August 9th, 2012 by Jane
Met yesterday with the design team from First Interstate to go over the site plan for the new park/nature preserve/greenspace. It turns out that the existing gazebo is in great condition and therefore will be left in place, with an extension of the new path leading to it. So forget what I said about there being no built structures on the site. The “amphitheatre” – really just a curved, raised hillock with a flat area at the base – will offer a place for a variety of activities, surrounded with native plants. We also talked about a low split-rail fence that would surround the wetland, and how to make it a feature that does two things: allows people to sit and watch the visiting birds and wildlife, and provides a safe barrier that prevents kids from running or biking headlong into the wetland.
Also got to review the list of new trees that’ll be planted, and confirmation that the great old oaks will remain and all the existing trees will be protected as construction proceeds. Lots of shade trees in the mix, and some flowering serviceberry trees at the entrance. One of the neat features of the new wetland is the “causeway” that runs between wetland sections and allows people to venture into the wetland with dry feet.
The site is on the short list of projects to which the Ohio EPA will be bringing a few busloads of participants in a workshop on how to inspect and review stormwater projects for permitting.
The plan is to get work underway ASAP so that planting can happen this fall.
June 14th, 2012 by Jane
Well, the earthmovers are doing their thing. It’s the first time most people have actually seen that piece of land, either as a golf course or as a construction site, so it’s to be expected that it’s causing a stir.
So here I am again, clearing up some of the misconceptions people have about what was there, what’s going on, and what’s coming.
First of all, before, when you saw greenery all along the Warrensville front fence, you might have thought “Well, if I can see trees here, that must mean the whole place is covered with trees.” But it wasn’t. All you saw was the buffer a few feet deep, of mostly old, not so healthy trees, and shrubs that had grown there on their own. It blocked your view of beyond, and what was beyond was golf course fairways with some trees, admittedly some nice big old ones, lined up in neat rows between the fairways. It wasn’t a forest! And now if you look past the construction area you’ll still see the back buffer where there are still huge trees and shrubs. And that’s why you can’t see the houses behind them. When the project’s done, the areas along the frontage, where the streams are, will be replanted and there will once more be vegetated areas to block most of the view.
As for the trees that were taken out, fewer than 100 were removed, and those were mostly small or thin “volunteers” in the buffers, not big healthy specimen trees. Yes, they did take down a lot of big trees on the golf course itself. But the ash trees would have had to come down anyway, even if the land were still golf course, due to Emerald Ash Borer, an infestation that is everywhere in the state now and is the reason big old ashes are being cut down on tree lawns and everywhere. Many many of the other trees were not healthy and would not have lived long. You could see when the logs were on the ground that the centers – the heartwood – of many of the trees were rotted away, meaning they’d have fallen of their own accord sooner or later. Trees, like people, don’t live forever.
All those trees and more will be replaced in and around the new retail area with new, young, healthy trees that will give us another hundred years of shade and beauty, and give birds and wildlife nesting spots and habitat.
Many of the new trees will go in the restored stream areas at the front corners of the new development. Where the stream is now, not really a stream but a channelized ditch, there will be restored streams with meanders and floodplains, native plants and naturalized habitat, as they were before the golf course builders narrowed and channeled them so as to keep overflows out of the fairways and mowed them to the edges. Channelized streams mowed to the edges are dead. The restoration will bring them back to life.
What about the deer? Yes, what about them? They have already found new places to forage. Admittedly, some of the new areas are in people’s yards, but that’s nothing new, and it’s not where most of the deer have gone. And there’s no evidence that populations have suffered. The opossum and fox are still around, the birds are still around. After the renovations on the retail site and the greenspace behind it are done, there will be habitat for them. The old plantings offered a little shelter and no food except toxic-laden grass. The new native plantings throughout the parking area and natural areas will provide both shelter and food that native wildlife can actually eat. Nature is more resilient than you think. Wait ’til it’s done, and has had a chance to recover, and you’ll see.
