A Little Willard Clark

We got away from the chores today for a bit to head downtown. The folks at the Palace Press had organized an event for the new edition of Willard Clark: Printer & Printmaker, a look at the work and life of Willard Clark. Pam Smith, the former head of the Press and the author of Passions in Print: Private Press Artistry in New Mexico 1834-Present was in the courtyard of the Palace to present the author, David Farmer.


Gray clouds circled and the wind whipped up (as it has pretty much every afternoon this week, without anything to show for it) as the talk got underway. David gave a brief overview of Clark's history and time, in a Santa Fe where a guy with a bit of a graphics background could set himself up to be the printer for pretty much every business — including the daily menus for La Fonda — in the small town. He matched the need for quick service with his artistic sensibilities, and turned out work that really transcended its commercial origins. But when the economic realities of WWII set in, he had to put his skills to work in the machine shops of the Manhattan Project, continuing to work as a tool & die maker until the 80s.

By the time the sky opened up and we had the first rain we've had for weeks, speakers and audience were safely under the tent, getting our books signed and meeting the authors. We visited for a bit at the Press, then went to check out the Flux show of contemporary glass. There was little evidence of rain upon our return home, but I choose to believe our new garden got some.

garden experiment

So, three weeks after putting a tarp on our lawn, it was time to see how the solarizing worked. Bram took off the plastic, and stacked the wood off to the side and this is what we had:

Looked pretty dead to me. But while breaking up the dirt with the spading fork, I came across some subterranean-fungus-white-but-still-alive stuff, connected to long roots. Probably the dreaded bindweed.

So, after spading, I raked all the clumps to the sides. Pulled out the root balls, amended the dirt, and raked it flat. Decided that the wood should go back as edging, at least for now. Figure it will keep the dirt in place a little better. Tested the sprinklers, to see what kind of coverage we got. Pretty good, but some of the logs needed to be dug in lower, so the pop-up sprinkler heads near the edges would clear them. Here's the area, ready for mulch.

I decided to use straw. Mulch is pretty much mandatory in these parts — it's the best way to keep the dirt from drying out immediately. Joa introduced me to using straw my first summer here, while I was helping her with some landscaping at her and Janie's place. Then I got Ruth Stout's No-Work Garden Book out of the library. It's all about using straw as a really deep mulch; to control pests, to keep weeds down, to keep things from drying out, and as it breaks down, it's like adding compost to the soil. It's also pretty entertaining, the book, I mean.

Not the straw. Nothing funny about straw.


Straw bale rides! Yee hah! That's a flattering pic Bram took of of me, eh? Thanks, sweetie. :)

Anyway, Ruth Stout apparently was a bit of a nut, if a charismatic one, and while her technique isn't exactly "no-work" it is, as this essay points out "no-till, no-dig, no-water, no-weed and no-composting." Eh, I don't know if I'd go that far.

After mulching, I grabbed those sticks that were leaning against the back wall (I knew I was saving them for something!) and stuck 'em inna ground as supports. Aaaand, here I am, putting in the plants.

There are 3 tomato plants, 2 winter squash plants, and I put in a buncha bean seeds (I guess those would be "beans") around the foot of that teepee-looking thing. Here's the final setup, and a long view of the yard from the patio:

[click for larger]

Bram is on the intertubes, looking up the kind of tomatoes we got. They are (all 3) Black Krim, which I confess I grabbed mainly because the nursery tag said they were "extremely early." The squashes are (1) Acorn squash and (1) Delicata, and the the beans are (were? will be?) Hutterite soup beans.

I think maybe I'll put in some marigolds, they're supposed to be good for the tomatoes. We'll also probably have to put up some chicken wire or something around the perimeter, to keep out critters (skunks? neighbor cats? chupacabras?). Ah, it's an experiment. I read once that if you're not killing plants, you're not stretching yourself as a gardener. My hamstrings are killing me — maybe I should stretch before gardening.


oh noes! itz the chairs, again

First off, thanks to everyone who commented. The general consensus is: keep the turquoise. Now, while I dig the color, the vinyl itself just icks me out.

These were office chairs, people. Who knows how many cups of coffee got spilled on these? There's all kinds of weird groadilated scudge in the crevices. (Mom, I'm not sure there's enough Bon Ami in the world.) I'd have to take all the vinyl off anyway to get everything clean, and at that point, I might as well put new fabric back on.

Plus, I want to put new foam in them. They are truly butt-numbing.

I'm still hung up on a pattern, though. How about a turquoise pattern? Some photoshopped options for your perusal follow. I've tried to get the patterns roughly to scale on the chairs, but your mileage may vary. The geometric one didn't have enough to tile, so I cloodged together a swatch. Please ignore the weird seam-looking things on that one.

Number A:

Option 2:

Have some puppies:

Pleez hep me, my friendz of teh intarwebs!


Back from New Mexico

Returned home Friday. The trip around the area was a good time, but I had a feeling that it would be when the we saw the vision above at Ojo.

Will assemble a post later. In the meantime, the photos are in a set at the Flickr photostream.

While I was away, Monica cleaned up and repainted the banco in the fireplace room.

