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More July

July 13-25 or so
written July 19+
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

As I write this, our weather has turned pleasant again, highs below 100F and lows back into the 70s and 60s.  Rain is not forecast until September, at the earliest.  This is definitely not Germany!

d140714_10_dinner.jpgd140717_02_pinot.jpgIt's a pretty quiet time overall.  Dinners out, sometimes with Mamo and sometimes being entertained at our favorite local, Pinot Wine Bar. 

The garage project continues (see below) as does back yard improvement.

New paths were prepared.  Five tons of decomposed granite were received and distributed, but the bocce court took most of it, so there will be another delivery when I get enough energy.
Five yards of bark covered a fair amount of our plain dirt, but here too we will need more.
The weekend saw more yard work, an art lesson for Marianne, and a family birthday barbecue on Sunday (20th).  All pretty plain stuff, but we will try to work in something more exciting!
Another great BBQ at Katinka and Rubins - fresh chicken.  (No, not Penny!)  One candle for Scarlet.  Her story and she's sticking.
Mostly, time for family.

d140722_02_audiboot.jpgNow it is another week, with more of the same.  The old Audi went back into the shop for a broken axle boot.  Not a big deal, but one more expense that reminds me that cars have a limited life, even favorite cars.  (We have in fact placed an order for  new car, but that was going to be our second car, not a replacement for the current one.  I hope we can keep he old one another year or two without pouring too much money in.)

Otherwise, it's all the same: garden work (see next), Mamo visits, relaxing.  Not bad, all in all.

But, about that garden work.  On Thursday we bought almost 40 plants for our "river hill".  On Friday and Saturday we put them all in the ground, despite the 110F (42.5C) mid-day temperature.

Our other Saturday activity was a swim-dinner across the street at Nancy and Gene's.  Cooling off in the pool was most welcome as was the wonderful BBQ dinner.  Outside dining after dark is a very pleasant aspect of Fresno's hot weather.
On Sunday (27th) we took the day off from garden, garage, and house tasks.  It was another hot day and it was good to "chill".  On Monday, it was back to work.  We finished the secret garden, including drip irrigation and a mulch cover. Now we just need the plants to survive in the hot summer weather we face.


d140729_36_water.jpgd140729_38_bermuda.jpgSpeaking of conservation in a near-desert, we now need to care for our lawn and new garden under drought conditions.  Recent water rationing rules means watering only twice a week,  in the early morning or late evening.   Fines up to $500 are being handed out for watering on any days but Sunday and Wednesday, any hour between 6am and 7pm, and for causing "too much" water on sidewalks and streets.  It is a shame, because Fresno with water is wonderful for landscapes and gardens, but without it will revert to dry and dusty scrub land.  As it is, we grow "Bermuda Grass" for our lawn, a weed-like plant that is ugly, dies back in winter, is patchy at best, but seems to survive with minimum water.

d140729_34_electricity.jpgOur other forced conservation effort involves time-of-day electricity rates.  We signed up to trade a 3-cents per kw-hr discount for very high rates on certain days, selected by the local power company.  On these "smart saver days", the electric rates go from about 10-cents-per-kw-hr to 73-cents-per-kw-hr between 2 and 7 pm. Needless to say, we do not run the air conditioner in those periods!  In addition, if we go above a certain monthly allotment, the normal rate goes up to about 35-cents-per-kw-hr.

Welcome to California!

That's it for this diary, I think.  I'll start another on Friday to tell the story of Ava and Sam's visit to Gigi's and Opa's.  This will be followed the next week by a visit from Rich and his folks.  Good times for Opa and Oma/Gigi!

John and Marianne

Again, for our own record (and for architect cousin Bob), here's more on the garage project.
The new front wall of the garage was installed with "strong walls" on either side.  The opposite end of the garage also got bracing for "overturning" prevention.
The inside is gradually getting more finished.
The old roof came off and a new one is getting done.  Promises are that next week it will be finished.
Our old windows and new doors arrived.  We also looked at a sample of a garage door, but decided against the faux-wood look in favor of a plain color.
New week:21st through 26th

Monday work on trim. (Tuesday, too busy to take pictures.)
Wednesday, the roof covering gets done, including power fans
On Thursday, the doors were mounted and the inside was cleaned up a bit.  Fortunately, this long, boring wall is invisible to us and almost all our neighbors.
On Friday, Gary put in his hand at roughing-in all the electrical while Brian and Cameron finished detail preparation for the stucco team.  They arrived Saturday and finished wrapping the place in tar paper and chicken wire.

On Monday (28th), Gary finished the rough electric so we could have the inspection done Tuesday. That check happened uneventfully and freed the way for me to start organizing my part of the garage.  Until the walls get done, my shelves need to be in the middle of the room, but it still makes it seem like we are making progress.


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