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Foggy night on the coast

It rained bigtime Tuesday. 1½" here, real late and unusual for this time of year in California. After running along the coast a ways Tuesday night (solo these days), then splashing along in the surf on the beach, running back to the inn and jumping in all the puddles on the way hee-hee), I ducked underwater in the creek, then had a Guinness on tap with the boys, a Gemütlichkeit night in the pub, celtic music playing softly. The rain had stopped and on the way home north along the coast, the fog was so thick it was like crawling through a tunnel. Having grown up in San Francisco, the fog is a friend.

Lawson's Landing under threat by regulators

Update, December 11, 2011: Thanks largely to the Environmental Action Committee, a well-funded "environmental" group, all trailers have to be gone from Lawson's in 5 years. Score a win for trust fund activists (anyone check the income level and sources thereof of the activists?), a loss for Californians of moderate means.

I consider myself an environmentalist. And for this reason I'm alarmed by a new and very strong movement among people who call themselves "environmentalists." If I may generalize, these are people who do not hunt or fish or make their living from the land. They often have not grown up in the areas where they are active. They want everything to return to an imaginary pristine state. They tend to be from families of wealth, have college degrees, can raise money for their non-profit groups, and know their way around in the political and media worlds.

This something I wrote on behalf of a gem of a local community that is now being persecuted. It's for people of Marin County, and for Californians in general.


In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats: Your Guide to Turning One House into Two Homes

I'm about to write a review of this great new book by Mike Litchfield. In the interim, check out Mike's website Cozy Digz for photos from the book: 

Also click on "Cool Stuff" in the left hand column for small house appliances. fixtures, and hardware.

Mike is a former editor of Fine Homebuilding, and author of the best-selling encyclopedic Taunton book, Renovation.

Rainy day in Oakland yesterday

Seashells from the seashore

Every day I walk on the beach I pick up shells. I arrange them in a basket when I get home, leave them for a week or two, as tableaux of days on the beach…

Silver Seabright bantam chickens

The boss boy and two girls in the afternoon sun:

Builders of Pacific Coast in Korean

We just received 3 copies of the Korean translation of Builders of the Pacific Coast by Dosol Publishing company, who did a Korean translation of Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter a few years ago.

With both books, they didn't just substitute Korean for English, they completely re-designed each book, and it's great to see their interpretation. These people on the other side of the world appreciating the carpenters of British Columbia…Small world indeed.

(Our book Stretching is in 23 languages.)

GoPro HD Hero camera: 2010 Post Office Bike Jam

Trying to figure out how to mount my super little HD helmet hero on my Skateboard helmet this morning, ran across this amazing footage of bike riders doing the loop-de-loop mambo:

The Tom Rigney Band: Cajun, Zydeco, blues, boogie-woogie

These summer noon-time concerts at the Oakland City Center are great. I love Oakland, it's like the younger, not-as-beautiful sister of hottie San Francisco. They have to try harder. The concerts are free, the area is surrounded by food and drink shops. Good vibes.

I've been following Tom Rigney for years. He plays a blazing electric violin. His website says: "Flambeau specializes in blazing Cajun and zydeco two-steps, low-down blues, funky New Orleans grooves, Boogie Woogie piano, and heartbreakingly beautiful ballads and waltzes. Most of the repertoire is composed by Rigney, but they also mix in a few classics from the Cajun/zydeco/New Orleans songbook.…" Caroline Dahl, the boogie-woogie keyboardist, rocks.
Above, Tom with a group of music students after the concert

I play the violin a bit, and when I get the urge, I play along with some of the slow tracks on his CDs. I do this in secret (with nobody listening) and pretend I'm playing with the band. Shhh!

Cajun music in Oakland with Sherman

Wednesday I took my friend Sherman Welpton to a noon-time concert of the Tom Rigney Band at the Oakland city Center. Sherman is in a wheelchair with a spinal disconnect and Parkinson's; these days he's pretty much totally incapacitated. Physically, that is.

Mentally, inside the physical shell that's not working, he's the same funny, perceptive, and playful guy that he always was. Several years ago, I wrote something about him for our fraternity brothers (Stanford, class of '56). To see it, click here.

Over the years Sherm and I have gone to a bunch of musical events. He's the one who turned me onto Fats Domino (Yes it's me and I'm in love again) when we were teenagers, and thereby changed my life. We've gone to Ashkenaz, the Berkeley world-music club that has good wheelchair access, a bunch of times.

