Thursday, November 29, 2007

fish fry: worst or first?

I'm spinning the comments from the previous post off into a separate post, because it's a theoretical issue rather than having anything to do with compost (although my inner anarchist notes that discussing governments always involves large amounts of compost). Namely, should the city address problems on a worst-come-first-served basis or in a more distributed fashion, working on a selection of bad and not-so-bad problems that cause both a spot of bother for middle-class residents and serious harm for the city's poorest?

Anonymous wrote yesterday, in part:
Sorry for the rant, and I do agree the city has "larger fish to fry" than composters, but it's a start. Shouldn't it be in a city where the average resident would never contemplate a Smith & Hawken composter, that the city actually makes it happen.

I may be taking this post farther than Meg intended, but should we really be arguing for mediocrity? Can this city move forward if it never looks beyond those "few other problems"?

An excellent question (and, Anonymous, you can hijack the comments any time). I see both sides of the issue, to be sure. On one hand, it really is bogus for me to be whining for a composter when babies are being shot on our streets and the median family income is $12,000 below the national median, even though our cost-of-living index is so much higher.

On the other hand, addressing our effete middle-class concerns surely makes Pomona a more attractive place to move for other effete bourgeoisie, who will then get involved and work to improve the town for everybody. I'd also argue that on average, the middle class is less easily intimidated by city hall, so a strong bourgeois presence may agitate toward improved, more transparent city governance.

That class question cuts both ways, it seems to me. Who am I to demand the city buy me a fancy-schmancy Smith & Hawken composter? But then who am I to say that composting is a middle-class issue?

BTW, Anonymous -- and all your anonymous comrades out there (if any)... I would take it as a great favor if you'd end your comments with a pseudonym, just so I know which anonymous poster said what. You don't have to -- keep commenting, in any case -- but it would help build community if we had some name, any name, to attach to a given comment. It would be nice to be able to tell Conan The Librarian apart from Captain Underpants.

Monday, November 26, 2007

compost redux

Several people -- not just Ed in his recent comment -- have expressed Santa Monica envy re the discounted composters. One pal even wondered if he could bribe K into picking up one for him (and then said, "Oh, I guess I oughta return his cds before I ask a favor like that.")

Maybe I'll call up the city tomorrow and see what it would take to get something like that started for Pomona. I gather that it's a special deal with S&H, as a number of municipalities around the country have the exact same pricing structure.

I think we'd absolutely have to have the non-resident boost, since all the Claremonters will be swarming city hall asking for their Smith & Hawkenware. But there are worse things than Pomona earning a reputation as the greenest town in the Pomona Valley -- without going so far as to astroturf public lands. Talk about the tragedy of the commons!

Friday, November 23, 2007

happier than a pig in shit

The Santa Monica city government has a special deal: For $25, city residents can get a fancy-schmancy Smith & Hawken biostack composting unit. The best part of the deal is that for a mere $10 more, non-residents can get one too. So a few weeks ago, K. picked one up for us on his lunch hour.

It was dead easy to put together, and since then we have been getting our compost on quite happily. I feel mildly guilty about having the mow-and-blow guys (whom we inherited from the previous owner), but the fact is, without them, composting would be more of a challenge: We have no trouble collecting the kitchen scraps that can't be used for stock, but raking leaves (read: carbon sources for the compost) is pretty much beyond us. Yeah, we're capable, but it ain't never gonna happen.

But thanks to the mow-and-blow guys, we always have a bin full of leaves and clippings to toss into the compost bin with the eggshells, squash rinds, and limp greens. And when I say "toss," I mean with a shovel and (meager) upper-body strength (yeah, so says the woman who can't lift a hand to rake the yard).

The results have been pretty amazing. In less than a month, all of our kitchen leavings and yard scrapings have generated a pile of stuff that is well on its way to earning its compost certificate. Before I left on my business trip, there was a two-foot-high pile of multicolored gunk, but when I got back, it was only a foot high and all brown, with a pretty consistent texture, smelling vaguely of garden. It's a miracle!

Pretty soon the question is going to be what to do with the compost. We can put some on the roses, and of course my container garden, but I don't see any point to fertilizing the grass. If you need compost, drop us a line!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

one tree, two tree, dead tree, blue tree

I thought K. might wade in to post some Pomoniana while I'm off on a business trip, but I see that I'll have to do it myself (said the Little Red Hen). Three cheers for Marriott's free wireless!

