Monthly Archives: May 2019

They told me the trees on the north side of my lot were poplars.

They aren’t.


These are actually cottonwoods.

Yesterday afternoon, we did the walkaround with the landscape guy. Now, I thought that he would be putting in the sprinklers and the sod, with maybe a rock border around the house. But Ethel…let’s just say that he and Ethel talked for a half hour. That’s never a good thing. “Goodbye, money.”

But one of the things that I learned is that these poplars are actually young cottonwoods. In twenty years, they will be huge.

Well, in twenty years, I’ll be long dead, and Ethel and her new husband will have to figure out what to do with these trees.

In the meantime, we’re going to thin them out, leaving the largest and best. It seems that we’re going to be adding a bunch of plants (the possibility of which I, in my “sprinklers and sod” mentality, was not even aware existed) and adding plants means that weΒ  have to get rid of existing plants (apparently).

I told Ethel that if we were going to be adding plants, then I wanted to add a berm in the front yard with a few aspens and a blue spruce or Austrian pine, but she said “But with all these other trees, won’t that look like a forest?”

Well, okay, what’s wrong with that? We live in Montana.

She allowed that we’d have to thin out these cottonwoods – which aren’t poplars, so she doesn’t like them (see, they are “unpoplar”, ba-dum-dump). We’re going to depoplarate the front yard (ba-dum-dump).

We’ve got a scheduling thing going on now, between the excavators, the fence folks, and the landscapers – apparently the excavators are going to do a “rough grade”, which means getting the proper amount of dirt back in the yard into approximately the proper places.

When that’s done, then the fence folks will come and put in the POSTS for the vinyl fence – all except the posts for the gates, because after the posts are in, then the landscapers will come in, do the final smooth grading, and put in the sprinklers, sod and whatnot.

After this, then the fencers will come back and add the rest of the fence (not sure that the “rest of the fence” is called – it’s a vinyl fence. Maybe the “panels”?)

In the meantime, we’re waiting to get the estimate from the landscapers. Now, a funny thing happened when I got the estimate from the fencers – the fence guy called and said “Did you get my estimate?” When I checked my email, I saw a Docusign link.

I read the estimate, and signed the Docusign link to say that I’d received and read the estimate.

Then I found out that what I had actually done was sign a contract.

I thought about squawking about it, and then realized that it didn’t matter – I was going to do it anyway, so it would be spiritual growth on my part to just leave it alone.

But when the estimate from the landscaper comes in, I’ll prove that I got spiritual growth, by making sure of what I’m signing πŸ™‚

Today, up on the hill*, they are installing the windows and two exterior doors.

I took this picture the other day, before the windows got in. This is the view through one of the bedroom windows (well, actuall the window hole, at that time) from approximately the position that my head will be at when it’s on the pillow in our bed.


Yes, those are the ski trails of Big Mountain Whitefish Mountain Big Mountain Ski Resort. I will be able to see them from bed.

I’ll also be able to see them through the big windows in the great room, and the big slider off of the deck, and the window from the dining table. From four different places in the house, I’ll be able to see the ski hill.

Now, this is probably the worst view – at the highest angle through one of the narrower windows, and also this view goes through the trees (N.B. – when I’m most interested in seeing the trails, those trees won’t have leaves on ’em πŸ™‚ But the cool thing about this is being able to see the ski hill from bed. Waking up, and looking up, and seeing the hill.

That’s just plain cool.

Now, looking through the windows, we’re able to see just exactly what we’ll be able to see until we move to Mexico in a couple of yearsΒ  we move to Hawaii we die in this house**.

The windows being installed is a big deal, as it means that we can now get the exterior stuff done. Then, of course, all forward progress stops. (the HVAC guy has still not been seen or heard from. He may be drunk in a ditch, he may be dead. Watch this space).

So in a week or so, we should see what the house will look like from outside, with the exception of the garage door, which can’t go on until the drywall is done.

This is absolutely the slowest thing I’ve ever seen. It ain’t like a baby, which is really just a developing lump – no, this requires constant monitoring and decision making (unlike a baby, which just requires benign neglect).

In a little while, I’ve got to go up on the hill* to talk to the landscape folks. That will be yet another expensive conversation that won’t bear any fruit for a long time.

*“up on the hill” – when typing that phrase, these days, it means “up on the ridge at Great Northern Heights, where they are building the Dog House”. But I can’t type it without thinking it, and I can’t think it without hearing it sung by the boys. Brains just work that way.

