• Subscribe to
    Lloyd’s Blog via RSS.
  • Check out TheShelterBlog.com
  • Tools for the
    Half-Acre Homestead

Jungle Treehouse in Costa Rica

Michael Cranford's treehouse is not attached to the central tree, but is supported by 40' posts. It's on the edge of a tropical jungle reserve. I was there in February. (It's for rent.) Here's his website: 

From my blog in February: http://bit.ly/puOLr

Running Your First Marathon/Jeff Galloway's Blog and Twitter

Jeff Galloway, author of our two running books, has been in the limelight lately. On June 1st, New York Times writer Tara Parker Pope described how she is using Jeff's revolutionary walk-run training technique to run her first (NYC) marathon. Tara, "…more couch potato than runner," was discovering first-hand, that "… walk breaks are a way for older, less fit and overweight people to take part in a sport that would otherwise be off limits. But most surprising are the stories from veteran runners who say run-walk training has helped them post faster race times than ever."
NYTimes article: 
Jeff's two books, Galloway's Book on Running, and Marathon: You Can Do It!, are selling better this year than in 2008. Totals since publication: 
GBR: 73,000 copies (the first version sold 550,000 copies)
Marathon: 103,000 copies
Attention, runners:

On Thomas Jefferson by Maira Kalman

Here is a unique and quite wonderful illustrated piece on Thomas Jefferson and friends by illustrator Maira Kalman.
"He studied Hessian flies and Voltaire and maps of Africa and the Koran and Shakespeare. In the study were his telescopes and polygraph copying machine and revolving bookstand in books. he knew Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian. When he read Spinoza, he read him in Latin. When he read Euripides, he read him in Greek. He wrote to  (John) Adams,  'I cannot live without books.'"
Sent us by Fritzi Drosten

Muddy Waters & The Band - Last Waltz

"I'm a full grown natural man…"
Look at how Robbie Robertson's face comes in and out of shadow and light
— to be backing Muddy, does not get better. Robby's in bliss when Muddy sings:
The line I shoot,
I'll never miss.
When I make love to a girl,
She can't resist…



Small Potatoes by Paul Madonna

Boy are these great cartoons! http://www.angrylittlepotatoes.com/

Gnarly Grater Handle

Hanging out with my builder friends in British Columbia (shooting pictures for Builders of the Pacific Coast— has made me look at each nice piece of driftwood I spot on the beach, trying try to to figure out how to use it. The handle of this stainless grater finally broke off and — voilá

Wooden Domes in France

Salmon Cabin

Left: cabin from an old salmon boat hauled into the garden and used as an office to produce this wonderful blog of gardening, wild foods, fried zucchini flowers, strawberry jam, chickens, wild birds, frogs. Sweat equity to make your life richer.

12' Diameter TV Dish Used For Roof

Bill Castle, builder extraordinaire and creator of Pollywog Holler eco-resort, just sent me this photo of a welcome booth at the resort he madeout of an old 12' dia. TV dish antenna. See article on one of Bill's projects, "Build a Home for $10,000 in 10 Days!" by Chris McClellan in The Mother Earth News.

Garden Work Tables From Old Pallets

This is brilliant. Cut pallet in half, 4 minimal 2x4s and voila! Pallet table plus a lot of wonderful ideas at: http://www.homegrownevolution.com/
I just ordered their Urban Homestead Book.
Following review of above website from latest CoolTools: "Mead making, beer brewing, bread baking, urban poultry raising, container planting, pirate gardening, foraging, pickling, bicycle-powered hauling, solar-oven making and anti-car culture ranting are just a fraction of what you’ll absorb plumbing the archives of HomegrownEvolution.com. Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, husband and wife urban homesteaders, guide those of us who can’t make it back to the land on how best to incorporate aspects of it into our modern city-bound lives. They’re encouraging, but don’t preach or pretend to be perfect, and therein lies their appeal. Erik and Kelly are friends of mine, and over the past few years their website and their book, The Urban Homestead, have led my household, step by small step, to be less consumptive and more productive." -Review by Elon Schoenholz

Clingstone: House on the Rock

Clingstone, an unusual, 103-year-old mansion in Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay, survives through the love and hard work of family and friends. More photos here. NY Times article here.


It took me a long time to accept the Mac. The first fax I saw blew me away; how can a drawing come over the phone line? Then I got dragged into blogging. After a few years, I'm finally comfortable with it; it satisfies my compulsion to communicate (and publish pix). I skipped Facebook and MySpace, but Twitter beckoned. I'm still in the novice stage, but enthralled — 140 max spaces means you write tight, good writer's exercise. Perfect for my stream-of consciousness discoveries. Tweets go thru my mind all day long, always have. Trying to get some of them down without taking too much time, still gotta make a living. Right now I follow v. few people on Twitter. No extra time. It's pretty much an output device for me. Jeez, what I can find on Google! You know, it's a pretty goddamn interesting time on this planet right now! http://twitter.com/lloydkahn

Swimming Cities of Serenissima

"The Swimming Cities of Serenissima is a fleet of handmade boats and a crew of artists traveling the Adriatic Sea from Slovenia to Venice this May and June, 2009. We made art boats from junk and will be performing the dreamy story of a drifting metropolis during the Venice Biennale, a celebrated contemporary art exhibition.…"

Click here.

