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.

Friday, August 26, 2016

What season is it?

After a few weeks of really hot weather, it seemed that spring showed up again. Rain, and more rain, and some more. Hail, rain, wind, thunderstorms, rain, hail, etc.
Did I mention snow yet?
Waking up to 42 degree weather is exciting, the mountains still have a dusting of snow on them for almost 2 weeks straight. I slept so well because I had all the windows open and it was certainly chilly inside, I had to be brave when it was time to get out of the shower. We have some warmer weather coming again next week with temperatures back in the 90's. For now we are enjoying the rain, the green scenery and the creeks/streams with 2-3 times the normal volume for August.

It's mouse season. We think they made a nest in the fireplace, they are in for a surprise when we clean everything one more time before we need to light it up. We've eliminated a few in traps but they are small little creatures with light little gentle peanut butter licking tongues.

It's also canning season!
Peach jam or maybe it's witches brew!
I scraped the pot and shoveled it into my mouth... so good.
Colorado peaches were .98 per pound and we snagged 20 pounds of them. That will eventually net us 28-30 pints of jam. Honey crisp apples were in stock at Costco and 1/2 the price I could find anywhere so grabbed 2 dozen and I currently am cooling 7 pints of apple slices in a very light sauce. Blueberries I found at a local supermarket and they actually looked really good so 8 pounds of those are going to be jammed up.
That's a whole lot of action going on inside this weekend. Outside it's going to be dry enough to seal the deck and replace the railing boards. I'm not sure we have enough time but there are 24 hours in a day, why not make the most of them all. We also need to run, eat and hike Rock around.

I made it back to the gym after Las Vegas and several days off. I had some great workouts. I've been getting octagon cage rounds once a week and doing really well. When sparring full on MMA against people 1/2 my age (and younger), it's nice to see improvement. I also got my first Jiu Jitsu belt rank promotion, very unexpected and a pleasant surprise. I've set high expectations for myself.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Back from the land of zombies

I'll admit, I sort of enjoy going to Las Vegas. I've been about 70 times in the last 15 years and I always do have a good time. It's not the "free" drinks, it's not the gambling, the shows, the food... it's watching the zombies walk around. It's a great reminder that most of the population is just horrible at just about everything.
My friend and I had every intention of running each day and the first day our run was amazing. When I say amazing I mean horrible with the temperature landing at 108 so we didn't make it very far. It's been a while since I was in a combat load in serious heat and I forgot how sucky that heat and humidity is. I decided that we would run in the morning but it was 92 degrees at 5am so that didn't work out. Being a complete sucker for punishment I went running in the afternoon by myself and I was just as miserable as the first day. It was only 106 out but I think the humidity was higher so it was another 'why did I do this' moment.

Back home I have cucumbers to pick and I did enjoy my first tomato sandwich. It's been relatively cool around here (compared to Vegas for sure) so it looks like the garden might spend the next two months providing a lot of vegetables. We have a good supply of canning jars but are keeping an eye out for sales, I think about 120 jars is the magic number we are looking for. We are going to can a lot this year.

The valley is really green this year and the water is still flowing at a nice volume. The yard has almost recovered from the painter trampling all over the place and parking on the grass. We mowed a section by the leech field but everything else still looks good 6 weeks after the last mowing. It was nice and cool in the evening when the clouds rolled in but sleep was fitful due to allergies and hay cutting.

We replaced the storm door for better light and airflow. The entire top slides down giving us at least 20% more screen window area. It's nice to have a deadbolt on this door, obviously glass is easy to bust, but one more obstacle doesn't hurt. The replacement took about 90 minutes but that was about 15 minutes of me not following the instructions before I got 'talked to sternly'. In the winter it will let a lot more sun in as well. Weatherstripping is needed in a few spots for a better seal but this is one more project crossed off the list.