Past couple days have been busy with a computer upgrade — the speed of technology had finally caught up with the ol' first-generation G4 that Sherry so generously gave us before we moved out here, so it's been replaced with a new iMac. Transfer was mostly painless, but still some things to work out and install.

the chairs

So, when we first moved into the house, Bram and I realized that we would be needing more chairs; for the living room, for the fireplace room, for whatever. So last summer I, um, acquired two office "guest" chairs (perhaps you remember this photo with one of them?). I thought I'd refinish + reupholster them, and they could be our new living room chairs. Bram, wisely, nixed that idea. They're comfortable enough, but not exactly what you'd want to settle into to watch a couple hours of Battlestar Galactica or anything. But they're helpful to have around as extra seating. So what to do with them?

Here, I've taken the back panel off one. Reupholstering would be pretty easy — there's no sewing involved. Bram kinda likes the turquoise color, and I think it's ok, too. But the probably-at-least-25-year-old-vinyl? Ick. I don't think I could ever get all those little crevices clean enough. Plus, I'd also want to put new foam in them. (They really need it — we used them for a while in the fireplace room before we got the red chairs, and boy hey after an hour in these you can't feel your butt anymore.)

I kind of like this fabric:

Maybe with turquoise piping? Ugh. This is what I get for getting hooked on a whole bunch of home improvement and design blogs.

Then I start to wonder if maybe dinking around with them is a really bad idea. They look kinda '50s - '60s (maybe '70s?) to me, could they be valuable? Not that I'm going to take them on Antiques Roadshow or anything ("Oh! Didn't you know those were actually designed for the manufacturer by Charles and Ray Eames! What? You got rid of the original turquoise vinyl upholstery? Oh, that's too bad, that exact turquoise color was designed by Alexander Girard! If you'd left that on, they'd be worth a million dollars! Apiece! Next!). Hah, I only wish they were Eames chairs. They have a nice, simple, mid-century-modern-or-maybe-Scandinavian-design-influenced look, though. I was hoping I could find out more about them. Here's the label from the bottom:

(Great typography, no?) Googling "Indiana Chair Co." and Jasper will find you various business directory listings for them (founded in 1905!), but they have no website! ZOMG! How is that even possible? Don't they know I need to browse their complete online catalog of chair designs to find out what these are? How inconsiderate!

So anyway, in the "tradition" of all these home design blogs I'm reading, this is where I whine bout how I can't make up my mind ask my beloved readers for your thoughts. Should I redo them, or just see if I can get them really clean? Keep the turquoise color? Cover them with something new? Hep me, pleez?


Santa Fe Complex

Took a little bike ride this evening over to the opening at Santa Fe Complex. They'd been making the rounds of the local talk shows, sounded like an interesting premise.

A nice space. It was a popular event, the parking lot filled up and, once you got inside, people standing right where you wanted to go. In keeping with their mission, it was a display of the intersection between art and science. There was some beautiful stuff there, and plenty that … well, I'm not sure what it was. There was a lack of labels on the pieces: some were self-explanatory; some included instructions; some, nice but not sure why they were a part of this exhibit; some had people to explain what it was all about.


A self-portrait theme emerged as I was there.


(Two rows of photos above, click for larger.)


Starting tomorrow, I'm on a bit of a staycation. The way it's worked out, I have to take vacation at a time when Monica can't. We'll both be heading up to Ojo tomorrow, but Monday, she returns back home and I stay on another day. I plan on heading out from there, doing some hiking and exploring the area, maybe working my way back down south to meet up with a friend. I'll probably have the old laptop, mostly for recharging the iPod and pulling photos, and not anticipating any wireless access, so we'll see how it all goes.


Jazz on The Hill

Tonight kicked off the annual Music on the Hill at St. John's. Kind of snuck up on us, so it was a last-minute decision to go tonight. For Monica, that's just a short drive from her office. I biked today, and was reminded why it's referred to as The Hill on my ride there.

I think this is the first time we made it without rainy, blustery weather. It was kinda windy, but pleasant until the sun got low. That, plus had some stuff to do, cut it a bit short.

Giacomo Gates with Straight Up was, I suppose, kind of classic sort of jazz vocal performance. Great energy, fun songs, they put on a good show.


Killing the Lawn
(Or, at Least a Portion of It)

We've been kind of conflicted since purchasing a home with a lawn — no matter that it's a tiny one. We don't really do anything with in or in it, and it just consumes water, arguably our town's most precious resource. Last year, it was less of a question, with rain that didn't even have us thinking about the irrigation system until July. This year it's been drier and we haven't really turned it on, just kind of letting whatever would naturally happen happen (dandelions and bindweed, apparently).

Monica's been reading gardening books and blogs, drawing diagrams, thinking about planting a vegetable garden. I had an ephiphany a couple weeks back, just looking over at the lawn, and thinking, "why do we have this? What's it doing for us? Let's just rip this whole thing out." If we're going to be using water, it should be for something that produces something. We'll convert the entire back yard to a vegetable garden and be ready for when the revolution comes and we all have to grow what we eat.

Fortunately, she had been planning for this already. And had a slightly more realistic take on what could and should be done about it. Step one, we gotta kill what's there (dandelions and bindweed, apparently) before we can even think about planting. That's where the solarization comes in. Churning up the dirt, soaking it, and covering it in clear plastic will basically bake anything that's there. It'll be a couple weeks, but should give us something that we can think about planting; it'll be late in the season, but it still might work. In any event, we'll be ready for next year.

The size of the experiment is dictated by the piece of plastic we bought, much less ambitious (and more realistic) than my vision of getting rid of the whole thing. Its position is determined by the sprinkler system and the exposure to the sun. Today was turning over the earth and then covering it up.


More later.