Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wild about Wildflowers

Springtime in the Texas hill country is well known for showy roadside displays of Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush. Further from public view there is another, more subtle display that mother nature makes this time of year. This one takes place without the assistance of Ladybird Johnson-inspired seed sowing program, but the results can be just as satisfying if one takes the time to really slow down and look.

Luckily, my sweetheart is just the person to take that closer look, and she even helps me slow down on occasion! Although she claims to be one of the world's worst photographers, you can see differently from these pics she shot recently. From jumbles of rocks, fallen limbs, trees, which appear unsightly from a distance, she takes the time to notice the beauty of the details. A little bit like the way she can always find a bit of good in mother nature's other creations, notably the Hominidae variety.

Photo #1: False Day Flower
Photo #2: Cedar Sage
Photo #3: Scarlet Leatherflower
Photo #4: Prickly Pear Cactus

There are more bloom photos I'll save for future postings, some because I've not identified them yet. Among the ones I do know are Antelope Horns, Texas Mountain Laurel, and even a few Bluebonnets, ancestors from seeds my Mom gave to me 3 or 4 years ago. I also like the idea of saving some photos for future years because wildflowers in bloom are an annual event, strong markers of the passage of time, and a gentle reminder from mother nature that we'd better slow down and enjoy them while we can.


Monday, April 23, 2007


Summer heat is soon to be upon us in Wimberley, so we are rushing to get insulation installed before the house becomes too hot to work comfortably in. But, getting insulation completed requires getting all the other doo-dads in the walls before hand. Little things like electrical wiring, gas lines, coax cable, etc. The cathedral ceiling work here in the living room is a bit tedious, including ensuring that the insulation goes in properly around the ceiling I-joists. Not helped by the fact that they're 13' above the floor at the high end.

My efforts were further delayed by the geek I often see in the mirror. He insisted that I install a temperature probe inside the cavity above the ceiling insulation. He says this will be useful for monitoring the thermal performance of the system, which is connected to skin-vented second story walls, which in turn expel hot air through the upper attic ridge vent. Combined with other temperature monitors in the attic and outside, he'll eventually be able to write some obscure research paper touting the system (if it actually works). I can hear readers clamoring for the movie rights to this exciting story now...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Dirty job

It's time for some land-scaping, starting with this 50 tons of crushed limestone at the driveway, and loam near the house. After this stuff settles some, I can set the large, flat limestone boulders which will serve as the entry steps. Then I'll call in another 80 tons of fill to complete the carport area and cover the geothermal well piping in the back.

After this fill work is completed the exterior will appear to be pretty much complete from the street. Around back the first floor deck and water tank enclosure will still be notably absent, but those aren't issues that the homeowner association people should really care about. And right now, my goal is to get things complete from their perspective. Little will they know that virtually all of the interior won't be done until well beyond their construction deadline. Oops, unless of course any of them happen to be readers of my blog...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Only a geek could love this

I spent the last couple of days putting together this thing that looks like a high school science project gone terribly wrong. Starting from the bottom piece and moving up the panel as the water flows, this contraption consists of:

  1. The water pump, which moves water from the storage tank to the house at a steady 55PSI.
  2. Sediment and carbon filters, removing particulates and odors.
  3. An ultraviolet light zapper, the long stainless cylinder, killing off bacteria or any other living organism which might be present.

Luckily, this mess will eventually be hidden from view with some sort of enclosure. After the UV treatment, the water goes back down underground for the voyage to the house. Next on my list is to install some toilets, sinks, etc. to actually do something with the water. And an aerobic septic system for taking care of the water waste. Enough fun for the geekiest of geeks!