The binoculars are always close at hand

A typical breakfast scene: Erik surveys the neighborhood from our “hilltop aerie.” What’s he looking at? Perhaps a lithesome jogger? Actually, no. When I took this picture he was admiring something poking out of a recycling bin over on Coronado Terrace. I’ve never quite got used to my man’s propensity to snatch up the binoculars, but I don’t really disapprove either. Erik is a peculiar peeping tom. His viewin...

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Why we moderate comments

...rom the inanities of spam. We thought you’d might like to see some of it, so you know why you have to wait for your comment to go up. The majority of the spam is of the False Reader sort. These comments are always agreeable and sometimes almost slip past us. Variations on “Thanks for sharing” are a real tip-off, though. Most of these types of spammers will use it, while I don’t know if any real reader has ever used that p...

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Sunflowers and Squirrels

It’s a losing battle, the one we gardeners face against the squirrel menace. As the mammoth sunflowers we planted this summer approached the harvest stage, I tied some paper bags over the flower heads to prevent squirrels and birds from eating all the seeds. Mostly, it has worked. But, as you can see from the animation above, one pesky squirrel managed to figure out how to open one of the bags. Perhaps he used the adjacent tomato cage for...

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Erik’s EDC

It’s about time I listed my “everyday carry” or “EDC” for short. For those of you not familiar with the EDC subculture, there are entire websites devoted to posting, critiquing and obsessing over the items you carry every singe day (not, say, just when going on a hike). I went through somewhat of an EDC mid-life crisis last month and emerged on the other side with the following items: 1. A nice Saddleback Leather W...

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Two Vegetable Gardening Commandments

...d to get this off his chest–he gets dramatic when garden disasters occur, and we’ve been hard hit by the skunk and cutworm brigades this week– but I’d say he’s being way too hard on himself. First and foremost, we learned about the possibly high levels of lead in our soil, just when we were at the critical transition stage between the summer and winter garden.The whole yard became off-limits at that point. We just le...

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Earthquake Proofing the Pantry

So I finally got around to earthquake proofing the pantry. All it took was a bunch of four foot bungee cords which seemed to have just about the right amount of stretch to span our seven foot shelves. You could probably use the same four foot bungee cords to span an even longer shelf. I used eye hooks to anchor the ends of the cords. Looking at the picture, the height of the cords on some of the shelves might not be optimal (looks like some of...

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Other People’s Poo: Biosolids in the Garden

...en? Ecological designer Darren Butler, at a class I was sitting in on, showed a soil report from a site that had used compost from the city of Los Angeles. LA’s compost contain biosolids, a euphemism for sewage. The soil test showed high levels of: zinc 196 ppm copper 76 ppm sulfur 5,752 ppm The problem isn’t human waste, it’s all the other stuff that ends up in the sewer. I see a future when we’ll be responsibly compo...

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Return of Recipe Friday! Carrot Soup

...get the exploding volcano effect, i.e. hot carrot soup launching from your blender. Believe me, I’ve been there. Do a final adjustment of seasoning after it’s blended (put it back in the pot if you used the blender). At this point add the lemon juice, which is the magic trick of this recipe. I don’t consider this ingredient optional. The recipe calls for one tablespoon of lemon juice but I usually add more. If it seems right,...

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Cat Update

...e will no longer be using the services of the vet who somehow overlooked her loud heart murmur when prepping her for anesthesia. There is little we can do for her. There is medication which will ease her heart action some. Dr. Zimmerman would not give us a prognosis because, as she says, “kitties always surprise us.” So Phoebe might have weeks, she might last years. She’s not in pain–she is just not as active as she used t...

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CooKit Solar Cooker Made Out of Wood

The nice folks at Solar Cookers International gave us permission to reprint plans for their CooKit solar cooker in our book Making It. You can access those plans, as well as many other solar cooker projects, for free, on their website here. I’ve made CooKits out of cardboard and aluminum foil a couple of times. One problem is that I eventually bang up the cardboard and I’ve got to make a new one. This summer I had a lot of  1/4 inc...

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