Thursday, April 17, 2008

Day of the Jackhammer

I don't really have anything new to report on here. But it's a cloudy, overcast day and I have been snapping a few photos and figured, what the heck, post 'em.

The weather has turned. We have had two days of overcast skies, and (for us) cool temperatures. It was in the mid 70's today for example. That feels on the chilly side to us. This morning the sunrise was totally obscured by clouds, It wasn't until mid morning that we saw any sun at all, and that was heavily filtered.

Of course we took the opportunity to tell the dog that it looked like there was going to be thunder...

He kept a pretty close eye on the clouds for a while. But alas, no electrical storms. Yet. IF there had been a flash of lightning and a thunder boom, I would be repairing a screen door instead of writing this.
Here's another photo of the sunlight hitting the water, after just barely peeking through a momentary rift in the cloud cover:

This is such a great location for these kinds of ocean shots. We are going to have to get a better camera, especially with the electrical storm season approaching.

We are hoping this is marking the beginning of 'rainy season'. We could use the water. On that front, I have been doing a lot of research on Reverse Osmosis desalination systems. We have a pretty good suppy of seawater here. If we could generate a good supply of fresh water from that we could turn this little hilltop into an oasis. Repair some of the damage the construction has done.

Work on the house was going at a good clip early in the week. They actually did not run out of momentum until Wednesday. Monday morning we had plumbers here to hook up the utility sink down in the garage. Finally. But, as in so many things, it did not go as planned. No one could figure out where the existing pipes were connected. The plumber that was here a year ago when the foundation was poured is long gone. So....they started digging. Up next to the outside shower.

Yes, another trench dug through the compacted and re-compacted driveway. I cannot imagine what we would be going through if we had gone ahead and had it paved when we thought they were all finished. Then down at the garage itself there was a search initialized to find out where the existing pipes might lead. As in so many things here, it involves an electric jackhammer. Surgeons have their scalpels. Artists have their brushes. This is the land of the jackhammer.

Oh, and of course it also required taking a pickaxe to the previously smooth dirt in front of the entrance. I don't think there was this much digging involved in the search for Jimmy Hoffa.

While three plumbers with a pickaxe and jackhammer assaulted the south face of our garage, a truck arrived with the sat dish antenna. This thing is huge. I had drawn what I thought an eight foot diameter antenna would look like in the previous post. I was wrong. It's bigger than that. I am starting to worry about there being some kind of communication breakdown. We just want to receive signals from a satellite. We don't want to get involved in searching for extraterrestrial life or tracking missiles.

In any case, now the dish is sitting on the post. And the entire contraption is about ten or twelve feet high. I kid you not.

I have been thinking of ways to lessen the visual impact of this ugly doodad. Thinking maybe I could paint it sky-blue, and stencil a palm tree on it. Or a cactus outline. Well, if after all this we don't get good reception, there is definitely something wrong with the program. I wouldn't be surprised if astronauts on the space station could see this from orbit. Maybe we can rent it to NASA.

The solar collector for the hot water system was finally turned around and installed in the correct orientation:

And then we discovered late in the day (after the plumbers had left of course) that the hot water outlet from it apparently goes nowhere. And guess who did the original pipe installation back when they poured the foundation.. Yep. Same guy who ran the pipes to nowhere down at the garage. I hate to admit it, but I see more jackhammers in our near future.

We are getting to know the present plumbers fairly well. Not by design, but by circumstances. They have been here a lot. That outside shower plumbing, for example, has now been dug into at least four times. After watching them dig, and hammer, and scratch their heads for a couple hours on this little garage utility sink project I told them to forget the old pipes. We had water run to the garage. They just needed to tie it in. So I suggested they just jackhammer a new hole in the wall, run new pipes, cut the old ones off, and hook it up. They liked that idea. It saved them time. It saved them work. It was an excuse to use a jackhammer. They like jackhammers.

I have a dangerous little habit of making up my own temporary names for people when I don't know their correct names. This plumber always wears a distinctive straw hat when he is here. It's unusual, in that most people wear the standard issue baseball type caps. So..during one of the three or four times he had to come out and knock holes in the new tiles to repair some plumbing fixture I referred to him as Foghat. You know, sorta after the rock/blues band. And the name stuck. And La Gringa reprimanded me several times, but I just did not know the man's name. I am pretty sure he never heard of Foghat. I am willing to bet he has never seen fog.

