Friday, June 29, 2012

Then the fire department rolls up

At 23:30 last night, after 2 calls to the police about a large party across the street, I was fed up.

I don't mind if people have a party, get loud and drunk, etc. I do care about it when it's the 7th night in a row and it's almost midnight. I grabbed my car remote and set the panic alarm off two times to get their attention and the I was in the driveway, 150 lumens of tactical flashlight in faces until I found the owner... Not the owner, the renters son who is probably 19, he said his parents are out of town for a couple of weeks.
I was in top form, I was pissed off and I lit into him... and then the fire department pulled up. One of the other neighbors who wasn't getting the police to show up (non emergency with 90% of the force occupied with fire concerns) called 911 to report a possible fire at the party house. The owner started to get confrontational with the 4 firemen, but let me tell you about people who don't take crap.
The firemen had enough of the mouth on this kid and called it in, within a few minutes the police finally pull up, the owner runs into the house and turns the lights off... the cops even laughed.

I get to be the bad guy in the neighborhood but I'm not the kind to sit around wishing, I'm action oriented. I had my back covered, never got close enough to anyone for a physical confrontation and was prepared in case it turned ugly.

In other news;
The weather helped in fighting the Waldo Canyon fire and people who lived in the burn area had a meeting to find out who lost what. The number of houses lost is around 350, in addition to other structures. It could have been a lot worse, I think some people had a rude awakening but I doubt it will do much good as life returns to normal for them. Here is a picture, be thankful for what you have and have a plan.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Back to normal with mandatory insurance

I didn't watch the news at all last night or this morning, I did my normal stuff and read half of a good book. Sometimes when things are beyond your control the best thing to do is whatever you normally would be doing. The fire moved away, N and NW, the evac line got as close as 3 miles yesterday but it was a precaution based on the wind and thunderheads. 18,500 acres, 5% contained and I'm basically no longer worried about it destroying or displacing us. The air quality was good last night and this morning.
We have the FBI, ATF and Homeland Security here now. Tomorrow the POTUS will be here, I'm positive it's to make sure we have everything we need... even if it's an election year.

I did some grocery shopping, my normal store was stocked like usual minus about half of the bottled water. They had some canned fruit on sale, the kind I buy, so I grabbed a dozen cans. When I checked out I got an additional 10% prior service discount, and this discount is going on all week. I will go back and pick up some more this weekend.

I see Obamacare was just upheld by the supreme court with the penalty being defined as a tax. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

We are back to normal with that breaking headline. I'm interested to actually dive into the decision and see what they were thinking. I understand the gov't runs our life anyhow, but if they are going to make health insurance mandatory, are they going to make it affordable? Are they going to outlaw everything that they deem bad for us instead of just telling us it's bad? Are they going to make it so healthy people don't have the burden of paying high rates to compensate for the non healthy people?

At work our rates go up each year and when I ask why I am told we have too many claims by employee's. How is that my fault. I haven't had a claim in about 4 years and many other healthy people have dropped off the company program so they aren't getting shafted. More people will now get on the program at work so they don't get 'taxed' but this wont make the rates go down, I guarantee it.

What a headline to start the day with. I'm really pissed off over it but of course can't do anything about it so I'm already not pissed off. I'm positive everyone will be forced to be healthy and insurance will be cheap.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Safe, ready and rattled

We are safe for another day! Thanks for the thoughts, prayers and concern.

This picture is from the TV obviously, but it's what we had to look at before we tried to get some kind of rest/sleep:

This is right after the winds shifted south and ash the size of my hand was landing. I had the yard and bushes over-watered but with spot fires popping up south of the containment line it wouldn't have helped unless something landed in our property. The fire pushed so hard and fast with 65 mph winds, it can cover miles in minutes with flare up fire and then the slow burn from what it skipped over.
This morning the wind is calm but blowing away from us when it does blow.

We loaded a lot of stuff in the vehicles and had our rally point set. The in-laws were ready, my neighbor friend was ready, it was all up to us to make the call on evac. It makes for a long night when all you can do is smell the fire and watch the news knowing people you love and care about are depending on you to make the call.

Checked in this morning with some friends. They helped load some things for a couple they know and while this was happening the couples kid watched his house burn down. It's sad and it's easy to say it's only stuff, especially when it's not yours, but if our place burnt down I would still say it's only stuff. The evac figures are more accurately around 40,000, hopefully everyone is at least stable working towards acceptance, it doesn't help to get angry or upset.

