Sunday, April 20, 2008

Babies in Japan

Hey. So we went to Japan for my friend Patrick's wedding. It was great. Here are some photos .

The highlight was Patrick making a pregnancy announcement at the after-wedding dinner/reception thing. His mom claimed to have known, but I don't believe her. I don't know why she would pretend that she knew.

I mean, when he said it was true, her face was like a stone. Like a shocked stone pretending that it didn't hear anything. And then quickly pretending that it had known all along. That's all.

Oh yeah. I haven't developed the panoramic photos yet. They're coming tho-


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

urbanite construction and raised beds

Our backyard used to be a parking lot, and there's still a lot of concrete back there. At a work party recently, we busted up another 10'x10' square. With that busted concrete, I built a retaining wall for the raised beds that also serves as a bench for the social area around the swing. I was really surprised how well it turned out.

urbanite wall at Mariposa Grove

I learned a few things while doing this, which hopefully I, or you, can use in future urbanite construction.

My wall is rather narrow, which is preferable for a host of reasons - aesthetic, space conserving - but it's only put together with dirt, no mortar or cob or nothin'. So while it feels really stable right now, I'm not sure about its longevity.

Besides just making it thicker, or using cob under the top layer, I think it could be made to be sturdier if I hadn't made it flat at each level. Here's an illustration of what I mean:
my thoughts on future urbanite walls with no mortar
If I was to do it again, I would make each level slant in toward the dirt, and only make the top pieces level. Or, if it was a stand-alone wall, I would make it lean in on itself, each cross section looking like a very shallow "V." Basically, as Kevin (one of my Grovers) pointed out, the cross section would be a modified (filled in) arch. This way it would better resist any lateral pressures.

Okay. So I mentioned that we made raised beds, but I didn't show any pictures yet. We used a basket-weaving technique with a lot of the trimmings from trees in our yard and on the street. Here's a couple of pictures.

a closeup of the woven bed made of plum branches
a close up.
and now, an overhead:
top down on the raised beds.

Bob van de Walle, one of the Grovers, keeps a blog where he also mentions the raised beds. His pics might give you another idea of what they look like (tho his are during construction).

He also mentions the sprouting of some of the stakes that we used to build the raised beds. This is a concern, but we're monitoring it to make sure it doesn't get out of hand.

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