“Outsider” art

In the continuing saga of the Summer of 2014 “Back to Nature” Staycation, I think I have decided upon the artform I want to portray on the front deck…

…sorta like primitive outsider art, using the media of weathered wood marquetry, such as the wood inlay artwork below, by Jonathan Calugi:

jonathan calugi - italian artist - wood inlay

…almost like this:


…incorporating these images (from here, here, and here):


Dusk Scene, Smoky Mountains



…to create an abstract image in painted wood that will resemble this:


rather than these (from here and here):



Ultimately fading like an old barn or brick building advert:

signs on building

IMG_3070pse copy

“Post” modern latticework

The old lattice sections have been removed and ready for dismantling, salvaging the nonrotten pieces.



But first, the deck must be reinforced with new braces attached between deck and posts/beams as partially implemented below:


Before removing the lattice sections, I cut out honeysuckle and wisteria vines that had interlaced between and warped individual lattice boards, discovering some unusual lifeform (placed on top of flat carpenter’s pencil for size comparison):


It’s hot outside…time for a lunch break.

Correction to a previous post

Wanted to correct a previous post, which reflected my poor memory about the founder of ADS Environmental Services.

Here, forewith, is Peter Petroff’s proper CV (source):

Peter Dimitroff Petroff, a NASA engineer and later an inventor whose enterprises developed heart-monitoring equipment and originated the digital wristwatch 30 years ago, died Feb. 27 at his home in Huntsville, Ala. He was 83. . .

He went into business on his own in 1968, founding Care Electrics, a high-technology company that developed a wireless heart monitor for hospital use. The venture evolved into Electro/Data, which created the prototype of the digital watch.

Marketed by the Hamilton Watch Company as the Pulsar, the odd-looking device sold for $2,100 in 1971.

Of course, there had been mechanical digital watches long before, but the Pulsar was electronic with a red LED readout.


THERE is a widespread belief in Bulgaria that the country has never been able to keep its best offspring because they always leave to find a better place to make a living. Unfortunately, one can easily share this view, as most of the Bulgarians that have introduced anything of importance to the world have been from among those that left their homeland. Perhaps this is not such a problem, as long as Bulgarians do not forget those that brought the fame.

Following this line of thought, one name that was long ago forgotten in Bulgaria was that of Peter Petroff (Petar Petrov), and only the news of his death brought his name back to the minds of Bulgarians.

Peter Dimitroff Petroff, 83, an engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and an inventor whose enterprises developed a heart monitor and the digital wristwatch 30 years ago, died on February 27 at his home in Huntsville, Alabama. He was a native of Bulgaria who moved to Canada and then to the US after World War 2, and in 1968 founded Care Electrics, a high-tech company that developed a wireless heart monitor for hospitals. The company became Electro/Data, which created the prototype of the digital watch. Marketed by the Hamilton Watch Company as the Pulsar, it sold for $2100 in 1971.

Petroff was born in the Bulgarian village of Brestovitsa, and, while almost nothing is known of his life in Bulgaria, his later existence was marked with the name of a great inventor. He was born on October 21, 1919 to the family of Dimitar Petrov, a priest of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and his wife Vasillia. After attending a religious seminary, Petroff enlisted in the French Foreign legion in October 1939.

He was captured by the Germans while defending the French Maginot Line in 1940, and sent to a German Prisoner Of War camp in Poland. He returned to Bulgaria in March 1941 and became an officer in the Bulgarian Army. His duties included being a palace guard to King Boris III of Bulgaria and participating in the Honour Guard for the funeral of Turkey’s President, Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

In 1944, he moved to Germany to study engineering at the University of Munich.

He graduated from Darmstadt and Stuttgart universities with a master’s degree in electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering. While in Germany he also studied his life long passion, naval architecture, and designed and built the first of over 60 boats in 1947.

Petroff arrived in Toronto in 1951 via wartime France and Germany. He worked on arctic engineering and construction projects for the US Air Force at Goose Bay, Labrador, and Thule, Greenland.

