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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Change:

 Many of us citizens are appalled and angered over the changes being forced upon us over the WOKE culture. Our food labels, businesses and various other changes being demanded by these people. I recently heard one person say our constitution is racist. As I reflect back I first noticed the change over 35 years ago in the church we were attending. We came in one Sunday and I noticed the hymnals were all new. I didn't pay much attention until I also noticed that many of the old hymns were not included in the new version.

I then noticed the new hymnals made no reference to gender. God rest you merry gentleman was now God rest you merry persons. As I thumbed through the hymnal I noticed my favorite hymn was gone. I used to read that hymn to myself before any service to focus on why I was really there. I never heard it sung but the words had an impact on me. It was written by a philosopher and Bishop in early times: Synesius 375-430 AD. I asked about the old hymnals and was told they were in the back to be thrown out. I ask if I could have one and was told I could have them all if I wanted. I went back and took the 417th hymn out and taped it in my bible and I read it often. 

I have posted a photo of the hymn below in case any readers are interested:

If you click on the image it can be enlarged and easier to read for anyone interested. 
 


Saturday, April 17, 2021

Springtime:

Spring time in the mountains: 

 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Foggy Day


 Been in the fog all day -Not that unusual for the mountains. Like Accu Weather meteorologist Joe Sobal used to say "it is maiden form fog -It will lift and separate soon."

Thursday, April 15, 2021

My Little Buddy:

I was out side all morning changing the oil and servicing the tractor. My little buddy the ground squirrel perched on the pallet that the snow thrower is on and watched me for over an hour. He was only 4' away but just sit there watching, 

He is my early warning pal....
 

Mechanical Help:


 We have had a few decent days and we have been using them to move snow with the tractor and front end loader. We can only do a little each day because there is no room to put the snow,. We are also filling the wood shed from our reserve stack of firewood.

That front end loader sure saves a lot of shoveling and we are slowly getting the snow removed from around the house. The next few days are suppose to be nasty weather so we work when we can. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Perils Of A Homeowners Association: Part 4

 This is the last in the series of homeowners associations. It will be a summary of the first three and the perils of a common interest association 

Part one dealt with my long time opinion that what starts poorly ends poorly. The hostility of members and how there were divided into individual camps and the hate and angst between groups. Carol and I  have always been individual thinkers and fact based people and hence we like to check out and verify facts therefore we did not fit into any partisan group. As such we were gossiped about, stories and rumors were spread about us and others like us. It was an unhealthy environment and in many cases toxic. Ugly comments were hurled at us by people we didn't know. We became isolated.

Part two was about money wasted on lawsuits in situations where reasonable people could just sit down and talk their issues out. Tons of association money was spent because people were so ugly to each other and also so hard headed they were unwilling to compromise or come work together. It was easier to back stab each other and to let attorneys do it for them than what was actually best for the association.  

Part three was about how the derision and angst allowed the association to be neglected, especially the roads and enforcement of the  covenants. As such the roads slowly deteriorated and members did what they wanted without regard of the rules. The one common flaw in this and other associations are that when members are elected to the board they suddenly become 'us and them'. They do not listen to or interact with the members and that may be the single most inherent problem of associations. One of the successful associations we have been involved in which is where I learned there is a different way to do ditches. 

Board members get sensitive over requests and believe it is criticism of them and not the way the association is going. Then they circle their wagons and take every comment, request or suggestion personal. The line in the sand is drawn as their friends and neighbors have turned on them when actually they just want something done or fixed.  There are always some habitual complainers and the board person can't separate the good member from the bad. In the end if the association board wishes to do well they MUST communicate and solicit help and cooperation from the members. 

When members do as they please and the association has weak enforcement it only gets worse. They can't turn down one members request because that member can point out all the violations that have gone on in the past. They must be able to reason with that member and compromise or they soon will have more and more members ignoring the rules. In short, they must have the members on board and working to improve the association. They lose respect and most of all volunteers. They can not operate successfully from being in a shell.  

I was part of one association that went under and have seen others fail. It can happen to any association and in the end the community fails each other. No association is exempt from either fast or slow failure. When deed restrictions are ignored by some - soon it is many. Elections are important and getting the right people to run an association is vital. We finally in 25 years of my experience here have good board members and we need to replace those going off the board with more. Otherwise we will be in a death spiral and be a poorly run organization. Vote wisely.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Perils Of A Homeowners Association - Part 3

In the past 20 years we have noticed the infrastructure steadily decline. Doing the roads the same old way and expect a better result. Conditions have changed for the greatest asset in the association, roads. This is especially so following the Spring wildfire. The problem on our road is what I know most about but I expect other roads have similar situations. 

