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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Murphy's Law

Murphy says if something can go wrong it will go wrong. I'd like to add that it will go wrong at the absolute wrong time. Measuring snow in our community depends on where you are located. We may get 8" of snow and the back of the park can get 12" and the front of the park can get 2".  We received 4" one day and 5" the next day followed by 2-6 degree temperatures and wind with gusts up to 25 MPH,  The wind redistributes the snow and when it gusts it is white out conditions as drifts form and grow. Maybe we should refer to it as socialism snow because the wind takes it from one person and redistributes it to another who may have just cleared their driveway. 

Anyway - back to Murphy:  Our association has two pieces of heavy road equipment and Murphy is in charge as both pieces of equipment have broken down at the same time. Parts are to be received today and they will be repaired but it couldn't come at a worse time - thanks Murphy. With the winds and snow being redistributed the roads are pretty much drifted in and going out or coming in is highly risky. It is brutal to be out in this wind and drifting snow and while the temperature is single digit the wind chill is negative numbers. Getting stuck in a drift could end up in frost bite or freezing to death. 

Best option is wait until the roads are cleared once again (maybe tomorrow) and be careful then. So far this year in the middle of the park we have received 170" of snow and it is waist deep on the ground. We had a family stop in the road in front of our house recently to look at a lot for sale down the road and I went out to make sure they were alright and they had only walked about 100 yards down the road and were totally exhausted. They were young and in good shape and the wind had blown much of the snow off the road so they were only wading through about 1-1 1/2 feet of snow. You can get in trouble quickly in the mountains in the winter so if you are inclined - use extreme caution and go prepared. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Finally A Break In The Weather

 Finally a break in the weather so we could cook cowboy breakfast out on the cook stove. Potatoes with my special spice, fried spam, eggs over easy and cinnamon rolls and coffee. Yum.....

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Remarkable Aspen Tree

We have several aspen trees on our property and these trees are very remarkable. After the wildfire they have sprung up in large numbers everywhere. There is no single aspen but they are all connected by their extensive root system. The root system can survive underground for thousands of years while the tree may only live to 150 years.
After a wildfire the roots that have been dormant and waiting for a disaster like a wildfire come to life when they can get sunlight. Last summer we had small aspen trees spring up quickly. We had some that grew as high as 4-5' in a single summer. The conifers tend to block out the light and as soon as a wildfire has occurred and sunlight can get to the ground the aspen spring forth. These are remarkable trees that show patience definitely is a virtue when it comes to aspen trees. When they do spring up after a disaster they are all connected to a common root system and has laid dormant just waiting for a wildfire. Last summer they came up everywhere - in the ditches - the roads - area's of our property that have not previously shown signs of aspen.

While the tree may only live 50-150 years the root system which connects all the aspen trees can live thousands of years. I wondered about the hundreds of aspen shooting up last summer and now I know they were waiting for just the right conditions to shoot up. They grew so fast in one summer it was simply amazing.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Snow!!

Mountain Snow Update: To date we have received 159" of snow this snow season according to my measure. The snow blocks the burned area and makes it look better in my opinion. If we get our average snowfall this season we only have another 100" or so to go. To me that represents the downhill of snow season. Last year we received snow right up until the end of May so in 3 months this will all most likely be melted away.

The snow in the driveway is mostly drifting snow from the 20-30 mph wind we have been getting. The trees that used to block the wind somewhat are now just black sticks pointing toward the clouds so more in the form of snow drifts. The snow banks along the driveway are only 2-3' because I use the snow thrower on the driveway and it throws the snow further out. The level ground snow however is between 3-4' deep and difficult to walk in.

When I go out at night and the moon is out the snow appears like millions of diamonds have been spread on it. It is so beautiful it will stop you in your tracks it is so dazzling. Also when the wind blows the snow crystals and they are in a shaft of sunlight it is just stunningly beautiful with the millions of sparkles glittering. The other good thing about snow is it is presently stored water which we will need in this semi arid state. It will provide moisture for subsurface insects, vegetation, trees, and most of all water that will keep the aquifer abundant with water that runs through this mountain.

