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I retired, but only my licenses

June 9, 2017

This spring, 2017, my Washington Landscape Architects license came up for renewal. Various others I had were retired over the past several years. It is costly, and uncomfortable legally, to keep a certification that has not been used for a year or two previously. So too, with WA #504, earned in 1989.

Landscape design is a lifelong avocation. I intend to post more tid-bits of knowledge, when I am inspired, or see when a “tip” can help other people working to improve the world we all participate in protecting. The landscape technically matures about the age when architecture presently feels its life term ending, planned obsolescence. That is hard to accept, and petunias (literally and figuratively) are a poor choice for landscapes.

Years ago when I was just learning to work for income after school and during weekends, I found employment with a ‘landscape architect’ who preceded the legal certification. Wheelock Wilson was a cranky old man of 83 and had plied his trade for 43 years when I slipped into an eyeful in 1966 at the energetic age of 15. For several months my mentor expounded on landscape in the Midwest, pointing out farms he planted in the 1920’s, elms he replaced for the original owners who lived down the block from me. Those owners sad to see an old friend leave had hired him to replace the lost tree. Mr. Wilson directed his crew to plant the new tree in the same location, because good design does not change.

I will continue working to see choices, and directives, that instill this pride of ownership for a lifetime.

Thanks for the great times of stomach acid, late and 72-hour all-niters. And, thanks to all who shared the great times with me. It was fun playing Real Monopoly; and being paid to do it, in real money.


Saying Goodbye Is Easy

February 1, 2016

My previous post of 2011 about Linked-In had been forgotten. After a couple more alienation moves, the “professional” account was finally closed in late 2015. When I opened the page to start the process those good folks still wanted access to my address book. Contrary to the Linked position, I felt no loss by cutting the cord.

Really? Yes, it is easy to say goodbye sometimes.

I’m Back

January 26, 2016

Life moves on and nearly a half decade absence from here is a wisp.  I wanted to add to this journal in the interim but some things slip out of gear and paths can develop various entanglements. A wish to comment on another blog finally was impetus to revive misplaced security codes to reactivate this site.


Linked-In Ready to Implode

August 26, 2011

Are you like me? Get excited about something, use it every day and then, every week? Then, oh, whenever… I did that with Linked-In. I opened an account about 3 years ago and religiously followed it, started conversations; linked to fellow employees, new people, and thought I was networking for a better position.

Then, the hawkers found me, and my groups. Linked-In started nagging for more information, my resume was only 80% complete; then it was only 70%. The nagging became irritating. I belonged to roughly 20 groups. I tried each for conversations. Two or three had active members. It was fun for a while. The hawkers drowned us out. I stayed away from my profile.

I was down to one group that I could converse in–none of the conversation was business improvement. Another group used Linked-In for announcements only. I had it on my forward list because it happened to be the “Announcement Page” of my Washington State Landscape Architect’s group.

The Recession–the one that never went away–of 2008 was deep six-ing any people and businesses in the construction industry. I went to a job seminar put on by a professional consultant. One observation he made that stuck to me like a tick was: “Do you really want your employer to know that you are looking for work?” That could be an issue, but my past employers, both, encouraged joining Linked-In for the business advertising. No, make my resume generic and “bloomy”, and my old bosses will love it. New employers will love it too.

A couple of weeks ago a Linked-In invitation showed up on a Yahoo group I belong to. This group is purely fun and games.  The member who was mortified by his error was just as furious. Well, today I saw how this poor victim was whamboozled. After a couple of months of abstinence, I opened my Linked-In Profile … And, there was the potential cause of future embarrassment.

The Linked-In  “Nags Window” wanted my email password so Linked-In could contact my contacts for me, to “Invite [my friends] to join Linked-In.”

Instead, I methodically went through my profile, resume, and edited it down to basic, minimum information. My “Summary” says: “I no longer use Linked-In. You may contact me at: .”

Resource Conservation (The Fence, Continued)

June 22, 2011

After two years I am looking back at my fence restoration. There is no evidence of the mess and vacancy of construction. Except for paired nail holes in most of the pickets, the fence looks brand new. In other recycled products, those nail holes are status symbols. I don’t mind them—they are status markers.

