Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nephews, veggies and a swamp cooler

April 17, 2010

The last two visitors of the season were two of my little sister's children: Sean and Ethan, who came out at separate times. Sean, 19 y/o, was a blast with his college-learned political innocence and highly creative non-fiction story telling. We took him to Colossal Caves, the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum and a 2 mile desert hike. For those who know Sean, hiking is something he does not usually request but with the accessibility (out our back door) he was game. The highlight for Sean was taking him to Tucson Studios. Sean is a film buff and seeing where the old westerns were made was a treat. We enjoyed it immensely.

Bruce and Sean awaiting the "Can-Can Girls" at Tucson Studios.

Sean with local Western Actors.

A week later his earthy, philosophical and musical brother Ethan (16 y/o) comes out. Lucky for me Ethan wanted to earn some dough and doesn't mind doing manual labor (I think it's the Mexican in him). He and I laid out a modified "flagstone patio"...we call it a "Patty-io" which turned out better than I imagined. He became familiar with a caliche bar (a 25# iron bar used to break up tightly compacted rock and buried calcium carbonate layers) and helped plant some low-water plants, move rocks, hauled dirt and gravel. He also entertained us with performing a couple of balladeer songs at "open mic night" at the Sky Bar on 4th Ave (every town has one).

Ethan poses with rare Crested Saguaro on McCain Loop.

They both seemed to enjoy the house with it's charm and the uniqueness of Tucson. Bruce and I agreed to make this an annual visit for both of them.

Before and after of back patio.

Meanwhile, the rehab work continues. I've been landscaping the north and east side in addition to my hand at veggie gardening. I've spent hours learning all about xeriscaping: choice of plants, water/rain harvesting needs, sun, soil quality, etc.....and days doing the prep and planting...all fun work.

Veggie garden on east side, beets and carrots should be ready for harvest early May.
North side of house looking east...lots of dirt moving and rock work.

Bruce took on a major project of installing an evaporative cooler in prep for the summer.....he was quoted 2400USDs by a local air conditioning business but could not fathom paying that amount when the unit cost on 800 USDs. While Ethan (someone with muscles) was here he bought the unit and had Ethan help him with put it on the roof. He then requested a quote for the ducting (evaporative cooler to be hooked into the heat pump ducting) and was given a price of 375USDs by a small business minded Mexicans but he felt he could do it cheaper....and yes he could..he's saving 150 bucks.....but after 5 days of work (hard work)..he reluctantly admits.."I should have hired the Mexicans". For me, it would be a no brainer...I would like an 18" deep hole dug (4x8 ft) on the west side (sun-beaten side) in rocky hard and sandy loam.....$50 USDs will get the job done by an expert Mexican and I'd gladly pay! But then again, there is nothing more satisfying than giving yourself a challenge (if you have the time) and accomplishing something you wouldn't normally do. So kudos to you Brucie! Your determination to "do-it-yourself" amazes me.

Bruce bought a 4x8ft thick gauged sheet of galvanized metal, a strip of flashing and ordered these specialized vents online, cut it with a jig saw and modified this connecting duct work for our newly purchased swamp cooler.

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