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Monthly Archives: May 2019

I got this WTF text from my buddy Jed yesterday evening. This iteration of Bonneville Cutthroat were installed way back in 2009 at a busy intersection. The lead pair were knocked clean off, taking a hoop with them. The rear three are all intact, with the rear pole snapped off at the weld-line. The free-swimming pair were netted by a good citizen and are likely in police custody as evidence (thats where my Quail resided while charges were brought against his vandal kidnapper, years ago).
The sawzall did quick work, though I only had a few old blades and went through them both, and went through my freshly charged battery and onto the spare. Not enough charge or blade left to take the single hoop as well, but it isn’t much of a temptation for metal thieves, and I’ll come back for it.
Safely back in the shop by dusk.
This is a sheared weld that connected the sculpture to the stainless steel pipe.

The busy intersection the fish reside at has a street fully closed for construction, and so the turn lane adjacent to the sculpture is blocked off. E and I headed up to have a look, parking in the closed turn lane. One of two poles held the group of fish, the other having sheared at the weld line, and of the missing pair one pole still held a battered/torn hoop. Two cuts and it could all be gone. E worked her way along the City phone tree ’til we connected with the new director of the city’s arts council. She told me the accident happened Monday-ish, the missing fish were recovered by a witness to the accident. She has been waiting to call me, as there are many plates in the air on how to handle this one. I was concerned it would be easy pickings for metal thieves, and she gave me the green light to remove it. My pal Jed said he would help, as did my neighbor- who also offered up his work van, as it has a much lower gate than the truck and those fish are heavy. E watched his two kids and brought Nora over to his house (our week of storms was beginning and Nora has her issues with weather).

We parked the big van in the closed turn lane as Jed arrived. The group of three fish was my primary concern, and one pole needed to be cut away. I’d put a battery on the charger as soon as E & I had returned from our recon mission, by the time I had permission and a crew together it had charged and I snapped it onto the sawzall while popping on a used blade and bringing my spare (also used) and my second battery. And the most important tool that I can’t ever stress enough: Cestus Vibrex gloves (if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be able to type this). The first blade made it about half way before glowing red as its teeth smoothed off. The second blade nearly made it through before the battery was spent (a new blade would have taken off both posts on the one battery in half the time…). Not enough blade or battery to take off the remaining hoop, but it isn’t much of a temptation to thieves, and I’ll recover it soon enough.

It’s always surprising how heavy big heavy things are. We muscled the group of three fish and hoops into the back of the van, drove the few blocks home, and unloaded it into the shop. The guys went home and I called the arts director to let her know how we had faired. Just then there was knock at the door, and it was my neighbor and his young daughter with two police officers. The police had been flooded with calls from people waiting at the light as we pulled the piece, and a citizen had subtly followed us back home and given the police all the deets. This really cheered me up. I’ve had my work trashed 4 times now including my best and favorite work, Orpheus and Eurydice, stolen by metal thieves and shredded for scrap. This is the only time a sculpture has been damaged by accident. I handed the phone over to an officer and he spoke with the director briefly, and everything checked out.

I’ll recover the remaining hoop on my own today, and hold them all for the City while the process of how to proceed shakes itself out. (I used a new-to-me type of sawzall blade, $10 for a single blade; it took about 10 seconds to light-saber through the 2 inch stainless steel sch40 pole. Faster than a cutoff wheel.)

As a kid I would visit my dad on his dry acreage in Shepherd outside of Billings, Montana. The most regular summer chore was setting the siphon tubes from the county irrigation ditch into the crop furrows. This involved dunking short bended tubes into the ditch, and getting the gravity-fed siphon to pull water from the ditch into the furrow: my dad referred to it in many iterations of “irritating”.

Here in Xeriscape Utah, everything in the garden must be “irritated” or turn to powder under the high altitude desert sun. A friendly timer-robot with four valves attaches at each of three spigots on the house. Two of the robots run to the old buried sprinkler system- one in front and one in back, and another in the back is set with 1/2 inch black tubing delivering water to all corners of the back 40. This spring’s irritation project was to finish out my xeriscape water plan and to bolster our new trees and garden spaces.

10 years ago, when we bought the house, the prior home owner had set all the sprinkler systems for the lawn and hedge, and had run a line to water the parking strip and never brought it under the sidewalk. He showed me the line’s start set with the other underground lines at the driveway spigot in the back yard, and gestured vaguely at the front of the house saying the other end was out in the hedge by the sidewalk. Years back I pulled the lawn from the area he gestured toward, and set in Xeriscape and replaced the sprinkler heads with multi-head ports delivering water to each plant in the landscaping: I never came across his gestural tubing. So I dug around for it. First out by the hedge, along his other buried water lines (nothing); then at the start of all the lines into the side yard (found it); then where all the lines (but that one) lined up before going under the driveway; then I dug along the line through the side yard and it bent out toward the driveway hedge- I poked around in there for a bit and found it! I had bought a gizmo to water-bore under the sidewalk last summer (I’ve been not getting around to this for awhile now) when the city put in a new sapling on our parking strip- instead I hand watered it all summer. A bit of swearing and banging around and making a mud pit, and draining the mud pit, and banging around in my spare parts bin and soon enough there was a water line out to the parking strip. The next bit took the longest, so I’ll make it the shortest: pull all rocks by section; lay in new ground-cover cloth; lay in new waterline and set water to each plant; replace rocks.

