Archive for August, 2008
John McCain has picked Alaska Governor Palin as VP. Rev. BigDumbChimp sums up this news perfectly.
Now, I’m not much of a political expert, but I can’t for the life of me see where this is going. I’ll leave it to the experts at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to explain this one.
Posted by CyberLizard in Uncategorized on August 25, 2008
So, what have you eaten? What won’t you eat? What do you wish you hadn’t eaten?
Here’s my list. Thanks to the Rev. BigDumbChimp for propagating the meme.
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros (not a big egg fan)
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (well, aligator)
6. Black pudding (blood in pudding? My stomach churns at the thought)
7. Cheese fondue
10. Baba ghanoush
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (Chicago and New York)
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns (Wife keeps dragging me to dim sum, yeach!)
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes (Grew some myself this year)
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras (I’m counting it; even though I scraped it off, I still tasted it)
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters (forced to once as a small child. Never again!)
29. Baklava (I married a Greek, how could I not!)
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea (Ahh, to be back in jolly old England)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O (Don’t remind me!)
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (Hot, Fresh, Now! I’m totally stopping by on my way home)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (All of the above!)
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
72. Caviar and blini (No idea what blini is, but fish eggs? I don’t think so!)
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail (My wife had some on a cruise once. I think I took a bite)
79. Lapsang souchong
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef (heavenly)
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam (Fried spam sandwiches on toast, a little mayo, maybe some lettuce and tomato, yummmm!)
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Additions to the list by the Rev. BigDumbChimp
104. whole hog BBQ
105. wine that costs more than $400.00 a bottle
106. Home made bacon and sausage (I’ve had home-made venison sausage)
107. chocolate and chiles
108. chittlins (duplicate of #70; call it a variation on spelling)
109. moonshine (of many different varieties)
110. quail eggs
Only 50 for me. Guess I need to get out there more.
I’ll go ahead and add a few:
All right, that’s probably a little extreme. You may remember that I received a violation notice from my neighborhood’s homeowners association. After my initial anti-authoritarian streak calmed down and I was able to think rationally, I decided to respond in a more logical, thoughtful manner. Here is the content of my reply letter. It will only be a battle if they choose to make it one.
Dear Board of Directors:
This letter is in response to the Notice of Violation dated July 22, 2008. We apologize for the delay in responding. Our physical mail does not get checked anywhere near as frequently as the electronic version. The Notice received is regarding a vegetable garden. We are assuming that it is referring to Article IX, Section14 of the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCR), since there is no mention of the specific rule violated in the Notice.
The presence of a vegetable garden was not intended to violate the CCR. In fact, we were unaware of any restrictions of this kind. When we purchased the house from the builder, we were never provided with a copy of the CCR. When we subsequently contacted the builder to get a copy, we were instructed to contact Sentry Management. However, this proved fruitless as they simply insisted that we should have been provided a copy and that it would cost us $25 to receive an additional copy. Fortunately, a kind member of the board agreed to provide us with a photocopy. This has allowed us to see exactly what we were violating.
We would like to take this opportunity to argue for the continued existence of our vegetables. According to the violation notice, the rules were “… created to protect and maintain the architectural character, curb appeal and overall value of your community.” The presence of fruits and vegetables growing in our side yard (we have a corner lot) does not detrimentally affect any of these. Obviously there is no impact to the architectural character of the community. As far as curb appeal goes, properly maintained vegetables have no more negative impact than comparable landscaping. In fact, there is a term for this, edible landscaping. Edible landscaping is simply replacing plants that are strictly ornamental with plants that produce food. Document ENH971, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/EP146) provides detailed information on the concept. To quote from the Introduction to this document:
Edible landscaping, simply put, replaces plants that are strictly ornamental with plants that produce food. Edible landscaping will allow you to create a multi-functional landscape that provides returns (fruits, vegetables, etc.) on your investment of water, fertilizer, and time. An edible landscape can be just as attractive as a traditional one; in fact, the colorful fruits and foliage of many edibles are quite beautiful. Here are some additional benefits:
* Improved Taste and Nutrition of Food: Nutrient content and flavor in most plants is highest immediately after harvest. The edible landscape provides fresh foods which can be eaten minutes, rather than days or weeks, after harvest. In addition, many exceptional and flavorful varieties not found at food markets are available to growers of edible landscapes.
* Increased Food Security: An edible landscape reduces your dependence on foreign food sources which have unknown production systems.
* Reduced Food Costs: Certain edibles are highly productive and are more economical to grow at home than to purchase.
* Convenience: Having fruits and vegetables right outside your home may help you add fresher, healthier foods to your diet and makes meal preparation easier.