The problem on our road is that it runs parallel to the mountain which has a slope of about 40+ degrees. The snow melts or it rains and since we are in the burn scar area the ash washes down the mountain and quickly fills the ditch. Then the water runs over the road washing it out or making it super muddy. (We are used to muddy roads but not the dirt/ash.) The road crew then uses the grader to dig the ditch out (see top drawing) and the ditch fills up again because it is so shallow with a 'V' at the bottom. 

The ditch fills in quickly with ash and the procedure starts all over again. The grader re-establishes the ditch and puts the ash on the road where it becomes super slippery. Over and over this takes place making the road so slippery our vehicle slides out of control. Four wheel drive or good tires do not help, as the ash makes tires like racing slicks. 

We have a small area of our property that burned and I have been waiting to cut the burned trees down when it is drier. I can't keep my feet under me the ash makes it is so slippery. 

Sometimes you have to improvise: Conditions change and to be successful we need to change with it. Widening the ditches, making them deeper may not be the only answer but they wouldn't fill in with ash as fast and if they were deeper than the culverts the water would run off and not have culverts plugged with sludge. Being wider would make more room for debris washing down.  Instead of continually putting the ash back on the road it could be hauled off and even put on the concrete debris to cover it over.  

As the roads deteriorate our property values deteriorate as well. Associations came into being to help those in the community to maintain property values with rules that keep the community consistent and protect values of those who invested in the association.  
Those who have not seen the roads as they used to be are willing to accept them as they are now but we have seen them slowly get worse over the past  20+ years. It is election time and we need directors that can improvise. That is not to say the current board isn't doing a good job - they are - however as the old saying goes: it is hard to see the forest through the trees or push the tide back. There are so many serious needs that it is hard to see beyond the new one or two they are faced with every day. This is not to find fault with the current leaders but to show there are solutions. 

The other problem I see that can destroy an association is those in the community that ignore the rules 
and do as they please. The environmental control community consists of three members and each work independently. Forbes had it so that two had to agree to approve a project. This ECC has three going their separate ways and there is no accountability. Also, past ECCs have been slack in getting compliance on the rules or even sometimes being nonexistent. All these tend to slowly destroy an association. It is a slow and painful death and we seem (to me at least) to be on the tipping point  Changes must be made or it will slide faster downhill than it already is. All members need to get on board with rule compliance and not break them. 

Part 4, will be the final part and will summarize the first three.

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Perils of a Homeowners Association - Part 2

 

In part 1, I gave some of the history of the association from when we moved here full time. I gave two examples to demonstrate how vitriolic the environment within the membership was. There are many more examples but I think readers get the idea. Now we come to the result of the hate and hostility that has financially harmed the association.  I know of two specific lawsuits that have cost the association a great deal of money that would have been better utilized on the infrastructure.  

The first one was a prior board member who filed suit against the board of directors because they didn't agree with the direction the board was going. They wanted the court to appoint an overseer to monitor the board. The suit failed and cost the association a great deal of money, wasted time and distractions. 

The next costly lawsuit was board members suing each other. There were 4 women on the board and two did not get along with the other two. It was a fight royal. It was a huge drain of dues money and a complete distraction. The suit included all three board members and the President who was later released and the association had to pay the presidents legal fees in excess of $30,000.00 +.

There have been other lawsuits but I am not familiar enough to report on them. Lawsuits are never what those involved believe and they often end in ways no one thought they would. The only ones who win are the lawyers. In the two mentioned the result was not what those who felt wronged had hoped for. The result was a huge waste of money and continued hard feelings. 

The progress of an association should be a slow and well planned progression. When that progression involves personal agendas that may or may not be in the best interest of the members and coupled with costly lawsuits progress stops or loses ground. 

This is an election year for two of the directors. Which way the association will go is in question. Hopefully the association will continue to improve and our property values will be secure.  

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Perils of a Common Interest Association: Part 1

 

We bought our property from Forbes Corp. in 1978 as a potential retirement home. It has been my opinion that when things start out badly they rarely get better. It is not impossible but usually my observation is that when things start badly they usually end badly. This blog is about the history of the association that I have personal knowledge of.  

Forbes ran the association with its personnel who were knowledgeable and professional. Not everyone agreed that it was being run fairly. There were a small group of individuals who argued with those running the association from Forbes. They disrupted meetings, argued with those in charge and caused unrest. Developers usually turn the management of the association over to the owners at some point when they have sold most of their property and feel that the the members can run it successfully. 

