Phew! Busy week and Characters

Where to start.

In the last post we were dealing with sand and it's angle of repose. After mixing in tons of what they call A-B, some kind of compactable fill, into our beach sand, keeping the moisture level high, and waiting over-night; the garage retaining wall/footing trench held. Very good new for your humble (ok, not humble at all) muser.

One of the options for dealing with the sand was to build a block stem wall. In that process we had the block guy out. He looked around and figured he could start now laying block, which I like! They finished fixing the "homeowner special" retaining wall between our place and DnT's. It kind of meanders left and right and up and down, but they did the best they could to even it out. All the while making sure I understood THEY do not build walls this way. Looks great. They "grouted" the whole wall so it'll be strong as hell. There is still some finish work to do after the grout dries and settles, but that will come next week.

Pictures have been updated to include lots of fascinating shots of trenches with rebar. 

There has been some concern about inspections since we have revision drawings in from when we changed from block construction (that were approved) to frame construction. In theory they are supposed to suspend inspection while the revision review is going on. Nothing we were needing inspections on has changed, so we were not uncomfortable at all proceeding.

Fortunately either, the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, or, rational thought interceded and the bureaucrats realized nothing was changing, or, the bureaucrats knew revision approval was forthcoming. So, inspections continue, we pass with flying colors. CtC is using the subs that normally do work in the gated communities up north rather than the barrio. Our guys do good work and the inspectors notice.

And our revision was approved Friday morning. No more revisions!

I'm building a relationship with the inspector. Seems he's the same guy for all the inspections. As we finished the back wall and courtyard footing inspections he noticed I still had the lock box attached to the gas meter. He walks over to it, looks at it, looks at the property, looks at me; and says "so what's this for?" and kind of grins. Suggested I prop a door up somewhere so at least there would be a place to use the key.

We pour concrete for the back wall and courtyard footings Monday (tomorrow as I write this) at 05.30. These desert dwellers do like to start early. They'll bring in a pumper truck and apparently two cement trucks. Going to be just like This Old House, except not in a fancy north eastern neighborhood that Tom and Norm can drive too, This Old Casita may be more appropriate.

Plan for the coming week is:

  • Pour back wall and courtyard footings
  • Lay block after footings have dried a couple of days. So block laying starts in earnest on Wednesday.
  • Finish the forms and rebar for the garage and front courtyard walls.
  • Pour the garage floor and footings (a monolithic pour) and front courtyard footings.


Pretty much everybody that has showed up here is a character. Not sure if a construction thing or a Tucson thing, or a construction thing exacerbated by a Tucson thing.

The block guys are Hispanic of course. The owner built the recently torn down entrance wall at the Tucson Botanic Garden. So he feels a kinship with The Brain Trust and our general cause with the Quail Manor. Turns out our concrete guy replaced it in the last year or so. The block guy says, well, I hope you had a hell of a time tearing it down! 

The block guy speaks great English. The concrete team is one, what the Hispanic coal miners used to call honky who speaks a bit more Spanish than I do, who's in charge, and a bunch of Hispanic guys who either don't speak English or give a quite convincing act of not speaking English. One of this team lives down the street (my people!) so he stopped commuting up North to the concrete lot and just comes here. 49 years old, lived in US since 1985, speaks a little more English than the honky in charge speaks Spanish, and has 10 grand kids. Turns out he grew-up gardening and has offered his help on weekends when we get to it. I like his work ethic and we'll give him a try.

The block guy owner has become a critical component of the translation team when we do anything out of the ordinary. He brought his son the first day to help unload two pallets of block. The son is going into his senior year of high school. Seemed to be more carefully considering college than unloading two pallets of block!

The curmudgeon plumber came back with his son rather than his wife to wrap the pipes where they come in contact with concrete. This son in no uncertain terms was not considering going into plumbing in any way shape or form. Something against digging. The curmudgeon plumber is becoming less curmudgeonly as he becomes accustom to our project. 

One of the guys on the concrete team looks (and behaves) like Eli Wallach of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly fame. Same hat, same walk, same grin, likes to keep things light but kind of an edge too. So Friday at 0 dark 30 when these guys start, he's whistling so loud I hear him over at DnT's. After it gets a little hot, on a Tucson adjusted scale - hotter'n hell on any proper scale, he's not whistling anymore. I ask him about it. Grins all around and more whistling. Turns out its Friday AND pay day.

Back to the block guys. Characters all. They spent Friday fixing the "homeowners special" retaining wall. They've got the Mexican music blasting on somebody's smart phone. Laying block and dancing and singing. Eli Wallach joins in when he hears a good song. The block guys all speak pretty good English and remind be a lot of the coal miners, but much nicer. They're going to be fun to observe. Here's betting the walls go up real fast and real good.

Up where the concrete guys are working the honky is playing rock and roll on his smart phone. A real cacophony when you are in a position to hear both! I wonder what the neighbors think?

Road Trip for the Air Conditioning

Got up Saturday with lots of options of productive or fitness related things to do. So decided to climb upon the buttery soft leather of the Volvo and take a road trip to Phoenix (Tempe actually) to visit the closest IKEA. And to be in air conditioning for the 3 hours it takes to drive up and back plus however long I could loiter in the store. Very nice. Turns-out the Phoenix/Tempe IKEA is as close to identical to the one in Denver as possible. What IS interesting is that it is located on the exit we used to take to our house when we lived in Phoenix/Tempe! Nothing about the exit is familiar, it used to be empty land. Not any more. Went by the old house. Looks about the same. As does the neighborhood. Glad we don't live there anymore, but looks fine.

That's all the news from the Quail Manor. Another busy week on deck. If all goes to schedule, several busy weeks up-coming.

For those of you with less interest in trenches for footings and rebar, here is a series from around DnT's place. With the rain, everything is looking pretty great. I had The Brain Trust on the phone Thursday to sort the retaining wall. Ann said Dan was a wishing he could be down here to see the plants. Best I can do is a bunch of unartistic pictures. They are on a 5 second loop. BTW, the trailer in the front is just so DnT's blends better with the neighborhood. And, there was no place to park it in front of ours. It's CtC's so we have a place to load trash.