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Lunch Al Fresco

April 12, 2014 Downtown, Environment, Featured Comments Off on Lunch Al Fresco

According to the calendar it has been Spring for three weeks now, but it sure hasn’t felt like it. Finally, on Wednesday we began to warm up. That day I met friends for lunch…al fresco.  They’re from Springfield IL, they came in the day before for the Cardinals game, we met at Pi downtown, as it was near their hotel and they have a nice outdoor patio.

Pi MX at 11:30am on Wednesday, by noon every table was occupied.
Pi MX at 11:30am on Wednesday, by noon every table was occupied.

After lunch I had grocery shopping to do but they had two hours to sight see until they needed to be back at the Amtrak station. They hadn’t seen Citygarden yet, so I showed them. Culinaria was next, I stayed to shop while they continued on.  I’d suggested places a few places for them to see:

  • Big Shark bike shop & adjacent bike station
  • Central Library
  • Soliders Memorial

I’m just very glad we’re above freezing. Now if we can get rain at night, but dry clear days.

— Steve Patterson

 

Glad Spring is Here!

March 20, 2014 Environment, Featured Comments Off on Glad Spring is Here!

I usually don’t mind winter too much, but I’m very glad Spring is officially here!

Chives coming up on our balcony.
Chives coming up on our balcony.

I’m planning what to plant on our balcony and looking forward to sleeping with the windows open. What is your favorite part about Spring?

— Steve Patterson

 

One Year of Vermicomposting

March 13, 2014 Environment, Featured 3 Comments

When I had a yard I’d compost yard waste and occasionally, kitchen scraps. When I moved into a downtown loft with a 5×10 balcony 6+ years ago I thought my composting days were over. I knew of using worms to compost, but I’d never tried it.

One year ago today we started our worm bin — vermicomposting — indoors.

Vermicompost is the product or process of composting using various worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. Vermicast, also called worm castings, worm humus or worm manure, is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by an earthworm. These castings have been shown to contain reduced levels of contaminants and a higher saturation of nutrients than do organic materials before vermicomposting.

Containing water-soluble nutrients, vermicompost is an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner. This process of producing vermicompost is called vermicomposting. (Wikipedia)

I was very excited to be starting the bin:

One year ago we had our worm bin lined with coconut choir and the bag of 500 red wigglers ready to add.
One year ago we had our worm bin lined with coconut choir and the bag of 500 red wigglers ready to add.
The worms we purchased came in the compost/castings they were used to.
The worms we purchased came in the compost/castings they were used to.

In the last year I made many mistakes; the bin got too wet, too dry, etc. I added a second bin and have finally found a balance.

Nearly every kitchen scrap gets composted. I was trying to add citrus peels but doing so threw off the PH level, even in small amounts. I’ve found other uses for lemon & orange peels, like scenting vinegar to use for cleaning.

Our original bin (left) and 2nd bin (right)
Our original bin (left) and 2nd bin (right)

Does this take time? Yes, but it also feels good to not put waste down the disposal or into a landfill. The castings are great for our potted plants — both indoors and those on our balcony.

— Steve Patterson

 

2014 Boat & Sportshow

The other day we attended the St. Louis Boat & Sportshow. The show was interesting because it included a very broad range of boats for most budgets.

A restored boat in the vintage club corner. A vintage outboard motor club also had a great display
A restored boat in the vintage club corner. A vintage outboard motor club also had a great display
Pontoon boats are much nicer now, some include built-in BBQ grills!
Pontoon boats are much nicer now, some include built-in BBQ grills!
Several boats cost over $1 million!
Several boats cost over $1 million!

As a city guy I’m not a lake kind of person. I have spent time on the Missouri River, but not since 1999. My employers in the late 90s had a 37ft Sea Ray with a kitchen, bathroom, and one bedroom below deck.  Such luxury spoiled me for anything less but the twin engines sucked fuel like crazy, each few hour outing cost hundreds in fuel. These things cost more than an average house! The shows offers tips for green boating.

Steve Patterson on the Missouri River, July 3, 1999
Steve Patterson on the Missouri River, July 3, 1999
Missouri River beach party, July 11, 1999
Missouri River beach party, July 11, 1999. We had to anchor out in the river and wade in the water to get to the beach. 

For me, boats are like pools — great if you can afford to buy and maintain. Better for me to know someone with a boat than to ever try to have one. Still, we found the boat show interesting, it continues today and tomorrow.

— Steve Patterson

 

People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener. Healthier Cities by F. Kaid Benfield

Cover of the softbound book, $25
Cover of the softbound book, $25

Decades ago books on cities talked about razing buildings, clearing away the old to make way for the new, segregating uses & people, etc.  These days the subjects are sustainability, health of the inhabitants & the city, regionalism, etc. This shift requires new ways of thinking about old problems. Enter People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities by F. Kaid Benfield:

With over 80 percent of Americans now living in cities and suburbs, getting our communities right has never been more important, more complicated, or more fascinating. Longtime sustainability leader Kaid Benfield shares 25 enlightening and entertaining essays about the wondrous ecology of human settlement, and how to make it better for both people and the planet.

People Habitat explores topics as diverse as “green” housing developments that are no such thing, the tricky matter of gentrifying inner cities, why people don’t walk much anymore, and the relationship between cities and religion. Written with intellect, insight, and from-the-heart candor, each real-world story in People Habitat will make you see our communities in a new light. (Island Press)

You can view the table of contents and read excerpts at peoplehabitat.comPeople Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities by F. Kaid Benfield is available locally through Left Bank Books.

— Steve Patterson

 

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