Sunday, April 26, 2009

Getting things ready.

Location, Home, CA

In the last blog entry I talked about the mulch I had put on the front yard beds. Well, I really hadn’t planned on the “pungent” odor from the decomposing plant material which accompanied the mulch. The odor will go away in a few days but I supposed the neighbors are not too pleased with me in the meantime.

I have been getting everything ready for Visitadores over the weekend. All those little things that need to be done with the RV, the food, etc, which helps make a successful trip. Fortunately, I keep a list from year to year so I know how much of everything I need to take. I also keep a record of what food I get and what I served for each meal. I don’t have a lot of control over the food I am given but I do submit a list of what I would like to have and the quantities I need. Sometimes it turns out ok and sometimes not. We don’t go hungry no matter what we are given. I am only cooking for 4 people so usually I can wing it with a little prior planning.

I fueled the truck today and then stopped at the local “big box” store for some of the bigger items I need like paper plates, eggs, and chicken to tide us over until the camp supplies us with food.

Later, I loaded all the old termite wood from the fence and the plum trees to burn at Visitadores on to the truck. It makes quit a load. Tomorrow morning Craig and I will load a lawn mower, weed whacker, gas, and some drinking water and go over the mountain to where I will work and mow the grass. I found that mowing before we get there makes it much easier on us while we work. The foxtails especially can be a problem as they get into our shoes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fence is done!!

Location, Home, CA

On Saturday I installed all the fence boards and it really looks nice.

Sunday afternoon I attended a meeting with the other Security staff who work for Visitadores. It was held at the boss’s house in Lompoc. He had grilled Yellowtail and provided all the goodies for fish tacos. Very Good!!!

Monday I cleaned up all the old wood and boxed up what I will take to burn at Visitadores next week.

Tuesday morning we left the house at 6:30 AM for the 4 plus hour drive to Indio to attend our friend Tom’s funeral. It was a fairly easy drive as we had only moderate traffic going our way. The temperature kept climbing as we neared Palm Springs until it was 101 degrees when we arrived at the church.

The Catholic service started with the rosary at 11:30 with the Knights of Columbus providing watch over the casket. Mass began at noon and with all the pomp and ceremony lasted until 1:40 PM. It was quite a tribute to Tom. As we left the church, the heat really beat down. I had forgotten how bad that can be as we haven’t lived in that kind of environment in years. There was a reception with food in the church hall which gave us time to pass on our condolences to all the family members and acquaintances who attended the service.

We spent the remaining part of the afternoon resting at the motel. Later we went out for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. I finished the night by watching the Lakers beat Utah on TV and answering emails. The motel had good WiFi.

Wednesday morning we were in no hurry to leave as we wanted morning rush hour traffic to thin out before we headed home. The motel provided a continental breakfast which was very adequate for our needs. As we headed home we drove through Palm Springs as Clyda had never been there.

The trip home was without problems and we arrived about 2:30 PM with temperatures much decreased from a few days ago. In fact the fog had started to come in which really dropped temps.

Today I drove to the County Transfer Station to get a pickup load of free mulch to cover the flower beds in front of the house. This mulch is made from the “greens” we put in special barrels for pick up each week. That completes the front yard except for the flower bed in front of the garage. I am waiting to plant this until we paint the house later this summer, I hope.

Friday, April 17, 2009

More fence work and a sad day.

Location, Home, CA

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday cleaning out the old post holes. Two of them were fairly easy to clean out using a sharp edged digger and a vacuum cleaner. The holes are 2 feet deep but only about 4 inches on a side wide. The third hole had a hard piece of old post stuck in the bottom which took me forever to get most of it out.

Because of the size of the holes I decided to install metal posts which allowed me to get more cement around them than would be possible with wooden posts. Unfortunately, metal posts and the hardware to go with them are more costly by a lot than wood. Also, the termites will break their teeth on the metal instead of feasting on wood.

I cemented in the posts on Thursday and today I added the cross stringers. For this fence I used three stringers because of the possible wind load and also because the boards that make up the fence are thinner now. I don’t want them to warp. I wish I had used three stringers on the fence I put up last year between us and the neighbors although it looks ok so far.

Tomorrow I will install the fence boards.

This is a sad day. One of my friends, Tom, passed away from prostate cancer yesterday. His youngest son called me with funeral details. We had seen Tom and his wife Joanne in January when we attended their 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Tom and I discovered many years ago after several glasses of wine that we were related by marriage. “Shirt tail” relatives but related never the less. Tom and I worked for the same company and both of us retired from said company. Tom moved to the desert saying “he loved the heat”.

I spent part of the day emailing friends and co-workers and making hotel reservations. We will drive down on Tuesday in time for the noon funeral Mass and spend the night before driving home on Wednesday.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter and beyond

Location, Home, CA

My original plan for Saturday was to take down the patio fence and wood shed. However, the wind was blowing and I didn’t feel like working outdoors in it.

Sunday was Easter. I went to early mass as I usually do, but because I thought there would be a large crowd I went earlier. Church was full but not overly crowded.

In the past, Clyda has made a ham dinner for Easter but this year she decided on beef instead. Her brother Roger was dinning with us so we had BBQ New York steaks with fresh asparagus from the garden.

Today I started removing the patio fence. I can’t believe that thing was still standing as the termites had just about eaten it up. I cut up the fence into pieces so I can load them on the truck later for transport. I need to remove the old posts or what remains of the old posts, as they were broke off at the ground.
That’s my job tomorrow.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

This and that.

