Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Home addition: sprinklers part II

Last fall we put in the guts of an automatic sprinkler system in the backyard.  June 3rd we finished the job. Well, OK, not we meaning Drew and me, but we meaning Aaron Schoenberg, owner of Wasatch Sprinkler and his helper Todd.  I just mostly got in the way and Drew mostly did stuff inside the house.

 Anyway, before Aaron came, I had to clean up some of my mess. This is the highly organized pile of rocks we have in the outdoor room for the time being. I am a bit obsessive about moving rocks around in the backyard. Can you guess how many categories of rocks I have piled here?  The answer will be at the end of this post.

We also had a tree stump ground out from the garden area. Then we were ready.  The guys got to work putting in the lines for the lawn area.

 Here is a bird's eye view of the network. It will have pop-up spray heads for the lawn and drip for everything else.  There are two drip zones: one for the landscaped area (trees and perennials that need less water) and one for the veggie garden that needs water every day in the summer.  The amount of water each plant gets is controlled by the flow rate of the individual emmitter at each plant and/or the number of emitters at each plant.  I also have some soaker line for tightly spaced veggies like lettuce or onions.

 So I wouldn't forget once we covered everything up, I annotated a photograph of the valve box.

It is a pretty sweet system and will save mucho time and thousands of gallons of water as compared to hand watering.

Oh, and I'm working on another project too.  Through a geology connection and a trade for some bike parts I got the these granite boulders we had in the backyard drilled out for a future fountain.   It'll be wicked cool.

So it has been a productive late spring in the backyard. Here is a picture from May 13 showing my affinity for junk piles and weeds.
Here is after I cleaned up somewhat and moved the wood pile and composters.

And here is after the drip system is installed and the garden is planted!!!!!!

It isn't a huge garden this year because I still have to install the pathways, but we'll get some organic veggies out of it. So things are coming along outside (at the expense of finishing the work inside!)

Answer to the quiz: Eight.  Wonderstone flagstone, small angular cobble, large angular pebble, slate, junk rocks from digging, granite boulders, leftover granite countertop, and sandstone top cap we were going to use for a mantel.  If you said 10 because you counted the brick and concrete paver, you're wrong because they are not rocks.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Moab wind and work

It has been a very busy rental season at our place in Moab this spring.  We had renters in for 24 nights in April and 30 nights in May.  Last week there was an opening so we bombed down for a couple of nights to assess the damage a few months of vacationing families can do to a place. 

The trip did not start out smoothly.  We left the house at noon on Sunday, a truck full of bikes, tools, supplies, and cats, but on this first warm day of the year (85 degrees), before we even made it to the freeway, we discovered the AC did not work.  It has been such a cold spring that I haven't needed the AC.  Rough finding out it doesn't work with a packed truck on a Sunday!  So after running around to 3 or 4 different Firestone stations, we found one that could work on the truck.  We settled in for an hour or so to the lobby of the service station, cats in their carriers and us on vinyl seats. 

Things looked good at first, but by 2:30 the technician discovered a puncture in the compressor.  That is no bueno!  A parts store was open and the technician agreed to stay after closing time to work on it (see, family, there are advantages to living in a big city), so we bunkered down in the waiting room and wasted away a gorgeous June afternoon. We used the time to do some computing, sewing, reading, and bike maintenance. The cats slept through it all.

Finally at 6 PM and $700 later, we were on our way.  We used the AC even though we didn't need it anymore. :-(

For all the people through the condo, it was in pretty decent shape.  We spent Monday patching paint and deep cleaning.  The new trail we wanted to try was on the agenda for the afternoon, but vicious winds prevented any cycling activity and closed the pool to boot. Bummer! 

Instead, we waited until the wind died down a bit and hiked Mill Creek Canyon, just on the edge of town.  Neither of us had been up this canyon, and we get asked for hiking suggestions all the time from our renters, so we were doing necessary reconnaissance.  It was a fabulous hike, even though we missed the side canyon reportedly containing a shangi-la waterfall. 

The trail follows Mill Creek very closely,

and has many crossings.

The best part about the hike was observing how the course of the stream is dependent on the jointing (geo term) or cracks (non-geo term) in the Navajo Sandstone. 

 The stream tumbles over bedding plane ledges and follows the joints, widening them over time.

There were cool micro things to see too.  These insect creations looked like mini termite mounds or nuclear reactor cooling towers. 

And these rocks were cool stuck like shingles into one of the joints in the streambed.

The evening light on the sandstone and distance view of the La Sals was magnificent.

