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Hotel Marhala: carved into the earth in Tunisia

"This region of Tunisia is famous for the dwellings which were carved into the earth to escape from the heat of the desert. There are several "troglodyte" hotels in the area, one of which was the setting for the famous bar scene in the original Star Wars movie.
The Marhala is probably the better of the two that I have seen. It is clean, comfortable, and roomy. We stayed just one night, full board. The cost for our family of four with three meals was the equivalent of $40. Very cheap considering the food was quite good.…"

Turf houses of Vikings

Lew "dug up" this great website, with many photos, showing turf houses of the Viking era in different parts of the world.

"The Þjóðveldisbær longhouse (located in Þjórsárdalur) is a re-creation of a typical Icelandic turf house from the end of the Norse era and is based on the house at Stöng, a short distance away that was covered with ash during a volcanic eruption of Hekla in 1104. As a result, the ruins were better preserved, with more physical evidence extant, than other Norse era longhouses.…
The Stöng farm was large and rich, and after the eruption, it may not have been abandoned completely until the climate changes that occurred in the 13th century. During its prosperous years, perhaps twenty or more people lived in this longhouse.…"

Just cain't do it like I did it…

My training for the Dipsea race in June got rudely interrupted when I stumbled and injured some hamstring muscles out on the trail last Saturday. 6 weeks until the race and now I'm waiting and watching (feeling) for muscles to heal so I can get back to training before it's too late.  For competitive runners,  'twas ever thus…
Coincidentally Lesley gave me a CD yesterday of fiddler Johnny Kimble (recently interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR) and one of the songs has these witty lyrics:

What do you do
when you just cain't do
what you did
when you did
what you did?

When you opened your eyes
and finally realized
you ain't no longer a kid.


Stewart Brand on Nils Gilman and "Deviant Globalization"

From Stewart Brand, http://longnow.org/:
"Growing twice as fast as the global legitimate economy is the global hidden economy of trade in drugs, weapons, laundered money, sex workers, illegal immigrants, hostages, human organs, pirated intellectual property, looted archeological artifacts, stolen art, endangered species, illegal waste, and massively sophisticated computer hacking. In some parts of the world, with the decline of state sovereignty and growth of grassroots communication technology, outlaw organizations are taking over statelike duties.
Historian Nils Gilman, a consultant at Global Business Network/Monitor, is co-author of a forthcoming book on the subject.
(Talk next week:) 'Deviant Globalization,' Nils Gilman, Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, 7pm, Monday, May 3."

Funky adobe house with satellite dish

Photo (source unknown) sent us by Rick Hosmer

Phoebe Babo on the piano/Dancing in a wheelchair

A few weeks ago I stopped by my mom's rest home. About 15 elderly ladies were sitting around listening to another elderly lady play the piano. She was terrific. Five Foot two, Ain't She Sweet, Bye-bye Blues — the '20s and '30s songs we used to play in high school, accompanied by ukulele and washtub bass.
I called Phoebe and asked her if she'd be interested in having me and my box bass and my brother Bob and his banjo sit in with her. Sure, she said. Well, yesterday Bob and I showed up and I gotta say we clicked. Everybody was happy. My mom was moving her hands and feet in rhythm to the music. One of the ladies, Jane, knows the words to just about every song, and she sang along with me. I ended up with a blister on my string-plucking finger. Towards the end of the session, Bob got his banjo going, and the joint was rockin'. Two of the caregivers were dancing. At the end of the song, Phoebe said, "One more time, boys!" It was so much fun!
Phoebe is 91 years old, born in 1918. She has 18 gigs a month at a rest home-type places, and since she no longer drives, she takes whistle-stop wheels buses to get around the county. We're going to play with her again in a couple of weeks and we'll shoot a video.
Five foot two,
eyes of blue,
but oh what those 5 foot can do,
has anybody seen my gal?

Moon Raindrops Waves Low Tide Rocks Pelicans Buzzards Seals Cormorants This Morning

Today's my birthday, also a full moon (whoo-whoo!). I was going to skate on the mountain at sunrise, but it was cloudy, so I decided to go to a rocky grotto on a nearby beach. I got up at 4:15, made my way down the "not-for-the-faint-hearted" trail, real steep in spots, It'd been raining and I soon learned that Vibram soles are slippery on wet rocks. Got down to the grotto as the full moon was going down on the western horizon. Rain drops falling. A swell had come up overnight and the waves were powerful and crashing. Vortex of energy! I hung out for maybe 20 minutes, then started back up the cliff. Partway up, I looked down at the beach in time to see a big flock of pelicans fly inches above a breaking wave. They use the wave's updraft and hardly flap their wings. From my vantage point I could see them doing this beautiful dance, skimming above one wave, then when it broke, switching to a new, yet unbroken wave.

