Thursday, January 28, 2021

Time for another post already!? Oh well ..

Like the rest of the country, we had a cold front coming through the area, and although we 'only' got rain, with a hard, cold wind and rather cool temperatures, the San Tan mountains to the east of us got snow!
Always such a pretty sight .. palm trees and snow!

As luck would have it, we, that is James, had just finished installing a sump-pump in the recessed dining area of the patio, which has a tendency to fill up and turn into a pond when it rains ..                        

It could immediately be put to the test, and .. it worked!               

The morning after the rain, I came across this beautiful Red-tailed Hawk on my morning walk.
I think he had gotten wet, because it looked like he was trying to dry his wings by spreading them out in the morning sun.


What a beautiful bird!!

OK, let's see, work-wise it has been another productive week .
James has hooked up the faucets and all the plumbing in the master-bathroom:

His back has been hurting him lately .. sjeez hon', no clue why?
He also installed 2 of the 3 rails that are going to hold up the glass for the shower. He'll attach the third one to the bottom of the glass before they install it and will caulk the heck out of it when it's in place.
Pfff .. I'm so not looking forward to that part of the job! I'm scared to death they're going to break it!

Last Saturday the guys were here again and they continued working on the wine cellar/pantry/closet .. or whatever you want to call that thing.
Previously,  the cabinet that was sitting there, was taken out and the floor boards were pried up to be used to repair the holes in the den.


Now, after closing the area off with plastic (nice try guys but it didn't help at all) ..

Studs were put in place and insulation installed, after which they proceeded to hang the drywall ..

James worked on it during the week and it's almost done by now (Thursday afternoon) and looking great!

And if that wasn't enough, he also managed to finish his assistant-appraiser course!
First he finished, and passed, his third exam, and than he got a
little bit of a surprise because he was all set to take his final and fourth test on Monday, only to find out that he didn't have to go out to take it, but this time he could just do it at home!

And of course he passed! His words.
See, number #3 and #4!

In comparison, I did absolutely nothing noteworthy .. I finished a puzzle, does that count?


Friday, January 22, 2021

Look at that happy birthday boy! He's smiling, although he can hardly believe he turned 62 this time around! Funny how that works dear, year after year .. you're getting old(er) hon', no ifs or butts about it. You're still cute though!

On the other hand, he might only be smiling because of the cake ..

I would be too. It was a monster-slice!

So yes, it's the end of January and, like I mentioned previously, the leaves finally have been coloring a bit, and now some are even falling! Yeah gasp! What a concept! Nature is really upside down over here.

Those are grapevines at the community garden above, and I came across this blazing orange tree below at the walking path through the wash.

Lots of birds are over-wintering here (they're the 'real' snowbirds of course) and the House finches especially are always happily chattering and singing away while enjoying the morning sunshine ..


Others live here year around ...
I really didn't see this Coyote until I was pretty much upon him, and only because he all of a sudden went for a wild chase after a rabbit!

He got it too! Good for him, but poor bunny ..

He took off and disappeared into the wash, it looks like he has a den over there. 
Quite amazing so close to civilization! Coyotes really are masters of opportunity and adaptation.
The bathrooms have changed a lot in appearance over the last week.
James and the boys grouted the master ...

The (old) counter-tops were removed ..

And the granite-crew arrived to install the new ones!


This is the one in the guest-bath

It was a busy day that day because the (new)bed-guys showed up too!


Look at that! You can sit up watching TV or read a book or .. whatever.
Only disadvantage of the queen mattress .. you both have to sit up! Oh, well .. minor detail.

Let's see, James has also started working on the 'Wine-cellar/room/closet', but I'll wait with showing any of that, until there's a little more to show .. ha!

Oh, here's something instead:

I needed something for coffee, and since the pineapples are on sale right now, I made Pineapple upside-down .. muffins!
Let me tell y'a, these little beauties tasted even better than they look! M-m-good!



And look .. James passed his 3rd assistant-appraiser test. Yahoo! Three down, one more to go (which is a short one)!

OK, that's about it for this week. Here's a pic of James' birthday dinner, which we had in the backyard. On the 17th of January. Only in Arizona!

Happy Birthday Hon', and many happy returns!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Another week gone, and we're already halfway through January!
Boy oh boy, where do the days go?
I could write about all the terrible stuff that has been happening this week, the attack on the Capitol and, as of yesterday, the impeachment of the POTUS, but frankly I don't have the energy, nor the interest for it today.
Part of it has to do with the fact that Doug and Brenda were just here and it took all of my energy to not pick a fight or come to blows with them about the whole sour mess, since they're both firmly in the 'other camp' ... I find it unbelievable that anybody in their right mind can still defend any of what has happened, let alone still believe the elections were 'stolen'!


OK, 'nough said, we'll just have to see how it all ends, hope they convict the bastard, cross our fingers that nothing really bad will happen on inauguration day, and in the meantime lets just talk about something nice, like this flock of noisy Lesser Goldfinches.
They are very common around here. They're social and active and voice-tress, and have an interesting song that can include imitations of dozens of other birds, from kestrels to robins. Pretty amazing for such tiny birds!


