Green Rascal Design

young Nutmeg, before she grew her comb
Nutmeg was always watching the camera.
Nutmeg was usually closest to the camera.
Nutmeg loved to be held and petted.
Nutmeg loved to be in the grass.
I'll miss sweet little Nutmeg.
yesterday's strawberries
We're pretty lazy. Well, we're not super duper lazy, I mean we did go out and pick these strawberries, put them in a bowl and take a couple photographs of them. But compared to the amount of work you think it takes to get this many strawberries we are really lazy. Why does this work for us? We work with nature instead of against it. Nature wants to be a forest? Well we'll give it a forest. The strawberry patch certainly meets the criteria of a strawberry forest. It's thick/dense. We planted the little plants 2 years ago with only about a foot between each plant - probably much closer than the "recommended" spacing. In fact, I'd say the recommended spacing is almost always wrong unless you're a real farmer. In that case you're not reading this blog, haha. No, if you're just trying to grow a couple hundred dollars of strawberries go ahead and plant them real close. The plants will help each other out - strength in numbers and moisture control. Do we have bugs? Heck yeah we have bugs. But there are soooooooo many strawberries that the bugs can't eat them all. And we do try to keep the bug population down by piling grass on the side of the gardens for the slugs/ground snails to eat instead of our precious plants... but we're not out there killing ourselves over the bugs and weeds.

red currants
We're patient. This currant bush was planted 2 years ago also, and we haven't put a bunch of fertilizer on it to make it grow real fast and produce fruit the first year. It's still very small, but it's totally natural. The only thing that might be of concern to me is it's proximity to our neighbors and their questionable lawn-care practices. (their weed killer might run into our yard in a heavy rain) Some things we planted our first year here are still not bearing any fruit. And that's okay. Surprisingly many of our other new tiny bushes are bearing fruit in the same year. True, it's only a couple berries here and there, but it's still amazing how rewarding patience can be.

our first kiwis?
our first lingonberries!
our first blueberries?
rose hips this year?
amazing mulberries!
And that's just the berries! Never mind the leafy greens, herbs and vegetables.

Ok, it's true that we did dig the holes and put the plants in, and put some mulch around most of them. But is that really so much work for years of free, virtually organically grown berries?

You can do it!
I've been contemplating doing venue reviews for a while now, and wanted to start the series off with a place I feel pretty strongly about. The Field House, for those not in Philadelphia, is a popular bar in a very convenient spot next to the convention center downtown. It's also a horrible place for a networking event. Architecturally speaking, of course.

First are the acoustics. There aren't any soft surfaces in the whole place, so there is nothing to absorb all the sound of a networking event, much less the raucous sport-watching regulars around the bar. The ceilings are very high on the main level, and it's an industrial building. So the chatter bounces all around up there and comes back down as incomprehensible noise. Upstairs, where the actual networking events are held (at least the ones I've been to), there aren't any walls to protect the area from whatever noise emanates from downstairs. So there is no escaping the awful acoustics.

Then there is the layout. I've only been to networking events upstairs. Less organized events are sometimes held downstairs, I seem to recall from passing by one on my way upstairs once. The layout upstairs is terrible. The stairs are too narrow for two people to pass by, which when you have a networking event with 50 or so people attending is kinda a pain. The bar is thankfully easy to find because it's right at the top of the stairs. Usually the check-in table is on the other side to the stairway, which creates a huge traffic jam between the people coming and the people trying to get to the bar from the far left.

Generally the open space upstairs is not very open. There is the aforementioned far left area behind where the check-in table usually is. It's a kind of no-man's-land you can't really get to without considerable difficulty because of all the people standing around the check-in table. There is a bar-like obstacle stretching from the structural column next to the check-in table to the back wall. You can go under it if you don't mind looking completely unprofessional, or in an emergency. Then there is the main space. It's not really that big, but as the most accessible space, and the space with most of the high-top tables and stools, it's where most people congregate. This gets very crowded because nobody can get out of there once they're inside. I mean, getting to the far left I already explained is very difficult, and going the other direction is also quite difficult. The bar takes up most of the space in front of this main area, and like most open bars, the lines get quite long at the bar. Then there is a far-right area. This space is dark and scary. There aren't many tables or seats, and you can't order from this end of the bar, so there's really no point to going back there. Even if you wanted to it might be impossible with the bar lines blocking the narrow passage from the main space to the far right. There is a wall corner inconveniently located perpendicularly to the corner of the bar here. The only benefit of this far right area is that it's generally cooler than the other areas because it's not so crowded. But once you go back there, you either won't be able to go back to the main area or won't want to.

