Monday, February 27, 2012

Style: Maxmaximus on Cable Car Clothiers

Maxmaximus has written up an excellent review of Cable Car Clothiers over at his corner of the internet.  Very well written piece of a San Francisco icon.  Please go.  And enjoy.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Beast: Archival Footage Found

I haven't been posting much on the Beast recently.  That will change.  One of the wonderful lifestyle features of living in the suburbs is the requirement to drive.  And, not just around the corner, mind you, I mean EVERYWHERE.  We have a family car we bought in June 2009.  Less then three years old, and we just ticked past 48,000 miles.  The Beast was purchased so we can ride around in a little style.  The kids love it, because there are no airbags, so the boy can sit in the front seat.  Ah, the little things when you're 9.

The Beast is a 1972 International Harvester Scout II.  I bought it in May 2010.  Since purchasing it, we've replaced the fuel system (tank, hoses, filters), rebuilt the transmission, replaced the clutch, purchased new tires and added an exhaust system as previous owners had cut the tailpipes right in the middle of the car under the front seat.  Imagine the smell coming through the rusted floor at stop lights.  Yummy.

Searching for parts on Google, because let's be honest, having an old car is a never ending search for parts, I came across the above video.  I'm guessing it's a previous owner showing it off for sale.  Those beautiful tires you see I think were sold off by a later owner before me, as we received four mismatched tires.  Try keeping a truck with four different sized tires and a shaky front suspension on the freeway.  Scary.  We, however, will be using the video as a good reference point to show where we started.  And, don't worry about any of the rust you see, Scout's actually rolled off the assembly line with rust.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Style: Cigar Carrier

I love this.  My sister got it for me several Christmas's back.  While I don't use it all the time, I thoroughly enjoy it when I do.

I'm not much of a knick-knack kind of guy.  I'm sure most men aren't.  Note I said "most" not "all".  I like to have nice things, but I also like those things to be functional.  This is one of those.

Oy, that's a little fuzzy, but it's late, so no redo.  Especially since this was going to be a killer suit post, but I spent half the evening trying to photograph my killer suit only to realize I really need to wear it.  I'm not there, yet.

The carrier holds three cigars.  A churchill is the largest size I can get in there while still being able to get it out in one piece.  However, I'm a churchill man, so it works out well.  It also comes with a cutter and a lighter, so no fumbling for the required tools at the critical moment.

It's only drawback is its size.  It doesn't fit into an interior coat pocket.  That means I have to carry it, leave it in the car or, worse, put it in my wife's purse.  Yes, that hurt to type.  It does fit nicely into the pocket of my trench coat, though.  Unfortunately, wearing the trench usually means it's raining and that does not mix well with cigar smoking.  I think I'll need to bring this to my tailor and see what he can do.

Anyway, I highly recommend getting yourself something nice that you'll use regularly (or semi-regularly).  It will bring a little smile to your face.  Trust me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Garden: The Plan, Part II

In part I, we looked at the overall layout of the garden.  In part II, we'll take a look at the type of plants we're going to put in.  Part III, next week, will show the before and after and part IV will be an estimate of the volume of this particular endeavor.  Think Egyptian pyramids.  You won't want to miss those, as I give all of my embarrassing full disclosure pictures of the yard.  I'll need a few pints before those, so the images may be a little blurry.  Trust me, it will be better that way.

Anyway, here we go:

Above is some examples of the stone work that the patios and walkways will be made from.

Examples of the type of stonework to be used on walls, planters, etc.

Front yard plantings for the courtyard.

Side yard at the shed.

Side yard to the right near the pergola, just below the vegetable garden.

Backyard courtyard area and back planter near rear wall.

We haven't yet received (read:  paid for) the construction drawings which will include all hardscaping, irrigation and planting diagrams.  We have, however, received an estimate of total cost if we hired someone to do it and it contains, well, an assload of plants.  That means a lot in American.  That will be a future post I'll most likely have to write while drunk.  In the meantime, enjoy the garden inspiration.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Garden: The Plan, Part I

Yes, it's finally here.  I talked a while back about us paying a landscape architect for full plans of the entire yard.  We are pretty sure we can follow plans, it's just the general idea of the yard we have problems with.  We can't think outside the footprint that's already here.  For example, we are only planting and planning based upon the current placement of walls, walkways, etc.  That's not what we want.  The gentleman who took on this gargantuan challenge was Michael Savage of Savage Land Design.  Brave man, he is.

