Thursday, February 24, 2011

Esther ch.3: Mordecai refuses to bow

From Esther ch.3. A painting of Mordecai refusing to bow to Haman. Most likely a refusal to bow to a Agagite, not a deity/idol thing. Refusing, as a Jew, to bow to a cultural enemy.
I wold have spent more time on details and such since it's a rather large canvas (16x20"), but the closest it will be seen is from at least 20 feet away. It's an illustration for our Esther series at RCLB. Each week, someone is doing a painting to illustrate that week's chapter. So I went w/ 'mural' detail levels... just trying to get the general feel. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Project Lawn-To-Garden: complete

For the last few months we've been involved w/ converting our boring, old, grab-grass lawn into a drought resistant marvel of a garden that would feature lots of California native plants. We heard about Long Beach's program that assists water-conscious citizens, like ourselves (Mandy mostly), and signed up. We didn't make the first round, so we sat on a waiting list for a few months until the program got some more funds and then we got the green-light. Mandy made her blue print which were then submitted and approved by the LB water department and we began in earnest! Here's a shot of the lawn before we started to kill it. Note that it's already pretty brown in spots because we never watered it enough anyway.
We worked w/ Jerry (and Brandon) Stout, who were awesome at working within our budget. Jerry sent Brandon over and his first task was to demolish the little cement path that led up to the stoop and then rototill the lawn.
Next, Jerry came by and based off Mandy's plans, marked out where the decomposed granite pathway would go. We took a trip down to Home Depot and got the plastic divider/separators that we would use to keep the path and lawn from melting into each other.
Here I am digging the trenches and installing the plastic walls that would separate the path from the garden. Mandy helped a lot too, just making that clear... I didn't do all the work.
Next, Brandon came back and put the decomposed granite down for the walk. We could already start to see it looking good at that point. After the DG pathway, we had to dig out the ditches for the new irrigation/water-smart sprinkler system. This wasn't as tough as it looks, our dirt is thankfully pretty soft and sandy to start w/ and since the whole lawn was freshly rototilled, it was still all pretty loose.
Cleaning up and double-checking the trenches before laying down the PVC. ... Yup, it's a ditch...
Our friend James came to help us install the sprinkler system. He's got about as much experience installing sprinklers as we do, but it's always nice to have another hand w/ a shovel. It definitely sped up the process as we were quickly running out of time. Did I forget mention that by this point it was Saturday and our deadline was the next Wednesday?
Backfilling the ditches. We left all the joints and sprinklers exposed so we could test the system and make sure there were no major leaks before we buried it all. Looks good to me, although once you turn on the sprinklers to check them, everything gets pretty soaked which makes the whole process kind of hard to check for leaks.
After several trips to several nurseries, we had all the plants. Mandy, again, used her blue prints and laid out the plants according to plan. Almost there!
FINALLY! A photo w/ Mandy doing some real work. She was the expert gardener/planter. For every 1 plant I got in the ground, I would turn around and she had 3 planted. That's a good thing because at this point it's now Sunday afternoon before everything was finally in the ground. Not pictured is me assembling our new wheelbarrow (that I would need for the tanbark phase) and loosing my cool as it was a real pain to assemble. I had to use the rubber mallet... a lot.
I took the day off Monday and laid down the finishing touch: black tanbark!
...22 bags worth...
You wouldn't believe all the compliments I got from our neighbors and strangers walking by the house on how nice the garden turned out. I, naturally, took all the credit for myself (I do all the work!). Actually, the only real plants I could point out as my favorites were the 'grassy-bushy stuff' and the artichoke plant in the middle.
I had to go back to Home Depot in the middle of the day and the lady-cashier asked me if there was any difference between the red tanbark and the black tan bark. I said, "Not that I know of. But my wife likes the color black and what she says goes." She got a real kick out of that... I don't know why...

Here's the view from the stoop, looking out over the mighty garden and out onto the mighty T100! I knew there was a reason we had a truck... (22 bags!)
We got the good news today from the LB water department that the garden checked out and was accepted. Huzzah!
If you too live in Long Beach and want to convert your lawn into a garden, check out the website here:

And here's our house in their 'completed gardens' section!!!

(22 bags!!!)