Monday, June 15, 2015

Bandana crazy.

In a good way. The good ol' American red or blue bandana is now an icon of the working class US. Or what's left of it. When we see that familiar red or blue print with white, on a nice big cotton square we immediately think of....a working man and a working woman. We think of symbols for gangs, we think of cowboys and cowgirls, and we think of pirates that rob I.

this Disney pirate needs no introduction, right Capt. Sparrow! Notice that red silk sash.... a bandana from ancient and old India, the seaport of Bengal.

Since the red or blue handkerchief is so ubiquitous, at least one is probably owned by every American now living, and in the past, every American probably owned quite a few.
First made in India many hundreds of years ago,  as a piece of fabric with tie dye designs, it was called "Bandhani" meaning a style of Indian tie dyed fabric. The tiny little white designs were made by making teeeny tiny little pinches of fabric, dipping it in indigo blue dye or other colors, and then the released ties made a pattern of small white undyed "stars".
Back then, a tribal or cultural affiliation would be known by the color and design of the bandhani, and the scarf or band, the bandana.  From about 1700, bandanas spread from the local textiles of India, away from the port of Bengal  via sailors or pirates to farmers, workers, Rosie the Riveter, the working class, bikers, and fashionable people.

Here's Blair of the blog Atlantic-Pacific.

and Dust Bowl era photographer, Dorothea Lange.

Here's a vintage Levi's advertising display of a cowboy and his blue bandana.

and from a 2014 Milan fashion show, here is a spiffy Italian dude sporting a red bandana.

Here's Rick Jimenez and his headgear, the printed bandana.

They are in tons of colors now, not just red and blue. They most often still have white designs, but black is pretty common as an accent color too.
The names of makers you most likely will see are Elephant trunk up and trunk down, Tiger, Tuside, Hav A Hank,  and many unknown makers but most likely Paris Accessories that began in America in the early 20th century.
You will see more than flowers and paisley, dots and dashes since they can be printed with any message or face or name such as for politicians, business logos, and of course, Willie Nelson and  a few rock stars, too.
Since very little information is required by law to be printed on the bandana, it will only contain a country of origin, or fiber content, washability and maybe an RN number.

Bandanas, because of their history, their textile beauty can be framed like a painting and hung on the wall for a big blast of color and texture. This arrangement is from

funkomavintage is always crazy for bandanas. 
Here is a few in the Etsy shop.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

When last we spoke of the container garden, we had just planted the heirloom tomatoes and other such old-fashioned things. And we discussed the #5 plastic bins that we, the royal we, will plant our old-fashioned things in... and we have and they are up and look at what is going on now in the trailer park garden in early June!
For a quick review of the plantings and doings in March '15, clicky here, and then come right back! 

We are letting the weeds grow, and they are providing a lot of blooms now and look very adorable in a cottage garden kind of way. I practice an organic and biodynamic style of gardening. Weeds for the bees, butterflies and worms and caterpillars and lots of ladybugs, and lady bug larvae.
I am quite sure the manager of the trailer park is not happy with my weeds! But they are very important to the success of my garden and my produce I hope to have........ the tomatoes, the zukes, the cukes and all the lovely flowers too.

Here we have lettuce and tomato seedlings and they have grown so you shall see in the pics nearer the bottom.
I planted seeds of 2 kinds of cukes to climb on the patio, and a zuke to grow all over the place. Okra, beans, bell peppers, and Jalepeno, and basil, mint and sage. Lots of flowers too for the beeeeeez and butterflies.
Indigo Rose is a great black little tomato that's new to me, Cherokee Chocolate, a relative of my all time fave Cherokee, Garden Peach (new heirloom to me), Black Prince ( love a dark tomato), Silvery fir tree with fine lace leaves and a red tomato, a big orange and yellow beeksteak weirdo named Hazel Mae, which is also new to me this year. This is gonna bee fun. ha ha ...

I re-use old plastic tags, mark them with a Sharpie, or use popsicle sticks or little random pieces of wood to mark the seeds and tiny plants (and big plants if memory might fade)

Cukes, Zukes, okra and peppers. Lots of tomatoes!!
The beans are running along and have had a lot of snails to attack and eat them so Sluggo to the rescue! I do love and need some bugs and spiders and worms and such, but I need far less snails and slugs. Go Away!