These people harassed the Forbes personnel so badly that they turned the association over to the members in 1992. Things started out badly as those who were the problem children then ran the  association. The members became divided and bickering and angst were the rule. Some of us liked the way Forbes was running their community but I didn't blame them for pulling out as the environment became pretty toxic. 

Individual agendas started to surface and the association started to decline steadily. An example would be when two members paid and attended a fund raising dinner Steve Forbes had in Colorado Springs. Both of those individuals told me they waited for the meet and greet line and when they got to Mr. Forbes they spoke loudly so the reporters would hear: "How could he run a country when he couldn't run a community like Forbes Park?" They were proud that the next morning the reporters had headlines about their comments. All major newspapers covered the story. I saw the news clipping and their names in the various accounts. The fact was that Steve Forbes had nothing to do with this development. 

Another member went to New York and walked into Mr. Yablon's office unannounced and told him he was going to have his job. Mr. Yablon was the board member in charge of Forbes Park. Mr. Yablon told me this himself. These are examples of the angst in the association and then it spread to the division and hostility between members where partisan groups formed. The hostility was so great that people in surrounding areas would say they heard about all the fighting in Forbes when we told them where we were from. 

We have had many boards since then and the association has declined slowly. A few elections ago we have had better board members that are trying to right the ship. There is much to right however and it is a very big job. Our infrastructure has suffered in the process. Much consideration must be given to this next election who want to restore Forbes Park to what it should be. We are now headed in a good direction and that needs to be maintained. 

I do not get involved in the politics of the association but it is my belief that we are at a critical time in restoring the association. We have lived here for almost a quarter of a century and we have noticed that many new residents have moved into the park. The time is at hand to keep this association going to be what is good and friendly and give people a peaceful place to reside or visit.  

Next part 2, some of the disruptions that have hurt the community. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Homeowner Associations:


When I was young and in the military I was stationed at MacDill AFB near Tampa, Fla. I bought a home in a community that was an HOA and the main feature for the community was a very nice swimming pool. Our home backed up to the pool and one day a couple of the Board of Directors came to me and said that one of the directors of the association had resigned and would I fill the position. I told them that I was in a special operations unit and didn't have much free time but I would do what I could for the neighborhood. 

It wasn't until after I had agreed to serve that I discovered the board had frittered away the association funds and was almost broke. To compensate they put me in charge of the pool and reduced the hours of operation. It was required that a lifeguard had to be on duty for members to use the pool. The lifeguard came to me and said they couldn't work any more unless they were paid. I started to look into the finances and found there was little records and that pool suppliers had not been paid either. 

There was no way to track down records as they were kept by the other board members and I found the association was out of funds. The other board members would not return my calls or advise who even had the financial records. I had no option but to close the pool down until we could afford again to keep it going. When that happened the members refused to pay dues. Most in the community were young professionals with children and like myself were attracted to the community because of the swimming pool.

As I tried to reconstruct the demise of the association it was easy to see how it went down. Those entrusted with the funds either ended up with them themselves or spent association money on frivolous non essential things that did not benefit the association. I was a witness of seeing a  HOA meet its death. The pool area soon was overgrown and unusable. Some of the members (including myself) tried to get the members to reopen the pool but none were any longer interested. It was a very sad thing to witness. 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Loader Now On:


Each year it is a challenge to put the front end loader on. The hydraulic lines have to be bled to take some of the pressure off in order to attach the four lines to the loader. Regardless of how much I take the pressure off the hydraulic system when I take the loader off it always seems to still have to much pressure to connect the lines.  Attaching the loader isn't a big deal if I follow the directions precisely. 

Now with the loader attached I can also use the quick attach feature to use the front blade or the grappler or the bucket as shown in the It may take a while to even find the grappler as it is still buried in deep snow. I don't think I will store it there again. I can now work with the bucket in the morning before the sun thaws the ground to where it is soft. Hope to remove some deep snow that is in the way so we can move more easily around the property. 

 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Spring


 With the snow thrower safely tucked away now we can attach the front end loader to the tractor and get some serious snow removal done. We have had several nice days with the temperatures reaching into the 60's where we have been able to chop up some ice and experience some melting. 

