Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Summer Slump

I enjoy blogging and have no plans to quit. I like writing about good things Julie and I experience and recording odd things I encounter. It amuses me to relate some of the dumb things I do. (Lately there have been several things to relate.)'s summer! Translated that means the sun is up longer, the weather is warm and I have a strong need to be outside away from a computer. I'm in my annual summer blogging slump.

I am grateful for those who've contacted me and regularly check for updates. Thanks to Beverly, Karen, AC and Tim.

Following, in random rather than chronological order, are a few pictures and short summaries of some events since the rhubarb pie.

Antelope Squirrel.
Antelope Squirrel.

One of the cats caught an antelope squirrel, brought it in the sun room and turned it loose. It was unharmed, healthy and fast. It immediately found refuge under the counter behind a water barrel where we (cats, Julie and I) couldn't reach it. It cried continuously for hours in a pitiful voice. Julie suggested setting a live trap. About 24 hours later it entered the trap. This was the squirrel that tipped the scales. The cats are banned from the house unless we open a door and grant entry. They can get into the utility room but not the main part of the house.

The weather is warm so they spend each night outside. About the time of the squirrel incident at dusk one evening I saw two horned owls circling low in the back yard. I went out and saw Maggie in the center of the circle. I called her in to safety. The next evening the owls returned. We haven't seen them since. Owls are the main predator for cats. Their talons have a crushing power of 250 pounds.

Rain Gauge.
Rain Gauge.

We somehow learned about an opportunity to become weather spotters. We arranged to attend an orientation class at the NOAA facilities west of Flagstaff. The training was excellent. We stayed for an optional session on lightning. We received a rain gauge which has a scale of 1/100th inch. Less than a week after installing it on the garden gate we had rain, the first rain in months. Three one-hundredths of an inch. Not much but welcomed.


We took a trip to Jerome with some friends. This is the trip that we planned in April when we had a pulse-increasing flat on the motorcycle. This time some friends went with us. They have a Ural which is a Russian motorcycle with a sidecar. It was a good trip. We stopped in Sedona for coffee and had lunch in Jerome.

Last weekend over the holiday Julie and I took a trip on the motorcycle to Colorado. The trip was about 903 miles. Hopefully, maybe, possibly, I'll write about that trip and include a couple photos.

Cows outside the sun room windows.

Early one Saturday morning about a month ago we walked to the mail boxes. On our way home we passed two cows. I jokingly said "Don't follow us!" About mid-day we stopped work for lunch and sat down in the sun room. A short while later I noticed movement. The cows were in the back yard.

I snapped a couple photos and drove them several hundred yards from the house. They came back just as I was about to take a shower. Armed with a red broom Julie drove them off this time. I understood their plight. When she gets the broom the cats disappear as do I.

Julie sending the cows on their way.

Unfortunately, one of the cows stepped on a hot water solar collector that I bought and stored in a area where I thought it was safe. The tempered glass shattered. I can use the collector but will have to install it in the greenhouse that I'll build this fall.

Early Spring Garden Under Frost Cloth.
Early spring garden under frost cloth.

The garden is growing. I planted it late and covered it nightly if the forecast called for temperatures low enough for frost. On two occasions the forecast was wrong and the potatoes were bit. They came back but one variety isn't doing well. I enlarged the garden this year. I planted pumpkins, squashes and melons in recessed beds around the fence. I added about ten containers, a screen covered lettuce box and an elevated bed headboard to support pole beans. We've been giving away arugula, a variety of lettuces, spinach, radishes, Bok Choi and other greens. We've eaten our first tomato, a Green Zebra. Julie bought the plant at the first farmer's market of the season.

I had one major blunder. I filled the three garden cisterns and had 7,500 gallons of water. I wanted to measure the amount of water I use this year. One evening after work I was using a hose to water a few items while talking with Julie's brother-in-law who was visiting. I placed the hose in the rhubarb bed in preparation for walking to the end of the row and turning off the water. It's not a valid excuse but we were talking and I'm in my sixties and I'm a male which means I can't multitask. The next evening when I got home I noticed a large wet area in the garden. I estimate the rhubarb got about 3,000 gallons of water. At two cents a gallon that was a $60 mistake. I don't mind the cost but now I'm obsessive. I turn off the water, close the gate, open the gate and check both hoses again. On the bright side I double check only once so I'm not too obsessive.

Compost Pile Temperature.
Compost pile temperature.

I reworked my compost system this spring. I removed the commercial bins and created containers using wooden pallets. I've monitored the piles almost daily. One pile reached 163 degrees before cooling to about 140 where is stayed for quite a while. When the temperatures dropped below 120 I turned the piles and watered them. Last time I checked the temperature was about 144 degrees.

In early spring we visited the arboretum near Flagstaff. It was cool and not much was growing or flowering but it was an enjoyable outing. The highlight for me was the animal presentation. A man who (if my memory is correct) works with a state agency had three birds, a snake and a wood rat. All had been injured and couldn't be returned to the wild. The animals and his presentation were fascinating. Julie asked to touch the snake but some laws, regulations or something made that a no-no.

There's been another significant experience. Julie had foot surgery about a month ago. She developed a toe that elevated and didn't touch the floor or the sole of her shoe. She learned that had she seen a doctor as soon as it first elevated that it might have been possible to fix it without surgery. But, it was too late. A section of bone was removed and a pin was inserted to keep the toe aligned.

Oh, yes! I went for a hearing test. Moderate to severe hearing loss. Hearing aids? That's the question. The answer is pending. Do I really want to hear all of the pervasive noise pollution. That question is easy to answer in the negative. Hmm? I'm still pondering when to get hearing aids. Did you know that insurance companies classify hearing aids as "cosmetic devices" and do not pay for them? Julie and I are fortunately. Our insurance will pay a substantial amount toward hearing aids.

That's a quick update of events in our world. Life is good as it should be.


Anonymous SimplyTim said...

Hi Paul,

Welcome back. I was just ready to try and find your telephone number to find out if all was well...for real.

Re. your hearing: did you also check to find out if there is a wax buildup in either or both ears? I have had to have my ears "blown out" (no pain, just a funny feeling, some pressure and and a squishy feeling inside the ear for a few moments.

I had to have them done on two separate occasions. Both times there was an abrupt onset of decreased hearing; it was a dramatic decrease. It wasn't that there was a large amount of wax built up, but what was there was tightly packed.

Low tech solution with very high and immediate relief of symptomology. Prior to the treatment in the doctor's office the first time, I was fairly well convinced that I was going to have to go in the direction of hearing aids. Now, no need for aids, although in noisy places, e.g., restaurants, I have to really pay attention.

If you want more details just let me know.

Glad to hear that your bride has both her feet on the ground again.


7/06/2011 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

I was so happy to see you post again. Already gardening? The wife harvested some herbs and is using them in oils and such. Thanks for the photo updates!

7/06/2011 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

That's quite an update -- very pleasant to read. As for hearing aids, I find them very helpful, but my hearing is probably worse than yours.

7/07/2011 04:56:00 AM  
Anonymous mobilier gradina said...

I was inc Colorado two years ago and i was impressed. Unfortunately i had no time to visit around it very well because i was there for only two days, but i hope to visit it again very soon. I recommend this place, it is very nice.

8/02/2011 01:32:00 AM  

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