Nance Klemn is in Los Angeles and She’s Teaching Classes!

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Check out our friend Nance Klemn’s upcoming classes. Not to be missed!

February 19: An Herbal Mead Making Salon.
More info here.

February 21: Herbal Tinctures with Wild Plants
The workshop will be from 1 – 4 p.m. and will be held at Bailey Canyon in Sierra Madre, a lovely, lush, narrow canyon that extends way up into the San Gabriel Mountains. We will take a walk in the lower canyon, visiting and collecting some of the early spring growth (and possibly roots), then gather at a table in the park below to make tinctures using vinegar, alcohol, and glycerin.

Making tinctures is easy and preserves the essences of the plants for use as food and medicine. Plants have much to give us and so does Nance — you will go home with vinegar mother to make your own vinegars, and several tinctures.

Cost is $45 and space is limited to 15 participants, so put it on your calendar and RSVP now! I will send out directions and address for mailing checks upon confirmation.

CONTACT DELIA : [email protected]

February 22: Urban Forage Walk
More info here.

Bio
Nance Klemn is an ecological systems designer, landscaper, horticultural consultant, and permaculture grower, as well as a consultant, speaker, and teacher. Based in the Midwest, she lives and works in a diverse neighborhood in the heart of Chicago, and is developing a farm on her land outside the city. She is founder of Social Ecologies, a nonprofit that focuses on system regenerating projects, including The Ground Rules, an urban soil- and community-building initiative using local green and food waste. Nance has worked internationally, lectured at art museums (including MOCA and the Hammer Museum here in L.A.), and produced art projects and installations related to soil and earth concepts.

See http://spontaneousvegetation.net/bio/ for more info and links to her work.

The Return of the Monocle?

Joseph Chamberlain, monocle enthusiast.

Joseph Chamberlain, monocle enthusiast.

While Mr. Peanut still sports one, I thought the monocle would die out with the passing of eccentric British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore. But, apparently, we’re in the midst of a monocle revival.

I had planned to write about the monocle for years, but the New York Times out-scooped me on this story. The article notes that rappers and hipsters have brought back the monocle as a fashion accessory. There’s even an online monocle dealer based in San Francisco.

But what about the monocle as appropriate technology? It’s pretty much the same, after all, as wearing one contact. I have decent distance vision, so I could wear a monocle for closeup vision in my non-dominant eye. If you use glasses try looking through them with just your non-dominant eye to understand how a monocle would allow you to see both close up and distance at the same time. Monocles weren’t an affectation in the old days. I’m sure it would take some time to adjust to, but wouldn’t it be better than having to remember to carry around the hideous reading drug store glasses I currently use?

Kelly considers a monocle grounds for divorce and, I have to admit, she has a point. It’s hard to pull off a monocle these days without also donning a top hat and spats. Contemporary monocle use puts you in the same eccentric sartorial territory as the Monopoly Man and the aforementioned, Mr. Peanut (both of whom, it should be noted, are cartoon characters).

Then again, aren’t we all engaged in unintentional cosplay? Despite getting called “cowboy,” I like the broad brimmed cowboy hat that shades me from the blazing Los Angeles sun. Perhaps tweed and a monocle will become my winter blogging uniform . . .

Return of the Walkman?

broken walkman

Spotted on Figueroa  street last month: a smashed Sony Walkman (Sport WM-FS397, to be exact).  Here’s an “exploded” view:

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The BBC, back in 2010, gave a 13 year-old a Walkman to review. Here’s what the kid said:

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

Another notable feature that the iPod has and the Walkman doesn’t is “shuffle”, where the player selects random tracks to play. Its a function that, on the face of it, the Walkman lacks. But I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down “rewind” and releasing it randomly – effective, if a little laboured.

Any holdouts amongst you, our dear readers? Some of us still seem to have dial phones, so I thought I’d ask. I gave my portable cassette player up long ago and the household now has no cassette tape capabilities. Kelly can no longer listen to her 80s mix tapes!

