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SunRay Kelley's Goddess of Contentment soapstone woodstove

SunRay Kelley (featured in Builders of the Pacific Coast) just finished this stove in a strawbale house in Lake County, California. The design is the result of many stoves built over many years. The outer facing is soapstone. There are copper coils that heat water and as well, run hot water through pipes in the floor for radiant heating. At the top is a bread/pizza oven. This one unit heats the house (the air as well as the floor), provides hot water, and is an oven for cooking. SunRay says the soapstone "…takes on deep heat." The floor is a "…heat battery" that stores heat. He calls it the Goddess of Contentment stove. He says it works really well, the floor is toasty warm and the pizza gets perfectly cooked.
SunRay and his girlfriend Bonnie were here last night, on their way to Santa Barbara, LA, then Mexico for 6 weeks, in their soon-to-be solar-powered camper.
Next up for SunRay in the stove department is in a new house he's building on his own property in Washington: the same configuration stove, but with the addition of a steam boiler to run a turbine that produces electricity. We are into new territory here!
Photo by Bonnie

Thornetta Davis/Larry McCrae: "I Just Want to make Love to You."

Last week I heard Thornetta Davis sing "Please Send Me Someone to Love," couldn't find it on YouTube, but did run across this duet on "I Just Want to make Love to You." Wow! Play it full screen (click on the 4 little squares at bottom right of screen).
After that I ran across this sizzling guitar duet of young Mike Bloomfield with young Johnny Winters (just audio, no video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Me-CrOVdnA&playnext=2&list=PL92404FF5862D91DC
Here's to the New Year. May there be more joy like Thornetta's for everyone.

SunRay Kelley, Keith Richardson, building domes

…SunRay Kelley and his girtlfriend Bonnie are coming by here today in their in-progress Tacoma hybrid biodiesel/electric/solar-powered camper. Watch for pix in the next few days.
…Heard good interview with Keith Richardson by Terry Gross the other night. he talked about using acoustic guitars, later electrified, to get the effects he wanted in some of their best songs. Also, that he writes for Mick, saying,  You know Mick, he's this outsized personality, kind of across between James Brown and Maria Callas…and I just hope he'll like the song…
…Which has just caused me to put on "Let It Bleed," boy what a record, starting out with, ahem, Gimme Shelter. I'll always associate this album with a brilliant sunny November Thanksgiving feast in 1969 at the renegade Pacific High School in the Santa Cruz mountains. There were about 50 kids and ten teachers and we were building geodesic domes for the kids to live in. I mean, it was a teen-age commune in the middle of the Psychedelic Times, and we putting up our own shelters, feeding everyone, and trying to keep some sense of order. Most people were stoned most of the time. Oh yeah! Anyway, we'd been at for 3 or so months, and on this Thanksgiving day everything came together. Steve the cook prepared the whole turkey lalapalooza, there was great great veggie fare, and we all sat around eating, listening to this album, watching the sun go down over the ridge. I remember listening to the words,
You can't always get what you want,
but if you try sometimes, 
you might find, 
you get what you need.
and thinking how brilliant this was. No shit, really.
…Music this week: Howlin' Wolf. I've been loving songs by him on radio lately. Also this morning, a great Jimmy Reed song. Plus see next post.

Wimpin out in the rain

Every Tuesday night, a group of us meet and run. Last night it was raining cats and dogs and 6-7 runners showed up (6PM). No one was complaining about the cold, or being soaked. I was warm in my 5 layers of clothing and sheepskin Ugg boots, and as we talked under umbrellas, I decided not to go. They all took off in good cheer and with headlights and I slunk into the bar and had a Guinness. I felt kinda bad. I know if I'd gone I'd have been exhilarated. Finished my beer and drove home along the coast, wind and water whipping the truck. I knew that if I waited in the bar until they came back, they'd all be bubbling with energy, as happens when you get immersed in the elements, and that would depress me. Why don't I listen to my own experience, which is that you ALWAYS feel better after doing it. OK, if it's raining next week I'm going.
Below, the beach in a storm a few days ago.

Hawk- and coyote-proof chicken coop

I've been walking over to document my neighbor Steve's progress in moving a house onto a foundation on his lot. I discovered this great predator-proof chicken yard. Steve used rebar to form a dome shape (strength-in-curves) frame and covered it with chicken wire. We are about to build a new chicken coop for our bantams and I'm going to use this setup for their yard.