Snow is the major ingredient in the life cycle here in the mountains but sometimes I tend to forget that when I am shoveling it so often. I needed to remind myself plus when I go out after a snow storm to start the snow removal the silence is beyond description. I know many people don't have much good to say about snow but as for me: I love the snow. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Mountain Chickadee Wipe Out:

This little guy took a hard crash into the window. That doesn't happen often but it does occur on occasion. It took a while of keeping him warm, talking to him and stroking him before it was able to hold its head up. I could tell that it was having a hard time focusing its eyes but after several minutes it did recover. Had I not picked it up and kept it warm and slowly bring it back into focus I have no doubt it would have died.

We have lost only a few birds over the years and today was not this guys time to die. He finally flew off and we were happy. When I put him out on the railing in the sun a Junco went after him so I had to rescue him a second time. He finally recovered and off he went.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Shaving Soap

I thought I was ordering 3 bars of shaving soap and in reality I ended up with 5 which I will most likely never use. I have shaved with a mug and brush for most of my life and when I can find it I have always used Williams mug soap. Possibly because growing up in Michigan our governor when I was a kid was Soapy Williams a liberal democrat whose family (mother side) was a part of Mennen who made Williams mug soap.

I have always knew him as Soapy because of his nickname and I never heard anyone refer to him otherwise. I like Williams shaving  soap because of its lather. It has been my go to shaving soap for many years when I could find it. Apparently not many shave with a mug anymore as shaving soap is hard to find and I got this through Amazon.

I prefer Williams shaving soap much as I use Gillette blades as I met Mr. Gillette at his home in Naples, Fla. when I worked for Hartford Ins. and was impressed with his welcoming, easy going and friendly manner. I just like to use products that I know are consistently good and I stick with them. Just my nature I guess.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Mountain Snow

We woke up to 8" of fresh snow this morning and that brings the total snowfall this snow season to 157" to date. We are only 7' shy of last years snowfall on this date. That means that we are about half way through our annual snow fall.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Crazy Rabbit

The snow is about level with our back breakfast nook window and this rabbit likes to sit about 2' from the window and watch what is going on inside. He drives the dogs nuts because he knows he is safe and their antics don't bother him at all. When I'm outside I can walk up within about 4-6' of him and he shows no fear.

Presently he has tons of food as the tips on the pine trees are all falling (off and we don't know why) and he seems to love them. They litter the snow everywhere and so he has plenty of green pine needles to feed on. Sooner or later an owl, hawk, eagle, bobcat or coyote will spot him and we will be less one rabbit. In the meantime he is pretty safe right outside the window.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Fog or Cloud?

 We have been in an inversion almost all day where the clouds have been low at this elevation. The temperature has been in the mid teens and it is a poor day to drive anywhere. The cloud/fog blends in with the snow and it is hard to see where the road is and to stay out of the ditch.
The weather forecaster has said we will get 3-6" of new snow but I have filled the bird feeder three times today when normally I only have to fill it once. The birds have been going non-stop all day eating the suet and sunflower seeds. If I have to believe the weather people or the birds regarding the coming storm I think I put more trust in the birds. They always seem to know when a big storm is coming and today they have really tanked up.
 Above photo of the fog/cloud is so thick we can't see the end of the driveway. Below photo shows the visibility through the trees is better but still very limited. Not a good day to be driving about as visibility is so poor if you get stuck with the 99% humidity and snow if you get stuck you could freeze to death or in the least be very miserable. Best to just stay put and make sure there is enough firewood for the stove. The humidity also creates black ice and makes even dirt roads slippery. 

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Garter Snake

Just when I think I can leave this topic of how cold blooded animals survive the winter and move on Carol said what about our garter snake that for the past couple years has hung around our garden box?

Back to the research and I found that they will use a rodent tunnel or hide under a pile of rocks or a stump to hibernate. They get their moisture through their skin and don't eat as their metabolism has slowed down so much that they can't digest their food. The live off stored fat and ours had a good hiding place under our garden box. We haven't seen this snake though since the wildfire.

If they can find other snakes they coil together to conserve body heat. I doubt our lone garter snake had any snake friends as rattle snakes and most other snakes don't generally go above 9,200' elevation in cold climates. There are plenty of them in the valley but we have never seen one at our elevation.

When I was in Junior High School as a reckless kid I had a garter snake that stayed around our house so one day thinking like a kid I put him in my tee shirt and took him to school for a later science class I had. I didn't want him squirming around next to my body all day so I put him in my locker. Later that morning I heard screams coming from the hall way when he got out of my locker. He was finally corralled and located at a new location which I hope he liked. Fortunately school authorities thought it funny but today I would have been expelled or worse. Garter snakes are harmless and beneficial to keeping mice and other small rodent populations in check.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Our Disappearing Frog.