January 7th, 2011 by Jane
THE CASE FOR OAKWOOD COMMONS – a real win-win situation
…from Jane Goodman, the Councilwoman who represents the South Euclid ward in which most of the commercial uses and some of the natural space involved in this proposed development would reside; who served as outreach and education director for Clean-Land, Ohio/Parkworks for seven years, and who has had the same role for the past four years with the Cuyahoga River watershed and Remedial Action Plan Area of Concern, in which this property sits. In other words, after twenty years as an environmental activist in Northeast Ohio, I’ve earned my stripes and I don’t know of anyone who’d have the chutzpah to accuse me of not being green enough.
So here we are. Lots of people have lots to say about what should be done about the Oakwood Club property, but they don’t own it and neither do the cities they hope can do things cities are unable to do. Neither South Euclid nor Cleveland Heights had the wherewithal to purchase and maintain the property. We can, however, control to some extent the way in which whatever is done there is carried out. We have environmental protection laws, design standards, and, above all, the best interests of our city and our residents’ quality of life guiding us.
I truly believe that we have been given a golden opportunity to have a natural area for park space, hundreds of new jobs and millions in new revenues, all of which we so sorely need. We get to work with a developer who is willing to think outside the “big box” and make this a showcase for green development.
Here is my response to some of the most heard comments, and why I ask for support for this initiative and for the future of South Euclid as a model of innovation and a magnet for a new generation:
1. Zoning: It’s not a choice between commercial and parkland, it’s between commercial and residential.
Many seem to think that Council gets to decide between development or no development on that property, and it’s not the case since the city doesn’t own the land. We can only decide between commercial and residential or a combination thereof. Neither zoning designation would prohibit an owner from applying for a variance to use the land as park, nature center, urban farm or other nature-centered use.
2. Residential development would mean streets, paving, no guarantee of public access or any public park, and higher costs for community services borne by taxpayers.
The developer has to get his investment back and make a profit. Commercial development benefits him AND others (employees, the city) more than would residential property taxes and individual income taxes. So he’d have to jam as many homes as possible on the property.
A residential development, all private property, with roads and driveways and heavily fertilized and pesticide-laden monoculture lawns and exotic species landscaping means NO public access, NO public nature trails or native plantings or reforestation and definitely NOT the same level of improvement to the soil or watershed as is offered here.
Whether we rezone or not, the South Euclid space is NOT going to remain undeveloped. But with this plan, we get to save more than a third of the SE space and, if CH goes along, almost two thirds of the entire property would wind up as higher quality PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE greenspace.
3. This deal would improve the environmental quality of the property in terms of soil, roots, canopy cover, streambank stabilization, sediment control, stormwater infiltration and management, plant and wildlife habitat and diversity, and water quality in Nine Mile Creek. We’d get a smaller amount of BETTER quality green space, and a net gain of trees over what’s there now.
Golf courses and groomed grassy parks are among the worst possible land uses from an environmental standpoint. They are almost as damaging, in some case more damaging, to the environment, surface water quality, air quality, fuel efficiency and water conservation, as a parking lot:
• The fertilizers used to keep turf and exotic species plantings green, which run off the surface as “non point-source pollution” are a major cause of the high nutrient, especially phosphate, levels that are now the primary pollution problem in Lake Erie.
• The pesticides used to control weeds also enter streams and degrade the population of aquatic micro-invertebrates that are the base of the food chain that supports wildlife in the area and in the lake.
• Vehicles used to mow and apply nutrients are notoriously non-fuel-efficient and are heavy contributors of unregulated emissions that keep us in a state of non-attainment for air quality, contribute to asthma and respiratory illness which has risen to alarming levels in this area. The less mowing the better.
• Surfaces become impermeable as topsoil is seriously degraded. Grass is mowed short, to require less-frequent mowing, but that means the root systems are shallow, so they hold little water. Removing cuttings means organic matter can’t build new topsoil. Water can’t infiltrate the hardpan that underlies the grass, so more water rushes off the surface into streams, adding to erosion and flooding.
