Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Quonset Hut Demolition - East K Street

Here is the update on the quonset hut demolition that is underway at Benicia City Hall parking lot on East K Street.  The plan is to tear down the quonset huts and repair the parking lot, then add solar panels as a means of revenue, energy and shade.
photo above courtesy of benicia history preservation and review committee

These Google Map photos show the quonset huts prior to demolition.

It's not going to look bad.  I saw the artist's rendering, and it will be a definite improvement.  Although I could appreciate the history and quaintness of the quonset huts, let's face it.  They were ugly.  In the above photo, you can really see that precarious retaining wall.  Below is a photo taken September 19.  I was almost run over by a dump truck while I was taking this photo.
It's a shame they had to chop down so many sycamore trees.

For a more comprehensive overview of the project, go here. (I'm too lazy.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dinner Time!

My favorite magazine (Real Simple) has a great article this month.  It's called "A Month of Easy Dinners."  I generally cook dinner at least five times a week (only because I like to) and like most people who do the same, I often get stuck in a rut.  I have a lot meals I rotate in, but it seems like we're eating the same meals more often than I like.  So this idea really appealed to me.
Somehow I'm really good at timing.  More often than not I get dinner on the table at six o'clock on the dot.  I guess because I've been doing it so long.  That's one reason why I love the way they have organized this plan.  There is a pull-out grocery list for everything you need week-by-week.   Meals are organized so that you use the most perishable items earlier in the week and the total prep time is given for each night. 

So far we have had Monday and Tuesday's dinners of week one.  Monday was salmon with green beans, carrots and baby bok choy.  There was an Asian Chili sauce on the side.  I am trying not to substitute if I can help it.  This way I will expand my culinary experience.  I already know how to cook like me.  The salmon was cooked on a skillet (I ususally broil) with kosher salt and pretty much nothing else.  I never would have tried baby bok choy.  And the Asian Chili sauce was a great accompaniment.  Four stars!

Tuesday was supposed to be roast beef panini with tomato soup.  Since it was in the 90s at Wellington today, I substituted a cole slaw for the soup.  But since I'm trying to use their recipes, I used a cole slaw from week four which was completely different from my own.  I'm hoping when it comes time to make the cole slaw from week four we will either feel like it again, or I can shove in the tomato soup.  The panini had freshly sliced roast beef, which I don't normally buy, baby arugala and a condiment of sour cream (I did substisute Greek yogurt) and horse radish.  The cole slaw had no sugar (I always use sugar) and was made with Napa cabbage, mint, fresh ginger, sesames and olive oil.  Four stars again!

Isn't this fun?  YES!

The View From My Morning Cup of Tea

This is what I look at while working at my desk in the morning.  The only difference in the afternoon is the shadows come from the right.  I love this view.  The new Community Center just opened up one block over and across the street.  The traffic has increased some, but the foot traffic has shot way up.  Benicia is a walking town, and many people walk to and from the Community Center to take various classes.  I love watching them walk by.  Once there was a little blond girl in a pink tutu followed by her mother who was filming her.  The little girl was arabesque-ing and pirouetting her way to ballet class.

Sometimes someone will walk by and stop to admire my little Wellington.  At least that's what I'm imagining they're doing.  Our street is looking so great.  The eye sore that was across the street and to the left in this picture is now pretty cute.  It was a mess when we moved in.  There were renters in there who really didn't take any pride in keeping this house up.  They have a cyclone fence, which wouldn't be so bad, but they had two big labs in there that barked every time someone went by.  There were weeds everywhere.  Old furniture was strewn about.  There was a huge dead tree.  The people spent most days on the front porch smoking.  It wasn't very nice and it wasn't very private for us when we wanted to be in our front yard.  I felt like we were their entertainment.  They finally moved out and then the property manager (what took him so long?) came over and cleaned the place up.  He had the tree cut down, painted the house, tore out carpet, replaced sheetrock and appliances (those guys were a disaster) and moved in a nice quiet little family!  They have nice porch furniture, potted plants and a brand new mailbox.

And don't forget, the library is right up the street!  Who could ask for more?  Life is good at Wellington.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Trees of Wellington

Wellington's trees have been growing lately. I thought they deserved a post of their own. Look at all of them in the front! Left to right: Pittosporum, Red Bud, Crepe Myrtle, Japanese Maple and Southern Oak.

In this little pot is a mini Blue Spruce we got last year and had on our table. The poor little thing was flocked. He's been spending all year trying to slough off that flock. He's kind of hard to see in the pot. It also has wild forget-me-nots from Mendocino, ivy nasturtium and, in the back and too tall, some sort of mum I took from a neighbor's plant. The Spruce is in the middle and he's getting some lights this Christmas. Some day he'll be big enough to go in the ground.

This is one of the few trees that has been here longer than our family. It's a Japanese Maple with its own pumpkin patch beneath. It has really grown this year. It's very excited for Halloween. This is its first pumpkin patch.

