Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A story with several points

I returned a car jack for my Forester to the Subaru dealer earlier this week, with a penalty "restocking" fee applied. I had ordered and paid for it while still on the ranch. Earlier in the spring, a visit to one of the title schools ended with my walk back to the car to notice that the rear right tire was too low to drive on. The front right side was also a little low, but not a problem. Opening the back hatch and lifting the rear space compartment cover I did not see the jack where I thought it should be. A corner in the hard foam molding suggested to me that a jack belonged there. The handle and other one or two tools in the took bag were there, but I assumed that the jack was not there. I wondered whether I had taken it out at the ranch, perhaps to raise the Kawasaki Mule to service somehow, but a search not too much later turned up nothing. So I ordered the jack. Picking up the replacement this week led to my finding that I could not fit the jack where I thought it went. The parts salesman was puzzled at first as well. However, he checked the parts diagrams and looked at other Foresters, some of which had a different storage architecture. In the end, he came back and looked a bit further back in the foam molding on the other side I thought would be the place and uncovered the original in its cozy storage slot. Lot's to think about here, but all in all, death of dollars and time lost by" assume-icide". This incident has a failure of systems thinking flavor with undertones of stupidity followed by a hint of slight humor.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tardy Tales

Mary, Claire, Eve and I returned from the Pipe Dream West on Sunday 18 July. We'd been there since Sunday 13 June, the weekend after my last day at the Thompson Schools admin. I wound up working through the rest of June, just as I did last year, but did so on the ranch. It was unpaid work, but at least we got out of town. I still need to negotiate my contract for more paid time and to work with my boss to press the principals I work with to finish their planning the 1st of May.

Coming back to Loveland, going and coming, is a bit easier after two years from the diaspora, but no less problematic. For instance, one thing hard to do is to care for a lawn and garden in either place in the summer. Another is the minor tendency to forget an item at either place and then have to wait for the next visit to retrieve it. I need to attend a meeting the Friday before Labor Day, but may take the Tuesday following to make a long weekend of that visit.

I have seen Pele, Hannah and Jeremy twice since we returned. Last night Pele painted a picture of me in red stick figures that I will scan and post later. She has been drawing more figures, and letters, recently showing some fine motor, eye-hand coordination. It is fun to see her work and her narrative of her work is as delightful as the work. Yesterday she noticed the vegetative debris in the backyard and took two large broccoli leaves which became "wings" for her flying bird impression.

Claire and Eve placed a deposit on an apartment. It won't be vacant until Sunday 1 August, but they both like the facility. They will stay with us until then. Mary heard from Shane that he landed a part time, temporary position with the University of Michigan teaching freshman composition (?). He will teach 9 hours, or, I think 3 - 3 hour classes. At the old how-much-time-to-study rate of 1 hour in class to 3 or more hours studying, he has been hired on for 27 something hours. I wonder what the FTE (full time equivalency; 1.0 = full time) but at least he does have benefits. Good luck, Shane.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Last Weekend This Summer

The Kelso family will arrive at the Pipe Dream West within the hour. Laura Kelso called this morning to ask about getting together after Craig gets off his potato inspector work. We returned to the San Luis Valley Wednesday afternoon, previously posted, so now are in the last days of the 2010 summer stay. I took care of a few chores yesterday and today closed up the holes the yellow bellied marmots, "whistle pigs" dug to get under Nat's house. Cory Off and company cut several fields of grass while we were gone and are bailing it today. They also replaced the culvert running under the bend of the road before Nat's house. Another Off project is in the works from the looks of a culvert and head gate combo sitting on a tractor trailer. There has been more activity on the Pipe Dream by the Offs since they redoubled their presence on the Pipe Dream. In the meantime, Mary received a return call from a sister reporting that the family land trust contract would be changed to make all siblings co-managers with equal voice in the running of the ranch. This is no guarantee that anything will change, improve or more forward in a productive way, but the previous contract placed decision making power effectively in the hands of the calling sibling. We will return for the Labor Day weekend and other 3 day or more getaways through the fall and winter.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On the Road Again

It is early Wednesday morning in Amarillo. We left Austin yesterday evening by way of a route similar to one we used to take in the 1980s, not back up to Dallas as we have usually done since. Rather than stay two evenings at Nat's house after Clint and Shannon's wedding, we decided Sunday evening to leave the next morning for Austin. On the way we called and texted the Lowe's and arranged a visit to their Lake Travis home. Joe showed off his new recording studio "The Dog House" and Ruth prepared a hamburger dinner for her boys and us. I surprised Joe by bringing out my Yamaha WX5 wind controller and we jammed a little together. One of his musician buddies, Michael, stopped by to pick up his bass and amp and stayed for a beer and burger.