** “die in this house” is the approved phrasing, having been vetted by Her Ethelness. Personally, I figure the odds, across those three phrases, of actually representing the eventual disposition of the Montana Pucketts is about 60%/30%/10% across the Mexico/Hawaii/Die Here options. I’m not going to even bring up the Green Valley proviso; that would just cause tempers to flare to no good purpose.

Yesterday morning, when Ethel came into the training room to do her Tuesday ride, the 55 inch Sharp Aquos football watching device that we watch while on the bikes started rebooting. And rebooting.

Now, if the power is on, the Sharp reboots. Over and over. Online, I found that others have the problem, but they have no fix.


Then, many things went in ways that I would not have chosen.

My fancy truck has this ridiculously luxurious interior; however, for some reason, after just 7500 miles, the driver’s seat leather seems to be fraying, and the thick floor mat is…broken.Β  I took the truck in for a recall and oil change and asked them to fix the leather and floor mat.

They say that they won’t do it. They say that I’ve scraped the seat with something, and I’ve obviously scraped my foot across the floor mat.

The only thing that I’ve scraped on that seat is my rear end, in clothing. No metal chains or belts (heck, I rarely wear a belt). And no cargo, ever, in that seat. Any boxes or items go on the back seat floorboard, or on the fold-out shelving that comes from beneath the rear sets for that purpose.

(I’m not even going to comment on the idea that scraping one’s shoes across a floor mat is abuse).

So now I’ve got a ridiculously expense truck with a ridiculously luxurious interior – with this bad spot in the leather and this ugly floor mat. And apparently I’m going to have that forever.

Late last year, we found out that for the Workday 33 release – a six-month cycle – my team wouldn’t be getting any features; instead, we’d be working on bugs and performance Jiras. The other teams would be getting the feature work. Well, darn, but – okay. Nobody wants to be the guy who complains about his assignment, so we took it and did as well as we could with it. I’d never HEARD of this happening, but it happened, and it happened to us. Well, it’s six months, right?

Yesterday, I found out that my team will not be getting any feature work for the NEXT update – this going until February of next year.

In “The Gods Themselves”, Isaac Asimov made the point that two is a ridiculous number – something will either be unique, or the possibility exists of an infinity of the thing. When the “bug duty” happened once, that was an event. Twice? That’s a real concern.

I also got other news – I had thought that we were losing our Product Manager. I wasn’t at all happy about that, but was ready to make the adjustment to the new guy. But then, yesterday, I found out that we’re not getting a new guy – our PM is leaving, but will still be attempting to support us. Just like the QA, who left at the start of the “bug duty” but has been giving us %25 or somesuch.

So my truck and my TV and my job all broke on the same day.

So we went to the golf course.


It was a beautiful day to be out at Northern Pines. We hit the driving range with two large buckets, and then did some chipping practice.

We didn’t play, since we hadn’t swung a club since sometime last summer. But after getting the jinks worked out, we hit well on the range. The golf went much better than the life, at least yesterday.

I’m tempted to go play today – but then, what happens when my golf game goes south? πŸ™‚

Up on the hill, they’re…well, as far as I can tell, they’re not doing anything at all with the house right now. I reckon that they have to wait until the windows are in in order to finish the trim, paint the trim, and apply the siding. And the windows keep getting delayed.

Down here, at the condo, we’ve filled up the living room with surfaces:


We did some running around on Saturday and made some changes. The original flooring was the acacia, of which you can see two strips laid out on the floor. We really like it – we had it in Bozeman – but it might not be rustic enough for the Dog House. So we are probably going to go with the hand-scraped hickory that you see behind the cabinet door, to the upper right.

That cabinet door is there to give us a stain color for the cabinets, to use in comparing with the other colors of surfaces – it’s called Toffee. That’s the color, but that’s not the wood that we’ll be using – we’ll be using a rustic hickory with that stain, instead.

Just beside the hickory hardwood, you can see the sample board for the carpet we’ll be using – Mohawk Smartstrand Silk. Yep, we’ll be walking on silk. The reason that we’ll be walking on silk, however, is not because we are decadent bon vivants – it’s because it’s guaranteed against pet stains, for life. And pet stains are something that will be happening at the Dog House for “…the rest of our unnatural lives”. (reference? anyone?..Bueller?) The color is Mumpflesomething Beige, on the middle row, second from the left – be sure to check that when you come to visit. Amazingly, that is the one thing that hasn’t changed from our first choice.

