11 February 2014

Texas Chili Fuego among the Chili Cook-Off winners

What a great time we had this past weekend! We competed in the 7th Annual Atenas Charity Chili Cook-Off with our good friends Mikey and Joni. We didn't come in 1st, but there is always room for improvement and we can compete again next year.

We are very proud of our participation in this worthwhile event. All of the proceeds go to our next door neighbor, Hogar de Vida (Home of Life.) There are 35 children, age's birth to 10 years old living on the campus founded by Tim and Dena Stromstad back in 1995. These children come from, abandoned, orphaned or abusive situations. Hogar de Vida cares for them in a loving and stable environment, meeting their needs in everything from nutrition, clothing, education, trustworthy authority figures and spiritual guidance.

The Chili Cook-Off was so much fun! In addition to the chili tasting, there was lots of food and beverages for sale, music, dancing, face painting and swimming for the kids. Our team, Texas Chili Fuego, took 2nd place for Showmandhip and 5th place for our wonderful chili. We made a true Texas style chili, with smoked brisket and NO beans, and I made our chili powder from scratch.

The results of this annual fundraiser haven't been announced yet, but rumor has it that it will exceed last year's $20K.

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06 February 2014

Project Swimming Pool

Finally, it's happening! We are adding a small swimming pool next to the Rancho, our outdoor living space. I have wanted a swimming pool from the get go. John, on the the other hand, not so much.

John had a home with a pool, back in the 70's, in Illinois, and he hated the upkeep it required back then. I sincerely hope today's modern systems make it much easier to maintain.

I have always wanted a pool. I grew up swimming in my neighbor's or my uncle's pools. The neighbor's little boy, Frankie, was not allowed in his pool unless my brother, or I, were with him. I became a junior life guard when I was 11 or 12 and carried my Red Cross credentials proudly.

When we built the Casa and the Rancho, John and I agreed to build the Mirador (observation deck) for his telescope above our carport and pre-wire the stairwell storage area for a future pool pump. The mirador turned out to be a terrific platform for viewing the surrounding mountains, but it's not so good for watching the stars and planets with the telescope. Who knew that the mountains to the north and south of us would block both the North Star and the Southern Cross? This makes it impossible to lock on to the North Star or Southern Cross, and use one of them to track objects in the night sky. Sorry about that, John. I know it's a big disappointment.
North view from the Mirador
Now it's my turn to get what I want, our swimming pool... We took some bids on fiberglass pools a couple of weeks ago and found a local company with great references. They offered us a proposal in our price range and started construction yesterday. The pool wont be very big, just big enough to get good and wet and get in a little exercise. The overall dimensions are 3.5M wide x 4.5M long x 1.5M deep. That works out to about 11.5' wide x 14.75' long x 5' deep.

When we built the Rancho, we included a bathroom with a sink & shower, then we put an another shower on the outside back wall, planning for the future pool. The shower will work out perfect. It's just going to be a few steps from the edge of the pool.

The Guava tree we cut down :(

As with all construction project, we've already run into a few snags. We had a beautiful 15' Guava tree that had to be removed. I tried to give it away to anyone that was willing to come transplant it, but got no takers. Yesterday the crew had to cut it down. John is going to dry the fruit trunk and branches and use it for firewood sometime in the future.

We also discovered the drain pipe for rain water runoff, and pipes for sprinkler system, run right through the pool site. They can cut the pipes to the sprinkler system out and cap them off because they are on an isolated zone, but the drain pipe will have to be re-routed away from the pool.

Day One of the Big Dig
The crew thinks they will have the hole for the pool finished by tomorrow. Sometime next week they will truck in sand for the base and sides, and then they will set the fiberglass pool in place. We have left over concrete pavers from the construction of the house, so we are going to use them to build the pool's coping and border.

I'm hoping everything will be finished in a week, or so, and we'll be enjoying our new pool very soon.

Next project... teaching da boyz, Randy and Goose to swim.

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