Sunday, January 31, 2010


Three years ago I stuck five bryophyllum plantlets in my jeans pocket, carried them around the rest of the day, brought them home and dropped them on top of soil in some small pots. Three of them survived and a year later I gave one to a friend.

Mothers-of-Thousands (bryophyllum).

About two years ago we were feeding cats, watering plants and checking on a friends house while she was visiting family. I broke a few plantlets from a different variety of bryophyllum that she has and brought them home. In the end I gave some away and tossed the remainder except one.

Both varieties did well, perhaps too well. Over the last few weeks I watched two sitting on a counter race toward the ceiling. In the end it was a tie as both touched the ceiling about the same time. They were 62 inches tall. I wondered how tall they would grow if moved from the counter to the floor but we don't have floor space in the right location.

Mothers-of-Thousands touching the ceiling. Notice the difference. There is a narrow leaf and a broad leaf variety.

For the last few weeks Julie has been suggesting we toss the plants. Rather than tossing them I suggested cutting them about an inch from the soil and permitting the young plants that were rooted around the mother plant to grow. Julie cut two but the third was too woody so I used metal sheers.

I'm going to grow a few crowded plants in three pots to see how they fare. Hopefully, crowding and cautious feeding will keep them from getting too tall and may make an interesting display.

Julie took this photo before cutting the plant. I measure it at 62 inches from the bottom of the pot to the top leaf. It was being supported by a piece of metal conduit.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Marriage Vow

I asked Julie to pledge honesty before we married. I phrased the request with an adjective -- "tactful honesty". That was ten years ago.

Recently I walked by the bath and saw something attention getting. Placed in a conspicuous location was my nose trimmer with a note attached that read "Stick me up your nose! Please."

She's keeping her pledge. Honesty with tact.

Nose trimmer with note.
Tactful honesty.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Power of Four

We have two vehicles. One is a VW Jetta with an amazing five and one half inches of road clearance. Leaving our house we must watch for holes and high spots or it will drag. The previous owner let a wheel drop into a pot hole near his home and had to have the oil pan replaced. Just before Christmas we made a U-turn in a parking lot and accidentally let the right front wheel cross a ridge of hard packed snow that had been left by a snow plow. We had to walk to a local business to purchase a shovel to remove the snow from under the engine so the wheels could get enough traction to move the car.

Our second vehicle is a Ford Explorer. It has high clearance, four wheel drive, a small crack in the windshield, a non-functioning external door latch on the passenger side, a rear window that refuses to open, a warped front bumper, a few scratches, lots of squeaks and rattles and a few other non-critical problems.

Last Saturday I hooked to a tandem axle trailer with a wider wheel base than the Explorer and started toward the highway. Between our house and the dirt road was about one-third mile of deep unbroken snow. Both the car and the trailer were plowing the top of the snow. A few times it was necessary to back up a few feet and try again. After few minutes bucking and bouncing we made the dirt road.

The county does not maintain our dirt road. A few times a year, generally after a rain when the ground is soft and dust is minimized, some resident drags the road to reduce wash boarding. On Saturday we found a plowed road. One lane has been roughly cleaned. Large clods of snow has been pushed to each side of the lane so we were driving through a few inches of snow, slush and water. At one point the water had collected about a foot deep and covered the entire road. We pushed through water, slush and ice.

I don't know who plowed the road but Julie plans on saying "thank you". She's going to print a thank you sign and post it by the mail boxes near the black top road which is a commonly used message area.

Snow, water, slush and ice on road.
Snow, water, slush and ice on road. The big holes of water are a foot deep. (Larger version)

Later in the day when we turned I wanted to pull behind the house so we wouldn't have to carry three furniture too far down a walk that hadn't been shoveled. It was a slight uphill grade with a ninety degree turn. Without chains it couldn't be done and it was easier and faster to carry the extra distance rather than install the chains.

I'm always amazed by the power of four wheel drive. We can get by without the Jetta. We can't get by without the Explorer.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cabin Fever

In my youth during the period when I read westerns by authors such as Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour I read a novel titled "Cabin Fever". The plot revolved around a young man who married a girl whose mother was dead and whose father's whereabouts were unknown. Marriage difficulties ensued and the young husband set off for the mountains. During his adventures he encountered an old man and spent the rest of the winter with him, matured a little, learned about cabin fever, discovered the old man was his father-in-law and returned to his wife to live happily ever after. I hadn't thought of this novel for years until yesterday when cabin fever hit me and I couldn't stay inside any longer.