Nice sentence from Martin Cruz Smith

In the novel Three Stations, by Martin Cruz Smith: "He watched the fly make the arduous trek up the wall, across the ceiling and around a light fixture only to reach journey's end as a buzz on a ringlet of flypaper."

Bobcat skull in the woods today

I worked until 4 today on the tiny houses book (which is humming along), and took off on my new bike for the hills. I haven't been on a bike in the hills for many years, and this was like opening familiar synapses. Plus a bike that rides uphill like you practically have a motor, and absorbs shocks like one of the old Citroens, is a pleasure, to be sure. Hey, this was fun being able to cover so much more ground than running.
I ran across a couple out in the woods, he with a canvas bag on his shoulder, "Good hunting?" I asked. "No."
Yeah, right, like your bag isn't full of mushrooms, dude. Well, I'd do the same thing. So I rode out to beyond where I figured walkers would go and looked in the woods. Found some mushrooms, not sure about them, but the prize was a bobcat skull and other bones. Since I haven't quite got my bike act together yet, I didn't have a backpack, so I took off my shirt and rolled up and tied the mushrooms and bones in a hobo package (which meant riding home in the cold without a shirt). However, not only was I warmed up by the exertion, but on the way home the sky turned vivid pink, with clouds running horizontally, and a red band running vertically. When I got back on the pavement, cars were stopped on the road. Hallelujah to the solar system.
I'm going to bleach the skull bone white.

How to talk trash with Almighty God By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

"What are you gonna do, Mr. Important, Mr. Almighty in the Sky, Mr. Created Everything in Six Days and Then Apparently Fell Into a Drunken Mai Tai Coma on the Beach for Give/Take 10 Billion Years?
What are you gonna do, cause a famine? Melt the ice caps? Induce global pandemics, war and rape and disease, sadness and poverty and earthquakes? What you got, oak blight? Bedbugs? Jersey Shore?
   I mean, whatevs. You don't scare us. Been there, done that, you know?
   Gotta say, it's getting a little tiresome, really, all this death and destruction, fire and brimstone, kowtowing and dread. Exhausting, really. It's time for a change.…"
    Truth is, billions of flawed bipeds have been languishing under a million-year worry that if we jump out of line, blaspheme to your holy face or even draw a cute n' bearded cartoon of one version of you that you'll ... well, who the hell knows what? Flood the oceans with blood? Snap Italy like a twig? Make all women wear giant potato sacks and never have sex? Explain what "brimstone" is? As if.
   Let's just say it outright: Big deal. Enough of you. Enough of this. Something's gotta give, you know? It's high time we as a generally rashly, hugely confused but still relatively high-functioning mammal spoke some hard truth to divine Christian/Muslim/Jewish power. Because the fact is, you ain't all that. Not anymore, anyway. What, you got some lightning for me right now? Locusts? Sure you do.
Rest of column:

Uvex bike helmet

Bryce at Tam Bikes (357 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, CA) turned me on to this great helmet. Ultra-lightweight, with quick, easy adjustments to fit yr. head, plus an ingenious front buckle that can tighten or loosen the strap easily. Uvex helmets are made in Germany. My old helmet was so floppy I was afraid it wouldn't be enough protection if I went flying. This one feels secure.

My new bike

My old mountain bike was a K2 that had been used by a pro racer. It was a great bike 12 years ago. I had a hunch that bike technology had made big strides in the last decade or so, and went in to see Bryce at Tam Bikes in Mill Valley. By that time I'd given up the idea of a road bike (I live on the edge of wilderness, so why spend any more time than necessary on pavement?)
But I was still fascinated by carbon fiber frames. Bryce, owner of the store and also one of Mt. Tam's top riders, told me he'd gone from carbon fiber back to aluminum and had me try out his bike. Wow! What a change. Apparently motorcycle tech has infiltrated bike tech, so there are disc brakes and air shocks. I ended up getting a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR, with front Revolution Rock Shox and rear Specialized Fox shocks -- all adjustable for degree of shock absorption desired. It's got 30 gears. It's about $2400 retail, kind of mid-range between lesser bikes and the $5000-$8000 range available to Marin County bike nuts. Big investment for me but way worth it.
It rides like a dream. I get excited just thinking about getting on it. Looks like I'll be riding a lot more from now on. Way easier on the knees than running. Yesterday afternoon I rode about 5 miles north along the coast. The ocean was silver and glassy, day before the storm. On my way back, the biggest bobcat I've ever seen bounded across the road and disappeared in the coyote bushes.