He went to Indochina in 1956 for assignments in bridge and power plant construction. Three years later, he sailed a 65-foot catamaran of his own design to Melbourne, Florida, where he joined the space projects carried out by a precursor of the Harris Corporation. He helped design systems for early weather and communications satellites and organised the company’s semiconductor division.

Moving to Huntsville in 1963, Petroff was recruited by Wernher von Braun to work on the new Saturn rocket for the Apollo space programme. During that period, his employers were NASA, and Boeing and Northrop, its contractors.

In 1975, Petroff and his sons founded ADS Environmental Services, a maker of computerised pollution monitoring equipment for the world market. He sold his interest in the company in 1995 but rejoined his sons as a consultant for Time Domain.

Petroff received numerous honours and awards throughout his professional career. His most unique distinction was to be officially declared an Enemy of the People by the communist regime in Bulgaria, for which he received a death sentence in absentia. The sentence was later lifted.

He continued his lifelong interest in boat design and naval architecture by renovating the Gemini II. The boat also served as the base of operation for Lee Taylor’s successful assault on the world water speed record on Lake Guntersville in 1967. In 1991, he moved the Gemini II to the US Virgin Islands. It was donated to charity two years ago and now serves as a floating orphanage in Central America.

In its obituary for Peter Petroff, The New York Times quoted Ralph Petroff, one of his sons, who said it was ironic that his father had died a peaceful death.

“He always laughed at danger and he laughed at death. He should have never made it to his 83rd birthday, let alone his 20th,” Ralph Petroff said. “I guess if you were to combine Indiana Jones with Thomas Edison, the result would be Peter Petroff.”

And his wikipedia entry:

Peter Petroff (Born in Brestovitsa, Bulgaria, October 21, 1919 – Died in Huntsville, Alabama, United States, February 27, 2003[1]) was a Bulgarian American inventor, engineer, NASA scientist, and adventurer. He was instrumental in the evolution of the NASA space program. Among his many accomplishments, Petroff developed the world’s first computerized pollution monitoring system and telemetry devices for the world’s first weather and communications satellites. Petroff helped develop the world’s first digital watch[1] and the world’s first wireless heart monitor, and many other important devices and methods. Petroff founded Care Electronics, Inc. which was acquired by Electro-Data, Inc. of Garland, Texas in the fall of 1971.

Petroff Point on Brabant Island in Antarctica is named for Petroff.[2]


  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/09/obituaries/09PETR.html The New York Times: Peter D. Petroff Dies at 83.
  2. Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica: Petrov Point.


And his NY Times obit, if you’re interested.

Front deck refresh

Now that the backyard privacy fence is complete, time to refresh the look of the front deck, starting with the broken latticework underneath, which used to look like this:

Original pattern

Here are some of the patterns I’m considering, reusing the old lattice work strips where possible:

Star pattern

Galaxy pattern

Geometric patterns 2

Geometric patterns

Modern art pattern


Or if I’m really ambitious, I’ll turn it into a wood-and-metal mixed media display, something like this:

Mixed media pattern


Merlin and Erin would have selected one design for me, I’m sure…



…after they watched the butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, birds, chipmunks and squirrels, of course.





What the cabin in the woods looked like under construction in April 1987, still with the same latticework today in 2014 — time to bring the deck into the 21st century!:


My meditation platform/treehouse


Prime treehouse candidate?

Years ago I planned a treehouse in our backyard woods and didn’t build it, which worked out well when a few tens of feet away a suburban tract/lot was cleared and a new house erected, eliminating conditions for a “alone with primitive self” meditative state.

I had barely explored our side yard for meditative contemplation until finding a burial place for Merlin.

Time to design and build a smaller version of the previous treehouse, a platform large enough for a seat and a place to curl up and nap, screened in from insects, arthropods, and other undesired surprise visitors 10 to 20 feet off the forest floor.

Will a cantenna WiFi antenna work with a smartphone? I still have the old Hitachi dish on the roof…hmm…

Time to eat lunch and contemplate the possibilities!

