Monthly Archives: March 2019

…physically AND financially 🙂

This is what was happening this morning, up on the hill:


That’s Scott in the backhoe, digging the hole where they’ll be putting the rebar where they’ll be putting the concrete where they’ll start framing up the sides.

First they ripped out a bunch of trees, including along the north side (this picture is taken facing north) – where the young man is standing down in the hole is about where the island will be between the kitchen and the dining room.

Looks like we’ll have a nice view of the ski trails on Big Mountain from the dining room table 🙂 It’s all very exciting, of course. Ethel is beside herself. I reckon I’m looking forward to all this, myself.

But I also have to take the rational view 🙂

Ethel says that this is going to take about five months – and I did a rough calculation to see how much that would be pery day, and then wasted several minutes thinking about how many days of construction was financially the same as, say, a two-carat diamond solitaire – or a 28 day trek from Khatmandu to Everest Base Camp, or a 2019 Toyota Forerunner – and it quickly got depressing 🙂

They actually wound up putting some of my dirt into dump trucks and toting it off – totally without my permission. That’s some pretty expensive dirt.



They may start digging tomorrow – only 27 days later than *originally planned!

So we asked Father Bradley to come up and give us a pre-construction blessing:

He mostly wandered around checking out the view, but then stopped, we held hands, and he gave a wonderful prayer. Listening to him, I think I know why the 12 & 12 says that many of us regard prayer as a “mysterious skill of clergymen, from which we may hope to get a secondhand benefit.” He shore do talk purty.

I have to admit – I’m doubting that they will start digging tomorrow, since I go out of town on Sunday through next Thursday, and my mood is such these days that I sort of expect the world to be just perverse enough as to cause me to miss them actually digging up and carting off much of the land that I’ve spent so much money on already. I’ve PAID for that dirt! Leave it there!

Next week, I’ll be in California for work; I made a mistake and scheduled my flight out for Sunday, but that will give me a chance to see Karl (Ian, as it happens, has already fled the Bay Area for points much to the south and west). There’s an assumption here that Karl won’t have a bike wreck between now and then, but with Karl, that’s taking a lot on faith.

Matt told Ethel that we might be framing in two weeks. After they dig a hole, they put in rebar, and then the City comes and inspects, and then they pour the concrete, and then the City comes and inspects. (Turns out that the $13,000 that we paid the City for our building permits supposedly includes the inspections).

Then they start putting up walls.

Then we go to Mexico.

It’s a busy life.



*actually, I think that we originally thought that we’d be digging last September or October, but we kept redesigning the plans, and then when we finally got some plans that we thought we’d be using to still get the dig started before the snow fell, I decided that it was too large and too expensive, so we went back to the drawing board, and finally got the plans finalized in early January, and THAT’S when we thought we’d have a 1 March dig date. Full disclosure.

It’s that time of year, when things just look depressing outdoors 😦


This ski season wasn’t the best – December and January were okay, and then the great snow hit in February – but so did the extreme cold and high winds.

Early March was all right, until suddenly – slush. And now the snow in town is melting FAST – I’m not sure how much longer we’ll have snow even in these dirty, slushy piles 😦

(In Park City, and Purgatory, it wasn’t like this – in both places we lived at the same elevation as the ski areas, which – in both places – was higher than the elevation at the SUMMIT of Big Mountain. So we had snow from October until late May, or even June).

Most folks find Spring happy and invigorating, but I grew up in Alabama, where “green” is the normal thing. So my mood is taking a hit.

My mood has been under pressure for a bit, anyway – I’m aware that the circumstances that I see around me are the ones that I’m focusing on, but right now, it’s hard to see the others. Work isn’t fun, and working out isn’t going well, and I sorta got blindsided by having skiing disappear like that.

Also, I’ve gained weight.

I seem to gain weight every winter, and then it comes off the in spring and summer – but I’m not getting back down to the weights I was five years ago, even by midsummer. It’s not a compulsive overeating thing – it’s not binging or eating inappropriate foods. It seems to simply be not being willing to be hungry – to undergo the discomfort of hunger, especially in the evenings, when I am tired.

I remember the old adage –

“Breakfast like a king
Lunch like a prince
Dinner like a pauper”

– and I used to live by that, but now I tend to reverse it. And I need to not do that.

