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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/

Sculptural hi-voltage towers proposed in Iceland

“This design transforms mundane electrical pylons into statues on the Icelandic landscape.
Making only minor alterations to well established steel-framed tower design, we have created a series of towers that are powerful, solemn and variable. These iconic pylon-figures will become monuments in the landscape. Seeing the pylon- figures will become an unforgettable experience, elevating the towers to something more than merely a functional design of necessity.
The pylon-figures can be configured to respond to their environment with appropriate gestures. As the carried electrical lines ascend a hill, the pylon-figures change posture, imitating a climbing person. Over long spans, the pylon-figure stretches to gain increased height, crouches for increased strength or strains under the weight of the wires.…"

Small modernistic cottages in Nova Scotia

From Kent Griswold's Tiny House Blog:
"…The Shobac Cottages of Nova Scotia were designed and built by Brian MacKay-Lyons on historic land settled by the Acadians during the 1600′s. The four identical cottages, large studio and octagonal barn are used for rentals, private events and a design/build internship program called the GHOST lab.
Each 800 square foot cottage has 7-foot tall windows that frame the ocean view of the Atlantic. They each contain two bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, one bathroom, two decks, a wood stove, dining area, living bay and custom tile and maple floors.…"

Tuba Skinny - New Orleans street band

Great jug band. I love the tuba! If you go to their website and click on "Music," you can play their whole album. Such good stuff.
Got this from boingboing

Danny MacAskill - "Way Back Home" - NEW street trials riding short film

Unbelievable bike riding. Sent us by Steve Maxon.
"Way Back Home is the incredible new riding clip from Danny MacAskill, it follows him on a journey from Edinburgh back to his hometown Dunvegan, in the Isle of Skye."

You can read about it and watch the interviews with Danny at http://www.redbull.co.uk/waybackhome

World's oldest living organisms by Rachel Sussman

See Stewart Brand's summary of Rachel Sussman's recent talk/slide show at Seminars About Long-term Thinking in San Francisco.
The Missing Science of Biological Longevity
"Creative photographer Sussman showed beautiful slides of very elderly organisms. The captions were as crucial as the images---naming the species, the place, and the approximate age. You can see many of them here: http://is.gd/hAVNO
The series began with the only animal---an eighteen-foot brain coral in the waters of Tobago, thought to be 2,000 years old. An enormous baobob in South Africa might be 2,000 years old. Then there is the astounding welwitschia mirabilis of the Namibian desert, a conifer that feeds on mist, with the longest leaves in the plant kingdom.…"
Photo: Sentinel tree (2,150 years old; Sequoia National Park, California)

3-story Duck Blind Near Forrest City, Arkansas

Sent me by Don Manoukian. Pix by "TonyC."
   1st level hides 4 boats underneath and has room for 2 Hunters and has 2 dog doors.
   2nd level has a full kitchen with fridge, 2 stoves, electricity for lights, living room with 2 couches and satellite TV, theater seats around the "porch of the blind" to sit 14 guys comfortably. A side porch has a running toilet, a stainless steel grill for cooking whole rib-eyes for lunch and a bar to make all the Mojos and margaritas. Machine hard wired to car batteries.
   3rd level is the "crows nest" with room for 3. It's about 25' up in the trees and most of the time you are shooting down on the ducks.
The food scraps we throw out draw a lot of ducks and make the fishing good too."
(See 4th comment below, by one of the hunters.)

Carbon fiber bikes

I've fallen in love with these bikes. They're sculptural, anatomical. This one, at the low end of the scale at StudioVelo in Mill Valley, is around $3K. These guys carefully fit the bike to the rider.

I'm looking for a used one. Can't justify this much expense right now. Having one would get me out on the road; perfect cross-training for running, no knee impact..
Any cyclists out there 5-7", 5-8" upgrading to a new one, selling old one?