Poking along the ol’ desert trail

Striving For Efficiency

Undocumented love songs do appeal
To unrelenting robots at the job,
The automatic working people’s deal
About their heavy hearts’ (in stillness) throb.
You people! See your wasted VCRs!
Take comfort with the loved ones from the rain,
Wave pennants at the ballgame, and our cars
Shall eat the track. Replace oldtimer’s train
With progress’ routes, invented by the Old
Guard, so the New will build starcruiser ships —
The labored, never-ending future, cold
Beyond imagination — mindless trips.
The words we say, the plans we’ve made in haste,
Perspective bears their worthiness or waste.

[Published in Gallery 1985, a Walters State Community College publication, spring 1985]


The Farmer’s Almanac Guide to Shakespeare: A 1/2-Act Play

To be performed in a casual setting; the performer should wear an old hat, dirty overalls, and a wornout pair of boots and be holding a large book, preferably the works of Shakespeare.

Hi folks, I was gonna tell y’all about the weather and how my farm was doin’ and all that but this morning I picked up this stack of tall tales that’s been holdin’ up one end of my kitchen table ever since my daughter got kicked outta eighth grade for chewin’ tobacco.

The fellow in this here book says that old psychiatrists have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes all yellowed-over, their gums are red from gnawin’ and that they lack their sanity, together with having weak legs, so they have to hang onto the toilet when they pee (kinda like some of them politicians after they’ve had a few sips of my moonshine…er, I mean cough medicine). I don’t mean to insult the bunch of you but that purty well describes the rest of us here today. But as I was sayin’, you can tell this fellow has a lot on his mind, and he uses some purty fancy words to say all what he’s got to say. I especially like this story, called…

The Good Ol’ Boy Hamlet

[The performer makes a sound, clearing the throat, thrusts the book out in an overdramatic fashion and then pulls the book in close as if the words are hard to see, bending down to study the page for a few seconds before saying the following paragraph slowly, as if getting used to reading out loud.]

I heard this speech once, but it was never acted; or if it was, not more’n once; it didn’t please a lot of folks; it was like fancy fish eggs to the people: but it was — as I reckon, and others, whose judgments in such matters are much smarter’n mine — an excellent speech, every sentence put together purty well and set down with as much modesty as a cunning politician.

[The performer stands up straight and holds the book back out, then loudly enunciates the following, overacting as much as possible.]

To seed or not to seed the fields: that is the question:
Whether this brain of mine can suffer
The Cadillacs and Pierce Arrows of winnin’ the lottery fortune,
Or take pesticides against a sea of boll weevils,
And by sprayin’ end them? To die: to sleep:
No more; and by sleep to say I end
The heartache and the thousand bumps to my butt
That a tractor’ll do to ya, it’s a sitiation
Definitely to be wished fer. To die, to sleep:
To sleep: perchance to dream : ah, there’s the rub of Ben Gay;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When I have taken off these dirty overalls,
Must give me pause: that’s the respect
That makes a calamity of this long life;
For who would bear the naggin’ and complainin’ of your spouse,
The government taxes, the businessman’s contempt for farmin’,
The pains of your ol’ sweetheart’s love, the delay of your farm loan approval,
The overbearin’ county commissioners and the free handouts
That lazy farmers whose crops fail take,
When I myself could quietly make
Out like a barefoot bandit? who would bear the burdens,
To grunt and sweat under this weary life,
But that the wonder of somethin’ after death,
The undiscovered country from whose boundaries
No traveller has returned, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we don’t know of?
Thus conscience does make Christians of us all;
And thus the natural-born worldly will
Is replaced with Jesus and his cast of angels,
And enterprises of great importance and in regards
to this moment our thoughts run to God
And lose the love for the world. — Listen now!
My fair wife! She calls me back to the dinner table for some vittles.
Well, folks, I’d best be going afore she up and feeds my supper to the hogs.

– 19 May 1995