I will need to practice more to regain any technical skills and creative ability I thought I might have had before. Study and practice I have begun haltingly since the late spring. The evening I blew through my old Buescher Aristocrat I knew that I had to put away the WX5 and devote more if not most of the time playing analog. Recording digitally is superior, but playing analog is sublime. So much more nuance and expression from the reed and brass and the clap-trap, if you will, of the key mechanisms. I will continue exploring digital compositions and notation, but I need to expand the wonders of air bending on the tenor sax.

Some sad news. Two of the squids great-aunts died while we were in Texas. My mom's oldest sister, Petra "Pat" Lopez, died perhaps the same day that my dad's next older and last surviving sibling, Sara Q. Reyes died. Sara was an old teacher married to an urban planner. Together they had accumulated some property and raised a daughter in Austin. I did not see her much after Mary and I were married in 1974. We saw more of Pat, and while he was still alive, Monroe Lopez, when we still lived in Austin, mostly at the restaurant they ran on the old East Avenue, now I 35 South, "El Matamoros". Mom still has a sister and brother. Dad is the last Quintanilla of his generation.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cow Town

I delayed our trip to Amarillo and Ft. Worth due to weather reports for severe thunderstorms and flood watches on the travel route across north Texas. We witnessed soaked and flooded fields and experienced occasional heavy rain on the way. More important was that the trip was was made less arduous by breaking it into two two days with a stay in Amarillo. Our recent pattern is to drive between Texas and Colorado in one stretch, but I this led to driving while fatigued. The late decision to attend Clint Lowe's wedding left us needing to shop for a few things, so the Amarillo stay afforded the opportunity to walk the mall. The weather turned from rainy to hot and steamy with the passage of the storm front. It would be sunny and high 90s the rest of the way.

The wedding was at a Presbyterian church. The Lowe and Harmon families, both large, attended in force. The ceremony was traditional and brief, shorter than the time spent afterword taking wedding pictures. The reception was at a converted train depot in downtown Ft. Worth. The downtown scene I remember in Dallas paled in comparison to the more open and interesting scene in Ft. Worth. I spoke briefly with the father of the bride, Dr. Harmon, to thank him for his largesse. He seemed genuinely pleased with the event and recounted a previous wedding he had held in the same place for another daughter. Mango marinated beef, grilled chicken and grilled vegetables fueled the guests. Wine, beer, sodas and tea lubricated them. I will try to post from Texas again.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Dreary Day but a Cheery Weekend

Jessica and Lucas left yesterday. We shared a breakfast Jessica and Mary fixed, they left to pack and returned mid-day to leave. Mary and the girls left for errands in Alamosa. However, I had been listening to a series of webinars hosted by "Human Capital Media", a business site specializing in enterprise learning, and stayed to hear the last of three. After that, I drove the Mule over to Nat's to investigate why her grill delivers such low heat. In the course of attempting to blow out crud in the pipes with the air compressor, I noticed air and dirt coming from the place where the copper line goes under ground and back up the grill pedestal. There I found that years of hooking and unhooking the tank resulted in a crimp then tear in the tubing. No wonder.

The sunny day then and this morning soon gave way to dark clouds coming from the south that resulted in a cool wind, cloudy skies and some rain. The temperature fell to 53 degrees earlier this afternoon, down from 63 when we remarked after lunch how cool it was. We hope the weather is better tomorrow mid-morning when we leave for Amarillo where we will spend the night on the way to Dallas. I have complained about early starts, achy driving and late, dangerously sleepy arrivals that we will take two days to get to Dallas more refreshed and earlier in the day to enjoy one night with Nat.

Only a few people will be there a most of the wedding goers will arrive in Fort Worth for the wedding and reception on Saturday and spend the night there in Ft. Worth for the Sunday noon barbecue. It sounds like quite the production. Mary phoned the M.O.B., Ruth, to check on the number of family staying at Nat's and to check with the bride about our late appearance. With both OK, we are on our way and may wind up in Austin for a night or two as well.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Holiday Weekend

Here is a short update since Jessica and Lucas arrived Friday evening. Mary and I invited them over for breakfast. I cooked up the Gosar chorizo Mary bought and fried eggs while she stirred up and cooked the Pam's mix pancakes [Mary's favorite]. We never did get over to see them at the other side of the ranch on Saturday. Instead, we followed up on an invitation from the newly arrived neighbors, a retired company from New Mexico by way of Washington state, to attend a 4th of July get together cookout. I had misunderstood the date and had to call last Saturday about whether the event would still be held on the then rainy afternoon.

