May, 2011 browsing by month


Quick update

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

The fires are still burning. We’re up to almost 800 firefighters and 30,000 acres, but it is 25% contained which is good news. From our house, the fire doesn’t look as bad as it did, though we can still see flames at night. The research station has been evacuated, but no structures anywhere have burned (with the exception of one trailer that was not wildfire related). It is very windy today with the same predicted for tomorrow.

As for my garden, the volunteer cucumbers bloomed, revealing the fact that they are not cucumbers at all. They seem to be some kind of squash, probably butternut from seeds in the compost. I transplanted them to outside the greenhouse. If they don’t get obliterated by the wind, we’ll see what they turn into.

The fire and our garden

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

The fire has now burned over 13,000 acres and more than 560 firefighters are here. This fire burned more in 24 hours than the fire last year did in four weeks, due mostly to high winds. Strangely, even given that, we are feeling more secure personally. No homes have been burned, and we have heard that the firefighters have a “high degree” of confidence that they can prevent the fire from getting out onto the flats where we are. Still, seeing the smoke all day and the incredible flames every night is depressing. And we have not yet unpacked our “evacuation box” (pictures, records, a few other things we wouldn’t want to lose). I’m sure we’ll be fine though, so don’t worry!

On a brighter front, the garden is fabulous. We have moved about 14 of the 20 tomato plants outside. We saw the first actual pea-sized tomato today. The eggplants are thriving, and the peas are taller than me. We have edamame coming up, and there are so many volunteer cucumbers from last year that I may not even plant any new ones. Brad’s garlic and asparagus are thriving. Good health all around, so far at least.

Lettuce from our garden

Lettuce from our garden

Peas in the garden

Peas in the garden

Eggplant in the foreground and tomatoes behind them

Eggplant in the foreground and tomatoes behind them


Monday, May 9th, 2011

A wildfire started in Horseshoe Canyon yesterday around noon. The winds have been fierce and from the south. The fire started due west of us and headed north. We seem out of its way for now, but many of our friends and neighbors are in its path. More news as we get it.

Heavy lifting

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

After having our first neighborhood party yesterday (which was great fun; we have such good neighbors), we began work on the vigas (wood beams) today. We needed to move the first two, which will be beams that run vertically from floor to ceiling to support the clerestory windows. (The rest of the vigas, which are roughly twice as long, will run along the width of the ceiling in the great room.)

Even though they are smaller, these first two weigh roughly 250 pounds each, so we had to be clever about how to move them.

First, we took them off the pile and stood them up, no small task in and of itself.


Then we built a contraption to balance the viga on the wheelbarrow.


Our poor wheelbarrow!


Then on to the slab.



Obviously, there were parts of this process that remain unphotographed because it took both of our focused attention (and brawn:).

Now, we’re leveling off the bottoms to prepare for mounting them to the slab, which will involve drilling holes and epoxying bolts in.

First blooms

Monday, May 2nd, 2011