Cleaning up my mess of projects that can never possibly be done.

Its a mess, but It’s my mess. All of my tools are readily accessible to venture outside for projects. They overwhelm the corner tile project that has been put off waiting for a time when it’s not freezing at night, for the wood stove; now even more delayed because there are other things to do, and a whole summer of no freezing nights. I have studio quality sound dampening due to all of the exposed denim. The best of all, I can sleep in a bed rent free(not a truck bed).

The necessity of painting the house looms over me constantly. I see a little bit of oxidation here and there on some of the framing nails that have exposed heads. One of these dry sunny days I’ll empty a can of rustoleum that I found while moving my stuff to prevent further corrosion. It will feel like a great milestone to get that done the next couple of months.

I bought the wrong pipe elbows to rig my gutters. This is perhaps why every project lingers so long for me out here. I try my best to make lists, and venture into town infrequently. This is part of my low cost of living lifestyle, and helps me use less fossil fuels. If I ventured into town every time I needed a bolt or some plumbers tape or more caulking, I would be driving to town daily. At it is, I do not in the least look forward to heading to town each time, and am relieved to arrive back home where life is slow and less crowded.

I don’t have a refrigerator, and still rely on the 32 degree nights to soak the cold into my groceries. The cooler sits in the shade all day and keeps things relatively cool. The more volume the better. We are only now, this time of year, getting around to temperatures which are in the sixties. Today the high is 48 and cloudy. This luxury will soon be disappearing and I will be relying on a zeer pot to keep my produce fresh(two unglazed clay pots, sand in between, add water which evaporates through the outer pot-cooling the inner pot). I had problems in the past using this system as the inner pot wants to float, because it is displacing a lot of water and buoyant. This time I went the extra mile and bought bolts and washers to hold down the inner pot. I’ll silicone those soon so the water doesn’t leak out. Another project.

One step at a time, one moment at a time.

Where there is seed, birds will come

     There were two Junco’s at the feeder today. I also hear them chirping away as I make trips from the house to my van (I am not fully divulged from #vanlife). It is very very windy here. The dust this morning is filling the air, obscuring mountains and some nearby hills alike. I took the opportunity to set up my camp stove. Cooking inside today will be a luxury.

One step at a time

     Things are coming along in an exciting way. I overturned one major hurdle recently, moving all of my junk out of my storage shed. I had to scab in several more two-by-sixes in order to feel comfortable putting all of my stuff in the loft. My shed almost feels like a home now. I threw up a couple of shelves on the walls to clear the area, and have mounted a central table, which will be convenient to cook at in the future. I plan on installing the stove and sink soon.

     I have the start of a raised bed garden surrounded by chicken wire. My focus now is directing the water that comes off the roof of an old boy scout cabin. I’ll be putting it initially into a large bath tub, with a capacity I would think to be about eighty gallons.

     For the first time I am able to charge my laptop from the inside of my shed. I have only a very small solar panel,15 watts, but with the two batteries I think I will certainly be able to maintain my laptop and phone charged. When I steal the panels from the top of my van, my potential will be significant. Maybe I can even run the 1500 watt blend-tec blender that my mom gave me without turning on the gas generator. Mmmmm, kale and banana smoothies. I hope that this will encourage more writing, especially as the funds to complete different tasks are being ushered in by rafting season.

     Since moving the bird feeder several days ago, and filling it yesterday, I have had only one group of birds find it; the Pinon Jays. It was nice to hear them right outside the shed when I woke up this morning; getting thier breakfast. I’ve placed the feeder conspicuously near the window of my writing desk, which will give much distraction. Even now one is hopping about on the logs suspending the feeder. I did see the Dark-eyed Junco’s flock by this morning, twenty or thirty, but they didn’t stop in to say hello.

     Things will continue to get done here, one step at a time, one day at a time. I am looking forward to the journey. Of necessity for rainy season is causing more of my siding and roof, then painting the structure. There is the worry on the horizon of it being hot here in my shed during the day, though I have not insulated the floor, and the constant fifty degree temperature makes for a great cooling element. This is amplified by the amount of loft space that I have which absorbs hot air like a sponge. When it was cold outside earlier, the loft was my preferred space to watch the mountains grow. I started germinating, Kale, Purple Mustard, and Bok Choy. I have lots to do to get the raised beds ready once they sprout. Couple weeks is all I can plan ahead. Yet rafting season is quickly approaching to dominate my time. Well, some of it. The leisure life of going down the river with a different group everyday still allows some half days, which makes for plenty of time to get things done in the month of the summer solstice, June. I do hope we had some of the afternoon rains, such that occurred last year. It will be good for my lettuce patch.

