The “monsoon season” here in Phoenix was officially a BUST. This was another dry year with high temps, yielding 0.47 inches rain in a desert valley that historically gets an average of 2.65 inches of rainfall, according to this National Weather Service explanation of the Arizona Monsoon…
To folks in northern California (not to mention Oregon and Washington), 2.65 inches is pathetic. It’s enough to help keep the yard from drying up and blowing away, though we do use the high-maintenance drip irrigation even with the desert landscaping. In the mountains to the north, average rainfalls are much higher, and this all-important watershed keeps the Salt River flowing.
By the time the Salt River gets to Phoenix, it is a wide dusty dry channel. One year I actually did see it briefly fill, shallowly, to about 200 feet wide. In the floods of over a decade ago, the channel briefly filled to flood warning stage.
So, I’m down here for a short two-day mini-vacation in one of the hotter mid-Septembers on record. Today we have yet another traditional photo of the L.L. Bean thermometer mounted on a porch post in the back, and it was 108 in the shade yesterday. A good day to stay indoors.
But I couldn’t. There is always some urgent surprise to keep you from relaxing on a vacation down here.
Speaking of drip irrigation: yesterday my favorite plumbing company was scheduled to come and take a look at the broken anti-siphon valve. It was leaking so badly the ground was saturated. Last trip, I had to shut it down, which turns off the drip irrigation system. Poor plants!
The George Brazil Co. plumber arrived. He is new, replacing Kevin, the best plumber I ever knew, but he was trained by Kevin. He took one look at the valve and said, “we don’t touch those”, and called in to the office. For these, you need an irrigation specialist, and I called one. They would be out in a couple of hours.
Since the plumber was already here, I let him replace two bath lav faucet sets. I had bought them a year ago for Kevin to replace. I have done plumbing projects myself in the past, and I’m determined but not experienced or equipped with all the appropriate tools, so I knew it would take me a day or two. Think “Dagwood Bumstead”, only with an eventual installation and skinned knuckles.
I let the plumber charge me $600 for swapping out two faucet sets that I had already purchased. Don’t you dare even say a word. However, the plumber earned his keep, running into trouble with one of the drain traps (the little knob you pull to stopper the drain) which kept him there with file and hacksaw for an hour extra time on his employer’s nickel. I’m glad it wasn’t me.
So then “Lee” of Evergreen Irrigation arrived. We knew exactly what the problem was, but we couldn’t swap out the part because it was set too close to the other valves. Then too the old pipes are a little flakey – literally – and one might bust in the operation, and we don’t know how deep they go or where they lead.
I didn’t say much. I was already envisioning several thousand bucks to support a dilapidated ten year old drip irrigation system that I hate. Plants that don’t need any water at ALL were beginning to sound attractive.
Lee offered to try to rebuild the anti-siphon valve. It was a different brand than the parts they stocked in the van, so he’d have to go buy the parts. No guarantee it would work. I agreed we should try that.
And it worked. I noticed the timed electric shutoff valve wasn’t shutting off – probably debris stirred up from the line – and he had the part to swap that out. And, the electronic clock-timer control box was old and the switches corroded – I didn’t suppose he could swap that out too? He could, and did. The whole bill was under $500 (including parts). The whole front end of the drip system is in great repair now, and I am eternally grateful, and so are the plants.
I’d planned on making a paperwork run downtown today. Household stuff. It looks like what’s actually going to happen is: I’ll enjoy the day, go nowhere, eat breakfast around noon, go back north tomorrow, and re-schedule this task for October when I have more time in Phoenix, a whole week to be exact.
Coming full circle to the title of this ramble, the european starlings are back in town. I heard Mr. Popslider’s distinctive whistle and saw him sitting in one of his favorite old spots in the big ol’ pine tree next door. Welcome home, Mr. Popslider – and stay in the shade!
Southeast sky in September … Click image for 1024×768 desktop file.
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