Sunday, November 29, 2015

Long Weekend

I hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving.

This was a long and rainy weekend. We broke the all time record on the wettest year here in North Texas. With over ten inches in the past four days, it would be an understatement to say most outdoor activities was a challenge.

We did however get some work done.

Wednesday afternoon right before the rains hit, my dad, my the oldest girl Jessie and myself were able to get the tin installed underneath the front porch. Now we can at least stand outside in the rain and not get wet. I still have to trim around the posts, but that can
wait for another day. 

I finally got the sink installed and functional in the kitchen. The one thing Candy asked for this winter was to be able to do the dishes in the house, off the front porch and out of the cold. I figured I could at least do that for her. Plus, frozen water on dishes just don't do well.

And we also got the carpet in the bedroom loft installed. All I have left as far as the house is the trim and floors in the kitchen/living section. Then it will be time to start on the outdoor Kitchen/Eating area.

It's Sunday and all is quiet now. All the family has left and the Thanksgiving left overs are all gone.
Tomorrow it's back to the grind and everything will be back to the normal day to day activities of life. It's kinda sad in a way but I guess it's the way it has to be.

We will see what I can get done this week.
Have a safe one.


Friday, November 20, 2015


I was able to get back to work on the tiny house this week and I can tell you one thing, I was right.

I told Candy we should not move into the house until it was complete because if we did, it would never get done. Being in the camper gave me an incentive to get the house done as quick as I could, but being completely sick of the cold camper living we decided to move into the unfinished house.

All summer I have had to look at an incomplete living and kitchen area. When you walked in the front door the first thing you notice is the insulation hanging from the ceiling, no kitchen cabinets, no trim and unfinished floors.
To top it all off, after living in it for several months we have accumulated more and more stuff making it hard to work around unless I remove everything.

For example, someone was throwing away a perfectly good wine rack.
This thing is huge and we have no place for it, but we got it. You have to walk around it when you come in the door.
Now Candy has plenty of space to store her wine with room to spare.
I have plans for it down the road by putting in our spa area, but for the time being it's huge and in the way.

Working around wine rack, recliners, refrigerator, TV and a pantry I was still able to get the tin ceiling on this week in the living/kitchen area without loosing too much of my religion. 
The rain made it where I had a couple of short days at work leaving me a little time to get this done. So with help from my dad, we gotter done. Now all that is left is the trim.

I bought enough tin to do the underside of the front porch so we can sit out in the rain and not get wet and I plan on doing that this weekend. I also plan to pick up the kitchen sink base today and get all that started.
I am still undecided on if I want to make the counter tops myself or just buy them and cut to fit so I will check prices while I am at the big box store today.
I have a stove/oven picked out, but I need to make a special cabinet for that to sit on because it's a tiny one.

Other than that, I got suckered into cooking chili Saturday morning in Dallas, then it's off to my brothers to plan the Thanksgiving menu. I think we are going nontraditional this year and doing a Fajita Bar with all the fixens instead of the same old turkey dinner we do every year. Sounds fun.

I will post pictures of the progress.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Back To Work

I had a good year, Chili year that is but now it's over. I took a year off of everything and did nothing but chili cook, at least it seems like it.

The first week of November I spent my one week of vacation in the Terlingua desert, in a tent and even though some would say we don't "real" camp and what we do is Glamping, it was still hard living for 10 days. Hats off to the folks that live down there full time.  

Even though we were at the World Championship Chili Cook Off I still tried to make it a vacation by
checking some items off the old bucket list.
We pulled the Ranger down just to do some 4-wheeling and go places not many folks have ever seen. We spent a day cutting our own trail about six miles back to nowhere and the sights were breathtaking. We stopped and had a packed lunch on top of a small bluff overlooking the desert valley. Talk about isolation, where we went man has only seen from the air.
It's hard to think there is so much beauty in such a dry and desolate place.

