this or that

Making Mojitos

The following step by step instructions for making mojitos are especially for Dave, my dear housemate from Eroica House, ah, going back some 40 years ago.  I don’t know that we could have gotten our hands on any fresh mint back then.  The only mint I remember was the dried up mint in the Celestial Seasonings teas.  Along with Chamomile and Hibiscus flowers, mint tea was supposed to calm the spirit.  Hippy stuff.  Dave and I were in Providence just recently over Memorial Day weekend, and I’m making good on my promise to give him my recipe for this adult beverage of choice.

Go and pick a bunch of mint leaves from the garden. Mint is like the easiest thing to grow.  Rinse and drain.
Squeeze juice of one lime into each glass.
Place a generous dozen or so leaves in the glass. This is more than twice what most recipes will call for. In this case, you can truly say: If a little is good, More is better. Add 2 teaspoons of granulated white sugar on top of the leaves.
I don’t have a muddler so I’ve been using a Japanese wood pestle, typically used for grinding sesame in a grooved ceramic bowl. The grit from the granulated sugar helps smash the mint leaves and releases a lot of lovely mint flavor.
A view of the wood pestle muddler, the muddled mint in the glass and the various implements for making the drink.
After the mint has been sufficiently muddled, pack the glass with ice and pour a generous jigger of white rum over it and stir.
Add club soda to fill the glass and stir a bit more.  I think I may have overly smashed the mint leaves for Steve’s liking.  He says he doesn’t appreciate the mint leaves getting caught in his teeth, but I don’t mind chewing on them.  To clarify, I wouldn’t mind chewing on the mint leaves, not Steve’s teeth, that is. I would add a mint leaf as garnish, and maybe a straw, but I’m having mixed feelings about plastic straws lately so I’m serving this without.  All in all, I thought that it came out rather tasty, and close enough to the ones at the Aloha Club served in those ultra classy mason jars. Cheers!

SF Chinatown Tour

Eugenia led us on a tour of San Francisco’s Chinatown. We met in front of City College and started out by checking out Chinatown’s “living room,” Portsmouth Square where there’s a monument to the first ever public school in California. Then onto an herbal shop full of mysterious jars full of dried “things,” a visit to a fortune cookie factory and then a delightful tea tasting. So much history and sights to take in and absorb.

San Francisco Chinatown Tour from Cazuma on Vimeo.

A Garden Plan for the Elmhurst Library

Earlier this year, the Friends of Elmhurst Library (FOEL) reviewed a preliminary concept plan for developing the back garden area of the Library.

The plan proposes to create a Reading Circle on the east side of the garden.  The existing semi-circular teak bench would be moved here to anchor the reading circle.  The reading circle would be completed with log bench seating and painted tree stumps.  This area would be paved with decomposed granite which makes it easier to sweep up leaf debris, and will be less muddy during the wet winter months.  The Reading Circle will also have an L-shaped wood arbor along the fence line.

The existing play structure will be moved to the west side of the garden, surrounded by a generous layer of engineered wood fiber (EWF) for safety buffering.

The central part of the garden is where an underground water storage tank would be installed.  The tank will be filled with rainwater from roof and pavement runoff during the winter months and later used to irrigate the planters.  A bicycle powered pump (to be pedaled by kids) would be installed to draw out the water to fill the watering cans.

The image below is a pared down plan that is proposed as a Phase 1 development.

PH1Schematics Phase1Prelim

The plan addresses an ongoing safety concern that has top priority: there is a two to three-inch gap between the edge of the concrete patio and the existing grade.  Kids running off the patio into the back garden are not always aware of the sudden drop-off.

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The FOEL volunteers have tried to mitigate this trip hazard by adding and compacting garden mulch to create a smooth transition, most recently on Earth Day on June 10, 2017.

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A permanent transition ramp would cover the full width of the opening between the two planters, extending 8 feet into the garden area with a gradual slope of 1:12 (1 in drop per foot traveled).  The ramp is constructed as a 3 inch thick concrete slab covered with a 1/2 inch layer of EPDM (colored rubber granules bound with adhesive).

RampX section Drawing2 Layout1 1 annotated

The following is a partial material takeoff, showing the approximate quantity of materials required for construction.

Takeoff Drawing1 Layout1 1

Public Works has been contacted to assess the health of the Pittosporum trees. The tree at the eastern end of the garden, in particular, appears to be in decline (loss of bark on the lower trunk; dry brown leaves).

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Chiye has been in touch with several industry contacts to obtain rough estimates, as well as the possibility of piggybacking on other nearby projects to take advantage of volume discounts and efficiency of scale (e.g. EWF, EPDM installation, etc.)

A preliminary estimate, subject to updates, is here.

Another preliminary estimate based on contractor estimates with prevailing wages, is here (for transition ramp and EWF only)




A visit with my favorite potter

One of my new acquisitions is the small tokkuri (sake server) on the lower shelf next to the large vase.

Isamu Houshido

Isamu Houshido

It took a while for this customer to settle on his selection which he’s proudly holding up for me to see.  He was busy texting and sending images to his friend who had asked him to seek out Isamu for a bowl.

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As usual, Isamu had his collections of three for 3,000 yen, seen here.  I bought one of the small containers with his signature tripod base that would be perfect for planting some grassy moss.

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The other tokkuri that I didn’t get and a lovely tea bowl.

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I also got the large round plate, seen here partially at the bottom of the photo.  It has character.