Way back in 1987, I crewed for Gerry Graff's balloon Lucy for the first time and also got to fly with her.
While crewing, I met this guy named John William Nigg who was just about the most outrageous and fun person I've ever known, and his Pet Monster who he called Gottfried.
At that time he was seeing a lady named Jean. I was invited to the upcoming Fall SnakeOil Follies where I utterly failed to recognize her, which is the subject of A Very Strange Party, a story that needs a LOT of work so please don't be offended if you happen to read it.
John was the kind of guy who would get ready for a party not only by doing the usual things, but by messing around. I got a blast out of the bubbles he made and actually bought one of those bubble wands myself.

In the background, you can see what looks just like a stock watering tank, although I was rather surprised to find Dr. John's mother busily cleaning it out -- why would anyone ever DO such a thing? That is when I found out it was eventually going to be (someday) an adobe hot-tub.

This is a later picture of the hot-tub with plastic foam around it for insulation. John was always inventing things like that -- no doubt some of us remember his velcro & green Naugahyde (thanks for the help with that, Gary!) jacket. The hot-tub had a fire pit underneath it which was stoked through a hole behind the chair on the right. Obviously, the tall pipe on the left was the flue.

Although I quite enjoyed the hot-tub over the years, I've got to admit that it was difficult to get the temperature right... particularly the bottom!

A lot of life out at Rattlesnake Ranch was kind of simple. One didn't run the water forever because there was hardly anywhere for it to drain. When it got cold, John would gather wood like this for his cast-iron stove, a truly wondrous device.

By the way: in the background you can see my good old Great Pumpkin orange VW bus. It is sitting, bereft of engine, in my driveway. I am driving a silver one now that is ten years younger.

Obviously, this party was one of the tamer sort -- although I'm obviously enjoying myself, John's mom was around and so was my son Sean whose picture you probably passed on the way in here.
People brought a lot of food to John's parties. Some stuff was cooked indoors, the table across the walkway from the stove was usually jammed with chips and dips and goodies and cooked things. Generally speaking, John would start a barbecue pit a couple of yards from the front door landing. People would bring their own stuff to cook & eat (& share) and later in the evening the barbecue became a fourth place to hang out -- the others were the living room / bed room, the kitchen, and near the stove.
We weren't troubled much by bugs at Rattlesnake Ranch and here is one of the reasons why. Again being inventive, John brought me along down to the Rio Grande (which is only a short distance away from the house) where we collected a bunch of tadpoles. He kept water on this plastic tarp which was sitting in a shallow hole and eventually had a fine crop of frogs (or whatever they became...) I'd guess you'd say that John often got what he wanted by going with nature instead of being stubborn.
Here is a picture of Dave Wade who retired recently from the Lab where I work and a very rare glance at the infamous English Lady that John rather liked. She spent quite a bit of time with Sean that evening before he went to bed.

And then there was the time the small herd of cows came sauntering through the yard... was it SnakeOil or was it real???

I went to John's more-or-less often over the next five years. He was one of the particular reasons why I've enjoyed crewing for Gerry Graff at the Kodak International B'loon Fiasco.

And so here we are, back at the beginning, except that we'd become good friends.