The Old Bear's Den

my hiding place from the world...

Archive for the ‘ Family ’ Category

The best of intentions

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I know only a few people will probably ever read these, but it was always my intention to use this like a diary and remember the things in my life that were important to me that I did not mind sharing with anyone in the world who stumbled upon them.

Once again life has gotten in the way of my best intentions.  Day to day I seem to forget to take the few moments that it would take to add something here.  I blame Facebook, I seem to wonder into FB then lose track of time and find I’ve spent 20 minutes just scrolling down through a myriad of friends and random weirdness, usually funny, but still it seems like lost time sometimes.  Of course work, life, family and whatever the crisis of the moment happens to be have all contributed to my lack of attention.

The last few months have been as hectic as is normal is around here.  The last month has been especially trying because first Mama Bear got sick, then about two weeks into it, as she was recovering I managed to catch whatever this bug is.  It seems to be almost opportunistic, capable of determining what part of your immune system is weakest and attacking there.  I ended up with a sinus infection following what appeared to be a cold and cough, then throw in what might have been conjunctivitis on top of the sinus’ infection.

In the middle of all that I also changed employers again, same job, same environment and servers and software that I have been working on for over 11 years now, but this is the 5th employer.

I did try to shoot the Perseid meteor shower and managed to capture a couple.

Persied Meteor Aug. 13, 2018

Perseid Meteor Aug. 13, 2018

And I have managed a couple canning sessions; a few pickles but more salsa.  The neighbors have contributed to that end.  This summer a branch from one of the trees in our back yard came down and took down one of the next door neighbor’s fence panels.  My buddy from across the street (the source of peppers and other yummy garden delights) and I rebuilt the fence panel.  Then the next door neighbor brought over a bag of tomatoes.  The friend from across the street had given me a bunch of sweet-heat peppers and requested a batch of salsa using them instead of my normal Hatch recipe.  So I decided to use both neighbors fresh veggies, and got some more tomatoes from the corner farm stand and made a batch of sweet-heat salsa.  That was an excellent decision, this salsa has enough warmth to let you know it’s salsa, but has a great sweet-heat pepper taste.  The only downside was the batch only made 5 jars, with 2 going across the street and 1 going next door, that only left 2 for us.  I am committed to making at least one more batch of that this year.

Salsa Prep

Salsa Prep

We also took our grandson to see Thomas the Train at one of the local historic railroads.  We were able to ride the train watch it come in and out of the station several times.

Thomas the Train

Thomas the Train

I am ashamed to say I have not worked on the truck in months.  Hurting my shoulder/arm, then life being non-stop, then getting sick, well there just hasn’t been time to get out to the garage for much of anything.

The piano desk on the other hand is almost done, I’ll be putting up a post about that soon.

The piano

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Family legend has it that my grandfather bought my grandmother a piano.  When she got sick he learned how to play it and also an organ.

The piano stayed in their home for many years after my grandmother passed and when my grandfather passed away, it was given to my family.  I was in the military stationed in Wyoming at the time, and the military shipped it for me and it has resided in my home ever since.

Much to my mother’s dismay, she was a piano teacher, I can’t play the piano in spite of years of lessons.  My children didn’t pick it up either, in spite of attempts at lessons.  So the piano has sat in my home, a piece of family history, and as much as I love it, it was never going to be appreciated by being played.  The sounding board is also cracked badly, so would require extensive repairs.

I have thought about doing many things with it over the last few years; a fish tank, a computer cabinet, TV cabinet or a desk.  Nothing ever seemed to click in my head.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my office staring at it, when it clicked.

Mama Bear will tell you, that I do not start projects until I can see the end in my mind.  This time was very different, I have no idea what the end will look like, but I am building my new desk, pictures will follow.

The start of the journey

The start of the journey

The Christmas Fireplace

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When we moved into our home over 15 years ago, the fireplace had a wood burning insert.  But the fans didn’t work and I was leery of using it.

The original fireplace

The original fireplace

Mam Bear loves having a fireplace, so after a while, we found a gas log insert, the kind that doesn’t require venting and we bought it, then hired a local company to run a gas line to it.  Running the gas line cost more than the actual logs… LOL

We used it, but not much.  The kids tended to “own” the living room space, and the way the furniture was arranged did not lend itself to cozy evenings by the fireplace.  Several years ago, once we had stopped trying to use it altogether, I had blocked the fireplace off with some Styrofoam to keep it extra insulated.  I totally rebuilt the mantle to hang a TV above the fireplace when we had all the kids at home.

Yesterday afternoon, while Mama Bear and I were talking about how this was going to be our first Christmas home alone, no kids, no waking at 5 AM to tell them to go back to bed (admittedly that hasn’t happened in years), she made the comment she would love to be able to sit in front of the fireplace.

