Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Few Things I've Learned This Summer

There's nothing happier than a dog on a beach.

Fig newtons do figs absolutely no justice.

When chickens are hot, they breathe through their mouths. As Pearl and Maude demonstrate here, it makes them look like they're singing heavy metal ballads.

The key to making it rain for the first time in weeks is to leave your laundry on the line over night.

Even vintage appliances are put to work in dire circumstances.

Cat tails are edible. For reals!

It's pretty great being me. Thanks, summer.

Lane Community Project Review

It's been a couple of weeks now since the term ended, but I wanted to do a quick post on my final review project. We're still working all by hand at this point, so I decided to try out an unfamiliar medium to get me out of my comfort zone a little. I went for water color pencils, which were a lot of fun, although the water left the velum (a kind of thick trace paper we were required to render on) a bit wrinkled. The final presentation was also much larger format for this project, and our time line was much shorter, so we got to bond as a class over some late night (all night?) "coloring" sessions.

In a nutshell, our challenge was to re-invent the entrance to Lane Community College (which is just outside Eugene in a wooded/agricultural setting) in a way that would emphasize the school's commitment to green technology, while also tying the site to the wetlands just across the street (the site itself used to be wetlands). Seeing as it currently consists of three sewage settling ponds, there was really no where to go but up. Here's what it looks like now:

And *here*, is the site plan for (dum da da DUM!) the Lane Community Sustainable Farm and Water Garden! (applause)

I decided to concentrate on sustainable agriculture as a viable "green" industry that's currently gaining a lot of momentum. (Also, I really like farms. So there.) As you can see in the diagram below, I designed in booths for a farmers market, and a building with pasture space for an ethical animal husbandry center. My esteemed cohort Ethan Rainwater suggested jokingly that it could use a petting zoo, so I threw in an area where people could check out some ambassador animals. That meant I got to draw a little sheep!

If you squint and look close, you can see I also thought up excuses to draw tiny cows, plus a duck and a fish, not to mention the little pin-headed people. (Moving on...) The Water Garden component of the plan includes an area of oak savannah (which is consistent with the native area, see below), that transitions into a pond with a wildlife island in the center. Water enters the pond from Russell Creek, and the new sewage treatment facility. Nature trails wind through the site and connect via bridge to the wetlands across 30th street, as well as to the center of campus. This is my first attempt at drawing oak trees. What do you think?:

My presentation also included some simple water flow, traffic, and partí diagrams, but they're less interesting to look at. I can bore you with them next time I see you. Here's a blurry shot of me doing my dog and pony show for one of my reviewers:

He had just finished giving a scathing review to one of my talented classmates, so I was a tad nervous. Thankfully, aside from telling me my bridge was "weak," he was largely complimentary. Take that, first term! I think it's safe to say that I didn't go down as the first grad student in the program to "no pass" their first term summer classes. Chest bumps all around, my friends.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Take

Check out my bountiful take from today's volunteer work at the urban farm!

I got onions, a big green zucchini (that is destined to be zucchini apple bread tonight), yellow zucchini squash, a pitty-pat squash, chard, two types of lettuce, cauliflower, and four types of long beans! Whew. Those are some eggs our ladies made back there, too. I used the butter lettuce to make a nice green salad to go with my egg scramble lunch.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Urban Farm

I showed up to work at the urban farm on campus on Saturday, and no one was there. The light was nice and overcast, so I took the opportunity to take a few photos. Can you tell I love raspberries and I'm fascinated with bees?

The best part of working on the urban farm is getting to take home free produce afterward. And sampling the berries while you work.

My First Site Plan

I'm a little too brain fried to compose a decent post about this right now, but here's a quick shot of my very first site plan! It's a conceptual re-design of a sadly neglected playground the university owns. I presented my plan twice, first to the head of the department, and second to a local practicing landscape architect. They both had some valuable criticism to give, and pointed out many details I wouldn't have even considered. I definitely have a lot to learn. They also had a bunch of nice things to say, so I think overall it went as well as could be expected for my first time out. Chest bumps all around!

Here are a couple of shots of earlier models that were part of the design process:

Tomorrow we're going on a field trip to Portland to check out innovative landscape sites (mostly parks) around the west side of town. I'm already familiar with most of them, so it'll be interesting to see what our professor has to say about them. More importantly, I'm going to stick around town for Friday, too, and try to wrangle myself into the schedules of at least a few of the people I miss. Watch out, Stumptown! I'm on the loose.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

New Digs

Ok, here it is, the Eugene house tour I promised. Here we are, entering through the front porch. Stalkers, take note of my house number. I'll leave it up to you to figure out the street name.

The entryway leads into the living room, with our newest thrift store steal, the little brown couch. Wilder was sadly couchless for the first week or so we were here. He's making up for lost couch time now.

Here's the rest of the living room, as seen from the hallway.

That blindingly bright corner in the photo is our breakfast nook, completed by our other fortunate thrift store find, the little round table. What with limited space issues, this is currently our only indoor eating space. The weather has been so nice, though, we've been eating a lot of dinners out in the back yard on the patio furniture. Summer is so great!

The hall leads to my room. (As well as the bathroom and the other bedroom.) Before we moved in, the landlord offered to paint it, so I picked out the same colors I had in my room in Portland. It's comforting when I'm feeling a little homesick. Aw.

Back through the living room, we head into the kitchen.

We're still working on this room. I think we're gonna get a table that fits over Wilder's crate so we can have more counter space.

And now for the best part... the back yard! The kitchen leads to a laundry room we share with the tenants who live in the two studio units back here. The little structure to the right is the coop for Renee's chickens. She brought "the ladies" down with her from Portland. We get fresh eggs pretty much daily, announced with some cute victory squawking.

Renee also brought this nice big pot of herbs that I use to cook with all the time. If you hadn't noticed, I seriously lucked out roommate-wise.

Our little house is on a double lot that stretches way back from the street. The foot path leads to raised beds and fruit trees, as well as the two studio units that share the lot. Another one of my favorite cohorts from our class is subletting the unit you can see through the trees until the end of the summer term.

Here are a couple of the aforementioned fruit trees. Wilder is modeling the pear tree, which probably won't be ready for harvest until August. The cherry tree, on the other hand, is just finishing its season.

Check out all the cherries! Renee and I climbed up yesterday and picked a big mixing bowl full. I ate some with yogurt, and Renee used to rest to make an amazing cherry-blueberry-strawberry pie.

It's going fast. I had pie for breakfast this morning. So good.

I'd also like to introduce you to Wilder's new guy pals, namely Renee's husband Jay and their retired greyhound Howard. Jay and Howard have made the Eugene transition much easier for Wilder, as they keep him company during the day while I'm at school. As you can see, he has already fallen for their charms.

I have lots to tell you about school, but that will have to wait for the next post. Now, it's bed time.