Even though he can't talk, or even move these days, there's  something about him, some kind of aura that people often pick up on. Once we went to a biker bar in Hayward to see a blues band. When the bikers saw us, they cleared their Harleys away so I could park the van, and helped me get Sherm in. One night we went to see Merle Haggard at the Warfield in Oakland; at the intermission I wandered around taking pictures and when I came back, Sherm was holding hands with a girl in the next row. Dude!

Sherm is always game. These days one of his caregivers always goes with us. There are four women who care for him at his home in Oakland. They all love him to pieces. The other day I said to him. Sherm, you fucker,  you've got four women looking after you, plus your wife Ruthie. His eyes twinkled.

Mike Litchfield on turn-key tiny homes

Mike Litchfield, one of the founding editors of Fine Homebuilding magazine recently published the book In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats: Your Guide to Turning One House into Two Homes. It's a useful, informative and clear depiction of well-designed small homes. Watch for a review of it here. In the interim, here's a posting I just noticed on Mike's Fine Homebuilding blog, on a builder in the San Francisco area offering turn-key tiny homes:

"Kevin Casey's New Avenue Homes offers homeowners a turn-key ADU package that includes private financing, design, permit approval and construction. What’s more, he seems to be making a go of it, with a first backyard cottage garnering a lot of praise, and six more units in the pipeline. Now he’s looking for builders in other regions to partner with.…"

Agaricus Augustus mushrooms

Lew found these beauties a few days ago under a Bishop pine. Lucky for us, he doesn't eat wild mushrooms. Also called The Prince, they have a nutty, almond-like flavor.

paddle race yesterday

The 4th annual Shore-to-Shore paddle race, sponsored by Live Water Surf Shop of Stinson Beach, was here Saturday. Two courses: 2.8 miles, and 7-1/2 miles. There's a bigger turnout every year. Paddling is catching on in Northern California. It's huge in Southern California and more recently, Santa Cruz. New technology (as in skateboarding) has revolutionized the sport in the last ten or so years. I've always loved paddling, and a few years ago, I got a 12' Joe Bark Surftech racing paddleboard. It weighs 32 lbs and skims across the water like a water skeeter. If I paddle in the lagoon going with an incoming tide, I'm flying, with a v-shaped wake off the bow. Fun!

What I love about these events (there's a very large kayak/outrigger race in Sausalito in October) is seeing not just the various types of paddleboards, but the kayaks and especially the outrigger canoes. I have to admit to lusting after one of these outriggers since my friend Tom Mebi, who lives on a beach in Hawaii, told me about his outrigger. 20' long, weighing 23 lbs. Man!

These ones yesterday were real beauties. Featherlight (and expensive -- $3-5000). I'm trying to find one I can try out in these waters, and if it performs well in the ocean, I'll look out for a used one.

I did the short course. Ocean was choppy, weather foggy, but I love being in the water (prone paddleboard). I was tired, but not wiped out. A good vibes event, great lunch in the park afterwords. Great to see my old beachbum/lifeguard friends. We all love the ocean.

Outrigger canoes: http://occonnection.ipower.com/ , http://www.huki.com/

The feeling of shelter…

In the '70s, Lesley and I went to England, where she was born. I had friends, 3 brothers from Southern California, who had rented an old brick house in Mapledurham, a small village along the Thames, near Redding. One night my friend Michael took us over to a visit a small family in a nearby house. It was a cold night.

It turned out to be a thatched cottage, not your picture-perfect variety (like this one here), but still something authentic. The doorway was low -- a 6-footer would have to duck to get in. Inside, there was a fire burning in the fireplace, which was just part of the floor, casting orange shadows on the walls. The ceiling was really low, with whitewashed horizontal beams holding up the loft above.

I felt a hit, as if I'd stepped back into a past life. The warmth, the coziness, the feeling of protection -- the same qualities that I believe our ancestors created and treasured -- it felt familiar. (My mom's family is from Wales.)

I'll have feelings once in a while in different homes.when everything feels right, everything is working in unison: what you see, what you smell, what you touch, what you feel…

And if you'll pardon the whoo-whoo factor here, I think that we have memories in our genes, and that once in a while -- via meditation, or enhanced consciousness, or just the right mood -- we tap into these cellular memories. We get a feeling that doesn't come from conscious memories. Hey, I've been here before…

The next-to-cheapest home gym

I have a couple of these straps hanging in the office, and also in the living room. Eyebolt hook as shown.

I don't use them as often as I should, but still, they are great for not only strengthening exercises, but also for stretching. I simulate paddling movements: handles in hands, raise arms over head, pull down past hips, and reach out and return to starting position -- like a butterfly stroke. You can do all kinds of things with these straps. You can also take them when you travel, they have a connector that allows you to anchor them in a door jamb of any room.

