Evil lawn

There's yet another article in the LA Times Home & Garden section about losing your lawn.

...drought-tolerant plants became part of the solution -- although in entirely different ways. Despite being dissimilar in architectural and garden styles, the [two] homes prove just how versatile these plants can be. Once used mostly as stylistic botanical props where something unusual was called for, they are becoming part of the garden vernacular, equipped to live on low doses of moisture and survive bouts of drought.

Updated with a relevant picture 1 Oct

Here's a picture of some interesting grass area from a June-July 2007 trip to Germany. This is on the grounds of the Wurzburg Residenz, a palace known as "the Versaille of Germany." Needless to say, no expense is spared on grounds upkeep. Note the "weeds" in the turf lawn, which would never be tolerated here in the US.

Also, take a look at John Greenlee's presentation from 2004 (works best with MS Explorer, ugh ).


Native plant interest list

There is a newer version of this list here.

The optimum time to plant California natives is now, and with that in mind I've been preparing my list of plant needs for the Payne Foundation fall sale. This blog post will be my scratch paper for that planning effort. There are some plants that I'd like to know a bit more about - those are listed here too.

  • Cercis occidentalis (Western redbud) - Great looking tree. I need another. Last year's petite 5 gallon bucket planting has tripled in height or more over the spring and summer; from a tiny twiggy looking thing to about 4' of graceful tree. Next summer it'll be over the fence. Status: Got one (small) from TPF. Planted it in a 15 gal container for this year. Plan to install in garden Fall of '08.
  • Betula occidentalis (sometimes identified as water birch, but no widely accepted common name) shrubby tree needs investigation
  • Fraxinus dipetala (Flowering Ash, no widely accepted common name) shrubby tree needs investigation

General Interest
Claytonia perfoliata mexicana (Miner's lettuce aka wild Purslane) - for my vegetable garden and to naturalize around the yard. Bad luck trying to germinate this. Perhaps need to scatter seed in fall, not late winter.

Salvia spathacea (Hummingbird sage) - ground cover. Easy grower. Got three. The one in dry inpenetrable shade with kid traffic died a horrible death. Two in full sun are OK in mid spring, but I'm concerned that they are too exposed for summer sun. We'll see.

Satureja douglasi (Yerba buena) - 6" scented groundcover. Makes a tea. Original name for San Francisco. Have some planted under citrus tree where it gets water and part sun. Doing ok as of May 08.

Wyethia (Mules' ears) - sun to partail shade. Heavy soil preferred. Slow (eve glacial) to initially establish and spread. Could go along fence in back. Still can't find any in the trade.

Aster chilensis (Coast aster) - SB. County north. Will stabilize hills.

The following California meadow plant list are some of those mentioned by by Bornstein, et. al. in their excellent book. I've winnowed down their list to these, which I think are all possibilities for my front yard meadow due to common naturally occurring range, water, sun and soil requirements. Also, many of these are short or, if not, then I'm thinking of using them in more limited ways. Last year I made the mistake of planting many annuals that grew to 3 or 4 feet: Too tall. *= I have this in my garden already.

Meadow perennial plants

  • *Achillea millefolium (yarrow) - I have a white flowering selection. Could be "Calistoga". Pink flowers are available. Mine get pinkish occasionally.
  • Carex pansa (meadow sedge) - use in meadow or bank stabilization
  • *Erigeron (seaside daisy) "Cape Sebastian" or "W.R." (Wayne Roderick) selections. Don't know what selection I have. Took a year to establish.
  • *Festuca rubra molate - red fescue grass
  • Fragraria chiloensis (beach strawberry) have some in N side yard doing well.
  • Grindelia stricta var. platyphylla (spreading gum plant) - yellow flowers in summer
  • Juncus patens (wire grass) - all cultivars. Avoid other juncus species as they seem to need more water. I have a Juncus mexicanus, which is not doing so very well.
  • Ranunculus californicus (California buttercup) - winter to spring blooms. V. low water
  • Sidalcea malviflora (checkerbloom) - 6-24" depending upon cultivar. Spring bloom. Mowable. Have two in meadow. Planted late in winter, so perhaps not completely established at this point (May 08)
  • *Sisyrinchium (blue eyed grass) - Got it. Trying to get it to naturalize in my yard. Will be successful next year due to success in transplanting it around the yard.

