Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tree Holes

Today we finally started working on the garden! We dug 3 large holes for three fruit trees. We're hoping to get fig, grapefruit and persimmon.
Tucson is known for its hard clay alkali soil, and also for its caliche - a really hard layer of deposited calcium carbonate. We heard that sometimes you need a jack hammer to penetrate it, otherwise your plants will die either because their roots can't go deep enough, or because the water would be trapped and suffocate the roots. Luckily we don't have a hard layer, but we do have some fragmented caliche. You can see it here as the white material in the hole:

Here's a look of the pile of soil we removed:

Because of that caliche-like stuff, we decided to test the soil for drainage, as recommended in a publication about caliche from the U of A. We partly filled the hole with water and measured the level to see if we get 4" of drainage per 4 hours.

It drained way faster than that. Actually, we got to test it again, just in case the water creates an impenetrable layer with the caliche. It drained pretty quickly the second time as well. So yay! We don't have caliche problems! What a relief!

Tomorrow we'll add gypsum to the bottom of the holes, and then mix the soil with some compost we got a huge pile of:

This will hopefully create a suitable rich substrate for the trees to grow, and the gypsum will hopefully make the soil softer.

Just in case you're wondering how we'll get all that compost to the garden area in the backyard, here's the answer :)

Today we also started digging the beds for the vegetable garden. We still have a lot to do tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Countertop is in!

Monday morning, way before our wake up time, the phone rang. It was the countertop installation person, asking if he could come an hour early. "Sure", I said, "since you already woke us up...". He apologized, and a few minutes later showed up ready to install the countertops.
We got them from the Home Depot, and they are made by Corian. They came with a free integrated sink that fitted our sink base cabinet, and a free edge upgrade; we chose the bullnose edge. Very classy. We ended up paying around $1700.

Here is the installer drilling holes for the faucet:

After the countertops were installed, we could start working on the installing the faucet. Here's what it looks like under the sink now:

The drain is not attached yet, because we keep finding more tubes that need extensions. Maybe tomorrow!

But we do have our sink:

Isn't it lovely??
We got it from the online Home Depot for about $90 less than they charge for the same thing at the store (we paid $100).
And just a general look at the countertop by the sink, even though there's still a lot of work-related mess:

Oh, and yes, on Sunday we installed the dishwasher!

So we almost have a functional kitchen. Perhaps tomorrow!

Monday, October 19, 2009


Yesterday we installed the LAST CABINET!!
We started the last section, which lies against an adobe brick wall, by preparing it. First, the we have a tall cabinet - 90 inches, that goes beyond the brick wall into a wood board that supports the ceiling beams. The board extends from the wall, so we had to cut it, and fill it with something else, that doesn't stick out. We also attached another board to the beams, so we can use them to support the wall cabinets with bolts. This is because the adobe brick crumbles easily, and we don't completely trust it to hold all of the cabinets' weight.

What you see here is the brick wall, with a piece of the board cut out (using the dremel) and the space covered with a think piece of plywood. Above it is the board that we attached to the beams for extra support for the cabinets.

Then we installed the tall cabinet, and aligned the base cabinets with it. This was the first time we installed the base cabinets before installing the wall ones. This required some help with holding the cabinets in place, which we got from some paint cans:

Finally - the wall cabinets were installed:

See the Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World on the "countertop"? Yes, I made some delicious cupcakes in the kitchen, even though we still don't have a sink, and all the ingredients are in boxes.

Tomorrow the countertop people will be here to measure the counter surface to be topped, and next week they will come to install it! Finally - after more than 2 months - we will have a sink!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Bit More Progress in the Kitchen

Yes! We have the essential kitchen in! That means, all the wall and base cabinets that are against the plaster walls, that hold or surround the fridge, microwave, stove, sink, and dishwasher. The non-essential kitchen is the part of the kitchen that will be against the brick wall and will give us extra storage and counterspace. That's pretty essential too. Especially for bread baking. We're working on this part now.

The microwave took all of Saturday to install. We wanted to make sure it's gonna stay where it's supposed to be, so we took extra precaution, in the form of extra screws and attachments to the cabinet above it and to the wall. Also, as I mentioned before, we made sure the cabinet above it is securely fastened to the wall and the ceiling beam.
It took a long time also because of vent that comes out of it and needed to be attached to ducts in the cabinet:

And then we had to seal the opening to the outside with some Great Stuff.
And cut it when it dried.

Can't wait to be done and remove all that protective plastic off the microwave!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Bit of Progress in the Kitchen

On Saturday we finally finished installing the wall cabinets on the southern wall. It took a long time because we had to deal with the most difficult of cabinets: the one that goes above the stove. That's because this single, 30 inch cabinet is the home of the air-conditioner vent, the microwave exhaust vent, and the microwave outlet, which means: a) it has to have a bunch of holes of various sizes; b) it has to be very strong, to hold the heavy microwave. So we had to measure and plan everything carefully, add extra support in the form of a bracket from the top and extra screws to the studs.

Once this cabinet was up, it wasn't too hard attaching the next two cabinets!

While Mark tried to figure out stuff, I was sitting in the living room, and I noticed that front yard plants cast lovely silhouettes on the corridor's wall, which reminded me of Japanese paintings:

I assure you, it looked much better real life. The wind also added a nice effect. Lovely.