Renovation of old tiny house in France

"This is a beautiful old small home in Normandy, France that has been completely renewed. I like that the architect, Franklin Azzi, chose to keep the original small footprint relatively intact. There seem to be so many renovations that take an old small home and make it big. It’s nice to one that stayed relatively small."
More info: http://www.franklinazzi.com/dotclear/index.php?yport
From Michael Janzen's Tiny House Design

Crab(s) at market, Vietnam

 I find myself checking BoingBoing almost daily. A lot of it's too nerdy for me, but there's often art, soul, or humor. A spiffy, professional, blog with a steady stream of posts. Below photo from this morning, posted by Xeni Jardin:
"Crabs at a market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, contributed to the Boing Boing Flickr Pool by BB reader Jenny Steeves (Twitter, blog) of Albuquerque, NM. Do take a peek at the larger size."

When you get to the larger size, click on "original," top right for big blowup. Art of the natural world.

Native American power

I taped together these Edward Curtis photos to put on  the wall. Wow!

Fog coming in from Ocean

After a week or so of warm weather, the fog rolled in last night at sunset. This is on Panoramic Highway near Mountain Home Inn, Mill Valley. Ocean (in background) blanketed in fog.

Google collage by Jenny Odell

"The Satellite Collection is a series of six digital prints that I made by collaging cut-out imagery from (the) Google Satellite. Each one is printed and framed at 24"x24."
-Jenny Odell

"Just finished the last one of the group of prints I’ll be showing at the final MFA exhibition; this one is called 195 Yachts, Cargo Ships, Tankers, Barges, Riverboats, Hospital Ships, Cruise Lines, Ferries, Military Ships, and Motorboats. A couple of them are from our very own San Francisco."

Perfect throw

From BoingBoing
"These South Asian gentlemen have their parotta-cooking down to an art -- they fling the bread with perfect, unseeing grace to one another. One has to wonder: why not move the tables closer together?"

Troglodyte dwellings in Iran

Photos of the dwellings in this village have been circulating on the web, titled: "Village in Afghanistan… Incredible!" This is actually the village of Kandovan in Iran, of which the Zoroastrian heritage website says:
"What makes Kandovan village so unique is that many of its homes have been made in caves located in cone-shaped, naturally formed compressed volcanic ash formations that make the landscape look like a gigantic termite colony. This method of dwelling makes the residents modern-age cave dwellers or troglodytes. (Troglodyte means cave dweller: somebody living in a cave, especially somebody who belonged to a prehistoric cave-dwelling community. Troglodyte also means somebody living in seclusion.)"

Lessons from the Grey Fox

Richard Vacha writes a column on tracking animals in our local paper, the West Marin Citizen. From his latest column on our native Grey Foxes:
"The fox is an expert at reading the forest or field for signs of unguarded baseline activity or for alarms. The fox seems particularly sensitive to out-of-context behavior typical of humans, particularly the unsettled mental state we often carry with us. Trackers commonly report that once they learn to truly quiet their minds and harmonize with spirit of nature, the fox begins to show itself…"
"The very term, fox-walking, implies a slow walk in a heightened state of awareness that moves beyond the immediate sensory input to a wider sense of what is going on in the whole landscape. This type of walking, coupled with wide-angle vision, (and) the dynamic use of peripheral vision, can quickly induce a calmness that animals in nature respond to. These are two of the primary tools of a tracker interested in establishing a deeper connection with nature. This is how the animals themselves become our teachers, as they have been since the dawn of man."
Photo by Jerry Litynski Photography

Ultra-tiny home in Japan

Sent us by Jim Macey:

(CNN) -- Fuyuhito Moriya is 39 and still lives with his mother, but in circumstances you would call a tad unusual. Moriya, an unmarried man, and his mother, Yoko, live in a house that's built on 30 square meters, that's the same as the size of a parking space for one car.
They live in what's called an ultra-small house, a genre of single family homes bred of Japan's economic stagnation and brought to life by architectural ingenuity.
Moriya wasn't sure that the land, which was originally sold as a parking space for a car, would be big enough for a single family home. But when he started doing research into ultra-small homes, he began to realize it might work.

