Sunday, September 30, 2007

Summer into Fall

Saturday's gardening class: going underground, learning all about soil. We cleared huge beds, loosened the soil, and prepared these reborn beds for Fall. I loved the no mercy weeding, clearing the slate to begin a new. Here's the last harvest from the Summer garden (baking in the October sun: corn, squash, chard, carrots, beets, rhubarb)

We cut back the Summer's overgrowth of salvia leucantha--it's now in vases all over the apartment. The softest, fuzziest of flowers, it grows like a weed in the Bay Area.

Kaleidoscopic Sunday: brunch in a friend's sun soaked kitchen, Blue Bottle New Orleans style iced coffee & peach muffins. Followed by a trip to the SFMOMA to see the most wild, interactive exhibit I've been to in years: the Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. Reminded me of Bill Viola & James Turrell yet was completely different. Light. Perception. Color. Moss walls. Walk-in kaleidoscopes. Water. Earth. Glaciers melting. Totally indescribable. Examples from his website:

A week of food & photos.

New World Veggie BBQ Chicken Sanwiches--the best.

Californians know how to eat avocados.

An oven failure turned good. Enchilada feast cancelled. Instead: black bean and sweet potato tostadas w/ homemade enchilada sauce, topped with tomatillo salsa, avocado, cheese & green onion. Damn, nothing beats that easy tomatillo salsa (tomatillos, serrano pepper, and cilantro, that's it.)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

At this moment. Multitasking.

Roasting eggplant slices in the broiler (for eggplant parmesan). My mother instilled in me a deep fear of broilers. I over came. I used the broiler, I didn't start a fire, and I think it's going to make the best eggplant. Ever.

Checking out Maira Kalman's NYTimes column. I can't get enough Maira.

Listening to Jose Gonzalez on Blogoteque.

Friday, September 28, 2007


"His words made a sound to the eyes" G.Stein describing Robert Coates.
I want my words to evoke sound to the eyes

Picked up this Friends of the Urban Forest Manual last weekend. It makes me look at trees in SF in a whole new way--shape, size, flowers, leaves, bark, type. I start to wonder how old they are, who planted them, who cares for them...the stories only trees could tell.

Why is it that some days are so effortlessly filled with inspiration & others are so mundane? Maybe there's nothing really different except the way in which I look at the world, the way I approach the day.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Celebrating Fall with Food on Film

The garden had a food on film celebration tonight...

So fun to be gathered in the garden plaza, surrounded by the sweet smells of the plants sleeping, with Arizmendi pizza, wine in paper cups, watching food shorts on a small makeshift screen.

Best short was an eastern European film that I have yet to find on the web, hope to post here soon.

Check out some video clips on Edible Estates--a radical movement to rejuvenate suburbia and take over the iconic American lawn with beautiful veggie gardens. The video reawakened so many memories of my time working at a small organic garden located in a suburban cultisac of Tempe. So many amazing stories involving ex-cons, cigarettes, divorce, irate neighbors, compost and tragic greenhouse heaters. So much for preconceptions about the life of a backyard organic gardener. You'll have to ask me about the Iris stories sometime...

I'm not the only one talkin trash

"Zero Waste to Landfill" challenge on American Public Radio's Marketplace. A reporter decides to carry every piece of garbage she produces for two weeks. Everything. A statement, both visual and odorrific.

Brooklyn based artist, Katherine Hubbard, collected her trash for 52 weeks and made an awesome photo project for Good Magazine. Check it.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hope amidst the trash: Art at the Dump

The educational center at the SF Transfer Station is not what you would expect, it's so much better. It is an art gallery--featuring works of art crafted from the mountains of trash carted to the transfer station.

In 1990, before recycling made it big, Jo Hanson developed the Artist in Residency program. Today, 3 artists a year, get the honor of digging through our rubbish to create art in a studio located on site at the transfer station.

The current artist in residence is Nemo Gould--I've seen his work around town, it's always really interesting, interactive sculpture. Here are a few photos of his work created entirely from remnants collected at the dump.

Octopus from a rocking chair, and a bath mat...Better photos here.

Not only is there an art gallery and studio at the dump, there's a 3 acre sculpture garden. Such a drastic juxtaposition to the ugliness of the dump. Its the only art park at a city dump--unfortunately it isn't accessible to the public, but you can check it here. And see my two favorites in my (bad) photos below...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We Are a Nation that Bleeds Plastic

A Trip to the San Francisco Transfer
Part I
The black bin. The blue bin. The green bin. You sort your trash as best you can, and you've done your duty. But there's so much more...where does it all go? What does it all look like? I trekked down to the SF Transfer Station with my gardening class to see for myself.

What I discovered was a sea of plastic. The bulldozer above is choked with it. It's all you can see in the gigantic warehouse where my neighborhood garbage truck dumps my trash. Plastic shopping bags, plastic containers, it's endless.

It was 11am on a Saturday, and a line of 20 vans and trucks churning out top 40 hits were idling in line for the dump. Some truck beds were filled to the brim with the remains of a remodeled kitchen. Other mini-vans held giant plastic bags filled to bursting with recyclables. Responsible residents waited in line to properly dispose of their hazardous oil pans, pesticides, and house paint.

