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Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste…

As we came into Dublin from the airport with a talkative Irish cab driver, we passed a rather fantastical looking little cathedral, and he said, "They say if you walk around the building backwards 3 times after midnight, the devil will appear."

Unique Gridshell Building in U.K.

The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in West Sussex (south of London) has a collection of over 40 vernacular English buildings. I shot some photos of the beautiful buildings there in the early '70s that appeared in our book Shelter. The director, architect Richard Harris, recently showed me photos of a unique structure built in 2002 that houses the museum's tools and artifacts. Here are a few quotes about the structure from the Museum's website:
"The Downland Gridshell is one of a very small number of gridshell structures in Britain, and its design and method of construction are unique. A very high degree of carpentry skill went into its fabrication, emulating but not imitating the traditional framed buildings at the Museum.…A gridshell is a structure with the shape and strength of a double-curvature shell, but made of a grid instead of a solid surface.…The gridshell is a lightweight structure made of oak laths and is insulated so that it can be used in comfort year-round.…"

Universe for Rent by Kyoichi Tsuzuki

In my 6 weeks in Europe, I found a bunch of exciting books. At the Frankfurt Book Fair, naturally, but also in book stores, shops, newsstands. These are books that are not (or sparsely) available in the USA. I'll get a list of them together when I have time, but here are a couple that are just unique. They are tiny (4" x 6") 500-page nicely printed books of real life in Tokyo, Kyoto, and other parts of Japan. I am just starting to delve into them, and they're fascinating. Here's what what Andy in Tokyo says about them. Here's a link to Amazon Japan, where each is about $20 + postage. Someone should sell these in the USA; they're refreshingly real. I look at these pictures and realize that all these photos in books and magazines of homes and apartments are bogus. That's not what the real world looks like! This photographer has connected with reality. (Caveat: the lamination of the cover to the spine of these books is coming unglued; I'm going to glue it with binding glue—no prob.)

Elk Calf Having Fun!

You need to have some fun every day. So take a 46-second break to watch this young elk at play:

Wong Fook Hing Book Store

If you can't find the book you are looking for, you are probably shopping at the...

Portrait of a bookstore (Shakespeare and Company) as an old man

As a result of my blog of October 21 on Shakespeare and Company in Paris, Anuj Desai sent me this link to a film about legendary owner George Whitman: http://bit.ly/1vRHau. George is well-known for letting poets and young people in general stay in small rooms above the book store.

Photo of City Lights case in Shakespeare and Company

Car at Mariachi Festival by Bill Steen


Back to sunny California/Slide Show Oct 29 in Sebastopol at Copperfield Books

We got back late yesterday afternoon, picked up the Mini, and came down the hill just above Stinson Beach as the sun was setting over the ocean. On the way over the mountain we stopped for a minute so I could run in and reconnect with mountain (Mt. Tamalpais) spirit, splashed some Fern Creek water on my face; today I'm going for a short run on the beach and will get into the water to do same with ocean spirit. Boy, I missed you guys! I'm so glad to be home, I'm inspired by the lengthy change of scene and exposure to such different people and culture. Right now it's a blue-sky sunny California day and I'm listening to Parisian street pianist Roland Godard's CD. Best of both worlds

We've had over 6" of rain this year, which is about 6" more than normal, and hoping for a wet winter.

Tomorrow (Thursday, 10/29) at 7 PM I'm doing a slide show of Builders of the Pacific Coast at Copperfield's Books in Sebastopol (138 North Main Street). [Google Map Link]

More to follow when I get my head screwed back on.

This afternoon at Notre Dame

Paris balcony greenery

Nice architecture

So many of the large buildings in large European cities are overdesigned, resulting in complex, yet non-harmonious architecture. This one, somewhere near the Bastille, is boldly simple.

Detail from statue of Charlemagne in Notre Dame plaza

Sign at Shakespeare and Company bookstore

Medieval gardens

This was on a placard in a garden adjacent to the Musée de Cluny in Paris:
Medicinal simples
The Book of Medicinal Simples, attributed to 12th century physician, Platearius, is one of the main sources of medicinal medicine. Early in the 15th century it was adopted as a codex by the Parisian apothecaries. The expression "medicinal simples" designates "simple" remedies, i.e. those made from a single plant, as opposed to compound drugs.

The Middle Ages made extensive use of plants because of their real or imaginary therapeutic virtues, often linked to their name or shape. Thus, Salvia officinalis, reigned in every pleasure and kitchen garden because of the etymology of its Latin name, which means "the healing plant." The "theory of signatures," according to which nature has revealed a plant's medicinal properties through its form, also explains many uses of samples: pulmonary, or lungwort, owes its name and its use in the treatment of lung diseases to its spotted leaves, which evoked the lung's alveoli. Hyssop is a digestive, antiseptic, and expectorant plant which purified lepers and sinners, whereas rue was thought to repel snakes and evil spirits: medieval medicine did not separate treatment for the body from that for the soul, and plans could have spiritual virtues.

Use and symbolism were often associated in the Middle Ages… in most medieval gardens…vegetables, simples, and flowers grew in the kitchen garden, while simples mingled with flowers in pleasure gardens.

Stone spiral staircase in garden adjacent to the Musée de Cluny in Paris:

View along Seine

This fabric is used as protection for passersby when a large building is under (re) construction and here Paris outdoes LA with immense graphics. That's Notre Dame on the right.