Asking the Right Questions

Sir Galahad Discovering the Grail by Edwin Austin Abbe (1895) The legend of Percival’s search for the holy grail is an odd one. Spoiler alert! Percival finds the holy grail not through solving a riddle or answering a question. Rather, he asks the right question. In his first trip to the grail castle and the wounded Fisher King who oversees it, Percival doesn’t know what to do or say. It takes him years to find the...

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Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder

Bird feeder in the LA Natural History Museum garden. One of a series of posts inspired by our recent tour of the new gardens at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. The Nature Gardens at the NHM are not large by the usual standards of botanical gardens, and they are only about a year old, but they are already rich with bird and insect life. (A poorwill even visited, which apparently caused quite a bit of excitement in the b...

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Los Angeles Interior Earthen Plaster Workshop

We’re proud to be co-hosting an interior earthen plaster workshop by adobe masters Kurt Gardella and Ben Loescher. The workshop will take place at the home of John Zapf and will thus be your chance to meet the architect of our chicken run and yet to be built man cave. Here’s the info on the workshop–hope to see some of you there: Date: Thursday, May 1, 2014, 9am to 5pm Location: The class will be conducted i...

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Organic Seed Growers Webinar

I’ve enjoyed all the webinars from the eOrganic folks. While they are oriented towards small farmers, I’ve found them useful for us home gardeners. They are putting on a seed growing webinar at the end of this month. I’m especially looking forward to the pollinator lecture, featuring Eric Mader of The Xerces Society, that takes place on Saturday February 1st. Here’s the 411 on the conference, which is...

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Learn to Build with Adobe

Kurt Gardella made me an adobe convert and helped us build an oven in our backyard that is responsible for many delicious pizzas. I’ve taken a few classes he’s taught, both in person and online. If you want to learn adobe, Kurt’s your man. Here’s some info on upcoming classes he’s teaching: Are you looking for college credit for your adobe construction coursework? I am teaching the following spri...

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Getting my Ham Radio License

I often find myself doing a kind of cultural dumpster diving, searching for forgotten activities waiting to be rediscovered. Most of this scavenging takes place at Los Angeles’ massive central library on lower level two, where all the how-to books are shelved.  This month I’m finally acting on something I’ve contemplated for years: getting my amateur radio (i.e. Ham) technician’s license. I’ll be...

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Have you ever wanted a uniform?

On the heels of Friday’s fashion post, Erik has encouraged me to share my current uniform fantasy with you all. See, I’ve always wanted a uniform. I love the idea of never having to decide what I’m going to wear again. The older I get, the more I want to keep things simple. I don’t want a closet packed with potential decisions. The less choices I have to make on a daily basis, the better. I think IR...

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In Praise of Disorder

Loose chickens in Houston A neighborhood whose demographics fall somewhere between the extremes of the crack den and the country club presents just the right level of civic inattention to allow the urban homesteader to get away with many of the illegal projects profiled in this blog: greywater, backyard poultry, and front yard vegetable gardening, to mention just a few. Ideally you have a balance between order and disorder–neither gunfir...

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Getting started with worms

Tonight Erik and I are running a booth promoting vermicomposting at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum’s Summer Nights in the Garden. We’ve put together this page of resources and advice to point the newbie worm farmers we meet tonight in the right direction– and hopefully inspire anyone who’s reading, no matter where they live, to start a worm bin as well. Welcome to Root Simple, NHM visitors! Q:...

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Movie recommendation: DamNation

This weekend, Erik and I went to a screening and discussion of DamNation, hosted at the Natural History Museum. DamNation is beautiful environmental documentary about the history and impact of dams on our watersheds, and the growing movement to decommission “deadbeat dams.” I don’t know if it was the PMS, but I was teary-eyed through much of it, moved by the beauty of the waters, the struggles of the salmon, and the passion...

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