Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bridges, Bridges, and More Bridges

So Saturday I did a 70-mile 5bbc ride that went over 26 bridges. The purple thing is an approximate map. I bailed out at the G.W. 'cause I had to ride home, shower and get up to the Bronx for Princess Bianca's birthday party by 5.

Here's the list of bridges we crossed:
Brooklyn Bridge
Union St. Bridge
9th St. Bridge
Carroll Ave. Bridge
3rd St. Bridge
Manhattan Bridge
Williamsburg Bridge
Pulaski Bridge
Roosevelt Island Bridge
Roosevelt Island Bridge again
Queensborough Bridge
63rd St. Pedestrian Bridge
Ward's Island Pedestrian Bridge
Unknown Ward's Island Pedestrian Bridge
Triborough Bridge
Willis Ave. Bridge
Third Ave. Bridge
Madison Ave. Bridge
145th St. Bridge
Macombs Dam Bridge
Inwood Park pedestrian Bridge
Henry Hudson Bridge
Broadway Bridge
University Ave. Bridge
Washington Bridge

(Then the Brooklyn again on the way home)

Ta Daa!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

If only it were so easy

It's in the fine print.
I was gonna say 'nuff said about this one, but there's something more to it - what if you could change your gender for 13.99 at Best Buy and a little bit of fussing with one of those little screwdrivers?

Monday, May 21, 2007


I rode the 5BBC Montauk Century yesterday. It was fun! I was up at 2:30 in the morning to get to Penn Station on time, so it better have been! I forgot to take any pictures, so I drew one. I've been out to Montauk before, and the "LUNCH" place in Amagansett is the first real landmark. I got such a second wind when I started recognizing stuff and pushing to the end.

Also near the end, atop one of the rolly hills, when I found my eyes suddenly stinging with sweat, I was wobbling and about to pull over to the side to catch my breath, when somebody behind me yelled, "Hey! You can do it! The faster you go down this one the faster you'll go up the next!" I shifted up and pushed down the hill as hard as I could, suddenly feeling my pace come back and shouting, "Wheeeee!"
Thank you, mystery lady! You totally made my day.

Pretty bikes I saw en route - a Custard Kogswell, a baby blue Kirk, and a lovely brown Vanilla.

Friday, May 18, 2007

How can something so wrong feel so right?

Here's some snaps of my hacked Raleigh Record. I call it my Raleigh Wrong. I picked up the bike for ten bucks from the Community Cycling Center in Portland, where I learned to wrench (Hi Paul and Rich, if you're out there!), thinking it'd make a sweet fixie that was just short enough to fit me. From the decals and with the help of RetroRaleighs, I think the frame's from around 1962. Me minus twelve! The frame had obviously spent too much time outside - when I started to overhaul it, the seat tube was literally full of dead bees.

So I rode home, happily oblivious to the numerous compatibility issues of updating old Raleighs with more recent parts. The bottom bracket and headset use a different thread pitch, for one. For two, the wheels were some odd "juvie" size (not 650B, cross my heart), and had had their inner tubes replaced with blobs of solid rubber. The fork took a 90mm hub instead of the now-universal 100. So the part-swapping began... Three forks, two stems, much hacksawing, cussing, and JB welding (and many happy rides) later, here 'tis.

The long story:

I crammed a 700 wheel on the back by hacksawing the ends off the dropouts, hacking off the existing brake bridge and JB Weld-ing on a new one. I switched out the front fork for a standard 700, but kept kicking the front wheel due to pedal-toe-overlap issues. So I installed a (gasp!) carbon 650C front fork i picked up off ebay and built up a 650C wheel (Shimano XT hub, Alex rim) to go with it. I built a "matching" rear wheel lacing a Kogswell rear to an Alex 700c rim, but that got stolen, so now I'm back to the old Quando/MA3 wheel off my first fixie.

To any i-bobs, fork re-rakers or bike geo-meters tuning in: The Raleigh Record has the slackest head tube angle I've ever ridden. Before the front-end swap, the ride was totally stable no-hands, but really floppy at low speeds. Switching to 650C effectively pointed the front of the bike down 2.5 cm and steepened the head-tube angle somewhat. The result - still stable, but much more maneuverable in urban (i.e. swerving up to the light between idling taxis) situations - not to mention no longer kicking the front wheel and crashing to earth while attempting to track-stand. In short - now it's better suited for how I use it.

The other parts and gizmos:
Stronglight 93 double cranks, single-ized (44/18 gearing)
Brooks pro saddle
Nitto bullhorn bars, cork-taped on top, hockey-taped at the ends
Shimano UN-73 bottom bracket with Phil retaining rings (see Sheldon's article for the whys and wherefores)
Wellgo pinned BMX pedals - no retention
Ritchey Logic headset
Shimano 600 brake levers, one of which goes to a Reich PowerBell-BRRRRING!
Ortleib bar bag
reflectors galore

Also check out my flowery chain - It's an Abus I picked up during the Kryptonite recall - the original nylon chain-cover wore out, so I quilted myself a new one. I know I shouldn't ride with my lock around my waist, but I do, so it might as well be pretty!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

And now for the sweet stuff

as promised, here are the recipes for the sweets from last Saturday's Fancy Garden Party.

Ginger Pistachio Scones with Rose Petal Buttercream Frosting
The Scones:
C all-purpose flour
C whole wheat flour
2 Tbl baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbl cold unsalted butter
3 Tbl sugar
1/4 C chopped candied ginger
3 Tbl chopped toasted pistachios
1/2 C cream
1 egg
cut butter into flour; mix in other dry ingredients; mix wet ingredients and add to dry. Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes; cool on a wire rack.

