Saturday, March 4, 2017

The quiet and busy life

The yard in town is raked and watered, 66 degrees and finally zero ice on the ground in the shade. We have the seeds started on the table just waiting to pop up and say hello. Some new full spectrum LED lights are keeping everything at a comfortable 72 degrees and well lit... as in damn your eyes! The garden will be nice and big this year and we are both excited about the over abundance of produce we will have.

The other half received a promotion at work and what little time we had to spend together has diminished even more. Father in-law is in the hospital again for pneumonia and has decided assisted living isn't his cup of tea and is going back home when this stint is up. He needs 24 hour a day care but doesn't seem to care that he isn't strong enough or stable enough to live at home. Home care is about $15k per month but in his mind he only needs help for a few hours each day so the entire family is just going to let him do whatever he wants until the money runs out or he does fall and kill himself. It's enough of a strain on everyone, especially us, so we are just taking a step back.

After a few months of debating, I finally decided to get a new SUV. I had looked at so many different models, colors, makes, trim levels, etc. Since I had a Range Rover and loved it, I decided to get another one.

That's it being cleaned when it got off the truck, I've only put 100 miles on it but really love it.

In between all of the work and family issues, we have really been loving getting away to the mountains. We had fresh snow this week, this is the time of year we get the most but it doesn't stick around too long. The mountains look amazing, but the winds are being a little nasty and we are pleased to be in the tree's.

I've been running a lot, up to about 10 hours a week now plus gym time on top of that. I feel like the training is paying dividends, but sometimes it's really wearing thin on my body and nerves. The run I'm training for is in 2 months and so far out of the 8 people who signed up to run with me, only 1 is actually training still. Everyone else dropped out in short order, apparently a mountain elevation marathon seemed fun until they had to run more than a few miles a week.

I'm heading to Miami next week, there is a lot of travel for me this year. Conferences, convention, leadership courses, etc. Some fun trips for diving and our 22nd anniversary trip in a few months. Busy no matter what it seems, work, family, life, travel, etc. We have a blessed life and continue to plan for the future, good times and bad.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Garden planning

If ever there was a year that I felt we needed a large garden, 2017 is the year. With all the political drama and wall talk, it's going to be nice to be as self reliant as possible. Many people forget the years in the past when produce was really expensive and had some limited availability. Fast food places weren't adding tomato on whatever you ordered and I do love tomatoes.

I think the price of produce is high currently, so I can see those prices doubling and tripling. Eating healthier is causing us to buy more veggies but it's winter and we don't have a greenhouse for all year growing.

A large order of heirloom seeds showed up on Friday, they will replace what I'm getting ready to start growing on the dining room table. Tomatoes, bush beans, pole beans, cucumbers, onions, zucchini, lettuce, beets, carrots and probably some more items will be on the menu for the garden this year. I'm contemplating potatoes but we don't eat many of those.

I have traditional grow lights but we've decided to swap those out for LED's this year. The initial investment is about $330 for two full spectrum 278watt 600 count LED lights. They will each cover a 4x4 section, so two of those will be great rigged above the table. I'm using narrow window-sill type trays in order to maximize the light on the seedling trays. Once the seedlings get large, I'll transplant them into large pots and those will be placed into trays. This will enable us to manage the individual plants better than having 30 seedlings competing on a tray.

Well it's a plan anyhow.

It's a really nice weekend in the mountains. Father in-law is back in the hospital but we are trying to have a normal weekend together. Friday the winds were ridiculous but by noon on Saturday they dropped off to normal levels and today, nothing. Great for running, great for melting the large snow drifts. Pancakes are almost ready and some bluegrass is playing on the radio.

Toys? Shoes? Boxes! He might be part cat.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Orleans fried chicken

and some other tales from behind a fork...


While I'm not a fan of New Orleans, the food there can be incredible and since I had to be there for work I wasn't going to miss out on some good eating.

First stop after checking into the hotel was Commerce Restaurant. Conveniently located across from the hotel, it's not a place that many tourists would stop in. It's run down, the people working there might have enough teeth for one full set, everything about the place just screams keep walking.
Except the fried chicken.
Not many people can make really good fried chicken, the kind that makes you pick at your plate until you are sure there isn't anything but bones left. Yum. I had to pry myself out of the rickety chair and leave before I ordered a few more pieces.

Tomas Bistro was next up, a little cocktail hour with snacks and then dinner. The service was horrible, they seemed to not only be short staffed at the front of the house but also the back. They did have the best chocolate covered strawberries I've ever eaten and the gumbo was spectacular. I sort of wanted to get a little drunk (as an excuse to eat more strawberries) but I never got a refill so we decided it was time to get some sleep.

