BOXING DAY

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How I miss those Boxing Day pheasant shoots

Had I been in Blighty then today would have been a pheasant shooting day with turkey sandwiches and a large chunk of Christmas cake. As I’m not, those things, along with Boxing Day Trials are happy memories and today will be something completely different.

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Panic email from 4 Seasons to reveal 75% off Christmas Decs is just too much for Brenda so into town via them and get the new Head boots fitted to my skis, then a quick visit to my favorite Chinese  buffet …… on to Walmart and back for the skis. The NEW garland is up, lights are on, and now for snow flakes and baubles ….. snow flakes good, baubles take a hit as a 75% off pretty glass ball dives headlong onto the hearth and shatters, no matter she will be back for more!

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The NEW Garland goes up with 75% savings!

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Gorgeous baubles at under $2 a pop

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The other one of these went POP

I get a lovely NEW extra present in the form of a Nikon camera to replace the abused workshop & trials one that has served me well despite a couple of nasty crashes at Sipapu.

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The fire is lit, Christmas lights come on via timers and more Hallmark films play on.

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Saturday and the ornaments are replaced, garland finished and 2 spares go on the tree while another old one takes a nose dive to never never land.  Dog walking and an early party at the Riverfront pre pool but just as we are leaving old friend Forrest turns up with new lady friend having finally got shot of the one he married for some inexplicable reason?  Over to the Riverfront we go and enjoy a few clams which are delicious unlike the ones we had in Napa on the sea food platter at Bouchon’s.

Well oiled, the competition begins and today we have 20 players all trying the make the cut for next week’s final. Not quite sure how the system works with this number but there have to be a number of “byes” although I don’t get one and I’m on early. I win my first 3 games which with a normal 16 field means you are in the money as only 2 players can be undefeated at this stage. Today we have 4 and I lose this one in a very close well fought game.

Brenda has been playing well but hasn’t brought the killer edge and is enjoying the social side too much…… never mind she tells me she will be on fire at Mancos tomorrow.

2 extra games today which I win and now I’m back in the money and I’m playing for 3rd or better. The opposition nearly runs the table on me but I get back on and take 5 of mine before a miss. The leave is anything but easy with everything in a straight line but Bob manages to come off two rails and strikes the black perfectly for the win. No argument with that one! A great afternoon at the tables and another 3rd place so good practice for next weekend.

Sunday and last chance at Mancos for the Columbine’s tournament next weekend. I’m the duty driver so Brenda can have at it both pool and social. My first game is a messy affair with no clear shots after an initial good run of 5. The opposition catch up and still nothing available for me. Very frustrating but as we know it sometimes happens this way. Finally a problem ball gets moved and I finish in good style but boy that one was a struggle!

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A nice cut to the center and 5 balls up

Brenda gets the break on her first game and its nip and tuck all the way but one ball refuses to drop and the game is lost. Her second game is much the same with no major problems but despite a good catch up phase the ball is not for her. She does however get the less than welcome “First Out” and a free drink.

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Good break in game 1

My next game is another messy table with one of my “stripes” locked up behind the black and any attack on it is likely to sink the black and lose the game. The opposition catch up and finish off for my first loss.

The next game I must confess my heart doesn’t seem to be in it and I miss two very simple shots by my current standards. Again the other player is catching up and then I get my proverbial together with 3 super shots in a row and an excellent position on what I would class as an easy black. However it doesn’t drop and a few shots later I’m out and done for the day!

Well that was pool 2014, a Win, a 2nd and two 3rd’s at the Riverfront and a 2nd at the Columbine. Both Championships are next weekend so some final tuning, new cue tips etc and then let play commence

TONY DOWN

 

 

ANOTHER COZY CHRISTMAS

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The road to the Slopes

Yesterday’s storm has passed, 2″ of snow on the rail and the 50mph winds have gone, but they will be back? Very, very cold and a high chill factor with these winds. Another dose of light snow on Christmas Eve and a run to Telluride to try on some boots for big foot. Lovely day for the skiers but a lot of snow in the forecast for the next few days. Boot testing reveals nothing and not really much closer to boot Nirvana! A couple from Head and Dalbello went on but nothing to say this is ME !!

