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Blog layout/Water on Tamalpa

I've been laying out book pages for over 40 years, and although I'm madly in love with digital communication and thrilled with phenomenal access to info on the internet, I'm continually frustrated by layout constraints. I don't know html, don't have time to learn, so I just shovel my photos and daily observations out here in blogger canned format. Can't use my layout skills. (Anyone know of a drag-and-drop blog template for the technologically-challenged?)

On the way home yesterday afternoon, it was raining. I bought a bottle of Allain-Robin alamic brandy at Vintage Wines and Spirits (great liquor store w/knowledgeable staff) in Mill Valley, and headed over the mountain. Stopped at my creekside place of power. Took a big hit of brandy, didn't swallow. Climbed up canyon, down to pool, stripped, stepped into water, and swallowed brandy just before ducking under waterfall. Yahoo! Creek pulsatingly alive from recent rains, water hitting body a tune-in to holy mountain spirit…

On the way home after creekside dip, via back road. The earth feels and smells good after the 3" of rain last week. Mushrooms getting activated.

You know, there is actually a lot of GOOD stuff going on in the world right now.

As I sign off this Sunday (got up early, so excited about my day yesterday), just heard an incredible white gospel song sung by 12-year old Mallory Ledford. I can't figure why gospel (black & white) is so good, and religion so rotten. It's occurred to me that black gospel artists have got it right. THIS is the true spirit of Jesus, thank you. Joy and rythym and compassion.

Saturday cont…cont…More on Mia, the teak sailboat

I spent about 3 hours on the boat with Paul and Julie. Julie wrote a perfect essay on their worldwide travels over the past 5 years. It's their only home. There's no fall-back homestead on land. These are 2 wonderful human beings, talented, spirited, competent, sailing the ever-changing seas in this beautiful vessel. Everything is right here. Aesthetics, hoo! If you must spend a lot of time in a small space, it's immeasurably helpful if it looks like this. Everything your eyes rest on is lovely. Every square inch is beautifully maintained.
(I gotta get this book done!)

Saturday cont…

On my way to the dock yesterday morning, I spotted this old beauty. This Caddy is the same era as my '46 Chevy coupe , so I was drawn to it. Timeless design. (Compare to today's Cadillac Escalade 400 hp gas-guzzling pig of a car.)

A good Saturday on water and land…

I had a great day yesterday. Operated-upon knee feeling good, fractured rib just about healed, being able to move through the world without pain be stylin. We've been blessed with early rains, and I drove south along the coast through the drizzle, with ocean slate grey1000 feet below. Listening to the radio. Program on NPR on Houdini, who died on Halloween, was said to be a marketing genius and perhaps the first person ever to utilize mass tie-in marketing (see Wikipedia). Houdini had instructed his wife to have a seance on the anniversary of his death, and seances are held on Halloween to this day.
Music yesterday morning:
"Momma loved Daddy,
but Daddy loved trains…"

"I'm gonna wait till the midnight hour
That's when my love comes tumbling down…"
-Wilson Picket. I'd forgotten what a great song this was. Boy!

"From the moment I could crawl,
Someone tried to slow me down…
It's everything or nuthin every day,
I'd rather wear out than rust away…"
Yeah mon!
-Vince Gill and friends, didn't get song name. It sure resonates, as they say…

Finally some poetry by Albert Collins:
"If you love me like you say,
Why you treat me like you do?"

46-foot solid teak sailboat/exquisite tiny home

Godfrey Stephens is an awesome artist and lifelong sailor (see pp. 100-109 of Builders of the Pacific Coast on his carvings and paintings). He's been hounding me for years to include sailboats in our building books. With the tiny houses books under way now, he's been deluging me with his stream-of consciousness emails and sailboat photos. (As of this moment, there are 366 messages in the "Stephens" mailbox, and 462 photos in the "Stephens" photo folder. (People who know Godfrey will chuckle knowingly at this.)
Well, Godfrey just came through in a big way (he also had a big hand in turning me on to many of the3 builders in Builders of the Pacific Coast). Friends of his had just sailed in through the Golden Gate and were anchored out in Sausalito, waiting out a series of storms before heading south to Mexico. I contacted Julie Newton and Paul Smulder by email and on Tuesday, Paul picked me up in their tiny dinghy and we went out to the boat.
Ay caramba! The boat is a dream. Solid teak hull, 46' long. Everything is exquisite and immaculate -- and beautiful. I won't go into it here, it'll be one of the stars of this up and coming book. At left is the Mia heading into the mist-shrouded Golden Gate last week after a trip down the coast from Vancouver Island; photo by John Miller aboard the Silas Crosby.

