Personal & Public Projects

Tis the season to winterize.  While some in Durango gather wood, clear the decks and yards for the snow season, we’re getting ready to get ready for another season at a lower latitude.  Not that we don’t have projects to finish before we leave; they’re just less about preparing for winter’s cold.

img_6558Stanna has been weaving a number of scarves for the Women’s Shelter on her hand loom, in conjunction with her Four Corners Weavers Guild. This scarf project accomplishes two goals for Stanna; thinning her yarn stash and providing a little holiday cheer and warmth for women in need.


img_6623Scarves are not a fashion accessory we need often, however it was about as holiday festive as this WIS volunteer could muster – when paired with a red hat on the Xmas Train – this year. The newest scarves weren’t available to me, so I wore a Nepalese one Stanna brought back from Nepal.  Odd as it seems, a man on the train asked me if I knew what one of the symbols on the scarf end meant.  He and his buddies snickered, and tried to explain “OM” to me, as I was slow to comprehend.  The language was a bit thick but I eventually realized they were talking the yoga Om our fill-in Yoga teacher encourages to utter.


img_6644Needless to say it was, once again, pretty special helping families cut their own Christmas Tree beside the Silverton Narrow Guage train tracks, 26 miles the valley up near Cascade Wye.  The railroad provides the saws, the National Forest Service designates which part of the right-of-way needs tree thinning, the WIS volunteers provide the guidance and muscle getting them to the tracks and onto the narrow gauge boxcar.

img_6550Back on the home front, it was time to repair the Netflix monitor. Our 10 year old flat screen wouldn’t light up when turned on.  The clicking symptoms were easy to diagnosis with an internet search, which found numerous YouTube videos describing how to fix the errant capacitors that have gone bad.  Parts were only $1.99 each but I’d discovered my soldering iron was on the boat.  (Funny how you find things you didn’t realize you miss, nine years later)  Amazon provided everything for less than $20, and, as the last video I watched by a DIY woman said, “Even a girl can do this”.  Lucky I passed her admonition.

So our remaining projects for the winter are a thorough house cleaning and packing for Thailand.


Once again an outstanding Thanksgiving Day with our family at the St. Paul Ski Lodge on Red Mountain Pass.  This was the 42nd year of this traditional event for the extended George Family, where it’s now quite evident that generational shift is well under way.  In the last century when we were mid-thirties and the George children were infants or speculative, we all did the planning, prep, cooking and entertaining with a handful of geriatric/senior guests. Now we are them.

img_6586The George children are teaching their infants and toddlers to ski, sled and navigate the trappings of the Lodge.  Those same grown children, now in their mid-thirties, are managing all the planning, prep, cooking and entertaining with their friends and we are the handful of senior guests (not so geriatric since we can still manage the mile climb to 11,480′ under our own steam).

img_6564img_6582Winter managed a last-minute 17″ of snow on top of a prior meager 6″ to cover all but the tallest of dried grasses and low-lying rocks.  Skiing up to and above the lodge wasn’t an option this year, so most walked or in our case snowshoed in under absolutely cloudless dark blue skies.

A much smaller crowd settled down to a 12-dish meal not including the 5 dessert offerings plus ice cream. We’d wondered if only 21 guests to the huge potluck would mean less food, but one couldn’t imagine us lacking for any traditional dish (unless it was Janet’s Brussels Sprouts plate we’ve often appreciated).  With 10 less folks attending this year’s feast, we all managed to sit around the same table in the lodge, for a change.  Of course this bountiful meal is preceded by an entire afternoon of a variety of hors d’oeuvres servings “paced” on the hour, so it was a dutiful pain to taste each of the desserts after the volunteer kitchen crew knocked out the dinner dishes.

We snowshoed out the next day just before all the left-overs were brought out for lunch. However, we did enjoy some of the remaining desserts (with whipped cream) with our breakfast.

Back to Back Busy

How did we ever find time to work for a living?  Something we hear from active retirees all the time and we’re no exception. A good routine of exercise, recreation and ADL’s img_7509-1(activities of daily living) can take up most the time in a day, but when there’s those “extra
chores” like volunteer projects, maintenance on Silverton properties, repairs, and getting ready for winter, there just isn’t any time left to get old.  It’s rumored that naps are available to senior citizens, but those coupons must be getting lost in all the junk mail. There’s hardly time to do the fun things like tech support for friends or blogging.

