Archive for April, 2009

Catch up

It’s been a while, but with the voice of Ashley in the back of my head telling me that if I can’t be bothered to blog post maybe I should join Twitter, I’m back. School ended last week not a moment too soon and I’m divesting myself of stress for a week before I start working.  In the next couple of days you can look forward to photos of my trip to Portland and some before and after photos of what I’ve been doing around the apartment.

For today though I’ll catch you up on the garden. We have had some clear sunny days and my cool weather crops are happy as peas in a pod, in fact some of them will soon be peas in a pod.

I planted favas in last year’s tomato pot, in part because it is the largest pot, but also to throw in a bit of crop rotation. These guys have gone crazy and make me wonder what I’m doing wrong with all the other plants. Apparently though, Canada is the great home of the fava because of the mild summer temps. I’m tempted to only grow things that are perfect for this climate, but I really love tomatoes, and cucumbers. I have ceded to the idea that Vancouver is not the perfect place for eggplants and peppers so those have stayed out of the garden. I have convinced myself to plant a few marigolds for when the tomatoes come in. Their roots love each other you know.

In the square foot garden you can see the peas are coming up nicely and the chard (between peas) an the spinach (in front of peas) are also coming up. maybe its just the ferociousness of the favas, but these guys seem to be going pretty slowly and I think they might be aching for some fertilizer.

I still have the yet to be filled square footer, but I’ll be getting some coffee compost from my local Bean Around the World (this is an even greater name in Canada since people pronounce been as bean. They’re correct, but it hasn’t become natural to my ear yet). With that I’ll have all I need to mix up another batch of Mel’s mix to fill the square footer and the new pots I found at a garage sale.

The indoor grow-op is doing well by my tomatoes and arugula. I set half the arugala outside last week because it is in fact a cool weather plant. Those inside seem much happier so I’ll wait a little longer before I introduce them to the big bad world. I think I’ll plant the tomatoes upside down for some extra room in the garden.

My garden world would be complete if only I had a little gas barbi and a nice outdoor lounge chair.

I have been seeing a lot of gardens, many of them square foot in the front yards of houses around Vacouver. I walked by one house where the owner had ripped up the whole front yard in favor of veggie rows. A neighbor was standing there observing it and pointed out that the guy was new to the neighborhood. I couldn’t tell if he was critical or impressed, but I felt the need to point out that I thought it was great. Now, I’m no commie, but I love front yard gardens. While I see the point of the front yard as creating a space of division and privacy between the public and the private, I don’t see why it should be filled with grass. Very few people sit out in their front lawn, grass related activities for most people occur in the backyard. So if we must have a nomansland between the street and the house why not let it be a vegitable land. Besides, since streets are wide and front yards rarely have fences as high as in the back, the light can be ideal. Enough garden ranting, I have a bookshelf to build.

Back on Line or Good Morning Eats

We are just finishing up our final critics, my excuse for going awal. I could spend pages sharing my frustrations with that and I have another week of work and I could share my displeasure with that too. Instead I will prove that despite architecture school, I’ve managed to remain a well rounded person and share my new food discovery (take the word well rounded as you like).

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Deacon's Corner care of Richard Ericksson's flickr stream

This is Deacon’s Corner. It’s a new greasy spoon that has recently come on line in Vancouver. Its been the talk of the town and Colin and I went down on Saturday to find out why. It may now be my favorite new breakfast spot. The menu is traditional greasy spoon modeled after a 1930s diner with just enough updates to make it tasty and not disgusting. The service as quick and friendly, a rarity in Vancouver, and the coffee kept coming. We both ordered ordinary egg breakfasts and got perfectly pouched eggs and hash-browns that had a spicy kick but needed less oil or more frying. The real star of the show was the biscuit and gravy I got on the side. I fell in love with biscuits and gravy at a local breakfast place in the spot of a town, Prague, Oklahoma. Unfortunately every time I’ve had it since I’ve been disappointed if not disgusted. Ah the woes of have something amazing the first time you have it. I still risk it as I did at Deacon’s and this time I wasn’t disappointed. The biscuit was fresh made and the gravy wasn’t traditional but it was good. Chunky with sausage with a bit of spice. I was smitten. The diner is located just off the sketchy part of Vancouver on Main and Alexander, right next to our favorite pub, the Alibi Room. Right around the corner there were live work studios for rent that over look the train yards and the water. After eating at Deacon’s Corner I was about pack up our apartment and move… until I found out that the apartments are $500 more a month than ours. Imagine though, eating a fabulously huge breakfast, walking home around the corner to nap until it is time to go out for a drink.