It's a pretty cheap home gym. The cheapest, however, is Bruno Atkey's rope-with-handle that you attach to a rafter. Totally brilliant. You can do all kinds of stretches. Fast forward to ___ on this CBS video.


Clamming at Lawson's landing yesterday morning

Last year I saw an article on clamming in our local West Marin Citizen. It showed a guy named Eloy Garcia and his clam gun, an ingenious device for getting horseneck clams. I've been digging clams off and on since the early '60s. (Back in "the day," we used to get Pismo clams by dragging garden forks in the sand at Rio del Mar, south of Santa Cruz.)

In this (sic) neck of the woods, there are horsenecks. There's no shortage of them because they're tough to get: you've got to shovel a lot of poundage of mud to get deep enough to where these critters hang out. The clam gun, however was like a surgical tool, pumping down through a 4" hole to get the clams.

I tracked Eloy down (the stars were surely lined up because "Eloy" is "Lloyd" in Spanish), and called him up. He was really friendly and ended up sending me a spare clam gun in exchange for some of our building books. I talked to him several times about technique, but just couldn't get it working right. Why don't you meet us up at Lawson's Landing, he said. They'd be clamming all this week.

I went up there Wednesday night and met Eloy, his wife Nancy, and two other couples and some grandkids, all camping out. You know how you meet someone, and you're just on the same page? Well Eloy radiates good will. He laughs a lot. We all sat around his homemade (out of a 50-gallon drum) fireplace, drinking beer as the full moon came up in the east.

I slept in the back of my truck and yesterday we went out clamming early in the morning. I was pretty slow in picking up the technique, which involves crawling around in 3" deep water, locating the clam holes under the waving eel grass, then pumping out the mud to get down to the clams. then reaching down with your hand (up to armpit) to get the clams. Eloy and his buddy Ron each had their limits of 10 clams, and I had one. They started helping me and I think I've got the hang of it. More or less.

Note: I'm going to publish photos of this wonderful little seaside community of funky trailers and campgrounds that is currently under fire by a group of environmental zealots. See: http://www.savelawsonslanding.com/

Old Chum: Another great blog

Statistics showed my blog getting a bunch of hits from this one, so I took a look. It's full of images I really like; click here and scroll down: http://www.old-chum.com/

Alt. Build Blog: An Exploration of Alternative Building Techniques and Design Ideas

"This artistic and colorful fence is in the arts district in Silver City, New Mexico. Part of the fence appears to be from an old stamped metal ceiling.…"

This is a great blog. I love the stuff shown in this series of posts: http://altbuildblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/more-on-fences.html#more

Jamie Rivers wins 101st annual Dipsea Race

That's Jamie Rivers, who won her second Dipsea race yesterday. On the right is Jerry Hauke, who was for many years, the race director. Jamie's club, the Pelican Inn Track Club, won the team trophy -- breaking a 34-year streak for the Tamalpa Runners club.

The Dipsea is the oldest cross-country race in America. Details here.

It was with a certain amount of sadness that I watched the race yesterday. I've been running it for about 20 years, and last year was my last. As I explained to my friends, I want to able to walk when I'm 95. After having both knees operated on, I've recovered well, but more years of too-fast downhill running (to make up for slow uphills) promised continued loss of knee cartilage. I don't want artificial knees. I want to be able to walk as long as I live.

I got up as usual at 6, had tea, and drove over the hill to Mill Valley. I didn't jump in the cold creek under the waterfall, my former pre-race ritual -- tuning into the mountain spirits. I didn't have the butterflies-in-stomach pre-race jitters, or have to endure the pain of anaerobic distress, or worry about which shortcuts to take -- but gosh darnit, I missed it. As everyone milled around at Stinson Beach after the race, I missed the burning in the quads, the muscle soreness, the feeling of accomplishment\ of being part of a great tradition.

Ah well, onwards and outwards. And congratulations to the red hot runners of the Pelican Inn Track Club.

Blue heron visits our pond

This guy visits every once in a while, usually to search for fish in our pond. He sometimes perches on the roof of the tower, then swoops down to the pond. He's very wary. I shot this yesterday from our living room.

Stretching translated into Chinese

W just got the latest Chinese translation of Stretching. This is the complex Chinese version. Stretching is in 23 or so languages.

