The Proud Bricks Of Willow Street

IMG_5011German Village is a brick enclave.  Most of the humble bricks that make up the the houses and streets, however, are sadly and utterly anonymous — simple, ruddy red, generic rectangular blocks made of clay and straw, fired in a kiln, with nothing to tell you where they came from or how they got here.

Except on Willow Street.  On Willow Street, between its intersections with Lazelle and Mohawk, the bricks in the roadway are loud and proud. Their places of manufacture are stamped onto their surfaces, telling of companies that once thrived when America was a land of brick, before it became a land of steel and concrete.  Nelsonville Block.  Zanesville Block.  Athens Block.  Peebles, and Metropolitan Block, of Canton, O.  Trimble.

It’s as if the brickmakers and blockmakers knew that their products were going to Willow Street and decided to do something special.  And it is special.IMG_5013

 

There’s Gold In Them Thar Poop

The members of the American Chemical Society must be very curious people.  For example, a presentation at the most recent national meeting of the ACS addressed the prospects for recovery of gold, silver, copper, vanadium, palladium, and other precious metals that are found in . . . human waste.

According to a BBC report, the ACS presentation concluded, through a study that must have been incredibly disgusting to conduct, that gold is found in waste from American sewage treatment plants at the same levels found in a minimal mineral deposit. A prior study had found that the waste from 1 million Americans includes about $13 million in rare metals, and scientists are evaluating whether an extraction process using certain leaches could be applied to the solid waste produced by waste water treatment plans to see whether the rare metals could be pulled out, presumably cleaned up, and then sold.

The concept of extracting metals from solid waste is similar to the notion of “mining” metals from landfills and waste dumps.  Some experts estimate that landfills contain billions of dollars in metals, if they could just figure out an economical way to separate the metals from the disposable diapers and other vile items that have American landfills filled to the brim.  Already some “landfill mining” operations are underway.

Metals, if improperly disposed of, can be environmentally damaging, so I’m all in favor of any process that results in more complete recycling — even if it means sifting through smelly tons of human waste.  The BBC story about the ACS presentation left unanswered my central question about this issue, however:  how in the world does gold and vanadium get into the human digestive system, and its end product, in the first place?

Walking To The Grocer’s

When Kish and I lived in Washington, D.C. years ago, we walked to the Safeway on Capitol Hill and, later, the Safeway in the Watergate in Foggy Bottom.  Like many other D.C. residents, we had a stand-up metal cart that, when folded out, could comfortably fit two full paper bags of goods, and that was how we carted our food back home.

When we moved to the suburbs of Columbus we kept that cart for a while but never used it, and finally we gave it away to the Salvation Army.  The suburbs are made for cars, not carts, and as the boys grew up, and showed the appetites that boys always have, we needed far more than two bags of groceries, anyway.

Now that we’re back to just the two of us, the idea of walking to the grocer’s, just as we did in our pre-kid days, is appealing — and I wish we still had that cart.  We’ve got a Giant Eagle in one direction and a Kroger in another; both are about 10 blocks away.  Yesterday afternoon I walked to the Kroger to shop.  It reminded me of some of the benefits of walking to the grocer’s.

For one thing, it encourages discipline.  You need to carry home everything you buy using your own muscle power, not horsepower.  This tends to encourage making thoughtful lists and avoiding impulse purchases.  At several points yesterday I weighed whether to buy something, took a look into my basket, and voted no because it probably would put me over the two-bag carrying limit.  You also tend to avoid the heavy and ungainly giant-size options.  The inevitable result is less food around the house at any given point in time . . . and less food going bad.  And, of course, you also get the exercise of walking to the store in the first place, and then the combination walking-carrying exercise on the way back.

My walk to the grocer’s yesterday felt good, and it brought back some memories, too.

Cactus Fail

IMG_5006What happens when you introduce a desert climate plant, like a cactus, to a climate like Columbus, where you are going to get cold, wet winters?

Apparently, this.  It’s an ugly, withered, collapse of a once-proud plant.

All of which reminds me — I’m looking forward to doing some gardening this year, with a new yard, new flower beds, and new challenges.

Cool School

IMG_4992Yesterday I was trying out a few different Columbus library branches and thought I would check out the Franklinton Branch on West Town Street.  On my way there I passed the Avondale School.  Wow, what a building!  And it is still a functioning elementary school.

The Franklinton area where the Avondale School is located is an interesting one, stretching from the other side of the river across from downtown, where Dinin’ Hall is found, to well past Mr. Carmel Hospital.  For years it was a depressed area, and now it’s a transitional area that people are trying to renovate and reenergize.  Franklinton has some interesting areas, some beautiful homes and buildings — like the Avondale School — and some committed neighborhood development organizations.  I root hard for Franklinton.

Sisters

1941351_955763927780741_4444622675154134683_oThe Kishman sisters have been painting the Emerald Isle, well, green.  They’ve visited pubs, driven on the wrong side of the road, and done just about everything you’d want to do in a trip to Ireland.  You can follow their exploits on Heidi’s Facebook page.

Today they’re in Belfast, and tomorrow Dublin.  On the trip they’ve had a chance to reconnect, check out the family homesteads from their Mom’s family, and enjoy the hospitality of the Irish people, who have the reputation of being the friendliest in the world.

I’m glad they are having a good time, but it will be nice to have Kish back at home.

Breakfast At Pistacia Vera

IMG_4978Yesterday morning Russell was heading back to Detroit, so we decided to have breakfast before he hit the road.  We took a short walk to Pistacia Vera.

Pistacia Vera is one of those Columbus eateries you might not have heard about.  I think there’s a reason for that: German Village residents are trying to keep it a secret, because it’s great and they don’t want to have to fight crowds to get a table.

The restaurant has great coffee, lots of very tempting pastry options, and a small menu of breakfast options like quiches, croque monsieur, and muesli and yogurt.  Russell went for the muesli and yogurt, and I got a ham and cheese croissant.  We both ordered cups of Pistacia Ver’a excellent coffee, served Americano-style.

Russell’s greek yogurt was topped with crunchy toasted grains and almond slices and some fresh fruit, and he relished every bite.  My ham and cheese croissant was buttery, light and flaky, and went perfectly with my cup of coffee with a bit of fresh whole milk added.  I think we got the day started off right.

If you haven’t tried Pistacia Vera, you really should.