Sunday, March 28, 2010

Funky Wood Bench, Part 2

In Funky Wood Bench, Part 1, Steve transformed some dumpster-salvaged wood into this:

Of course it needed painting so Jennifer took over. Here she is at work:

She's good...

Darn good:


Must share with all of humanity:

A bit of arranging:

It fits perfectly!

Some final accents:

And here is our welcoming porch!

That poor old piano (the one that got thrown out and from which we scavenged the wood to make this bench) lives on in funky bench form!!:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blackdom, New Mexico

The eastern New Mexico short-grass prairie plains don't seem the most hospitable place for human settlements (and indeed they are largely unpopulated) but...

...the other day while driving from Carlsbad to Roswell we stopped to read this historic marker and learned of...

...people who tried to make a go of it here (but ultimately failed). Their story is absolutely fascinating...'s a great (and short) video that is well worth a look.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring is here: Early Wildflowers

Little bits of color are popping up everywhere now providing lots of interest for us as we walk. Here are a few sightings from along the canal walking path.

Golden Smoke (Corydalis aurea) - Fumariaceae, Bleeding Heart Family

Desert Verbena (Verbena wrightii) - Verbenaceae, Vervain or Verbena Family

Gordon's Bladderpod (Lesquerella gordonii) - Brassicaceae/Cruciferae, Mustard Family

Redstem Storksbill (Erodium cicutarium) - Geraniaceae, Geranium Family
(Alien, but not invasive)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Antique store finds

It's going to be 80 degrees in Carlsbad today! We are so excited about that. Well, Steve's cold finally & completely overwhelmed my immune system last week, but we are both now on the mend. Yay! There is lots to catch up on this week now, but I am looking forward to tasking. It's funny how sickness changes your perspective.

Here's a look at some of our recent antique store finds:

A number of years back a friend of my mom's gave me boxes and boxes of mason jars from her mother. We use a number of them right now, but most of them are in storage till we are settled some where. I really love these jars (as do many people) and found a few cool ones this weekend. I started searching around to find information about these jars and learned that two of them we have are from the Ball early days. Maybe 1900-1910. One of those I picked out of the boxes of jars gifted to me. I wonder what else is in there!

Steve's mom collects fruit and vegetable wall pockets so it's a family game to find them. Her kitchen walls are pretty well filled with them so it's hard to find any she does not have. We think we have a good chance with the strawberry and pear.

I'm always looking for fun knitting/spinning/weaving/etc. finds, but usually see more sewing goods than anything else. This past weekend I found a box with some double pointed knitting needles and these little bits of embroidery thread. The thread is 100% wool, brightly colored and cheaply priced making it an interesting and useful find for me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lincoln National Forest hike

This past weekend we hiked another section of Lincoln National Forest connecting with the Last Chance Canyon trail blogged about here. The loop we hiked covers about 7 miles of trail and traverses a nice cross section of this landscape. The first part of the trail took us up and up offering us some nice views of the surrounding mountains and interesting human artifacts. Look closely in the center of this photograph for a too straight line. What is it?

Looking with our binoculars we see a rock wall built by someone in the past. Wow.

After enjoying a flat walk on top for a while we descended into a canyon with spectacular scenery....

and discovered many interesting things including this rock with other rocks protruding out from the main.

Look closer - maybe you geologists can enlighten us.

Beautiful clear pools pocketed the stream bed. Happy little fish called these pools home. We watched for a long while.

Some of the first butterflies of the season flitted about in the 70 degree sunshine. Here's a hairstreak - maybe Henry's Elfin.

...and of course a mourning cloak. These butterflies usually overwinter as adults allowing for such early emergence.

Our reptilian friends basked in the sunshine....

algerita sported brilliant red buds...

and lichens made soil in all their fantastic colors.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Unidentified Garden Lepidoptera

We found this moth cocoon in one of our garden beds this weekend. If you've ever found one you know how fun it is to pick it up and feel it wiggle in your hands! I admit to cutting a cocoon open a long time ago, with Steve, to figure out what was inside (won't ever do this again!) and found it filled with creamy liquid. Think about this: Egg - Caterpillar - cocoon filled with creamy liquid - rearrangement of self and voila a moth! WOW. We are still amazed by this transformation.

While setting up the drip watering system we also disturbed this beautiful moth. She fluttered and fluttered her wings to warm up and get away from us so we did not get a better picture, but you can see her beautiful markings. A super great moth book to check out if you are interested is Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard by John Himmelman. I am on my second read.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Funky Wood Bench, Part 1

My pile of salvage dumpster piano wood has been calling so I decided to take advantage of the warm spring temps and my dumpster workbench and do a quick outdoor project. Simple rustic benches are a mainstay for rural folks everywhere and we've been intrigued by them for quite some time. The concept is simple and variations on the theme are numerous. Here's my first attempt.

Here I lay out some cuts on what was once the sides of the dumpster piano. I don't even have a good straight edge here so I simply used a long board that was once part of the piano keyboard cover:

I use my trusty DeWalt rechargeable power tool kit (drill, circular saw, reciprocating saw) a lot more than I would if my table saw was not in storage. But simple tools can yield good results. Here I use the circular saw and the rip guide to get a respectable cut:

Here I am cutting the legs of the bench. I'm using my new Bosch jigsaw (thanks Linda!). I've never had a really nice jigsaw and, I must say, I did not know what I was missing. A good jigsaw and a steady hand can result in pretty accurate cuts:

Here I determine the length of the "shelf" part of the bench :

Here is the bottom part of the bench (consisting of the sides and the "shelf"):

The seat goes on quickly with a few nails:

The secret to the seat's strength lies in these side braces that are attached to both the legs and top of the bench:

Here's the basic idea:

I cut some ornamentation on the leg bottoms:

Here I button things up with a few more nails:

A bit of sanding (I love my Porter-Cable palm sander!):

A bit more sanding:

This baby turned out pretty good if I do say so myself:

But here's the true test (smile indicates that Steve gets an "A" for this project!). Stay tuned for the application of Land of Enchantment-inspired color application....