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French photographers document Detroit ruins


"Up and down Detroit’s streets, buildings stand abandoned and in ruin. French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre set out to document the decline of an American city. Their book 'The Ruins of Detroit,'“ a document of decaying buildings frozen in time, was published in December 2010." 

Jeez, this building tugs on my heartstrings. Something about it…


Check out the photographers website: http://www.marchandmeffre.com/detroit/index.html

Sunrise 20 minutes ago

Collage of arroyo and beach yesterday

The essence of seeing with the heart

"On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux."

("One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.")

 -The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Octagonal framing, old redwood water tank


Discovered this abandoned redwood water tank while exploring on my bike earlier today. It's hidden from the road. Some pieces missing. Didn't have wide angle lens, so top photo is a collage of 3 pics, looks way larger than it is. Tank is about 12' diameter. Beautiful, simple roof framing; key is 8-sided newel post, so all that's required with each rafter is a simple, not mitered, angle cut.

Film this Saturday in San Francisco: Back to the Garden: Flower Power Comes Full Circle


Sun, 27 Feb 2011
Lloyd,
I found your newest book at a small bookstore up on Denman Island, B.C. last weekend.
It was the last one left. (Builders of the Pacific Coast!) so inspiring since I love Home Work!
I've been collecting your books and telling others about them too on our film's Facebook page.
I'm a Seattle filmmaker of a new, award-winning documentary called "back to the garden, flower power comes full circle" which is coming to San Francisco and featured at the San Francisco Green Film Festival.
Our film screens one time only on Saturday, March 5th. (8:15pm) Embarcadero Cinemas.
I Would love it if you could come to our screening and to let your friends know about our film which movingly illustrates how the values of the 60's counterculture are inspiring a whole new generation...

blessings,
kevin
Kevin Tomlinson
Heaven Scent Films

Fireplace in the pub

It was cold and dark Tuesday night and us runners gathered in front of the unique fireplace at the Pelican Inn. Roger, who's a builder, remarked on the chimney not smoking at all. Like the fireplaces designed by Count Rumford in the 1700s, the flue here draws perfectly. Being on the floor level, it's like sitting in front of a camp fire.

Bird seed bag recycled

Lesley has made a bunch of these from bird seed and chicken feed bags. Handles are strips cut off bottoms of bags. The bags are so nice she can't bear to throw them away.

Local recycling of green waste


We have a green waste and wood waste recycling facility here in town, called the Bolinas-Stinson Resource Recovery Project. It means that tree trimmings, garden waste, and all other manner of vegetative materials can be dropped off in town and turned into compost. It's a great setup, and it keeps things local: no fuel to truck it somewhere, no dumping in landfills. I'd heard about the gigantic tub grinder that comes to town every three or four months, but never seen it in operation. Yesterday I happened upon it at work and shot some photos. Awesome to watch this powerful machine in operation.
It costs $1000 to move it here, and then $400 an hour while in operation and it grinds everything up beautifully. The big files are then turned about six times by a backhoe, and then the compost is sold locally. Among other things, it makes a great mulch.

Concrete pour for new chicken coop today

We lucked out, getting the slab poured before the storm hit. This time around, I'm getting Billy to build a rat-proof chicken coop, complete with concrete floor. The chickens will have a pretty big yard, so they're only inside at night. It's going to have a living roof, inspired by SunRay Kelley's latest designs.
From l-r: Billy, driver from Rich Readimix, and Delfino


This is the chicken coop it's replacing. I've probably built 5-6 chicken coops over the years. No plans, just grabbing what's around. Soulful, but also hole-ful. The woodrats get in at will and consume the chicken mash, so this time we're going to button it up. We've got a lovely little flock of mostly Silver Seabright bantams, getting 8-9 eggs a day now. Bantams make a lot of sense in a small area.

Deek makes the Big Time!


Deek Diedrickson, who published the charming and cheeky comic-book-style tiny house building manual, Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts (And Whatever The Heck Else We Could Squeeze In Here) was featured in yesterday's New York Times. The article was by Joyce Wadler, great photos by Erik Jacobs.
Deek's book will be featured in our forthcoming book on tiny houses. (One of his drawings shows him sitting in a tree, reading a copy of our book HomeWork.)
"At about 24 square feet, the Gypsy Junker, made primarily out of shipping pallets, castoff storm windows and a neighbor’s discarded kitchen cabinets, is the largest of Mr. Diedricksen’s backyard structures. The Hickshaw, a sleeper built on a rolling cedar lounge chair (or as Mr. Diedricksen calls it, “a rickshaw for hicks”), is considerably smaller, at 2 1/2 feet wide by 6 1/2 feet deep. The Boxy Lady, two cubes on a long pallet, is the smallest: 4 feet tall at its highest point."

