Haven't heard much about what's going on around this area for New Year's Eve. I have heard that the BBMI is having a shindig at the Party Barn, but that's too far away for me to go to. Dave said the Legion will be open, but nothing planned other than that. I chose not to have a NYE party this year so what ever happens at the legion is up to them. I've been sick and am starting to feel better and the nice warm sunny days have helped lately.
Hope everyone has a Happy New Year's Eve and day also. For that matter I hope the whole new year is a lot better than 2011! Maybe 2011 was ok for you though?
Had just settled my brain for a long winter’s nap.
when, what to my wondering ears should hear,
but a miniature white pickup, and not a single rein-deer,
with a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
I reaches for my pistol, but he had me out gunned,
with four of his on I decided to run.
I just got back from spending a week in Odessa with my family and yesterday when I stopped by the legion to get ice before coming home Dave handed me a box that was sent to me by The Foots. Its a Coleman camping coffee maker that works like an electric, but it doesn't use electricity. That's good because most of the electric coffee makers draw about 1500 watts and even if you have some solar you about have to run those coffee makers off of a generator. This one just sits over a burner and works like an electric one. Its slower than electric, but not bad. Took about 20 minutes to make 10 cups. Thanks Bigfoot & Littlefoot!
I took some iron, the alternator and new motor to Odessa and Ring and I constructed this new charger there. Unfortunately we didn't get 100% finished so I can't use it to charge the batteries on cloudy days. I could sure use it today because it is cloudy and there's a 30% chance of snow tonight. BTW when I got home yesterday it was sunny and was actually T-Shirt weather until the sun started setting. I guess I should have finished the charger then, but was busy doing other things. Now its too damned cold and windy to do it so I may have to try and get the jeep up next to the battery hut if I have to recharge them because of lack of sun. The propane bottle I was using ran out in the wee hours of the morning so it was pretty darned cold getting out of the rack this morning. Fortunately I only had to switch from the empty bottle to a full one. The oven isn't cutting the mustard too well in here because the temp is dropping, but hopefully not below 55 degrees or so which I can handle.
Did I say its COLD here? Online says its 40 degrees, but the thermometer in the It'll Du said it was 31 degrees over an hour ago and I think the temp is actually dropping. I'd put the wind at about 25 MPH and gusting to about 40. There's a 30% chance of SNOW tonight. Tell me it isn't true! I hate that stuff!!!
While in Odessa I managed to pick up this 750/1500 inverter at Harbor Freight. Ring had a coupon for $35 for it and I think that was about half price. That should open up the way to running a fridge if I ever get one. My neighbor's new fridge has a defrost cycle on it that is a real watt hog so he is going to have to keep the one he was going to give to me. Looked like Bigfoot was going to be able to get me one, but that fell through so now I'm back to square one on that. My other neighbor still has the one he wanted to sell me, but he got burned on the price of it and wants the same amount if he sells it to me. Its pretty rough and $300 which is about $200 more than I'd pay so I'll keep looking.
And finally what's left of a batch of BlackJack Fudge I made while in Odessa. Needless to say it went over big. Its a real easy recipe and probably doesn't take over about 10 minutes to make. Consists of a 2 pound bag of powdered sugar, 1 pound pack of semi sweet chocolate chips and 8 Oz of Black Jack or your favorite bourbon. You mix the powdered sugar and bourbon well and then heat the chocolate chips in a microwave until they are melted and then mix that with the sugar booze mixture and pour it in a greased pan of some type. A 9x12 works out about right and it sure is good. Especially with pecans in it, but Misty is allergic to them so I had to leave them out of this batch.
Update... Its been snowing here some over the night and this morning. Had to get out and sweep the snow off the solar panels because they weren't charging at all. At least now they are a little. Technically the inverter should have shut down because the voltage was down to 11.39. I thought the inverter I am using cut out at 11.5, but I guess it is 11 instead. Looks like if I want power tonight I'm going to have to grub up some creosote where I can get the jeep to the battery hut to charge the batteries or bring the charger in here and try to get it finished where I can use it instead.
