Sunday, November 28, 2010

Back in the valley

This is the 3rd rewrite of my post! The first two were like an email that takes too much time to compose and is deleted because the thoughts are not clear.  I was trying too hard to string the language to a stray thought. In this case, the thought was that we were always "back in the valley" and a comparison of northern and southern colorado. Later.  For now, I will only say that we are back in Loveland. We will take a mid morning walk, probably at the nearby high school track, then perhaps run some errands before returning home. I would like to take care of some work related tasks, but a small plumbing repair and some work to prepare some of the windows for painting could be done before dinner. We are in the holiday stretch, all of us whose life centers around school of any sort.

I didn't get another post from the ranch, so here is a quick recap. Claire and Eve spent more time outside than Mary or I did, and Mary got in at least one more walk across the ranch than I did. I did manage to cut more firewood after the repair man discovered a gas line leak was causing the intermittent running. The first time I used it, the plugs had worked out of my ear canals leaving me with a tremendous ringing that lessened some over two days. I bought a pair of headphone type ear protection for the post TDay cutting! Claire helped later to load and unload. The Kelsos came by Friday evening for a visit with one of the granddaughters, the other stayed with the parents on a visit from the front range. I finally framed the simple square of treated 2x6 lumber for a new well cover, but that will need to be finished next visit.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Day 2010

Mary is finishing the kitchen cleanup with Claire's help. Mary and Claire went all out with the turkey and sides... two cranberry sauces, a beet salad, sweet potatoes, a green been casserole. We delayed the brussels sprouts until we can eat it tomorrow with turkey breast and mole I made today. Eve prepared a thick spicy chocolate drink and the garlic mashed potatoes. I contributed the gravy and carving. About an hour ago we strode back to the house from an after dinner walk.

The 17 pound turkey was cooked very well, and there are plenty of leftovers - all of the now carved turkey breast and most of the legs and thighs. I offered a wing to Mary and Eve, Claire and I enjoyed a serving of other dark meat. My serving was the "cheeks", the dark juicy meat in pockets on the skeleton and carcass. I froze the aspic and drippings for future use. Hannah has already sent us her TDay pictures. Here are some we took today.

A side note. While shopping at City Market,  I encountered the produce guy loading vegetable in the produce section and noticed the  Quintanilla box. He agreed to let me take it and we loaded our groceries in it to bring home!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My ears still ring

We enjoyed a sunny, calm day. However, I felt sore and dizzy, not ready to try out the chain saw. Instead, I drove to town to pick up fresh gas and kerosene for the saw and tractor and ordered snow wipers for Mary's car. We walked to Nat's house to check out the plumbing. The river is icing over, the area just upstream from the Off's head gate dam was becoming frozen from the colder temperatures we have experienced -- it was 0 this morning! Tomorrow I may be able to fish in two areas where the river runs swiftly enough to prevent freeze over though the forecast is for a windy day.

The soreness and dizziness moved me to the recliner by the wood stove with a heating pad up the left side of my back where I napped until Mary drove Eve to a friends house. After she left, I decided to cut up logs on the bluff between the cattle guard and the irrigation pivot, a place where the Offs bulldozed the fallen trees away from the road. The saw worked well, but the earplugs I wore worked themselves out of my ear a couple of times before I learned how to properly seat them in the canals. I will probably wait until Thursday or Friday to use the saw so that my ears recover from the noise.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chain Saw Update

"Bob", the chain saw service master at the Monte Vista Co-op, invited me to wait for him to conduct the short series of small engine diagnostics to determine the cause of the problem I described in the last post. "Could be in the carburetor" he mused while starting up and running the Husqvarna (Husky) 288 XP vintage 1997. (I picked it up while Mike Sr. was still alive.) The big Husky is partly responsible for the bad back and more immediately responsible for the bad left shoulder that required surgery last year. Living and working on the Pipe Dream Ranch took its toll, but it had many benefits as well. I left the Husky with Bob who promised to get back to me after a few other pending work jobs. However, he called me back while Mary and I were still shopping in Monte Vista to say that he noticed a gas seepage that led to his discovery that the gas line was mangled and cracked. This led to the poor engine performance that, despite the good, 120 pounds of piston compression, resulted in poor engine performance. I returned to pick up the trusty Husky. Taking his advice, I bought two small put-in-one-gallon-of-gas containers of two stroke engine oil and a gallon of chain oil to prepare for a round of chain sawing for the winter wood supply. Thanks, Bob!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Down Home Snow

A nearly full moon greeted Mary, Claire, Eve and I on our way to the northern edge of the valley. Before sunset yesterday, we stopped to eat at the cafe in Villa Grove before pulling into the driveway early in the evening. It had been windy through Hwy. 285 but the evening was mild as it goes, only in the 30s. The weather that blew through north of here arrived this afternoon with a steady snow in a bright afternoon. Mary walked down to the Pipe Dream East while I continued to work to get the old Husky chain saw working. Instead of my planned trip to the bluff on the way to the irrigation pivot, I drove the Mule to pick up Mary and gleaned firewood from the picnic area.

The river is running. Only the slowed pool of water going into the Off headgate is frozen. The sky should clear after mid week, so Thursday while the turkey cooks I will try to catch trout while enjoying the river. The girls brought home work to do. They have only three weeks of school once we return (probably Saturday morning). I have some work myself. I registered for a business centric training evaluation certification program to learn the commerce side's take on program evaluation which is my focus for professional goal setting with the district. Enough of that. Mary bought a SIXTEEN pound turkey. Mole is in order for leftovers. Maybe I will buy myself a new chainsaw to replace the extra-heavy-duty Husky and keep us in toasty comfort the rest of the winter visits.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Melatonin and Rakes

I started to post a few days ago to report my experience with melatonin as a a sleep aid. The gold standard for me is to recall or even only be aware that I have dreamt. Affirmation of REM is reassuring, though not always confirmed with physical comfort. "I don't feel old, I just hurt" has been something of a middle Agee battle cry. The dream is now too vague to recall, something self-effacing, even self deprecating -- in the company of other losers in a hilly, winding geography.

But I digress, the next experience to share is the lawn work I joined Mary in after returning home this afternoon. She had begun to rake the leaves that had strewn the lawn since our last work out there. I grabbed another rake, then the lawn mower to mulch the tree droppings for faster decomposition. The dust and debris that moved me to don a face mask clogged the air filter on the mower. Better the pleats on the air filter than my alveoli. Raking leaves is zen practice.Like a waking sleep, except there's no dream, only what passes by on your way to the next row of leaves.