My brief description of the '60s

The wonderful cultural revolution that was centered in San Francisco was over by the "Summer of Love." I grew up in SF and watched it all unfold and in fact quit my job as an insurance broker n 1965, because I found I had more in common with the people 10 years younger than me than with my own generation.
Almost everything I've read that was written about those few years is inaccurate. The Diggers, despite what transplanted New Yorker Peter Coyote writes, were hard-edged east coast entrepreneurs, the "hipper than thou" guys, who proclaimed themselves leaders of the pack and got the ears of the press. Totally different from the spirit that created the short-lived peaceful and gentle community in that neighborhood.

Here's what I wrote in a note in the appendix of Homework: Handbuilt Shelter, in 2004:

Magical cultural revolution that changed world going on. Mostly misunderstood these days.
Artistic underground in San Francisco, early '60s.
Beats: fading artists of old world
Hippies: joyous, open, sharing/entirely different mindset.
Wonderful few years (before "Summer of Love").
Non-conformity, dropping out, experimenting, searching, expanding awareness, looking for better ways to do things. Loving, exciting community on Haight Street, San Francisco, world headquarters for a few years.
All these things not so much new as being discovered for first time by millions of young Americans:

Astronomy * astrology * meditation * Gurdjieff * Ouspensky * Zen Buddhism * the Tarot * the Kabbala * the Koran * the I Ching * dolphin consciousness * Dune * Strangers in a Strange Land * building your own house * The Owner-Built Home * organic gardening and; farming * self-sufficiency * Native American culture * ecological awareness * political activism * poetry * rock and roll * the blues * Ali Akbar Khan * Beatles/Stones/Dylan * domes * LSD/marijuana/mescaline * Monterey Pop Festival * Rolling Stone * Whole Earth Catalog * The Tassajara Bread Book * viewing earth from space * Edmund Scientific catalog * L. L. Bean catalog * chickens by mail from Murray McMurray/and on and on...

Natural building apprenticeship, summer 2011, Williams, Oregon


"The staff at White Oak Farm is pleased to offer our new and improved Comprehensive Natural Building Apprenticship program for summer 2011. Tyler Walter, Taylor Starr and James Haim will lead the program. The Apprenticeship will span five weeks of fully immersed hands-on experience, as well as field trips, lectures, discussions, slide shows, independent design projects and more. It will be an excellent opportunity for people looking to learn practical natural building skills for their future career or owner-builder projects, as well as for college students seeking an alternative classroom experience…"

Old rug stool cover

This little bamboo footstool had a ratty cover on it, so I cut out this new cover from an old threadbare Persian rug that someone was tossing out. The rug is nailed to the stool stand with brass plated upholstery nails and I put a thin piece of rubber foam underneath it. Got the idea from my friend Louis Frazier, who covered a homemade stool this way.

Hand forged hatchet


I've had this little hatchet for a few weeks now. Seldom have I had a tool give me so much pleasure. I love to look at it as it sits by the fireplace. It makes me happy. And using it is a whole other hatchet experience — it's razor sharp and cuts beautifully. It makes me want to split wood or sharpen stakes. Hey, I think I need to trim the branches on that dead oak I'm about to cut up for firewood.
Once in a while, a tool has just got it.
It's hand forged, of Swedish steel (not made in China, by golly), by Husqvarna, the chain saw guys. They also make a larger hatchet (this is definitely smaller than a normal hatchet).
$39.95
http://www.husqvarna.com/us/landowner/accessories/tools/forest-tools/hatchet/

Here is a link to some exquisite Austrian hatchets and axes (thanks, jhm!), but they are way more expensive: http://www.traditionalwoodworker.com/Wood-Axes-by-Mueller-of-Austria/products/531/

Mighty old Douglas fir in woods


Yesterday my friend Kent and I rode our bikes up the mountain and down an old fire road. I stopped to pick some mushrooms and Kent went on ahead. When I caught up, his bike was parked and he was in the woods by this gigantic tree. Maybe it was spared by the loggers because it was so distorted. A mighty and awesome presence.

Thanks, neighbor!


Wednesday at the beach: Look at this engineering disaster plunked right in front of a nice beach front cottage. The monstrosity is actually right in front of the cottage, blocking the ocean view, although it doesn't show in this perspective. Engineers and regulators once again run amok.

