The Constant Apprentice is a place for curious humans to explore craft, visual arts, writing, nature, food, and all things classic, then and now.
{ Curators: Roseann & Jonathan Hanson —> }|{ Craft }|{ Classics }|{ Travel }|{ Food }|{ Nature }|{ Science }|{ Writing }|{Visual Arts}

Pasco Kitchen & Lounge, Tucson

Pasco Kitchen, TucsonA "Rickey's" at Pasco KitchenPineapple hard at work infusing vodka at Pasco KitchenPart of what makes the mixology work at Pasco Kitchen—along with a totally enthusiastic staffDeep-fried dark chocolate beignet with double creamAftermath

We discovered Pasco Kitchen and Lounge in Tucson this week. Fresh, local, organic, house-made—it's all here, plus a vision for flavors and presentation that's unbeatable.

We enjoyed one of the most inspired cocktails ever: the Roasted Rickey's (roasted-chile-infused gin, cilantro muddled with sweet-and-sour, and fresh lime juice) with carnitas tacos, and grass-fed beef burger . . . followed by dark chocolate beignets (basically, mousse balls rolled in champagne-batter and deep-fried) and served with heavy whipped cream and raspberries.

Oh my.

The Raleigh gets a new seat and old pannier

I decided to go with a black Brooks B67S saddle (earlier discussion, here). The B66 and B67 were the standard seats that came on the Superbes; after surveying many photos of original Superbes, it looked like both black and brown were common colors. I went with the black because it matches the grips, which are the original grips (which have the Raleigh crest on them), despite a few cracks, and I just have this thing about the grips matching the seat color.

I looked for weeks for the right panniers. My initial favorite was the Brooks Brick Lane roll-up pannier set, until I found out it was made in China. I just can't justify the dear price for an off-shore make; I have no problem with the made-in-England Brooks products being expensive (such as the saddle).

I wanted the right look for the age and condition of the bike—nothing too shiny, no plastic buckles, no reflector tape, but also not too home-made looking. Duluth Pack in Minnesota makes a nice set, but they were just a little too plain (I know, picky).

Then I hit on an idea: I had my old, well-loved Filson Field Bag (large), which attaches easily to the Raleigh rack via the brass D-rings and leather straps. A simple modification to add an attachment at the bottom, and I'll be set with an easy, appropriate bag-pannier for about-town.

The Rattlesnake

Inspired by Pasco, we made our own summer cocktail: The Rattlesnake, with chile vodka, watermelon, and sweet-and-sour. by ConserVentures
Photo by ConserVentures on Flickr.
Inspired by Pasco Kitchen and Lounge in Tucson, which serves truly inspired cocktails, we created our own summer drink from some ingredients on hand.

We called it the Rattlesnake, for its bite and for the lovely diamondback rattlesnake that was snoozing on our porch when we got home on Wednesday this week.

The Rattlesnake


1 ounce vodka, chile-infused
3-4 ounces watermelon juice
1 ounce sweet-and-sour
simple syrup, to taste
cilantro, about a tablespoon, muddled with simple syrup


1. Muddle the cilantro with a dash of simple syrup in the bottom of a Mason jar (muddling is just mashing the herb with sugar, using a wooden spoon or if you're a mixologist, a special "muddling pestle").

2. Add sweet-and-sour, watermelon, and vodka. Taste, add more simple syrup if needed.

3. Add ice, stir, serve, preferably with a slice of watermelon as garnish.

Depending on the strength of your chile-vodka, this can have a great bite!


We make our own chile vodka by simply steeping good vodka (Skyy) with a handful of hot chiles (jalapeƱos, birds-eye, chiltepine, or Thai) in a cool place for a few weeks. Pasco makes a chile gin by using roasted chiles.

We also make our own simple syrup with organic cane sugar (bring to boil sugar and water in a 1:1 ratio), and our own sweet-and-sour (3:2:1 fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup; we often use jarred organic lime and lemon juice from our local Sunflower market).

Siesta time

Visit to BICAS in Tucson

Entrance to the below-ground warehouse cavern that is BICAS in Tucson, a bicyclist's communityBICAS art in the concrete entrance rampWheels sectionA study in front forksFront forks section1973 Schwinn Speedster all original
1973 Schwinn Speedster yellow, detail1973 Schwinn Speedster yellow, detail, shifter1961 Columbia girls' bike, a rare "skip-tooth chain" bikeHeadbadge, 1961 Columbia girls' bike, a rare "skip-tooth chain" bikeThe odd chain and crank of the 1961 Columbia "skip-tooth chain" bikeAn $80 mixte that needs some TLC but will be a nice bike
Red "Western Flyer"Beautiful "Free Spirit"Royce Union bike in bronzeLion on the fork of the Royce Union

Visit to BICAS in Tucson, a set on Flickr.

