He's Baaaaaccccckkkkk.

After a four month hiatus, a new post. Plenty going on, but no urge to muse about it.

the Quail Manor logo handiwork

Frequent readers may recall Ann's favorite sister designed and hand sewed a the Quail Manor pillow. Well. Now your musist's favorite mother AKA Super Sweet has cross stitched a the Quail Manor crest. 

Thanks for all the stuff and here's what they look like.

4th of July

Your musist has been hearing about 4th of July since before we bought what we all now know as the Quail Manor. Reports were that we are positioned ideally to experience ground zero of the official Tucson fireworks display. Reports may have understated. 

The barrio goes absolutely crazy. Of course it was hot. We forced liquids and the Quail Manor has very effective HVAC. We attended a selection of parties. Made margs. Made ourselves comfortable in the front courtyard. And watched fireworks. Early on detected we were missing something. Your musist fired up some Sousa Marches on the Pandora. Just what we needed. 

  • Street parking. None. 
  • Roof tops as grand stands. Most of them.
  • Parties. Everywhere.
  • Supposedly illegal fireworks. Absolutely everywhere. Some of them were as good as the Cities. If the cops care, the are caring somewhere not the barrio.

Get on the calendar for a 4th of July visit to the Quail Manor. Not like any 4th we've ever experienced! Craziness.

On the subject of HVAC. Our experience this summer is that with Nest Thermostat, the solar makes more than enough kWh to keep the Quail Manor HVACed. Our electric bills have been $14.99. The government has to get it's taste.

10 weeks is too long between visits.

Pulled in around 17.00.

Yard is absolutely overgrown. Not a huge surprise, but WAY more overgrown than any reason to expect. Her Sweetness is still out there weeding and pruning. It's hot. I'm in here musing.

And spider webs. Looked like a haunted house in here. I unloaded the car. SWITBO punished the spiders. It was a shop vac enabled spider Armageddon. She takes it personal. Yesterday there was another jihad. This time the house vac was enough. Persistent little buggers. I've really not seen any spiders. Just their handy work. 

And bugs. If you've ever spend a night in a hotel in the southwest, you will note the drains are usually closed when the cleaning crew finishes. My understanding is that bugs come up though the drains. We do the same when we vacate the Quail Manor. Except. The shower drain. I can only hope that is where they came from. Big juicy cricket looking things. Your musist whimpered like a little girl. Her Sweetness squashes them like, well, a bug. She shows no signs of remorse. Bugs have not been back. And we how have a "flat drain stopper". Will see how that goes before proceeding with more draconian measures.

Frequent readers may recall this place was a barren patch of dirt when we started. There was the odd tree, but only the odd one. Sweetie and Dan planted a bunch in mid October-2014. Sweetie planted a bunch in early March-2015. We've added some water. The Sonoran Desert has taken care of the rest. In late September-2015 you can hardly see the back wall. Craziness.

Speaking of the Sonoran Desert. These weeds are a life-force. You can rest assured when we left here after the 4th of July there were no weeds. She has been out there pulling ground cover type weeds that are on the order of 6 feet across. And not just a few of them. There were some that took root around the dry wash in the back. Pushing 4 feet high and a couple feet around. We were at the nursery buying more plants to plant this trip (more on that later) they were selling them for $5 for a 1 gallon container. Ours were bigger so we figured we'll see what happens. Jessie the Cactus Queen (JCQ) has been over and confirmed they are indeed a bit weedy, but also cool looking. For now they stay.

New plants.

Frequent readers may recall we have a Nursery less than a mile from the Quail Manor. Desert Survivors has two members only sales a year. One in early March and one in late September. Guess who became members just in time for the March sale. Both sales have filled the Volvo to the brim. This time she did not have to ride in the back, but still full.

The sale was Saturday. It is now Friday. Between the plants we brought from Denver, about a half Volvo load. And the plants she bought, a 90% Volvo load. She has planted (and installed the associated irrigation) all day everyday. It's been +/- 100 F every day. She's out there with her Barbie shovel and Barbie pick do'n gard'n. Some holes have required full sized tools and a bit of fussing and cussing to extricate basketball sized rocks. Mostly the Barbie tools are just the ticket for working around the run of the mill softball sized rocks and dust.

A cool new thing is a cactus and succulent garden just off the pergola. Mostly stuff from Denver and donations from folks at the DBG. Should be very cool as it matures.

Also added a trio of trees in and around the front courtyard. Strategically placed to block foreground houses and car ports but not "A" Mountain. 

Gates

It's coming up on a year since Dave the Welder (DTW) started on the odyssey that became the Quail Manor fences. Mostly the Quail Manor Gates. The original scope of work has been long complete. Although all the original gates had to be reworked as we learned through hinges and latches. We added gates to the front courtyard after the javelina attack(s). The jade that was their primary target is now completely gone so we think they've returned. No prints though so who knows... We also added a gate to the cistern screen when we sorted there was some valuable out of sight storage back there.