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Christmas morning and its snowing, can presents be put under the tree or will the Nice Black Cat undo them all ? Fire is lit, usual stereo via the TV.

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The snow begins as forecast

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The Cat begins …… as forecast

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Presents done, dogs walked, the lumberjack humps in more wood for a full day’s burning as the Titanic’s boilers are set for all ahead. Phone calls around the World and then Christmas lunch preparation gets under way with a couple of Paxo stuffings.

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Its not precooked ?

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Stuffings done

Bird in the oven, and I can still remember Granny and Auntie getting up at ungodly hours to put 30 lb birds in old ovens at 20-25 mins per lb . With that “Reynolds” bag the 21 pounder is done in 3.5 hours. All the veggies are peeled and cut and ready for their turn a little closer to the main event.

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Swede, parsnips and pots, sprouts, leeks and heirloom carrots

Cocktails and Hallmark until the next round of activity and watch the snow coming down.

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I think we have enough wine for today

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Dangerous cocktails, round 1

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Still snowing

Veggies and extras are ready and the bird rests…… as does the cook! On schedule the monster is carved………

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The traditional British Christmas lunch is done,  let the eating commence

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Yes, it eats well, the crackers are pulled and a few more drinks are poured. Another delightful Christmas with some lovely presents, some known, others a total surprise, time to sit back and enjoy the old Hallmark happy films and watch the snow coming down.

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Thanks for another lovely Christmas and Goodwill to all from Ramsey and Sous Chef Brenda

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Let it snow! Christmas 2014    

TONY & BRENDA

 

 

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE……..

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One more week of school bus driving and then  the two week Christmas break! Light snow in the forecast, lights are all up, and pool competitions will soon be under way. Not 100% sure when the Riverfront comp takes place but I’m already qualified for that one with a 1st and a 2nd. Felt a bit “pool deprived” this week after my trip to Montose so a Wednesday night visit to practice and, boy I was ON IT, seeing nearly every shot …… hope it continues today. The weekend plan is also to take in Mancos where I’m also in the running with a 2nd but we need to get Brenda qualified as well. The NEW trailer axle has arrived so pick that up on Monday and try and get that job complete before the week is out. Still need the rocker covers for the Cub from Ray….. another phone call and Xmas salutation. Time to photograph and list a ton of ski clothes that I bought at ridiculous prices last year, I think I have at least 6 jackets to sell and a couple of two piece outfits that I bought at opening bid prices ranging from $0.99 to $9.99 !! I’ll be trying some new boots from Head which I can get my feet into and are a compromise of the old step in rear entry style with walk mode and buckles. Not the prettiest boot I’ve ever seen but Very comfortable.

Brenda completed her secret “snow dance” a bit like my Granny’s prediction of “if the fire burns blue, then we shall have snow”. True to predictions, old wives tales, and voodoo snow dances ….. it snowed nearly all afternoon while we were playing pool dumping 3″ and then another 1″ overnight!

Meanwhile at the pool tables, as the gin flowed freely, and the snow came down I met the local best player, John McEwan, in round 1 and had a great run sinking 6 balls while John could only manage 1 and then left me snookered behind 2 of his remaining 6. I could envisage an impossible shot going backwards off the top cushion, then crossing to the side rail to come down towards my last ball about a foot out from the bottom pocket. I nominated the said pocket and gently fired off the cue ball on its voyage of discovery….. it strikes everything perfectly and taps my one remaining ball in leaving me in a great place for the black. Win number1 !

Next up going well but unable to get around the opposition’s balls to get to the black and never got a chance at it! Loss number1 !

4 good wins in a row and I’m beginning to lose track of where I am in the tournament and I’m first on the black in this game but don’t quite take enough time for a cut on the black to the center and it just hits the lip. Loss number 2 …… but then I find out it was for 3rd place so another qualifying day.