Meadow annual plants
  • Linathus parviflorus (stardust) - 3-8" tall, multicolored flowers.
  • Goldfields might have been a choice too, but not listed in the Bornstien book. They bloomed briefly last year at until spring's end.

Interesting fact: Lupinus microcarpus (and other Lupins) fix nitrogen in the soil. They are in the pea family.

My California meadow - almost like a turf lawn, if viewed from a distance

I'm focussed on how to upgrade my front yard meadow. It's shown below in a recent photo - groundcover in foreground is turf grass and on the far side of the sidewalk is mostly yarrow. It's looking good after recent rains.

In the past year I've had remarks from passers by that they either loved or hated the wildflowers, so when planning changes I have been sensitized to neighbors' impressions; I don't want to fight a battle with my City and / or neighbors* over "weed" laws, so the phrase "almost like a turf lawn, if viewed from a distance" isn't really the backhanded compliment that it seems. In fact, for now it's almost a design criterion / defensive posture. (See comments below for amplification.)

Closeup of yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

I've found and learned some nuggets of information about meadow design that I want to consolidate in this blog post. Of course, even if I had read all these sources last year when I was overseeding the meadow, I doubt that I would have paid that much attention. Generally, you have to do things several times in order to get them right. This is attempt number 2, so I have at least one more attempt before I get really irritated with myself.

My reference sources are various and include my direct observation as well as knowledge gleaned from books such as the excellent California Native Plants for the Garden book by Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien, and various web resources. The California Native Grass Association has a pdf publication that provides a wealth of guidance and clarification, particularly if you plan to base your garden meadow on a natural grassland plant community. I use some of their info here, but am not planning to follow the guidelines for an orthodox grassland since this is about 300 square feet in a suburban front yard. Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden has a brief writeup on the meadow near their front entrance. Yerba Buena nursery (N. Ca) has a great photo essay week by week for their meadow from prior years. Finally, last year's Payne Foundation garden tour was a bit of an inspiration.

There are two grassland communities that can be used a models for garden meadows: coastal prairie and foothill grassland. To the degree that the grasslands influence my plans, I'll be focussed on the coastal prairie.

If incorporating grasses, allow the grasses to establish themselves first otherwise they will be overwhelmed by wildflowers. This is what I observed in my garden and what I read in Bornstein. I have a few strands of festuca poking up, but nowhere near what I expected given my seed mixture.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a perfectly good foundation for a meadow. Bornstein et. al mention something like a "simple combination of dune sedge and yarow" as one possible meadow foundation mix. I'll assume that "simple" in that context is a compliment in the less it more category, and I'll add the sedge this fall having concluded that it's a good idea.

Don't try to establish a meadow on sandy soil. Clay or loam is preferred. I have clay soil for the most part, so no concerns there.

Don't try to interplant cool season and warm season grasses. It's usually a mess rather than the all-season treat that you'd think.

Flowers, when used in abundance, seem most attractively placed when in massed drifts, not scattered across the landscape. Scattered flowers are attractive too, and possibly more appropriate for my smaller space. My first attempt at a meadow was random (and overly dense) seed placement. It was OK, but it didn't allow for the smaller plants to shine since they were overwhelmed by the taller ones and it had no staying power since the only perennials were low growing and crowded out by the taller flowers.

Seeds won't sprout through bark mulch, so don't use it on the meadow if starting from seed.

Seeding rates (referring to initial seeding of bunchgrasses) : "The desired number of single or combined species of seeds per square foot should be approximately 30 seeds total. This allows for seedling mortality, ensures that the plants are separated from each other, and minimizes the chances for competition between species." (CNGA paper)

Suggested plants from the CNGA paper:

Carex pansa (Pacific dune sedge)**
Danthonia californica (California Oatgrass) signature bunchgrass of the coastal prairie. Can be maintained as low evergreen "turf"
Festuca rubra (red fescue) coastal prairie meadow
Agrostis diegoensis (thingrass) coastal prairie meadow
Deschampsia holciformis (tufted hairgrass) coastal prairie meadow

Nassella pulchra (purple needlegrass) coastal prairie in central and N. Ca where foothill grassland flora co-mingles with coastal grassland
Koeleria macrantha (junegrass) coastal prairie in central and N. Ca
F. idahoensis roemeri (Idaho fescue) coastal prairie in central and N. Ca

