Friday, August 24, 2007

Rain, Rain, Didn't Go Away Until Recently

2007 has been an amazing year in the Texas Hill Country. Precipitation is not something this area is normally very good at, at least not compared to Houston. But 2007 started with a record ice storm in January, and stuff has not stopped falling out of the sky since. This photo shows how much the weeds... I mean native plants, appreciate the change of pace. Normally they'd be half this size in April and dead by May.

So we all breathed a little easier last week when Hurricane Dean headed south into Mexico. All of us except those living in Mexico, that is. Maybe my little rain chant actually worked: "Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day in nice, gentle, and modest amounts on a regular but not annoying basis, preferably not on weekends."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Time to Come Clean

At long last I'm making some progress on getting a shower installed in the Wimberley house. This will be a great relief to those anywhere within about ten feet of me after I've been working there more than a day. And to those visitors who want to clean up a little themselves.

I had decided on a conventional tiled enclosure before I really understood all the steps in building it, so it has been a lot of work just getting it to this stage pictured. That concrete looking surface at the bottom hides layers of sloped mortar, PVC membrane, seam sealant, more mortar, and reinforcing mesh, and the tiled curb base was a whole adventure in itself. I'm just to the point where I'll be able to start laying ceramic tile on my next visit. Those cheap but simple fiberglass pan shower bottoms started looking pretty good after I'd been on my knees for a few hours.

The second photo is in fact related to my shower adventure, although it should not have been. After letting the mortar cure a little, I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to go ahead and vacuum up the loose mortar remnants. Did I mention that it is a REALLY great vacuum? It sucked a couple of chunks of the partially curred floor right up. I was not pleased. I had my evidence of extreme stupidity hidden an hour later, but not without going through several scenarios in my mind for making that vacuum pay dearly...

So barring any further giant leaps backward, I'll have an operational shower in two more visits. One for the tile, a final for the grout and door. I'm feeling cool, fresh, and spiffy just thinking about it.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

All in the Timing

No need to worry about any profound musings in THIS blog posting. Today's topic may be a little delicate to some, but one thing it is not is profound.

Here is the everyday life dilemma which led to this subject: You know how when you depart the restroom in your house (or worse, a friend's house) and have left, well, a bit of an odor behind? So you turn on the exhaust fan to help get rid of the evidence, but walk by the restroom hours later to discover than that sucker has been adding to your electricity bill ever since?

Relax Americans, the solution is at your fingertips. Years ago there were those little manual rotary timers, mainly in small public restrooms, which often controlled how long the lights would stay on. For today's high-tech restrooms, there is the ELECTRONIC timer, which can be wired to just about anything, including exhaust fans. I recently installed the one pictured at right in the Wimberley powder room. Just a touch on the electronic pad corresponding to the damage you've done- five, ten, 15, or for emergencies 30 minutes, and the fan stays on for that long. You can walk away as near to guilt-free as you can get. I was thinking about modifying mine to activate a flashing red strobe light whenever anyone pressed the "30" button...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

This View, That View

Now that the Wimberley House is somewhat usable, and our downsizing in Houston to a high-rise apartment is nearly done, we've got quite a "compare and contrast" thing going. Both have very nice but very different views, from very nice but very different balconies. So far this arrangement is going beautifully, with each place creating an appreciation of some features of the other. I can't help but remember that damned jingle from the old TV show Green Acres, pointing out the advantages of farm living and city life...
Seems to me that one of the biggest differences is a sort of self-sufficiency to dependency ratio, represented by the equation: (P x T) /1+D, where P = the number of projects needing to be done, T = number of tools in the house, and D = the number of Starbucks within ten miles. The Houston apartment gets about a "2", and the Wimberley house gets a number close to infinity.
Wimberley wins for peace and solitude, natural beauty, wild animals, clean air, wind chimes, our babbling creek, easy-going neighbors, and The Corral Theater (an open-air movie theater). Houston wins for convenience to the yoga studio, Starbucks, and of course, my job, which makes the Wimberley house possible. Houston also gets some credit for making the Wimberley experience a stark contrast to our norm, making it a true getaway to feed the soul.