Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My first tomato

FINALLY, tomatoes from my garden are starting to come in! This is the very first. I picked it a few days ago when it was still green. Since I planted both red and yellow tomatoes, I eagerly anticipated the ripening so I could see which one it would be. Not long after I took this photo, I chopped this one up and put it into a salad. It was one of the sweetest, most delicious tomatoes I've ever had! I can't wait for more to be ready!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Leave the flip-flops at home

Does anyone remember a couple of summers ago when the national lacrosse champions from Northwestern went to the White House and some of the players got dinged for wearing flip-flops? I have to admit, at the time that story came out, I thought . . . what a waste of news story space. I mean, they were university students, and it was summer. Who cares? Well, I've changed my mind.

People. Flip-flops are for beaches, or pools, or slouching around the farmers' market or the mall. They're for patios and grocery stores and camp sites. They are not for work. At least not in the corporate center of a major employer based in the midwestern United States of America. 

Flip-flops should not be worn at the office. Period. And neither should cropped pants. But that's a whole other blog entry. :-)

Friday, July 24, 2009

After the kill

So here's what it looks like across the street now. They took down so many trees, it took them four days. I've never seen such a mountain of wood chips. S talked with the tree guys today and they said we could take whatever we wanted of the wood chips, so we'll probably be getting several wheelbarrows full to use in the yard.  It doesn't make it any easier, though. 

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Marked for death

When I walked out the front door today to go get the mail, I noticed that the trees in the lot across the street have been marked for removal. OK, I knew that the lot had been sold, and that a house would be built there soon . . . but what surprised me was the sheer number of trees that will be destroyed because of one house. Many of these are maple trees whose color bursts in the fall. Others - a few - are hardwoods so old and large, I can't put my arms around them. 

In all, I counted fifty trees marked with orange X's. All for one house. It made me sick. This is so ridiculous. Why did the developer even buy this land in the first place? It's not like we have lots of trees in central Indiana. Why are we in such a hurry to destroy the few trees we do have?

What does this say about the state of the world we live in? OK, maybe this sounds hypocritical coming from me. After all, I chose to build in a new subdivision in the suburbs. Therefore, I contributed to the problem. Believe me, guilt has been knocking on my door over the last few years, as I've witnessed firsthand the environmental impact of new construction and development. I never really understood the damage this does - until I saw it for myself. I could justify it somewhat by saying that at least when we built our house, only four trees were removed. Not fifty, for crying out loud. But I still feel guilty.

I am so angry and sad about this situation today. I want to chain myself to the big sycamore tree or climb up and live in it like Julia Butterfly Hill. I want to put up signs that say CUTTING DOWN TREES IS MURDER!!! But of course, I won't.

I wonder if our new neighbors have any idea that fifty trees are coming down? I wonder if they'll be surprised next time they stop by, when they realize the damage done? I wonder if they have a clue that instead of seeing a nice wooded area in their backyard, they'll be seeing the adjacent subdivision (previously hidden by the trees)?

Goodbye, beautiful trees.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Summer breeze

I just want to note for the record that I was very pleased with today's weather. Tonight, the windows are open, and an unusually cool summer breeze is blowing through. This will help me to sleep good tonight. I've got that old Seals and Crofts song in my head . . . or maybe it's the heavy metal cover done by Type O Negative . . . whatever the case, I can tell you that I'm feeling fine.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Chef's challenge

This morning I got up early and went up to the Binford Farmer's Market to watch Round 2 of the Indy Chef's Challenge, which is sponsored by Slow Food Indy. If you've ever seen the TV show Iron Chef, you're somewhat familiar with the format: four chefs arrive to the event not knowing what they will be cooking; they are given 1-2 primary ingredients which the dish they create must contain. Then in the case of the Indy Chef's Challenge, they're given $20 and 20 minutes to shop for other ingredients there at the farmer's market. Everything except salt, pepper, and onions must be local and from the farmer's market.

Today's key ingredients were skirt steak and kim-chi, also locally produced and/or made. The four chefs had one hour to make their dishes. They'd just started prepping when I was there, and it was really cool to watch them work. There was one chef in particular who was interesting to watch because she was so precise with her cutting: her vegetables were so even and perfect. Even the way she placed things in little dishes was "pretty" and she never had a messy station. Wish I could cook like that!

Just as the hour was winding down, it began to rain. First, just a little, but then it began to POUR. The chefs just kept working through it, even though sometimes they were getting wet. Then we begin to hear thunder in the distance. At this point, only the most serious Foodies such as myself were still hanging out watching. 

One chef, Miguel from Mama Carolla's, made a beautiful potato cake and a very nice shiitake mushroom sauce which he made with Trader's Point Creamery (an awesome local dairy) milk. He served rare slices of steak on the potato cake and then topped it with the sauce and some herbs. I'm not a mushroom person, but it was so beautiful I would have eaten it up if given the opportunity. 

Another chef (not sure of her name, but she said she had just graduated from Ivy Tech in May) made a very attractive chutney with cherries and the kim-chi (and some other stuff), and served the meat on top of the chutney. The other two chefs came up with dishes using vegetables such as corn, tomatoes, and beans. I know it must have been a really difficult decision for the judges, but in the end, Miguel took this round. So now he'll have a spot in the final, which will be sometime in August at the Indianapolis City Market. I definitely want to go to that!

