Monday, December 31, 2007

Duh, it is pollution and it is toxic.

What Happens When Wood Burns?

Complete combustion gives off light, heat, and the gases carbon dioxide and water
vapor. Because when wood burns complete combustion does not occur, it also
produces wood smoke, which contains the following major air pollutants, which are
regulated by State and Federal regulations because of their known health effects:
Carbon Monoxide (CO) – An odorless, colorless gas,
produced in large amounts by burning wood with insufficient
air. CO reduces the blood’s ability to supply oxygen to body
tissues, can cause stress on your heart and reduce your ability
to exercise. Exposure to CO can cause long-term
health problems, dizziness, severe headaches,
unconsciousness and other serious effects. Those most at risk
from CO poisoning are the unborn child, and people with
anemia, heart, circulatory or lung disease.

Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) – NOx impairs the respiratory system and its ability to
fight infection. NOx also combines with VOCs and contributes to the formation of
ozone and with water vapor to form acid rain or acid fog.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – Evaporated carbon compounds which react
with NOx in sunlight to form ozone (photochemical smog). Ozone injures the lungs
and makes breathing difficult, especially in children and exercising adults. NOx and
VOCs also form particulate matter through a series of complex reactions.
Toxic Pollutants – Wood smoke also contains VOCs which
include toxic and/or cancer-causing substances,
such as
benzene, formaldehyde and benzo-a-pyrene, a polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH). Manufactured fireplace logs, for
instance, are not recommended for burning because they
produce toxic fumes, including PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Researchers are
now studying these and other smoke products to learn more about their effects on
human health.
Particulate Matter less than 10 microns in
diameter (PM10) are very small droplets of
condensed organic vapors of wood tar and
gases. These particles are a result of unburned
fuel and have a diameter of 10 microns or
smaller (the diameter of a human hair is about
50 to 100 microns), which allows them to be
inhaled into the lungs. Exposure to PM10
aggravates a number of respiratory illnesses.
PM10 includes a smaller group of particles called PM2.5, particles with diameters of
2.5 microns and less. These finer particles pose an increased health risk because
they can lodge deep in the lungs and contain substances that are particularly harmful
to human health, contributing to lung diseases and cancer. Exposure to PM2.5 may
even cause premature death in people with existing heart and lung disease.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Two New Books for 2008

Two New Books for 2008

Lee Anne White along with Taunton Press will release two new books early in 2008 .
The Outdoor Kitchen - Ideas that Work - Creative design solutions for your home


The Water Garden Idea Book

I’ve had a chance to review both books and find them both to be full of great ideas, excellent photographs, well written descriptive text and even some very helpful site plan line drawings .

My small design and build firm has a couple of projects depicted in each new book so it was very exciting to see our work represented so well and in such nice detail.

Two new great books for the Taunton family of books that continue to educate and inspire the gardening public.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Romantic side of it all

Just so that "Anonymous" has an idea of what I and others have to go through when your lung collapses from breathing
toxic smoke here is a lovely graphic photo of post surgery.

Now, that photo shows the easy peasy part.

The tough part is when the lung actually collapses and you are gasping for air on the side of the street , waiting for the paramedics to come.
" Oh look Dahhhhling, there's our neighbor gasping for air . Doesn't she look serene with all that lovely grey smoke wafting around her fallen body. , Another glass of wine and another log for the fire dear ?

But that really doesn't compare to the out of this world kind of pain when they stick a 14 inch long needle into your lungs to aspirate the lung and then the ribbed intercostal drainage tube gets rammed thru your spayed rib cage.

Yeah , its a real joy walking around with a drainage tube sticking out of your side , which is connected to some sort of alarm system that goes off when ever your levels go above or below .

But the best part was 7 days of morphine while in the ICU unit.
I sure needed it after seeing the hospital bill - $ 141,000.00
Thank goodness I had some form of health insurance.
Only had to pay 10 grand for out of pocket expenses.

OH the romance of it all, a nice wood burning fire, 24 / 7

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas, my ass.