After the blog on turtles and fish surviving the winter my mind just would not stop and I thought of what happens to frogs. We have a spring on our property that runs all year long and where it runs down and goes into a ditch by the road we used to have a frog. When I would walk along the road I would hear its ribbit several times and then splash it would hide in the water. It had been in that small puddle of water for years or its offspring and following the wildfire it has not been seen.

I often wondered how it survived the winter to come forth each year so my previous blog got my mind to working again (not exactly what I wanted), so I looked up how frogs survive the winter. Our winter can last for up to 6 months and the pond freezes over but a trickle still runs underneath the ice. I have previously posted photos of where the ice freezes coming out of the 18" culvert as it forms a pretty sculpture of columns of ice.

I had wrongly assumed that frogs buried themselves in the muck and mud to survive. They actually stay in the fresh water flow because their skin is permeable and they can absorb the oxygen they need through their skin. They hibernate and their system slows down enabling them to survive the winter. So turtles breathe through their butts and frogs breathe through their skin and get the required oxygen they need for survival.

Since the wildfire I have missed seeing our frog and while they can adapt to the cold and freezing winter they can't survive wildfires. I miss seeing our frog but it was likely it was boiled alive in his small pool of water when the temperatures reached 4,200 degrees. RIP mister frog. Maybe now my mind will settle down and focus on more important things like snow removal.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Thoughts

 Sometimes I think of the craziest thoughts when I wake up at night and have trouble getting back to sleep. Sometimes I can trace these random thoughts to a specific occurrence and sometime I just wonder where did that come from. This thought came from a bible study I read a few days ago. It was about painted turtles surviving the winter so I thought I would research just how they do survive.

Turtles are cold blooded reptiles so their temperature is the same as their environment. We have been in the single digit temperatures for several times this winter and ponds, streams and lakes are frozen over so I was curious how turtles survived. Our waterways will be frozen for several months and where do the turtles and fish go to survive freezing cold.

I discovered that the turtles go to the bottom and bury themselves in the mud and don't eat or breathe through their lungs. Instead they get their oxygen by breaking down a blood sugar (glycogen) that creates a lactic acid which can be deadly except they borrow minerals from their skeleton and shell to neutralize excess build up of lactic acid. The blood vessels around the tail are numerous so that is where they get the blood to maintain them over the winter. Hence they are called butt breathers. An amazing way to survive the winter months. Clearly a good trait to possess here where our winters can go 6-7 months but alas we lack that attribute so we must shovel, deal with frigid temp's to survive.

The fish go into a torpor state where they don't need to eat during in this semi dormant state. Their system slows down but they do need to breathe which they do at a much reduced rate. I like the term torpor as it reminds me of a few people I know. You can be conversing normally and suddenly you realize the lights are on but no one is home. Then they return and all is well.    God's creatures are amazing and so perfectly adapted to their environment when I consider their abilities it is mind boggling. Since we now live remotely and I see nature up close and can study it carefully it is even more amazing.



Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Snow Photos

 6' high fence with only about 1 foot of fence remaining. Temperatures today have been hovering around -0- and it is 2 degrees as I post these photos.
 I had a path shoveled out to the outdoor cook stove yesterday so I could cook a cowboy breakfast when the weather was clear. Looks like it will be a few days before that can happen.
Trees holding new snow on their branches. It is still snowing and so far we have about two feet. More snow on the way for later today. The most we have ever received at one time was 6' of snow and I don't think this is that type of storm.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Outdoor Cook Stove

Been hankering for a cowboy breakfast but the deep snow between me and the outdoor cook stove was daunting. The snow thrower dumps the snow in this area and it is packed down and very heavy. Finally the desire for a cowboy breakfast over powered the extensive work to get to the cook stove. Another day or two of shoveling and I should be able to get the stove going to cook easy over eggs, my special country potatoes and fried spam plus monkey bread.
Today it was 55 degrees out so it was perfect to do some heavy duty shoveling but now the weather forecast is for snow the rest of the week and negative number temperatures. At least the heavy snow is out of the way and moving light snow will be easier so breakfast will be on once the weather permits.
This is not a black and white photo but there is no color except the deep snow and black tree trunks.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Carol On Her Sled

 Today we discovered that conditions were even better than yesterday for sledding down the driveway which is 100 yards long and then the road is still covered in snow so it was perfect. Faster and a good long run. Most of the time the road has no snow so when the sled hits it there is an abrupt stop...that takes the fun out of sledding.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Another Set Winter Of Photos


 When the sun comes out and the temperatures remain in the mid 20's icicles form...

