Changes we made last night:
Adding more camping gear; apparently we would have more people with us than planned
Fresh pictures; the entire property, vehicles and belongings; just in case the insurance company doesn't believe us its good to have time/date stamps.
More clothing; I'm fine with shorts and tshirts so I added a few more, get home bag has pants and such in it already
Gate block; we parked my company car in front of our main gate, I don't want to be blocked in by someone else, people simply can't think in a crisis. This was evident watching people evacuate on the news as they stopped to take pictures, had their feet on the dashboard, drove around police barricades, etc. Seriously, stopping in the middle of the interstate in 20 foot visibility to take pictures of basically a wall of smoke.
Visual security; temporary shelter at a school 1 mile away means people might get bored and wander. If they happen to look over the 6 foot fence I don't want them to see anything that looks special. We lock the gates but it's still only a wooden fence, but it's all about layers of security.
Cash; went to the ATM and got more. We can always put it back, might not always be able to get it out
Candles; placed more candles around the inside of the house, they cut utilities off in all the evac zones. Since our neighborhood is old it's harder to pinpoint shutoffs and would more than likely make us go dark even if we weren't in an evac section yet.
Tactical vest; I changed my battle load out over to my tac vest, it might draw some looks but I don't care. It's my family and I'm not going to be unprepared while everyone around us is panicking. I would rather give the impression of 'don't mess with me' than 'please come rob us'. These kind of things bring out the worst in people in an instant.

I'm a pessimist, a fire is one of the things we plan for that has the biggest reality of occurring based on our location. I still wouldn't want to live anywhere else (unless it's the dream property and cabin), especially other parts of the city where you can open your window and knock on your neighbors.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

City is now on fire

55 mph winds turned the fire over a ridge. Fire crews pulled back and structures are being lost. The fire line is now 5 miles from home, and what was looking good 3 hours ago has covered a lot of ground and is chewing into civilization. The north half of the city is gridlock cause you can't see anything with the smoke, visibility 20 feet. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the winds don't push it south once the sun sets and the weather changes. We are loaded up in the rigs, it's not messing around and I'll drive over yards to get out. It's north, here is to luck with the winds.

Rage on flames, a city on edge

The wind is going to double or triple the acreage of the fire by tomorrow morning. I'm watching it from about 7 miles away and the flames visible in direct sunlight, easily 100 feet high and then some. It's trying to work it's way down the hillsides and jump the highway but the lines are holding. If it jumps the highway it's right into town and onto all the old buildings with wood shingle roofs and too much fuel for the fire. I would be surprised if they can control it, if it does jump. They are standing on the roadside with axes, that's how serious it is right now.

It's on a hillside in a canyon, the winds are swirling making it hard to predict. The main reservoir for Colorado Springs had the power lines down this morning from the flames and it's on backup generator power. They have fuel on hand for 2 weeks and the fire can't actually damage the infrastructure so good news. Bad news is if everything around it burns the erosion will be horrible for years to come and constantly clog up the system from mud sliding into the water.
The water can reach the city via gravity but not the kind of pressure or amount that is needed.

I'm watching the fire speed down a hillside into my friends neighborhood, hopefully the line holds as the firefighters have been busy bulldozing and cutting. The are hopeful they wont have to rebuild and are upset since they were about to list the house. I put it into focus for them that they are out and safe, that's all the matters. We agreed.

The city up the pass that is holding everyone who got stuck when the highway closed is out of food and fuel. Trucks are reaching it from alternate routes, but not the frequency needed. The interstate is 20 minutes from this town, otherwise it's a 3 hour back route. Most of the fuel available is being diverted to air tankers and fire assets and the truck that are going up the pass are not enough to catch up.

It's not just that something is on fire, it's about what happens all around it to all the services people rely on daily and never think would suddenly vanish. I'm not an optimist like that.

My home phone has gotten 7 calls today from political parties or activist groups. I'm monitoring my home phone activity from work in case we are put on pre-evac notice. There is a local election today and both parties stopped campaign work due to the fire. To me that's stand up and I wish I could vote for both of them.

