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Sunny day on the beach

I'm no real fan of blue skies days. I mean, I don't think every blue-sky warm day is "beautiful," as I so often hear. Give me some clouds, a little fog, wisps of mist. Variety.
   Well, after lots of weeks of rain and dark skies, it was sunny today, and it was "beautiful."Such a change.
    I've started paddling again (inspired by a young neighbor/waterman who paddles at night), and went paddling in the channel around noon today, crossed to the other side and spent an un-planned hour or more beachcombing, running, wading along the sandy beach. You brothers and sisters of the beach tribe will understand when I say it was an exquisite beach day (you can never tell until you get there, right?).
  Very few people on beach, bit of breeze so air was fresh, clear green water flowing in the shallows, lotsof new shells. The light, shadows, the warm sun, foam from small waves breaking on sand…all working together. I was so excited!

Man of wealth and taste

After reading Keith Richard's autobiography, I realized I didn't have "Exile on Main Street," bought it, and was playing it a few minutes ago. I walked into the office where Mary and Lesley were sitting and said, "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste…" and Mary said: "You could have fooled me."

1952 German-made diesel housetruck for sale on eBay

"The truck was manufactured in 1952 in Germany (frame, engine, drivetrain, etc.) and the Netherlands (body) for the Dutch government for the purpose of fire fighting in narrow inner-city streets. A total of 244 were built and they were in service until the mid 1970s when they were sold off to the general public. Many were converted to campers and some are still on the road as such in the Netherlands. I purchased this one in 2002 and had it shipped to Maryland. The original engine was a 75HP four cylinder air cooled (!) diesel with a manual, non-synchronized gearbox. My wife could not get the clutch to the floor and on the up-hill the truck was so slow that I replaced engine and gearbox with a Cummins diesel and automatic gearbox a couple of years later. 165HP works a lot better!…The interior was getting somewhat old and I started a make-over project with solid oak.…"

Starting bid $5000 (no bids as of  9:10 AM Pacific Coast Time 3/30/11.)


Thanx and a tip of the Hatlo hat to Phil Miano for this.

Barb's got moon in hand

From Bill Castle of Pollywog Holler: "Barb proved that the  "Big Moon" Sat night was not really big but it did get close enough to the Earth, for her to grab it…"

(Check out Bill's unique hand-carved tables: http://is.gd/billstables.)

Getting Back in Shape in Lithuanian

Our book Getting Back in Shape, by Bob Anderson (author of Stretching), and Bill Pearl (author of Getting Stronger), has just been translated into Lithuanian. Stretching has been translated into 23 languages, the latest a pocketbook edition by Random House in Germany.

You can see the listing of the 60+ foreign editions of our books at: http://is.gd/shfor, including Shelter and HomeWork in Japanese. Both these books, plus Builders of the Pacific Coast, are in Korean. HomeWork is also in French.

I will be going to the Frankfurt Book Fair this October, especially to sell rights to our book on tiny houses, which it appears, will be of interest all over the world.

It's a great thing to connect with people in other countries. "California to Universe, do you read me?" (This morning we got an order from Austria to ship all 8 of our building books to an address in Brazil!)

Contents of my fanny pack.

I've been many years developing the essentials and how to carry them . I may or may not have my L. L. Bean super capacious backpack with me, but I almost always have the fanny pack. This is what I have when out roaming NYC at night.
-Top: PacSafe StashSafe Series 100 hip pack. It has a bunch of anti-theft features. Mainly, it's the right size, got lots of interior pockets.
-Bottom: $9 Casio F-91W watch
-2nd row up: pen / 3-1/2" x 5" Moleskine notebook (v. slim) / Swiss Army knife / reading glasses that fold up. Louie gave them to me, no idea where to get them, but they are great / slim magnifying glass / tiny LED light / wallet
-Other stuff: Canon Powershot S-90 (have shot almost 3000 shots on this great little camera) / Sony Cybershot DSC TX7 for shooting seamless panoramas / iPhone and stylus (way easier to keyboard with this.


Local Tsunami damage

Just to think, those ocean pulses travelled almost 6000 miles to get here. What's typical is that a boar's bow line comes loose and all that's left is the tether at the stern. The water just climbs over the square back part of the boat.
We were lucky to get along with so little damage here. Pic taken down at the dock last week.

