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My solar panels were installed today! It was quite an operation with four trucks and about eight guys, and they were here all afternoon working on it. The panels will be inspected by the city next week, and inspected by the electric company after that. Then they go live! So exciting.

I highly recommend SolarCity. I’m leasing these panels for $37 a month, which is about the same price as my electric bill. No installation fee or upfront costs, and the term is 20 years.

Solar City panels

Solar City panels

Solar City panels

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Weaving the Design

I’m starting to weave the weft of the scarf. I thought you might like to see it in progress. Yes, the selvedges are funky. They shouldn’t be loose, but in a way I kind of like the lacy effect. I think I should maybe use a smaller dent reed with the warp yarns closer together, but this yarn wouldn’t fit through the holes of my smaller reed. Feel free to offer your suggestions on how to correct that problem!

Weaving a Scarf Rigid Heddle

Weaving a Scarf Rigid Heddle

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Weaving Up a Storm

I’m having trouble finding a contractor to build my new art studio, and in the meantime I don’t have a place to paint. Evidently it’s the busy time of year for contractors, and I haven’t found one who’s available right now. I realized it’s an opportunity to do some weaving, and I can warp my rigid heddle loom using two tables set up in the driveway. No studio space required!

I joined a rigid heddle loom study group, an offshoot of the Ventura County Handweavers and Spinners Guild, and our project for this month is to weave a scarf. I thought I would explore an asymmetrical Burberry type of plaid, using cotton yarns that I dyed with natural dyes made from plants.

Weaving on Rigid Heddle Loom

The warp is measured by the distance between the two tables, in this case, about six feet, for a six-foot scarf. Actually it’s a little more than six feet, because there’s some waste at both ends of the warp, where the yarn is tied onto the front and back beams of the loom.

Weaving on Rigid Heddle Loom

First the yarn is looped onto the back beam and threaded through the slots of the reed. Then every other thread is pulled through the holes in the reed using a heddle hook. This gives an over-and-under basket weave pattern.

Weaving on Rigid Heddle Loom

The yarn is then tied onto the front beam.

Weaving on Rigid Heddle Loom

Weaving on Rigid Heddle Loom

I use kraft paper to weave the first six inches or so, to allow for fringe.

Weaving on Rigid Heddle Loom

And I’m ready to start weaving!

Weaving on Rigid Heddle Loom

So if you know of any good contractors in the Ventura area who are available, let me know. Right now it’s looking like it could be a several month wait, and I’d like to get the studio built before the rain starts and ruins everything I have stored in the garage. IF the rain starts! We should be so lucky, right!

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Backyard Tour with Nelson

Here’s a home movie tour of my backyard for my L.A. peeps who haven’t made it up to Ventura yet to see my new house . . . which is most of you! When are you coming up to visit?

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More Houses Less Agriculture

The clouds were so pretty hanging over the mountains today. This is the University of California Hansen Trust property near my house. It’s currently being used to grow cabbages, but is soon to be developed into more housing.

Thelma Hansen left a lot of property to the University of California when she died in 1992, and it’s being sold off bit by bit.  Thelma requested that her gift be used “for the support and maintenance of University research and extension activities and related facilities for the sustainability and benefit of agriculture in Ventura County and matters related to agriculture and natural resource issues.” It doesn’t appear that her wishes are being honored.

UC Hansen Trust Property Ventura UC Hansen Trust Property Ventura UC Hansen Trust Property Ventura

The University of California is also planning to sell off Faulkner Farm in Santa Paula, another part of the Hansen Trust that has been a very popular pumpkin patch and educational farm.

 

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Ventura Artwalk 2014

I went on the Ventura Artwalk with my friend Kat Knecht today. I was very lucky to meet Kat and her husband Curtis when I first arrived here. They moved to Ventura from L.A. about nine years ago, and they’ve introduced me to some wonderful groups and resources. You’ll want to check out Kat’s relationship coaching website as well as her weekly radio show.

Artwalk was fabulous! It’s one of the best art shows I have ever seen. Downtown businesses featured artwork by local artists, and it was displayed beautifully.

PODS brought in 15 of their storage units for nonprofit organizations and additional artist space. One of the PODS was transformed into a lovely living space by Habitat for Humanity using materials from their Restore in Oxnard.

Another part of Artwalk was the Bowl Hop. You select a handmade ceramic bowl and pay $25. Then you can take your bowl to any of the 12 particiapting restaurants in the downtown area and receive a sampling of their food. Proceeds from the Bowl Hop benefit Project Understanding’s Food Pantry. What a great idea!

Here are people selecting their bowls for the Bowl Hop.

Ventura Artwalk 2014

This is the artwork of Pippi Fotland. She has written a lovely story to accompany each of these pieces, one of which she read to me after I selected the piece that most resonated with me.

Ventura Artwalk 2014

At Red Brick Gallery there were artists painting live.

Ventura Artwalk 2014

My friend Ted Lombard showed his art at the E.P. Foster Library downtown. I met Ted at Focus on the Masters, where he graciously volunteers his time to help Donna Granata, the founder and executive director. He and his wife Joyce are also members of the Buenaventura Art Association, and have artwork in the upcoming raffle. I also have a painting in the raffle, and you can purchase the $5 raffle tickets online through August 2nd.

Ventura Artwalk 2014

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Sweet Decadence

One of my favorite treats is a mango smoothie. I put a peeled mango with the seed removed into the Vitamix with some soymilk, and it whips up really thick. The texture is more like whipped cream than a smoothie, and I eat it with a spoon.

The flavor reminds me of the 50/50 ice cream bars we used to have as children — half vanilla ice cream and half orange sherbet. If you add a little vanilla, the mango smoothie would taste even more like that.

There are several produce stands that sell mangoes on the route I take through the farmland to Camarillo. A box of mangoes costs $6, and there are 8-12 mangoes in a box, depending on the size of the fruit.  That’s a lot of smoothies!

Mango Smoothie

Mangoes

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Getting Creative in the Kitchen

It’s that time of year when everyone has an excess of zucchini. I’ve been getting wonderful squash from my mom’s garden and my neighbor, Sylvia. I decided to use some of it for zucchini bread. I don’t yet have an art studio, but I can be creative in other ways, right?!! Like cooking.

I tried a super healthy zucchini bread recipe from Cathy Fisher’s Straight Up Food blog. Her recipes are all vegan and sugar, oil and salt free. This zucchini bread uses oat and millet flour, which I made by grinding the whole grains in my Vitamix. You can use other grains and substitute already ground flours. It’s sweetened with dates and grated apple. It’s very good, and only slightly sweet, which I like. If you want it sweeter, add a few more dates.

Zucchini Bread

Home-Grown Zucchini

Zucchini Bread

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Mystery Tree

Do you know what type of tree this is in my front yard? I’ve been told by neighbors that it’s deciduous and loses all of its leaves in winter. It’s just starting to get delicate little creamy white flowers at the ends of each branch. I’ve never seen anything like it here before. It’s quite lacy and beautiful, and I’d love to know its name!

Mystery Tree

Mystery Tree

Mystery Tree

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Yet More Changes

Remember I told you that I heard that the new owner of my Santa Monica house was removing all of the plants and trees from the backyard? My brother went to investigate. First, the “before” picture, from when I lived there. Lots of lush greenery.

Grant Street house

And here’s the “after” picture, taken by my brother, as it looks now.

Grant Street house

Whoa! Don’t you wonder how they got that huge Norfolk Island Pine tree out of there, roots and all? I’m glad I wasn’t there to see it.

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