Friday, December 31, 2010

Year's End & Beginning

The "suncatcher" in Portland, OR

I was listening to NPR this morning and all the year end recaps of events, passings and landmarks.

I've been thinking about my own year end inventory and wanted to share a few posts from others that inspired me and remain in my thoughts: Mastastico's My push foot big toe has gang green; Holy Scrap Hot Spring's Home Sweet Home: T or C, NM; Homegrown Evolution's Slaughtering Turkeys for Thanksgiving; and Our Yellow House's picture of her girls at the beach (entire post: I Left My Brain in Maine).

Thank you to Mister Jalopy & Dinosaurs and Robots, Homegrown Evolution and Mark Frauenfelder at BoingBoing for the props on Ramshackle Solid's Etsy store.

Thank you for visiting these pages and joining us on this journey. On behalf of Ramshackle Solid, happy new year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Annals of Home Improvement: Screen Clips

Eric made an ingenious clip out of a fallen toyon branch to keep our bathroom cabinet door from swinging open a while back. The screen on our living room window has been plagued by a similar malfunction. It keeps falling out. The ledge is too small to hold a traditional clip, so after picking the screen up and putting it back in place the third time on one day, I realized two toyon-inspired clips could remedy the problem.

I pulled out Eric's Japanese saws and split a felled branch scavenged from the yard, drilled it & counter sunk the top so that the screws would be flush with the clip. I fixed the screen. Next, paint the house. Well, that one will have to wait. I'll just bask in the glow of a fixed screen right now.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Winter Vacation

The kids are out of school for the next few weeks, the holidays are over, it feels like a real winter vacation around these parts. A stack of new to us books are being read, projects attended to and the ever growing weeds being pulled. I realize a lot of the world is under snow right now, but it's a busy gardening time in southern California. The native plants emerge from hibernation as do the prolific invasive grasses despite a heavy layer of mulch.

I'm wondering if I can adopt the Winter Wonderfarm model of Hayes Valley Farms & try to entice some kids to help with weeding pulling under the aegis of a "permaculture-centric" day camp. The Hayes Valley Farm experience is for kids three to thirteen. I think Camp Ramshackle's hypothetical model just boils down to child labor:

San Francisco's first urban farming day camp for kids. Set to run from December 20th to 30th, the permaculture-centric program will be held at Hayes Valley Farm, a community-run experiment on an empty lot in the heart of the city.

Participating children should be ready to get their hands dirty; the program features a number of "farm-to-fork" activities, including processing compost, planting seedlings and cooking with local chefs. There will also be some yoga, naturally (this is San Francisco, after all).

via: Fast Company

Saturday, December 25, 2010

And to All a Good Night

Happy holidays & a very merry Christmas to all who celebrate. Like all in southern California, we have been inundated with rains (more to come including the Great Olive Deluge), but we enjoyed a wonderful sunny day with the evening turning to strong rains. I'm listening to the rains falling inside my chimney as I write. We wish a safe journey home to all those out on the roads.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Lovely Eye Documenting Growth

Photos & composition by Lisa Wagner

I must confess, this time of the year is a challenge for me. My pursuit of slow happiness, spiced cider and quality family time is shaken by the roar and speed of the season. Somehow reason & scheduling aligned and I found myself with youngest son and friend Lisa Wagner in my son's preschool garden for the grounding and recharge needed to make sense and take delight in the hustle and bustle of the season.

Lisa Wagner has a beautiful eye, amazing mind and a sparkling crisp pen. Her writing reminds me of a walk outdoors down a dirt path with fresh leaves splayed out like prayers. As you walk down the path amid all the beauty, it is the smell of fresh earth and fallen leaves that grips you and seeps deeply into your soul. It's a place I always love to be.

She captured our time together in the garden and posted it on Facebook. I don't know if she allows uninvited friends to view, but I will post a link with her lovely sourced quote. Her photos & captions are beautiful:

Among Lisa's many accomplishments and talents, she is also the creative mind (with her delightful daughter) of the Fall Googly Eye Festival.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Beautiful Handmade Jewelry

Our friend Mark just posted about the new Ramshackle Solid Etsy Store (thanks Mark!). But since our store is now temporarily sold out, shoppers might also like the work of our friend Maidel offered in her Etsy shop Millennium General Assembly. Really Lovely stuff.

Items on Top of My Grandmother's Dresser

In no particular order...wagon designed & constructed in my early childhood, doll from Ecuador, rag twine, box constructed in my twenties, Tivoli speaker/clock, birthday bouquet, change jar, books.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weather Proofing the Front Door

One of the best things you can do to conserve energy is to weather proof your house. Our house is old, ramshackle and very leaky. We try to seal it up but it can be difficult. Before this project I think the gap around our front door probably added up to a full square inch of open space even after a previous attempt to seal it with foam tape. We had been using a kind of beanbag thing at the bottom of the door to seal that part but I hate those things; they are always in the way when you are trying to get through the door, especially when entering from the outside and we were less inclined to use it in the summer because it's harder to feel the effect when it's not in place.

I was installing a permanent solution to the gap at the bottom of the door when I noticed this gap along the side.

The store bought sticky-backed foam weather stripping stuff never really did the trick. Our gap is not uniform so tape thick enough to work at the bottom blocks the door from closing at the top and if it works at the top it doesn't really help at the bottom. On top of that the foam partially disintegrated over a couple of years, especially where the dogs rub against it as they pass by. As you can see in the picture even with the foam, the gap is very obvious in places.

A while back our good friend Mr. Jalopy gave us some used inner tubes from his bike shop/everything store Coco's Variety. We asked for them so we could make some slingshots but as I looked at the gap and considered a time and money sucking trip to the hardware store I wondered if the bike tubes could work as weather stripping.

The solution was to trim the tube so that it's natural curve keeps it in contact with the door when it closes but goes completely flat where the gap is pretty tight. I had to cut around the door catches but it still swings shut easily and even buffers against slamming a little.

Now thinking back I probably could have done something similar with the gap at the bottom of the door but I had already bought this squeegee-like thing from the hardware store for $10. It worked like a charm. I took this picture of the gap after having marked where the screw holes needed to be drilled.

The new seal works like a charm. It's completely invisible when the door is shut and kind of adds to our ramshackle aesthetic when it's open. I probably could have been more careful with the installation but the first time through I didn't want to spend too much time on it in case it didn't work. We have several casement windows that could use a similar treatment around the house which I can do individually as time permits.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

After Dark

The end of November and December are especially full. In addition to the holidays, our house celebrates two birthdays. Mouths full of cake, we begin another orbit around the sun. Utor iter itineris.

And thank you for all the etsy love.

Thursday, December 2, 2010