I'm sure we added a few more projects but that's life for us. These things take my mind off work and work has been a real shit-show for a few months now. My income is down about 30% and I'm still struggling to keep a good attitude most of the time. Whenever I bring anything up that we need to change/discuss I'm told to wait a few weeks and those weeks have turned into months. It's a good thing I still enjoy what I do, and that we aren't buried in debt because that provides options. I've gotten a few job offers but I'm loyal and the horse is still able to be ridden. These are times when I enjoy watching the sprinklers, more than ever.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Incoming! Lettuce seed!

On the way out of the yard this morning I noticed the lettuce seed pods are opening, very exciting.

I think I planted this lettuce maybe 4 years ago and haven't had to replant since then. I usually save 2 plant tops full of seeds (a few hundred seeds or so) and the rest I let fall on the ground to begin anew. This means we have fresh lettuce in October and again in April. We have seed stored at both houses and will keep adding to the collection.

We are being patient with the garden, the tomato plants aren't enjoying the last couple of weeks of heat so no new growth, and no new red fruit. The few ripe ones we had I didn't get to enjoy on a sandwich because someone picked them and gave them to father in-law. I over acted and dramatized that I was slowly being killed by starvation.

Cucumbers are doing well, minus one plant on each end of the row. We should have an abundance of pickles. I need to visit Ace hardware in town and buy 5+ cases of jars. They always have the best selection and prices for canning supplies. We don't get the fancy jars although sometimes they are tempting as we give a lot of them away as gifts. Twice the price has always stopped us from doing it.
I did run out of jelly (in the fridge) so I conquered a pile of laundry in the basement and got myself some peach jelly that we canned almost 3 years ago. The jelly, salsa and pickle supply is still well stocked and with any luck it's numbers will be doubled by years end. The peanut butter and peach jelly sandwich was amazing and could have only been better if it was cool enough to make bread.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Training with strangers

Early to rise...

I headed about an hour outside of town for some training with a lot of patriots. There were several hundred people who said they were going to attend so I grabbed an ammo can of 5.56 and drove on out (everything else is always loaded up). Great chance to meet new people, make contacts, and get some range time in.

I drove into the big field where everyone was parked and a lot of groups were camping. Someone at the entrance gave a weak attempt to stop me, apparently I didn't look like I belonged. Great, I just drove in and already I'm an outcast. There were about 200 or so people so odds were good I'd find some people who knew that it's your actions and character that define you, not clothes/gear.

Once I parked I headed over to the registration area where most people were gathered. I missed the flag ceremony but hit the group pledge of allegiance. Since I chose not to participate and that got me some hateful glares. Registration went smooth and I headed back to the car to get my gear assembled for the first group class, Intermediate Pistol. I had said good morning and/or hello to dozens of people and not one single person responded.

A few minutes later I was changed and geared up. The parking area was about 1/2 a mile from the class/range area so it was a nice walk to get the blood flowing and body moving. Everyone I passed tossed a greeting out, the same people who minutes before ignored me, amazing what a change of clothes can do.

Intermediate pistol: The instructor passed 2 pistols around for everyone to check out, mainly to s showcase his grip texture. If you don't have a good grip, your accuracy can suffer especially in follow-up shots. Makes perfect sense. The first pistol had a safety barrel, the second one didn't. 18 people in this class and only 1 person besides me cleared them when they were handed to us.
Next up was practice changing magazines, that required empty magazines, not something I had with me so I didn't participate. Since we were in a circle, those practicing the change ended up pointing their weapons at each other instead of the ground.

Once we lined up to shoot paper things seemed to be smoother but unfortunately I did ask one of the assistant instructors to please get everyone back on line so I wouldn't get shot in the back by the people standing 8 foot back from the line. After seeing some targets with no holes and the instructor telling us that there would be a lot of dead patriots, I opted to leave the class. In total I sent 38 rounds at the target, 37 hits (the one miss was from a 4 shot attempt off-hand going for head shots). Time for lunch.

