« August 2007 | Main | October 2007 »

September 27, 2007

inspection/collection day

austin energy came for inspection.  he gave me a bag of goodies, flourecent bulbs, a T shirt etc.  

he was real proud of the fact that austin energy has been able to put off building a new power plant by spending money on programs such as this rebate. 

he really scrutinized the whole system and briefly installed a meter.

this 3 ft deep hole has a ground plate at the bottom.

the inspector asked for some paperwork some of the fuses.  all issues were resolved and we are on schedule for the permanent meter to be placed.  then I had to write the check to texas solar power.  it was painful.  but, a huge chunk of that check will come back after the next rebate is processed (november) .

our electrician is back to work on the garage and nearly done.  it looks like he will soon wrap up the many other loose ends from construction.  and we have some glimmer of hope that our pool install will start up again.  it'd be great to swim before christmas!


we all love to feed the koi in the morning.  they are definitely trained for hand feeding.  they all swim up to the top and make sucking sounds as soon as they see us up for breakfast; they can see into the house through the sliding glass doors.

this past weekend kat was struck with a baking urge.  she can't make just one dessert, she has to make three at the same time, normally she stays out of the kitchen.  we tweaked a recipe we got from recipezaar.com and made appricot upside down cake.

having my laptop in the kitchen has spoiled us all. 



[ Yahoo! ] options

September 21, 2007

shine on

the solar install crew finished up two days earlier than anticipated. 

this is the view of the PV panel array from the master bath deck.  

the inspector has to come and approve before we can connect to the grid.  inspection is scheduled for thursday.

it started generating electricity right away even though it was not connected till the sun had started to set.

now we just need to pull a rabbit out of a hat to pay the solar company until the rebates come in.  we had initially opted for a smaller less expensive system that we could upgrade next year.  the rebate program fiscal year is october.  so in order to save on installation labor we went ahead and got the larger system.  the result is more $ out of pocket until the next set of rebates are processed.  we have the truck on ebay and I will sell the mercedes next to keep the $ river flowing.

and I finally have our other house listed for sale! 



open house sunday if you want to come by and have a cookie. 

it takes kat a few years to forget her cycling spills.  she gets the urge to get back on the horse and try again.  I found this really nice marin aluminum framed cruiser on craigslist for a real good price.  she's a bit wobbly but we are going to practice today after work.  she's always wanted a bike with a basket. 

 now if we only had some place we could ride to from our house.  the roads in west lake hills are steep, twisty and no sidewalks. 

here is some good news!  the albertsons grocery store just up the road from us was just bought by HEB/Central Market!   for those readers outside of texas, central market is an upscale foodie sort of store, similar to whole foods.  they always have a fantastic bakery and cheese dept.




[ Yahoo! ] options

September 18, 2007

PV me

we have our permanent meter on the house and have moved to a residential (cheaper) rate.  our rate will go down once again when our other house is sold and we can transfer our green choice plan over.  austin has the #1 green energy program in the nation and since fuel costs have risen since we signed up, the wind power rates are fixed for ten years, our green energy is actually a cheaper than the regular rate.

the solar guys started this morning.  they had been trying to call me but I've changed my cell # to a local 512 (has been 408 san jose area).

anybody else out there that calls me can put this # into their phone



here is the inverter mounted to the garage.  

above, is a trailer of PV panels.  we'll have a 6 KW system.  this summer we averaged just under $150 a month.  that was at the commercial rate too.  I know people who regularly pay more than $500 month to run a/c through the summer.  and many of those folks are in smaller homes with fewer windows.  I even met a guy that lives in a two bedroom apartment who pays $500 a month during summer months.  who said the cost of living was cheap in texas?


we hope that the solar system will show itself in a monthly difference, and the city of austin pays 75% of the cost.  that's right, seventy five percent!  I think that is the highest rebate program in the nation.


our volunteer tomatoes are gonna kick in and contribute some fruit!  yes, it's a fruit.  unless you are consuming the leaves.  but the round part that has seeds is a fruit.

our basil has provided us with frargrant leaves all summer long.  now if I just had those goats back to provide some cheese...

my daughter's favorite thing to eat: fresh sliced tomato, basil leaf, and whole milk mozzarella (the sort that comes in a ball)  drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh garlic.  she simply calls this, "THE APPETIZER".