We spent a day doing something I have really been wanted to do, Zip Line. I have always been too heavy and over the weight limits, but after loosing seventy pounds, it was time.
It was hard to let go of the money just to ride some cables across the desert floor but in the end it was worth it. The longest was 2000 feet and over 350 feet off the ground and I did it backwards.
If you ever find yourself in the small quiet town of Lajitas, stop by and give your trip a memory you will never forget. The guides were friendly, professional and made me feel safe and I'm even scared of heights so if I can do it anybody can.   

The Day OF The Dead was a different thing all into its self. I have never seen anything like it and really didn't understand it, but it was something to see.
The ghost town of Terlingua puts on a celebration for the dead every November 2nd. Everyone who has family in the 111 year old graveyard dresses up to remember, honor and have supper with their departed loved ones. They spend the evening decorating their graves and telling stories about the ones who are buried there. At this time, the families bring their children to the graves and introduces them to the past family members. 
Nightfall brings a huge bonfire, music, more food and dance. Each gravy gets a candle in remembrance and when they are all burning, the old graveyard has a haunting glow that will make you feel like the spirits are really there with you.   
Like I said, it was something to see and experience, but it's not my culture.

Each person in our camp was assigned meals. Of course I did mine the only way I knew how, Dutch Oven Cooking. My dad made this tripod before we left and I put it to good use for one Supper and two Breakfasts.
We had Pulled Pork Tacos with Spanish Rice and Re-fried Beans for our supper and a Dutch Oven Burrito Breakfast one morning and Cinnamon Rolls the next.
I gained seven pounds just by eating all the good food everyone made in camp. Each morning and night was filled with food, food and even more food. If you went hungry it was your fault.   

Chili Time
The weather was hot during the day and cold at night except for the one day we had to cook. The Saturday's strong winds and low 50's made it a hard day to cook the championship chili.
300 cooks from across the world got busy cooking their famous chili recipe, but only one would take home the prize.
And it was not me or Candy. The guy who won it is from a little town called Point Texas.
I also cooked Wings on Friday but did not do any good there either.

I guess I'm getting "high kept" or something. On our way back Sunday I stopped off at a hotel to have a real shower and shave, change into something without dust on it and eat something not off of a paper plate. Oh, and did I mention I made sure the hotel had a hot tub. We utilized every amenity that place had to offer. I felt like a cave man or something.

This year I do not plan to cook chili as much. Candy still is and plans to go back to Terlingua next year, but I think I am about done with it. It has turned into more of a job than a hobby. Cooking over 50 times a year does that to you I guess. I need to spend this year finishing the house, doing a little hunting, spend my free time fishing and doing the things I really want to do or should I say, get back to doing the things I really enjoy.   
I will always be a member of CASI because I believe in what they do for the hundreds of charities across the world and I will always cook a few times a year to support them, but I feel the 50+ times a year is over for me.
I have met my goals in the Chili World by Winning some cookoffs and walking across the main stage at the World Championship. I am honored every time I sit in my Red Chair that only a few people have won.
The folks I have met and the life long friendships/brotherhoods I have developed are priceless. I am so blessed to have spent so much time with some of these people and created so many memories with them. To those folks, hats off, much respect and I will see you on the chili trail, but not as much.
So here's the deal.........

I started work back on the tiny house this week and I have more to share with you. I am back now and focused so stay around a little longer to see what I have in store.

See Ya,

Friday, October 16, 2015

Still Sitting

It has been a while, that is for sure. It's been almost two months. I think that is the longest I have ever gone without posting, almost like Facebook.

To catch you up to speed, September was filled with heat. So much so that all we did was chili cook almost every weekend. And when we were not doing that, we relaxed.
We spend the evenings with the Grand Baby whenever we can and do a lot of front porch sitting late in the evenings. 

Work has been very demanding and when I get home I am spent mentally and physically. I guess my age is starting to show through. It's getting harder and harder to keep so much on my mind. I have to let some things go to make room for others and unfortunately it has been the blog this last two months.

October started a new chili year and we put on our own cookoff the first weekend.  I don't plan to cook as often this year as last for several reasons, but the main one is I am just tired.  Last year we cooked over fifty times and even though Candy will probably do the same this year, I am not. I love chili cooking, but I love a lot more things just as well.

