and that is “life changing” to my simple lifestyle.

My health, for one, is much improved. Until just the last few days I have started to gain strength and stamina. I am very excited about this and if I make sure that I get enough sleep (I seem to need more than most people) I am doing okay. I don’t have the ability of most women my age but that is okay too because I am where I am.

And finally, I’m writing this at home, by my fire on my powerbook that my wonderful brother, who spoils me rotten, gave to me when he upgraded. I have only had it a couple of days and I was afraid to take it home … for many reasons. One of them being that … well once you invite technology in then it all begins and simplicity seems go go out the door. And I spend far far too much time online to begin with. Although …. truth be told I really miss blogging and this is a great way to get it accomplished. I felt kind of silly blogging about living off-grid when I was sitting at mom’s anyway. This suits me better, I think.

I don’t know if I will have enough power to run this laptop at my house with 90 watts of solar and 125 amp hours of power (I still need to crunch the numbers) but I have over two hours of battery and that is fine for now. I can work here at home if needed. It has taken some time to get used to this keyboard ha ha. The plan is to shoot the broadband signal down here so I can surf from the bus. That just blows my mind, to tell you the truth. But I think that if I continue to have to ration power then it won’t be a big deal. A bit of controlled evil, hmmmm.

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