I reviewed the original fence restoration article and realized it is unfinished. I was going to add the costs as a comment, but realize there is much more involved than a few numbers. One thing is ego: The proof is in the pudding.

So, we see the rest of the story….

2009 Fence Restoration Cost

Posts: 24 total, including 2 gates, two corners and three end posts. Concrete was used for backfill. Washed pea gravel is an alternate that will extend post life.

4x4x8’ pressure treated fir post = $10.00

One 60lb bag of premix concrete (use the cheapest) for every two posts at: $3.50 per bag.

Rails: 2x4x8’ pressure treated rails were $4.00 each. I needed 4, to finish my fence. To use new rails, I would have needed 84 pieces (3 per 8’ section). I saved $320.

Panel boards (pickets): At $1.50 each (1x4x6’) and 23 per 8-feet of fence section, the fencing is a huge chunk of the overall cost ($4.30 per linear foot). I salvaged all of mine, and 30 feet of a neighbor’s. I saved $860.

Much of the old fence line was on slope, and the panels were somewhat level at the tops. Fence boards ranged from 48-inches to over 6-feet in length. The new fence had 3 sections in the side yard reserved for shorter fence boards. It was a lucky “guestimate”, because I trimmed about six longer boards to finish a short panel section.

Hardware: Included in this cost is all nails, new hinges for gates (use at least 6” hinges), any treatment, and post brackets. Everything is galvanized. Each section of fence has 4 brackets, at $0.40 each. I think I paid around $60 for hardware, and have several pounds of nails remaining. Gates need to be priced individually. Simpson sells short framing nails for hangers. They work great for attaching the brackets to posts, but I used small 6-penny for the rails. The cap-rails had a 12-penny common toe-nailed at each post, which really improved rigidity of the panels. Simpson includes space for this on their post brackets.

Paint: One gallon of latex covered all wood surfaces in 20 linear feet. One face of the fence was previously painted so required much less paint. Estimate one gallon per 15 linear feet of unpainted or previously stained fence (150 sf). Buy good brushes and care for them, as well as the cheap rollers.

Paint at 10 gallons = $23 per gallon.

Concrete precast curbing: Standard HCMU caps at 4x8x16” = $1.25 each. Bricks (2x4x8”) for fill-in = $0.35 each. Since I used old pier blocks from a sunning deck, curbing cost me about $100. If building new, with post spacing at 8-feet, 6 caps plus fill bricks will go post-to-post (one cap aligned at 90-degrees). Concrete post backfill will mess up the estimates.

My posts were at 7-foot spacing, to use salvaged rails, and miss all, but one, of the old buried posts.

Ok, so all this estimating is intended to taut the effectiveness of conserving resources by extending the useable life of a renewable resource that is not sustainable under existing standard repair and maintenance practices. We compare costs of a “new” new fence and one using recovered materials.

We cannot include labor costs in this comparison. Restoration and salvage require an investment of time and labor that exceeds the cost of new material and the labor to construct a new fence. Salvage not only includes the same construction costs, but also, the deconstruction costs and the very labor intensive cost of cleaning salvaged material.

While I was building and wolfing down aspirin, I figured that the $1300, or so, saved in material was costing me two to three times as much in labor and equipment wear.

The comparison:

Restored Fence- $750 for 200 linear feet. Or, $3.75 per foot for a very well-built and long lasting fence.WashingtonStatesales tax is shy of 10%. I paid the tax, so it is wrapped in the material costs.

New Fence-

  1. New pickets- (+) $860
  2. New rails- (+) $320
  3. Gate hardware (closure spring, latch) (+) $45
  4. Disposal of old fencing (est.) – (+) $200
  5. Curbing (28 piers at 12” recycled)- 21 concrete caps at (+) $26
  6. Extra paint- 4 gallons at (+) $92
  7. PLUS (!!!) the costs in the restored fence, which includes only new material- $750?

New Fence Grand Total- $2293 for 200 linear feet. Or, $11.50 per foot for the same fence.

(Note, no labor costs are included. I am a slave to myself.)

The final line, above, says a great deal about human nature and social attitudes. History is rife with cycles of excess and conservation. The Greek civilization actually disappeared for several hundred years and then recovered “glory” (or, opulence). Global economics has always fluctuated.

