Sunset, plus sub-slab plumbing

It seems the best sunsets we see are while driving back home from the grocery store. This was Friday night. It’s the best I could get with my phone from the car.


On the home front, we are now ready to get an inspection of the plumbing that will be beneath the basement slab. The plumber came up last week with a helper to dig the shallow trenches necessary to get the pipes beneath the slab and with the correct slope. Shallow or not, the trench was hard to dig with hand tools. I watched for a while, and then a few days later, had a go at it myself for a smaller pipe to serve as a drain for condensate from the air conditioner and the backflush from the water softener we’ll install. The bottom of the basement excavation lies within the rock layer we hit a few feet beneath the surface. The rock is not particularly hard, but it’s exhausting to dig through it.

We’re having the plumber rough in lines for a bathroom in the basement, but we will almost certainly never finish it. That will be for the next owners. The rest of the lines are drains for the two upstairs bathrooms, the washing machine and the kitchen.

The lines are prepared for inspection by putting in a fairly tall stack at the main drain line, capping all the inlets or outlets, and then filling the lines with water. I brought up about 35 gallons in a tank I filled at our house and we strung a hose between the truck, parked in what will be the garage, and the pipe.

This is a shot I got holding my phone out as far as I could reach over the rear foundation wall, which has not yet been backfilled. It was kind of a stretch.

plumbing_testThe sanitary lines are mostly buried. The pipes lying on the ground are the inch-and-a-half lines I’ll put in for the AC and water softener drains. The tank you can see is the same size we’re draining from, but we didn’t use much from it. It’s a lot easier to let a hose carry the water instead of hoisting it up in a five-gallon bucket.

The first filling drained out overnight from a joint in the lines. The plumber came back up the next day and repaired the leak. We refilled the lines and there were no apparent leaks. When I came back up the next day, however, the water had dropped about five feet in the tall stack. There was still no apparent leak. I refilled it, and it has held for two days. I have made the assumption that whatever happened (a tall deer with a long tongue drank it?), it seems to have corrected itself.

I called the inspection department Friday afternoon and arranged for an inspection sometime Monday. I will check the pipe Saturday and Sunday just to make sure, but I think it will be OK. Once we pass this inspection, the next step will be preparation and pouring the basement slab. That is the critical step after which framing can start.


Friday Felines

Dusty likes to lie out in the sun near the end of the driveway. Sometimes he’s hard to see. This time he chose the flower bed.

dusty in the flower bedThe flowers haven’t bloomed yet, but two of the yuccas have flower stalks.


The hummingbird, the fox, and the snake

We’ve had a few small wildlife events around here in the last few days. The first was the return of the hummingbirds, and the first time this year that one of them trapped itself in our garage.

hummer on a wire

This is the best shot I could get of the little bird. She (I’m pretty sure it’s a female because I can’t see any red on its throat.) was bumping up against the ceiling of the garage, as they always do when they fly in, and perched on one of the garage door opener wires for a rest. It’s right up against the ceiling.

I was not optimistic about doing anything for it, although we have rescued a few in the past. I finally decided to close the garage doors and turn on the overhead light. I put a step ladder under the light and climbed up with a towel. The hummingbird flew immediately to the light and I grabbed it as gently as I could. It was not tight enough, though, and the bird escaped. It came right back and I folded the towel around it and got it. I then opened the garage door and took her outside, where she flew away as soon as I opened up the towel.

The second event, or series of events, is our continuing story of the foxes. One, we think, makes our driveway a regular stop on its rounds. It comes by in the morning when Leah feeds the outdoor cats their breakfast, and it comes by in the evening when she gives the cats their supper. Sometimes it gets catfood, and sometimes it doesn’t. Zeke is usually on the front walk in the evening. When the fox appears, Zeke scrambles down to the gate and barks. Lately that seems to spook the fox so it leaves.

Leah is quite annoyed at the fox because we can’t leave catfood out, but, at the same time, she says she feels sorry for it. I think that’s because she worries about whether the fox is getting food. I have assured her that it’s a wild animal evolved to find natural sources of food, but she has her doubts.

On my morning dog walk Saturday, I found an example of the fox’s natural food. Just down the street from our house I saw a fox dive into the poison ivy at the edge of the woods. Zeke didn’t see it, fortunately. When we got to the point where it had been, I saw it watching us from a few feet away in the woods. I grabbed a quick shot with my phone.

fox in the woods

It’s very hard to see the fox, so I zoomed in some.

zoom fox in the woods

This is a bad shot, but it was the best I could do while holding the dogs’ leashes in one hand. The fox watched from here for a while, then, when it realized I was watching it back, it retreated deeper into the woods. When I looked down, I saw a dead chipmunk at the edge of the pavement. I think we scared the fox away from its kill, and it was reluctant to leave. The chipmunk body was gone when we came back, so I assume the fox returned and got it.

Along the way back, one of our neighbors stopped to warn me of a “rattly” snake in the road near her home. Her house is up the street from us, so not on our regular walk, but, obviously, I had to go up there to see the rattly snake. I saw the snake but I couldn’t get a picture. I wish I had been able to get some shots, because this was the first time I have seen crows harassing a snake. They were diving at it in the road, but not getting too close. The snake was in the process of slithering off the road into the weeds when I first caught sight of it.

I’m sure it wasn’t a rattlesnake; it was some kind of black snake. The crows flew away when we approached, so the snake got away.

Friday Felines

Smokey and Sylvester got their summer cuts recently. Here they are right after Sly got his cut, but Smokey hadn’t.

sly and smoke sparringSometimes they get into it.

Here’s a better shot of Sylvester’s new haircut.

sly rollingHere is Smokey.

smokey on the couchSmokey’s summer cut doesn’t seem as drastic. It does cut down on his mats.

Late Thursday afternoon it started to get cooler and windy. Smokey and Sylvester both wanted to come in. Sylvester curled up on his cat tower.

sly dozingSmokey laid down on the couch.

smokey dozing


They came in to catch up on sleep. They’ll probably go back outside later in the evening, even if it is pretty cool.



Birthday and anniversary

The US government officially recognized me as old on Monday, my actual birthday. We had planned to eat huevos rancheros in celebration at Los Portales, our favorite Mexican restaurant, but Leah was having some intestinal issues, so we didn’t make it. But on Wednesday, our 10th anniversary, we decided to make it a joint celebration, my birthday and our anniversary.

Leah told our waitress, who knew we didn’t need a menu, that it was my birthday, which was a very pale lie indeed. So, since it was the day of my observed birthday, she had a margarita instead of iced tea.

As we expected from our celebration of Leah’s birthday back in March, the waitress brought out a sopapilla. Only this one was a super-sopa. Leah’s had a cinnamon-sprinkled, fried tortilla with honey, chocolate and whipped cream. Mine had all that plus a heaping helping of ice cream. Here it is with Leah insisting she would have none of it.

leah_and_sopaIt’s kind of blurred, which must be the phone’s fault, since I didn’t have a margarita. Here is the sopapilla, finished off but for one normal bite, mine, and one small bite, Leah’s.


I couldn’t believe we ate the whole thing, but we did, and I’m glad.

Later on at the dentist’s office, Leah and I were talking about how it was our 10th anniversary, and I did some quick calculations and realized that we have actually known each other for 50 years. Of course, for the first five of those, she ran away every time she saw me.

Anyway, we both recovered from lunch and the dentist found no cavities, so, all in all, a pretty decent celebration.