Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rebuilding the refrigerator

The advantage of having a commercial refrigerator is that you can have any worn-out parts replaced without having to buy a whole new refrigerator. The disadvantage is that having the parts replaced will cost you more than a conventional consumer refrigerator.

In this case the heaviest chunk of metal on the condensing unit is the fitting that is leaking refrigerant. If the heaviest part is corroded from salt air, what does that tell you about the life-expectancy of the rest of the unit? The evaporative component inside the refrigerator cabinet was also leaking and one of the two fans inside it was non-operative.

So it was also replaced...

Interestingly, the technician told me that foods such as tomatoes, lemons, pickles or other acidic foods left uncovered in the refrig will emit acids that will attack the copper piping that carries the refrigerant and can cause leaks. Cover your leftovers!



farmer ants

The plant is a croton gold dust (codiaeum). Lives in plant room 2 of the greenhouse. It's been looking a little piqued lately, so I was looking it over closely. At first I didn't notice anything, but then I saw some ants running up and down the stem. I remembered reading something about ants farming scale insect for the 'honeydew' they produce, so I scrutinized even closer, and sure enough, I found numerous green translucent scale insects that were almost undetectable down in the nook between the leaf stem and the trunk of the plant. Click on the picture and you'll see the ants and maybe even one or two of the scale bumps.

Horticultural oil smothers these non-ambulatory bugs, so I let 'em have it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

June blooms

Stephanotis floribunda:

Calathea roseopicta, aka Prayer plant.

Desert Rose:



Stasis seafoam

Cistus, rock rose, mexican primrose...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The pelicans are coming

I could see them afar off...

...and then they were near....

...they passed right overhead...

...heading north...

...and we spotted an otter in the cove. They've been hard hit this year, by disease; their numbers are few, so we take note when we see, or hear them

...and then the sun set...

...and set...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009


Scale is a bug. When you can see it, it looks like a bump. There are different varieties; hard, soft, easy to see and not so easy. Once the bug settles down to business it stops looking like a bug and starts looking inconspicuous....that's when your leaves start turning yellow and falling off. On an orange tree we have in the greenhouse, the telltale sign that clued me in was the sticky "honeydew" that is scale's byproduct. They need protein to live, and there's not a lot of that in plant juice, so after sucking out enough plant sap to get the protein they need, it leaves a lot of sugar left over, and that's what they 'discard', hence the sticky stuff called honeydew, which shows up on the leaf surfaces. Seeing that I knew something was going on, but this soft scale is greenish and very hard to see. Scraping it off with a fingernail, and a light coat of parafinic oil in the cool of shade will keep it under control.

We are harvesting big, ripe strawberries. Unfortunately, this picture doesn't show the prizewinners because they disappeared almost as soon as they came in the kitchen door and were rinsed off. : )

Thursday, June 11, 2009

setting up shop...

An advance squadron of black aphids were discovered by chance today laying the groundwork for a full-on assault in the courtyard. The few pictured above are only a small sampling of the numbers who were setting up shop on our privit foliage. A blast from the hose was sufficient to send them away.

Then & Now

Above, a picture taken at an unknown date, perhaps circa 1922, around the time the house was completed. Below a picture taken today from a similar vantage point(but slightly to the right). Beyond the obvious differences in foliage, the thing that strikes me is the large crack in the circular stone wall that is now apparent and the changes in the slope falling off rightwards just below there. (Click on image below for larger view) It appears that some of the stone work has slipped away leaving a more shear drop, and that perhaps helps explain the settlement that presumably caused the crack to develop. Or it may be that pine needles cover that stone work and my slightly different orientation makes it appear that way.

Here is a picture of the granite cliff face below the ledge:

...and on down into the chasm below...


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Up on the roof

A few of us 'more mature' youngsters remember the old hit "Up on the Roof". Penned by Carole King, I always prefered the Laura Nyro cover. Anyway, I've always enjoyed getting up there; as a contractor it's one of the few less-celebrated perks of "housework".

But as I gazed up into the afternoon sun one day recently, I noticed a few buzzing bees hovering around one of our chimneys, and having had a certain experience here with said buzzing, I decided to investigate.

Once I got up there, I was distracted by the uncommon perspective that being up on the roof affords, so I snapped a few pictures to help convey that perspective:

Here, the main path approaches the house:

Looking down off the roof's edge to water's edge.

Here, the means to get down to that water's edge:

And looking straight down the rocky rampart.

Along the southern edge of the house looking west:

At that path's end is this vantage point....

looking westward....

Even on the roof, the wild things grow and bloom...

...the ocean side of the house, the sea terrace.

and from the same vantage point, looking south:

...and northward along the granite path towards the greenhouse.

Rooftop view of Point Lobos:

On the east side, we see the courtyard in bloom...

...and my spotter keeping an eye on me....

Now, back to work...the bees are buzzing in and out of this chimney at the very top...

...but a close inspection reveals only a few scouts, but no major hive-building activity or imperial colonization...

The view from up here is captivating, architecturally and otherwise:

The very top of the chimney is missing it's spark arrestor, which is revealed by the fact that old roofing tar outlines the footprint of where it used to reside atop the chimney. This explains why the bees are making inquiries regarding available real estate. I'll have to explore suitable options for capping the chimney opening with a new spark (and bee) arrestor.