Our first E-Book: Marathon: You Can Do It! by Jeff Galloway



Our computermeister Rick Gordon has done a beautiful job converting Jeff Galloway's best-selling book on marathons into E-book form. It looks way better than any other E-book on running, and in fact better, in its graphics, charts, and colors than just about anything on the iPad. It also works on the iPhone, iPod, and Kindle.
Runners who travel can take their training charts along, even on the iPhone.
Jeff Galloway's website: http://www.jeffgalloway.com/

Stormy day, shorebirds, and foam at the beach

Yesterday there was a weather warning for 15 foot waves at a 6.6 ft. high tide, so I headed over to Stinson Beach to check it out. Surf was pounding, but it was more like 6-8 foot wave faces. Foam all over the beach. Not a soul in sight. Just shorebirds and me on the 2-1/2 mile-long sandy beach. Above is, I believe, a Marbled Godwit.


I found a nice weatherbeaten 5' long 2 x 12, so I hauled it along a path from the beach to the road so I could pick it up in my truck. I discovered this nice succulent garden along the path, which is unmarked.

Construire avec des palettes

Jean-Pierre Le Bail, architecte, m’a fait parvenir quelques photos de ses réalisations. Il utilise ce module comme base de ses constructions. Son matériau de prédilection, la palette EUR, aux dimensions normalisées : 800 mm de largeur par 1200mm de longueur. Sa démarche l’a mené à déposer un brevet : « Utilisation des palettes en construction ».
 http://www.habitat-eco-responsable.fr/2009/04/construire-avec-des-palettes/
Sent to us from France by Christine Durand

The Dark Side of Recent Egg Headlines

In HuffPost, John Robins wrote: "Egg lovers are rejoicing this week because the USDA, usually the last to notice anything resembling a genuine nutritional advance, has announced that eggs are much higher in vitamin D than previously thought, and also 14 percent lower in cholesterol than previously believed.…"

As I wrote in "The Food Revolution", the sad fact of modern industrialized egg production is that layer hens are crammed together in filthy cages so small that the birds are not able to lift a single wing. The amount of space the birds are given is less than they would have if you stuffed several of them into a file drawer. One building will frequently house 30,000 hens packed together under these grotesquely crowded and seriously unhealthy conditions.

The birds are driven so insane by these miserable conditions that they would peck each other to death if they could. The industry, of course, doesn't want to see such a thing happen, because there's no profit to be made from dead hens who don't lay eggs. How, then, does the industry prevent it? Not by giving the hens more room, which would be the humane response, but by cutting off a sizable part of the hens' beaks, a process known euphemistically as "beak trimming."
Full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-robbins/animal-cruelty-_b_823088.html

Running in the storm last night

About a month ago I wimped out on running with my friends in a rainstorm. (We run every Tuesday night.) So last night I was determined to get out into it. The boys went up Frank's Valley, and I headed south along the coastal cliff trail. The storm was lurking just of shore and boy was I excited. Had on windbreaker, gloves, and warm wool tuque (home-knit cap). The wind was blasting and when I got up to our lookout spot, it must have been 50-60 mph. The few drops of rain falling stung my face, felt like bullets. I had to lean into the wind to avoid being blown over. The wind whipping my jacket sounded like a Harley, or like cards in bike wheel spokes. The raw power of the Pacific Ocean! The storm was pouring energy into me as I breathed. I'm still amped.
After a pint of Guinness with the boys in the pub, I drove north along the coast to get home. The rain was kicking in, wind howling, and on the radio, the bluegrass band The Steeldrivers was playing Good Corn Liquor and I pulled the truck over to an ocean overlook spot and got out and danced a jig in the storm. Seemed like the thing to do.

Birds on the coast, buildings in the East Bay

I drove along the coast yesterday morning, heading for Berkeley. A big storm was brewing out in the Pacific and the air was supercharged. Crows and turkey buzzards were soaring in the updrafts, swooping with the wind. Later in the day, near the Home Depot in El Cerrito, there were like 100 seagulls wheeling around in the air, shooting up and floating and diving. They were playing! You think of dogs playing, but birds do too. The joy of being carried about by the wind. Oh to have wings!
I go to the East Bay almost weekly now and always take a little time out to drive through the residential neighborhoods and along the streets looking at houses and stores. More interesting than Marin with its exquisiteness and preciousness. Oakland, El Cerrito, Richmond -- the real world.
I gotta tell you, I love doing this blog. Wish I had more time. I also wish I could do a quick layout of a few pages, say of yesterday's excursion, with photos and text, but I'm limited to stacking pics on top of each other for internet expediency. Here are a few from yesterday.
Above: check out tiny 2-story house on left. I love the brick red color. All of our many doors and windows on the homestead here are painted this color.
Witty architecture in Berkeley

Nice solid old house


Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont


"Yestermorrow Design/Build School, located in the Green Mountains in Vermont, offers over 170 hands-on courses per year in design, construction, woodworking, and architectural craft and offers a variety of courses concentrating in sustainable design.

