Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pulp Covers for Veterans Day

It's a little late, but here is a collection of covers to commemorate Veterans Day.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Pellet Stove Video

Here's a short video I just found on the differences between a wood and a pellet stove. This video lean towards pellet stoves as the option to buy. It's kind of laughable when the woman puts one little scoop of pellets in the hopper. In the real world, you're picking up a 40 lb bag of pellets off of the back porch, staggering over to the stove and pouring the whole thing in while trying not to spill any.



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Report on PulpAdventurecon

Pulp conventions isn't just PulpFest, held in Columbus in August, or Windy City, held in April every year. There are plenty of other events every year to meet with those who enjoy, collect, and write about the pulps. Pulp Adventurecon is held every November in Bordentown New Jersey. Alas, I haven't been able to make it yet, but I hope to change that in the future. Walker Martin has posted a report of this year's Pulp Adventurecon over at the Mystery File blog, and there are plenty of pictures too. Go check it out.

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Lesson in Mountain Living: Pellet Stoves

Well, I hope you all had a good Halloween. Mine was great, even though not one trick or treater came to my door because of the rain. But my sister and her husband and another couple came over and we had a great visit. Now I have a bowl full of fun-sized Snickers and Milky Ways and Smarties to last me until next Halloween.

The day before Halloween my brother-in-law and his friend installed a new pellet stove for me, which will be my main source of heat during the winter. There is a wall heater fueled by propane, which works great, but from what I hear propane is pretty pricey here. (I haven't received my first bill yet.)

If most of you are like me, you dream of living by an old-fashioned fireplace on cold winter nights like this one.
Most of us know by now that old fashioned fireplaces are pretty inefficient when it comes to heat. Most people in this area use either a wood stove, a fireplace with an insert, or pellet stove for heat - instead of electricity or propane. My brother-in-law talked me into a pellet stove instead of the old wood stove that was in the house. They're much more efficient heat-wise and you don't have to deal with carrying and chopping wood and cleaning a lot of ashes. They are so good at heating up your house, they say, that you don't need to use propane at all. And they are simple to hook up - all you need is a vent and a plug, and a strong person to install it. So I took the bait and said ok. And I diligently started my research, including going on some forums.

These things aren't cheap. And most of them are pretty ugly.
And they can get really complicated. And I don't think there's one brand out there that doesn't have some kind of problem of one kind or another. One model might heat fine, but it's noisy. Another break down after six months, or it won't start. Or they work fine, but they're HUGE and REALLY ugly, and way too big for my small house. I even read of some in which the hopper caught on fire.

The other thing is that is you're one that will only buy one that looks "nice," like the old-fashioned cast-iron ones in different colors, be prepared to pay a premium.
I found that there's the brands for the masses, the ugly ones, that will run from $1100 to $1800. Then there's a huge jump to the really nice looking ones that have all the bells and whistles. Those start at around $3,500 and go from there. And that's before paying for installation. I decided to go with a cheaper model. I'm one of those that thinks that sometimes the bells and whistles aren't worth the money you pay for them and sometimes going simple is better. Besides, I can't dump three to five thousand dollars for a stove right now.

So after a lot of research, I thought I had bought a good, lower-end one a few weeks ago from the Lowes in Sonora. We installed it, fired it up, and while it worked great, it was louder than a freakin' 747. Everyone said it was too loud. It also took 15 minutes to ignite, and would take up to an hour for the blower to shut down after I turned it to "off." That's a lot of noise to tolerate. I lasted one weekend with that one, and then we returned it to Lowes.

In the meantime, my brother-in-law's friend John and his wife had bought a Castle brand one from the local Ace Hardware. I went over to their house. It's not super pretty - it's the black one shown above- but I listened to it, and decided then and there to get it. I went directly over to the Ace Hardware, walked in and told them to order me one. And now that it's finally in (it took a week for it to come in), it's nice and quiet, and man does it heat up the house. We're still trying to fine-tune the temperature setting, but as long as it's quiet, that's the most important thing.

It's not the prettiest thing, but none of them are in this price range. But looking at the flame through the window is nice, and just knowing how much money I'll be saving on heat makes it really pretty to me.