Next to the carpet sampler is a 16×16 piece of Travertine stone, which is our current choice for the bathrooms – floors and shower walls, unless Ethel goes off the reservation. And just in front of it you’ll see a matting of flat-cut quartz (at least, that’s what it looks like) to be used for the shower door.

And last – and, from a cost standpoint, most definitely least – is the piece of porcelain just to the right of the quartz pebbles – that’s the ceramic tile we’ll be using for the laundry room.

It’s a good thing that we’ve got all this stuff picked out, because – someday – somebody might actually need to know this, in order to do flooring or tile or cabinets in our house on the hill. But, right now, it’s sort of hard to believe that that’s going to happen, because, crickets.

N.B. – after finalizing all of this stuff, we headed down to Fred’s Appliances and bought all of the appliances for the house. They’ve now been purchased. Someday, theoretically, they will be installed – in between the cabinets, on the hardwood or tile, supposedly. But it’s rather doubtful, because, crickets.

It’s remarkable that we can just drive around and spent tens of thousands of dollars like it doesn’t even matter. What’s funny about this is that we both did long workouts on Saturday, before doing all of this choosing – but Sunday and Monday we were slugs. I wonder if decision fatigue can keep somebody from working out?


Here’s another one of the pics that Jenny found – this one, taken in a golf tent sometime before 2003.


(That’s my friend Paul sitting two chairs to my left).

I can’t tell if Chad, the guy sitting next to me, is looking at the camera, or at me. But I am sure of three things – I had more hair, less weight, and less years πŸ™‚

Again, I’m in a ponytail. To me, this picture looks vaguely Jeffersonian; the hair pulled back into the ponytail causes it to ride just above the ears. I look like a fellow who’s about to write a declaration and build Monticello.

Okay, maybe not.

I’d rather look at this picture than look in a mirror; right now, I’m looking pretty rough. I’ve been beating myself up pretty well, between whatever one would call my “training” these days wearing me down, and whatever I’m doing to myself with respect to work/quit/retirement.

Avoid then, the deliberate manufacture of misery, but if trouble comes, cheerfully capitalize it as an opportunity to demonstrate His omnipotence.” – Big Book, page 133

I’ve not been doing that very well.

They were talking about that at meeting this morning (to which, BTW, I was late, having had a not-very-good night’s sleep). Apparently they’d read the paragraph, which also contains the blank statement,

We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free. ” — Big Book, page 133

Those who know me know that I don’t argue with the Big Book. As far as I am concerned, the instructive or imperative statements are simply not to be messed with. I’m just supposed to follow them as best I can.

But the declarative statements often give me pause; since they aren’t instructions, I don’t have to worry about them, but they make me say “hmmm”.

For instance, there’s the line in How It Works that says “Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling and powerful”. Now, wait – gimme a break. I don’t believe for a single second that the First One Hundred thought that alcohol was an evil entity, capable of malice and intention. I’m pretty sure that “alcohol” in this context does not refer to the chemical Cβ‚‚Hβ‚…OH, but instead refers to “alcoholism”, an illness that, by nature of living in my mind, is totally capable of scheming to defeat me.

And this line saying “God wants us to be happy” – it’s okay on the face of it. But then, do I really believe that? “Want” as a verb has two components – desire and lack. In fact one could say that something is “wanting” something else to mean that it is lacking that something – “The dinner was left wanting”.

But when it’s combined with an infinitive verb, it seems to include both the desire and the lack. And that begs two questions – how can God desire something, and, supposing that He could, then how could He possibly LACK it?

Since I – at least, the part of me that is typing this – am demonstrably often (these days, usually) NOT happy and joyous, then this implies that God desires something that is not taking place. That, at Pete Hogwallup would say, “jest don’t make no sense”.*

Fortunately, this is a DECLARATIVE statement, so I can live with it not making sense.

The other statements, though, the bits about avoiding misery and capitalizing trouble – those are in the imperative mood. And that means that I’m supposed to be doing them.

And I’m not.

THAT…really gives me trouble.