BTW for you who are or will be relying on solar keep in mind I'd have to have setup a ladder and gotten on a roof if they were roof mounted. Having the panels close to the ground is a BIG benefit at most times. (Easy to get to to keep them clean)
Latest word that I've received is that Jerry and Eva were ready to open the Grub Shack back up after getting the septic system taken care of. Now the inspector has come up with other things to prevent them from opening. One I've heard is that he says they will have to get two high capacity (approved) water tanks and go ahead and tie the other camping trailer in to the septic system also. Who know what he'll come up with after that??? I'll try to update this as it goes on.
On another note Judy's Bad Rabbit restaurant at the ranch headquarters is closing again (If it hasn't already) That part doesn't effect me though because I've never eaten there and had no inclination to do so. Perhaps if Mama Crow had been able to take it over to start with that would have been a different story.
The next blog will likely be some major bitching about Classic Country Land since I got stuck paying the taxes twice (one payment he said would go toward the principal instead of being refunded) and I have not received any answers to questions I've ask.
As for clouds and fog we still have both. Solar is doing next to nothing. I think we've had one semi clear day in the last week and mostly cloudy is the prediction for the next 6 days.
It was so cloudy yesterday that the solar panels did little good and the same for today. The batteries were just barely high enough in charge this morning to keep the inverter running so it was time to crank up the generator to run the electric battery charger. Trouble with that is that its just a 10 AMP charger and charges the battery bank very slowly.
This is what's left of my old gas powered charger I built shortly after moving here. The engine I had on it broke down so it was basically worthless. I traded that motor to Ring for a running 6.5 horsepower motor, but will have to find a smaller pulley for it before I can rebuild the charger. I tried to find the pulley I need in Alpine with no luck so will have to wait until I go to Odessa next time and I should be able to find one there. The difference between using the gas powered charger and running the generator to run the electric charger is this. If using the gas powered charger it will charge the battery bank from inverter cut out to full charge in 20 minutes where running the electric charger takes several hours (If it even does it at that)
This photo was taken the other day and you can't even see this mountain now.
Now the next 6 days forecast calls for cloudy to partly cloudy. Looks like I'll be running the generator a lot for a while. :(
Yesterday I made another ride share supply run in to Alpine and took along Dave and his brother Steve and the trailer to haul all the supplies. No problems going through the check point and the agent we talked to was friendly and only asked three questions. Those were:
"Are you all US citizens?"
"Where are you going?
and after I said Alpine he asked:
"To get groceries?"
I said yes and we were allowed to go on.
However, We noticed a bunch of new stuff on the other side of 118 evidently there to monitor south bound traffic? On the way back I got my camera out to take photos of all the equipment, but my camera potted out so that took care of that. Best I can do is the drawing below that shows something like we saw as well as my memory serves me.
Now this gets me to wondering what all of this stuff actually does. Since its pure speculation on my part it may be all wrong???
There were a series of high intensity halogen lights and a number of weird looking stuff on poles facing south east. Some actually resembled cameras and some didn't. I don't remember how many there were, but there were several. Behind all of that it had to be a control and power station in a trailer. Lights were flashing on the back of the trailer.
Perhaps a radiation detector was used to see if any weapons of mass destruction were headed south to blow up Mexico?
Perhaps infrared cameras to detect illegal aliens in trunks being smuggled back south across the border to Mexico?
Perhaps none of the above and they were used for something totally different reason? (Possibly more sinister uses?)
Anyway... The trip was enjoyable, but I ran in to trouble with a Radio Shack employ when I went in there looking for one of the new Magic Jacks that can be plugged in to the WiFi modem and don't have to be hooked up to a computer. I asked the woman if they had them and she flat out told me NO. I asked her if they had any of the NetTalk Duos and she said she didn't even know what that was.
Now when we get back down here Dave asked me what I thought about the new Magic Jacks and he had been in the same store after I was there had found them. He thought I didn't buy one because of the price so didn't even mention finding them before we got back down here.
All I can say about all of this is they need to get rid of that employ and get someone that knows what they have in that store!
This is an important message about your investment in Terlingua Ranch property. This is a letter to ask for your support, and to ask for your vote for POATRI director for:
The resume of Don Mahan is attached.
