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Archives for December 10, 2014

Winter Gardening Tips

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Fido as photographer? ‘Pet Cam’ has tips for owners

It used to be enough to take a photo of your pet. But with advances in technology, now the animal can be the photographer, and little Flapdoodle’s owner is relegated to a supporting role.

Chris Keeney, a photographer from San Diego, demonstrates that with his new book, “PetCam: The World Through the Lens of Our Four-Legged Friends” (Princeton Architectural Press).

In it he offers nearly 100 photos taken by animals — dogs, cats, pigs, cows, even Penny the chicken — wearing small cameras. The result is charming and fun. Keeney then tells readers how they can collaborate with their pets on photos.

“I feel that if done right the pet/animal can have their own say in how the pictures turn out,” he explained via email. “I understand that the person attaching the camera has most of the control, but if animals are allowed to roam freely then they become more in control of how the camera captures the images. … The animal will explore what it wants to explore and linger on what interests it, so the photos you get will reflect the animal’s own point of view.”

He suggests low-cost, lightweight cameras for starters, nothing too heavy for the animal. Familiarize yourself with the camera, then get the pet used to it. As for locations, he prefers places where there’s action, such as a busy street with lots of foot traffic, concerts in the park, fairs and festivals, animal costume contests, dog surfing contests, family vacations.

“The most important factor is the safety and comfort of the animal.”


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Williamsburg and Napa Home & Garden launch accessories collection

Williamsburg brand, the licensing division of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and new licensee Napa Home Garden, introduce The Brick Trellis Collection, a group of decorative accents inspired by the gathering places, gardens, and hand-crafted beauty of historic Colonial Williamsburg.

Colonial bench, antique black finish

In the 18th century, the Revolutionary city was a hub of ideas and activity set within a naturally beautiful landscape. This collection reflects the simple elegance of this time and an enduring appreciation for the beauty of the natural world.

A mainstay of The Brick Trellis Collection is the colonial bench in antique black finish. Also available in an antique black finish is a set of two colonial-style lanterns. Spring floral studies in red and yellow, inspired by botanical prints in the foundation’s archives, bring the beauty of nature inside.

A rare garden design book in the Colonial Williamsburg library inspired the garden shed framed prints, black and white images of simple garden objects such as a wheelbarrow and watering can. Rounding out the collection’s garden theme are two different fibreclay planter options. One is inspired by a fretwork gazebo in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area. The other is adorned with a pineapple design, a hallmark Williamsburg symbol of hospitality.

The Brick Trellis Collection also offers a range of sophisticated woodenwares for the kitchen, as well as distinctive home accents. The woodenwares include a set of two striped pantry canisters and coordinating bowl, a checkered tray, several Tavern cutting boards, and utensils. Adding to the unique quality of the collection are the blacksmith and gentry wall clocks, pineapple tuteurs, mirrored wall sconces, and a choice of two different wine racks. Together these products allow customers to bring home a piece of history while enjoying the fine elements we associate with a Napa lifestyle today.

Spring floral studies

“We travel around the world to bring unique products to market, but we discovered an exciting licensing opportunity essentially in our own backyard,” said Napa CEO Jerry Cunningham.

“Our collaboration with Williamsburg brings together two brands that value the simple elegance and sophistication of hand-crafted, authentic American style,” added Napa President and Creative Director KC Cunningham.

“Washington and Jefferson were visionaries who shared a passion for independence, love of great food and wine, and an

Wooden pantry canisters

 appreciation for the natural environment. Our license with Napa Home Garden is all about high quality ‘Trend Meets Tradition’ products for consumers who are as passionate about their home and outdoor living spaces as our forefathers were about theirs,” said Kris Fischer, director of Williamsburg product licensing.

The full collection will be available in spring 2015 at fine home décor retailers nationwide, including Williamsburg at Home in Williamsburg, Va.

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Cultured Austin Home with Exquisite Gardens Lists for $4.5M

Have a nomination for a jaw-dropping listing that would make a mighty fine House of the Day? Get thee to the tipline and send us your suggestions. We’d love to see what you’ve got.