This is the Southern Live Oak we put in last year. We topped it off because it was long and gangly with a bendy top that needed topping. You can just see the new row of sedum we put in on top of the cobble wall. It's going to be gorgeous next year. It's large and interesting with three different textures. The oak has really filled out and I'm very happy with it.

Here are the two plum Crepe Myrtles. They're just about done blooming. I think they have doubled in size this year.

This is the Forest Pansy Red Bud we put in last year. It doesn't like hot wind, but otherwise it is doing well. It starts off red and goes green. It's almost all green now!

Here is our cherry tree. It's a dwarf and was really small when we put it in. It looks really happy. I think we got six cherries off of it this year. All edible.

Poor Figgy got a huge hair cut this year. He lost about half his girth. But we got lots of figs off of him and I made fig jam! It was green. He is a very messy tree. He has been here for years and years. I love him.

This is a little Norfolk pine tree we had out on our balcony last year. It doesn't like too much sun, so it's under the fig tree.

This is an Arbutus Marina, or strawberry tree. It was new when we moved in. We probably wouldn't have chosen it, or put it where it is. But we would have been wrong, because it's great. It has red, pealy bark and the coolest little pink cascades of flowers. It's getting fruit this year. Supposedly it's almost edible. I'll let you know. Or not.

This little Japanese Maple I plucked from the roadway when he was two inches tall the week before we moved in. I actually plucked four different Japanese Maples from all sorts of roadways that day, hoping one would take. One did. This is it. It's about five feet tall and sort of gangly. But he's only 16 months old.

Speaking of plucking from the roadway, right after we moved into Wellington I plucked this little guy from along East 3rd Street. I put him in a pot when he was about five inches high. When he was about 14 inches high I brought him to the nursery to see what he was. The nursery man said: 1. he's an ash; 2. you don't want him. Wrong. Apparently this type of ash is prone to disease. They use it for the root graft of the Raywood Ash. He looks great in this pot and so far no disease.

This is my poor little stunted bay tree. He is about 20 years old. Well maybe 15. He spent most of his life in a pot and didn't get near enough water. But he's a feisty little guy and is finally in the ground where he can flourish! Soon he will be huddling up to my chicken coop. I use his leaves for cooking all the time. He doesn't mind. That's what they're for.

Here is the oldest tree on the planet. Not this particular one, which I got at Morningsun Herb Farm (my favorite place to buy plants) when he was a stick. He's still not much more than a stick. But soon he will be glorious because that's what Ginkgo Baloba trees are. The little yellow flower in front of him is a begonia that I quickly shoved in the ground after I tried to kill it by keeping it as a house plant. It died back but now look! Flowers!

We have two of these weeping Japanese Maples in the Arbor Walk. They were on sale when they were bald last year. They are very happy in their new home.

This is Olive the Olive Tree. She has grown about two feet since we put her in about four months ago. She is very wispy and graceful plus fruitless. It's a good combination.

When we got Olive we also got this Magnolia tree which had about six shriveled leaves. We weren't shopping for a Magnolia tree but this one needed us and PLUS he was only $7 on account of being on his last legs. He's positively THRIVING. No flowers yet.

This could be my favorite tree of the bunch. No, probably not very favorite - there are so many. But I love it. It's a Persimmon tree. It had one persimmon on it, but once it got to be about the size of a dime it fell off. He's too young, that's why. He's only been in the ground since about July. He's very happy there, and there's always next year. Besides persimmons are not what I would consider particularly edible. I'm planning on using them for baking.

This is my peach tree which had about six barely edible peaches this year. I also have a lemon tree, an apple tree and an apricot tree along this fence. I'm saving them for The Trees of Wellington Post Two, which will include UPDATES on these trees and their progress which I'm hoping will all be in the upward direction with lots of edible fruit.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fall is in the Air

We had a visitor from down under yesterday.  She's in America visiting her sister who is my mother in law.  So the two of them stopped in for a few hours.  We had crispy cod sandwiches with cole slaw then took a long walk to the water before coming back and eating a delicious cake, baked by The Dot.  It was very nice.  And slightly Fall-ish.  We stopped into my favorite Benicia store, Romancing the Home, and Aunt Olive bought a cute little bird bath dish for our garden.  Pics to follow.

The sweetest little boy was visiting from sleep-away school and he took this pic of my plants and watering can.  You can see some fall leaves lying there.  Sort of.  Just a teeny yellow one, but I'm counting it because I just about LOVE fall.  And that little boy who's back at school again.  I sent him off with a bag of clean laundry and a packet of home made cookies because he misses his Mama.  Not really, but I can dream.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Great Restoration!

It's campaign season here at Wellington. And in a small town that means two people have come knocking at my door handing out flyers. One candidate for mayor was on a Segue (ha!).  The second candidate sent a representative.  When The Dot answered, thinking it was a friend she had been expecting, the woman said, "Great Restoration!" She thought Wellington was an older home that had been beautifully restored! Is that fabulous? YES! That's just what we were going for. Not really, we just like gardening. The architect did everything else. Don't tell.