Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Gusty winds all day. 25 - 40 mph.  Stayed cooped up inside.  Even longhorns hate the wind...and no, you can't come in.  64,74,57,0,G

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

slumber party

Not in the mood for roofing today so I picked a task out of the "to do" jar - start clearing the containers that will me my new house and office.  This is the before picture.  It will be quite sometime until the after picture appears but I gotta get the ball rolling if it's ever gonna happen.  Benita and the gang were here all afternoon, then headed out SW to bed down for the night.  56,72,32,0,W

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

under the weather...

Felt a bit out of sorts today so laid particularly low.  Personal and systems maintenance the only task for the day.  Been noticing lately that my solar hot water doesn't heat up as fast as it should.  Turned things off and disconnected hoses - found that my thermosyphon was not syphoning.  The low valve out of the tank was clogged with sediment.  Only thing to do was remove the valve stem, poke a wire through, and let the water flow.  Got a brief blast as the valve cleared then buttoned up all the connections.  Now the water is back to circulating as it should - perhaps a hot shower tomorrow afternoon.  58,70,34,0,C

Monday, December 27, 2010


Run down south this morning to post some post Christmas postcard orders at the post office.  Got 2 propane tanks filled then hauled 125 gallons of water over to my friend Cynta in the ghost town.  She is housing "the girl from back home" (Kristinna) who is out for her Christmas break this week.  Now KP can shower off that Albany grit.

It is rare this time of year to see any longhorns in my area - including Benita.  For some reason, she and a small herd of 14 are visiting for the holiday season.  Nice to have them around except for the fact that they started chewing on the Christmas lights on my rock wall.  Took those strings off today - hopefully they won't start chewing on the house lights. 

Some afternoon clouds provided the area with a rather nice sunset this evening.  As of today - it has been 118 days since the last rain.  53,71,26,0,B

Sunday, December 26, 2010

back in the day...

Nothing going at TFL today except sorting out the year.  A "low-low" overnight and winds and chill prohibited more roofing today.  Thinking about my old home town as they get socked in by snow tonight.  Kinda miss the sound of the snowplows going up and down Rt. 203 after some big snow back home.  This photo from a storm in my Brooklyn studio hood in 1998.  48,63,24,0,B

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010


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Thursday, December 23, 2010


My new friends Joe Coles, Marty and JT were out for a Field Lab tour in October.  While we walked the grounds, Joe set up his camera to capture a swarm of dragonflies attempting to lay eggs on a large sheet of broken glass that they must have thought was water.  He posted a video of it on YouTube recently  and it gave me an idea for a new edit. 
Joe was kind enough to send me a disc so I could play with his video.  Super windy again today but it shifted in just the right direction for me to record some audio from my aeolian harp.  Took a clip from his video, rendered it with the airbrush filter in Adobe Premiere Elements 8.0, and added my audio. Thanks Joe!  55,72,50,0,W

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

its beginning to look a lot like...

Yesterday was consumed by finding a ride to Alpine (thanks "Bent Love Handle" Brent) so I could retrieve my beloved V8.  Had fantastic summer weather at TFL on the first day of winter.  Today was consumed by a water run down south, a bunch of last minute postcard orders to send out, and more work on the Christmas light show.  Just about got it all rigged.  This years photo is going to be a bit wider so I have more to illuminate than just the house.  Lighting the set really takes me back to my photo daze.  Ode to my old boss Chris Callis:  the angle of incidence = the angle of reflection.  55,86,35,0,C

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

4 more panels up...

...but just didn't have it in me to take another picture of the roof.   This is going to go on till the end of the year.  Rigged another string of lights on the house.  I got blue and white - just have to figure out how to add the real color to it.
From the archives: here is a photo I did for Fortune Magazine back in the NYC daze...when the internet was just starting to take off.  (note some business models that worked - Google, YouTube, Facebook)   First they called me about building props for a shoot - then they hired me to photograph it as well.  Editorial photo rates are pretty minimal.  I think I got paid $250 to shoot the picture.  But my prop building business at the time made $750 to get the stuff together.  Glad I got out of that racket years ago....photoshop would have killed my prop business.  55,69,29.0,C

Friday, December 17, 2010

don't pull that string...

Cold morning at the Field Lab.  Since I'm truck less for now, I waited as long as I could before heading to the GrubShack to get a good hot meal in my belly.  My other modes of transportation are a bit chilly for a ride outta here.  Had a long stay after a late breakfast and chatted up my rock star friend Brent Lovelady (of The Bent Love Handles)  They finally finished their CD and it is due for release soon.  I am planning on shooting some video of a live performance on Sunday.  If the rest of their music is as good as the first two songs I have featured here - it will be a "must buy"!  Full review and ordering info coming soon.