Monday, June 25, 2012

All is well with a cautious outlook

 The fire hasn't spread south and with the winds blowing North for the most part I'm not worried. We are still on alert and ready in case some bafoon does something stupid in the closer area. Here is a picture from out east at the airport.
The smoke cloud is making it's own weather front, it's incredible really.

Over 100 degrees and 4% humidity but they managed to get the fire 5% contained, but then the winds started howling up to 35mph. My friends that live 15 minutes away are still at a hotel but I made sure they had food and dog food. All these supplies come in handy once in a while and I made sure everyone I know who had been evacuated had all they needed. The in-laws are doing ok, worried about the fire and the smoke in the air is bothering them more than us. I told them if we are not worried then they shouldn't be either, we will let them know when it's time to worry. This was all a great stress test for preparedness, there weren't any holes in our plan and we would have been packed up and gone in less than 15 minutes with the in-laws.

We had a fun BBQ around the corner, the smoke moved in about 8pm and by 10 no one could stand to be outside so we called it a night. Great time and awesome food. I gave all the leftovers to the mormon neighbors, 4 kids make short work of half a cheesecake and whatever else.

This morning someone here had left a revolver on the front porch, someone drank too much and carried it from the car and doesn't remember leaving it outside. Since we are all locked in, there was nothing to worry about but the teasing has commenced.
The cheesecake was awesome, worth heating the house up on Saturday and the ribs turned out amazing. Baked beans were only OK since I didn't really bake them in the oven like I wanted to, it was just too damn hot to get the house up even 1 degree yesterday.

There isn't an A/C unit or swamp cooler to be found in town. I put our window unit in and had the fan going this afternoon just to keep the house from hitting 80. I have everything opened up right now so it should cool down nicely and I'll get up at 4am to open it all back up before work. It's supposed to cool off to 96 by the weekend, I might just order a large swamp cooler, the few dollars it will raise the utility bill will be worth it when I try and sleep.

My broken toe is healing great, I'm looking forward to running a few miles this weekend to see how it does. I'll do a Saturday morning run before it get's too hot and just have a relaxing job. I have enough time to train for a 25k race in September, the first 5 miles of it gains almost 4,000 feet, something I can duplicate almost exactly right here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Another fire a mile from home

The fire I posted about yesterday has about 12,000 people under mandatory evacuations. There isn't much new information about it but as of 7am they evacuated an area that's a 12 minute drive from our place.
Snagged this from the local newspaper website

This one as well, I wasn't going out to get my own last night

The worst thing was the NEW fire yesterday, 1 mile up the trail on a hiking patch. Some asshole left a smoldering campfire... yes, it's 97 degrees in the hills under the shade but I guess they were just too cold or wanted to be nostalgic and have a fire. The nerve.
When the trucks raced up the canyon we got everything into the dining room, had the in-laws do the same and waited. An hour later the fire was completely out (hopefully) but it goes to show that all it takes is one idiot and everything can collapse around you.

Being a prepper or being prepared can be a lot of talk but it's times like this when you know how set you are, and we are 100% set. All the pictures that are up in the house are in a bag and we will grab the painting that have been handed down 3 generations. Several days of clothes, the week buckets, get home bags, trauma bag, ar-15's and ammo. That gets loaded up first, anything else is just that. I did toss my favorite cookbook in with the pictures. I got it as a gift in 1994 from my best friend, it's all the recipes from the Montana Bar and Grill on Flathead lake. It's out of business for about 12 years but it was my favorite place to eat when I visited up there.

The buckets have a week worth of food for us and the dogs as well as toiletries. The last thing I want to have to buy is a toothbrush when it's so easy to have everything ready in advance. The buckets work well since they stack and are easy to carry.
We have a bag next to the safe for all of the handguns and can just carry the rifles, if there is time. The biggest concern is the in-laws, I'll move slow when I'm in my 80's as well, if I make it that long.

Normally an evacuation order seems really early and silly, but if you haven't seen a fire in person then you wouldn't understand how fast it can move. It was 1994 or 1995 that I helped on a fire in California as a volunteer from Ft. Carson, it's amazing and horrific when you are there working to keep it from spreading and making fire breaks.

