Box 17, the Cincinnati Connection

or maybe it’s the Blob connection.  We’re talking about a big box here, at least compared to the size of any previous box I’ve made.  Greater than 16 cubic feet..  Only two previous boxes (4 + 6, the tool box and the tombstone planter) vaguely pushed at a cubic foot. The idea of it kept whispering ‘Cincinnati, Cincinnati’ to me, as if something that big was meant to consume something even bigger, to grow, a force unto itself.  There was a movie.  Actually, here I was about to insert a hyperlink to a move called “The Blob that ate Cincinnati” – HOWEVER – apparently there never was such a movie. There was a movie about a cockroach that ate Cincinnati, and apparently the Blob was not as vigorous as I’d imagined, eating whole municipalities, so the connection must have to something to do with rational proteins making a memory where none existed.  I could have sworn till moments ago that I could picture said Blob (from memory) overwhelming the skyline of Cincinnati on its way to heaven knows where.  So this connection, this whispering by an idea of a (false) memory.  Subtle are the workings and non-workings in the mind.  First things first though.

Going back to early 2004 I was in Santa Barbara after a long project.  I spent a day collecting seeds, since they have such beautiful things growing there.  One was a palm seed that eventually sprouted and has thrived since.


Of course every year it gets bigger.  The last few years I’ve not re-potted and I guess the roots keep growing, they’ve pushed it up in pot till the soil is over the top of the pot.

Palm Soil

Also the pot itself is crumbling.  Long story short it needs a new pot, but there are not so many pots that would be a fit step up.  Flash now to 2010, in Hawaii, stopping somewhere near Punalu’u at a roadside coffee farm where also there were lots of macadamia trees.  Took a bunch of the nuts home, planted a few, one took and for a few years each year did better and better.  This year though it too was getting tired of it’s pot and something happened too where it dropped most of its leaves.


It too, therefore, was in the new pot market. Maybe a pot big enough for both of them?  Cincinnati, Cincinnati!  The existing pots, truncated cones, were about eighteen inches in height and also 18 inches in diameter at the top.  I wanted not to do this every year or two.  Twenty four?  For each, as cubes, 2 x 2 x 2, x2, or 2 x 4 x 2.  It’s only sixteen cubic feet.  How much could that weigh?  I looked it up…

Weights of Other Materials in Pounds Per *Cubic Foot

Earth, Common Loam    75.00-90.00
Earth, Dry/Loose            76.00
Earth, Dry/Packed         95.00
Earth, Mud/Packed        115.00

Hmm.  How much does a milk cow weigh?  About 1500 pounds, it is reported.  Light dirt would bring it in at 1200.  Packed mud at 1840.  Somewhere in the middle, about a cow’s worth.  It’s hard to believe though.  And the box itself probably adds 100 pounds.  Mud + box plus a few decorative rocks on top?  Perhaps a ton.  Sounds like a realistic plan, so.

Grooved Posts with Pegs

Notched 4 x 4’s for strength.  No screws, so nothing can be screwed up.  Dowels.  Can’t rust either.

Frame Ends

Two end frames.

Frame clamped

I was pleased with this, only having four foot long pipe clamps, that by using the middle bars I could effectively brace the whole thing for assembly.  I had a bunch of  1 x 6 fir tongue and groove boards left over from a dozen years ago, had to supplement a bit.

Clad Frame

Got a feeling of building a barn or an ark.  A mighty thing it seems, initially, but would a cow just laugh at it?  Clearly the design banks on the inertness of the soil.  A ton of earth is not a ton of live and kicking muscle.

Clad Frame Emerging

Here it is emerging from the workshop into the world.  So uncertain, these first steps.

Stops for a sanding

Stood up nicely, first on one side then the other, for a final sanding in a well ventilated area.  The lowest two slats worth of cladding and the bottom are lined with plastic sheeting, to keep water off the wood and to force it to drain out that center opening you see.  A catch pan will sit under that.  During this sanding process it started to snow – this being October 18th, mind you, and the first frost only having been the previous evening.  I had taken the sanding outside both for the open air and also to see what my assistant wanted to contribute.

Assistant sees the snow

The assistant first has gone to get some lumber, but then he saw (see the white streak in the picture) the snow flakes.  He decided instead then to contemplate them

Assistant contemplates

Tonight Box 17 sits outside on the deck waiting domestic blessing.  The palm and macadamia, had they eyes, would be able to see it just on the other side of the window.  I don’t know what they know, if a plant knows it has a mentor.

Another post on this will follow, showing either the rejected box, no doubt angry, hitching a ride for Cincinnati, or a box living a purpose driven life, holding the world together for two trees and probably a ton of smaller experimental plantings.

Until soon


2 thoughts on “Box 17, the Cincinnati Connection

  1. Pingback: Tobacco 2 | Splashdown

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