** Some words about Carex: There seems to be significant disagreement between practitioners about nomenclature among the Carex genus. At San Marcos Growers they cite " Carex praegracilis (California Field Sedge)" and then note "We received this sedge from John Greenlee as Carex pansa but later was keyed to the very closely related Carex praegracilis. We listed it as Carex praegracilis with the common name of California Field Sedge in our 2001 and 2002 catalogs but unfortunately the plant had become popularized in the California horticultural trade under the name Carex pansa and we reluctantly began listing this plant as such. In an article in the summer 2006 issue of Pacific Horticulture titled "A Sedge By Another Name" the authors urge growers to correctly identify this sedge as Carex praegracilis and to use the common name Clustered Field Sedge instead of Meadow Sedge, which may be confused with an eastern U.S. species. We have decided to return to listing it as Carex praegracilis - California Field Sedge with the designation [C. pansa, Hort.] to indicate that is has been previously listed incorrectly by this name."

*Some neighbors are even stirred to violence in the face of plant disputes. Take the case of 65 year old Anita Spriggs of Anaheim, who shot 64 year old neighbor Gary Hall in the shoulder while in the course of trimming their shared fence hedge.

Shrubbery dispute leads Anaheim woman, 65, to shoot neighbor, police say
By Dave Mckibben, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
11:11 AM PDT, October 1, 2007

Camping at El Dorado Park

We went camping at El Dorado Park in Long Beach this weekend. Although I was fearful that we'd get rained out, we didn't have a single drop of rain. We tried fishing, with no luck. However, my son's friend caught five fish so we know they were out there. El Dorado park is quite large - about 103 acres. We camped on the grassy side of Spring Street. On the other side is a largish natural park - the emphasis is on California native plants.

The California live oaks were absolutely full of acorns and the squirrels were busy knocking them all down. I picked up a few of the less gnawed ones to play with. It was fun to cut one open and taste it with the Scouts (bleck!) and imagine the learning process that the native Indians went through to evolve their use of acorns as a food staple.

I have some left over. Last year it was ridiculously easy to sprout Engleman? Oaks by just putting the acorns in pots with a little potting soil. People in northern California have a very involved routine for sprouting acorns that I tried previously, with very little success: the acorns molded and sprouted in the fridge following these directions. None sprouted after planting. I think that with our different weather and oak selection that a casually planted seed might be all that's needed for oak tree success.



0.49" overnight
0.78" in the morning

I didn't record the last rain of the 2006 season in a convenient place (meaning one that I could ever subsequently find) but the LA Times reports that it was 0.05" on April 22. That capped off a season that was just under 1.5", as measured in my backyard.

This weekend's rain was nearly the sum total of last year's entire rainy season! We're well into the fourth quartile of rain for the month of September (third quartile ends at 0.095"), based on rainfall data from 1944 to 2005. In fact, we're well above the 3rd quartile of rain for October as well (0.382").

This was a fitting start to fall, my favorite time of year. The whole yard has perked up and the meadow is looking particularly nice.


Natural garden design

I've been ruminating on the design changes that my front yard needs in order to be more of a year round pleaser.

I came across Flower to the People in the LA Times home improvement blog, Pardon Our Dust, today. They have a nice series of pictures of their work (which, sadly, I could only get to open correctly in Internet Explorer). Some of the design elements they use may be apropos.

I have a feeling of urgency about modifications to the garden right now: October through January or February is the time to plant California native plants, which need the winter rains and cool growing temperatures of winter and spring to get a good start on the summer.

Circque du Soleil

We went to Cirque du Soleil last weekend. My son had to give up a trip to Knotts Berry Farm with a neighbor, but I'd purchased tickets a long time ago. Seats were nearly perfect: "center court", three rows back from an aisle that gave a straight view down to the stage.

I'd been to an ersatz Cirque a while back ("Cirque Dreams" when the South Bay Civic Light Theater was still bringing in outsiders instead of producing locally) and been disappointed. The real deal was quite a bit better. I guess you get what you pay for.


Interior sliding door

I might want an interior sliding door at some point. The Sliding Door Company is local and has some nice pictures on their web site.


Gardena Willows

To my knowledge of all the South Bay Cities, only Lawndale, Hawthorne, and maybe Lomita don't have a native restoration effort underway*. Gardena springs to mind as one of the impoverished "landlocked" cities, but even they now have a 13 acre restoration effort. See The Gardena Willows.

