Yuki and Federico gazing languidly at each other while testing out the new table at the bulbout

Yuki and Federico gazing languidly at each other while testing out the new table at the bulbout

Regular LAEV garden blog readers (both of you) may be getting bored with the saga of the bulbout… but there are still many chapters to come. Today’s chapter is on our new table for four. If you want bulbous background, see prior entries on what a bulbout is and how one materialized on our block and the arrival of the stumps.

Today, we had a great group bike ride (organized by Aurisha Smolarski) to a going-away lunch for Thiago Winterstein… ay… who we’re all going to miss. About a dozen of us rode up to Square One on Fountain Avenue near Vermont. Good food and a good discussion about insulation, music, information overload, blogging, writing, power tools, young tools, and the meanings of life… but I digress. On the ride back, Federico was asking me about how it was to use the chainsaw to saw a chair out of (or perhaps into?) the stump. I was telling him that it’s a pretty blunt, loud instrument. It was rather difficult to get cuts that were straight and/or parallel… but I did manage to get one chair cut (see the middle of the above photo or the left of the photo below for two not-particularly-descriptive photos.)  The chair is sit-in-able, but I still want to use a sander to round its sharper corners.

When we arrived back at eco-village, Federico, Yuki and I lamented that the stumps in the bulbout looked pretty much like they were, well, just unloaded there… which is pretty much the case. Yuki, who is significantly shorter than I, also mentioned that most of the stumps were too tall for her to sit on comfortably. I sort of knew this – though most of them fit me fine, we deliberately got them a bit big, knowing that we can trim, but we can’t add length.

We discussed the possibility of getting out the chainsaw, but, decided instead on an easier and more collaborative task – to arrange the stumps in a more orderly way – in hopes of encouraging more use. We got shovels and a level, and got to work. Most of the stumps aren’t quite even – which is to say that the cut on the top isn’t quite parallel to the cut on the bottom – so, when their bottoms are placed on a level surface, their tops aren’t level. To remedy this, and to take a little excess height away, we dug into the mulch and soil, creating holes that we plugged with the stumps. We placed four seating stumps around a larger central table stump.

It didn’t take too long, but it made the space a bit more inviting and more inhabitable. I really like this approach – small (easy-to-finish – this took the three of us about an hour) interventions that improve the space… while leaving plenty more to do when the energy and initiative strike us. I like these sorts of tasks better than embarking on far-reaching master-plans that take lots of time to complete.  I think that this is an especially apt way to work in the garden – multiple small achievable tasks tend to add up nicely into a beautiful and productive garden; big heroic plans for the garden tend to languish unfinished.

More bulbout chapters soon…

Another view of the table for four

Another view of the table for four

Tree Stumps in our Bulbout

Oak Tree Stumps in our Bulbout

Thanks to Irma and KYCC and Griffith Park folks, we now have some big stumps (actually a stump is in the ground, so I guess these might be called mature tree sections? or something like that) in our bulbout. The idea is that these would seats/tables for the outdoor living room that we’re creating there. These may or may not be permanent. Outdoors they’ll break down over time. The plan is to coat the top with boiled linseed oil and that will prevent some cracking.

Some of them are irregularly shaped, so we’ll probably be carving into the tops (probably with a chainsaw) to make the tops more seat-shaped. Ones that are too tall can be partially buried.

For lots more background on the bulbout, read this earlier post.