Going Gray!

Got a nice note and some pics from Ben in Portland: “I bought your book and it has become my mission manual. We own a house in Portland, OR, and I just today did my first project out of the book – routing the shower drain into the garden. It cost about $60 for all the pipe, glue, a 2″ hole saw to drill through the wall, and a new drain kit (my old drain was decroded as crap). Our house is only 750 sq. ft. (plenty for me,...

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Age of Apocalypse

...rough the TSA’s elevated, glass cube “porno-scanner.” Then there was Virgin America’s individualized entertainment programming. Satellite TV! Shop Ebay at 30,000 feet! I shut the TV off and picked up a book, but I kept getting distracted by the screen I could see in the row in front of me. It was displaying a nonstop parade of gruesome images–mangled corpses, gunshot wounds–what passes for “entertainment&...

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Looking for Chicken Coop Plans

Our chicken run–designed by John Zapf. I got a note from Tricia Cornell, who is putting together a chicken coop plan book. There is a real need for this, so if you have a coop, consider sharing your design: Hi! I’m a chicken owner in Minneapolis. I was wondering if you could help me spread the word. I’m looking for smart, good-looking chicken coops to feature in an upcoming book. If you’re proud of your coop, send pictur...

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Delicious Cauliflower

For me, cauliflower is a vegetable which eludes inspiration. I eat it raw. I roast it. I’ve made soup with it once or twice. That’s about the sum of my historic use of cauliflower. Now, everything has changed. I’ve found a recipe for cauliflower which I love. It comes from a book called Vegetarian Dishes from the Middle East, by Arto der Haroutunian. I think I’ve mentioned it before. It’s a good, reliable book. Lat...

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Last of the Saddle Tramps

Mesannie Wilkins riding Rex,  Depeche Toi on Tarzan A wise man once told me it’s good practice to read books published before you were born. Last of the Saddle Tramps just makes the cut. Published in 1966, it is a memoir, Mesannie Wilkin’s accounting of her great journey from Minot, Maine to Los Angeles. On horseback. In 1954, Mesannie was 63 and she didn’t think she’d survive another winter in Maine. She’d been a f...

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Chicken Goes to Hollywood

Homegrown Neighbor here. On Thursday Mr. Homegrown and I escorted my chicken, Peckerella, to her first public appearance. Peckerella was there to assist author Terry Golson, who has written a wonderful children’s book called Tillie Lays An Egg. The book has adorable pictures of her flock and features the adventurous Tillie, who likes to lay her eggs everywhere except her nesting box. Ms. Golson is currently in Los Angeles to share Tillie&#...

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The Human-Powered Home: Choosing Muscles Over Motors

We’ve reviewed Tamara Dean’s new book The Human-Powered Home: Choosing Muscles Over Motors in this month’s issue of Yes Magazine. As we say in the review, don’t expect to be able to run your plasma screen with a bicycle (a lot of our favorite appliances take a hell of a lot more energy than pedal power can provide), but you will be able to grind grain, press apples, operate a sewing machine, and shell nuts. Dean’s b...

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Be Idle

...good time. In so doing, happiness becomes both the pathway and the result of our life journey. Life is too short to be miserable. A kitchen disaster this morning with a terrible granola recipe from Frances Moore Lappé’s book Diet for a Small Planet, reminded us that while the thesis behind that book, that modern agriculture is causing tremendous harm, is more valid than ever, the solution offered by the food activists of the 1970s, namely a...

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Slaughtering Turkeys for Thanksgiving

...n to the complex emotions that accompany the slaughter, instead of shunting them aside. This, he claims, is the hardest part. And that is why he is our teacher. Erik and I first met Steve when we were researching our upcoming book. It’s a how-to book, and we wanted to include how-to slaughter a chicken instructions, and we wanted to present the most humane technique we could find. Homegrown Neighbor introduced us to Steve, and the day we me...

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Build Your Own Furniture

...t what do you do with the rest of the plywood sheet once you cut it out? The same limitation applies to making furniture. Thankfully a generation of designers back in the 60s and 70s left a few highly useful and groovy how-to books on making your own suburban-workshop-modernist furniture with a humble 4 x 8 sheet of plywood. The amazing art/architecture collective Simparch tipped us off to the world of plywood modernism how-to books and we at Hom...

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