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While enjoying a glass of wine on the back porch last evening we were joined by Bianca and her new beau. It’s amazing how the fallow deer are so unafraid of close encounters with humans. We were chatting and listening to music yet they came up within about 25 yards or less, sampled the leaves from a couple of potted plants, took note of us without much concern and eventually galloped away. The native whitetail deer or even the axis deer would never be so bold.

I’m sure that these two are making notes on the new crepe myrtles and will be oh so delighted to graze on the tender new leaves as soon as they emerge in a couple of weeks. I have a solution called “Deer Off” that I will spray on the new leaves to try and deter them. It may work or the deer may just consider it salad dressing. We’ll see.



The landscaping crew just completed construction of a new bocce ball court out from the barbeque area. It should provide good entertainment when company visits as bocce ball is quite compatible with drinking wine and taking in the views.





For the past two years we have had virtually no winter in the southern portion of Texas. This year is different. Since Christmas the cold air set in and we have had two stretches of more than 48 hours when the temperature did not rise above the upper 20’s. Not unusual for some parts of the country but darned cold for these parts. And with all of the clouds and low sun I only generated 420 kWh of power on the solar panels in the last 30 days. Pretty sad when I was pushing over 1000 during the summer months. Oh well, the sun is on it’s merry way back to the northern hemisphere now and we may have seen the worst of it for this season. I certainly hope so.




Return of the Roofers

Just when I thought all hope was lost for further construction this year, like the swallows to Capistrano, the roofers returned! And the roof will be completely installed by the end of this week. Spray foam insulation is now scheduled for next week and drywall can now begin right after New Year’s day.


Foundation Day Arrives

After spending the night in a nearby town, I dodged whitetail deer along the river road at 4:30 this morning to arrive before the first cement truck. On site, the giant pump truck and a crew of 13 were ready and waiting. At 5:05 I heard the rumbling of the first cement truck coming up the drive. A question I have long considered was about to be answered: Can a full size cement truck filled with nine yards of ready-mix manage the 15% grade at the breakover on the drive? The answer was yes and more easily than I suspected. Man, those trucks must be geared low.

Soon they were arriving one after the other and dumping yards and yards of cement into the hopper. The foundation forms began to fill and the crew jumped into action raking, smoothing and trawling. After about five hours and 177 yards of concrete supplied, the pouring was complete and most of the slab was walkable. When I left just after 11 a.m they were scattering rock salt on the porches. The salt eventually washes away, leaving a cool texture to the surface.

Tomorrow the forms will be removed and more site work around the slab will be done in preparation for framing and cistern installation.

What a day!

The stainless steel collar around the plumbing and just above the rebar is called Termimesh. It acts as a barrier for termites along one of their preferred access points to the house. Seems that termites can eat through a number of things but stainless steel is not one of them. All of the plumbing lines in the form sported one of these nice accessories.


This is the stoop on the back side of the garage as seen just before the pour. In addition to the rebar necessary for this area, rebar from other areas terminate in this foundation appendage as well. Thought I would document it because in the future, you could probably launch rockets off this stoop and never break the concrete!



But a boat is in order

This area of the Texas hill country averages 4 inches of rain for May, making it the wettest month of the year. This year the total rainfall for May was 12.39 inches. And heavy thunderstorms are on tap through Sunday, June 5. Wet does not begin to describe it. Foundation crew delayed yet another week. Take a look at my road base.

And so we wait. And so it goes this Spring.


That’s bad.


And so is this.


The Aerobic Treatment System is Installed

In spite of all the rain, the site folks were able to install the ATS this week. We were rocked with about three inches of rain since last weekend with some pea-sized hail thrown in for good measure. At least the existing pad is getting a good pack! These pics show just how wet it is and how difficult it would be to move this fill dirt around right now.


The Aerobic Treatment System


Standing Water in the Cistern Pad Area


Very Wet Loads of Fill Dirt



Calculating the volume of cement and building the pad


A fellow from one of the local concrete companies bidding the job came out to do some volume calculations. It’s going to take some 200 yards of concrete to complete the foundation. One very interesting and open question at this point is can a full size cement truck full of concrete get up the hill? The app on my truck calculates the slope as one nears the breakover at 14 degrees, or about 23 percent. That is mighty steep but I have witnessed very large dump trucks full of fill dirt navigate it quite handily all week. Still, that ain’t the mass of a full cement truck. If the road proves to be too steep for a standard cement truck, then smaller trucks may be necessary. And that means more drivers and more expense.


Here is the foundation pad as it begins to take shape. The mound to the left is one dump truck load. The spread and flattened, compressed, and totally smashed area represents about 20 loads give or take.


Finally, a panorama of the cabin we rented a few miles down the Guadalupe river from the home site. Not a bad place to spend a week in April in Texas.

In 1997, the disaster film The Volcano was released. A tag line was, “Hot lava’s coming!”

My daughter was four years old at the time and during a warm weather car trip with the windows down she suddenly exclaimed from the car seat in the back, “Hot lava’s coming!!….. and my hair’s a mess!!”

It became an oft repeated line in our family for years.

Tonight I was listening to Ryan Adams singing “I do not Feel Like Being Good” (2015) when he sings,

…”the sky’s on fire, your hair’s a mess”…

I like to think that Maura gave birth to this line years ago and it descended like a floating seed, landing in Ryan Adam’s mind only recently.

cold salmon at seven

Chinese takeout dumplings too

starts the day off right