It’s funny that I can stand being uncomfortable – even in pain – for five or six hours of a long ride on the bike, but I don’t like the mild discomfort of not being full in the evenings. I reckon it’s part of that mindset that I’ve always have had – when I’m training, then I am training, but when I’m not, then I should be resting and be comfortable.

Well, I’m going to have to learn how to “dinner like a pauper” again, if I’m ever going to get back down to a real racing weight. I need to be able to adopt a mindset of mildly uncomfortable evenings actually being a part of my training – as Arnold said, “In this business, you learn to say hungry”.

I’m going to have to learn to stay hungry – at least, mildly.

Might as well feel bad. It fits the weather 🙂

Okay, I’m giving up.

I reckon I’m cutting back to short course triathlon.


I reckon I’m just going to do sprints and Olympic distance – at least until my body resets whatever toggles have flipped to make me so slow and tired. Something has happened to me that is keeping me from training at the level I would need to train at to do an Ironman distance – or even Ironman/2.

I’m still signed up for Ironman Arizona this year, but that’s just because there’s no reason to cancel it – there’s no refund. It might be possible, later this year, to defer my entry to next year again; I won’t make that attempt until I know that the mojo is gone; that Elvis has left the building.

I’m not sure if this is the result of age, or the result of recent medication changes, or maybe I’m just burned out. And I’m not going to worry about it, either. Only one of those would be permanent; the other two would eventually correct themselves. And the one that would be permanent would be the one that I can’t do anything about. So there’s no sense concerning myself with the cause overmuch; all of that will straighten itself out over time.

Today’s workout was Given 110 in Trainer Road, with my FTP cut back 5 watts, and a forty minute run that was much better than I expected, and my first core workout in several weeks – and I did only half of that workout. And yet, I’m still dragging today; I feel gloopy, and uninspired.

There’s no race even being considered until Memorial Day, anyway, and I haven’t signed up for that yet.

For some reason, this decision has come easily, and as yet there’s no emotional whiplash. Either that means that I’m so spiritual and mature that I’m already in acceptance, or I’m so tired that I just don’t care 🙂

We’ll see how it goes. So many things in my life, right now, contain that caption under the mental picture – “we’ll see how it goes”.

Short course triathlon is still better than A Place For Mom 🙂



….that Matt, our builder, called today to tell Ethel that he’s about ready to start construction.

The bad news is that that means that next month, while we’re on vacation on Cozumel, I’m going to have some difficulty convincing Ethel to just stay there on the island and not come home at all.


Which is, on the face of it, just crazy 🙂

(That’s a stock photo, above – it’s the big sign in the plaza, a few blocks north of our hotel, across the street from the ferry terminal. We’ve taken plenty of pictures of that sign, but I don’t have access to them, because I’m not on Facebook anymore.)

Four weeks from now, we’ll have finished up our first day of diving, somewhere on Palancar Reef, and be laying around the pool on the upper deck of Casa Mexicana, trying to figure out where to go for supper besides El Coffee. We’ll be tanned and relaxed, and I won’t be trying to figure out how to refactor a whole heapin’ lot of code to do chunky persists of journal line statuses.

I’ll be thinking how nice it would be to just wander up the Malecon and find a small house for sale, where I could string my hammock between two palm trees.

But Ethel will already be itching to head home and see how much of the foundation has been poured – or how much has been framed in – or, whatever. So buying a place on Cozumel during the three weeks that we’re there, and not getting on the plane to come home, will probably be a difficult sell.

Now, here’s where I should say that “that doesn’t mean that I won’t be trying” – but, sadly, I won’t. She’s gotten quite violent about the whole thing. The same woman who whined and pined about moving to Mexico – for two years – now gets extremely irritated when I bring it up; so much so that now I don’t even say the word “Mexico”.

And I – the guy who loves snow and loves to ski so much – am ready to chuck it all and go have lunch while laying in the aforementioned hammock, nap all afternoon, and then brush the taco crumbs off my belly in time to get up and mosey over to the AA house for a meeting.

Some of that might have something to do with the fact that it’s March 25th, and we’re done skiing already – the snow went from fabulous, but extremely cold, to slush in just about 10 days. The ski season here is very short; even though we’re this far north, the mountain is much lower than any other ski hill we’ve had a pass at west of Vermont.