Family

     How wonderful it is to have a connected family. I went recently to a memorial for my Grandparents on my Mother’s side of the family. Glenn and Joe would tote their kids, my mom and her two sisters, around the country to visit cousins. Time passed, and each sister has two or three kids of their own. More time passed, and now there are abundant grandchildren, to whom I am uncle Ronjohn. Where parents get to master discipline and manners, I get to focus on how to have the most fun in life, as well as making philosophical insights or emphasizing the importance of reading well, and doing math. My sisters oldest, Patience, is much more amenable to doing math if the adding and subtracting involves board game money to buy colored pencils for pictures to draw. My aunt is bringing a gaggle of young ones on a road trip in June to come rafting as well, something I am really excited about.

     Someday, my mom, her sisters, and their husbands will pass too. Then it will be up to us cousins to keep that ideal of family connectedness close to heart, despite being scattered around Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. I have no question that we will. Thanks Glenn and Joe, this is your doing.

I think I could stay here a while.

Now that I’m home I want to try and get into more of a rhythm with writing and exercising, pullups mostly. This morning I had a nice yoga sesssion, and am grateful for being surrounded again by my wonder self-created space. I enjoy it very much looking around and remembering stitching it all together. I made a list of the things that I need to prioritize. Mostly I’m limited by cash flow in what I want to do. I will certainly be overexcited to buy batteries for my power inverter when the time comes, and also then to have my dc light functional. The four hundred I just spend on brakes and rotors is going to set that back. I have thus far been able to curtail any spending on my pleasure sporting, aside from a few bike tubes, p-tex, a hot wax, and quick draws.

Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I start to contemplate the joys of being healthy I get a bug. Sunday night the subtle ache started, and only worsened on my drive home Monday. After the drive I slept intermittently from 2:30 on and felt recovered after a twelve hour nap, Tuesday morning. It is always the contrasts of life that make it special: life and death, sick and healthy, energetic and lethargic. Much to appreciate now, while the memory is close of feeling tired and sluggish.

I like the extreme simplification of life out here in the boonies. Though I have to plan my water and propane and food meticulously, I have often a week long interval from the chaos of the city. Every time I dip into the city, I am happy to return home; to my birds and mice and quiet solitude.

Up goes the greenhouse, down goes the ski bum.

I ended up on a “working vacation” this week. I guess I will always call it a vacation when I leave the half hour driving perimeter of my homestead. I am about five hours away now, at my mothers home in Grand Junction. I spent the week putting up a greenhouse in Crawford, on the way, and Friday was able to ski with my dad on a rare powder day at Powder Horn. The skiing was extra special since I used to spend twenty five to fifty days a year at that resort, and know many of the runs inside out and backwards; the ones that are just dips into the trees on random cat tracks to find boulder fields and rock drops. For a small resort it has surprisingly diverse terrain. Yesterday I rested my back and legs.

only day on a lift this year. Yay for powder days!
An untracked boulder field just for me? Yes please. Core shots to my skis? Who cares?

How wonderful and great it is to have an able body. To be able to work until you are aching and tired at the end of the day. To get a sense of fulfillment at seeing a project finished. What a primal human need that is which we must still fulfill, sometimes to excess, as we have seen the last few generations prone to overwork; define themselves by overwork, overproduction, and overconsumption. Thats one of the torches that I refuse to carry.

The group of people that I was working for were are Rainbows. Surrounding the day was a spirit of shared community and accomplishment. Meals are particularly communal as well with these keepers of the light, so we ate fire seared food during our breaks. I’ll look forward to seeing them some day in the future.

Slacksidaisical: the story of my life.

This word, probably just published now outside of any egregious error in spelling, describes my life. After all, it is about the journey. I have been able to go out climbing a significant number of weekends lately. Now that I’m moved into my new loft, I have a hang board nearby, which makes excuses to train harder. Parts of my ceiling are finished. Same with parts of the tongue and groove pine board on my walls. Some of my fireplace is mounted to the wall, though none of the tile. My DC fan, when I buy it, is ready to be installed in the loft. My power inverter is here, and I can hook up electricity once I mount and wire the AC breaker box with a plug. I think with one more two by six in my loft I will feel good about the thousand pound potential of water that can be stored up there, plus my stuff from my storage unit. I need to mount the sink, and plumb the drain. And I will get all of this done, one afternoon at a time; slacksidaisically.

