Our latest project has been to transform the area between the house and t’other building which houses the shop/office/Panama’s apartment into something different.
The hard part was figuring out the right thought model.
There are a couple of large trees on hand. while it would be tempting to hack them down and turn the area into a huge greenhouse, that seemed like too much work. Putting in a pool (and using it as a heat sink, crossed my mind, too.
But in the end, a couple of pea gravel loads from John the Dump Truck Guy, seemed best, so we (mostly Elaine) tore out the odd plant that had taken root and in came the landscape cloth and then 3-4 inches of pea gravel.
And it looked OK, except something was missing. What might that be?
The answer was some research into Japanese rock gardens. They are NOT maintenance-free. But damn they look good.
So I’ve spent some time over on this site, looking at the various approaches. And, unbeknownst to me, Panama built a big wooden rake – about 2 1/2 fee wide – with teeth about every 3-inches or so.
Turns out our space was suitable for hiraniwa – flat Japanese rock garden. Although in size and sense of place, it’s more like the karesansui description (of dry rock gardens).
We may change it up a bit: The Japanese rock gardens usually have a very few large rocks which act as visual focal points…but we’ve decide to use an old stump-root, or something like that which might be round on the property. Or, I might weld up an oilrig sculpture and stick it in the gravel – a kind of statement about oil and what’s pending in the South China See where Japan and China have competing claims over oil resource under water.
Panama has a pretty nice “balanced art piece” out in front of his windows made out of balanced cedar logs. Kind of like a big mobile jutting up from the ground.
Elaine’s drifted into the spirit of this too; she’s carefully raking circles around the bases of the trees.
In a more controlled environment (like a city) we would have used sand (traditional) but because of the size of the area (35×50, roughly) we used pea gravel. The other reason on the pea gravel is because I can take a leaf blower to it; something you can’t do with sand.
Visually, the effect of seeing pea gravel at 30-feet feels like sand at 10…so we shall see how it works over time.
Fun to rake and play in…sort of like an adult sandbox. Not terribly expensive and it doesn’t kick up dirt and dust from the mower.
Rocks don’t generally need fertilizer and special handling…but this being where we are in human history, I’m sure one of these days a specialized tool (besides a few rakes) will show up on the net. We’ll be either buyers or toolmakers when they do.
Membership in the North American Japanese Garden Association is something we’re pondering, too. Their website (here) is worth looking at as some really wonderful gardens go scrolling by on their header.
Membership is $85 for a basic/basic but $150 to get their Journal. Depending on how important your “outdoor vibe” is, it’s better than just tossing a few railroad times and sod in and calling that landscaping.
Japan Woodworker has a good assortment of green and white pruning paste and other garden supplies over here. Training wires for your Bonsai, perhaps?
More practically, our best regards to Frank Tashiro of Tashiro Hardware in Seattle who turned 93 in January. A few of us early Seattleites (who were there before California moved north) can remember Tashiro Hardware’s early days, just south of “Muscatel Meadows” south of the King County Courthouse.
Reader asked this one:
“with the strong dollar, is it time to buy a Japanese car? “
I can’t say, yet. But a couple of thinking points. First, many Japanese cars are made in the USA now – so the money sent do Tokyo is small compared to what hits the US GDP. On the other hand, the question is also answered by looking at the 10-year Treasury at a couple of different zoom levels.
I’m not convinced that we can’t see see more declines in the interest rates, but that should be partly answered tomorrow morning when we get Consumer Price data.
How to Analyze the Nuclear War Worries
This came in from Montana Bill which I thought was pretty good:
One way to tell if things are going badly militarily is to check how many pizza delivery trucks show up at the pentagon parking lot after normal business hours.
And perhaps the way to judge success is by polling monument-makers or doing a Charmin check.
Why I Don’t Understand Humans
OK, not to go off too deeply here – I am a cat owner, after all – but somehow we I read about how a whale named Varvara making a “world record breaking” swim of 14,000 miles, my mind locks up.
It’s not a complete lock-up, of course. But look at the world out of the media bubble for a minute – see how we have industrialized and commoditized the pets that no longer serve a useful purpose? An y wonder why I shake my head?
A good psychologist would like call this “excessive projection” if my thinking is correct on this. It’s like the animal rights groups that find the warmest, fuzziest little critters than can and then raise MONEY with them.
Sure looks to me like fundraising. And the millions of animal rights sites, well many seem to have donate stickers, memberships, and ads on them. So yes, it’s a what?.
But when I point this out I’m painted as inhumane and insensitive to pet owners. Yes, the lot which includes a faction of anti-gun owners who then go out and buy a killer dog like a Rottweiler or Pit Bull. (Check the victims out here.)
Cuddly seals and baby kittens are a growth industry. So’s whale writing.
But seems to me that focusing on the reality of humans, rather than making up world records (projecting human fanatical obsession about time and distance) which could be an end-stage mass psychosis might be more useful.
Oh, wait. What’s my mantra? Either “…Auum pad my wallet, Auuumm…” or Everything’s a business model.” I assure you, that long-swimming whale doesn’t give a rip, nor benefit in any tangible way I can think of from the human-stories.
Probably doesn’t even come to “Varvara” when called. At least Zeus the cat does that. I’d say that’s evidence cats are smarter than whales – and people as well, in this case.
You know about psychological displacement already, of course. And I’m just sure every time a story about some pet absurdity – wild or tame – pops up in headlines you inspect it; give it a good sniff and wonder “Hmmm…does the whale care?” and so forth.
And when the “science” chants of how far whales swims is important comes up, I ask “Tom whom?”
Does it matter one iota if a whale swims 14,000 miles or 10,000? Not that I can see…
What a fool I am for mentioning it. 1.6K shares must know something I don’t. Damned if I can figure out what, though.
How about people are gullible, stupid, self-absorbed time-wasters, maybe?
Write when you break-even. I’ll be over in the non-fiction part of life.