Sunday, October 31, 2010

And what about the leaves?

As you can see, the leaves are hanging tight to their tree.  We had a request this morning for a "status report" on the leaves.  Um....I guess a picture is worth 1,000 words. We don't go til the leaves are gone.  So, it could be quite awhile yet.

Happy Halloween

Have you thought recently, perhaps, about how you would dress up for Halloween if you could wave a magic wand and be anything?  Frankly, I haven't given it much thought.  Halloween is mostly for kiddies and Party-Hearty young adults.  Somehow, once you pass a certain unspecified age, the lure of Halloween disappears into the dim fog of blurred memories.  I don't remember exactly when I lost my urge to costume myself but I think it was maybe 20+ years ago.  How 'bout you?  Well, getting back to the question posed in the first sentence, I think I'd like to be Andrew Carnegie for a day.  He was real short like me, actually even shorter than me--about my Mom and Dad's height.  But he sure "cut a number" with his high-heeled boots and trademark bowler top hat.
I posed this question to Susun and her first choice was Amelia Earhart!  They do bear a resemblance, eh? You might find the question as to whom you would be on Halloween to be an interesting mental exercise.  Give it a try!

We've resurrected the Geek Weather blog.  LBR Wayne R. humbled us yesterday by saying a post on the weather blog was our best ever.  THANKS, Wayne!  You can click here to go to Geek Weather.

Speaking of being humbled, Kirsty S. is now a follower and Friend of our blogs.  As you know, she's a constant source of inspiration to us.  Whenever we get what's commonly known as "writer's block," we simply go to Kirsty's blog and read her awesome writing and, poof, writer's block is vaporized.  Kirsty can turn even the most tiny little mundane activity into a truly meaningful moment.  That takes true talent.  Kirsty, by the way, has reached the stratosphere of bloggers--she actually got an all expenses paid trip for her Family paid by the Bob Evans chain to report on an annual festival.  Click here to read all about it.  WAY TO GO, Kirsty!

Google News Gone!

Yes, you read that right.  Obviously, Google News isn't really gone but it's sure goners for us.  We pulled the plug on Google News about mid-week and we haven't looked back with any regrets.  We have absolutely no plans whatsoever to open Google News again.  It seems that during the past few months, the tone and tenor of topics shown on Google News took a turn for the worst.  I simply decided I didn't want to read any more negative news or see negative keywords, etc.  Hey, out of sight, out of mind!  Positive is as positive does!
As you know, we both do our best to keep a positive attitude at all times.  Reading Google News was definitely not conducive to maintaining a positive attitude.  Frankly, what difference does it make to read the latest news?  We might as well wake up and read it in the morning newspaper.  At least our local editors are sensitive to people's distaste of prurient keywords and stories.  We sent the local publisher an email about eschewing Google News and he replied with something like, "Gee, I hope it's the beginning of a trend."  Not likely, but it works for me!

The Clay Cooker Story

LBR's know I began a search for a clay cook pot quite some time ago.  It's been a fruitless search.  Everyone of them I find has had the suspect lead-laden glaze coating.  Well, we're not risking our health by cooking in anything that can't be proven to be lead free.  As you know, we even bought a clay pot cook book long ago but haven't been able to find a clay pot.  The cookbook is fun to read but it only makes up pine away even more to own a clay cooker.

And then there was yesterday.  So, I decide to finish the late afternoon by a leisurely spin around the local t-stores.  I always finish up at Dee-Eye, the Costco of Thrift Stores.  I'm rambling the normal aisles I peruse and I round the corner into kitchen utensils and--BAM--there it IS!!!  A pristine clay cooker right before my very eyes.  I reach down to grab it and a voice from above intones, "Son, that's MY clay cooker, tkae your hands off it."  I look up, and up and up and atop a 6 foot 8 inch frame is a talking Bubba Head that's missing a few teeth and sporting a scraggly beard.  The face looks like one of those Halloween masks from the movie Deliverance.  I was stunned.  Here was my quest at my fingertips and this Bubba Dude was telling me I couldn't have it.  He was talking into a dirty cell phone as I pondered my options: A) Knock him to the ground and run fast and far with the clay cooker, or B) Offer to triple his money in return for the right to take it to the checkout.  Time seemed to stand still.

Finally, the Bubba Dude clicked shut his cell phone and looked down upon me and said, "My daughter doesn't want it, it's yours."  I was instantly dizzy.  Whew, at least I didn't have to commit Grand Theft Clay Cooker and wind up on the front page of the Sunday paper. I could see the headlines, "Baby Boomer Busted for clay pot assault."

I took my treasure straight to the checkout.  When the clerk reached out for it I said, "Don't touch that clay pot!" I paid my $3.18 and clutched my pot of clay gold close to my heart and darted to the truck to lock it safely away.  I was practically dizzy with the utter enjoyment of sweet success after such a long search for this item.  I had tried everything to find one.  Ebay lists only 4 of them right now and the prices are steep.  A did get a reply to my Craigs list plea.  However, it was a woman who taunted me by saying, "I have two of them and money couldn't pry either one from my finger--you'll never find one, HA!"  No kidding.  Sometimes a Craigs List ad can backfire, you know?

Well, I was a bit dizzy after this little vignette unfolded so I thought I best return to the innards of Dee-Eye and un-stress in the knickknack aisles.   As I strolled out into what they call the yard area, I was once again practically thunderstruck.  Sticking far up and out of the golf club bin was a pristine titanium left-handed driver.  These drivers are from what's called the "Big Bertha" genre.  I actually have one on hold out at Big 5 Sporting Goods but was loathe to buy it new for $35.  They normally sell for upwards of $100 and can go much higher depending on the brand and so forth.  This one was a mere $4.  Wow.  I stood holding the club in my hand.  That's when I knew I better back slowly out of Dee-Eye, turn tail and skee-daddle out of there.  Who knew what might next lurk around some dusty corner of that store?  "Quit while you are ahead," echoed in my brain--"GO!"  So, I paid up and split pronto. Sometimes, those t-store experiences are just so amazing!

Kate goes Rim-To-Rim

Well, here's some good news:  Kate W. hiked from teh North Rim to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon yesterday!  She and her two hiking partners arrived up at the top of the Bright Angel Trail at 12:30 am on Halloween.  That's quite the Trick or Treat surprise, eh?  Congratulations, Kate, we are very proud of you!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Say Sayonara to Farmers Market

Sadly, today is the last day of the season for Idaho Falls' fabulous Farmers Market.  We were so excited to be able to attend Opening Day May 1.  We barely arrived back from Arizona the prior afternoon just in time to get up and go down by the riverside as the vendors congregated once again for another interesting season. (Click here for our May 1 blog post on the Market.)

We sure will be sad to see it close down.  What a year it's been for the Market.  First, the May-June weather was positively terrible for outdoor marketing.  Second, the city played hardball and actually demanded the Market move someplace else.  Fortunately, Stephanie and the vendors stood tall and united and faced down the Mayor and other poo-bahs who had no clue just how resilient these people are.  Meanwhile, the city created weekly chaos by ripping the main access street to shreds.  Crossing that street each week reminded me of stories my Dad told about gingerly threading his way through the rubble of bombed out German cities.  Luckily, there were no Nazis prodding us with bayonets!

Through it all, the vendors have been there despite rain, sleet, wind, cold gray skies and sparse attendees.  Their patience and dogged tenacity has been rewarded by what can only be called magical weather during the past few weeks.  Each week this fall, the market has positively glowed with the rich colors of Eastern Idaho's agricultural bounty.  All those shiny vegetables and pastel squash and colorful fruits are a visual feast.