Yesterday we visited the community bike shop—more of a combination bike shop, bike salvage yard, community hub, education center, and art studio—called BICAS (Bicycle Inter-Community Art & Salvage).

At 12:30 on a hot (105 degrees F) June day the place was hopping already, even though it had only been open for half an hour. You descend a concrete ramp into the cavernous space, which was surprisingly cool. At least 25 people (not counting volunteers and staff) were working on bikes, looking for parts, shopping for a bike, or just browsing, like us.

BICAS is best described a bicycle education and recycling center. For extremely cheap (or by trading labor for credits) you can use their tools and very nice work stations and bike stands to fix your bike; you can take classes in basic bike maintenance or complete bike-building; make bicycle art and jewelry; buy or rent a bike; or take part in their community-based events and rides. Here's their history:

BICAS started in late 1989 as an organization called Bootstraps to Share. A group of like-minded community members came together to assist and empower the homeless population in Tucson, helping folks attain work, shelter, food, and transportation. Over the next few years, the organization focused on sustainable transportation as a requisite for sustainable work, determining their greatest impact was to provide recycled bicycles and the skills needed to maintain them. In that same period, youth became interested in the bicycle mechanics programs. Thus, BICAS in the way we know it today came into existence around 1994, although the name “BICAS” wasn't used until 1996. We have since extended our bicycle recycling, advocacy and education programs out to the entire community. Since our founding, we have trained thousands of youth and adults in the trade of bicycle repair, maintenance and safety, and restored thousands of bicycles, saving them from the waste stream.

This is the place to go if you are looking for a great deal on a classic or DIY bike. There are literally
 hundreds of bikes, frames, and parts, very well-organized around the big space. We were surprised by the number of nice classic bikes, from a $350 all-original yellow Schwinn Speedster, to a needs-TLC bronze-colored Royce Union that will fix up into a really lovely bike (I think it was about $150 or less). There was also a very interesting 1961 Columbia girls' bike that is a rare "skip-chain." The crank has widely spaced teeth and the chain has wide spaces every other link. We're looking into why this was developed. Certainly interesting!

Asperatus clouds

Photograph by B.J. Bumgarner
This wonderful image of asperatus clouds was posted on a Tumblr blog "Science You Can Love."

Asperatus clouds

Asperatus clouds are so rare they managed to escape classification until 2009. Ominous and stormy as they appear, these clouds often break up rather quickly, without producing a storm. As with most other undulating cloud types, these clouds are formed when turbulent winds or colliding air masses whip up the bottoms of the cloud layer into fancy shapes and formations. More common in the plains of the United States (try Iowa), asperatus clouds are at their weird and swirly best during the morning or midday hours after a thunderstorm.

Photograph by B.J. Bumgarner

(via Trebaol of Arabia blog on Tumblr)

Raleigh gets some new (old) parts

1972 Raleigh Superbe by ConserVentures
1972 Raleigh Superbe, a photo by ConserVentures on Flickr.

Our 1972 Raleigh Superbe got some TLC today. New tires (Panaracer 26 x 1 3/8 Col de la Vie, from Harris Cyclery), plus a rack, electric tail light (not yet wired), rear reflector and kickstand, all from vintage Superbes, all eBay finds.

Also gave the old paint some polishing and wax. Still more to do . . . but it's really starting to shape up the way we envisioned—refurbished, rather than restored, a city bike for exploring favorite towns, shopping, grabbing coffee, or joining Tweed Rides.

Next upgrade will be a Brooks 66 or 67 sprung saddle (which came standard on Superbes), though can't decide on the color (black or dark brown?). Although the grips are old and slightly cracked, they are originals and we're loath to replace them. And then some panniers . . . hard to decide. Carridice makes some nice ones. And still looking for an original headlight and pump.

Summer Solstice 2012

Technically the northern solstice occurred last night at 23:09.

According to Wikipedia:
A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year as the sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere.

As a result, on the solstice the sun appears to have reached its highest or lowest annual altitude in the sky above the horizon at local solar noon. The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the sun stands still in declination; that is, the seasonal movement of the sun's path (as seen from Earth) comes to a stop before reversing direction. The solstices, together with the equinoxes, are connected with the seasons. In many cultures the solstices mark either the beginning or the midpoint of winter and summer. 
The term solstice can also be used in a broader sense, as the date (day) when this occurs. The day of the solstice is either the longest day of the year (in summer) or the shortest day of the year (in winter) for any place outside of the tropics.
Solstice is one of our favorite times of year—in the heart of the Sonoran Desert it's blazingly hot (106 today), incredibly dry (6% humidity), and often windy. But the black-throated sparrows are singing madly, the summer Anna's hummingbirds are arriving back from California, the nighthawks and elf owls are trilling and peeping all night long—and it means the rains are coming, the desert is ready, the anticipation is palpable.