Life goes on, the yard is getting water and I've got 4 racks of ribs cooking. The plan is to go around the block for a BBQ tonight and I can't slack on the food. I nailed out a cheesecake late last night when it was cooler outside, the ribs are boiling (for about an hour until the bones stick out about 1/2 an inch). Later the ribs will go on the grill for 15 minutes and whatever sauce will be slathered all over them.

I need to get some baked  beans going later but first we are heading to get some coffee/tea and see how the smoke from the fire is looking. There isn't any wind right now but it's already getting really warm. I'm not really worried yet, it won't do any good if I am but we still want to check on the progress.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's not only hot but it's on fire

Less than 15 miles away, about 12 minutes on the road:
 If I took a photo to the left, starting on the left edge of this one, you would see Pikes Peak and you could see the area where I live. It's 97 degrees outside and unless there was some tragic accident, there is no excuse for this or any other fire outside of lightening. The only thing to stop this fire from spreading our way would be the wind and a huge effort of first responders. It's like starting a fire in a box of matches, it's that dry. The forecast says possible thunderstorm tomorrow but otherwise it's going to be in the mid 90's for the next 5 days.

Close up:

I never assume a fire will reach home, but this is the largest closest fire since I've been living here. 3 buckets all ready to go with 1 weeks worth of food and necessities for use and the dogs. I have water jugs on the front porch that I use for hot water (the sun is a wonderful thing), those will be toss in a vehicle with the buckets and we are set.

Sure it would suck to lose pictures and other stuff, but it's replaceable and it's just stuff. If it gets close enough to really worry I will start hauling stuff across town into a storage facility. There aren't any trees on the other side of town but we are surrounded by them.

I spent 3 hours in the garden today, I even made another section and planted some bush beans, baby sweet watermelon and some more radishes. I had to put up a fence to keep the dogs out, they can't avoid trampling the pumpkins and taking over a bigger area would mean more trampling. I thinned out the other radishes and got the yard mowed, etc. I'm hanging out inside until later tonight when it's cool enough to get some ribs pre-cooked for the BBQ tomorrow.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The bugs have shotguns

One of the great things about having a garden is trying to figure out what the hell the bugs are up to each year.
This year the aphids and the weevil population are at war. The aphids have shotguns but are leaving a horrible amount of collateral damage.

I'm going to do my second round of radish thinning and hope I have the situation under control. I tried several different solutions but not even the United Nations could stop the war. I got some spray stuff at a store and it worked great. This is the first year I've had issues with anything, but it's also the first year for radishes. When I replant in a few weeks I'll be sure and put a screen over that section.

It's going to be hot again for the next few days and I'm still stuck sitting around the house. I can walk with just a little pain but still can't run or bike. I'm going crazy in my own head. I was hoping some books I ordered would have showed up for the weekend, instead I'll putter around the yard working on my tan and get some more garden work in.

We had some good monster burgers last night with a sort of tropical topping. Onion, tomato, pepper fresh ginger and apple jelly.

Here is a final shot for the weekend. In bloom and looking great. Enjoy whatever fun things preppers do on weekends!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Some reflection time

I had half a day of driving for work, but it's some nice country to pass through. I take my time, let all the fast people go around me and slowly make my way through the canyons south of Colorado Springs towards Salida.
This part of the state isn't on fire and the smoke wasn't blowing south so I had the windows down enjoying the heat wave. It hit 103 and stayed about 98 in the canyons following the river. I decided to stop and wade on in and just relax and get some reflection... the sun reflecting off the water trying to vaporize me.
The water is really low, I could get all the way across and not get my shorts wet. I was tempted to jump in but my towel isn't the best and is in the bottom of my get home bag. I did have a desire to go fishing.

The fire that is an hour away is 30% contained and went from 30 acres to 300 overnight. So far it's been reported the fire was started from people shooting at propane tanks and when they went boom and set everything on fire... of course the people ran off. We will see if anything comes of it, or if they determine that's the real cause.

