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Our Latest Publication: Stretching Pocketbook

We have just finished production of Stretching-Pocketbook Edition. Size: 5 x 7-1/4."

The original book has sold 3-1/2 million copies worldwide and is in 24 languages (the latest Slovenian!), and this is the first pocket book edition in English. (Preceding this were very successful pocketbook editions in Spain and Germany.)

It has all the stretches from the original book, and slightly abbreviated programs. It will be great to take on trips, and on airplanes, to keep in a desk drawer, etc.

It is being printed right now and bound book completion is March 31. It should be in the bookstores late April-early May.

LA City Council Makes It Easier To Grow Vegetables on City Land

Photo: "Ron Finley's famed parkway 'food forest' in South Los Angeles, 2011," which started it all off.

Photo by LAGreengrounds

Article: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/blogs/la-city-council-signs-off-on-permit-free-curbside

Photos on Flick'r: http://bit.ly/1GMQjsF

Sent us by Anonymous

Monsanto's Herbicide Roundup (…probably causes cancer in humans." Duh!

From todays New York Times, Op-Ed by Mark Bittman titled "Stop Making Us Guinea Pigs"
"The issues surrounding G.M.O.s — genetically modified organisms — have never been simple. They became more complicated last week when the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the widely used herbicide Roundup, probably causes cancer in humans. Two insecticides, malathion and diazinon, were also classified as “probable” carcinogens by the agency, a respected arm of the World Health Organization…
…Nor is it surprising that it took so long — Roundup has been used since the 1970s — to discover its likely carcinogenic properties. There is a sad history of us acting as guinea pigs for the novel chemicals that industry develops. For this we have all too often paid with our damaged health.
Rarely is that damage instantaneous, but it’s safe to say that novel biotechnologies broadly deployed may well have unexpected consequences. Yet unlike Europeans, Canadians, Australians and others, we don’t subscribe to the precautionary principle, which maintains that it’s better to prevent damage than repair it.
We ask not whether a given chemical might cause cancer but whether we’re certain that it does.…"

Colorado Woman Quits Desk Job To Become Farmer

"Working as an international conservationist, Kellie Pettyjohn routinely found herself daydreaming.
Not about garbage patches of plastic debris floating in oceans or the number of animal species threatened by deforestation, but instead, of farming.
'After working in a cubicle and writing reports, my soul was dying,' she said.
Originally from Virginia, Pettyjohn studied journalism, anthropology and geography in college. She didn’t have any type of agricultural background before dropping her dream job for greener pastures in Montezuma County. In 2010, she moved to Mancos to volunteer on a working farm.
'I never left,' she said.
The next year, Pettyjohn secured a lease to turn a nearby barren pasture into her own field of dreams. Owner and operator of The Wily Carrot Farm, an organic certified naturally grown garden, she purchased the 2-acre property earlier this year.
'I thought it would be better to be poor, dirty and happy playing in the soil, she said.'…"
Photo: Kellie Pettyjohn via The Cortez Journal

Real Old People Who Are ALIVE

Photo of 73-year-old Duan Tzinfu by Vladimir Yakolev (see below).
Russian photojournalist Vladimir Yakovlev has been shooting photos of active old people for some time. He published a book of the photos, The Age of Happiness, in Russian and plans on doing the same in English. He's a wonderful photographer. He interviewed me a year or so ago, and continues to gather material, as shown here, (from Eszter Hargittai): http://www.earthporm.com/age-happiness-60-older-seniors-will-destroy-age-stereotypes/

See also The Age of Happiness Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/1DGtGYQ

Hillbilly Rock by Marty Stuart

Hillbilly Rock by Marty Stuart on Grooveshark

My New Skateboard

Just put this together and it feels good. My little street truck. I wanted a short, low-to-ground board, so cut down my old Tamalpais board and added risers and some really good trucks and wheels from Loaded Boards. Turns really well, still in testing stage. Gonna notch out 4 corners to avoid board rubbing against wheels on sharp turns. Possibly I'll reconfigure with a board maybe 3" longer.

Trip Into San Francisco Yesterday

My friend Louie and I started out the morning with Irish coffees and split a crab omelette out by the beach. Beautiful sunny day, fresh ocean breezes AND whales now migrating north. Lots of them cavorting off Ocean Beach, on their way back north after having calves in Baja.

Then, since I was looking for leather to make knife sheaths with (been making custom handles for Russell hand-in-USA carbon steel knives). We ended up going to the S. H. Frank Co on 17th street and it was an amazing place. Been there over 100 years, tons of leather, animal skins, tools. I got some leather working tools and some leather. Excited to finally have the punches, cutter, leather scissors, etc. so I can work leather.

