Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Foraging for Oyster Mushrooms

Posted by: Rick

I am a fan of foraging for mushrooms around our cabin site. There are literally hundreds of different kinds of mushrooms that grow here. We've found 3 that we can forage as edible (and hope to find more over time). One of those is the oyster mushroom. It grows on dead aspen trees in cool wet areas like the picture below.

The other day when Lynne and I were hiking below the cabin at a place we call Picnic Rock, we noticed a few oyster mushrooms on a large dead and fallen aspen tree.

I had no way to collect them at the time, and there weren't many, so we left them. But, I decided to go back down this morning with my power drill and do some "plugs" to propagate the mushrooms. Turns out if you drill a hole in a dead host tree (aspen in this case) and then fill the hole with some existing fresh mushrooms, a new cluster of mushrooms is likely to grow at that site.

Here I am drilling hole in the downed, dead aspen.

And, plugging it with some mushroom picked elsewhere on the tree.

The squirrels had been busy eating green pine cones on the same tree.

And, I picked and ate a few wild strawberries before turning to head home.

After I turned back toward the cabin, I spotted more mushrooms growing on a different tree that I had not seen earlier. As I walked to that tree, I saw another stump literally covered with mushrooms!

I guess I did not need to try manually propagating them. There are more here than we can ever use! And, they were fresh and ready to cut. Oyster mushrooms are attractive to bugs as well as mycophagists, and even if they are a few days old they can get infested. Most of these were in perfect shape. So, I came back up to the cabin, got Lynne, a knife and a bag and headed back down. She took these two photos of me cutting a few of the nicer ones.

Here are just a few of what I cut. I've put the word out to neighbors that I have these and more to see if anyone want some. If not, I'll blanch about half of them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, let them dry out real well, then freeze them in a ziploc bag.

The ones we don't freeze will go into some kind of dish within the next day or two. (I store them wrapped in damp paper towels in a paper bag in the warmest part of the refrigerator. They'll keep for a week that way.) Maybe sliced and breaded and fried? Maybe in an Asian-flavored stir fry with some steak and veggies? Maybe in an omelette or frittata? Suggestions?

(Please, don't ever eat a wild mushroom that you are not 100% certain of. Wild mushrooms can be deadly. Never eat any wild mushroom raw. In other words, don't try this at home unless you know what you are doing!)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Joyful Moments

Posted by: Lynne

Have you ever had a moment in time when everything is just perfect and you have a feeling of serenity and peace wash over you? Rick and I call those joyful moments. Over the course of our years of marriage, whenever either one of us was feeling particularly joyful we tell each other. I'm having a joyful moment right now, we say. That way we each get to share in the moment, even if it's not our own.

There have been times when those joyful moments have been far and few between. Stress at work, stress in our personal lives, etc.

We've had more joyful moments since arriving here than we've had in a long time. They happen just sitting around looking at the inside of the cabin, or sitting on the screen porch after dinner and hearing coyotes and a bull elk bugle (what the heck, it's not the right time of year!) within minutes of each other. They happen on walks as we take in the sweeping vistas of green meadows dotted with wildflowers. It happened to me the other evening on our Ranger ride, just Rick and me. I was driving, flying down the road at 20mph laughing like a little kid.

Our land, as far as the eye can see in this photo.

I know we are still in the honeymoon phase of our life here and that there will be times ahead that won't be as joyful, so I am reaping them in as they come along.

Joyful moments are what life is all about.

Is it any wonder that we happened to end up with a puppy with JOYFUL in his name?

Destin: Summit's We Were Made for This v Joyful

Friday, April 08, 2016

Paycheck

Posted by: Rick

When I got paid last week, it occurred to me that it was one of the last paychecks I'm likely to get in my life.

I've been earning a paycheck since I was a pre-teen. mowing lawns, paper route, radio DJ, data processing at a bank, computer operator at White Sands, satellite tracking technician, service engineer for HP, then many other jobs in HP, Agilent, Verigy, finally landing as VP of Marketing at Vision Research. Wow, probably close to 50 years of earning a paycheck. And, all without a break where I was unemployed.

This is scary. No more paychecks?

I've gotten very used to the idea of something coming in every couple of weeks to offset what gets paid out, and to have something left to set aside. Now, we'll have to be pulling from that "set aside" to live.

