Archive for Environment

Summer Seems To Be Here

Our First Saguaro Flowers

In spite of the actual summer start date next month, we have had triple digit weather for two days now and the forecast is for more of the same for the next few days. I just went out on the back patio (4:30PM) and saw the temperature gauge showing 105°F. That’s about a degree cooler than an hour ago. We can deal with it since the air conditioner is keeping the house cool enough.

The flowers in the image above were open this morning on our big saguaro cactus out front by the driveway. These are the first two buds to open on this cactus and there are many more to come. There have been saguaro flowers open in other places in town for a couple of weeks now, but these are our first. We look forward to having a lot more of these in the weeks to come.

In the courtyard, I am expecting our Red Bird of Paradise shrubs to have flowers open any day now, and our Cherry Red cactus flowers coming shortly after those.

Despite the warmer temperatures, we always look forward to our summer flowers. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Spring Begins in the Northern Hemisphere

solstice-spring.jpg

Grand Octal Image via archaeoastronomy.com

Today marks the first day of spring North of the Equator. The graphical “Grand Octal” image above shows our planet as of today, passing through the Vernal Equinox portal in its orbit around the Sun. The other portals depicted have special meanings as well, dating back to primitive people whose cultures would depend on knowledge of the position of Earth during the year.

Here in our little patch of Arizona, we have been enjoying occasional spring-like days since February, as well as some not-so-warmish days and nights. Checking with our weather history on this day (courtesy NWS), we find that our forecast high of 65°F will be below the average 78°F temperature for this first spring day while we will be slightly above the record cool for this date (61°F) and well below the record high (92°F). I guess Global Warming has yet to catch up with us.

During these times of the overblown fake news media and democrat demagoguery (but I repeat myself), forecasting doom and gloom, we’re doing fine. We have things in stock, as we always do, that keep our household up and running with all our needs covered. Since we maintain two households on the premises (house and motorhome) there is plenty of everything available until all the bull$#!t blows over.

We hope everyone who reads this has planned accordingly and wish you comfort, safety and good health. We pray for these things.

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Drain the Swamp

Winter Spa

I wish draining the DC Swamp were this easy. This is our patio Spa now winterized. Click on the image to enlarge.

Late last fall, Damsel and I siphoned most of the water from the Spa since the weather was no longer conducive to dipping in it. That exercise got rid of 95 percent of the water, but left some in the bottom of the tub and in the internal plumbing.

We left the spa in that condition for a couple of months, but tonight the weather forecast calls for our first freeze warning of the winter season. There is a cold air mass descending on Lower Arizona which will take us below 0° C. Most of the rest of the country have already been there, but this will be our first freeze of the year.

Back to the Spa; residual water in the internal plumbing can freeze and damage the plastic used for directing water internally. There is also a water filter that can be damaged if frozen. So, today, we got out the wet/dry shop vac and sucked out most of the water from the internal plumbing, as well as removing the puddled water from the seats and the bottom of the tub. I removed about ten gallons of water which is two loads of the vac.

Now, the Spa is drying out and when dry, I will replace the cover.

We can hardly wait for the warm part of spring to show up so we can refill and reheat the Spa and resume enjoying our hot turbo massages and when summer comes, use it as a cool bath when it’s 110° outside.

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Rain in the Desert

Rain in the DesertThe middle of this week is bringing a lot of rain to the area. NWS forecast Tuesday through Thursday for rain showers, thunderstorms and wind. We have experienced all three as of this afternoon. It looks like the weather will lighten up for tomorrow and be nice for the weekend, although with high temperatures below 70 degrees which is pretty cool for us.

Image: Our big Saguaro at the top of the driveway enjoying the rain today - Click to enlarge.

Damsel and I have been in our usual routines but this week we’re planning for celebrating the Thanksgiving Holiday which we will enjoy here next week. Our plans include mostly the menus for the four-day holiday. We are still restricting carbohydrates, but even so, we will be having a delicious and healthy Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving entrée will be smoked boneless breast of turkey with sides of Creamy Brussels sprouts, mashed fauxtatoes*, cranberry sauce and pumpkin mousse for dessert.

* Denotes simulated mashed potatoes using acorn or butternut squash topped with butter and low carb turkey gravy.

The rest of the long weekend we will be having turkey leftovers on Black Friday and undecided for the actual weekend. If the weather cooperates with us, we may cook outside on the grill. Good things always come from the grill.

In the meantime, my 2019 copy of the tax program is now installed and I will amuse myself with tax planning in my spare moments for the next couple of months. As usual, we like to keep ahead of things tax-wise.

