Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Green Cities California and the MEA

OK enough of the frivolous stuff like MJ; back to the real issues....it's very disappointing that the State of California has cancelled its Master Environmental Assessment due to budget cuts. No new contracts, Arnie says.
But where there's a will, there's a way, and a group called California Green Cities is now working to privately fund the MEA, picking up where the State left off. Thank you to Bryan Early at Californians Against Waste for emailing us all to keep us up to date. Did I mention CAW's website yet? http://www.cawrecycles.org/ is a fantastic resource for the latest news on California environmental issues. CAW is the country's largest, oldest and most effective environmental non-profit organization.
We'll know more in a few weeks and I'll post on it then.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Michael Jackson's House

Nicole and I were in Palisades market today, and because I had a helper, we got done and packed up in record time. And since we had a little extra time and happened to be right on Sunset, I had the great idea to drive by Michael Jackson's rental.

In some ways, I wish I had not gone. The street is taped off, so I couldn't get a shot of the big black gates that I wanted to see. There was a small crowd of people, maybe a dozen, and a small collection of flowers and candles and signs, on Sunset. of course there is no place to park anwhere nearby, so who knows how those people got there. A police car and a few officers standing around. Overall: kind of pathetic; the media made is sound like a big tribute.

But what really had me annoyed was that as I headed east on Sunset in front of the street, I pulled into the median, which is there for cars turning left onto his street. I was barely slowing down when I got the loud buzzer sound from the patrol car; clearly understood as "move it." We headed farther down Sunset then doubled back, and as I slowed in front of the makeshift memorial, I got the same buzzer again; I mean this cop must be sitting there in the car with his finger on the button. There was no one coming up behind me, but they obviously don't want any gawkers in the area. I had Nicole take this shot out the window as I slowed down; this really was about all there was. Good thing she left the patrol car out of the shot!
We had a great day in the market, though I was disappointed I was 2 booths away from Ronny, and while I went off to get some Greek food he said Tea Leoni had been by my booth.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Guide to the Stars

My next door neighbor in the Palisades market is Ronny, who sells SconeAge granola (the BEST granola) at the market on weekends and does hair, massage, and conducts focus groups by day.
Ronny is very social and very quick, and I told him I need to be in the booth next to him because he tells me who is there, so I can blog about it. This week, he leaned over and pretended to show me his phone and said "that girl used to be on Baywatch." He was right of course. It was Alexandra Paul, known as "the smart one" or "the Tall one," a brunette, and one of two Baywatch babes in the entire run of the show that didn't have fake boobs. Sad commentary on the show, but good for her! She's a long-time vegetarian and green advocate.
I saw her at the market and she made me want to run home and work out for a few hours; incredibly toned, but small and not too buff; she is in fabulous shape for mid-40's, and was there at the market with her husband, who is a triathlon coach extraordinaire.
I didn't get a shot of either Ronny or Alexandra this weekend, but this is the granola I bought, since I stock up each week for a variety of people.

Happy Solstice!

This weekend we were in Santa Barbara for the Summer Solstice Festival. It's the biggest event of the year in the area, celebrating the arrival of summer, of course! Everyone greets each other on the parade route and at the festival: "Happy Solstice!" Over the decades, I am told, the parade and festival were heavy on the Mardi-Gras and gay/flamboyant themes. We could see this influence today in the the theatrical costumes, feathers, beads, authentic Samba troupes and heavy drum beats. Wow the samba troupes were awesome to watch, and I only caught them when they arrived in the park where the festival was held. The parade over the years also gained a wonderfully simple and unpretentious feel to a lot of the floats, which were all under push-power. A mop-hatted accordeon player on a very whimsical float singing and playing Puff the Magic Dragon; a yellow submarine with a boy on top lip synching to the Beatles music blaring from the sub; a 10 ft tall Neptune stilt-walker with a lady dressed very cleverly as a jellyfish....and I only watched a few minutes of the parade. The only event I can compare it to is the New York Halloween parade, but that's in the evening and there isn't much that's wholesome about the NY parade, though it has a similar degree of fantasy and flair.
But I like Santa Barbara's parade better. It reminds me of what Laguna used to be like in the 70's.
We had our share of characters. See the man with the jester hat and headgear- two forks and a spoon- made him look rather medieval. Of course he also wore a Hawaiian shirt and beads in keeping with the day. There were a ton of fairy wings; even the dogs had wings, see photo. We sold a certain amount of baskets and a ton of complementary merchandise. Lots of fun and we'll be back next year!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wild Parrots

I went to my sister's house this evening on my way home; she lives in North Tustin. As I pulled out of her community gate, I saw two large green red-capped Amazon parrots fly by. Whoa! As I waited to pull across the road, another 10 birds flew in. I drove across the road and parked and got the camera out, and by then another 2 dozen birds had arrived. They made the biggest ruccus you could imagine; a lot of green and a lot of noise!