Awesome Tsunami footage

My brother Bob, just forwarded me this:

From: "Russell Schweickart"
Date: March 28, 2011 2:47:37 AM PDT

This is the most complete… and amazing view of the tsunami I’ve seen. And right at the very end is the first, and only shot I’ve seen of the water receding. I think the reason that we haven’t seen the normal tsunami sequence.. ebb, flood, ebb, flood, etc. is that the seawall along the Japanese coast… something like 3-5 meters high… eliminated it. I.e., once the water got over the seawall (since it was 7-10 meters high), it stayed there… the seawall blocking it from receding back out to sea. What an irony!

Aerial video of the wave that hit Japan.


SunRay Kelley's Got hammer (and wood), will travel

Master natural materials builder SunRay Kelley and his partner Bonnie have just returned from a 6000 mile trip to Mexico in their in-process solar powered biodiesel Toyota camper (see http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=10883512 for stuff on my blog about SunRay).
   SunRay's looking for a project. The last one he did was a beautiful little sculptural timber-cob studio in Northern California, which I photographed for a feature in our forthcoming tiny houses book. He brought all the wall and roof sheathing with him, cut and milled on his Washington property, then got posts and beams in the local woods. He told me a few days ago that things were slow in Washington and he was looking for a project. He's done projects as far away from home as New York state and Mexico.
   I couldn't recommend anyone more highly. His structures utilize almost all natural materials in ingenious ways, are beautiful, and finely crafted. Call 360-333-0364 or email Bonnie at sunray@sunraykelley.com. 

Open Building Blog: Thoughts on architecture, timber framing, and sustainability

Epiphany on Ebooks

Because I'm such a modern guy, I downloaded Keith Richards" Life on my iPad, read it, and really liked it (see previous posting).
   OK, the plot thickens: my son Will is a musician, living in Santa Cruz (Calif.) and is working with engineer Rich Williams of Paradise Recording studio on a recording device that, in Will's words: "… (uses) analog tape to get a sound that feels good. Analog recording is like a hand built home, whereas digital recording is analogous to a prefab house. This way is old fashioned, imperfect, and feels better."
   If you read my previous post about what the Stones were doing 40+ years ago, it sounds a lot like what Paradise recordings' hardware is doing in the 21st century. Why am I not surprised that deviating from the purely digital can up the soul factor?

Keith Richards' autobiography is great!

Stones fans (and blues guitar players): You're gonna love this book. What a surprise! It's not perfect, but in parts is insightful, truthful, and informative. Way interesting background stuff on this phenomenal band.
I enjoyed it immensely. There was a fascinating part about Keith plying an acoustic guitar directly into a cassette recorder and distorting the sound to get the desired effect. They were getting electric guitar out of acoustic guitar in ways you can't do with today's digital recording apparatus. I remember listening to a Stones song back in the day as I was returning to reality from an, ahem, chemically-enhanced state of consciousness. What was this sound? It was as if they were distorting time, stretching it, and compressing it.
The book explains how the Keith and Mick couldn't believe that Americans were so largely unaware of Mississippi/Texas.Chicago blues music, their tangled relationship, how they wrote songs together, Keith's formidable heroin/cocaine habits… It's startling in its honesty about a lot of stuff. (And it also led me indirectly to an epiphany about ebooks, which I'll tackle in another post.)

Power outage on Hwy One

This was mid-day Thursday, near Pacifica ((Calif.). A Comcast cable had fallen due to the storms and there were six (6!) guys on six cherry pickers raising the line back up. This disjointed collage shows 4 of them.

Urban renaissance: Books, mags on urban farming, homesteading, backyard gardening, chickens at Bookshop Santa Cruz

When in Santa Cruz last week we went to Bookshop Santa Cruz, a wonderful bookstore. It's in the tradition of The Tattered Cover in Denver, with tons of books face-out, chairs and couches to sit in, helpful bibliophile staff, intelligent arrangement of titles. Here's a table reflecting the recent upsurge of interest in growing (at least some of) your own food, whether you live in the city or country. The book at top right with the red barn is titled The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love, by Kristin Kimball, which has got rave reviews. (I mention it here because you can't read the title in the photo.) Another great bookstore I visited recently was Copperfield's in Healdsburg, Calif. It seemed like most of the titles were on tables, face-out. For those of us who love books, there ain't nothin like a real bookstore.

