Thursday, June 12, 2008

Warm weather

It’s starting to warm up here, getting more like late Spring weather. Yesterday topped a cool (to us) 86f, today predicted 94f, and from then on into the 100’s, with 106f (41c) due on Sunday. This is June, it will be warmer in July and August. Right now the weather is wonderful – nice to sit out and have breakfast on our patio. Our lunchtime walk is very pleasant, full sun and warming up, with lots of pink and red tourists about. We reach our hottest temperature around 6 or 7pm, the temperatures drop around 30f each night, so it is a major difference between night and day. And sunshine; do I mention the sunshine often enough? B and I took a neighborhood walk last evening; commenting on the blue and the only white we saw in the sky were airplane trails overhead. It is the major reason we live here, when we decided to leave San Diego five years ago we looked all over the West, really liking Portland but decided we could not stand not the cold but the lack of sun. This was really enforced during our visit up there last month; all of the trees (and roofs and sidewalks and houses) had moss growing on them, indicating the wet and the lack of direct sun.

The sage is in bloom all over the valley. Things are much more purple than last year, don’t know what makes things flower more in different years, but this seems to be the June of the sage. There are several varieties, with flower color ranging from a pale pink to an intense purple. We have several types planted around our yard, but put Texas Ranger right outside the kitchen window. These have been in for four years, and are over six feet high right now.

You can see the problem that developed with our camera; the center is in focus but the edges are blurry. It’s a Cannon that we got several years ago, and evidently dropped while up in Portland, as the second half of our trip photos look like this. I will send it off for repair, not knowing if the cost of repair will be greater than the cost of the camera. But in preparation I purchased a new one, another flat fits-in-your-pocket model, Sony and with 13.2 mega pixels. It’s the top rated small camera by CU, so I figured I’d follow their advice. Nobody in town had one in stock, so off to the internets and it showed up yesterday. Pics posted here are not of good enough quality for you to see the difference, but I am looking forward to getting some pretty nice prints off of those new inkjets we also recently purchased.

Our house is about thirty years old, which is old for Vegas. It was added on to before we purchased it, all on one level. Our old knees feel much better not having to negotiate stairs any more, and our dogs also are much happier not climbing. Well, they are under ten pounds apiece and also getting old (Buster is around 16 years old now) so stairs are major obstacles to them. There are three air conditioning units up on the roof, each covering a different section of the house. This makes for good flexibility, as we only have to heat or cool the bedrooms at night or the main rooms during the day. There are also two swamp coolers up there. Called swamp coolers, they are really evaporative coolers. They look like big metal boxes, about a meter on each side. Inside the cooling element is a piece of corrugated cardboard about eight inches thick. Water recycles over the cardboard, and a large fan pulls air through the corrugations, which is cooled by the water evaporating. These types of units work great out here in the desert, where our humidity is usually down around 3%. The water evaporates easily, and it drops the temperature around 25-30f. Because there is only a fan and small recirculation pump it only costs about 25% of what it costs to run the air conditioners. This is the time of year they work best, dropping that 100f air down to 75 or so, and only increasing the humidity inside by a little (which is really needed). When the temp gets up around 110f then the drop is not enough, and we start using the more expensive air conditioner units.

We usually turn the swamps off when we go to bed, and keep the overhead fan on all night. We put ceiling fans in every room, and they are very good at keeping the air moving, which helps both when it is warm in the summertime as well as aiding in circulating the heated air in the winter. Our house was built by a contractor for himself, so it was very well made. The exterior walls are all 6” thick and filled with insulation, as is the attic. There is an attic exhaust fan on the roof as well, which keeps the temperature up there down around the ambient outside temperature, rather than letting it heat up to the 150f or so attics tend to get to around here, so the ceilings aren’t radiating heat. We have lots of windows, all are double paned and well insulated, and put in high patio covers all around so that we don’t have direct sunlight on any of the windows or outside walls until close to sunset. This also gives us shady places to sit outside; putting the covers up high also gives lots of room for air circulation and keeps the hot air well above our heads. I installed overhead fans out there as well, so we can have air movement even when there is no wind.

So our place is well equipped for being out here in the desert. I guess if we were in cold country there would be a fireplace in every room.

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