I had work planned for this weekend, outside work, but the snow cancelled those plans. It began snowing during the night Wednesday, snowed until mid-afternoon Thursday, turned to rain then turned back to snow after dark. The snow continued falling until Friday afternoon when there was a break in the clouds and the wind began blowing and building drifts.

I need and must get outside every day. I bundled up and walked to the mail boxes, a trip of about 2.6 miles. It was beautiful and good exercise. It's been a long time since I've had to pick my feet up high in deep snow.

We have about a foot of snow but Flagstaff has more according to the weather report.
Month to date snowfall: 52.8 inches
Since 1 September snowfall: 89.8 inches
Snow Depth: 40.00 inches
Julie read a list of about eight businesses with collapsed roofs. Sadly, Bookman's was among the list. The store, adjacent to campus, buys and sells used books. I get much of my reading material from Bookman's. I hope they are able to salvage some of their stock and reopen. Last winter the roof of Hastings book store in the same shopping center collapsed and it was almost a year before they reopened that location.

Last weekend on our way to Mexico we stopped in Sedona and bought a piece of furniture from a family moving to Florida. Pick up was scheduled for yesterday but route 89A and Interstate 17 were closed. The are no other routes to Sedona unless a person goes many miles east or west in a large loop. This was impossible also since Interstate 40 was closed. The forecast calls for the possibility of one to three inches more this morning before 11 AM. Interstate 17 is now open so we're taking the trailer to town this morning, having coffee, checking the roads and planning a trip to Sedona. The family is leaving early tomorrow morning so this is our only opportunity without other arrangements.

Regardless of the weather, I'm looking forward to the trip today. It will be good to get out and see the snow. Hopefully it will be more productive than yesterday's walk to the mail boxes. There was no mail delivered on Thursday or Friday.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Living With Wind and Solar

Can you estimate how your power production is split between wind and sun? Can you run a washer and dryer on wind and solar?

Julie and I do not have access to commercial electricity. The closest source is several miles away. We researched options, designed, installed and maintain a hybrid system that includes a one thousand watts solar array, a 400 watts wind generator and a seven thousand watts backup gasoline generator. The system operates on 24 volts with 900 amps of battery capacity and outputs 120 volts. The backup generator can output 240 volts but we have no need for this option at present.

We have almost every appliance that a family living in town might own -- refrigerator, washer, dryer, coffee maker, microwave, air circulation fans, furnace with a blower, curling iron, hair dryer, television, computer, electric blanket, air purifier, water pipe heat tape, radio/CD player, DVD player, Internet satellite modem, television satellite receiver, cordless phone, bedroom clock, electric toothbrush, hair clippers, rechargeable razor, outdoor lighting motion detector, battery tender for the motorcycle and power tools (table saw, drill, router, miter saw, etc). Also, we have a couple items that generally aren't found in town, a water pump and an appliance to provide household phone service via a cell phone.

The goal when living on wind and solar is to keep the system small and affordable but large enough to minimize running the backup generator. The main way to do this is through conservation, careful choice of appliances, meters to monitor output and usage, outlet strips and adapting usage to weather patterns. We use CFLs rather than incandescent or halogen lights. We read labels and evaluate energy consumption before buying appliances. We delay doing laundry if the weather is cloudy or we do laundry ahead of a weather forecast of cloudy weather. We also line dry, whenever practical.

Every appliance with a phantom load is plugged into an outlet strip. A phantom load relates to an appliance that uses electricity when turned off. Generally these are appliances with remote controls. For example, our satellite television receiver uses the same amount of energy when it's on or off. This is for convenience. When first powered on the receiver must download setup data from the satellite like a computer must boot up. By always being powered on the receiver can provide television instantly.

We have outlet strips on the television, satellite receiver, DVD player, radio/CD player, Internet satellite modem, wireless router, water pipe heat table and cell phone charger since the cell phone must always be connected to an antenna and a device called a Dock-N-Talk.

Kill A Watt Meter.
Kill A Watt Meter.

A device called a Kill A Watt meter measures usage for a single appliance. Plug the meter into an outlet and plug a device in the Kill A Watt to measure electricity usage. I use this device in conjunction with product labels. For example, three years ago Julie researched refrigerators and selected one that is larger than the refrigerator that came with the house but uses one-half the energy. We bought the refrigerator and gave the old one to a charity. I plugged the refrigerator into the Kill A Watt and checked the usage after two days. It used less energy than the label indicated. I attributed this to the fact that there are only two of us and no children opening the door frequently and leaving it open.