This was on the way home, a few hours ago. Low tide in the lagoon.

Birthday frog

Joanne Laird sent me this photo she took of a tree frog in British Columbia for a birthday present (today/ age 75; how can it be?)

LongTreks Episode 1: Skate Across Peru y Bolivia

Loaded Boards makes longboards with bamboo decks.Here's a video of three crazy guys skating through Peru and Bolivia:
"In January, 2009, Adam Colton set off with Paul Kent and Aaron Enevoldsen to conquer the Andes with only longboards and backpacks. Mike Hager supplied the video equipment to document them skating over 1500 miles through some of the toughest terrain on the planet. This is their first release showing amazing scenery, character, native Peruvians, and downhilling with 30lb backpacks!"

Free Sears tool catalog

Per a posting today from Cooltools, you can get a Sears tool catalog for free:

"On a recent trip to Sears, I was happily surprised to see a thick catalog near the checkout. I hadn't realized the Sears Tool Catalog is still in print, still available for free, and just about as big as the old Radio Shack catalogs I used to get.
It’s not just Craftsman tools in here. They have all of your professional brands inside, and some wicked tools you can’t find at a brick-and-mortar Sears. Woodworking tools are well-represented. Mechanics tools are, too, as you’d expect, including SK tools and some small specialty brands; also shop equipment, even some boots and clothing. Sears has also recently made major upgrades to what it's calling its interactive catalog.
-- Christopher Wanko"

Paintings by Greta Guzek in British Columbia

Greta Guzek is a painter who went to art school in South Africa. I discovered her on the excellent blog from a kindred spirit in British Columbia, "runningfreeonwildershores."
Greta says:
"Having lived on the west coast for twenty years I feel an integration with its character, and it has become a vehicle for my artistic expression.

I believe that through the familiar sketches of life, I create a bond with viewers which allows me to converse with them on an aesthetic level. I paint in a way to express my involvement with the subject. [For example], I simplify it, distort the forms and perspectives, enhance the expressive value of colour and create a rhythm that animates the scene.

In this way I hope to develop a visual language that conveys my sense of wonder, and materializes the spirit of what I feel."

Garden tool carrier

Yesterday I made this out of cedar shakes left over from roof job. Based on photo in garden catalog.

Classy chicken coop in South Dakota

Email we received this week:
I enjoy your blog and am so excited that you're putting together a new book on tiny houses (Apr 12 post)! When I saw the mention of chicken coops, I remembered the photo I took at my Aunt & Uncle's farm out in South Dakota.…I believe this was actually a brooding house; it had not been used in years, and when I walked inside, sunlight streamed in through the windows…It was beautiful, and I thought such a unique structure for chickens! I badly wanted to have it sent home to Michigan for my own hens. Alas, I settled for the photo and memory.
You probably have enough photos, but thought I'd send this along anyway.  And I wanted to Thank You for your amazing books.  I just got Builders of the Pacific Coast about a month ago (Home Work is still my fave tho).  I love looking at the photos and am so amazed at the creativity and ingenious designs.  Totally inspiring.  In 2006, my husband and I bought some land near Mora, NM, and we plan to retire early in the next few years and build our own small home (off the grid). Your books have given us ideas and inspiration to get creative and incorporate our own unique hand-made designs.…
Caroline Breslin
Cass County, Michigan
(This will go in our tiny house book.-LK)

Old sailing dinghy

I met my friend Louie at Nick's cove, a bayside inn in Marshall on Tomales Bay yesterday. This old dinghy was on display inside. After lunch we drove around looking for a place for Louie to berth his 26' long sailboat, a "Crotch Island Pinky" that he and his friend Pete built over a 10-year period. It's now in the Noyo Harbor just south of Ft. Bragg, Calif. Louie may move it down to Bodega Bay, which is great by me because it's a lot closer for me to go sailing (and fishing) with him. (Louie is the featured builder in Home Work.)