End of Insanity


Its amazing how relieved I am that this year is almost over. In fact, I think this picture best sums up how I feel about 2021.

Finally got to see the opthomologist and learned my problem started as a normal side affect of cataract surgery, but since the pandemic meant all eye clinics were closed for 14 months, something that would normally be easily addressed became a nightmare. Long/short: Minor laser surgery was done to correct the problem, am now off of the horrific mass of meds with all the debilitating side affects, and am now able to function “normally.” I will need eye drops every day from now on, but that is no big deal.

The huge cysts in my elbow have also been surgically removed, the cast is off, and am now able to use my arm again. Am still doing the final healing from the surgery, but I have full use of my arm, so I am thrilled.

As a result of being functional again, we have started working on the house again. Before getting to the home project, we spent a few days cruising thrift shops. The treasures we found are so thrilling! We found a wonderful electric washing machine that is also able to do dry cleaning. At a different thrift store we found the perfect sink and cabinet to replace the set in the bathroom. Lastly, we found a few things I thought I had lost forever.

Several years ago (when I still lived in Albuquerque), my apartment had been broken into. Jewelry was stolen, some of my suits, and my hand-crochet pillows (set of 4). I actually was able to find two of the four pillows! They said they don’t know who donated them, but I was more than happy to give them $5 to get these two back!

When we went and reviewed the property, we decided to focus on the bathroom. Again, what we thought would be a one day project to replace the tiny sink and collapsing cabinet became a week long mess. We discovered the plumbing was done wrong, so the piping had to be redone before we could install the new cabinet and faucet. The picture below shows a corner of the tiny bowl-sized sink and collapsing cabinet. Here’s the result of replumbing and installing new.

We decided to keep the old clawfoot tub, but we could see we would be having some issues there. Little did we know!

Not only does the wall require massive rework and repair, but the plumbing was the biggest surprise. The fixtures are going to be replaced with fixtures made for a clawfoot tub, but we found out the plumbing from the floor and up was done with swamp cooler hoses, not pipes! This means poor Jim is going to have to tear out the wall in order to redo the shower as well as redoing all the other plumbing. We now know why the water never had any significant water pressure.

The beautiful old tub also needs TLC. After we moved it out of the corner we discovered that the legs, the underside and the side against the wall are rusted. We’ll patch the wall first as a joint effort. Thereafter, while Jim works on the plumbing, I’ll be sanding and cleaning the tub, coating it with Rustoleum and then spraying it with paint. All I have to do is remember to buy a wire brush the next time we’re in town….

Drama Queen & The Sky is Falling


Our humble on-going project of getting the house ready to live in never fails to surprise. For those that don’t already know — Jim is disabled and after working an hour or two, he has to stop to rest. After a few of the necessary rest periods, he has to quit for the day. If he pushes too hard, he gets laid up for days, so to answer the question posed by a few folks — its taking a while to get everything done because of physical limitations. I have zero mechanical ability and poor Jim is a loveable gimp.

We planned on filling in the gaps between the boards of the ceilings first, but with the cold weather Jim thought we should check out the insulation. It seemed that the house kept getting cold rather quickly despite fixing all the holes in the exterior walls and sealing the windows. **sigh**

We crawled up there and discovered the planks held some trash and about 1/8 inch of dusty dirt, most of which kept leaking through the cracks between the planks into the house. We also discovered that the propanel metal sheets were nailed onto the roof beams without backing or sealing, so there are huge holes letting in the rain, snow and cold air.

We have an old house trailer that we have been stripping for materials (i.e., the kitchen cabinets). So we spent one day taking down the ceiling tiles, ripping out the plastic sheeting, and removing the insulation..

Early the next morning we carted the insulation to the house and coated the entire attic with the insulation. Since we plan on doing the roof this summer, we are not going to worry about all the excess “ventilation” right away. We have noticed a significant difference already. Now we plan on returning to the job of caulking all the gaps between all the planks in the ceiling, then painting.

Meanwhile, my “ladies” never fail to entertain me. Whenever one of my chickens is ill or injured, I utilize a cat carrier that is lined with straw and paper strips. I put the sickie in the carrier, bring it into the house, and they have a quiet corner with a food dish loaded with goodies and a water dispenser — all to themself. Usually the sickie spends one full day (a few rare times more than one day) and when they improve, they rejoin the colony outside.

Well, I recently tended to an injured rooster and a few days later I discovered one of my hens was limping. I watched her for a while, then checked her feet and legs to be sure. She seemed to be okay and I let her stay.

The next day when I went into the chicken run, this one hen took a few steps, flopped over and refused to move any further. I really got worried and went to check her. She cooed when I picked her up to inspect her legs and feet. I didn’t see anything wrong, put her back down and went to prepare the cat carrier despite not knowing what could be wrong.