At 9,800' elevation we must take advantage of these nice days as the high winds has dried the roads out and we need to get things done like get Jeep repairs that we have been waiting to safely accomplish. Like replace the windshield that has a crack from a stone hitting it. Getting groceries  and restocking, and getting dental and medical tests that we have put off due to prior snow drifting and muddy roads that are slippery where we slide around. 

Once I get the front loader with the bucket on the tractor I can remove snow a scoop at a time and not a shovel full at a time. Life in the mountains and hopefully this great weather we have been having will last a little longer. It has been so nice and pleasant out that we have been able to sit outside on the deck in lawn chairs. There is much to be done but it will be done one task at a time. 


Monday, April 5, 2021

Risk Taking:

We took the snow thrower off the tractor. It is not an implement that attaches quickly as the sub frame has to be installed first. The risk is that we won't get another serious snow or I will not be able to use the tractor to clear the snow. 

We will be able to clear the snow with the walk behind providing it is not over 24" deep. Otherwise we will just have to wait for it to melt. I think it is far enough into spring that we should not get those hard snows. I can now connect the front loader and can accomplish more with it than the snow thrower. So actually it is just a calculated risk..

The snow thrower is now stored away just waiting for a time to service it before next winter. 


 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Worst Winter Ever:

The top photo is the picnic area fence - a little over 4' high and only a corner of it is sticking out. The cook stove is right behind it and the only part showing is the chimney about half way up. The bottom photo is where the grappler was stored for winter and there is no part of it showing. It is about 3 1/2' high and it is totally buried. I took these photos over a 6' snow drift that I had to stretch to get them. 

This is by far the worst winter we have experienced in 23 winters. It was a cold winter and the snow did not compact down like in past winters. The sun usually comes out long enough to compact the snow down but this year the cold, increased cloudy days, and WIND really drifted some deep drifts. I have a general idea where the grappler is stored under a black tarp but right now I could spend days shoveling to the area. 

Plus we have had 268" of snow this winter and coupled with the wind it has blown a lot of snow up the mountain to deposit it at our homestead. We have some piles of snow and drifts 6-10' high. It is all life in the mountains but the distance between snow storms and the volume of snow has been crippling. 

We hope that we don't have more winters like this. The fact that some people are having their burned trees turned into mulch there is nothing to keep the snow from coming all the way to our property now. Two parts of our road that we use to get out have collapsed or washed away. One a large tree uprooted and took about 6' of the road  with it.  We have to be super careful we don't fall or slide into one of those places. 

We have a good forecast for temperatures up into the 60's for the next few days which will melt some of the snow. It still freezes at night so we have more ice that we have experienced before. Because of the ice there is little we can do outside as walking is a real hazard. If I get the front end loader on the tractor to scoop up the ice there is no where I can put it with all the accumulated snow. I think the word now is patience, as all we can do is wait until it is safe to work outside. Worse winter ever!!!!! 


 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

I bought some MA MADE MARMALADE to make orange marmalade. Guess where my canning jars are? In the garage loft! Maybe I will buy some new jars!




Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Elk Photos From Last Fall:

Soon the elk will be returning. Right now there is 4 feet of snow on the ground but it will hopefully melt soon and we will see the wildlife return. 


 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Snow Removal

 This is a 8 foot high pile of snow that has accumulated as it comes off our roof. It is time we started to remove it as it is covering our garden area. It took the two of us two hours to clear just a 4' path so the steps weren't so narrow... Many more hours to go....




Thursday, March 25, 2021

Lots Of Work

 

We spent most of yesterday shoveling which enabled Carol to get the snow thrower out and open the driveway. Our driveway is 100 yards long so she walked a good distance this morning. Some of the snow is to high to even get with the snow thrower. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


 

Major Storm

 This is going to be one of those storms to remember. The bulk of the storm is still 30-50 miles south of us and heading our way. Already we have 25" with drifts to 6' and we are just on the leading edge of the storm. We have been shoveling the back yard so the dogs can have a place to go potty since 4:00 AM, and all we managed is a narrow path in 2 1/2 hours. This could end up one of those 5-6' storms and snow is forecast today, tomorrow and Friday. We will be many days clearing access around our house. These storms that come up from the south are murder... Glad we don't get them every year. Right now it is far more snow than any of the snow throwers will handle so we will wait for the sun to compact it. We will probably lose electricity so will get this posted while we still have it. The wind will probably knock a tree over on the feed lines at some point - hopefully later than sooner.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Blog for Mother Earth News:



https://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/the-beauty-of-snow-zbcz2103 

Link to my latest blog on Mother Earth News regarding snow which is something we have in abundance and are very familiar with. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Drying Clothes.