After a phone call from the neighbor reminding us to come, we pulled out a Jack's Store T-Bone and a bottle of cab and walked across the yard to their house. I'd never been in the house before. The yard was impressive for the old cottonwood trees that still lined the ditch. It created a cool corridor of comfort on such sunny days as we have recently experienced. It turns out the get together was a Mormon party. I knew we were in trouble when I saw the flags and patriotic bunting everywhere. Taking the tour through the house with Mary and the hostess, I noticed religious texts and finally an LDS periodical the neighbor had highlighted.Before that confirmation, I had set the bottle of wine on the corner of the porch behind the lawn chairs when I realized there was a lemonade and hot dogs menu.

We met some of the folks there, two standouts were the white shirt, black pants and ties "elders". The participants greeted the men as "Brother ___". The host started the meal with a prayer for the good of the country and the safety of the troops serving abroad. I can appreciate all this, but we were clearly out of place. On a one to one basis, we were OK. It was no different engaging in any other friendly, non-controversial conversation. I was even OK with the patriotic songs the host put on urging everyone to sing along. As an old public school teacher, this music stood with the rest of the "civic religion" we sought to instill common, though dominant view values.We left after desert and after the hosts announced the beginning of a scavenger hunt. I picked up the wine and the hostess retrieved our steak and we left.

I tried to read and mark up an article I'd started earlier, but I was so sore and couldn't get comfortable so I just went to bed. My "back" has been sore caused by the L5 disk bulging and pressing against the nerves that cause sciatica. I am pushing 60, so the aches just keep on giving. Anyway after I woke up Lucas and Jessica came over and joined us on the porch for a short visit. I had done some work on the lawn mower for Mary and got it going again. Jessica and Lucas left to prepare for a camping trip across the river. Eve and Ian decided to join them. We saw Eve driving his Subaru down there!. She has been reluctant to practice and without promise of a car not motivated to follow up.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

back in the saddle

Dear Ones,

I submitted the federal grant for which I am responsible only yesterday after having worked on it since leaving Loveland the 2nd weekend of June. Better to have left town and done it afar, even out of contract, to get back to the ranch a.s.a.p. Mary immediately went to work cleaning up and preparing for guests as I have already reported in a previous blog. In this post I will try to recount the last few days since my last post.

Sunday 27 June

I noticed a poster for an event at the Ruth Marie Center that i had planned to attend. However, after hours of working on the grant, I rushed off with Mary to Alamosa about the time the oral history presentation was going to begin. Mary and I had recently attended a 'self-benefit", I'll call it by the Wildwood Sounds owners in an attempt to recoup the costs of their hosting live music in Del Norte. I was sad to have missed the Adams State sponsored cultural event as it is just this kind of activity that makes living in rural areas worthwhile. Traveling to nearby towns for groceries and the like only reveals the on-going decline in the region.

Monday 28 - Tuesday 29 June

I wound up spending all day on the grant, especially trying to deconstruct the budget the grant account sent that I had to use to tag planned activities with costs. Mary had gone out with Laura Kelso to Salida early in the morning and found me still at home poring over budgets and trying to reconcile them with what descriptions we got from principals. I was discouraged about the work, but it was close to done.


Wednesday 30 June

The grant was submitted at 1:00 pm, then Mary and I drove to Alamosa to drop off recycles and eat Thai for lunch. She had the yum neua and I had a prad krapow with fried catfish. We ran a few errands and drove back. The lunch was good, but I must say that the Pipe Dream Ranch is more appealing and inviting than any event or venue elsewhere.

Thursday 1 July (TODAY!)

I got up way to early. My brain goes off about 5 hours after I retire. And I am not particularly rested. I tend to get up and read and then go back to sleep. Before today, I'd do this then arise again at about 7:30 a.m. I am thinking of asking for accommodations from the district as I have not had success with supplements or sleep aids. Anyway, Mary got up as well and we were pretty both pretty beat after other errands, this time in Monte.

Upon returning to the ranch, Mary picked up the mail to find the addendum to the contract that was sent by the lawyers working with her mom. Nothing much was changed, the general manager still has absolute authority over decisions about the ranch. It is surprising that Mary's siblings do not understand that despite their love and confidence for the general manager, that the contract obligates the GM to no one.

She called Nat Sr. to find out why. None of the siblings was there with her, so none of the concerns Mary shared and none of the assurances Nat Sr. offered would go outside their conversation. Mary had walked back to the ranch to complete this conversation. I stayed home to nurse my back, then wound up finishing and loading the lilac bush trimmings into the trailer. I grilled burgers and veggies and now we're vegging out on a video.