Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lark Camp 2007 - Initial Schedule

Things change once you get to camp but here is what I am thinking 2 days before camp.
  • 8:00 Away from camp - Qigong and music practice
  • 10:30 Camp Three / Ring Of Fire - Middle Eastern Drumming, Mark Bell
  • 12:30 Camp Three / Ring Of Fire - Zimbabwean Marimba, Russ Landers
  • 2:30 Camp Two / Outdoor Dance Floor - Close Embrace Argentine Tango, Harriet Bye & Larry Sawyer
  • 4:00 Camp One / Behind Kitchen WC - Irish Flute, John Skelton
  • 5:30 Camp Two / Dance Hall - Open Embrace Argentine Tango, Harriet Bye & Larry Sawyer
  • 6:30 Camp Two - Dinner
  • Evening Camp One - Session / Dance

Beyond Compare 2

We have been using a nice file comparison tool at work (since we don't run UNIX). It is called Beyond Compare 2 and is available for free download and trial from Scooter Software.
In addition to a GUI for visualizing the similarities and/or differences BC2 has several add-on tools that gives it a great deal more functionality. I am using it to pretty print XML, to sort, and to convert Microsoft and Adobe proprietary files into simple ASCII text.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pavers for the patio

Did some research into materials for the deck in back. There are a lot of options, most are easily ruled out. Potential materials are:

We are going to go with pavers for these reasons:

  1. Low maintenance
  2. Professional installation, I don't have time/back to do myself
  3. Select color we want
  4. Interesting patten to give the space flow
  5. Flexible dimensions, go around curved wall and water feature
  6. Do it yourself repair
  7. Long life, does not weather
  8. Fire proof
  9. Earthquake resistant, repairable
  10. Not tracked into the house
  11. Not outrageously expensive

I wonder what the cost of running pavers around the house to the drive would be? [Est. 120 linear feet, 3 feet wide, $10-15 per square foot plus stuff comes to about $4ooo-$6000.] It might be a secondary project for another year.


Pacific Outdoor Living, good informational site that explains why you want pavers with professional installation.

A & A Stepping Stone, our local manufacture of pavers, just down the street.

Local library for books on patios, decks and gardens.

Paver estimator widget to figure out what your project is going to need in the way of materials.

Basalite calculator widget is another place to look. Very good specs of different vendors.

Glossary of paver terms.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ill Health

Ill Health is not taking responsibility for your body. It is not an accident.
Prof. Robert C. Hudson

Friday, July 20, 2007


I discovered a new Celtic band this afternoon, Xerfa. Check out their videos on YouTube (Abraham's Reel and Doa os teus Reels). They sound like Flook, good 21st century style bodhran.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lot Size

The house in on lot #11 of the Woodland Estates development. This bit of map is from the Placer County assessor's office. The building square footage is 2793 and the garage square footage is 808.

The curb is 63 and the back fence is 84 feet long.

Here are the dimensions of the house (a different scale than above). Note that the 2 Car Garage is under the house proper so the measurements of the house are all you need. [Click on the image to get a better view.]

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rain Gutters

K-style root gutter The wild fire mitigation tips say that we should keep the roof and gutters free of debris. I looked into the Rain Helmet type protection systems and they cost $10 to $20.00 per foot installed. We have the k-style gutter pictured.

I don't have that kind of money to spend plus you still need to do maintenance to clear the debris off the roof and clogged gutter protectors. No thanks. I took the money and bought a Little Giant ladder big enough to reach the second story roof. I'll clean them out myself Gates DOS it!

I read a lot about this back in December when we made the decision not to do the fancy solution. There was one place back east that had an interesting design that seamed to be to be very good. All I remember is that I didn't find any negative reviews (but found plenty of negative reviews of the fancy solutions). I'm going to see if I can find that site again and order three inside corners from them. The rest of the gutter I'll going to use the le cheapo Home Depot plastic do-it-yourself covers, $1-2 per foot.

Incidental, it was during the aforementioned research that I came across the idea of taking the money you would have spent to install the ritzy gutter system, invest it in a CD then use the interest to hire a guy to clean the gutters for you when they need it.

eGutter is a place to buy gutter supplies.

What about using rain chains? Perhaps running a hose up into the oak and having rain chain fountain(s) into the suikinkutsu. Ummmh, tinkly.