Make Your Own Energy-Saving Thermal Curtains

"Windows are very frequently a source of lost heat in your home. Older homes may suffer from only having single-paned windows, which lose a large amount of heat, and even newer double-paned insulated windows lack enough insulation against cold winter temperatures and wind. However, you can save home heating costs and easily bulk up the insulation around your windows by making your own inexpensive thermal curtains.

Thermal curtains are energy-efficient window shades* that insulate against the cold around your windows. They are a thick and heavy buffer and can significantly decrease the money you spend on energy to heat your house. If you are handy with a sewing machine or know someone who is, there’s not much more you need than some old blankets or comforters, fabric, and a fair amount of time."

Elegant wooden iPad cover from Holland

From Make Online:

"Check out this super sleek wooden roll top cover for the iPad 2 from Dutch case manufacturer Miniot. Made from a single piece of cherrywood, the case fits snug to the tablet using internal magnets. The design differs from the stock Apple Smart Cover with its rigid rolling arch, smooth organic lines, and its lack of hinge. Though I have yet to hold one in my hand, from what I’ve seen in the video demonstration it appears to offer superior support when used as a stand to prop up the device."

GMC Safari van

Spotted this on the way back from Santa Cruz yesterday. Looks smaller, more compact than many of the live-in type vans. Now if it had 4-wheel drive, you'd really have something. (When I first posted, I said it was a Ford, but got corrected.)

Stormy weather

We were 2 days without electricity. At night we used this great candle holder (from Lehmans -- I heartily recommend getting their Lehmans Non-Electric Catalog -- especially if you are homesteading or gardening or pursuing the home arts).

Finally hooked up our Honda 3000 generator to get the office computers going. (This model is as silent as generators get, and has an "eco-mode" that conserves energy.) It's kind of a shock to realize that our publishing business is pretty totally dependent upon electricity.
There's something nice about candlelight and no TV, staring into the flames of the fireplace, the silence. One of my friends used to say, about being off the grid, "no 60 cycle hum." But the reality is, our mail order book business and most of our publishing communication is electric, as well as electronic.
Also on Sunday, a tree fell on the only road into and out of town, so I couldn't get up to Sebastapol Sunday for a screening of the 6-minute documentary on our homestead.

Remodeled 1978 Airstream trailer

By Santa Barbara (Calif.) architect Mathew Hoffman


The Affordable LEED Platinum Habitat for Humanity House

"This classic American home is the end result of smart planning, high performance materials, and passive design techniques.  Designed on a $100,000 dollar budget by the Michigan firm of Dominick Tringali Architects, the project is set to be a prototype for the next generation of Habitat for Humanity homes.…Reaching back to an era of architectural elegance, the style represents a return to traditional design, one in which their is a niche market for.  It's always great to see the once seemingly impossible goal of affordable, single-family LEED Platinum be tackled with such a reverence for iconic American building details."


Evan's birthday snowboard run with GoPro Helmet Hero camera

My son Evan spent his 30th birthday (March 20th -- Spring equinox) -- snowboarding in powder snow with his friend Sean in the hills above Lake Tahoe. Recorded with a GoPro Helmet Hero HD wide angle lens video camera.

(Sending this from Verve Roasters super coffee shop with good wi-fi, in Santa Cruz on a rainy morning. We're down here to visit grandson baby Maceo.)

"Went up to a water tower above Agate Bay with my soon to be brother in law. We snowshoed a ways up the hill then rode down towards the cabin through the backcountry. . . ."