Dan & Gypsy Jess build a home of Craigslist trash in Texas

"Dan and I started out together on a travel trailing adventure. While we were staying in Florida, we met a guy that shared our similar traveling spirit. He and his wife left their home, got a school bus, and hit the road traveling for 3 years. He gave us a book called Home Work by Lloyd Kahn. The book was filled with inspiring stories and photographs of people that made handbuilt shelters that they call home. So, eventually God led us to our new home "The Shady 80". We gathered up a lot of free wood, and windows, and made our home. We have not paid for a single piece of wood. Our kitchen is made from wooden crates that held the glass for the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. I realize that a lot of my other pictures are at home…we'll see what I can come up with for now till we get back. Oh yeah, this is not the final product…we are still not finished with it yet."

Crabs and eggs

It looks like the best crab season in 3 years. By virtue of loaning my crab pot to Boone and Billy, I've been getting fresh crabs a few times a week. A typical San Francisco meal is cracked crab, sourdough garlic bread, salad, red wine or beer.
The Dungeness crab is a marvel of nature. They're out there crawling all over the bay and ocean bottom, scavenging. The meat is sweet, high in protein and minerals. A local resource that hasn't been killed off, hallelujah!

Josh, local fisherman, told me a while ago, "The ocean (here) is healthy!"

Commercial crab season opened today.

Below are 6 pullet eggs (bantam Auracanas and Silver Seabrights) for an omelete. I love these little eggs. I think bantams are probably more efficient (feed/output ratio) than full-size birds. Also, bantams make a lot more sense in urban, suburban, or near-neighbors' locales.

Launch of new book on lawyer Tony Serra — Sat. Nov 20, 5PM, San Francisco

There was a "60 Minutes" program on Tony maybe 20 years ago. So I don't have to explain who he is, go to:

"Meet Tony Serra and author/artist Paulette Frankl at the book launch at 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at Fort Mason Center, Room C-370.
LUST FOR JUSTICE: The Radical Life and Law of J. Tony Serra (ISBN # 0-615-38683-0) is the first and only book to appear about San Francisco’s charismatic counter culture lawyer, acclaimed one of the ten top criminal defense lawyers of the century. His long career has made him an icon of the underdog and a champion of civil rights leaders, a hero to some, a trickster to others, always a force to be reckoned with in court.
More about LUST FOR JUSTICE can be seen at http://www.lustforjustice.net/

Partially-full disclosure: Tony's one of my oldest friends (55+ years!). Little is it known that I introduced Tony to marijuana in the '60s. We smoked it over ice cubes, then went out to hear jazz sax player Art Pepper at a Fillmore district club. Tony kept saying, "I don't feel anything…"

Review of Builders of the Pacific Coast

Great review by Keith Goetzman in the Utne Reader blog. It's so great when someone gets it.
"…a photo-splashed book full of amazing, rustic, wood-built dwellings and shelters on islands and in other remote seaside locations in the Pacific Northwest.
The area's huge trees and ubiquitous driftwood lend themselves to curvaceous, organic design, and these builders take full advantage of these qualities in structures that range from a Hobbit-like gazebo to a spherical treehouse to grand but still-earthy luxury homes and spas. Many of the homes are reachable only by boat and perched in impossibly beautiful settings.
There's a strong countercultural thread to these builders, many of whom were inspired by Kahn's 1973 book Shelter, a bible of sorts for that decade's back-to-the-land movement. And Kahn's laid-back writing style is full of metaphysical allusions and meandering asides about his travels, giving it a whiff of patchouli and B.C. bud. But looking at these homes, it's hard to doubt that there's 'a vortex of creative carpentry energy in this part of the world,' as the book states. Moss roofs, bentwood railings, hand-carved details, natural motifs, and Native influences complement the area's mossy, foggy splendor and speak to its natural and human history.…"
Photo: loft in dome by SunRay Kelley in Builders of the Pacific Coast

Hemp home in Ontario

I met Chris and Wil Dancey several years ago at a Timber Framers Guild conference at Asilomar, Calif. At that time they were building their nicely-proportioned hemp wall house. Since then it's been completed and here is Chris' description:
"Infill: The exterior walls are 11" think hemp and lime infill. The industrial hemp was grown and processed in SW Ontario. The hemp hurd, which is the woody core of the industrial hemp plant, is broken into small pieces and cleaned before packing into bags and sold as HempChips by Stemergy. We also did some of our interior walls with hemp and lime, but they are only 6' thick. Gabriel Gauthier of ArtCan helped with the hemp and lime infill.

