Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Artist: Owen Thomason
Media: pinecone, colored feathers, cardboard, glue, great imagination

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Elves' Faire Update

Great weather.

Hands on crafts like these beeswax candles.

Handsome guys.

And a celebrity serenade.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hawks and Helicopters

Hawks and Helicopters can often be seen circling our neighborhood hunting their prey. Here I happen to have caught them in the same frame.

Our friend Mister Jalopy's recently posted about Los Angeles as he experiences it, the one that exists beyond the cliche. Hawks and helicopters would have to be added to a list describing my Los Angeles.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Handmade Recycled Sweater

This sweater was made by Joya Roy. She takes old sweaters (mostly felted wool from what I saw of her collection) and remakes them into children's clothes. They are all hand-stitched together and hand-appliqued.

Such a great idea. Wool sweaters in thrift stores will have a whole new meaning to me now. I'd love to try this.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bee Savior

Our friend Amy turned us on to the blog where the author sometimes writes about bees.

Porkfist says:
"The Backwards Beekeepers traveled south to remove two hives from the inside of a fence in Torrance yesterday. Have you ever had 20,000 confused, pissed-off bees flying around your head, other than during your last acid flashback? It's pretty great."

When we had a swarm start to build a hive in our tree back in April, I got really excited. After doing a little bit of research I found out that you need to be prepared before you find a swarm or you have no hope of catching it. If I had only known about Kirk Anderson, those bees would be with us today. Instead I later learned that they suffered a terrible fate at the hands of our neighbors exterminator after they left our tree for her clapboard house.

Kirk Anderson of Kirks Urban Bees appears to be a pied piper of bees in the L. A. Area.
I think I will be petitioning the Backward Beekeepers for membership momentarily.

Here is more of Kirk in action rescuing bees.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's Like Butter Baby

No, it is butter, baby. Julia made this butter from Claravale Farms organic cream because the Organic Pastures butter we normally buy was unavailable due to a recall.

The cream was put into the Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment and mixed for 10 or 15 min until small yellow cottage cheese like curds began to form eventually condensing into whole, raw butter. The remainder is butter milk - great for pancakes!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pasadena Waldorf School's Annual Elves' Faire

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For those in the LA area this weekend, the Elves' Faire is happening this Saturday, November 22, from 10AM-4PM. It is quite a treat. The campus is magical and made more so with the live music and long flags rippling in the wind. There are games, crafts, food, and more.

The specifics:
Saturday, Nov. 22, 10 AM-4 PM
Pasadena Waldorf School, 209 E. Mariposa St., Altadena

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NHM Member Loan Program: Crow Skeleton

I caught this unexpected still life with crow skeleton when I peeked my head into the boys room the other day. It is further complimented by the wonderful gifted book The Giant Golden Book of Birds propped open to the two page spread entitled "Fishermen by Trade"

Did you know that the white pelican found in Europe and Asia is 65 inches long? I imagine that that would be stretched out from tip of beak to toe but still that's a good three feet standing height.

The things you learn.

Previously borrowed from the NHM Members' Loan Service:
Hawksbill Turtle
Big Horn Sheep Horn
Black-throated Mango Hummingbird

Monday, November 17, 2008

Trailer Update

Since we bought Camp Ramshackle, we have often talked about adding a vintage trailer as an inexpensive guest house.

Our friend Phoenix had just come back from Hawaii to stay with us again so, a few weeks ago we bought a 1958 Streamline. We love the Airstream trailers but appreciated the off brand discount even more. We are told that the Streamline was built locally by defectors from Airstream and differ in that the Streamline has an aluminum interior and originally came with insulation.

Our trailer interior was originally painted with a barfy speckled finish that must have been ugly in 1958. Later it was painted mint green and finally gray. We were also told that it was featured in a few episodes of the series J.A.G.

Phoenix has embarked on the arduous task of stripping the paint off of the interior. It is looking great but it's grueling, unpleasant work. He'll probably stop for a while soon to take a break and focus on other projects.

One of which is to improve the floor covering. Phoenix had the idea to use brown paper bags, a technique that looks kind of like leather but not really like a floor covered with paper bags.

Here are the latest trailer renovation pictures on Flickr.

Previously on Ramshackle Solid:
Latest Addition to the Compound

Sunday, November 16, 2008

R.I.P. "Crump"

This morning we laid Crump to rest. It was a little sad, but there were no tears.

We decided to bury him where we bury the other animals that die around here. On a patch of earth our son calls Catalina Island because there is a Catalina Cherry tree growing there.

No words were said.
It was a very simple ceremony.

