Wednesday, June 27, 2012


A friend of mine posted this on Facebook this morning and I thought it looked pretty cool.  A number of years ago, in Provincetown, I learned the art of stone patios and dry stack walls from this cantankerous man named Leo Manske.

Leo maintained a number of gardens for the wealthier people in town and neighboring areas.  For a few clients, he would build patios and stone walls.  While some of my fellow workers would get to water the flowers or weed at other yards, I got to work with stone.  I would have like to have been watering plants and flowers, especially in the 90+ humid days, but I often was sent to the rock pile to lug.

I did like the idea of it and started to get a few side jobs of making patios and walls.  The first order of business was to go to the stone yard and choose the type of the stone.  Kentucky Blue or something warmer?  Chunky or thin?  Huge or not so huge?  Heavy or was always heavy!

I did a few small patios around town with slate, although it was a medium that I was not too thrilled to work with.  It did not break evenly and crumbled if you wanted a certain piece to fit.  I did the following patio with my friend Tony, particularly enjoying working the slope and the tree into the design.  The amount of small stones was not easy to work with, but the different shades worked great.

My friend's Kate and John had asked me to build one at her property in Fairhaven.  I was just back from CA and in need of some work, so I quickly said yes.  The scope of it, though, was daunting.  Roughly 1000 square feet of stone and stone dust and digging.  She got me a few people to assist me and within a number of weeks, it was done.

We had left from for plantings on the edges and also a base for an eventual fireplace.  John installed the great fence, which pivoted on a single pole and with some of the extra stone from around the yard, we built a stone partition separating it from the back yard.

The following year, Kate wanted a few stone walls to do some plantings in.  Once again, a trip to the stone yard to choose some stone.  She wanted them against the house, which had two basement windows, so John fabricated some steel to keep the windows open and we waterproofed the cement to prevent seepage.  It took me one full week of work for each wall.  Looking for that right sized stone, from slivers to chunky ones.  I was quite pleased at the result, as it was the first one I had ever built on my own.

Since moving to CA, I have not had much opportunity to build many patios, although, at one house we lived in, there was a nice patio in the back yard with multiple levels and a chiminea.  There was also a number of extra stones laying around the yard, so when I wanted to putter, I would make these small patios or paths.  They would often change, depending on how the garden was growing.

Leo may have been a cantankerous man, but I am grateful for him showing me this trade.  My next project will be providing a beautiful pathway for Luther and BuddyJack from the walkway to the doggy door at the new house.  I just gotta get some stone.  6th Street, here I come!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jay Brannan, "Rob Me Blind"

Tom had heard of Jay Brannan a few years back and we have been following him ever since.  We have yet to catch one of his live shows either in LA or San Francisco.  He always seems to come to town when we are away or can't get away from work.  Maybe he should come to San Luis Obispo.  Did you hear that Jay?  For an older video, click here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Live Oak, 2012

It's Thursday night and I finally feel back in the swing of things.  We returned from Live Oak Campground on Monday afternoon and I slept.  And I slept.  And I slept.  Then worked a few days, waking up at 5:00 AM for an extremely boring conference at the PAC.  It lasted for three days, ending today.  Tom and I just got back from tending to the GALA booth at Farmers Market and now I am ready to post.

Most of these pictures are about our camp with the theme of Balls II.  It is the production camp.  We pretty much work every day from Tuesday on from 8 AM to 10 PM.  We end the night either going to sleep or hosting other campers to Martinis or any other libations.  We can get noisy at times, and thus Melody, for the second year, made t-shirts with the tag line, "Noise at 11."

The noise from our campsite has become infamous and so we tend not to have too many neighbors that don't already know.  Ear plugs are a necessity if you want to sleep.  We were pretty tame tis year, though.  Only on Sunday night after the music had ended did we stay up late enough to begin to hear the birds chirping.  Needless to say, packing on Monday morning was no great pleasure.

Tom & Ron hanging balls at camp.  Ron is the one falling over.  No martinis had been tasted yet.

Mary Ellen, Joan & Melody

Melody's phallic mushroom

A blank stage and preparing the woodchips for the seating area

Planning the logistics

Some of our construction crew and supplies



Main Mix!

Tom blowing ball at camp

An empty corral which will soon be filled with RVs

Our lighting crew with chick, Oliver & Bad Zac

More lighting crew

Nearing completion

My office

Ron, checking the sound cables

Danny on monitors, checking the Main Mix

Tom checking things out

Who needs power?

Brent from PAC West checking on monitors

Mel & I

Checking the backline with a jam session

Laying out the Main Drag

Back Stage Ambiance!

Ambiance theme of Alice in Wonderland

Artist holding rooms

Outdoor Ambiance

Our dining area, Through the Looking Glass

Jamming on an open stage

This way please!

On your mark, get set, go!

We open the show with bagpipes

Welcome to Live Oak!

Melody, the Featured Artist waits for her fans at the Mercantile

Melody signing Lisa's shirt designed by Melody


Lights in the trees

Ambiance at night

Caterpillar and the Hookah

Joe Craven's, emcee, tent

My favorite act, Carolyn Wonderland

My office filled with backline

Melody backstage

Natasha, artist greeter

Joe Craven

Melody's original artwork for Live Oak 2012

Mic check with Nate

Cecile standing by

VIP Security Alex

Mike O, sound engineer, checking on the stage

The featured artist being introduced

And the winner of the original artwork...Not Me

Tumba?  Conga?

Closing act of Indigo Girls.  Lots to say but their rider forbids me.

A very happy crowd

Main Mix at night

Stage Too, Complete!

Stars at night?  No!  Lights by Zak in the Oaks.  Thank you!

5:15 AM picture from Tom on Monday morning.
Live Oak complete!
There are many other sites to look at if you want to see the acts that performed or some of the other campsites that partake in Live Oak, but I mostly lived in the two areas of the Main Stage and our campsite, less a few whoop whoops around the campground.

It was a great, tiring week.  It was even greater to come home to Luther & BJ on the flip side.  One month to go before the four of us head to Alaska.  Live Oak, a good trial run.