Advanced shooting: This course was about moving from cover to cover and engaging certain targets while you were in certain positions. One of the instructors ran the course so everyone could see what the goal was. There were friendly and threat targets on the course including one hostage target pair. I forgot to switch my safety off once they said go but that was an easy remedy. I ran the course twice with my AR, once with just pistol. I was the only person out of about 20 who would scan for targets even though we knew were they all were because it's supposed to be realistic. If you shoot a target from position A, before you just run balls out to position B you need to make sure it's clear and you need to keep your weapon up and ready at all times. We were supposed to finish the course, get a weapon clear check and run back to the staging area but I ended up being the only person who could actually run back.
This was an advanced course and if what I witnessed is advanced, I'm very afraid.

Dinner was a couple hours away so I thought it would be great to talk to people and get to know some of the locals while I waited. Since it was hot out, I decided to get out of my sweaty gear and relax in my regular clothes. Doing so put me back in the 'nobody wants to even make eye contact' category again so after an hour of trying unsuccessfully to mingle/converse I left. Hopefully some of the contacts I made (while downrange obviously) will pan out into good relations.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Operation 'not another splinter'

When we first got the cabin I picked up one of those fake grass carpets for the deck, the boards weren't exactly smooth and fun to walk on. The wind took that carpet and flew it off to the middle east, all those staples didn't stand a chance.
I wanted to try the carpet idea again, this time with wood strips on the mountain side of the deck to keep it secure. I was outvoted so we've lived with the deck for 2 years but last weekend I decided it was time to fix it instead of always wearing shoes. Sometimes it's just nice to walk outside in my pajamas and drink some tea while the sun rises on the mountains.

It was a hot weekend with a little bit of rain (most of it circled around and missed us) so we didn't start on the railing. I ended up being one flooring board short but a trip to the local hardware store will fix that next time we work on it. Railing boards are in the woodpile so this project will be done shortly. We ordered a new storm door to replace the battered one shown in the picture and also have some storage racks coming in for the garage. Time to organize everything into bins! Making things easier to find means they are also easier to put back where you got them.

We still have one woodshed cat, typhoid. Not friendly, doesn't like us... perfect. It really wont like us when we start on project 'get the damn wood put away'. I like project names, it makes them seem more exciting.

Steaks, buffalo steaks, burgers, biscuits and gravy, ice cream. A good weekend of food and hard work. The laundry needs to be swapped out and 13 Hours is sitting in the DVD player. Right now it's very quiet and the dozen+ hummingbirds are going to town on the sugar water feeder. I hope everyone had a great weekend.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Here come the tomatoes

We've counted the green tomatoes and are up around 150 with a ton of flowers and growing season left. It's very exciting, $3-$5 a pound at the store, this will save us a lot of money.

The cucumbers are growing tall and fast, they should start to bear in the next week.

The lettuce has begun to go to seed for the 3rd or 4th year (we forget) so we will have some more fresh lettuce in another month.

The only thing we did different this year was buy a timer for the garden hose. It waters the yard and garden for 20 minutes each night at 6pm. No more, oops, we forgot.

Life is 'fruitful'.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

13,000 acres

The fire is still having a great time, almost 13k acres destroyed.

I suppose it's not destroyed, it's a cycle that happens. There are a lot of people there doing all sorts of things but they aren't trying to control anything yet. Since it's mostly Nat. Forest land they are letting it burn and doing what they can (evacuations, removing propane tanks, etc.) as it gets closer to private property.

They are expecting it to burn until winter.

The cabin had clear conditions, it's very rare that the winds come from the North so we should be just fine. Father in-law might make an appearance this weekend so hopefully the winds don't change because we won't be able to get him to wear a bird flu mask.

Painting is almost done, just have the trim left. With all of the windows taped off it was too hot to stay last night so we drove to the city. It was manageable for me but Rock panted constantly so I cranked up the A/C in the vehicle and we had a nice drive.

The painters have done a good job but for some reason they like to hang out on the grass, walk on the grass, sit on the grass. perfectly good sidewalk to use but nope, grass must get trampled. I watered the crap out of it before we left and will put a lot of water on the property this weekend, it's hot and dry and grass doesn't recover as well with these conditions.