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.

When I see a red sky at either dawn (as above, last Tuesday) or dusk, I always think of this saying, which I originally heard from Lionel, the fisherman. So I looked it up on Google and found the below on the Library of Congress website:

Question: Is the old adage “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning” true, or is it just an old wives’ tale?
Answer: Within limits, there is truth in this saying.…
Shakespeare…said something similar in his play, Venus and Adonis. “Like a red morn that ever yet betokened, Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field, Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds, Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.”
In the Bible, (Matthew XVI: 2-3,) Jesus said, “When in evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: For the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today; for the sky is red and lowering.”
Weather lore has been around since people needed to predict the weather and plan their activities. Sailors and farmers relied on it to navigate ships and plant crops.
But can weather lore truly predict the weather or seasons?

Concrete pour in the hood 2 hours ago

I heard the rumrumrum of a concrete truck around 10 this morning while standing at the MacPro. I have to admit to being a fan of concrete pours. Since my first building experience at age 12 helping my dad build a concrete block house, to working on two house-building projects in the '60s, each with lots of concrete work -- I've been fascinated by the process. Things have to be ready. The crew has to be competent and experienced. Once concrete is poured, it's -- THERE. No compromises. All this is exciting. You gotta be on!
So around the corner I went to my neighbor Steve's. Steve, a local mason, is in the process of moving a 40' by 16' house from a couple of miles away onto his property. A few weeks ago, it came down the road (after some tree trimming) in a rainstorm and was deposited on Steve's lot.
This is a win-winner. The house didn't have to be demolished (which it would have been), plus Steve gets a 640 sq. ft. stud-framed shell that he can fix up.
Today was pour day. Steve had an all-star crew of local builders helping out. A photo op!
Pumping concrete is so easy with a pump, compared to hauling chutes all around and pulling it along with shovels in the trenches, or worse yet, having to use wheelbarrows. The concrete was coming out of a 4" rubber hose and the guys were having a good time, fueled by coffee and sugar donuts. Sun out after days of rain. A good day.

Beachcomber's house

On Highway One north of Pt. Arena last week…

Lovely manzanita tree in Sonoma County

Traditional uses of the plant include collecting the berries, drying them, and grinding them up into a coarse meal. Fresh berries and branch tips were also soaked in water to make a refreshing cider. When the bark curls off, it can be used as a tea for nausea and upset stomach. The younger leaves are sometimes plucked and chewed by hikers to deter thirst. Native Americans used Manzanita leaves as toothbrushes. (Wikipedia)

Winter Solstice, Vivaldi, and red sky in morning…

This morning I left home at 7, headed along the coast on a trip to Berkeley. Louie had given me a bunch of tapes, and the first one I grabbed was a Vivaldi concert -- one I'm pretty familiar with.
I adore Vivaldi. What he does resonates with my soul. As I was driving up a winding stretch of the coastal highway, a soaring section gave me a jolt. I felt an electrical charge come up the back of my neck. In another movement, which starts with an organ, then joined by a violin, I got tears in my eyes -- not spilling, but there.
It's the Winter Solstice, bless our planet and the life forms upon it. The sky was orange this morning. When I got out to Hwy 101, our Indian Princess Tamalpa in repose, Mt. Tamalpais, was shrouded in mist.

Nice newly-built barn in Sonoma County

Here they used an old tried-and-true design, with recycled corrugated steel roofing, and it's a great effect. (Another place this kind of rusty roofing has been used effectively is The House of Blues, on Sunset Blvd, in L.A.). This barn fits in nicely. Farmer architecture. (If a real architect designed this building, hats off to him for something so straight-forward and non-egomaniacal.)

Nice stone masonry

At the Heitz Wine Cellars in the Napa Valley. The adjacent winery building has the same fine stone work.

Good architecture in Napa Valley

The Napa Valley has got a few nice buildings, but there's an overlaying layer of nouveau riche tastelessness in all the buildings (wineries and homes) that you can see. This building however, is always a pleasure to come upon. Why can't there be more architecture like this?

