Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday Afternoon.

My back is healing up after Wednesday.

What happened Wednesday?

My co-worker and bud Perry and I took snowmobiles from Pinos' Creek up to Summitville Mine riding out the powerline. It was my first time ever on a snowmobile. In retrospect we discovered that the snowmobiles we'd rented were: underpowered; with too small a track. 

I got the living FUCK beat out of me. Perry, a long time snowmobiler, had very little trouble. He did mention that he'd rather ride trail than break trail. We broke trail for about 15 miles. I kept falling over, sliding off into a mess, turning over, slamming to a stop with my face buried in the snow..... basically every single newbie error that was humanly possible.

It wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for me trying to lift the rear track out of a bad wreck/stop/slide/fuckup. My back actually emitted a loud pop. Then my legs quit and I had to lay in the snow for what felt like forever until they kinda started working again. The rest of the day consisted of lessening amounts of getting stuck, getting unstuck, dragging my agonized back up and over the machine to stomp and clear snow and ease the machine out of what ever snowy quagmire I'd gotten it into. 

Understand, when you're 10 miles from the nearest help, thrown your back out about as bad as you ever have, and you and your buddy are all you have? You reach down, drag your failing exhausted body where ever it has to go and make it work. Or you can just die. It's all of 8 degrees outside. Snow everywhere. Cold. Agony. Exhausted beyond belief. And you keep going. Because that's what construction is. You look at a job, say "that's gonna fucking hurt" and keep going. 

We made it back down. Perry helped me all he good. Good dude. My chiropractor, Polzin, says there's no permanent damage and I'll heal up. It's now Saturday afternoon. I'm feeling somewhat better. I'm moving like I'm 90. Crys is taking care of me. On to Today: 

We’re having a pretty good day. Played and lounged. Set up Crys’ new laser printer for her signing job. I found an old iPod in a drawer and we’re listening to what ever is on it in shuffle mode. Willie Nelson just followed Hammel on Trial. We went for a nice long walk in a strong cold breeze. Now we’re having some alcohol, Rich will be here a bit before 3. We’ll have pizza. Crys is making the dough now. They’ll get together on toppings. I won’t have to eat the nasty gorgonzola thank goodness 😃. We have a few windows open, it’s 28 degrees outside, the sun is streaming in the windows and life is good.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Upgrading the 4 wheeler

I've been looking at a better 4 wheeler for Crys. She uses one for tooling around here to do maintenance and they're just..... FUN. One came up in Manassa, about an hour and a quarter south of here, last week and I'd been in touch with the seller. Saturday morning they messaged me that they'd dropped the price $200 ($500 from where they started), so we drove down with the trailer and cash in hand. It was great. The sign that it was right was the kitty on the seat as we drove up. His name was Woody, because they found him in the wood pile.

We took it for a little test drive. It needs back tires and I'll do a basic tune up on it, but it's great. Just one little body part to replace and it's on order.

There's another one for sale in Sanford, just a little north of Manassa. Odd. Same year, make and model, just a different color. (red). So I'll check on it tomorrow and perhaps we'll have a pair. Gotta have a little fun right?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

It all comes together.

Last month the propane fridge we spent way too much on, 7 years ago, gave out.

The month before that I installed a tracking/data system on the new solar array.

We made lemonade. Typically, our draw down on the batteries goes down to 90% SOC (State of Charge) We know this because of the tracking system, even in our lowest solar irradiation month of December. 85% SOC is considered to be in the ultimate range of draw down for a given system, as concerns battery life expectancy. We shopped carefully for a new electric fridge, and settled on one that has a yearly KW usage expectancy of 471 KWH per year. That means basically 1.3 KW per day. That seemed acceptable. As it plays out, the electric refrigerator/freezer takes our worst drawdown to 88% SOC. That's GREAT! It will also save us about $500 per year in propane not used, so the payback on the purchase of the new fridge is about a year and a half.

I know it's geeky and lots of numbers, but I'm happy figuring this crap out. It's ...... fulfilling and satisfying to be able to do this stuff myself.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Stranahan's Snowflake 2017

We did our regular run up to Denver on December 1st for the Stranahan's Snowflake release. For the uninitiated: The head distiller at Stranahan's Rocky Mountain Whiskey in Denver, Colorado makes a special blend that is released once a year. It's usually the first Friday in December, and yes, it's chilly. To get a bottle of this release of a whiskey that starts out as regular Strannies and ends up as something especially delicious and rare, one has to camp out overnight on the sidewalk surrounding the distillery. The folks that were first in line started out on Wednesday morning at 5 AM. I think that's a little nuts, and we go most years arriving on Friday afternoon/evening. This year we got there at 4 :30 PM. The line was much longer this early in the evening than years previous:

So we set up our chairs, fluffed out our sleeping bags and settled in to drink and visit with our neighbors for the night.