Feedback from HomeWork

We are getting an unprecedented amount of feedback these days. We get things more or less like this every day; it's quite wonderful to be connecting:

Dear Lloyd,
My name's Philip. I am 23 years old and I live in Belgium. I am going to do an apprenticeship in straw bale building at Quail Springs in July....
2 years ago I discovered Home Work. It's my favourite book. I've showed it to all my friends. Everyone who has seen it is really enthusiastic about it (nearly as much as I am). Recently I gave Builders of the Pacific Coast to a friend for her birthday. She was absolutely delighted with it. Before I didn't know these houses and people existed. Thank you for showing all that. It's because of Home Work that I'm doing this training. Ever since I've seen your book I'm dreaming about building, from when I get up until I go to sleep, every day. It gave direction to my life. It's almost spiritual....
Thank you for your time and especially for your book and the spirit it represents!
-Philip Galle

Beautiful 95-yr-old Berkeley Craftsman Home

This 1915 wood frame home in Berkeley, California was designed by Henry Gutterson, a prominent Arts and Crafts-era architect. It has paneled redwood walls and a cathedral ceiling with carved crossbeams. It's for sale for 1.6 mil, featured in the San Francisco Chronicle recently. Berkeley and Oakland are full of wonderful old (not all this exquisite and expensive) houses. You only have to drive up and down the streets to see them. Gutterson was one of the turn-of-the century architects (including the wonderful Bernard Maybeck, with whom he worked) who veered away from gaudy Victorian architecture and established the Bay Area Arts and Crafts style.

Out of the Office

Regarding Michelle Obama's veg. garden, the Slow Food movement, Michael Pollan's tribute to small farms, etc.: "These ideas have crept forward toward the mainstream in the wake of the economic collapse which inspired calls for a return to real work — a return in other words to activities more tangible (and, it was hoped, less perilous) than complex swaps of abstract financial products.…" 
-From a book review by Kelefa Sanneh, of Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work, by Mathew B. Crawford (Penguin), in the 6/22/09 New Yorker.
Boy, is it good to hear this stuff. "…an ode to old-fashioned hard work, and an argument that localism can help cure our spiritual and economic woes.…" 
I quit my job as an insurance broker 44 years ago to work as a carpenter. I liked hanging out with builders, rather than business guys, and it felt good to drive around in a pickup truck and not be wearing a tie. I reveled in the smell in lumber yards, and the feeling of accomplishment. I felt there was something more direct and useful about building, than accumulating a fortune in the business world (which I was on my way to), so this article resonated. "Crawford's book arrives just as a vague sense of dissatisfaction with the demands and rewards of the modern economy is coalescing into something like a movement."
In the process I built my own house; I've never had a bank mortgage, and this has given me a huge amount of freedom. And hey, you can still use your own hands to build a house.

OLD Stinson Beach Lifeguards

L-R: Jim Sylvia, Lloyd, Jim McGowan at the Stinson Beach (Calif.) lifeguard reunion last Saturday. About every 5 years, we have a reunion, reminisce about the days when we were young, buffed, and foolish. 50 years ago (ulp!).

Photo: Suzi Beattie

Cool Little Car: 2009 Nissan Cube

Spotted this at a Nissan dealership on Broadway in Oakland yesterday morning. It looks just right. This one was $16K. See recent article, "Hello Kitty, Your Car Is Waiting" in NY Times.

Garter Snake in Garden Pond

This little guy turned up in our garden pond today, floating on the salvinia. He was very relaxed, letting me get a foot away with the camera. According to Wikipedia, garter snakes are …" the single most widely distributed genus of reptile in North America." This looks a lot like the San Francisco garter snake, an endangered species.

Tiny Runner in Dipsea Race

The Dipsea race is the oldest cross-country race in America, 7.5 miles from Mill Valley, Calif. to Stinson Beach. It's a tough course, with 4000 feet of vertical up and down. It's also an age- handicapped race, with older (and very young) runners getting a head start. Here is the first starting group (2 days ago), of 70-year olds and one little girl. She just charmed everyone with her energy and joy, racing out in front of the others.

