Idaho in May

When Tucson’s temps were pushing 100°, Twin Falls was balmy, in the 70’s.  I was visiting my daughter’s family there between my spring and summer sessions at Pima.

The Patio

In my last blog I detailed what had been done to her yard.  When I was there in Maya slab was to be poured in the back.  Rather than professionals doing it, husbands of women my daughter has met through her Mothers group volunteered to help.  Unfortunately, they had to do it after work Wednesday as one couple was leaving on vacation the next day.

twin front walkpatio 017patio 030Two hired labors had already moved the concrete pavers, using a neighbor’s hand truck, to the front yard for a new sidewalk, as designed.  patio 035(My daughter said they weighed “about 300 pounds”.  Not from Home Depot; never seen any that large before.)  She had already dug out holes for them.

When I got there they had dug out the patio area, 16’x28’, edged it with two-by-fours, put in a gravel base and metal reinforcement screens.  It patio 046was divided into three pouring sections.  We all watched a few youtube videos on how to do it, and rented the tools that morning.

Three of the men started pushing wheelbarrows full of concrete.  Alissa and one of the guys spread it.  Then the screeding.  (Do patio 049not pour it one inch higher than the boards, as recommended in one video.)

After that, sections two and three.  (My job was to keep the children and animals inside, with an occasional foray to the yard for photographs.)patio 068
patio 052patio 065broomNext the float was used, with my daughter doing hand trowel work where needed.  Just a short pizza break,  and back to work.  (Daylight savings time meant that they could work ‘til almost nine.)

Alissa wanted a broom finish, so that was done.  For control joints, it was patio 081patio 080recommended that they be done the next day with a concrete saw.

The finale for the day was handprints.

The next evening we patio 082patio 084patio 083patio 004dropped chalk lines and Josh ran the concrete saw.  Unfortunately, the concrete wasn’t floated enough, not enough “cream” on the top, so Josh kept hitting rocks.  Took him over two hours to cut all of the control joints.  We kept the concrete moist.

patio 018The third day we removed the forms.  Voila!  A patio!(Ramada to come.)

My Own Yard

Back in Tucson, not doing a lot of yard work in the 105° temperature.  But my yard is awash in animals.  The doves (white-winged and mourning dove) seem to drink a lot of water, but there is enough for the mockingbird, numerous finches, cardinals, and the ash-throated flycatcher.  Have seen a silky flycatcher (Phainopepla) in the brush, but he doesn’t come for water.

A young rabbit hopped across the patio early Sunday morning, and later in the day a roadrunner followed the same path.

The deer were just beyond the fence this evening, but didn’t want to pose.

Think the quail have cleverly nested under the cover for my drip system, which has a hole on either end of exactly the right size.  Was fixing a drip problem in the garden, but when I started to wash off the shovel, out came a quail, squawking and fluttering.  Much better place than in the large planter on my deck, where one nested last year, and squawked at me whenever I had to water the plant.  Had to cover it with chicken wire so the cat didn’t get to it.

Latest reading

Just finished The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson.  The New York Times (where it is #11 on their Paperback Trade Fiction list) describes it as

A series of picaresque adventures, [where] a young North Korean navigates the country’s repressive hierarchy; a 2013 Pulitzer Prize winner.

According to Wikipedia,

The picaresque novel is a popular sub-genre of prose fiction which might sometimes be satirical and depicts, in realistic and often humorous detail, the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who lives by his wits in a corrupt society.

Black humor, as in Voltaire’s Candide, where the characters Candide and his mentor, Pangloss, have horrible things happen to them as Pangloss intones that “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds”.  Some of the descriptions of North Korea’s gulags and tortures were a bit much for me; I had to put the book down occasionally as I feared nightmares.  But other than that, it is a page-turner, incredibly well written (obviously as it won the Pulitzer Prize), and an eye-opener to how horrible conditions are there.  (A Communist dictatorship where, as in Orwell’s  Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”)

You must read this interview with Johnson about his tour of North Korea,

A number of the events described in the novel are clearly inspired by true-life incidents. And Johnson jokes that he actually had to leave out some of the wackier actions of Kim Jong Il because they would have interfered with his novel’s essential believability.

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