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Sinkhole!

The presidential sinkhole wasn’t the only pit to open this year. One of my gardens had a sinkhole too, even huger than his. It happened in a garden I planted a few years ago. A culvert runs along the property line carrying storm runoff from the street out to a creek behind the garden. A lot of water was going into the pipe every time it rained, but it turns out PG&E had accidentally punched a hole in that pipe and so the water was running underneath the pipe instead of inside it, carrying away the soil and forming an underground gully which eventually turned into the sinkhole. No one was hurt when the sinkhole opened, but a large section of fence collapsed and a mature oak tree moved six or eight feet from one side of the property line to the other and had to be removed. Pretty scary to think of an oak tree moving so far, it was tall enough to fall onto the house.

The sinkhole was especially frustrating because we’d noticed the problem a couple of years earlier and submitted an engineer’s report to the town and utilities to try to get someone to address it. But it would have been expensive and a hassle to fix, so, unsurprisingly, no one wanted to take responsibility and nothing happened. Of course, in the end it was even more expensive to fix and an even bigger hassle and we lost the oak tree. Though to be fair, I don’t think anyone was expecting a giant sinkhole.

This is my nearby planting — the two furthest sections of fence in this photo are the rebuilt sections of fence that collapsed, the Loropetalum in the background is about six feet from the edge of the sinkhole — looking relatively unaffected by all the drama beside and below it. The underground gully extended underneath this planting and several tons of concrete were pumped under here to fill it. But it always stayed like the calm surface of the water, not showing the currents below. The plum trees are probably the only ones with roots deep enough to reach the concrete.

A side note, this garden is the home of the basalt pieces I used as a kickboard in the garden show a few years ago. They’re not especially noticeable while the Nepeta is blooming, but they’re pretty unique, two nine foot long sections of basalt to edge the lawn. It might be interesting to do a post showing where all of the garden show materials ended up.

Sharpie Lithography

During the week I’m staying at a house in Richmond that doesn’t have internet or cell reception, which is probably a healthy thing overall, but a distinct hindrance to blogging. I still have several stone posts from Oaxaca to do, but spring garden season has swallowed me up and I’m going to shift to that. Stone is timeless, so I can post them later this year at some point when I need to imagine myself back on vacation. In any case, it’s been a busy spring with lots of gardens looking good after all the rain.
Before I get to that, this photo shows a stone that I’ve been carrying around in my truck to weigh down tarps. I left it at a job site over the weekend and came back to find it had been appropriated into the oevre of a six year old artist during my absence. Modern in its conception, I see echoes of Basquiat, maybe a little Cy Twombly or even Jim Dine. Definitely the most charming thing to greet me at a job site in a while.

Yuck

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For the past year, the Clinton campaign has reminded me of Grey Davis (victorious and then recalled). It turns out she is more like John Kerry (loser). Donald Trump reminds me of George W. Bush (the worst terrorist attack in our country’s history, two failed wars, Katrina, the worst financial meltdown since the great depression), but it’s possible he will be more like Schwarzenegger (struggled to pass legislation, rode around in Humvees). Supporters and detractors of them can ignore or interpret that as they choose. Personally, I never liked any of them.

I was getting ready to start posting again and I have a couple of posts half written, but it’s going to take a little while before I am ready to move forward. Leaving my garden after ten years, moving to a cabin in the foothills felt like the end of an era; Tuesday night exacerbated that feeling. My head hasn’t quite embraced the new one.

Instead of stonework and plants and gardens, after Tuesday I feel like posting photos of cowshit. This was a cowshit election with a cowshit result. The place I’m living has two cows, Pedro and Pearl, so I have a good supply to photograph. ItĀ starts out dark and gross, but it fades to gray, and in the end it helpsĀ the grass grow green. Maybe our politics will be the same.

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Farewell My Garden, Fare thee Well

“It ain’t the leavin’ that’s a-grievin’ me
But my true love who’s bound to stay behind” Bob Dylan

We’ve moved. Our garden is no longer ours. One of the underlying facts of the garden has always been that we were renters, and now our landlord has given us the boot so his daughter can live there. Which is okay. As this year’s Nobel laureate says, don’t think twice it’s alright.

We moved out a couple of months ago. The new place where we’re living is quite different from the old one, and I’ll have some blog posts about it at some point. I also might do a retrospective on the ten years at our former garden, but I’m not quite ready yet. Moving, after ten years in one place, has been a lot of work and I’m still catching up on everything. In the meantime, these are a few photos from the garden as I was doing my final walk-thru. It looks a little sad and barren frankly — a potting area with no pots in it, a veggie garden with no veggies, perennial beds with the perennials lifted out — but maybe the new tenant will fill it with plants and it will bloom again. I had a lot of fun with it, with luck I’ll have as much fun with my next one.

Campo San Roque

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I barely took photos in Bahia Asuncion, but I did take some photos at a fishing camp north of town, Campo San Roque. Fascinating landscape, even more extreme than Bahia Asuncion. There are less than a dozen houses, most of them empty, with no running water or plumbing, the plants are low leafless scrub, and the beach stretches for a couple of miles without a structure or person on it.

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Tucked against the rocks is a great snorkeling site with gorgeous chartreuse-colored sea grass, lobster, and lots of colorful fish, plus the first guitarfish and octopus I’ve ever seen. It heightens the effect to be in such a barren place and then drop below the water into a lush aquarium.

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Oddly enough, the town has a charmingly minimalist new church.

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It reminded me of Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light. No doubt some elements of the San Roque church such as the lack of glass in the windows and the simplicity of the building come from pragmatism rather than a devotion to modernist purity, and Ando is obviously getting much more powerful effects from his design moves, but it was still an effective little building in a memorable little place.

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More Roof Containers

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Along with the Tournesol containers I posted/complained about two months ago, I went back two months later and made some much smaller containers. The idea was to have ice plant growing low among the river stones that cover some sections of the roof. I took shallow flats and surrounded them with a skin of waste stone from the free bin at the stoneyard, using old tiles for the bottom and bluestone strips around the sides. At the moment the stone is just dry laid with the river stones holding the stone in place, but I might use mortar later if the ice plant does well and these become a permanent thing.

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Below are three photos of the Tournesol containers after a couple of months of growth. (more…)

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