Our special treat, of course, is enjoying a taco breakfast from the Sol Rio outfit.  How can you beat three bucks for two perfect shredded beef tacos with all the trimmings?  Plus, we get to take our tacos and sit beside the river and watch the water flow past.  Rich stuff, those Saturday morning memories!

Looking back on our short 2.5 year second career as a volunteer manager, we can count only a few things we did that could be called "special."  One of them was getting a website up and running for the Farmers Market along with finding a young photographer to shot hundreds of photos of the place, its people and the Stars of The Show--the fruits and vegetables.  So now, even if the Market will be closed for six months, we can at least peruse Emily's photos and ignite all of the sights and smells and sensory delights of the one and only Idaho Falls Farmers Market. (Click here for the Market's website.)

We're fond of telling people that the Farmers Market is one of the primary reasons we decided to move to this fair city.  There's no doubt about that assertion.  It's easily in the Top Ten reasons and possibly in the Top Five.  A city without a great Farmers Market is bereft indeed!

Our hats are off to Stephanie G. for her amazing stewardship of this Market.  We are so happy to be able to count Stephanie as a friend.  She never stops smiling but she has a firm hand and she can handle crises as well as comedy.  The event simply wouldn't be the same without her.  Keep on keepin' on, Steph, you're AWESOME!

Awesome sunsets continue

This strange and wondrous magical fall weather we've been savoring has been producing a string of stunning sunsets.  Luckily for us, Roger is up in the foothills dutifully recording the sweeping vistas we wish we could see from our inner city niche.  He has put up the last two evenings on his Sunset Blog.  You can click here to visit his blog. He also rewrote his beer comments from a prior sunset.  Roger's is one of the very few blogs we follow.  I think we follow only 4 blogs.  To me, getting up each morning to check Roger's sunset blog is a little like being a kid again and getting up on Christmas Morning to see what Santa left under the tree.

Maybe we will take a few sunset photos ourselves when we get down to Ol' Airy Zonie.  As some of our readers know, our place at Montezuma Well provides some magnificent sunset panoramas.  I sure wish we would have kept a chronology of them like Roger is doing from his place high in the foothills.  THANKS, Roger, you continue to delight us with your artistry!  Carry on.

Puttin' around

We went off on a golf tangent yesterday.  First, we headed to the T-stores looking for a container to help measure and pour precisely 18 ounces of motor oil.  Well, you know what happens when we go to the t-stores.  Sure enough, as we were passing by the golf club bin at Dee-Eye, a whole bunch of fancy putters leaped into view.  All-in-all, someone had donated seven high dollar putters, the kind that routinely sell used for upwards of $25 a pop on eBay.  Never the laddie to pass up a deal, I placed all the putters side-by-side on a nearby desktop and picked out the two best for Miss Susun--total cost: $4 for both.

Naturally, we hustled home putters in hand and broke Miss Susun away from her chores.  She was intent on doing the final "tidy up" of the courtyard and other outdoor environs. I swept her away to the Pinecrest putting green where we spent a fun 45 minutes "puttin' around."  Each of the new putters really elevated Susun's putting game.  She immediately started getting 30-40 foot putts close enough to the hole to drop the ball in on the second putt.  She actually dropped some 15-20 footers!  Man, you should have seen her smile.  Pretty soon, she looks at the little green and realizes there are six numbered flags and she decides we should have a Match Game.  So, we started at Hole #1 and kept score through the six practice holes.  Believe it or not, we finished tied at the end and I had to struggle to achieve even a tie.  WOW!  Susun was positively jazzed about her turnaround.  It always amazes me what a difference it makes to have the proper tool for the task at hand.
Susun now wants to go back to Pinecrest as often as possible before we leave for Arizona.  She even suggested figuring a way to strap the putters to our bicycles.  It only takes 5 minutes to drive there so it might be a 10-15 minute bike ride.

Pinecrest is cool.  It was built in 1936 and has one of those old rock and timber clubhouse buildings so common in the Post-Depression Era. (Click here for it's city webpage.)  It's rated the top municipal course in Idaho and its in the mid-rankings of the top 100 munis in the Nation.  It sure has lots more ambiance than Sand Creek.

However, moving right along to Sand Creek,  I met Houn' Dawg at 2:30 for another round on the short course.  As we were walking out to the tee, HD spied one of his friends on the regular course.  They started chatting and when HD told his friend he was going to play the short course, the guy started doing a belly laugh.  I quickly saved the day for HD by telling the old gas bag that HD was my Mentor and since I hadn't played golf in 45 years, I needed a coach and HD had condescended to help sprinkle some holy water on my swing.  That seemed to appease the old duffer's sensibilities and off we went unscathed by the slings and drivers of outrageous sarcasm and ridicule.

It was a great day for golfing in shirtsleeves.  The temp pushed 60 and there was only a light breeze.  Yellow cottonwood leaves fluttered through the crisp air and the views of the foothills and the sand dunes were outstanding.  Sand Creek is actually built on some Holocene sand dunes.  As fierce winds raked the Snake River Plain, large dune fields formed here and there on the eastern fringes of the plain.  A giant dune towers on the west edge of the golf course. 

Anyway, I scored a 27, once again right on my average there, and it was fun to share an afternoon with The Houn' Dawg.  How can you possibly beat a $3.25 green fee?  No way, José.

The upcoming mid-week temps for early November are progged for the mid-60's with no wind.  That's basically unheard of in Eastern Idaho.  A normal early November day would see a mix of sleet, freezing rain, blustery winds and maybe a snow squall here and there.  It would be mostly gray and people would be scurrying about trying to stay warm.  By some magic, this awesome fall weather gift continues to give us magical days.  As long as it stays like this, who knows when we will head south?

Cheers, jp

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fast Friday

No, NOT that kind of fast.  We're talking fast as in a noun, not an adjective.  Here is how the word is used: "I had to do a fast overnight for blood tests this morning."  That's why it's a Fast Friday.  It really taxes my patience to have to wait until AFTER 9 am to have a cuppa joe!  And no food?  How barbaric is that, anyway?

My Doc is The Minute Man.  Honest.  He charges by the minute. His rate right now is $2.136 per minute.  Yeah, he rounds off to the third decimal.  He's that kinda guy.  Anyway, I saw him for 22 minutes so he got $47 for his time.  He only charges true cost for lab tests but he does charge an extra ten bucks to draw the blood samples.    My blood sugar count test is $4, the comprehensive metabolic is $9 and the lipid panel is $8.  He threw in a physical inspection of Ye Ol' Prostate and some chit chat and the total bill came to $78.  Just try and get a price like that at a "doc in a box" joint!  No can do, Kathmandu.  This Doc is a hoot--he's so totally anti-establishment. This is a place where the patient participates in the medical procedures.  He's drawing blood and yelps, "Here, hold this, I gotta get another tube!"  No need for an assistant when the patient can do it for himself, eh? His office is so spartan it's hilarious.  He uses a folding plastic table for his desk and all his various supplies are sitting on simple pine shelves tacked up on the wall of what once a bedroom in a ranch house. Yep, he practices out of his own home.  And get this, he'll even give you a $5 discount for cash!  Today was a fun visit.  I'm scheduled to get a PSA exam tomorrow at the local hospital Cancer Open House and I told this to the Doc.  Man, he went off on a tirade about the worthlessness of PSA exams and started wagging his finger at me--"There's NO substitute for a physical exam."  It would have made a great scene in a Monte Python or Woody Allen movie.  Then he gave me scripts for a year's supply of blood pressure and cholesterol meds and kicked me out the door.  Ya gotta love a Doc like that.