• Mowing to the edge of streams causes banks to collapse and erode, sending sediment into streams, raising the base and distorting the stream’s ability to hold water.
• Watering the lawns is inefficient but necessary with turf grass and exotic species plantings.
• Groomed and landscaped areas such as golf courses and formal parklands are too often maintained with cost in mind, meaning limited varieties of exotic species of plants are installed more for ornamental, ease-of-maintenance or “neatness” values rather than a diverse collection of native plants that need less irrigation because deep roots provide water retention, and the natives provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife.
This deal would leave more than a third of the SE space natural, restored from the degraded horrendous golf course condition it’s in now. Like the constructed wetland on Green, it would be restored to higher quality greenspace than it is today. AND with our new riparian code and landscaping code and the NPDES stormwater rules in place the developer will have to include considerable amounts of trees and plantings throughout the parking lots.
That would be a net gain in leaf cover, native plantings, soil and water quality and root penetration over the current situation over the South Euclid section of property.
3. Done right (and I plan to be relentless in pushing this) this could be a model for building green shopping centers.
We spend a lot of time talking about how builders can plan, pave and plant developments that reduce stormwater runoff, increase infiltration, improve forest canopy to shade cars, reduce auto emissions, use native plants to store water, and build energy efficient structures. And we have a tough time getting developers to DO these beneficial practices – BMPs, Best Management Practices.
Now, here’s someone who agrees that it would be mutually beneficial to make this a model using a range of these practices. This site sits adjacent to our Green Neighborhoods area, where we’re trying to bring people to see how to revitalize neighborhoods with green buildings. This site could become a model for how to build a green shopping center. And if any developer might possibly pull it off, it would be Schneider.
4. Commercial development would NOT necessarily depress housing values, but new residential development could.
Contrary to popular belief that says a commercial development would depress property values, the way this commercial site is laid out, its location vis a vis surrounding homes, and the fact that this is so close to the main commercial district at Cedar Road, it is more likely to increase the value of surrounding homes.
Development of a whole lot of new homes in this particular area could, however, depress the property values of the older homes in the surrounding neighborhoods just when we’re trying to renew those streets and draw buyers to them.
5. “We don’t need more retail.” Well, maybe not as a region, but as a city we surely do. And as a city with rising costs and diminishing receipts, we need it bad.
Many critics have charged that the developer should “fill the vacant spaces” before building new. There may be too much retail in the wrong place, but in fact in South Euclid there isn’t enough. We ask people to keep their shopping dollars in the community but in most cases that’s impossible. There’s no place in South Euclid to buy shoes or pants or a sweater, unless it’s a closeout at Marc’s. We have none of the chain retailers you shop at…the Target, Joann and Macy’s are in University Heights, the Home Depot and cool restaurants are in Cleveland Heights, the Pet Supplies Plus is in Lyndhurst and the closest book store is the Borders in Beachwood.
People are entitled to improve their quality of life by moving into a bigger, newer home that better suits their needs, and businesses should be able to do the same. AND why, I ask, should the people who live in my ward be forced to drive many miles, use a lot of gas, pollute the air and degrade our infrastructure in order to shop where they like?
And for people who live in Cleveland Heights, jam-packed with retail and rife with parkland – from Shaker Lakes to Forest Hills Park, Cain Park, Cumberland Park, etc., to tell us in South Euclid how much of either kind of land use we need or don’t need is just insulting. The vacant storefronts on Mayfield are the business of those building owners, over whom we exert no control. We wish they could fill them, and believe that Cedar Center and Oakwood Commons can power the magnet to bring small businesses to fill those spaces.
6. THIS TYPE OF DEVELOPMENT, IN THIS PLACE, IS ANTI-SPRAWL.
We decry urban sprawl and measure the shrinking of populations, and commenters would like cities like ours to acknowledge that fact and, presumably, throw up our hands and lie down and die. This project is the perfect solution for our landlocked city – new income and improved greenspace IN AN INNER RING SUBURB. It will draw shoppers and homebuyers back to our community.
