Week seven @ BTA

Sunday January 2nd, 2022

Sunday, and I actually got the blog out by the scheduled time, and that has not been the case in recent weeks. So what happen today? I’m not really sure so we can just hope I finish and publish this blog on time. Well I spent the rest of the day of catching up on some electronic filing, moving files onto storage discs, and as the year is coming to a close, it is a time to reflect on the past year and maybe even do some planning.

Miss Laurie spent a few hours weeding the gardens here around the common area, because it is easier to fill her “need to weed” after a little rain to soften the soil. Before enjoying some sunshine, today we had some cloud, some sunshine, but at least not much wind today. We are caught up in some crazy weather that is not usual, last weeks rain has been met with jubilation here in the desert. Southwest United States has been under drought conditions for over ten years and now the yearly rain fall of seven inches looks like it is going to be met. With last weeks rain, the area got close to two inches which was almost triple the normal December rainfall. And with showers in next weeks forecast, records are being broken, and a look to northern states, is showing storms and snow that will help replenish, badly needed water for Nevada, Arizona, and California as well.

As usual I did get out into the arboretum for a short walk this afternoon, and here are some of todays photos. Taken in the Wallace Forest area of the new Wallace Garden area of the Arboretum.

Monday, and today is forecast to be one of the nicer days this week, but not near the temperature levels of normal, we just kicked back this morning, and after lunch made the trek into Mesa for this weeks supply run, so quick stops at Kohl’s and Walmart, as we just needed a few items.

Although there was signage at Kohl’s suggesting the wearing of masks while in the store, it appeared that still only be fifty percent of customers were wearing masks. Now yesterday there were only 200,000 new cases in the States, so really no need to be alarmed, right? And of course at any Walmart in the southern States we are always just glad to see people have remembered to wear their pants, so the wearing of masks would be just way too much to expect or hope for.

Our coach slide leaked again when we had the heavy rain so I wanted to pick up some tape to cover the area that I assume must be leaking. Because it leaks with the slide in or out, the leak must be at the outer edge, but there is no obvious spot of entry. So by tapping this area if we stop the leak for this weeks rain then I will know where I need to repair, and while it will be a difficult repair, Arizona is normally a good place for such repairs because it can be weeks between storms.

Tuesday, and another cloudy day, temperatures today are forecast for a high of 50°F (10°C) and a low of 40°F (7°C), well below the normal, but the rain that we have already received should make for an outstanding spring bloom here in the desert. Miss Laurie commented on our drive yesterday, on just how green the desert appears, and it does. Normally the desert looks brown and dry, now there is no shortage of things jumping to life, which has always amazed me, most of the desert is very fertile soil, so add a little rain and it springs to life, take the rain away and it again goes dormant until someone adds water. That becomes very visible in areas like Yuma, where huge fields of vegetables are being grown in the desert, “just add water”.

The sun is peaking through the clouds, and it feels warm on my skin, even on these cool days. Watching the weather this morning it looks like 2021 is going out cold and wet, and that weather pattern changes for 2022 to return us to the Arizona weather that we drive here to enjoy.

Well I took on a project today that I have put off for some time, our oil fired burner has not been operating, oh I knew why. This boiler is quite complex, and has a lot of moving parts, you may remember back in October and the issue with the fuel line. Shortly after that repair, we blew a fuse for the boiler, now a number of things are controlled by that fuse, but I could hear the air compressor changing its operating speed and tone. And again there was no information on the component, so it was just instinct that guided me through the repair. What I found was just debris on the armature of the compressor motor. So just some clean up after disassembly, reassemble, bench test, and reinstall and test the operation.

I do not understand why everything has to be just an automatic replacement in the world today. I can still remember an instructor during my first college session, he said that as a mechanic that you will never know how to repair everything, but you should be able to observe a device, and anticipate the mechanics of it, to allow you to proceed to repair it. And that has served me well over the years, having been able to repair many items that were considered un repairable. Here again the replacement item is $600 and it took a couple of hours to get it operating again.

Wednesday, morning and it’s beginning to look a lot like October in Ontario, overcast with rain, the main difference is it is still warmer here than Ontario. The neat thing about the winter in the desert is when it’s overcast at night the temperature stays much milder overnight. We will see some overnight temperatures near or below freezing, next year when we get back to those sunny Arizona days, but on the brighter side the days are getting longer, which means spring in the desert, must be just around the corner. Well that corner could be a few months off, but at least we are pulling away from that winter corner. I will be the first to admit as we watch the weather across the States that it is not normal in so many places as we hear of flight canceled because of weather or the lack of flight crew to fly the places. The covid cases are over 300,000 today and are expected to be over 400,000 by the end of the week, so we are planning on getting our booster shots next week, unlike back in Canada, vaccinations and boosters are available everywhere here in Arizona, people just are getting them. This is where I could fall into a rant about the pandemic, but I have flogged that horse almost to death, so I will just move on.