Whazzup with the photo up top?  Well, it's a screen shot from the TV in our office.  Susun records her shows and then watches them much later.  I think they call it "time shifting."  Anyway, this morning's Today Show used the Sedona Red Rocks as the background for their live stage set. (The thought HAS crossed our minds that perhaps the Today Show set designers chose the Red Rocks on purpose to match the characters onstage.  Ya think?) The Chamber people in Sedona are probably dancing in the streets or trotting on the trolley or something like that.

How 'bout that Hopi story?  Isn't that cool?  We are so jazzed about it.  I think I will have to do a separate blog piece on it soon.  This post is already too long.  Suffice to say it's huge news and it's awesomely wonderful news.  WOW!

OK, we have a heartwarming story for you this morning.  It's in two parts.  First, Click here for our comments on Beto.  Then, Click here for a Steve Ayers story on Beto.  We have no doubt you will find both stories captivating.

We've brought out Snowbirds Twitter account back to life.  Yep, we spent a few hours on it yesterday.  We've changed its scope and purpose and we're rockin' and rollin' with it once again.  Gettin' our Tweet Game Face painted back on. Click here for The Snowbirds Twitter Account.

And, finally, here's the weekly stats.  They look almost identical to last week's stats.


            Total ........................ 2,386            
            Average per Day ................. 20            
            Average Visit Length .......... 3:41            
            This Week ...................... 137            

          Page Views

            Total ........................ 4,415            
            Average per Day ................. 42            
            Average per Visit .............. 2.2            
            This Week ...................... 297
Thanks for reading & Many Cheers!  jp 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hopi Tribe rescues Homol'ovi!

We'll write more about this in tomorrow morning's blog post.  In the meantime, for you late night readers, click over to the Snowbird blog and check out The Big News!!!

Too much time?

We were poking fun at ourselves yesterday with the "Here's a guy with way too much time on his hands" quip.  We suppose we could emulate Earl in the Pickels cartoon strip or we could use the Energizer Bunny as a role model.  Maybe we should have a throwndown between Earl and The Bunny!  We take The Bunny and spot you 12 points.

Anyway,  if we wake up on the top side, as some oldsters are fond of saying, we might well "get after it" all day long, whether it's capturing a falling leaf or chasing rainbows in thrift stores.  The more time we have to get out and do stuff, the better off we are.

That's what brings us to this vignette:  "How can $5.90 rescue a day?"  It was pretty cold yesterday.  Not cold as in mid-winter cold but cold nonetheless--too cold to go outside and do stuff.  So, we both messed with paperwork for hours yesterday morning.  Tons of it.  We have this two bit paper shredder that bogs down when you feed it more than three sheets to the wind.  Time was seeming to stand still.  I looked at the humongous pile of paper still to be shredded and realized I would be sitting in front of the two bit shredder all freaking day long.  It would be well past Happy Hour before I could claw my way through the stack of paper staring me in the face.  That's when the light bulb went off!  AH, HA!  I threw it all in a giant plastic tub and took off lickity split to Office Max.  There for a mere $5.90 all ten pounds of it instantly disappeared into a secure shredding bin.  Poof, just like that I had rescued my day.  Whew!

On a hunch, I fired up Sonny (that's the name Sarah and Susun bestowed on the 1987 Zuki) and took it to Oswalds.  Just as I suspected, the anti-freeze is only good to -10.  Opps.  Minus ten here happens with about the same frequency as the sun coming up.  Along about January, "Minus Ten" could be a regular litany for teh daytime high this winter!  heck, we could get to -30 easily this winter and maybe even lower.  If Sonny's gonna sit in the garage all winter, Little Ol' Sonny betta be ready!

When you're getting ready to leave a place chill all by its lonesome for 5-6 months deep in the dark heart of winter, you really can't take anything for granted.  It's "check" and "recheck" and "what if this doesn't work" and on and on and on it goes.  Good thing the leaves are taking their sweet time falling--we need this extra time to make sure we don't mess up.

Susun went off to a great little get together with her Girlfriends here.  They are a Fun Bunch, always smiling and beaming positive energy and having many memorable moments.  It's even possible that some of them will actually come to Sedona and Montezuma Well to visit us this winter.  Susun took off early for her soiree and I somehow once again had "way too much time on my hands." 

Rather than taking the Sedimentary Route, as Earl chooses in today's strip above, I dialed up The Bunny and off we went on a four hour jaunt dealing with the various Farmers Markets that dot the sprawling Phoenix metroplex (AKA: Valley of The Sun).  The big newspaper there listed 22 of them.  We became quite curious as to their locations and so forth.  One thing led to another and pretty soon four full hours had vaporized.  It's a good thing I have "way too much time" or else where would I have found the four hours to put into this project?

Now we have a great Google Map of all of their locations.  It's on our Snowbird blog.  You can click here to see it.  Better yet, we wrote a small blurb about each market.  Perhaps the majority of them are fake Farmers Markets.  After studying them in detail, we discerned numerous impostors amid the roster.  What's a fake Farmers Market?  Simple.  It's an event cooked up by a real estate developer's Marketing Department to make it seem like some big subdivision is cool because, "HEY, it has a Farmers Market!"  Trust me, fake Markets are easy to spot and we called them out in our little writeups that accompany the map's push pins.

I wouldn't blame you if you're most likely asking, "Why bother with that stuff?"  Simple.  We're planning on spending a pretty good amount of time down in the Valley this winter.  We'd like to get out and around down there much more often and to a much greater extent than we have in the past.  So, we're attempting to organize a way to remember and navigate to the various types of places we'd like to visit.  Farmers Markets (legitimate ones, of course) would always be at the top of the list.  We plan on doing the same with a variety of specialty restaurants, museums and all sorts of other stuff, too.

OK, let's move on to something much more esoteric and even perhaps whimsical. What could that possibly be?  How about a couple of 1848 photographs?  Imagine the Year 1848, if you will.  Gold hadn't even been discovered in California.  There wasn't anything such as "Forty Niners."  The majority of the West's native Americans had never even seen a white man.  The Mexican-American War had just concluded with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, February 2, 1848.  The population of the whole country was barely 23-million.  Back in 1848, California had 15,000 non-Indian residents and was governed by the American military.  It didn't become an official state until 1850.  So, that's the background for the photos we're discussing here.

The two pictures are very much in the news today because some people think they show the earliest American humans ever recorded in a photograph.  Whether or not that's true, we'd like to call your attention to an NPR web page that has some amazing functionality.  You can take a pseudo-tour of riverfront Cincinnati in what is believed to be the old photo of an urban area.  We won't bore you will all the technical details of the photos, you can read about that yourself if you are interested.  However, we highly recommend a leisurely study of the details in the photos.  Without doubt, they are amazing.

Click here for the NPR web page.
Click here for the story about the humans.

Many Cheers today!  jp

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Captured one of the buggers in flight!

HA!  I actually captured one of the culprits in mid-flight, falling gracefully from the Mother Ship. (Just to left of Red "X".) It won't be long now and all of them will flee from the tree!  Yeah, I know what you are thinking--repeat after me--"This guy has WAAAY too much time on his hands!"

Pros poised to pounce porch project

We're turning the porch project over to the pros.  We finally got a bid yesterday that's acceptable.  That means we've washed our hands of it.  We can stand back when the pros are done, nod our head, say "Job well done" and hand them a check.  Whew, we both had been dreading the final phase of the project.  One tiny mistake would be so glaring there.  These guys are really good.  They did our roof in October 2007.  They are artists with metal roofing.