Exterior_Main_house.jpegPhotos by Zac Seewald

Location: Austin, Texas
Price: $4,500,000
The Skinny: One of the coolest residences in Austin is on the market. Built in 1979, the original structure was designed by architect Robert James Coot, and has since been transformed by additions from Paul Lamb in 1988 (the farmhouse style kitchen, outdoor dining area, and lower level guest suite) and Mell Lawrence in 2003 (the expanded master bedroom, the covered second-floor porch, and the first-floor bedroom suite). Broker Laura Gottesman describes the result as “eclectic but elegant,” and speaking of eclectic, as of 2007, it sits across from an almost Brutalist-looking, AIA Austin-approved concrete work studio, also designed by Lawrence. This swell hodgepodge has been listed for $4,500,000 by landscape architect James David, who has lived and worked on it for three decades with his partner, Gary Peese.

In the two acres of surrounding gardens, “terraces linked by limestone steps, landings and garden paths” sit alongside what’s essentially the showroom of David / Peese Design, the landscape architect firm the couple runs together. Their work here has been featured in House Garden, Metropolitan Home, Garden Design, House Beautiful, and most importantly, for our purposes, Martha Stewart’s “field trip” series. Inside, the home has limestone and plaster finishings, and a diverse assemblage of furniture that a tasteful buyer should really try convincing them to part with, collected over the years by the couple behind Austin’s now-shuttered but fondly remembered home decor and gardening store, Gardens.

Click here to view the full photogallery.






· 8 Sugar Creek [Gottesman Residential Real Estate]

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Inaugural hospice garden design winner announced

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Attend an EPA General Plan Workshop Tuesday

On December 9, 2014, East Palo Alto is hosting a General Plan workshop, and invites the community to participate in this important discussion.

The Vista 2035 General Plan Update workshop is on the critical topic of:

TRANSPORTATION PARKING Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 6:30 – 9 pm

Discuss issues including traffic and parking congestion, biking, sidewalks, and transit.

Location: East Palo Alto Senior Center, 560 Bell St.

Childcare and Spanish translation will be available at this workshop, and refreshments will be provided.

Each of the previous General Plan workshops this fall has focused on one or more significant community topics, providing an opportunity for all segments of East Palo Alto’s community to help shape the future of the City. Now, the City invites community members to attend the final workshop of 2014, and contribute their ideas, opinions, and feedback about the General Plan Update. More information about East Palo Alto’s General Plan Update is online at

To help determine how community members feel about various issues facing the City, a short survey is online at and available at workshops. The survey asks about quality of life, priorities for development, top issues facing the City, and more.

Following the December 9 meeting, there will be another workshop in January: On January 8, 2015 at 6:30 pm, community members have the opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics impacting public health and quality of life in the City, including parks and open space, public safety, trees and landscaping, and access to health care and healthy food. That workshop will take place at the East Palo Alto Senior Center, 560 Bell Street.

Community members are encouraged to visit the East Palo Alto General Plan Update webpage at for more information.

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Education news of interest in Central Kentucky: Dec. 9

Local News

Madison County man describes progress toward chemical weapons destruction at Blue Grass Army Depot

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Reynolds: Walkable suburban communities show resilience

Reynolds is an urban design architect who has contributed to some of the biggest projects around the city talks about where he thinks Des Moines is headed.
Andrea Melendez/The Register

Dennis Reynolds designs the elements around a building you can see and touch: the streets, the landscaping, the pedestrian pathways.

As an urban designer, Reynolds said his job — part architect, part city planner — is to make buildings, streets and green spaces work together. His work can be found in Des Moines’ suburbs and the heart of downtown, and from the Middle East to China.

Reynolds’ term as chairman of Des Moines’ Urban Design Review Board expires this month. The board is charged with reviewing the architectural design and financing of developments that receive incentives from the city.

Reynolds moved to Des Moines in 2005 to work for the development company LADCO designing Village of Ponderosa. The ambitious 97-acre development near West Glen in West Des Moines aimed to combine homes, businesses and parks in a dense, walkable community.

After the economic crash, a bank foreclosed on more than half of Ponderosa, and the owners of LADCO declared bankruptcy.

Ponderosa was bought earlier this year by a Houston-based firm called LENL LLC.

Reynolds went on to start his own consulting firm, Reynolds Urban Design. He has since been involved in the design of downtown’s proposed Walnut Street renovation and City Square, the $50 million hotel, apartment and parking garage development in the East Village.

RELATED: Work begins on $49 million East Village development

Earlier in his career, Reynolds helped design the campus for a race car track in Dubai and an Olympic sports park in Nanjing, China.

