Saturday, July 27, 2013

Zero-cost light shelf

All that orchid repotting left me with a few too many pots and plates so I salvaged some more wood and sawed, drilled, and screwed:

The sandwich panel was pre-printed with lovely goldfish. I didn't bother cutting or drilling into either panel, so they're both resting on cross beams. It has the potential to be a heavier duty shelf with the addition of braces or extra crossbeams. I like how short and open it is so as not to obstruct natural light.

The orchids seem happy enough and some of them got a watering. It's a bit cumbersome soaking them in a bucket one by one, but I suppose not much different from care of one or two plants.

I used a large needle, thimble, and screw to open holes in the bottoms of the soda bottle pots. More wildflower sprouts:

I'm allotting a sizeable chunk of my last paycheck to move my piano back in. Everyone seems shy to play the one in the hallway... Also I enjoyed a dual video monitor for engraving One Journey, so I'm on the lookout for a discarded computer monitor, which would fit nicely on the laptop bench.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Vertical garden with orchids

I'm still prototyping vertical garden pockets. In the last post, you saw the apparently empty pockets. One set of Napa Valley poppy/Evening Primrose/Wild Blue Flax seeds are sprouting:

I installed a new row, this time with two pairs of screws in drywall, and outfitted them with orchids from a friend's personal collection and rescued from other friends.

I removed the bamboo and plastic rods that give orchid flower spikes their artificial erect position; they're epiphytes so they don't need to be tulip-shaped. This way they can expand across and out from the wall.

Most Americans I know have trouble keeping orchids in bloom. This is part personality mismatch, part misinformation, and part poor commercial design. One of the orchids was seated in the typical plastic root cup inside a sealed pot full of extra mulch and moss. There was an inch of stagnant water at the bottom when I got it. No wonder it had lost its flower spikes and the leaves were starting to turn!

I think orchids will be perfect for pocket gardens because they require the occasional minute-soak, drain quickly, and spread over vertical surfaces.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Sustainable materials bedroom, a diy adventure

An artist's home studio is both refuge and inspiration. Since moving into my new home I've busied myself suiting it out. I loathe buying new things and love tinkering with my hands, so I've scavenged materials and prototyped for hours. 

Here's my favorite so far, inspired by this amazing outdoor vertical garden project in San Paulo. I found a torn couch cover in our free box. I had already gromited webbing to the wall, no easy task on the old angled drywalls. I cut and sewed pouches, keeping the original seams on the lip, and sewed them to the webbing with a found spool of fishing line.

I'm still experimenting with the sag that pulls the webbing toward the center -- the couch cover had some straps attached so I might add another row using those. I'm thinking about adding one more on the bottom for a heavy pot. For now, I'm waiting for wildflowers to sprout from seed. Friends will be contributing more plants and I'll be scavenging fir bark for orchids next!
At first I made pouches too deep to monitor the pots easily, then too shallow except for the narrowest water bottles. 
Finally I settled on this 1/3 fold, still using the original seams for the long edges. 
I know garden soil isn't the best for indoor potting, but I'm experimenting with drainage and minimal watering for the moment.

Next is the "closet" rod corner. I literally picked up the telescoping white metal rod from the curb after a house cleaning. I'm banking on the molding holding most of the weight, with a few screws in studs to keep it from rolling away from the walls. The lower wood rod was much more difficult. Without studs anywhere near the work area I had to use L-braces and plan on hanging only small, light things there.

By the way, molly anchors did not play nice with this wall. It's entirely possible I estimated wrong on the wall thickness, but it was not smooth tinkering. In the end I stuck with wood screws. 

Speaking of which, I scavenged wood scraps and learned to use the saw angle tool to assemble (unassemble, adjust, and reassemble) this pedestal table. It's a bit wobbly, but the perfect height for me to work on the laptop without discomfort! Whew, it was a challenge and now I check out every piece of wood furniture with interest.

Next update: acoustic panels and piano homecoming.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Zimmerman acquittal and action for an end to racism

Helicopters cut over Oakland's downtown from Saturday night protests to a rally yesterday afternoon. But shout as we may in unison or on bullhorn, truth and reconciliation arrive on stealthy feet, in homes and schools, tapping individual by individual.

The trial was not enough. It revealed offensive flaws in law and in our criminal justice system. It revealed an even more urgent need for a national dialogue about the state of racism. We can't keep pretending we're not afraid, that we don't stereotype, or that our actions place one another at deadly risk every day.

Before President Obama was inaugurated in 2009, his team orchestrated a nationwide grassroots action to measure and activate community concerns. As a health care worker I spoke up in a town hall meeting about health care. It was a powerful act of vertical civic engagement we need to extend now to address racism and the disrespectful treatment of firearms in America.

I am writing my representatives requesting this action. I urge you to do the same:

Monday, July 8, 2013

CDs for pickup

Moving into my new home, I took my CDs out of storage. I don't need these physical recordings. If you would like to have them, please comment! I'm in downtown Oakland.

While I'm here, I'll mention that I haven't had a space of my own this big since my residency at Millay. In contrast to residency, I have little control over the ambient sounds that arise.

Next to my room are a quiet street, a noisy street, and the front door and corridor and one housemate's room. I haven't managed to sound-dampen the door or wall yet, so nights can be more interesting than my sleepy face has been accustomed to. Yet as a new member of a close-knit collective house, I've instructed myself to be patient. Notice the sounds that arrive and how they impact me. Notice the mutual respect and esteem of housemates, and the impact of that.

Sound is so much internal.