[ Yahoo! ] options

September 14, 2007

acl three day wristband (the music entry)

this weekend is the austin city limits festival, we have our three day passes.  we considered selling our tix for this year.  then we recalled how much the kids enjoyed the flaming lips show from last year.   we had bought the kids handheld LED light toys to use if they got bored.  but soon as the lips came out, wayne in his gerbil ball, the kids dropped those trinkets and were all smiles and big eyes.  I just found this video that must have been taken over the tops of our heads.  you can see wayne in the gerbil ball.  if you've never seen them live, the video can be a bit confusing.  yes, there are about 20 santa claus on stage, along with 20 alien faced women in skimpy futuristic santa-ish suits.  also a giant dancing alien, confetti cannons, captain america...

the kids still talk about that show.  life is mostly down hill after something of that scale.

when the kids and I recently picked my mom up at the airport they were naturally excited to see her.  my son wanted to tell her all that had happened in his life.  he tried to tell her about our new house, she'd been here.  he then started to tell her about our dogs, their names and what they looked like etc.  she told him she's met the dogs.  he thought long and hard.... "YOU HAVEN'T SEE MY WHEEL-CO BEEN FORE!"  it was true.  mom had not yet heard the new Wilco CD (link is to a vw ad using a new wilco song).

he LOVES wilco.  several times a day he asks if he can play the "WHEEL-CO"  he can successfully turn on my ipod and navigate to his selection.

my custom made ipod boom-box above

back when we were starting to pack up the house on scenic brook I had brought an old sony turntable down from the attic.  I had received it for christmas back when I was still in high school.  I also found a box of vinyl records (what we used before mp3 and before cd).  most of the records were from the year I spent in solitary at arkansas state university.

I decided I'd give a few a spin.  the turntable had a horrible rumble.  I took it apart to clean and couldn't get it working again after.  but the idea had been planted.  I was soon viewing vintage dual turntables; I seem to gravitate to the odd german engineered items.  and after a good bit of info gathering I finally settled on a used thorens.  I was lucky to find that the harmon kardon receiver that was used to power our outdoor speakers also had a nice phono function and amp was two chanel.  we spun records!

the kids were drawn to the spinning discs.  I was delighted to find that The Clash: COMBAT ROCK sounded great, THE FAITH album by The Cure is still fantastic and I can still listen to the smiths all day long.  BIGMOUTH STRIKES AGAIN by the Smiths, was the first song to strike a chord with the kids.   soon they refused to shower unless they were first allowed dance to it.  it became "the shower song".  then one eve I asked if they wanted to hear something spoooky.  of course they did!  six months later and the kids still refuse to shower unless I first play Nemesis by shriekback (video might not be for everybody).  more than once I've observed my son at the playground stomping and singing "everybody happy as the dead come home"

but this evening we'll be at acl taking in the LCD soundsystem, yo la tengo are sunday early afternoon and wilco play sunday eve.

on my ipod play list,

beat happening , jonathan richman and local band the black angels have all been frequent listens during my evening glass of wine/prepare dinner ceremony. 



[ Yahoo! ] options

September 11, 2007

goats do roam

as the dust from breakfast was settling, I sat down to check emails, noticed something moving in the back yard.  it was raining hard.  at first I thought it was eichler.  the leaves started to disappear and I could make out two goats making a buffet of our back yard. 

this was all good and amusing until they migrated over to some of the plants we actually paid money for.

 I assumed they must belong to a neighbor.   so I called the next door neighbor; kent ( his website is callkent.com)  he said his heart was warmed that I first thought of him regarding the goats, but he had no knowledge of local goats


I figured if I released the hounds those goats would run back to where they came from via however they got into the back yard. 

it turns out that marvin's little legs can move him faster than a goat.  up until this point he's had regular practice with the local deer population.  the deer are faster than marvin.


marvin was able to execute his herding skills., circling, barking and nipping at their heels.  he got one good butt to the head and gave them a bit more distance.

then the goats sought refuge on the pool.  I figured it was time to call the police.  if they did some damage I wanted to know where to send the bill and I was also concerned that they'd run into the nearby busy highway and cause an accident.

I guess they gave my goat invasion a low priority.  took around 30 minutes for an officer to arrive.  I suspect they sent the rookie.  so this officer and I watched the brave marvin keep the goats herded.  he was amazed how marvin had no fear.

those goats have deposited pellets every where.  marvin kept leaping up and nipping at their cloven feet.

he finally found his window of opportunity.  he bit the small one in the rear.  it leaped from the wall and took off.  up until this moment eichler (boxer) had chose to remain indoors and out of the rain.  marvin seemed to have a handle on the situation.  but now the chase was on and she's the fastest runner in the house.  I then saw how the invisible fence is no match for a boston terrier who's just had a taste of goat.  all three of them disappeared into the woods across the street.  eichler currently has no battery in her invisible fence collar.  I phoned them yesterday about how the batteries keep falling out.  they suggested I send the collars in to have them looked at.... that didn't seem reasonable to me.

 eventually both dogs came crawling out of the woods.  they were sure punishment was coming but I rewarded their return and having had a goat taco or two in my life I understand the urge for a second bite.

the police left.  he pledged to try and find who owns the goats and said animal control was at least an hour away.  he also asked me to cage marvin so that we can try to keep the one remaining goat here until they arrive.

can you believe that I found that goat standing on the trunk of my fjord blue 1973 bmw 2002tii.  you can see it jumping away.