Sun Ray Kelley in the rain

Shot last Tuesday morning (in Lake County, Calif.). It was raining off and on, and SunRay and I were setting off to see his new 12-sided "man cave." He had on this great homnemade felted wool hat.

Down at the cove this morning as 2 storms approach coast

Above panorama down at the cove an hour ago (same place as the sunset shot on my blog header) as the storms approach.
We are just about to get blasted by a storm front, consisting of a tropical storm from Hawaii, which will hook in from the south, and an Arctic storm heading down from the north. 5 days of rain, they say.
I'm sitting in the Arena Market & Cafe in Pt. Arena, with a latte, a pretty good wi-fi connection, listening to the Sirius blues station thru earphones on my iPad, checking and answering email and blogging. Am I a modern guy or what?
By the way Franny's Cup & Saucer Bakery in Pt. Arena is a world-class gem. Run by a mother and daughter who are very creative and witty.

Tiny house shape

Much of the fun I have driving is hunting the surrounding landscape for buildings. You can learn a lot from the simplicity and practicality of farm buildings. The proportions look perfect here.

Secret grotto on coast

Louie over at Pepe's for breakfast yesterday morning. Shot this with Pepe's Canon Rebel Vixia HF S 200, with EFS 15-85 mm zoom, a very fine less-than-ultra-expensive Canon.

Yesterday Louie and I took a hike to this spectacular bit of the coast. That's a tunnel through the rock on the right, with white water pounding through on each swell. Man, what a spot! The Pacific Ocean in its majesty and power.

Mama's little helper

Yesterday we visited a straw bale house SunRay built. This little girl's mom was mixing purple plaster for the walls and the little girl was trying to help. Look at those eyes!

SunRay & Lloyd

Yesterday I shot photos of SunRay's latest creation, a 12-sided yurt "man cave." It'll be in our tiny houses book. Here we are standing at the back of his solar-powered camper (in process of construction).

Abandoned farm house

Still life

Perfect little farm building

Girl with glow

I walked into a coffee shop yesterday along with another guy. The barista girl was standing there, and she was luminous. She had an energy glow. The other guy took one look at her and said, "Look at you!"

SunRay's temple 3 years later

The unique natural materials temple built by SunRay Kelley in the northern Californai hills 3 years ago (and featured in Builders of the Pacific Coast) is holding up beautifully. I checked it out yesterday. The cob walls are still smoothly sculptured and unpitted. Everyone who goes into this building feels good. It's a masterpiece.

Olive Harvest in Napa Valley/SunRay Kelley in Lake County/Louie's in Pt. Arena

Took off Monday morning for a 5 day road trip. First up to my brother's farm in the Napa Valley to watch the olive harvest, then up towards Clear Lake, and Harbin Hot Springs. From there out to see SunRay Kelley's "man cave," a 12-sided cob-walled wooden yurt, then over to hang out with my friend Louie at his place on the river.
I love starting on a trip. It's always an adventure. Rainy drizzly morning, and on my Sirius satellite blues station, Bobby Blue Bland singing, They Call it Rainy Monday, then Paula Nelson (with Willy Nelson) doing Have You Ever Seen the Rain. Over on the "Outlaw" station, Dale Gilmore: I'm a Ramblin Man…
Heading along the back road to Petaluma, it's misty and the hills are soft and green. God I love California! Ayreshire cows grazing. One of Clover Milk's billboards shows a cow lying on her side, relaxing in a meadow, with the words: "Amazing Graze." I still remember "Tip Clo Through the Two Lips."

Olive harvest: my brother made a deal with the (large) McEvoy Ranch for his (certified organic) olive crop. The McEvoy crew was there, 44 guys, and I shot photos. It was a bumper olive year; my brother resurrected a pretty neglected bunch of olive trees (over 1000) on a ranch he bought 3 years ago. This year they expect to get 12 tons.

The (1895) Cliff House at Ocean Beach in San Francisco

The first Cliff House was built at Ocean Beach in San Francisco in 1863. On Christmas day, 1894, it burned to the ground. Mayor Adolph Sutro had it redesigned by architects (as a "…large and pretty chateau") and it was rebuilt in 1895 in its above reincarnation. This building lasted until  1907, when it burned to the ground. In 1909 a 3rd, much plainer version was built. This was remodeled several times, the latest in 2003, and the present version is disappointingly soulless and has none of the character or charm of its predecessors.

