Crabapple skirt touches the ground.
Japanese Flowering Cherry
Service Berry tree at year four in the yard; the boldest color spanning many back yards.
Service Berry
Pampas grasses bound up for winter, so this week’s snow doesn’t lay them flat.
Pond is turned over for winter, with salt water softener added to keep the fish healthy.
Hunga Tonga- Hunga Ha-apai is mounted to the wall between the Bean Whole coffee roasters. Jed is planning on painting the black gas line behind the mask white. At night the backlighting will look great from outside through the front wall of windows.
View from the common area of the Neighborhood Hive in Sugarhouse.
The latest Aeromod to the truck is this “floating” bar of mudflaps running the length of the back of the truck, with a 6 inch gap to the ground (unloaded). The low pressure a truck drags behind it will push all the way to the front, proven in wind tunnel studies. This low line in the back is nearly as effective as a similarly (impossibly) low bumper in the front. The bar is a custom weld job from scrap metal I had around, fitting into the hitch mount (or in tandem with the ball hitch), and has two loose-fit stabilizing pins in the bumper; in this way, additional to the mudflap’s flexibility, some tip and give is allowed when backing up our steep drive. The truck also drops a lot of big ranch mudballs that explode onto the highway, so this keeps other drivers and their windshields safe.
Keeping Sting from running through these Fields Of Gold takes a full time intern. C’mon buddy, we got rattlesnakes here. No, snakes can’t tell you do Yoga; or if they can they’ll just bite harder.
The new water trough is protected yet accessible; the cows wend their way through the corral soon enough.
Up in a high pasture, Dave has added in the double sized water tank. The whole area needed grading and de-swamping, as the cattle had smashed the old tank creating a true watering hole.
The spring water rises here at the springbox, then flows via underground pipe to the trough.
Water flows in and out from within the trough. The inlet is the near pvc, and the outlet opposite and spills from underground down below (can be seen in the first image). The wet everywhere is partly things drying out still, and from a day of rain.
I guess I never took a finish shot, so here we are with one little tooth of tile missing yet.
The seamless inner surround of the window is pvc board and completely impervious to water. The upper window framing is waterproof injection formed poly resin for indoor/outdoor.
Dropping from the window to the bathtub as seamlessly as possible. This tub may find itself listed as an Elder Trap, aesthetic before safety I always say.
As we were leaving I last minute remembered to put the storm window back in place for winter. The bit of new windowsill is visible outside the window. It is juust thicker than than board it replaced, and I discovered that the storm window can no longer fit. Three corners of the window can fit, but never a fourth. This will take tools that are already packed deep in the truck, and we are on our way out the door…the house probably won’t notice.
Bucolic. Sure. Maybe. Let’s inspect the big willow trunks…
Are trees supposed to be see-through like that?
The split is visibly in the tree at right, heading toward the prone position of the one tented over the creek. This and another big willow lowering toward the power line and potentially crushing the tool shed are on my radar…
Concrete is patched.
The new refurbishment of the old system has seen its first big rain, and worked perfectly- directing water to the lower yard. Bonus, the lighter media in front of the door seems to glow in starlight- which helps when coming in from stargazing.
Last day is for cleaning/fixing Bluebird houses. This hawk flew along with us and perched on poles ahead, then flew and perched- E tried to get a picture of him perching, but no luck.
Remains of a Tree Swallow nest. They use the bird boxes as well, and are also a protected species.
The deer are in line with a bird house along the fence line.
Fall roundup for meds and sorting.
The neighbors move a portion of their herd up the road after we’re all corral’d up.
The day runs in reverse.
3 cowgirls on herd and a daddy-daughter up in the lead.
Tile is grouted and curing for a few days before sealing.
Next comes the window seal / trim, and final bit of tiling.
Meanwhile, concrete. The corner ate nearly all my bags. Another day of set before I pull the forms, and I’ll do the curve at far R and maybe a bit in front of the kitchen door.
Leveling it up with a scrim board.
The corral water trough hasn’t held water since spring. Time for a fix.
Dried out and rusted out.
Dave and I disconnect the drainage.
Bobcat slides the old trough out of position.
Time to level and build up a footing for the new tank.
The new tank is much bigger (800 gallon), rectangular, and made of heavy fiberglass. No more rusting out.