So if you visit someone's cabin that's heated with a pellet stove, you might be disappointed because it looks nothing like a romantic fireplace. But you'll be a whole lot warmer.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ten New Differences in My New Life

I recently moved from Los Angeles to a very small town in Tuolumne County. The last time I checked, L.A.'s current population is around 6 million people. My new town (which I am not naming for privacy purposes) has a population of around 2,500 people.

So far, this is my list of things that are different.

1. I can walk to everything that I need to survive, with the exception of the veterinarian, who is around 2 miles away. (Yes, I could walk that, but Annie, my 11 1/2 year old dog, couldn't. Kind of important that she be there.)

2. When I lived in L.A. (the San Pedro area) I had to have at least 4 fans going at night to drown out the traffic and the neighbor's barking dog. Here, it's so quiet at night that before I go to sleep I can hear my heart beat.

3. I have been here over three weeks, and several times a week I've been driving to Sonora (15 minute drive) for various errands. Not once have I been in a traffic jam. I LOVE being able to not to have to plan my life around traffic jams. I don't have to even think about it. Only those that live in L.A. can really appreciate how huge this is.

4. Now, this may sound politically incorrect, but I can't help but mention it: Every person I have come in contact with here, from clerks in the store, to fast food employees, to laborers, SPEAKS ENGLISH.

5. I received a call from the Tuolumne County Recorder today because the Grant Deed for my house was returned to them in the mail. (My mail doesn't get delivered to my house, so I have a P.O. Box, but I didn't have it when the deed was recorded - it's a long story). Anyway, when's the last time YOUR County called YOU to get your correct mailing address?

6. Speaking of the Post Office, it's a five minute walk from my house. Did I mention that I'm within walking distance to everything in town?

7. Unless the entire county experiences a complete catastrophe and the entire country gets infected, I don't have to worry about contracting Ebola.

8. Speaking of disasters, I don't have to worry about "The Big One" anymore. Yes, we get earthquakes here, but it's a pretty safe bet that they'll be of less magnitude than those in L.A. We might get some serious shaking if L.A. falls into the ocean. This, for me, is another huge one.

9. The tellers at the local bank aren't behind bullet proof glass.

10. I feel safe. Everywhere. Except this morning, when a female deer made menacing moves towards Annie and me on our walk. I kid you not. Protecting her fawn, I guess.

Now, it's not perfect. There are a few drawbacks:

1. Utilities are promising to be pretty pricey. I've got a wood pellet stove coming next week which should help.

2. I'm having trouble finding a doctor who's taking new patients. Could it be because a lot of retirees live up here?

3. Some people, like contractors and roofers, tend to live on Hawaiian time. Oh woops, that's pretty much everywhere.

4. Most of you know that I'm a Dodger fan. I am now officially in Giants territory.

5. There isn't an In-n-Out in the entire county.


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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Back from the Move

Well, another long absence is over. Again I have to apologize for being gone. I moved on September 30 to Tuolumne County in California to be closer to my family. The move went well, except my movers (this is what you get for hiring friends) had other things to take care of, and we were 3 hours late getting out of San Pedro. I was hysterical by the time we did leave, I wanted to get out of there so badly. But once we got on the road, everything went fine, even if we didn't get to the new place until 10 at night.

Twelve days later, I'm still unpacking. Every time I turn around, there's another box to unpack. How did I get so much crap....oh, that's right, I collect stuff. Besides LOVE STORY pulps, I collect old soda bottles, tea pots, tea cups, vintage linen, and BOOKS. I think I had at least 50 boxes of books alone. How did I become a collector? Oh, I know - it's all of you pulp collectors out there - IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT. :)

The house needs some work, but all in due time. One thing I've learned since the last house I bought is that it won't be the end of the world if the house doesn't get painted right away, the carpet doesn't get pulled up and replaced with laminate right away, and stuff like that. I know now that money pours out of your hands like water after you buy a house. If people don't like how the house looks like now, tough. See, there ARE good things about getting older, like not caring about what other people think.