So I decided to give her an “extra” Christmas present.  I went down to the garage and grabbed some tools, grabbed the vacuum from my office, and headed off to do battle.  It took me about an hour to get everything cleaned up and then find a fresh battery before I could try it out.  But once everything was adjusted and tested, we ended up sitting in front of the fire for a while and relaxing.

I am still learning that time and effort often are the best present I can give, but to my wife I will always give her the best I can.

The new fireplace

The new fireplace

Merry Christmas Mama Bear.

I’ve been busy

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With Mama Bear out of town I had some hope of finding some time to just do some fun relaxing things, unfortunately that has not been the case.

I had planned on doing a system upgrade at work this weekend, turns out I am doing two upgrades.  Which means working both Saturday and Sunday, and some long days prepping for the upgrades.  The good news is I feel fairly well prepared, so with a little luck, knock on wood, things will go smoothly.  It will be a good thing, we have been falling behind the upgrade stream because of time and hardware limitations, this doesn’t catch us up, but it gets us back in the mainstream.

But, besides the extra time at work, I’ve been trying to catch up around the house.  So many things to do, so little time, not to mention trying to catch up on sleep.  If anyone ever tries to tell you that by taking someone to the airport at 5 something in the morning, when the airport is almost an hour and a half away, is worth it to save a few dollars, don’t believe them…  We left at around 3:45 and even with good traffic I wasn’t home until around 7AM, it wasn’t worth going back to bed… LOL it was a very long day, but we did save some money on tickets.  The downside was losing the rest of the day to work and sleeping.

The sky is still grey, no moon in sight, of course it is a new moon right now so it might not have been much to see anyway, but no more pictures for the moment.

And I know it isn’t Thursday (I have been educated on Throwback Thursday, I just don’t believe in limiting myself), I felt like digging something out of the way back machine…  So here is some smoked macaroni and cheese with smoked chopped pork mixed in, drizzled with a little homemade Maple Bourbon BBQ sauce, from a couple summers ago, it was a beautiful thing…

Smoked Pork Mac-n-Cheese

Smoked Pork Mac-n-Cheese

Oops I learned something new…

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Mama Bear informed me yesterday that I have been sizing my pictures too small.  I thought I was sizing them for viewing in the blog, but she pointed out to me, they should actually be the size I want them to be viewable at, then using the WordPress software to scale them down in the blog, that way people can click on them and view the full size images.

So, here’s a better sized shot of the moon, I hope…

The Moon 01072017.183006

The Moon 01072017.183006

And now for something totally different, we have a new family member.  I jokingly called them Molly and MegaMolly, his name is really Archer.  Molly is getting up there in years and she has missed having Tally and Mia around all the time (not to mention someone to follow down the stairs in the dark when she needed to go out), so when our paths crossed and Archer needed a new home, things just fell into place.  As Mama Bear is fond of saying, the Father looks out for all of his creatures.

I want to explain, he did not need a home because he wasn’t loved, it was because his owner loved him enough to know he wasn’t happy in the situation they were in.  We love him very much already, he has bonded with each of us in a way that is quite special.



When hobbies collide

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Since my recently revitalized interest in photography has arisen, a collision with another of my other interests, model railroading is colliding with it, both in time and money.  Both are in their infancy, which of course is when some big costs can be incurred… LOL

Fortunately, I can “borrow” Mama Bear’s camera gear, and I have been buying parts to prep for building the railroad in small lots for a while, so the major expenses aren’t going to happen immediately.

Last night the sky cleared enough for me to get some shots of the moon, of course today it is snowing and I’m thinking there won’t be a visible moon tonight… but here is one I am fairly happy with from last night.

First quarter moon 1/04/2016.1832

First quarter moon 1/04/2016.1832

Now for something completely off topic… We as a family have been playing the computer game Diablo for many years.  I started with the original, then brought Diablo II home and the entire family wanted in on it.  So we played on our network in our home, 2, 3, sometimes 4 kids with Mama Bear and I, all screaming across the house and generally wreaking mayhem on the world that was Diablo II.  Then along came Diablo III, and we hesitated.

Before Diablo III was released, rumors were flying about whether it would be a MMOG like World of Warcraft, or a local game like Diablo II had been.  I refuse to buy into the model of paying every month for a subscription to play a game, we don’t spend enough time in it to make it worth the expense, and the prospect of spending that much time bothers me.  But when they announced it was a hybrid of the two models, you bought the game outright, but had to be online to play, I was OK with it, so we jumped in.

This week, Blizzard Entertainment, who created the whole game series, released a special update that allows gamers to play the original Diablo I maps in Diablo III.  So four of us jumped on and played for several hours last night.  It was fun, Mama Bear, Baby Bear and the Wild Child and I played the evening away.