The house was a blazing 75 degree but still felt really cool compared to the 97 outside. It just didn't get cool enough last night even with all the windows open.
Some nesting robins lost a baby tonight, I'm not sure if it couldn't fly yet or what but I think it had a heart attack when the dogs came charging at it. I told the robin parents I was sorry and then watered the grass so they could get some worms. They are still mad an hour later but it's my yard.
Living a ruff life

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hot and prime for a fire

We got some rain, enough to fill up all the water barrels, yesterday evening. 15 minutes of downpour and that's it. That amount of rain was more than we have had in over 40 days, the area is still as dry as a box of matches.
The fire outside of Boulder/Ft. Collins is raging, they figure it will be out when winter hits. A new fire on the other side of Pikes Peak a ways, but in an area I love to rock climb and fish. I don't know what started this fire, but I will hazard to say humans. Maybe I'm wrong, but I've seen the behavior of people long enough to know it's only a matter of time before there is a fire here that will force evacuations.
We had 2 fires last year that were really close. One was less that 2 miles away on the other side of 2 water reservoir so we were never in danger. Anything closer to the canyon center would be fast moving and horrific. The saving grace is the 5 star resort that's a mile away, they would do anything to keep the tax revenue flowing in even if it meant every single city employee was out there with bottles of water.
The only natural disaster that worries me is a fire. As long as we get out, everything can burn up but we don't want to start from the ground up.

68 degrees inside, 93 out and no clouds. 97 is the forecast for tomorrow so I'm hoping I can get the house into the 50's tonight. If I get it into the low 60's it rarely gets over 72 inside during the hottest days, and that temperature feels really cool. In the winter the house stays at 64, I would love that temp all year inside.

Had lunch with the in-laws for Fathers day, most of the family was there. I was going to organize the cabinets but decided to come home and take a nap instead. I added a large bin into the food storage for more cereal boxes since the varieties we like were on sale this week. I'm getting an order together for some #10 cans and on payday I have about $100 worth of canned goods I need to purchase. We have a lot of fruit but are lacking black/blue berries and the kind we like haven't been on sale recently. Figured I'll just get them anyhow and cringe a little at the checkout stand.

Or I can just sit around expecting the government to take care of me....

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dear Dad

Happy Fathers Day.

Thank you for teaching me so much that has come in handy so often in my life. Thank you for making me do the hard work when I preferred to do something else. Thank you for letting me make my own decisions even if they probably weren't the smartest all the time.

I picked blueberries this morning like we would do together. I bitched about the strawberries being so small like you did. I had some stuff from the garden that I only know how to grow thanks to your guidance.

I loaned your stapler to someone in need today, it still works after 30 years.. although you would have lectured them on returning it and borrowing tools in the first place.

I would like give you a silly card with some silly poem on it, or a coffee cup with some cheesy saying on it (I still have it in the kitchen along with the pots and bowls you showed me how to cook it).

I love you and miss you, please keep watching over me and I will continue to make you proud. It hasn't been the same but I'm giving it 110%.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gardening is easy?

Someone at work actually told me that this morning. They don't, nor have ever had a garden but they decided to tell me it was easy. Just toss some seeds and enjoy... maybe I just don't have the magic touch.
I suppose it's easy if you compare it to construction, but investing time in anything is work. I spend well over an hour each day, and the garden is mostly in. I'm going to pop a few things in this weekend for late harvest, but the majority of the 'work' is done.

Back to reality.
The corn is all coming up, even the stuff in the rocky soil. That's great news for us, I wasn't sure if it would work in that spot or not even with mixing some great soil in. I counted it, and even after they need to be thinned, I should have 120+ ears. At 4 ears for $1 (the best price locally if you get lucky), I have $30 worth of corn and it didn't cost me but maybe $5 in water, seed, etc.
I spent about 30 minutes carefully moving all the leaves, rocks, twigs, etc. from around each corn stalk. Rock wandered over to see what I was doing but managed to step in between the stalks... good boy. Not hard work, just time consuming and very satisfying.

Mormon neighbors are coming over on Saturday to get the zucchini plants I am going to thin out. It's a gamble if they will survive the transplant, but I'm thinking most of them will do well and provide some good food. I'm hoping the roots aren't tangled, if they are then it's really a gamble.
I will give them a couple of yellow squash, the ones I originally planted need to be thinned, the ones I just planted should be popping up next weekend. The cucumber has another week before thinning (I'm attempting to save the plants or I would just do it now), the radish row was done last night after the sun went behind the hill.

Dinner was turkey breast and tomato.
Not being able to run or even bike right now has my calorie intake really low and not very carb loaded. Big change compared to eating 1/2 pound of noodles and 2 chicken breasts (for lunch!).

