Sayonara, trees

It’s taken a while– seven months, to be precise– but we’re finally making some serious progress on removing the fallen trees in our yard and the surrounding forest. Over the course of those months, I’ve been taking a few hours here and there to limb and buck the trees, leaving us with piles of branches and stacks of firewood littered all over our property.

I donated an enormous amount to a local Boy Scout troop, who sells the wood as a fundraiser. The Scoutmaster told me “We’ve learned that around here, people would rather buy firewood than Scout popcorn.” Yeah. I remember when my boys were selling Scout popcorn. The price was exorbitant, and the popcorn was probably the worst I’ve ever tasted. I mean, it was awful… so bad that when other Scouts would drop by my house to sell popcorn, I’d pay them for it but ask them not to deliver. I was happy to donate to the cause, but I didn’t want that horrid stuff.

Anyway, back to the story. The Scouts carted off two huge trailers full of firewood. My friend Austin brought his whole family over last week, and together we disassembled three entire trees and loaded up his trailer. His friend Nate also came over, and took off with a mammoth load of larch wood, which is apparently really good firewood. All told, I probably got rid of ten trees’ worth of wood.

But those pesky fallen trees were still in my yard, and no one wanted them. I hired a local contractor named Roberto to come over with his heavy equipment and take care of them. Yesterday he rolled up the driveway in a front loader and went to work. He scooped out two of the root balls in my side yard:

In the photo above, he’s doing his best to fill the enormous hole left by one of them. Then he drove around to the front yard and started on the three trees there.

It was pretty impressive to watch him cart around these multi-ton behemoths like they were pick-up-sticks.

Pepper got a turn, and she threw a couple of tree trunks around!

Just kidding. There are probably liability issues if he lets customers drive the machinery.

In the end, Roberto hauled away a total of nine dump trucks’ worth of stumps, branches, and assorted debris. We’d been accumulating it for months as we worked through the destruction. Now we have massive holes in our yard where there were once majestic towering trees.

I’m sad not to have any trees in my front yard any more, but at least we don’t have massive overturned root balls! Next step: topsoil and some grass seed, followed by a few months of patience.

Bird Island, etc.

Today was a beautiful sunny day, so we hopped on our jet skis and headed south to Bird Island. It’s a decent-sized chunk of rock and trees on Flathead Lake, and a friend said there’s some good cliff-jumping.

Here’s Kyra cruising toward the island at around 40mph:

I attempted a shot of our wake as we paced her, but it’s kind of tricky at that speed…

When we arrived at Bird Island, there were a couple guys there already. They’d beached their boat, and were listening to music while eating a picnic lunch from a big cooler. We chatted for a bit, and they commented about how much fun our jet skis must be. Indeed, but we can’t carry a big cooler and a boombox very easily.

We set off to explore the island. Sadly, cliff-jumping isn’t a great idea right now because the lake is still eight feet low, so all the underwater rocks are exposed.

The island is aptly named, however, because there were a ton of geese honking and flying around. We stumbled over a nest of goose eggs (mom was particularly unhappy with us, and we realized this was the reason).

After gallivanting around for a bit, we hopped back on the jet skis and explored several other nearby islands (all much smaller). We went down to Finley Point and found a house that we’d looked at a year ago on our house-hunting trip. We agreed we were glad we hadn’t bought that one.

It was another gorgeous day on the lake. And tomorrow’s supposed to be even warmer…

Game night

Back in Longmont, I’d get together with a group of friends every few weeks for a board game night. I really miss that tradition, and with recent events requiring everyone to stay at home anyway, I figured it would be fun to have a remote online game night. So I checked with four of the gang, and tonight we all jumped onto a video call and played a few games.

It was a blast, and it was especially good to see old friends I haven’t seen in seven months now. Although it’s a ton of fun to have Kyra at home, where we can play games in person, it’s nice to “hang out” with a bunch of friends a thousand miles away.


We’re having steak for dinner– yum— but I’m going to have it in “traditional” format (marinated and seared) whereas Pepper and Kyra are making steak fajitas.