America's Oldest & Michigan's First Net Zero Energy Home

"If you want a super, energy-efficient home, you have to build new, right? Not necessarily. A 110-year-old Victorian home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is being touted as America's oldest net-zero energy house, and the first of its kind in the state.…"
From Treehugger, a great website.

The corporeal side of my life

Starting in June, when I injured my knee in the Dipsea Race (dumb, dumb!) and then in September, when an oak tree rolling down a hillside fractured my rib, it's been a grim few months. I depend on the physical stuff to balance the computer and business stuff, so it's been lopsided. Off balance.

The Song and Dance of Mexico in Arizona By Bill Steen

"…Last spring, while in Mexico (that place where it is not safe to go), we had the pleasure of watching a group of middle school and high school kids perform folkloric dances from northern Mexico. We were so taken by them that we couldn’t wait to see them again.…
I figured this was a perfect opportunity to say something positive and beautiful about Mexico in a time when it has received such negative press.…"
From Bill and Athena Steen's Canelo Project blog. The Steens are THE strawbale people, doing beautiful work and teaching many many people the art of strawbale building. (I'm working with them on 4 pages of tiny straw bales buildings in the tiny houses book.)

Remarkable unicycle riding (video)

Posted on Boing Boing by Andrea James. The rock-hopping is awesome.

Big screen here: http://player.vimeo.com/video/13113979

Small screen here:

NAUCC 2010 from Max Schulze on Vimeo.

The Hansen Family Blog

I just ran across this website because of a Google Alert notice that they had reviewed Jason Sussberg's film of Shelter. The Hansen Family is a Scandinavian family of carpenters, designers and architects:

"We produce our furniture in a small atelier using ecologically grown wood, which comes mainly from massive oak and sustainable forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, FSC. Located at the heart of the Sauerland region in Germany, our main atelier is surrounded by these forests and therefore nestled in the woods. We precociously select each piece of wood by hand, which allows us to say that not one piece is alike to the other. The design features the wood itself, giving birth to handcrafted and unique objects."

First fungi of season - Cauliflower Mushroom

We've had 2" of rain in the last 3 days. A bit early, and it feels good after the long dry period we always have (almost 6 months). Each year I seem to be late in getting porcinis, so this season I'm starting early. Not a fungi in sight at my porcini meadows yesterday, but this well-developed cauliflower mushroom was sitting next to a rotting pine stump.

It's flavorful. Sauteed last night and mixed with potatoes and chicken gravy, then this morning in a potato-chard-onion omelette.

Today I'm starting to get ready for my talk at the SF Green Festival on Saturday, Nov. 6th on "The Half-Acre Homestead in the 21st Century." Am shooting pics of house, compost bins, garden and building tools, the stuff that keeps this place running.

Rockaway Taco, A Selby Film

The real thing! Surfers, beekeepers, East Coast seaside tacos, fresh baked bread, cops, firefighters, skateboarders, waves. Trust me. Watch it.

Better than clicking on below, get the bigger screen at Vimeo direct: http://vimeo.com/15293107

Rockaway Taco, A Selby Film from the selby on Vimeo.

There's a lot of great stuff byTodd Selby at: http://www.theselby.com

"Todd Selby is a portrait, interiors, and fashion photographer and illustrator. His project The Selby offers an insider’s view of creative individuals in their personal spaces with an artist's eye for detail. The Selby began in June 2008 as a website, where Todd posted photo shoots he did of his friends in their homes. Requests quickly began coming in daily from viewers all over the world who wanted their homes to be featured on the site. The Selby’s website became so popular—with up to 55,000 unique visitors daily—that within months, top companies from around the world began asking to collaborate.…"

Sunset Magazine's new cookbook

Article in today's New York Times by Kim Severson

"BEFORE Alice Waters picked her first Little Gem lettuce and Wolfgang Puck draped smoked salmon across a pizza, California cuisine meant something else.

"The other California cuisine was being served on a million patios in the Golden State by relaxed cooks who grilled thick cuts of beef called tri-tip and built salads from avocado and oranges. They used red chili sauce like roux, ate abalone and oysters, and whipped sticky dates into milkshakes. It was the food of the gold rush and of immigrants, of orchards and sunshine.…

"'What Sunset has done really well is reflect the changes in the way people in the West live,' said Barbara Fairchild, who will retire as editor in chief of Bon Appétit in November. 'It’s a style of living and cooking that really is different.' She moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles with her family in the 1960s. It was the first time she had ever seen an artichoke or an avocado. Her father began grilling over the big built-in brick barbecue while the children cooled off in the above-ground pool.