When demand exceeds supply and turns into need, society will initiate conservation by necessity.  The past few years have witnessed several phrases, and terms for resource thrift, but those terms represent the same thing that has moved civilizations and people and human history for its entire social existence.

Hummingbirds in Puget Sound

May 30, 2010

Most years we set out a Fuchsia in a shady spot near the house.  Our long time favorite has been “Dark Eyes”, which has a preference for shade to part shade.  Besides color all summer, fuchsia is a favorite of hummingbirds, which for us makes cleaning and constant care of these plants less chore for the pleasure of watching hummers, which are ‘hardwired’, or attracted, to the color red.

This year we picked “Swingtime”, a hanging basket fuchsia with red and white petals because it is noted for sun tolerance. Not sure of its tolerance at this point since we’ve had constant grey and rain since it was set out over two weeks ago. It is parked out in the open on the deck.

So far, the hummers seem to prefer its location in the open, rather than under the roof eave near the patio/deck door; and, it seems, an almost constant stream of birds are feeding at it now–at least three–‘Anna’s’. For hummingbirds, two is a crowd so any more than one at the fuchsia means they are fighting, chasing, swirling, and dive bombing in a rush of buzzing wings, and clicking, chipping argument.

There are two species of hummingbird common to the Puget Sound Trough region, according to the Seattle Audubon Society. The most common, Anna’s Hummingbird, is actually resident throughout the year, some individuals having bred “out” the instinct to migrate south to Mexico. A growing population are being supplemented food at feeders during the winter. I’ve seen these hardy souls dashing about in December. They follow the spring blooms, from cherries in early February through the summer riots of ornamental flowers in our gardens.

Anna’s are the one we have seen so far at Swingtime Fuchsia. Two individuals are likely males, I don’t see bronze red heads on them, however; nor white-tipped tails.  Both male and female are predominantly iridescent green over back and tail. The third has a rich patch of red on her chin and streak of white just short of black tipped tail feathers that flashes white stripes as she hovers and fans her tail.

The Rufous Hummingbird is our second summer resident. I am waiting to identify Rufous. Rufous is more bronze red, well, rufous, than Anna’s. Male and female carry green backs and wings but the male is red all-round the head. The female has a red spot at her throat. It can be easy to confuse the females of Rufous with that of Anna’s.  The flashing white tail tip is the distinguishing feature of an Anna’s female.

Rufous are common from April into July, then start migrating south. By the end of September, females and juveniles have departed from Washington for winter homes in Mexico and Texas, some having migrated from Alaska and British Columbia.

Clean Energy: What you can do

January 30, 2010

This post is about as close to political agenda as the purpose of this blog will go, a rare–very rare–exception.  Typically I will only remark about areas needing more attention to basic environmental needs, but the blog will not have a “politics” category. My son was out of high school, before he learned of my political party leanings.  Even then, those leanings were less party orientation, but rather Issues and Policy oriented.  For those who will remember, do I still need to emphasize lower case “i”?

I hate politics.

But, sometimes we can’t avoid it.  Politicians count on us to stay out of politics.  Those with agendas send us the emotional garp, and we vote–if we vote–based on the nonsense hammered into our minds by the agenda spinners commercials.  The following link does its part for spin, a necessity in the US now, but the agenda IS very important to our lives and our future.

On a LinkedIn group I posted a question.  It referenced a childhood experience which helped mold my interests in conservation. The following is from my comment for the discussion:

I’ve been aware of conservation needs since I was 8-years-old, 50 years ago. It was a map of air pollution in Colorado, at the local National Weather Service station. Since then, the Denver, Colo. Springs, Pueblo strip has pretty much grown into a strip city. 50 years ago the Springs population was 55,000.

One thing I noticed when flying into the Springs years later were countless small coal power electric generating plants spewing garbage into the atmosphere.

The comment demonstrates what traditional “as usual” business philosophies do.  The countless coal-powered electric generating plants was the industry’s way to circumvent clean air laws.  It’s another battle–and, hopefully corrected through the proposed law–but this garbage must stop.

Thanks to Lynn Hasselberger at:  (