This isn’t an exurb, it’s an urban community. Clustering development around the Cedar-Warrensville area is the sane way to provide products and services in walkable or short-trip ways that can reduce dependence on oil.
7. We’re not, as some would say, being “greedy” by attempting to increase revenues.
We, like those critics, have bills to pay. Costs keep rising but income doesn’t, and without raising residents’ taxes we’d be deep in the hole. It would be irresponsible of us not to look for ways to bring our revenue up to meet our expenses. That’s not greed, thats responsible governance. Even if the development produces conservative projected revenues, it would bring more than half a million (NOTE: I HAVE REDUCED THIS NUMBER FROM THE ORIGINAL POST, SO AS NOT TO SEEM OVERLY GIDDY OR NAIVE ABOUT PROJECTIONS.) to the city’s coffers each year in property and income taxes. If it reaches projections, it would put more than a million dollars into the CH-UH school system. And this developer is not even asking for tax abatements or TIF financing. That’s a real investment in our community.
8. YES, there are issues that will have to be addressed:
• Traffic is going to increase. But it’s been decreasing for almost twenty years. Counts show that traffic along Warrensville now is about half the volume it was in the mid-80’s. Still, current residents have trouble with cut-through traffic, speeding, and lines of idling cars waiting for the light to change. The current light setup was designed for the current low volume. As traffic increases, however, and lights and lanes are reconfigured to accommodate entrance and exit from the Commons, we’ll have a chance to address those concerns.
• Access to the greenspace behind E. Antisdale needs to connect to the larger greenspace north of the stores and through a generous buffer strip behind the homes that actually back up to the parking area.
• Locally-owned businesses will lose some business to new retailers. We as a city need to make sure that these business owners get help promoting their businesses and marketing their services, and we need to continue to support them. It’s our responsibility to do so.
• Kids will hang out there rather than on residential street corners. (Some of the neighbors in surrounding streets will welcome this wholeheartedly.) The developer/management firm has an excellent track record for keeping its properties clean and safe. It provides its own security, with no tolerance for misbehavior. The demand for police and, to a lesser extent fire services, will still increase, even if it’s for traffic stops and other matters. Much of the new income will go to pay for more services.
• Walkability means foot traffic will also increase along side streets, and that’s where litter control will be an even bigger problem than it already is. Our block clubs and neighborhood organizations can help work on this.
• Yes, many of the jobs could wind up merely being transferred from one location to another if a store closes one facility to move here. And yes, this isn’t a medical office building, these are relatively low-to-moderate-wage jobs. So we have to be conservative when we talk about the net job gain for the area, and realistic when creating expectations about average salaries of new jobs.
• Finally we have to be diligent at every step along the design and approval and permitting process. Homes nearby need to be protected from noise, night lights, all the changes in quality of life that can come with changes like this.
• Stormwater regulations must be followed. We must have a working agreement as to the use of the “natural” space as a stormwater management BMP. It must be done in such a way as to give us REAL access.
I believe that the developer’s planning staff shares my passion about this and about the value of this asset as a demonstration and environmental education tool.
One of my favorite sentiments is this: If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. I’m not crazy about what we have, so I think we should grab this chance to do something different.
Another philosophy I ask you to join me in making real is from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
This is our time to kickstart the revitalization of South Euclid. Either we go for broke or we go broke. Let’s just go.
I invite thoughtful comments to this post. If you just want to repeat the “it should be a park” or “we don’t need more retail” arguments, please resist.
December 12th, 2010 by Jane
This is the text of an email I sent to Plain Dealer ombudsman Ted Diadiun. He’s been around a good long time, and I respect him, so I vented to him rather than to the editors. For most of my adult life I’ve lived in various cities with at least two, usually more, daily newspapers. It makes a big difference in the public conversation when there are two or more editorial sensibilities. Here in NEOhio we may have papers from outlying counties but their comments are too much like the neighbor who throws stones at your house from well outside the fence line. It saddens me that so many locals blindly believe everything they read.