Vintage trailer for sale in UK

Richard Ieian Jones just sent in this link to a vintage trailer up for auction right now in Church Stretton, Shropshire, UK : http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=270723780467&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT#ht_500wt_1156

This is a rare opportunity to buy a vintage 1949 Carlight 4 berth 16ft touring caravan.
The roof is water tight, panels are good and chassis is sound bar(ring) a weak 3ft section on the A frame but this can be plated. All windows are intact but has 2 small places of rot in toilet area around wooden window frame and gas bottle compartment. Wired up for 240V.
The exterior paint work and the top 1/2 of the door panel is not original.
The interior has all the original fixtures and fittings.
Caravan was saved from being destroyed and retrieved from a dry barn in Herefordshire.
This will make a great restoration project for a keen enthusiast.
I am listing this on behalf of a friend who can be contacted for more details on 07971 742934

Adobe and straw bale buildings at El Pedregal Nature Lodge and Retreat Center, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico

"The five casitas and lodge were built of adobe in the last few years by David and Jennifer MacKay."

Pictures of the El Pedregal Nature Lodge and Retreat Center, which is situated on a twenty acre oasis in the town of Alamos, Sonora, Mexico, appearing on Alt. Build Blog.

I stayed here a few years ago. It's a wonderful  place in a beautiful old Mexican town in the mountains.

Lots of stuff to check out on this blog.

Alternate Building Blog

Tons of good stuff on this website. Click on subjects in sidebar. "…topics such as earthen and traditional building, passive solar energy, energy conservation, owner builder issues, tiling, stone masonry, woodworking, gardening, landscaping and the trades in general, not to mention the odd and the unusual.…" http://altbuildblog.blogspot.com/

Go to the post page…

"StoneLake Farm is a unique 21-acre off the grid homestead located in Humboldt County, approximately 60 miles southeast of Arcata, California. Close to redwood groves and wild rivers, high on the southwest flank of Buck Mountain, our small farm has dairy, pack, and Angora goats, chickens, a large garden, orchards, a lively creek complete with dipping holes, flowing waterfalls, and stunning vistas.

Our hand-made octagon is available for rentals, we offer internships and are accepting applications for our artist-in-residence program."

Sk8ing yesterday

During brief interlude between rains, bombing local hill yesterday on my Loaded Dervish (bamboo) longboard. Photo shot by Walt Denson with his big Cannon. Walt's a real pro (and surfer). Check out his website: http://www.waltdenson.com/

New beach discovery

Yesterday I walked about an hour and a half on the beach at low tide to get to this spot. You can't see it here, but there's a sea cave going through the rock, coming out on the other side. This is just one of the many adventures I've been having since I quit competitive running. If you're willing to walk a bit (in this case after scrambling down a sketchy steep cliffside trail), you get to places rarely visited by other humanoids.

Tree house in Costa Rica

While looking at some of Yestermorrow's projects just now, I spotted another tree house:

April course in pre-fabs

Photo at left is from a Yestermorrow course in building tree houses.

Yestermorrow is a school for building in the Green Mountains of Vermont. The school's founder, architect John Connell and Giocondo Susini are teaching a 5-day course starting April 17th on building with prefabricated components, "Putting the Fab back in Pre-fab."

"New developments in factory-built housing now make it possible to design custom, environmentally enlightened homes that meet the needs and pocketbooks of normal homeowners. Healthy and green, these buildings can be less expensive to build and operate even while looking historic, vernacular or contemporary. But only if you understand the entire process and work with the right manufacturers. This course will enumerate the dos and don’ts of building with prefabricated house parts by taking students through a design process focused on their own individual projects. In addition to appropriate siting, Energy Star and LEED design principles, we will cover how to shop for a manufacturer, what to ask, how to price your home, and what to expect as the construction process unfolds. There will be field trips to fabrication plants, and we will demonstrate how to vet different manufacturers."

Urban and small-scale homesteading

A bunch of good books for people getting into food production, on whatever scale: http://www.goodearthpublications.com/
Regarding this book:'
"City Chicks describes in detail how chicken’s “skill sets' can be employed in a 'Hen-Have-More Plan' for food production systems. Instead of using oil-based chemicals, chickens can help produce fertilizer and compost; they can turn yard waste into garden soil. Hens can also be used as mobile, clucking, (organic and non-toxic), pesticiders, herbiciders, and insecticides.
   And chickens can be of civic service. One chicken eats about 7 pounds of food 'waste' a month. A few hundred households keeping micro-flocks of laying hens can divert tons of yard and food biomass 'waste' from trash collection saving municipalities millions, even billions of tax payer $$
   'What if a city had 2,000 households with three hens (or more) each? That could translate to 252 tons of food waste diverted from landfills each year ... Add to that number the tons of yard waste (grass clippings and leaves) that can hens can help convert into compost and the amount is as enormous as the tax-savings of NOT having to handle, transport and store all that biomass waste'."