More dirt to level out both sides of the steep corral.
Slid into place, but will need posts driven around it and cross-beams added.
The water line is extended to reach the middle, next Dave puts in the drain. Then the water line is opened from its valve under the house (I surprised the packrat- she is huge! and reset her trap and blocked off her latest access), and water blasts in from the springbox far up the hill. The same water source as the sprinklers for the yard. The fiberglass tank was a chilly footbath when the springbox was empty, it will be full by morning. Dave will return to finish this out, and then head over the hill to install a much bigger (1200 gallon) fiberglasss round tank, replacing a steel tank he placed last year that the cattle promptly destroyed. The critters are putting pressure on all sources of water…
The yard lost water pressure back in July. I thought it was because the springbox splitter up the hill had been turned a bit too far to the cattle trough, but we were heading back to SLC so that was fine. Turns out, that wasn’t it.
Last fall we fixed both spring lines to the house/yard/corral, putting in 50′ of new pex line for each spring after pulling out old pin-holed metal line that had rusted out in the marsh below the house spring. We fit the pex to good metal line where the ground was dry. I discovered that 30 feet beyond the new pex was a pinhole section in the drainage near the road.
Last year’s pex line ends up here somewhere…
While I drove to Great Falls for new pex line, Dave and Ike dug out along the metal pipe looking for a solid section- we all hoped the line was still good as it headed under the county road. It was!
Always bring a section of pipe to the store. I told the hose guy I needed a 3/4 inch interior diameter(ID). He pulled it down and I said it looked small, and maybe it was a 3/4 outside diameter- he gave a little lecture on how all measurements are ID. Everything looked small, the pipe, the connectors- he assured me it was just an issue of a different manufacturer (Sharkbite v Pex). I told him it was another 80 mile drive if he was wrong- On the highway out of town I skidded into a turnaround, knowing I should have ignored the hose guy. Yarg! We’ll make it work…?
We made it work. All buried, and the helpers/bobcat went home. E and I 4-wheeered up to the springbox and I pulled off the filter I’d installed last year. At the connection to the underground tube a wad of tiny roots had formed a blockage. This was the final fix for full pressure. I headed back down and opened up the full pipe valve (added to let mice pass) and I let the entire sprinbox empty (lots of once thirsty dead mice had sunk to the bottom, as the world has dried up)- down at the yard a macabre splash-zone formed as I headed back up to refit things at the top and pick up E.
The old concrete at the kitchen needs some help. A clear old slab underlays the shattering top slab.
The top slab was poured with an inserted steel rain gutter (packed solid with dirt and long forgotten) that makes a 90 degree elbow to where another run of steel gutter (missing- a weed garden for as long as I can remember) would direct water down the hill in the back yard.
I need more concrete, and a long run of drainpipe. The record high pressure dome is baking the West and bad smoke arrives along with the heat. This can wait; I have a planned project inside where it’s cool and the d.i.y. electrostatic filter-fan keeps the air clear.
The kitchen table is filling up with tools again…the Feller must be onto another little improvement.
It took awhile to suss out the issue even with the power of Lasers. The tub is level end to end, but not side to side.
Once Nora explained things I got on to creating a first layer of tiles at level. This layer is then set and left to cure overnight, so the remaining tile can build upward.
The tiles are set, and will cure out. Next comes grout.
When I frame in the window I’ll resolve the missing top rail bits.
The yard baked for six weeks since our July trip. It was much too dry to mow when we arrived. I’ve been watering the entire yard since we restored the line, through the terrible heat & wind & 8% humidity. Now mowed short for winter.
The front yard was crispy. It recovered as best it could. The terrible megadrought late-season weeks-long high-pressure-dome is done, the smoke cleared out, it even rained a bit this afternoon, and will drop into the 30’s tonight. Fire danger is off the charts. The afternoon rain was hard enough to put up the mower for tomorrow.
In SLC it has been over 100 degrees for 10 days, hitting 107 yesterday (it was 90 here)- same record high temp there as our drive home in July. This sets a new record number of consecutive days over 100 for Salt Lake. Since records began in SLC, there have been 3 September days to reach 100. The megadrought is crushing it!

