Jan 16, 2013

Having trouble with your droid? No, no problem. Why?

Two weeks have passed by in a flash since my last entry. While attempting to figure out the solar power inverter, the plumbing, and several other mischievous things about this house, we have been busier here than we were during our last month of frantically packing and saying our goodbyes in Venice Beach. 

For the first 23 days we’ve had no hot water in the main house and had to boil water on the stove to wash dishes, clean the kitchen and the rest of the house. We’ve been taking hot showers in a freezing cold room in the "Art Barn" until the pipes over there finally froze.

A few days before my birthday (Jan 9th) one of the maintenance guys from the STAR School brought over a hot water on demand unit to replace our broken water heater. He and the ranch owner were going to attempt hooking it up as “an experiment”. The unit itself is used; the knobs on it are even from an old kitchen stove that was pilfered from somewhere on the property that day! They worked as long as they could while we went into town to get the parts we needed to finish the job. It's a 60 mile round trip to Flagstaff so going into town to get essentials, groceries, pet store, and Home Depot takes an entire day. By about 4pm on our way back we ran into them on the dirt road heading home. They were beat and called it a day, so it was going to be one more day without hot water.

The next day the maintenance guy came over by himself to finish the job. While hooking up a pipe he ended up braking a section of pvc. No big deal if you live in the city. Here we would have to drive 60 miles round trip again for that one part. So we searched the Art Barn and the Blue Barn and found a box of promising looking pvc connecters. The unit got hooked up! We had hot water for a night. …And then.

“Yay, it’s my birthday. I’m gonna relax today, have a hot shower without having to walk with all my bathroom shit and my clothes and towel in the cold to another freezing house”. I’m sitting on a chair with my legs propped up on an ottoman while checking out Facebook and I hear WHOOOOOSH! I yell to Jana, “I just heard a loud water sound coming from the middle bathroom!”
  “Well check it,” she screams back from the kitchen.  We both run in there and water was gushing from the place where the maintenance guy broke the pipe and rigged it the day before.

This is not the droid you're looking for. The hot water on demand unit.
Jana going for it!

Her "J" is backwards, but "J" is for Jana and "Hot" is for Hot Water Mama.
Yeah, it sucked. But, Jana is super smart, mechanically inclined, and a welder. She took charge and we both came up with solutions to fix it without having to drive into town for parts. While fixing the pipe we somehow broke a copper to brass connection on the unit. We were bummed but quickly rallied. Jana went onYouTube and figured out how to “sweat” copper and brass together using a torch and solder. We searched the grounds and actually found what we needed to weld it back together. We worked on the damn thing all day and managed to fix it. We didn’t even argue and I didn’t even complain about not getting my birthday enchilada dinner. Jana went into town the day before and bought a ton of ingredients for enchiladas and gingered pear upside down cake and planned on baking all day. Turns out we make a pretty good team and we were both pretty proud of our accomplishment so in the end it was a good test for our relationship that in my opinion we passed.

The Blue Barn and the Hippie Bus. Photo by Jana Davis from AZ DECOM 2007.

In the middle of the chaos we have been visiting with friends and family, going on dates to the movies, and checking out the local cuisine. We went to the Flagstaff Art walk in 12-degree weather. What do you say to that Venice Art Crawlers? Yesterday we discovered La Posada Hotel and Restaurant in Winslow. I highly recommend the food there and I really want to stay there sometime. La Posada is also a great example of what artists can do with a historic building no one else knows what to do with. We ended up spending a couple of hours exploring the hotel and looking at all of the historic photos and reading about all of the famous people that have stayed there. I'm wishing for a time in the not to distant future that rail travel comes back in style and there will be a shinkensen (bullet train) from Chicago to LA resurrecting the old route 66 and making stops at beautiful places like La Posada along the way.
A little cold weather cant keep us away from the art. Jana posing in the alley during the January Flagstaff Artwalk.
Somehow I have even managed to squeeze making art into all of this. I’ve been working on a very meticulous sculpture for a show I have in Vegas at Tasty Space on February 1st. Please come say hi if you’re in the area! Click here for the Facebook invite.

Detail of the sculpture I'm working on. You'll have to see the whole thing in person in Vegas Feb 1st- March 31st 2013
Napoleon "Bone-apart" before I started bending him into a fetal/cannon-ball position. The thing he's laying on is actually a real coffin under a sheet. Imagine me on top of this skeleton trying to bend its spine on a coffin out in the boonies with Jack the attack cat watching.
Here I am threading pom-poms onto monofilament for the sculpture. 
At the moment neither of us have normal jobs (whatever that is). At this rate I have no idea how we are going to. I do however still have my side job picking up missing balloons. When I ran on the beach I had one rule. I had to pick up any balloons or plastic bags that I saw. Sea turtles, other animals, and birds often mistake balloons and plastic bags for food. Plastic bags look a lot like Jellies to a Sea turtle and every balloon and bag I see on the beach makes me think of a dead turtle. So if you see a balloon or a plastic bag PICK IT UP!

On my last run on the beach in Venice I picked up 10 balloons. A record. I usually only find one or two.

Latex ones are the worst, especially the pink ones. A lot of sea creatures are pink.

I saw this on the same day I found all the balloons and thought that this guy suffocated from having a bag stuck on its head. On closer inspection it is actually its own throat pouch wrapped around his beak.
Way up here there are no living Sea turtles and almost zero trash. Saw this way out in the middle of nowhere  on my most recent walk with the dogs and just started laughing.
I actually enjoy all of this pioneer stuff. The cold weather and snow is exotic to me and I really like doing manly primal tasks like chopping wood and lighting fires in the wood burning stoves. Maybe it will get old, maybe I’ll like it so much I'll want to stay here forever. Either way, I’d like to think my future self is proud of our efforts here. If he’s tried to make contact to tell me so I’ve been too busy to hear it.


  1. Whoa sounds like a barrel of monkeys...err balloons out there. Cool reading about it. Keep on bloggin'!

  2. Hey Bill and Jana, an adventure indeed is this new life! I think your blog is the beginning of the book that FutureBill is going to publish - you know, *that* book. I'm just catching up with all the other entries so it's a full-immersion read. Glad the hot water got fixed. Bundle up and live that life.

  3. Dear Bill's future self,

    What did I wind up calling his after party in Las Vegas on Feb 1? I can't think of a good name for a after party at a drag bar.
    I need you to come back here for a sec and whisper it in my ear.

    Sunny Bak

  4. Jana comes in to save the day! How did your droid hold up during the year? Soldering copper plumbing pipes is easy, that is if you’re able to do it right the first time, but troublesome the second time around. Once the metal reaches the proper temperature, plumb the solder wicks into the joint and it should make for a watertight seal. If it isn’t hot enough, the joint will most likely leak.

    Levi Eslinger @ CapitalPlumbing