 Here's my Meyer Lemon. I LOVE my lemon. So much. At cocktail hour I pop out for a fresh lemon and put a sliver of fresh goodness in my martini.

OK, I planted the heirloom tomatoes, the peppers, and a basil and lots of flowers in the bins with yummy organic soil. Then I did a covering of the dirt using the  plastic from the big bags of organic soil, to A. Keep the soil warm and moist. and B. Keep the cats from taking a crap in my pots of dirt and tiny little garden plants.
I love the cats. I do not want them in the dirt, pooping.

The tomatoes and other tiny little things were transplanted at the end of May '15, and in a week they have doubled in size!
The marigolds, the sage, the lobelia....... are all blooming and attracting lots of bees all day.
We get California carpenter bees.... big buzzy and black velvet.
We get Apis mellifera, the good ol' Honey bee that Monsanto and Bayer are hellbent on KILLING OFF. And lots of teeny teeny bees, and lots of ladybugs too.

Here is the big view. I took some bamboo poles, that I grew in Tacoma and lugged them down here with me, and I stuck them in the bins of dirt and tied them together for a frame to hold the tomatoes. Will this be strong enough? I don't know. But I can add more sticks and stuff later as the season goes on if the plants threaten to grow as high as an elephant's eye.

I have 4 more big pots that I'll fill with more organic soil and put in the cukes and zukes and other stuff I wanna grow. I use Kelloggs Organic soil , or Black Gold, (Organic Materials Review Institute) OMRI ok'd, and supplement it with organic compost.

so, yes, since we are very bee and butterfly friendly and we never never use poisons, and only grow in organic soil, we are lettting the weeds grow. Weeds are lovely plants with bad press.
Many plants have self-seeded from last year.... tomatoes, alyssum, lobelia, chamomile, dusty miller.... We have lots of sow thistles, and tiny other things, and I'll add my little film in a few days and make a list of the names of the weeds I've been able to identify. That there is a subject I want to know more about.

The butterfly bush and  a tiny tiny bee on the Luther Burbank from Santa Rosa Shasta Daisy.
It is all Heaven!

Friday, May 8, 2015

the patio is much more bohemian

..this year than last.  This year, honestly, only because these 40s barkcloth drapes were the easiest to pull out of my great big box of old fabrics, did they make the cut for this year's fashion in decorating the trailer park patio.

 More color, more pattern but it is the same furniture. I moved the dresser to the side, and hung a big piece of black shade cloth as the "front door". Soon, once it heats up towards 80+ everyday, we'll need to toss the big BIG shade cloth over the roof, aka Big white tarp.

Last year I used a lot more neutrals... canvas, raw silk, faded vintage fabrics.
 Here is before...

When you live in a tiny house, an rv, a trailer or a camper or van, the outside spaces become much more important. That's the best part of living tiny, is you spend more time outside.
so, the 99.00 patio was destroyed in the hot sun, so we bought a 50.00 white tarp and tossed it over the frame, tied it down with bungie cords, and beefed up the legs with the bamboo poles we had on hand. The floor is pallets, and the big wood box is made from pallets and scrap wood and holds tools. It locks, and it is really nice to have them all together, and out from under the Winnie in blue bins.
All the furniture is the same, with just different fabric tossed over the cushions. There's still more tiny lights.... from yard sales.... to hang up around the edges to light it in the night. 

The fireplace on the patio is from yard sales....  sitting on some marble squares.

I love hearing the birds twitter, the buzz of the bees that visit my flowers and the sound of the breezes.
I am not a fan of traffic, stupid kids with sub-woofers or loud misogynistic rap noise.
But, outside, is where I spend a lot of time. And in California, shade is so very important. It's cooler under there.

The garden is all in pots, and this year I'm trying out #5 bins from the hardware/thrift store to grow the tomatoes in.

I move the potted plants around but I think this is the best garden for the day...

I made a trellis around the front of the shed to hold morning glories and a lot of cucumbers.

Those big #5  Sterlite bins will hold the tomatoes and herbs. The black pots will hold the peppers, the okra, tomatillo, and eggplant.