I am asking for your vote because I believe that Terlingua Ranch has some major problems that must be corrected if the ranch is to survive and flourish.
1. Only 44% of the property owners of record pay all the maintenance fees that the ranch collects. Only 54% of all the property owners, that are required to pay fees, pay fees.
· This is true because there are large numbers of delinquent owners and many property owners that are totally exempt from paying fees. Only 24% of the tracts of land on the ranch are subject to maintenance fees due to the flat fee which allow the large land owners with many tracts to pay the same exact fee as a small 5 acre property owner. Seventy six percent (76%) of the tracts on Terlingua Ranch are not even subject to fees.
· The number of delinquent property owners has greatly increased since the year 2005 when the flat fee was passed. Two lawsuits have been filed and many property owners will not pay because the flat fee was passed without a majority of property owners voting to pass it as required by the original TRMA agreement. In the year 2011 the POATRI maintenance fee will be increased again to $165.64 by the current board even though they have a large surplus of funds.
What needs to be done to correct this problem?
· Fairness must be returned to the POATRI fee system - such that the 44 percent paying owners are not being forced to subsidize the 56 percent non paying owners. This will significantly reduce POATRI fees for the average tract owner.
· Abolish the flat fee. It allows far too many tracts of land to escape paying a fee. No organization can operate for long with less than 50% of the owners supporting it. Brewster county taxes all the tracts on Terlingua Ranch and POATRI can also impose fees on all the tracts.
· Restore a base fee and acreage fee like we had prior to 2005.
· Expand the current Amnesty Program to include delinquent owners. The current amnesty program allows property owners in good standing to participate, but this does not result in any additional revenue because of the flat fee. We need to get some of the delinquent owners paying fees again.
Note the board president (Tanya Phillips, currently running for re-election)) has appointed a committee to study the above problem. However the selected committee consists primarily of large land owners/exempt owners/real estate people who are opposed to any tract & acreage fees and originally supported the flat fee. One of the committee members (Barbara Trammell) is one of the largest real estate dealers/exempt owners in Brewster County. This is like putting a fox in a chicken coop to guard it.
POATRI has a large land owners list. The large land owners, on the list, own 1,089 tracts with 19 accounts, that are billed and 15 accounts that pay. Which means about 12% of our tracts are owned by 0.38% of our property owners. 1,089 tracts or 12% of tracts are only being billed $3,017.00 and only actually paying $2,382.00 this year. Each tract is only paying $2.19 per tract.
This is why the large land owners & real estate dealers want to keep a flat fee. They line their pockets at the expense of the average ranch property owner. The flat fee may be easier to calculate, but that doesn’t make it a fair fee.
2. The Board of Directors can change all the POATRI Bylaws (except Article 3) and Policies & Procedures without any input from the property owners. The proxy system for property owners input has been eliminated. This has resulted in total domination of ranch policy by only the board of directors.
What needs to be done to correct this problem?
· Restore the proxy voting system, so that if 10% of the property owners want some change, it can be voted on by all the property owners in good standing.
· Change the current petition system so that only 10% instead of 15% of property owners can petition for a change without excessive costs that the current system has.
· Change the POATRI Bylaws so that property owners must approve all changes to the Bylaws. No longer will board members be able to make changes to the bylaws that property owners do not approve.
3. The election system that POATRI uses is not fair to the property owners since:
· The secrecy of the ballot is not protected from board members, the ranch manager, and ranch employees. All ballots and election materials (computer memory stick) are stored in the ranch office. The current Policy and Procedures Manual concerning election procedures does not even forbid the board members and ranch manager from looking at the ballots or other election materials.
· The person (Independent Vote counter or IVC) selected to count the votes is selected by an individual board member.
· No poll observers are allowed to insure the ballots are correctly counted. All cities, county, state and federal elections in Texas allow poll observers to insure fairness. Ever wonder why poll observers are not permitted?
· The ballots are counted over a fourteen day period in unsecured locations.
· Ballots are returned to the ranch office if they cannot be delivered. Undelivered ballots should not be returned to the ranch office, but instead to the IVC.
What needs to be done to correct this problem?