Now, I'm sure that visiting the Field House in any other capacity is much more enjoyable. The management can't help inheriting this space. And networking groups can't help but be drawn to the drink specials, which are pretty good, and awesome location that's so close to public transportation. I haven't had the food there, but I'm sure it's perfectly fine. The staff is nice. I hate to say it's a terrible place for a networking event, but that's my opinion. Go there for dinner sometime, with like 4 friends (max). Don't go there for a networking event.
I've given it a lot of thought, and I think the Weisman Art Museum was the main inspiration for me to think about studying architecture.

You might know that it was the first of Ghery's signature style - made famous by his Bilbao museum. The Weisman as it is now was conceived on a napkin as a reflection of the Mississippi River, which it neighbors. It's part of my alma mater, the University of Minnesota. And it has a prominent position on one of the University's busiest streets and pedestrian thoroughfares.

When the museum first opened in 1993 my dad took me there. I don't know why, but he was always dragging me to stuff at the U. I liked the art. The architecture was way more interesting, though. Not only the architecture, but the whole experience the museum created with their fantastic lighting, the views and the crowds of the opening. It's a cool building. I'm happy to have been able to see it so many times as a student at the U - when I was already a dedicated architecture student a few years after going to the opening with my dad.

I'm not a huge fan of that particular style. It's kinda funny. But the Weisman gets people talking, and talking, and talking. fighting really. Good, bad or indifferent, everybody has an opinion. It has a tremendous impact on people. And that's what I think I liked about architecture. I wanted to do something impactful.

Shaping our surroundings seemed like a fun and worthy cause. Whether the buildings which at a young age inspired me to study architecture are green or not, I think the curiosity they piqued is valuable. Often I see an architectural phenomenon such as a series of little countryside homes all built almost the same and wonder what it is about that shape that makes it so ideal as to practically dominate the area. Or how'd they get all that stuff into that tiny little building? Or what makes this office work when that office does not?

Or why would you design a museum with those little curvy walls??? (hey, at least the floor is horizontal!) I like the way the Weisman makes use of it's odd little spaces, unapologetically. Why waste time apologizing? lol
Most Mondays for the past month I've been volunteering at a local greenhouse/park where they start and grow native plants (mostly flowers) for Whitemarsh township. At first I had a hard time convincing myself I had time for it, but now when I miss a day (like today) I feel bad about it.

Briefly, today is unique because we just received our new water heater, and we had to call in my friends from Lite Movers to get it into the house before the rain came. And of course they were a little busy and didn't get here as early as I'd hoped... but it was still a very good investment in professional assistance.

Anyway, every week for a couple hours I go and transplant seedlings and small plants or weed their gardens. (yes, I actually do some weeding - I know, I know) If you have read about our garden at all, you know I'm not all that into flowers. But every time I volunteer they give me a plant to take home. And they're always native species, so even though they're mostly flowers I gladly take them and put them in the little flower space in front of the house. The neighbors will probably appreciate them. Native plants are the best kind of free plants to get because they take like no work if you put them in the right spot.

The other volunteers and the coordinator are wonderful amazing people, and we always have a good time chatting (or not!) while we're working away. And I'm very happy to be involved with my local community more!

If you find yourself with 2 free hours a week, go find a place to serve others. You'll be so happy you did.
Dear Networking Event Planners;

Why do you insist on having your events all on the same night, at the same time??? I might be awesome, but can't be at 3 different things at one time. You might consider spreading things out a bit... you know, go networking with other networking event planners and discuss your schedules with each other so that you all can get more attendees.

In the future I am going to be MUCH pickier about the events I choose to attend... something to think about.

Thank you,