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Bill Castle's Log Lodge in Alleghany Mountains

Going through all my digital photos of the past 17 years, pulling out photos for my book in progress, The Half Acre Homestead, I'm running across forgotten gems, like this. Bill and family created Pollywogg Holler, an inn in southeast New York state -- featured in Home Work -- entirely from trees growing on their land. Bill passed away a few years back, but Polywogg Holler lives on. It's now an eco-resort: http://www.pollywoggholler.com/

Jar of Pickled Red and White Onions


I made these a few days ago. Very simple recipe by David Chang, works with onions, carrots, cucumbers, daikon, etc. You can eat them the next day and they'll keep for a month or longer in the frig.

Drone Film of Orcas Swimming in Crystal Clear Water off San Diego

Go to the post page…



My son Will just turned me on to this group from Austin. They're playing at Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz on April 22nd.

Handmade/Homemade: The Half Acre Homestead


When I start working on a book, it's like setting out on an ocean voyage without a map. I get a theme, an idea, some kind of coherence on a subject,* then start.

When I built my first house in Mill Valley in the early '60s, my friend Bob Whiteley and I laid out the foundation lines in chalk on the ground. "What do we do now, Bob," I asked.

Bob said "This," and took pick and shovel and started digging the foundation trench.

It's been my M.O. all my life. When I don't know what to do, I start. Things (usually) sort themselves out in the process. (I know, I know, I've said all this before…)

This book is about the tools and techniques Lesley and I have evolved in building a home and growing food (and creating a bunch of things) on a small piece of land over a 40+-year period.

I started by writing it in chapters: The House / The Kitchen / Kitchen Tools / The Garden / Garden Tools / Chickens / Food / Foraging/ /Fishing / The Shop / Shop / Shop Tools / Roadkill / Critters…What we've learned; what's worked, what hasn't…

Then I went through some 50,000 digital pictures and picked out 7-800 photos, printed them out contact sheets (12-up) and started organizing them under the above categories.

Next step: starting to put pages together; I am totally excited. I have (kind of unknowingly) been gathering material for this book for decades.

Now I gotta get out of here. Not only is it a gorgeous fresh spring day, but it's my time of the year. Tauruses are feelin good…

Sir Douglas Quinitet - She's About A Mover

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDouqHENK3U

Crab Shell on Beach Today (about 3” wide)



Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold
the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have
made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.…

-Native American prayer, translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887

Canyon Pool in Big Sur

I'm going through all my 50,000 or so digital photos in preparation for my book The Half-Acre Homestead, picking out those on the garden, home, kitchen, and tooIs, etc, and running across some long-forgotten shots, like this one.

I built a house in Big Sur in 1967, on land owned by Boris and Filippa Veren, who ran the Craft & Hobby Book Service. I was their caretaker and they let me build my house on their 40 acres. This was their pool in the canyon, Burns Creek, about two miles north of Esalen. Creek water flowed from a pipe into the pool so no need for chlorine.

I built the house out of mostly used lumber and shakes I got from old redwood stumps or short pieces left by loggers in the woods.

Each night after I finished work in the Spring and Summer, I'd go down to swim. I'd bow to the nearby family of redwoods, then bow in each of the four directions before jumping in.


The English Cottage

This exquisite painting is from one of my treasured books, Old English Country Cottages, edited by Charles Holme, published in 1906. It's a paean to the English cottage, with wonderful pen and ink drawings by Sidney R. Jones, as well as 14 paintings (such as this one) interspersed throughout the 168 pages. I picked up a tattered copy in London in the early '70s. It's apparently been recently reprinted, but it looks as if there are copies of the original available from Abe Books for about $30-$40 (from the UK).

Right now, "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" by Otis came on Sirius radio, such a lovely song. It's 50 years old.

Beach Campground in Mendocino County

How's this for a nice campground? Wright's Beach, Sonoma State Park

Photos On the Road


Reconstructed chapel at Fort Ross, Russian fur trapping post in the 1800s

Straight-line eaves on old barns indicate solid foundations. This one on road from Navarro to Boonville