Road kill fox

People hereabouts often alert me to roadkill animals. Marco and I were out getting firewood today and he told me he'd seen a fox that had been hit and killed last night. We drove over there and I picked up this little beauty. I'll skin it tonight, stretch it out, tack it down to a piece of plywood, and salt it down. After a week I'll send it via UPS to a tanner in Pennsylvania. 6-8 weeks later I'll get a beautiful tanned skin back via UPS.

15-story hotel built in 6 days in China!

"The 15-story hotel already had its foundation but using pre-fabricated columns and modules as well as modern construction techniques, construction workers took just 46 hours to finish the main structural components and another 90 hours to finish the building enclosure. While the workers didn't work all through the night, they did work until 10pm each night…"
"Located in Changsa, the Ark Hotel is level 9 earthquake resistant and incorporates some sustainable practices.…"
Sent us by Evan Kahn

Marie France Roy snowboarder/surfer/gardener

This clip shows Marie, one of the world's top snowboarders, at her summer digs on Vancouver Island, BC, surfing, gardening, raising chickens, and collecting chantrelles. What a woman!

Stretching and walking: advice by Bob Anderson

Bob, author of our book Stretching, was recently interviewed by the San Jose Mercury News. An excerpt:
"The idea with stretching is to at least maintain what you have. Not to necessarily achieve super flexibility. I also think exercise and activity work best when you’re not on a team — because you don’t need to meet any standard but your own. When other people are making you do things, your body isn’t taken into account. So you’ve got to be careful of group classes. I’m not going to touch my toes before I even know how far I can stretch. And as you get older and stay active, you need to find activities that agree with you. I’m asked “What are the best activities?” and I often say, “Anything you’ll do regularly.” If you can walk, that’s what you should do. Because that’s what you always want to be able to do in your life. Walking is the one act that will allow us to remain independent and stay fit."
Click here for Travelers Stretches. Print out so you can stretch while in the airplane and in hotel room while traveling.

Masters of American Music: Bluesland

This is a wonderful documentary of the blues. Skillfully woven together, soulful, all good stuff. So many documentaries are frustrating, but this one gets it right. Robert Palmer's comments are insightful. Some of the cuts are scratchy sounding, and there are traffic (or train sounds) during Albert Murray's comments, but it's all the real thing. It was on the Ovation channel last week. I just ordered the DVD (I rarely order movies these days). Photo at left of Son House (what a beautiful man!) ; he's talking about musicians either playing for the Devil or God. Bessie Smith, Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Boy Williamson, a young John Lee Hooker…I'm going to film a couple of segments and will post later on.
Gypsy woman told my mother
Before I was born,
You got a boy child's comin
Gonna be a son of a gun,
He gonna make pretty women
Jump and shout…
-Muddy Waters in 1960 at the Newport Jazz Festival

Snowboarding that's hard to believe

This is like science fiction. They're called Thirty Two Team. Sheesh!

Tiny house in Sweden

​The basic module is 15 sq meters, and named "friggebod" in Sweden. In Sweden 15 sq meter does not require a building permit.
​ONE+ is complete from start and is provided with electrical outlets as well as WC, shower and kitchen if wanted."

Chicken and Egg page at The Mother Earth News

Weird abandoned concrete house in Kansas

This strange poured-concrete abandoned house is in Shawnee county (near Topeka), Kansas, and was sent to us by Cheryl Long, editor of The Mother Earth News.
"Supposedly, there were 20 such houses planned to be constructed on the surrounding 5 acres, but only this house was built. The house faces east and has a solar panel on the south side. This house had the Ultraflo water system installed. The model in this house dates to the mid 1970s. Refrigerator manual in house was from 1973.…Concrete over wood framing used inside house. Steel rebar used extensively for structural support and utilitarian use (stair rail, towel racks, front entry gate). Floor of house is brick laid in a radial pattern, with the fireplace as the center point. Built-in sofas and end tables; cantilevered stair to loft, fiberglass reinforced stucco coating over concrete.…http://khri.kansasgis.org/index.cfm?tab=details&in=177-3152&startrow=1&sort=historic_name&revision=4