Quail in the Garden

On our half-acre plot of buildings and gardens, we're surrounded by quail, They live out in the brush and patrol our garden regularly for insects and seeds (Lesley puts out birdseed). Quail are in the Phasianidae family, which includes pheasants and chickens. They are ground birds, as opposed to say doves, which are more airborne. They operate in flocks, and always post a guard to warn of dangers (such as cats). Here's the guard dude on top of our scare-away-birds-from-garden plastic owl (so much for its efficacy!). I shot this out the door of our office yesterday.

Rick Gordon Sings in Berkeley

Rick Gordon, our Macintosh maestro, and builder of all our books, is also a singer extraordinaire. Friday night he performed before a packed house at the Jazz School in Berkeley. Occasion was his father's 100th birthday, and it was called Song for My Father. A wonderful event, everyone in the audience was with Rick all the way.

They're Gonna Put Me in the Movies…

"…and all I have to do is act naturally."
Jason Sussberg and friends, as an exercise in shooting real film (as opposed to digital), made a 6-minute movie on me and Lesley and our home, and by golly, they got it right. Which hasn't always happened in my encounters with the media. They even got me skateboarding. Here it is: http://jasonsussberg.com/SHELTER.mov

Back to Stanford

I drove down Hwy 280 Thursday night to see the screening of 8 films by grad students in the Stanford Graduate program in Documentary Film and Video. Jason Sussberg and friends made a 6-min documentary on our home, and it was one of those screened. I like the way it turned out. Will post a link soon. I drove down Hwy 280 in the twilight, past Crystal Springs reservoir, and when I turned off on Sand Hill Road, I got a sharp flashback to 1953, driving my '46 Chevy sedan down to start as a freshman at Stanford. I'd barely gotten into Stanford (wouldn't come close nowadays!), and the campus then was completely surrounded by rolling hills. As I drove down the road (now Silicon Valley etc.),
Hoover Tower appeared in the distance, and it was a moment.
These days I marvel at the Stanford stonework. Never noticed it as a student. The stone came from a nearby quarry in the 1880s when the Stanford Quad was built. As I wandered around, the Quad felt very much the same as it did 50+ years ago. Above is Encina Hall, where I lived my first year. Right, 120-year old stonework, south exterior Quad.

View of Mt. Tam This Morning

While I was driving into San Francisco around 6:30 AM this morning, Mt. Tamalpais from the ridge just before dropping down to Muir Beach. 

Mickey Mouse Boy at Muir Beach

Saw this beautiful little boy on the beach the other night. It was a 3-way love affair between him and his mom and dad — all in tune with each other.

Exploring With the Boys

Yesterday I went exploring with my friends Sasha and Jonas at Muir Beach. These guys are like mine sweepers, combing every inch of the ground, beach, and creeks for animals and insects (dead or alive), plants, feathers, seed pods…Hey Lloyd, look at this…Hey this is so cool…Lloyd, what's this? We ended up picking up squashed salamanders, feathers, a bird's foot, and a cormorant head, which I'll render into a skull for them. Wonderful to see kids get such joy out of the natural world. Of course they wanted to know why this rock was cracked.

Caught Three Eels On Reef This Morning

It was a minus tide and I got up at dawn, put on waders, grabbed my eel pole (20'-long bamboo pole with hook on end) and went out on the reef — a spot I'd never tried before. First off I stumbled and fell almost face first in a pool. But, I baited up (clam scraps) and started poking the bait into cracks. It's called poke poling. In about an hour I caught 3 eels. I was elated, because in my last eel foray, I got—as they say—skunked. Eels are kind of prehistoric. I'm going to smoke them. I also picked up some nori seaweed and incorporated it into an omelette when I got home. Mighty fine. Now at the Mac with a latte made with Blue Mountain Jamacia beans. NTS stands for not too shabby…
I'm on an ocean roll. Yesterday I also got up before sunrise and went to the hot springs. It's down a very steep slippery cliff trail, not for the faint-hearted, and sometimes is working, sometimes not. Yesterday, foggy morning, hot water (high in sulfur and lithium), then a jump in the 54º ocean and—what a way to start the day. I got 3 times as much work done as normal yesterday.
I constantly marvel at what the world around us has to offer.. It's all right there. You just have to get out and explore…
Right now I'm listening to The Meditations doing 3-part harmony on Turn Me Loose,  Beautiful. Pure reggae. The Meditations—Deeper Roots—the Best of the Meditations/Heart Beat CD HB 158

Mini Chicken Coop Kit — Assemble Yourself — Horizon Structures

This Pennsylvania outfit makes chicken coops, horse barns, garages and storage sheds. Delivered fully assembled or as kits. This little coop for 6 chickens, is 4'-8" long, 3'-3" wide, 5'-7" tall. Fully assembled, it's 
$1,295 in the east, $1895 in the west. Put-together-yourself kits are $995 in the east, $1,395 in the west. You could add a fenced outdoor run to it, and close them in each night to keep the raccoons and other critters at bay. Horizon Structures