My love/hate relationship with the Plain Dealer lately has slowly but surely trended toward the negative. I used to think I could count on the paper’s reporting to be fair and balanced, its choice of words to be neutral and the line between reporting and commentary to be sharp.
Over the past decade, however, I have watched as the reporting has become more slanted and less balanced; headlines have become more sensational and less representational of the stories’ content; and, in more and more cases, stories have become more commentary than news reporting.
I can remember when hard news got soft and the lines between fact and commentary started to blur. Now they are virtually nonexistent. I can remember when the words “scandal” and “secret” were right up there on the list of loaded words that we were cautioned to use sparingly, lest they lose their meaning and impact.
Worst of all, I think, is the almost ubiquitous self-congratulation the Plain Dealer inserts in so much of its stories. As the space devoted to news shrinks, more precious space is devoted to the paper patting itself on the back for doing its job, whether it’s referring to its role in uncovering this or that alleged wrongdoing, reminding us that the PD wrote about something a dozen times bafore, or winning various awards. When did the Plain Dealer become so ego driven?
Specifically, when did the paper decide it had been elected to the new County Council? The “gotcha” reporting about the council members, who were in fact elected by the voters of this county, has gone beyond the boundaries of what I expect of a news organization. You insult our intelligence and your own. Those council members have been meeting about much more than their own leadership. To continually present your opinion of their behavior about that one issue, in the “news” reports no less, and not to report on the other discussions they’ve been having in open meetings, is hardly the standard I’d hope the paper would uphold. You’ve made your opinion clear in the op-ed pages. We’re all disappointed that those folks weren’t as public-relations-savvy as they should have been, but that doesn’t automatically mean they won’t make good decisions about the operation of the county’s business going forward.
The recent coverage of NOACA’s board’s decision about recognizing Mr. Dimora’s service is another example of making a mountain out of a molehill and, in so doing, creating a scandal where there is none.
I want you to report the facts and occurrences, and let me decide what I think about them. I don’t particularly care how you folks feel about them. Those who do can read your opinions on the opinion page where they belong.
I grew up here as a news junkie when many, if not most, of the PD reporters came out of Medill. The reporting and writing was excellent. I was inspired. Reporting the news was a public service. One of the reasons I chose to attend Northwestern University was so that I could learn from the same sources that gave us those writers. The journalism professors drilled into us the tenets of reporting – news is what’s new and what we know to be factual, features are what’s interesting and commentary is opinion.
Could we possibly recalibrate the news/commentary guidelines? Could the PD write more about facts and less in a way designed to elicit the most comments (by barely literate commenters you wouldn’t pay heed to in other circumstances) on its web pages? Could the reporters do less “do you still beat your wife”-style investigation and give equal weight to the information they get from the sources who might not agree with the angle the reporter has chosen for an article?
I want to trust what I read. I have read enough stories that I know to be factually incorrect, with quotes chosen to bolster the reporter’s case while other quotes that would have given a balanced story left out, that it makes me read all the PD’s reporting about public figures and government actions with a whole shaker of salt. Some of it makes me think I’m reading a tabloid at the newsstand.
Fortunately, the excellent feature reporting on science, lifestyle, environment, etc. remains of a quality that keeps me subscribing. If only I could feel that way about the whole paper.
November 4th, 2010 by Jane
On Monday night, November 1, arsonist(s) burned down our Playground of Possibilities, the accessible playground so lovingly built by so many volunteers only two summers ago. It was big and beautiful, made of recycled plastic lumber with shredded recycled rubber cushioning the ground. Each picket on the fence bore the name of residents or friends who donated money for the effort. Every inch of the place bore the fingerprint of some volunteer who cut a board or drilled a hole, sunk a post or tightened a bolt.
Bexley Park is one of those neighborhood parks surrounded on all sides by small, neat little homes standing shoulder to shoulder. The fire happened so suddenly and the materials went up so quickly that residents had only minutes to react. No homes were damaged, thank goodness. Even the trees right at the edge of the playground still stand with their autumn colors and leaves in place.
