Thursday, April 26, 2018

Tiki build-along, pt. 18

It's hard to believe I haven't posted a tiki build-along since January. That doesn't mean I haven't been working on the Lagoon of Mystery, just that my efforts have been taken up by labor-intensive projects that 1) are taking a long time to reach fruition and 2) are housekeeping/detail/around the margins things that don't necessarily present well in a build-along context. That doesn't mean they're not necessary or important, but they not something that grabs one's attention.

One project that is highly visible and necessary is the dog kennel fence. The section facing the pool is a series of plant trellises tied together. I added wire fencing along the back to make it dog-proof. The idea early on was that trumpet and passion vines would grow over it, making it an attractive, flowering green wall. That didn't really work out. Weedy vines grew up just as aggressively, and the combined weight kept pulling the trellises over one direction. It never looked good. Then when I built a new gate out of bamboo, the die was cast. The existing makeshift fence had to go.

The urgency was accelerated by the woeful state of our deck. It's made out of western red cedar, which is naturally decay-resistant, if taken care of. As near as I can tell, it's never been taken care of. My son cut his foot on a nail that had worked its way loose, so that necessitated my taking the deck apart to fix it. That's not this post--that's another writeup unto itself. The end result being that there was a lot of rotten wood, and after making some changes to the design, the kennel fence would no longer be adjacent to the deck. Without the deck shoring it up, the beagles were finding ways to escape. Fence replacement became a priority.

Recall that I harvested and flame-treated every bamboo culm that went into making the gate. No way was I doing that for an entire fence. So we saved our pennies and ordered two 8' long sections of 6' high bamboo fencing. A 4' high section was too short to ensure one or more beagles wouldn't escape. I wanted 5', but since that size isn't available, I compromised on 6'. I could've trimmed the bottom to make it conform to the size I wanted, but I started thinking about the time that'd take, the potential to screw it up, and other things and came to the conclusion that I could live with a 6' bamboo fence.

Here's the thing: This bamboo is natural. Which means it hasn't been flame treated. Aesthetically, the contrast with the golden-yellow, flamed culms of the gate... wasn't terribly pretty.

I briefly toyed with the idea of removing all the culms from the wire holding the fence together and torching each clum individually to better match the gate, but thankfully, sanity prevailed. Instead, I took my handy torch and scorched the bamboo nodes to heighten the contrast. It's by no means a perfect match to the gate, but the irregular node patterns help the look substantially. And it only took me a couple of hours, give or take. When both fence and gate inevitably fade in the sun, they'll match very closely.

The length of fence being replaced measured almost 16' so this meant I needed a single post in the center. I'd put up several fences around our house, setting the posts in our heavy black clay, and learned my lesson. The clay swells and contracts and does a number on the stability of a fence, so concrete is necessary. I used a post hold digger to dig a hole about 2' deep. I set the pole in and filled halfway with quick set concrete mix. I used a carpenter's level to make sure the post was square and not leaning in any direction.

I stabilized the post in position while the concrete was drying by attaching the two cross beams, one on the top and one on the bottom. Alas, I mis-measured slightly when drilling the screws in and introduced a slight lean to the right. I didn't realized what I'd done until it was too late. It's not obvious, but I know it's there.

Initially, I'd intended to sink another steel post at the end, but while examining the ground before pulling out the post hole digger (there's an old, dead stump cut off at ground level that would be a pain to hack through) I realized I could just attach the cross beams to the existing wooden privacy fence post with brackets and screws. So that's exactly what I did. I may miss the obvious much of the time, but eventually I stumble upon the simple solution. Note the plastic line tied to the post. This linked the post on this end with the gate post at the other, allowing me to ensure the fence went up in a straight line, as opposed to weaving back and forth. It's not good to eyeball something like this, because parallax can wreak havoc.

And this is what it looked like from the beagles' point of view. Note that at this point, none of the existing fence had come down.

Removing the old fence, composed of linked trellises, wire fencing and three years' worth of vine growth proved much more difficult and time-consuming than I anticipated. No, more difficult than that. And much more time consuming. Actually, it took me two days to do it, working in sections. I mention tedious work often. This was very, very tedious.

Another concern I had was the bamboo. Because it's a natural woodlike structure, it would be susceptible to rot. I didn't want it in contact with the ground, where moisture or termites (or other things) could accelerate the decay. So I laid down paver stones to elevate the bamboo from the ground. The pavers also offer a modest discouragement to the dogs' digging under the fence.

There's a 4" drain pipe that runs from the patio and beneath the deck to deal with. Right after it emerged from the deck, there was a 22-degree elbow changing direction of the pipe. Well, because of future plans I have, that bend at that point was problematic. I needed to relocate that turn now, while it was easier to do so. Ha. Turns out a 4" PVC drain pipe is not the same 4" as a regular PVC water pipe. Why? Dunno. But I bought a 4" PVC slip joint, then a 3" PVC slip joint (both were the wrong size) before figuring out what the problem was and securing the proper part. I extended the drain straight to the fence, then added the elbow joint. All is well once again. PVC notoriously degrades when exposed to UV light, so rest assured this pipe will be covered sooner rather than later.

And then I installed the bamboo fencing. I ended up screwing it to the cross beams using deck screws, just as I had with the gate. Unlike the gate, where I attached every culm, top and bottom, for the fence I only attached every fifth culm. Once the fence was up, I tied the remaining trumpet and passion vines to the bamboo. In a few weeks they'll have recovered and will likely be flowering once more, growing to cover much of the fence. This time I think we have a winner.

I still haven't gone through and capped the tops of the fence's bamboo culms with wood putty and spar urethane to extend the fence's lifespan, but that's coming. Just in case you wondered.

Now Playing: Various artists The Caribbean Calypsonians
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Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Julie Brown first popped up on my radar when she submitted "Girl Fight Tonight" to KKBQ's song parody contest back in the mid-80s. By the time I got to college, she'd had her motion picture debut in "Earth Girls are Easy." The movie's relentlessly silly, but the standout scene is her video for "'Cause I'm a Blonde," which has nothing to do with anything else in the film and seems just an excuse to film a video at the movie studio's expense. It's cheesy and goofy as heck. My favorite local college band, Dr. Love and the Erogenous Zones, did a fun cover of it back in the day. That's about all I got, other than the standard "Summer is almost here, so that means pool and beach time!"

Previously on Friday Night Videos... C.W. McCall.

Now Playing: Les Baxter Tamboo!
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Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

C.W. McCall is best known for his trucker songs, but "Comin' Back for More" stands well apart from that traditional wheelhouse. The style is the same, but the subject matter is out there. And this is one of those videos you just can't unsee.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Depeche Mode.

Now Playing: Lisa Ono Bossa Hula Nova
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