Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sometimes, ya just gotta hit restart.

Most of the posts here are about what we're up to, what we're building, places we visited, things we ate and drank, stuff we've been up to. This one is not. This one is of the "inside" variety. The pic is of Griffy, our lovable, sometimes grumpy kitty, and he is Crys' best friend.

Over the last few weeks I've managed to mire myself in minutia. I've let work and all the "stuff" happening there to get in the way of enjoying what's important. To be specific (stop laughing) what's important is home and Crystal. Our kitties and the stupid chickens. Working together on the greenhouse and finishing up the place to get ready for winter. Those are important, not what's happening at a place I'll never think about again in about 2 years hence.

So today, possibly all weekend, perhaps the next week or two..... I'll take my co-workers advice and make work and answering the phone much less important. As in, almost completely unimportant. The phone went off twice this morning already. It's time to start having the other folks that claim to be linemen figure out how their lives will look in the future. I'll be making myself less important there all the time. And I'll work on projects, take my Solar for Developing Worlds class (really interesting with LOTS of info on alternative building, water, septic..... it's just damned cool), lay around in bed, go for walks, do interesting things with that gorgeous woman I live with, and have a beer any damned time I want.

If you wanna hang, shoot us a note. I'll be hanging with Crys and Griffy.



Saturday, September 30, 2017

Denny's Summer Vacation

I got the opportunity to go on a storm job with my power company. We left in mid September and were gone for about 2 1/2 weeks. My local co-worker, Coy, and I traveled up to Denver to meet up with crews from Denver, Boulder, Ft. Collins, Grand Junction, Rifle and our spots: Alamosa and Salida.

We left at 5 PM, arriving in Denver at 1 AM on Sunday, we crashed for a few hours and met the rest of the folks at 7 AM on Sunday. There were about 71 folks including 3 safety folks and 3 bosses. The rest were linemen. 

 It was a 4 day convoy to TECO power in Tampa, Florida. We mostly traveled together, stringing out a ways depending on how fast trucks would go. The truck Coy and I were in was limited to 71 MPG which put us at the back of the back. One pic here is of an orange grove where we spend the 4th day with TECO. Apparently if one eats green oranges, it produces gastrointestinal distress. :D. The Key Lime Pie (best one ever) is from Gary's Oyster Bar, a local favorite where the fellas got the combo plate of Gator, scallops, frog legs and conch. They proclaimed it good.

Much of the work at TECO was putting up wire torn apart by trees with very few down poles. We got there just a little bit behind the storm as we passed through Atlanta, GA when they opened the highway for folks to get home. That meant everyone in the world was trying to beat the looters back to their boarded up homes and equated to stop and go traffic from Atlanta to Tampa. What made this the most fun was the air conditioning going out on our bucket truck that day. Think a giant glass bubble in 98 degree heat in stop and go traffic on asphalt. We were riding with our arms out the windows trying to scoop in air. WHEW!!!!











On the last day in Tampa, we ended up with a couple of hours of free time. Free time is good. We worked 16 hour days during the 17 day trip, and it was pretty cool to get released for a few hours to look around. We found a beach on Tampa Bay and got to watch a nice sunset. That would be the pics above. I went there with Coy Mortensen, Trent Roberts and Forest McNulty. Trent and Forest are troublemen based in Grand Junction and we ran with them most of the time.

I got to know the Rifle folks and the linemen from Grand Junction on the trip as well, we worked with them a lot. Also a couple troublemen from Ft. Collins, one of which I'd known forever. It's nice getting to rub elbows with folks you know and respect and folks you've known for a long time. There were several Denver folks I've know a long time as well.

The pic directly to the right is of the first night arriving in Ft. Meyers to work for Florida Power and Light. We spent about 4 days with TECO and then moved to FPL for another 4 days or so.

One of the more interesting things we discovered was the difference in vegetation when Florida is compared to Colorado.

The tree to the right is an ancient tree with crazy downward facing spikes to deter climbing by things. The green parts were soft and wet but the spikes were hard as a rock and the points would easily pierce skin. There were also Banyan trees, and those seemed to fall over the most, taking great root balls with them, along with every thing else that was in the way.

