Trip to the Grower’s Market

It’s a fine summer morning as I decide to ride my bike down to the Corrales Grower’s Market. I take the irrigation ditch road to the Rec Center, where the Grower’s Market is held twice a week.

It’s the peak of the harvest season. The vegetables and fruits on sale display a riot of color and bathe the senses in sounds and aromas.

Enjoy this photo essay of my visit to the Grower’s Market.

Corrales’ farmers depend on irrigation water delivered in acequias like this one.

The road along the irrigation ditch is designed for access to and maintenance of the acequia. It also provides a wonderful venue for walking, jogging, and cycling.

A large gate across the main ditch is lowered to raise the water level and allow the property owner to access the irrigation water.  This is the opening through which water flows to the field to be irrigated.

 

 

 

Water flows from the main ditch through a smaller one to irrigate the farmer’s field.

Property lines back up to the acequia right of way. Many properties have gates providing access to the irrigation ditch road.

The hot, Mediterranean climate, and an abundance of irrigation water make Corrales an excellent place for growing wine grapes.

Corrales farmers take pride in their locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Nearly all the produce is advertised as organically grown.

Heirloom varieties, like this Mr. Stripey tomato, abound.

The Bosque Baking Company sells wonderful bread. The potato scallion loaf is my favorite.

Roasting green chiles is a harvest time tradition across New Mexico.

Corrales used to be famed for its orchards. Much fruit is still grown here.

Tomatoes!

For $5 you can get a huge breakfast burrito

Not just a place to buy food, the Grower’s Market is a family outing

Live music is featured every week.

At the other end of the rec center, the Hot Flashes practice their horseback drill routine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mouthwatering Vegan Mediterranean Salad

I ran across a recipe for this Mediterranean salad at Mouthwatering Middle Eastern Style Salad Mouthwatering Vegan Recipes™. It looked so good I had to try it.

First, you chop up some veggies into small squares.

Start with cherry tomatoes…

Red peppers

… then add some red peppers …

Spring onions

… spring onions…

… Cucumbers…

… parsley …

… Garlic …

Finish off with some wild greens and canned white beans. Top it with homemade dressing and viola! … Salad is ready.

Yes, it tastes as good as it looks!

Tech Notes

I was looking for a better app to post from iPad. The WordPress app is OK, but I was not entirely pleased with it. After reading a review of Blogsy, I purchased the app. This is my first post using Blogsy.

Overall I have a good impression of Blogsy. On this post, however, I had some issues being able to place images where I want them. This may just be a learning curve. I’ll find out as I use it more.

Also, this post was done from home, where I have a full speed wi-fi connection. The real test will come on the road. I’m hoping Blogsy will help me make a post while I am away on an adventure, with no wi-fi service available. Of course, the blog won’t actually be posted until I get service, but I hope to be able to write the post and include all the pictures, ready for uploading.

Hosting Upgrade

I had some problems uploading images with Blogsy.  This turned out to be a limitation of my hosting package with my ISP.  An upgrade to the hosting package (same price as before) solved the problem.  The upgrade also positively affected my ongoing problems with child themes.

2010 Retrospective

This is something new for me; I don’t usually engage in much self-introspection, but as this has been a year of changes, it seems appropriate to summarize what has happened in 2010, and maybe what the outlook will be for the future.

2010 started with a whimper, as my employer implemented a one-week furlough for all employees.  While loss of a week’s pay is never desirable, I was able to endure it without much financial hardship.  I actually appreciated the company’s effort to weather the recession without massive layoffs.  I did not mind contributing a week’s pay to prevent others from losing their job entirely.  Also, the furlough was scheduled for the first week in January, extending the Christmas holiday by a week.  It was kind of nice having a full week off; started me thinking about retirement and what I could do if I did not have to go into the office at all!

I took the opportunity to do a self-assessment during the furlough week.  This instrument was designed to help me understand where my interests lie.  No surprises, but it did clarify that I like to travel and experience different places and cultures.  I really enjoyed my month-long archeological adventure on a dig in Jordan in 2009.  Overseas travel is expensive, so I decided to look for adventures locally.

I also like technology, so I decided to combine these two interests and start this blog.  I’ve never been a journal-er — past attempts at keeping a journal have fizzled out after a few weeks.  This time, I decided to start my own WordPress blog, as opposed to using Blogger or similar platform.  I did this because I wanted to learn the internal workings of WordPress, and to have more control over format than shared hosting could provide.  Objective partially accomplished: I know about ISP, hosting, FTP, and a lot about the internals of WordPress.  But I don’t have the time to become an expert in WordPress and haven’t been able implement all the content-management features that I would like.