Not to worry about the total cost of the project.  Since we did the lion's share of the project, the total overall cost (including the pro roofing job) will come in 38% lower than the closest comparable bid we received from a contractor.  Our total out-of-pocket for this project (not including some new tools we purchased) will be $639, including taxes and so forth.  It's a great and welcome addition to the house.  We enjoyed its benefits throughout this recent rainstorm.  It's wonderful to walk in and out of the house without getting a big slug of cold water off the roof right down the backs of our necks.

Basically, all of the tough projects are now finished.  There's lots of little nit-picky stuff to do but nothing truly daunting remains.  From here on out until our departure, we're expecting an orderly routine as we prepare to travel to Arizona.  This morning's current temperature here is 28.  Hopefully, these progressively harder freezes will get the leaves in gear.  Realistically, we don't expect to be finished with the leaves for at least another few weeks.  It just hasn't been the type of autumn to get the leaves to fall early.

We actually went to lunch yesterday.  Susun loves to lunch and she could easily be one of those "ladies who lunch."  Me?  I'm definitely not a lunch guy.  I'd much rather have an informal lunch at home.  However, my Mom sent us a small check to be used specifically for eating in restaurants, sooo....yesterday is was The China Buffet.  It was a nice interlude but I ate way too much food.  Who doesn't when they go to a Chinese buffet? THANKS, MOM!

We spent a pretty fair amount of time yesterday refreshing ourselves about a 1977 movie called "Kingdom of the Spiders."  It was filmed entirely in Camp Verde.  Click here to read all about it on the Snowbird blog.

The whole "bombogenesis" thing broached in the blog post below was part of a lot of lingo slinging yesterday.  Weather wonks everywhere unleashed a tidal wave of descriptive excess.  It was a lot of fun following the headlines to see if anyone could top an "exploding bombogenesis." No one could and it therefore takes the cake for the biggest hype in a hyperbole-filled day. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Yes, this apparently is a real word.  To read all about it check out our latest post on the weather blog.  You can click here to go there.  We'll have more to say about it tomorrow morning.  In the meantime, Susun and I are having quite a bit of fun with the word "bombogenesis."  It's one of those words that really helps your imagination run wild.  Cheers, jp

Another Roger Sunset

Above is the Monday night sunset here in Eastern Idaho.  During my short strolls back and forth to the Cook Shack, I glanced wistfully west and wondered what it really looked like.  As the glow brightened above our inner city trees, I crossed my mental fingers and hoped that Roger would be capturing it for all of us to enjoy this morning.

Sure enough, Roger delivered the goods, along with a typically pithy comment:

"That building at the bottom of these photos is the source of much of the Bud in our country (my deepest apologies to beer drinkers of taste across the universe). It's the Anheiser-Busch malting plant in Idaho Falls."

You can click here to see Roger's post on his Sunset Blog.

Thanks, Roger, "ya dun good" once again.


This is the time of year when the weather of two Zip Codes begins to diverge.  The Northern Zip Code begins a steady decent into the pits of winter.  The South Zip Code dons its beckoning Sunny Smile and says, "Come on down, Yonder Snowbird!"

The winds for which Eastern Idaho is Famous were in full force yesterday blowing steadily in the mid-20 mph range and gusting to 40.  It was the first day of fall so far when the thought of being at Montezuma Well seemed like a Real Good Idea.

Susun spent the day doing what she truly loves to do--fondle photographs.  First, she goes off to a place to make prints from the funky little digital camera cards.  Then she comes home with a giant pile of prints and happily entertains herself for hours fondling photos.  She makes all sorts of albums and mails off prints and is generally filled with the same glee young boys once had when they played around with stacks of baseball cards.  Yesterday, she put together an outstanding album of the Habitat For Humanity Dedication.  She then hand-delivered it to Karen L. along with a CD of 98 photos.  I can only imagine how nice it would be to receive such a great volunteer gift.  I'm sure Karen was thrilled.

People often tell Susun how special her albums are.  it seems these days that few people actually print out any of their digital photos.  Their electronic pictures stayed entombed forever on camera cards or hard drives.  The only way to glimpse them is to sit hunched awkwardly in front of somebody's computer monitor or to squint at a faint, tiny image on the back of a small camera.  Consequently, even though most people take a pretty good amount of digital photos, nobody really ever gets to see them.  That's what makes Susun's hobby of fondling photos special.  She rapidly converts images from "digitals de jour" into good old fashioned 4x6 prints you can hold in your hand and enjoy just like in the Good Old Days BD (Before Digital).

Her love of playing around with 4x6's creates the best of both worlds.  In the BD Days, she would go through seemingly countless rolls of 35mm film, wasting miles of celluloid and costing us hundreds of dollars in prints that were never used.  If she captured 5 good shots on a roll of 24 frames, it was a good day.  It got to the point where I often discouraged her from taking shots I knew she would never use.  Now it's the opposite.  She can shoot to her heart's content--hundreds of photos if she wants.  And I encourage her to shoot more because she can carefully select and print only the ones that are the winners.  She's had perhaps four or five digital cameras and each of them has more than paid for itself by the savings over the former costs of printing 35 mm film into 4x6's.

Speaking of cameras, Susun notched a significant milestone in her Photographer Career last week.  There was a day when she was a total Technophobe.  For years, she avoided digital cameras like that had the bubonic plague.  After Stasea artfully coaxed Susun into using her first digital camera, Susun relied on me and other people to help her with all of the technical stuff.  Gradually that changed and a couple of years ago, Susun began reading the camera manuals and learning how to use all the arcane features.

After her Canon Powershot A1000 bit the dust in San Diego, I bought her a hot rod Samsung with dual LCD screens front and back.  One day, she announced she didn't like that camera and that I could take it back--she had gone to Wally World and selected and bought her own!  Folks, that's huge!  She did all her own shopping and evaluated various cameras and made her own selection based on her particular wants and needs.  I didn't have to do a single thing.

Meanwhile, she brought it home, learned all by herself how to mess with the lithium battery and the card.  She spent two days mastering the other bells and whistles and I didn't have to utter a single word of advice or caution!  I must say the rig she picked out is perfect for her and the lith-ion battery charger even fits in her small camera case!

I said it above and I'll say it again here--this was a huge milestone for Susun and she deserves a collective round of virtual applause.  Way to Go, Sweetie!

During the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about "five years ago."  You know people tend to think in terms of "one, five, ten, twenty, 25 and 30 years ago" and so forth?  Five always seems to be a magic number for thinking of what was happening 60 months ago.

The Year 2005 was the proverbial "long and winding road" kind of a year.  One of these days, I'll have to try to summarize that pivotal year.  Five years ago today we were arriving back at Montezuma Well with the determined and focused intention of putting our place up for sale.  It was a huge and breath-taking step in our lives, one which obviously led to giant changes in our lifestyle.  I'll never forget the feelings of trepidation and the sheer overwhelming weight of impending responsibility as we drove up to our straw house five years ago today.  WOW--so much has happened since then--sometimes it seems like a blur.

Have a great day & Many Cheers, jp

Monday, October 25, 2010

T-store Score

Shock & Awe!  That's what we felt when we beheld this incredible stove at Deseret Industries.  Then we looked at the price tag and about fainted.  Ten dollars.  It's in near pristine condition.  Shock & Awe: the only two words to describe it.

