Opening Day

Today was the first day of deer season. I tried to hunt but the pain in my foot was excruciating. Ended up perched on a hill waiting for deer to come my way and got very cold. At least I managed to get outside.

My uncle had the perfect opportunity at a whitetail doe but his bullet hit a branch and the deer got away. He was mildly frustrated because it was the perfect setup; she was within close range, completely oblivious and practically begging to be shot. But, that’s what happens in hunting.

I am not feeling very well today and am hoping it isn’t COVID.

Enough, already.

The neuropathy that was exacerbated by the vaccine has appeared in my right foot. I haven’t been able to walk much since last Monday. This is getting pretty old. The doctors think I may have developed Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome. We reported it to VAERS, but I doubt anything will come of it. We can’t even get into the health department for a COVID test.

The old trapper and his wife, both non-vaccinated, have COVID and are very sick. On Sunday, the Jedi was strong-armed into helping them with some chores, so now he has been exposed again and I have been as well. The old trapper had been coughing and wheezing the entire time and kept insisting he was not sick. I hope they make it but I would not be surprised if they didn’t. He is 84 and recovering from surgery and she has severe insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes.

My uncle is visiting and I’m frustrated that I will be unable to hunt with him unless my foot miraculously mends. Waking on it is excruciating. But, I’m glad he’s here. I have missed him. He’s one of the few sane family members I have. (Well, sane-ish, I guess. He did vote for Trump.) But, even he believes that everyone should get vaccinated and that Ivermectin should be restricted to large livestock.

Blue Bunker-versary

One year ago today we signed the paperwork (and our life savings away) on the purchase of the Blue Bunker. It was not a bad decision, but not a dream either, by any scope of the imagination. We are tolerating it. On some levels it is a vast improvement to our living conditions in Missoula. The neighborhood is very quiet. We have plenty of living space. Our mortgage is low compared to the rent we were paying. It, unlike rent, will not increase. We do not have obnoxious or scary neighbors. There is no crime. And, it belongs to us. We can do whatever we want with it. If Zillow’s calculations can be believed, it has also appreciated in “value” by 17% in a year. I find that unlikely, but at least it’s probably a sign the house has not lost value.

There are a lot of improvements and repairs that need to be made still before we can sell the place. Here is what we have managed to do in one year, with the Jedi working part time and getting pulled a million directions by demanding people, with essentially no access to building materials (thanks to COVID):

  1. Ripped out the carpet in the living room and three bedrooms
  2. Removed carpet tacks, strips and nails and staples in all three bedrooms
  3. Ripped out wood paneling in living room and one bedroom
  4. Plastered living room
  5. Painted living room and 2 of the three bedrooms
  6. Discovered mold in the basement and remediated it
  7. Repaired some of the drywall destroyed during mold remediation
  8. Replaced most light fixtures and ceiling fan in kitchen
  9. Ripped out kitchen ceiling after roof leak
  10. Repaired roof leak
  11. Dismantled 90% of the ugly wishing well in back yard
  12. Pulled out the invasive weeds and Virginia Creeper in back yard
  13. Assembled wine barrels for planting in back yard
  14. Removed mold in upstairs bathroom
  15. Finally got “fireplace” examined by a professional and deemed it is indeed not real, unsalvageable and needs to be ripped out.
  16. Removed Styrofoam dropped ceiling in basement
  17. Pulled out a countertop in the kitchen
  18. Bought and installed new window treatments
  19. Fixed garage door opener (then the other one broke)
  20. Fixed gas leak
  21. Patched concrete in back

This does not seem like a lot in one year to me. I expected the list to be about twice as long as this; it certainly feels like it is. But, maybe it is a lot to accomplish. We are new to this, after all, resources are limited and there have been a lot of other demands on our time.

One Year

On 9/22/2020 we hauled our last load of belongings into a Uhaul and the Jedi’s truck and moved to Havre. I can’t remember how many trips the move required, but that was the last load. The year passed more swiftly than expected and it doesn’t feel as if we did much or have much to show for it. We actually did do quite a lot, but much of it is invisible, such as the mold remediation.