I made an early morning photo documentary of my current state of things:

Walls going up one plank at a time. Electrical wires that are ready to be put into action. DC and AC circuits.
The comfy loft overlooking the Pinon-juniper forest with the distant peaks of the Sangre de Cristo’s.
The junk in my storage loft.
The chaos downstairs.
One of the rare beautiful snowy days this year.

All said, life is comfortable. I rip on the heater in the morning and within an hour the loft is warm enough to lounge around in my T-shirt. I walked around yesterday in my underwear til noon or so. I try to avoid going out into the cold mornings, with a skill saw, until at least I can work in a long sleeve shirt and hat. Just reading in the morning is a swell way to start every day. I’ll get some tasks done here, or get some kind of paying work in the afternoon, if I’m lucky. I don’t however get much exercise aside from what I get moving greenhouse tubing or plastic or smart pots to different places. I cook dinner before the light goes away(suns out til past six these days!), and eat it in the warmth of my big blue chair, courtesey of my mother. The same one that I sit here now looking into the splotchy white and black peaks with a tint of blue haze in them, signifying the water in the atmosphere. It all matches my exposed denim insulation quite well, the sound cancelling quality of which while exposed is quite pleasant. I’ve never been in a sensory deprivation chamber, but this may be what it sounds like; in the quite of the night, when the wind is not blowing the shingles on the roof.

Well, I need to light off a vaccum in here since I let Muddy climb up the loft stairs(he’s sketched to go down them though). I also have to go meet my neighbor for coffee at nine. I find it comedic sometimes how the older you get the more things have to be planned out in some kind of organized schedule. When I was working at Dogpatch farm in Paonia, Del, the owner and I would have coffee every day at eight. We would talk about the daily itinerary, and lots of other things intermittently. Del was a good ol’ conspiracy theorist, and had some interesting stories about his work as a fish biologist. He had a kind of a wheezing guffaw when you got him to cut up. Probably dead now. Thats what makes life special. We all die.

I looked up slacksidaisical on google, and it seems that the urban dictionary has defined it as relating to one who “wears a dress solely because they are too lazy to put on pants.” If I had a sun dress, I would probably wear it around the house.

Is it spring yet?

Spring is getting closer every day. Here in Colorado, it is cold, but in the arctic….not so much (relative to average). Looking at a global map of temperatures relative to average for this time of year, what you see is many regions that are colder than average and many regions that are warmer than average. I think it will be a record low water year on the Arkansas river, but I will be headed back there to work anyhow. My little shed is coming along nicely, and I have made the milestone this week of moving in to the loft. Progress in baby steps.

Two days prior I went on a drive with a neighbor to Cedaredge, CO to deliver some greenhouses. During the drive we saw two different Belted King Fisher’s, a migratory bird-that is probably arriving a little early, according to Dave. Yesterday I also saw some Mountain Blue Bird’s on my fence post when I arrived home in the evening. So wonderful to see all these creatures moving about on the planet. I hope that they maintain for my lifetime. The Dark-eyed Junco’s and Black Capped Chickadees have not yet left me. In the mornings when I go to my vanagon to heat up water I can expect a flourish of birds to rise from the feeder. It’s the same in the evenings.

The Arkansas is running around 350 cfs at Parkdale, above the Royal Gorge. It is winter and to be expectedly low. Part of that glorious cycle that our planet has had for so long, also associated with the migrating birds and powder turns. The reservoirs are all filled up, though it is not a good sign that there has been so much melting of snow thus far. Snowpack is still down, but also still growing. We have not abandoned winter here yet. I got to ski the a storm a week prior, after it settled a bit. It was rather consolidated by the time I got to it, but I managed to find a bit of it untracked.

I started this a week ago, but I guess I publish it today. I’m getting in this bad habit of writing seldom. There are things to do of course, but no excuses.

Winter?

It’s a new year! With new possibilities, and continuing friendships. It looks as if winter has skipped us this year, but I don’t want to be to hasty in my prescription; the beginning of February can be pretty darn cold. There is in fact a cold spell coming when I look at the ten day forecast. It may even hover around freezing for the entirety of a day!

The snow is lacking this year, but the Ice climbing is off to a fair start. Of course one is not altogether independent of the other. We need some snow for ice climbing, and some good temperatures to help thaw things out. Melting and freezing, melting and freezing. Ouray’s ice was rather pitiful when I visited just after the new year, due to lack of snow. The Sangre de Cristo’s are at about seventeen percent of average this year, which is pretty bad. The river that I guided last year, the Arkansas, gets much of its flows, from Cotopaxi down, from the Sangre’s. The rest of the river basin is not often touched by drought, being fourteen thousand foot peaks around Buena Vista, and some of Leadvilles surrounding beauty. We may still have a nice high water mark mid June, but I wouldn’t expect the water levels to hold at over a thousand through August like they did last year. Most of Colorado is around fifty percent of average snowpack at this time. It seems that we, Colorado, are just hanging out in an unfortunately dry part of the jet stream for the past month.