Tuesday morning we spent cleaning some more and getting a tear in the carpet fixed, but we were both itching for some pedal time, so we managed to ride UPS and LPS as a loop.  Last time I did this trail was on my old Titus. I remember it being at the top of my technical ability.  This time, on a 29er, was a whole different story.  I can't get over how much easier technical trails are on the big wheels. Wow!  It is almost cheating.  Drew shot some video, but it might take a few weeks for him to find time to edit it.  We'll make sure to post it when he does.

Tuesday we packed everything up and headed home really late. Not a great recipe for both of us working the next day, but that's the price ya gotta pay to play. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Memorial Day racing

Being a holiday, Drew was working on Memorial Day.  I chose to spend it not racing the Stan Crane Memorial MTB Race as in previous years, but volunteering as a course marshal instead. Wise choice.  With all the rain we had been having and a temperature of 37 that morning, I was glad to be standing out on course with my insulated Carharrt overalls and a rain jacket instead of riding/pushing my bike in race mode.  It was pretty fun to cheer on my teammates and friends instead.

 My former coach Kathy Sherwin leading the slog in front of teammate Dana Harrison.

Teammate and competitor Ellen Guthrie.

Afterward, our Revolution Peak Fasteners team hosted a potluck barbeque.  Too bad Drew had to miss the rhubarb crisp I brought. Yum!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Association for Women Geoscientist catch up post

Well it appears summer is finally here, but before we commit spring to a distant soggy cold memory, I wanted to post a few pictures from some volunteer work I did these past few months.

Late March is when the regional science fair is held here in the Salt Lake Valley.  An organization I belong to, the Salt Lake Chapter of the Association for Women Geoscientists, puts almost $400 toward cash and prizes for top projects by girls that contain a geology component. Our national foundation matches that, so together we award up to $100 each to 9 girls for a great project.  To do this involves me reading through about 300 abstracts by 5th through 12th graders to pick out those projects that have some geology in them, then rounding up and coordinating five of our members to interview and judge those projects,

 me, Sally, Katie

 Steph, April, Leann

then meeting with the judges to get their final decisions and making up some nice award certificates for the girls.  The judging involves reviewing each project board and an interview with the student.

  The project floor

  Students hanging out waiting to be judged.

Each student is judged on how well her project followed the scientific method (theory, experiment, reproducibility) originality, and presentation.  It is pretty cool to see kids so excited about science!

The best part about this year is that the winner of our junior division last year was a winner in the senior division this year, which means that we probably have a budding earth scientist in our midst.  Hopefully our cash and prize last year encouraged her to stick with the subject.

The final part of organizing this outreach project is to present our awards at the award ceremony after a genuine mad scientist wowed the crowd with weird science. 

After the science fair was over, it was time to switch gears to our April 29th fundraiser, the 22nd Annual AWG-SLC Silent Auction and Wine Tasting Scholarship Benefit.  I took on the big job of gathering items to put out for our silent auction. With the work of a fabulously motivated auction committee, we complied 156 items by 49 different donors ranging from original artwork by award winning local artists to gift certificates for dinners and massages and everything in between, including, my favorites, natural stone jewelry and rocks! 
 One of the item tables.
  Guests mingling around the item tables.
   Guests bidding on items.

Our venue was the Founders Room on the 18th floor of the downtown Zions Bank building (thanks Zions Bank for the free use of the space!), which comes complete with a grand sweeping view of sunset over the Great Salt Lake.
  Steph, Britney and Katie working the door.

We had delicious food and went through dozens of bottles of wine.  Our attendance was up this year to about 119 super generous people, which combined paid out $3271 in the silent auction!  While Drew worked the bar along with a few of the other members' husbands, earning $78 in tips, I was out bidding on items.  Because the hard work of gathering items was over, I let myself indulge in a bit too much wine, which is probably why we went home with a few items of jewelry and and the promise of an original caricature drawing of Drew and me by famous Salt Lake Tribune cartoonist Pat Bagley!   
Me, cartoonist Pat Bagley, and former state geologist Genevieve Atwood.

This was all in the name of raising money for scholarships, which we awarded and presented that night to four bright young geology majors.

 Chapter president April Abate-Adams at the podium awarding $3750 in scholarships.

Our gross total raised including entrance donations, private donations, corporate donations, and the silent auction was $6200!  Doing everything on the cheap with volunteer labor, we netted $4600, which makes it one of our best fundraisers in years thanks to the hard work of our fundraiser committee. Great work ladies!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Unexpected delay.

We loaded up the cats and the bikes for a quick trip to Moab on this first hot day of the year, only to be waylaid by a bad AC before we even got out of town.  At first, Firestone tried a flush and refill, but that didn't fix the hole in the condenser, so instead we settled in for an afternoon of WiFi, sewing, and bike maintenance with the cats in the waiting room. 6 hours and $700 later we are on the way with a new AC and very restless cats.