· An experienced, independent outside firm should be selected and hired to mail out all ballots, tally the ballots, and store the ballots/election materials after they are counted.
· All Policy and Procedures rules concerning elections must be approved by a majority vote of property owners.
4. The POATRI Bylaws Article 3.01 states: “The Corporation shall have one class of members.” In fact, the corporation has two classes of membership, which are exempt property owners and non-exempt property owners
The exempt property owners have been allowed per the Bylaws, for years to vote and hold office even though they pay no fees. The exempt property consists of:
· 1,132 tracts of land which totals 61,000 acres which is not subject to acreage fees or maintenance fees.
· The total ranch consists of 192,000 acres, so exempt tracts are 31.7% of the ranch.
· There are 615 exempt property owner’s accounts which are not billed maintenance fees.
· There are a total of 4,965 property owners and only 4,350 accounts are billed.
The ranch is expecting only nonexempt property owners to carry the entire load of providing funds for the entire ranch. This is not fair to the non-exempt property owners. It is grossly unfair that these non paying property owners are allowed to vote and hold office. Why should non paying exempt members be allowed to vote in elections and serve as a director to determine how our funds are expended, when they pay no fees? Currently there are exempt property owners serving as directors of Terlingua ranch.
What needs to be done to correct this problem?
· Change the POATRI Bylaws so that exempt property owner cannot vote or hold office unless they voluntarily pay all fees, just as nonexempt property owners are required to do. Exempt property owners will still be members if they do not pay fees, but they will be treated the same as non-exempt property owners who do not pay required fees.
Many exempt property owners will be happy to pay fees and do their fair share to support the ranch. I personally own both an exempt tract and nonexempt tracts and pay all POATRI fees.
These are the major changes that I recommend. I pledge to try my best to get these issues passed during my term in office if you elect me.
There is one other director candidate that I consider worthy of your vote. His name is Don Ferguson and I have attached a copy of his resume. Please vote for Don Ferguson.
Will you help us reform the ranch? Will you help us get elected? We ask several things of you.
· Please pass this message on to property owners that you know or send us their email addresses so that we can contact them directly.
· Please tell us of other changes which you would like to see.
· Please vote for us.
If you have any questions whatsoever, about this email, please call or email me.
Remember it’s your money; make sure the current board fairly collects fees from all the property owners. If they don’t act responsible, then don’t re-elect them.
Lots of good food, but not many people to enjoy it. Terry and Jack dropped off the jalapeños for the dressing and also some very good link sausage Tuesday. I cooked and ate the sausage the following morning and it was gone before noon. They were supposed to show up for the feed at the legion yesterday but never made it. Matter of fact a bunch of people that were expected didn't show up. Never the less those of us who were there had a good time.
It was getting pretty warm in the legion and it was real nice outside so a few of us had our dinner outside. Here you see the Foots Bill and Caren, Julianne (Just Me), Chuck and Cathy, Lee and myself. Now looking at the picture I think Littlefoot must have gone inside for more grub. Can't see her in the picture.
That's all Folks! All photos were taken by David Secor. I had my camera, but never remembered to get it out.
My neighbor says lately something big keeps digging out big holes around where their septic system was put in. He said he has been covering up the holes and spraying kerosene on the dirt, but each night what ever is doing it just moves over and starts digging again. Now what ever it is has started digging up here and there are huge holes started all over the place around here. I assume badgers?
These and quiet a few other holes were dug last night, but I never heard a thing. Doubt that it could be anything else other than a badger, but I'll sure be on the lookout after dark and will have a flash light and pistol handy to. Its cool enough at night not to worry about rattle snakes now, but I sure wouldn't want to tangle with what ever is digging!
I recently posted some pictures of me dancing with a couple of ladies and it turns out that Dave at the legion showed them the pictures on the computer there. It has a wide screen monitor. Well it turns out that one of them got PO'ed at me for posting a picture of what she called her BIG butt on the internet so I removed those pictures. I'm sure she wasn't aware of the "Wide Screen Syndrome"?
