Our hypocrisy revealed


(Well, one of our hypocrisies.)

We make snarky comments¬† all the time about the new trend toward horizontal fencing in our neighborhood– what we call “flipper fences.” We’ve talked about flipper fences at least once on this blog, probably more, and anyone who hangs out with us has heard the term from us too many times.

To us, these fences are symbols of gentrification. The appearance of one in front of an old house is a sure sign the interior has undergone a rough-n’-ready “Dwell” style modern makeover inside, and the house is about to be re-sold at a 100k mark-up.

Yet when it came time to finally install a handrail on our staircase (just in time for the holidays, to appease our family, who for some reason find our treacherous staircase problematic) we discovered that arranging the boards horizontally worked best.

In short, due to a combination of laziness and skill deficiency and general expediency (the usual deciding factors in our design decisions) we’re constructing our very own flipper fence.


A Pedal Powered Lathe


I’ve blogged many times now about the incredibly useful and free 3D visualization program Sketchup (and had John Zapf on to talk about it on the podcast). A few avid woodworkers used the program to help build a wooden, bicycle powered lathe for a school in the Dominican Republic town of Punta Cana. They built the lathe so that kids at the school could make their own baseball bats.

You can find out more about the project on the Sketchup blog.

The Ultimate Flipper Fence?

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Talk about neighborly! The horizontal (a.k.a. “flipper) fencing on this 1905 bungalow has not only metastasized down the driveway, but has blocked off the view from what remains of the front porch. After all, who wants to sit out on the porch and chat with the neighbors on a warm summer night? Heck, there’s no need to even see them as you scurry around your high-security compound.

Examine the picture carefully and you’ll see the mandatory san-serif address numbers and the sort of biometric entrance gizmo they have in all those action movies to keep the zombies out. For that $890,000 you also get some Dr. Seuss plants. The real estate listing says, “Completely remodeled and designed with Silver Lake living in mind”.¬† Silver Lake living don’t mean what it used to.

The best dry toilet ever

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We are fortunate to have talented friends all around us, because they are a never-ending source of inspiration.

Case in point: Our friend, Gloria, needed a toilet for her off-grid compound. She asked our mutual friend, Daniel, to make her one. Daniel is a gifted maker– all his creations seem to have an inherent grace about them. Using the classic text, The Humanure Handbook, as a resource, he built her the most beautiful dry toilet system I’ve ever seen.

See more pics of this system and read Daniel’s story on his book-as-a-blog, The Cabin Dweller’s Texbook.

Also, we interviewed Daniel earlier this year for Root Simple Podcast #044.

A Neoclassical Native Bee House

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Inspired by the LA Natural History Museum’s bee houses on poles, I dashed off my own version in Sketchup. It’s an homage to Ian Hamilton Finlay.

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Kelly is supportive but skeptical. I’m hoping it can be a part of the reboot of our front yard, which we’re about to embark on. The plan is to remove unsuccessful plants and make the space more welcoming to wildlife. More on that in later posts.