Annie and Chloe, my dog and cat, handled the move fairly well, although Chloe showed signs of having a urinary tract infection a few days after I moved in. Being that she is at risk of getting these and she also has a defective kidney, I took her to the local vet. (Why is it that the VERY FIRST place I always find in a new town is the veterinarian?) After tests taken and $249 spent, it was determined that there was nothing wrong with her except.....stress. They prescribed her Prozac. But if you've ever tried to give a cat a pill, you know the ending to this story. I didn't get one pill down her, even one quarter of one pill, and she was FINE by the next day. Oh well. She was overdue for her bloodwork so I don't feel totally aggrieved over the money spent.

ANYway, I will be back soon. I already have company coming starting tomorrow. This is what happens when you live in a beautiful area. NO ONE wanted to visit me when I lived in South L.A. - Gee, I wonder why?

I do miss blogging and connecting with all of you. I want to know how you are all doing.


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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Think about Fostering a Senior Dog

Some of you might remember Ed, the wonderful 18 year old Dalmatian I fostered a few years ago. Ed was extraordinary. He was the kindest of dogs who, while he had hard time walking around, still managed to get up whenever someone came into the house and let people hug him.


Fostering Ed was one of the most gratifying experiences I've had since I've been involved in dog rescue. Ed was rescued by Grand-Paws Senior Sanctuary in Acton, California, and they are always looking for foster homes for senior dogs. Many of these seniors have been left at animal shelters by their owners for a various number of reasons, some of which are inexplicable. Many times these senior dogs can't be rescued unless there is a foster home ready to take them in immediately and there is very little hope that they will be adopted. We've even seen people dump their senior dog at a shelter and then, in the same trip, adopt a puppy to replace it.

Another fantastic rescue group is the Thulani Program in Northern California, which is affiliated with the German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California. There is a terrific article on the Grey Muzzle Organization web site on how the Thulani Program started and some of the experiences of some of the fosters.

"We fully expected that we would save these most vulnerable dogs and that our volunteers would feel good about that, but what came as a huge surprise was the way the Thulani dogs brightened their new homes and how much shear joy they brought to the hospice family. The moving and inspiring testimonials we continually receive show the two-way nature of this work, helping both dogs and people."

Fostering a senior dog isn't sad. It's rewarding and gratifying. Yes, there may be some tears when the dog you've grown to love goes to the Rainbow Bridge, but you'll also know that you gave that dog a loving, warm home for the last few months or years of her life, which otherwise would have been cut short by being euthanized on a cold floor of a shelter with no one there to care.

When you foster, you'll always have the group there to support you if you have questions or need help. Medical costs are covered, and if the group doesn't cover your dog food expenses, it is tax deductible if the rescue group is a registered non-profit. Please contact a senior dog rescue group in your area to learn more. You won't regret it.


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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Checking in quickly

Yes I'm still alive and kicking. Just overwhelmed right now. I'm moving the end of this month back to Northern California near the Sonora area to be closer to my family. And, because I never do half-measures on anything, I bought a house there. So adrenalin has taken over as I deal with inspections and appraisals and loan applications and negotiating with sellers and packing and finding out professional movers won't go to the area to which I'm moving unless I pay them outrageous amounts - in gold - because it's not a 'standard route.' So I've had to go out and find friends who will help me move.

Plus the house I'm living in now is also for sale, and they're showing the house practically every day.

Plus finding out that many major fire insurance companies won't insurance houses in this area I'm moving to because of the fire risk. Thank you, Rim Fire of 2013. But I found a company who would: Hartford, who, by the way, has a great plan if you're an AARP member.

Plus having to say good-bye to everyone here, which is the worst part. I do have to say, however, that this is an example of how Facebook has made my life better. Because I see friends on Facebook almost every day, it makes saying good-bye a lot less painful. Yes, "seeing" them on Facebook is only virtual, but it's better than only hearing from someone occasionally by email or a phone call.

So the blog has to take a back seat. It was either the blog or writing a few minutes on the Daisy Bacon book, and writing the book won out.

I'll be back intermittently until this is over. Thank you for your patience!

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