Several days after my new neighbors moved in I noticed smoke wafting INSIDE of my house.
As I investigated I noticed that my neighbors had huge amounts of dark gray wood smoke billowing out of their chimney.
Their chimney is about 15 feet from my house and attic vent.
Evidently when the prevailing wind blows easterly the smoke from their chimney blows directly into my attic vent and the smoke then settles in the walls of my house.

This is not so good of a thing for a woman who has only half of a left lung and the other lung is severely compromised with a hereditary form of emphysema.

A week or two, just after these new neighbor moved in , I kindly went over to their house and introduced myself and informed them of my lung disease and asked them if they would curtail their use of the fire place, especially on Spare the Air nights and during our mild winter days.

The woman said that they would’ never even think’ of burning wood in the fireplace during the day but at nights they like to cozy up to a wood fire and enjoy a glass of wine.
She said she would ask her new landlord if he would clean the fireplace .
Errr, Umm Lady ! , I don’t think you are getting it . .. _ _
“ I have only one fully functioning lung, A clean fireplace spewing carbon monoxide is not a considerate thing to do.”
But please, do go ahead and have that glass of wine while you pollute the neighborhood air with toxic carbon monoxide, Voc and particulate matter. “ .. please do !

I mentioned that cleaning the fireplace would really have no bearing on the unhealthful pollution that would still spew from the fire place but she really didn’t seem to be too concerned about pollution control within our neighborhood.

On Christmas eve I was awoken by smoke wafting down through my walls and into the cracked opening of my bedroom window.
My neighbors fireplace was pouring thick dark gray smoke into my attic / roof vents and the smoke was settling down around the base of my house and in the houses walls.
I tossed and turned for an hour or so then at about 1 am went into the garage , erected a ladder, and set a old fan in motion to blow the smoke out of the house.

The smoke in my walls subsided but the smoke that accumulated around the base of my house could still be smelled.
And when you can smell smoke you are breathing in smoke.

The next day , a warm and balmy 58 -60 degree and the fireplace was still bellowing dark grey smoke across the roof and grounds of my house I went over to my neighbors house and again asked them to refrain from using their fire place on Spare the Air nights and especially during the day light hours.
They did not show any signs of understanding and their son dismissed me by saying “ have a merry christmas’.

Being sleep and oxygen deprived for the last couple of days I yelled back,” A very fucking merry christmas my ass. “

Now that’s the holiday spirit !
As I write this I have just filled out an application for in house oxygen tanks.
Thanks Santa, Just what I wanted.
I love having that fucking hose stuck up my nose and dragging that lovely oxygen tank around where ever I go.

Merry fucking christmas indeed.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sanitas per aquas

Sanitas per aquas
Healing by waters
San Francisco Garden Show 2008

If you are dreaming about your next stress reducing vacation then you might consider creating a spa sanctuary in your own back yard.

Total relaxation, rejuvenation and a sense of balanced calm can easily be achieved in your every day life by simply taking the time to go to a place within your mind and cultivating inner peace .

A simple secluded quiet niche in ones own garden can make for a wonderfully peaceful natural refuge for our tired and battered souls to go to for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Add in the warm healing waters of a clarifying spa infused with mineral rich herbs and nirvana is yours.

In creating ‘A Zen Spa Garden’ for the upcoming 2008 San Francisco Garden Show the team of Derviss + Chavez Design + Build have chosen to craft an ethno-modern spa sanctuary designed to inspirit the heart, imbue the senses and inspire the eye of the beholder.

A sense of total seclusion will be created by cloistering the spa room in a living green hedge of bamboo and lush savory succulents.
A generously proportioned hand crafted stone soaking tub from Concrete Works Studio of Oakland is overseen by stone carvings from Bali along with a comfortable chaise lounge from Indonesia.
Essential oils, herbal tea, a spot of lawn to practice some yoga and a cool refreshing outdoor shower area adds to the this soothing peaceful personal sanctuary.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On the Fence - Traditional and not so much.

