Right now at 10:15 a.m., there is a nice rain coming down. Yesterday our temperatures reached 90 degrees. Today, around mid-60s. Fine with me. I tried to get out to the critter pen before the rain started, but I didn’t quite make it. I was soaked and had to change clothes once I got inside. However, it was a nice, refreshing rain and it felt good!
Yes, one of my dirty little secrets in life is I am a fretter. I have always had this tendency, but it gets worse when I am sick. I should say that while I was sick with a fever/fatigue, I didn’t worry much. It was as I began to improve that the worrying set in. Go figure.
Anyway, two of my biggest worries are not having enough wood to get us through the winter and propane. Being off grid, we don’t have a lot of utilities, but we do depend on propane. I am not so much worried about leaving my carbon footprint, as I can’t think of anyone who is any more conservative about not wasting anything than me. I guess that isn’t entirely true, as most of my friends are, by nature, also conservative about food waste and energy waste. But I am my father’s daughter and waste just isn’t in my vocabulary and neither is it in B’s. We both grew up with families that didn’t believe in waste.
To back up a ways, back in late 2020, I got real concerned about propane. We were in the throes of Covid and who knew if or when propane could just up and disappear. To back up even further, when I retired we had an auto-generator installed and it has worked so-so ever since. Usually, once during the winter it just takes a dive and B either has to dig out the gasoline generator or wait it out and the auto-generator begins to kick back in. In other words, it is a bit finicky.
At the time we had this installed, we also had a 500 gallon propane tank installed. However, the 500 gallon tank is really only 400 gallons, as you have to allow for gas pressure and expansion. We debated back and forth at the time if we wanted to install a 1000 gallon tank or a 500 (400) gallon tank and went with the 500 tank, forgetting at the time that a “500” is really only 400 gallons, not that much more than the three leased 100 gallon tanks we had at the time.
But then, Karla got nervous about running out of propane, so in December 2020, we added another tank; this time a 1000 gallon tank. We also paid to have it filled, plus we capped off the 500 gallon tank. It was a big chunk of change to get these filled, plus pay for the tank and installation, but we had propane! By the way, neither company was willing to take back the 500 gallon tank and replace it with the 1000 tank; thus, we have two tanks.
So, prior to me catching Covid, I started to fret about filling the 1000 gallon tank. B is much more practical and just plain doesn’t worry about it. However, I keep nagging him monthly to check our usage and see how low we are getting.
One issue is, none of the propane dealers in the area want to come out here in the winter unless B swears on a stack of bibles that he will keep the driveway and part of the road sanded. So, we normally get our propane deliveries between May and October; maybe even November. Traditionally, this is also when propane is the most economical. But, since we had the new tank installed in December of 2020, the company felt obliged to come fill it in December.
But then it became June of 2022 and time for Karla to start fretting again about a fill up. What is the price of propane right now? With gasoline closing in on $5 a gallon and home heating oil way high (so I have heard) to say nothing of diesel, what the heck could we expect with propane? So, a few days before Covid hit me, I called a couple of our local propane dealers. We get a slight break in price by owning our own tanks. The best I could find was $2.88.9/gallon. I said, we will take it!
Now, what do we use propane for? Propane heats our hot water and I do a lot of my laundry in hot water. It runs the generator, it runs my cook stove, my dryer, and a small propane heater in the northeast corner of our house. We don’t use it very often and here’s why. Karla throws a hissy fit! We used to use it more often, as in early fall and late spring. B turned it on once this spring and I sprang into action to shut it off. Finally, B said, “I am NOT going to sit here and SHIVER!” That sort of shut me up. As B said, we only used it for a few hours in order to take the chill out of the house. Okay, okay. As of right now, the pilot is shut off on it! We aren’t going to waste money on something we aren’t using.
Now, prior to my retirement, I didn’t worry about propane. I figured that was B’s problem and with working, a long commute, and looking in on my mother, I had a full plate. Thus, I didn’t fret about it. Plus, we had two paychecks coming in regularly. But after I retired, the tide shifted and I took over the propane duties. Probably B wishes I hadn’t.
So, while in bed sick with Covid, in rolled the propane tanker. Luckily, B was just getting around to leaving for Manchester, so he took care of the issue with the driver. B doesn’t like them driving heavy trucks on his cement (ce—ment) pad but that was his problem. I was sick in bed!
When I got better, I checked the slip. We needed over 600 gallons for a rough price of $1788. But not bad, as we had not had any fill ups since December 2020. I couldn’t complain. We should have enough now to go upwards to 2 years if we are careful. Ha, ha. You know who will be fretting next summer!
Now, as to our wood situation, the woodshed is filling up nicely. I think I explained that we found a local teenager who is actually willing and able to sling wood as B finishes splitting it. Plus Dr John and his boys are also helping bring in more wood they are cutting, so we should have a full woodshed come fall. Not to worry, Karla. I’ll admit that last winter I got kind of nervous, as we were low for us. Thankfully, we had a mild winter and didn’t use it as much as some years. Often, we run the wood stove once or twice in May and even once in June. It didn’t happen this year.
This means, I can now fret about something else! Nothing at the moment comes to mind, though. Then there was the Sun Frost refrigerator issue. You may recall that in a previous blog I mentioned that the thermostat on our off-grid refrigerator went kaput. B called California, only to be told that the company is no longer making refrigerators, which is too bad, as it is a good refrigerator.
However, for $100, they would send B a new thermostat. Of course, it is not the kind that is in the refrigerator, which meant a different installation. B had to call twice to get them to send it at all. We got a Honeywell this time. Now here’s the thing. B can fix just about anything, but he seems to have a mental block about appliances. He was dreading installing the new thermostat and so was I. Part of B’s dread was the fact that the new thermostat goes INSIDE the refrigerator, so it meant doing all this work with the refrigerator door open. However, again, while I was in bed with Covid, B followed the instructions and attached the new thermostat. We had been running two wires and manually deciding when to plug it in and when to stop running it. Luckily, we also have a dorm fridge for emergencies. We lost a few items from either being too cold or not cold enough. Sigh. I really didn’t want to be home when B installed it.
Anyway, he did what he figured was correct; squeezing several wires together and then running them through the conduit for the light. It came on. But it never stopped running! Back to the manual wires we went while B waited for a return call from California. Finally, he figured out that two wires were fused together as he had a small bundle to squeeze through the conduit. After some testing with a meter, he got resolved, bingo. The fridge comes on and off as it should.
Now, despite having blocked ears, I could somehow hear the refrigerator running or not running. How, I do not know. But what a huge relief for it to be running properly again! You don’t realize the stress it causes when an appliance or any other thing you use daily doesn’t work. So, I no longer need to fret about that either.
As to what B has been doing, last Monday he had an eye exam to go to. Now, if you were reading the blog last summer, you may recall B’s great experiment trying to get new frames (he didn’t) and using an on-line service for new prescriptions. Don’t ask just how many pairs of old frames B has that have various prescriptions in them.
This year, his eye prescription seems to have changed significantly in his right eye from last years, so he had to do it all over again. This time, he just bit the bullet and bought new frames, new lenses, and the whole shebang. It was costly and he didn’t like paying for it, but it is done. Now he is waiting for a call that the glasses are in. Please say a little prayer! I have never met anyone as fussy about glasses as B!
Today, it is the dentist he is going to. The teeth are another matter. While I may get sick, B seems to have a knack for his teeth wearing out as he ages. I figure this is going to be costly, folks. We shall see. Stay tuned.