Now in its 30th year, Yestermorrow is one of the only design/build schools in the country, teaching both design and construction skills. Our 1-day to 12-week hands-on programs are taught by top architects, builders, and craftspeople from across the country. For people of all ages and experience levels, from novice to professional."
http://www.yestermorrow.org/

Bill Pearl, old school bodybuilder

During the '80s, I spent a couple of years working with and hanging out with bodybuilding legend Bill Pearl as we put together his book Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Men and Women (which went on to sell over 500,000 copies). They don't make 'em like Bill any more; he was maybe the last in a line of old-time strong men, before steroids took over. Look at this photo of him when he was young, with no steroid hyper-inflated weirdness, as with the body builders of today. This pic was in Legends of Bodybuilding, a special issue of Musclemag magazine, a great compilation.
Bill was Mr. California, Mr. America, and a 4-time Mr. Universe and is a very humble and gentle person. He's a vegetarian. He still has an aura about him.  We'd go into a restaurant, he'd compliment the food, and pretty soon the chef would be out at our table. We'd walk down the street and people would come up to him.
After 8 years of work, Bill has just completed a 3-volume series called Legends of the Iron Game, the most complete record of strong men ever, going back to 300 BC when Milo of Croton demonstrated the principle of progressive resistance by carrying a calf every day until it became a full grown bull.

Watercolors by Grzegorz Wróbel




"During my studies at the Warsaw University of Technology, Poland, I learnt a lot about watercolors. Although the faculty of Architecture at this university has a strong tradition in drawings and watercolors,…most of my skills are gained from my own study and personal interest in this medium, and from friends who also work with watercolors.…"
"In summer time I usually draw from life. I think this is the best way to learn something new and to achieve better skills. But in winter, it is hard to go outside and paint as water freezes : ) so, I paint from photos that I have made earlier.…"
"The most difficult thing when working with watercolors is to control water! You just cannot control it 100%. I use a lot of water and I think it is the greatest thing to observe how it flows on your paper and creates magical things."

Newspaper sculptures by Nick Georgiou

http://myhumancomputer.blogspot.com/

Egret in lagoon

Egret and reflection in lagoon at sunset last night.

Locksmith street art, NYC


"I work as a film location scout in New York City. My day is spent combing the streets for interesting and unique locations for feature films. In my travels, I often stumble across some pretty incredible sights, most of which go ignored daily by thousands of New Yorkers in too much of a rush to pay attention. As it happens, it's my job to pay attention, and I've started this blog to keep a record of what I see.…

Chances are, you’ve noticed Greenwich Locksmiths in your travels through the West Village. It occupies a small storefront just south of Commerce Street on one of the stranger parcels of land in Manhattan…The new design is made up entirely of keys:"

Interior of cob sauna in Oregon


"…The dragon seat! The seats are able to transform and change the space to a large open space for yoga. Creative mixed use design."
By Sukita Crimmel, From These Hands, LLC

8-year-old rocknroller in Seattle

Wow! What composure…

"'Snow Day,' written and performed by 8-year-old Emma at the 2009 Spring Coffee Shop Jam, at The Columbia City Theater in Seattle, WA. Emma announced during a guitar lesson one day that she felt like writing a song. I started playing some chords, and this is what she came up with. Amazing.
The Jam's a chance for Heartwood Guitar Instruction students to showcase their talents. Enjoy!"
Just saw this on Lobbylu blog

Gypsy caravans in France


Short documentary (in French) about Jan Brattinga, who has been travelling around Europe for 17 years with his family before setting for sedentary life in a small french village.
Sent us by Christine Durand in France

Abalone and other shells

Note polished pieces of abalone, and at 10 o'clock (left side), cross section of fossilized bone.