The Frosting:
stick of butter (room temp)
2 C powdered sugar
1/4 C rose petal jelly
cream butter with sugar, add jelly and keep stirring. Yum!

Poppy Cake
1 C milk
3/4 C poppy seeds
1/2 C sour cream
Tbl vanilla
2 Tbl lemon juice
2 sticks butter
1 1/3 C sugar
3 eggs
2 C flour
Tbl baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
bring poppyseeds to a boil in milk - remove from heat and cool 15 minutes. add sour cream, vanilla, and lemon juice. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. beat in the eggs. Add flour and poppyseeds t the creamed butter. Bake at 350 in a bundt pan until knife comes out clean, about 45 minutes (if doing cupcakes, start checking after 15)

The Allium Snatcher Strikes Again!

This morning the second purple puff-ball out of my little stand of 5 alliums had been snipped by a passerby. Yargh. Here's a couple snaps before she nicks the remaining three. Note the stumps in the foreground.
Mary down the block has a great story from after she first bought her house. Outside space! she cried, and merrily started digging to re-plant one of her bushes where it would have more room to spread out. Only she couldn't dig it up - it was chained into the ground! Ah, Brooklyn!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spread this on a shoe

Here are the recipes for the tea sandwiches I made for the Fancy Garden Party this weekend. As Meghan pointed out, you could spread this stuff on a shoe and it would be delicious. On thinly sliced bread with the crusts cut off, they're tres fancy to boot.

Radish Sandwiches
1 cup minced radishes
tsp poppy seeds
C cream cheese
3/4 tsp salt
arugula leaves
8 slices of bread, buttered on one side
mix together the radishes, poppy, cream cheese and salt. spread radish mixture on buttered bread and top with a few arugula leaves

Cucumber-Mint Sandwiches
1/4 C chopped mint leaves
1/4 C unsalted butter
1/4 C cream cheese
1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced, patted try between paper towels
good white bread
mix together butter, cream cheese, and mint, and spread on bottom slice of bread. arrange cukes on top.

Vidalia Sandwiches
1/3 cup mayo
1/2 C minced fresh parsley, divided
2 T minced fresh tarragon
fresh lemon juice to taste
tabasco to taste
Vidalia onion, sliced really thin
mix together mayo, half the parsley, tarragon, lemon, and tabasco. spread on both sides of the bread, with the vidalia in the middle. cut off the crusts, butter an edge of the sandwich, and dip in the reserved parsley. very fancy presentation, and surprisingly delicious.

Goat Cheese-Watercress Sandwiches
2 logs soft goat cheese
1/2 C chopped watercress
salt to taste
3/4 C finely chopped toasted pecans
mix goat cheese, cress and salt. spread on bread and assemble sandwiches. cut off the crusts, butter sides of sandwich and dip in pecans to coat.

Smoked Salmon Sandwiches
8 oz. package smoked salmon
stick butter
1/4 C cream cheese
Tbl grated ginger
Tbl lime juice
3 Tbl chopped fresh cilantro
tsp salt
mix up the butter, cream cheese, ginger, lime juice, cilantro and salt. spread all slices of the bread with the mixture, and put salmon in the middle.

Celery-Walnut Sandwiches
1 C cream cheese
1/2 C celery
1/2 C chopped toasted walnuts
whole wheat bread
you get the idea.

Watercress Sandwiches
1/2 C chopped watercress
1/4 C chopped parsley
2 Tbl chopped chives
1/4 C butter
1/2 C cream cheese
salt & pepper to taste
mix it all up. spread it on bread. cut off the crusts. yummy.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

the view from Travis avenue

Does this count as New York City? This snap of the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge was taken last summer off a little bridge on Travis Avenue in Staten Island. Why doesn't that hill in the background have any trees on it? Because it's the dump.

Knitted Uterus!

here are some snaps of the model uterus I knitted for Shana last X-mas. She's a doula to the stars and a midwife-in-training, so when I stumbled on the pattern on Knitty.com I thought immediately of her... the big snap is the uterus at large in the front yard - the little one is en scene inside the vinyl pelvis atop her dresser...

related, kinda:
Kiki Smith

The Clothespin Fence

From January to March, I covered my side-yard fence with approximately 4,874 wooden clothespins.

To do this, I completely cleaned out three 99 cent stores in my neighborhood, then I found a 99 cent superstore up on Church Avenue that finished the job. To answer the question the men-folk ask: this cost about seventy-five dollars.

I like it because:

it works as an ideal privacy fence - our little plot is right by the sidewalk - walking by at a regular pace, you can't see through ... stopping and looking straight on (second snap with flowering caraway in front), you see right through

sun and wind goes right through, and it makes a really pretty pattern on the sidewalk in the morning (the sun is behind the fence in the a.m., on it in the p.m.)

it is approximately impossible to steal.

It will weather really quickly, and be covered with sweet pea and morning glory pods by the end of the fall - I love the wabi-sabi aspect of it, in the sense of "the mystery of rust."

Also it was a hella OCD thing to assemble (if you look closely there's a striped pattern - two clothespins on one vertical, one on the next), yet it comes together as a whole that's really shaggy and kind of taken-for-granted in the landscape.

I was thinking of Shinto when I made it - I think there's a spirit in this tree, so let's stick a paper garland on it and ring bells and make wishes... That carried through somehow - a few folks at my Fancy Garden Party yesterday called it the Wailing Wall of Ditmas Park - clip your prayers hereto.

Somehow related, but not really: your FenceMaster