I will likely take on some periodic consulting or contract work in retirement. But no regular paycheck.

Very scary. But, the freedom of not getting up each week day with the obligation to put in a day's work for a paycheck very exciting. I have no idea what that is like.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Happening

Posted by: Lynne

Hey, life, look at me
I can see the reality
'Cause when you shook me, took me out of my world
I woke up
Suddenly I just woke up to the happening ~ The Supremes

 

Yikes. It's happening. It's really, truly all starting to happen. 

We found out last week that the buyers had qualified for their loan on the house. They also were asking how we felt about the closing date. Right now it's set for May 12th, but if they closed in April that would save a good amount in interest rates. We told them to go ahead and do what they needed to do to get the lower interest rate and we would figure it out. We proposed the idea of closing, then renting back from them for a month until we can be more certain of getting in to the cabin and Rick's jobs ends. We've not heard back so we are assuming that all is going as planned. Our buyers have been wondeful in working around our weather and time contraints. Very accomodating.

That's the other thing: Rick turned in his resignation letter to the company the other day. His final day is May 13th.

Like I said, it's happening.

On Friday we have two different estate sale companies sending out someone to look at all that we will be selling when we move. We've decided this is the quickest and easiest way to get rid of all the things we are not taking with us, which is a considerable amount of furtniture, some antiques, and things that just are not going to fit in with our lifestyle anymore. The cabin is already furnished, albeit in a "cabinesque" style, but it's things we like having around us. Some of it is flea market finds, while others American Furntiture Warehouse delivered.

We don't want to have to store a lot of furniture not knowing if and when we will be living somewhere other than the cabin. We've learned after many moves that furniture does not store well. And why drag it around with us like a tortoise with its shell? We are giving it a lot of thought and not just making snap decisions. Once in a while we will decide to move something to the "go with us pile" from the sell pile. Hopefully we won't have any regrets when it's all said and done.

Time seems to be flying by now.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

La Vie en Rose ... or maybe not

Posted by: Lynne

Antelope herd

I am sure by now that you have this idyllic little picture in your head, as we do, of life at the cabin. In the summer fishing and taking long hikes. The dogs romping off-lead. Wildflowers everywhere. In the winter you can see us tucked into our cabin sitting in front of a fire while snowflakes drift lazily past the windows. La Vie en Rose for sure! Well, at least for us it is. I can't speak for the rest of you.

Let's just take off the rose-colored glasses for a moment, shall we? They are several things that interfere with this life of bliss. The worst offender is The Wind. It deserves capitalization and respect. The Wind is both friend and foe. A friend first because it gives us power through our wind generator (seen here). 

The wind is a good source of energy for us. It fills up our little battery-powered home quickly. The one big drawback to the wind generator is the furling process. When the wind blows too hard the generator turns its tail to the wind to save itself (called furling), and when it does it makes the most god-awful noise! It sounds like a helicopter just landed on the roof. It can get very annoying to say the least. I suppose when you hear it all the time you will cease to notice after a while. Kind of like parents with screaming children. 

The wind is not our friend when it blows the snow into huge drifts and makes the roads impassable. Up here you can't really go through the drifts, you have to go over them or around them, hence the need for an all-terrain vehicle like the Polaris we are going to buy that has switchable treads; one for snow and one for normal use.

Out for a walk

The wind is sneaky. You can have a clear blue sky and still get snowed in. How you might ask? Whiteout conditions. Snow that is on the surface and not packed down is lifted up and carried by the wind. It will fill in any and every crevice (such as your newly plowed driveway) in a matter of a few minutes. We know, we've been stuck in those conditions once. 

 

See that greenish blip in the above photo? That's Larry, one of our neighbors, in his big green John Deere snowplow/snowblower making a path for us to follow in. I can tell you that the snow was filling our tracks in behind us as quickly as we left them. Scary. Of course, we needed to get out because Rick needed to be at work and we couldn't wait it out. In the future we will just stay where we are!

Did I mention that we live seven miles in from a road that is plowed by the state of Wyoming? Many people leave their vehicles at the house of a person who lives on the Wyoming side and drive their all-terrain vehicles to his house, then leave it there and take their normal vehicle into town or to get the mail.

And yes, there are times when we could be snowed in for weeks at a time. You just have to prepare in advance.

If all else fails at least you have snow as a reliable source of keeping your wine cool.

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