Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bumblebee, Come on and Sting Me

Someone received a small felt bumblebee for a much belated birthday this weekend.

He has secret messages written on his butt and on the inside of his bendy wings.

love is a guess
that deepens
(time is a rose
which opens)
your eyes,my
darling,are two
young worlds of dew

never yet named
a stillness
(wholly undreamed
what frailness)
not quite may
twilight's until
rival your smile

truer how much
than yearning
(newer to touch
than morning)
your life is
only like one
star after rain

- e. e. cummings

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fuzzy Strawberry

Here's a taste of the felting projects I've been making lately. It's a little felt card I made for my friend's baby shower that says "Congrats! Welcome Baby!" It was my gift card; there's a heart and my name on the back, so they remember who gave them the cutest onesie evaaaaaaa. My other felting projects are presents, so must remain a secret for now.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's a Jungle Out There

For my birthday I took myself to the botanical conservatory on campus to look at plants. Neeeeeeeeerd. I'm never satisfied with the pictures I take in gardens and conservatories; they're always either too boring or too messy to look at (artistically speaking, I could look at pictures of plants all day, no matter how they are framed). This time, however, I tried extra hard, and here's what came of it:

Besides the super close-ups, I took the opportunity to work on my still life and composition. When I took photography in college I always struggled to make order out of chaos. Some photographers (like a favorite, Lee Friedlander) can take a place that is full of crazy lines and angles, and frame it so you can see a way through, your eye is led into it and around in a deliberate manner. I would like to be able to do that, so here are some of my attempts:

When I started taking photos, I thought I could document the world. And it took me a few years to realize that as soon as you place a frame around the world, your photo becomes its own animal and that ideal is unattainable. Lee Friedlander said (of landscapes, but I think it's true of my new understanding of photography), "no matter how well you manage as a photographer, you will only ever give a hint as to how good the real thing is." This is my new mantra.

On a seperate note, I also have a lot of trouble taking photos of cities and I would like to tackle that at some point as well. Jaja, it seems, has no trouble with that. Look and learn, people.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Procrastination Station

After a last minute crisis (erasing three days of work, go me!) the second draft of my thesis is ready to be subjected to the red pen.

The looming deadline also meant that I found many ways to procrastinate. All of a sudden there were so many dishes to do, crafts to make, movies to watch, and internets to surf. Here are a few of my favorites:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Great Bay Area Garden Tour, part 3 :: Alice Fong Yu Elementary School Garden

Stop number three on our tour was the Alice Fong Yu elementary school garden. It is part of the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance, an organization that manages school gardens all around the city (get a PDF of their self-guided tour here).

Rachel from the SFGSA met us there and spoke with us about the garden, which she managed for a few years before getting her current job. Rachel was incredibly friendly and cool; I was actually a little starstruck because she has the kind of job I want and she was possessed of the perfect mixture of expertise, humbleness, and joy of discovery that I aspire to.

Some of my favorite things from this garden:

The compost area, so neat and tidy.

The signage, of course.

The shed! It was recently painted and it has a roll-up door, kind of like a garage door, to save space.

The outdoor classroom area with hay bales and a huge white-board.

The beds were all made from a recycled plastic "wood" that has lasted them several years already and can withstand the severe incline without too much buckling.

Thank you Rachel!

Next up (last, but not least); the Garden for the Environment and The Conservatory of Flowers!

Little Bellies

I'm going to a baby shower tomorrow, and I ran out yesterday and picked up a onesie from Nina and Tom, a screenprint design team from Davis. I got my friend the strawberry, and this one I purchased for a friend last year. Can't you just see the little pear covering a plump baby belly, mimicking its shape? Urg, so cute. As long as they belong to someone else, for now.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Out with the old . . .

. . . and in with the new!

200th post!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Today's lunch

My life is in limbo a bit right now, so we've suspended the CSA box delivery, wah. But here's my own little harvest, straight from the front yard. Locally Grown Lunch. LGL.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Great Bay Area Garden Tour, part 2 :: Slow Food Nation Victory Garden

After our visit to The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, we popped across the Bay Bridge and parked at the Civic Center for our tour of the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden.

Our tour guide was Kelsey, who coincidentally had spent almost ten years working at The Edible Schoolyard! A twofer! He answered all of our questions about both gardens, even after the Pakistani festival next door got so loud he had to shout to be heard.

