Saturday, June 28, 2008

Footsteps of Fire

Black cloud with legs of lightning,
Striding imperiously across the landscape.
Footprints left on the land burn brightly
In memory of your passage.

The 2008-09 California fire season is starting in northern California. Dry thunderstorms, strong with lightning but no rain, are walking their way across the Sierras. The area got much less rain in April/May, and is tinder waiting for sparks. CalFire (California forestry fire department) has the upper half of the state on fire weather watch, as more such storms are coming thru. The Governator has declared several counties disaster areas due to the fires. If you want good California wines, you might want to stock up now, as wine country from Sanapanoma* to Monterey is on fire, as well as other wine areas not so well known.

Oh my poor state. We're in for an ugly fire season again.

*Sanapanoma - Napa and Sonoma
BTW, the poem is original. You quote it, you put my name on it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Adult Supervision Needed

I sent email to family and a few close friends, telling them I was adding this to my Christmas list. My uncle, older brother to my mother, (same uncle as previous post) sent back this in reply:

"You will need to have adult supervision when you operate it. Where in this family are you going to find an adult to supervise?"

I have a great family!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Don't wear shorts while using a weed wacker

Especially if magnolia leaves are involved.

Just don't.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, is one of four solstice days marking the movements of the sun thru its seasonal cycle. It has a long tradition in pagan circles as Litha, and is considered the mid-point of summer, which begins with Beltane on May 1st and ends with Lughnasadh on August 1st. Some celebrate the triumph of Light over Dark, while others celebrate the coming harvest.

In the U.S., for those who aren't pagans, it's the beginning of summer, kids celebrating being out of school, and absolutely no holidays between July 4th and the first Monday in September, Labor Day.

Anybody Can Do It - Yeah Right

Pet peeve - Anybody who says "All you have to do is..."

The instructions for assembling all the pieces in my new drip watering kit assume a level of expertise that is sadly lacking in this household. Figuring out in which order to put all the screw-on pieces is fairly simple, as the piece that connects to the drip tubing must go last. There's only one piece that connects to that, which leaves the timer to connect to the water faucet. So far so good.

Attaching that to the water faucet proved to be the first of many stumbling blocks. I attached a four-way spigot to the existing water faucet. And realized that attaching the timer-tubing assembly would require I dig a hole so they could all get screwed together. Hmmm. Interesting phrasing. nevermind. Let's try this: turn the original faucet upside down. I don't need to reach the handle easily. It's going to be staying on so the drip system will work.

Ah, question from the audience? Why don't I take the original spigot off? As I was discussing the issue with Jim, thinking out loud and looking for suggestions, I got an amazing amount of static about leaving it on. Still don't understand why, but that's ok. If it keeps peace in the household, I'm not going to insist.

Turn the water off to the house. Unscrew everything. Wrap plumbers tape around the water faucet and screw back on. Spigot up, handle down - check. Turn the water to the house on and... no leaks. We're good to go. Screw the four-way on after application of plumbers tape, turn the water faucet on and... no leaks. Ok. Progress is being made.

Attach hose to one spigot, turn it on to test. I got water. And the most horrendously loud swooshing sound as water flowed thru the new faucet. You can usually tell when you've got water running somewhere. You can hear it at other faucets in the house. This new faucet was loud enough to be heard in the living room over the tv. There was no forgetting to turn the water off with this system.

Onward and upward. Besides the screw-on pieces to connect spigot to drip tubing, several extra bits were included, with no instructions as to where to put them. I had a grit filter which logically should go between the spigot and the timer. After putting said filter in, the connection leaked like a sieve and sprayed water in several directions. If I wanted a spray system, I would have bought one. Read the instructions again. All they said was "insert filter." I checked the website. The instructions said "Insert the filter." I hunted the internet for forums and help groups. Found some. The instructions said "Insert the filter." Guys, what part of thumb-fingered clueless did you miss? I'm a computer software geek. I don't do hardware. Getting the water faucets on was the extent of my previous knowledge. Upon the suggestion from friend PJ, I tried reversing the grit filter. aHA! Works. No more spray. From that connection anyway.

Also included in this kit was a flow restrictor, which came with lots of instructions on when it should be used, but not where. Just for fun, I tried searching the internet again. Same same. Let's put it between the timer and the connection to the connection to the tubing. Turn water on, turn timer to ON, and... get a face full of spraying water. Not to mention pants and shirt. Up side? I'm cooler now. Downside, there is no water coming out the tubing end. None. The flow restrictor is supposed to reduce the water flow to half a gallon per hour, not shut it down completely. What's up with that?

Back to the drawing board. If I... no, how about... *headsmack*. Take it out completely and just have the water spigot turned low. One more leak gone. And now water comes out the end. Woohoo. I has water.

I has water coming from the middle of one of the screw on bits. Turn water off, unscrew part, examine closely. The area of the leak has no adjustable pieces. Why is it leaking? Replace with piece from the other kit. Which leaks in exactly the same way. No spray, just water flow. Hmmm. Mint doesn't mind being very wet. Put the pot of mint under it and carry on.

Next step: tubing. The instructions very kindly said to cut the tubing at an angle to make insertion easier. er... I gotta get my mind out of the gutter. Tubing: insert, turn water on. You'll never guess. Spraying water. It's a hot day and I'm staying cool. It's all good.

Unscrew last connector piece, wrestle with connector, tubing, pliers, temper... The tubing connector is made to hold on to the tubing tightly. Which means getting the tubing in requires you be a 500 pound gorilla. Jim came out about then, said he could feel the cursing. He wrestled with connector, tubing, pliers for a minute or two, and handed the thing back to me. No, he isn't a 500 pound gorilla, he just plays the part when I need it.

Screw connector with tubing attached onto other connector. Turn water on. No spray. And we has water out tubing!

Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter in the building of the drip system. It's sure to be... I don't know. Pick an adjective of your choice. I'm going in now. It's bleedin' hot again today.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bleedin' HOT

Why is the pavement melting?

It was 109 in Northridge, 111 in Chatsworth, yesterday, June 18. Downtown LA was 80-something, which is the one that's reported inter/nationally. The translation to metric is: bleedin' HOT. It's supposed to be that hot again today.

I am offering up prayers and sacrifices so that my a/c continues to work. The system has gone past the point where my a/c maintenance guy says, "You need to replace this unit." Now, he just shakes his head and adds more chewing gum and wire to the system. In these economic times, it's about all I can afford.