Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day to one and all. This is the view from our front window this morning. The sun is just coming up, starting to strike our solar array to power the batteries that keep us humming. The coffee is perking on the stove and there's a soft tick.... tick..... tick..... from the wood stove as it warms the house on a chilly morning here in the San Juan mountains of southern Colorado. I've been out to let the chickens into the pound yard so they can scratch around doing their chicken thing. The cottonwoods are starting to bud and it looks like several of the fruit trees we planted last year are going to have made it through the winter. At my feet on the coffee table are several starter plants Crys got to make hanging baskets for out in the yard and the bright orange poppies look pretty cheerful. The coffee's warm, the creek is starting to sub up, and the birds are chirping. Guess I'll build that second chicken coop today, and maybe heat up the wood fired sauna for this evening. Here's hoping your day is as good as ours.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Mt Vesuvius in a Barrel Sauna

Sometimes...... I amaze even myself. Today a friend of ours is coming out to hang out. (Being in the middle of no where this is a rather rare occurrence). So we're getting the place ready for hanging out. Got some beers on ice, got the sauna going, put a fire in the fire pit down by the creek, untangled the hammocks. The usual for a gathering.

The amazing part? I decided to use the hose to fill the hot water tank that hangs on the front of the wood fired sauna heater. Now we saunaed yesterday..... and there were still coals in the wood chute when I got up at 4:30 AM so I just put in some wood to keep it going at a soft, warm glow. It was about 9 AM when I decided to fill the tank. ..... there I am filling away with the hose....... a burbling sound starts up..... I keep filling, it's cold water coming to temp against a pretty hot stove after all.... it'll make some noise.

I keep filling...... it's starting to sound angry now...... then, all of a sudden the entire filling envelope starts to sound like the angriest set of pipes in history. It's knocking, burbling, belching...... I back up.

A second and a half later the entire width of the filling envelope (about 18" wide and an inch across) ERUPTS in a shower of rust flakes, steam, hot orange water and this incredible sound!

I was standing far enough back. Thank goodness I had the hose to wash out from having shit my pants when it went off.

Safety tip? Take your time filling the water jacket. It gets angry.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

We're back home. :D Went up to Denver on Friday for my Local 111 IBEW Executive Board meeting, followed by the 2017 Policy Committee meeting for the same good bunch. My business manager suggested we look professional. Here's a hint for everyone, I do NOT look either comfortable or better dressed up. One really never should wear either shoes you can't run away in, or clothing you can be choked to death with.
BUT, they would accept my showing up in a kilt if I had a button down shirt. I went to SportKilts and bought their formal kilt package, found a good shirt and a diamond point bow tie to go with, got all the accessories and went that way.
It was fun. Friday's meeting went well (always difficult because Xcel Energy wants 72 take aways in their opening letter for negotiations and it causes us to feel ...... less than valued. But I've decided my job is to help folks feel less attacked and more happy despite the assholes we're dealing with). Friday night was a reception where we got to meet, gather and chat. We personally followed that with a trip to the Station 26 Tap Room a block or two away. I recommend it, that was a lot of fun.
Saturday morning, I had to learn to tie a bow tie. That's uTube :D. I did get it done. Seems folks liked my outfit, and I had fun wearing it. The meeting was from folks from units from all over Colorado and one from Wyoming. As usual, it's supportive to find that the challenges are the same just about everywhere. I met nice, new folks. They all care about working hard, and being treated in a humane way with decent compensation while you help a company and its shareholders make millions. Seems fair to us. Saturday night Crys and I walked a mile or so to Casey's Irish Pub and had a great dinner, I even found a sports store on the walk back and got a nice new wooden bat. (much more quiet than a gun, and as long as you carry a glove with it, it's a nice thing to have in the trunk of your car).
Sunday we got up early and drove home after breakfast at McCoys on Federal and I-70. We love that place. And now we're home and setting in. Marian S. took good care of our kitties and we've now lit a good fire to warm up the house. I got to spend the weekend with folks I admire, respect, and in some cases just flat out LOVE. We will find ourselves telling stories and sharing the joys and sorrows of the folks we've worked and fought with. Crys remarked that it's pretty fun to watch us. She says it's kind of amazing in her words, "no one there is acting tough, because every one of you simply IS tough". I think that says it well.
In a year or so we may all be leaning on each other if we have to go on strike for decent treatment. I like knowing that if I have to battle (?) I have the best battle companions I've ever met. And the best partner in the world to go through it with.
It's good to be home. I don't really socialize well. I manage it, and with this bunch that accept me (not that easy to do) it's much simpler, I even find myself enjoying it from time to time. I do love the quiet though.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring snows

This morning we woke up to an inch or so of delightful snow. It was chilly in the house, and the wind was blowing, gently.