Thursday, and again it is our work week Monday, but this is a special Monday, just sixteen years ago today on a warm Friday in Las Vegas Miss Laurie became Mrs. Laurie Buchanan, making me one very lucky guy. So to celebrate we are after working from 10 till 3 today, and then heading off to Mesa for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, a big night out for the Buchanan’s. Since I have known Miss Laurie she has always had a favorite meal that has always be her go to, so when I asked what she would like to go for a birthday, anniversary or whatever it was the Outback’s Alice Spring Chicken, and as times have changed the Outback restaurant chain has diminished and it has become harder to find so now she has a backup which is “Thai Coconut-Lime Chicken” at “The Cheesecake Factory” so off we go.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like The Cheesecake Factory as well, my problem is the size of the menu, it has to have over a hundred items, and don’t get me started on all the different cheesecakes, and I guess I just have a problem with that many choices. And the descriptions of each make them sound so damn good, so when you don’t have that go-to meal, like Miss Laurie, picking an entre can become a major task, then throw in a dark atmosphere and me in old prescription glasses this is now almost a job, well not really but it seems more challenging than having known what you want before leaving home.

So the next issue is the size of the portions, this is an issue here in the states, lets just say to save room for a piece of cheese cake, I have leftover shepherds pie in the fridge. As always the meal was excellent and we left full and happy. Oh I forgot to mention, because we were early for our reservation we went shopping for a new frying pan, doesn’t everyone go frying pan shopping for their anniversary?

Friday, New Years Eve and an overcast day again, the rain is not expected until afternoon now, and while not what we were hoping for, it has been great to see the desert react to the moisture, as Miss Laurie stated earlier just about how green the desert is. As we prepare for the new year the staff is working hard to cover the most delicate plants to protect them from the freeze warning that we are expecting after the rain quits and the clouds clear. So it looks like we have big white ghosts in the arboretum now, or snow covering in some areas, the arboretum has plants from around the world and some just can’t survive the winter cold without some protection.

So todays attendance was not nearly what was anticipated but when looking at the weather, it was most likely everything that could be expected on New Years Eve.

Saturday, New Year’s Day and the power has been out at the arboretum since the Thunderstorm rolled through at 3am this morning, so I can hear the other host volunteers firing up generators as their coaches cool down, we are just running off our batteries, with our electric heater still running on high. I woke up to the sound of water dripping, and I found that cover had been ripped off of our front air conditioner, allowing the heavy rain to leak through in the living room area, so after using towels to catch the water, tomorrows job will be reinstalling the old cover until I can locate a new cover.

And as we prepare to start work at 8am we have watched the morning news, had breakfast, and prepared our lunch and as we shut off the electric heater our battery bank was down to around 25%, but with the sun rising and the clouds dispersing the solar should be replenishing our battery bank soon. Our supervisor Chris explained that a downed power pole would mean no power for at least a couple of hours, so we set up in the ticket booth and prepared for a couple hours of manual operation, and I just watched as Miss Laurie handled it like the champ that she is. Recording all the information to be entered later when the power is restored, but I must say it was damn cold in our little steel ticket booth.

The power came back on at about 10:30, then the scramble to get the electronics up and connected, as the crowd levels are building now, being one of just a handful of venues to open on New Years Day, but by the end of the day we had a busy day at the arboretum and everything was as it should be. A lot of new visitors to the arboretum who were either just exploring or maybe they were looking to start a new tradition for future New Years Days. But one thing that is heard over and over again “we didn’t know the arboretum was here” and as they walk back up the path they are truly amazed by its rugged beauty, and vowing to return soon.

Sunday, and its cold here this morning, like 30°F (-1°C) and at 6:30am , I’m sitting in from of my laptop wondering how come I’m so far behind on this blog, after working on it all week, how is this possible! And I guess the conclusion is that I just can’t be trusted to keep on schedule, because I look at this week and I see three blogs have posted since my last “weekly” blog, and one was a whole video experimenting thing that I had never done before and then I start to understand why I’m so far behind schedule. And while on that topic how did everyone like the video of Queen Creek flowing? You must remember here in the desert that was a big event, many people drove out just to see this event that happens just a few times a year. Would you like to see more videos? And less of my ramblings? I’m struggling a little with the concept of one or the other or maybe I’ll just throw in an occasional video and see how that works out.

It’s almost noon here in the desert so I’m only a couple of hours behind!

Happy 2022!

1552 Days

4 thoughts on “Week seven @ BTA

  1. Pictures are amazing – and the surroundings look soo calming. Enjoy.
    Glad that you and Laurie had a nice anniversary dinner. Happy Anniversary and many more.
    Brian – do you ever consider doing a Tik Tok on your vast knowledge of how to repair mechanical “stuff”?
    I think it would be amazing to others.
    Thanks for sharing and all the best to you and Laurie in 2022.


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