On the Fence - Traditional and not so traditional, a charrette.

At Gardens Gone Wild Blog they are discussing the topic of fences in the landscape .

I think most of us are familiar with the beloved time honored white picket fence and the ubiquitous wooden board and batten fence so I’ll bring a twist to the table and offer up some different types of fence like armatures.

In this first photo you’ll see a bright red stucco water feature / wall. It is 40 inches tall and about 6 feet long.
There was once 6 foot tall solid wooden fence in its place.
When we torn down the wood fence we did not want to replace it with just a shorter version so we choose to use a red stucco wall and interjected a water feature into the spatial division.

In this second photo you’ll see 3 concrete spheres and a core ten steel arc behind them.
There was once a fence in this location and instead of replacing it with another one we choose to use core ten steel to create a fence between two garden spaces.

The next photo shows a project crafted up in Squaw Valley CA.
Originally the owners wanted a tall privacy fence to block the views between themselves and their neighbours.
We opted to build a metal fence / privacy screen on top of the stone wall , thus fencing out the neighboring views into this private entertainment area.

The next two photos show gates that are apart of a fencing system.
They are handcrafted wrought iron , a favorite medium of mine to design with.

The next photo is a pretty common fence that I designed about 17 years ago.
I’m including it because I like the way it falls in and out of a straight line thus giving way to some narrow planting beds along the lap pool .

The next two photos take the idea of a fence and turns it into a privacy screen.
Simple lattice panels do the trick to provide a sense of separation and privacy between neighoring properties.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The glass mosaic process

I’ve been toiling away at making the sculptural element that will be placed behind the concrete bathtub supplied by Concrete Works Studio which will be displayed at the 2008 San Francisco Garden Show.

The ‘glass mosaic wall ‘ is 5 feet wide and sits above the tub by 5 feet.
It has a shadow box window cut away at the center where a Balinese stone Buddha head will sit and a sheet of cascading water will pour out from below the Buddha head and fall into the cast concrete bath tub below. ( SEE POST BELOW FOR SKETCH )

The process for building the glass mosaic wall is slightly altered from the normal steps that I would take for making a glass mosaic because of the over all large size of this particular project and because I wanted greater control on blending the colored paper appliqu├ęs.

Normally the steps would go as follows ( simplified )

1. Cut Hardie Backer Board to size

2. Paint the Backer Board

3. Apply a thin coat of 2 part epoxy - about as thick as a credit card

4. Apply your under layment of paper, fabrics, photos, glitter + what ever else.

5. Apply another thin layer of epoxy over your paper, photos glitter.....

6. Apply the cracked glass to the surface, covering the prepared board.

7. Let thoroughly dry

8. Grout

9. Seal

Instead I am NOT applying the epoxy to the painted board and then applying the paper cut outs.

I am proceeding along with these steps for great flexibility in blending my applied paper colors

1. cut hardie board

2. paint the backer board

3. individually glue on the paper chips .

4. apply a thin layer of epoxy

5. apply glitter

6. apply tempered glass fragments

7. let dry

8. grout

9. seal

Here are some photos taken of the steps so far :

1. - Photo of a standard sheet of 1/2 inch thick Hardie Backer Board 3 ‘ x 5’.
Leaning against the Hardie Backer Board are two sheets of unbroken tempered safety glass that will soon be smashed .

2. This photo shows the Hardie Backer Board painted with water based paints.
Note the hole in the center . This is where the Buddha head is going to go and the cascading water fall.

3. In this photo you can see the individual colored paper chips being placed and glued onto the Hardie Board. - This is partially completed . I have another thousand or so more little chips of paper to glue on.

4. This photo shows another table in my shop that has some of the tempered safety glass already broken and ready to be epox’ed ontop of the Backer Board.

The next step is for the epoxy to be applied to the board.
I’ll capture that Kodak moment when I am finished gluing on the other 999 pieces of paper chips onto the board.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Donde esta Michelle ?

Translation - where the heck is Michelle ?

I've been working on segments for the upcoming garden show.