No protests, no blocked roads. Life in the valley and mountains is just normal.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Carry. Everywhere.

There are many times I'm at the gym and thinking to myself that it's ridiculous to have a gun in my gym bag. This isn't planet fitness, it's a ghetto-fabulous boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, jiu jitsu, MMA gym, nothing is going to happen. People work out frustrations on bags and on each other during sparring. Who would be stupid enough? My gym bag is already heavy, and I always have to be conscious of where I am in relation to it (and where others are).

One of the MMA fighters that I train with is really good, it was really intimidating to spar with him. I like to spar with people who are better than me, I think it helps me progress more. Sure, it's fun to knock the crap out of people who can't remember to keep their hands up for defense, but that doesn't help me learn. This guy has his first pro fight next weekend and is in his mid 20's. He was always very nice, giving pointers and always had his daughter at the gym. I thought it was really nice that the family was involved and that he didn't care how good somebody was, he adjusted his skill to their level.

Turns out it wasn't his daughter. In fact she is only 13 years old. Her father notices some messages on her phone and heads to the gym, gun in hand. He shows up, pulls the gun out and waves it around threatening to kill this guy and people in the gym grab their gear and leave. The situation is eventually diffused by the only person who stayed there instead of running.

Where was I, with my gym bag full of gear and a gun? I was running in the mountains because it was a really cool night. The group of people I train with told me all about it, and how I missed all the excitement. All I could think of was how I didn't have to kill someone. Not like I'm some badass but if you wave a gun around threatening me, no matter how righteous you think you are, your actions are inexcusable and I have to assume you intend to kill me or others.

I think of this each time I get ready for the gym and place my pistol in the bag. Is there a round in the chamber, is the safety on or off, what way is the pistol placed in the pocket, etc. There are situations that most people can justify killing another person due to that other persons actions. I'd be a liar to say I've never thought of situations that could make me dish out what I considered justice. I'd also be a fool to ever think I don't need my pistol when I'm at the gym.

More amazing?
Not one single person called the police after they got outside. They either felt the guy deserved to die or just didn't want to be involved. I'll pick the 'not involved'.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Surprise, a forest fire!

It was going to be hot again in the mountains, hot as in 85-90 and dry. No worries, we both got up early for a Rock-dog hike and I hit half the yard with the sprinkler. I'm probably going to get a water pump so I can use the creek water, but that's a later project/purchase For now, the well water does just fine and we are trying to keep the yard from drying up. Yes, I'm the only person who waters their yard... that they mow...

The wind was beautiful, we had the windows open so it was nice and cool inside. I went for a run down the mountain and I had a tailwind most of the way, something that has never happened. While I was enjoying the extra push, there was a fire that decided the wind was the perfect vehicle for it to use to conquer more territory.
They don't have an exact starting point for the fire but at this time they think it started at a campground. A campground... it's close to 100 degree's in that area this time of year and some asshole thinks they need Smores. Yes, I'm judgmental because we've come across dozens of fires that people left burning while we were off-roading and exploring. I hope whomever had this fire going enjoyed their sticky burnt marshmallows on stale graham crackers with not real chocolate.
When we looked at property some nice places came up right in the burn area but it was so hot and dry we worried about a fire. Hot as in 85 at night and 100-110 during the day in the summer.

I'm just out of the tree's at our place and that's a nasty looking fire. It's about 20-25 miles in a place called Hayden Pass. That's a good distance away, with a lot of tall mountains, creeks and natural barriers to contend with... we aren't worried. It's certainly something to keep on the radar however.

This shot is on the plateau heading back to the city (traveling East). I didn't want to get stuck due to road closures because it's going to be a busy week at work. In case anyone begs to differ on visibility issues with smoke:
That small red/orange dot in the upper right is the sun. I don't have window tint, that's just a real un-enhanced/filtered pic.

The air quality at the cabin was fine, the winds are strong westerly. That's how they normally blow so with any luck it's only going to bother us in the city.