Ft Meyers was a more challenging place to work. It was slightly less humid, which is kind of like being slightly less dead: a distinction without much of a difference. The pic below is Trent Roberts climbing a pole to work some secondary in a back yard in one of the more poor neighborhoods. The people there were very kind to us, as the people every where in Florida were.
Living conditions were changeable on the trip. On the road we had motel rooms to ourselves. In Tampa, and where necessary, Coy and I bunked together. Funny how some folks seem to balk at that. We usually only really had time to shower and sleep so we figured it was just fine. When we got to Ft. Meyers were were settled into a "man camp". (there were a couple women tree trimmers there but on this trip no women linemen). The man camp consisted of refrigerated semi trailers with 36 bunks each. There were also trailers that housed showers, porta potties and tents set up to house food distribution. We'd eat breakfast in the big tent, get a box lunch, and have diner in the tent as well. That was unless we worked too late and had to find an open restaurant on the way back to camp. Sometimes we'd have cocktails between the trucks in the parking lot. Our parking spot was at a State Fair location in Tampa, and at the airport in Ft. Meyers. Thing hundreds of truck parked all over with booms in the air (so folks don't "borrow" your tools) and ranged over several acres. Kind of an impressive site. 

Folks were pretty good in the meat lockers (cooled trailers) and we were all pretty thankful to have  cool place to sleep since the folks we were turning power on for had been sweltering in their home for days on end. 








Working during the storm was a giant sweaty mess. We'd start drinking water and gatorade first thing in the mornings. The safety folks would drive around from job to job handing out cold drinks and sometimes when we'd finish a section we'd cab up in the trucks and cool off for a bit. I'd sweat through my FR (fire retardant) coveralls by 10 AM. Thank goodness for onsite laundry services at the man camp. 
Again, on the last day in Ft. Meyers, we had a few hours to ourselves. The four of us decided to go to Ft. Meyers Beach. We were rather a sight walking down the beach in our work pants, boots and FR clothes. We didn't really pack for recreation when we left home as we only had time to throw crap together and head out. So there we are, walking down the beach, picking up seashells to take back home. Little kids and some of the adults would ask us if we were linemen. I guess we'd either have to be linemen or part of the mafia. :D. Then they'd thank us for coming down to turn the power on. That was very sweet. I joked with one fella who asked, "you guys linemen"? By replying, why? do we LOOK like assholes? He was in inside wireman from back east, and he just laughed. Then we wandered through shops, bought souvenirs and ice cream before heading back to sleep our last night in the bunks. 

A word about the people we ran into. Every single one of them was very sweet. In Tampa, waiting in a parking lot, a young woman rolled up in her car, rolled down the window and asked if we'd be done for the day soon. When I replied, yes, she asked if I liked beer. That's a silly question. YES. So she handed me an ice cold 24 pack which I handed to one of our group with a cooler (Zeke Farber) and we all shard later. As we were leaving a job in Ft Meyers, a fellow came running out of his home and asked if we liked liquor. Again, YES. He was a liquor distributor and gave me the pic of his cabinet. Tequila that time. We shared that as well. Throughout the trip people kept stopping by to thank us, and they'd hand us cold drinks, fruit, energy bars, popsicles and all manner of stuff. One lady gave us powder (thank goodness, that sweat made us CHAFF) and socks. Every single person we ran into was appreciative and kind. The Guatemalan family in Ft Meyers that was butchering chickens to cook on their open fire (they'd been out for 10 days) and obviously didn't have much, sent their beautiful children over with iced tea for us. To a person, they made it worth being there. 

Then it was time to head home. It ended up being a little over 3 days getting back. The pic above is of our bucket (we were on our own getting home from Denver) coming down 285 and through South Park, home finally in sight. 

I can't thank Crys enough for taking care of everything while I was gone. It's really nice to not have to worry about home while you're gone. She even did several really cool home projects to surprise me with upon getting home. I needed her to drive me up to Salida on the day we left and come get me when I got back. She picked me up and we went to breakfast at our fav place up there, the Patio Pancake Place, then drove home to reconnect and have a bit of time before I went back to work the next day. I also felt well taken care of on the trip by our management team, Dustin Taylor, Jay Porteous and Tommy. They went out of their way to make sure we got fed, had a place to sleep and got paid. (I do like getting paid). Thanks also to the guys from Rifle and Grand Junction that used their company cards to help out Coy and I who had none. 

I was thrilled to get to go on this. I haven't been on a storm job in this century. And with just a little over 2 years to go, this feels like I got to go out with a bang. I feel like I held up my end on the work and wasn't a burden to my co-workers there. That always feels good. 