I keep the Lawndale City in mind as I tend my front yard meadow, which received a haircut this weekend to qwell any querlous old lady neighbors who think that plants going to seed is unnatural: All those seed yarrow seed heads got summarily wacked off. The reason for this is that Lawndale went so far as to cite the Hendersons for maintaining native plants on their property. Lawndale eventually backed down, but only after the Hendersons retained an attorney and fought a pitched PR battle. Huell Howser profiled their garden.

*El Segundo has the El Segundo Blue butterfly habitat and some restored dunes at LAX (maybe not El Segundo proper, but close enough), Manhattan Beach has the MB Botanical Garden, Redondo and Torrance have some restored beachside (though ignorant people complain that it's brown at the end of summer, duh), Torrance also has the Madrona Marsh. Lomita has a small fenced lot around the last vestiges of a vernal pool that I read about at least a year ago. Hmm. Maybe Lomita doesn't have anything. Palos Verdes (all areas) has pays special attention to their "blue line" streams and canyons.

Kitchen Design with Cooking in Mind

That's the title of a book by Don Silvers that I just downloaded. The book came recommended from the LA Times home repair blog, Pardon Our Dust. Recently I found I've been reading the LA Times blogs more regularly (particularly Pardon Our Dust and LA Land). Don has a separate website as well.

The book starts with a statement that spoke to me.

Most homeowners face an immediate obstacle—the kitchen triangle. What is the kitchen triangle? You won’t find it in Webster’s. You will find it in most American homes, however. For decades, it has been the great bane of sensible kitchen design.

The work triangle has been on my mind since going over my first designs. My intended kitchen simply won't fit into any "normal" sort of triangle. Fortunately Don Silvers has a concept of work flow which promises to untangle my design choices. As I understand it after reading the first chapter, Don likes to design for the maximum (dishes, people, whatever) and then try to telescope that capability into the available space: If you can make a meal for 10 at Thanksgiving then you should surely be able to make a meal for 2 on a weekday night. His approach is kitchen systems engineering, a methodology that I am well acquainted with.

Take the title of the second chapter, "Storage Subsystems" in which one of the first paragraphs starts,

As important as it is, both in terms of style and function, cabinetry often presents a formidable obstacle to good kitchen design. In a properly designed kitchen, it is the appliances that drive the design, and the cabinets work to support appliance placement. But the cabinet industry has long set the standards when it comes to dimensions. In a sort of tail-wagging-the-dog situation, manufacturers create appliances to fit into the cabinet industry’s standardized 22 inch deep European to 24 inch deep American cabinets. Stop for a moment and consider the consequences: Cooktops are designed to fit a cabinet, not to address whether you cook for 2, 6, 12, or 20 people.

What follows are notes from the book that I thought useful enough to give careful consideration to. There's a bunch of ideas that I already have a strong opinion on which are not noted here.