I was about to think we might be having some goat for dinner.

so this is where we stand now; 12:45 pm

this adventure started 9-ish

we have one goat left and I think he feels he belongs inside!  he's been standing here looking in for more than an hour, watching as I type this.  he ocasionally paws (hooves) the glass as if I should open it!  I've tried to get a rope around his neck but he runs when I get close.... 

what to do next?  warm up the tortillas?  maybe if I get him roped I could tie him up in the back of the f350 before I go pick up the daughter from school.  I bet that'd get catch a few rubbernecks.

we have some friends who have been threatening to get a goat for a back yard ritual, or to keep their grass low enough to appease the neighbors; depending on how you look at it. 



we captured the goat and the sherrif just came to pick him up; 6:25 PM

goat tried to jump over the koi pond and through the window.  he bounced off the window and down into the koi pond.  while he was floundering around I roped his neck and then pulled him up and out by the horns.

notice the resemblance?

welcome to the west lake hills petting zoo 


[ Yahoo! ] options

September 10, 2007


on sunday afternoon the kids and I like to take in a swim at the greenbelt

it's become a welcome ritual that will be missed when temps get too cool or droughts return and the creek runs dry

the greenbelt really symbolizes a lot of what we love about austin.  nature, diversity and tolerance.

on a recent stop at our favorite swimming hole we shared our retreat with four other camps.  there was the couple that had three kids and three dogs; all dogs had been adopted from shelters. 

a rock across the creek hosted a peruvian fellow and his date.   he had carefully spread out a blanket to form an intimate stage where played his wooden flute.  his serenade echoed off the steep rock walls and all became quiet and still.

 the large rock in the center was an ideal setting for a jamaican guy and his girlfriend to enjoy a spliff.

kayakers and tubers clutching tall boys go down stream with the current.  the spot is also popular with mountain bikers crossing from one side to the other; bikes over their shoulders as they wade.  nobody passes without a smile and friendly exchange.

we need a modern day monet to capture this scene with oils on canvas 

[ Yahoo! ] options

September 09, 2007

like to keep things, I do!

I'll admit. I do have a problem of letting go things that have sentimental values to me. Paul built our teardrop trailer pretty much from scratch - even the subframe from Harbor Freight Tools had to be modified. It took months and consumed a lot of his energy and time to create this unique, beautiful, durable, and totally functional trailer. It really embodies labor of love. For the same reason that we didn't just buy a new house that is already built, which might have been cheaper and easier, Paul set out to build something that we all can be proud of. Although I find it hard sometimes to understand his vision before and during his many projects (he's gotten better in sharing details in his head), but I almost always end up loving them (cars, furniture, trailers, houses, etc.) and just couldn't let go. Since Paul completed the teardrop trailer in spring '04, it sheltered and entertained us during many camping trips.



Here's a picture of the kitchen area in the back.



Here's what the interior looks like (with bamboo ceiling/wall).


There's a hidden compartment underneath the bed and a hidden "window" through which a speaker and other items can be moved from inside to the kitchen. There are plenty of built-in storage areas and shelves. It was a sweet little comfy home away from home and I still LOVE it!

[ Yahoo! ] options

September 06, 2007


what a miserable picture.  I know it doesn't look like much...

we are big believers in composting.  at our old house we had a mound that was quickly turning our kitchen veggie scraps (and used beer) into rich soil.  when we first moved in here there was construction debris scattered about and we didn't have a designated compost heap.  so for a while we just scattered them in a variety of convenient locations.  the end result is that we have tomatoes volunteering all over the place.  we've got some healthy plants but so far no fruit.

I trimmed the trees back from the roof

shelter crew came back and applied trim strips over the MDO junctions.  caulk just wasn't enough.

I've been threatening to sell our teardrop trailer.  kat gets very attached to things and has a hard time letting go of just about anything.  she convinced me to use the teardrop as "yard art and cocktail cart".  so the four of us pushed, tugged and pulled it closer to the pool where it has another life ahead of itself.  


I love the teardrop.  but weather in texas is just not as mild as norcal and I've become spoiled by the comforts of the airstream.  I just can't see us fitting in the TD again any time soon.


I heard from austin energy today.  we were finally approved for the solar rebate.  the confusion came from the fact that we are STILL on the construction meter.  she also let me know that until we get the permanent meter we are paying a higher rate.  that didn't make us any happier.

no pool action has gone on. 

[ Yahoo! ] options