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Clear Skies over the Southwest US

GOES East Map Image

A couple of weeks ago (10/22/2019), I captured this image from the GOES East weather satellite in geosynchronous orbit above the western hemisphere. GOES East showed this area of the southwestern US which I cropped to highlight Arizona which is centered, more or less, in the image. The image showed the area mostly clear of clouds at that time, hence the terrain features are mostly visible.

Late October and early November in our part of Arizona has the in-between hot summer and cooler winter temperatures which are still warm (80-90 degree highs) and we call “Second Spring” because of the flowers we have open this time of year. As I write this post, the early November temperatures are forecast for highs in mid-80s and lows in upper 40s or lower 50s. Soon, however, the temperatures will start to drop and we will be back in flannel and long pants.

Anyhow, back to the satellite image; you can clearly see the Mogollon Rim which is defined by the darker forested area at its southern side that extends from the inside the New Mexico border on the east and arcs toward the north across the northeastern part of the state and ends in northern Yavapai county in north central Arizona. The two darker forested areas continuing north are the Kaibab National Forest. The lighter gap between the southern Kaibab dark area and the northern dark area is where the Grand Canyon is located.

Other interesting features visible in the image can also be seen; over in New Mexico toward the right lower side of the image you can see the White Sands Missile Test area where WW2 Atomic Bombs were tested. On the left side, in California, you can see the Salton Sea. Finally, at the bottom left corner, the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in Mexico is visible.

I look at the satellite images on a regular basis to help me identify our weather patterns. I use them in addition to radar and other tools to get an insight on our weather. You may click on the image to enlarge.

Looking at the enlarged image, you can identify Roosevelt Lake which is the flying eagle-shaped dark area below the Mogollon Forested area. West of that is Lake Pleasant, an oval-shaped dark spot. Lake Pleasant is just about forty miles east of our place.

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Irrigation Problems - Solved

Back of the RV Drive

What a difference a couple of days make! We were bemoaning the problems we had with a busted irrigation system just a couple of days ago and today the problem is non-existent. Our landscape contractor found the time to come here and fix our woes this week instead of what we thought would be a delay of unknown length. They quickly diagnosed the problems, made the changes and this evening, all is working again.

Of course, the fixes weren’t all as simple as I make them sound in the first paragraph. They actually spent considerable time cleaning up the area behind the RV drive where our “Rosemary Farm” is growing - or maybe overgrowing. In the composite image above, you can see the after cleanup of the back area - I could look in the photo archives to find a before picture, but I’m too lazy this evening. ;)

I forget the exact number of one gallon rosemary shrubs they originally planted back there, but it was over fifty and under a hundred. Each one with a watering tube of its own from the irrigation feed line planted on the hill just above the shrubs. After the cleanup as shown, the crew installed an all new main line and “spaghetti” feeders for each shrub. This time, the feeders are short and they extended the larger diameter feed line for each group of two or three shrubs. We tested it this afternoon and it looks like everybody is getting the water they need in our arid climate.

The first thing they fixed (yesterday) was the leak shown in our previous post about the problem. They also replaced one of two electrically-controlled valves that activate the two main feeder lines according to the program set up in the controller. Both the leak and the valve malfunction contributed to the excessive water usage we have been experiencing.

We are still in the process of doing some other work with the landscapers; there is another area we want to have irrigated where we acquired a nice ocotillo after the fact. There is also some overdue rock and cactus garden maintenance they are willing to do while they are available. We should be in pretty good shape after they’re done with that and won’t need to do any of that for ourselves until after the weather cools down a bit.

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Irrigation Problems

Subterranean Leak

Since May or June, we have noticed an increase in water consumption on the monthly bill from the Town. At first, I thought it was because we had filled the spa for the summer, but then the increased consumption continued. In July, I found that the circuit breaker to the water system had tripped after having some of the shrubs appear to wither. I got that fixed and then the increased consumption resumed.

Yesterday, I finally contacted the landscapers that installed the irrigation system here. Together, the foreman and I discovered that a continuous water flow was occurring in an unknown location around the property. We also discovered a flow (pictured above) that ran during the active time for the irrigation to flow. Both problems, the one we can see and another somewhere stop when we cut off the main irrigation valve.

After discussing the problem with the landscaper and probable solutions, it would seem we’re in for a complete overhaul and replacement of much of the system. Chronically, in the desert, systems that use PVC tubing seem to need replacement at eight-to-ten year intervals, which is exactly how old the system is.

So, for the time being, we’re going to have to water the shrubs and trees manually since the irrigation valve is closed pending fixing things. Our landscaper has a number of other jobs ahead of us and it will be a week to a month before we can get back to normal.

For reference, the leak pictured above (the one we can see) is located between the ocotillo and the courtyard wall in front of the walkway to the courtyard gate. The irrigation lines and all are controlled from near the corner of the garage. Click on either image to enlarge.

Front Walkway

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