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Showing posts from March, 2011

Fearsome Fluffiness

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... Hard to believe that this roundy little fellow is the same scrawny cat I picked off of the street, back in September. It seems as if there are places that Smog cannot reach when he is grooming. This is probably due to the fact that his skeleton is distorted, thanks to a trauma in his earlier life. He has amazingly thick hair, and gets big mats on his haunches. I tried to trim out this mats this weekend, and now it looks like the poor cats was attacked by a scissor-wielding five-year-old.

The Latest Buzz

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... After weeks and weeks of sloppy chilly rain, and sloppy headcolds, Robb and I were finally able to find a moment to open up our Gloriana hive, and assess the condition of this colony of honeybees. Earlier this winter, we had "parked" a hive box on our beehive, as a favor for a couple of would-be beekeepers. Our bees would build comb, and raise young bees, and in a few months, Gerry and Laurel would be able to retrieve their box, and start a colony with the offspring of our bees. Unfortunately, we had not had a chance to check how this was going until now, because we didn't want to chill our bees. As it turned out, we made a pretty foolish error, in that we stuck Gerry and Laurel's hive box on the tippy-top of our colony, too far away from the "brood chamber." When we finally got into the hive boxes today, we realized that we were going to have to shuffle this donor box nearer to the nursery, if we wanted to see any action. (While we used Gerry a

A Full House

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... You would never know it from reading the blog, but we've had flurry of visitors. Robb's parents were out from New York, and my former assistant Sheri came down from Oregon on her spring break to work with me. This work-year has been a particularly hectic one, so I wasn't able to spend the kind of time I would have liked with Robb's folks. Of course, I totally failed to take any photos during the visits. I'm really bad at photographing people. This was the first time that any of Robb's relatives had seen our little house. I do hope that they approved. Given the amount of snow that Joan and Bob have had to endure this winter, our rainy weather might not have seemed so bad. Sheri, who is living in Portland, soaked every second of sun. And everyone went home with a bag-full of lemons from our backyard tree. Somehow, I managed to catch a cold, and was a shambling mess on the last few days of Sheri's visit. This morning, I wandered out to the

So, what about those eggs?

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Better late than never, here are the photos from this year's Egg Stravaganza. Once again, we had a mix of experts, folks who had done this once or twice before, and total newbies. This year, I think I *finally* figured out how to explain the basic concept of wax resist dyeing in a way that everyone "got" it. For those who don't know anything about Eastern European Easter Egg dyeing, or batik in general, I've got a tutorial over at Craftster . In the most simplistic terms, you apply molten wax on the surface on the egg, which encapsulates the color under the wax. So, if you're drawing with wax on a white egg, and then you drop the egg in black dye, you'll end up with a black egg, with white lines on it. This egg was made by Jen, who has probably done more eggs than anyone I know. In this photography, the egg is resting on a "bed of nails" and the dark-colored wax is being melted away, revealing various layers of dye. When Jen rubs the

Dinosaur Egg

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... Egg Day was a great success. I'll post photos of what we made in the next few days. Until then, here's Cole with his T Rex egg. He certainly seems pleased.

Sunday is Egg Day!

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... Robb's parents are visiting! Sheri is visiting! And Sunday is our somewhat-annual Egg-Stravaganza, where I'll be teaching folks to make Ukrainian-style Easter eggs. Won't you join us from 1pm until 4pm at Berkeley Rep's new scenic studios? 1111 8th Street, in North Berkeley. If you are planning on attending, please let me know. I need to know how many chairs and beers we'll need. And bring your own blown-out egg, please.

Exciting Siding, or Bored Boards?

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... We've been chipping away at our pile of salvaged siding , preparing it for installation. I have been using the heat-stripper and digging the paint and caulk out of the part of the boards that will overlap, and Robb has been cleaning the dirt off, so that we will have a good surface for painting. We bought something like three times more than we needed, if you were to merely count the board-feet. But of course, much of this lumber isn't in particularly good shape, so we're working on the best boards first. It's really quite incredible to think that this wood is almost one hundred years old. At the time it was harvested, it would have come from virgin redwood forests, which means that these very boards probably came from trees that were hundreds of years old. Trees that were as big around as my car. As a life-long tree hugger, this almost freaks me out. There will never be a forest like the one that these boards were ripped out of. But, on the other ha

Another Egg-Stravaganza!

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... Join us for our somewhat-annual Egg-Stravaganza! Sunday, March 20th, 1pm 1111 8th Street in North Berkeley (right off the Gilman Street exit of 580/80) Bring Your Own Blown-Out Eggs Join us for an afternoon of egg decorating fun. Learn to make traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs, using wax resist dyeing. All tools and materials (except eggs) will be provided. Since we're working with dyes, please dress to get messy. We're in a new location this year, so please don't go to West Oakland.

It's Alive!

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... Back in January, I was pretty pleased about this. I had gotten scion wood from Serious Fruit Experts, and had attempted grafting on my backyard plum tree. I'm stupidly pleased with myself, now! Four of the grafts have taken hold and are thriving. I had been advised not to select scion wood that looked like it would produce flowers, because the newly grafted branch would not be able to support the weight of any fruit that might be produced. I had only the vaguest idea of how to discern which twigs would produce flowers, and which would send out leaves. Even though this isn't the "best" outcome, it's still pretty magical. We'll enjoy the flower, and then remove any fruit that might form. Asking this tree to raise fruit on this newly formed graft would be like asking someone to move a sofa, after they'd broken their arm, but hadn't been seen by a doctor, yet. (Oh, wait, I did that, back in junior high school. Well, that's a sto

Around the House

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... I haven't written much about the ongoing work at our little house. Most of the tasks are so mundane, individually. But when I sit down and think about it, a lot has been accomplished. I don't have photos of most of these projects, so I'll share a photo of some bread Robb baked. We have not yet installed the vintage siding that Robb found on craigslist. I wanted to scrape off the old paint before we commenced. I'd much rather do the paint-scraping on sawhorses, instead of crawling around in the dirt. We're interested in using an infrared paint stripper for this job. The advantage of this tool is that it only brings the paint up to about 400°. Heat guns get much hotter, reaching temperatures that vaporize lead paint, and create hazardous fumes. We're trying to remove the paint as safely as possible. Unfortunately, these tools cost about five hundred dollars. Robb found a tool rental service , so we'll be starting as soon as the stripper ar