Reflections of 2010

Wow. Another year has come and gone, and boy have we accomplished quite a bit over the year. Rather impressive as I look back on it all and see it all at once. Clicking on any of the images wills how the full size version or the video, whichever applies.

The first Sunday in January there is the Starving Artist sale at the Embassy Suites Hotel. We picked up an oil painting and had it framed. It looks really nice in our living room. That was the first time we went to one of those. We went again this year and picked up a couple more, but now I’m getting into next year’s review.

Oil Painting from the Starving Artist sale
Oil Painting from the Starving Artist sale

We wanted to start painting the house. Something different than the one tone color that permeated the interior of our house. But this also entailed putting up crown molding in the rooms that we were painting. Might as well, right? Otherwise we’d end up having to paint again once we did install the molding. I bought a miter box and saw and cut out all the molding for the kitchen, living room, hallway, and bathrooms -- all the rooms we planned on painting right now.

The kitchen walls were painted a sunbeam yellow and the ceiling a bright white. We painted the living room a rusty leather-ish orange. My bathroom was painted a mint green on the walls and that bright white for its ceiling. The same bright white was used for all the molding. This is how we spent most of our weekends  during January and February.

Painting the kitchen Sunbeam Yellow
Painting the kitchen Sunbeam Yellow

Painted the living room burnt orange leather
Painted the living room burnt orange leather

At the end of February was our 5th Annual Tombstone Run. We had over 80 bikes participate in that run. We split up into about 5 groups and comfortably made our way through New Mexico, along the top of Mexico, into Arizona where we headed south into Douglas, up through Bisbee, and finally into Sierra Vista where we stay at the same Motel 6 every year.

Me standing behind my Heritage Softail Classic, heading to Tombstone, AZ.
Me standing behind my Heritage Softail Classic, heading to Tombstone, AZ.

My bike, loaded down, ready to head to Tombstone, AZ.

My bike, loaded down, ready to head to Tombstone, AZ.


Video of our first group departing El Paso

Coming back home meant getting on to the next (and possibly my favorite) project of the year: taking care of the back yard. Remember, that back yard here is all desert sand. We want a beautiful green back yard, but there is quite a bit of logistics involved in getting it done right. To start it off, we need to dig up the back yard for the underground sprinkler system. March through April’s spare time was spent digging the foot and a half deep trenches for the water pipes we would need to lay. When I left the Army, I thought I had used my last pick-axe. I was wrong.

Valve box for Sprinkler system

Valve box for Sprinkler system

Water lines running in front of patio

Water lines running in front of patio

Water lines running along the side and back of yard

Water lines running along the side and back of yard


Video of sprinkler system finished, yard leveled back out, and sprinklers running

The sprinkler system will eventually consist of 4 separate zones. 3 zones for the back yard grass and 1 zone for the shrubbery that will be placed along the perimeter of the back yard as well as water the tree in the front yard. The control unit/timer is mounted in the garage. There are a total of 6 long stream (20 foot) oscillating heads and 4 shorter stream heads (6-10 foot streams). After laying the pipes, installing the valves and heads, covering the trenches back up, it is now time to bring in 130 cubic feet of topsoil. Cubic foot bag by cubic foot bag. That itself took several trips using both cars. After the soil is laid out across the back yard, we put some fertilizer down and waited until the right time to plant the grass seed. The right time to plant arrived in May, when the daily high temperature always exceeds 65 degrees, giving the seed the chance to germinate. Once planted, the automatic sprinklers take over and do all the work. By mid-summer, we had achieved a perfect green lawn.

130 cubic feet of topsoil added

130 cubic feet of topsoil added

Grass begins to grow!

Grass begins to grow!

Grass getting thicker

Grass getting thicker

Looking real good now!

Looking real good now!

Perfect grass!

Perfect grass!

