Saturday, December 29, 2018

The El Nino Winter

It is so COLD.  Yes, I know, it’s probably colder where you are, but we’re cold.  Back before the house, we used to talk about owning a house, and invariably the question would arise – what would we do all day?  Hah!  Double HAH HAH HAH!  The house provides endless opportunities for entertainment.

After the rain moved out, we had a few nice warm days.  So we thought we’d get started on the staining project.  Here is Jim, scraping the wood, making a nice surface for staining.


Here am I, filling the holes left by the screws that previously held the gutters to the wood.  Note the two handed grip on the tube of wood filler.  After it reaches about half empty, it’s a pain to get it out of the tube.  It seemed like such a good form factor, but now we think maybe not so much.


We had planned to continue with the staining project, but the weather turned on us and it got cold and windy, to the point that neither of us wanted to be outside standing on the ladder.
More wind, bashing the Queen Palm.


Our favorite bougainvillea, inching towards world domination.


The night before last it went down to 32.  Last night it was colder.  Even though we covered all of the bougainvillea, two of them have a fair amount of frost damage.  We are very unhappy about this.
So, today we spent the afternoon applying additional plant protection.  The rest of the post will be extremely boring, but if I don’t write down what we did, we won’t remember next year.

This is the new lemon tree.  Next year he will probably need taller supports to keep the flannel off of his branches.  Note the glow at the bottom, that’s a string of Christmas tree lights.  The yellow flannel was used here for the sides and the top.


Here we have the Pygmy Date Palm in her warming hut, created from the peach and white flannel sewn together, topped with the grey and white flannel.  This required a lot of binder clips and clothes pins.


The Mexican Bird of Paradise is wearing a sea foam green top piece of flannel and white and peach flannel sides.  Binder clips and clothes pins were required to hold the structure together.


The bougainvillea by the downspout is covered in a long narrow piece of burlap along with an 80 inch by 80 piece of burlap.  Both burlaps are from Home Depot.


The new purple bougainvillea.  This year a two yard piece of bleached muslin was enough.  Next year, more may be required.


The bougainvillea on the way to world domination.  That covering is an ancient flowered sheet, and a sheet from Target that I cut down for the mattress in the 5th wheel.  Good thing they’re still with us.


The next door bougainvillea is covered with two 80 by 80 inch burlaps and a short piece of the 36 inch wide burlap.  This is really suboptimal.


The bougainvillea by the driveway got the worst frost damage.  Last night all we had was the fitted flowered sheet to go on top.  Clearly it was not enough.  There is now flannel, the sheet and an 80 by 80 inch burlap.  Hopefully there will be no more damage.


I used to quilt, primarily crib quilts made out of flannel.  We can see where all of my flannel has ended up, as well as my furniture covers for the summer.  Nights are supposed to by cold for the next five days, so I think we’re not going to uncover during the day.  It takes about two hours to get the fabric in place along with the binder clips and clothes pins.  We need to spend some time in thrift stores buying old sheets.  Sheets are easier to work with than burlap.

There you go, everything you ever wanted to know about frost protection in the Old Pueblo.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Boxing Day

Yesterday was windy.  We thought the weather heads had missed the forecast, predicting rain, but it finally arrived around seven pm.  It wasn’t epic rain, like the two low pressure systems we had in October, but it did demonstrate that the gutters are not leaking.

See the poor palm tree with her fronds being bent by the wind.  That was yesterday.


This is from today. It looked like it was clearing, but looking out to the west, there may be more rain. I do not like the El Nino winters!


That's all I have, wind and rain.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Day

People of Earth! – We wish you a Merry Christmas

From our house to where ever you are – we wish you happiness and joy.



Those are ornaments placed on the tips of the agaves.  A new Christmas tradition for us.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Even More Home Improvement

Happy Winter Solstice to all of you, as we celebrate the shortest day of the year, and the eventual return to daylight savings time.  Today we have had a thick cloud deck which will probably obscure tonight’s full moon.