Saturday Tweets: Upcycling and Blizzards

Ghee for the skin

baby Krishna stealing ghee

Baby Krishna stealing ghee

Ghee, a form of clarified butter, is a well known cooking fat. What is less known in the West is that it is also used for skin care and as medicine in Ayurveda. In fact, it’s basically a panacea in Ayurveda. I’m no expert in Ayurveda, but it is interesting to know that it has such a long track record in India as a topical treatment.

What I have discovered so far is pretty neat. It is in the nature of ghee to sink into the skin rather than sit on the surface. This makes it a really excellent moisturizer. It is not the type of moisturizer which seals in moisture, or protects you from the elements, but it immediately soothes dry and chapped skin.

For instance, during my last head cold, I used it on my much-abused nose. The ghee saved my nose and my lips from a terrible case of chapping. I always keep my lips and nose balmed-up during a cold, but the ghee worked better than anything else I’ve ever used, in terms of absorption, relieving discomfort and quick healing.

Since then, I’ve been using it on my face and hands to fend off the dry, itchy skin of winter. Since it sinks in so fast, it helps to use it in conjunction with another moisturizer, one which stays on the surface of the skin, to seal everything in.

Color me totally fascinated with ghee. There’s much research to be done on it here at Root Simple.

Here’s an interesting fact: ghee doesn’t go bad. Ever. In Ayurveda, aged ghee is particularly treasured.

See, butter becomes ghee when you remove the sugars and proteins and water, leaving only fat. Without that other stuff in it, the fat alone can’t go bad. Ghee’s only enemy is water–which is true of all fat-based foods and cosmetics. Water sets up conditions for bacteria to breed. So keep your ghee dry.  In fact, you should never store it in the refrigerator, because this may cause condensation inside the jar, which will lead to spoilage. Just keep it on the shelf, and scoop it out with a dry spoon, and it will keep until it’s all gone.

That’s all I have to say on ghee, so far. I don’t know much yet, but I like the way it feels. More will follow, I am sure. I’m going to experiment with making body butter and lip balm with it.

Do any of you use ghee for medicine or skin care?

(Also, I’ll be making my own ghee soon, and will post on that, but in the meantime, there are loads of recipes for it out there. It’s basically just boiled butter–anybody can make it. You can also find it ghee in many “regular” super markets these days, as well as in health food stores and of course, Indian markets.)

Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities

CTsample3Neither Al Gore nor the US Government invented the internet. The team behind the Whole Earth Catalog, published between 1968 and 1998 are the true inventors of our electro-global village. The Whole Earth Catalog was a thick book of crowd sourced reviews that, in terms of its content, felt a lot like a print version of what we used to call the World Wide Web.

Catalog editors included NoCal luminaries Stuart Brand, Kevin Kelly and Lloyd Kahn among many others. In addition to inventing the interwebs, they also managed to define the eclectic topics contained within the urban homesteading movement. A confession here: when it came time to write our two books, Kelly and I leafed through our old copy of the Whole Earth Catalog to make sure that we didn’t leave any topic out.

Kevin Kelly kept the Whole Earth Catalog ethos alive through his Cool Tools review website. That website has morphed back into print in the form of Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities. This new book is just as addictive as the Whole Earth Catalog.

The gadgets, books, websites and ideas that qualify as Cool Tools are carefully chosen, useful and often inexpensive or free. Some things I picked up from thumbing through this book for just a week:

With both Cool Tools and the Whole Earth Catalog, there’s also a lot of stuff that fits into the fantasy category: fun to read about but I’ll probably never do. I’d include igloo making, boat living and camouflage here. But you never know . . .

And, thanks to Cool Tools editors Elon Shoenholz and Mark Frauenfelder, you’ll find a few Root Simple reviews tucked into Cool Tool’s 463 pages. And, yes, one of the first items mentioned in Cool Tools is a book on decuttering, perhaps as a caution to use Cool Tools as a guide to what is useful, not an invitation to collect stuff.

