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Friday, January 21, 2011

Burn bans keep falling on my head...

... no wait, that's raindrops ... oh, burn ban too, huh?  It was kinda funny actually, watching the firetruck get stuck in the mud on the way across my property to the burning brush pile.  Not enough time has passed for me to laugh about it yet though.

  One might think that great "brush-pile-burning" conditions exist when: the winds are calm, the ground is saturated with moisture, and a light persistent drizzle is forecast for the rest of the weekend.  Apparently the county commissioners of Williamson county don't agree.  They meet once a week to extend the burn ban for as much as 60 days into the future.  The decision for a burn ban, or the lifting thereof, is made as if conditions are ever either completely safe, or completely not safe throughout the county to have a fire.  That is rarely true to begin with.   Now, if someone is going to take on the responsibility of declaring county wide "safe fire windows", their decision times should at least be dictated by changing weather conditions, not by some arbitrary schedule.

  Kudos to the Bell county commissioners.  They responded to the weather and lifted their burn ban over that same rainy weekend.  It is especially important to allow property owners, who most likely work all week, to get their brush piles taken care of on weekends that are particularly safe for open fires, i.e. rainy weekends.  They won't have huge piles built up later in the year, and won't have to burn them in perhaps less ideal conditions when the burn ban just happens to be lifted.

   The most important take away here is that no one should assume that it IS safe to have a fire whenever the burn bans are NOT in effect.  The people making these decisions do not meet often enough to adjust for the rapidly changing weather conditions in Texas.  As a land owner, you are always the one responsible if your fire damages someone else's property.  So, pick a safe day for your circumstances, and then call your local fire dept. to make sure there is no burn ban in effect.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Recycling that Christmas Tree

  If you light your Christmas tree this long after Christmas, you might be a redneck!!!  Seriously, its time to take it down already.  That's what I've been telling myself every night when I get home lately.  My excuse for leaving it up is that I'm recycling it one branch at a time.

  The tree is no longer giving off that fresh pine scent that made my whole house smell good last month, but there is a way to get that smell a little longer.  Just break off three or four 6" branches and put them in an old pot that you don't care much about.  Fill the pot with water and boil it lightly on the stove for an hour or two.  Not only will you release the wonderful scent of a spruce forest, but you'll also add some much needed humidity to the air on these dry, cold nights.

  Lol, set a timer though.  Those branches start smelling funky if you cook them for more than a couple hours.  Of course, you don't want the pot to go dry either.  Final warning, this process does leave a brown gooey residue behind, so only use an old pot you don't really need anymore.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The 28 Hundred Mile Vacation

  Ski trip with the kids, year two.  This year Clayton wanted to learn to snowboard.  He was a natural on skis, but snowboarding is soooo much cooler, right?  We did our first day on Sugar Mountain in Banner Elk, NC and day 2 was at the Cataloochee ski resort near Maggie Valley, NC.  Of course by day 2 he's going to start pushing the limits a little.  I was behind him for his first major wipe out.   As soon as his butt hit the snow he went into a spin and looked like a little helicopter spinning sideways in the air.  That is until he hit the snow again in a cloud of flying snow.   I went down to check on him, but he was fine so I said, "Let's go then."  He couldn't because he was stuck like a pig.  Like a good dad, my first reaction was "photo op".

  Emma got the hang of skiing this year, and she liked Cataloochee much better than Sugar Mt.  The green lifts  were easier to get on and off, and the slopes were very friendly to beginners.

  For Texans, it is quite a drive up to North Carolina, 13 hours making good time from Houston to Cataloochee, but it can be done in a long day.