A Whole New Octave

Years ago I was in the Adolph Gasser photo store in SF and a bike messenger came in. He told the guy behind the counter he'd just had a baby. "It's a whole new octave, man," he said. (He was a musician.)
I think of this phrase whenever I'm about to change directions, like about now:
I feel like I've finished a cycle with my 7 building books, from Shelter in 1973, up through Small Homes in 2017, each book with over 1,000 photos. I'm working on a new book, to be called something like Handmade/Homemade: The Half-Acre Homestead. I ought to get it out by the end of 2018. Then a new direction.
Small books I have a bunch of maybe-not-for-prime-time books that I want to do. After publishing Driftwood Shacks, an 86-page digitally printed book, I realized that this and other books I want to do are for friends, probably not for bookstore distribution. I want to do these books without worrying about sales, "marketing." The next one, a shrunk-down copy of a scrapbook I put together 25 years ago, hand-lettered, hand-bound, original 11" by 14", 48 pages, called Pop's Diner, about a trip through the American southwest, hot springs --jeez, I've written this all before...us old guys...
I have 200-300,000 photos I've shot over the years. A great thing about Google Photos: you download all your photos with GPhotos, then you can go in and do a search for "barns," or "Baja" and GPhotos will come up with just those photos. Man! How does the computer tell a barn from a house? Beyond me.
Subjects of these books: barns, Baja California Sur, trips in Southeast Asia, motorcycles, facsimiles of scrapbooks I've put together over the years, and yes: architecture. Have I said this before?
I'm going to get the homestead book done and then do some of these smaller ones.

More Driftwood Shacks

After breakfast in Boonville, Louie and I drove through the giant redwoods back to the coast and went out to Navarro beach, a driftwood mecca. Here's the inside and outside of one of the shacks.
(I'm thinking of taking a 2-week trip up the coast in May, including a 3-day backpacking trip along The Loast Coast beach, photographing shacks -- and doing a larger driftwood book.)
Louie collected select pieces of driftwood to make a chair while I ran around shooting photos. Before we left I jumped into the Navarro river for a moment. The rivers up here are beautiful right now, plenty of water, and emerald green in between the rains…



3-Day Trip North Along Rainy Coast to Hang Out With Louie

I get inspired the minute I hit the road. The moving through space, the different places, different people. This time I'm driving my 19-year-old Mercedes 320E, a most unbelievably comfortable car that I bought for $3500, fixed it up, and am continually surprised and pleased by its features. I mean, I am not a Mercedes kind of guy, but mama mia, is this car great. I was on the verge of buying a Subaru Crosstrek, but have now decided to stick with the Mercedes until it dies. Luxury!
Hidden in the bushes along the coast...




A friend who has a home at Sea Ranch gave me a pass so I'm legal there. I swam in the pool yesterday. It's one of the good designs at Sea Ranch. Architecture can be so fine when done right. The pool is surrounded by a grassy berm, and water heated with solar panels (with backup propane). Dressing rooms wittily designed. No chlorine. No one else there on rainy day. Afterwards I skated for a while. I'm a bit creaky on the skateboard, still getting my chops back after a broken arm, then shoulder operation.

Titch's greenhouse at sunset



Redwoods Survive Fires

Out pretty deep in woods today. I often see fire-scarred redwoods; maybe they survive fires. Makes sense. It's been many years since there was a fire in these parts.
I'm heading up to Pt. Arena to visit my friend Louie tomorrow for a few days.

Bronze #starfish (about 4” diam.) on concrete bench outside #cliffhouse #sanfrancisco yesterday




Bronze #starfish (about 4” diam.) on concrete bench outside #cliffhouse #sanfrancisco yesterday

Rock=Crawling Toyota 4Runner

In Costco parking lot in Novato, Calif. last Friday. Makes me want to jump in and head for Baja…

#pacificheights #sanfrancisco today



#pacificheights #sanfrancisco today

#queenanne #carpentry #sanfrancisco near 2300 block of Fillmore. How many carpenters could build like this these days?



#queenanne #carpentry #sanfrancisco near 2300 block of Fillmore. How many carpenters could build like this these days?

Rainy Thursday #sanfrancisco 1823 Clement



Rainy Thursday #sanfrancisco 1823 Clement

Rib of Huge Blue Whale



Rib of 79 foot blue whale that washed ashore 9 months ago. It must be 25’ long. I’ll bet it weighs over 500 pounds.

Funky Old Yamaha



In San Francisco last Friday. It was bit rusty, but something about it was just right, like the poor old uncle of a Harley...

Monday Morning Fish Fry


On the Beach Reincarnation of the Whalebone Saloon, built a few years ago by Sean Hellfritsch and friends on a remote beach. It's at the base of a free-flowing creek that empties on to the beach, and has prolific watercress. 
Yesterday was a beautiful beach day, the calm before a week (hallelujah!) of storms and rains. I lay in the sun, ran a bit, jumped in the water, right back out -- brrr! Very few people on beach, one guy had a beautiful black piece of whale baleen he'd found. Later I came across what must have been a 25'-long whale rib, awesome to ponder the size of a creature with a rib of this size. This one, that had washed ashore in May, was a 79' blue whale.