Buddha was a cowboy…

Lyrics from Come A Rain by Kevin Lynch, playing at this moment:

Jesus was a pagan, Woody was a punk
Gandhi was a soldier, Hendrix was a monk
Leonardo was an alien, Plato was a scream
Vincent was a flower child, Elvis was a dream
Kurosawa was a samurai, Achilles was a gimp
Django was a miracle, Rasputin was a pimp
Piaf was a siren, Callas was the sea
Martin was a king on earth
in all his majesty

Come a rain, come a rain now

Confucius was a joker, Kafka was a spook
Rumi was a homey, Bukowski was a duke
Fellini was a scientist, Dante was a thug
Buddha was a cowboy, Amelia was a stud
Einstein was a psychic, Stalin was a hick
Marilyn was Marilyn, Picasso was a trip
Marley was a preacher, Columbus was a dope
Houdini was a rascal, Hank Williams was a ghost

Come a rain, come a rain now

With beauty all around you, may you walk.

I've developed a bike/run routine where I ride my bike about 5 miles, then run/shuffle a few miles to get to my mushroom spot, a grove of tan oaks, bay trees and redwoods. The ground was saturated with water, after recent rains. Creeks rushing, ponds full;  in one spot on the trail, water was bubbling out of a hole. Zilch in the mushroom department, maybe they're waiting for some warmth, or maybe the recent cold weather has knocked the chanterelles underground until next year. I did gather some fiddlehead ferns, but just read that many varieties are toxic, so will proceed w. caution.
I realized yesterday, that it's not just getting out in the woods or beach that I love, but the search for something to gather -- food, flowers, bones, feathers -- the hunter/gatherer genes. If all else fails, I gather images with my camera.

In beauty may you walk.
All day long may you walk.

Human Planet - Web exclusive series trailer - BBC One

Boy is this beautiful!
Be sure to click on the 4 little arrows at lower right side of screen to enlarge. This is just magnificent.
Discovered by Lew Lewandowski

2 showings of 6-min documentary Shelter coming up

Filmmaker Jason Sussbertg's 6-min. movie of our homestead, called "Shelter," is being screened this Sunday, March 20th (3:30 PM) at the 4th Annual Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival. I'm going to go, as it will be followed by a Q and A. It's at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 6780 Depot Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472.

It's being shown the next week as part of the "How-to Homestead" group's workshop on building solar ovens in San Francisco --  Sunday, March 27th. The workshop starts at 3PM, there's a potluck dinner at 6, and the film will be shown around 7 PM. It's at the Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center. 660 Lombard Street, San Francisco, CA 94133.

Little San Francisco beach cottages

Over an inch of rain yesterday. I was heading down to Kevin Kelly's in Pacifica for the 1st meeting of the Bay Area Screen Publishers User Group, a new group just formed "…to assist other like-minded folks in creating word-based content for the screen: small, medium, or large screens. Like iPads, iPhones, Kindles, Nooks and whatever comes after…"
I headed out to Trouble Coffee near the beach in San Francisco. This neighborhood is a few blocks from Ocean Beach, and there are lots of little beach shacks here and there. Check out these little gems. Stylin in the city…

Then this tough 4x4 van, ready for desert and mountains:

Local harbor yesterday morning

Down at beach this morning

The ocean is powerful these last few days. It's the 1st real tsunami I've ever seen come in locally. It didn't wreck anything right here, but its presence was felt. The fishermen were worried about boats getting dumped upside down. Brothers and sisters of the Pacific Ocean, these are trying times.

Boys boys boys

I can't resist any longer. Here are pics of my new (and first) grandchild, Maceo at about 2 months, along with his mom Aine, dad Will. Funny thing, pics of me at this age look almost identical. Uh-oh! 

When I was growing up, it was all boys. Three boys in my family. Five boys between my mom's 2 sisters. One boy of my  dad's brother. Eight boys, no girls. And now Maceo. Dude!

Waterfall, sea cave yesterday at beach

I spent 3 hours on the beach yesterday. Started raining and I got inside this cave.

