Sunday, September 7, 2008

Concrete, Gardens, and Folkies

Mrs Elliott and I have devoted the lower story of our house to business, and the upper (kitchen, bedrooms, living room, dining room) as our home. To give delivery people and employees a way into the workareas w/o passing through the living area ("It's turf," said Paul Spencer, our IT guy, who immediately got the concept) a new door had been punched into the side of the house on the ground floor.

The next step is putting in a driveway and sidewalk down there. The driveway will let me park Mellow Yellow down there during non-camping season (Mrs Elliott and I are using MW as our daily driver, but once she gets a more convenient small car, MW will be retired from daily use and can slumber more), and the sidewalk will connect the end of the driveway with the new door.

Driveways and sidewalks are not inexpensive. We needed not only the driveway, but also a handrail to reduce the risk of injury to employees, delivery folk, and me when things get icy. I got quotes from a half-dozen concrete and asphault companies and eventually settled on James Bievier Construction. James' quote for the concrete work was a little better than everyone else, and his quote for the steel handrail was miles better than the other guys. So I gave them the job.

So far they've excavated, laid down the gravel ("three quarter minus," said the excavation guy, or chunks 3/4 inch in size down to, well, coarse sand), pounded the gravel flat, and have put the forms into place. James will make two pours: On Monday the lower portion will be poured with wetter mud so he can shape it easily, then on Tuesday the steeper portion gets poured with thicker stuff so it doesn't slide down the hill.

The front yard is not as beautiful as we'd like. In fact, it's a barren expanse of random rocks and dead grass. We're aware that Central Oregon is a desert and that your formal English garden look is wasteful of water, expensive to keep up, and not very practical. However, Mrs Elliot does long for a little green lawn and pretty flowers. I'm completely out of my depth w/r/t plants that are happy in this climate so we decided to ask around to see if we could not find someone who could help.

Pual Spencer has a nice little front yard which requires only a little mowing, and not much water at all. The secret? xeriscaping: the use of drought-tolerant plants. Paul said the man to talk to was Brad at Earth Logic Landscaping. After some discussion, it was agreed that we'd take snapshots of front yards that we like, and he'd give us addresses of places he's landscaped and maybe something could be designed that would meet my desire for an affordable, low-maintenance, water-frugal yard that will make Mrs Elliott smile when she comes home.

Went to the Sisters Folk Festival on Sunday and caught three performances: the charming Rosalie Sorrels (now in her 75th year
and still singing folk music, my son liked her most of all); the Wailin' Jennies (Heather Masse's round, deep alto voice blew me away, and what's that cool skinny Eminence bass she plays?)*; and ended with Molly's Revenge (Irish reels and jigs, occasional vocals by the lovely Miora Smiley) at Bronco Billy's .

* My hands are too small to play a full-scale bass upright bass. I just don't have the span. Monsters like Ray Brown make it look easy, I can't pull off a minor third in first position. Besides, who besides a professional can drop nearly $4,000 on a bass? But still . . .


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  2. @ closerOK: Bass sounded great -- full with excellent pitch. I bet that unmiked it wouldn't carry well, but miked it was great.

    That aside -- who the heck are you? Your previous comments have all sorta creeped me out you write like you know way too much about me than a stranger should.

  3. That skinny bass looks anorexic and probably sounds that way too! What about the tonal characteristics, were they full enough?

    Say hi to Paul. He sold me a fantastic class-A audiophile CD player some years ago. He's a great guy, and smart too. He also got me a decent price on a massive power amp that he dragged out of a friends old house, but I don't have it anymore. It was just too big to lug around on my travels.

    What's the timeline for having all the mods done? I want to get your date on my schedule for the open house party warming. Otherwise I could be out of town on a trip and I don't want to miss out! However it could cost me some business if I'm double-booked. So, if I coordinate the music and what-not, what's it worth to have me there?

  4. (chuckle) Oh, come on Jack! Surely you have an idea about who I am. I met you on that trail outside of town a few years ago and we chatted. You explained about your electronics business problems and I gave you some quick consultation. I was hiking with poles and you had none of your own that day. You followed me up a slope, kicking rocks all over the place while I lagged behind and to the side, laughing at your antics. Out of breath at the top of the hill, you sat stone-faced hardly able to keep up a conversation. After that, I hiked on without you.

    Mrs. Elliott, how is her recording business coming along, if she did more with that?

  5. @ closerOK: I'm pretty sure now that you have me confused with someone else. I checked with Paul Spencer and he's never sold any audio gear to anyone, not being an audio guy; the last time I was hiking with or without poles was 700 miles from here, 5 years ago, and that's the closest I've ever hiked around here; and Mrs Elliott doesn't have a recording business.


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