The winds, however, are causing it to jump huge green sections that would normally slow it down. This next picture you can see that it's green (and that's why there is so much smoke) where it's currently burning. Unfortunately with it jumping fast, it might get out of the green and into the 'might as well just toss down pine needles' dry area where this picture was taken from. Under all that green is a lot of fuel, not like Georgia undergrowth, but still nasty.

It's always exciting. Time for a sandwich.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Making time to blog, finally.

We all have 24 hours each day but sometimes there doesn't seem to be much time for anything, or rather the time doesn't get allocated properly for certain items.
Like this blog.
I'm usually at work by 06:30 and when that's done it's time for the gym 30 minutes later at 16:30, I get home at 20:30. Running, gym weight work, jiu jitsu, kickboxing, MMA, sparring, boxing, stretching, etc. ar all combined into what I call gym time. 4 days a week on this schedule and Friday after work we head out of town (just Rock and I this weekend). While here at the cabin it seems like constant work including a lot of running but I catch up on sleep because it cools off so nice in the evening. Usually when I get home during the week, after the gym, I go to sleep. My body is getting a real thrashing since I'm going into the octagon cage and getting rounds done there. In the last 3 weeks I've broken 3 toes and 1 finger and have some nerve damage on my left shin. Everything is finally almost healed up and I've learned a lot from those mistakes. I received my first promotion in Jiu Jitsu, I guess I'm better than I tell myself.

The yard work at the cabin continues in earnest, it's really starting to shape up into a great looking property that we had always hoped it would be.

It's thick underbrush out in the tree's. We keep clearing and cleaning up, a pickup truck load of stuff goes to yard waste recycle each weekend. The good stuff is in a pile for firewood but most of the wood is rotted from laying on the ground so that gets tossed. We took an entire load of concrete blocks out last weekend, all these actual rocks around and they made raised beds out of concrete so that had to get removed. We started working on trimming a lot of the Ponderosa tree's, that should get us close to a cord of wood just from the dead limbs we will cut down. We will start on all of the wood and woodshed projects in September when it's cooler.

I've got a lot of work to do this weekend, the sanding and painting starts on Monday so I need to get all the grass cut and trimmed, especially around the backside in the dog fenced area. It's going to be in the mid 80's but there is a nice breeze to keep me a little cooler. I'm going to run before I get down and dirty outside, it never works out if I switch that order. We wanted to do the painting ourselves but 5 days in a row for that project was something we couldn't swing during the busy season at work. I'm trying hard to stay so busy and exhausted, my Dad's birthday would be later this month and I'm having a really hard time with it this year. I really am missing my best friend.

Last weekend we drove down to a fellow bloggers property and met 1/2 of the couple and later went back and watched fireworks together (they have less mosquitoes). It was nice to finally shake a hand and say hello in person. Their house and property is really nice, lots of thought went into everything and it was nice to hear how fate guided them to that spot. That's how we ended up here.

I was honestly a little nervous to meet in person, this blog only presents us in general terms because I don't want us to be categorized by certain things. Some people are defined by terms and/or labels instead of those things just being part of who they are. Many times when people meet one of the first questions asked is 'where do you work?'. Normally that immediately starts to define a person instead of trying to find out what makes them tick, what's inside, what do they believe, etc.

My Facebook profile says I work at McDonalds and people I meet who know me only from there have never asked me about work, not once. It's a sort of social experiment I suppose; 'don't ask that guys opinion he works at McDonalds, what would he know'. When people eventually learn where I work/what I do, there seems to be an immediate change in how they look at me. Be defined by the type of person you are, and your actions, your intentions. Don't be defined by the standard labels is something I try really hard at.

Enough from that soapbox.

A few pictures from he last couple of weeks. I have more but the internet isn't behaving this morning and I have zero cell service. It doesn't bother me and Rock could obviously care less (he is passed out on the couch). I'll work on another blog post in the next few days, I have a good one about a guy waving a gun around at the gym.