Hundreds of photos are at: http://www.cliffhouseproject.com/introduction.htm

1930 Henderson Streamliner motorcycle

"The motorcycling world loves a barn find, an old, obscure machine wheeled out of the woodwork for the first time. And this is one of the biggest revelations of recent months. It's a 1930 Henderson that was customized before WW2 by a fellow called O. Ray Courtney and fitted with streamliner bodywork.
One night in March, 1950, O. Ray Courtney worked until two a.m. And drove home discouraged. He was trying to design a better motorcycle. He wanted one with the seat forward, with better cooling, better springing and a more beautiful body. Discarded sketches littered the floor of his shop.  That night in a dream he saw a steamlined beauty skim across a flowered field. Too excited to report for work the next day, he hastily put his dream on paper and he is riding that dream cycle now through the streets of Pontiac, Michigan
The art deco influence is obvious; legendary automotive designer Harley Earl could have drawn those curves.
It's all the more unusual because the mechanicals are hidden: even at the height of the Art Deco movement, most motorcycles were a triumph of form over function, with exposed cooling fins, brake drums and suspension springs.
The bike is owned by collector Frank Westfall of Syracuse.
It caused a stir in June 2010 when it appeared at the Rhinebeck Grand National Meet, a motorcycle show held a couple of hours drive north of NYC.…"

Rainy day boots

Muck Boots are great for rainy weather. You can keep by door, step into them and stay dry and warm. They are insulated. http://www.amazon.com/Original-MuckBoots-Adult-Boot-Womens/dp/B000WGB196/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1291911702&sr=8-1

Wind chimes on rainy day

Wind chimes made from rock oyster shells make nice clinking sound in wind.
1-½" rain last 2 days.

Rainy day/Oh Boy! Plus running and crabbing…

Lesley's been telling me for about a week to watch this weeping cherry (Mt Fuji variety) tree, and it went full orange/yellow last night. One inch of rain in last 24 hours. Oh yes!
Last night I went running. Cold, dark night. As I was driving to our Tuesday night run rendezvous spot, I was thinking, "You could just go home and sit by the fire," but  the fact that other guys would be showing up motivated me.
I got into my Maxit tights and shirt, and with new super headlight, headed south along the coast. Cold at first but in 15 minutes, I started to feel good. By the time I got up to the lookout spot, I had my shirt off.
I could see the lights of about 20 crab boats out in the bay. These guys are tough, working around the clock, then heading into San Francisco when they're loaded. One real windy night I was sleeping on the beach and I saw a boat out working crab pots. It must have been pitching all over the place, and I could picture these guys swinging heavy crab pots onto the deck, dumping crabs into boxes, rebaiting traps, dropping pots back into the water. Them's some men, fer shure.
Ran about an hour, kind of reveling in the fact that I don't have to "train," I can run for delight, not speed. Boy is it different. By the time I got halfway through the run, my footsteps were almost silent. I've been thinking about the Miwok Indians that lived here not so long ago, and how they would have run gently on the trails…

Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed 1976

My brother Bob, who plays the banjo, just sent me this. Wow!

Check out Chet and Jerry here too (song starts about 1/3rd thru tape): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLqyNV1SMWE&feature=related

Around the homestead, in the garden, in the office, and up is the hills…

Yesterday I made a bed frame, a job I'd been procrastinating about for a while, then shredded branches for compost pile, took a nap.

Today got in a good 4-5 hours working on the book, then off to the hills, for a 2-mile run to mushroom grounds. The mushroom part was half-hearted -- not happening right now -- but I just wanted to get out and run. It was raining lightly when I started. By the time I got back to my truck after the run (and a few measly chanterelles), it was sheeting. I mean, shee-it! I was soaking. Every fiber of my Maxit tights and top, every pore of my skin, was soaked. I started to climb into the cab, but saw this would soak the truck. What to do but retreat to back of camper shell, take off shoe/socks, rain pounding down -- you get to the point where you've given up keeping dry. Kind of liberating: I'm wet and I'll go with it!
Took pee in pounding rain. Seemed like the thing to do. Perfect. Then peeled of tights, shirt and hat, put them in a bucket in back of truck, stood in rain a while, got in cab, dried off, put on clothes, Lesley's hand-knitted alpaca hat, got heater going. circulation started kicking in, came home.