It's always nice to get to know the folks around you a bit. Friday night's group included the regular grouping of interesting and wonderful folks. Immediately "up" line from us was Kevin, who offered to make us coffee in the morning and collected pizza orders for delivery later on. Also "up" line was Andrew who brought his doggy, Layla. The dog was a delight who sat on our blankies to get her tired old feet off the concrete. Right next to us was Rachael (whom we all called DC). Rachael had flown in from Washington DC that afternoon, using her fiancees flight miles to trip out and get a couple bottles of Snowflake for their wedding. The wedding will be on Mount Evans later this year and her fellow who LOVES Stranahan's whiskey. (Rachael however kinda hates whiskey). She flew out immediately after collecting her bottles and dropping them off to be engraved in the morning. Next to DC was a group of friends that had flown in from both Portland and Kansas City (figure out that connection and you're doing better than I am). There were 5 of them and all were friendly and nice.

So we spent the evening drinking, eating the pizza that Kevin ordered, and catching occasional cat naps between the blaring of the train horn as it rumbled by about a quarter mile away. It ran at least every hour, but it felt like much more. :D. There were folks playing guitars, people talking and visiting, folks with outdoor camp fires, one tent had a whole bar in it. It's a nice chilly party full of folks with the shared interest in getting a once in a life time bottle of a very special whiskey.

In the morning, around 6 AM, they start handing out tickets.

Each person in line can get two tickets. The ticket gets you one bottle of $100 rare whiskey. I actually dropped one of mine in line, and a really nice fellow handed it back to me. (hey, I'd been up all night drinking, I was a bit out of it).

Stranahan's is making more of a party atmosphere out of the release and they're doing a really good job of it. Once (and within an hour before) the tickets are handed out folks start packing up. This makes the line MUCH shorter as some folks will take up 20 or 30 feet of sidewalk with their tents and such. And no one cares a whole lot where they are in line once they have their tickets. We moved from the alley that's about a 1/2 mile from the entrance door to about 100 yards away long before the doors opened at 8 AM. Folks are still talking and visiting in the line, there's occasionally a warming stove scattered here and there and that's a good thing because once you've packed up your feet start really freezing while you wait the hour or two to get in the door.

Then the doors open! They check ID's as you enter (21 and over only in the line). Then the line snakes throughout the distillery so that we can all warm up a bit. There's a band playing, folks dancing, an online bar set up and the mood is pretty jovial. This year they handed out a signed release poster

Also on line, a little shot of the new regular flavor of Stranahan's was available. It's a sherry cask offering and while I liked it? I think it's a little pricey for what you get. It was nice to get a taste and that added to the party flavor. All the employees are all excited, wearing their Snowflake wear, smiling, interacting with the crowd and so obviously excited that I really think they love this day. As you walk through the line there are two casks to sign, these will hold a new Snowflake offering. We've signed several casks over the years.

The Snowflake goes through a 5 year aging process: 2 years in new oak casks with a #3 char, then moves on to various other caskings. This years release went through several rum casks, a port cask, oh hell take a look:
The line moves somewhat slowly, but more quickly than one would think 700+ folks could move through a building. The music, dancing, drinking and visiting help pass the time for the whole bunch who spent the night drinking, smoking, talking and laughing.
Then you pass through the door to where the whiskey is!!!!!!! A nice, happy fellow tears the stub from your tickets (you get to keep the tickets) and you move forward. Three nice, happy folks grab your bottles for you and add tasting notes, tags, individual bags and you can even have them put in a box for transport. We got our 4 bottles and chose a box, there's less chance of me dropping a box when I'm tired and a little hung over. Then you wander past the merchandise counter where you can choose to purchase your own Snowflake wear and head up to the checkout line. That moves fast and efficiently and the folks there are nice and happy too. :D

There's your bottle of Once In A Lifetime Snowflake in your hand.

You can choose to have Rob Detrich (Whiskey Rob) sign the bottle by standing in the line for that. It also moves pretty fast, we opted to not do that on release day. Crys might get it done on Monday when we go back to town for some other stuff. We've done it in the past, to tell the truth the whiskey tastes the same with our without the extra signature. That and we figured the release posted was good enough in that vein.
After that we wandered to the car, got everything settled a bit and drove to Breakfast King to meet Pablo for a bite before the ride home. The ride home is 4 hours, and it feels like a bit of a trial after the long night before. We made the drive just fine, Crys got some sleep along the way and it was  nice unencumbered drive as concerns traffic and such. We got home in a smidge under the 4 hours and unloaded the car with the help of our friend Marian who watches the house and kitties while we're out of town.

Then it was on to TASTING! You don't get to try the Snowflake before buying. It's a risk and always a good one.
We loved it. I'm a rum fan and while the rum taste isn't overpowering, it is present and adds notes I like. Crys and Marian also loved the sample we took from our little bottle of joy. All the bottles are numbered and while we'll drink and share a bit, there's always one we hold back. This year it is bottle 420, for obvious reasons. Most often our bottles are under 100 in the numbering range, but due to this years large crowd we were further back. Funny, the whiskey tastes the same, no matter the number on the bottle.