Recently Julie saw a bread machine on Craigslist and asked if I thought the system would support it. I wasn't certain but at a cost of only $10 we decided to purchase it. Yesterday Julie made the first loaf. The label rated the machine at 680 watts. During baking the meter peaked at about 480 watts for a short period of time. When the bread was finished the total usage was 250 watts. This is acceptable.

The bread machine illustrates another important consideration: learning and knowledge. Watt, amperage, voltage and some formulas must be understood. For example. A 100 watts light bulb turned on and forgotten for three hours will use 300 watts. A 900 watts microwave turned on for five minutes will use 75 watts (5 minutes divided by 60 minutes times 900 watts.) I'm as cautious about small loads as I am about short large loads like an 1,800 watts hair dryer.

OK, let's put the parts together.

We get six hours of good sunlight on most days. The solar array is 1000 watts at 24 volts so it can output 30 amps allowing for changing sun angle, friction and inefficiencies. Thirty amps times six hours will net 180 amps or about 4,500 watts. Thus, we can use about 4,500 watts each day. Sunlight before 9 AM and after 3 PM add a little more.

The wind generator is rated at 400 watts which means 400 watts in a consistent 28 MPH wind. What happens in a 6 MPH wind? Nothing. The start up speed is 7 MPH. At 10 MPH the generator will make about 25 watts. At about 35 MPH the generator will stop to prevent damage to itself.

Wind generators need to be high to get consistent winds. My tower is only 45 feet. It's not unusual to install a generator on a tower that costs three times as much as the generator.

What percentage of my electricity comes from wind? I estimate less than 10 percent. I don't have a meter on the wind generator to measure it. However, I do have meters that measure the solar array and total usage so I could read these meters, wait a month, read them again and subtract to get a close estimate of wind production. However, I've never done this. On windy nights the batteries hold even or charge some so I know the wind generator is supporting the refrigerator and other small night time needs.

Assuming we can generate about 4,500 watts daily then our consumption must be equal to or less than this to prevent running the backup generator. We can add up our usage by summing up each appliance's consumption averaged on a daily basis.

Air Purifier, 24 hours at 4 watts, 100 watts total
Electric Blanket, 1/2 hour at bedtime at 120 watts, 60 watts total
Water Pump, 6 minutes daily at 865 watts, 90 watts total
Clothes Dryer, 1/2 hour at 250 watts, 175 watts
etc, etc, etc

You'll notice some of the math isn't exact. For example, the propane clothes dryer users 250 watts to turn the drum but uses 750 watts periodically to ignite the propane.

We sometimes go two or three months without starting the backup generator so our usage is typically less than what the system can produce.

Two final items. We replaced our washer with a high efficiency washer that uses less electricity and less water and the refrigerator was replaced. These were winners. We replaced our kitchen range which had standing pilots with a range with more features that Julie found on Craigslist that has electric ignition rather than pilots. This was not a total winner. Unknown to us when we purchased it there is a difference between electric ignition and electronic ignition. Electric ignition has a glow plug in the oven which uses about 300 watts when the oven is on. An attempt to reduce propane usage resulted in an increase in electric usage while baking. We'll replace this range sometime in the future.

I've been doing construction on a utility room that necessitated moving the water pump and installing additional water lines. I'm using heat tapes until I finish the construction and get the external water lines properly insulated.

The cost of the system (utility building, solar array, wind generator, batteries, inverter, charge controller, breakers, enclosures, wiring and other components) was $12,000. Annual labor and the cost of maintenance of the system (distilled water for the batteries, gasoline, oil and filters for the backup generator) aren't significant. However, the cost of replacing the batteries will be significant. We paid $1,200 for the batteries five and one-half years ago. When it's time to replace them in a few years the cost will be more. Assuming a life of eight years the annual cost of the batteries will be $150.

What's the cost to us averaged over 20 years? I guesstimate about $85 per month. I plan on a few modifications and enhancements over the years to the net cost will be about $100 per month after these are included. But at the end of the 20 years the system will still have a long life expectancy with the exception of the batteries.