Quick dose of Christmas Vacation and all the usual laughs with all things Christmas and what goes into it. Another day of pool at Mancos tomorrow and see how that goes.

Pool was OK, played well but had some “black ballitis” and kept missing the winning shot despite THREE attempts in one frame and that being for 3rd place or better……. so yes, 4th today!

School bus driving came and went. Thursday morning had plenty of “Jingle Belling” and stories of a Reindeer with a red nose. “I hope you haven’t been drinking  while driving the sleigh?”…..   Friday was a no school day so I can sit and type this instead of driving. Last night was “Lights Judging” so we will see how that went in the next few days. Bloody cold this a.m. and a crisp breeze to add to the fun.

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Old axle removed

The rocker covers are in the post and the new axle is ready to be jacked up into position. That’s this morning’s fun project. Well those temps haven’t even made freezing yet but I’ll give it a try in the near future with a couple of jacks and a good number of wood blocks. This could be like building the pyramids with layer after layer of wood blocks to support the weight then gently jack the last bits up to match the bolt holes.

A couple of attempts at the axle end in failure and some serious re-measuring takes place. Brackets on trailer 66.875″ ….. brackets on axle 66.125″……. and after further review with trailer shop the bit that does the suspension work is 22 degrees DOWN instead of the upward angle that was ordered!

So, hump it back to the shop next week and this time leave the trailer and they can fit the axle when it arrives.

Silly (ugly) Christmas sweaters today. Now time for some G&T’s and pool.

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Pool came and went, we were told we had “placed” in the Christmas lights and the weather has become most unpleasant. The game plan was to try some booties on Monday up at Telluride but the weather up there was heavy snow and 80 mph wind gusts and chains required over the pass. Common sense said No!

The trailer and incorrect axle was taken to the trailer shop and left as I suspect with the holidays it will be 3 weeks before I see that back, hopefully with the correct one fitted. More firewood and logs and Christmas movies round out the day.

The wind picks up here and outside decs take a hammering and then we get a couple of inches with the next snow forecast for Christmas Day.

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

REINVENTING THE WHEEL

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As we approach Christmas and the snow starts to fall my mind swings into thoughts of skiing and our first visit to Telluride a mere 55 miles up the road.

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This year, not unlike many before it, I would really like to get a pair of comfortable ski boots that I can get on and off without throwing a temper tantrum in the parking lot! The evolution of boots is one of life’s mysteries and is not confined to ski boots and also cross relates to trials boots where a similar pattern of slow progress has been the order of the day for the past 30 years.

Take trials boots from my earliest beginnings in 1963 and it was firemen’s thick leather boots and some sort of studs or cleats hammered into the sole. Tons of “dubbin” every time they were used but for the most part your feet stayed dry. Not elegant but functional with a fair bit of foot and lower leg protection.

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Classic leather Fireman’s boot with the 69 Mk1 Montesa

Next up was the use of the Dunlop Industrial Wellington which was everyday use for coal miners sloshing about in wet coal mines. They seemed to come in two variations, the difference being while they both had steel toecaps some had a steel shank in the sole and some didn’t! They had good tread and plenty of cushion fillets all the way up the front and over the ankles. Cheap as chips, wide enough for all and of course your feet were DRY for all those Scottish sections.

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El Cheapo Dunlop Trials Wellie 76 SSDT

Being wellingtons they were wide at the top and would flap around but then our standard UK dress was thick socks and jeans under the Barbour suit. Although I did see one Sammy Miller wearing them with some sort of early Duc tape around the tops to stop the annoying flap.

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Farmers and the landed gentry were now wearing the new “posh green wellie” for shooting which was leather lined, form fitting to the calf and zip sided. Had we developed this and added all those other fillets and steel toe caps and shanks I believe we would have had a winner back then ……… and I still believe we could have one today if someone redesigned that old black wellington.