The first sweet peas of Spring 2015. Cheri Amour from Renee's Garden seeds company. Sweet, pastels and two-tones.

The Victoria blue blooms came back, and the nice little merlot pansies go well with a faded pink flamingo.

I'm letting the weeds grow. They are food for the bees, and they are actually really interesting, but more about them another time.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Something about a tiny house and RV living

I guess it's a real movement, this tiny house thing. Of course, poor people have always. lived. in. a. tiny. house. It was all the rich left us! And shall we discuss the Roma people who travel (gypsy), and the Travelers, and of course nomads? These, are people, with a traveling way of life. Perhaps they follow their goat or sheep or cow herds from summer pasture to winter pasture. Maybe they travel from a warm climate to a cooler one in the summertime. This life requires a small portable home -- a tent, a wagon, a yurt.

 nomadic pastoralism picture from National Geographic.

In modern times, people would travel, camp, visit, and live in different places going by train, by bus, by plane, and by motorcar, then campers and travel trailers, and motorhomes, and RV's. There is a bit of a hierarchy going on -- the new converts to living in a small space seem to think they are at the top of the new housing food chain since they build what they want and add solar and other technologies pioneered by trailer and RV manufacturers, or they miniaturize and adapt self-contained or "off the grid" solutions that have been used since Time began, and re-popularized in the last few decades.

cute camper with tons of accessories from Sisters on the Fly.

It goes something like this, from all the years of reading, building and research I've done:
1. Tiny house people
2. Small home/apartment people
3. Vacation home/2nd house people
4. RVs, trailers and bigger is better
5. Car campers, mini-trailers, and vans, and smaller is better
6. Mobile home parks, aka, Trailer parks.
7. Homeless.
We all know the disdain most people have for Trailer Parks, and "trailer trash", but it wasn't always like that. After WWII mobile homes and trailers were a fantastic way for returning GI's and their families to get a home of their own very quickly, and before new housing was built to meet the demand for post-war living. Once the GI's left for "sticks and bricks" homes, they sold cheap, and poorer people moved in and as always, the poor and working class are looked down on. (Doesn't have to be that way, but it still is)

In the early 20th century, luxurious motor homes and fancy campers were bought by "rich" people to travel in and have a taste of the rough life they desperately wanted no more of. Funny isn't it, that people of all incomes really do love to live like a homeless wanderer at least for a while with varying levels of modern conveniences. Take a look at RV Hall of Fame Museum historian Al Hesselbart explaining the modern history of trailers and RV's:


When I was in elementary school, Miss Carmella Fontana, the 1st grade teacher, also taught Chorus, so twice a year all of us Yountville kids were drafted into this show activity. We learned songs our parents would like to hear. One song always made me think about the social implications in the lyrics: The Happy Wanderer. A very happy fellow sings gloriously about the fun he has while "tramping" around the country. Tra la la!

Of course, migrant workers, various ethnic groups all over the world and poor working class people lived itinerant lives, not always out of choice. And of course, as always happens, wealthier people, like to romanticize about the classes of people with less money, I suppose to assuage their guilt about paying them such little wages, while feeling sorry for the poor, or hating the poor, yet refusing to take the responsibility for setting up the economic system that keeps people poor in a society that is phenomenally wealthy.
Yes, the more things change -- So it is with this historical knowledge, placing "tiny homes" in context of human history, both ancient and modern, that I find this "new" movement just amusing.
Is everyone who likes the Tiny House, the back to the land, the Homestead, the preppers, the urban farmers, the small is beautiful movements, a jerk, or a rich moron that steals from the poor? NO. of course not. But we do have to take a peek at history and understand the politics and prejudices in how and where we live.

 working class mother in the 1940s.

 a tiny house during the Depression of the 1930s.