So my skiing is taking a hit.

While I’m sitting here typing about waiting to go to Mexico, Ethel is behind me, audibly working out the alternatives about regular door vs. pocket door for the laundry room. Nope, she’s definitely off the Mexico train, and firmly entrenched in building-a-house mode.

(She just yelled “Oh my gosh! We got the building permit!” — I’m doomed. BTW – the building permits cost us $13k. We had $12k budgeted. I really need cheaper hobbies.)


…unless, of course, you are using the word “Never” in the context of saying “Never say ‘Never'”.

It’s also not advised to try to work around this rule through the use of sophistries such as “I don’t think I’ve ever”. The use of the negative in the clause will allow the universe to invoke the retribution for the “Never” rule.

Trust me. I know.

Here’s Juneau about ten minutes ago…


Last weekend, I was talking with Floyd, my eldest, and he was discussing bathing his dogs. (Floyd, up until two days ago, had two dogs – a long-time Shit Sue* and a recently acquired German Shepherd puppy. The other day, the Shit Sue had puppies, who are, as we speak, being sold off, so right now, I have no idea how many dogs Floyd has. Just think of them as “Schrodinger’s Shit Sues”).

I mentioned, after reflection – “Gee, I don’t think we’ve ever bathed these dogs”.

Ethel and I thought back over our last three years as Husky owners, and we agreed that, no, we’d never bathed them. When we go on vacation, we do take them to the kennel – After they come home from the kennel, when we go on vacation, they might be dusty, but we’d just wipe ’em down with a wet paper towel. No bathing for Abby or Juneau.

Then I took Juneau out for a twenty minute run today.

The snow is melting, vigorously.

Apparently, there’s a lot of mud hiding somewhere in the snow.

So, now, Juneau has been bathed.

…no, I really don’t understand it. This is the third spring that I’ve taken Juneau and Abby out for runs down JP road, in the spring, during the snow melt. It’s never happened before. They’ve never gotten muddy or gritty.

The ONLY thing different was that, this time, I said that I’d never bathed ’em.

That, apparently, was enough.



*Yes, that’s the correct spelling. I have it on AKC authority that the breed was named by Joe, Sue’s husband – when Sue went to the shelter, looking for a lap dog, she came home with a disorganized, noisy ball of dog fur, and when Joe came in, he said “Shit, Sue, whadnahell’s that?”


Now, that sounds like the name of a midsize Ford sedan, standard options, no chrome – or maybe a butterfly? Or it could be a superhero!

In fact, it might, indeed, be all of those things – and I’m not going to waste any time Googling to find out.

But I do know that it’s also a granite – a “gneiss” – and it’s our new choice for countertops in The House That Will Never Be Built:


We drove out to the airport yesterday to drop off a car for some friends coming back from Hawaii, and on the way back, we decided to stop in and check on our granite; we put down the deposit for three slabs of Stormy Night, and realized that we hadn’t seen it in a while. It was about 55 F and we probably just wanted to walk around outside the vehicle without needing protective clothing, for the first time in months 🙂

Ethel went into the shop to get our consultant while I walked around looking for our slabs. But – unbeknownst to me – she walked by some new slabs on the way in, and by the time she got back to me, she was all excited about the new stuff.

It has a lot more black – which is, for granite, much more fragile – and a whole lot of quartz and mica flakes; big shiny things that look like diamonds. It’s very dramatic – now, I’m not the sort of person who thinks of kitchen counters as “dramatic”, but if you’re gonna go, go big.

Will, our carpet/flooring/tile/granite guy, told us about the Black Taurus, and then ran off to get a price; I was pretty sure that, unless it was prohibitive, we were going to be changing. Turns out that it was a whole $1/square foot more expensive; for three slabs, that’s $185. That was a no-brainer.

So now, we’ve got new granite to go along with the hardwood and carpet that we’ve already picked out; we’ve also selected the siding, the fireplace, the appliances, interior doors, front door, and many of the lighting fixtures. I think she’s got the bathtub chosen as well. And, of course, the roofing, Trex, garage door, and corrugated metal accents are all in the bag.

We have everything for the house – except, of course, the house itself.

We drove by the lot yesterday and looked – it’s still gonna be a while before they’ll be digging any holes.