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Have to say that for my 8 Scottish rides, which were about a 1000 miles per event, I never had wet feet other than walking into a hole when the water came in over the TOP !! Move on and go back for the Pre 65 event and it was a soaking EACH day and 2 pairs of boots …….. I did consider taking my “posh green wellies” but they got left at home which I regretted at the time as 2009 was a VERY WET year!

Modern Trials boots are good, don’t get me wrong, great soles, flexible, plenty of ankle and shin protection, but they are all leather and leather and water don’t mix! Yes the are colorful and look good but an expensive item at $250-350 and still you end up with wet feet.

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My Sidis, great for dry trials! Not so much fun in the wet

Looking at my current dilemma I have a “sasquash foot”…… wide, high instep and shortish at 26.5 mondo or 8.5 US or 42/43 trials boot EU. The ski boot fitters nightmare.

My first outing on skis was back in 1953 and boots were thick leather with 2 sets of laces. Don’t remember wet feet but I do remember the laces could freeze. Next time I’m on the slopes the Instructors have these black leather boots with 6 buckles made by Raichle? ….. and now buckle mania has been with us for the last 50+ years going from 6 to 4 with a power strap and now down to 3 and even 2. Boots became taller when they were worn over ski pants and became hard plastic with all sorts of liners over the years using heat molded foam,  flo foam that changed as your foot did and expensive custom footbeds for the perfect stance if you could ever get your foot into one of these contraptions. Perhaps the worst boots I ever bought were Koflach which were Austrian and a very good looking boot with flo-foam which was supposed to warm up and mold to the shape of your foot. Today its called the “Intuition Liner”…… progress here then! This stuff set like concrete and was bloody murder for a couple of hours the next day!!

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Race day in Koflachs which hurt like hell

Then along comes the “step in, rear entry” design which was bliss. Well thought out, comfortable and easy to get on and off. Based on the Roman Army sandal a simple wire over the forefoot and another to pull the ankle down securely in the heel……. just add one clamping strap to close the back and the jobs done.

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Nordica 955’s one of the best boots I ever used

The wheel turns again and by the late 80’s rear entry boots are being pooh poohed as its buckle time and bullet hard plastic again and a whole new range of custom insoles. Boot manufacturers keep making 97mm last boots for ski racers and those of us with snow shoe feet can’t get in or if you can its 2 runs and those buckles are all undone and steaming feet are everywhere at the mid mountain bar as circulation is sought before gangrene sets in.

Nordica and others make a soft boot and this is pretty good with a lawn mower starter device up the back to tighten it all up. No longer made but mark my words I think it will be back.

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Very clever boots from Nordica, they will be back!

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The lawnmower starter tightens everything up

Some manufacturers start making wider last boots for normal people and even call some of them HVL or high  volume for the wide foot and high instep. Fantastic idea and great when, and if, you can shove the giant appendage around the 90 degree bend in the bullet hard shell. Yes, I had a pair of these and it took close on 20 mins to get the things on but once “it” was in they were comfortable all day.

So where are we today in 2014/15 ? ….. in truth not much further along except that last sizes have upped from the racing 97/98mm to boots hitting 106 and some even adjustable. Attempts have been made to make boots “easier to get into” by notching the lower shell cuffs so that you can bend them outward a bit during what was always a painful experience.

Head have just introduced a rear entry style with a wide last and a walk mode that locks when you step into the binding. Amazingly these were on sale at a very low price so I shall be trying them. They are easy to get on, very comfortable, but until I adjust my bindings and step into them with lock mode activated I’m reserving final judgment  …… they also look a bit bland in all black.

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The new semi rear entry from Head

Two other offerings appeal to me during my research the first being outrageously priced at $995 but worth a look in the quest for comfy feet. This one would appear to be a snow board soft style boot which is then clamped into a frame so you can either step out of your bindings or step out of the frames leaving them on the skis. You now have a soft boot to go walkabout and bar hopping!