We’re insured, for the materials at least. We’ll raise more money to rebuild, we’ll get the 1,500 volunteers working again, and we’ll make it better than it was before.
We may never find the culprits, though surveillance videos show a group of kids in the area at the time of the fire starting and though we’ve put up a $5,000 reward. We may never understand why someone would do such a thing. I’d like to believe that some kids thought they’d light a pile of the mulch for a lark, not realizing that the whole playground would go up in smoke. I’d like to think it wasn’t vicious – with malice aforethought, as they say. But who knows what goes on in the minds of others? (After this election, I’m even more confused, but that’s a discussion for another day.)
Nothing is permanent. Good people create good works. Bad people destroy them. Good people restore them. The cycle continues.
April 4th, 2010 by Jane
Started a diet on March 21. Unlike previous efforts that last, oh, a day and a half or until I come within smelling distance of baked goods, whichever comes first, this one seems to have potential. I’m using an iPhone app called “Lose It!” that lets you set a goal (you want to lose HOW many pounds a week?) without laughing, and tells you when you’ll reach your goal, how many calories you can get away with in order to get there, adds up your food log, minuses your exercises (and gives you the calorie pluses and minuses for each) and lets you chart your progress on a neat little graph.
So, two weeks in and I’ve lost seven pounds. The good news (other than losing seven pounds, of course) is that I’m still messing around with the entering the foods and measuring the ounces and tablespoons when possible, and exercising. Okay, not as much as I should…exercising that is…but more than I had been doing. And I look forward to doing the counting and logging again the next day.
Looking at the calendar, it occurred to me that when I quit smoking, finally, a couple of years ago, that happened in March, too, almost exactly the same time of the month. I’d tried to quit, and actually quit, several times over the decades, without long-term success. This time I used Chantix and found that I didn’t need more than the first scrip, didn’t want to kill myself, and really liked smelling food and tasting wine. And vice versa.
So I suppose I could go cast my horoscope, if I can get a new ephemeris, and see what’s going on that might account for there being a “best” time for me to institute, and embrace, change in my life. Is March my magical month? The best time to start new things? Maybe it’s just my best time for dropping bad habits. Hmmm. Now I’m going to find myself trying to remember what else happened in other Marches.
Just a thought.
January 18th, 2010 by Jane
Needing an excuse to indulge the part of me that loves to entertain, on Friday night I hosted a dinner party. We were six at table. Had I a larger kitchen we might never have made it to the dining table but remained standing around the kitchen pouring and tasting. However, I’d put a leaf in the table that had been my mother’s, and brought up the pads from the basement and covered it with a white quasi-damask linen oval, and put out the nice glassware and all, and it was way too cozy and too close to hot pots and sharp utensils, so to the table we went.
My dark plum Crate and Barrel dinner plates weren’t too out of place amid Mom’s good china, the only source of six matching salad, bread and dessert dishes. The gold-trimmed cream white china, made in Japan, has been stored in padded dish holders, thin foam sheets separating each piece and the dainty cups each in their own cubicle in a big square holder.
For the ten years since her death, my mother’s most carefully protected possessions have hidden on the highest shelves of my kitchen wall cabinets. Not my style, the gilt floral design, but unused for other reasons. First, somewhere in my mind/brain resided the idea that the pieces should be saved for formal occasions or family holidays like Rosh Hashana or Thanksgiving, which my mother always hosted but I do not. Second, there was always the fear that I’d break something and wind up forever identified as unreliable, like my aunt who was banished from participation in cleanup detail after dropping something or other after some long ago family fete. Of course I’d already received the badge of less-than-perfection while Mom was still alive so any additional ribbons of achievement in that department would now be just showing off.
I don’t have kids. I doubt that my grand-niece or -nephews will want the stuff by the time they are ready to set up house. So I’m giving myself permission to use the good china more often.
