The Fertile Ground of Bewliderment

It’s Memorial Day in the U.S. which means that most of our domestic readers are probably not reading Root Simple blog posts. For those few of you who are, allow me to suggest a podcast to listen to while you recreate, garden, or mix a cocktail. It’s a lecture by Charles Eisentein delivered last year at St. James Church in London. He begins with the need to stop the paradigm and language of being at war with everything: bugs, people, germs etc. My favorite bit comes during the question and answer session when Eisenstein addresses a concept of interconnectedness he calls, “interbeing.”

Interbeing is the truth. You can only suppress it at great and growing effort, temporarily, until you become exhausted. It’s like a parking lot covered in cement. If you don’t constantly maintain it in a state of ugliness, then beauty will erupt. Dandelions will come up, it’ll crack, and in fifty years it’ll be beautiful. And we are getting exhausted now at maintaining an ugly world.

You can read a transcript of the lecture here and listen to more of Eisenstein’s podcasts here.

Saturday Tweets: Date Palms, Clear Ice and Hugs

Erik to Speak at South Pasadena Beautiful on June 3rd

IMG_0170I’ll be delivering a talk/rant at the on Saturday June 3rd in the South Pasadena Library Community room at 4:00 pm (refreshments at 3:30). In addition to the usual subjects of chickens, bees, vegetables and the home arts I’ll touch on some hot button issues I find equally important:

  • Tree care in a drought
  • Creating walkable/bikeable communities
  • Gardening with native plants
  • Throwing neighborhood parties
  • Why hay hooks are the new hipster fashion accessory (just kidding)

It’s freeeeeeee! The South Pasadena Library is located at: 1115 El Centro St. Hope to see some Root Simpleistas on the 3rd. More information here.

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Changing the World One Party at a Time

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Artist’s depiction of Jennie’s monthly neighborhood party. Extra points for finding our new dog in the painting.

Once a month, our neighbor Jennie Cook (our guest on episode 50 of the Root Simple Podcast) hosts a cocktail party for neighbors. She started the party ball rolling by sticking handwritten invites in mailboxes up the block. Usually, around twenty people show up.

I’ve come to believe that the most revolutionary acts in our lives are those that reduce separation and loneliness. The philosopher Hannah Arendt called totalitarianism, “organized loneliness.”(1) As Arendt implies, this loneliness is by design. Facebook, Google, Nextdoor, Apple et al. make money when we’re sniping at each other on our phones and keyboards, not when we have a cocktail glass in our hands.

This weekend, in South Pasadena, I’m giving a presentation on the subjects we cover in our blog and books. The organizer wants me, in particular, to address the legalities of keeping chickens. But even if chickens are legal where you live, neighbors can start a ruckus in the henhouse about them and about a whole host of other contentious issues such as parking, trees and landscape maintenance. But if we already know each other socially, these sorts of fights are less likely to start.

But I think it would be a mistake to throw neighborhood parities with utilitarian goals. The party is an end in itself. One shouldn’t put a price on fun, joy or a well mixed libation.

I could go on, but I’m going to cut this post short so that I can start the process of getting our house in to shape so we can host a few of these neighborhood parties in the future. And I want to close with a plug for Jennie Cook. She has a cookbook, Who Wants Seconds, full of recipes that will make everyone at your party happy. And if you live in Los Angeles and need a caterer for any event large or small, I can’t say enough good things about Jennie Cook’s Catering.

Now, go forth and throw a party for your neighbors!

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Your Urban Homesteading Vocabulary Word of the Day: Slumgum

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Some beekeeping jobs result in garbage bags full of dark, dirty comb. Such was the case, this past week, when I cleaned out an acquaintance’s hive that had absconded. In the course of processing that comb into wax I came across a word I’d never seen before: “slumgum.” Slumgum is the dark brown sludge made of propolis, larvae parts and dirt that you’re left with once you filter out the wax.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, we can thank my fellow Californians for this nineteenth century neologism. The OED cites the 1890 classic, Gleanings of Bee Culture, as the earliest occurrence of the word “slumgum,”

1890 Gleanings Bee Culture XVIII. 704/2 The cappings are laid on this perforated tin, and, when they melt, the wax and honey run through into the chamber below, leaving what Californians call the ‘slumgum’ on the tin above.

Awesome!

Slumgum tips:

  • Don’t throw out the slumgum. You can bait your empty hives with it. Bees love the smell of slumgum.
  • Don’t leave your slumgum outside like I did. It turns out that urban night critters such as skunks and raccoons also love slumgum. Some mammal dragged mine off and ate it!
  • Side note: check your library’s online digital resources. The Los Angeles Public Library offers the Oxford English Dictionary, and many more online reference resources, for free to anyone with a LA library card.

Stay tuned for a longer post on beeswax processing in the next month.