Eight-five dollars per month for electricity doesn't sound bad. But, in the hottest part of the summer when temperatures reach 100 degrees I think some people would be willing to pay more for air conditioning. With our system, AC isn't an option.

Would I connect to commercial electricity if it became available? No.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


It's snowing!

Yesterday morning the University delayed opening until 10 AM. About 6:30 this morning we received a text message that the University would open at 11 AM. At 8:15 a closure message was received.

Here's a blurb from the national weather service's winter storm warning. "SNOW ACCUMULATIONS: EXPECT 2 TO 4 FEET OF SNOW BY SATURDAY ABOVE 6500 FEET...WITH 3 TO 5 FEET ABOVE 7000 FEET." Julie researched the current snow depth from snow received earlier in the week -- 22 inches. We have about six inches around our house, most of which has fallen in the last three hours.

This is good news. Not because we're off work today but because we need the moisture.

Last summer was the most extreme that we've experienced since moving to our current location. Normally summer monsoons provide enough rain that wild flowers and green grasses grow. Last summer there were only a few stunted Globemallow that hid among brown grasses. There were no Four O'clocks. Only one Rocky Mountain Bee Plant bloomed in the yard near an area where I watered some Irises. A few Datura bloomed but not as large or as many as normal. Other varieties of flowers were missing.

Normally a large rain will fill a neighbor's dry pond and for a night or two large frogs will emerge, sing, mate and disappear for another year. Last summer the pond was dry and the frogs were missing. I wonder how many consecutive dry years they can survive.

In summer herds of Pronghorn cab be seen on the road drinking from puddles. Last summer the puddles were dry too often and we saw few Pronghorn. Near the end of the summer I followed a female with one young offspring down the road. She walked to the large hole that usually holds some water, pawed at the dry dust and then walked off the road and into the trees. Her stress was obvious by the fact that she walked slowly in front of the car rather than fleeing off the road as they customarily do.

Over Christmas we had supper with a group of friends and the discussion turned to the "driest summer on record". I wondered about the accuracy of this statement until I received a newsletter from the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club. "According to the National Weather Service, 2009 was the second driest year on record since records started in 1898. The Flagstaff area received 8.6 inches of precipitation, compared to a 1971-2000 annual average of 20.6 inches." Typically, we receive only a fraction of what Flagstaff receives.

Snow is always better than rain. Rather than running off quickly and collecting in low spots, snow melts, soaks into the ground, makes mud for days and nourishes trees, grasses and wildlife.

Hopefully, this snow will provide relief for a few months.

Snow on utility building.
Snow falling on the utility building. I've had to sweep the satellite dish twice this morning to get Internet access. I'll leave the ladder until the storm passes. (Larger version)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cañon de Guadalupe

We left a little late and had to made two stops. First, I forgot to purchase Mexican auto insurance as required by law and couldn't print a policy at home since we don't have a printer. Thus, we had to stop by my office at the university. Second, Julie found a listing for a piece of furniture and we had to detour through Sedona. I had hoped to get to our camp site by 4 PM but that didn't happen.

We stopped in Calexico, filled up on gas, bought a block of ice for the cooler and then drove a few blocks south to the border crossing. There were five lanes and we were waved through without stopping. The directions indicated we should take Guadalajara five miles south then turn west on Mexico route two. Perhaps there is a Guadalajara in Mexicali but we never found it. Our approach was watch the sun, drive south a couple miles, turn west a couple miles then turn south and watch for the road to Tecate or Tijuana. Since we don't understand Spanish and didn't have a map it seemed like a good plan. We found the road but lost it due to a construction detour. More navigating by the sun and a couple of kind residents and we found it again.

The turnoff to Guadalupe Canyon is about 15 miles west of Mexicali. By the time we found the turn the sun was behind the mountains to the west. We took a graded road at the foot of the mountains beside a dry lake bed. How far? We didn't know. The directions said the last seven miles were rough. I had read something that mentioned 50 miles total so I assume it might be about 35 miles.

I've driven longer unpaved roads but never a rougher road. It was rocky, sandy and seeemingly endless washboards. Since the gate would be locked at 8PM I pushed my speed. 30 MPH was rough. In the dark we encountered one dry wash that crossed the road which sent us airborne.

Out of the dark we saw stone mountains close on each side of the road and suddenly we were in Guadalupe Canyon on the roughest stretch. Our vehicle is 11 years old with 225,000 miles on the odometer and has a book value of $1,500. It was a fun, low stress, memorable adventure of a trip. Don't try it with a low clearance expensive car. Don't try it with a dually pickup. There are some tight spots that would be impossible.