That's our little, excessive purchase, story for the year. This year it's a reward for my Florida trip putting up powerlines after hurricane Irma and for Crys doing everything at home while I was gone.

Thanks Whiskey Rob, for another wonderful offering, we'll treasure and enjoy it. Remembering all the while that even if it's a once in a lifetime release? Life was meant to be lives, lessons are made to be learned, joys are meant to be celebrated and whiskey is meant to be drunk!

Changing our name, Since nothing evaporates bullshit like the light of truth.

We're going to change the name of our blog.

This morning my dear sweet wife, Crys, showed me an article about the use of the word Gypsy. 

It's a well written article about the use of the word, it's reference to a maligned ethnic group and has prompted us to no longer use a word that causes people distress, especially since that was never our intent. 

This is where I'm going to do the right thing. It's also half my blog, and I'm going to go off for a moment. Then I'm going to do the right thing. 

I'm a 57 year old white man. I grew up a poor, sometimes hungry, redneck, blue collar, ignorant kid surrounded by my african american playmates. I didn't know I was poor till I got older. I didn't know there was a difference between my self and my playmates until I went to school. We were all poor kids, playing in the dirt and the woods and the only difference was who came up with the best idea of what to do that day outside (because you didn't dare go back in the house until dark). 

As I got older I learned that I was privileged. I learned it was my job to hand back the power and privilege I was awarded due to a skin color that I had no more hand in choosing than my playmates did with theirs. 

I've tried to do that every day of my life. 

With maligned and mistreated folks who are a different color, gender, religion (OK still have a little trouble with the whole talking snake thing but I try), belief system etc. 

I'm not arguing that I didn't benefit from white male privilege, I will submit that it was a little hard to see when there were programs and help for every other group and I got told to shut up and go to work at shit jobs to get by while getting kicked in the teeth by the folks I was trying to be a good person for, and do the right thing. Scratch that. I didn't do it for any other reason than it was the right fucking thing. 

I'm still doing it. This morning the blog title caught me by surprise and I'm going to explain why, once again, being shown my ignorance made me mad. 

In short? I'm tired. I'm tired of finding out I had identified with a group that wasn't the male white one and then finding out that having willing ostracized myself from "my" white male group because I found it's actions generally repulsive I wasn't allowed to belong to any of the other groups because when they look at me they see white male privilege. 

And I'm saying it here because it's half my damned page and I can say what I want to. When I go out in the world and show my face I'll act right, responsible, happy to once again have handed over something I identified with, felt a resonance to, deeply had taken to be a part of who I am and inside? I've lost something else. I've been told I'm a terrible white man, and while I'm expected to remove myself from causing others pain from words or deeds? No matter how much I do it I'll never be welcomed into those groups. 

Why did I identify with the term Gypsy? We named the blog that because the life Crys and I lead brought us to being ostracized from our homes, a great deal of our friends, the dominant religious and moral/ethical approach as much of the rest of the country we live in. We felt we'd found a place to finally put down some roots on our terms and relax. 

It's still that. And I regret, once again, having my ignorance shown the light of truth and not being able to willingly stay in the ignorance. And part of me fucking totally completely hates every single god damned second of it. I'm tired. And it'll never get better no matter how much I do. Because there will always be one more thing I haven't found out yet. Yes, it's because I'm white and privileged. (HA) And I'll keep doing the right thing. God damn it. Because the crazy white racist woman that raised me somehow taught me that we're all the same, and I should always do the right thing because, "two wrongs don't make a right". 

Now, to change the name to something I hopefully won't have to change again, make a post about the great day we had yesterday and move on.  

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How to nearly kill the Pro Shop guy......

Went to Cabelas yesterday and got our bows set up. I’m starting out at 52 pounds on the draw and 29.5 for a draw length. Crys is at 26” and around 30 pounds to start (she’ll move up quickly) Had to go shopping this morning for more stuff 😃. Who knew that the wrong carbon arrows will explode? We also found a pretty good sushi restaurant on the way outta Denver after our evening trip to Cabelas! It was a fun day following the E-board meeting. I should never get to learn things in a public setting.

First the Pro Shop guy was checking for draw length. They have you do this by putting the middle finger of your left hand on a tape measure on the wall then leaning into the wall and seeing where the other finger lands. They then divide that measurement by 2.5. I reached over and his response? Wow, didn't see that coming, you have quite the wingspan. I explained that all linemen have long arms because we hang from stuff like monkeys.

THEN? I'm getting sighted in and taught the basics (we never had a bow before, either of us) and apparently I was leaning with my hips which was messing up my aim. So there I am, full draw, and they guy reaches over to grab my hips to move them back. I'm focused on the peep sight, the targeting sight, the arrow, the target and the bow. This is a lot for a Denny. When he touches my hips and I didn't know it was coming? I flinch. Pull the lever on the release and the arrow flies right up into the ceiling just 4 feet in front of us.

Crystal is STILL laughing.

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.