As my crew, in our uniformed fluorescent vests and hard hats (to protect us from the hundreds of birds flying overhead) wandered through the construction reclamation area, some dude yelled out to me "hey, I've got hazardous waste back here. Heh. Heh. I'm not supposed to, but I'm going to dump it in the demolition pile."

Next stop: the apocalyptic warehouse of trash. I was hit by the smell first. A smell of rot, like I've never experienced before, burned itself into my nose. Then I noticed a mist. Confused, I looked to the ceiling lined with a row of sprinklers, keeping the dust down. It creates a strange, sticky veil over the whole warehouse. As my eyes adjusted to the dim, veiled light, I began to realize what my eyes were taking in: huge seagulls, some dirt brown others pure white, perched in waiting over a gigantic hole. A hole of trash, a sea of plastic.

In one day, the City of San Francisco generates the equivalent of one foot ball field size full of trash five feet deep. 30-40% of this trash is organic waste. Waste that could've been composted, but will now never decompose. Instead this organic waste will breathe methane, one of the most toxic greenhouse gases, in its final resting place buried near the windmills at Altamont Pass.

And SF has one of the most progressive municipal waste programs in the country--there is a wide spread curbside compost pick up where I can put all of my veggie scraps,

Most of my photos didn't turn out--but here's a few...

What happens to the the rest of our trash--the trash we so dutifully sort into the blue and green bins...

Blue bin: It is trucked to Pier 39, where it is dutifully hand sorted (by well paid employees/shareholders). We keep the aluminum (it's worth something) and the glass (goes into making fiberglass). But we ship the paper and plastic to China! The costs of recycling paper in the US, both financial and environmental, isn't worth it--we save money, and pollution, by exporting our trash to China.

Green bin: our food scraps, milk cartons, and yard waste is turned into rich, black compost--it is piled into large rows covered in plastic where nature takes over. The organic waste starts cookin. It reaches temperatures between 120 and 150 degrees, so hot it would burn you, for up to a weeks, to kill any pathogens. The rich compost then gets packaged and sold to local nurseries and farms.

It was a profound trip. If this is the way SF does trash, one of the most progressive municipal waste programs in the country) what does trash look like in my hometown of Phoenix? What will trash look like in the future? I can't look at my trash, at my consumption in the same way ever again--I am empowered. Use less and compost more.

Somewhere along the way I forgot the 3 R's, let's bring them back:
Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.

Part II to come: Art at the Dump...

I will be a gardener yet & how I spend my Saturdays

Just finished week two of Garden for the Environment's Gardening & Composting Educators Training. It's amazing. When I'm done I'll be a gardener, or at least well on my way. Best part: community service project at the end of class. To get my certification I have to spend 50 hours on a community gardening project in SF.

After just one week in the garden (a beautiful, peaceful spot on 7th Ave & Lawton) I'm already looking at the world as a sidewalk botanist once again. It's so easy to live on eye level in the city. You forget the layers of the world. It's like the difference between watching the world go by from a car and a bike, or a bike and your own two feet. Get out of your visual rut--change your perspective. It's good.

Summer's Last Gasp or Summer Everlasting?

I knew this blog would devolve into a CSA love fest--no sense in stopping now. It's September and the stars of summer are still going strong--they don't last as long, but they're still good. This week's box: tomatoes (heirloom, cherry, and roma) grapes, basil, sweet potatoes, gypsy peppers and corn.
This week's surprise: Tomatillos! I've never cooked with them--roasted tomatillo salsa is in order. They smell so good, like a cross between green chiles & tomatoes=heaven

Another heirloom beauty.

Inspired. First meal out of the veggie box--summer saute over capellini with kale. Saute: sauteed garlic, onion, and corn, thick slices of heirloom tomato added for just a minute, heated to perfection (that moment before they lose their shape) topped with feta.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I heart the Richmond.

Here's to Sunday mornings spent at Blue Danube coffee house & Green Apple books. Supervisors deny Starbucks permit for new S.F. store

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lunch--it's all about the box.

Travelling with Tiffin & Me on a Tuesday: waiting for the N-Judah

On the bus...

Waiting for the BART

On BARTs beautiful fabric seats

At work...
The true beauty of a Tiffin revealed...2 bowls plus a plate all in one box.It's better than Bento baby.

I've been looking for one of these righteous lunch boxes for months--tupperware makes me sad. I found this Tiffin on my birthday. Kismet!
Today's lunch: quinoa chowder (with potatoes & kale)with tomato, spinach & feta frittata. All homemade gourmet goodness. Get one. Start a revolution.

You Are Here & other recent acquisitions

Reading: The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein.
Here's Gertrude through Picasso's Eyes:

Watching: The Lives of Others. A movie of subtlety, sound, subversives and sensuality. So good.

Newest Acquisitions:
You Are Here: Personal Geographies. Care of Green Apple books (one of the best bookstores on the planet). I lose myself there.

Finally! Marion Nestle's on paperback:

Friday, September 7, 2007

A meeting of my two obsessions

Art & Transportation make the City go round. Love this: Helena Keeffe's Contrubution to the SF public art scene.

Parking shapes our landscape

More parking in SF=less space for walkers & bikers. Check this protest in SF:

September 21, 2007 - PARK(ing) Day
PARK(ing) Day is a one-day, global event centered in San Francisco where artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks.