Sunday, June 14, 2009

Always the Bridesmaid

I had high hopes for my green tomato pie in today's University Heights Chautauqua Pie Contest. Regular readers may remember that in last year's inaugural contest I finished second with my mulberry pie.

I thought green tomato would be a winner. I made sure to put extra flour in the recipe so it wouldn't be runny like last year's mulberry pie was. The crust I made last night was the best I've ever done. Perhaps my downfall was that I forgot to put tin foil around the pie pan to keep the edge of the crust from getting too well done. Maybe using last year's tomatoes, in the basement freezer since last fall, wasn't a good idea, but anyway the result is once again I came in second out of two entries.

And I couldn't be happier for the second place finish, because first place went to youngest daughter. When driving to the store yesterday for baking supplies she asked if she could make a pie, I said "Sure, what kind?" She thought and answered "Cranberry." We bought a bag of frozen cranberries. When we came home I got out two bags of frozen apples, each one just enought for a pie. She read the directions for apple pie, and did all the mixing and measuring. She added half the cranberries to each set of apples and she made "CranApple" pie.

The winner is shown above with her first place ribbon and the wonderful facepainting done by Mary Richard. Mary won the cake contest with an incredible chocolate cake with a gardenia on the top!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

When a Majority Isn't Enough...

The zoning proposal presented to University Heights failed with three people voting in favor and two against. Due to Planning and Zoning voting down the proposal a super majority of four was required for passage. Just to make sure, the opponents turned in petitions making sure a super majority was required. There was an hour of public comment prior to the vote and I got up and gave my three minutes worth.

Counting myself 23 people commented. I was one of seven speaking for the proposal. Then the P&Z chair gave a majority report, then one of two commissioners voting to approve gave a minority report.

The councilors then put a motion on the floor and discussed. Three members spoke for it (we were pretty sure of two out of those three), one spoke against (again not a surprise). The councilor holding the deciding vote passed without discussing anything. He was also the last to vote when the question was called and voted "no." I think the opponents knew all along he would do that in spite of the fact that he seemed to shake his head "yes" whenever anyone speaking in favor was talking.

Today's local paper endorsed the proposal which I took as an ominous sign since many residents have a healthy disdain for Iowa City. My former English and drama teacher wrote a guest opinion opposing the project too. We are still good friends and tonight she asked if I'd be in a benefit variety show for the local homeless shelter. Of course I said "yes."

IF the developer doesn't have a meeting with the university scheduled tomorrow I'd be very surprised. If he announces next week he's dropping the contingencies and buying the property anyway I'll be able to say "told you so."

I promised my neighbor Carl tonight that, given he likely won't be around when we vote in 10 years to dissolve the municipality and become part of Iowa City, I'd personally remind everyone who was opposed to this project that is still alive that we could have avoided this. He was greatly cheered by that.

Not that anyone would want to read it but here is a link to all the correspondance council received on this issue:

University Heights City Council

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Jurassic Bungalow

With the cool spring and regular rainfall the yard is pretty lush this year:

The ferns are now 4 feet tall, the house is nearly as obscured as when we first bought the place. But ferns are much different that trees...

I worked out back this morning for a while and just quickly set, in approximate locations, the bases for the pergola columns:

I really like the salvaged cement block with the stone faces. I told Lisa it will give the pergola "instant age."

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Cascading Beauty

I told Lisa last week that I had decided to not try to remove the limestone from around the pond and cement it all back into place. I thinking about how much more time that would take, and realizing that I need to get going on exterior paint and stain, I'd just have to call the pond good and work on it next year.

So Friday afternoon I bought two pieces of flagstone for the waterfall and started building. All I did was pile up some rocks and hide the hose. I started to fill the pond too. On Saturday morning I finished. Here it is looking up the path from the back porch:



Too close!

Back a little:

Other than the flags the water is running off, all the rocks were either buried in the pool when I dug it out, were on the neighbor's slag heap (the old man was a rock collector, when he passed the adult son said I could take whatever I wanted) or were ones we brought back from the "farm" in Missouri. In picture three above at the top right is a geode from the farm, and top left is a huge chunk of pink quartz with mica right below it from the neighbors. The rock with the holes in it that the water is running under was buried in the pond.

Laurel is responsible for the artistic arrangement of rocks on the lower shelf. She also is patiently waiting with a vase full of tadpoles to add to the pond.