Of interest to my local Foodie friends: I got to talking with the chef supervisor, an instructor in the Ivy Tech culinary arts program. I asked if Ivy Tech had any classes or events for "hobby" chefs like ourselves. He said they don't have anything now, because they don't really have the facilities. But a new building will open in the Spring of 2010 in the 71st street area, and plans are in the works to have something then. Sounds like something to look forward to!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Garden update

We've got 11 tomatoes! And 3 spaghetti squash! (squashes?) Of course, the tomatoes are green, and the squash(es) are the size of small bowls. But soon, we'll have some food!

The peppers haven't grown as much as I expected, but one of them has a flower on it, so hopefully that means we'll get something eventually.

The fennel, leeks, and scallions are up and look healthy, but are a long ways from maturity. The raddichio is beautiful but doesn't look like raddichio. It looks more like lettuce. Hmm. 

I wonder how long it will take before I really know what I'm doing? LOL!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

An open letter to designers of public restrooms

To whom it may concern:

I propose a revolution in public restroom design. Starting immediately, I think that all public restrooms should have - at a minimum - the following:
  • Door handles on the entry side of the restroom, so we don't have to touch a nasty door handle in order to get out after we've just washed our hands. Sorry, but using the paper towel to open the door is just so inconvenient. I don't understand why you can't get this one right.
  • Speaking of hand washing, how about being consistent with the sinks? I don't understand why either the sink or the soap dispenser or the towel dispenser/hand dryer cannot all be automatic. An automatic sink and soap dispenser, but then a towel dispenser that I have to pull towels from, is kind of stupid.
  • OK, women need mirrors in restrooms. But we'd like for them to NOT be the kind that make us all look 50 pounds heavier. 
  • And we'd like some lighting in front of the mirror that makes us look real, not like we've been sitting in a formaldahyde bath all day long. 
  • I haven't even gotten to the stalls yet. Could we please have some stalls that give us some privacy? In Europe, the doors go from ceiling to floor, and you can't see people through the cracks. Why can't we have this?
  • And why can't the stalls be large enough for us to be able to turn around in?
  • And the toilets be places far enough from the toilet tissue holder than when you go to sit or lean down, you don't bruise your butt?
  • Why can't we have the nice musical toilets like they have in Japan, where you push a button and hear a fake flushing sound, to drown out certain . . . shall we say 'unpleasant noises'? (Not that I would ever make any of these in a public toilet. I just don't want to listen to anyone else's.)
  • HEY, attention to those who design AIRPORT public restrooms!!! . . . how about some really strong, sturdy hooks for us to hang those heavy purses and backpacks? And they might as well be attached to really strong, sturdy doors so that they don't keep falling off? Sheesh, is it really that difficult???
  • Finally, I think that all public restrooms should have some sort of stink control mechanism in them. I've seen these in some places. Basically it's just some kind of device on the wall that releases air freshener every so often. We could really use these in the restrooms at work. Especially about an hour after lunch.
  • OK, I realize I just said "finally" in the last bullet point . . . but one final point. It is not necessary to provide an equivalent amount of toilets and space in Men's and Women's restrooms in large public facilities such as sports stadiums and movie theaters. The fact is, women need larger restrooms with more toilets. Has no one ever done a study to count the number of women in long lines at these places? Meanwhile, the men are in and out quickly. Duh. It doesn't really take a genius.
Yours truly,

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Independence day

Since we had visitors this weekend, I didn't get to do much blogging - therefore, I didn't get to post my Independence Day photo until now. We had an enjoyable "Fourth of July" here despite the unusual cool weather and rain that day. Our guests left early Tuesday morning, and now we need to recover for a while. Back in a day or two . . . 

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Graveyard wanderings

My Dad and sister are here visiting and yesterday afternoon we went to see the new Johnny Depp movie, Public Enemy, which is about Great Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger and his FBI nemesis, Melvin Purvis. John Dillinger was actually from Indianapolis, and became famous (or infamous) in the early 1930s for his numerous bank robberies and "Robin Hood" reputation among ordinary people. The movie was entertaining, but we were really intrigued when we found out that Dillinger (who wasn't nearly as handsome as Johnny Depp - lol!) was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery, right here in Indianapolis.

Crown Hill is the third largest cemetery in the United States and is the resting place for several "famous" people, so we decided to check it out. We saw the graves (or mausoleums) of President Benjamin Harrison, Lilly company founder Colonel Eli Lilly (as well as the other Eli Lilly, the Josiah K. Lillys, and several other Lillys), former Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay, writer James Whitcomb Riley, and several (we guessed) people for whom modern-day places are named after, like Binford (as in Boulevard) and Butler (as in University). 

We did not see the gravesites of several other noted individuals, such as James Baskette (actor who played Uncle Remus in the old Disney movie Song of the South) or Layman S. Ayres (founder of the old L.S. Ayres department stores) or Howard Garns, who invented the game Sudoku.

As cemeteries go, Crown Hill is quite nice. It contains the highest point in Indianapolis, known as Strawberry Hill. At this top of this lovely hill is the monument to James Whitcomb Riley. This is actually the "crown" of Crown Hill - and from this vantage point, you get a really nice view of downtown Indianapolis. So in a way, it's kind of nice place to visit, and I'd like to go back sometime on a really pretty day to take more photos.