However, when you notice that those faces and ages in the obit’s page are your age or younger, it’s probably a good thing being “back to back busy” — not to mention lucky. Practicing the tenets of “Younger Next Year” has worked so far, and keeps the need for naps at bay.  I remember the joke about a woman who said she lost 175 pounds by getting a divorce. I’d just like to lose some of those nagging “pounds” in Silverton. And then there’d be lots more time for projects in Durango, like remodeling our shower.

Right now, we’re not starting anything new or major, just wrapping up loose ends and eating down the stores in the larder and frig. Thailand looms on the horizon in early December and somehow that sounds a bit more restful.


Looking thru the week’s photos reveals some of the chores, projects and celebrations we’ve had.

Right in the middle of “The Crown,” Netflix’s wonderful series on Queen Elizabeth, our flat screen bellied up. You Tube is rife with videos on how to repair it; best was one posted with the narrating voice saying no less than 6 times, “I’m a girl, you can do this.”

So, as per usual (or maybe 99% of the time), Radio Shack was out of stock on the correct capacitors “the girl” recommended for replacement. Amazon is sending us four new capacitors to be soldered in the TV motherboard.


Stanna got her new loom that seems like a toy compared to the last one.







She found a good home for the giant Gilmakra locally and now has a Schacht Baby Wolf that doesn’t need the entire living room.  Weaving is already underway with a warp of dishtowel yarn.

img_6479One more solar barn raising project provided a Durango home with 5kW of photovoltaics at about $1 a watt.  Twelve people showed up and 20 panels got installed in less than 2 hours.  The talking, camaraderie and lunch took another two, but that’s when the newbies get to ask questions and get excited about their upcoming installations.  Our group is close to having installed 250kW here in Durango over the past 3 years.


Stanna’s ladies hiking group is still hitting the trails Wednesdays.  As the cold, hunting season and snow close off the high country, they venture south and west.  In this photo they went south of Farmington, New Mexico to the Bisti Badlands, a wilderness reserve famous for it’s petrified logs and trees.  This week they are West of Cortez hiking in the Canyon of the Ancients, a BLM wilderness area famous for it’s ruins and petroglyphs. We’ll leave for Thailand before the ladies start snowshoeing on Wednesdays.



There was a milestone passed last week when tg finally dipped into the seventies. Our Portland family hand crafted birthday greetings, which we posted on the china cabinet for the subdued celebration.

Donna and Chris joined us for a Surf & Turf supper at Casa Condo where the service is good and prices fair. For a first time menu the food was exceptionally good.




And just to show you the holidays aren’t far off, some Forest Service WIS Volunteers and San Juan Mountain Association folks got a permit to cut 20 White Fir trees, in a specific thinning area of the forest.  They’ll be offered along with the Oregon shipment of Xmas Trees the SJMA sells as a fund raiser starting on November 22nd.  The grove in which we cut these trees was so thick it actually felt good to be taking some away.




Back in the Desert

img_6385We managed one more 4-Day trip to the desert the last week of October. All three of us were eager to test some new gear and enjoy the end of our Indian Summer here in the Southwest.  The Utah desert is very popular this time of year and securing a backcountry hiking and camping permit is difficult in the Canyonlands National Park.


nationalparkWe learned in Spring that we could come into the very bottom of the National Park (green shading) as day hikers, by entering and exploring the Butler Wash Wilderness Study Area directly south of the park. This area is some of the finest desert wilderness and deserves it’s special designation.

p1430695The only footprints in the four days were deer, bear and bobcat  (excluding the day hikes deep into the National Park where we only saw one set of human prints). Water sources are the primary reason no one goes into this region, but we’ve now scouted and recorded a number of water holes. Our trip itinerary is dependent on finding adequate water and each time we’re able to explore new canyons and routes until we run low and have to backtrack.


10/25/16 East Fork of West Fork Salt Creek

img_6400Because we’ve seen numerous bear tracks and scat in the drainages that we travel and camp, we always hung our food.

Will and Mike both had new packs to test.  Mike’s was a new version of zPacks “front zip” backpack, and Will is always testing and reviewing new pack designs for Gossamer Gear. This trip Will’s pack was a new, soon to be released, 55-liter lightweight backpack. I was able to test out my newest ultralight shelter with it’s dual doors open. However the very best addition was bringing a new UL 1.75 oz pillow. The pillow combined with a “hip hole” in the sand made for the most comfortable sleep I’ve ever had on the ground. Overnight temps were 40° and daytime temps were low 60’s, perfect weather for desert exploring.


Typical camps.

Our track went thru narrow drainages and over bands of layer rock formations.p1430689


As usual, a Good Time was had by All. And in little over 4 weeks we’ll be in Thailand.


Reworked my UltraLite Gear page and added an online UL Gear worksheet in case you’re curious.