LED ropelight is affixed behind the bean headdress, and also behind the mask- set to give a nice wash of color. The lights have a remote with color selection, and effects. Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, the fierce coffee roast god, is ready to take up its vigil between Jed’s roasting machines.

The Tiki mask and caffeine halo let me know it’s name! Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai! What that means is everything is now amped to Black Swan level!

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha-apai volcano erupted this last January. It was the largest explosion on the planet ever recorded by instruments. It was an undersea eruption from a pre-existing caldera at the perfect depth to vaporize the entirety of the underwater caldera and direct the force of explosion through the Troposphere and into the Stratosphere. This was unique from all prior volcanic eruptions, which usually push sulphur dioxide and other particulates into the lower atmosphere and can result in cooling, NASA’s recent report shows that instead this eruption “may” cause warming. The Stratosphere is waay up there, and generally very low water density only as micro-ice crystals. I wondered what the huge volume of water vapor injected into Stratosphere might do, and if any past studies had been done.

Turns out (academic publication is linked below), just the increasing amount of CO2 in the Troposphere is enough to cause more water vapor in the Stratosphere, of such significance that it should be considered a distinct “individual physical entity controlled, at least in part, by essentially different mechanisms than tropospheric water vapor, we conclude that the Stratospheric Water Vapor (SWV) feedback is of sufficiently large amplitude to deserve dedicated attention”.

The authors conclude: “We wish to emphasize that although the SWV climate feedback calculated here (“here” is the lowermost stratosphere (LMS), which is mainly located in the extratropics, and the key region of emphasis) is small compared to global mean estimates of the tropospheric water vapor feedback from the CMIP5 models, it is of the same order of magnitude as the multi-model mean surface albedo feedback (0.3 ±0.1 Wm−2K−1) and the cloud feedback.

When the researchers say extratropics, they mean the mid-latitudes. This is the area where up to 95% of the forced heating is expressed, and happens to align nicely with the extreme spike of temperature and rainfall across the northern & southern hemispheres. The water vapor may persist in the Stratosphere for up to 10 years, as an anomalous forcing event. Bonus, it strips away at the ozone layer as well.

After the eruption it took just a few weeks for the stratospheric Polar Vortex of the northern hemisphere to collapse and split. This article from last spring summarizes the phenomena, and predicts this summer’s heat. NASA published their satellite findings of the eruption in early August, so the warming agent that collapsed the polar vortex was considered an anomalous spike- maybe not so anomalous?

Researchers have updated that the “shotgun blast” of water vapor extended all the way through the Stratosphere and into the Mesosphere. The ice-vapor clouds that form in the Mesosphere are called Noctilucent: this year saw the greatest noctilucent formations in 15 years or more, and NASA can only speculate as to why. NASA’s current guess is “I dunno… rockets?”.