Thanks to our climbers from Los Alamos, NM, we had some beers for the sauna. (Sauna day had to move from Friday to Saturday due to work and the Friday night concert in Buena Vista). We had a nice time chatting with them. They were camped in Pentitente Canyon last night. I'm betting it was a chilly morning in camp. They're here again today, and I see that they have a pop up camper so it might have had the heater kick on last night. We told 'em they're welcome to set up here if they wish.

The sauna was good, started out at 140 degrees F. and went down as we enjoyed sitting in the wet, lovely heat. We've really enjoyed that thing, it's a nice addition to the mix of stuff to do around here. It's also helping me work through the slab wood we bought several years ago and never really used for the wood stove. It's kinda cool having a ready bunk of well sized wood for the fire box. I just have to chainsaw it to length a little bit. And who doesn't love getting to use the chainsaw?

Last weekend we set up for our summer visitors. It's nice to have that all set.

We'll probably get moving around before too long, but there's no rush. It's chilly and windy out. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Last night we went here. It's The Loft Theater in Buena Vista, Colorado. Their web page is here:
We went to see a musician we follow (Crys introduced me to his music), Trace Bundy. His website is here:
It was a fabulous show. We met a couple new musicians. Jonah Werner, who's website is:
and liked him as well. I think they're both worth a visit. Also playing were Tim and Laurie Thompson. They don't seem to have a webpage. :D They played Irish tunes and some other great stuff, the vocals were great and Tims giant electric Mandolin is worth a listen.

It was kind of a long day for me, starting at 2:30 AM with work in Alamosa and Ft. Garland fixing powerlines in the wind and snow and ending at home at about 2 AM the next day when we got back from Buena Vista.

We had the best time, starting out at Eddyline Brewery in Buena Vista. Their website is here:
We had naughty dinner complete with spicy tater tots and a delicious, giant plate of nachos. They had a bourbon barrel stout on tap that was delightful. (I had 2). Then we walked over to the Loft, which only took about 10 minutes. On the way we passed the in-town tasting room for one of my two favorite Colorado whiskeys: Deerhammer. Their website is here:
and we'll trip up there one day just to take the tour and do a bit of tasting.
After the show, town was really quiet and we walked back to our car with the dark and the stars and drove the 100 miles home. There's not much that we can get to quickly, and I always need to remember that a trip out of town can be this fun.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Planning for summer

Blended families make for an interesting prospect as concerns summer travel.

We're trying to work out travel, kids (not ours), brothers, sisters, weddings, education weeks, and a host of other stuff.

Champagne problems.

We're figuring on a week to go buy my mom's car and rolling picking up our niece Autum into that with a road trip back here for her summer vacation. Then there's the week I have to take to go to a solar class in Paonia, CO. That'll be fun, but it's another thing to schedule. And there's my nephews (my mini me)'s wedding in the Fall. We'll have to fly back for that, and that's another week off because mom and pop wanna drive back here with us to spend some time. That's another week. That pretty much eats up my vacation for the year. All good stuff, but also......

champagne problems.

I'm sure it'll all be fun. Here goes.......

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Windy season

It's the windy season at work and at home.

So that means I didn't get to my solar class work until this weekend, after working all day Saturday and several hours early this (Sunday) morning. At least I'm caught up now, and with any luck at all the coming week won't be so crazy. At least I don't have to go to Denver this week, that kind of takes all day and eliminates the possibility of doing anything else.

The climbers are out here today and they left us a couple of beers on the back deck. Those folks are awesome. The fun thing about the beers are they're a token of appreciation, and they seem to try pretty hard to find things we haven't sampled yet.

Due to the winds today, we're chilling inside. Yesterday Crystal surprised me by keeping the sauna going throughout the day and we had a nice warm time visiting in there just after the sun set last night. I had started it up early in the morning while I was adding distilled water to the batteries, then I got called to work until sunset. That sure was nice to come home to. We've enjoyed the addition of the sauna a great deal.

The fun part of my battery based solar class from SEI is going through the math and magic of the load analysis for a given property. I'm using ours (of course) because I really did just guess when we set the thing up. That's probably why we rebuilt it 6 years later to twice the inverter size and 3 times the array size. I wanted to do a load analysis first, the problem was we had no idea what we'd buy so there wasn't much way to accurately predict things.

Speaking of our off grid solar system........ I'm currently trying to come up with the cash for the Magnum Energy wireless monitoring system. That comes with software tie in so that you can monitor and adjust your system from anywhere.

I think that'll be pretty cool when I get old. Turning on the generator without having to get up? Priceless. :D