The driveway sliding gate has been done for quite some time and works a peach. The sliding gate to the guest parking is quite the engineering marvel but progressing. The issue is the front porch necessarily slopes away from the house. Vastly complicates a sliding gate.

  • The gate that is cantilevered is complete. It is separate from the carriage since the combined gate is over 10 feet long, and we would not be able to install it in one piece. The gate itself is 5 feet long and the carriage that has the upper and lower guide wheels from which the gate is cantilevered is a little over 5 feet.
  • The curb and rail that will guide the bottom wheels and carry the load. Is done. It is set at the elevation of the house end of the patio, about 2 inches above the post end of the patio.
  • We've decided to adorn the carriage with a big assed quail in profile. The carriage part does not have to withstand javelina onslaughts so this is just ornamentation.

The cantilevering could put a lot of upward pressure on the top row of the cinder block that makes up the courtyard wall. Not sure that is a good idea for the wall. So. We made the carriage as long as we could. We made it heavy. And DTW cleverly built bulkheads into the rails at the back end so we could add weight in the form of lead shot. His testing suggested we needed 25 pounds so the gate structure is neutrally balanced. The bottom wheels take all the weight and the top rail just keeps it running true.

So we added 25 pounds of lead shot 5 pounds at a time since I did not think it would take that much. Damn near perfect as built. Turns out DTW was right and I was wrong. 25 pounds is close enough to perfect. The gate just sits balanced without the top rail even in place.

Cool.

Now DTW is off fabricating the top rail. A lot of work since there are no exposed fasteners. Magic takes a little extra time!

Cistern water distribution.

Meanwhile, it's been raining in the Sonoran Desert. When we last left, the cistern was about three-quarters full. Figured with the rain, we'd be overflowing.

We weren't. Donning the CSI investigating garb and gear, we determined that the dirt beneath the hose bib at the bottom of the cistern was eroded. Now how did that happen? We're still not completely sure but we were over at JCQ's the other night to see her new DTW fence and her progress settling in. Settling is great. The fence is a 7 foot tall rusting fortress of magnificence. Frank and Piggy are absolutely safe from anything up to and maybe including a parade of raging elephants

Speaking of Piggy and Frank. They were over for a visit to the Quail Manor early in the week. Frequent readers may recall we installed some roll-up screens on the front and back doors. They work OK, not great. No way will they restrain kitties that are inside but would prefer to be outside. Worse, every single person (and Piggy, she bounced right off, we thought it was funny) that ever crossed the Quail Manor transom when the screen doors were closed walked through them. You just can't seem them. Which is kind of the idea, but turns out to have some downside. So we're going to replace them with old school wooden screen doors painted the same blue as the front and back doors.

But, that's not the story. So we invited Piggy inside. Since we were inside, she came right in. When we went back out to the pergola, Piggy was leading the way. The screen door was open, but no way was Piggy going through there until someone else went first. Seems she was traumatized when she bounced off the closed screen in the Spring. And she has a VERY good memory! 

So, back a few paragraphs I was musing about a recent visit to JCQ's. Her, and now our, friends Amy and Charlie were over as well. They have an acre and an old adobe house a block west of the Quail Manor. So they are technically really OUR neighbors. Anyway, we're talking and Amy mentions how well our dry wash worked when JCQ demonstrated by opening the cistern hose bib to flood the wash. Which is actually quite clever since the hose bib just happens to be at the top of the dry wash. Now. Since they still actually have jobs, it had to have been 5 o'clock somewhere when the demonstration occurred.  And. Knowing this cast of characters, it would be ridiculous to imagine that cocktails were NOT involved. Further, knowing how slowly water flows from this hose bib since there is just atmospheric pressure to push it along (more on this later), it would take awhile for the dry wash to flood. Easy to forget to close the valve. It did get remembered though at some point since we do have some water and the valve was closed when we got here.

Whilst SWITBO has been planting, your musist has been designing and building a pump system for the cistern. As all things, it is now already in it's third iteration and pretty solid I think. I'd brought down a 1 horsepower pump I found on sale at of all places Amazon. It does not have a pressure switch so will eventually burn out from when we close the hose and the pump is still pumping but the water is not going anywhere. A pressure switch pump is 3X the cost so figured we'd prove the utility first.

Anyway, it works a peach. We have a hose bib at both garage doors so can use cistern water in the front and back. In researching things I think I've figured out an easy, cheap, and legal way to use the cistern water for irrigation yet keep the cistern full enough with city water if we don't get rain. Won't do that for awhile but could make the rainwater system quite useful!

Pictures

What you really wanted!

  • One set is the yard when we got here.
  • Next set is the yard after Ann's planting.
  • Third set is from over and DnT's