Finally warmed up and was still enough to get back to some roofing this afternoon.  Got 2 more sheets of polycarbonate screwed down.  Getting faster as I go along now - down to 50 minutes per sheet.  Hopefully I can get this portion done by the end of the year.  Was going to go for a 3rd sheet and the winds picked up so I started prepping for the last string of lights for the house.  Twice today Benita "hooked 'em" and got her horn caught in the firing string to the flamethrower.  Training her to shoot it off would be quite a trick.  51,65,34,0,B

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

poly one...

Dead calm this morning so I scurried up the ladder and affixed the first transparent panel into place.  This last section is going to be rather time consuming as each screw requires 3 different size drill bits.  I reckon the process will evolve over time.  The winds picked up just as I was finishing the last couple of fasteners.

Long lunch at the GrubShack.  Eva gave me a great early Christmas present - Benita cookies.  Would never have imagined that someday I would get cookies that looked like my pet longhorn cow.  Eva really gets a gold star!

20 - 25mph winds all afternoon so I stayed off the roof and began working on my lighting scheme for this year's holiday season.  Got one strip mounted and I think the plan will work.   Going for a very ordered/minimalist light show this year.  54,81,31,0,W

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

resonant frequency...

Just a bit too breezy to tackle some polycarbonate.  Got started but these panels are so big'n'light they want to fly in the slightest wind.  Resigned myself to drilling and screwing instead.  Late in the day I removed the shade panels on my front porch ahead of what is supposed to be a gusty warm day tomorrow.  This time of year I don't need the panels as their primary purpose is to block the morning and afternoon sun from heating up my swamp cooler.

An interesting anomaly occurred since I ran that string line up on top of the greenhouse roof.  Seems it has turned my structure into a giant sound sculpture.  Wind out of the SW makes the tin sing.  Working on a video I shot of the phenomenon today and will post it later.  Rumor has it the phones and internet will be going down for a couple of hours tonight for a system wide upgrade so getting the blog out early.  58,78,30,0,B and DSL still functioning at 7PM - so here is the video.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010


More screws in the roof but no poly yet....too windy this afternoon.  Got 6 sets of solar Christmas lights for this year's show and spent a couple of hours troubleshooting two sets that didn't work.  Fixed one - the other will have to be hardwired.  Very poor workmanship inside these things.  Exceptionally warm day.  Got a call from Bonnie Cain this afternoon - her husband Dick spotted Benita being courted by two bulls when she was away from home a couple of weeks ago.  ( that's why she disappeared for about a week)  Would be nice if she could manage to drop a healthy calf at TFL next August.  Keep your fingers crossed. 58,83,40,0,B

Friday, December 10, 2010

visit from the gecko...

Had a little (no physical injury) fender-bender a couple of days ago with my favorite neighbor.  Seems parts of our dirt road aren't quite wide enough in certain spots for 2 vehicles going in opposite directions.  Unfortunately my insurance company deems this a no fault accident and local law enforcement has no jurisdiction on ranch roads.  At least my vehicle is fully insured and I'm licensed and legally registered in the state of Texas. My new best friend Mike Diaz drove all the way out here from Midland to assess the damage for Geico....$2,675.33.  The Toyota is going to the hospital next week in Alpine for repairs.  Think it might be time to add a mega-bumper and grill guard to ward off the next offending on comer.  Benita was still on hand today, and kept mootering "It wasn't my fault!"

Ran a string line up top on the greenhouse roof this afternoon and set the high course of steel flats for the polycarbonate.  I'm pretty sure the window is squared and ready to go now.  Although it has been dry for months - I really need to get this section secured as soon as possible.  Once the roof is finished, the next step will be to weld some brackets into place so I have something to attach the gutters to.  I have two 3,000 gallon tanks to put into place before the next rain - if it ever happens.  60,76,28,0,B

Thursday, December 9, 2010

from the realm of the absurd...

Full morning of errands down south.  Home in plenty of time to ponder the next phase of roofing.  Pondered away the afternoon then took a baby step by affixing one strip of end closure to a metal flat with Lexel caulk (the best caulk on the planet!).  Critical to get the first piece of polycarbonate lined up before proceeding with the rest of the "big window" on the greenhouse roof.  Side note: the wheat grass soil test is progressing well.

