Monthly Archives: May 2014

Hammock and Hanging Chair




Donna has been talking about a hammock for years. Finally, a location suggested itself – underneath the olive tree. the olive tree would supply one sturdy anchor, and I could erect a pole about 13′ away to anchor the other end of the hammock. Using that area would require clearing out all the junk stored there, as well as leveling the steep slope. So, I set about removing all the bags of rocks, compost, and plant pots. Then got to work on installing rock cages as retaining walls to provide support for a level area under the hammock. Once the cages were in place, I dug out the rocks, brought in some fill dirt, and leveled the area. I decided to run drip lines into the area and plant dymondia and irish moss as ground covers.

Erecting the pole turned out to be a bit of a challenge. I started with a previously used pole that had a big ball of concrete at the bottom. It seemed like the concrete would make a nice heavy anchor. I dug a large hole, set the pole, and added a bunch of concrete on top. After letting it set for 24 hours, I was eager to try it out. So, I hung the hammock, and set on it. Imagine my surprise when the pole tilted about 30 degrees, the hammock sagged, and my rear end nearly touched the ground. Not quite what I had in mind. So, I got out my sledge hammer and removed all the concrete from the pole. Then I burried at stack of planter pots in the large hole as space holders and packed the dirt around it. I used a tamper every few inches to make sure the dirt was firmly packed around the planter pots. When the dirt was in place, I removed the planter pots to reveal a narrow deep hole. The rest was easy. I inserted the pole and poured in concrete. When the concrete was set, the pole was firmly anchored. Success! That pole is not going anywhere.

We paid a couple of visits to swings ‘n things in Seaport Village and selected a rope hammock with spreader bars. We also decided to get a hanging chair to hang upslope on the other side of the olive tree.

The hammock and chair are great additions to our yard – colorful, great conversation pieces, and extremely comfortable.




We returned from a trip to the bay area with a “volunteer” wisteria plant from our friends Rich and Jamie. Then, we won a couple of kiwi vines from a raffle during a seminar on fruit trees at Brother Steve’s school. So, we needed to build or obtain a structure to support these vines. Then, I chanced upon an small archway at an estate sale. It would make a nice entryway to a pergola. Looking around the yard, Donna and I decided to locate the vines and support structure on the East side of the house, following our curvy pathway.

Although many pergolas are made with wood, I decided to go with metal. It doesn’t rot like wood, and proper paint and sealing would minimize the chances of rust. I had quite a few 2′ by 8′ very sturdy art grids that would make a perfect platform for hanging vines. To support them, I went with 10′ galvanized EMT metal poles sunk 2′ into concrete. I also used some pvc connectors and large pvc pipe for lateral support.

Since the pathway curves, I overlapped the grids at slight angles so that the 30′ long pergola followed the pathway in a polygonal fashion. The resulting structure is strong and sexy. Now, it is just a matter of encouraging the growth of the vines up the poles and keeping them trimmed as they fill in on top of the grids.

The Best Shredded Kale Salad


Yield: 4 small bowls
Soak time: 1 hour
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes


  • 2 medium bunches destemmed Lacinato/dinosaur kale, finely chopped (8 cups chopped)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (just eyeball it)
  • 1-2 handfuls dried sweetened cranberries, for garnish
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted
  • 1.5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pinches fine grain sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 300F. Spread the pecans onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until fragrant and lightly golden.
  2. Remove the stems from the kale and discard (you can save for smoothies if you are hard core!). Finely chop the kale leaves (the smaller, the better!).
  3. Wash the kale and spin dry. Place dried kale into a large bowl.
  4. For the dressing: In a mini food processor, process the garlic until minced. Now add the lemon, oil, salt, and pepper and process until combined. Adjust to taste, if desired. Pour the dressing onto the kale and mix it into the kale with your hands or toss with spoons. Keep mixing for about 1 minute to ensure everything is coated perfectly.
  5. For the pecan parm: Rinse out the mini processor and pat dry. Add the pecans into the processor and process until the pecans are the size of peas or a bit larger. Now add in the nutritional yeast, oil, and salt and process again until it’s a coarse crumb. Be sure not to over-process – we still want a nice crunchy texture here, not powder.
  6. Sprinkle the pecan Parmesan all over the salad. Toss on a handful or two of dried cranberries. Wrap and place in the fridge for 30-60 minutes to soften. I tried letting this salad sit overnight in the fridge and I greatly preferred the flavour of the salad served the day of, so I don’t recommend making this salad the day before and letting it sit in the fridge overnight.
Note: 1) Instead of a mini processor, you can chop/whisk the dressing and pecan “parmesan” by hand. 2) For a nut-free version, try using breadcrumbs instead of pecans.