The annual migration of the plants from the deck to the sunroom was just a few days ago, and closing down the filtration for the pond and adding in the direct bypass line to keep the waterfall flowing all winter for the goldfish and backyard wildlife.
This lovely lady Mantis came in with the greenery. She is as big as my hand.
She was on the right tree at the right time.
It has been snowing and sub-zero at the ranch off and on for weeks putting out a mountain wildfire 10 miles away, and winter snow is finally blanketing the massive & explosive Colorado wildfires.
Our neighbor’s tree wound up in our yard and on the studio roof. 50 semis flipped, thousands of trees damaged and toppled, houses wrecked, power to be out for many for days. We got off easy.
I’ve just begun hauling the detritus to stage on the driveway.
All the plants on the porch are on the ground, some by wind, some by me.
My neighbor and I started piling his tree up, me from my yard and he from his.
Hanging limbs, shattered limbs, and one punched a hole through the roof of the studio, but luckily missed both skylights landing between them and punching a hole clear through just to the side. Glad it was just wind. It died down and I got up there and found the hole and patched it.

When the earthquake destroyed my computer, I replaced it with a new/used unit and we headed off to MT. All the images I uploaded from the new computer were not reducing in size for the interwebs, and those few weeks of full-format photos used the equivalent data of the past 10 years of blogging. So I wiped them. I probably won’t go to trouble of rebuilding those pages. I left the spoof “Ice House” artisanal wood stave post…

Montana Covid Quarantine: Day 32

After a day of rain, evening squalls blow up from the Northern plain. In the past few days the lawn has been hand raked for sticks and matted leaves, then mulched with a mower with spring hooks (the yard ate 4 hooks), then all the dead grass & detritus vacuumed up with a bagging mower. The front hedgerow was thinned and trimmed, and the Iris bed at the front porch was split and moved into its expanded bed (more Iris splits and beds on the to-do list, the largest area needing split was still locked in a frost layer and has to wait).
This bit was under a snowbank, so it has only been raked. See how it is laid down and swept toward the corral by the snow…
Minutes later the storm has swept overhead and is driving up the valley to the South.
Our resident pair of Redtail hawks fly down-valley from the high forests, as the twilight thunderstorms are on the way.
They drift around the front yard and over the forest, then on down.
Anvil thunderheads amass to the South and West. As twilight falls the lighting courses behind the high ridges flashing among the clouds and booming and reverberating the valley. E and I stand in the yard as it begins, Nora stays in the house with an anxiety pill as she tries to crawl under the bed with uncontrollable shaking.


Tankless water heater not to blame for bad pipe venting.

I’ve been heading downstairs in the morning after E leaves for work to take care of our cat, Voices, who is in kitty prison for marking around the house. I’d noticed a bit of an exhaust smell a few times, and logged it in the wtf area of my brain under Tankless Water Heater (of course, Carbon Monoxide is odorless). Yesterday morning was particularly bad, and we ran the dishwasher in the evening and had to open the basement windows so the whole-house-fan could dissipate the gasses (none of our CO sensors beeped, but whatever).  After clearing the water filtration drop-valve (the only diy warranty maintenance on the tankless system), I googled for venting and found the solution. A plumber on you-tube shows exactly how bad installations lead to exhaust blowing back into the house; and how to fix it with Aluminum tape- assuming that everything else is done right. Ours is not done right, but AL tape triage (after cutting a bit more of the drywall ceiling away to reach around the tubing) is the fix it gets for now.


This galvanized tube needed Aluminum heat tape. It should be stainless steel tube with sealed fittings, and the top run should slope downward by a degree or so to the outside to keep condensation from running back into the vent tubing and possibly ruining the tankless system. It is at a straight 90 degree bend snugged up against the floor above, and there was some condensation damage to the tubing.


The system had huge gaps where the pipes sleeved into one another (which is beyond stupid construction work from the original installation), and water staining and pinholes from condensation rolling back into the house. I could feel (and smell) the exhaust blowing down into the room when running hot water. It must always have had some exhaust blowing back in, and the whole house fan probably backdrafts the system. Maybe when the heater fan turns off and the system is cycling, then the whole house fan pulls all the latent gasses into the house. something like that anyway.


In June I replaced the big brass fitting on the R- it is the water pressure gauge, and had begun to drip, then spray a fine mist. This gauge should be placed after the piping for outside water, but no, we regulate the pressure for the yard. So that needs resolved. Turns out we also filter the water for the yard as well, which is the blue unit. It had no filter in it, so I picked one up and installed it. This unit is supposed to be placed in line with the tankless water heater as a pre-filter just for the heater.


Still not right plumbing wise, but at least not trying to kill us any more.


Wichita angel now in Utah


Quadruplet Wichita angel now in Utah


8am Xmas morning, 10 inches of new snow outside.


Xander makes an Xmas morning toast from the head of the table.


Holiday winter setting.


These little ladies were just heads and wings with pipe cleaner arms, and then an Xmas miracle gave them bodies again and a sled!


Lucky isn’t feeling as lucky as usual.


Lucky begins to eat his way out of the drift.


The Walter Horn.


Shawn is going haut-couture this season.


The silvered weir-fairy called down the snow.


The welcoming committee on the front porch.


Santa brings smiles all ’round.


Broad Canyon Fire. Acrylic. 24″x48″


some sense of the perspective; near = fire/sunlit crazy smoke you are about to pass under, far is miles and miles of smoke heading to distant mountains.

Redo of the last post with an image 5x denser; the sun is now red and the vaseline view is clarified.

This is ten days of painting, but who’s counting…


Wisteria needs a pergola, so off I go…


Wisteria is going into its 4th year, and had climbed to the top of the screen last year. 


A string links the Wisteria to the pergola- it’s already half way up there.


Some day the Wisteria will make a nice privacy screen.


A few days earlier (Sat) I put in this new screen for the fish pond.


Raccoon sushi bar is officially closed.


Team Goldfish.


Kaye’s Dragonflies among the pond iris.


Iris patch in full bloom.


Yellow goes horizontal. 


Inside yellow v Outside yellow.


Boulder Colorado variety.


These smell like honey.


Boulder Colorado Burgundy


That color is impossible.



Meyer’s Ohio Farm variety (Allison’s patch) 



I worked the rose bed this spring, and it made a huge bump in blooms.



The coal fireplace in our house has never been used. It is too small for a gas insert, so I blocked it off with insulation in the chimney and a foam panel across the face that was festooned with greeting cards. We had these old-world English tiles in a box, which gave me a Hobbit-approved idea.


The tiles are mounted on hardy-backer board, and grouted. The panel adheres to the fireplace with velcro stripping. While I was at it I build a large foam insulation box that inserts over the drop ladder up in the attic. Now we’re tight as a button.


Solution to a fireplace that has never been a fireplace.


Trumpet vine triage. 80mph winds with wet snow compromised our hummingbird haven, snapping the old tree top and bottom that the vines have grown around. I added cables and brace-post (post is anchored in the ground with rebar and screwed to the old tree with angle iron). I have a plan to replace this triage with a better solution…


The red cables went in first, then the wooden brace. Then the cables were released and the vines were cinched back tight with the old tree, then I re-fit the cables to hold the vines in place.