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October 30, 2007

enjoying fall

I have a bunch of family in town to help celebrate the fall weather.  OK, there was this thing about a football game last weekend.  but they came none the less


mom helping me apply paint to the ramp.  


my sister and her husband came down from lincoln, nebraska.  you won't see pics of marcus as he was occupied with football, beer, cupcakes and whataburger.

kids went to another party

even the fanciest of parties in texas all end with piniata violence 

my brother took his first weekend off from his restaurant in napa.  brought his new GF too.   this pic was taken over lake travis.

my dad came down from DFW area in his new rig.

my brother thought he'd press the horn button.  he half expected nothing as the engine was off, but he was greeted by twin air horns.  his surprise was documented in the pic above.

kids sure enjoyed swimming with him 

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October 22, 2007

let it flow!

some pics of the river-pool in action

it's almost like wake boarding behind a ski boat 

in the two pics below I am swimming fast as I can just to keep up with the current.  they hydraulic pump is only at half of maximum speed.


started construction of a ramp from the lower area.  we have a handicap accessible bathroom, but it requires going up four steps.  this ramp is an attempt to make it easier to access, I think it looks cool too!  I hope to get it finished this week.

we had some extreme weather blow in last night.  temps dropped 20 degree in around 30 minutes.  extreme wind advisory and heavy rain tossed loose yard items around.  I was glad to find kay-so trying to stay warm and dry in her polygal shelter. 

I think he is ready for halloween 


kids went to a costume party this past weekend. 

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October 17, 2007

I have a river!

our pool is finally fully operational!

I was able to swim and go nowhere.  funny goal huh?  the river pool works beyond expectations.

I was unable to swim and use the camera at the same time.  you'll just have to wait for pics of it in action.  I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet it is.  the hydraulic pump is located in the garage and the prop is nearly silent as it moves the water.

sun started to set earlier and has afforded me another opportunity to get an evening pic.

click the pic above to see a larger version

pics below were taken from the carport






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October 14, 2007

swim into blog action day

today is blog action day.  this is where I am supposed to talk about environmental issues.  actions speak louder than words.  if you have been following our blog you know that we have invested heavily into earth friendly technology.  from the 5.5 inch solid foam sip walls, the solar system, geothermal HVAC,  orientation of our home, our septic system  and even chosing products with less packaging and composting kitchen scraps are all part pf an attempt to not just reduce our utility bills, but also to lessen our footprint.

a person of my generation would have to have their head in the sand not to see changes in the world and the impact of an exploding population.  the planet is hosting more people so we need to consume responsibly.  I fear a future where nations are competing over resources... or is that the present?

OK, that is the story so far.  what's next? we've also considered a neighborhood electric vehicle, kat's work is just 5 miles away and most everything we need is is within a 2 mile range.  we also have a diesel powered vehicle that we run on biodiesel.  we hope to get the full SVO kit installed.

 now for pics of the first real swim!  the sun was setting over behind the garage. 

I have my craigslist electrician scheduled for monday to power up the giant hydraulic pump that will activate the giant stainless steel prop located in that bulkhead.  then we'll have our river!

also the heater will get power so we can enjoy evening dips without goosebumps. 



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October 12, 2007

batty melon pool

the pool (swim-spa) is filled.  as our luck would have it we got our first wave of mild weather at the same time.  just one more day of 100 degree please...

she loves to catch lizards too

this volunteer musk melon let us know it was ripe by dettaching itself from the vine and rolling towards the house and resting upon the retaining wall.  I kid you not! 

found this bizarre hairy caterpillar on one of the sago palm.  I finally found something with a worse hair cut than myself.  it even has a cow-lick.   we have no idea what this will metamorphasize into.

last night we went on an evening school field trip to see the bats come out from under the congress street bridge.  austin has the world's largest urban bat colony 




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October 10, 2007

yes, yes... YES!!!

I got tired of waiting on the pool insaller's electrician and our electrician is still behind due to a family emergency.  so, yesterday I hit craigslist.  I called five electricians, left messages.  within an hour one called back.  turned out he was familiar with this pool pump/heater connection and was already doing one that day.  he said he would probably be done early afternoon and could likely get to me then.

this was all good news.  and then he told me I just had to pay for parts and his hourly rate of just $75, that included his helper.  they arrived at 1 pm and finished at 3 pm.  

I wasted no time and called in  for inspection.  the inspector arrived and confirmed all four things  listed from his last visit had been resolved.  then, he proceeded to bring up a completely new issue, he wanted to see 35 psi in the PVC lines.  I was assured this was no big deal, I could just do it and he'd come back later today.  yet, I had to ask; "how?"

he thought for a while and eventually replied, "you have run this pump, haven't you?"