Darwin's notebook

Darwin's notebook by ConserVentures
Darwin's notebook, a photo by ConserVentures on Flickr.
This image of page 36 of one of Charles Darwin's 1837 journals gives us chills.

There is a tree with branches depicting a postulation on how related genera would be formed, main text reads:

Case must be that one generation then should be as many living as now. To do this & to have many species in same genus (as is) requires extinction.
"Thus between A & B immense gap of relation. C & B the finest gradation, B & D rather greater distinction. Thus genera would be formed. — bearing relation

But the most evocative part is the small note in the upper left:

I think

Darwin's notebooks are available online through You can open a notebook and browse the pages as though flipping through them in person.

In early June, the New York Times published a story on the Open Tree of Life Project, the goal of which is to draw "a tree of life that includes every known species. A tree, in other words, with about two million branches."

[Source:  New York Times, June 5, 2012 "Open Tree of Life Project ]

Porsche 911 SC gauges

Porsche 911 SC gauges by ConserVentures
Porsche 911 SC gauges, a photo by ConserVentures on Flickr. [iPhone photo processed with TiltShiftGen]

This dramatic image was originally snapped with an iPhone 4S. Processed with the app TiltShiftGen, it becomes an above-average image. See the original below. iPhone is leading the way in simple, powerful imagery tools. Think of it as the equivalent of the Kodak Ektralite of the 1980s, only better. . . do you remember?

Thinking of our friends in Egypt

Giza Pyramids by ConserVentures
Giza Pyramids, a photo by ConserVentures on Flickr.

Today voting continues, and we are thinking of all our friends from our February Sykes-MacDougal Centennial Expedition.

Monsoons officially start

First official day of summer monsoons in the Sonoran Desert (as seen through ocotillo plant). The traditional date for the start is a week away—June 24, or San Juan's Day.

What is a "monsoon?"Some say that's a misnomer, but according to the Arizona State University School of Geographical sciences, the "Arizona Monsoon" begins after a "prolonged (3 consecutive days or more) period of dew points averaging 55°F" or higher." More from ASU:

The Arizona Monsoon is a well-defined meteorological event (technically called a meteorological 'singularity') that occurs during the summer throughout the southwest portion of North America. During the winter time, the primary wind flow in Arizona is from the west or northwest—from California and Nevada. As we move into the summer, the winds shift to a southerly or southeasterly direction. Moisture streams northward from the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. This shift produces a radical change in moisture conditions statewide.
Such a change, together with daytime heating, is the key to the Arizona monsoon. This wind shift is the result of two meteorological changes:
  • The movement northward from winter to summer of the huge upper air subtropical high pressure cells, specifically the so-called Bermuda High (H).
  • In addition, the intense heating of the desert creates rising air and surface low pressure (called a thermal low) in the Mohave (L).
These two features combine to create strong southerly flow over Arizona. The southerly winds push moisture north-ward from Mexico. The exact source region for the moisture of the Arizona monsoon is unknown. Researchers have proposed the Gulf of Mexico and/or the Gulf of California as the source regions but conclusive evidence has so far been elusive.

MyRadar iPhone app showing the monsoon action on June 16, 2012

Here at Ravenrock, black-throated sparrows started singing right on cue as clouds build over the mountains.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Silver tea set

Silver tea set by ConserVentures
Silver tea set, a photo by ConserVentures on Flickr. [iPhone with Snapseed processing]
Nothing marks the weekend better than getting out the vintage silver tea set for tea. From an estate back East, the set includes classically shaped tea pot, creamer, sugar bowl, and tray. The tea pot is perfectly designed, with a generous bowl for excellent brewing action, and a spout that does not drip and includes an integrated strainer. A much-loved Christmas present.

Brooks tool pouch

Brooks tool pouch by ConserVentures
Brooks tool pouch, a photo by ConserVentures on Flickr. [iPhone with Instagram processing]

I splurged on a new accessory for the Superbe. An outrageously expensive gorgeous Brooks leather tool pouch. It does not quite fit the non-stock seat (Superbes came with sprung Brooks B66 saddles). Currently looking for a vintage B66.


Two English classics

Two classics by ConserVentures
Two classics, a photo by ConserVentures on Flickr.
Spotted at Overland Expo 2012, in use by the staff to get around the grounds. Early 2000s Land Rover Defender 110 and 1972 Raleigh Superbe.

Sunset, wildfire haze, by Jonathan Hanson

Bisbee, Memorial Day Weekend 2012


Bisbee, Memorial Day Weekend 2012, a set on Flickr. [iPhone with Camera+]
We took our 1982 Porsche 911SC out for some exercise Memorial Weekend. The Bisbee Bicycle Brothel is one of the West's best classic bicycle shops, full of beautiful European and American racing, randonneur, and 3-speed bikes and related accessories and ephemera. Ken Wallace, the proprietor, is always willing to share his passion. Call ahead, hours are limited.