Author Archives: benchmarkstudio

Un Poquito Mas, Por Favor!

If there’s a better way to spend a week in Mexico I’m certainly not interested in hearing about it.  We did it all, or at least tried to, and caught a lot of it on video.

10 couples with 9 kids in 2 houses in 1 quaint Mexican village.  2 inflatable paddle boards, 2 soft top surf boards, 1 boat ride, 2 whales, countless waves, reef fish and margaritas.



Surfing the Arkansas River

So about five years ago a good friend turned me on to paddle boarding by taking me down a stretch of the Gunnison River.  It was like walking on water, I was hooked.

A few years later I got an inflatable board of my own.  I’ve gone out on a few lakes around town, and more recently I’ve been exploring stretches of rivers for surf spots.

It’s hard to describe how it feels, but it’s not dissimilar to skiing powder – you have gravity (or in the case of surfing, the wave) pushing you from behind, and then you have the weight of the snow holding you back  (or the flow of the river).  You’re just trying to find a balance between the two forces, floating in place.

Threading the Needle

Laird Hamilton, lord of the paddle board!

Sage Eddy 1999-2013

sage puppy

I first met Sage when she was just a few weeks old.  She was one of eleven puppies and the last one to come out – the runt of the litter, as they say.  In my eyes, she stood out from the rest of the litter not only because she was the smallest, but also the mellowest.  If someone approached the puppy enclosure, ten of them would rush the door, jumping and barking for attention.  And then there was Sage, sitting quietly in the back round, somehow  aware of her stature and the futility of fighting for attention.  When you picked her up, she was the only one that didn’t squirm , she just laid there in your arms, studying your face.

I was fresh out of college, starting a new job, but I just had to have her!


Old Sage had these beady brown eyes, a really soft white and yellow coat, big floppy ears, and the disposition of a warm pastry.  You could just eat her up, she was so sweet.

sage and dels

Taking a break from a run in Wildcat Canyon, California.

Technically speaking she was a purebred labrador retriever, but she wasn’t much for fetching.  If she did chase something down, she rarely brought it back.  I think her loyalty to me trumped her retriever instincts.  I would throw a ball, and she would just look at me, thinking –

“Why would I run over there to pick up a ball when you’re going to be standing right here waiting for me to come back? I’ll just wait here with you, maybe sniff the perimeter?”

God bless her loyal heart.

For fourteen years she never once left my side or asked where we were going, just an enthusiastic wag of the tail when we hit the trail.

sage and merlin 2

Sage and Merlin somewhere in the hills.

Now, bear in mind that when I say she never left my side, I’m excluding the occasional chase of a deer, antelope, elk, bird, etc.  I remember camping just outside the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, I took Sage and her soul sister Dels for an early morning hike up on the ridge above camp when the dogs took off after a scent.  I followed after them until I heard a yelp in the woods ahead, and then what sounded like branches snapping – the next thing I knew Dels and Sage were running full speed back towards me, with a bull elk just a few steps behind them.  I lunged for the nearest tree fearing for my life, but the elk had made its point and turned back to rejoin his cows.  Sage and Dels appeared to be grinning from ear to ear, literally.

That Sage wouldn’t bring back a tennis ball, but she and Dels sure scared up some big game.

Lauren giving the dogs a snow bath on Squaw Pass, Colorado

Lauren giving the dogs a snow bath on Squaw Pass, Colorado


Giving Sage a hug in Grand Lake, Colorado

Giving Sage a hug in Grand Lake, Colorado

"I think that guys has biscuits."

“I think that guy has biscuits, I’ll check him out.”

She lived the life that most dogs dream about – ample food, abundant adventure, and best of all, a family to protect.  She didn’t let a tennis ball or a stick distract her from the one thing she loved most – just being there with us.

Everybody that writes a eulogy about their dog probably says this, but when it comes to Sage, it’s actually true – you couldn’t ask for a better companion.  She’s been gone for five months now, and we still miss her very dearly.

lap dog

One last biscuit before a walk along the South Platte River.

One last biscuit before a walk along the South Platte River.

Simple Composting Recipe

Every time I open the alley dumpster to find leaves or lawn clippings spilling out, I just cringe.  That’s black gold in there, I think to myself, cast away like a dirty diaper.

So I thought I should share with people just how easy it is to dispose of all your green waste right there on your property, no hauling necessary.

compost pileOver a period of several weeks this fall, we collected the following ingredients:

6 – smashed pumpkins

2 – bags of hedge clippings

4 – tomato plants with about 10 lbs. of over ripe fruit (oops)

1 – basil plant

3 – lawn mower bags of lawn clippings

8 – what would have been about 8 bags of leaves were raked into a pile and crushed by toddlers for a period of 1 week

12 – quarts of kitchen waste (no meat)

5 – shovels full of compost starter (the bottom of last years compost pile for us, any rotting organic matter sill do)

The ingredients were mixed together and piled high in a metal mesh enclosure on the south side of our garage.  Depending on the ratio of green (still has moisture in it) to brown (i.e. dried leaves) ingredients, you may need to add water to the pile.  Here in Colorado things dry out pretty quickly, so pouring 10 gallons of water over the pile a couple of times can help to get things rotting.

Outdoor air temperature on this November day, a chilly 35 degrees.


Temperature inside the compost pile, a sweltering 125 degrees.

compost temp

Notice the outside of the pile is brown is dried out, but with one turn of the pitchfork the black, steamy core is revealed!

compost core

Does it smell? Oh fuck yes it smells – it smells like you just stuck your head up a cow’s ass when you dig into that pile and release “a steamer”.  But most of the time, it’s not noticeable at all.  I’ve walked past that pile two dozen times in the last few weeks and honestly it wasn’t until today when I turned it did the smell hit me.

We’ll continue to add kitchen waste to the compost pile through the winter, and probably turn it a couple more times before the entire pile has decomposed into a much smaller pile of rich organic black gold, which we’ll add back to the garden beds in the spring.

America’s Cup Comeback

You don’t have to be a fan of sailing to appreciate the last two races in the America’s Cup series – jaw dropping boat speeds and postcard views of the San Francisco Bay are enough to draw in even casual observers.  Then consider that the hometown defenders of the cup have surged back from a seemingly insurmountable eight to one deficit to tie the series up.

Tomorrow’s race will determine the winner of the 34th America’s Cup.

Which ever way it goes, it’ll be one for the books.



R.I.P. J.J. Cale

We lost a music legend last week when J.J. Cale climbed that stairway to rock heaven.

He was a humble and somewhat elusive singer-songwriter from Oklahoma City, pretty content playing roadhouses and small theaters for fifty years.  Cale was a tough act to catch, so I’m feeling pretty lucky to have seen him play a few times.   The Gothic theater in Denver and the Sweetwater in Mill Valley come to mind, perfect venues for his sound.

Ahhhhh….J.J. Cale, J.J. Cale.

Rest in peace buddy.  When Neil Young says that you, and Jimi Hendrix are his guitar idols…you’re in.  You’re rock royalty,  And with your recent passing, you too shall pass into the halls of rock gods!

Folksie blues in the 70’s –

Saucey in the 80’s –

In 2004, with Eric Clapton backing him up –

One of my favorite J.J. Cale songs – “If You’re Ever in Oklahoma” set to a photo tribute.