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The gimp home bag

I had a meeting in Denver yesterday that I couldn't get out of. I had 2 meetings at the same time and I picked the most informative and educational one, might as well learn the most. This one just happened to be outside of Denver in Suburbia.

I grabbed my get home bag and limped my way to the car, the broken toe is healing fine but it doesn't appreciate being jammed into a shoe. I realized that my get home time from Denver would be doubled if something happened, so I limped back into the house for some more food. Knowing what you can cover in X amount of time is really important when planning any kind of emergency situation. I made sure I had double the food and then a little bit more, mountain house meals are relatively light so the weight of the bag didn't increase much.
The items in the bag that weigh the most are water, loaded magazines and this:
Taurus PT92

This was my first handgun, my Dad got it for me in 87 (I would have to dig up some record to be certain, but it's about the year) and he put a lot of gun-smith time into it. I realize it's not tactical but I'm deadly precise with it after around 25 years. It's the best feeling pistol in my hand and I've shot a lot of different weapons. If you have ever had a weapon in your hands that just feels like it's a natural extension of your body, you know what I'm talking about.
I also had my Taurus Millenium baby 9mm, it's my normal carry weapon but has a horrible trigger pull but is the smallest concealed carry I have that holds more than 5 rounds. Better than crapping your pants and wishing you had something and I'm too cheap to get different one.

I take my bag with me whenever I'm more than around  20 minute drive away from home. Anything less I can make it home without the need for a bag. Some people like to carry one with them at all times but that's not practical with a company car that gets used like a taxi when I'm at work. 20 minutes travel by car wouldn't put most people more than 20 miles away and at the average fast food junkie walking pace, that's about 11 to 12 hours out. I've never met a person who said they couldn't walk a 15 minute mile... and I've met a lot of people. Being realistic is very important, if you lie to yourself it's going to be a little depressing when you are doing 2-2.5 hours an hour instead of 4+.

In a get home scenario that would double your time, make sure you tell people who expect you that the time would be doubled. There isn't any need to add stress to a crisis situation by showing up 3 days later than planned when all you have to do is communicate a little. This of course assumes there aren't issues on the way but don't expect me for 6 days is better than a search party after 3.

Lucky for me it's my little toe so I can function perfectly without a shoe on. I could use it as an excuse to put off house and yard work but it has to get done eventually. I had to stake most of my tomato plants, the round cages work pretty good but as things get bigger it's a lot of weight hanging off into space. There are plenty of sticks you can use for this, anything with a branch will work as a 'V' to support the stalk. I have a large roll of string that I can tie the off shoot stalks to the cage with. As long as it's supported that's what matters. I even have a bungie cord on one plant, it just happened to be the closest thing I found on the way to get the twine. I am a little redneck and I'm going to have home grown garden tomato with my turkey sandwich at lunch.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sleepy Sunday

It was 88 degrees by 11am on Saturday, quickly heading to 95 so I didn't get a lot done outside. Saturday night I headed to work at 6 and was home on Sunday morning at 10.

This isn't something I normally do, so I'm not conditioned for this kind of thing. It was a lot cooler on Sunday so I didn't want to just go to bed as I probably should have, when I got home. I got my yard work clothes but before I could get my boots on I took a haphazard step and kicked the dog gate in the kitchen doorway and broke my damn toe. You always know when you break one, and there isn't much to be done. This morning was funny as it swelled up so much I couldn't get my shoes on for work, but after some struggling I jammed it in. It's hard to walk but I'm managing.

Sleepy Sunday also found me staring at some of my vegetables and wondering why 3 of the yellow squash aren't popping up when the rest are 3 inches above soil. I decided to poke around and found seeds and only one had a stem on it that didn't look healthy. I replanted those 3 spots and think the original seeds were too deep, probably about 2.5 inches vs. 1 inch. I'm not sure how that happened but being deep makes it hard to get a good water soak on the seeds and when they do start to grow they cant push the weight of the soil to pop up.

We transplanted a rose bush, dropped in 2 blueberry bushes, ran wire for yard lights, hung 2 new blinds, mowed the yard, planted 20 more corn seeds, watered everything with a new longer hose and had dinner. BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes and sweat peas

I slept like a kitten last night.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dodging hail & garden pictures.