Newspaper wood

From boingboing yesterday:
"Kranthout ("newspaper wood" in Dutch) is a new product that has been developed by Mieke Meijer for design company vij5…. As the name suggests, this is 'wood' made from newspaper. The individual pages are rolled together using a specially developed machine to produce tabloid sized 'logs', which can then be milled into planks, drilled and sanded just as real wood might. Neatly, the kranthout also replicates the grain of wood, with streaks of text or color photographs revealed in the new planks when it is cut."

Cave house in Argentina

Refugio la cueva en argentine au pieds des andes!

All I know about this place is that our friend, French carpenter yogan, shot photos of it when he was in Argentina.

Museum of rural architecture in Estonia

Veiko Lasting sent us this link to an open air museum on Estonia that, among other displays, has a number (12) of Estonian farms shown in "virtualtour" 360º panoramas. http://www.evm.ee/keel/eng/

"The Estonian Open Air Museum is akin to a village, with 12 farms, as well as its own church, tavern and schoolhouse. There are a number of mills, a fire station, fishing net sheds as well as a dancing area and a village swing.
The museum is located in a lovely, well-maintained forest park on a high sandstone bank on Kopli Bay, just 15 minutes drive from the center of Tallinn."

Tiny Swedish cottage

Designed by Jonas Wagell. http://www.littlediggs.com/

Tiny beach cottage

In the UK, this 388 sq. ft. cottage is on galvanized metal stilts. http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1snoe2/www.littlediggs.com/littlediggs/2009/05/beach-chalet.html

Greek cliff-side monastery

In Meteora, Greece. Another photo of this is in our book Home Work, p. 119. Cannot find source for this photo.

Feedback at Green Festival

The feedback at these events is really gratifying. Shelter really changed a lot of peopl'e's lives. A guy stopped by a little while ago and said that he ran across a copy of HomeWork in a remote area in Brazil.
A 40s-year-old guy just now came to the booth, pointed to Shelter, and said, "I was reading this when I was a kid and it sparked a bunch of things in my later life."
"How old were you?"
He thought for a minute, then said, "About 5."

Amy Goodman from Democracy Now at GreenFestival

Amy is a dynamic and compelling speaker and everyone in the large crowd was with her today as she talked about the need for non-mainstream reporting.

New Nissan electric car

Was generating a lot of interest at Green Festival. 100 miles on a charge. Top speed 90mph. 100% electric.

Green Festival November San Francisco

We're selling a lot of copies of Builders of the Pacific Coast, and The Barefoot Architect. Last night, after some rock n roll at Bottom of the Hill, I went to Sam Wo restaurant about 2 AM. I've been going there for about 50 years. You walk in through the kitchen, climb narrow stairs, and surly waitresses take your order and haul it up on a dumb waiter. The place was famed in the '60s for the ultra-rude waiter Edsel Ford, who would yell at you: "No egg foo yung, no sweet sour, no chow mein! What you want? Hurry up!" Edsel's gone now, but his spirit remains. I had a bowl of wonton soup, delicious. They are open until 3AM. Lot of international travelers there late at night.
My talk on the half-acre homestead went well yesterday. It was fun, everyone was with me. Raining this morning, I'm at Ritual Roasters, v. cool barista/wi-fi cafe on Valencia St. Doing talk today on Builders of the Pacific Coast at Green Fest.

Aztec graffiti in Mission district

Day before yesterday on 24th Street:
A lot of Mission district street art seems to have an Aztec/Miztec/Olmec overtones.

Country boy/City boy

This flurry of posts is because I'm in the Big City for 4 days for the Green Festival.
Ocean beach yesterday, surfers" paradise, shadows in the sea mist...
An Irish coffee last night at the Buena Vista, Ghirardelli sign with  its handsome typography...
Cafe Roma in North Beach at daybreak today…