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Post Wildfire Snow Photos

 Trees like this one continue to fall over every day post wildfire and some fall close or into the road and get covered with snow. The road grader comes along and the operator doesn't see the tree because it is hidden in the snow and the tree gets caught up in the equipment. I watched as the operator had to stop the grader, get out and lug the tree off to the side of the road
 Trees have cracked bark and many are falling over or leaning and each time the wind blows over they go. After the wildfire this view had no leaning or fallen trees but now they are everywhere.
 Trees like this that are burned half way or more through are just waiting for a good wind to blow them over. After the wildfire volunteers came along our road and marked trees that appeared to be at risk for falling into the road but many are still standing and adjacent trees that looked pretty good have fallen. While the trees have been marked no one ever came along to cut them down yet. There are so many trees and so few volunteers. I plan to cut the dead ones in front of our house down before long so they don't fall on us or our vehicles or garage. I don't like cutting trees in the winter but I have done it in years past and now it is to not being under one as we walk the road so it will be for safety sake.
Dead black sticks pointing skyward. These used to be trees but now only ugly vertical sticks. The bark is blown off the pine and aspen trees with the wind. As can be seen in the photo the burn scar is as far as we can see which is several miles. These are probably things that folks don't realize occur after a wildfire.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Wind

The wind makes some interesting sculptures in the wind drifted snow. 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Donut Saturday

One of my Rx prescriptions (I don't have but 2) says to take with food. What better than taking it with a donut in the morning... When City Market stopped making them I decided we would make out own.  It turns out I like ours a lot better.  I' m now good for another 28 days.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

View

Our drive to Alamosa has spectacular views...

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Lucy Watching Bozwell's Walk

Lucy wondering where Carol is taking Bozwell on his walk....Ruby just looks out the front storm door but Lucy has to be different.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A Pleasant Surprise

 Last summer one of the groups of volunteers from LaPuente came to cut firewood for those in the valley who can't cut it for themselves or afford to buy it. Ron Hazeloop was one of the volunteers and he clearly has an eye for photography. He just sent me some of the photos he has taken and they are posted here. It takes a certain skill to see a good photo in the devastation that we are surrounded by and Ron has that skill. Enjoy some photos from Ron Hazeloop. 




Monday, December 30, 2019

2020 Happy New Year

Happy New Year and new decade to all our readers. We hope that 2020 brings good health, happiness and peace to all.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Merry Christmas/Hanukkah

We wish you a happy Hanukkah or Merry Christmas or what ever you celebrate this time of year..

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Lucy Follow Up

We took Lucy in for an exam to see why she was bleeding when she pooped and the vet said she didn't know but to keep her on soft food for 5-7 days. She checked her rectum and said her anal gland was slightly enlarged but didn't ask many questions.

We put her on soft food and this morning when she went poop there was blood spatter all around where she pooped. We called the emergency number and the vet that seen her called right back and I told her there was blood on her poop, and all over the snow. Her reply was at least we know where the blood is coming from.

She said I could bring her in but I told her we would drive the extra distance to Monte Vista instead. I was not impressed by the exam she gave her and she did not do many checks and only gave her a cursory look at best.  Clearly she was not happy to hear that but I was even more unhappy at her lack of professionalism.

Carol drove Lucy to Monte Vista and Lucy's diagnosis is an infected anal gland that was drained and she was given antibiotics. Different vet and one we have known for a long time. Won't be going back to the first vet.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Lucy To The Doggy Doctor

Taking Lucy to the vet today as she has some bleeding when she poops. The shelter told us she had been spayed but on close examination there is no scar to indicate same. Being a young dog the spay scar should be quite visible. We want to know if she is in heat or if there is something else going on. Next will be Ruby as we want this vet to have a record of her (we use two vets) and to check her over too. Then it will be Boswell's turn to be checked. 

