Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sierra Nevada Idle

We're off for a long weekend in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Lake Tahoe with our very dear friends Steve and Diana. They have a fractional ownership place up near Truckee, CA which is about 30 minutes west of Reno and about 10 miles from Lake Tahoe. Here are some pictures of the 'cabin'.

Looking out the Great Room toward the golf course and the hot tub

The great room

This is the second floor landing just above the previous picture

S and D along with ourselves are serious foodies and Lady Di is an incredibly talented and well organized cook. She does large scale events I would not event even dream of doing.

However even the indomitable Lady Di can only do so much when the torch is out of butane :(
(It tasted great nonetheless)


The day after our arrival we took a cruise on the lake, a favorite activity of Wife and I.

The rather hokey looking cruise boat
The Captain/Guide actually was filled with a lot of good information though and the food on board was shockingly good.

The water of Lake Tahoe is shockingly blue.
(because of something called thermal filtration which I will not bore you with)

The Sierra Nevadas surrounding the lake

If you blow up this picture you may be able to see that there is a small stone house on top of this island.
This was the 'tea house' a wealthy woman built for herself at the end of the last century. Her main house is across from the island on the shore.

Also with us are S and D's daughter Anne and her fiance Aaron. They are marrying in September so we did a wine tasting to determine the wines they want to serve at the wedding.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Takin' A Break

Wife and I are heading out tomorrow for a short trip to Lake Tahoe where our friends Steve and Lady Di have a timeshare. We haven't seen them in over a year and we always have a great time. We've heard that Di has been planning her menu for weeks. She also emailed me that she is planning a 'survivor' level hike. This is a good thing?

On other notes our weather has been a bit weird this spring. Normally at this time of year it is very, very dry and hot. But it has been cool with afternoon showers - almost like when the monsoon hits.

My new grill is taking a lot of getting used to including using the charcoal chimney to get things started. But in general I'm please with the results.

Yesterday was a demonstration to me that I still have a long way to go in my spiritual development. I've been working on this very difficult work out of a native american owned company. Short story is years and years of mismanagement with the Tribal Council having refused numerous times to face the facts of the problems. The current Board of Directors - three of us - were basically sold a bill of goods and not given all the information we should have about how bad things were. The economic crisis this fall and winter was the last straw. We started in January telling the Council the company was insolvent. This has now dragged on for almost 5 months. We managed to find a way to bailout the Pueblo by leasing out most of our assets. But there are a couple of people on the council who were ex-employees who essentially were interested in getting revenge by totally disrupting anything we recommended. So we had the meeting hoping to get approval. Instead we endured 3 hours of people essentially telling us we were incompetent, that we were self-dealing, that we didn't have the Pueblo's interest at heart. Now understand, we were offering a way to bail out a company that has lost millions over the last three years and give them $3 million of positive cash flow, keep employment, and without them having to fund it. I kept my mouth shut for most of the 3 hours but finally just tore into our prime torementor. I shouldn't have let him get to me. It certainly didn't do any good.

Net result by the way? They turned down our proposal and have decided to shut down the company with a probable $4 million capital infusion necessary to clean everything up. Go figure.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Scenes from the West

Although Gaius Derf was recalled from exile in Salt Lake City to once again grace the fair Imperial City of Albuquerque, and although Agent W is held in the highest esteem at the Imperial Court, the extent of his disgrace went first expelled was such that he had to find his estate in the far Western reaches of the Imperial City.

Being of good spirit and cheer and filled with the magnaminity that only comes from building a great Imperial Palace, we excepted their kind invitation to visit the estate

The view from the west provides a great vista of the Sandia Mountain

Scenes from their garden

Devotional dedicated to Our Lady of Garlic

Agent W took these cool pictures of a double rainbow the day before we came over.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Garden Report - Spring 2009

Wife with all that she has had going on with cleaning up after the remodel and getting the house set up again was not about to let slip one of her great loves - her garden. When we first met she always insisted that she hated farm life where she had grown up. But as we finally got our home here that she really loves, the farm girl in her has come out.

Things are always changing in the garden as Wife pursues perfection.

This season the flower section is featuring yellow much like the house.
(I'm not sure that this picture really captures that)
The herb garden is going nuts and there are a slew of peppers, squashes, tomatoes, cucumbers and I think some watermelon

New on the North Wall are an expanded Rose section

Peaches in Progress

You may have remembered us wrapping the tree in March when we had freezing weather after a really warm February. One of the odd results is that peaches ended up only growing on one side of the tree!

Berry Lane Report

During the construction, most of the berry bushes had to be completely cut back. However, they've bounced back fine. Wife planted three new blackberry bushes where the old shed use to be.