 I have written in past blogs the many virtues of a wood stove. Here is one of the benefits of a wood stove and that is a clothes dryer. Hang a wet pair of jeans and flannel shirt up around the wood stove and they are dry in no a few hours. Just like line drying outside and the drying process adds moisture to the house. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Bozwell


 We adopted Bozwell on this day in 2008 when he was 19 months old. He came to us all the way from Ohio. He passed away last September at an old age of 13 years old. During his lifetime he welcomed 5 other German Shepherds into our home and mentored them. He taught them the rules, helped house break them so they went potty outside, was a true friend to them. Words do not describe how much I miss him and his sense of humor. He was the most gentle, loving and compassionate  fur family member we have had.  

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Snow...

We had 20" of new snow Sunday and Monday morning and just got that cleared yesterday. As we finished it started snowing again and we had another 18" which we will be several days clearing. The forecast is for 4 clear days and then 5 days of snow. Not unusual for this time of year. 
Highway 160 is closed from Walsenburg to Ft. Garland so the road crew can't get to our area to start work on our roads. Top photo is our back yard which has snow piles higher than the 6" fence. Bottom photo is of Carol with the snow thrower.


 

Last year this time we had 180" of total snow accumulation. This year we have had 233" to date. Good moisture for summer. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Adopting Senior Dogs

These are photos of Ruby our 14 y/o female German Shepherd. We adopted her 1 1/2 years ago and she has watched Lucy play with the toys but she didn't seem to know how to play with the toys. Yesterday she played with a squeaky ball for the first time. Sometimes it takes infinite patience when adopting a senior dog.  It is infrequently that you learn about the dogs past. We have observed Ruby carefully and it is apparent she had a less than favorable past. She craves attention and we are only too happy to provide that attention. She has finally become comfortable with being petted and yesterday she played with a ball for the first time. 

 We believe she was previously an outdoor dog who only got attention infrequently. She quickly picked up on going outside when she needed to go potty. She is deaf and has incontinency which is controlled with Rx and she has severe arthritis. Seeing her take the initiative to actually play with a ball and other toys puts joy in my heart to  see her have fun. That is one of the many rewards seeing a senior dog have fun and learning something new.  

Being able to provide her with a home where she is loved, cared for and able to feel safe coupled with the ability to learn and play is indescribable.  We consider it a privilege to spoil her rotten and give her the safety and security in her senior years she truly deserves. 

I would highly recommend adopting a senior canine because when they are like Ruby they give you more than you can give them. I can't express the joy I felt when Ruby started to play with toys. Words just can't describe the feeling I got. 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Winter In Colorado


Yesterday we received 20" of new snow with 20+MPH wind. We cleared it today and tomorrow we have 20" of new snow forecast. It looks like we are going to finish strong this snow season. 

We welcome the moisture the snow provides. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Interesting perspective........


 

Snow Photos

The above is a 6' fence and the standing snow is up to within 1' of the top. 

 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Early Spring???


Actually saw a chipmunk today so it may be an early spring with the chipmunks coming out. I tossed him a few peanuts which which he seemed very grateful for. I also suggested he may want to go back to his nest as there is a pretty big storm brewing. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Mountain Sunrise


 Getting up early in the morning to watch the sunrise has its own rewards. The camera unfortunately did not capture the true awe and magnitude of the sunrise but it is still very pretty. 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

New Snow Thrower:

 Because the snow and hard packed drift snow on our driveway has made it impossible for us to get the tractor up and down the driveway we lost our best piece of equipment to clear snow. The tractor would just bog down and dig into the hard pack until it would not move forward or backward. The hard packed snow is 8-9" deep. The only way wo could clear the driveway is with our snow thrower which was designed for lighter snow. We bought a new heavy duty snow thrower as we needed to be able to get in and out of our driveway.  

The new snow thrower finally came and I picked it up yesterday at Tractor Supply. They loaded it for me and I got it home safely. We had to get it out of the back of the truck safely and I made a ramp and we used a come-a-long to slowly lower it down. It is now safely tucked away under the house and an adjustment as to the height off the ground and gas is all it needs. 
The folks at Tractor Supply are really great to deal with. More snow due to come next week so we will get a chance to try it out. Got it safely off the truck and on the ground without a hitch or scratch. This machine throws the snow 45' so that is what we need. The other Craftsman only throws it 20' and the banks are so high the snow just comes back down making the driveway more narrow. We have found that the walk behind clears the driveway as fast as the tractor does.