Sea lion jumps aboard Godfrey Stephens' sailboat 1980s

Godfrey always been an inexhaustible bundle of energy. One of his present-day projects is to pepper me with emails about sailboats, which he feels are the ultimate in tiny houses. He is responsible for a 6-page layout we just did (in the now-under-production tiny homes book) on Paul and Julie and their exquisite live-aboard) 41-foot teak sailboat. One day last week he sent me 25 emails. In my "Stephens" folder I now have 464 photos. Help!

Here is a photo taken on one of his many sailboats in the '80s, when a sea lion jumped on board. Godfrey writes:
Sailing  out of Avalon, anchoring for the Night off DANA point, early in the morning, fired up the wood stove with the espresso pot on top of the Coals, main and Genoa up moving south at about 3 knots --
a Bump, and more bumps and Lo there a determined Stellar Sea Lion, suddenly made it aboard with a Huge wet Thump on the steel deck,  I managed to get 3 pictures with the Spotmatic Pentax, 1982, 
She stayed aboard, sad to see her leave just off the Scripps marine institute, slipping along, one could Feel her heart beat when on deck throughout the whole boat. (I)… had to shoo her off because in a JYBE the boom would hit her.
Tied up to friends that night in the Shelter Island anchorage, now gone (to the "Ponderosa House boat "), a fantastic amount of anchored liveaboards .
Thats where (I) learned how to carve two bladed wind generator blades with the adze, and attach to old computer tape drive Motor/generators… 

Godfrey Stephens new website: paintings, drawings, carvings, sailboats. aventuras

Godfrey Stephens is a painter, carver, boatbuilder, and sailor of the Seven Seas, who I have known for about (ulp!) 40+ years (we met on the beach in Yelapa, Mexico during the height of hippie days). He is a native of British Columbia, and now lives in Victoria. To see his amazing carving, paintings, and drawings, go to his new website:
Carvings: http://is.gd/ifHmtl
Paintings: http://is.gd/ifHF5
Drawings: http://is.gd/ifIxg

Godfrey was featured in our book Builders of the Pacific Coast.

Left: Me, Godfrey on NorCal beach in 2008

Rain, sun, doves, Dipsea, tiny homes book rolling…

•A (sort of) warm rain started falling around dusk yesterday. Rain has become a treat for me. I love everything about it. I just got a pair of rainpants at REI so now am prepared for walking out to the cliffs during big storms that roar in from the south. The air is sweet, fresh, electric. As energizing as getting head under waterfall. Simple joys.
•Solar light bulbs - For 50 years I've made skylights with flat ("Filon") fiberglass, just interleaving it like a big shingle (on asphalt shingle roofs). It's so simple. and solar-lights the room, free of charge. (I've found translucent, not transparent, provides best light.) I mention this because a young builder was here the other day, and this had never occured to him.
Eatin local - I had 2 doves for dinner last night. One was roadkill, the other I shot. Yes, I do some small-scale hunting, OK? My dad was a serious duck hunter and my brother and I hunted for ducks and doves when we were about 12. Wild duck is my favorite food in the world. We have finally gotten around to eating a lot of local and/or wild foods. Crabs, fish, the occasional abalone, chanterelles, Yerba Buena tea… artichokes, beets and beet tops, chard, salad greens, tomatoes…from the garden. We started out to do this 30+ years ago and it's all come to pass in the last 10 years or so. Local. Well, duh!
•End of a running (racing, that is) career - Bottom line: I've damaged my knees (20 years of fast downhill running) so at this point I'm knocking off the speed stuff. Oh I am so mature! Dumb fuck, I should have pulled out earlier. I should explain that there is a local race, the Dipsea, with tradition and romance and agony all wrapped up in a 7-mile course over the flank of a magic mountain. Me and my running friends (them even more so) have been obsessed with this great race. I'm starting to run differently. Once I give up on speed as a goal, it opens alternative paths. I'm fascinated with "chi running." Trying to land more on mid-foot than solely on heel, flex knees more for shock absorption, better posture, and the greatest thing: FEELING the trail with my feet. Running as an art, running like an Indian…

•Tiny Homes book - is rolling. Rick, Lew, and I (with page design by David) have this week started turning out pages. 10-12 so far. We're watching the book put itself together in this early phase. I've been laying out pages at random, just grabbing what looks exciting. Every day new material is coming in. Good stuff! There's going to be way more than enough for one book.
•Rain and firewood - Rain is like, if you'll excuse the expression, money in the bank. I feel secure when there's been enough rain and the earth has enough moisture for the year. Same with firewood, we've got maybe a 2-year supply now (all roadkill trees), it's comforting.