We use two vets because one vet which is 25 minutes closer requires us to go over a mountain pass and in the winter that can be iffy to say the least. The other vet only requires a drive through the valley. The closer vet has many more years experience but driving over the pass in the winter can be dangerous and each year there are accidents on the pass. Driving through the valley is a little safer. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Angel

We have had our Christmas tree angel for 35 years. It is special to us as it was made by a friend in Tallahassee, Fla. It is a crochet angel and all we have to do every 4-5 years is spray starch it to keep its shape. We think it is unique..

Monday, December 16, 2019

Mountain Weather

25" of new snow - enough said.....

Sunday, December 15, 2019

A Long Ago True Story

As is characteristic with most of us seniors we tend to look back on our accomplishments and failures. This was an accomplishment that happened almost 50 years ago. I received an invitation from several Florida congress persons to meet them at the Sheraton in downtown Orlando. No details - just meet. I went and found they had invited 18 of us and they explained they wanted a "new" workers compensation law. They had been working on it for quite a while and were so overwhelmed by all the special interests that were presenting bills that did not fairly represent all interests. Therefore they sought out people (both plaintiff and defense) to secretly draft a new law.

They appointed both myself and a plaintiff attorney to co-head the committee. We were to each have equal members and they would like us to re-write the law and change it from indemnity to wage loss. We were to do it in total secrecy and those on the committee would at our direction take certain portions and re-write the law as the old law was outdated. After our committee met together and discussed the difference between what we had and what they wanted I assigned each committee member a portion of the law, including myself, and we went to work on drafting a totally new concept for a statewide law.

Then when they would submit their proposed changes I would meet with the other co-chairman and we would negotiate and finalize the final product. After several weeks of meeting in secret we had a new law ready for congress. It was typed up in its final form and I hand carried it to  our contact representative. Several more weeks went by and one day a congressional delivery person came to my office and said he had a package for me. The secretary said she would see I got it but he said it had to be hand delivered to me personally. It was the new law passed almost unanimously by the state legislature and signed by the governor. 

I closed my office door and laid it on the desk next to our proposed draft and went through it line by line. They had not changed one dot or word and passed our law in a bi-partisan vote. No one knew who had drafted it not even our immediate family and when my boss found out he was furious that I had not told him. He in a rage fired me but that did not diminish what we few had done and I was quickly hired by another company.

I have only told this story in the almost 50 years to a handful of people.Mainly because I to this day do not want it to appear I'm bragging or trying to boost myself. I tell it now to show that 18 people working to sincerely produce a lasting law irregardless of political affiliation can actually do something that has lasting and permanent effect. What I see now days clearly lacks the ability for our politicians to work together and make anything meaningful favorable change for our citizens. I am very saddened by what we have today.

We secretly left a make on Florida law and while it is something to be proud of I have never felt it so important (even though it was) to openly talk about it. Now as I reflect back the change we made has benefited untold numbers of workers. Florida had industrial judges across the state and it was these judges who recommended individuals like myself to the legislature which I found out later. I only tell this story now not to embellish my career  or puff myself up but to show the comparison of our politicians of the past and those we have today which I consider a very sorry lot. I will leave the adjectives to describe them up to others but I find the entire lot pitiful. Instead of helping people like our past congressional leaders did they help themselves only.

Many who have known me for many years do not know my participation in this and but for the low quality of politicians now days still would not know I co-produced a brand new totally radical WC law. I hope this will inspire some to vote thoughtfully next election. 

Monday, December 9, 2019

Mountain View

We have such a nice view of Blanca mountain when we drive to town.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Worst Winter

This is our 24th winter here and 23 years of full time mountain living. This is by far the worst winter that we have had thus far. The snow is either wet and ends up being pushed in large sheets or it is so cold and windy that it blows right back at you and after you clear it out it drifts right back in again.
The wind has been blowing for two days at 20-30+ MPH and the wind chill is so cold it is not worth it to go out and try to move the snow. The wind comes from several directions so we can't adjust the chute to any one direction. Trees are whipping around and several have been blown over. This is perhaps the worst winter we have experienced here. Hope it is not the new normal. Other area's have gotten 80-94 MPH wind so I guess we are actually pretty fortunate to only have gotten what we have.

This is only just south of us and the wind is blowing so hard we didn't even feel any earth movement and would not have heard it over the wind.