Last week Jessie turned 23. It's hard to believe I have a child that old. She is still in College Station working, but I think she may be coming home in January. What she is doing there is not what she went all those years to school and made all those sacrifices for. Candy and I are hoping she will come home and start her career up here a little closer to us.
Jessie is putting on her first chili cook off on the 24th in Pilot Point. I am sure she will not make that mistake again. It's a lot of work and with the politics involved here, it's a pain.  

I have now lost 73 pounds and Candy about 60. With all the kids gone and being on the run most of the time, who needs to eat. Cooking is over rated and expensive anyway right? We can go out a few times a week, share a salad and a water and get out of there for under seven bucks. The rest of the times we just snack on fruit and veggies.

We are gearing up for our second trip to the World Championship Chili Cookoff in Terlingua at the end of the month. We will be staying for ten days, in a tent, in the desert. Now water, no plumbing, no nothing.
Now, you may think that is living rough but remember, I am a prepper so we will have hot showers every night in our shower tent, a toilet in another tent and a sleeping tent bigger than most third world homes with furnishings. I will be doing all Dutch Oven Cooking and living like a wild man. I am really not looking forward to it to be honest. Way too much work.

Other than that, the tiny home is still tiny and unfinished. The outdoor kitchen is still not completed and everything else has taken a back burner to chili. Maybe when it cools down some I will feel like working on it again. Just yesterday it was 96 degrees, this is crazy.

I promise, I will try and post more often.
Until then,


Monday, August 31, 2015

Sitting Still

Sometimes you just need to sit still, think, daydream, reflect, reevaluate your goals and then move forward.
It all depends on how much you have to think about, it may take just a few moments and sometimes it may take a day or two, but this has to be done in order to know what your next step is and how to get there.
Most of the time I have to force myself to do this mind exercise because who has the time to do nothing except think, right?

This weekend I had every intention to do just that. I wanted to get some much needed and neglected chores done around the house, then sit back to think. I needed to evaluate every project I have going at the moment. Finishing the house is top on that list but also the outdoor kitchen, the off grid spa area, the tool shed, all the fencing and what landscaping we will need. Then I needed to make the materials list and put a timeline and dollar amount to each one.
All that and then add in the new chili cooking year fast approaching and all that lintels. Where and how many times to cook, the money, the weekend cooking trips, take the camper or just tent it and then the first week of November at the world championship chili cook off sleeping in a tent, off grid, in the desert for ten days and trying to think about all we will need for that.
Somewhere in all that I also need to pencil in a couple or three weekend trips for fishing and relaxing. Where to go, what take, who to invite and the food. Then add in all the holidays, birthdays and whatever else we celebrate plus the with a demanding "real" work schedule, I don't even have the time to sit and write this post. I am already twelve weeks behind! I need to retire just to catch up.

But I didn't get to do any of that this weekend and I was mad about it until last night when I had the chance to sit and think. I didn't think about the projects, the weekends, the chili cooking or any of the sorts. Our one and only free weekend for the next two months and with all these plans to fill it, it was all changed. Instead, we celebrated our 25th year anniversary, went boating with my brother, went shopping and even rekindled an old relationship. We also stopped by a friends house and worked out some differences, had a beer and hugged it out. We also spent some time with extended family and to finish it all off, sat on the back porch with my parents and talked as the sun sank behind the hill.

So I guess it all boils down to this, you got all the time in the world to sit and think about all the things you have to do, but you only have a limited time in your life to do the things you need to do. The projects and work will always be there for the rest of your life, that is a guarantee. The people and things that matter the most, will not.  
Thanks for reading, see ya next time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


For my daughters graduation, I sent her and my wife on a little cruise. She has worked so hard these past 4 1/2 years and deserved getting away for a few days.
  I was not about to sit at home for a week so I pulled out the old bucket list and started planning.
 I ended up going to Oklahoma and doing some fly fishing. I have always wanted to fly fish and now I had the opportunity to get away, relax and learn something new.
I brought along a buddy of mine just so we could make fun of each other with all the tangles and beginner casting issues. We hired a guide to show us how this first time and to take us to the best places. Experiencing it for the first time I felt I needed a guide, but now his duties are no longer needed.
I can tell you, there really is nothing like it. I was so concentrated on my casting, placing the fly in just the right spot and watching the little indicator as it quickly floated by that nothing else existed in the world.