End of story. I'll update if anything occurs to me. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

September

It's a beautiful cool day out this morning. This weekend before Denny took off to help bring power back to Florida, we finished the main exterior of the greenhouse.








It was a race to the finish when we received the call that Denny would be leaving. we put in the last 7 panels in record time. Now we'll just have to build a doorway and put in the vents. There's a few other small details for finishing the exterior, but it feels nice to see a dome out there. We'll have a small raised bed around the outside, and we'll build the interior beds next year.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The down hill slide of summer

After the 1st of August we begin what we think of as the down hill slide of summer. Most of the festivals are over, and most of the company is about to move on to their winter haunts. The farmers markets are in full swing around here and the smell of roasting chilis fills the air in a delicious and soul warming kind of way. I'm thinking of picking up a bag or two to peel at home while Autum and Daniel are here. Chili peeling in our home is a tradition. We sit, put on a couple sets of plastic gloves, pour tequila, and work our way through the giant plastic bag full of summer goodness. We didn't get any last year as we hadn't used up the previous years bounty, but I think this year it would do us well to get some. We can send a bunch home with Dad and Daniel and Autum will get to hang with us and pour shots while we peel.

Crys and Daniel and Autum will be returning from their Summer trip to Tin Cup to see their mom/grandma. Cindy is the only grandma left now as Crys' Nana passed away on June 22. We had her memorial service and interred her ashes in Tin Cup last Saturday. It wasn't as full of family as we would have preferred but those things happen. We'll have another one later on with the rest of the gang. It'll be a good time. We poured a full bottle of Old Crow on Pappo and Nana's grave site, as they are already dancing and enjoying being together again, but we're sure they needed a drink.

Updates as conditions warrant!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Monsoon season



In late July and early August, our valley experiences its monsoon season. For the next month, it begins to resemble Ireland with green everywhere. (OK, it's the arid high mountain desert version of Ireland but we'll take it). Yesterday and last night there was the drumming kind of rain we only get this time of year. This morning the birds are singing, the land has water laying on it, and the clouds are hanging low, full of moisture just waiting on the right combination to let loose again. We love this, especially after the cuticle cracking dryness of winter. It's a great time to live where we do, kinda makes the bone chilling cold of winter and the wind tunnel of spring worth it. It's a great time to visit, if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ren Fest, Larkspur.



Here are the women, all ren fested up. :D It's been a good week or two and we're having fun. That is all.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Advanced Battery Based Systems: SEI

Last week I took a class. It was on advanced battery based solar electric systems and their connections. I also took a qualifying test for a solar certificate.

It was a good week and I enjoyed it. One interesting aspect is that when you've agonized over building two systems of your very own and lived with them? A class like this is, in large part, review and confirmation of having made the right decisions. I do like and appreciate that.

I'm reminded that I'm lucky enough to make enough money to afford these kind of flights of fancy.

We rented a loft over a barn for a place to stay. It was pretty nice. Had a little kitchen and a clawfoot tub, no shower. We enjoyed the tub thing. It was different, I grew up with a tub bath and only started showering later in life. It was nice to be reminded.

Paonia is farming country. We went out to eat a bit, I learned on the first day to not plan to quickly get in and out of anywhere in that town. They definitely move to the beat of their own drummer. And their drummer is S L O W.

I took the NABCEP Associates  (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) test at the end of the week. It's a certification, sometimes needed to do work on solar here in Colorado. It's a 70 question, multiple question test on safety, design, electrical principles and customer service in the solar electric industry. They give you 2 hours, I needed less than one and was the first one out. We'll see if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I figure you either know shit or you do not. Worrying over it does not good. As is usual, there were some groans when I got up and left at the end of my exam. I'll never get that. It takes what it takes, it just doesn't take me as long to either pass or fail. :D

I'm home today, having driven home after the test yesterday and arriving home at about 10 PM. I've put away my crap, built a dresser and mirror, cleaned up in the house, and fixed Crystal's bicycle with new shift/brake levers and cables and new tires and tubes.

It's time for a shower now, I've feeling sticky. And itchy. And tired. So I'll gently move Griffy (the kitty) to the side and go rinse off and grab another beer.

Life is good. Crys gets home tonight, so tomorrow will be even better.