An extraordinary success is that it has now been a year, and the journal/blog is still alive!  By concentrating on my interests in travel, nature, and adventures, rather than a diary, I’ve been able to maintain my interest and post in a semi-regular manner.  I can combine photographs and GPS tracks to document my adventures, and that feeds my interest in technology.

As well as not having been a journal-er, I’ve also not been a writer.  Of course, a 33-year career in engineering requires that I do a lot of writing, but it has been technical writing.  I’ve written specifications, test reports, PowerPoint, briefs to management, a few conference articles — all designed to convey information accurately, precisely, and concisely, but not especially creatively.  In 2011 I am going to try to work on my writing; try to make posts not sound like technical papers!

I still have a day job, so time-consuming adventures have to be rare, but I’ve started treating every day like an adventure.  Others may not consider rebuilding the back deck to be an adventure, but it is to me, because it is not something I do every day.  I have to learn new facts and procedures, and because I am not especially talented at working with my hands, it really is an adventure where the final result is not taken for granted!

This post is getting to be too long, so let’s get on to the major events and changes that happened in 2010.

  • My oldest graduated high school in May.  She’s now completed a semester in the honors program at Andrews University.  She got all “A”‘s with one “A-”.  I brag on her every chance I get!
  • My Dad expressed an interest in seeing the “big trees”.  So with my brothers James and Tim, and my cousin Dan, we rented a Class C RV and spent a week traveling through the redwoods in northern California in July.  James and I cooked, Dan and Tim cleaned up.  When I asked my Dad at Christmas about the trip, the food was the first thing he mentioned.  Sometimes it is not the destination but the experience that makes the biggest impression!  This was a special trip for Dad and his sons; at 87 future opportunities for these kinds of experiences are limited.  I followed up by taking my Dad on a trip to Carlsbad Caverns over the Christmas holidays.
  • I planned an adventure at Chaco Canyon in September to see the Autumn Equinox.  This turned into an adventure of a different kind, as I hit a patch of wet clay on a dirt road in Navajo country, lost traction and rolled the car.  No injuries, fortunately, but the car was a total loss.
  • I refinanced the house in December.  Besides a favorable interest rate (3.125%) this starts the clock running for future changes as this is a 5-year ARM.

What is the outlook for the future?  There are some milestones coming up that work nicely into a five-year plan.  God willing, here is what I foresee:

  • December 2010.  Refinance with 5-year ARM.
  • May 2012.  Richard graduates high school and starts college that fall.  Two kids are in college, with attendant expenses.
  • May 2014.  Abigail graduates college.  Educational expenses drop by half.
  • February 2015.  20 years with my employer.  Company contribution to my pension depends on years of service, and maxes out at 20 years.
  • January 2016.  ARM resets.  Interest rate may rise 2%.  Given the rate at which the government is printing money, I expect inflation to be in full swing and my interest rate to rise the full 2%.
  • April 2016.  House goes on the market.  Hopefully it will sell before the fall.  I have until then to get all the home improvement projects completed and the house in shape to get the best price.  In 2010 three projects were completed and one started:
  • May 2016.  Richard graduates college.  Educational expenses drop to zero.
  • 2022.  Normal retirement age at 67.

Lots of options start to open up in 2016/2017.  Until then, I’ll treat every day as an adventure.

SWAT Drama

Even after removing the paint, the posts holding up the deck are discolored and darker than new wood. An orbital sander was used to remove vestiges of paint and discolored wood.

Portions of the morning were spent preparing the rear deck for stain.  Richard worked the heat gun as he stripped old paint, and I sanded the posts.  A pretty boring adventure if you ask me.  We had to knock off before noon for Richard’s driving lesson.

The excitement came from eavesdropping on a SWAT team action a couple streets over.  From the back of the house we could clearly hear the loudspeaker as the police attempted to apprehend the “perp”.

“PATRICK, WE KNOW YOU ARE IN THERE.  COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP.  WE HAVE A WARRANT FOR YOUR ARREST.  WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY.”

Patrick was not buying it.  The loudspeaker continued blaring out messages for a couple hours, occasionally offering advice to residents.

“STAY IN YOUR HOUSE.  IF YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY CALL 911.”

We wondered when the police were going to lose patience and use the “flash-bangs”.  That happened about 9:30, according to the newspaper.  We did not hear this occur, and of course the action was too far away to see anything.