Another day we headed to the Hermann-Grimma house. This is a 19th century mansion with a working outdoor kitchen from the 1830's (my favorite part of the whole place). We toured the house and I learned a few things (they would roll up and store the carpet to protect it during the summer since they would have the windows open to keep the house cool). Connected to the mansion is a fancy restaurant that we visited cocktails and appetizers. I never saw the name nor can I now find it on google maps but they had the best chocolate eclairs ever.

The Palace Cafe was another dinner pick, it's several stories but we sat on the ground floor so we could watch all of the people. It's not Mardi Gras but that never seems to matter. Bourbon street was busy and loud, and all sorts of people enjoying themselves created a great watching environment. I opted for a simple filet and veggies, my coworker landed on a pork chop and he said it was the best one he had ever eaten.

We had a lot of food and just a few drinks over the long weekend and that meant running. I managed to get about 4 hours of running done in total and avoided a few sketchy areas by simply turning around.

While I was having fun, someone was home and getting father in-law settled in an assisted living place at least for the next month. This was also the 1 year since mother in-law passed away. All of this led to a quick trip to the emergency room for dehydration and exertion so I boarded the first flight out and got home as quick as I could. I'm glad we keep money in an emergency fund, it was $1200 for the flights and we don't need to pay the credit card off over the next year just because of it. We really do try and be prepared and every once in a while something happens to keep us pointed in the right direction.

The washer and dryer are now stacked safely at the cabin. This created room for more shelving and I'm trying to locate some barn wood so this project can be finished up. We replaced the toilet and flooring in the bathroom, carpeting in a bathroom finally wore on our nerves and it just had to go. Here are a few pictures from the postcard life:

Somewhere under that snow it's almost spring

The view back towards home after an hour of running

Rock was worn out from our adventures

Obviously not that worn out

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A little snow finally.

While winter isn't over around here until the end of April, it's nice to see the mountains blanketed in snow. There isn't much snow anywhere else but the peaks and in the trees. The light for this picture was really amazing, the entire area just seemed to have a glow about it.


Rock and I were hiking a lot, navigating the ice patches on the road until we got out in the open. He enjoyed the mud, I didn't enjoy cleaning him off every few hours. We had a good time, father in-laws dog is staying with us while we are determining what a good course of action will be. He is in a rehabilitation old folks type home right now. It's a nice place and it's safe, we are worried about him being back home and something happening but it's really going to be up to him.

What's it like in the trees?

Whatever snow lands out in the open blows across the valley, but it does like to stick around at home. The last few weeks have been windy, upwards of 120 mph gusts and sustained 60+ mph especially in the city. We had about 20k worth of damage at work from the wind and flying debris and my company car is missing a back window. Fences are broken and sections just missing all over the county but ours is perfect. I remember my first blogger post was about metal fence posts, and those saved us from not only fence work, but they fence kept everyone else's debris out of our yard.


It's a pretty incredible difference in/out of the tree's. I've driven in and had to shovel (especially the occasional drift) in order to get the door open but the valley looked clear like this photo. Even in the tree's the wind can blow hard enough to have dirt collect on the inside window sills of the old non-storm windows.

We really love living here, and while it might not be full time, we are starting to remodel and update a few things in 2017 so when we make the full time move, it's all set. We are even thinking of adding a 2 car garage and turning the attached 1 car garage into a regular home room. Unfortunately, watching how slow construction goes in the valley that might not be something we will do this year. If we can get a concrete pad put down without too much trouble, we will most likely get a tuff-shed type garage so at least we have a shell up fast and can go to work on the insulation and interior finish.
Something like this:

It will give us storage for 2 vehicles and room for the ATV's and other things. We don't need an upper level so perhaps just a nice pitched roof with a loft type area for storage.


Rock is as cute as the bear. I was loading up heading in for work while he tried to pull the ears off 'sir knottingham'. I also had to shovel the foot of snow that had fallen while we were sleeping. It was coming down hard and I'm sure we got close to 18 inches or more over the course of yesterday. In town there was maybe 1/4 inch but honestly it makes my job easier when we don't have to manage with weather. Work is nuts, as usual, and I'm heading to New Orleans next week. Yuck.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Scenery from the last couple of months

I'm often asked if the drive gets tiresome, old, boring. It's 90 miles to work and of course home again, but I've not once ever tired of it. I do get tired of the drivers, that's easy to do, but even in the real short passing zones I'm able to get ahead of the 35's in a 55. I find that I only get up a little earlier than normal, but have everything already laid out for the day to save time.

