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Timber Framers Guild Conference/ Asilomar/Julia Morgan/Lotus Sports Car

I've been at the Asilomar Conference Grounds, a wonderful place, run by the State of Calif. no less, for the last 2 days. It's a whole bunch of buildings built in a pine forest/sand dunes looking down at a beach of white sand and crashing waves. The Timber Framers Guild is a big organization that has two conferences a year. This is the first one I've been to and I love it. My kinda people! A bunch of the buildings were designed by Julia Morgan, who along with Bernard Maybeck is one of my architect-heros. She designed these buildings in the early 1900s.

Merrill Hall at Asilomar. Julia Morgan, architect


Detail of Merrill framing


Here are a few random shots from yesterday and today. (It's easier to blog when I'm on the road -- so little time at home.)

Cool little Morris van


4-wheel drive wheel chair for beach travel. Sherm, are you ready?


Lotus owned by master woodworker Chris Feddersohn at the conference grounds. Chris seems to be having an awful lot of fun in life.


Colorful little house in Pacific Grove

Aloha Dave Devine

Wednesday night I took off, headed south on Hwy. One, to go to the Timber Framers Guild conference at Asilomar in the town of Monterey. I slept in my truck that night (in a residential neighborhood) in Santa Cruz, checked out the dawn patrol surfers at Steamer Lane at sunrise. Pretty good swell, brrrr! — cold. I drove out to Pleasure Point and walked out to the 38th Avenue steps and here was a photo in the morning sunshine, with flowers, of Dave Devine, who died in the first week of April, 2007. Dave was one of the surfers I hung out with in Santa Cruz in the mid-50s. Before there were rubber suits, and boards were balsa. There were maybe 10 surfers living in Santa Cruz in those days, and I'd come over from Stanford every Thursday at noon and stay until Sunday night. Santa Cruz was a sleepy town in the winters and we had the place to ourselves. I remember one foggy morning, the Lane was a glassy 8 feet, and there were just 4 of us out (today there'd be 60). Or the time my roommate George Kovalenko and I were the only ones out on a sunny glassy 6' day at Pleasure Point and we surfed nude (I mean there was not one other surfer from Outside Pleasure down to the Wild Hook!). Or Chubby Mitchell, 5'6, 285 pounds gracefully walking to the nose one day at the Rivermouth. Rod Lundquist's $10-a-month cottage on Plateau Ave., with blooming century plant and stacks of surfboards outside and Beethoven symphonies blaring inside. Hey, the good old days really were good! The pic of Dave brought back memories. Here's Dave's photo, posted at Dave's lifetime surfing spot, Inside Pleasure and The Wild Hook. Good on ya Dave!

Dave Devine, 1929-2007

Mud Baths/Skin Infusion/Sea Minerals

Last week I went for a paddle in the nearby lagoon. I have a funky racing paddleboard (an ancient Joe Bark model) that glides deftly through the water and when the tide is right I cruise down a network of channels that are maybe 20-30' wide. I paddled to a place where there's very black, sticky mud, got off my board, stripped, and smeared the mud all over me, forehead to toes, all over my face, then stepped up on the bank to let the sun warm me. Very fine sensation. In a few minutes, I jumped in the water, washed it off and paddled back to town, greatly energized — infusion of skin with minerals of the sea. (A lot of) the best things in life are free…

New Life Millworks/Eucalyptus/Pine/ Cypress/Cedar/Huge Mill/Recycled Barn Beams

I met Paul Maheu at the San Francisco Green Festival last November. He told me he was milling eucalyptus and pine logs otherwise destined for landfill. About 4 months later I was heading toward Richmond, gave him a call, and headed out to his yard, New Life Millworks, and was stunned by the sheer size of the operation. It's a huge yard with enormous stacks of logs.

Just one of many piles of logs


These guys are diverting logs from landfill and turning them into useful building materials. Euc flooring looks just like oak. They have huge saws, one of them salvaged from a big lumber mill. They have a monster planer, with bins full of different shaped teeth. I mean, this is no "dimensional saw mill" operation. This is big time lumber making, and out of scrap. Small stuff is ground up and loaded in a special trailer on an 18-wheeler and transported to a wood-burning electricity-generation plant. A soup-to-nuts operation. Paul's office has a Mac computer on a desk looking out into a bird-filled marsh.

Paul Maheu


Attention timber framers: They have a big pile of oak and hemlock beams salvaged from barns in mid-west Ohio.

This is a 40' long (!) hand-hewn (!) 8x8 beam.


If you're a builder in Northern California, you might want to check them out. They have pine, cedar, redwood, cypress, eucalyptus, walnut, and whatever comes along.
Paul Maheu
New Life Millworks
510-233-7785
www.NewLifeMillworks.com