Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Partying Onions Unmasked

Hey, so remember those funny little flowering "onions" that looked like they were wearing party hats, that I posted about before? I accidentally dug one up the other day and found at the bottome of all of that stem and flower was really a big ol' bulb of extremely tasty garlic! So the "onions" have been unmasked as the marauding garlic that they really are. Which is cool because I love garlic and we have these things all over the place. I just cooked some up with some of the last of our pork chops and a ton of peppers sauteed with some wine and olive oil... yummmmm....

On the docket for this week: making pesto with some fresh basil from a friend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Keeping Our Local Businesses Around

I've been meaning to pass on this link to the 3/50 Project for awhile. It's a very simple concept - just remembering to patronize our local businesses, keep them around, and keep our money helping out our local economies. What businesses in your area could you not live without?

For me, it's our little corner grocery store/cafe, our great local bike stores, and the local bookstore down the road that stocks stuff you don't see on the endcaps in Borders. A couple of years ago we lost our awesome local video store. We could walk down there in the evening and the folks that worked there knew every movie ever made. You could ask them "Hey, you remember that movie, the one that had Edward Norton and that other guy know, the one who played Capote...and Norton talks to himself in a mirror?" and they'd pull out 25th Hour and that would be the movie you were thinking of. Well, it's gone because I guess too many folks went to Hollywood video so now that's all we've got left around here.

So if you don't want your favorite coffee shop or bookstore or whatever going the way of my video store, make sure you go there, even to buy a bagel or a paperback every now and then.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Have Bike, Will Travel (With Pig)

Asa was over at a friend's house yesterday and was going to stay for a sleepover. She called to ask if I could bring over a sleeping bag and her toothbrush and pajamas. Sure, no problem. Slip the clothes and toothbrush into my bike bag and bungee-cord the sleeping bag on top.

I was ready to head up the driveway when the request came to add the pig. Arnold the Snoring Pig to be exact. Unzip the pannier, stuff the pig in one (fortunately not snoring), and away I was going when...

Another call, they needed cookie sheets for making pizzas, could I bring some over? Sure. Unzip the other pannier and slide the cookie sheets in. Ring, ring...could I bring two pillows and a birthday present in a bag? A towel because they're having a squirt gun fight too. And maybe some dry clothes...I'm starting to wonder if I should just give up and take the car. After all, I have two errands to run on the way over and I'm starting to look like I'm taking a world tour instead of a cross-town trip.

But I didn't have to, it all fit and barely. A few bungee cords go a long way, as well as those convenient zip-out panniers. When I got everything unloaded and kissed the wet daughter and wrapped her in the towel, I turned and headed for home with a much lighter bike.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Oh Give Me A Home, Where the Bicyclists Roam...

We just got back from our Washington trip yesterday (more on that later), but one thing I did while we were visiting my sis and BIL in Bellevue was to take a little bike ride down memory lane. At least it would've been down memory lane if anything there looked even vaguely like I remembered it.

Of course, I didn't expect Redmond to look like my first memories of the place. In 1988 when I arrived at the Microsoft campus on my first day of work (OMG, could that really have been 21 years ago this month?????), there were four buildings. Yep, four. Surrounded by a whole lot of trees (that's number four with the red arrow on the map above, now buried in the middle of the campus). Across the street was this place with a shingle hanging outside that said "Little Bit O' Heaven", you could go there and fish in a creek that they stocked with trout. No kidding! Bill Gates had a party for all of the new hires that month at his house, in his living room. It was a small place, back then. Fast forward to now, as I'm bicycling through the campus I see signs for Building 127. Holy Cow.

But the good news is that City of Redmond has been adding some bike commuting options lately (or should I say finally). Part of my ride was along the new commuter bike path that parallels Hwy 520, connecting Redmond to the Microsoft campus. When I used to commute by bike, I had to take a circuitous route through town, risking my life daily on streets with no bike lanes, hostile drivers, and big tire-eating grates, so it was no wonder that even on Bike to Work Day, I never saw another bike commuter on my journey. Now though with the addition of the bike path, bike commuters were fairly numerous on my evening ride, which is great news for this traffic-overloaded area in general, and I think in general illustrates the principle of "build it and they will come" when it comes to creating safe commuting options for cyclists.

On the minus side of the equation, the city is still extremely lacking in actual bike lanes on any surface streets, so once you leave the relative safety of the bike path, you're stuck fighting for sidewalk space with the pedestrians, or lane space with the aggressive rush-hour drivers. So clearly what's needed for real encouragement of the average bike commuter is not only to build paths but to connect them with work/shopping/home via bike lanes on major through streets. It's good to see Redmond taking a first step toward bike connectivity, but when the freeway is topped by large signs promising four new freeway lanes to the tune of $86.1 million dollars, it would be nice if even a fraction of that went toward greater bike connectivity. After all, building more freeway lanes won't reduce traffic, but building bike paths does.