Jaguar Tiki with Coffee Bean Halo
This keen Tiki mask belongs to my friend Jed, and has always overseen his coffee bean roasting process at his business The Bean Whole. Before life at The Bean Whole it had languished in a frat house (a proper cliche terminal point for Tiki Bar remnants), arriving from an unknown point of origin. It follows the aesthetic of the Jaguar style (teeth, mouth/jaw, nose, eyes, spots), however the ears have morphed into black horns and the inclusion of the tall feather headdress is also a deviation from the straight Jaguar. The craftsmanship of the carving is excellent, and it has a wonderful authority in its hybrid uniqueness. Based on the refined carving process coupled with the hybrid form, I’m guessing it was formed in the 1950’s to 1960’s, though Tiki dates back to the 1930’s.
The form was beginning to split, a result of being suspended by a rope through the top left eyelet of the headdress. I’m guessing the rope had been there from the start. The split took four clamps and a 35# dumbell to bring back together and match the curvature. Once resolved, it was on to cleaning off +50 years of yutz.
Super fine steel wool and clear museum wax loosened up all the hand dirt/oil and paint-transfer scuffs, then lifted away with microfiber towel. The towel had to be thrown out. Then I popped the details by laying a dark stain into the line cuts and to fill blemishes on the horns as well as a tone shift for the headband btwn the horns, a reddish stain into the leopard spots, with a whitish stain wiped on and back off around the spots (cheeks, forehead, chin) for a hint of tone difference, then pecan color to match the original color for the headdress and lips. Then buffed down again with a fresh microfiber cloth.
I added two anchor points from the inside, aligned at the forehead and nose- the thickest parts of the face. This ensures no pressure on the narrow jawline or upon the tall “feather” headdress.
Next I made a mounting bracket that slips into a custom wall mounting. Just a few cuts, bends, welds, and holes.
Here the bracket is mounted to the inside of the mask.
The mask bracket slips inside the wall mount, and here is at maximum floated gap from the wall. This gap is for an idea in coffee beans and resin that Jed and I kicked around, and has yet to materialize…
I spent awhile googling and found some images of traditional feather headdress and formed the basic shape in cardboard to check for scale and placement. Then I realized that the scale is a match for a big silicon mold (Theorem) I’ve been carting around for 20 years.
Here the form is completed in transparent resin with red dye, and roasted coffee beans.
Checking alignment in full sun. Like they were made for eachother.
Same time, just in the shade. I like how the blue sky reflects in the halo.
Next I have to cut a square hole through the halo for the mask mounting bracket, and drill holes for bolts to pin the halo onto perforated angle iron which then mounts to the wall bracket.
Float-mounted. A few technical refinements regarding bolts to brackets, but essentially done. The bean halo floats out from the wall, and the mask floats in front of the bean halo.
Average improvement for two trips with the new front foil: 8 percent gain. That is huge in the aero-mod world. Handling effects are also noticeable with in-line front end stability making the drive less tiresome; attached airflow over hood and windshield evident in rainstorms as rain scoots over hood and windshield reducing need for wipers and aiding wiper effectiveness at speed; quieter cabin; headwind and crosswind pushing effects are even less noticeable; engine runs cooler (which may have been a bigger help than I realize in the 107 degree with strong headwind return trip, as she could only pull at 70mph without pushing toward overheating). All the mods combined have dropped gas used from 42 gallons (and up to 50 with variance of headwind for 3 to 3.5 tanks of 16 to 17 gallons), down to 30 gallons ( 2 tanks of 15 to 16 gallons). The math says we have 40% improvement at the low/average end.
The high end gain of worst to new average is 66%, and those worst are from headwind without the mods, and the mods seem to mitigate them.
We could tweak that with adding All Terrain tires that I run at 30psi that coincided with my aeromods, over un-modded with All Seasons that I ran at 32-34psi, which the industry estimates an mpg loss of 3% with matching psi- so maybe 4% mpg loss for the A/T tires. So the actual gain could be adjusted up to 44% at the low end, and here is where I question reality…(66% + 4%) 70% gain in strong headwinds.
Cement board tub-surround topped with greenboard, and drywall for the rest.
Cement board over last winter’s freeze-fix under the sink. I caulked the seams rather than mud them, for sanity mostly.