I also took a little time in the late evenings and early mornings to sit out enjoy a good book.
On this adventure I chose to bring "Rock Springs" by Richard Ford. It's hard to put this book down. A little slow at the start, but a few pages in and your hooked.
I highly recommend this read on your next outing, you won't be disappointed. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Excitement Is A Understatement

Even though it was hard scheduling the family with all the events and everything that goes with it, we made it through. All it really mattered was Jessie having her day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

It Is Finished

A little over four years ago I did the hardest thing I have ever had to do as a parent, drop my oldest daughter Jessie off at college.

Like it was only yesterday, I remember the terrified look on her face as we said our goodbyes on the campus of Texas A&M and left for home. This was the fist time we had to do anything like this and even though we tried to prepare ourselves, it was a lot harder than we could have imagined.
Trying to hold back the tears but being unsuccessful, I had to keep reminding myself that every parent goes through this and she is only four hours away instead of across the country.
Two hours in on our ride home she called, said she wanted to come home, said this was stupid, said this college was not for her. It took everything I had not to turn around and go get her. I hated to hear her cry and wanted nothing more than to be her hero one more time, but I didn't. What I did know was, she needed to do this so she would have a better life than me. She needed this so she can make her mark one the world and not suffer and sacrifice like me and her momma did. She needed this for so many more reasons than I could count and by me not turning around, packing up her things and taking her back home, I was the hero, even though it didn't feel like it at that moment.
One day turned into two, then a week went by and she starting hitting her grove. We adjusted at home as best we could and with her daily calls and frequent weekend visits, time started just flying by.
Over the years she tried to call at least once a day just to talk. It may have been for only a minute, but it was really good to hear her voice and that is what got us all though.
And now here it is, the day we have been waiting for. I cannot believe it has already been over four years. Friday we will be traveling to Texas A&M to see my daughter walk across the stage as a college graduate. I have been waiting a long time to write that sentence.

To Jessie,
Baby, you did it! I could not be more proud of you. Four years ago nether of us could imagine this day would ever come. It was so far in the future that we couldn't see the end. Well, the end is here. You have accomplished your goals and dreams.
As I sit here and write this I can only imagine what the future holds for you. Just like when we brought you home from the hospital so many years ago, me and your mom would sit and talk to you about your life, about where you will go, what you will do, even the great deeds you will accomplish. Just days old and not even able to understand me, I would tell you what a miracle and blessing you are to us and everyone else you will ever meet. That has held true though out your whole life.
Thank you, it has been such a pleasure raising you up to the beautiful young woman you are today. Thank you for including us in your life and letting us be there every step of the way. Thank you for letting us go down this wonderful journey with you. Thank you, for being you.
Me and your mom love you more than you will ever know. We are so proud of you. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Banjo Picking

This last weekend we were at a fish fry, barn party where my youngest daughter Kylee preformed in a band, her very first song along with her banjo.

Now how cool is that?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What Else Do You Need?

I hope everyone had a great Father's Day.

Even with a broke back and in constant pain, I had the privilege to spend a few hours with my girls before they were gone and on their own way once again.

With Kylee working all the time, Jessie away at school and Hannah raising her own family, it's not very often I can get them all together in one place anymore so on those rare occasions it is very special to me.

I am back to work this week and still in a lot of pain, but the bills still have to be paid. Candy is up and around after a major knee issue, but she to is still having to take it easy. We are getting by and doing what we can until we heal. Then, it's back in game and we will do one final push to get the kitchen done, or most of the way done by August.

See ya in a week or so,

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Full Time

I didn't want it to happen, but I knew it would. We are now living in the house full time even though it is not done.