I was sure they were parrots, but in my dozens of years here, I've never seen them; I wondered if they were migratory. But according to an Orange County Register article, there are several flocks of wild green Amazon parrots in the County; and I did such a poor job trying to photograph these crazy birds (they move fast and the camera was on zoom), I borrowed the photos from the Register; the birds I saw where exactly like these; a little smaller than a crow. No one is sure, but there are a handful of wonderful "urban myths" about how the birds arrived here.

It was a wonderful, natural spectacle; my brother in law and I are sort of the birder-watchers in the family so we'll have to compare notes on this....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SDF Handicraft Boats

I was walking Napoleon this morning in Heisler Park, when I came upon a man (homeless) with an interesting little flotilla of outrigger canoe-style model boats. They were all different sizes, and made out of palm pods & husks and a few shishkebob sticks. A few of them had dried star pine needles glued to the edges, which gave the effect of a sort of a railing, and added some interesting texture. They had minimal paint and were naiive, but cleverly assembled, well constructed, and well, just sort of charming; all-in-all they were attractive for the same reasons most people like handicraft: each piece is unique and has its own character, made of local renewable resources, and created by someone who is somehow skilled and appreciative of the income derived. They look really good as a collection, to compare, or individually.

It seems that the City came and trimmed the palm trees in Heisler Park last week and someone had the idea to make a little model raft out of the pieces. And then this gentleman decided the cuttings and hard husks were better suited for canoes, so there he was, busy with a little bit of glue and paint and a few materials.
"You're not from the City, are you?" he asked, when I said I wanted to buy one and also take a photo of the collection. Seems the LBPD have been by a few times and have warned him you aren't really supposed to be selling stuff on the street, without a permit etc. "It's better than hanging out in front of Pavillions looking for a handout" he volunteered (true), then added "and they make a great gift for father's day." He might be homeless but he's making a good go of the marketing!

Anyway, as you know I really appreciate handmade items, so I bought one for $20, which I liked because it's not too big or too small, is painted red below the waterline, and even has "Laguna" painted in white near the back on the port side.
In France, the homeless are called sans domicile fixe or simply SDF. Closer, perhaps, to our word itinerant. Though it's clearly a global issue, we are in the middle of a sort of a homeless crisis in Laguna, and right before the art festivals open and summer moves into high gear. Due to a recent ACLU lawsuit, the City repealed a 90+ year old ordinance against sleeping on the beaches, and then I guess the word got out. So every day on my way out of town, I see a one or two people on their way into town loaded down with their life's gear. It's not exactly a flood, but it's been noticeable. Anyway, it's big debate in Laguna; I'll leave it at that.

It would be interesting if the City could actually find a way to let this guy sell his goods; maybe he should be set up at the Craft Guild on Main Beach; everything has to be made by you (that counts me out) but he could do it, I think. They would make nice little souvenirs of Laguna for the tourists, I think....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tuning in to ETown

Every Sunday morning, I get on the road to wherever I am going around 6am....and I listen to 100.3FM The Sound LA on the radio. I listen to that station a lot; cool music. First they broadcast a show called ETown, which is recorded live in Boulder. It's about music, but they also inform on eco-issues, in a soft-way that would appeal to a broad range of groups. In the last few weeks I've listened to info about Nieman Ranch and non-containment livestock, Ray LaMontaigne (one of my favorite artists) and quite a few awesome folksy singers. You can find them online at etown.org; it's a nicely low-key education in awareness.
That is followed by the Mormon choir and the broadcast from Temple Square in Salt Lake City. It's up to something like the 4,000-something broadcast of the show, 80+ years. I don't mind missing church if I listen to that :) it's a nice broadcast, but they cut the biblical readings, it's "all about the music."
I copied their logo from the site, but this is all that shows up. Google it or check it out if you get a chance.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