Explaining what had transpired to our friend Phoenix at the gate.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Butterfly Experiment: The Release

The painted ladies are here. All five caterpillars became butterflies. We watched them up close sip sugar water with long thin black tongues.

Into the wild they go.

Two butterflies flew out as soon as the lid was opened. These two lingered for awhile. My son coaxed them out, "Time to go butterfly."

One remains with us. This is Crump. Shortly after posting about the five caterpillars growing well, I could only find four. We worried that we had lost one. Ends up, Crump was the first to enter the cocoon. However, Crump failed to hang it's chrysalis from the top of the cup. When Crump emerged from the cocoon, her/his wings were all crumpled. I would have loved to see Crump take flight and leave us behind, but we're thankful our home butterfly observation continues.

Previously posted on the painted lady butterfly experiment:
Butterfly Experiment Begins
Butterfly Experiment Update 1
Butterfly Experiment Update 2

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Winter Planting

The other day, when I posted about a cool planter bed from Australia, I realized that I had never posted the finished pictures of our own raised bed.

We have black and regular kale, various lettuces, radishes parsley and fava beans growing now. In other wine barrel raised beds around the yard we have herbs like basil, mint, more parsley and arugula. We tried cilantro but it got burned in our recent hot spell. I think we have three empty wine barrels right now. We are hoping the heat has passed and we can get on with the winter planting.

I 'd like to make another bed, something like this one, as soon as I can. The thanksgiving break from work may be a good time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Butterfly Experiment Update 2

The caterpillars are now chrysalises. Amazing to think about the changes going on behind the cocoon.

Previously posted on the painted lady butterfly experiment:
Butterfly Experiment Begins
Butterfly Experiment Update 1

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Baby Pigeon Pays a Visit

An unexpected visitor flew in today, this baby pigeon. Last week, Eric found a small bird thrown from the nest. Judging by it's long beak, we guessed it was a pigeon. Sadly, it did not make it. My guess is our visitor is from the same brood.

Curious and fearless.

The bird and boy both.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Catech Olive Harvest Festival

We had a good time at the Caltech Olive Festival.

They had some really cool tripod ladders that volunteers were climbing on. Everyone seemed to have their own method of picking the olives. Some swatted the trees, others picked each olive carefully while others made raking or stripping motions.

This is the mill that crushes the olives. We didn't get to see it in action but it is a serious piece of machinery.

This is the press that squishes the juice out of the crushed up olives that come out of the mill. The liquid from the press is then sent to the centrifuge (is this how the Greeks did it?)

To control the olive fly they use a special yeast mixed with water and hung from the trees in plastic water bottles. Small, precisely sized holes are drilled in the necks of the bottles which allow the flies to crawl in through but from which they cannot escape.

More pictures at our flickr account.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Handmade Felt Birds

These birds were made by Priscilla Nielsen. I found them at the College of the Canyons Art Gallery while I was there to hear Mister Jalopy speak.

A small card on a shelf with these birds said very little about Priscilla Nielsen. I asked woman I bought them from for more information, but she had none. My searches online lead me to an illustrator of the same name, but I don't think they are the same person.

They feel so wonderful to hold. Soft with a slight weight. It makes me want to give felt sewing a try, like Amanda at Rambling Thoughts of an Eccentric.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Christiania Glass House

I find this building extremely compelling. I stumbled on it a while back and return every once in a while to check it out. It is part of the Freetown Christiania, an autonomous favela in Copenhagen. If you haven't heard of Freetown Christiania before, there is an interesting entry on Wikipedia about it.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Raised Planter Bed

I love this planter bed, it's very ramshackle in it's construction yet solid in terms of its rational and frugal reuse of materials. (Via the enjoyable, Red White and Grew blog)

We have recently planted the bed I built back in the summer with some kale, lettuces, radishes, beans and something else that I am forgetting right now. I want to make another but would prefer to make it with found materials this time. We'll see if I can find some materials before the urge to plant becomes too strong.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

NHM Member Loan Program: Hawksbill Turtle

The Hawksbill Turtle display was chosen by my son for display at Camp Ramshackle.

Previously borrowed from the NHM Members' Loan Service:
Big Horn Sheep Horn
Black-throated Mango Hummingbird

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Highlights

Carving jack-o-lanterns

Costume making

Discovery of dress-up and self-transformation

Emergence from the cocoon

A jack-o-lantern drawn by my son, "so scary it will make you jump"

Returning home all Halloweened-out.

Related posts on Ramshackle Solid:
Pumpkin Patch at Underwood Family Farms
Jack-o-lantern #1