Wide Screen Syndrome
Now it just so happens that wide screen monitors stretch everything horizontally by a LOT so it makes a perfectly normal and nice looking butt look much larger. Someone needs to clue monitor manufactures in on keeping the correct aspect ratio of BUTTS on their wide screen monitors! I can think of all sorts of stuff that this could enhance in a positive way and one would be the male ego, but not butts unless it happens to be an extremely skinny butt.
On another note Got the link to this from Ring and its a good place to check for shelf life of about any kind of foods you can think of. Worth at least checking it out. I book marked it. http://www.stilltasty.com/
Thought I'd show off the birthday cake my sister made for my brother in law (Ring) and I.
Well it was a cake and a VERY delicious one. (Chocolate cinnamon), but I just polished off the last of it earlier this afternoon. My birthday is today and Ring's was a couple of days ago so he came down and we celebrated together. BTW I'm 39 today. You believe that don't you? ;)
This is the old party table I put together just before the last party. I need to get the blueboard (Foam) taken off and put back in the tank because the sun is eating it up. Once I do that I'll eventually have enough of the spools shown below to take the place of the old party table and be able to use all those pallets for something more constructive. I think three of the spools should do it so hopefully Ring can bring two more on his next visit.
And now for the local news. Since this is my birthday and I needed a couple of things from the store I went in to SB this morning and was going to treat myself to breakfast. My neighbor Robert rode in with me and once we'd finished breakfast Lanette informed me that she picked up the tab. Not only that, but she took a chocolate cup cake and put a single candle in the center and sat it in front of me. Then her and Kim the waitress began to sing happy birthday and a couple of other people in the restaurant joined in and clapped once they were through. Nick showed up after that and wished me a happy birthday and also had good news. You can read about it below.
In other news GOOD NEWS for some of the Terlingua Ranch land owners. Quote Nick "well to be a little more acurate: I said the attorney for the ranch told the ranch that they are not able to bar anyone from running or voting because they havent paid their dues. Its based off of a law suit in another area . but applies to us.
Basically the same thing. so if any of you who are not paying your dues which are legally assessed to you, want to run for the board or vote then its very good news for you." End Quote
I suspect this will cause a BUNCH of changes with the ranch. I hope so anyway. The Mahan brothers stopped by for a visit last week and Don said he is running for the board again and I told him I couldn't vote because I'm behind on the fees. The new ruling changes that and he'll get my vote now. Hopefully you other land owners will do the same. IF you don't get a ballot in the mail for the next election then you might want to contact the ranch office and ask to be sent one. I'll try to find out when that will be and post on this blog.
Update... According to Lance if you haven't received a ballot by Dec 20th you should call them.
Also more GOOD NEWS. Just Me found out that you can shop online at Walmart and if you order $45 or more worth then they send them to you free of shipping. This could be a very good thing for us down here. Bad part is they use FedEx and the FedEx drivers down here don't give a flip and don't even try to find most of the places out on the ranch. Might be that IF you can catch the driver and tell them how to get to your place they will try it, but I wouldn't bet on it. I think that's been tried a lot of times and seldom works. Anyway I may start using it and have it sent to the Legion until I can see if they can find this place.
Grub Shack news
Ring and I ate at the Grub Shack Sunday afternoon and I talked to Jerry. He said that would be the last day of the meals for donations. He said construction will begin soon on getting the septic system in and then he hopes they will be able to resume normal operation on the first or second weekend of December. Sure will be nice to have a place to eat out this way again! BTW they had some dynamite home made chili, Frito's, cheese and other stuff to go with it and served home made chocolate ice cream for desert. Good thing because the chili was pretty spicy (Hot).
I know some of you following this blog are planning on being down here for Thanksgiving so here is a chance for Thanksgiving dinner on our end of Terlingua. (North Terlingua) I'm not sure what all restaurants down south will have Turkey Day dinner, but am fairly sure none of them will be free. I plan to make the dressing for this again and there may be a dressing cook off between another Legion member and myself. There was supposed to be last year, but he was a No Show so I guess that meant I won? Some may remember that I made one pan of Fajita, Jalapeño dressing and a conventional cornbread dressing. If I can find the jalapeños I'll probably do the same this year.
Bigfoot made it down here Friday and we went to the legion that evening. So happens that several of the Snow Birds showed up then to and went to the legion also. Sunny pushed two of the tables together to accommodate everyone and a mini party began.