Eleven things to ask about a gutter protection system.

The Waterloov® leaf guard system could be the one I liked last year.

Wildfire Mitigation

As we develop our landscape plans we want to keep wildfire mitigation in mind.

It is very important to realize that no (livable!) house is fire proof, but you can make it more fire-safe!

Things we could do today:
- Remove leaf and branch debris from roof
- Clean out gutters
- Hoses on all spigots
- Cut back the rest of the "dead" grass in the back
- Remove the small trees under the oak, fire ladder into canopy


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Phase II begins

Dave of LandShaping came by yesterday to start the planning process for Phase II of your garden. This blog details many of the things we talked about.

Fire Mitigation

Plants should be in clumps, burn by them selves, not is stretches that will fuel a path for a wild fire. Visualize a fire ladder when planting next to the house, not good.

Put a garden hose at each spigot. When a fire starts the time to bring the hose around from the other side of the house is critical.

AI 4 jaya- talk to the local fire house. Ask them what we can do. Ask them if there is a way to mark the house so that in case of an emergency they will see that we have a high volume hose for them to utilize.

Weed Control

We will be putting down weed fabric to minimize the growth of unplanted plants.

Poison Oak

I had hoped that Dave would see our poison oak and say "poison oak, I can get rid of that for you." Instead he told us that we should work on getting rid of it and that it may take years to totally eradicate. All the usual warning. He also noticed that the trash shrubbery on the east end of the back fence is a "poison oak tree".

I'm going to start removal after band camp. Should I get some poisoning I don't want to have it on my vacation.

I'll need the large red bio-hazard bags from work, disposable gloves and some Brush-B-Gon . I found Ortho® Brush-B-Gon® Poison Ivy Killer, I think this will do the trick.


We are looking at almost 400 square foot of pavers. Dave suggested we stain the existing concrete pad to match the pavers (less expensive then removal or covering with thin pavers that will show the transition between the types of pavers. We will be using A & A Stepping Stone, just down the road. They have a good website for discovering the possibilities.

Steps and Path

Dave mentioned Three Rivers Wall Stone for consideration out front. We decided NOT to use crushed/decomposed granite as it will get tracked in and damage the floors.


Dave Polgar from came by yesterday to listen to your ideas for landscaping the house. We sent an hour going over our ideas, answering questions and asking us questions to clarify his understanding of what we want.

The LandShaping website has some pictures of Dave's work. He lives here and Auburn and may be contacted at 530-383-0798.

We're looking forward to working with Dave again. He helped us out when we first got the house with the erosion control measures.

The following entry details Dave's visit.

Friday, July 13, 2007

S.Z.B.E. Whistles

9 hole high D whistle S.Z.B.E., pronounced Susie Bee, is a new name in Irish tin whistles. This young Japanese musician's whistles are said to be quite good.

Bo has ordered one and if I like the sound and the way it plays perhaps I'll get one myself.

I am interested in Mr. Matsusakasan's design experiment in the EX models. Three additional holes are placed in the distal end of the whistle shaft to emit sound when all the normal holes are covered. Click on the picture to get a better look.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Radioactive Redhead

A good friend discovered an author previously unknown to me and sent me a couple of his books. They are the third and fourth books by John Zakour, hardboiled detective science fiction. The book I started reading today is The Radioactive Redhead, 2005. Click on the picture to see the book cover. The reviewers say that there are a lot of inside jokes. I am finding one or two every page. It makes me think about how many I am not seeing. It is a first person novel using a witty internal dialog with his sidekick/friend HARV. This "friend" is an AI program that has been downloaded into his brain (in an earlier book?). I was intrigued by the back cover, hooks by the third page. Finished the first chapter and didn't want to go back to work but I did so I can leave early and get back to the book. So far interesting insights, neat new futuristic lingo, good samurai/gun violence. I have every confidence that the sex will be just as exhilarating (he just rescued a beautiful redhead, ;) ;) say no more).

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Paving Ideas

We are ready to start planning the hardscape for the house. The water feature ideas we have are listed another blog entry this one will cover paving ideas.

A feature of the house and land is the red clay and stone. We want to use this and not fight it. We love the way the rock wall flows and blends into the land.

The back porch is concrete and looks like a condo patio. We are going to extend this patio out toward the rock wall, leaving planting space. It will go just a couple of feet toward the master bedroom window and swing around to the left toward the office window. I think it would be nice if the patio material came all the way up to the back door, covering the cement pad.