Music in My Life

Music plays a huge part in my life. 2 of my 3 sons are musicians. I studied the violin for 7 years, played the ukulele in a high school quartet (which included Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian, the Hulk…), lately been playing the jug (and soon getting a wooden washtub-type bass). Music is one of my tools in doing page layout and other creative ventures (along with sin semilla and caffeine). getting on the right side of the brain, ah yes…
I love blues, bluegrass, cajun, (good) reggae, country, Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, Satie…. BUT what grabs me like nothing else — maybe because it was such a fresh and exciting part of the '60s revolution — is real, pure rock & roll. Oh yes!
We watched the most wonderful concert on PBS a few nights back, catch it if you can. It's Great Performances: Eric Clapton - Crossroads 2007.  Albert Lee, Vince Gill, John Myer, Jeff Beck (ooh-wee!), Buddy Guy, Sheryl Crowe…one of those rare, magic times when it all came together. The guitar work! Mature musicians communicating on a high level. It was dazzling. See it if you can (I don't know if PBS is still running it).

Screening of 6-min. Documentary on Lloyd This Thursday at Stanford

About a month ago, a crew of MFA students from the Documentary Film & Video program of the art department at Stanford came out to Bolinas for 3 days, interviewed me, and shot it in 16 mm color film (celluloid!) This Thursday night there will be a screening of 8 documentaries, including LK's (6 min.), at Annenberg Auditorium435 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, CA 94305. They shot me talking about building one's own house, the '60s,  skateboarding, turning the compost pile, working in my shop, washing dishes. Info on screening here.

Walk and Roll: Scooters in the City

I rode my scooter all around Manhattan last week. On different occasions, I went from my hotel at 7th Ave. and 31st, up to Central Park, across to the Hudson, down to Washington Square. I rode about half on sidewalks, half in the street. It's 3 times as fast as walking, and FUN! Once you get the hang of the joystick (as opposed to handlebars), it makes for graceful maneuvering. I'd fold it up when going into restaurants. Teenagers and 20-year-olds gave me V-signs. I don't know why more people don't ride these in cities. At left is the model I now have, but I'm going to get the same one with fat wheels, called Micro Monster Kickboard: http://bit.ly/1ahULG

Another Okamura Painitng

For a page out of Arthur's book of magic tricks with everyday objects, see: http://bit.ly/jgvzW

Arthur Okamura's Latest Paintings

My friend and neighbor Arthur Okamura stopped by yesterday to show me a series of paintings he's just done of asparagus, done in tempera paint and tempera watercolor paint (the latter a new product). Arthur is a delightful and productive artist, working in many mediums, always exploring new frontiers.

Baby Soda Jazz Band - Muskrat Ramble at Washington Square PArk

(See below posting from NYC.)
Baby Soda Jazz Band at Washington Square Park in NYC May 25, 2009
Mikey Freedom Hart - Guitar; Jared Engel - Banjo; Peter Ford - String Bass; Emily Asher - Trombone; Patrick Harison - Accordian, Trumpet; Dancers - Chance Bushman and Amy Johnson;

Quirks of Memory

I can't remember much about the movie I saw last month, but for some reason I can recall dumb stuff from way back, for example when I was about 12 years old, I thought these words were so clever I memorized them: from a sign at a shoeshine stand as reported in Reader's Digest (and that's 62 years ago):
Your pedal habiliments artistically illuminated and lubricated for the infinitesimal remuneration of 15 cents per operation.

Warm Summer Night in Washington Square

Had wonderful time at Book Expo America, and books are not dead, thank you, although the landscape is changing rapidly. Went back to my hotel after the last day, took a shower, grabbed my scooter and headed south to Washington Square. There's always great music and often comics and acrobats performing there. Susan and the Serenaders were doing doo-wop harmonies, a form of music I love.

Then I went over and listened to the Baby Soda Band (below) doing 20s-30s songs. I have a washtub bass I made, but this wooden bass made by Peter Ford is a lot better and - long story made short — Peter's going to cut out the parts for another one and UPS to me. It has a range about an octave and a half whereas my present one has a 6-note range. I'm excited. Then over to watch two very funny acrobatic brothers who had maybe 150 people watching their act.
The city is like a village on warm nights, with street entertainment in parks, sidewalk cafes, people sitting on stoops.

Below: guy on left is just going airborne. He dove over the five people, went headfirst through a hoop made by his brothers arms, landed on his hands on the ground, and did a somersault.

Steve Jobs: "Whole Earth Catalog was Like Google in Paperback, But 35 Years Earlier"

This isn't new, but I just ran across it the other day and it seemed relevant and interesting, especially where he says the Whole Earth Catalog (1967) was "…like Google in paperback": Steve Jobs' Stanford commencement speech in 2005. Following is the last part of a very short speech:

"When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Thank you all very much."

Print transcript: http://bit.ly/YhHS1

Youtube version: