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Workwise, I'm having more fun than in a coon's age.

This book—Small Homes—was in limbo for the 30 days we were in Scotland. Add to that the several weeks it took to get re-grounded at home, and there was a long lull in production (layout, that is).

WELL! The book is now rolling at a grand pace. This lovely little home just came in a few days ago.  French carpenter Menthé (sidekick of French carpenter Yogan) wrote, rather poetically:

"I grew up in the forest of Corréze; it’s really wild and green. 
I started building cabins when I was 3 years old, playing in the forest. 
I started this little one when I was 17 in 2000—I wanted my independence. 
It took me 3 years, and I lived there for 2 years.

The frame is made of chestnut from the forest, and all the windows are industrial window seconds.
The roof is insulated with lime and woodchips—a really strong mixture once it’s dry and insects can't get in.

The walls are made of straw and lime; it’s a really cheap material, important when you’re young without money.
I built the entrance door with chestnut and walnut—my first work of joinerie, and it’s still working good.…"

This is gonna be such a good book!

Music del día: Cool Dry Place, Traveling Wilburys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD8mBMn5F5k

My scrub jay garden buddy. I'm getting him to come closer and closer...



Well, he started it. He would hang around when I walked in the garden, follow me around. Perky, inquisitive.

Once in a great while a wild animal makes contact. Coyotes are renowned for their excursions into humanoid consciousness.

He'll swoop down, fly, and hop around to different vantage points, hop toward the peanut, then decide he'd rather come at it from another direction. Cock his head back and forth for different vantage points. Today for the first time I got him to take a peanut off my hand. We're getting to know each other, but he's very wary. He doesn't like it if anyone else is around.

Raised Beds in Garden, 4' x 12', 12" Deep


Rough construction heart redwood. Marco and I built these Wednesday. We attached welded wire mesh (1/2" by 1" openings) to bottom edges of boards, nailed down with 1 by 2's for gophers. Filled up with compost and top soil. Makes me happy just to look at them. They've been in planning stages for a few months.

Puckerup Buttercup

Small Homes Book Production Full Speed Ahead

The book is about two thirds done now—the most complicated one I've done so far; 80+ contributors, and lots of correspondence going back and forth, getting large enough photo files, more information, enough material to do layout.

I'm going to back way off on posting here in coming months, in order to get the book finished.

Friday when I was in San Francisco, I shot this picture of the building where I worked for five years as an insurance broker—corner of California and Sansome. I was on the sixth floor. If you count up to the third row of windows in the red brick part of the building and then across to the sixth window on the right, that's where my office was. I was standing looking out that window the day JFK was assassinated.

I lasted until 1965, until along came rock and roll and everything else, and I gave up commerce for artistic freedom…

Back in the USSR

Driving for 10 days on the wrong side of the road in Scotland was really stressful,  I think partly because I've been driving since age 14, over half a million miles of doing it one way. Ingrained habits…

I picked up a car in Edinburgh and was immediately terrified in the "roundabouts." Cars pouring in from 4 directions, weaving in and out. "Give way to the cars on your right," said Diana, and I used this as a mantra in the roundabouts. I ended up driving the last 2 days in a part of Scotland (near Irvine) that was peppered with roundabouts. Sheesh! I got better with experience, but it was still stressful..

The cabbie on the way to the airport navigated them smoothly, hardly slowed down.

It's such a relief to be back the right (sic) side of the road.

Back to Book Production

My trip to Scotland was an overwhelmingly wonderful experience. 30 days of people who were friendly, cheerful, and helpful—civilized society!
I shot maybe 1000 photographs, with three different cameras. I posted (mostly photos) on Instagram and this blog almost every day. I could do a book on this trip, but the reality, the priority right now, is to get our new book, Small Homes, finished.
So I will be posting less for a while, and certainly not posting daily.
I had an epiphany, as they say, yesterday: I can reach a lot more people by turning out books than I can by posting things on my blog or via Instagram—at least with my present internet followers (about 500 people a day).
Plus the feedback from our books is phenomenal. Just about daily: people inspired, lives changed, abilities discovered.
I want to get this book finished and then try to get one new book published each year (instead of one book every 2-3 years, as now).
I'm thinking of three possibilities for the book after this one:
Trips I've taken over the past 40 years, with photos and text. Readers can ride shotgun with me.
• My favorite builders: about six or seven of them, describing not only their work, but their personalities. I just love all these guys.
Barns: a scrapbook of my photos over the years and reference to the many (not well-known) books I've accumulated on barns; we have over 3 feet of barn books in our shelves.

So it's back to book making for me. I'm really excited by this new one. I'm gonna get oan wi it.

Check out http://www.theshelterblog.com/ for daily postings on building, homesteading, gardening, carpentry. tiny homes, small homes, and the like.

Stone Cottage Overlooking Sea On Scottish Island

Everything here is perfect. It's one of the buildings where I just say to myself, oh yeah!
The rounded, angled-out corners, the  proportions, the deep wall openings, the red roof.
According to an historical account which I read, some 14 farm families were forced to leave their land by landlords in the mid-1800s, and resettled on a more remote and less fertile part of the island. This is one of the dwellings; in its day, it would have had a thatched roof.
And with this I conclude posts from Scotland. I'm back in the saddle at home and back at work on Small Homes.

$4,000 Bottle of Whisky in Shop Yesterday


Rotunda at National Museum of Scotland


Celts -- Exhibit at National Museum of Scotland

This is a stunning exhibit in Edinburgh.

"Go on a quest through the ages in search of the identity of the Celts, at the latest blockbuster exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland.

The first major exhibition on the subject for over 40 years, Celts is produced in collaboration with the British Museum and features over 350 objects from both museums’ collections, as well as other important pieces from across Europe.

Foremost amongst these is the spectacular Gundestrup Cauldron, a richly-decorated vessel made from silver and found in a peat bog in Denmark. Now reconstructed, its surfaces are alive with wonderful detail, providing us with a glimpse of the gods, rituals and lives of the people who made it. Other objects serve a similar purpose: ranging from reconstructed chariots and carnyx war trumpets to opulent gold torcs and decorative objects. Each piece resonates with a beguiling sense of intrigue, allowing visitors to this well laid-out exhibition to draw their own conclusions about the true nature of the identity of the Celtic people.…  "
http://www.edinburghspotlight.com/2016/03/exhibition-celts-national-museum-of-scotland/