Sunday, March 28, 2010

A new house providing weather information

The story behind this post started over a year and a half ago when Clint and Marianne drove from San Clemente, California to Oklahoma for a visit and then to spend Thanksgiving in Dallas watching the Cowboys play football in Roger Stauback's private box.  On their way they made a stop in Palm Desert to see an ex-neighbor, Grandma Cherry.  Grandma Cherry had moved there from San Clemente recently and was living with her brother.  You can meet Grandma Cherry here. Apparently Grandma Cherry's brother has a hobby of making bird houses.  Now these are not just little bird houses that you hang on your tree.  No these are bird condos built multiple stories tall.

Now, Marianne knows that I have lots of bird feeders in my yard and consequently, lots of birds hanging out in my trees.  And Marianne has bought me a couple of bird houses in the past, one that looks a bit like a television...
and another that looks more like a bunker, a concrete bunker.  In fact this one is made of concret, so a bunker is a good descriptor.
But I didn't have a condo, much less an Oklahoma cremson and cream colored bird condo.  So they bought one, put it in the car and drove onto Oklahoma for a visit with Max's dad in Tulsa. Max and I were still in San Francisco, without a yard or trees or a place to put a bird house.   But Max and I would be driving that direction in December on our way back to Ohio, so why worry about sending it all the way to Ohio when we would be coming through Tulsa in only a few weeks?  So Marianne unloaded the condo in Max's dad's garage telling them to give it to us when we arrive.

We did drive through Tulsa with our little Honda Civic Hybrid absolutely packed to the gills with all the stuff that we couldn't get  the movers to haul.  That amounted to all the stuff we would need before the movers arrived plus six cases of wine we got at our favorite winery in Sonoma.  So our car had room for Max and me in the front seats and that was about all.  This bird house was about the size of 1.5  wine cases and very oddly shaped, not nice straight corners and edges.  So it was either leave some wine in Tulsa (not on your life), or leave the bird house (not exactly what Max's dad wanted us to do), or try to make room.  So I pulled most of the stuff out, moved the seats up a little further for the final 700 mile drive and rearranged everything again before finally getting it all in the car.  We got the bird house home and put it in the garage, off in a corner because I didn't know what to do with it. Every family needs a Marianne!  Especially if that family has a Don.  Don is the supreme example of orderly, conservative, pragmatist.  And Marianne is a perfect foil for my Don.  I just love to begin a Marianne Adventure with Don.  We're all in for a surprise-especially probably Don and Marianne.  It's Don's mumbled- "and she wants to do what?" that is my alert that the fun is about to begin!

Now what does all of this have to do with weather information?  As most of you experienced, this was one tough winter.  We got a lot of snow that slowly melted during the day and refroze during night forming lots of very big icicles.  My in-door out-door thermometer had a probe hanging out of my kitchen window and it became encased in a long string of ice.  I tried to get the ice off, but instead broke off the temperature probe.  Now I only had an in-door thermometer.

So I went on line and decided to buy myself a new weather station, one that tells me not only current, maximum and minimum in-door and out-door temperatures, but also humidity, dew point, wind speed, barometric pressure, wind chill, and measures rain.  Now you're probably wondering if any individual household actually needs this much information.  Well the answer is a resounding YES.  Now- when we sit for those long, long, long meandering conversations of the newly retired/unemployed we can talk about humidity and dew point and barometric pressure- not just temperature.  I highly recommend it for all couples with much, much time to spend together!
Now the only question was where to put it so it could detect the wind (had to be up high), would catch the rain (couldn't be under a tree) and wouldn't be affected by direct sun.  I decided it needed a tall pole with some sort of platform to hold the weather station and shield it from the sun.

And then Max suggested:  "Why don't you put it on top of the bird condo?"  What a great idea!  That would solve two problems.  That's my job folks.  And I'm good at it.  I'm just sitting around coming up with new ideas to keep my Don entertained- and useful- and busy!  You really don't want a Don pacing around the house when you're trying to have "zenful" moments!
So I went out and bought a 12 ft treated 4X4, some sakcrete and some treated plywood and got to work.

The 4X4 got put in the ground with the concrete and the plywood got put on top with a bracket.
Once I got the platform on I had to haul the condo up onto the top.  In this picture I'm on an 8 ft ladder.

Then the condo had to be centered and we had to make sure the platform was level before we attached it to the platform using a number of heavy screws.

The finished bird condo weather station with the rain gauge extended off to the side and the temperature and humidity placed on the underside.

And finally the view from our bedroom window so I can at least see if it's windy when I get up.  Of course I could also just look at the trees, but that's just so low tech.


Liz said...

That is a beautiful bird house! Even the perfect colors!

Clinton said...

I think that's one of the funniest posts. Sure, I'm bound to think it funny since I was a part of it, but bird condo, I lol'd. And I love it! WOW! -Marianne

Sandy said...

Somebody around there is a good sport!

Lucas said...

That is SO COOL! I love the combo because the house is so colorful and pretty and sort of distracts you from the utilitarian look of the weather equipment. Nicely done you too! One question though, are barametors bird-poop proof? Just wondering. :D

Don said...

@ Lucas I'm not sure which part of the weather station has the barometer, but I hope it is poop proof. The rain gauge however is very exposed, but so far I have seen any renters.

smathis75 said...

thats really cool. i look forward to hearing which birds take up residents there. Will there be a condo association they need to be approved by? :)

Anonymous said...

I swear, your blog should be published in print some day, and your pictures belong in a magazine!

Love the one of the "view from the bedroom".


Brandy said...

I guess the bird condo can also be used as a guest house when lots of company visit, if the birds allow it.