We love the varied weather in Colorado, 50's and 60's on day, snowing the next and then warm again. It could be -20 with the wind but as long as the sun is shining, it's a perfect day for a run (and even when it's not, but that requires more clothes). Healthier living, cooking and eating has been on the menu for the last few months and that includes not talking about work and spending some time doing absolutely nothing.


5 miles from home on a run, postcard living.

I shovel a lot at the end of the drive, but the snowplow never shows up.

-30 with windchill and I was happy to break out the shovel.

Blurry but still amazingly colorful.

Heading into the valley. The lines are my windshield heater -25 degrees.

A few days later there was nothing left!

A week later I ran after a storm, just the rabbit tracks and I.

Winds from the north west on another run.

Breaking trail on another amazing day.

Rock with 'knottingham bear' and 'douggie the dragon' (and a shark!).

The wind is predictable (and always a headwind).

The moon, having a competition with the sun.

Cooking up some teriyaki sauce (lots of ginger and garlic).

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas eve and we are wrapping presents. Apple and pumpkin pie ingredients sit next to the mixer for an early morning baking sessions. Chocolate sheet cake is also on the to-do list. There is a turkey in the fridge, right in front of the ham and the relatives are supposed to be providing the rest. Father in-law is on a quick downward health spiral and this could be the last Christmas with him so we are making it grand.

I've taken a pretty good break from blogging and social media, I needed to do everything possible at work in order to make it a good year for everyone and just couldn't afford any distractions. It was certainly self preservation, income was looking to be down about 60% at mid year and ended up settling down 10% overall.
The key manager we hired just left this past week and my other half is now managing that department. We don't really see each other but a few hours a week, and that doesn't look to be changing in the near future. Mexico and Italy are on the vacation menu for 2017 and work will take me to New Orleans, Miami Beach, Tampa and Las Vegas.

I've left the MMA, boxing, kick boxing and jiu jitsu behind and am taking up ultra running again. My disability insurance and life insurance don't allow me to compete in any of the combat type sports so back to something I know and love that's possibly kinder to my body. I've already set 3 new personal best times int he last couple of weeks since turning my entire focus to running, somehow this old broken body is still capable of surprising itself.

We are still enjoying our mountain cabin and just picked up new appliances as a holiday present to ourselves. A bathroom remodel might be in the cards next year, along with a couple of other small projects.


I hope everyone is doing well. I'll make my rounds and see what life is like across the country and continent.

Merry Christmas, and all the best in the new year.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

How to ride a goat

When approaching a moat, and it's so chilly you need a coat, be sure you are atop a kick-ass goat!


I didn't actually ride her, but I did visit. This cute girl belongs to my new neighbor who finally arrived from out West. It was nice to finally meet in person after several years of blogging and a few emails. I know I'm going to learn a lot about so many things. I already learned several things about goats (including I should have taken a video of how to put the harness/leash on this girl).
Sometimes the beauty is hard to capture but I try

This storm rolled in hard and fast but didn't leave snow on the peaks.

It's been stormy most of the weekend with several hours of nice weather. We took the sunshine as an opportunity to paint the front door red, from it's yucky white. The garage is getting organized with racking and containers, already making a huge difference when trying to find a tool. Rock and I have about 7 miles of hikes done and I did a nice 4 mile high altitude run. During said run I managed to step in-between two rock and tweaked my ankle a little so I didn't run today.
Rock being sort-of patient while I take a photo

2nd meeting with the Amish neighbors dog, Rock was great.

Exhausted, both of us.
I made my first ever applesauce, didn't realize it would take so long (or use so many apples) but it ended up being tasty. Could have used some more sugar but with honey crisp apples I wanted to play it safe on the sweetness. We canned some and used some on grilled pork chops. We managed to get some more jam canned up (strawberry, blueberry, peach) and unless I run into a great deal, I think the jam season is done after all of this weekends work.
Stacking jams!
We have a lot of jam, probably 75 jars or so. Next canning will be salsa and pickles but that's a few weeks away, we have some other plans for the next couple of weekends. Since we will have a lot of salsa (think jam numbers), we are going to try and figure out different ways to use it in cooking. It wouldn't surprise me if this winter has us sitting on 50 jars of pickles but those seem to vanish faster than anything so nothing to worry about with those.

The wind has hopefully blown the clouds away so I can marvel at the heavens tonight. Amazing.