Boogie Woogie At The Mall

Under the Golden Gate Bridge

From the top story of Fort Point, looking towards the hills of Marin. Click on photo to enlarge.

Fort Point, Under the Golden Gate Bridge

Note: Click on this image to get a much larger pic.
I often go under the bridge to check the waves. On Friday, they were hitting the seawall, with spray flying. I started talking to a park ranger, and he  told me to go inside the fort, and up to the top (four stories, cast iron staircases).
I grew up in San Francisco, I've been down there dozens of times, and I never knew you could go inside the fort. It's an amazing building, built in 1853-1861. It's open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and well worth a visit. I'll post more photos in coming days. This was a thrill.

This got built in about an hour at the Concrete Boat pier south of Santa Cruz last week.



This got built in about an hour at the Concrete Boat pier south of Santa Cruz last week.

Wind and Solar Power Could Meet Four-Fifths of U.S. Electricity Demand, Study Finds


Solar panels cover the roof of UCI's Student Center Parking Structure. A new study co-authored by Steven Davis, associate professor of Earth system science, shows that the U.S. can meet 80 percent of its electricity demand with renewable solar and wind resources. Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., Feb. 27, 2018 – The United States could reliably meet about 80 percent of its electricity demand with solar and wind power generation, according to scientists at the University of California, Irvine; the California Institute of Technology; and the Carnegie Institution for Science.

However, meeting 100 percent of electricity demand with only solar and wind energy would require storing several weeks’ worth of electricity to compensate for the natural variability of these two resources, the researchers said.

“The sun sets, and the wind doesn’t always blow,” noted Steven Davis, UCI associate professor of Earth system science and co-author of a renewable energy study published today in the journal Energy & Environmental Science. “If we want a reliable power system based on these resources, how do we deal with their daily and seasonal changes?” 

The team analyzed 36 years of hourly U.S. weather data (1980 to 2015) to understand the fundamental geophysical barriers to supplying electricity with only solar and wind energy. 

Lloyd's Dumb Outdoor Adventure #46

Sometimes I feel as if I have some psychic forces protecting me, kind of like — to use a phrase bandied about in the '60s — the Lords of Karma. I think of them as aunts and uncles watching over my shoulder and saying, the dumb shit is in trouble again, let's help him out.
It happened once again yesterday.
I took my 12' Klamath aluminum boat w/15 HP Evinrude to a nearby bay (I'm not being specific about locale these days, due to the internet).
I went across the bay, landed, and gathered mussels and half a dozen rock oysters. pulled out and went to another beach, landed, and started digging littleneck clams (cockles). I dug for maybe 15 minutes, turned around, and shit! the outgoing tide had picked up my boat and it was 75 yards off shore, heading at a pretty good clip across the bay. What to do?

Garden Chair

Crude garden chair made out of old redwood fence posts. I discovered I could split the posts with a froe, did this for the 5 back pieces, about 1” thick. Next I'm going to make a bench, twice the size of this.

Great Day in Santa Rosa!

At the Rebuild Green ExpoThis has been an extraordinary day. By now, I'd say 20 people have come up to our booth about the influence of our books on their lives. It's not us, really, it's the people we show in our books. Readers are relating to these people and their lives, and it resonates with them. For example, this guy hauled out an old copy of Domebook 2, and this tattered copy of the original printing of Shelter and told us how important it was to him. A couple of guys told me they'd come across Shelter in their teen years; they were now in their 60s. Wow!
I've had meaningful discussions with landowners about septic systems, building codes, construction methods, building materials. It's great to talk to people about real things.
I think this is a real story here. 8,000 homes destroyed, the clean-up, and in the future, rebuilding. People here are motivated to do things better. Sun-heated water and sun-powered electricity. Building materials that cost the planet the least in pollution from their manufacture. Structural systems that are efficient and economical. Somebody could do a video of the rebuilding as it unfolds in coming months in Santa Rosa.

The Rebuild Green Expo in Santa Rosa


We set up a table with my open letter to homeowners rebuilding after the fires, as well as our books. The event started slow, but by 1PM, the place got (and still is) jammed. Here's an overall view, and Evan and Em-J at our table.
It's just unbelievable how many people have come up to us today and told us how the book Shelter influenced their lives. I've talked to 10-12 people who were inspired by this book. Another guy came by, a timber framer, and said that he's using our book Small Homes for building ideas.

Art on wall of guitar shop in Petaluma




Reefer madness



Reefer madness