So, yesterday, La Gringa finally came out and asked him his name, knowing that I am not very good with people and would probably never get around to it. ( I still have a problem calling the electrican Sugar.) Anyhow, back to the plumber..He told us his name is Jessica. I don't know how it is spelled, but that is how it is pronounced. Jessica. Somehow, I am thinking that I will still be referring to him as Foghat.

Jessica hooking up my new workshop utility sink. La Gringa has great hopes that I will at least have clean hands when I come up to the house from the shop.
That is not my final workbench setup. I have not had time to get back to finishing that. I have been too busy building things on the temporary bench setup. So it's all still a shambles. Isn't it ironic how often temporary solutions become permanent fixtures.

Today we had no work going on, so I was finally able to finish the first set of pantry shelves. I guess this is my first official small project in the new unfinished workshop. Using a moving blanket, and pressing the trusty old Samurai Sherpa into service I hauled it up the mountainside..

And with La Gringa's help I managed to shoehorn the shelving into the space it was intended to fit. I found I was a little rusty, after years of no woodworking. I had forgotten to allow for the door trim, so I had to remove that and re-install it. But I think it didn't go too badly for a "shakedown" first project.

Second project: build another one. It will just be a slightly higher quality mirror image of this one. I made some rookie errors in this one. I assumed all 2x4's were the same dimensions. They are not. And we already have projects stretching out for a long time to come. It's a good thing I like butchering wood. After I cautioned La Gringa against leaning up against the exposed wiring in the circuit breaker/main power box, she informed me that my workshop project priority just changed. It is now to cut a temporary cover to protect her from the exposed house mains. She's kinda funny about electricity, come to find out. Her and the dog both. Go figure.

Yesterday La Gringa came down to the workshop to tell me to take a look at the ocean. Off in the distance there was a squall line moving in from the North. Over about a quarter of an hour, we watched three small waterspouts. They would form and last a few minutes, and then collapse for a while. Then they would reform. By the time we thought to take photos, the best of the show was over. We only had the little pocket Olympus with us, and it doesn't do well in low light, or in telephoto mode. So the photos are not that great. But perhaps you can make out the bumps under the cloud. These were the tops of the water spouts:

The middle one was just reaching down to the ocean in that picture. Not being able to get the photo we wanted here at least prompted me to dig out the better camera and make sure it's charged. We are still digging through cardboard boxes a lot, two months after moving in. But we should be able to get better photos when this happens again.

The view remains ambiguous this morning. Too early to tell if it's going to be sunny or cloudy again, but on the whole, I would actually not rather be in Philadelphia.

If these calm wind conditions continue, we just might go out for a conch diving trip. It's been too long. I would also settle for a nice electrical storm. It's fun to watch the dog panic.


heinz said...

I think the shelf looks great - and it fits even better when you removed the trim. If you put some plants of different heights that should take the eye away from the satellite dish.

Anonymous said...

More beautiful day-break shots; keep 'em coming. I'm beginning to think we should get you set up with a good 35mm or medium-format camera and a darkroom.

Ya know, the shoreline in that bottom shot looks like the short-forehead, extra-large nose you see in ancient Incan art. (Or was that Aztec? Or Mayan? Shucks, one of 'em!)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments. I am working on the second set of shelves, and they should come out better. This time I ran all the lumber through the saw first, so I at least start out with wood that's all the same dimensions and square. Should have done that the first time. Like I said, I am rusty.

I got sidetracked installing a whole-house water filter and UV sterilizer system in the house. Hey two weeks ago I couldn't remember how to spell Plumber....and now I are one..

We do need some better cameras. We run up against the limitation of the lense on these little pocket digitals.

I just stuck another photo into the post another shot of the sunlight breaking through the heavy clouds on the water that morning:
I thought that one looked kinda spooky.

Anonymous said...

For the plumming.You did post some pictures of how it was ran.That might help you out figuring out what is what.

Anonymous said...

Things are moving along. That Sat dish is gonna be a big frisbee if you get some heavy winds. I'll look for it up here in Boca and send it back down to you. :)