The three Miss Kim lilacs we put in a few weeks back spoke with the rose bushes, and they all decided it was time to pull the 6 pop-up sprinkler heads and replace them with multi-head ports for 1/4 inch water line, moved back 2 feet from the driveway toward the fence. So I hopped to it. The underground PVC water line at the last pop-up head had a cracked T-connection, and the interwebs showed me that there is a part just for that particular fix. I went and got it in the wrong size, and went and got it in the right size, and put it in place. Then ran 1/4″ line to every plant, each with its own watering solution. The next bit was the longest, so I’ll keep it short: then I did that last bit for all the new plantings, split plantings, and replaced and repaired many of the old irritations as well: 200-ish? I don’t want to know. It may have wrapped up today.

Easter picts just posting now: Tulips and new Serviceberry tree in bloom.
Last summer’s new garden area, with last fall’s tulip planting emerged.
Still a few freezes; she blooms before the lilacs or the big crabapple tree.
Waxy orange.
Dainty peach tutu’s.
Serviceberry bloom.
…still Easter
end of Easter
Roses and Miss Kim’s all starting to bloom- and all with xeriscape water solutions.
One of six multi-port heads is to the left of the Miss Kim.
Middle Miss Kim and domestic red rose both beginning to bloom. The big lilac bush is at the end of its flowering, so Kim’s timing is perfect.
I planted many bulbs of these hybrid Columbine throughout the yard this spring.
Our purple soldiers are all about to put on their parade hats, meanwhile all last summer’s xeriscape flowers are starting up (some were hit by a frost and are trying again). The waterline to the parking strip was discovered on the other side of the facing hedge. Just today I discovered the dripline for the entire hedge has a leak somewhere in this same bit, and realized it has been leaking since last summer as I recognized the puddle forming on the sidewalk. I couldn’t find it, and got scratched bloody trying. I’ll have to figure something out- like my leather welding jacket…
Last summer I pulled out this wedge of lawn and converted it to xeri-bedding. After this image was taken I pulled layers of black plastic out from under the entire hedgerow, hoe’d out a mess of dead leaves, put in feeder soil formulated for bushes, and put in a dense layer of mulch- it was while doing this job that I checked the soaker hose running the entire hedge and found the leak without actually being able to find it.
All the new flowers overwintered and are coming along.
Our new Honeylocust tree, now with a soaker hose- and restaged rocks over new groundcloth, over the new waterline.
The waterline passes under this first slab of concrete, delivering water to each bush and tree all the way to the yellow bush at the end.
Today’s approaching storm blew over this entire bed of Iris. They were even closer to the ground by the end of the day. Next season I’ll build a barr for them extending from the old fence post line.
Last weekend E and I went to the big plant sale fundraiser at Red Butte Garden (up by the Natural History Museum & UU Campus) and put in our veggies and bird protection over the lettuce and shard on the big hugel. I have since learned to mulch right around the tomatoes and strawberries (the only veg-plants that like this) as fruits or leaves touching bare soil is how harmful microbes infect the plant. So the far side of the Hugel is now mulched. All the junky cinder blocks and offcuts hold back the mounded soil, and will eventually come off as the layers digest and everything settles.
We also picked out three varieties of grasses; some low and bushy, others will get over 5 feet tall, others have nice fan heads of seed. Plus, the log hugle at L is putting up its garden. I dug close the the log putting in the grasses, and there was already an amazing amount of squirmy life down there e.g. millipedes, worms, and friends, which is pretty amazing in this usually sterile clay soil.
Lots of additional plantings from Red Butte, and lots of splits, and new emerging plantings from bulbs earlier in the spring, and the new Serviceberry tree.
The ranch poppies are all about to pop, and the Devil’s Root bush I transferred last fall (in the middle of the round old table) survived and is leafing out. Since this image I had a youtube lesson by an Australian gardener (an even more severe desert climate) and reset the mulch around it, the Serviceberry, and the Miss Kim’s: all ringed with 3-4 inches deep and 6-8 inches wide of shredded cedar over a layer of feeder-soil, and recovered with the old woodchip ground cover.
The super-hybrids are beginning to bloom.
The herb garden. Two re-grew on their own, two are replanted from the sunroom, and we added one from Red Butte as well.
This section in front of the lilac bushes got a new section of 1/2 inch black tubing T’ed off the main line, with many 1/4 inch lines to each planting.
The Clematis from Ohio is getting a good start- it barely made an effort last season.
The fish are all just visible boiling the surface behind the potted plant.
My waterline work here wasn’t as subtle as last year, but the plants may not have found their best positions yet, as the morning sun blasts in from the R, then fries along through the afternoon just where the foremost plant has become sunburned.