How many of you spent the 90s (or an earlier decade!) like I did, thumbing through an old copy of The Whole Earth Catalog?

035 Local Flowers with Tara Kolla of Silver Lake Farms

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On the Valentines day episode of the Root Simple podcast, Tara Kolla, owner of Silver Lake Farms discusses why you should care where your flowers come from. Tara grows and sells flowers right in the heart of Los Angeles. You can find her flowers at the Hollywood Farmers Market and at a pop-up that will take place at Valerie in Echo Park on February 13th and 14th. During the podcast we discuss:

If you want to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected]. You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. The theme music is by Dr. Frankenstein. Additional music by Rho. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Earth Building Classes!

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Root Simple received the following announcement from the fine folks at Adobe is Not Software, providers of amazing earth building classes:

Upcoming Classes

  • March 27-29 – Joshua Tree Earthen Finishes Class: We have a great Earthen Finishes Workshop coming up just in Pioneertown, California not far from Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park.  Taught by Kurt Gardella. the class is will teach clay paints, interior and exterior earthen plasters, stabilizers and clay-based techniques for improving the thermal performance of conventional frame buildings and cabins. Register before March 1st for a $30 discount!
  • Various Dates & Locations, Some Real, Some Virtual: The great folks at Adobe in Action more great online classes this spring!  For folks whose lives and locations make on-site learning difficult, Adobe in Action’s online classes are an incredible resource.  For those in New Mexico, head up there and take a live class on adobe conservation and restoration.
  • More Classes: Stay tuned for additional classes coming up in the fall – we’re looking to reprise our popular adobe basics class which will cover brick making, codes and basic adobe wall masonry.  We are also looking at having an horno workshop in Los Angeles sometime this summer.

Events

  • October 2-4 – EarthUSA 2015, Santa Fe, NM: A reminder that EarthUSA, the premier North American earthbuilding community event is coming up this October. The event brings together expert practitioners, historians and conservation specialists from all over the world for lectures, classes, and field trips in the center of American adobe culture. Interested in presenting?  A call for papers is out… submissions due on April 10th.

Elsewhere in California:

  • Buying Adobes in California: As a reminder, San Tan Adobe and New Mexico Earth are both shipping bricks to California. If you need adobe bricks and can’t make your own, both adobe yards will be happy to help!  San Tan’s adobe are also available in some San Diego area masonry yards.  We are also hearing tell of a new possible source near Joshua Tree – stay tuned!

Stuff we’ve recently gotten done:

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  • Waverly School Oven: Last summer, we finished a very handsome adobe and earthen horno with Pasadena’s Waverly School at their Farm.  All of the adobes were made on site by students using native soil, and they’ve been baking bread and making pizza with ingredients grown on-site!  It was great to work with such an enthusiastic group – cooking with dirt is more than mud pies!

Got something going on?:
Drop us a line!  We’re anxious to hear about new projects, preservation efforts, classes and folks doing recreational or professional adobe work in California.  There’s a lot of people in our community that we have yet to meet!
-AiNS

Submit your questions for the Cat Doctor!

cat at computer

Go ahead, tap on the bright box. It’s all you do anyway.

At the end of this week we will be interviewing Dr. Tracy McFarland  for our podcast, and we are absolutely thrilled.

Dr. Tracy is an top-notch vet who specializes in the care of felines. She’s also our very own vet. We’re going to talk about all things cats, and hear her advice on cat care, including feeding, vacinations and the perennial indoor or outdoor question. At the end of the conversation, if there’s time, we’ll pass on a few questions from our reader/listeners.

So please leave your cat-related questions here. We can’t guarantee they’ll be answered, but we’ll try. It’s best not to leave questions about specific cases (e.g. “My cat Mr.Muffinpuff has a purple spot on his ear…”) because this simply isn’t the correct forum for such things. Keep it general.

Cats!