Before returning I looked out the window and guess who was running, jumping and scurrying around for the scratch and dried worms with the rest of the ladies…. yep, you guessed it. My “wounded” lady was doing fine — until I went back outside and approached the chicken run. All of a sudden, she stopped, dropped and drooped her head while watching me closely.

My Drama Queen

I decided to leave her out there that day. The next day, sure enough, when she saw me, she was just pitiful. When I was out of view, she was doing just fine. No one ever told me that chickens could be drama queens!

Progress & Problems


We finally got the main cabinets in the kitchen installed. The sink and plumbing proved to be a challenge. The stainless steel sink was a little too big for the cabinets, so Jim had to trim the wood a little. The faucet set fit perfectly, but the plumbing under the sink required extra effort and attention because the old pipes were not correct. Jim redid the plumbing and the overall results have me smiling.


We had planned that I continue painting base coat on various walls while Jim removed the water heater. Last year we purchased one of those tankless water heaters and set it aside to install later. It was decided that to celebrate our first set of cabinets in the kitchen we would install the tankless heater. And so the next nightmare began — although the discovery explained why one of the livingroom walls was in such bad shape and continuing to worsen.

We opened the water closet and discovered water all over the floor. It looked like the tank was leaking near the front, but it seemed odd that there would be so much water from that one drip. So, the water was turned off at the main hook-up and the work to remove the tank began. First, disconnection of the pipes leading into the tank and looping them together. The tank was drained and Jim dragged it outside. The water pipes were secured and the main hook-up was turned back on. Then, the fun began.

When the tank had been disconnected, the main pipe leading into the tank had snapped apart just under the ground, so when the water was turned back on it looked like a geyser! Panic to turn the water off….

Jim had to literally dig for a while to find that the pipes had rusted completely apart, so when jostled, they snapped apart. He dug a sizable pit to find the first joint down, removed the remains of the useless pipe, investigated whether the remaining pipe was usable, and then he capped it. Then it was time to turn the water back on. Hallelujah — the geyser was gone!


The next challenge… when the water had last been turned off, dirt and mud fell into the line before the broken pipe was exposed, so all that yuck fell in and plugged everything! When we tried to run the water in the bathroom sink or bathtub, nothing came out! Turn the water off again….

Poor Jim’s simple project of removing that huge, antiquated water heater turned into an all day nightmare! He now had to remove the piping in the sink in order to flush out the mud and debris. Of course, the shut-off valve under the sink didn’t turn in order to accomplish the mission. Oh no, it had to snap off and come apart.

Bottom Line: Jim flushed out the lines, the sink and tub work, as does the toilet and kitchen sink. Hurray!

Behind the water closet is one wall of the living room, which is in nightmarish condition and kept getting worse. We assumed it was a leaky roof, but it didn’t make sense that the deteriorating adobe was happening from the bottom up. We know now! As you can see from the picture, this is a problem that has been going on for years. The ground under the house was completely saturated from years of leaking due to rusted out pipes, there is mold in the water closet and it was destroying two other walls. So, we are going to let that area completely dry out and we’ll treat the mold to eliminate it — all before being able to install the tankless water heater. Guess its cold showers for a while!

First Mission Accomplished — Next Steps


We have managed to clean-up most of the yard.  Just look at how pretty it all is!



Part of the final challenge in cleaning up the back section before finishing the fencing was a Russian olive tree.  It had grown wild with several new baby trees around it.  For those not familiar with this tree, let me tell you — that tree is nothing short of evil!  The wood is super dense, loaded with knots, and it sprouts some of the deadliest thorns I think I’ve ever seen!  This picture gives a little bit of an idea.  Those spikes poke out from the branches and tree trunk!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’ve trimmed and cut it down as far as we can.  Now we will finish it off with salt water and time.  Not only do we not want to get pierced with these tree stakes, but we have animals that deserve more.

The work on the inside has now begun.  We decided to attack the kitchen first since there will be no moving in until we can eat!  First — get rid of the tiny kitchen counter!

I’m just under 5 feet tall — the top of the counter was almost to my chest.  Trying to use it would have meant having to use a step stool, so it had to go!  The counter top is significantly higher than the stove top….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo Jim disconnected the pipes and the counter was moved.  What we found had our jaw dropping.  The counter had no flooring at all; it was sitting directly on dirt.  The wall behind the counter was almost non-existent with the outdoors being visible in spots.


Its safe to say that this is our new challenge for November.  I’ll try to keep everyone up-to-date more consistently, but it appears it will be a while before the kitchen will be usable.  After the wall and flooring are done, we will have to also redo some of the other walls and rewire the room.  **sigh** I’m telling myself when its done it will be wonderful….