These days, Reynolds sketches most of his designs in a garage-like studio he built behind his house in Des Moines’ Westwood neighborhood. That’s where Reynolds and I, joined by his dog, Cotton, talked earlier this week.

Q: How do you describe your style of design?

A: It’s eclectic, though I really love the modernist approach that says form is driven by function. It’s a very honest design approach.

Q: What do you think will come of Village of Ponderosa?

A: You know, it’s sitting there with a incredibly strategic location. It’s one of the few opportunities in the metro area to have a truly walkable community that has a mixture of shopping, entertainment and park systems. It has a tremendous framework in terms of the infrastructure and street systems, so I have high hopes for the future. I’m sure something will happen now that the land is in the hand of developers. They’re working on ideas. I’m doing some sketches for them on their buildings.

Q: Do you think it will be developed close to the original plan?

A: Because the greenbelt system is in place — the lakes and the wetlands — and the street system is in place and it’s laid out very well, with a very walkable strategy, I think those types of characteristics will continue to drive it no matter what they put in the vacant land.

Q: Walkable, mixed-use communities in the suburbs like Ponderosa and Prairie Trail in Ankeny have developed slower than expected. Some of that is due to the recession, but do you think those type of dense communities are still viable in the suburbs where people are used to more space?

A: I do. In fact, when you look at those walkable communities, they consistently out-perform more traditional land planning communities in terms of return on a return investment, the rental rates and home prices. The cost to provide services like police and fire is much lower, and the residents are healthier because they walk more. The big challenge is getting them established and building the critical mass so they function the way they’re designed to. Unfortunately, Prairie Trail and Village at Ponderosa came about at absolutely the worst time. They were just getting started, and then the recession hit, but the resiliency is showing now as they’re starting to come back.

Q: I think a lot of downtown residents are torn between staying for the walkability and moving away to have more space for kids or pets. Finding places that offer both seems difficult.

A: That is the big challenge in Des Moines. If you are living in the East Village or around Court Avenue and you want to continue to live like that and own a home, it’s hard to do that. We don’t have many options for that, like townhomes or single-family homes. I think we’ll start to see new construction respond to that same need in areas outside of downtown.

Lydia Van Der Beek of Ames (from left), Bruce Van Der Beek of western Des Moines and Chris Steffens of Clive, eat at a table Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Jason Walsmith of Windsor Heights performs Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Jennifer Greiner of Urbandale (from left) Kirstin Baer-Harding of Johnston, Dawn Zwart of West Des Moines, and Lory Malcolm of Altoona talk at an information booth set up by DART Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Guests get food from vendors Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Matt Frmaro of St. Charles works the grill as he makes food for the Formaro's Stuff stand Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Jim Klucking of south Des Moines (from left), Rusty Beazley of Johnston Brent Highfill of Johnston and Joe Bertram of Ankeny eat and talk Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Guests eat and get food from vendors Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Mary Roth of north Des Moines (from left), talks to Kayla Schmidt Osborn and Theodore, 2, of western Des Moines, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Lindsay Benson of Altoona eats with Kyle Giombi of Newton Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Matt Moore of east Des Moines (left) and Tom Jameson of Pleasant Hill walk in the street Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Karen Ligas of south Des Moines (from left), Shauna Isaac of West Des Moines and Jenny Harmeyer of western Des Moines talk as they eat Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Dereck Lewis of western Des Moines sells Thelma's ice cream sandwiches to Rhonda O'Connor of Clive and Jeff Aldrich of Altoona Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Bailey Bargloff (from left), Keaton Moore, 4, and Kurt Moore, all of western Des Moines, sit and eat Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Guests enjoy lunch Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.Carolyn Vipond and Bill Vipond, both of Ankeny, eat together Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, during Welcome Back to Walnut Street on Walnut Street in Des Moines.

Q: You helped design the city’s plan to overhaul Walnut Street, a plan aimed at creating a pedestrian-friendly retail corridor. Can a streetscape face-lift really attract national retailers like the city hopes?

A: We had a consultant — Robert Gibbs — come in. His numbers really indicate a tremendous need for a retail corridor in downtown Des Moines. What Walnut Street has is some really large street-level floor plates that retailers want, and it has a history of retail and entertainment and now people living there. All those things are starting to come together, so the face-lift is probably the least important of those factors, though it is still important.

Q: What is something around the city that you, as an urban designer, find exciting?

