Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ya, I know I’m a day late, this won't suprise those who really know me. But, hope everyone had a happy one with plenty to be thankful for. We had a nice day even though this is the first time we have celebrated alone for probably 15 years. The last 7 years we have gotten together with my sister Deb. She, from Wichita us from Tulsa, would switch houses each year and usually some of the other family would travel down from Nebraska and join in the festivities. But this year was a much quieter time, just the five of us.

I tried to make it simple, just cooking from what I had in the pantry, with the exception of the turkey. I was hoping to cook a chicken instead, since the kids and I aren’t big turkey fans and I just happen to have a spare chicken running around, but Steve wouldn’t hear of it, so I did pick up a small turkey for the occasion. Otherwise it was a pretty simple dinner. We have some leftovers, but I’m sure they won’t last too long. We took turns going around the table telling each other what we were thankful for. It was nice to hear the kids say such nice things about each other, what mother wouldn’t cherish that? We spent the afternoon just sitting around visiting together and later watched Home Alone on TV.

It has been cold lately; got down to 9 degrees last night and 13 the night before. Tonight it’s forecast to get down into the 20s. To top it off we got 5 inches of snow two days before Thanksgiving and with the cold most of it is still on the ground. It was so nice to stay inside and enjoy the warmth –of family, the holiday and the memories we made.

Emily wanted to drag Steve out to some Black Friday deals this morning, but not being a morning person, he convinced her there was nothing any of us really needed that bad. So, for yet another year we have managed to escape the madness. I’m 99% done shopping anyhow, with just a small item or two left to pick up before Christmas.

I am surprised the wood burner has been able to keep up with the temp being so low. The house is 4100 square feet with almost 30’ ceilings in the main living area and tons of windows throughout. But, so far so good! I try to get up and feed the fire when I awaken in the night, but on those nights that I sleep straight through, we awaken to about 58 degrees in the morning…brrr. It usually takes just an hour or two to get it back up to a comfortable level once the fire is going again. I am going through a bunch of wood though. I figure we ended up collecting about 2.5 full cords of wood and I have burned thought about ½ cord to far this season.

Steve found out Wednesday that the company is giving him a sizeable retaining bonus. That was good news! We had a knowing in our hearts before we moved that he may not have his job for long after we moved, and indeed the company is up for sale. They want him to stay on till the sale; enough to make him a very good offer. We don’t know when that will happen or what will happen after that, but I have confidence that all will workout for our good. I’ve believed for increase out of this all, even though my mind wants to think in the direction of fear, lack and uncertainty. We had no idea that a bonus was coming, but I had a specific figure in mind I had been praying for that I wrote down on a paper a couple of months ago, when he called and told me what the bonus was, it was the exact amount that I had prayed and had been thanking God for. I have peace even though there is uncertainty and am excited to see what 08 holds. My mantra lately has been: 2008, it’s gonna be great!

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Becca snapped a picure just before we chowed down! We had:
Sweet potatoe casserole
Olives/red cinnamon pickles
Jello salad
Home made rolls

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Day Off

Steve took the day off; maxed out on his vacation time he thankfully would rather donate the day to me than back to the company. We took a drive up to Estes and ate at the Wapati. He had a 10.00 gift certificate they sent in the mail for his Birthday, so we were able to get lunch together on the cheap. He got an Elk burger and I got a chicken wrap. Our waitress, a young girl, spoke broken English. I couldn’t quite place her thick accent it almost sounded Russian, but her dark hair and eyes contradicted. We visited for several minutes; she was a foreign exchange student from Moldova only in the sates a couple of months. She mentioned how much she enjoyed the area and the holiday festivities, but teared up when she mentioned how home sick she was. We saw a lot of elk in town, crossing the streets and grazing along the sides of the roads.

After lunch we went up to Rocky Mountain National Park for the day. They had already closed the high roads for the season. Bummer since it was snowing up at the peaks but we could only look from afar. There was some snow on the lower roadsides though, so not all was lost. We kept to the lower part just inside the eastern edge of the park, parked near the Bear Lake trail head and took a hike up to Beirstadt Lake. We took the long way…extra long having to retrace our steps a couple of times when we lost the trail. After 1.5 miles, we finally got onto a well-beaten trail and hiked it the rest of the way up to the crest. Dusk was beginning to descend and the temps were getting noticeably cooler as the sun dropped behind the Continental Divide. I knew the lake had to be just beyond the ridge, but we had already hiked for 90 minutes just to get that far and didn’t want to risk being caught in the dark on the way back, hiking the not so well marked path. So, against my deep desire to press on and accomplish the goal, we decided it was prudent to head back. Bierstadt Lake would be there next time we came and we turned around vowing to head up earlier next time.

After we returned home we found out that it was just another 50 yards or so ahead of where we had stopped. It reminded me that there are times in life when we are so close to the answer but don’t realize it, maybe not even till we have backed down. Sometimes we feel like giving up but need to remember that success is just over the ridge. And when we do retreat in defeat or face a setback, plan a better approach for the next attempt and victory will be achieved.

The minister I do some work for was in town and invited us out to dinner, so we drove into town and met him and his wife at their hotel and went out to Texas Roadhouse. We had a great time visiting. We didn’t have time to stop home between the park and dinner, I felt a bit awkward showing up in my hiking gear and had major hat-hair, but they didn’t seem to mind. I brought a few rolls home for Josh; they’re his all time favorite.