Prior to drywall it is smart to level out all the old beams by planing up the beams through addition or subtraction. This lets the drywall go up flat. A less optimal option is to float plaster and take up the difference. That’s what I’m going with.
It took awhile to overcome the old header board (that I’d left in place even though I’d pulled the ceiling) which was a bit proud, and an added anchor to the floated corner at the door (unseen here). All done in 20 minute sanding plaster, and for the final skim coat I’d brought up premix media from the SLC shop drywalling. I forgot that I’d brought it, but discovered it at the last.
I added rubberized window seal between the beams and the drywall, allowing some give.
Then it was on to painting. Just the drywall seal for now. I also experimented with covering the ceiling media in layers of paint, keeping clear of the edges / wooden beams. It worked well, so I may paint a fresh panel before cutting it, then put it up over the original layer. This would keep the beams clean and double the ceiling insulation as well.
The tub surround needs a special waterproof sealant, and about twice as much tile as I have around. The tile I have is for the woodstove and heat battery, which I’ve never had the time to put up- so I was going to use it here. Good thing it wasn’t enough media, as this isn’t where it goes anyway. I’ll hit the tile stores in SLC to find something nice.
The base of the walls around the house have a steel footing layed up with the concrete, except for this run of wall from the kitchen door and back through the bathroom. Critter highway. It is cleaned out, and a layer of the blue breathing media is pressed in then capped with wire stucco mesh.
This corner had no gutter for more than 30 years, and the concrete broke up with freeze/thaw. The concrete issues will have to wait, but I can reseal the exposed subfloor and corner beam.
Mudded up with mortar mix, similar to redux on the ice house a few years back (I wiped the wall down after the photo…)
No more access, so the new work inside should stay clean and clear.
Still a storm every night, but with just a breath of rain. Cooling us off from hitting the low 90’s, which is pretty hot for up here.
The next morning we drive home into a long headwind that spins up to oven temps of 107 in Idaho and into Utah. The little truck could only hold 70mph with the A/C on without overheating (the radiator fluid hasn’t been changed out in years…). I was worried about getting over Malad summit, but a rainstorm met us at the foot of the grade and swept us over the top and back into the heat. As we neared SLC a giant outflow hoodoo wall of dust enveloped us in a howling twilight, and soon met the driving rain of the monsoon system. We were home with a half hour of stormy driving, and temperatures had dropped to 80, falling to 70 by dawn.
Nora lets us know the storm will arrive after dark, when everyone’s down for the night. She gets us up so we can appreciate her storm forecasting- and get her a pill.
The cats have taken to leaving mice up off the floor. Here is a spent little plaything on a chair.
Here’s a little Eeker on a coffee table.
Played out. Xander ate the arm off another played out playmate, and he was left on the floor. Only the display worthy kills are elevated.
The bathroom window will eat an entire day. I have cut away rot till I reach good wood. This same leak was causing problems a few posts back, with the sill plate fix and the new 2×4’s behind the tub. The window sill was bad enough that I removed it.
A start to the fixes- a few boards fit to fill the gaps, and some poly glue to seal things up.
This is the old and new window sill plate. The new plate is from the same run of treated lumber that I sistered the lower sill plate with, and there wasn’t enough left to make the part- unless I glued in a part. An 8pm fix for clamping overnight and installation the next day.
1950 was a big summer for the house. My dad had told me they got electricity in 1950, and I’d always thought he meant in the 1950’s- but this is the second place in the house I’ve found a “fix” of summer of 1950 newspaper stuffed in a wall. In this instance, it was under the window sill.
With the drop ceiling removed I insulated up against the upstairs floorboards.
The bays get “bumped out” to fit deeper insulation. Some with 2×2 (actual of 1.5×1.5) and some with runs of 1.5″ insulation.
The moonrise was huge, and of course, looks tiny in a picture. No one can explain how that one works, which is a nice mystery.
R16 rockwool is laid up.
Into the afternoon and evening the cement board surround goes up.
Things are getting tidy-er.
Since the window frame needed so much help, and I had to pull the lower window, I took the opportunity to free the seized upper window. When I make a screen for the whole bay we’ll be able to open both windows, which creates its own convection to air the room. Keen!