A: Sooner or later something exciting is going to happen with the old Riverfront YMCA site. It’s such a highly visible and important knuckle. It’s almost touching the Civic Center and within a block or two of Court Avenue, the East Village and the Iowa Events Center. It can really be a connector, an anchor point where all those things come together. I don’t think we should underestimate what it can be, because there isn’t going to be another site like that in the city.

RELATED: Waukee officials recognized for Kettlestone

Dennis Reynolds

Job: Owner of Reynolds Urban Design.

Age: 58.

Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics from Wheaton College, master’s in landscape architecture from Kansas State University.

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City park to be landscaped in memory of a friend

Peanut Park, a neighborhood park of less than one acre, will be getting new playground equipment and a bit of a makeover come spring.

Mike Hiel, the owner of Gardenwerks, had proposed landscaping the park in honor of a friend, Margaret Hollow.

She was just a great person who was always interested in education and children, Hiel said. His children were friends of Hollow’s grandchildren, and Hiel knew her for a long time.

The park had been a tract of land whose ownership was uncertain until a couple of years ago when the city conducted an audit of parks, said Amy Teegarden, the city’s parks and recreation director.

Peanut Park had been thought to be school district property, but the audit found that the land is owned by the city.

About three years ago, after Hollow’s death, Hiel approached the school district about a landscaping project.

With the city now aware that it owned the park, he inquired if the city would be interested in his donated services.

In return for his donation, he asked the park be renamed Margaret Hollow Park.

His proposal was sent to 250 people who had an interest in the park, across from Hawthorne School, and 27 of them responded, Teegarden said. Some liked the plan, others didn’t. Portions of the proposal appealed to yet others.

Those with concerns wanted to see the park retain its open space for children to play and use the sledding hill, said Teegarden who worked with Hiel on a revised landscaping plan.

They also didn’t want to see the land given to the school district as they wanted it to remain a park, she noted.

A letter that went out in response to the public’s comments said, “In summary, most respondents like the way the park is. It is important not to obstruct the area with paths and to keep the area open for ‘kids play’ and winter sledding. The planting of new flowering plants and trees should be limited in concern of future park maintenance and blocking views. There is a need to keep the alley open and there was little support for community gardens. There was support in removing and replacing the unsafe play equipment. There was mixed support for renaming the park.”

What will happen to the park, her letter continued, is installing two or three small landscaping islands on the south side of the park and adjacent to the alley. Vegetation will be limited to shrubbery and ground-level flowers. Two or three benches will also be installed and the park will keep its name: Peanut Park.

“I feel we’re meeting his objectives, the neighbors’ objectives and our objectives,” Teegarden said.

“My ultimate concern is to make it a safe place,” she said. “There’s opportunity to beautify it.”

While the city declined to change the park’s name, the landscape plan for it does include an amphitheater seating area that will be named Margaret’s Hollow.

Hiel said his initial plan was a conceptual work on what could be done. The revised plan calls for plantings along the alley, he said, that will provide an aesthetic improvement while also keeping children from chasing a ball into the path of possible traffic.

The entrance to the park with an arbor gate and the amphitheater seating pleases him too.

“It’s always nice to do projects that helps out kids and memorializes a friend,” Hiel said.

He doesn’t have an estimate on the cost of the work he plans although Teegarden said the city will be spending about $8,000 to replace the slide and swings and install an area beneath them that will help protect children if they fall.

Each acre of developed parkland costs about $5,000 a year for maintenance, she noted.

The swings and slide will likely be removed sooner than spring because of the city’s safety concerns for them, Teegarden said.

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North Adams Neighborhood Group Gets Place of Its Own

Shirley Davis, a founder of United Neighborhood Organization in the River/Bracewell area, talks about her years with the group and the new community center it will be able to use.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Shirley Davis of Bracewell Avenue has been running the United Neighborhood Organization for nearly 24 years from her living room.

Now the “UNO Lady” will not only have space to meet, but a neighborhood kitchen to cook in when the former Homestead Bar on River Street is transformed into a community center.

“It’s like a dream,” Davis said on Tuesday after a press conference announcing the plans. “It’s like a dream come true.”

One of the first things she plans to do is invite building owner and UNO benefactor John “Jack” Wadsworth to dinner.

“Wait until he comes to our kitchen and I cook him a meal,” said the author of “Sitto Shirl’s Favorite Recipes.”