Smelly, Noisy, Ugly

We just placed a classic classified ad.  In fact, it might even qualify as "Classified Haiku."
OK, here it is:

SUZUKI, '91 Sidekick
Smelly, Noisy, Ugly,
but worth the price!
4x4, 5 spd. soft top.
$1000 208-xxx-xxxx

It's gonna run for 14 days and cost $16.
We've given up on the Atomic City saloon owner.
It's time to put this puppy out to pasture someplace.

Hey, this is called Truth in Advertising!

Cheers, jp


Sunday was just your real nice basic rainy, windy day.  The trees swayed to and fro and didn't let many leaves go.  (Is that a haiku?)  The sky spit stinging small water droplets.  It was a nice day to hang out inside.  We did venture out a couple of times--once to buy a fat chicken and the other to enjoy the raw weather with a walk on the Greenbelt.  Regardless of the weather, Miss Susun is very happy when she's out walking.

Here's two photos of The Falls here in Idaho Falls.  It sure doesn't look like much water, does it?  Well, believe it or not, it's 2950 cubic feet per second.  That's actually considered very low water here--barely enough to spin the turbines in the city's power plant not far downstream.  Susun speculated that yesterday's Snake River flow was probably more than what's in the Colorado River near Yuma.  I checked this morning and, sure enough, there's only 1100 cfs down there near Yuma.

We spent some time yesterday and this morning putting up two posts on our weather blog.  One provides insights into the current storm sweeping ashore.  The other is simply a new way of showing the precipitation forecasts at various intervals out to 3 months from now.  We put our new fangled little graphic here, too.  You can click here for the weather blog.

We coined a new phrase yesterday.  "Susun has geraniums in her cranium."  She's always had a magic touch with geraniums.  Those plants truly love her and she dearly loves them.  You simply can't believe how geraniums respond to Susun's nurturing skills.  Susun can take a tiny little geranium cutting and pretty soon it is a giant flowering plant.  It's amazing to watch.  A few years back, she won Best of Class and Best of Show at the Verde Valley Fair.  She could easily capture more such awards but that's not why she grows geraniums.  She just loves them for what they are.  Yesterday, she gave away two of her best specimens.  Yes, gave them away--not loaned them.  There's this nice guy down at the Farmers Market and it's real obvious he loves his plants, too.  Everything he brings to market simply glows with a special spirit.  So, Susun asked him Saturday if he wanted two of her most unique geraniums and he jumped at the chance to own them.  If I didn't know Susun could easily create clones from these beautiful plants, I would have balked at giving them away.  But she's got such a skill with those "geraniums in her cranium," it's no problem--there will be a ba-zillion more of them where those came from.

We're pretty much finished with our various "to do" lists.  Naturally, we have to get some metal on top of the porch and deal with the leaves.  The leaves aren't leaving for quite some time so there's no hurry on the porch metal.  Speaking of the porch, The Goatherder wondered in a comment why we didn't put a roof over the front door.  Simple.  We don't use the front door.  The west door is our main entrance.  If someone actually comes in the front door 3-4 times a year, that's a lot of usage.

Today's going to be a mostly mundane day.  (What day hasn't been lately, huh?)

We hope you have another great day and, of course, MANY Cheers!  Happy Monday!  jp

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Value of Planning

A lot of people we know turn up their noses at the mere idea of "planning," except, of course, when the county approves something they don't like in their back yard.  Everyone can benefit from planning.  Even the most rudimentary plans are better than nothing.  Susun and I have always totally believed that proper planning is part and parcel of a practical future.  Whenever we begin to think of something, we always make plans for it.  Making those plans is part of the process of "making it happen."

Planning requires visualization.  You kind of have to be able to "see" what it is that you are planning for.  Even if it is as simple as the example I going to use below, it still has a definite and discrete value and purpose.  Planning is part of the essence of being alive.  I feel certain that even Neanderthals "planned."  They may not have had language as we know it.  They may have only communicated by grunts around a fire.  But they planned.  They knew where they were going to kill and eat the next Mastodon.  They knew how they would attack it and they knew what each man would do.  They somehow survived against impossible odds because they had a Plan!  They plans worked perfectly, even if they did drive Mastodons and Woolly Mammoths to total extinction.

So WTH are we talking about here anyway?  OK, it's all about the Cook Shack.  If you will recall, we actually articulated a "Plan" back on September 25th.  You can click here to read the full blog post.
The bottom line of our Cook Shack "Plan" was this:

"I got to thinking how I should write down what I want to do in my cook shack (AKA: Man Cave). Hum...let's see, here goes:

A)  Grill, BBQ and smoke all sorts of pork and poultry.
B)  Play with a vast assortment of cast iron toys, esoteric kitchen utensils and arcane grill tools.
C) Stand around in unhealthful smoke swilling unhealthful beverages.
D) Listen to wind whistling through cracks and gaps in shoddy construction.
E) Hear rain pelting onto cheap metal roof.
F) Play cassettes of low rent Mexican banda music, maybe MP3's of The Monkees, too.
G) Leave cave (er, cook shack) carrying large, foil-covered tray of delicious food."

That was "The Plan."  Simple.  Pure.  And honest.

Well, tonight, we reaped all the rewards of our plan, a mere month later.  We baked a meat loaf in El Turco and a 5.75 pound chicken in the Patio Caddie.  We played with a vast assortment of cast iron and other toys, utensils and tools.  Happy Hour Beverages flowed freely. We listened to the wind whistling through cracks and gaps and loved the melody of the hard rain pelting onto the cheap metal roof.  We played John Prine music from a CD player into headphones and we walked back through a driving rain in two trips carrying large, foil-covered trays of delicious food.

Folks, that's what planning is all about.  it doesn't have to be some World Class thing about the future of your community--it can be as simple as how to make a Pot Luck Picnic turn out to be a Golden Moment.  It can be as simple as any of the most basic things you do.  If you plan, everything turns out mostly "according to plan."

We love planning!  And we sure do also love the latest rewards of planning: the priceless sound of rain drumming on a steel roof while we're listening to John Prine and smelling an awesome aroma of meatloaf and baked chicken wafting together in cook shack heaven.

Cheers!  jp

PS--What John Prine were we listening to?  Oh, you've heard it before.  But you can click here to hear it again.

Susun: The Poetry Judge

Susun had a really, really busy day yesterday and she finished her day by adding a new item to her already extensive resume:  Poetry Judge.  Honest.  Here's how it unfolded.  Susun's Friend Shirley invited her to the city's semi-annual "Poetry Slam."  It's held in April and October at the fancy Art Museum of Eastern Idaho down on the Greenbelt.  About 100 people attended last night and there were more than a dozen aspiring local poets.  As Susun was waiting for the show to begin, she was approached by a stranger who asked simply, "Do you know any of the poets?"  Susun replied, "No" and then the stranger asked, "Well, how would you like to be one of the five judges tonight?"

Naturally, Susun gave an enthusiastic "YES!"  So, they gave her some scoring sheets and she had to listen intently to each poem and then score it on the sheet.  Can you imagine?  Susun was both a Chili AND a Poetry Judge in the same calendar year.  Now that's cultural diversity personified!

Happy Birthday to Sarah Butterfly today.  And Happy Birthday to Sarah's Mom, too.  Sarah is shown above with Gage at Lego Land near their home.  The boys are shown at left enjoying themselves on the Lego Land playground.  Have a Great Birthday, Sarah!

It was a Big Day at the t-stores!  I scored some six first class croquet mallets--the kind that you see in $100+ top-of-the-line sets for $4.  They wanted $8.50 but I said, "Hey, this doesn't even have balls and wickets," so they dropped the price.  After I paid, I told the clerk "Who needs croquet balls, "I just spray paint some baseballs and they work fine."  She got a kick out of that quip.