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Rhizome cafe care of jmv' Flickr stream

To be fair, we have a favorite closer breakfast place called Rhizome. Its just a few blocks away. They have a much more hippie menu with polenta black beans and eggs as one dish and eggs Benedict with a squash holindaise. Its really good and the staff is always the owner who is really nice. It gets great light and in the evening hosts all sorts of social activist meetings and has lentil soup for whatever you can pay. Nonetheless, you can always use another breakfast spot and sometimes you really need a 1000 calorie breakfast.

So come to BC and we’ll take breakfast at whichever you choose.

The Urban Garden Project

Most of the blogs on my reader these days are garden blogs. I’m pretty much obessed, but its not really easy to find the kind of gardening blog that fits my bill. I grow vegitables and will only stray into flowers if they promise to help my veggies out (okay, I’ll be getting a blackeyed susan this summer whether or not I can find a symbiotic veggie). In addition, I grow about as urban as you can get, on my 12×4 ft 3rd story south facing balcony. As you can imagine most spend too much time on soil improvement or beautiful flower combinations for me.

But not the Urban Garden Project. This project was started by two guys in Idaho (the urban part) with the aim of inspiring or collecting 100,000 urban gardens by 2020. Like so many peopl these days they call on the WWII victory garden about which I could really care less, but the values and possiblities of urban cultivating are many and I think its quite worthy to bring these folks together. Their posts are also all city garden dweller relavent from building a small chicken coop (I so wish I had more than a balcony for purely this reason) to interesting ways to make your own light containers. They have a test garden and though they just got started, I have high hopes. So check it out and if you’ve got an urban garden defined as in city limits (I know some of you do), join.

Its all in a name

My first home

My first home

I’ve been reading this lovely book Vis a Vis by the Canadian poet Don Mckay, that my friend Daniel lent me over a year ago. In one short essay he talks about home in a way that got me thinking. Home is not really something external to us but rather a place for inner life to take form. The I is made defined from outside, and the home substantiates the self. He then points to John Berger’s thought that even a name is a home is some sense.

So this is what got me thinking. Somehow since being married I’ve had a lot more discussion about name changing, not changing or hyphanation than I ever had before getting married. I’ve never liked the idea of keeping seperate names and the idea of name as home really clarifies my reason why. The idea of marriage to me is making a single home and also a strangely combined and distinct set of selves. To be married and have seperate names is like each spouse living in their seperate parents household but still bein married. That said, our patriarchal tradition of taking the male’s name is not that great either, though it fits historically with this idea of home being attached to name. It made a lot of sense when you (you bing a female) left your parents home and moved into your husband’s parent’s home. But we mostly don’t do that these days, or that is not the idea of home at least. We now idealize the process of marriage as a coming together of two to build a home together between them. For most couples the home can’t even be argued to be monetarially the males or domestically the females. Which brings me to the hyphen. At first glance this makes sense. Two people come together to  make a new home. But the hyphen has a variety of probems. First of all, it impies that nothing changes in the new home, it is simply a combination of the two seperate family lines. I don’t know about anyone else, but, although Colin and I certainly take thing from our parents way of homemaking, something very new comes up in that combination. Also passing on the hyphenated name.  So if my theoretical son is named Mieling-Jacobs, quite the German mouthful, and he marries another hyphenated person, than you have two choices, have a four hyphened name or drop one of each name, the mothers or fathers and then it is just as pathiarcal or matriacal as anything else. One possiblitiy is that female children could carry on the mother’a name and male children the fathers.

So what is the solution you say. We could choose a name that we just like…say… Buffalo, but that wouldn’t quite work because, although the home Colin and I have is different it is not wholy disconnected from our families, they really are still important. My proposal is that we merge our names. This can happen in a number of ways and creates something new but connected to the past. So Colin and I have a variety of choices but I came up with Meicobs and Jalings. I think they are both good options though I only now realize that the second seems awefuly close to Jailngs.

I now give some other samples of friends an family who are married or could be. Don’t get scared anyone, its just a game. Jamsey, Betcock, Gago or Ludda, Hayta, Murwen.

Now if thiswas started in our parent’s generation we would have been Ariel Jamer and Colin Meixby  and together we could have been Jaxbys

Of course there are downsides. Like the hyphenated name, you do end up loosing someone in the second geration mix and as Colin pointed out it would do major damage to the ease of geneology, but that is stuff of the reargaurd anyway, throw off your shakles and combine names! You ask if I’ve done this yet… well no, I don’t think I’ve convinced Colin of how awesome this idea is and I’m not really into name changing paperwork and having to explain my theory for the rest of my life… on second thought, I think I would like that part.

Besides, what a more productive mind game for little girls and boys (wait, as it stands little boys can’t play this game… another reason!).  Afterall it takes quite a bit more linguistic skill to combine your last name with your fifth grade crush’s last name than it takes to put his last name after your first name. -Mine would have been Jammons

Wordless Wednesday

The garden as of March 31st. I’ll do more of these as we go along.