Oct 8 will mark a year since we closed on the house. 4 years to go. We have a lot to do between now and then. The concrete floors in the living room are bare, which I vastly prefer to carpet, but we haven’t figured out what to put down over the concrete. Tile is my preference but it is more expensive and labor intensive than anticipated due to a huge uneven seam in the concrete where the original garage was located. Since we don’t plan to stay here I am tempted to put down something cheap like vinyl but I don’t relish the idea of living with vinyl or some other synthetic flooring for four years either. Healthy materials are expensive and cheap materials are toxic. Currently, building supplies are very scarce and expensive anyway, so there’s no point in trying to make a decision just yet. We can’t even get paint right now.

The place is beginning to feel a little less like someone else’s house, but we still have a long way to go before it will be in move-in condition. I am growing weary of living in a construction zone and having most of my belongings packed away, especially my books. However, it is also interesting to see how little I can live with. I am tempted to get rid of everything I own that is still packed. If only I could sever my emotional ties to my belongings!

Nip

The satellite office I work with but (thankfully) do not report to is 90% women. It’s a hive of pettiness, incompetence, backstabbing…and toxic positivity. The emphasis on keeping everything “positive” results in pent-up venom oozing out in any passive aggressive manner possible. I have grown extremely weary of people in that office attempting to engage me in their petty disputes with other co-irkers.

Figured out how to nip it in the bud. I cheerfully forward their snarky e-mails bad-mouthing others to their director. “Just keeping everyone in the loop!” Works like a charm.

If I reported to that office it would be another story. I certainly appreciate my freedom.

misfit

I was raised in a very rural area isolated from society and encouraged to judge the outside world and other people harshly. After being unceremoniously thrust into public school at age 11 I spent the remainder of my teenage years and a good portion of my adulthood trying to fit into society (and failing miserably). I became a sociologist in order to better understand how to fit in, only to learn that for me, it is impossible.

I collected some kindred spirits, other “misfits” along the way, which assuaged loneliness and feelings of isolation. I’m not a very lonely person, so I never needed many.

I have maintained a large amount of guilt for not being more accepting of society and other people. All the pandemic has done, however, is reinforce those prejudices and validate my unflattering assumptions about others. In fact, to my horror, it seems I have given society much more credit than it deserves and have been much fairer to many people than they deserve.

As I have learned how others respond to the pandemic, the list of individuals I trust and wish to spend time with has decreased. I draw the line at willful irresponsibility and exercising outright ignorance at the expense of the well-being of others.

So it goes.

Karma

Our 82 year-old trapper friend’s health has deteriorated significantly; he is scheduled for hip, shoulder, and knee surgery. He needs the Jedi to help him pull up his pants and lift him in and out of his vehicle. He is a kind man but lately short-tempered due to the pain he’s in. He has been particularly verbally abusive to his wife (who isn’t off the hook-she has emotional issues and pushes his buttons on purpose). It’s very uncomfortable to be around. The Jedi commented, “He’s like a trapped wild animal”. Then he stopped himself abruptly and added, “Be careful what you do in life. It comes back around.”

The Exorcism Continues

Saturday the Jedi pulled the last of the wood paneling in the middle bedroom and hauled it outside. I noticed the wood smells like the carpet…a combination of cigarettes, cat, and a heavy, sweet odor reminiscent of baby powder. The paneling in my office is nicer quality and I had planned to leave it, but now I’m toying with the idea of ripping it out as well. Low priority at this point. Perhaps we’ll tackle that when the middle bedroom is finished and I can transfer my office setup there. We have to be cognizant of the Jedi’s bandwidth…and his body. He has been dealing with pain as well ever since his illness last year, which we are beginning to suspect may have been COVID. Manual labor exacerbates it quite a bit.

