Archive for the 'Everything Else' Category

New Book About Design Research

Design Research Building in Cambridge

Design Research Building in Cambridge

Today’s Boston Globe has an excellent article about a new book about Design Research, the innovative store that opened in Harvard Square in Cambridge, by Jane Thompson, wife of the store’s founder, architect Ben Thompson.

The newly published book, Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern American Living to American Homes,  is written by Jane Thompson and architectural historian, Alexandra Lange. According to the Boston Globe article it is packed with photos of people and products that were sold in the store.  

 

Design Research History Exhibit in Harvard Square Last Year

Design Research History Exhibit in Harvard Square Last Year - Click for a larger view

I knew that the store was originally further down Brattle Street but wasn’t sure just where until seeing the Globe photo of 57 Brattle Street, the original Design Research location.

 

Crate and Barrel, with wares that clearly were influenced by Design Research, occupied the iconic Harvard Square building for many years.  The store was briefly used to display Design Research memorabilia last year – it almost seemed a tease of sorts to many who hoped that somehow the store would be resurrected.  But as the Globe reports, an Anthropologie store is due to open in the D/R building later this year. 

 

The new book about Design Research, Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern American Living to American Homes is published by Chronicle Books and available at local bookstores.

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Fire Ants In Cambridge

In the middle of this summer’s drought it feels like the desert around here.  But maybe it’s the jungle.  Turns out we’ve got fire ants in Cambridge.  How weird is that?

Fire Ants In The Hot City

Fire Ants In The Hot City

The City of Cambridge website has an alert about the fire ants recently discovered in North Cambridge in Danehy Park and several Bellis Circle yards.  These are European Fire Ants – thought to have been brought to Cambridge in plants from Maine.

The Cambridge Chronicle reported today on efforts to eradicate the fire ants which, according to one homeowner who has colonies in his backyard, will “crawl up your legs and bite you” if you venture near them.  Eeek!!

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Cambridge Hawks on Concord Ave

Two Ca,bridge Hawks

Two Cambridge Hawks

Cambridge Hawks on Concord Ave   Lately one of my favorite things to do when I leave my Coldwell Banker office is to look up at the steeple on St. Peter’s Church on Concord Ave.

There’s a good view of the steeple from  our front door. 

A couple of months ago I spotted a hawk on the steeple.  But better yet – now there are often two hawks sitting on opposite sides of the cross.

My theory is that these are two hawk siblings from the hawks’ nest on Alewife Brook Parkway that caused such a stir earlier this year.  Why else would a hawk allow another on its perch?

I’m happy they’re together and have found a new hangout. 

I figure they can see me as they keep watch over the neighborhood so I sometimes give a little wave.

 

church with hawks

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Medford – Somerville Marker

Medford Somerville Boundary Marker Near Tufts

Medford - Somerville Boundary Marker Near Tufts

Medford – Somerville Marker  Often, when I drive up Curtis Street (or is it Winthrop?) I find myself wondering where the Medford-Somerville line is.

How many times did I drive past this granite post before realizing what is was? 

On one side is carved an “M” for Medford – on the other an “S” for Somerville.  Here is the line.

But what’s the “14” carved on the side between the two?

The answer can be found in a 1915 issue of the Medford Historical Register.  Turns out there are – or were – some 30 of these numbered granite posts, marking the boundaries of Medford.   City law requires that municipal officials walk the boundaries – the “metes and bounds”  – every five years.

The article describes a series of photographs of the granite markers, taken during a survey of Medford’s boundaries in 1888. I would love to see the photographs – perhaps the city has them or the Historical Society.  What a perfect way to compare the city – then and now.

I’m going to be on the lookout for the other 29 granite posts.  Let me know if you’ve seen them.

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Website Wednesday – Hippie Kitchens

But where are the hippies?

It can't be a Hippy Kitchen without any hippies

Website Wednesday: Hippie Kitchens  

Getting a little burnt out on granite and stainless steel kitchens? 

I’ve found the perfect antidote:

Hippy Kitchens is an amazing photoblog of 1960s – 1970s kitchens.  I’ll confess to looking at all 45 pages of photos on my first go-through.

Nothing fancy in these kitchens.  Lots of happy people.  Lots of funky kitchens.

Just take a look at all those meals getting cooked without benefit of the newest and shiniest kitchen gizmos.

Makes me nostalgic for the 1970s. 

 

PS: the Hippy Kitchens website is sometimes a little funky but keep fiddling with the links and it should work for you.

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Treegator – Watering Solution for Cambridge Street Trees

Treegator Bag Waters Cambridge Street Tree

Treegator Bag Waters Cambridge Street Tree

Treegator – Watering Solution for Cambridge Street Trees and Your Trees   It’s so dry out this year that you really need to pay extra attention to your yard and to the trees on the street by your house.

Transplanting a tree is not an inexpensive endeavor.  It’s an investment in time and money.  Time in the sense that it takes years for  a tree to mature – so start that clock!  You don’t want to be back to go two or three years down the road.

It’s sad and frustrating to see city trees that die after a season or two.  Too often the tree are planted but then not given the care they need to survive the critical early days and years after transplanting.

One solution that I’ve spotted around Cambridge and Somerville is the Treegator bag.  It’s a simple solution for watering – not drowning – newly planted trees.  A newly planted bush or tree will really benefit from a  Treegator bag.  Odd looking but effective from everything I’ve read.

My street trees don’t have Treegator bags so I bought a bucket on wheels.  This reminds me – time to water the trees!

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Watering the Plants

Watering the plants on Newport Road

Watering the plants on Newport Road

Watering the Plants  We spotted this ingenious setup while on our weekly tour of new Cambridge real estate listings today.

Somebody at the Newport Road condos had rigged this up – it’s a camera tripod holding up the hose sprayer.

As we drove around you couldn’t help but notice how parched it is around here – so many of the lawns are brown and flowers, bushes, even the groundcover are  drooping. Time to break out the hoses!  And don’t forget the street trees – with just a small patch of dirt those trees are even thirstier.

I still don’t have a tripod for my camera or my Flip. But if I end up with an extra I’ll put it to work with the landscaping.

Here’s the newly listed Newport Road condo we were looking at (click on the small photo for details):

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Losing Our Cool

Losing Our Cool by Stan Cox

Losing Our Cool by Stan Cox

Losing Our Cool by Stan Cox.  The spate of hot weather is really testing my belief that you don’t need air conditioning in Massachusetts.

The weather this year is an aberration.  We’ve had temperatures above normal almost every day since February according to my dad the weather buff.

We won’t be getting air conditioning, however, and my resolve is strengthened by Stan Cox’s new book – Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer).

I just bought the book so can’t give the whole review but believe me – Cox is very persuasive.  We were toying with the idea of getting A/C for the second floor until I heard Stan Cox interviewed on NPR.  My neighbor heard the same segment – and drove back to the store to return the two A/C units in her trunk that she had just purchased.

Losing Our Cool describes the rapid growth in air conditioning – and the Northeast is leading the way – and the impact it is having on the environment and on our energy use.  Bottom line – it’s not sustainable.

Cox advocates traditional cooling methods that pre-date the relatively recent introduction of air conditioning.  Open windows, porches, shades, fans, etc.  I’ll vouch for the difference a small fan blowing directly on me makes – who knew?!

Now if we could bring back vent windows in cars…

 

PS – I can’t resist a mini rant – There is nothing “green” about a building in Massachusetts with air conditioning. It makes me crazy when I see buildings touted as “green” that have central air.

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