One thing about the set of china that speaks to how different things were in the old days, aside from the raised gilt-ness of the stuff, is how small the pieces are. The coffee cups are four-ouncers. Officially, or traditionally, that’s what a cup of coffee is supposed to be. In this age of the supersize and the travel mug and the sixteen-ounce grande latte, though, they seem to hold barely a few gulps. The soup bowls, too, hold only four ounces. When I was a kid and slurping matzo ball soup out of them they seemed so much larger. Then again, so did a lot of other things, like our house.
So it turns out that if I use the good china I don’t have to cook as much food to fill the plates, which means I can play with pricier ingredients. I think I’ll have more dinner parties.
Chopped Chicken Livers (from free-range organically-fed cluckers, of course, with eggs of the same origins and…sue me…schmaltz. Conventional onions. Oh well. A gift to friend Ed.)
Bruschetta with goat cheese, tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil and optional olive tapenade.
Scottish Atlantic Salmon, organically fed (it says here) and conscientiously farmed (hey, it’s January, there’s no fresh wild salmon out there) – from Kate’s Fish at the West Side Market, just gorgeous and this is why I doubt I’ll ever go back to being a vegetarian.
Red Lentil Dhal – My first try, starting with the toasting of the whole spices and grinding them. Not knowing how much the recipe made I doubled it and had enough to feed the Indian Army (not to be confused with the British Army in India…curse you, Wikipedia! Had it been Jewish food I’d have said ” enough to feed the Russian Army.” Please don’t turn me over to the PC police.) The stuff was deeeeelish, and since I controlled how much red pepper went in, I could actually taste the flavors, me the spicy-food wuss. And the kitchen still smells heavenly.
Roasted local organic beets and celery root. Tossed in olive oil and honey first. Pretty and yum.
Organic, overcooked and undertasty green beans (oh well, can’t win ‘em all.)
And for dessert, homemade Chocolate Shards with Dried Tart Cherries, Toasted Almonds and…Lavender. UNBELIEVABLY WONDERFUL.
January 11th, 2010 by Jane
Two weeks ago my neighborhood was a collection of homes with a few inches of snow on the rooftops and clumps like whipped cream on the boughs of the evergreens. One week ago the piles of snow on top of the gas grille, deck furniture and rainbarrel started to look like hats for coneheads. Now the icicles in some places almost reach the ground.
The other day I watched an icicle grow, gravity working with water, together placing a drop at the low tip where at the right temperature the liquid becomes solid and, voila, another quarter inch of ice hangs off the gutter.
Of course I did the watching from inside. Brrr.
December 31st, 2009 by Jane
Orange beaks sure stand out in this white world.
We’re getting a winter whuppin’, this time its thick and wet snow. Hard on the blower, heavy on the shovel.
The birds still show up for breakfast.
December 30th, 2009 by Jane
My dog Baci
I’m not sure why I choose to walk the dog on trash mornings. It just aggravates me and that’s the wrong way to start any day.
This morning I looked down the block and saw only three homes with blue recycling bags on the curb. Three out of thirty-two, and one was mine.
I passed a curb with two…count ‘em, two…black oversized Rubbermaid trash cans overflowing with beer cans and plastic pop bottles and food containers. If the neighbor had just put them in a blue
bag and set them alongside the trash, here’s what could have been saved:
1. tax dollars, since it costs less for the city to send them to the recycler than to pay to have the trash company haul them and tip them into the landfill;
2. jobs, since those saved dollars can pay a service department employee who can do other work to keep our city clean;
3. energy, since it takes less to recycle these materials than to make new ones out of raw materials;
4. oil, since plastic food containers are made from it;
5. the environment, since the mining of bauxite for aluminum destroys whole ecosystems.
When those folks complain to me about the taxes they pay, they are going to get an earful!
PAPER is what we should be recycling most, since it weighs the most and we pay for trash disposal by the ton. Every ton that we divert from the trash truck to the recycling truck saves us money…in fact, with paper we MAKE money when we sell it to the recycler.
Why won’t you recycle? Tell me, please.
Anyway, Baci met a new friend…Keller Beaver is a rescue dog, and we’re happy to live in this dog-friendly neighborhood.