Digital versus analog

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When I was a child, the turntable, tapes, reel to reel and 8 track, yes I said 8 track, then later cassettes, and the radio were the only sources of music.

The Internet was not an embedded part of peoples lives, no one had heard of digital outside of the world of technology.  Certainly not in the day to day lives of people enjoying music.

Now music in digital form is everywhere, CD’s, MP3 players, Ipods, cell phones, streaming music, even our cars have digital music both from connected devices and digital radio and satellites.

This is not about digital music bashing, I love the portability and accessibility digitizing music has given us. I can listen to my choice of music almost anywhere I go now because of this revolution, like most technical advances, I love it.

But I was recently reminded that analog still has a place in our audio world.

The wild child starting “stealing” our albums from packed away boxes a few years ago.  We gave her a stereo with a turntable in it and she loved it.  The vinyl now resides in her studio, where I have to go find it.  Which brings me to this post.

I have a turntable, it is hooked to the stereo in my office where I have some speakers I love dearly. A pair of Infinity’s that are older than some of my children, but they have a quality I think is hard to find accessible in today’s world.   I picked them up used years ago (we won’t say how many) and I have kept them in spite of not being able to use them all the time because of their size (they don’t fit in every room).

I forgot the turntable was there.  Over time I piled cords on top of the cover, I only use the stereo once in a while in recent years.  I hooked the laptop to the stereo to be able to enjoy the room full of sound.  I forget how much I love music sometimes.

Yesterday, I unburied the turntable and went into the wild childs studio and dug out some of my old albums.  I was almost afraid to play them, that the sound would not live up to my memory of the sound.

Don’t get me wrong, I really do love the accessibility digital music has, but when I dusted off the turntable and placed a record on it, I remembered the way the music resonated in a room and lowered the needle… I sat quietly as the sound filled the room.

It was beautiful, the waves of sound, the clarity, and the mellow tones, it was as good as the memory ever was.  I played records all afternoon while I worked.  One or two had some issues, a dirty record sounds worse than a lot of things in this world, but a clean record can have all the tone and fullness that sometimes digital just cannot achieve.

I know at least some of the arguments.  I will still listen to music from my phone and MP3 player, it isn’t about replacing, it is about being able to enjoy.  I won’t ever have the sound system that some audiophiles preach about, but I won’t swear off digital because of quality and tone either, I will enjoy the best of both worlds where I can.

I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy music, no matter the delivery mechanism…

Happy Thanksgiving

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Because nothing says Happy Thanksgiving like getting up at zero dark thirty to throw something in the smoker, I do this and more, for Mama Bear’s happiness… 😀

Thanksgiving is Mama Bear’s favorite holiday, ironically.  I say ironically because Mama Bear is not an American…  Down the British, up the rebels and all that…  LOL

But for her her it is the holiday where she can gather her family all around her, at least those who can be here.  The kids and their significant others have always been told they can spend Christmas with whoevers families they want, but they have to be home for Thanksgiving.

And so on this brisk and chilly morning I toil and sweat to get the monstrosity my brother by another mother acquired (almost 24 pounds if you can believe it) into the smoker and prep the little (21 pounder) one for baking and stuffing. Pictures will follow, but I only have so many hands and wasn’t taking pictures as I stumbled through the house to the deck trying to get it onto the smoker on time… LOL



And in the end, a good day all around…

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Today, after months of hard work by Mama Bear and New Guys mother, with contributions from Baby Bear and The Wild Child, the New Guys family, some good cooking from friends and family all around, and just a little bit of organization by me, the Oldest was married to the New Guy.

Just a note here, New Guy has been a part of our village as Mama Bear calls it, for something along the lines of 9 years…

It was a great day.  The weather cooperated, the family all made it in from out of town (minus one uncle I think), from our side Aunt Roo and the Work Wife were both here, life was good, no life is great.  The village was all gathered round to celebrate.

In the oldest’s inimitable style, things were carried out in her own good time, she lives by a different clock than the rest of us sometimes it seems, but they were and are a match that seems to be predetermined throughout any time frame… picture a dragon who has a cat that it protects, a talisman, a treasure, you can see their relationship in the symbology.

Mr. and Mrs. New Guy

Mr. and Mrs. New Guy

Part two for today

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In the end, there was pulled pork, lots of pulled pork.  We are talking around 27 pounds of finished pulled pork.  And it was a beautiful thing…


Pulling out that pork goodness

Pulling out that pork goodness

Tomorrow is the big push for the pulled chicken, we’ll see how that goes…

The picture and sign stands all have a coat of stain and poly on them, we will see how they look in the morning, might need a rub with some steel wool and another coat, or not…

The end of another long but good day.  Mama Bear is getting through all her list items, the wild child is even getting her things in progress in spite of her new job.