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Elegant Tiny House by Jay Shafer/(100 Sq. Ft.)/Movable

One of Jay Shafer's tiny houses, photo by Carol Lloyd

Here's a link to an article in the SF Chronicle by Carol Lloyd on Jay Shafer and his tiny houses:
Small World

Around the Homestead: Bantam Chickens, Dead Fox, and Bypassing Nonsensical Regulations

Which Came First?

The egg of course! We just got 34 baby bantam chicks from the Murray McMurray Hatchery in Iowa. Baby chicks can survive 3 days after hatching and they come via US Mail in a flat box with holes, chirping. The first thing we do is teach them to drink water. We keep them under an infrared light as they grow. We've been raising chickens for 30 years. The fresh eggs are worth all the work.


Found this beautiful creature, hit by a car, last week.

I skinned it, stretched and salted it down, and after a week, rolled it up in a poster tube and shipped it to Bucks Country Furs in Pennsylvania via UPS. In about 2 months I'll get it back via UPS, beautifully tanned, a process I find to be a minor miracle.

Oak Firewood: I Fought the Law and I Won

I'd seen a downed oak tree by the side of the road for a few weeks. On a Friday I took Marco and a chainsaw along. We cut it into liftable pieces and had just got the truck (fully) loaded when along comes a ranger. "You can't pick up wood by the side of the road," she says. I walked over to her SUV and said, "You know, this is a win-win situation. You guys don't have to pay money to have it removed and I get good clean firewood, which will heat my house all year and I don't have to use electric heat, which comes from coal-fired electric plants, or burn up non-renewable propane." She gets it, sort of. But then says, "You'll have to unload your truck." She's gotta be kidding, but she isnt. Marco tosses the first piece down the bank, and I say no, no, dump it next to the shoulder. He looks at me, puzzled, then grins. We go home with an empty truck. Dumb, huh? Now I assure you it didn't occur to me to get up at 3:30 the next morning, go down the deserted road and by the light of the full moon pick up the whole load. I would never do that. No, that would be resisting authority.

Stewart Brand, The Whole Earth Catalog, The Well, and the World Wide Web/From Counterculture to Cyberculture by Fred Turner

It never occurred to me how much Stewart Brand and the counter-cultural ethos of the'70s-80s WEC shaped the internet as we know it today. A belief in decentralization, of freedom of information, of access for anyone to communicative media, these idealistic concepts seeded in the '60s formed the foundation of the internet and the web before Big Biz and the Greedy Ones could tie it all up in the oligopolistic name of profit. Remarkable.
Here is an excerpt from an article in Science magazine dated 3/9/07 by Henry Lieberman, titled "From Whole Earth to the Whole Web," in which he reviews the new book From Counterculture to Cyberculture by Fred Turner:

"That we happened to get such an open network was a miracle. But it wasn't an accident. The technical community that built today's digital infrastructure did so around a certain set of cultural values, among them openness, sharing, personal expression, and innovation. These were core values of the early digital pioneers (the hackers), embodied in what we proudly call the "hacker ethic." Today, we take the digital revolution for granted and seldom appreciate to what extent these values were sparked by the 1960s counterculture, which preceded the digital revolution: counterculture begat cyberculture.
Because of the happy coincidence that the corporate and bureaucratic establishments of the time understood digital technology so poorly, the hackers were able to pull off the revolution before the bureaucracy knew what hit them. Like the fall of communism, it happened so fast that we haven't yet really taken the time to fully celebrate its victory and examine how it happened."


I've just realized, after struggling to make infrequent (and long) blog postings monthly or so, I should do shorter postings more often. I went for a run in the hills this afternoon. Got down to a creek and there was a spot of sunlight and I stripped and lay in the sparkling water for a minute. My time of year, being of the Taurus persuasion. Then I ran another few miles to a cat-tailed-lined pond of my acquaintance and swam in the cool water. Getting out in the woods and beach is an antidote to sitting at a computer.

Tony Serra, His Friend Jasper, and Wild Duck on a Sunny Sunday Afternoon

Tony's out and biting back already. He filed a lawsuit on behalf of prisoners so they earn more than 60 cents an hour for (productive) prison labor. (Tony Serra, San Francisco's samurai/poet/lawyer who just got out of jail for refusing to pay income taxes.) I've known Tony for over 50 years. Tony's friend, hunter/fisherman/builder (and lawyer!) Jasper had a barbecue wild duck dinner to celebrate Tony's freedom to once again prowl the nation's courts of law. Beautiful sunny afternoon in a funky and charming hand-built house on a hillside, with Tony and friends. Major good vibes. Wild Duck, red wine, and wild rice. Jasper built his house on a steep unbuildable hill site in 1974 and filled it with his woodsman/hunter/fisherman objects throughout. I'd photographed the place before and was once again struck by its right-feelingness and homey charm. A home for body and soul.

You'll never see anything like this in Architectural Design

Salty Dog/Procul Harum;Tweeter and the Monkey Man/Bob Dylan/Traveling Wilburys; Jesus Loves Me

Music du Jour: I have an old scratchy vinyl record of Salty Dog by Procul Harum that I've played off and on for 30 years. It strikes me as one of the great rock operas (and I don't include anything by The Who in that category). It's a trip on the high seas in an English vessel with the elegance of the British musicians of the '70s. Then yesterday I listened to "Tweeter and the Monkey Man," Bob Dylan's song with The Traveling Wilburys, and it still sounds powerful. I always thought this record, with Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne, released in 1988, was a masterpiece that got largely overlooked. Finally, today on local KPIG I heard a country song on religious right righteousness:

Jesus loves me,
But he cain't stand you…

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

Five Pix From Trip North

Last week I went in my truck to Lake County to shoot some final photos of Sun Ray Kelley's temple in the woods, then over to hang out with my friend Louie on the Mendocino coast. Here are a few pix:

Moi in foreground of mirror at entrance to Harbin Hot Springs

Barn near Calistoga, Calif.

Trim farm building, Mendocino county

I'm 30 feet in the air, nervously looking down at the river before letting go of the brake and sailing 500 feet on the cable in a bosun's chair to get to Louie's house across the river. This cross-river conveyance is described in the article on Louie Frazier in Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter

Interior of Louie's winery, a timber-framed structure with corrugated metal siding. This shows the propped-open windows.

Driftwood shack at the Navarro river beach