The rundown tavern at 157 River was purchased by Wadsworth last year after a motorcycle club attempted to lease the building. A conversation with Mayor Richard Alcombright about possible uses for the structure led to meetings with Northern Berkshire Community Coalition Executive Director Alan Bashevkin and Davis, and Wadsworth’s decision to fund the creation of the UNO Center.

“This is something the city couldn’t have done, something the coalition couldn’t have done, something the neighborhood couldn’t have done,” said Alcombright. “This is just an outstanding gift at the right time of year.”

Wadsworth and his wife, Susan, are sort of UNO neighbors; Wadsworth is a principal or owner of the Porches Inn and another plot of land on River Street. He determined to finance the project, along with a very reasonable lease of $5 up front, after putting Bashevkin “through the wringer.”

“He asked me a lot of questions,” laughed Bashevkin.

Francis “Bigs” Waterman of Cheshire, contractor for the project and a friend of the Wadsworths, said Jack Wadsworth wanted to be sure the project was sustainable. “He wanted to be fully aware if he was to do this, it wasn’t a one and done deal. That it was gong to survive for five years,” Waterman said.

The talks had taken place often on Saturday mornings in the dark and dingy bar.

“I think it’s fortunate we’re turning something with that atmosphere into something … Jack really likes that whole concept,” said Waterman. “I know what Jack was really happy to hear is there are programs like arts and crafts and things that kids can learn to better themselves.”

The project was approved by the Planning Board on Monday night and the construction permit secured; work should start around the beginning of the year with an opening date in April or early May.

“It’s great for the downtown, it’s great for the city, and one of the things I really care about is, it’s great for the kids — the future of this area,” Waterman said. “It just got better and better the more we talked.”

Ann McCallum of Burr McCallum Architects, which also did the Porches, designed the small building to “give us the biggest bang for the buck.” The design includes meeting space, a coffee bar, full kitchen and bathrooms.

“What we were trying to do is lure in the neighbors, to make it very transparent from the outside,” she said, pointing out the large windows and glass overhead door that can be opened in nice weather. The landscaping will include gardens and a sitting wall for residents to work and linger in.

Alcombright sees the center as in the spirit of programs that used to run in the city’s playgrounds years ago. The summer programs used to offer crafts, sports and activities for a few hours on weekdays.

“What we’re trying to do is replicate this on two playgrounds, the one on River, the other possibly at Brayton,” he said. That would tie in with greater investment in community policing, such as the possible presence of an officer on occasion at the UNO center (with a spot in the plans for the officer) and others on bicycles.

“It’s a different kind of connectivity with the community, especially the youth because in some of our neighborhoods, some of these kids only see a cop when they’re arresting someone,” the mayor said. “Our cops, they do a great job and we want to make certain the kids, particularly the younger people, know they have an ally in the police.”

Much of that will be contingent on funding and police scheduling. Programming at the UNO Center, however, is assured because it is comes from another, albeit anonymous, “generous benefactor” who is providing financial support.

The original UNO sign says ‘We are united to help our neighborhood.’

Bashevkin said NBCC’s role is to find the programming, such as after-school tutoring and activities, such as an expanded community garden, and keep the center busy. Once it is up and running, residents will likely suggest other things they want to see.

“I hope the people in the neighborhood will see it as a place to drop in for coffee,” he said, stressing that the center would not be possible without the generous support of the Wadsworths or the anonymous donor as the agency is facing budget cuts and a “pretty significant deficit.” “I just think this is going to be such an enhancement for the neighborhood.”

“This is wonderful for the UNO neighborhood, we’d love to see it in other neighborhoods as well,” Bashevkin said, referring to the  mayor’s vision. “And, hopefully, we’re not stopping here.”

The program wouldn’t have started at all except for the stubbornness of Davis, who began to see the neighborhood she’d lived in since her marriage slowly succumb to blight.

In 1990, Davis and some others from the area had had enough, and said so at a coalition meeting at the Salvation Army.

UNO was born in her living room as the group applied for grants and raised money, held parties, tag sales and contests, supported local children for camps and took them to the theater, created community gardens and marched in parades. Those children’s children continue to benefit within the neighborhood revival.

“We just did everything,” she said. “I have so many albums, I just love to look through them.”

Davis was thrilled that the original UNO sign, painted on an old slate roof tile and carefully stored under her bed for years, will now have a place on honor in the new center.

“I didn’t get paid money for the whole 24 years but this project is worth doing it all over again because money is not everything,” she said. “This is something.”

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