We went for a run last evening after it cooled down, and the storm that was rolling in had shifted south. The run was an easy relaxing run until the storm blew back North and we realized it was time to pick up the pace. We could see the city from our trail and we stopped in awe as the sound of the storm was getting to us miles away. I can only describe the sound as a jet engine on an airplane, or perhaps an M1 Abrams at idle... and we were really 10+ miles away from it.
We could tell it was shifting back towards us and luckily it was the downhill portion so I jumped in the lead and ran as hard as I could at the fastest pace I could sustain for a couple of miles until we would be safe under tall trees or reach the house if we got lucky. Small scrub oak works for protection but it's better to not lay on the ground if you can help it. Plan your route based on possible weather you see heading in. Colorado Springs is a high desert environment on the mountain edges, protection from bad weather is sometimes hard to find. Sort of like running at treeline.

It's cute to see hail in June, sometimes it's the only moisture we get, little tiny pieces of ice just bouncing around you while you run on a nice trail. It's not cute when it's like this;
Either I have a tiny thumb, or those are huge. One hit the top of my shoe and it stung like a bee, but somehow we avoided getting knocked out and made it home. After this picture I covered all of the plants with trash bags until the hail stopped. We didn't much, but hail this big does a lot of damage to plants (and anything else it hits). Had I not been home it's still early enough to start over and have a late harvest but I would have upset since the plants are doing great right now.

Here are some pictures from this morning right after dawn, everything looked normal, as good as I can make it with my limited gardening knowledge from being a kid. Some of the tomato plants are thriving, some are looking sad but still have fruit. When you keep everything the same for each plant, one can only shrug on why some thrive vs. just survive. Sort of like my brother compared to me.
Blueberries. 2 small bushes. Will plant more if they do well this year.

Strawberries, someone else keeps eating them all before me.

Clematis. It's better than plan ivy but takes forever to spread.

One of 4 tomato plants. They are still budding out all over.

Rose bush transplanted 12 years ago from the in-laws old house.

Rose bush transplanted from a neighbor last year, off the front porch.

Sweet peppers (red) starting to get big.

Cherry tomato plant, about 100 of them waiting to ripen.
My peppers are jammed together, not like the ones at the store looking perfect. I don't have the luxury of volume, so I let them grow into each other naturally if they desire. I turn the pots every day so the sun gets spread around the plant. I like the pot method vs. in ground, I've yet to have an in ground ones act as a perennial so I stick to the pots. I'm debating putting a few more in the ground and letting them grow for a late harvest. We just don't eat that many.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Figuring out the to-do's

The power outage got me thinking, and that's dangerous for my small brain. Here in Colorado Springs life is normally grand, the economy is doing well thanks to the military bases and a growing community of people moving here on the east side into the track housing.

I spent last night looking around and trying to identify things that had gone under the radar. It's sort of surreal asking yourself what if the power never comes back on or what if there is a sudden economic collapse (as opposed to the slide were on), how ready are we. I made a list, on of my favorite keep on track tools.

I had some water jugs that I used for something at work that had been returned to me empty that I didn't fill as soon as I got them home. 25 gallons of water added back into the water storage.

My double water barrel system from the front roof was disconnected, it's really a monstrosity and I am in the middle of redesigning it and it's just 1 barrel right now. 55 gallons water storage barrel empty, that's on my immediate to do list this weekend.

Need to replace a motor mount on my Discovery, it's a much better bug out vehicle than my Jeep since it holds 10x more gear just on the inside. This isn't critical since it operates fine but it's certainly easier to replace with power and air tools.

The lack of rain means I haven't been using my water barrel system for the garden so my battery for the pump isn't charged. It's charged now, but I could always swap it into one of the vehicles and charge it up or hook it to a solar panel.
The same lack of rain got me thinking about watering the garden without utility services. I just picked up a 700 lb capacity yard wagon with removable/drop sides that I could haul water around in. I have 2 streams less than 1/3 mile and 2 spring fed reservoirs 1 mile away. I decided to get a few water jugs for garden water hauling, I need to find something in an easier shape/handling for this project.

We decided to get more garden seeds.