Solar Burrito Blog: Cabins, Shelters, Off-The-Grid Tech and other Fun Stuff

This is a 180 sq.ft. house built on an island in British Columbia. I just discovered it on Solar Burrito, a great blog, of special interest to builders, homesteaders, and do-it-yourself people: http://solarburrito.wordpress.com/

Tiny homes

Above: tiny (each (4" x 7") roughs of a few pages
The tiny homes book is taking way longer than anticipated (what else is new?) I have over 250 mailboxes for contributors, am corresponding with them to get decent-size pics. We have about 124 pages laid out now, around 600 photos.
I'm trying to get out to the studio around 6:30 AM, usually work until 6:30- 7 PM, 2-3 days a week. Shit! Most of my contemporaries are retired. But you know what? I love it. Every day is vital. It usually takes me hours to deal with general publishing biz stuff before I can get into layout. But then, I'm havin fun. I can't imagine being retired.
Part of the thrill is not knowing what the finished book will be like. Kind of like skating downhill with no brakes. Here we go; it'l be what it'll be. The best way to make a book. Organic. (Am in repeating myself here?)
New material coming in almost daily. Lew is starting to help with layout. He just did 4 pages of photos by Rick Auerbach, a photographer who documented hippie buses and campers in the '60s - '70s. (You know that the '60s happened in the'70s, right?) There are over 80 pics on these 4 pages. So there's a bit of old stuff along with the new. These days I'm putting together pages on pre-fabs and kits available in the US and Canada. It's just staggering, the interest in this subject right now.
I'm gonna stay home for a while now, except for the BEA book convention in NYC the end of May, and the Frankfurt Book fair in October. Once the book is done I'm either going surfing in Hawaii or trekking in Borneo. (I hesitate to say it, with all that's going on in the world, but) life is pretty darn good.
At this very moment, the Stones came on singing Gimme Shelter. Cosmic!

Are You Lonesome Tonight

Been playing the '50s Sirius station a lot lately. The vocal harmonies of that decade were unique. A few minutes ago, Elvis singing "Are You Lonesome Tonight," so beautiful it gave me chills. The Isley Brothers doing "Twist and Shout," Coasters (originally the Robins) doing all those great Lieber and Stoller songs. "Searchin'," "Young Blood," "Loop de Loop Mambo." (The latter a little-known song with special significance for me: my roommate at Stanford was Richard Zanuck, now the uber Hollywood producer. One night (probably 1954), we were drinking at a party and about midnight decided to drive to LA in his 20th Century Fox Ford convertible. There's a vast difference between San Francisco, my hometown, and LA. Things are a lot looser in LA (duh!) I was a wide-eyed northern foreigner. Things was hangin' out down there. It was relaxed.
We got into LA around dawn and at a coffee stop, I saw for the first time, pieces of pie in the wall cabinet reflected by mirrors. Sheee-it! The visuality of LA.
As we pulled back onto the coast highway a little north of Santa Monica, we were listening to the great LA DJ Dick "Huggie Boy" Hugg and "Loop de Loop Mambo" came on. Another world. (I've loved LA ever since.)
I tried to find this song fore years, and just rediscovered it, like 55 years later on (and I recommend this CD if you're into R&B, now called "Doo-wop," of the '50s:) The Coasters Singles A's and B's - 1955-1959 I'm playing "Searchin'" as I write this, and I'm 19 and we're heading to Zanuck's beachfront house with our Dale Velzy balsa wood surfboards. We're both buffed and have full heads of hair…

Outsmarted by rats

Rats will usually steal bait off the trigger without tripping the spring. I've been tying peanut butter wrapped in plastic to the trigger with Baggie wires, but it's a hassle. Now I attach a half-inch copper pipe cap to the trigger with a sheet metal screw (grind down projecting end) and filling with peanut butter. Most of them are wood rats, not the awful Norwegian rats, but they need to be controlled, what with our wood piles and chic.
Pretty clever, huh? Well, I just went out and the fuckers had  somehow got the bait out of 3 of the 5 traps I set yesterday. Hmmm…
I wrote an article for Mother Earth News a few years ago on coping with homestead critters, but now I don't feel so clever.