The other top scores were another Coleman 413D.  Yes, it's identical to the Coleman stove we bought and raved about earlier this year.  Only it's in 1000% better condition.  Then we got a NIB tabletop gas grill for $5 It's the tinny kind that is perfect for roasting green chiles and red peppers.  It had never even been out of the plastic.  We slammed that puppy together last night and baptized it was some fresh green chiles from the WINCO Spa. The cook shack equipment is now complete--we have everything we needs (and that will fit inside).

We also enjoyed buying 25 pounds of new crop pinto beans from Gooding, Idaho, at the Farmers Market.  Since there is only one week left in this season, we feared we might not get the 2010 beans.  Whew!  There's nothing like fresh pinto beans.  Meanwhile, we finished 100% of out outdoor chores and even played a solo round of golf in a misty drizzle out on the short course.  It's possible it could have been our last chance to sneak in a round of golf out there.  I scored 28 which is right about my average for the 10 rounds I've played there.  The photo at left is a self-portrait entitled, "Happy Golfer."

Susun meanwhile volunteered several hours at the Habitat For Humanity dedication of their latest completed home.  She came back very inspired by the happiness and joy she witnessed there.  Then she went off on her Poetry Caper.

And there's one last little fun vignette to mention:  The people who were featured in the blog post "A $10 Catch & Release" sent a beautiful Thank You note for the grenade fuse box.  It was quite a touching note and made us both misty-eyed.

And, for good measure, we finished the Alice Cooper golf book about 11 pm last night.  All-in-all, it was a very good day.

Cheers!  jp

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Batten the hatches

Today's our last day of medium decent weather before the arrival of our first significant storm of Winter 2010-11.  One way we determine if the approaching Pacific system is "for real" is to look at the wind and wave forecasts embedded in the coastal gale warnings.  At the peak of the storm, models prognosticate 38 foot waves with 45 knot winds.  Such predictions carry this ominous disclaimer: "INDIVIDUAL WAVES MAY BE MORE THAN TWICE THE SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT."  Looking at the jetstream and the water vapor maps has brought to mind a snippet from a 1966 Monkees hit:

"Then I saw her face, now I'm a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind."

Perhaps a little later this morning we will post a longer, more technical analysis of this impending storm over on the Geek Weather blog.  Luckily, we still have most of today to continue to "batten the hatches."  Yesterday went really well.  Our part of the porch project is 100% done.  The yard's been mowed, the garage door painted and sealed, hoses drained and rolled and lots more nit-picky stuff done.  Today will give us a chance to completely clear the decks.  From the look of the Pacific patterns taking shape, we could be in store for one storm after another for quite some time.

Although we worked all day, we did get a real nice break.  We met Matt Q. for lunch at the fish taco joint on 1st Street.  Matt, as you recall, was my boss at RSVP for almost 2.5 years.  His departure was one of the reasons we started this blog back on 01/01/10.  We might have had a few differences when he was "Da Bahs (That's Georgia-speak for "boss") but we both enjoy his company and are glad we can still be buddies.  Lunch with Matt was a real welcome diversion from our daily routine of late.  (And, by the way, those fish tacos are still as good as they ever were!)

The Goatherder posted up on his blog about a Thursday meeting at a local winery.  It's quite interesting reading.  What's even more interesting is the "fried hard drive" part of his blog post title.
The Spudboater lost her hard drive, too.  Then last night, Jana came over with her son, Oliver, and told me she lost her hard drive, too.  The October Harvest Full Moon sure has been hard on drives!  We're danged glad this full moon is history.  It's been a toughie in a lot of regards.

Speaking of the moon and astronomical stuff, DF & LBR Kelli W. will be getting married June 11. 2010.  She posted a comment yesterday that The Shooting Star Inn was mentioned in National Geographic's write up about Flagstaff being an "Adventure Town."  Kelli is excited because the Inn is the site of her wedding next spring.  A couple of weeks ago we spent quite a bit of time studying every page of the Inn's website.   If you are at all interested in staying at an eclectic B&B where you can study the moon and stars, this place is for you.  Click here to check out the astro portion of their website.  Congrats, Kelli, you couldn't have picked a better place for your ceremony!

Today's The Day for our annual Boy Scout Food Drive.  It begins at precisely 9 am.  That means just about as soon as I finish this blog post, I'm gonna dive into the pantry and cull out at least 50 cans of food to donate this morning.  This year, I suspect it will be much closer to 100 cans.  We're overdue for some Pantry Management.  The annual food drive is our one chance to rejuvenate our extensive food storage downstairs.  (Note added an hour later:  We mustered up 10 bags with roughly 8-10 cans per bag--easily more than 50 cans but probably less than 100.  The guy who runs the local Food Bank is one of my heroes--Buck Horton's his name--he's easily THE most energetic volunteer I have ever met.  He's probably approaching 15,000 volunteer hours.  He makes the Energizer Bunny look like a couch potato!

And finally, (Cue rolled eyes and groans) we're reading yet another golf book.  We finished a second golf book called "Golf Freek" earlier this week.  Now we're reading a real classic of the genre entitled, "Alice Cooper, Golf Monster."  Believe it or not, the Alice Cooper book is highly entertaining.  We picked it up last night and only had to put it down when our poor eyes said "no more."  We read 100 pages last night and hope to finish the book today.  I doubt that anyone reading this trivia would ever remotely be interested in Alice Cooper's golf addiction but I hafta ta tell ya, This Book ROX!

Cheers, jp

Friday, October 22, 2010

Porch Pix

Here's some photos of the porch project taken late yesterday afternoon.

Reader perspectives

Time once again for the weekly blog statistics.  Daily and weekly visitation remains remarkably steady from week-to-week.  There's roughly 20 regular readers and they tend to look at maybe a couple pages per visit.  The stats are below.  We know that by far the majority of our readers are our Dear Friends & Family in Arizona.  The usage map above shows how this shakes out.  Thanks for reading & Cheers!  jp


            Total ........................ 2,249            
            Average per Day ................. 20            
            Average Visit Length .......... 3:09            
            This Week ...................... 137            

          Page Views

            Total ........................ 4,118            
            Average per Day ................. 36            
            Average per Visit .............. 1.8            
            This Week ...................... 249 

IF on NG's Top 100

 Idaho Falls is one of America's Top 100 "Adventure Towns," according to National Geographic. The list is alphabetical so there's no ranking of #1, etc.  You can click here to see the other 99 cities.

A blurb above the list says "We've built the ultimate, state-by-state guide to top outdoor hubs across the country."  So we're part of the "ultimate," huh?  Interesting.

The list contains other cities were we have some connections.  Naturally, Flagstaff is listed.  How could it not be listed?  Prescott and Tucson are the other Arizona cities. Stasea's hometown of Lihue is also on the list.

Actually, the list has some really laughable choices on it, especially when you consider the editors called it the ""  Here's some of the laughers:  Los Angeles, New Orleans, San Antonio, Annapolis, Maryland, Spearfish, South Dakota, and the biggest laugher of all--Brooklyn, New York!  We would guess the only criteria that makes Brooklyn an Adventure Town is its proximity to a major airport with low cast fares to other "real" adventure towns worldwide.  But then again, living in Brooklyn probably involves a lot of adventure just getting to and from the grocery store.

The screen shot above this post was snatched from a local TV station.  You can click here to read their "spin" on the story.

