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Cowboy's DIY scrap house

"'Black Kettle' hasn't lived in a home since 1974 which might explain why he chose to build his own when he finally opted for a roof over his head. Short of the insulation just about everything is secondhand.
Here he shows us his windows from a remodel job, the old fence posts he used for exterior walls, his outdoor bed and his backyard garden with corn and amaranth."


The Shelter Live Oak

This tree was a landmark for years in the valley we drive through to get to Petaluma. I shot this photo maybe 15 years ago and we used it for our logo. It was on the banks of a creek, which was probably too wet a location for it, and a few years ago it died. Here it is in its glory days, studly at the left.

Berkeley Hort

This is a magnificent nursery in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"We are a family-owned retail nursery located directly across the San Francisco Bay from the Golden Gate occupying most of a city block on the north side of Berkeley. We have been blessed with a temperate climate; one where extreme hot or cold is a rarity. Our primary endeavors are to offer quality plants of all types to the general public, to collect and disseminate information on anything garden-related, and to provide a pleasant atmosphere in which to browse an array of horticultural products & accessories. We can provide local delivery, but we are not set up for mail-order purchases. Stop by for a visit!"

1310 McGee Avenue
Berkeley, California 94703

Godfrey Stephens sculpture

Godfrey Stephens, the Northwest Coast artist and carver featured in Builders of the Pacific Coast, just sent me a bunch of pictures of his sculpture "Three Graces." Also, pix of  two adzes.

The great First Nations carvers had tools that were art objects in themselves, each one meticulously crafted, things (tools) of beauty.

The World's Biggest Treehouse.

Located in Crossville, Tennessee, this treehouse took Horace Burgess 14 years to build it around an 80-foot-tall white oak tree, with a diameter of 12 feet. Six other strong trees that act like natural pillars support the 97-feet-tall wooden edifice. Burgess started working on this huge treehouse after he had a vision back in 1993. The treehouse has 10 floors, averaging 9 to 11 feet in height with an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 square feet. This 56-year-old landscape architect used about 258,000 nails in this structure and $12,000 to construct it.   http://www.crookedbrains.net/

Tiny Tiny Houses

This is really the bible of tiny houses, written by Lester Walker almost 25 years ago. We did 2 pages on it in our book Home Work: Simple Shelter in 2004. As I work on our new book on tiny homes I realize again what a great book this is. Here is what appeared in Home Work. You can click on the pdf's to get clear images of the entire two pages.

"The six little house plans shown here are from Tiny, Tiny Houses by Lester Walker. Lester is a rarity — an architect who not only has designed these little houses, but has drawn clear and useful plans that he shares with others."


Around home…

Last night we had fried oysters. I drained the juice into a glass and added a little cocktail sauce, some Worcester sauce, shot of Tabasco, a little lemon, it was startlingly good, elixir of the sea…I made some pasta with squid ink, olive oil, garlic, nice flavor…The night before we had abalone. We're eating more local food than ever…

Cold winter, we burned more than the usual oak firewood. We just started burning pieces of a hawthorn/rose-type treelet I'd cut down a few years ago. It's very dense, and burns like coal. Long-lasting bright embers. Was thinking how we're keeping warm with wood we planted, harvested. A renewable resource, no transport needed…

Went paddleboarding yesterday afternoon, overcast day with drizzle, water like glass. I paddled into some long channels against the outgoing tide and when coming back, I was flying, paddling hard and the tide doubling my speed. There was a wake off the nose of the board. Below is my 12' Joe Bark racing paddleboard on the town dock, before I took off.

Here's the Golden Gate bridge, coming into San Francisco at 6:30 this morning:

How to organize a tiny home

"Felice Cohen lives in a 90-square-foot Manhattan studio, but she doesn’t see it as a sacrifice. What keeps it cozy and not cramped is in the organizing. "The trick is really seeing what you need. I mean we have so much stuff."

In this video, Cohen talks about how everything has a place and why in New York when organizing, you need to go up."

Barn architecture in Tennessee: Langston Hughes Library by Maya Lin

"The Langston Hughes Library is a private non-circulating library designed by Maya Lin (most famous for her Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington DC), and located on the Haley Farm in Clinton, TN. It contains a 5,000-volume reference collection focusing on works by African-American authors and illustrator, and books focused on the Black experience.…

An 1860s refurbished barn and two corn cribs comprise the exterior skin of the building. The rustic exterior, which evokes the 'architectural vernacular of 19th-century East Tennessee, a plain language of silvery, time-worn siding, rough logs, and minimal geometries,' is melded with modern Shaker-like simplicity on the interior.

Maya Lin pointed out that the function of the exterior and that of the interior were different and thus she 'wanted to make a real cut between outside and inside…there didn't seem to be much point in preserving the rustic feel of the barn's interior.'

…A striking aspect of the design (is) the glass-encased corn cribs that act as a base for the cantelievered barn that sits atop them. Margaret Butler of Martella Associates states that the glass between the logs 'glows like a Chinese lantern' at night…"

Maya Lin's website: http://www.mayalin.com/

A scare at the beach

On my long northward beach walks, I've passed this spot several times. The sign says this is a marine preserve. Kind of odd, since this place is a few hour's walk on a difficult beach -- not a stroll on sandy shores, but beaches sloping sharply in places, rock-hopping and rock scrambling the mode du jour. I've never seen footprints here.

So I've been looking up above this little beach framework at the hill above, trying to figure out if there was some way to get to this spot from an inland road. It looked like there were more hills above the top of this ridge, and maybe a way to get here without the long beach walk. Mountain bike, heh-heh.

I had on hiking shoes with Vibran soles, and started up the little gully. Lot of sliding rocks. About halfway up, it got steeper, more sliding rocks, and I had to start going up on the diagonal, criss-crossing back and forth. By this time I was on all fours, crawling up. Any steeper and I wouldn't have made it.

About 20 feet from the top I saw these cracks in the soil, hmmm, kind of deep… But in typical Taurus M. O., I kept scrambling up. Got to see over…

I got just below the top and had a funny feeling. When I inched up and peered over the top, I was looking about 500 feet down to a beautiful isolated cove with breaking waves. One part of me was saying, get your camera out, this is spectacular, but another, stronger part of me was scared shitless. I was on terra infirma, and the cliff sloped inward underneath me. And, fuck, there were CRACKS! I started backing down. Please, lords of karma, don't let this cliff crumble. Backwards on hands, knees, stomach, all on top of sliding rocks, heart pounding.

Not smart…

120 sq, ft. writing shack in woods

This from Tiny House Blog:

"We built a 10 x 12 foot guest house, writing shack about 100 yards from the house. It took a month to build and we used a “crib” of pressure treated lumber, no footings as a foundation. I hope it will move as one unit if it gets frost-heaved.

The desk is on a hinge and swivels up and out of the way. The bed is lofted a bit, and is behind the bookcase. Steps to the bed are built into the bookcase.

Excluding the woodstove, and a month worth of food and beer to support the troops, we spent about $2,700. Tom also mentioned that the guys sure ate a lot and drank a lot of beer, but is a great alternative way to get a building constructed."