Walk beside driveway

The driveway is to steep for old people to walk up without injuring their Achilles tendons. Sharon thinks a walkway straight up the hill on the left of the drive, with steps as needed, will make the house more inviting. Again, we like the stone found on the property and will use it to make the "informal" steps up the hill.

Walkway to the back

From the top left of the driveway, running in front of the cement steps, we are going to put a path that goes around to the back of the house, past the kitchen and office. I am thinking crushed granite (this is what we used at the SF Children's Zoo, it is great and easy to repair). But I am open to suggestions. The requirements for this path are; wheelchair accessible, erosion resistant, comfortable to walk with "bad knees", keep shoes clean when it is raining and make the house more inviting.

Water spigots

In front of all the outdoor water taps we want a clean non-muddy place to stand. Perhaps the walk material could be used to pave the spigots. To prevent the force of the water from eroding indigenous stone will also be used. The one to the right of the garage could be a cement pad, extended driveway surface. What about putting the trash and green waste cans outside on this pad. Will we need to hide the cans from the street?

Stone facing

There is a product for covering flat walls with stone that goes up like siding. There is a flavor that roughly matches the stone on site. That might look good covering the cement facing the street use in the front steps and giant planter boxes.

Sidewalk stone wall

When I first saw the house I though a knee high stone work wall look nice along the sidewalk. It would draw the eyes down, complement the stone work around the house and give us a level planting area for flowers and such. However, after living here and seeing similar stone walls around the neighborhood I'm thinking it might not be such a good idea 5 to 10 years from now, the earth moves. In any case, Sharon did this great mockup of what it could look like planted with manzanita (see March 2nd blog).

Water Feature Ideas

We are ready to start planning the hardscape for the house. The water feature ideas we have are listed in this entry, another blog entry will cover paving.

We want a water feature that will generate a little bit of cooling water sound. Not a loud fountain but something more subtle and meditative. We are thinking that it will go against the wall either outside the office window or in the inside corner (see picture). Water feature location

Personally I think a suikinkutsu would be audiosome. And I have always wanted a shishi odoshi in my garden (see photo). I am concerned that the clacking may get annoying in time and bother the neighbors. Perhaps I should install a pin to keep it from dropping and just allow the water to fall into the basin via the bamboo water vestal.

Or maybe just a simple pot with water shooting straight up and falling back in, variable speed motor to control the height/volume. We saw a beautiful ceramic at the spa store today, royal blue carp jumping with its mouth open (two feet tall).

In any case we need to decide upon the location and run the plumbing. I want it to automatically fill and it will use an electric motor so we need to run a water pipe and electricity to the location. If there are no low voltage fountain pumps then we will install an electric outlet that may also be used to plug in radios, bug zappers and such.

In a few years we will install a covered hot tub, just outside the master bedroom window. This will need plumbing, electrical and a cement pad. I don't expect this to impact the landscaping as we have access under the house to this area.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Dragon and Tiger wall hanging

The new sewing machine has gotten me back into quilting :).


I took today off work to stay home and sew. Pulled out a couple of wall hangings I started years ago when I first opened my dojo in San Jose. For years one of these quilt print wall hangings was up in the dojo, unbound. They are now both bound and complete.

Normally I piece the binding strips together on a 45° angle to minimize the bulge (a wear point) and maximize strength. However, this is a wall hanging that will not see any wear on the edges so I did straight seams and butterflied them (folded away from each other); the seams lay flat and are not noticed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Sexy new toy

Sharon came home today with my birthday present, boy what a surprise. The Elna 7200 Pro Quilter's Dream computerized sewing machine.

Looks like I'm going to be spending 4th July sewing :). In addition to hooking Sharon up with my dream machine Mel also passed along the flannel quilt I put together a couple of months ago. I'll take pictures after I bind it and blog the results.

After this quilt is bound I'm going to finish off the pine bark quilt for a friend's baby boy. Now that I have the 7200 I'll be able to quilt it myself.

Check out the sales brochure to get an idea what a special tool this is or the Operator's Manual for full details. Sharon and I are going to have to read this 91 page book and work many of the procedures so that we will be able to do just about anything we need to do. The lack of the manual greatly decreased the value of the embroidery machine (use to trade for the 7200).