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Archive for November, 2009

Walls Coming Down

Failed Moss Rock Wall

Failed Moss Rock Wall

In light of all today’s talk about tearing down that (Berlin) wall, here’s some photos of the biggest wall to come down in my neighborhood this past winter, when a section of hillside pushed a moss rock retaining wall into the road. Must have been a shock to the homeowner and whoever built it (not me).

Though, without sounding like I’m piling on the unfortunate builder of the wall, it was predictable that this wall would fail. A three foot high wall is supposed to be two feet thick at the base, and this wall isn’t even one foot thick. It also doesn’t have a proper foundation or gravel backfill. I see a lot of failed retaining walls around town, and the common denominator is that they are always backfilled with dirt instead of the drain rock or rubble that virtually every book or manual recommends.

Failed Moss Rock Wall

Failed Moss Rock Wall

Intact Section of Wall

Intact Section of Wall

The wall is still intact where the bottom course has bigger rocks and the rocks are toed in against the curb.

Failing Section of Wall

Failing Section of Wall

Failing Section of Wall

Failing Section of Wall

Moss Rock

Moss Rock

Two more waller nightmares are below. (more…)

Bibi, Prudence, and Point Isabel

Galleta/Bibi

Galleta/Bibi

We’ve fostered a couple of dogs this year, first Galleta/Bibi and now Prudence. (Galleta didn’t recognize her name if you pronounced it with the ‘Y’ sound — apparently the shelter volunteers aren’t Spanish speakers — and she didn’t respond all that well if you said it with a hard ‘L;’ so we changed it to Bibi. Not sure where ‘Bibi’ came from, but it stuck.) Both have been female pitbulls, as most of the dogs in shelters around here seem to be pitties.

Fostering, we found, really does help the dogs. Bibi/Galleta had been in the shelter for six months without anyone expressing interest in adopting her, but she found a permanent home only a few weeks after we took her. Getting out of the kennel de-stressed her and made her noticeably more sociable, and then the photos of her lounging in our garden made for good marketing, much better than a mugshot from the kennel. After all, it’s not just a dog they’re adopting, it’s a lifestyle, right? She nailed the interview and was gone, off to live with a family. We discovered then that the hardest part about fostering is when you give up the dog at the end. Sad times for a while; I think you miss the dog more than the dog misses you.

Prudence

Prudence

Prudence is our second foster. Everyone seems to think her name is Brutus, but, no, it’s Prudence like the song; I guess one of the shelter volunteers is a Beatles fan. Very sweet dog, knocks things over with manic tail-wagging, doesn’t trample the garden like we thought she would. Garden photos have again done the trick, bringing in three different people who wanted to adopt her, but the adoption place is acting fussy and has turned them all down. I’m not sure why. There are tons of dogs out there in need of a home, and the people who wanted Prudence all seemed plenty nice and responsible to me. But the shelter people┬áinspect your house and interview you, and if you don’t give the right answers, they turn you down, zero tolerance. Eventually, someone will get approved to adopt her, but if we have her for much longer it will be hard when we give her up. There’s another prospect who wants to meet her; we’ll see what happens.

Point Isabel Dog Park

Point Isabel Dog Park

While fostering these dogs, we discovered that Richmond has the biggest and, according to some sources, best dog park in the country, Point Isabel Dog Park. Good work, Richmond. The dog park is pretty impressive: 23 acres right on the water with views of Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge and Mt. Tam and the city. There are places for your dog to swim, hoses to wash the bay mud off, a grooming shop if the hose isn’t good enough, a cafe to get coffee while you watch your dog run around, bags and trash cans everywhere for picking up after your dog, and everywhere you turn there are dogs, dogs, dogs for your dog to run with. Also, the designers did a nice job of using berms to create separate spaces so the park doesn’t just feel like a single expanse and the dogs aren’t all clustered together in a single insane pack. An organization, Point Isabel Dog Owners, has been a big player in the development and maintenance of the park.

PIDO says the park gets 800,000 dog visits a year and I can believe it. I’ve counted a hundred people there at one time, and Anita says she’s seen more than that, that on a Sunday afternoon it can look like the Embarcadero.┬áIt’s a destination for dog owners all over the Bay Area, like Disneyland for the dogs. Prudence was totally overwhelmed the first time she was there, like she couldn’t believe that such a perfect place existed in this world. Photos of her enjoying the park are below. (more…)

The Public Option

Yellow Agave

Pineapple?

[poll id=”2″]

Pineapple

Pineapple

I’ve been meaning to try running a poll. I might play around with the styling and other options a bit, so bear with me. Let me know if anything gets funky or explodes.

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