Friday, April 12, 2019

Trip to El Rancho Grande

Last weekend, we took the pups up to the Rancho to meet with the Hughes Net guy so he could re-align the dish with the satellite. Our satellite connections are our only real ties to the outside world in that remote location, where over-the-air TV signals are non-existent and even mighty Verizon does not reach consistently. Well, we do have a wired telephone line there for emergencies, but who uses land lines anymore on a regular basis except for phone spammers?

It was a phenomenally lovely day there.

The skies were that startlingly deep blue that comes at high altitude, the snow was all gone, and the plants were full of swelling buds.

The pups held their usual jamboree.

As I’ve mentioned, life in a cold-winter environment is brand-new to me, and I was amazed to see that the grass was already greening up. That is, except for in the back.

This is all quite dead because we haven’t had any irrigation in the back since 2017. We’ll be fixing that this year. For now, it’s just that much less to mow.

Another task we had was to turn the water back on to the house. We had to turn it off earlier when the water-softener valve blew out; our plumber up there fixed the leak, but didn’t turn the water back on because he couldn’t get inside the house to check for further leaks.

Of course, when we turned the water back on we did find a leak, but fortunately it was outside the house, and just a trickle, so we were at least able to use the plumbing while we were there.

The third, and most important, task was to replace our flag. The stars and stripes is in abundant evidence in the Mountain Communities.

Another house in our neighborhood.

El Rancho Grande is no exception. One of the things I really liked about the place when we first saw it was the big flagpole in front, with a light that keeps the flag illuminated at night, as per proper flag etiquette. I’ve always wanted such a setup.

We put up a brand-new flag when we moved in, and were surprised to see how quickly it became damaged. We replaced that with a more substantial one. That one got utterly, and shamefully, shredded over the hard winter. So this time we got the most durable flag we could find.

We hope this one will last longer, but if it doesn’t, we’ll just get a bigger one next time. If that doesn’t help, then I guess we’ll have to put a flag order on autoship.

Our neighbor to the west keeps peacocks, and have recently built a pen for them. We love the peacocks; they are beautiful, and full of personality. I couldn’t manage to get a good photo of the pen, because the sun was a bit behind it and I didn’t want to distress them by using the flash, but here’s a bad one.

The peacocks sound like chickens speaking with a foreign accent.

Oh, and while we were up there, I made sure to get a better photo of the Barn.

This will give you a better idea of how big it is, although I didn’t have the right lens with me to give you an accurate idea of just how deep it is. The first owner used to restore Packards in there, and he told me he could fit seven of those big cars, with enough room to work on them all.

You can’t see all the features here, but you can see the nice wood stove, the lumber storage rack behind it, and at the back an attached storage shed. You can also see, in the storage shelves along the left side, a great deal of spare maintenance items for the house.

I’m tempted to remove the dropped ceiling and its attendant support columns, but while this will make the Barn a more inviting space, it will also make it harder to heat in winter. So we’ll see.

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“What this place needs is something to herd, like maybe some big, fluffy llamas!”

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Big Time at The Farm House

My 60th birthday was the Friday before last, and on the next day we had a big party with lots of cousins and friends. I was humbled by the large turnout. Everyone that could be here was here, many coming from a considerable distance. The party was, in effect, the coming-out for the new me. Everyone was pretty worried about me during the long run-up to the surgery, and this was their opportunity to see that I came out okay. As I said, I’m humbled, and grateful.

The following is a brief recap of the proceedings. I’m not going to identify anyone by name, because I didn’t ask permission, and I don’t want to violate anyone’s privacy.

* * *

The interior of the Farm House is still years from being completely restored, and I worry that the unpainted walls and age-dulled woodwork are a bit off-putting for guests. But Wifey did a great deal to spiff up the place and make it more inviting, and I noted that whereas previously people tended to congregate in the kitchen (the only finished room in the house besides the downstairs bath) during parties, this time they distributed themselves throughout all the available rooms and in the gazebo outside (which just got a new canopy and some swell, if dim, color-changing LED lights).

The pups were of necessity banished to the Lounge for most of the proceedings with plenty of treats, and most of the cats absented themselves, but Benny, our goodwill ambassador, was right in the thick of things. He even hung out with the gazebo folk outside for a while, on a short leash because his stomach had been upset and I didn't want him noshing on yard debris.

One of Wifey’s big projects was the completion of the window treatments in the parlor. Window treatments in the Farm House: wow!

Now, lets hope the curtains survive the Pet Division. The sheer panels were under attack from the cats the minute they were up; Wifey was able to repair the damage, but it looks like the sheers will have to be kept pushed back.

I received a great number of very thoughtful gifts, but I must say that my favorite gift came from this guy.

He’s my littlest cousin, and when he came in and saw me, he ran up and gave me a big hug. That made me very happy. We’re really looking forward to watching him grow up; he’s definite MVP material. Here he is with his parents (on the left); they’re doing a great job.

Oh, look, there’s Benny on our friend’s lap, keeping a close eye on the little one. And you can see another recent improvement, a rug. Rugs are a risky proposition in the Farm House; what with all our pets, they never seem to last long. But this is a new type of rug, really more of a tapestry that can be removed from its backing and machine-washed. We have high hopes for it, especially since the pets really seem to appreciate it and have treated it uncommonly well (so far).

The kitchen was the most popular room early on:

Then, it was cake time, and the dining room became the center of activity:

Wait, let’s get in closer on that Happy Birthday sign:

I bet this is the first time such a high number has been used with this sign.

The party eventually ended up in the den, which suited Benny just fine. He wanted to watch the Angels game.

It was a fantastic day, a definite milestone on my way back. It’s a great thing to feel better at 60 than I did at 50, and it’s really icing on the cake to spend the day surrounded by loved ones.

I had so much fun that it’s taken me over a week to recover.

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"Now that the festivities have concluded, how's about whipping up some dinner for my friend and me?
It would be a shame if something happened to your nice new rug."