Now for the ABSURD... as if all the other current world news of the day isn't bad enough.  This "alert" on Yahoo struck me because of my early days in the fashion industry.  "Honeysuckle has been named as Pantone’s color of the year for 2011. The reddish-pink shade of the color reflects an energetic and uplifting mood hoped to be felt in the new year.  The 2010 color was Turquoise, and with its bluish hue, it served as an escape for many¸ encouraging feelings of peace and calmness. Now, with the introduction of Honeysuckle as the new color, it establishes a stimulating influence to lift spirits."   good luck with that!...  54,74,26,0,B

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

office day

GrubShack breakfast then spent the morning cleaning out my truck - I've kinda let it go in there.  Found junk mail from over a year ago and a couple of wrenches I've been looking for.  The 3 years of dust and dirt I will deal with another time.  Lengthy tour at noon for my friend Canadian Tony and his sister and brother in law.  Benita was in good form for the event.  Got an email today from Lloyd Kahn with the rough layout of my pages in his new book about tiny houses.  Started searching the archives for high resolution Field Lab images to send him. I gotta lotta pictures to sift through.  UPS dropped off my new solar powered led's for the 2010 holiday light show.  Fantastic Christmas card in the mail today from my new best friend (due to receive some free FL postcards!) Andrea Torres.  48,71,33,0,C

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

3 Years!

It's hard to believe I have been here for 3 years as of today....and still lovin the desert.  Seems like only yesterday that I got that first lumber order and started assembling the panels for my little hut.  I must say that I am still very pleased with this life choice.  Spent most of the day cleaning and priming the steel flats for the final section of roofing.  Did my annual trek to the Starlight this evening for a celebratory margarita.....or two.  And so it goes...  59,75,39,0,B

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

pyro sunday...

The project I hinted at yesterday was the flamethrower.  All the parts came together as per the instructions. First test went flawlessly.

Special thanks to William Gurstelle - the author of Backyard Ballistics and Absinthe and Flamethrowers....I couldn't have done it without you.  48,61,40,0,B

Saturday, December 4, 2010

wheat grass

Long day in Alpine....multi-task shopping.  Fulfilled the needs of 5 different projects.  One of which I got parts for months ago and am finally in the position to do a test tomorrow.  Unpacked and potted 3 more soil tests ( with aged cow poo and asbestos free vermiculite).  The first batch of wheat grass is taking off.  Benita is setting a record this year - still coming home for attention.  BTW... those who send in my favorite portraits of her get a free set of Field Lab postcards.  57,84,28,0,B

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Plan

Thanks for all the suggestions - some were pretty dang close to my solution.  I must say that I really liked RJ's concept the best!  When I bought the materials, I also purchased end strips to correspond to the wave forms of the materials - foam inserts for the corrugated metal and plastic for the polycarbonate.  Tomorrow I am picking up some 2" flat stock steel 1/8" thick for the transition.  I loosely pieced together some parts to show the plan, using an aluminum strait edge in place of the steel flats.  I am lining up and  laying down the flat stock first (white primed to inhibit rust) and screwing through the foam into the peeks of the corrugated metal .  Then I will offset the plastic end pieces and screw down the polycarbonate into the flat stock.  The unions will overlap the corrugated metal about 4" at the top and on the south side.  Will add caulk as needed.  If none of this makes any sense - just wait and see how it all comes together. Sometimes it is hard to put into words the precise details in my noggin.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

the plan?

Got the east edge piece of roofing up this comes the tricky part.  Seems the engineers who designed this building have not thought through all the details.  Just about figured out how to meld two different profiles of roofing - the trick is that the two different materials don't line up with their peaks and valleys.  The corrugated metal is a pure sign wave and the polycarbonate is a modified sign wave with a different frequency.  Who'd a thought the greenhouse design would be kinda like my electrical systems?  Hmmmmm...  48.74,25,0,C

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Call for Artists

Benita surprised me by coming home today. Not sure what she is thinking but nice to see her again this late in the season. When I tracked her yesterday, I found some "bedding spots" in the weedy grass where she might be chillin for the night when not in the mood to head further west. 

I have two great drawings of her from her youngest fans - I would really like to collect more. If you are younger than me (51) - and if you are so inclined, please do a drawing of Benita and email it to me. This one is by my friend Ace.

Just managed a bit of roof prep for the next phase today. It got way colder last night than the forecast called for. (coldest night so far this year)  Had another breech in the hot water system that needed to be attended to this morning. Fired up all the FL vehicles today for a spin. Had to add a solar panel to the go kart battery for a 1/2 hour before it would start...took the Ural to the GrubShack for lunch...changed the oil in the quad.  44,69,20,0,B