1. Two sinks!! See if you can shoehorn in a second sink, each with a garbage disposal. A second sink is just the type of utility station that can break the kitchen triangle, split the workload, and create separate flow patterns for the different tasks each handles. As such, it is well worth the cost.
2. Built-in food centers are motors set directly into the counter that attach to a food processor, blender, or other appliance. They are worth considering for small kitchens with minimal counter space. These machines can mix, blend, grind coffee, crush ice and perform a dozen tasks in a compact space. A quick Google seach "kitchen appliance built-in blender" or the like turned up the Broan/ Nutone Kitchen Center KC-PWR-1SS Power Base at
It's a bit discouraging that they have only a mixer and blender attachment. I'd like dough kneading, food processor, and juicer attachments to make this a true space saver for a small kitchen, particularly since you'd give up valuable counter top to have it. Maybe another brand will have those or they are available elsewhere. Needs more investigation.
3. A "rolling island" - A kitchen needs to be a minimum of 12 feet wide to accommodate a 24 inch deep island.... So if you don’t have a 12 to 14 foot wide kitchen, you can still very effectively extend your counter space by using what is actually a type of rolling island.
4. 30" deep counters created by furring out standard base cabinets. 15" to 18" recommended counter top to upper cabinets distance If you have sufficient cabinet storage—and you’re tall enough—I would recommend the 18 inch height. This means the bottom shelf of the cabinet will be four feet, seven inches from the floor. This allows stowing small appliances (e.g. coffeemaker) at the back of the counter with plenty of workspace left in front.
5. He personally finds a soap dispenser built into sink indispensable ;-) This could be a nice space saver, but I keep imagining the rusted broken stub of the dispenser marring my otherwise perfect kitchen a couple years down the line. That plastic doesn't last all that long and replacement parts may go unavailable.
6. Buy a European dishwasher for quiet, speed and efficiency. Claims it's better to not pre-rinse dishes for the dishwasher because dishwasher soap is highly alkaline. Without food residue to work on, the soap works directly on the dish surface, potentially etching it. The soap can also etch glasses and pit silverware. One of the ways you can combat this dishwasher wear and tear is to only fill the main soap compartment of the standard two. As it turns out, the water in the first rinse cycle usually isn’t hot enough to dissolve the soap anyway. Later, If you are right handed, the dishwasher belongs to the left of the sink; if you are left handed, it belongs to the right. All dishwashers come 34 to 34-1/2 inches high, so fitting them under the standard 36 inch counter is no problem. However, if you wish to lower the counter, only European models come with adjustable legs that allow the dishwasher to be raised or lowered two to three inches.
7. Lighting Lamps and fixtures under wall cabinets will light three-quarters of the counter, from the backsplash out. The color of your counter surface will reflect light, so the lighter the counter, the better the light. Your ceiling lamps and fixtures should be placed above the outer quarter of your counter so that, with your cabinet lighting, all surfaces will be lit. Finally, your overhead lighting should cast a balanced light and not leave any dark spots.
8. Consider efficiency of flow: food out, dirty dishes in, groceries in and away, etc

Overall this was a good book for the download price of around $15.00 but wouldn't be tops on my list at the dead trees price ($30 plus $5 shipping if ordered online). Most example drawings showed larger kitchens than mine could ever be: Nearly all had room for an island. In that sense the book was not on target for me. However, it made up for that by validating my sense of dissatisfaction with the work triangle concept and giving me an alternative kitchen design meme, namely flow.

A chapter on "Tools" (meaning pots, pans, and cutlery) seems gratuitous. Perhaps it was added for completeness, but it was redundant for me and most likely for anyone who knows a thing about cooking. The somewhat short length of the book suggests that this is secondary filler material. The photo gallery at the end of the book has nothing but large kitchens.


Sandia Peak aerial tram ride

On the 28th I had a few unexpected hours left after a meeting in Albuquerque, so I called friends Michelle and Dave. No answer. Undoubtedly, they were working like most normal people, so I took myself up the Sandia Peak Tramway. For just under $20 (parking and tram ticket) I took the longest aerial tram ride in the world, 2.7 miles. I wish I had taken a camera with me: it was spectacular! Surprisingly, the tramway has only one tower located midway between top and bottom. Passage by the tower is slower than normal due to buffeting by winds which were 12-18 MPH on the day I took the tram. Approach to and passage by the tower is watched through telescope from the base terminus and coordinated by voice with the cabin operator. "Winds are steady and we're moving about a foot from side to side."

You can see about 10% of New Mexico from the peak on a clear day. I don't know if the 28th was exceptionally clear or not, but I could see all the way up to Los Alamos and far into the distance all around. The top has a ranger station with some interpretive information and restaurant which serves as a ski lodge in winter for downhill skiing located on the opposite side of the peak.


Tomatoes and Onions and Peppers, Oh My!

Overall, my vegetable garden has suffered from my lack of attention this year. Here's how it went.

It's run through the height of tomato production this year, but there's still a few good weeks left. The very best tomatoes were Sweet 100s, which I planted first from a nursery start, pretty early in the season. These have been consistently good in my garden. I've always preferred cherry tomatoes for eating which makes my second favorite this year a slight surprise - it's Green Zebra, an heirloom variety with orange and green zebra stripes that I started from seed about the time I planted the Sweet 100 start. This was planned in order to phase the arrival of my tomatoes over the summer and not peak too soon or all at once. I think I'll do that again, but I don't feel that it was incredibly successful, since growth depends primarily on degree days (days when it's above a certain critical temperature), and once in the ground all the plants see the same number of degree days. Due to cool weather, an early start can idle for quite a while before really getting going - just at the same time as the newly sprouted seeds are ready to transfer into the ground. The effective growth difference at that point is only two weeks or so.