Tiny Farm Blog from southern Ontario, Canada

"Tiny Farm Blog is one day to the next on a small organic farm… Starting with zero farm and garden experience near the end of 2002, I’m still at it full-time and more into it than ever! The first four years (2002-2005), it was mainly a one-man show, with much help from a few, and support from many. In Year 5 (2007), I began to include (and rely on) a small crew coming on various days of the week. Crop quality was high—give ‘em half-decent conditions and most veggies just wanna grow. Produce was sold at a local farmers’ market in a fairly small town (pop. 17,000) 12 miles away, by local CSA, and in an erratically open farm stand.…"
http://tinyfarmblog.com/
Sent us by Kevin Kelly

Adobe/polycarbonate greenhouse in New Mexico

Greenhouse attached to main house. Designed by Rob Stout, Southwest Solar Design, Embudo, New Mexico. "The glazing is a four walled polycarbonate sheeting 7/8" thick. It will bend to the curve without any special bending technique. Also make note of the vent windows at the bottom."
From: http://altbuildblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Artist%27s%20Homes

1913 woody pickup truck

1913 British Napier 16hp woody. This website is loaded with pictures of American, British and French woodies, woody trucks, cycle cars, lots more: http://www.oldwoodies.com/gallery-shootingbrakes1.htm

Paradise Recording studio in Santa Cruz

My son Will is a musician living in Santa Cruz, Calif. He's a member of the Brazilian band SambaDá, billed as an "Afro-Brazilian samba funk dance band."

Will also is the studio manager and engineer, along with head engineer Rich Williams, at the Paradise Recording studio in Santa Cruz, and they recently posted some samples of their work at http://www.paradiserec.com/clients.htm. Click on the list of songs on the right to hear the eclectic list of songs from different musicians.

I asked Will to describe what they do: "The best thing to me about this place is that we use analog tape to get a sound that feels good. Analog recording is like a hand built home, whereas digital recording is analogous to a prefab house. This way is old fashioned, imperfect, and feels better. But we also have custom gear that is being used all over the world..."

Beach adventure #2


Came upon these little surfers' shacks (surfers who get this far have to be pretty motivated). Check out the footing here. Sun getting low, so I started heading back. I got so immersed in beachhcombing I seem to have missed the cliffside trail and by the time I realized this I was pretty far south of it. Sun now setting and of course I had no light and there are very few exits from the beach on this stretch of the coast, with its crumbling steep cliffs. Hmmm… I made the decision to head south where I knew there was an arroyo with a (sort of) trail.
As it got darker, I started to run. Not looking forward to spending the night huddled under a cliff until dawn. Oh yeah, I was lightly dressed, had no cel phone, and it was a new moon, so no help in the luminosity dept. Dumb fuck!
Stress level rising, getting darker, shit! Then -- is that a human figure up ahead? Yes, it was, I'd made it to the arroyo and Megan and her 2 kids were heading up the trail. You hop around a flowing creek going up and have to pul lyourself up in 2 places with anchored ropes. After walking through a muddy field, Megan kindly gave me a ride to my truck and I was able to come home to a warm fire, (ahem) big shot of cognac, and good meal. 
If it don't kill you,
it's good for you.

Beach Adventure


I took off yesterday afternoon around 3 and drove north to a cliffside beach trail. The tide was low, sun shining, and the plan was to see how far north I could get, going around points that would be impassable at lower tides. Since I gave up competitive running, I've been exploring my local world way more thoroughly.

They say with age comes wisdom, but this combo seems to have eluded me. I started sliding down the steep trail wearing light Sanuk sandals and ended up on all 4s on parts of the trail. Also, I had a cut on my foot from a barefoot walk on the beach a few nights earlier, and the beach was mostly sloping with rocks that had to be hopped upon or navigated around.
But it was a glorious day, there were clear tide pools brimming with sea life. I started finding bits of polished abalone shells and filling up my backpack with shoreside treasures. In all my 40 years living here I'd never been this far along the beach -- going where I've never gone before, nothing more exciting. (Same thing driving down a never-before-travelled road -- heaven.)

Caffè latte art

Barista art sent us by Jan Janzen from Vancouver Island, BC

Happy sunrise on Lake Chapala

Photo from builder Bill Castle of Pollywog Holler ecolodge resort (in central Alleghenies, NY state). Bill is in Mexico this winter and just sent us this photo.

Bike ride up coast yesterday

I tell ya, when I get on my new bike, it feels like I'm on a motorcycle. Each time I take the first couple of cranks going down the road, I can't believe how good it feels. Here we go! Yesterday I headed up the coast off-road. The bike with its air shocks takes potholes and rocks with ease. Surf was up, tide low, air filled with sweet negative-ion-charged sea air.
Then I rode out to a secret pond in the hills, where swimming is great in the Spring:

On the way home as sun was setting, here was a herd of 14 deer. Never seen a flock like this.
Each day of my life right now seems so filled with interesting stuff I can only get a fraction of it down.