Our first eBook! Marathon, by Jeff Gallowa

Rick has just finished putting together a beautiful electronic iPad/iPhone version of Marathon - You an Do It! by Jeff Galloway. No kidding, this looks better to me than any other book I see on the iPad, with its colors, graphics, and tables that resize and are clearly and easily readable. Compare to all the other running books, for ex. Works great on iPhone as well; runners can carry their training programs in their pockets (say, when traveling).

Book layout old-school

A few days ago I wrote about doing my original layout of books on paper, not on the computer. Owl posted this comment:
"One of the aspects I enjoy about the LK books I have is the ease of reading them. I find my eye travels quite naturally around the page and there is a flow to the whole book. It doesn't surprise me that they are laid out on paper during the assembly/construction after all, if the intention is to produce a physical book I would have thought it is best to design the book as close to the finished piece as you can. In the same way if I was putting together an e-book I would want to design it on something that is going to give the feel of the reader most likely to be used.
While a computer is a powerful and useful tool I feel they can only simulate a physical medium and hint at the tactile qualities."
(Above layout is very rough.)

Tiny Homes book is taking shape…

I post stuff here on daily observations, but the most important thing going on in my life right now is working on our tiny homes book. By the time we get it out, it will have been 3 years in between major building books, the last having been Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008).

For a year I gathered info, filing it away in 5th-cut files folders (one thing I learned in my 5 years as an insurance broker was the importance [and technique] of filing). For the past few months, I've been doing layouts, 2 pages at a time, in no particular order. I grab a folder, print out pics, write or get text from contributors, and do a rough layout by taping down pics (which I size on a Brother DCP-9040CN color copy machine) and text with removable scotch tape.
This is old school, to say the least. These days, designers lay out picture books on Macintoshes, for Christ's sake. My method is way slower, but I'm not locked into a digital process in the creative stages. I think you get a different product this way (kind of like rice tastes best when cooked slowly on a wood stove).
Next, our art director David Wills refines the pages, doing a new layout. This then goes to Macmeister Rick, who builds files for the printers (in inDesign). Rick has just done 4 rough 2-page spreads to get us started, so we can see what the book is going to look like.  (In pic above, top right spread is of Lloyd House's van conversion on an island in British Columbia.)

Another of Lesley's quilts

Quick shot of quilt during Lesley's Open Studio weekend.

More of her quilts (see below): http://www.lesleycreed.com/

2 more beach pics last night & this morning + surfer's vintage panel truck

"Let me walk in beauty…"
-Chief Yellow Lark, 19th-century medicine man of the Lakota Sioux


Josh and Robbie heading out to check crab pots

It's a phenomenal year for crabs. Lots of them, lots of big ones. These guys that go out through the surf have my utmost respect. Both going out and coming back in are not for the faint-hearted. Skill and experience required. They have to know where the (shifting) channel is, and make a lot of right moves to prevent being turned upside down by the waves.

Sunset behind tower last week

Shakes by Bruno, shaking by Billy

Lesley's quilts - open studio + In and around the homestead late Nov. 2010

Billy came to the door yesterday afternoon with an abalone he'd got a few hours earlier, and two big crabs. Lesley's had a ton of people over at her "Open Studio" this weekend, so last night we had abalone and white rice, a simple and wonderful meal. Tonight cracked crab.
In the words of Josh the fisherman, "The ocean's really healthy here right now." (Can you believe good news like this nowadays?)
I went out for a paddle in the lagoon Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Late afternoon, I couldn't believe how cold the water was and only my hands and arms were in it. Turned out to be San Francisco's coldest day in 100 years. Took an hour to get warm by the wood stove.

Lesley's studio will be open tomorrow (Sunday Nov. 28)  She's working on a beautiful quit right now of Japanese fabrics. She's also got necklaces, hand-woven shawls, and a bunch of quilts.
Info if you're in the neighborhood (West Marin): http://www.coastalmarinartists.com/
Also: http://www.lesleycreed.com/