"Dinners, especially in the summer, were salads. Red meat gave way to chicken or fish — quite a radical departure for many family menus then.…"


How about Sunset's corporate headquarters? Photo by Heidi Schumann for the NY Times

Graffiti on beach tonight

Down at the beach tonight

Mendocino in the '70s

New book. Looks like another century! There's a great Flash mini-version of entire book so you can preview every page: http://www.blurb.com/books/31099
"The 60s happened in the '70s."

Go to the post page…

Silver Sebright bantam chickens

We now have a flock of about 24 bantams, maybe 7 of which are these Silver Sebrights. We have one Golden Sebright. I fell in love with these beautiful birds a few years ago when I saw a 10-year-old girl's flock at the Mendocino County Fair. They lay very small eggs, are a bit skittish, but oh those white feathers outlined in black! We get all our chickens from Murray McMurray Hatchery; they come via the U.S. post office overnight.

Here's a good blog with a lot of practical hands-on tips for raising chickens in urban or suburban areas: http://urban-agrarian.blogspot.com/

What Technology Wants, new book by Kevin Kelly

Just published a few days ago, this new book by Wired mag "Senior Maverick" and CoolTools founder Kevin Kelly is,  as I speak  this morning,  #56 on Amazon's bestseller list (!). Reviewer Thomas King writes:
"What Technology Wants offers a highly readable investigation into the mechanisms by which technology advances over time. The central thesis of the book is that technology grows and evolves in much the same way as an autonomous, living organism.
The book draws many parallels between technical progress and biology, labeling technology as "evolution accelerated." Kelly goes further and argues that neither evolution nor technological advance result from a random drift but instead have an inherent direction that makes some outcomes virtually inevitable. Examples of this inevitability include the eye, which evolved independently at least six times in different branches of the animal kingdom, and numerous instances of technical innovations or scientific discoveries being made almost simultaneously.…"
Check out Kevin's writeup on getting his first hard copy (hard cover) of the book, and ruminations on hold-in-hand books vs. eBooks: http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/
I ordered a copy yesterday. Lets see what Kevin thinks is going on tech-wise on the planet these days.

Shelter II back in print

We published Shelter II in 1978, 5 years after Shelter. At the time I felt that I'd misled people with the Domebooks, then shown them a great variety of ways to build in Shelter, and now it was time to show step-by-step design and construction of a small house. That's at the heart of Shelter II: a condensed 24-page instruction manual for the novice builder for building a stud-frame home: foundation, floor, wall and roof framing; roofing, windows, doors, interior finish, as well as plumbing and electrical work. Much of this applies also to cob, straw bale, etc. buildings, because just about every home needs a wood-framed roof.
There's also a lot on indigenous builders all over the world and on techniques and designs of past years; the rehabbing of abandoned buildings in cities; and my diatribe against the then-planned "space colonies."
Shelter was a hard act to follow. Shelter II has no color pages, and it doesn't have the irreverent joy of Shelter. But it's a solid book, with construction details our other books don't have, and we're glad to have it back in print.

Mockingbird by Inez and Charlie Foxx

If you thought Carly Simon's and James Taylor's version of Mockingbird was pretty good, listen to the original from 1963. Whew! Inez's got super-powered pure energy like Tina Turner at her best (when she was backed by Ike). I buy very few CDs these days, what with Sirius radio, but this was one: Charlie and Inez Foxx: Mockingbird, COL-CD 5301, Collectables Record Corp. The title song here is just brilliant singing, nothing quite like it.
I have to admit (sheepishly) to having played the song 5 times just now. Hey, after a week laid up in bed, things are lookin up.  My operated-upon knee feels good. I'm back to working on my tiny house book (wow!). It's a sunny day, some caffeine, ganja, good rhythm and blues, and stylin is the word.
Everybody, have you heard,
He's gonna buy me a Mockingbird,
Oh, if that Mockingbird don't sing
He's gonna buy me a diamond ring…