On our return we took a path across the lake bed. The directions had warned about attempting this route in the dark. It was good advice. At the hot springs we asked for better directions to find our way back through Mexicali. It sounded easy. Back into town on route two, watch for the sign pointing to Calexico and drive north until "you come to the great wall of Mexico". Yes, we meandered around again and saw the sights of Mexicali a second time.

Would I make this trip again? Definitely!

Map of the area from Cañon de Guadalupe to Mexacali and Calexico.
Map of the area from Cañon de Guadalupe to Mexacali and Calexico. (Larger version)

A view of an area on the last seven miles of road.
A view of an area on the last seven miles of road. (Larger version)

The view from our hot tub.
The view from our hot tub looking down canyon toward the dry lake bed. (Larger version)

Driving across dry Laguna Salada.
Driving across dry Laguna Salada toward the road to Mexacali. Laguna Salada is a large lake approximately 37 miles long and 11 miles wide. During dry times the water collects on the eastern side and the dry bed is used for travel. (Larger version)

We walked up canyon to find this small waterfall that spills into a large pool of water that would be refreshing in hot weather. (Larger version)

Julie made a teasing face at me as she climbed down near the waterfall. (Larger version)

Looking down canyon.
Looking down canyon toward the campground and the dry lake. (Larger version)

Road crossing stream.
Just before arriving at the campground the road crosses the stream and then makes a hard left turn. I took this photo while standing with my back to a solid stone wall about 15 or 20 feet high. (Larger version)

Reading in the shade.
Reading in the shade. Julie took "The Time Traveler's Wife", I took "Operation Iceberg" and we both took "Stumbling on Happiness" to read together while driving. We walked to the end of the canyon and climbed about 60 feet up the stone hill behind Julie to have lunch. It was Julie's suggestion and I thought she wanted a better view of the dry lake. As soon as we got to a level area near the top she took out the cell phone to check for signal to call and check on the cats. No signal. (Larger version)

The end of the stream.
The water springing from the canyon collected into a fairly large stream. The campground pulled water from the springs for the hot tubs, irrigation, showers and flush toilets. All of the water was returned to the environment. After flowing about two miles the stream diminished and disappeared into the sand. (Larger version)

Our palapa. The hot tub is to the right of the post holding towels. The edge of our tent is behind the post. (Larger version)

Julie in the hot tub.
Julie in the hot tub waiting for the sun to rise. Every camp site has a private hot tub. (Larger version)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I had my first cat, a stray, when I was about six. My mother told me how to trap using a wooden box, a stick, a long string and a bowl of food as bait. The cat was a female who lived outside and had a litter a few months later. I had to resort to the trap to catch the kittens. The cats were unwilling pets with claws that occasionally drew blood. We lived in that house for about two years and when we moved the cat and kittens were left behind as ferals.

My next cat was another stray that had a short life. I never questioned where cats slept, how they got food or found water. They lived outside and took care of themselves.

When my children where in their early teens we lived by a river which was a magnet for people dumping unwanted pets. A tame cat walked through the yard and my son laid claim to it. In short order he decided the male needed to father kittens so he asked a teacher friend for a female kitten. The lady examined each kitten and selected a female. Not long after he told me "She may teach biology but she can't tell a male from a female." She had given him a male. In the end one was hit by a car and the other disappeared except for one hind leg that we found in the back yard.

It was about this time that I learned never to spend money on cats. A vet bill insured a short life. My daughter found a kitten in a tree in the front yard. I told her not to feed it with hopes it would wander off in search of a more altruistic family. Three days later she said "There's something wrong with the kitten. I think it has a broken leg." Indeed it had fallen out of the tree. We fed it and my wife took it to a vet who set the leg with a metal pin. I can't remember this cat's name which took $200 in vet bills to an early grave a few months later. There were other cats, all strays, all with short free lives.

Broken flower pot.
Broken flower pot. Maggie bolted out of the sun room and used a flower pot on the top step as a spring board.

Julie brings cats home, a habit that I don't try to correct. In the last 10 years we've had 10 cats. At present we have two cats. We haven't seen the third cat in a couple months so it has set off on an extended journey or has contributed to the health of a coyote.

