Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekend Report

I have a sedentary job and look to the weekends for most of my physical activity and low stress activities. This past weekend was extremely healthy.

Over the weekend Julie and I made progress on converting our solar closet into a utility room. After one year of experience I realized two things. First, the solar closet wasn't needed; the sun room provides enough heat for the house. Second, the room was designed according to my research but the design wasn't the best. The idea of converting the closet into a utility room was Julie's idea. Since I'm basically lazy with low motivation I've learned from experience to listen to her suggestions. She pitched the idea a few weeks ago and we began making plans.

Last weekend we removed two pieces of siding and framed an exterior doorway, emptied the room and poured a small concrete slab to support the water pump and pressure tank. This weekend we removed one insulated wall that is no longer needed, moved the water pump and poured a concrete floor using crushed glass. Demolition of the wall took longer than I expected. When I built the wall two years ago I put too much effort into the design and construction.

I own a concrete/mortar mixer. I'm surprised by the amount of pleasure I get out of working with concrete -- planning, gathering materials, setup of a work area, layout, mixing, pouring, finishing, clean up. I move materials to the work area and Julie does the mixing and quality control. When she's ready I place a large wheelbarrow under the mixer and she dumps the batch. I pour the concrete and return for another batch. We can complete a yard in about four hours.

Small forest fire.
A small forest fire was burning in the hills. (Larger version)

On Friday evening after we finished for the day we drove about five miles toward town to check on a small forest fire. I had been watching the smoke for a few days and, if it's the fire I think it is, the forest service had been monitoring it and letting it burn. Late last week the weather changed. Cloudy afternoons with small breezes turned into sustained winds, cloudless skies and bright sun. The smoke from the fire increased. Fortunately, the smoke was blowing about three miles north of our house. After the winds subsided the smoke lessened and the fire seemed much smaller.

During a break on Saturday I checked Craigslist and found about 1,200 square feet of corrugated metal for sale. That evening we took the trailer, checked on the metal, decided it was what we wanted and bought it. We'll use the metal for a project that we're planning for next spring.

Garden bugs.
Bugs eating a rutabaga leaf. The have done almost no damage to the garden. (Larger version)

The change in the weather had an unexpected benefit. On Saturday morning the temperatures dropped to 36 degrees. Sunday morning was warmer at 40 degrees. As a result of the wind, cold temperatures and drying effect of the sun the population of cinder bugs in the garden plummeted. We still have thousands but only a fraction of what was there earlier in the week. On Sunday morning I checked the garden and saw several "dead" bugs on a leaf. I took three of them to the kitchen, placed them on the counter, one belly down, one belly up and one on it's side, to take a photo to help me identify them. People call them cinder bugs and band aid bugs because they have a scent similar to band aids. As I took photos one moved, then the second and suddenly the third. They were cold but not dead.

I was curious on Saturday morning at the reaction of the hummingbirds to the sudden drop in temperature. We keep six feeders filled and have about 40 resident birds. The birds didn't appear to notice the cool weather. They were just as busy as normal.

I enjoy our weekends. They are a mixture of work, relaxation and recreation.


Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

Your pests are alot easier to see than my pests.

8/10/2009 07:58:00 PM  

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