We don't worry at all about such stories boosting our city's population.  All the "cool, hip and groovy" people keep right on driving when they come to Idaho Falls.  Why is that?  Well, for starters, there's the LDS Temple on the cityscape's horizon.  It makes a strong statement about this place.  Meanwhile, the city's perimeter in all directions is downright ugly.  The city's ringed with a hodgepodge of commercial and industrial development that creates a real negative first impression.  If that isn't enough, it's insanely easy to get lost in Idaho Falls.  Many streets change names without changing directions.  Plus, locals seem genetically incapable of providing coherent directions.  Ya gotta love a city that has TWO 25th Streets that intersect each other perpendicularly. Now that's city planning at its best.  And just for icing on our cake, there's that big place outside town with the "N" word plastered all over it--NUCLEAR!  The mere whiff of the "N" word will send a lot of "cool, hip and groovy" people running full speed for anywhere but here.

We love the above negatives of Idaho Falls.  We call it "creative population control."  There's simply no way we have to worry about Idaho Falls becoming another Durango or being all dolled up like Santa Fe or any of the other darlings of the Cognoscenti of Cool.  Nope, we're just a bunch of country bumpkins having fun in our own little enclave here while thankfully the rest of the world scurries right on by in search of the Last Great Place somewhere else. 

Cheers, jp

Thursday, October 21, 2010

69 inches

So it came down to this.  69 inches.  It was me and some young dude in Lowe's.  After a lot of brew-ha-ha that doesn't need to repeated here, I told this kid, "Just give me 69 nine inches and I want your saw blade on the OUTSIDE of your pencil mark, OK?"

So, being the Loyal and Faithful Lowe's Young Guy, he dutifully repeated my request to me:  "You want 69 inches?"  I replied forcefully, "If it's not precisely 69 inches, I won't pay for it and I will double check your final cut before we leave this saw.  Do you understand that?"

It was easy to see the young man was intimidated.  Together we both pulled a lot of tape.  He even went and found a brand new $30 tape. We swapped jokes about "measure twice, cut once."

But the bottom line was this.  I stood staring him down and I verbalized this: "Don't blow it."

Well, that got the Kid's attention.  Man, he measured and he measured and he tweaked the saw blade and he tweaked again,.  He knew I was standing by with a tape in hand.

When the plywood rolled out of the saw, I stretched a tape across its face.  "Congratulations," I said, You nailed 69 inches precisely, let's see if you can do it again!"

And then the pressure was on this kid.  Once a genius, maybe not twice.  But to his credit, he nailed 69 inches perfectly the second time around.  Man, it was an awesome sight to behold.  You could tell how proud he was.  He body language lit up like a pinball lizard.  He had some swagger I hadn't seen in a long time.  Needless to say, I was pleased as well..

I walked out of Lowe's with some Serious Plywood.  We're not talking OSB.  We're talking plywood.  There's a world of difference between the two.  So, I was carrying two pieces of 48 x 69 pieces of plywood home to put up on top of the porch project.

It is a Classic Moment Of Truth.  You can't bluff.  You can't fake it.  You can't use words when raw dimensional facts will do.  If your custom cut 69 inch plywood won't fit--you've lost your game and you don't deserve to play this course.  It's that basic.

Tee it UP!

Trust me, when Lovely Susun consents to help hoist a heavy half sheet of plywood up on top of a sketchy porch project, you've really laid it all out on the line.  You're either going to look like a  Snake Charmer or you're going to look like the World's Biggest Dork.  It don't get no mo better dan dat!

You have to realize that putting a 48x69 inch piece of plywood on top of a tall sloped space is no easy trick.  Nope, even Wyoming Goat Ropers would have a tough time with this Tall Duty.  But we managed to pull it off.  Susun did Yeoman Duty on her part.  I was so proud of her!  She didn't complain even once!

Somehow we got both big pieces of plywood on top of the porch project.  And, GET THIS:

They fit so perfectly it was spooky and scary.  It was like a Frighty Nighty Spooky Night!  No, they were not out of square.  No, they didn't hang over the edges.  YES, they fit like the proverbial hand in glove.  Two 48 by 69 inch pieces of plywood laid down perfectly together, even on the middle 48-inch rafter with a mere 3/32nds of an inch between them in perfect parallel! 

Who knew we were capable of such precision carpentry work?  Certainly NOT us!  If you would have asked me how close I would have come to "Square & Plumb" in this gig, I would have ventured an answer like, "Maybe a half inch"  That would have been a good goal.  To see it shake out in the 32nds and 16ths of an inch is really gratifying and totally cool.  Neither of us knew we had it in ourselves to be that gnat's anatomy precise!

We gotta say this about that:  "IT FEELS GOOD!"

Cheers!  J&S

Down to the wire

We're in a horse race.  We're coming around the 4th turn and we can see the finish line.  We're whipping our horse's behind and galloping as fast as we can--we're coming down to the wire.

That's pretty much the way it feels here on 12th Street this morning.  We have a full plate of homeowner chores that simply must get done before the storm hits this weekend.  We don't have the luxury of procrastination.  It's all or nothing in this race against the changing seasons.

Once again we spent the entire day on the porch project.  Chances are we will spend all of this day on it, too, but the light at the end of this tunnel looks brighter and bigger and we know we can finish our part of the job today.  No doubt about it.

Meanwhile, there's numerous other pressing projects that have been impatiently tapping their toes while we have devoted 100% of our energies to the porch project.  For example:  the garage door needs a total makeover before the wet weather hits.  It simply can't be sanded, primed and sealed when it's wet.  Since it's in the shade, once it gets wet it won't dry out again until sometime in 2011.  It's the original 1939 garage door--a real artifact--and, believe me, it NEEDS attention right now, not tomorrow! 

And then there's the lawn.  All of that fertilizer we put on this fall was like giving HGH and steroids to a football player--the grass has been on a growth rampage.  While all the other neighborhood lawns have gone to sleep, ours continues to flourish.  Idaho turf grass has to be put to bed cut no more than 2.5 inches high.  Any longer than that and you're going to have significant winter kill and maybe some dreaded mold thrown in for good measure.  The last cutting of the season has to be done with the grass is dry.  If you cut it wet, you really mess up everything.

Susun's been battling the basement window casements on her breaks from the tag team porch project.  Those little puppies have to get done before the wet weather rolls in.  There's a lot more but those are the biggies.

You can see why we're hyperventilating about this stuff.  This long, calm fall has been a genuine gift and now we're coming down to the wire.  I think we'll win by a nose but we can't let up until we do!

Speaking of Susun, she created a genuine miracle yesterday.   Miracles are things that happen that have no explanation other than to say they are miracles.  Here's how it happened:  I spent several hours getting the sill plate mounted to the house eave.  Then I painstakingly plumbed and squared the two porch posts so that all surfaces of the header were precisely 52 inches from the sill plate.  Then I spent a long time preparing a template for the seven 66-inch rafters.  And then, of course, I cut all the rafters.  Ok, here's where the miracle thing begins.  I hoisted up one of the rafters to begin connecting the sill plate to the support header.  It fell one half inch short.  I asked Susun to push as hard as she could on the south upright to take up the slack.  She pushed, she pulled, she groaned and she grimaced all to no avail.  We simply couldn't make up the half inch.  I then realized I had cut the rafters too short and was going to have to go back to Square One, to to speak.  I was truly disgusted and took a break to go to Lowe's to buy some nuts and bolts while trying to restore my blood pressure to something resembling normal.  Off I went.