On another note, I put the freezer on a timer last month and got the electric bill today, it dropped by eight dollars, to the lowest since we moved in. I’m going to take it down another notch and see how it goes. I haven’t noticed a change in the hardness of the frozen food, so it was a good move. And, I’ve been running the blower on the wood burner sometimes day and night non stop or it would have been lower yet. I have yet to turn the furnace on this year, even though it got down to 18 a couple of nights ago with a light dusting of snow. I’m trying to holdout till Dec 1st to run it. My original goal was Nov 1st, but it’s been a mild winter so far, so I challenged myself to Dec 1st instead. The wood burner has made it more than comfortable so far. Steve has been asking, a little fearfully I think, if I make it to December 1st will I have a new goal of January first? I had to laugh, that’s not my plan. But, then again, maybe warm weather is just over the horizon.

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A view from near Lake Bierstadt

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A beaver dam. Notice the ice....brrr the water was cold!

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Near Bear Lake trail head where we parked

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Buck

Well, it finally happened; Ben, our deer-hunting friend got his buck today. His tag was good though tomorrow, so I was really hoping to see him get a buck soon. He had been working hard for several days with no results, but I just knew that today was his day.

I awoke to a herd of deer just out the front. I watched them for about 90 minutes as they made their way across the front of the house and up the hill where they bedded down for the rest of the morning. Thinking he was in the middle of teaching class, I texted to let him know what was up: “Deer r out xing the hill 10 does n a 4x buck.” 20 seconds later I got a call asking for info. “Man I wish I was there. I’ll get there as soon as school is out.”

When he arrived, there were deer at the front of the property and 3 bucks fighting over a bunch of does up in the draw above us. “There are does everywhere. Man it’s a doefest!” he excitedly exclaimed as he took is cap off and ran his hands through his short sandy brown hair, his handsome boyish face rough with stubble. “There is a buck and several does the other way too, I’m headed up to the chicken coop, think I’ll hide out there, the chickens will help cover my scent.” I watched and saw he was torn as to which bunch to follow, the one lower down with the big buck, or the one above with the 3 bucks looking to be coming down the draw. I occasionally peeked out to see how things were going; darkness was beginning to encroach upon him. I hoped time wouldn’t run out again as it had a couple of evenings ago when he had a nice 4 point buck in his sight that he had to let go.

I looked out again and saw him slowly, steadily moving up the hill. In stealth mode he crouched and I saw the quick burst of fire as the shot went off. He got up and quickly moved forward, steadied himself and got another shot off. We were all out the door and up the hill to see the trophy. It was a medium 2-point buck, but it was heavy enough to take 3 of us to drag it across some rocks and onto a sled which we dragged down the hill in the now total darkness. Guided by a flashlight we finally got it down to the house where I helped him field dress it.

I’m glad he was able to get one, he seemed pleased with it. Steve missed all the fun as he was out to dinner with his Canada group. Next year I plan to get my own tag and take the rifle out and bag my own. But, I appreciated the experience of watching and helping for now.

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Ben with his 2 point buck

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Hunt

Yesterday I picked up a drill press & arc welder from Carl. He sold me both for $250. I thought it was a pretty good deal. Josh wanted to run out and buy a mask and probably won’t stop pestering me till I do. He also spent a considerable time on YouTube browsing welding videos the rest of the day and invited his friends over to see “his” new tools. Wow, what rednecks we are.

I also got a 55 gallon drum, my new burning barrel. I’ve wanted one since we moved in, now I can put my tiny little burning…uh…barrel?...away. It actually is an aluminum pipe coupling I found in the garage, about 18 inches in diameter and 16” high, but it had worked as a burning barrel for the time being. I knew if I waited long enough, I’d get one for free. He gave me hundreds of feet of ½ inch watering tubing for my future garden too, with the small drip tubes already run from it, I couldn’t even fit it all in the truck; I need to make a trip back sometime. I’m psyched about getting that, since its way to dry to ever grow a garden here without extensive watering.

I told him when he gets back in the spring I want to buy some of his cattle gates and cattle guard off him. I hope to have some sort of barnyard put in by then, and that will come in handy.

Today a couple of friends came out to go deer hunting. They saw plenty of deer, but didn’t even get a shot off. They had a buck tag and mostly does came around today. However we got a good chuckle watching from in the house as a huge 7 point buck came up over the berm just 40 feet behind them. His rack was really nice, but they didn’t even see him, they were looking with binoculars the other direction. We kept hoping they’d turn around and look, but he walked right on by them unnoticed. If we had just gotten a picture, it was priceless! I’ve seen that big buck on our land several times over the past few weeks. There have actually been two of them; I’ve seen them fighting lately, they are in rut. Both are nice sized bucks with large racks. Too bad they couldn’t have taken one home. They hope to make it back tomorrow before church to bag one.

I found a generator today on Craigslist and we went to take a look. But, the poster had slightly embellished his description of it, it was older and more used than he had alluded to; too bad since we drove almost 2 hours one way to see it. Well Steve loves a road trip so not all was lost. It was nice couple time too. I’m sure it was a good generator with a lot of life left in it, but I had a hesitation when I saw it, and being a good idea to listen when you have a check about something, we passed on it. I’m sure something better will come along in the right time. I would like to have one since we are on a well and if we lose power, we lose water. Or at the least, someone has to hike up to the cistern and start hauling buckets back to the house in the snow and 80 mph winds. I’d rather opt for the generator! Hopefully we won’t lose power, but it would be nice to have when we go to build the barn, so we can run a power nailer and such off it. But, for now, the barn is in the future as well.