Below is a perspective sketch of the design.

I've been working on the glass mosiac wall in the far background.
Will post photos of the process of construction later on.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Paradise found, if only for a week.


It has been one hell of a year !

Normally when I take a holiday , it is more of an ‘ exploratory adventure’ to some far off exotic distant land but after having major lung reduction surgery a few months ago my surgeon highly recommended that I not venture too far off the ‘first world medical path’.
So instead of travelling back to Indonesia this winter I visited the island of Kauai with my friend Liam .
We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Resort for 6 days and loved every relaxing and rejuvenating minute.

Here are a few photos taken at the Grand Hyatt Resort and the Tropical Botanical Garden.

This is the salt water lagoon with its sandy breach entrance.

The salt water lagoon merges with the ocean beyond.

A view of the grand lobby and its waterfall cascading down towards the beach.
The rock alcove in the foreground is a ceremonial place to lay your leis when you leave the resort.

Another view of the waterfall , with a gray crane shooting me his moon.

An early morning sunrise walk down to one of the lower chlorinated pool/ lagoons.

One of my favorite swim spots

Lots of wooden bridges traverse over the swimming lagoons.

A favorite evening swimming spot.

The extemely fun water slide.

Another favorite morning and evening walking path.
The thatched hut in the photo is the TidePools restaurant.

This is that gray crane who had his butt towards the camera in one of the upper shots.
There were lots of wonderful birds at the Hyatt, ... both wild and tame.

Several swans swim in the koi ponds.
This pond is located adjacent to the morning breakfast terrace.

Another view with the swan and a variagated Furcrea in the background

Four colorful MaCaw birds entertained the resort guest in the main entrance lobby.
This is the red head bird.

This bird flew in on the ocean breeze and decided he liked the lava rock bridge post as a good ‘hanging out spot’.

We did pry ourselves away from the beach and resort for several outtings.
On one trip we took a tour of the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

This is one of the sculptures in the Allerton Garden. It stands at the head of a very curvaceous rill

The rill

A Hibiscus in the garden

Torch Gingers - they stand about 4.5 feet above the ground

Giant Bromeliads -Alcantarea imperialis - One of my favorites !

Another beautiful bromeliad , orchids and a cycad

Palm berries - oooo la la !

I have no idea what this fruiting plant is. Don’t know if it is edible or not , but isn’t it just exotically seductive ? !

I am not sure of this Bromeliad species , but I think it is a Portea.
I bet Christopher from the blog “ Outside Clyde” would know.

This palm name slips my memory. Could it be something called a Lucula ??

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Autumn sun sets in the Wine Country.

I took a drive today to see the fall colors in Napa and Sonoma Valleys.

The rows of grapes are turning brilliant red , orange and yellow on the vines.

I drove past one of my projects that we installed 2 years ago, - a driveway entry that was planted with imported 70 year old olive trees from the central valley along with a major mass planting of ornamental grasses and mexican sage.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Slide show : A Variety of Path Styles

This brief slide show depicts several different path styles.
All of the paths reflect either the personality of the homeowner or the personality of the architecture. ( ha, bet you didn't know your house had personality ! )

Monday, October 22, 2007

Portfolio Picture Show -part deux

Let's see if I can increase the size of the images for those of us with aging eye sight.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day - A bio wall environmental project

Joining in with my fellow bloggers across the world I thought it would be appropriate for me to share the environmental project that I am currently working on ; a bio wall.

First let me say that as a horticulturist, environmental sculptor and landscape designer I am usually working on some kind of environmental project every day but the current project that I am working on is providing me with much inspiration and professional satisfaction.

The living green plants that will form the bio wall are currently being propagated in my small 8x10 foot back yard green house.

So far I only have about 23 flats planted up which means that I have 12 more to go before I have the frame of the bio wall completely covered.

Below is bio wall plan. It was my original concept and since then it has been revised so that
it is 8 feet long, 17 inches wide and four feet tall..

Below are some of the flats that have been planted up and will go into the wall