Raspberries are already starting to develop

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Contemplation


I crave quiet - quiet in my mind, quiet in my life, quiet in my soul

Around me - noise

Talk, talk, talk, talk
Gibbering, inanities, on the TV, on the Radio, in print, all around.
All the noise - people saying me, me, me, me
They say I don't know anything but listen to me because I talk, talk, talk

The less I talk, the more I'm heard.
The quieter I am, the more I understand.
The less I push to achieve, the more achievement that comes

It's not about me
It's not about me
It's not about me


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chicago in 10 minutes

It has been a long time since I posted a travel disaster post. I'm in Denver on my way back from my monthly trip to Chicago and my flight scheduled to leave at 9:30 PM will not be departing (at last update) until 12:15 AM. My refuge in the United Airlines Red Carpet Club closes in 10 minutes. I was going to do a nice post on what I did in Chicago but I'm afraid I will have to do it in about the 10 minutes I have left before they kick us out.

Work - Saw clients, collected some money (hip,hip hurray), did marketing, found prospects, giving proposal to potential client.

Eating - Had lovely meal (mostly the company and ambiance, not so much the food) with daughter Motherrocker, son in law Armenian Deal Hound, and Ricardo at Province (details on daughter's blog). Nice tapas at Webster Wine Bar before our movie.

Fun - Star Trek movie AWESOME (Squeeee)

Younger Fun - More Wii with Y the granddaughter

Pant, pant gotta go getting kicked out.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Food Find

As I frequently write, dining in Albuquerque is not usually a rewarding experience. Nothing like my trips to Chicago or Southern California. But every once in a while we get something really good. We are awash in New Mexican style cooking which is variant of Tex-Mex. So a new restaurant of that variety wouldn't be cause for celebration. However our local paper recently wrote a review on a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place called Lupes and extolled it's 'real' Mexican menu. I had to give it a try.
I dragged my partner Ken down on Friday. The review had given me some clues as to what to order. There were lots of things you don't see in your typical American Mexican restaurant. I had a Molcajete. This is named after a Mexican cooking vessel - a rough basalt rock mortar used for grinding things. In this case they actually heated it up and served food in it like a super fajitas.

The version I had featured lots of nopales (cactus leaves, used a lot in Mexican cooking - kind of like a green bell pepper without the bitterness), grilled chicken and beef, and a big hunk of Mexican cheese.
Molcajete Azteca

De-I devouring Molcajete Azteca

It was scrumptious. My friend had barbacoa, a stewed lamb that is then crisped up. There was also a soup with chickpeas with that. He raved about both.

I will definitely be bringing more folks around here. A great find...though not necessarily the place you want to come for dinner after dark.

The parking lot
Short Stuff:

AinA - I am almost 50% done with the speculas!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spring Miscellaneous Updates

Lots of the normal stuff and not so normal stuff related to spring that I write about each year are rolling out.

First, the not so normal. THE SHED IS DONE!

Wife as a KDD present got the 'Guys' to come in and finish the thing off as well as do a bunch of other small projects. Gaius Derf thought maybe it was really shed fairies but if these are fairies then I don't want to see what the trolls look like.

As a result our backyard is finally cleaned up, the shed stuff off the deck and back into the shed. Wife has been very busy getting the garden in order. I will give a more full write up of this year's plantings at a later date.

The hummingbird is back. Back in the nest. So we're in for another round of bird vs. homeowner use of the patio. But Wife wisely moved the chimes the nest is built on so it is not directly over our table.

Finally we went out to for dinner to Jennifer James 101 for KDD (or TGHSD as Wife likes to call it - Thank Goodnes Husband Survived Day). Getting a decent upperscale meal in Albuquerque has been a challenge for all the years we've lived here. This has become our go to place since it opened a year ago. Sometimes fantastic but always dependable with a small but very good selection of wines. The stars of the meal was a veal chop I had and a bottle of Argentine Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy Kidney Donoation Day

Tomorrow, May 14 will mark exactly one year since I donated my kidney to my sister.

Sitting and looking back it seems almost as if it were a dream. It is amazing how we put certain experiences behind us. But this was not an experience that I ever want to fall into the depths of memory and I'm very happy that I was blogging and have my record of my experience starting from the earliest decision making process, through the frustrations of dealing with the system, the last crisis, the surgery, dealing with the aftermath, and understanding. (The complete posts dealing with the history are titled Organ Donor Chronicles and labeled Living Organ Donor for anyone interested in the full story).

It took much much longer for me to bounce back from this than I thought. Physically it seemed that I came back in reasonable time but emotionally it was much tougher. I had the hardest time getting my enthusiasm to work. And it wasn't like I could afford to not be working. It was almost 5 months afterward when our personal financial situation was reaching a crisis point that I finally seemed to get over that hump and it wasn't until around nine months later that I felt that I was fully back. I had some lingering strength issues that I finally figured out a few months ago and was able to resolve some exercises.

So after a year how do I feel about having undergone this whole endeavor?
  • Incredible gratitude to have had the opportunity with all the years of stress and strain that were a part of it. It changed my life - my whole inner being and attitude toward life, my relationship with my family and among my family, and with those that I am close with.
  • A sense of incredulity - I mean I was 60 years old when I did this. Who in their right mind does this kind of thing at that age?
  • A deeper sense of appreciation of everything that I have been given and have each day, each moment.
  • And a feeling of completeness.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Trial by Shed or Wife Possesed by Torquemada?

