June 12, 2006

New Tools

Filed under: The Garden, Tools — marcstober @ 4:58 pm

I bought a Black and Decker 18 inch electric lawnmower at Sears this past weekend. There was also a 19 inch Craftsman model, which looked so similar I suspect it’s a private label model from the same manufacturer. The main difference was that the Craftsman model had a grass catcher bag included.

I was a little harder to put together than it should I have been. It’s interesting how Black and Decker has had such success at consistently being, let’s say, “average”—they walk a fine line in selling tools that do, in fact, get the job done, but no one could ever accuse of being heavy-duty or professional-grade like so much that is sold to homeowners seems to be these days.

Net result is that I have no ambition of creating a golf course, but it’s better than it was. I’ll need to experiment with how to deal with the extension cord, but I figure that’s a transferable skill; whereas maintaining a gasoline for such a small yard will be more of a hassle (not to mention more polluting). Next yard project is going to be getting some of the hedges under control, like the one that scrapes the car every time we come and go.

While I was at Sears I also picked up a Craftsman self-leveling laser level with tripod. Of course self-leveling because otherwise what’s the point? I almost passed it over because its accuracy was labels at only +/- 1/4 inch in 30 feet – but really, if the whole house is not level or something, am I really going to consider that a do-it-yourself project? It’ll be great for handing things on the wall.

All the laser levels advertise that they can make cross-hairs for laying floor tile but I can’t figure out how you’d set that up. It’s not really leveling anything, you’d have to mount the level sideways (and not on the floors since you’ll be putting tile there). Curious.

May 6, 2006

The Garden

Filed under: The Garden — marcstober @ 6:32 pm

What I like most about the house is having a back yard, something I grew up with. Hannah likes to call it “the garden” and I like that term as well. Sure, it sounds a little pretentious (or maybe just British!) but I think there’s a specific architectural meaning to “garden.” The idea is to have a space outdoors for eating, playing, or just hanging out on a nice day and that’s an important feature of a house; it’s something, for example, that Moshe Safie included in the homes of Habitat ’67 or that is talked about in A Pattern Language. Moreover we certainly don’t have a big, mowed space where you could throw a football which would really qualify as a yard!

What is new about having a garden is that there are things that grow. These purple and while wildflowers sprouted up over the past couple of days:


I think these are related to the spade-shaped ground cover that also seems to have sprouted up througout the yard; I don’t know what it’s called but I remember them (without the flowers) as being all around the house I lived in in elementary school. There is also some clover, and a lot of unmowed grass and weeds. I suppose if someone was actually mowing the grass the flowers wouldn’t have grown in.

In the category of new toys, I also got a new Weber Genesis Silver A gas grill. I bought it from Harvey’s Ace Hardware in Needham, where it came delivered, delivered, assembled, with a tank of gas, by a technician with the patter of an experienced tour guide who spent about 20 minutes explaining how to maintain it. Not the sort of experience I’d expect from the big stores. It also came with stainless steel, not the standard porcelain or cast iron, cooking grids and “flavorizer” bars. For all this it was about $100 more than you could get the same model elsewhere, but the tank of gas alone makes up a big part of the difference and having it delivered was just convenient. When we were at Yale Appliance a couple weeks ago I saw that they were also selling a Silver model with stainless steel cooking grates; I guess it’s something the independent dealers do to differentiate from the big stores.