Archive for June, 2009

Favas by the Wayside

So the giant fava beans have met their demise. It’s true, they didn’t yield all that much and they more or less collapsed and stopped new seed growth as soon as it got hot. That said, we did get two meals worth of fava additions, they were wonderfully tasty and they’re unprecedented growth made me so proud. Plus, they supposedly reinvigorated the soil with nitrogen.

That said, the sweet peas have yielded more, are less unwieldy, and proof of their soil improving abilities is already evident. I’ve planted 4 cucumber plants in 3 containers and the one growing in between the peas is twice the size of the others. The consensus on the favas is, yes, in the future if I still live in this clime and have a real yard, but for next year, we’re just going to have a ton of peas.

After they had been flayling all over the place for a week making it difficult to eat outside, I pulled the buch out, walked over to our local community garden and put them in thier compost. I can’t imagine they will mind the nitrogen.

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Hops again

Just to prove that I’m not nuts about how fast this is growing check out last week’s photo and then this week’s. Triffids as Colin would say.

Where Have All the Rollerblades Gone?

Care of Travelin' Librarian's Flickr stream licensed under the Creative Commons License.

Care of Travelin' Librarian's Flickr stream licensed under the Creative Commons License.

I promise to drop the 1960s folk music references after this post, but really, I have an answer for this one, Vancouver. Before moving here, I don’t think I’d seen Rollerblades since I gave up my own in the late 90s after getting into the trend late and being perhaps the last person left rollerblading in Newport Beach. Because I had a rambunctious German Shepard pup who pulled me though the streets I never regretted this, though when I gave the blades up I never thought about it again. I vaguely recall seeing a group of hard core in-line skaters in Central Park at some point, and flickr has proved to me that rollerblading is still cool for someone somewhere, but the trend seems all but gone… except in Vancouver.

my first summer in Vancouver, I hardly noticed in-line skates, but now that I bike the seawall almost everyday, their presence is ubiquitous. For every two bikers there is one in-line skater, and they are not all guys stuck in the 90s with a racing stripe of neon pink running down their spandex shorts; its kids, good looking youngn’s, sporty types- you name it. Plus the seawall is even marked with a little man on wheels next to the little man on a bike telling all the folks in-line skating where to go.

So why Vnacouer? At first I thought it must be that we have  the extensive system of pathways along a beautiful ocean and a summer of frankly lovely weather. But that should imply that California would have at least double the rollerbladers and let the California girl tell you, the only person skating in LA is the guy in the header photograph. So what does Vancouver have that California doesn’t? Canadians, Canadians who love hockey. Canadaians who love hockey and learned to ice skate before they were potty trained. This is my best guess. In addition to the seawall and weather Vancouver has hockey lovers and players. The fact that it’s never cold enough to have an outdoor rink probably helps to.

So that’s it mystery revealed discussed and solved.

Vicki’s Tomato Sauce

I have been looking for a good quick tomato sauce recipe for some time. Problem has been that ours end up watery and separated. Even Cook’s illustrated wasn’t much of a help, they basically just said to do it fast and use the best canned tomatoes… thanks. But then my friend Vicki came over for Pizza and shared her all purpose tomato sauce and I think we are sticking with it.

Here goes

Saute a ton (5-6 cloves) garlic and chili flakes in a big cast iron with enough oil to cover the bottom so the garlic doesn’t burn. Toss in a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes. We used chopped up whole tomatoes with some of the post chopping juices drained and it worked find. Cook for a while, add oregano or whatever you want. If it doesn’t thicken up add some tomato paste (this might be the solution we had been avoiding, but the second time we didn’t use any paste and it still thickened up.) At the last moment mix in some lemon zest. I think  whole lemon may be a bit much so add to taste with some salt. Next time I might throw in a tiny bit of cocoa powder, a trick from my grandfather for cutting acidic things.

Frankly this is so simple I can’t figure what we were doing. I partly think Vicki may have just cast a spell on our cast iron, but it works now so I’m not asking any questions.

1 of 578 things I’ve always wanted to do in my life done.

Friday saw my first ever real Architectural site visit. I’ve been working on this project for about a month and a half without really knowing what things really looked like beyond pictures. Luckily we needed some measurements so my boss and I headed out to the island on Friday. Th only access to this off the grid island is by boat taxi so we shared the ride with a set of folks  going to weekend get away. The camp was beautiful, in need of some architectural services sure, but the site is unbeatable, lifted up off the shore with a clearing that views out over the water. It made me want to go to summer camp again, and I hated summer camp. It also made me consider the possibility that I would be okay renting in a city for the rest of my life if I could build myself a getaway on an island like this.

This however doesn’t get to the title of the post. We brought along surveying equipment and I got to learn how to use it. Frankly I have always wanted to do this. Though I’ve never considered taking a class, every time I see those guys with their bright orange tripods standing in the street, I consider walking up and asking them to show me how it works. For me this is an odd urge as I learned young not to talk to strangers. Truth be told, it lived up to all my expectations of awesomeness and might be a pretty useful tool for our work too.

Plantings

This is a planting in a back alley near my house. I love the idea, the reuse and the veggies growing in the alley.

Car Free Day

Today was Car Free Day. I haven’t been driving more than once a week so the challenge wasn’t much for me, especially since a pile of the festivities were on Main, a block from my house.  I don’t understand street festivals. I always go expecting and only finding more consumerist stuff. That said, the turn out itself was impressive and walking down the middle of a major street has some implicit joys to it.

But thinking beyond a Car Free Day, I can’t help but wonder about a car free city. On a larger scale in North America I think we will always have cars of some sort, think are simply not compact of dense enough and people occasionally want to go where no one else wants to go that week so things like trains just won’t cut it. In cities its a different story. I can imagine parking and rides outside the city to leave your vehicle should you still have one. Vancouver is small enough to be easily accessible by bikes, but of course you would need some sort of motor vehicle for public transit. Still, only main streets would be needed for public transit. Commercial deliveries might still happen by motor vehicle but one could imagine a totally new system of delivery.  So many annoyances of living in a city would be solved this way and if motor vehicles were replaced by good public transit, you would be able to get everywhere just as fast without the traffic. Th interesting design problem would be what you would do with the remnant streets. You would still need emergency vehicle access, but a bike path could be designed for that type of emergency. I can see a whole new type of mini housing, urban gardens parks along the lines of NY’s High Line. It might not actually be that far away when you think of things like London’s toll for cars.