Last night, we talked to our tax accountant.

The news isn’t just bad – it’s biblical, like, Old-Testament-Angry-God bad.

But – it’s all right.


On our wedding day – 19 September of 1987, for those of you keeping score at home – I got in the car at Mom’s house and, before cranking it up to head to the chapel, I asked God, I said “God, is this gonna be okay? I’ve already been married twice, and messed up both of those marriages. Is this gonna be okay?”

I cranked up the car, and the cassette player answered for God, saying “…it’s all right”.

“A Touch of Grey”, on the album “In The Dark”, contains some very settling and reassuring lyrics –

“I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It’s even worse than it appears, but –
It’s all right”

And it will be. Yes, the tax bill is huge – it’s more than we used to MAKE, and this isn’t the “here’s how much you paid” – it’s “here’s how much you owe after having already had a whole lot of money withheld”.

And it’s discouraging – I expected to come out of April sitting very pretty this year; as it it, now I’m going to come out of April with less money than I am walking into it with, even though April is the month of largest income for the Montana Pucketts.

So, it’s Biblically bad, and I’m discouraged. Last night, I sorta laid there on the couch and internally fussed.

But it’s all right. We will get by – we will survive. In fact, we won’t even be marginally inconvenienced; this might affect my long-term retirement plans by a few months, but I’m not running my life anyway.

It’s not going to affect how much Ethel spends at the grocery store or if we eat out on a given night, or even how much we’ll spend during our three weeks on Cozumel in April and May.

It might affect how quickly we pay off the house that we are currently building (or not actually building yet – before they can build, they have to find the ground under what is still a foot or two of snow) but that, again, is something that I’m not scheduling really tight. I’m not running the show.

It’s all right. We will get by.

(N.B – looking at that album cover, I’ve never been able to figure out whose eyes are part of whose face 🙂

Just the other day, I was driving to a morning meeting and it was -17 F.

Now, THIS happens.


You don’t come back from 60 F. Once that happens, life is over.

This morning, they cancelled Dawn Patrol until further notice. Seems that the south side of the mountain gets warm and melts, and then freezes hard overnight, so they don’t want us coming down that early in the morning.

(My memory is that they’ve done this the last two years, and then the “further notice” never came. But since I’m the only one who cares, apparently, that ain’t about to change. Most of the more vocal members of the Big Mountain Club are already thinking about golf).

This happens every year – I mean, you know, spring. There doesn’t seem to be anything that can be done about it.

So far this year, I’ve only got 32 days on skis. Something’s got to be done.

We’re gonna have to move.

As I’ve mentioned before, two things that we don’t really like about Montana are the parking, and the plowing.

Here’s both, all in one photo. The sign behind the super long crew cab work truck says “Compact Car Parking Only” 🙂


What I didn’t cat in this picture is that just to the viewer’s right is another full size pickup truck; and while it looks like there’s probably enough room there to PARK, there isn’t enough room to park AND open one’s doors 🙂 Also, since they’ve done such a poor job of plowing, the truck is another two feet or so further from the curb than it ought to be.

Welcome to Montana!

I’m sticking to my theory that both the plowing and the parking are the result of the state being so empty; since we don’t have many taxpayers, but we have so many miles of road, and so much winter, it’s hard for the state to cover the cost of so much plowing.

And since the state has been so empty for so long, the folks here in towns like Whitefish, Kalispell and Bozeman – towns that are indeed growing, and also see lots of tourist traffic –  haven’t yet gotten used to the idea that you just can’t stop your truck wherever you happen to be when you get tired of driving, and mosey on into the Murdoch’s ranch store for a few hours.

Well, actually, I suppose you CAN do that. Folks still do, apparently 🙂

I was watching a Netflix movie a few weeks ago – “Polar” – in which a retired assassin moved to Montana. And it really, really looked like Montana. But, as it happens, the scenes shot for “Montana” were actually in Ontario, near Toronto – but they were augmented with CGI mountains in the background 🙂

The Montana town scenes were appropriately slow and empty; but I did  notice that folks were parked much better than Montanans park. I reckon the idea of a comic-book assassin being hunted and killed so that his company can avoid paying his eight million dollar retirement buyout is much more believable than Montana’s parking customs 🙂