Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Live and In Person

I saw a bakfiets yesterday. A real, Dutch bakfiets, on the streets of Long Beach by Whaley park.

"But what on God's green earth is a bakfiets?" I hear you cry. Only the coolest euro-hip kid-carrying cargo bike ever! It looks like this.

The one I saw yesterday was carrying a toddler and a baby, and was ridden by a guy named Michael Wolfgang Bauch. I know this because, after stopping him to ask where he got the awesome wheels, he told me that he was a filmmaker. He recently finished a film called "Riding Bikes with the Dutch", which will soon be screening at LACMA. Here's his website:

I told him about my Madsen bucketbike (, and he was kind enough to not scoff at my American wheels, and share my enthusiasm for going car-free for short trips. I think it was the high point of my week. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I didn't Know Birds Could Do That

I've never seen anything like it. A pair of goldfinches (Michaelson assures me that is what they are) wove a nest on the underside of one of our banana tree leaves. I think it incorporates fibers from the leaf itself in order to support the weight.

It gets bounced around by the breezes an awful lot, but hey, maybe birds like that.

I haven't seen the chicks yet, but I can hear them peeping from across the yard when their parents show up with lunch.

Goldfinches aren't supposed to breed in this area, but nobody told this pair. I hope we get to see the chicks when they fledge, and before they fly away. The father has been a real bright spot in the yard. I don't have a photo, but he looks like this:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Spread 'em

I know, it looks like I was trying to make a Transformers birthday theme tree. In reality it is my most recent effort to turn a tree with a relentlessly upright growth habit into a spreading shade tree.

When a tree resists my efforts to prune it into the shape I want, I resort to bending the twig, as it were. Sometimes I tie limbs together, sometimes I bungee cord them to stationary objects. And sometimes I hang things from the branches to weight them down until they conform. K'nex were well suited this time because I needed so many weights, but relatively light ones. Besides, it was easier to pillage the kids' old K'nex bin than drag out a ladder and get down the box of Christmas ornaments. 

Although that would arguably have been prettier.