I also came across this large shrub with really pretty pink flowers and I have no idea what it is. Time for some googling!

So, while the master bathroom wasn't finished yet before Doug and Brenda got here, and didn't while they were here, it wasn't a big deal since there's a second shower in 'our' room, aka the guest-bathroom, so we just took turns.


As of today, the grouting is almost done, with only the floor left to do. It's looking really good!
I already have nightmares though, about the glass panel that has to be lifted onto the small wall in front of the shower! It's very heavy, and very expensive and if it breaks there will be $700 down the drain! We're going to hire two (strong) guys from the glass-company to help us tough, so hopefully all will go well ..

I've not been baking or cooking much this week since Doug and Brenda are on a diet, and/although we went out for dinner to the Italian restaurant here in town one evening (Yes, you can still do that here in Arizona and no, I didn't take a picture. Again!) and went for take-out Chinese on another night.

I did roast half a (rosemary-lemon) chicken for dinner last night though:

                                         A little over-roasted on the lemons but .. Yum!

And this morning, some quick cinnamon rolls (from a can) for coffee ..


Other than that I really don't have much to show for this week.
Maybe just a funny shot of Merl' asleep on 'his' bed, in 'his' room (you can barely see him there on that white sheet):

Which he sometimes shares for a nap with James .. aren't they cute?


                                            OK. That really was all. Over and out.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Blue Agave (Parryi)

It's been a busy week here at 'Casa Hess'.
The boys have been tirelessly working on the master-bathroom, and since they're all back in school, they have committed to working a couple of hours in the afternoon and evening, just for this week, to get it all done.


 It's starting to look real good ..

To make sure everything will continue to go smoothly, we made sure to eat our 'traditional' black-eyed pea soup on the first of January, for good luck:

For wealth in the New Year, it contains peas for coins and greens for paper money, ham for even more prosperity, since pigs 'root' forward instead of backward, as well as tomatoes for health and cornbread for gold.
Besides considered lucky, it's a really good soup/stew!

I usually bake Butter-horn cookies for Christmas, but since this year I tried my hand at several other cookies, I skipped them.
Well, guess what, I missed having them, so .. I made them after all!


Obviously they don't know they're Christmas cookies, and we definitely don't care so ..

They were good as always. Good idea I had there!

Of course I love my morning walks, and especially right now, mainly because the temperatures are around 40F, and the air is just wonderfully crisp and clean. Just perfect.
(For me, I should add, because most people around here like it warmer, a lot warmer .. hah, not me, no siree!)


Here's some shots of the prickly vegetation I come across. You want to watch where you going down here, for sure ..

Also, a few bird-shots, because, well, you know ..

White-crowned Sparrows
And at the pond on the 17th whole, right behind our yard, a Kingfisher!


I'm sneaking in another shot of a Vermillion Flycatcher too. He's just too pretty!

By the way, when I'm not walking, I'm riding my spiffy, little BMW sports car these days:

It's a convertible! Quite a step up from my 'usual' ride, isn't it?

Let's see, what else, the pickings are a little thin this week or, as we say in Holland, it's 'pruimentijd' (plum-time .. no clue why we say that?)
Come to think of that, here in Arizona it's actually 'grapefruit-time'. They're pretty much ripe right now, and I've started to pick some from the one tree in our own back-yard.


How cool is that? It so happens that Doug doesn't like them, so we're free to pick as many as we want! They remind me of James Dad, he loved them ..


Here's a little desert creature that lives in that same back-yard, a Western Fence or Blue-belly lizard .. I think ..
It seems that he just shed his skin, there's a little piece still stuck there on his neck!

He's so cute, and at the moment he 'lives' behind a stack of cobblestones, but when the pool goes in in a couple of weeks those will disappear, so I'm afraid he will be in for a rude surprise ..

Oh, I almost forgot, James has taken his second assistent-appraiser exam, and he passed! Yeah! I'm so proud of him!
Besides all the beautiful work he's doing, he's spending hours studying too. Chapeau, honey!


Oh, eh .. that comment doesn't make any sense at all come to think of it, since I haven't said anything about why he's doing this.
OK, take a seat, here's the story:

James is going to switch carriers. Again. Yeah. Well, ... you're never to old I guess!
I'm very happy about it though, I thought already for a while that it would be nice that he wouldn't have to climb roofs and carry all that heavy equipment and materials around anymore. I mean, he's 61 .. time to slow down a little and take it a little easier.
So, here's the plan, he's becoming a real estate appraiser! It's a 2 year hands-on study and guess where he's going to do his apprenticeship?
Right! His brother Doug is taking him on!
We'll be moving to Newberg after the job here is done, about half of April, and it looks like Doug's landlord will be fine with us parking the RV behind Doug's house and live there for the time being.
How's that for an interesting twist in our future plans?!

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We're excited though, and I can't wait to go to Oregon! North! Where I belong!
(OK, yes, it rains a lot .. minor detail .. we'll make it work,
it's a beautiful state and it's only for 2 years. 

Yes, .. those famous last words!