Third place this year was the Sun Gold, which I raved about last year. Why the drop in taste? These are a commercial variety and ought to be consistent from year to year. I started this one from seed as well. Despite my high expectations, they were neither as prolific nor as delicious as last year.

Finally, I had a couple San Marzano tomato plants started from seed well after the others had gotten under way. This is a plum tomato from Italy (the commercial seed pack was hand carried across the Atlantic) which we mostly find as canned tomatoes in the supermarket on account of their thin and easily damaged skins. I had high hopes for this tomato, but as of now the several plants haven't really had a successful crop. One problem has been that I had two of four plants in plastic containers, which baked in the sun while I was away, leading to blossom end rot on their limited production. The two others in the ground are not in maximally favorable spots, but that really shouldn't inhibit them to the degree that I've seen. They seem to be growing better now, so perhaps they prefer a late season bloomer. The one or two that I have tasted were really promising.

Onions didn't do so well in my garden. I had two varieties: a small Italian and a more normal yellow variety. They grew, but perhaps didn't get enough water or have rich enough soil to grow well. They tended to be stepped upon while moving about the garden. I think there's one large onion left.

I grew some Anaheim chili peppers and some Italian bell peppers with a shape that I've never seen before - sort of a hoop skirt like shape; at least that's what the package illustration looked like. So far the Italian bells haven't bloomed, but they look like they're getting ready for a late summer growth spurt. The Anaheim chilies I left on the plants until they were red and sweet - not a hint of hot. As a preparation, I've sliced some up the side, de-seeeded and de-veined, added a slice of mild cheese and grilled these. An early taste of a green Anaheim chili had me convinced these were going to be hot, but it turned out not to be the case for the late harvest fruits.

My berries suffered from low production due to our lack of rain. I didn't water them until too late. I've been I'm hoping that next year will be a bumper crop since I've paid more attention to top surface mulching over the whole garden and specifically to watering the berries as the new canes grow in.

Despite my green thumb shortcomings, I'm trying to figure out how I can grow more next year. Need more space.


A week at the Lair

We're back from a vacation week at Lair of the Golden Bear. I've traditionally been a camp Gold camper, and it was nice to come back after 30+ years had gone by and realize that not much had changed. Camp was touch and go for the first couple days with my 9 year old, but by the end he was loving every minute of it. He'd been a bit taciturn with me but camping had a very mellowing effect on him that continues on through the following weeks. School starts soon, so I expect that will end shortly.

Fishing: We went fishing twice - once hiking over to Pinecrest Lake on our own and fishing from shore, and once with a group of same age kids. We didn't catch anything either time, but on the group fishing expedition the littlest girl with a Barbie fishing pole managed to hook the first fish. The pole exploded when she tried to reel him in and she ended up pulling him in hand over hand.

Hiking: Next year I'll plan to lots of hiking. I managed some unstructured walks this year. There's plenty of real hiking to great destinations.

Swimming: Free group lessons and great private lessons for my son from one of the counselors, a student at UCSB.

Arts and Crafts: clay projects, tie die, and bisqueware decoration. I only drew the line at a lanyard.

Travel time was 9 hours door-to-door, leaving from Santa Barbara (which we'd driven to the day before). That's a long time, but fortunately I have music we can both tolerate, AC, and plenty of kids books. Return time was about the same, despite going a slightly different route, cutting over at Kettleman City.

We stopped at Columbia State Park on the way back and my son was very impressed, despite claimed prior experience with ghost towns and old western theme towns.

My packing list reminders for next year are as follows, augmenting Grace's list over on Bad Mom, and the official list.

Snacks - Just bring enough for the car and a famished kid emergency, though a cooler and juice or soft drinks are quite nice. Food is so plentiful at meal times in camp that it's really overkill to bring more. The water tastes delicious there, so I tend to enjoy a lot of that.

Adult libations - Wine to share at the lodge, after the kids have gone to bed or for the 4PM get-togethers. Beer is surprisingly good too and handy to share.

Knit cap for sleeping - some nights are cold enough to need this. We had some this year, but I was surprised to actually need them.

Aqua socks - for creek crawling. Better than an old pair of tennies.

Exterior lights of some sort - Distinctive lights help you find your way back to the cabin after dark. Some people had novelty Christmas lights, or even the standard twinkly sort.

Your own supply of bisqueware (they have only basic shapes).

Your own garments for tie die.

A+D ointment. It's dry and this is great for chapped skin.

See you next year at the Lair.