We’ve been watching our shows, and getting out when we can for walks and bike rides, but what else have we been up to?
I did a bit of cleanup in the front, but we’ve been mostly working in the backyard, and most of the gardening so far has been food rather than ornamental: last week we ripped up the weeds in our old garden and worked in a bunch of compost. Anne had planted things like radishes a few weeks ago in a separate raised bed, which are coming up nicely, and with the old garden back in play we have three more beds starting to sprout.
We also have a bunch of day-lilies I planted a year or so ago — they were gifts from when Lorraine thinned her own garden — which I had given up for dead, but this year they came up strong and hardy, and look to be in good shape. So, I cleaned out the weeds that might choke them, and also put, in the same spot, a few potted herbs we had languishing in the kitchen. We’ve had a few freezes since then, so we’ll see how the herbs fare.
Here are a few photos from the backyard:
The Coffee Table
This was purely Anne’s project. We have a coffee table in the living room that I got from my parents when I moved out in 1990. It had originally been a gift from my Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Ed, and they probably gave it to my parents in the early 1970’s; family lore had it that it was made from “driftwood.” (I believe that it’s a merchant shipping “hatch cover” similar to the ones shown here.)
Anyway, the table’s surface has been getting worse over the years, and Anne, who often sits at the table and gets splinters, finally decided to do something about it. So, she took took the top off, planed and sanded it (much easier to say here, it took her days of hard work), then stained and sealed it (more days, more work), and then we put it all back together yesterday. It looks beautiful, better than it has in decades.
It turns out that the homebrew store is still open — you can order online, and (several days later) when your order is ready, you drive down and get it placed in your trunk. So that’s what we did last week, ordering the ingredients for two batches of beer. We picked up the ingredients on Saturday, and brewed the first batch — our Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale clone — yesterday. There really wasn’t much to say about the process, just the usual cooking and cleaning, but now we have several gallons bubbling away in the corner of the kitchen. It should be ready in about two weeks, and we’ll be making our next batch — our Rye IPA tomorrow morning. I documented some of the process:
This is what’s actually been taking up most of my time and energy lately. I have a database of access points along the Lehigh Towpath, along with nearby “trail amenities” like bathrooms or restaurants, from an earlier project that has evolved over time. What I want to do now is expand it to include all access points and amenities along the entire D&L. I broke this up into three parts: the first part being everything north from Northampton to White Haven, where I would also develop (and document) the “work flows” a little better, then the second part would be the sections from Riegelsville south to Bristol. (The final task will be adding the undeveloped sections — from Allentown to Northampton, and from White Haven north — but I suspect that these areas will need a bit more re-conceptualizing first.)
My first steps were pretty easy: I used an OpenStreetMap search plugin in QGIS to get all the roads near the river, then did other queries to get all the nearby amenities I track that are known to OpenStreetMap — this time I kept copies of my actual queries so I can reproduce them. I combined all the amenities into one layer, then used some spatial queries (and a list of official trailheads) to find all the access points where the surrounding roads contact the trail. So far so good…
The next step would to identify all the amenities that are actually accessible via local roads, and this part wouldn’t be as easy. I wrote a script to do this when I did the original project, but that script is no longer compatible with the newer version of QGIS so I had to rewrite it. That (aside from typing errors) turned out to be more straightforward than I thought it would be, though it still took several days, especially tracking down and debugging those typos. Along the way I also made it more general, added improvements etc, and now it works really well.
I haven’t done the final step yet, which is to move the selected amenities over to my database, because I’m not yet happy with the quality of the new amenities data. “Garbage In, Garbage Out,” as the saying goes, and the OpenStreetMap amenities turned out have a lot of missing contact info, outdated info like closed restaurants, and amenities I know about that are just plain missing from the data. So I’ve been slogging through the list, searching Google Maps and Googling for contact information, to try to raise the data quality before I can add this stuff to the database. In the end, and especially because I eventually might want to update OSM, I think I’ll have to check it all out for myself on the ground. Someday.