Paradise ponders: all kinds of stuff edition... Jimmy and Michelle B., our guests for the next ten days, arrived as planned on Wednesday afternoon. We stopped at the Red Iguana (of course!) and had a wonderful dinner, then at their request stopped at Walmart so they could pick up a game they wanted to play with us: the Mexican Train Dominoes game. The four of us have been playing it each evening. It's a game whose outcome is mostly determined by chance, but has some opportunities for strategy and more for skilled pattern-matching. It's fun and easy enough for anyone to learn how to play in a short time.
This morning I got up at around 5 am, well before sunrise this time of year. The dogs were agitating to be let out, and right now our yard is not a place we want to let them run (more on that in a moment). So – before tea, even – I grabbed a couple of leashes and took them out, two at a time. First out were Mako and Cabo, both pulling so hard that I could barely stand upright. They wanted out, and right the hell now! They half-drug me over to the hay field north of our house, where we've been walking them for the past few days, and then went about 2 feet before both of them stopped, simultaneously, and peed. There were little canine grunts of relief all during this process. Then again in perfect synchrony they launched themselves into a new effort: drag the poppa across the alfalfa field in a search for voles. While being dragged I had the opportunity to glance around the sky: marvelously clear for the first time in weeks (the smoke is gone). Orion, my old constellation friend, was high in the southern sky. A less-than-quarter moon hung in the southeast. Just over the Wasatch Mountains in the east, Venus hovered in a notch between two mountains. Despite not a hint of twilight, I had plenty of light to see (mainly from the moon). Eventually I managed to herd the two puppies back into the house, and swapped out the two older boys: Race and Miki. We three took a much more sedate walk over roughly the same route, and I had a better chance to look around and observe. One thing that struck me was the sheer number of artificial lights visible at this hour on and around our home. I counted 11 LEDs visible from the north side of our house, mainly on electronic equipment: little low-power status lights for the most part. Some are green, others orange, red, blue, or white. None of them are nearly bright enough to interfere with my night vision, but are plainly visible even a couple hundred feet away...
Our yard had some real progress this week. The forecast called for rain on Thursday night and Friday morning, so our contractor went all out to get the yard ready for seeding before that hit. He managed it, putting the last seed down in the first of the sprinkles. It took 600 pounds of seed to cover roughly 2.7 acres. All of that area had to be raked, rolled, and fertilized before he could spread the seed. He and his crew also made sure that the sprinkler heads in those areas were all functioning correctly, just in case the predicted rain didn't arrive. They also fixed a problem our sun room builder had left for us: leaks and seepage from the sun room foundation into what used to be casements and are now cat perches and routes into the sun room. The problem was twofold: two large joints had not been sealed, and the outside of the concrete had not been tarred. Our sprinkler contractor was digging in the area anyway, so he volunteered to tackle that repair for us, and he did a bang-up job.
As it turned out, for once the weatherman was dead on: we got exactly the forecast amount of rain (0.6"), and exactly when predicted. Our freshly-sown seed got a great soaking-in, just as we'd hoped it would. The back yard, due for sod shortly, turned into one giant mud-bowl. That's why we're not letting the dogs run out there – they'd end up doubling their weight through mud adhesion, and instead of enjoying the time with our guests we'd be washing unwilling and uncooperative mutts. :) The sod for the rest of the yard has been ordered, and is scheduled for delivery on Monday evening. Our contractor is trying to arrange for help to show up Tuesday: an entire girl's high school baseball team. They have experience maintaining and installing sod from the maintenance of their playing field, and there's 20 of them. That would be quite a sight, if it actually happens!
Jimmy and I have been working on our long-postponed deck project. On Thursday we got 22 steel stanchions installed, all spaced properly. I got a nice big blister on my right hand from using the electric screwdriver to screw in the six big lag screws on each of those stanchions: 132 of them in all. One stanchion (thankfully, just one) was placed right in front of our air conditioner compressor where there was insufficient room to use the electric screwdriver. That one I had to screw in with a ratchet wrench – that was a lot of work!
On Friday we went to work on the overhead wiring: two duplex outlets and nine ceiling light fixtures. It's all in now, and the inspection (the last one!) is scheduled for Monday morning. Today we're going to start on the carpentry. First up is the exterior wall of the house where the deck was installed. There are a half-dozen or so pieces of siding that need to be replaced, some electrical stuff that needs to be removed, some mounting of electrical gear, and quite a bit of trim around the door. If we get through all that, we'll start putting the tongue-and-groove cedar up on the ceiling. Monday, for sure, we'll be working on the ceiling, which I'm guessing will take us three days to complete. Progress!