*N.B. – I’m quite well aware that there are folks who believe that God is not a constant – that He is always in some sort of state of flux, and completely capable of the full range of human emotion, even confusion and capable of changing His mind. But the way that I read the Book of James, and choose to believe, that just won’t work – “…the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” – James 1:17

My friend Jenny just sent me three photos from my earlier days at Fidelity Investments. Here, alas, is one of them:


I believe that this was at a Fidelity picnic, and Ethel says that it was at Murray Park – this would be in Salt Lake City, for those of you playing along at home. And, based on the pony tail, this would be prior to 2003.

My goodness, I was young.

This was my first banjo – I bought it at a Park City yard sale, and brought it home and taught myself to play. For the first couple of weeks, I had the wrong tuning on the strings. Learning to play banjo is rough enough on one’s family and neighbors; attempting to do it with the strings incorrectly tuned borders on “cruel and unusual punishment”. During this period, Ethel and Silas spent a lot of time in the laundry room, with sneakers in the dryer.

Turning 60 has been rough. It has been rough physically – I’ve had so many injuries and ailments that I can’t even keep track of them. I have more of these things than I ever imagined – and recovering from any of them is harder than ever before.

They are usually overlapping. So I spend a lot of time injured and ailing. Right now, I’ve got a general fatigue going on that might have something to do with my recent vacation; in addition, I have a seizure in my left calf that goes off if I try to run more than 20 minutes.

So I’ve been doing 4:1 run:walk on the treadmill, with a little success, but this morning, during that workout, my RIGHT calf started complaining; not a seizure, but soreness down around the Achilles tendon. The sort of thing that says “you better be careful, or I’m a-gonna tear on you, and then you’ll be completely sidelined”.

I’m not “going gentle into that good night” – apparently, although it’s not a proper description of my emotional state, I am, with effort levels at least, attempting to”rage, rage against the dying of the light”.\

I’d probably go a lot more gently into that good night if it were, indeed, a GOOD NIGHT – but so far, it feels more like a bad dream or a nightmare πŸ™‚

I just looked up at that picture, and though – oh, my goodness. How much I would like to talk to that young fellow. I would definitely have some advice for him. It’d be nice if he were to look up from the banjo and say to me “So, got any tips?”

In 2005, we moved from Park City to the Valley of the Sun. For several years after that, I was so regretful of the (apparent) mistake that I used to try to go to sleep in Phoenix in the present and wake up in Park City before the move. (I tried this real hard. It doesn’t work. Trust me).

I’m aware that I can’t talk to the pony-tailed youngster pictured above. And, just yesterday, I did hear Garth Brooks singing “The Dance“, so I’m aware of just how fragile reality might be, were we to attempt to rewrite it. Garth also sang “Unanswered Prayers“,Β  so at least one country musician doesn’t spend a lot of time on regrets – although that’s not the standard Country And Western Musical Philosophy πŸ™‚

So I reckon I’ll just be old, and remember being young.

Yesterday, as afternoon moved to evening, Ethel was at a church function, so I was at home – and I wound up just going through the Rand McNally Atlas, looking back at all the places we’ve lived and visited. And I was aware, while looking, that the seven years that we spent in Park City and that I was working at Fidelity were absolutely some of the best years of my life. And then I get these pictures.



If the following photo had a caption, that’s what it would be – crickets.


On Monday morning, our job foreman had a baby (his sixth – yes, he’s Mormon). And so no work at all has happened this week on the house. Don’t know when he’ll be back. Don’t know when they’ll do the trim.

The windows were supposed to be in yesterday – they’ve been delayed a week. They are supposed to be doing trim and siding this week, but it ain’t happening.

And we’ve met with the plumber and the electrician, so they’ll be giving us estimates – someday. And then they’ll start actually doing plumbing and electrical, and while they are doing that, all contractor work – the actual construction – stops.


They told me this would happen πŸ™‚ They told me that things would move really fast, and then they’d stop. There for a while, it actually looked like things would keep moving fast forever.

They didn’t πŸ™‚

I found myself believing the early-September completion date. I don’t anymore πŸ™‚

It’s a little discouraging – but, then, these days, I’m easily discouraged πŸ™‚ It’s funny, but I think I might still be recovering from vacation. My training is going very poorly, and work is still not going well. One bright spot was watching the house go up. That stopped πŸ™‚

And, strangely, the weather has been just depressing. 40s-50s and rainy or windy and overcast. We usually manage to miss that weather while we’re in Mexico in April, but this year it seems to be hanging on.

Crickets. My life has a lot of crickets right now πŸ™‚