I started dating this fantastic girl. The kind that makes you wonder how she was ever “put back on the market.” I’m still waiting for the high to end. When it turns into some droll monotony of routine that cannot be enlivened. We share much passion for the outdoors, and have similar political stances, and so I don’t see it happening too soon. Our first real date was backcountry skiing, and despite her remonstrations, she accompanied me ice climbing. She also has a keen eye for writing and literature, which I admire. I still think the hardest part in maintaining a long term relationship is the sacrifices that must be made, by both parties, in order to keep the love alive. Right now I have to sacrifice my desire to not drive, and contribute carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, so that I am able to see her more often than once a week. I imagine she will feel the sacrifice reading a poorly narrated story I’ve written(here and there) and hopefully soon a crudely shaped novel. So far it feels pretty smooth, the relationship not the novel.

The window I ordered and have been waiting on has arrived. The electical lines are laid: DC lighing and AC power outlets. Denim insulation to be ordered today, and arrive when I get back from working in Aspen. Hopefully It will be enough. I have to order by the pallet. Home depot does not get enough interest yet in denim insulation apparently to be able to buy it in reasonable quantities.

Well, hopefully the snow starts to fall soon. I have a hut trip on Feb 14 at the Sangree hut outside Leadville. Should be a fantastic Valentines day for Jill and myself. I am excited for brie and good wine at elevation in a cozy wood heated palace.

Dumping my photos and thoughts

Right now the mountain blue birds are fluttering around in the rain. Hopping about on the fence posts outside my vanagon. I can, if nothing else, get some joy from the birds. I read recently that libra’s can’t make a decision to save their lives, and wholly own the statement. Until now, the very last possible chance to get a building up before winter, I have not been able to commit to pouring money into the project. Partly this is due to my deep yearning need to play and travel, and the typical way in which I’ve lived prior. Save money, go climbing.

I feel isolated here. I have one climbing partner, who is probably the most unreliable climbing partner I have ever had (as far as bailing out last minute). All my climber friends are far away. I’m here. Broke.

I think about moving to Bozeman for the winter. For the ice climbing of course. Maybe in January. I’m sure I can find some great new friends with there. Those dirtbag climbers that I adore so much. Who despise most of what society offers and relish in squandering days in the mountains, with cold fingers and aching backs.

The wonderful people that I met in Rockport, TX are in shambles. I could go there. Carry tree limbs to the street to be removed. Repair shingles. Wayne and Diane would put me up in an instant so that I could help. It would be an escape from the cold. But in Texas there are no hills to hike; no mountains; no climbing. I feel deeply for them. It is a great upheaval of communities bestowed by hurricanes.

I think about going back to Boulder, but it is expensive. The climbing and friends that are close by there are my main attractors. Yet I detest the idea of paying somebody else’s mortgage with my eight hundred dollars a month rent.

The roaring fork valley is another option. I have at least one really good friend there. No shortage of good wages either. Actually, that’s why I left. Money was the center of the universe there. It felt all consuming.

I don’t really like money, except that it buys groceries, climbing shoes, gas generators, and two-by-fours. I’d like to make some with writing, which is probably my only chance of ever staying here on this property. It was my vision for the property. A place to write. A place to be alone. Both of those things it is.

For now, I guess I’ll just putter along with what I can. Make ten dollars an hour helping my pot growing neighbors try to maintain their plants through November, with firewood and propane (Highly unsustainable). Write, and read, and write some more. Juggle my emotions. Wonder why I’ve yet to find a lasting partner in crime, lover; someone whom to be alone together. Think of those lovers that I pushed away, and those that pushed me. Wish that humanity could be different, but know it to be fruitless.

I risk becoming a disgruntled miser of an old man here. I’m just rounding my thirty third lap around the sun middle of next week. Oh joy.

The high point on a June hike nearby.
The beautiful wings of a mountain blue bird that flew in front of my truck. Without preening it falls into disrepair.
Ants reduced this bluebird friend to its bare parts.
Brassica flowers against the sunset mid summer.
My experiment watering with unglazed ceramic pots. Lettuce, radish, tomatoes, mustard, and tat soy. The rabbits enjoyed the lettuce. And the two tomato hornworms enjoyed my tomatoes. I had a few nice meals anyhow.
My favorite neighbor, Frank, and his dog Maestro. His old jeep is the bees knees.