Patrick, by the way, is on an FBI terrorist watch list due to an altercation at the airport.  Probation and Parole officers were after him for not checking in with his parole officer.  Corrales police escorted, NM State Police and Albuquerque police assisted, and the Rio Rancho SWAT team was called in.  Full details at the Albuquerque Journal and Corrales Comment.

After sanding, the existing posts (two on the right) match the new one (on left) and should take stain equally. The finished deck should have an even color.

A New Deck Support Post

The rear deck rebuild adventure continues. Today’s goal was to remove remaining paint and stand up the corner post. Richard tackled the paint; I tackled the post.  I may have set a personal best in the number of power tools used today!  See if you come up with the same number as I do.

The old corner post will be sanded to remove discolored wood. After staining it will look like the new beam on the right.

After sanding, the old post looks pretty good. Unfortunately, it could not be used in the deck repair.

I started by sanding the post that we had taken down last week.  My thought was that a portable belt sander would work best for removing the top layer of discolored wood.  To that end I had picked up some sanding belts at Harbor Freight earlier in the week.  No success.  The belt loaded up right away and was basically useless.

Side note: I was at Harbor Freight, which is not close to my house, for another reason, and the sanding belts were an impulse purchase.  To my horror, they came in a variety of similar sizes: 3×18, 3×21, 4×20, 4×24, etc.  I whipped out my iPhone, googled Craftsman portable belt sanders, and noted that Sears was selling the 3×21 size.  I bought that size belt and they fit!

The end of the beam is marked for cutting. The 45 angle has too much dry rot to salvage.

I next tried the random orbit sander.  To my surprise, this device aggressively removed wood.  It was much faster than the belt sander and the sandpaper did not load up as quickly.  It did wear out so I was glad I had bought the large economy pack of sanding disks at Lowe’s.  The post had some paint left on it so I used the heat gun to melt it off before hitting it with the sander.

Rotten beam ends are cut off. A new post is needed because it has to be longer to fill the gap left by the cut beams.

My plan was to cut off the ends of the two beams where they met at a 45 degree angle, replace the two ends with a single short piece of 6×6 that would be lag screwed to the longer beams, and set the assembly on the same post that was there.  This plan had been reviewed with my consultant the week before.  To that end I had purchased an 8′ length of 6×6 (it did not come in shorter lengths).  Then I had second thoughts; I only need 9′ of the  10′ 6×10 beam.  I could trim the remainder into a 6×6 piece for the corner. and return the 8′ 6×6.

Two-inch angle iron was used to fasten the new post to the old beams. This produced a very secure joint.

I proceeded to mark all the cuts, took pictures of all the markings, and texted them to Tim for one last confirmation that I was doing the right thing.  Immediately the answer came back: “No! You need to replace the entire post.”  Tim had doubts about the ability of the lag screws to hold the weight of the deck.  Could I use the 8′ 6×6?  No, it was about 6 inches too short.

So I loaded up the 8′ post and lag screws and returned them to Lowe’s.  Unfortunately, Lowe’s does not carry 6×6 posts in lengths longer than 8′.  Fortunately Home Depot is a half mile away.  Unfortunately they don’t carry longer 6×6 posts either.  While I was wandering about the store, pondering my next move, I saw it.  One 6x6x10′ grade A post, sitting in the Return to Vendor (RTV) area.  It was special order, but had not been accepted by the customer.  Home Depot was glad to sell it to me for $20.

The new post is in place. I don't know exactly how the deck railings will look at completion, so the post was left at full 10-foot length to allow for maximum options. It will be cut to length later.

Back at the homestead, it was time to cut off the rotted ends of the beams and make room for the new post.   the first cut was made with a circular saw.  As this cut only went about halfway through the beam it was finished with a reciprocating saw.  Now there was room to stand up the new post.

A 1/2-inch hole was bored into the bottom of the post to fit the rebar coming up out of the concrete slab, using the corded drill.  A little hammer-and-chisel work was needed to trim up a warped beam, so the post could stand up straight.  The post was held in place with a piece of scrap wood fastened with deck screws driven by a cordless drill.

The job was completed by fastening the new post to the beams with 2-inch angle iron.  The angle was cut to length with the reciprocating saw and holes for the lag screws were drilled on the Shopsmith configured as a drill press.

Power Tools Used

Did you find all the power tools used in this adventure?  There were eight.  Here they are again.

  1. Portable belt sander
  2. Random orbit sander
  3. Heat gun
  4. Circular saw
  5. Reciprocating saw
  6. Portable corded drill
  7. Cordless drill
  8. Drill press