Maggie is the newest and lives in anticipation of the evenings when she can sleep on Julie's lap in contorted inverted positions. Macy (aka Streudel) is older and was trapped when she was about five or six months old. She's not well socialized and can't overcome her wild instinct. She will lick food from our fingers but always with caution. Any attempt to touch her causes her to retreat. Recently I changed tactics and was able to pet her. Each evening she begs for mayonnaise. I place some on two fingers on one hand and let Maggie have one and Macy the other. Her addiction to mayonnaise is so strong that I can pet her while she eats.

Maci and Maggie.
Macy is the cat in the foreground. It has taken eight months for her to accept touch.

In all likelihood Julie will out live me by several years. I've told her to find someone and enjoy those years. Her reply is always the same. "No, I'll get more cats and one day someone will find my body in bed surrounded by a bunch of cats."

Julie enjoys cats. I enjoy cleaning up broken flower pots and watching Julie enjoy her cats.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Walking Home

Last Saturday morning the needle on the thermometer was fixed midway between zero and one degree. About noon when the temperatures were in the thirties we walked to the mail boxes and picked up Friday's mail.

Walking home.
Julie walking home from the mail boxes. (Larger version)

The photo above may seem vacant, lifeless, even boring but it is deceptive. Excitement during the walk included cattle, Western Bluebirds, the ice-filled hole in the road that attracts wildlife when it thaws, a disabled water truck awaiting the return of the owner and a piece of heavy equipment used to turn Junipers into mulch on the right of way beneath electric transmission lines.

I enjoy this exciting, mundane, extraordinary, earthy walk that's always too cool or to hot or too windy.

For the first time in about 50 years I'm beginning to feel like I have roots, a place to stay, a place I belong, a paradise to call home.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Failed Plans

I enjoy my blog. In a variety of ways I get pleasure from it. Over the Christmas break I planned on writing several posts but there wasn't time. I have a backlog of ideas, some dating from a year ago but my plans seem to get bumped by other items.

Also over the break I planned on filling all my cisterns but in the end I had the task one-half completed. I discovered a small leak at the bulkhead on one cistern which was due to the wind that shifted the cistern a few weeks back. I inspected it and tried to tighten it by hand and it moved slightly so I took a wrench to it. Something snapped and the drip became a small stream. I pumped about 800 gallons in the next cistern before dark and freezing temperatures. I let about two or three hundred gallons run out on the ground and searched the web for a source for a new bulkhead in case I couldn't find one in town. The next morning I removed the part and it looked OK. No cracks, no stripped threads, nothing. I reinstalled it and pumped about 300 gallons back into the tank and it was fine. The threads on the two pieces were manufactured to fit snug so I assume it was in a bind from being rotated by the wind and slipped one thread when I tightened it. However, I couldn't detect any damage to the threads. After fixing the problem I went to get another load of water and learned the water station was having problems and water wasn't available. Another plan off track.

We had reservations in Colorado for two nights between Christmas and New Year. We made the reservations last last January. It would have been our seventh visit to this hot spring. "Would have been" because there was a mistake. We were given a written card with the correct dates but other dates were entered into the computer. When we arrived all rooms were filled. To their credit they offered to pay for a room at local inn.

The power supply on my laptop failed on Christmas eve. I discovered that if I twisted the power cord as it entered the module that power was restored. I wrapped the cord around the unit and taped it securely. It worked for a little over 24 hours and failed again. I had always wondered about the design of the components inside these sealed units. I cracked the case open with hopes of soldering the bad connection but found a repair impossible.

We installed the tile in the utility room on New Year's eve. At about 4:35 I was nearing the end of the job when I realized I was going to run out of thinset. Julie phoned the closest lumber yard. They were closing at five and it would have taken me 30 minutes to drive. I had to leave the last three pieces for a few days. Ironically, today I was searching for an item in my shed and found an unopened bag that I purchased weeks ago when I planned the job because I knew I would need an extra bag. A good plan with a bad memory.

Even though several of my plans didn't materialize or were delayed it was a good break. We watched some excellent videos and I finished reading a fascinating book. Julie invited friends for a meal on New Year's day and we had a good time. We saw bighorn sheep, bald eagles and a beautiful snow. Several good things happened without a plan.

Since our Colorado trip was a bust we discussed doing something next weekend when we have four days off. We put a plan together, made sure the reservations were correct, laid out passports and other items and are looking forward to next Friday morning.

Hopefully, this plan will succeed. If not, it will definitely be an adventure.