Dinah & Allen's Doin's
2011 - Report 1
Life Is Good 2
I've been lazy. Our last update was in December of last year. I'll try to do better.
You can click on the pictures to see a larger version, and on underlined text to get more detail.
So this report covers the first 6 months of 2011. Here goes:
I started the year by volunteering for the Mesilla Valley Balloon Rally, held in Las Cruces, in January. I don't have good pictures, but here is a (16 minute long) video of the event on YouTube. I crewed for one of the balloons, and got my first balloon ride. It was a short one, but a great experience.
I did the Bataan Memorial Death March again this year, my 4th. It is a marathon conducted on the White Sands Missile Range, mostly on dirt/sand roads through the desert. I finished 466 out of 1105 completers in the civilian men light category ("light" means I was not carrying a 35 pound pack). My time was 6:51:36; the winner finished in 3:02:45, the last civilian light guy completed in 13:18:00. I didn't take any pictures, but there are some on the bataanmarch site.
Dinah again Co-chaired the Mutt Show; an event to benefit both the Red Cross, and our local animal shelter. There were categories including Biggest Paws, Shortest Tail, Cutest Smile, Best Costume, and Looks Most Like Owner. The overall winner is The Muttliest Of Them All. Here is Dinah with one of the prize winners.
We celebrated our 6th anniversary with a private magic show. The magician was a local fellow that I found on Groupon. Here he is mystifying Dinah, Serenading us, and accepting his Groupon coupon.
Back in October Dinah had a torn retina with bleeding into her right eye. She was operated on to remove the blood, then find and fix the tear, and the doctor told her at the time that, as a side effect of the operation, she could expect to have a cataract within a year. Sure enough, her right eye vision gradually clouded, and the cataract was removed and replaced with an artificial lens in early May. Two days later she was back for a second operation to remove a fragment of the cataract that had been accidentally left behind. Her vision has improved and is stabilizing so that soon she will be able to get new glasses.
Our first trip of the year was a short one - a week at City of Rocks, a NM state park a little over 100 miles from home. It consists of a bunch of large, odd shaped rocks in the middle of the desert.
On a Saturday in April, we visited Trinity Site; the site of the first atomic bomb test, located at the northern end of the White Sands Missile Range, and open to the public only twice a year. The stone monument marks the spot where the test tower stood - the tower was vaporized in the explosion. The other picture shows me standing in what is left of a giant tank built to contain the bomb during the test. The scientists were worried that if the atomic reaction did not start, the conventional explosives in the bomb would scatter radio active material far and wide. And if the bomb worked as expected, the container would be vaporized along with everything else nearby. But the container was not used - the team developed enough confidence that the test would succeed that they decided it was unnecessary.
In May we set out to visit most of New Mexico's state parks during a clockwise two week circuit of the state. We started with a visit to our dentist in Mexico (South of Deming, NM) then drove north near the western edge of the state. But when we got up around Interstate 40, Dinah began to have trouble with the altitude (about 7,000 feet at that point), so we skipped the more northern parks, traveled east on I-40, then southwest toward home. We visited some nice parks including a park dedicated to Smokey Bear, and it is also where Smokey is buried. We had a relaxing trip - we read a lot, and I hiked with our dog Lily while Dinah napped with the other pets.
Dinah and her friend Kay attended an embroidery class in Tucson, AZ and Dinah came home with the daddy of embroidery machines - It has 10 needles so she can embroider a 10 color design without having to change thread. She has added custom embroidered items to her quilts and quilt kits to sell on Saturdays at the local farmer's market, and is busy cranking them out.
And speaking of the farmer's market, Dinah hired one of her fellow vendor's, an artist, to paint a mural on our kitchen wall, where she also hung the sign from her store of years ago - Dinah's Kitchen & Stitchin' Shoppe. The mural has a 3rd dimension with some of the birds and insects mounted on the wall.
The solar panels on the roof of our house have been in service since March of last year, delivering power to us, and the excess to El Paso Electric. I worked with a friend who wrote an article about our system for Rural Builder magazine.
I have been looking to install an evaporative cooler (a swamp cooler) at our house because swamp coolers work very well in this area where we have high temperatures and low humidity, and it is a lot cheaper to run than a regular air conditioner. I planned to leave our conventional air conditioner in place for use when the temperature or the humidity was too high for the swamp cooler to be effective. But the prices I was quoted for the installation were prohibitive and I was looking for an alternative when I visited the home show at the Las Cruces convention center. I discovered a company selling a ground sourced air conditioner; one that gets rid of the heat by running the refrigerant through tubing buried underground, and the final cost was unbelievably low. And initially I didn't believe it! But after spending some time checking out the company and the technology, I decided to go with it and signed on the dotted line. The pictures show the old AC (for comparison), the condenser coils being buried in our yard, and the outdoor portion of the completed installation. We are still waiting for a back-ordered motor to replace the old, less efficient blower motor, but the system is working well. The next project is to find a way to monitor power consumption so that I can quantify the power usage savings.
Cricket, our white cat, has a deformed tail, and the hook at the end kept getting caught on wire cages and Venetian blinds. He would scream, the other cats and dogs would get excited, and we'd be facing a mini 4 footed riot. So Cricket visited the vet and had the hooked part of his tail removed. Here he is being greeted by Noodle. And you can see he is not thrilled about the collar.
In April we became the foster home for a mother cat with long fur and a great temperament, and her three 2 day old kittens. She had a respiratory infection which was passed on to the kittens, and they didn't survive it. Mother cat was adopted by Dinah's embroidery buddy, Kay, and she is now happy in her new home helping to eliminate a mouse problem.
Heading Out Again
Dinah and I plan to start our summer travels in mid July with our major destinations being the Milwaukee area to visit family and friends, and Gillette, WY for an Escapees Escapade RV Rally. We hope you are all enjoying your summer. Happy 4th of July!
Dinah & Allen
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