An Acre of Roses

There is a man in Palisades who has an ACRE or roses. Most of them old or English roses, and all of them wonderful. He sells them in pre-composed bunches, and there is nothing like them at any market I've seen....today I bought a bunch of yellow English buttercups; see the first photo. Fabulous fabulous, I'd take 5 bunches if I could....
We had a nice day today in Palisades; I brought home the best fresh fish ever, which I made for R for dinner. Thank you to my very nice actress client who picked up her basket today.
I am so tired I am going to bed now; left the house at 6am and home before 10 pm, nightey-night!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How to keep Greens Crisp

Every week in Palisades I buy "baby" & "wild" arugula, as well as two perfect heads of baby frisee. The French call arugula "rocket" by the way, and I've never figured out why. But if you see it on the menu, rocket = arugula.
The tender little greens look a little tired after they've been sitting on my table for a few hours, as my demos, without any humidity. And then they get to sit in the van for the drive back to Laguna. Once at home, I get the whole bag and fatigue greens wet under the faucet and then put the bag in the refrigerator. In a few hours, they've crisped back up. And they stay crisp for over a week as-is; no need to remoisten the bag. This photo is of 7 day old arugula in my fridge.
It's really a niche market, mine: a lot of women come to the booth and volunteer their methods of keeping produce fresh; they inquire as to whether the net bags are better than the elaborate ways they have come up with to keep produce fresh and greens humid; usually there are long explanations of wet and dry paper towels, Debbie Meyer Green Bags, plastic bags and such. The net bags can hold the little bit of humidity that greens need, and they also let produce breathe. The problem is that produce gives off ethylene gas, which is also called the "ripening hormone" for plants. Trap produce and ethylene gas in a plastic bag with a wet paper towel, and you have a recipie for decomposition, in my chemistry book. There are products on the market which oxydize the ethlene gas, but I like the old fashioned way - a breathable net bag and a little humidity.
The blue colored net bags have become my current favorites because anything green (avocados, arugula, frisee) looks fabulous in them. Today I colored a new batch of net bags, with a client in Massachusetts in mind; I did bags to match her blue and green logo; she will be at the farmers market there every week and I'm looking forward to hearing her shoppers' reactions.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pali today

We had a great day today in Palisades. I had a nice lady come and ask about an item, and when she left, my neighbor told me her name. High profile. Oops. I have a call in to her agent tonight. I'll give her consideration because she was really nice and the second time she came by she had a ready smile for me. We vendors keep track of who is "mean and nasty" and who is nice. Listen, if you are a celebrity or a normal shopper, please be civil; there is one celeb actress in Pali almost every week, and she walks by with her nose in the air like a real brat. We don't care about her. She is on the mean and nasty list....it costs you nothing to be nice....

I got a cake last week for Maria, and my Mom coveted it, so this week I bought the same cake for my Mom. Chocolate souflee with fruit; found at Genou at the Pali market and also Studio City Farmers Market. Check out her chocolate cheesecake too; to die for, as my Mom says.

btw my new Morocco merch was a hit today; short handles with lined basket; long handles flat or round with unlined baskets. I took an informal shot on Mom's arm today when I delivered the cake. More photos this week.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Just Like France

It's a shame that my camera was out of gas today; I missed photos of my new merchandise as well as the adorable Twins with their matching Orange Cassis baskets. Please come back again!
But my favorite shopper of the day was this woman, who is visiting from Boston. She was recently in the South of France with her husband, who was giving a lecture in Cannes. She said that everywhere she went, the women had these tote bags; everywhere in every color, and they were exactly like my totes (since mine are all authentic!). She asked a few women where they got them, and they said "At the Market" (of course!). She said she especially noticed a lot of the fuchsia, exactly like she has in her hand here (the "It Bag" for the South of France, she says); also lots of yellow.
She didn't didn't buy any in France, no room, but she bought a series of them today, to take home.
I had to have a shot of her, so this is from my phone. She was pofessionally super-accomplished herself, and immaculately dressed, down to her jeweled sandals which you can not see here; especially with a basket in hand, she looked like she just arrived from Cannes...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tomato Time

It's that time again, time to plant the tomatoes.....last year I put in some boxwood and water (thank you Nick) and sort of formalized a potager; but because I am an amatuer and they are professionals and usually specialists, I buy my produce at the farmers markets I'm at rather than grow my own. Tomatoes are my exception; it thrills me to grow and pick my own tomatoes. I blanche, skin and freeze whatever doesn't get eaten or given away.
I had my nieces help me plant this year, and I have the usual mix; not a lot of heirlooms this year; they weren't my best performers last year. My favorite last year was the San Marzano.
Napoleon found something interesting at one end in the newly planted garden, in the photo; the basket photo is from last year.