* Fun and Exercise: Growing your own crops can be rewarding and fun; the exercise you get in the process can help you stay fit.
* Sustainability: Consuming locally grown produce can be an important part of reducing energy inputs and protecting our environment.
As you can see, there are a number of benefits, both for the individual and the community at large.
The economic crisis in our country is well known, as is the fact that food prices are rising at an alarming rate around the world. Also well known is the climate crisis that we all are facing. Home-grown fruits and vegetables provide a much needed cushion against these rising costs. Every little bit that can be produced at home also reduces the amount that must be spent on food that, in some cases, is shipped halfway around the world. There is a growing re-introduction into the concept of home gardening that is happening across the country. More and more communities are realizing the benefits to both individuals and communities by allowing the home garden to be re-incorporated into society.
At one point in our nation’s history, not that long ago, the homes without gardens were in the minority. The home garden was an essential part of family life, socially and economically. During World War II, more than 40% of this country’s food was produced in “victory gardens”. In England, more than 80% of the food came from these gardens. It has only been during the relatively recent expansion of suburbia and the commercialization of the agriculture industry that homes stopped having gardens. Many communities are realizing the importance of locally produced food and the role of the home garden in this.
Perhaps ironically, our neighborhood was built on former celery farms, hence the name “Celery Key”. Agriculture has always been a part of Sanford’s history. We’re not suggesting that our yards should be plowed under to grow crops, but home gardens are certainly not alien to this area. Since we have young children, many neighborhood children have played in our yard. They have all expressed an interest and fascination with the garden. We were stunned to discover that some didn’t even know that tomatoes grew on plants! It has been a delight to participate in the education of our community’s youth and hopefully to instill in them a respect and appreciation for the act of growing food.
From an environmental perspective, our own state government has made efforts to help individuals do their best to participate in alternative energy programs and other methods of reducing our environmental footprint and conserve our precious resources. Florida State Statutes Section 163.04 Energy devices based on renewable resources, specifically, prevents prohibitions on solar energy collectors on roofs and clotheslines for drying clothes, among other things. Home gardening is certainly a viable way to preserve resources and utilize renewable energy. In part, the statute reads:
(2) No deed restrictions, covenants, or similar binding agreements running with the land shall prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting solar collectors, clotheslines, or other energy devices based on renewable resources from being installed on buildings erected on the lots or parcels covered by the deed restrictions, covenants, or binding agreements.
It would certainly be stretching the meaning of this to include growing vegetables, but the spirit of the statute is clear, that the State supports all efforts of conservation and reducing our environmental impact. Home growing of vegetables certainly falls into this category. Many cities around the country are actively promoting the idea of home gardening.
Returning back to the statement that the rules were “… created to protect and maintain the architectural character, curb appeal and overall value of your community.”, there is nothing documented that maintains that home gardens will reduce the “overall value of [our] community”. There are quite clearly many other issues that the housing market is facing that have a much greater impact on our communty’s value than our vegetables. The number of foreclosures are skyrocketing. It seems that every other house in the neighborhood is empty and for sale. Many of these empty homes and lots are beginning to deteriorate.
We appeal to your common sense to realize that the current restrictions of gardens are onerous and that our garden, in particular, should not have to be removed.
If, however, the board is not swayed by these arguments and insists on enforcing the rule as it stands, we request some information so that we may bring our lot into compliance. Article IX, Section 14. Vegetable Gardens. reads: “No vegetable gardens shall be permitted except in fully screened areas in the backyard only, so as not to be visible from the street or objectionable to an adjacent property.” Being that we have a corner lot, the definition of “backyard” is somewhat ambiguous. We would need to know what portion of our property constitutes a “backyard”. In addition, the rule speaks of “fully screened areas”. Other sections of the CCR refer to screening with bushes or shrubs. We assume that this would be the case in this section as well. The specifics of the “screening” would need to be provided to us: what type of bushes are acceptable, what height they should be, where would be an appropriate place for planting so as to be in compliance with this rule. In addition, we would request that additional time beyond the August 1, 2008 deadline be provided, in order for us to bring our lot into compliance.
It is our sincerest wish to be good neighbors and members of the Celery Key community. When we purchased this house, we made the commitment to be here for a very long time. We hope that our appeals make logical sense to you, the members of the board, and we thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
I’ll let you know how they respond.
Posted by CyberLizard in Uncategorized on August 1, 2008
Once again, one of my pictures has been selected to appear on Insect Picture of the Day. The picture’s pretty good, but the writeup totally makes it worthwhile to visit. I’m actually a couple of days behind reporting this. I guess my laziness extends to self-promotion as well as work deadlines and chores.