Good, good, and totally nutty

Down-home music, two must-have DIY books, and man fined for growing too many vegetables

Guaranteed to make you feel good
I just have to mention the amazing Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers concert at CSUC’s Laxson Auditorium last Saturday night—a coup for Chico Performances. Comedian/banjoist Martin and his accompanying North Carolina bluegrass band tore it up all night long, both musically and comedically. Fiddler Nicholas M. Sanders’ blistering playing on the last encore tune, “Orange Blossom Special,” in which he quoted everything from The Beatles to complicated classical pieces, was simply over the top.

If you missed the sold-out show, pick up Martin’s recent Grammy-winning album The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo or Deep in the Shade, the Rangers’ latest CD, and just kick back with a down-home nutritious meal and something good to drink, and enjoy the good-for-you, booty-kickin’ music.

A couple of good books Mark Frauenfelder—editor-in-chief of nouveau-DIY online magazine Make—has come out with a new book called Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World. Inspired by a 4 1/2-month-long, get-away-from-the-rat-race move with his wife and two young daughters from Los Angeles to the remote South Pacific island of Rarotonga, Frauenfelder has produced a book that is both highly readable and informative.

Frauenfelder chronicles the pursuit of his various DIY dreams upon returning to the U.S.—killing his lawn, planting a vegetable garden, raising chickens, making a cigar-box ukulele, keeping bees, making a still, tutoring his children in math and science, carving wooden spoons, harvesting and pressing olives for oil, and more.

It doesn’t all go swimmingly (the story of how he loses his dear hen Ethel is a heartbreaker), but Frauenfelder concludes that despite some difficulties, being a “DIYer” is worth it. He says it has improved his family’s home life, among other things.

“Gardening, tending to the chickens, and preserving food is a great way to spend time together,” he writes in his concluding chapter, “The Rise of Do-It-Yourselfism.”

Do-It-Yourselfism, he sums up, “present[s] new opportunities to get deeply involved in processes that require knowledge, skill building, creativity, critical thinking, decision making, risk taking, social interaction, and resourcefulness.”

Country Wisdom & Know-how: Everything You Need to Know to Live Off the Land (from the editors of Storey Books) is a giant-sized book filled with tons of information about how to do all kinds of things—from making hand-dipped candles, pickles and apple cider, to braiding rugs, weaving baskets and caning a chair, to growing vegetables and butchering livestock. The book is divided into sections titled “Animals,” “Cooking,” “Crafts,” “Gardening,” “Health and Wellbeing” and “Home.”

Chicken keepers (and potential chicken keepers) take note: There’s an excellent “Animals” entry called “Eggs and Chickens in Least Space on Home-Grown Food,” and one on “Building Chicken Coops,” containing very extensive information on hen-housing.

Both books available at Lyon Books.

What the?
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous: reported recently that Georgia landscaper (and organic gardener) Steve Miller is being sued for $5,000 by Dekalb County, Ga., officials “for growing too many vegetables” in his yard. Miller stopped growing his “illegal” vegetables temporarily while he had his property rezoned, but vows to fight the fines in court in a case that Dekalb County locals have dubbed “Cabbagegate.”