This has been the week of contractors.  We are glad it’s Friday.

The house was built in 1999.  From what we have seen, maintenance, particularly preventative, was not always performed.  One case in point was the front door.  It looks OK from a distance.


Closer examination reveals that one could see daylight through the door.  See the flesh colored patches on the left side?  That’s wood putty Jim smeared on it last May, shortly before we left.  Also suboptimal feature was the daylight we could see under the door on the other side.  We suspect that’s how the scorpions were getting in.  Did you know that if you can slide a credit card between two surfaces, a scorpion can pass through the space as well?  Sleep well knowing that!


We spent a fair amount of time debating fiberglass vs. steel.  Then we went into Dale’s Doors, saw the wood doors, and all thoughts of a synthetic door went out the window.  Yes, wood requires maintenance, but it’s so pretty.  This is a knotty alder door with an arch and V grooves.  We had it installed Wednesday morning.  Happy we are not to have attempted that.


Wednesday afternoon Southern Arizona Rain Gutters arrived.  They do single piece extruded gutters (or as our neighbors to the north call them, eaves troughs). 


They have a roll of gutter material which is extruded to the proper length on site.  After the end caps are put on, they attach them to the house.  See the rectangular shapes on the parapet?  That’s where the water runs off the roof into the gutter.  They’re flashed on the bottom.  Whoever built this house had a brain fart and nailed the gutter to the support beam over the patio.  Water got behind the gutters and gave us that dark section of wood.  Fortunately it’s dry here so nothing has rotted, only discolored.  This will, however, give the homeowners a staining project they really did not want.


Now the water will be carried away, onto the new pile of rocks and down into the wash.  With any luck, the water will stop bashing the bougainvillea in the head.


Yesterday and today Sage from Door Medic was out sanding and finishing the door.  The side that faces out is done with teak oil.  The inside is satin spar varnish, non-shiny.  I love this door.  It’s stupid to love inanimate objects, but I do love the door.  It was open when I took this picture because Sage put polyurethane on the threshold and it’s still tacky.


Here is our very festive wreath on the front gate.  After we bought it we noticed the tag that says for interior use only.  If rain is forecast we’ll have to bring it in.


Speaking of rain, here are a couple of photos from the GPNW.  These were taken in Anacortes.  They’re had some pretty impressive wind as of late.

water hitting anacortes

water hitting anacortes 2

So there you have it. Home improvement and wind.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

December 20, 2018

Well, it has been a day.  Here is this morning’s front page of the Washington Post.

wapo front page dec 20 2018

Katy Tur put that on Twitter 11 hours ago.  Since then General Mattis has resigned and the president is going to shut down the government in an attempt to get money for the wall.  General Mattis was particularly incensed about the Syrian withdrawal.
Two defense officials tell CNN that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis went to the White House to discuss Syria, and that Mattis was upset and “livid” after reading reports this morning about US local allies in Syria being targeted by Turkey following a withdrawal of US troops from Syria.
The officials said what set him off was a report that the Turkish Minister of Defense threatened to kill the US-backed Kurdish allies and put them “in ditches” once the US pulled out.
Mattis was incensed at this and the notion that the US was betraying an ally.
CNN reported earlier that Mattis decided to go to the White House early Thursday morning to discuss his concerns with Syria and try to change the President’s mind. Unable to change the Trump’s mind on the withdrawal from Syria, Mattis then resigned, according to a defense official and a White House official.
This CNN chyron pretty much sums today up.

cnn chyron dec 12 2018

I can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow.

On a lighter note, I will leave you with a very funny sequence of cat pictures.  It’s a link to a tweet with the cat.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Downtown Tucson

Greetings Earthlings!  The sun was out today, it warmed up some, and we were all happy about that.  After the obligatory trip to Home Depot (where I bought yet another plant that will require digging a hole) there was lunch at Baggins and then a trip down to the area of the Mercado St. Augustin.