That's my list, everything else seemed good to go. I have a long term list but that's 1 year long term and I don't want to go broke trying to buy the things on it.
Life goes back to normal tomorrow, 2+ weeks of house sitting and dog sitting really disrupts our normal schedule and makes it hard to get things done and spend time together. It also let me get my pumpkin seeds in without anyone noticing... someone doesn't think 100+ pound pumpkins are necessary unless you have a catapult, but I disagree!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Something amazing my friend did

Check out this link if you need inspiration to do anything. Reading the blog updates was fantastic, it's amazing what we can make our bodies do. I can't wait to see Diane when she is back home and recovered, I love the stories.

Power outages are relaxing

Yesterday was hot, it's going to be hot for the next week. Not just hot but humid and that's unlike Colorado Springs for the most part. This weather brings afternoon and evening thunderstorms and usually some wind.

I used what water I have left in the barrels to get the garden, fruit bushes and herbs watered. It looked like it was going to be a downpour but as usual it just spit a little bit. I made sure the flashlights, candles and matches were set out in the correct spots and made a sign for the fridge so we wouldn't open it out of habit.
Power outages mean the alarm system won't work without a battery backup and with an internet based phone it won't call out. This is something I think about so I got a carbine set out and had a seat on the front deck watching the dogs enjoy the cool breeze. No crime victim ever thinks it's would happen to them.
We are house sitting and they have 3 dogs to take care of 4 times a day and stay over at night. The food is almost out and they have none extra and I checked everywhere. In fact I was shocked at how much cupboard space there is and it's almost all empty... perhaps not shocked, just awestruck. They have 3x the square footage and 10x the storage space and it's empty. I keep 120 pounds of food in buckets for everyday use:
750 pounds of dry and 4 cases of canned.
 It's good for 18 months or so, just based on the expiration date and it's easy to rotate out when you buy it each month anyhow. I always try for the 5 pounds 'free' and right now it's only available in regular adult but Rock eats more so that's fine. Luke is on light recipe, he isn't active 24x7 so he can pack it on.

My neighbor popped her head up at the walk in gate yelling for me so I unlocked it (layers of security start with simple things) and we talked for a while. Her kids were trying to generate power by turning the light switch on and off a thousand times, panicked the cell phone and game thingy wouldn't work for much longer and then what would they do? I told her I would charge her cell phone with my inverter but her kids need to find something constructive to do... productive would be better. They aren't mine, I wouldn't let them get away with 95% of the stuff they do.

I had a relaxing evening, didn't even realize the power was back on until it got dark. We keep up with the dishes and laundry in case we don't have power for a longer period of time, no reason to start in the hole. I'm going to take Thursday off and get some more things planted, some late harvest stuff needs to go in this week and I'm busy with work all weekend. The garden is exploding, it's going to be some fun hard work down the road.

Friday, June 1, 2012

When the brain is overloaded.

It's been a rough week for me at work but it's nothing to do with my actual job. Dealing with the public can wear anyone down, dealing with coworkers can be the kind of wearing down that really gets in deep.
After 2 years of dealing with a certain person at work, I decided it was creating the kind of environment where I didn't want to come to work anymore. I also have been toting a MP3 style tape recording device around with me, and that's not a healthy work environment for anyone. It was a one sided hour+ discussion that hopefully worked everything out so it's back to being professional. Time will tell, I've seen 4 people rotate through that position. Some positions seem to grow people from fantastic employees to power hungry something-or-other.

I felt great when I went home and had a nice fast paced run. I fooled around in the garden and was amazed to find I have a tomato almost ready to pick. Starting things indoors can really get a boost in production and early picking. The others are all green and not even close to being large or ripe, but this one was apparently stealing all the nutrients.
Stolen image but this one stole nutrients too!

There were a lot of conversations this week about the oil, gas and mineral deal the family is working. The paperwork was signed and sent back, so now it's waiting for the operator to start working, perhaps I can retire in 5 years... or everything stays the same and that's just fine.

and then it happened...

I woke up screaming and covered in sweat this morning.
It wasn't the Bradley next to me that got hit by friendly fire, it was mine and I couldn't get out. Then I was in a M1 Abrams being swarmed over by Republican Guard troops. Then I was running and gunning for my life in the streets of some random Iraq town escorting truckloads of cash and being ambushed at every corner.

The good news is one of my Army friends that I've helped with similar issues, from more recent deployments, was at my side the entire side. I've always known he was a good friend, this just reinforced that he would be there in times of trouble. Good to know indeed, couldn't I have figured it out without needing a cold shower. It's amazing how the brain works.