We wanted a fresh set of eyes.  And, the three things we asked:  1) shade and 2) a place we never want to leave and 3) no lawn.  The first part, shade, is a requirement in the summer months here.  We're normally well into the 90's F during the summer with many days above 100 F.  In the past, we've spent the morning hours outside, vanish inside for the middle six hours of the day, and return for the evening where we normally eat dinner on the back patio.  Our back patio, where we spend the vast majority of our time, is south facing, so the sun is relentless.  Second, a place we never want to leave is just how it sounds, a place that feels like we're on vacation.  Lastly, no lawn.  Nothing further needed there.

Here's what we've got:

Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of a three by three foot piece of paper?  This was snapped on the bathroom floor.  I had to crop out my toes from the bottom.  Anyway, the front of the house is at the bottom of the picture and the back of the house at the top.  The big white blob in the middle is the footprint of the house and the smaller white blob in the upper right is an existing swing set that will be staying for the foreseeable future.

Start at the bottom.  Lower right is the olive tree that was just trimmed a while back.  Middle is the driveway which I've never taken a picture of because it's ugly.  Lower left is the front entrance.  Coming up from the street, there is about a four foot elevation change to the front door.  That will all be at the sidewalk with steps that lead into a courtyard.  

Moving to the right side of the house, the side patio coming off the house will be a sitting area covered by a pergola.  We can get to it through a french door we had put in a few months back.

Just above that on the right is the vegetable garden (directly below the small white blob in the upper right).  We won't get into that, as that's another project that's stalled.  Future post, as there is a reason.  In the upper right, the orange colored trees will be fruit bearing.  Our own little orchard.

Just to the top of the house (above the big white blob) will be our main patio with a cover to end all covers.  We'll also have above that a fire pit.

The upper left will be a sea of trees and a decomposed granite path that leads to a back gate.  That gate will exit to a path that is maintained by the City.  We back up to a green belt and have no one behind us and currently have access to that path on the other side of the yard that we use all the time.

Lastly, to the left of the house is the existing shed, which stays.  Why?  Because, it freaking rocks.

That's that.  In the next few parts, we'll go through some mock ups of the plan, as well as, the types of plants we'll be including.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Decoration: Our London Decor

Found in a run of the mill souvenir shop in Trafalgar Square when we were there over Christmas.  Pub signs, they are.  The Sherlock Holmes is just down the street from this shop, and we stopped in, of course.  Therefore, I had to get a sign.  The Accountant's Inn...well, I'm an accountant by trade, so what are you going to do.  And, The Dirty Dick?  You really need to ask why I bought that one?

It's a nice inexpensive way of remembering the trip.  I'll remember it every time I leave the kitchen.

There's one of the helpers, again.  She held the hammer this time.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Garden: Tree Trimmin'

It's that time of year, again.  Trimming up the olive tree so it doesn't look like an olive bush.  Per various reputable and not-so-reputable sources, a new tree should be trimmed up over the course of three years.  This is year 2.  Here's the hired help.  Don't laugh, they work cheap, if not for very long.

Sun spot in the bottom corner.  Unfortunately, cropping it ruins the effect of seeing the before.  And, the trees been trimmed, so there's no taking another before picture.  This blogging thing is harder then I thought.

And, the after.  Not too shabby for a guy with little to no clue.  Next year, we'll trim it up one more time and, hopefully, it should actually look like a tree.  Go figure.

I also can't figure out what kind of olive it is, but this year it gave another hint in that there are no olives.  So, it's bi-annual.  Hopefully, it's bi-annual and I didn't neuter it somehow.  Don't tell me all olives are bi-annual, either.  With me thinking I have a clue and all.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Inspiration: Fleming's Goldeneye

I've always enjoyed the British colonial style found in the West Indies.  Unfortunately, suburban cookie cutter houses don't bode well for that particular style.  However, I can still dream a little dream.  Combine that with the retreat of the creator of the greatest spy to ever live, Mr. Ian Fleming, and you have a little inspiration.  Below are some photos of Goldeneye, Fleming's home in Jamaica, which has now been turned into a resort.  And, before you start, Bond kicks Bourne's ass.  Now, if Chuck Norris were a spy...

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above via

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Garden: Our California "Winter"

Jerusalem Sage.  Blooms late spring to early fall.

Lion's Tail.  Blooms late summer and early fall.

I hate to break the news to the two of them that it's February.  As far from normal bloom times as one can get.  We have had an exceptionally warm and dry winter, as I understand the rest of the country is undergoing the same thing overall.  We have been between 70F (21C) to 80F (27C) since Christmas with an occasional near 90F (32C) for good measure.  My normal turning off of the irrigation has failed to happen at all this year.  I certainly hope it's not a sign of a miserably hot summer.