I learned something on this trip: When a fruit tree is dying, it puts out one last enormous crop of fruit before it gives up the ghost, called a "distress crop." The moment I heard this, I knew that was what went on with our plum tree this summer. The guy who was telling me about it said that often the crop is so big, it breaks branches (check), and the fruit, while plenteous, isn't very sweet (check).

Dawn Van Allen pointed out that the tree wasn't long for this world when she was over in September, and now it really shows. One whole portion of the tree is bare and dead, and the gems of crystalized sap that dot the bark are of increasingly-large carat. Once the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving (the first time we will have had the table pulled out to its full length in the new house!) is over, we definitely need to make an appointment with Tracy the Alpinist-Arborist.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pomona, city of mystery

Lincoln Park residents know Crime Corner well: Garey and Alvarado. The Stater Brothers is home to drug-dealers and general no-goodniks; the methadone house draws former sinners that could go off the rails at any moment; and the Auto-Lodge features more peignoir-clad ladies lounging in doorways at mid-day than is quite proper even in a Tennessee Williams play.

Now I've noticed something else -- Avarice to add to the Lust, Sloth, and Gluttony that we pass by every day.

Namely, why is the Philips 66 charging 11¢ more per gallon than any other station? K. -- who takes his motor sports seriously -- hasn't heard anything about P66 being special as gas goes. The station itself is as grubby as you would expect of Crime Corner. And yet self-serve unleaded was $3.37 yesterday.

If it was a front for drug-dealing, I would think the prices would be normal, in order to promote enough honest traffic to cover for the dishonest (à la dry-cleaners and copy shops). I hardly think it's a crypto-bordello, despite all the promising jokes about putting a tiger in your tank (if you're old enough to remember the old Esso ads) -- a gas station doesn't really provide much privacy to get your happy ending on. I just can't figure it out.

Any hypotheses out there? And failing that, any suggestions for how Crime Corner can cover the other three cardinal sins (wrath, envy, and pride, in case you've shaken off your parochial-school training)?

Thursday, November 8, 2007


If you live in SoCal and have a hankering for a composter, the city of Santa Monica is here to help. For $35 ($25 if you actually live in Santa Monica), they'll give you a Smith & Hawken Biostack composting unit. This weekend I had every intention of making my own (after buying a plastic garbage bin and a 1/2" hole bit for the electric drill), but I could spend that time better on other things. Esp. since K volunteered to pick up the composter on his lunch hour.

Today's tasks: Cut down the volunteer ficus tree that is currently where we want the composter to be (Dawn Van Allen recommended taking it down anyway); put together the composter; load her up; and clean off the porch railing where one of the pumpkins has left its rotting spew.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Woo hoo, Fish Fry!

I've been happily following along in David Allen's blog as he explores Pomona's dining possibilities. He just finished singing the praises of the Pomona Fish Market, which sounded like a pretty fun, low-key kinda place.

Meg & I tried cruising by last week, fairly late, only to find the place closed, and the bar next door chock o' block with a bunch of motorcyclists, with bikes lined up and down the road for quite a ways. Cool, but not scratchin' my fried-fish itch.

We headed down Friday at lunchtime, out-of-town guest in tow. The place was nothing fancy, but was reasonably friendly. It took 'em about 10 minutes to fry up our fish to order from the huge front case, and deliver them on plastic plates with plastic forks ("No knives! No knives!").

We had oysters, sand dabs (with bones), and snapper, and it all seemed pretty solid. The breading was really thin corn-meal, which was different from both the fish-fries of my southern youth and my more recent encounters with fish and chips at various pubs. I wonder if it just a tradition from another region? The place had a bunch of references to New Orleans, or perhaps the Asian counter-woman had brought it from some other place...

All in all, it was a fun, cheap lunch.

a shout-out to the Brothers

I could start a whole new blog on grocery-shopping in the West Inland Empire, and I'd have posts for at least a year. I may start a "stations of the cross" series, in which your intrepid shopper takes you to her favorite ethnic grocery stores, one per episode.