In late November 2016 I did a post about a new neighborhood downtown.  In that post I said the following.

Anyway, this neighborhood is really cool, with the following caveats.  An apartment building will be going up right next door to it.  If it's occupied by UofA students that will be bad.  The U makes no effort to mitigate students' bad behavior and its effects on the neighborhoods they infest.  It's also pretty close to a very low income part of town.  I don't know if I would feel safe using the modern street car after dark.  So, despite its high coolness factor, I doubt we'll move on it.

Today we wanted to see how things were going in the area.  I’m going to have to go with not so good.  Construction on the new apartments has begun.  So far they’ve dug a giant large hole in the ground, and wiped out a considerable amount of street parking.


This is the neighborhood we were so taken with.  They have lost their primary access in to where they live.  A construction fence has taken away their access.


Look how close the edge of the construction pit is to those houses.  This will probably go on for a couple of very unpleasant years for these people.  I feel bad for them.  Hopefully the new apartments will not be full solely U of A students and the residents will be good neighbors


Last year I did another post about new retail going in to the same area; in which I wrote the following.

Also under construction, or assembly, are these.  They appear to be rusting shipping containers.  Windows as well as electrical and plumbing have been installed, so they’re permanent.  I am really curious to see what these become.

They have become a very interesting shopping and dining area.  This is the pickup area for the burger restaurant.


The seating area for the burger restaurant.  Note the cheerful orange chairs.


Continuing to walk away, up the sidewalk.


There is a bar on site.  They have many things on tap.


This was in the window of a home decorating/skin care store.  I have no idea what “boy smells” are.  Note the container of “Stalker.”


This is the new Caterpillar regional headquarters.  It’s not a bad looking building.  We still can not believe they’re not installing solar panels.  The wires overhead are for the modern streetcar.


So, that was today, and it was a good day.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Saturday Night

Sunset was pretty spectacular tonight, after a cold and gloomy day.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Trade, Being Social and Wildlife

Well, this is not good.  I don’t think this subject is getting as much coverage as it should.  I saw it on twitter and clicked through to the article.

The European Union and Japan signed a huge free trade deal on Tuesday that cuts or eliminates tariffs on nearly all goods.

The agreement covers 600 million people and almost a third of the global economy. It's also a major endorsement of a global trading system that is under increasing threat from protectionism.
It will remove tariffs on European exports such as cheese and wine. Japanese automakers and electronics firms will face fewer barriers in the European Union.
The dismantling of trade barriers stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by President Donald Trump, who has imposed tariffs on a range of foreign goods and is threatening more action.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, hailed the agreement as the "largest bilateral trade deal ever."
Our regressive trade wars and tariff policies are damaging our ability to export.  Every time another country gains a foot hold in a market the US used to dominate, the less likely it is that we’ll be exporting there in the future.  China is now buying zero soy beans from the US.  The farm bill passed this week was a must-do since it provides subsidies to the farmers who can no longer sell their crops over seas.  It’s not sustainable, as deficits ratchet up, there will not be enough money to make payments like this forever.

In other news, we hosted our first happy hour last night.  Our street has a weekly get together, not everyone attends but many do.  It’s been good for us to meet some new people.  I know, all you introverts (and you know who you are) are cringing, but it’s nice to know people and not be so solitary.

Jim made his signature guacamole.  It was so good.  I think next time maybe two more avocadoes.  They were all perfect, that almost never happens.  The hosting house provides snacks, every body brings their own beverage and a container, be that a beer bottle or a wine glass.  It’s a good arrangement.  I bought a box of lentil crackers just to see how they were – if you see this product, leave them on the grocer’s shelf!  We do like the Trader Joe’s cheese sticks.


We had a good sunset last night.


This is a coyote in the wash next to the house.  There were two of them heading north.  They both looked really good.  They must be eating well.