It is not a coincidence that at the very time we are back in another rich man vs poor man economy, worldwide, actually, but very obvious in the USA, the romantic version of how poor people live should find amusement with the very wealthy.
During the Depression in the 1930s, wealthy people would dress like tramps and party party party! Recently, hipsters have taken to romanticize hobos (the historical homeless), with hobo-theme weddings and parties!
And of course, Marie Antoinette, pretending to be a simple farm girl, while doing nothing with her power, to actually improve the lives of actual simple farm girls. It is well-studied that,   "Poverty Chic refers to an array of fads and fashions in popular culture that make recreational or stylish – and often expensive – ‘fun’ of poverty, or traditional symbols of working class and underclass statuses. Earlier historical examples of Poor Chic are 1920s Harlem ‘white slumming parties’, Parisian costume balls where the rich adorned themselves in expensive rags, and Marie Antoinette’s 15-cottage ornamented Hameau farm.(Karen Bettez Halnon,Poor Chic: The Rational Consumption of Poverty).

 books about hobo life, intellectual survey of literature examines the disdain in America for the poor.

There is another component to living in a smaller home, with less stuff. It has lately come to be called "Ecological Footprint", another modern variation of a back to the land movement that started again in the 1920s and 30s by people such as Scott and Helen Nearing, proponents of self-sufficiency. The Footprint awareness campaign grew out of all the activity of the 60s and 70s about "saving the Earth", and now we have global warming and climate change, and the rise of uber-manufacturing of massive amounts of stuff we don't need and we don't want. There is a yearning for simpler times, like Little House on the Prairie, but with solar and 24/7 internet and Netflix.
The Nearings wrote The Good Life, and were "advocates for simple and sustainable living skills, social and economic justice, organic gardening and vegetarianism." Nearing, with his PhD in Economics supported the "new economics" stating in 1913, "that the economists part company with the ominous pictures of an overpopulated, starving world, prostrate before the throne of 'competition,' 'individual initiative,' 'private property,' or some other pseudo-god, and tell men in simple, straightforward language how they may combine, re-shape, or overcome the laws and utilize them as a blessing instead of enduring them as a burden and a curse."

Part of the social change going on right now is a reaction to the Worldwide Economic Crash caused by the world's largest banks, Wall Street, insurance companies, large corporations and large financial concerns and arrogant behavior by the wealthy.  Combined, the precarious and reckless nature of the powerful to care about nothing but money for themselves and give no thought to social destruction and chaos, have made many millions of people take their newly-found political awareness to become more self-sufficient, as a self-protection scheme. Many are now asking themselves, Could we live in a tiny house?


 After a long century of buying products, consuming factory made goods, and being "modern middle-class people", here is combined all the culmination of the lessons learned in the last century: Buying less, recycling, re-using, growing your own food, preserving and canning it for the future, and deciding to eat food grown locally for better flavor and safety concerns. It's the Homestead movement, back again, that appeals to people on the Left, and the Right.

This also includes the rejection of GMO corporate "food", and the want for organic food which is more nutritious because We are what we Eat. From our food, to our shelter, 2 very basic human needs, springs the smartness of living in a smaller home with less stuff.  

Less Stuff. More Time. Less Stuff thinking really makes you question everything you buy. Do you need 3000 square feet with 4 televisions and rooms you never live in except on 2 holidays a year? Do you really want to work 40 to 60 hours a week, with commute time, to pay for a huge mortgage on a huge house, and pay huge property tax bills, and 3 cars, and all the repair bills, and all that lawn to mow and all the stuff you own gets crammed in a garage??!?

Rainwater collection, sharing libraries for household tools and even rent a car for 3 hours... all these things are not-so-new ways of living, but they are becoming very popular in the hive mind of people today.
Back to the way poor people live -- they almost always have had a garden, they make their own clothes, and do their own home and car repairs, DIY, rather than pay someone else, and also trading work for items is a basic part of thrifty living practiced since humans made neighborhoods, then towns, then cities. With the rise of the merchant class, the middle class, and the social payment programs, people have had more financial freedom, but also more dependence on banks, Wall Street and corporations, to manage the world's money supply and the precarious way that they do and don't do, their work, seldom cautiously and carefully diligent towards us. US.

Sure, cutting back, living in a smaller home is COOL even if you don't want to think about the larger implications to the economy and our personal health. Whatever your reasons, do it! Join us! Embrace all the different ways we can live, for now and into the future.
You can choose a very simple life in a small home, an apartment, or a van or trailer or RV. You can build your own and join the worldwide communities that already live with a smaller demand on the planet and its resources as we barrel towards 8 billion people. Just jump in and live free.