Hunting season starts soon, which will interfere with the house projects. The Jedi drew an antelope tag (rifle) this year; one more animal to hunt and kill and butcher. If we play our cards right we will have three deer each and one antelope. Huge amount of time and work, but having a full larder is worth it, especially during COVID. This was a good year for deer for some reason; they are everywhere this season. Of course now we have chronic wasting disease AND COVID in the deer population to worry about. Fish Wildlife and Parks is not testing for COVID that I know of but CWD is prevalent here and everything has to be tested. Luckily for us, none of our deer tested positive last year. If they do we won’t eat them.

I’m looking forward to trying antelope; I have never eaten it. It will require a lot of effort and luck for the Jedi to get one. The bucks are easy to kill during bow season because they are in rut; however once rifle season starts they are out of rut and no longer as stupid and aggressive. You have to sneak up on them instead of simply waving a white flag and luring them to you. This is easier said than done because they are prairie animals and there’s no cover to hide in, which translates to a lot of crawling on your belly to get close enough to a herd undetected. My uncle drew a whitetail tag so is coming out this year to hunt with us and I am looking forward to seeing him. He’s one of the few sane family members I have left, and despite having very different political views, we “get” each other.

With last year’s stimulus money I bought a new rifle designed by women specifically for women, a used Weatherby Camilla 223. Figured a gun was a good investment, even if I didn’t use it at all. I haven’t shot it much. It’s bolt action and I hate bolt action; but it’s difficult to find affordable single shot rifles. I need to start practicing with it because I do intend to use it for hunting this year, but am dragging my feet. I hate going to the shooting range due to the PTSD. I can manage it but I don’t enjoy managing it. Would prefer to avoid it altogether.

We are force-feeding ourselves the 2020 mule deer buck the Jedi shot near our sacred spot up in the Bear Paws near the Old Man Tree. He was huge and healthy and full of testosterone. Not even curry seasonings can tame the muskiness; we should have made the entire carcass into jerky. I made Swedish meatballs with some of the meat the other night. Considering the recipe was intended for reindeer, which is also a pretty strongly-flavored meat, I thought it was a decent shot (pun intended). Sure enough, the recipe, especially with the accompanying gravy and cranberry jam, made it palatable, but it still wasn’t that enjoyable.

Exorcism

The Jedi and his niece pulled the carpet in the front room of the Blue Bunker yesterday. The difference in how the house smells now in comparison to how it smelled the past 9 months is palpable. The carpet and pad underneath were holding a lot of cigarette and cat funk. We were happy to discover that the concrete underneath is not badly cracked as we had feared, so the floor is an excellent candidate for tile. Evidently the previous owners just really loved carpet (as is evident from their destruction of the lovely hardwood floors upstairs to eliminate squeaks) and were not trying to cover up foundation issues. There are carpet strips nailed into the concrete, which will not be easy to remove, but will have to occur before we put any type of flooring down. Not looking forward to THAT project.

We also bit the bullet and bought $500 of reed blinds for the gigantic picture windows. Despite following instructions about measurements when we ordered them it turns out we could have easily mounted them inside the window frames, rather than outside, which I’m disappointed about, but they are still an improvement over the heavy masking tape-yellow drapes that came with the house. The tops of the blinds come down, allowing us to get natural light without being on display for all the neighbors.

We learned that the builder of the house trained under Frank Lloyd Wright, and is the grandfather of one of the Jedi’s friends in Havre. He built a beautiful Midcentury cabin in the Bear Paws that looks nothing like this soulless monstrosity. If we planned to live here indefinitely I would try to inject some of that character into this place. However, we don’t want to stay here. The neighborhood is too urban for us. So, whatever improvements we do to the house must make it appealing to a conventional Havre buyer. That means installing flooring in the front room instead of simply sanding the concrete down and polishing it, which is what I would like to do.

The more we inspect the gigantic brick fake fireplace the more I’m convinced we should just rip it out. It serves absolutely zero purpose and takes up a large portion of the room. It also dates the space. We are curious what is behind the fireplace. Since that portion of the room was converted from the original garage, I suspect there’s a door behind it.