This weekend we had a big push to get it livable with A/C in the whole house. We got the insulation done in the Kitchen/Living area, put in the big A/C and even boxed in the drop down in the center with cedar. The walls, floors, ceiling, cabinets, stove and everything else that goes in a kitchen/living room still needs to be done.
I joked with Candy by saying, "We started off on plywood floors and now look at us 25 years later, right back on them."
Everything else is done in the house and I knew that once we started spending most of our time there it would not be long before we just moved in. It got really old going back and forth from the house to the camper and having some things over there and some stuff over here. Plus running the electricity in both started to get out of hand.  All we were using the camper for was to cook and do dishes anyway. So to get completely out of it and just shut the thing off is a good thing.
The biggest problem is now I have to work around more stuff.

My dad gave me an old ice box that is just the size we need. It holds everything we had in the two refrigerators we were running in the camper plus some. I also took an old outdoor kitchen project I made a couple of years ago and modified it to fit our needs now.

I set it up right outside the front door on the porch so it's easy to get to. I then installed this sink and hooked it up to the garden hose. We have hot water, but just what is in the hose. It's enough to do the dished with and if we need more then we just bucket it in from the bathroom. For the drains we use five gallon buckets and empty them when they get full. Hey, it works and it's functional. Plus, food always tastes better when cooked outside.
Once the kitchen is done then this will go away and the sink and stove will be used in my real outdoor kitchen on the deck beside the house.

But then disaster struck. Sunday afternoon we had a large portion of the family over for hamburgers and to show off the house. It had been raining and I was showing the upstairs area. On my way back down I fell. The end result is I broke a bone in my lower back. I have pretty much been in bed ever since. The doctor said it is broke in an area they cannot brace or get to so there is nothing they can do except manage my pain. It will be four to six weeks before I can lift anything, squat or walk up stairs. On top of all that, last night Candy was coming down the ladder from sewing all day and somehow managed to almost destroy her knee. Torn ligaments, messed up knee cap and the whole works. She is in a full leg brace and on crutches now.
What a mess, she can't take care of me and I can't take care of her, but we are managing, just a little slower than usual.
I didn't have any plans this weekend anyway, but what a way to spend Father's day. I would have much rather been playing golf.
Jessie is coming in this weekend to help take care of old mom and dad. I told her she better get used to it. LOL
Okay, pain meds are kicking in, I need to get off here before I say more stupid stuff.

See ya down the road.

Friday, June 5, 2015

It's Not Much

The rain has stopped, for now, and the water levels are going down slowly. The sun is out along with the humidity, the ants, the mosquitoes, the flies, the bees and the flees. The temps have jumped from the mild 70s to the mid 90s in one week. With the heat index it puts it right at 100, already.
But, it's good to be dry.
I have not done a lot on the house except look at it. What I have done does not measure up to much.
During the rains I found that the house leaked in several different places. Mostly due the fact I did not trim it out all the way and the sideways rains found every crack there was. I fixed all that by trimming out the whole house and chalking every seam. The wood floors in the bedroom suffered some damage and about 1/4 of it needs to be replaced because it has now buckled. If that is the worst of it, then I am golden.
The shower is operational now so all we use the camper for is to cook in. Most of the time we cook outside anyway (when it's not raining) so really, all we use it for is to hold our food.

The upstairs is complete except for the railing. The trim is all done except a few little touch ups on the stain. The carpet is laid and Candy has even started putting her office and sewing stuff up there. The recessed lighting really lights up the whole room and I don't bump my head on them. I still need to build some shelves for her fabric and trophies, but that ain't nothing and will not take too long.

 I'm not going to worry about doing the railing around the pass through holes until we are done with the kitchen. It's only a seven foot fall and if she decides to jump, she will live.

 Here is picture of the top floor when we started. it is amazing how good it looks now. Even though we are behind schedule, I never really thought we would have got this far.

 Even though Candy has a nice staircase on the outside to get up to her room, I built this ladder so she can get up and down in the rain. It folds up against the wall so it's out of the way and can easily be pulled out to use.

I know it's not a lot but it's still something and we are moving forward.

This weekend we are cooking chili in a little town named Lone Oak. Jessie won there last year, Candy got second and I got 4th. Lets see if we can do it again this year.

See ya,