I’m pretty sure my way is better, but hey, each to their own…

More paint

Today the crew put the first coat on the office…

And made a lot of progress on the ceilings and high walls. It’s hard to tell from this shot, but it’s really nice to have that old mint green changed to a very light beige.

And the dreaded horses are gone! Now we have just a large blank wall without that frightful old mural.

They should finish the rest tomorrow, and then wrap up with a few more days of work on a second coat. We’re getting there!

Paint progress

The painting continues apace. The kitchen is nearly finished, although it still looks like a mess.

The guest bedroom and bathroom (aka “Kyra’s room” while she’s living here) are also ready.

And today the crew started work on the cathedral ceiling in the great room. They erected some scaffolding that’s around 30 feet high. They’re rolling paint onto the ceiling using a 12-foot roller extension rod, to reach the peak of the ceiling 40 feet up. Fun to watch.


Last July we picked up a pair of kayaks from REI. They’ve been sitting in our basement since then, in their original packaging, just waiting for the right day. Well, today was that day. It was 65 degrees, sunny, and we didn’t have much to do this afternoon. We cracked open the packaging and loaded them onto the CR-V.

I should add that since Kyra is living with us, and we don’t want to leave her out of all the fun, we needed some sort of watercraft for her. I didn’t want to buy another kayak– not only are they pretty spendy, but we can’t haul three of them on top of the car. Instead, we picked up a standup paddleboard at Costco. It’s inflatable, which means it’s (1) cheaper, and (2) easier to transport. It came in a gigantic backpack:

It was surprisingly easy to inflate; it took a few minutes at water’s edge and we were ready. We went to Echo Lake this time, because it’s smaller and we hadn’t been on the water yet. Pepper looked like a natural.

Kyra enjoyed her SUP.

Because the wind was blowing pretty steadily, the water was choppy. It made it difficult to actually stand on the standup board, but Kyra managed to get her balance for a few minutes.

The day was beautiful, and it was so nice to take a break from paddling to float on the water and look at the mountains in the distance.

After a few hours on the water, we came back home and rinsed everything off. Our three boats had a chance to dry out in the evening sun.

It was a great day, and I love my “new” kayak. More to come.

It begins

Our big painting job is underway. A few days ago, the crew came in and masked the entire house. That means we have tarps and plastic sheeting everywhere.

The ceilings were first. It took the crew about two days to paint all the ceilings except the 40-foot cathedral in the great room. They’re a very light beige– almost white– and when seen next to the existing green walls, that green really stands out.

Notice the green ceilings in the top foreground, versus the new ceilings in the master bedroom in the background. So much better!

The master bedroom and bathroom are pretty much finished, and it’s a dramatic improvement. I’m so thrilled that mint green is gone.

This week, the plan is to work on the great room. It’ll require a scissors truck and scaffolding and a gazillion ladders. Looking forward to it…


About two months ago, Pepper and I decided we’d replace our kitchen countertops. Unlike most of the house, which is littered with enormous windows, the kitchen has a single smallish window. It doesn’t get much light, and for some reason the former owners decided black granite countertops were the way to go. So the kitchen feels like the darkest room in the house.

We picked out a nice white marbled quartz material that we think will really brighten the room. It’ll be almost two months before it’s installed, so we kind of grit our teeth and put up with the black for now.

As we contemplate other changes in the house, we wondered if we should also replace our master bathroom countertop. Because it’s– you guessed it– black granite.

We were up in the Big K, and decided to drop by the countertop place that’s handling the kitchen. We explained what we wanted to do, and the owner said he had some “remnants” which would cost about half their normal price because they were left over from past jobs. We decided we really liked this white quartz with grey streaks in it:

Installing that means we’ll need to add a tile backsplash, so we headed down the street to a tile store and looked at their overwhelming display of tile options.

Wow, they have hundreds of different kinds of tile– this was one of a dozen display cases. It’s hard to know what to choose.

Then there are the sinks. They’re a cool polished chrome, but they always look dirty because you have to constantly wipe them down. Not very practical, and frankly a little strange. So I think we’re going to grab a fun vessel sink like these at Lowe’s:

Given the fact that we had only planned to do the kitchen countertops, suddenly this is becoming another big project. Funny how house things do that…