OK, I came back from Lowe's feeling a little better but still pretty bummed out for wasting time and money.  Meanwhile, I figured I would plop the rafter back up on top and see how much I needed to add to the new rafters I would have to cut.  Surprise!  I stood dumbfounded on top of the 12 foot ladder staring in disbelief as the rafter now fit perfectly with no pushing or pulling!!!!! Honest.  By perfect I mean to within sub-millimeter perfect!  So I asked Susun if she had touched anything while I was gone.  She said no.  I then showed her the perfect fit and asked how this could possibly happen.  All she said was, "Well, I prayed a lot and asked God for some help.  I really prayed hard."  I was speechless.  It was as if the Master Carpenter had somehow sneaked onto the job site and made everything okay.  I couldn't believe it.  So I went to the other side of the structure and plopped on that pivotal rafter and it, too, fit perfectly as if it was a match made in Heaven.  WTH happened here?  I have no clue.  I only know it was an outright miracle and Susun had something to do with it.

Have a great day & Cheers!  jp

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CB, Porch, Smoke & Comments

There's only four things to talk about this morning.  Well, maybe 5.  Give us a minute and we will think of a few more.

We started off our morning with a "Dear Diary Day" moment.  We actually connected with Dear Friend Catherine B. in Tucson.  YEA!  She's doing fine right now and sounded as buoyant as ever.  We made plans to visit her during our Arizona Sojourn.  Thanks for the Great Phone Visit, CB!

Otherwise, yesterday was entirely devoted to the porch project.  It was an arduous day from start to finish.  This project has turned out to be far bigger and much more complicated (AKA: Frustrating) than we ever suspected it would be.  Today will also be 100% devoted to the porch project.  There will be no t-stores, no golf, no goofing off, no nothing except nose-to-the-grindstone stuff.  Heck, yesterday, I didn't even get to go to the WINCO Spa until after 5 pm.  Geeze!

Upon our return from the Spa where we get our daily therapeutic dose of the soothing screams of sugar-crazed children,  we fired up both of our workhorse grills in the cook shack.  The Patio Caddie and its two new firebricks took on the task of the thighs.  El Turco drew duty to smoke 10 hot italian turkey sausages.
For some reason, another lightbulb went off last night and I actually realized how to generate some significant smoke out of El Turco.  As you can see from the photo above, the smoke column rose almost to the higher of the two power lines.  Smoke was billowing profusely enough from the little shack to have attracted the fire department.  Luckily, nobody called in the smoke.  I think I need to practice how to respond just in case the fire dept. DOES show up one of these evenings.  I never realized I could put out this much smoke in El Turco.  Luckily, I finally got everything to work right and both the sausages and the thighs turned out perfectly.

The other news is a new world record for comments received here on the Y2Ten blog.  Daughter Stasea turned in SEVEN comments overnight.  That's the most from a single person in a single day as well as the most total comments ever received on a single day.  Thanks, Stasea, you made our day!

The weather is still hanging on to the last millibars of high pressure of our Harvest Moon Fall.  The upcoming pattern change this weekend will be a real hammer blow to these Halcyon Days.  We suspect the local trees will reach their peak of color Friday morning.  We hope to have our part of the porch project done by tomorrow.  If so, we will be able to tour the town and try to capture this fall's final splendor on our digital cameras. 

Have a great day & Cheers, jp

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

C2500 ROX!

Our big truck is a Chevy C2500.  We just read it ranks as #3 on the Least Ticketed vehicle (by police) in America!  We just HAD to put up this piece of news tonight.!  Here's the full Top Ten.  Source URL is below:

Here's the list of the Top 10 least ticketed cars:
1. Buick Rainier SUV
2. Mazda Tribute SUV
3. Chevrolet C/K- 3500/2500 pickup
4. Kia Spectra sedan
5. Buick LaCrosse sedan
6. Saturn Aura Hybrid sedan
7. Oldsmobile Silhouette minivan
8. Chevrolet Uplander minivan
9. Hyundai Tucson SUV
10. Pontiac Vibe crossover

Read more:

Fire Bricks!

The light bulb went off yesterday.  I went to the city's major brickyard and bought a whooping TWO fire bricks--the 1.25 inch kind.  They cost two bucks each.  They are the Silver Bullets for the Patio Caddie.  They fit the grill surface perfectly and they modulate the interior temperature perfectly, too.  I have no idea why I didn't think of this easy "fix" sooner.  Talk about holding heat!   Even 10 minutes after pulling out a 9x9 pan of chicken thighs, the bricks still clocked 400+ degrees from our digital thermometer!  It's going to take me awhile to get the knack of baking with bricks in a gas grill but I'm excited and can hardly wait for each evening's new "lesson plan."  By the time we get to Arizona (Is that a Glenn Campbell song?), we should have the Patio Caddie wired for some very predictable baking successes.  YEEEE---HAAW!

The porch project didn't produce any tangible progress yesterday.  We stalled out.  We spent nearly 30 minutes at the steel company and simply became ever more confused.  Then we called in the city's Premier Roofer--the #1 Guy, and asked him to lead us to the Promised Land.  Jerry was gracious enough to oblige and gave us all the professional advice we could ever hope to have.  Luckily, we got him involved BEFORE we made a bunch of costly blunders.  The next few steps in this process are going to be VERY tricky.  We begin this morning by renting a 12-foot "a frame" ladder.  We have to remove a whole set of roofing screws and then carefully pry out the flashing below the roofing sheet metal.  Then begins the real fun--attaching a new fascia board and framing up the 2x4 roof rafters.  Then it's on to the decking, etc.  We can't get Jerry involved again until the next phase is complete.

Meanwhile, the clock ticks on our really good weather.  Here's how it shakes out:



As you can see by the "feature foto" above, the trees are beginning to do their thing here.  Although collectively they are far from their peak colors, some individual trees are magnificent.  The red maples are particularly awesome this time of year.  It won't be long now until the laggards join the autumn chorus and Leaf Season begins in earnest.

The tree above is across the street at Kenyon's house.  It's upwind from us so we can expect ALL of its leaves to be in our yard soon.  That particular tree is one reason we bought the Monster Leaf Sucker.  There are several such prolific leaf-producing trees upwind from us.  They sure are beautiful to behold at the peak of their color but they are a bear to deal with when autumn's splendor falls to the ground.

Somehow, Susun's flowers continue to flourish despite a few freezing mornings.  It won't be long and we will have to wave "bye bye" to them.

Monday, October 18, 2010

La Nina

We're studying La Nina tonight.  It's a pretty big cyclic episode.  It's definitely going to have an impact.  The bigger and stronger that La Nina becomes, the more likely that it will conform to its well documented historical traits: bitter cold here in Idaho and hot dry weather in the Southwest.  You can click here to see today's latest NWS assessment of La Nina.

We're forming an opinion that we're going to see temps well above average in Arizona this winter.  Daytime highs in the 70's will not be uncommon.  Most of the daytime highs will be upper 50's to low 60's.  Super cold early winter overnight lows will be rare.  Meanwhile, we're betting Idaho Falls will see protracted periods of sub zero overnight lows with a stretch of daytime highs that never get above zero all day long!  I'd be willing to bet that the longest cold stretch will be 10-14 days!  Cabin fever is definitely going to be a huge factor here this winter.

Meanwhile, DUST will be the dreaded four letter word in our Arizona neighborhood.  I'm betting my allergies will be running rampant down there this winter.  There will be precious little rain to settle the Arizona dust.  As always, this weather forecast and $4 will get you a medium decent cuppa joe at your local Starbucks!

(Note Added the following morning: We did a blog post on the historic low level of Lake Mead.  if this La Nina delivers "according to predictions," Lake Mead is almost certain to fall to a level that would require water rationing.  Click here to read our post on the Snowbird blog.)