In the meantime, summer vacation! In July we drove to Virginia to see Carol’s family. We stopped at my folks along the way, as well as picked up Jonathan so he could spend the vacation with us. With the sprinkler taking care of the grass for those 3 weeks we were gone, there was a jungle in our back yard by the time we returned. From that point on, I had to mow the lawn twice a week.

Carol and I on vacation in Virginia

Carol and I on vacation in Virginia

Jonathan and I on vacation in Virginia

Jonathan and I on vacation in Virginia

Late spring brings me my iPad! Love it! It actually replaces most things I do on my iMac and PowerBook. Carol bought her new MacBook Pro while we were on vacation. This vacation was the first time I left home without a laptop. For my needs, the iPad totally replaced my laptop.

End of July through August was spent on a couple projects for the kitchen. First, we wanted to replace the original light fixture that came with the house with a large fluorescent fixture. That was small fries compared to the next job: the kitchen island. From scratch. We wanted a very large island that also had a large overhang on one side so that the bar stools would fit under it. We also wanted to make sure that the top of the island was ceramic tiles that matched the ceramic tile of our floors and the other countertops. I think we did a great job.

Replaced standard light with long fluorescent lighting

Replaced standard light with long fluorescent lighting

Finished kitchen island

Finished kitchen island

Another view of the island

Another view of the island

September was a relaxing month housework-wise. I only converted our two backward gates into wooden gates. They were simple iron gates, but Dolly could escape the back yard through the bars. The temporary fix was placing chicken wire on the gates. The permanent fix was to build a wooden gate around the iron one.


video of wooden gates

We bought our new AppleTV in October. This replaced the original one we picked up in 2007. It’s pretty small compared to the old one.

October is when it begins dropping in temperature at night, and that’s a good time to plant shrubs. Anywhere from late fall into late winter here. The master plan is to have shrubs along the entire perimeter of the back yard. I decided on Nellie Stevens Hollie. I chose them because you can plant them close together and they will eventually form a living wall of privacy. To make this happen, I’ll plant them every 4 feet. I’ll let them grow to about 6 feet tall or so and cut them off there, forcing them to grow into each other. Another good thing about these trees is that they are evergreens. They’ll remain green year round. I ordered 15 of them in October and we planted them along the sides of the yard. Pretty soon we’ll order another 12 and those will complete our perimeter. When the perimeter is complete is when I’ll add that 4th zone to the watering system.

Nellie Stevens Hollie planted

Nellie Stevens Hollie planted

I rode out to Aguirre Spring in October as well. My first time there. Beautiful mountain scenery. We also made our yearly trip to the corn maze in the Mesilla Valley.

Ride to Aguirre Springs State Park

Ride to Aguirre Springs State Park

Carol and I at the corn maze

Carol and I at the corn maze

October also marks the time I quite running my 2 miles in the morning. From Halloween through New Years. There’s just too much eating going on to make a difference. I picked up a Magic Bullet, this thing makes perfect margaritas. That’s pretty much all I use it for.

The Magic Bullet makes a mean margarita. And hey... doesn't that kitchen island tile look awesome?

The Magic Bullet makes a mean margarita. And hey... doesn't that kitchen island tile look awesome?

November is the usual Thanksgiving celebration. We bought a new living room set too. The set consists of a 3 piece sectional with built in recliners, cocktail table, sofa table (that I converted into an entertainment center), 2 tall ladder shelves, and a matching smaller shelving unit.

New living room set

New living room set

New living room set

New living room set

New living room set

New living room set

Finally, December marked the completion of my bathroom when Carol gave me a white wall-mounting cabinet for Christmas and I sealed the skylight at ceiling level with another window.

My bathroom wall cabinet, mounted.

My bathroom wall cabinet, mounted.

So as you can see, we were pretty busy this year making our home, well, our home. We managed to complete the kitchen, living room, hallway, and my bathroom.

This year will bring many more improvements, I’m sure. Here’s looking to a great 2011!

We won't talk about this night. Ever.

We won't talk about this night. Ever.