I had an interesting conversation with a neighbor about rattlesnakes.  They like asphalt pavement and people’s paved areas because they hold the heat.  NEVER walk outside at night without a flash light.  In the mornings, before charging out of the house to get the paper or whatever, do a visual sweep of your area and check for snakes.  This wasn’t a problem in the RV park because it’s basically a dead zone, but there is wild life here; constant vigilance will be required.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Shopping and Wildlife

I wanted an aluminum half sheet and a quarter sheet pan.  I did not want to pay a ton of money for same.  We’ve spent a ton of money recently, and that has got to stop.  Anyway, we went to Standard Restaurant Supply.  It’s open to the public and if they don’t have it, you do not need it.  When we walked in the front door I swear I could hear the angels singing a heavenly chorus.  I obtained said sheet pans, plus a few other items.  Their prices are really good.  If you’re in the area and need kitchen equipment, go there.  It’s also good for just looking at stuff.

In the front yard there is a berm.  Berms are very popular in desert landscaping, I guess because they add a little interest to what would otherwise be a flat area with gravel on it.  Our berm features a sad, ugly, squished in cactus.  We went out to Landscape Cactus and talked to the owner, Dr. Jon Weeks.  He’s from Syracuse, NY originally.  He was in a PhD program there, but decided he’d rather collect cactus than finish the program.  So he drove out here.  After getting a doctorate studying how salt tolerant plants tolerate salt, he spent ten years in Mexico living in his truck, studying plants and collecting cactus seeds.  He’s 70 now, and owns an amazing nursery of plants he’s propagated.  He’s still collecting plants, as well.  Ask him anything about cactus, he knows.  We got a double headed Golden Barrel in a four gallon container.  It weighs a ton, I’m not exactly sure why we felt we needed something that big, but it will be visible in the yard. If you’re in the area and want to go look, you should go.  Go when it’s not raining, as the road you’ll drive on is not paved.

The red ones in the back are Fish Hooks.  I love the way they glow when they’re back lit.  The structure is a shade house, it prevents sun burns on the baby cacti.


Golden Barrel cacti.  These are singles.  Doubles and multiples are single plants but they look like they were planted too close together.


I forget what this is.  Dr. Weeks uses a lot of Latin names, which I can not remember.  It’s from Mexico.  They’re a pretty plant, they’re very sculptural.


This is the bloom from a Trichocereus.  We weren’t planning to plant any in the yard because they have a sprawling growth habit.  Weeding under the arms is hazardous to one’s skin.  He’s hybridized some that will stand upright.  Probability is high that one of those will make its way into the yard.


Landscape Cactus can be found off of Bopp road, which is just off of Kinney which is just off of Ajo.  Turn on to S Silver Bridle Ln.

landscape cacti

Saturday evening, one of our neighbors motioned for us to come out into the front yard.  The neighbor who feeds the birds, apparently is also leaving food out for the javelinas.  It was getting dark so the pictures aren’t great.  There were probably a dozen or so in the brush.  There was some posturing among the herd with growling an head shaking.  We saw one baby.

The baby is just to the right of the right-most pot.  He’s really difficult to see.




One of them came walking up the street right at us.  They don’t see very well, we wondered if we looked like people to them or if we were just shapes.

Today was windy, tomorrow will also be windy and cloudy.  Then it’s supposed to be better.  Given how terrible the weather is on the east coast, there will be no complaining about this.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Weather!

What do we talk about when we have nothing to say?  Why, the weather, of course. 

This is what we had been seeing, very pretty skies at sunset.




Yesterday afternoon the wind picked up and this came to visit.


Today we have lightning and thunder and the clouds are moving between the mountains.  It’s only forecast to last today, so there shouldn’t be too much whining on my part.


See the road labelled 86, we’re just north of it.  We’re in the yellow and red.

weather radar dec 7

It's good for the desert.  December rains give us a good wild flower season in the spring.