Running for the joy of it…

"Thanx and a tip of the Hatlo hat…" to Stewart Brand/Kevin Kelly for turning me on to Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
"CM: The key secret hit me like a thunderbolt. It was so simple, yet such a jolt. It was this: everything I’d been taught about running was wrong. We treat running in the modern world the same way we treat childbirth—it’s going to hurt, and requires special exercises and equipment, and the best you can hope for is to get it over with quickly with minimal damage.
Then I meet the Tarahumara, and they’re having a blast. They remember what it’s like to love running, and it lets them blaze through the canyons like dolphins rocketing through waves. For them, running isn’t work. It isn’t a punishment for eating. It’s fine art, like it was for our ancestors. Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees, we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain. And when our ancestors finally did make their first cave paintings, what were the first designs? A downward slash, lightning bolts through the bottom and middle—behold, the Running Man.
The Tarahumara have a saying: “Children run before they can walk.” Watch any four-year-old—they do everything at full speed, and it’s all about fun. That’s the most important thing I picked up from my time in the Copper Canyons, the understanding that running can be fast and fun and spontaneous, and when it is, you feel like you can go forever. But all of that begins with your feet. Strange as it sounds, the Tarahumara taught me to change my relationship with the ground. Instead of hammering down on my heels, the way I’d been taught all my life, I learned to run lightly and gently on the balls of my feet. The day I mastered it was the last day I was ever injured.…"

Go to the post page…


Mark Morford column on Republicans and climate change denial

Quote from gun-slinger writer Mark Morford's latest column at SFGate titled: "You want the good news, or the bad news?" Check out his 3 links here as well.
"…Every single one of the tiny-brained Republicans on the mid-term election sheet this very year are full-blown, moron-grade climate change deniers, rejecting any notion that humble little man and his seven billion voracious frogspawn has had any real, lasting effect on planetary ecosystems.
Should these GOP lugnuts get into power, expect obscene amounts of push-back against any significant environmental legislation, much fellating of Big Energy and the intellectually constipated Tea Party, lots of new muttering about nuclear power, oil exploration and how the severity of the BP spill was way overblown by the "liberal media elite.…"

Bird in the hand

I've been lying  around, using a circulating ice machine for my operated-upon left knee (torn meniscus, thanks to dumb down-hill running during Dipsea Race). Walked out into living room a half hour ago and a little bird was flying around inside. I hobbled around after him, opening windows, but he kept flying into another room and banging into the glass on windows as he tried to escape. Finally I was able to pick him up. Took him outside and he made a few attempts to fly and just fluttered to the ground. I kept him a while, shot a few pics, then he looked at me and flew away. Looks like a baby sparrow.

Vimeo film of Japanese teahouse construction

Also from Robin Wood (robin-wood.co.uk):
"Video of the Japanese Tea house being put together, probably filmed over a period of around 4-5 hours. The Japanese carpenters are very precise and each part actually went together and was taken apart again several times until they were satisfied with the fit."

Japanese tea house construction from Nicola Wood on Vimeo.
"It is difficult to estimate how long it took to prepare the timbers, but it was made entirely from trees that were felled on the worksite and converted using hand tools. The Japanese carpenters had done quite a bit of background work before we got there and then a mixed Japanese / European group of 15-20 people spent a solid seven days of work on it before this final construction."
Robin found this at: http://nicolawood.typepad.co.uk/kesurokai/2010/09/tea-house-construction-video.html#

Film of wooden bridge built of local curved sweet chestnut tree in England

We just got a wonderful email from builder Robin Wood, of Edale, Derbeyshire, UK. Robin makes countryside furniture and other wooden items.
"Robin's latest piece is a wooden footbridge, carved from a naturally-curved sweet chestnut tree growing just 200 yards from the site.
This beautiful bridge is in a special location; it is easily accessible but as you cross over it you come out onto open moorland and get a real sense of entering a wild and beautiful place."
More links from Robin to follow.

Green roof on Big Sur guest house and garage

There are 15 green roofs shown on this treehugger posting: http://is.gd/fL729

Dining table made of recycled wood

I shot a bunch of photos around our house for my talk at the solar energy festival last weekend, but there was no electrical hookup, so I'll post a few here now and then. I've made a number of tables out of used 2" Douglas Fir floor joists. We eat meals at this table, and look out at the constantly-changing bird world on the ground, in the bushes, at the finch feeder, bathing in the bird bath.

Two photos from French carpenter Yogan

Our friend Yogan just sent us this link to photos of a number of his projects in France: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=856784&id=1127561109

Yogan's website: http://yocharpentier.ifrance.com

Velzy Paddleboard For Sale

Nice looking paddleboard on Craig's List, sent us by Brendan O'Connor.

"This is a Surftech produced 12 foot Stock Class Sprint Paddleboard designed by Dale Velzy. This board has the beautiful Mahogany wood deck inlay and an EVA rubber deck pad. It is a real rocket and is in great condition.
Paid $2000 new. $795. or reasonable offer.
Reply to waterman through this post: http://is.gd/fEFX6"