But that's for another day. Today, I just want to say: However much they suck in other ways (can you say "bread"?), the Stater Brothers on Garey has a great produce section. Sure, it ain't the farmers' market, but they have a decent selection of organics, and they have both vegetables and fruits that the hoity-toity Claremont stores can't be counted on to have (kale, rhubarb, parsnips...). The produce section is clean and attractive, and there's always an employee there, stacking oranges or whatever. And the prices are lower than at the Foothill and Baseline supermarkets.

I'll still visit the ethnic stations of the cross when I can, and we're now hooked up with Tierra Miguel CSA, but when I need a quick punnet of mushrooms or bunch of tatsoi, the Brothers are there for me.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Beware the Lincoln Park axe-murderer!

I am hereby filing formal notification of intention to become a homicidal maniac. It's not my fault, though: I blame one particular wingman of the squadron of ice cream trucks based at 629 Briggs Ave., Ontario.

The one currently parked in front of our house for a cig break.

The one that hasn't bothered to turn of his @#$%$%$¶§ music.

The one that decided today was a great day to run through his entire repertoire of Christmas music.

I'm going now to ask him to either turn off his music or move along, and if he doesn't comply, I'm going to strangle him with my bare hands, after I pummel him to death with my little gnocchi fists and ram popsicle sticks into his eardrums.

Forget bordellos on wheels (does anyone else think of For the Love of Ivy or is it just me?) -- the real menace is ice cream trucks parking on the streets of our neighborhood and increasing the murder rate!

And I'm only half-kidding, in case you're wondering.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

recycling ethics

K has a post cooling its heels in the "Draft" penalty box, but until he decides it's fit for general consumption, I thought I'd kvetch about something that has been chipping my paint for some time.

If you're an early riser -- and certainly if your desk looks out onto the street and you try to get a little work done in the quiet of early morning -- you have probably noticed the unprepossessing characters wandering from bin to bin, armed with a garbage bag or shopping cart, into which they toss all the recyclables that can be brought in for cash.

I'm of two minds about this. On one hand, rummaging through trash isn't a fun activity, and if these folks are that down on their luck, then I don't begrudge them the 13¢ they net from our recycling (most of which is paper and wine bottles).

On the other hand, the value they scavenge is taken not from us but from the city; our 13¢ presumably offsets the cost of the recycling program. A recycling program that loses more money than necessary is a bad thing, but a recycling program that is shut down because everything of value is plundered in the dim of dawn, that's a tragedy.

Whaddaya think -- should I sit out on the porch like Granny Clampett[1], rocking, chawin' on my corncob pipe, and shooting at the scavengers with my 30-06?

[1] Yes, I know Granny wasn't a Clampett but a Moses. But if I'd said "Granny Moses," you'd have thought I planned to throw paint at them.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

now to clean up all the puke

The pumpkin puke, that is. In addition to the pumpkin with a hatchet in its head, I carved a dyspeptic pumpkin. Not original with me -- our brother-in-law mailed me a photo of a puking pumpkin several years ago, and I've always meant to steal the idea. If Halloween weren't a family holiday, I would have artfully arranged an empty vodka bottle (or ouzo, for an early-autobiographical note...) next to it.

We survived the night pretty well, largely because Mrs. Tiki, Admiral Seamus, and Shhhh came over to help out. Mrs. Tiki brought a tiramisu and a growler of Rogue's Dead Guy Ale, Shhhh brought a bottle of wine, and the admiral brought his mixology A game, so we some some great cocktails to see us through the hordes.

And there were hordes. And more hordes after that. And then a mob, a throng, and a couple of swarms, followed by an onslaught.

We went out for a walk yesterday morning to see the decorations (and these are my two favorites), and we got to talking to a fellow on Lincoln who was putting the final touches on his display. He said he got 800 kids last year -- so we broke out in a run, heading straight for the 99¢ store to get more candy.

In the event, we had enough, but only just. Here's what we started out with (and that's a 10-ream paper box):
and this morning we have about two cups' worth of Tootsie Rolls and a handful of micro-Snickers. At two pieces of candy per person, I'm guessing we had about 300 or 400 visitors.

There were some great costumes -- many bought but some created with a capital C. My favorite, though, was a tiny little girl in a princess outfit... who growled out her "Trick-or-treat!" and "Thank you!" in the scariest voice she could muster. I see a comedian in the making (or else a cultural-studies professor).