  • Two weekends
  • 43 man hours
  • One incomplete shed
  • Living the Inquisition
  • Wife as Torquemada?

Let's just say that we have put in a hell a lot of time and it still is not done.

Scenes from effort.

Agent W - They also serve who hold things up...for a long time...while we figure out what the inscrutable directions mean.

One of many moments when we were making serious progress and thinking maybe...just maybe we might get this done.

I found my highest and best - Nut Holder
(No wise ass remarks)

Slight Construction Problem
Agent W and I enclosed in shed by accident

The troops were in full French Revolution revolt mode after 7 hours.
Wife avoids the guillotine by plying the mob with margaritas.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Number of People and Many Hours - Part 2

We are continuing the work on the infamous storage shed. Below you can see the handy work that has been done by loyal ex-members of our armed services (I must admit here now that they are actually Air Force not Marines) on the site preparation.

I will be reporting at great length about the project tomorrow.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Sunset this evening seen from the West Porch of the Tower

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Invoking the Curse of the Kidney

When I donated my kidney last year, I got this bag of goodies when I left the hospital. The prize pieces were this cool kidney shaped pillow for my poor bloated and bruised stomach and this very high quality, water bottle - definitely top of the line.

The pillow is my evening companion (along with Wife) but I'm not really a water bottle user so Wife took it as her own and it became a real favorite of hers which is only fair because of all the support she provided and anxiety she went through.

Yesterday, she was doing her daily trip to Home Depot and in the course of her shopping the prized bottle fell out of her cart. She didn't notice it but a man did. The kind person pointed out another woman who was hustling out of the store with Wife's bottle. The man was distraught because, as he told Wife, the woman saw it fall from Wife's cart and consciously took it. He wanted Wife to go after her but Wife is not the confrontational type.

Well Ms whoever you are, I am invoking the curse of the kidney on you. Everything you put in that bottle will taste bad. It will spill over you. You will never get joy from that bottle. Heed my words Ms bottle snatcher.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Call the Marines

After the fiasco of the shed project this weekend, I was girding my loins for week's worth of evening battle to get the site prepped in time for Shed Battle II

Just for reference, here is the picture from where I ended in collapse on Sunday.

Wife evidently did some thinking. I'm not quite sure her internal arguments were in the line of "he's never going to get this right" or whether after seeing my prostrate body Sunday she thought, "Damn, if he kills himself I might have to go back to work". In any case she called the Marines...literally. She got these two retired Marines off of Craigs List that do handy jobs.

They knocked out the whole job in four hours. As you can see below.
She liked them so much she's having them back tomorrow to do two more projects. Happy Wife. Happy de-I.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Ghost of MLM

Partner and blogger Lakeview Coffee Joe has a friend (???) that does work on his condo who he calls in his blog Manual Labor Mike. I know from having listened to years of Lakeview's complaining that any project MLM gets involved in will be long and tortuous. I think the spirit of MLM must be inhabiting our garden shed build project.

It started out with the need to dig out a substantial portion of ground, leveling it and and putting pavers in for the base. Wife and I have use our 35+ years of marriage to take miscommunication to an art form. So some how I didn't get the message that the leveling in her mind needed to be spot on.

Having put in my own brick patio and learned the hard way how hard it is to get things level, I was dismayed because the ground we want to put this in is totally filled with rocks meaning digging them out, sifting the soil, putting it back, leveling it, and laying the pavers.

I was having a hell of a time with this as this picture of my pathetic work shows.
In the meantime, Gaius Derf (go to guy on all things mechanical at Chez de-I) was sending out an SOS. As he was reading the instructions, he came to this sentence (and this is an exact quotation).

"This will require a number of people and many hours! (Exclamation point mine)

Nonetheless, GD and Wife pushed on.

After 5 hours of my digging and sifting and raking and trying to make progress with the site prep, Wife and GD came by and told me that I was no where near the level of accuracy required :( but that they had made substantial progress on the building, were ready to go, (see picture below) and why the hell was I holding things up.

Well, I may be all thumbs but I know a completed building when I see one.

As the site prep is going to take substantially longer than thought, we decided to tie everything down securely and come back to it next weekend.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hiking Season Opens

After a number of weeks of getting into the groove, we are starting serious hiking. Michael and Bill's Sandia Outfitters (Our motto: You Have Nothing to Lose - except a bear...or a rattlesnake...or maybe over a cliff) are planning a full schedule of challenging hikes this year.

Today was our first lengthy hike. We went 4.5 miles on the very popular La Luz Trail. The La Luz is really the most gentle of thrails we do and a nice one to start pushing oneself.

One of the views from the lookout

Holy Moly we ran into some scary old mountain man!

Oh never mind - it's just Gaius Derf