Location, Home, CA

We had rain on Tuesday and Wednesday. Not a lot (0.4 inch) but it all helps. Before the rain on Tuesday I dug under the new flower bed border to get a drip line for the new plants. The ground was sooo HARD. It took some doing to get a hole big enough for the plastic line to go through. I got it all done and the tools put away just as it started to rain.

I want to take down the remaining fence next to the patio and replace it. There is a wood shed behind that fence which has a small amount of wood and other things like propane tanks, BBQ’s, etc in it but I am waiting for the next rain day to pass. That is supposed to happen tomorrow so today I removed some of the accumulation of misc items in the shed and things hanging on the fence like Craig’s lobster floats. Hopefully on Saturday I can remove the fence. I want to take it up to Ranchero Visitadores and burn it.

Speaking of Rancheros, I talked to my boss the other day and found out that all activities will take place in the back country this year. That means our gate will be very busy on Friday as everyone arrives and picks up their packets and credentials.

We do have a problem as Mike who worked with us last year and fit right in with the rest of us has cancer. He started chemo-therapy this week. Real Bummer!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

An unplanned Sunday job.

Location, Home, CA

Yesterday I bought 3 bags of “Amend” for garden soil to use when I planted the new hedge. I really needed it as the ground is mostly clay. I mixed the “Amend” with some leaf compost I had made last fall. The planting itself was not a hard job after the holes were dug and I soon had all the plants in the ground.

Bed before planting.

Bed after planting.

I covered the bed with a few inches of compost which I had made last summer from the junipers I had removed from this same bed. Later I will add several more inches of shredded material from the county yard where all of our green matter goes each week. That should keep the weeds down.

What the hedge should look like in a few years.

Clyda woke me at just before 7 AM this morning with the news that the water heater was leaking and running out the garage door. I shut off both the cold water line in and the hot line out and turned off the gas. Everything under the heater and between it and the door was wet.

After church, Craig helped me remove all the connected plumbing and by using a small block and tackle we set the unit on the floor. A lot better than brute lifting I can tell you.

Removing the old water heater.

I went to the “orange big box” store and bought a new unit, a plastic drain pan to set the unit in, and a fiberglass blanket to wrap it in after we get it all installed. A half hours work and the unit was ready to fire up. We needed to modify the emergency drain line as the new unit had a side drain instead of on top.

The new unit in place.

This was not how I planned to spend my Sunday but with Craig’s help, it was an easy job. The old unit only lasted 4 years. Craig had installed it on January 5th, 2005. This one has a 6 year warranty. Maybe it will last that long but I doubt it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Purchasing plants

Location, Home, CA

Today was “plant buying day”. We made our decision on what kind of plants and how many we wanted in the front flower bed.

Off to the nursery where Clyda decided she wanted “creeping rosemary” for the first 3 plants nearest the street and the remaining will be “Blue Tuscan” rosemary which will provide a hedge between the yards. I will keep it trimmed to about 3 feet in height. We already have a small “Blue Tuscan” hedge in the front yard which has been there since 1996. I trim it every year and use lots of the new growth for cooking. It is wonderful in a BBQ’ed turkey as it makes great tasting gravy.

The remaining plants will be “Grey French Lavender”. The grey of the plant makes a nice contrast against the green of the rosemary behind it.

I dug small holes where the plants will go so I could soak the holes with water. The ground was all dug up last summer when we removed the old junipers but has really compacted over the winter. I bought 3 bags of Amend soil conditioner to add to what compost I have. I will use this around the plants when I put them in the ground.

I need to put in drip irrigation also and then cover the whole bed with a big layer of mulch. Lots of work to do yet.

I need some before and after pictures for the blog. Never can have too many pictures!

I do have a couple pictures I took yesterday of the asparagus I picked. Each is about a handful. I get about 2 handfuls every other day.

Two handfuls just picked.

The same, but cleaned and wrapped in a damp paper towel ready for the frig.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sink drain repair completed

Location, Home, CA

We got back from Tehachapi yesterday about 2:30 PM. It was a quick trip but fruitful because we did get the sink drain replaced as planned.

We drove over on Sunday after Clyda returned from a luncheon for Bev. Budd fixed a dinner of bone-in pork chops and we relaxed and talked quit late for us “old folks”.

Monday morning we were in no hurry to begin the task of replacing the drain but did get too it about 11 AM. After removing the refrigerator we discovered that we still were not able to get into the sink cabinet. Plan 2 was to remove all of the panels and shelves from the cabinet next to the sink. While doing this we kept in mind that all this needed to go back together when the repair was done. Eventually we gained access to the plumbing and removed the cracked drain hose. Budd had purchased a new flex hose while we were in Yuma a few weeks ago and this we carefully forced on to the plastic connectors. These connectors were then screwed back in to the drain on both ends. We additionally secured the sink drain rigid pipe with plumbers tape to keep in from moving during transit.

Five hours after we started, the job was complete with all panels and shelves back in place as well as the refer back in its cabinet and tested. This repair would not have been necessary if the manufacturer had used a better drain hose in the first place. I can’t imagine what this would have cost at an “authorized repair facility”. I doubt if most facilities would even have tackled the job.

On Tuesday morning after being treating to breakfast out, we left for home. It is about a 3 ½ hour trip. We did make a detour through part of the poppy preserve to check on the California poppy bloom. It was spotty at best as the rains were intermittent this year but still enough to enjoy them.

Today I completed adjusting the new trailer locks. They are really nice.

I made a trip into town to mail another book for Paperback Swap which makes 5 books in the last week, and a late birthday present to our granddaughter Ivy. I also stopped at the nursery to check on some plants I want to use for a low hedge between our front yard and the neighbors yard. This is all part of the redo from last summer of the fence project and new drain line.