"well, NO" I was getting frustrated, "I have NOT run the pump because I can't put water in it until I pass inspection"

I could see wheels spinning in his head.... he then suggested we could use compressed air to charge the system and I again asked "HOW?"

finally, it was concluded that since this is not a POOL, it's a factory assembled swim-spa/hot tub that they would have tested the pvc lines for leaks at the factory.  YES!  surely they had to!  

we have passed the inspection and can fill this sucker with water!

the cover has been shut for almost two months.  we have been fearful of what sludge lurked beneath.  but the water is clear, just a dead cricket and a few leaves.  I'll use my net to get the debris out, pump out as much of the old water and in with new!

Kay-so's Kitty Kat Kondo (below)

the cats have been evicted from indoors.  upon arrival at the new house they got into a pissing contest (literally).  the two cats were claiming things so out they went.  they mostly stayed out front, near the food and water.  but with winter coming we needed a shelter for them; a place to place a pet warming pad for when temps dip below freezing.  also, we needed a place for the food that was out of the dog's reach (they love cat food, which is fine with me since it costs the same as dog food, but it upsets Kat).  another issue to consider is that when we have hard rain, it get's into the doggie door.  it needed a awning.  this is just phase one of their condo addition.

I used some scrap steel from when I built the privacy screen over at scenic brook house and some left over polygal. 



kay-so is adjusting quite well.  cheez (our other less attractive and less personable cat) is a bit more resistant to change.

for those tracking our monarch habitat...



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October 04, 2007

lets celebrate the small victories!

we are able to get one car into our garage!!!  now if we could just get the garage and attic from the other house moved in too.


we have a real drain under the concrete sink!  for months we have had it emptying into a bucket.  we have gone through several drains in attempt to get one that fit same as what was used for the casting.  also it seems 1 1/4" drains that have no overflow are hard (and expensive) to come by.

we've also been living with the drywall cut out under this sink for a week.  one of our plumbers had connected the outdoor hose bib to the HOT water.  that has been fixed so all the holes are plugged.  I don't like drywall one tiny bit.  so I covered the area under the sink with concrete board that will host slate tile going up the wall. 

one of the cactus in the planter box by the front door has several large blooms.  we've been anxious to see what was going to bust out.  but wow! WOW!  there are two like this so far and at least four more about to open up.

 nothing is happening with the pool install.  I'm near my bursting point, thats where I stop being patient and nice and start talking about the better business folks and certified letters etc.  that usually gets results.  I see we had our pool inspection on aug 8th; almost two months ago.  there were just a few small things needed to pass final. 


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October 01, 2007

home style recycling programs

our electrician has power to the koi equipment, no more extension cord!.  I have a timer that cycles the filtration and water fall pump on/off a couple times a day.

I really like the reflecting pool quality when it's off.  I often catch a good view of the clouds and blue sky from the living room area.  

one of the solar install guys had commented, "your house is very new age".  the new-age comment was a new one and I wasn't sure about that.  then again, maybe he saw my power crystal collection (see above).  in reality they are just chunks of raw glass,.... or are they lost crystals belonging to the sleestack

 while we are on the subject of glass...  our trash service in West Lake Hills does not recycle glass.  and I've heard that there is now a waiting list to get recycled glass from the city of austin.  we been using the stuff in landscaping in place of gravel.  so we started saving our glass bottles in an attempt to recycle it ourselves.

we set up a processing center down in the lower carport.

the bottles were tougher than we'd anticipated.  it resembled a sadistic thrill ride for wine bottles and as they went around and around, making an awful loud clanking sound.  we'd already added rocks and large pieces of metal.  we had to pound it down with leftover structural steel pieces.

we added sand and gravel to wear down the rough edges.  my daughter is hoping for a beach glass effect.

at the end it looked like mud and glass.  I need to get the 15 lb. sledge hammer involved .

a favorite past time of kat's is to trim plants and then feed her electric wood chipper to make mulch.  


she continued her recent spree of kitchen attempts.  she was showing our kids how red beans are tradtionally a dessert item for chinese. 

they looked authentic.  we didn't use the correct sweet rice flour so they weren't exact.  I'm not a big fan of sesame or red beans as a dessert item but they were fun to help make. 


we found that our prize yucca was being eaten by ants from the inside out.  it was a goner  we removed it and it left an open spot in our cactus garden.

on sunday we stopped at Agave on 290w between austin and dripping springs.  I'd been trying to stop there for two years but they seem to open at random times.  but this sunday morning we found the gates open.   the amiable long haired fellow guiding us around started to ejoy an ice cold tecate.  then I  was served with a cold beverage as well.  what a magical cactus garden.  we bought two!

we found the variety of spanish dagger we had been searching for along with a lovely ocotilla  to add to our cactus garden.   

we have planted several milk weed in our back yard in hopes of attracting monarch butterfly.  our daughter was very excited to find that each plant is now host to a caterpillar.

later the same day we spotted this visitor.

erwin family,  if you want to see your baby doll in one piece again, leave three unmarked Grovers under the mopac-greenbelt bridge tonight.  do not notify the police, or our robot will be unleashed.


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