Japanese magazine Huge visits Shelter

About a month ago, three people from Huge magazine in Japan came to visit. They were doing an issue called "Bolt for Freedom," and spent a few hours here wandering around, having tea, and looking at our home and office setup. It was a delightful visit; they really liked what we were doing. They appreciated our work and life from a different perspective. The photographer had a place in the country and was fascinated with handsplit shakes, so I got them from out of my shop and showed him how it was done.

Below is the 2-page collage they ended up doing:

"Huge Magazine is a Japanese fashion magazine designed for men. The magazine, featuring a wide array of different styles of street fashion is well known in Japan for its coverage of the varying styles that permeate street culture, as well as the overlay of European style in the Japanese fashion industry. Combining the various aspects of an eclectic sense of style, the magazine speaks to an increasingly wide audience.

Huge magazine was launched by Kodansha in 2004 as an alternative for men in their twenties in Japan to the many fashion magazines that were currently on the market. The publication releases monthly and has enjoyed a slowly growing readership, currently holding a circulation of about 75,000. The goal of Huge is to provide a mixture of street wear and high fashion for a collage view of the modern Japanese male’s fashion options.

What makes Huge magazine different than many other men’s fashion magazines is that it focuses intently on all aspects of culture and how fashion integrates into those aspects. While features will often be on the newest lines from popular designers and shopping guides for popular Tokyo districts, most issues will alternately feature stories on popular artists, musicians, and cultural influences that may be of interest to young males."

Sheep mowing grass

Sheep on a Northern California hillside. A good move in what's going to be a high fire-danger year due to all the rainfall. (Collage of 12 photos.)

Graphic Guide to Frame Construction by Rob Thallon

Rob Thallon was a contributor to our book Shelter II in 1978, and has gone on to produce this great guide to wood frame construction. It's got 100s of clear drawings, from foundations to roofs. Another book on the subject which has received good reviews is Ultimate Guide to House Framing: Plan, Design, Build, by John D. Wagner.

Dawn on distant beach last Thursday

One of the things I love: no footprints.

Simple little homemade table

 I made this little table with used 2x2's for legs, and cedar fencing from Home Depot for the top. Put together with grabbers. I keep it in the room where we have the TV and it's easy to move around. The cedar smells wonderful. Quick and easy.

Tiny cars

Thanks to Michael J. for turning me on to tiny cars (for tiny houses): http://microcarmuseum.com/

"1959 F. M. R. Tg-500
In the summer of 1957, Fritz Fend was at the helm of his own company and was ready to produce his masterwork. His far-reaching concept was to produce a super Karo, in all respects superior to the three-wheeled scooter, particularly in terms of speed and handling.

Old Whole Earth Catalog collection for sale

"Saw Lloyd's recent blog re the Whole Earth Catalog. I have every issue of all the catalogs, WEReviews, Co-Evolution Quarterlies etc.…They have all been read and handled, so not pristine, but not tattered either.…Any ideas, outside of e-Bay or Craigslist where I might find someone interested in purchasing the collection?"

-Jon Scoville: foosounds@aol.com

Photos in garden yesterday

Gimme Shelter | Playing For Change

Check out the wonderful work being done by Playing for Change, putting together these clear recordings of musicians in different parts of the world

Sent us by Evan Kahn

Stones fans: get double album Exile on Main Street!

Holy smoke, is this good! Am I the only Stoner who didn't know about this? I listened to it at full blast while driving Lesley's Mini over the mountain road to Fairfax yesterday. It was like a movie, driving that spiffy little car over the mountain with this music playing.

Jeez, what power!

Thank you fo yo wine, Cali-fohn-ia.

Check it out on Amazon, where the 1st reviewer says it's their best album ever: http://www.amazon.com/Exile-Main-Street-Rolling-Stones/dp/B0039TD7RC/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1306946651&sr=1-1

I'm listening to it as I get back to layout of the tiny homes book, just had to take a moment

Beer and sausages in Fairfax

The Gestalt Haus, on Bolinas Ave. in Fairfax (Calif.) yesterday afternoon at a preliminary screening of a movie by Sam Lueck on the Dipsea Race. If you like good beer and sausages, this is the place. As you can see, it's a mountain biker's mecca.

Portable Bike Sauna By H3T Architects

"This sweet little sweat-pod that can be towed anywhere you please by tandem bike. Enveloped in translucent panels, the Bike Sauna allows users to park it in various locales, transforming any spot into a relaxing haven. But don't let its small appearance throw you off, apparently it can seat up to six people (granted, in probably somewhat close quarters). But inside there's everything that makes it cozy, like a real wood-fired stove.… "

From: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/05/portable-bike-sauna-h3t-architects.php

Via: Evan Kahn