The garden was part of an event that Slow Food Nation hosted in SF over labor day weekend to raise awareness of local food sources in the Bay Area. I was away during the festival, but so happy to get to see the garden before it was all recycled in September.

The new lettuce and chard transplants below replaced harvested crops that were donated to a food bank a few blocks away. In the middle of the bed are dandelion greens and chicory! How great! Kelsey said that there were several old Italian women who asked if they could harvest some when they visited and they got to take home bunches (to put in delicious soups, no doubt).

The garden was grown with the help of local nurseries, and almost everything was re-purposed for the project. The stage was made of recycled lumber, the burlap-covered berms around each bed were filled with rice straw from local growers, and the soil and compost came from nurseries and farms in the area.

In the photo below you can see that they are letting their Brassicas bolt and flower (the yellow in the middle). I love that. The natural life cycle of crop plants can be beautiful too, there's no need to rip everything out as soon as it's finished producing edible food.

Each bed was a series of concentric circles with little "keyholes" where you could enter and walk around. This was mostly for aesthetics, so the beds could be viewed from all angles. The plants had to be grown in gallon pots in the nurseries before transplanting into the beds because the timeline for the project was so short. Everyone was afraid that the transplants wouldn't take because they were so old, but apparently the "positive energy" surrounding the project really kicked in and the garden was gorgeous!

Again, nice signage in the garden listed each crop in multiple languages. I'm kind of a stickler for signage, and the gardens on this tour really inspired me with their creative signs.

Next up: The Alice Fong Yu Elementary School Garden and a talk with Rachel of the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Orange = Not a Quail

This month at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge we had to wear orange. Why? Because it's hunting season. And what is there to hunt on the refuge? Quail. There wasn't much hunting where I grew up, so the fact that I have to wear orange to prevent being mistaken for a quail is probably the funniest thing ever.

Our trips are getting shorter because fewer plants are flowering and fruiting at this time. But it's still hot enough that we need to take a siesta in the middle of the day to avoid the heat. This means that we start our day at 6am and end it at sunset.

One more trip in October (a short one) and I will be done with Ash Meadows for the field season. What a great job.

Cordylanthus tecopensis - closely related to my study species for my thesis, Cordylanthus palmatus.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Choco-Coco-Creamcheese Cupcakes

Just a little weekend baking. I've made many recipes from this book before ("Birthday Cakes: Recipes and Memories from Celebrated Bakers" by Kathryn Kleinman) but the birthday cupcakes recipe is my favorite (pg. 122). It's basically the same recipe as the "Elvis Cake;" devil's food. In the past I've made these cupcakes with a gooey raspberry jelly center and powdered sugar on top, but this time I used the cream cheese and coconut frosting recipe from page 82. Delicious. And just look at them sitting all pretty on my birthday cake stand from Crystal and Jaja. It's the little things folks, the little things.

Strangely, I baked all of those other cakes at exactly this time last year. Weird. Maybe there's something special about the month of September?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Great Bay Area Garden Tour, part 1 :: The Edible Schoolyard

This summer I decided that I wanted to see some of the school and community gardens in San Francisco and the East Bay. So I got a group of people together from UC Davis and the Davis community, rented some University vans, arranged some private tours, and we were off! (This is far easier said than done, as you can imagine).

On August 24th, 14 of us met on the campus of UC Davis and started our trip. Our first stop was The Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley!

This garden was started by Alice Waters in 1994 at Martin Luther King Jr. middle school, and includes an outdoor wood stove and a building with a kitchen where the kids take their garden harvest and learn how to cook it into nutritious foodstuffs!

There were so many gorgeous details about this garden. My favorites were the kid-hand-painted signs in the garden, the gorgeous little greenhouse, and the creative trellising.

This garden has two full-time gardeners and several AmeriCorps volunteers, so an effort of this magnitude is not possible in every school. But it is incredibly inspiring to see what can be done with some funding.

Unfortunately they don't give tours on Saturdays, but we were lucky enough to have a tour guide later in the day who had worked at The Edible Schoolyard for ten years! So we had a post hoc tour and got to ask all of our questions.

One of the coolest things we learned is that the garden design is driven by the kids themselves. Fruit bearing trees are trellised so that the fruit is accessible to small people, or weeping varieties are used. The garden meanders and small vistas and views of different beds open up as you wander through, almost like a small maze. And the garden is constantly changing, with much of the work done by the kids, giving them ownership of the space.

Eeee, it was just as beautiful as I expected it to be! Coming up: The Civic Center Victory Garden, San Francisco.