You didn't have to be at the chili cook off to have fun.
BTW traffic from the chili cook off is starting to run north on 118 and I suspect a steady stream will come later on today.
Got a few pictures I could post, but didn't want to mess with downloading them from the camera. One was of the north end of 9 Points Mesa blocked from view from a sand storm. Five minutes later it was totally blocked from view as is most everything else within a mile around here now. The wind is terrible right now, but fortunately its basically out of the north and only the north end of this trailer is taking the blows so it isn't too bad. If it was out of the east or west I'd probably be sitting it out in the tank! Once again it reminds me of the time the old barn disappeared in the wind storm.
This morning I went over and helped a friend do a concrete job at his place for a guest hut and patio. Haven't done much since other than running in to Nick at the legion and BS'ing with him for a while. Was nice since I don't see much of him anymore.
Friday a ride share is planned for Alpine and I'll take the trailer and three of my friends along on a supply run. I don't want any part of down south with the chili cook off going on. Supplies will be cheaper and we plan to do the Chinese buffet there for lunch before coming back this way.
Now... I got a call from an assertive sounding voice this afternoon. (Supposedly with the Texas State Trooper's Association) I told him I wasn't interested and before I cold carry on with the conversation telling him they shouldn't call residents in this area while the Chili Cook Off is going on he hung up on me! I was about to tell him they will likely be PISSED OFF at the troopers for harassing locals as well as people going to and from the cook off.
Oh well... I guess I'll go blow my nose since I feel like I've inhaled a few pounds of dirt by now.
I finally got around to emptying out a lot of the contents of the tank looking for the heater and moving other stuff around where I can get to it when I need it without having to empty it again. Unfortunately all of the stuff you see in front of it needs to go back in it and that's where the problem comes in. I put it back in there as is and it will have to be stacked back on top of the stuff I just arranged where I can get to it. I SURE NEED to build some shelves in there, but that will have to come later.
I just happened to look at one of the tires under this trailer as I was coming back in this morning and saw the large walking stick on it. I bet it was cold because it was 38 degrees according to the thermometer in the It'll Du earlier. Don't know how these guys handle freezing weather, but if they don't it's time may be nearing the end.
Cold, Pain? Yep... with the cold weather comes all the damn joint pain and my right knee has gotten to be the worst of all. Last night it got so bad that it was almost impossible for me to get up and down. Just bending that knee a little too much caused agonizing pain so I didn't move around anymore than I had to. Getting up and down the steps of this trailer isn't much better than just getting up and sitting down. Looks like I may have to build a ramp to be able to get in and out of here. I'm actually thinking about building a splint to wear when its giving me trouble so I can't bend that knee at all. That won't help being able to get up and down much, but at leas it should help the pain or at least cut down on it. I'm sure I'm going to have to live with the pain though because surgery isn't in my future. BTW... the heater felt mighty good several times last night and early this morning to.
Here you have another one of my makeshift dishes. I guess you could call it spaghetti? Anyway I'd used the flavor packet out of a pack of shrimp Top Ramen noodles for a rice dish I concocted a few days ago and didn't want to trash the noodles. I've made spaghetti like this before, but used the flavor packet though. This time I used half the water called for. (About 1 cup to boil the noodles in. Added garlic power to the water as well as Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and some ground Oregano. I boiled the water with the seasonings first and then added the noodles. After that I placed the noodles in the water and boiled them for 7 minutes and there was still a little too much water so I added about a table spoon of 5 minute rise to absorb the rest of the water. Then I added the last 2 table spoons of butter I had and an 8 Oz can of tomato paste and simmered it for a few minutes. It was actually about as good as any meatless spaghetti as I've had. Didn't have any meat this time, but the next time I get the hankering for spaghetti I'll make sure I do. This makes a real fast batch of spaghetti and could have probably fed two, but I pigged out on it myself. I'd suspect using 2 or more packs of the noodles and maybe some diced tomatoes with a little meat of some kind (Diced Spam should be real good) and it would probably make a good meal for several. (Especially with some garlic toast and shake cheese)