No-Till Farming in North Dakota

Another '60s concept that has now resurfaced with increased vigor: soil-conserving, no-till farming. In the '60s, all us gardeners were reading 90-year-old Ruth Stout's How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back, wherein she just kept adding bales of straw to her garden and tucking seeds under the rotting mulch -- no digging.
Then in 1978, Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka published One-straw Revolution: Introduction to Natural Farming. It seemed fringe-ish at the time, and in fact Wendell Berry commented that it wouldn't work in America.
Well, things have moved along, and there was an article in last week's New York Times by Erica Goode about North Dakota farming methods that "…promote… leaving fields untilled…" and "…mimic the biology of virgin land, can revive degenerated earth, minimize erosion, encourage pants growth and increase farmer's profits…"
No chemical fertilizers or fungicides, can you believe it?
So wonderful to read about good things nowadays…

Sunset Last Night

The "Bo Diddley Beat"

I listened to this CD the other day for the first time in a few years. It's an eclectic compilation of songs by all sorts of musicians using this beat, which was not original to Bo Diddley, but used extensively by him. It's called kpanlogo and originates in Ghana. It's a wonderful beat. I'm pretty sure you'll know it when you hear it.

Bo Diddley bought his babe a diamond ring
If that diamond ring don't shine
He gonna take it to a private eye…

SO, for some cosmic reason on last night's quite wonderful "Bakersfield and Beyond" Thursday radio show on our quite wonderful local station, KWMR, on came this song by the "cowpunk" LA band Lone Justice with the same beat.
East of Eden by Lone Justice on Grooveshark

Fantastic Blues Concert - Joe Bonamassa - Muddy/Wolf Tribute At Red Rocks

Check it out if you can find it. Watching it as we speak. Wow!  Red hot band!

Not sure, but I believe this was in 2014.


Small Houses in Cities and Al Green This Overcast Saturday Morning

Came on this morning as I was here working on a big shift in Shelter Publications' future output on building.
Nutshell: from country to city,
i.e. from Walden to Detroit

Small Houses in Cities

Stay tuned…

This is such a perfect song:
Tired of Being Alone by Al Green on Grooveshark

Hillbilly Rock - Marty Stuart

Hillbilly Rock by Marty Stuart on Grooveshark

Muddy Waters & Willie Dixon - Hoochie Coochie Man

This was one of the songs in a fabulous recording session in 1974 titled "Soundstage - Chicago Blues Summit - 1974" and it was on TV last week. It's a treasure. Includes above 2 guys, and -- Pinetop Perkins, Junior Wells, Buddy Miles, Mike Bloomfield, Johnny Winters, and Dr. John. Willie Dixon wrote this song.
Muddy looks so serene and beautiful in these songs.
Check out also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i5XGnCyN2s

More on Small Homes in Cities

You know what? I am suddenly REALLY excited by this idea. Just as I was with the idea of building on a piece of land in the country in the '60s-'70s.
Different time now.
The last 2 posts hit a nerve: there have been 24 comments on the subject so far.
I was thinking last night about the concept of building in sketchy city neighborhoods:
To be sure, there are these. A beautiful young woman was gunned down 2 days ago in Oakland, trying to protect her kids from a gun fight on the streets. But I believe there a lot more neighborhoods that don't have drugs and gunshots. When I go to Berkeley, I often cruise Oakland, Richmond, El Cerrito, San Leandro; have checked out Hayward (big town) and Vallejo (on the bay, old buildings downtown, about to get hot I'll bet). Then there's Martinez, Benecia, Hercules, San Ramon, Livermore, Danville…This is San Francisco Bay area, my turf, but others in other urban areas will know the outlying towns of big cities.
Point is: not every part of every city's small building neighborhoods is a crime combat zone. I find tons of neighborhoods that don't look dangerous.
Here are a few homes in the East Bay. How many little homes like this are in the USA?

I just decided we'll have a big section in our forth coming book, Small Homes, on "Small Homes in Cities." If you have something to contribute, write us at smallhomes@shelterpub.com.

Fixing Up Old Small Homes In Cities

There was an article in the New York Times on March 7, 2015, that mentioned that there are 800 or so abandoned homes in the Bay Area city of Richmond. I think that fixing up run-down homes in less than opulent cities is one of the most viable, practical, and economical things that people wishing to create their own shelter could do in these times.

In fact, I make a point of shooting photographs of small homes in cities like Richmond, San Leandro, Hayward, Vallejo—nearby places where (some) neighborhoods are run down, but hopefully not infested with drug dealers and crime. I guess it's a balancing act—if you can find a neighborhood that is on its way up, instead of one that is dangerous and has no hope for the future.

Detroit, for example, has scores of well-built small homes in decaying neighborhoods.

I sort of have a fantasy about fixing up an old place and planting a garden and making friends with the neighbors, who will be pleased that someone is improving their neighborhood. Having a house party and inviting the neighbors. People respond to positive action. It could work.

This will be one of the main subjects in our forthcoming book, Small Homes.

Photo by Peter DaSilva for The New York Times