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The $995 boots with a snowboard walkabout inner boot attached to a ski boot frame………. clever

The final one I like the look of is what I can only describe as a combo boot featuring all the things I’ve been looking for. A wider last is first, ease of entry a very close second, looks and functionality is third and I believe these boots have it all…… but a test fitting has to be done to see if its right for me! The two boots I’m looking at are by Full Tilt and Roxa. Both feature this Intuition Liner and both have the “cabrio” design where the tongue section hinges forward enabling club foot to slip in . With the tongue back in position its that Roman Sandal wire tensioning and the jobs done.

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The Roxa Freesoul front opening ?

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Just my colors from Full Tilt, front opening and more of those Roman Sandals wires

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I think this is ME if it fits

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

 

MORE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ?

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What do I add this year ?

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Tis the season and as always the question is how many of last years bulbs will be burning brightly after being in storage? We will see. Last year I separated the upper and lower sets of lights and display items and stored the garden area set up in the workshop loft rather than hump the load upstairs.

This year I’m trying to get a head start on things so that lighting up day can be December 1st. Last year 3 more shooting stars were added and as time moves on people are expecting something new for this year ….. but what ?

In my mind’s eye I’m seeing 2 big Christmas trees made out of wire frames or using two sets of step ladders one above the other ? But without a cat!

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Thanksgiving Eve, if there is such an animal and all outside goodies and decs retrieved from the workshop loft. Standard untangling mayhem and testing of lights. 3 sets needing a little work so time to gird loins once more and off to Cortez. First stop get rid of the old axle and receive the princely sum of $6.32 in salvage!! Now time for Walmart, an oil change, birthday card for Brenda, and look through their Christmas section for ideas.

Nothing exciting, but that’s Walmart, so get the replacement bulbs and spares and a few add on items and start planning. Thursday lay out some of the garden bits and with cocktails flowing no ladder work today!

Friday and Brenda’s birthday so not much happening on the decs side today. The 3 stars get set up their trees and an old windmill which will be the basis for the new feature gets dragged out from the junk pile behind the workshop.

Saturday and its pool once more so decorating takes a back seat and the full attack begins tomorrow.

Sunday, let chaos begin! Cat secured in bathroom…… not happy, and load after load comes down from the loft. Major issue is the lights on the Christmas tree so yet another Walmart run for 7 strings to get that project complete before nightfall.

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400 new bulbs later!

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Frosty is happy to be out again

Progress has been slow but between school runs various portion are now complete and today is Wednesday and I’ve had to take the afternoon off as I’m running behind. However, if I can get going when the morning run is complete I should get the last row of ice lights done over the upper balcony and the last star winched up to the top of the house. Some more deers to add to the growing herd out by the waterfalls and then the mega wire up to the outlets.

Wednesday went more or less to plan so by 1830 I’m done and a new star lights up the Dolores night sky. Still plenty to do when I get back from my 3 day trip to Montrose with the basketball teams.

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First look

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The one and only tacky blow-up

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More deers

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NEW for 2014

Sunday and tidy up time on wiring looms and set about the last remaining features that I want to add to this year’s display. With the lights burning brightly for the last 3 nights Brenda has been receiving favorable reports from all and sundry…… so time to get the new features underway.

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Bring on the staple gun

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Just too much fun for el puss

Something NEW down the rose bed area and the old windmill gets rebuilt and the base board is cut and retaining brackets fabricated and fitted. By 1630 its in place  and working. Last task for the day is a set of white LED lights on an old Santa.

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The NEW feature for 2014, the rose bed lights up

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An old Santa joins in

Still 5 items to do but I’m out of extension cables so yet another Walmart run this morning. The NEW Angel feature is completed but once up it just doesn’t look the way I wanted it so a rethink on this one. Brenda doesn’t like the center feature so a bit of modification here. The outside garden swings are now all moved so as not to detract from the lights and the Beemer got moved to the rear of the building for the same reasons.

Judgement Day coming soon!

TONY DOWN