The Sacred Chickens of Ancient Rome

I stumbled on an odd historical anecdote last week: the use, by the ancient Romans, of sacred chickens as a form of divination. From the Encyclopedia of Diderot & d’Alembert: Sacred chickens were chickens raised by priests in Roman times, and which were used for making auguries. Nothing significant was undertaken in the Senate or in the armies, without omens being drawn from the sacred chickens. The most common method of drawing...

Continue reading…

Qualitites of a Good Outdoor Room

...his post? On the front porch I could add a small table to hold a book and a glass of beer. The space with the stove needs shelter from the sun during the morning (in another year the grapes will cover the arbor but until that time maybe I need to string up some shading). The earth oven we built definitely improved the “roomedness” of this space, creating a sense of enclosure and providing a focus. But I clearly need to construct somet...

Continue reading…

News from the Kat Kingdom at Root Simple

...s a goofball. In Buck he’s met his match. As a pair they generate cuteness levels that can actually make you lightheaded. They play all day, every day, and then sleep together in adorable postures. We spend far too much time watching those cats with glazed, stupid looks on our faces. Household productivity is way, way down. Meanwhile, like us, Phoebe seems genuinely entertained by watching the boys. If Buck is Trout’s toy, the two of...

Continue reading…

Film Industry Blocks Bike Lanes, City of LA Doesn’t Care

Film industry trucks block bike lanes all the time here in Los Angeles, particularly along busy and fast moving Sunset Boulevard. Shutting down a bike lane on Sunset forces cyclists to merge into traffic that is sometimes going as fast as 50 miles an hour. It’s a tragedy waiting to happen. Not much room between a fast moving bus and a film industry truck. As to the legality of blocking a bike lane I don’t have a good answe...

Continue reading…

Quebec Kitchen Garden Saved

From BoingBoing, an update on the Drummondville, Quebec kitchen garden, seen in the time lapse video above. City officials have backed down on asking for the garden to be removed. Drummondville town officials announced the decision [Link is in French] this week during a special session of the Municipal Council to discuss the case. The decision could create a ripple effect in other cities worldwide as zoning laws are a constant debate in urba...

Continue reading…

Deodorizing Wash

...he shower. This is a little mix I created, a simple blend of water, baking soda and essential oil. It’s something you can splash on and towel off real quick when you’re in a hurry. I use it when I don’t have time to shower, but suspect I’m a little too fragrant. I also bring it camping to help reduce the fugg. The baking soda cuts through body grease and deodorizes. The tea tree oil kills any stinky bacteria that remain. T...

Continue reading…

Barley Water

...Mason jar.   Peel the yellow skin (not the pith) from one half to one full organic lemon with a zester or vegetable peeler.  Put the zest into the jar with the barley. You can go ahead and add a squeeze of lemon juice at this time, but I find I like less lemon flavor, so only use the zest. Add 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Pour boiling water over everything, filling the quart jar. Let the mix sit on the counter until it cools, about an hour. Then stra...

Continue reading…

How To Design a Garden Step II: Using Google Earth to Draw Up a Plan

...maculture zones For a more accurate and sizable plan you can also use Google’s free 3D modeling program SketchUp. The drawback with SketchUp is that it requires a couple of evenings to learn. If only we had taken the time to draw up a plan to scale when we first moved into our house back in 1998! Better late than never, and at least it’s easier now thanks to Google. Special thanks to Darren Butler and Scott Kleinrock for inspiring...

Continue reading…

Is This Egg Good?

..., because fresh eggs are impossible to peel. What you don’t want to see is a floating egg. A floating egg is a bad egg. (Like a witch!) Old eggs float because the mass inside the egg decreases–dries out–over time, making it lighter. I personally don’t trust any floating egg, but I do know that other people draw a distinction between eggs that float low and eggs that float high, and only discard the high floaters. And I hon...

Continue reading…

Stinging Nettles and Cat Allergies

...recedent for this. I also grew up with dogs, and yet later developed an allergy to them, too. I ignored this for our dog Spike, because I wanted a dog more than anything else in the world. At first, I broke out in hives every time he licked me, but it went away. I’m trusting the same thing is going to happen here with the kitten. I mean, come on! Were we going to put this on Craig’s List? I know it might sound nuts, but it&#...

Continue reading…