• Subscribe to
    Lloyd’s Blog via RSS.
  • Check out TheShelterBlog.com
  • Tools for the
    Half-Acre Homestead

Homeowners' Civil Disobedience in China

"After decades of rapid urbanisation which have seen old districts of Chinese cities razed to the ground to make way for new developments, a recent change in the law means that authorities are unable to demolish homes without the owner's formal consent.
   Luo Baogen and his wife are the latest examples of a new trend in Chinese civil disobedience, the refuseniks who won't make way for new construction projects: dubbed "nail householders" because they are like the nails which are hard to remove from planks of wood. http://shltr.net/househighhway
Sent by Evan Kahn

SunRay Kelley in New York Times

The Times did a huge article on SunRay today, almost two full color pages (here). Article by Michael Tortorello, Check the slide show, photos by Randy Harris. SunRay is one of the featured buiders in Builders of the Pacific Coast; we did 26 pages on him in 2008. I got interviewed extensively for this article.
"Give a man a couple of acres and a week in the woods, and he’ll start to plan his castle. It is an unusual soul, however, who proceeds to build 7 houses, 10 ponds, a hermit’s hut, a 17-foot-tall maple-wood Jesus and a yoga studio whose sculptured pink doorway resembles (with frank anatomical accuracy) the female genitalia.
   The lord of this manor is a 60-year-old barefoot maverick named SunRay Kelley. And his fantastical hand-hewn compound lies at the end of a dirt road that bears his grandfather’s name, in the foothills of the Cascade Range, north of Seattle. The best way to discover SunRay Kelley’s work (picture a hippie Taliesin) is to make a pilgrimage.
   One repeat visitor is the writer and founder of'Shelter Publications, Lloyd Kahn, whose definitive book on 1970s vernacular architecture, Shelter, is a touchstone for Mr. Kelley’s style. “It was kind of an odyssey,” Mr. Kahn said in a phone call from his own D.I.Y. home in Bolinas, Calif. “He’s really an artist. He doesn’t deal with the details of the real world all that engagingly.…' " (In the interview, I'm sure I said something like "realistically," not …"engagingly.")

Gathering, Preparing Wild Foods

Great website for food foraging. Preparing and eating plantain, primitive breads, salting fish, curing olives… http://www.urbanoutdoorskills.com/

Foxy Lady

Went off on my weekly coastal run last night. The  (full) moon had just come over the horizon, and after getting lost and cold last week, I had gloves, a warm hat, and a flashlight and windbreaker in my Camelbak carrier. Closing barn door after… A big storm front moved in and pretty soon, the moon was blocked. Unlike last week, I knew exactly where I was and retraced my route from last Tuesday and saw where I'd taken a wrong turn. Kind of like when I was a diver on the high school swimming team, did a full gainer, and hit the board with both knees. My coach made me go right back and do the dive again. OK the 2nd time.
   On the path back down, salamanders were out in force. They're kind of like dumb, happy mini dinosaurs, taking their time—clomp, clomp, clomp. Nobody wants to eat them; I imagine they'd taste like mush. When I got back to the pub, here was this beautiful little fox on the lawn. Healthy coat, bushy tail, constant awareness.

100 years Old and Going Strong

"…Gisèle just turned 100 years old and looks back at a fascinating life. As a child living in the USA she played with Punka-indian friends, eccentric uncles and aunts dominated everyday life at the Austrian family castle, she made numerous paint glass windows for churches, ships, and monasteries. She provided shelter to Jewish Germans during WWII, befriended great artists and writers like Max Beckmann, Adriaan Roland Holst, and Aldous Huxley. For years she lived and worked in Greece, but returned to her canal house in Amsterdam Castrum Peregrini, where she still resides today. Living the life of an artist, Gisèle is a woman of imagination.… http://shltr.net/giselevw
Thanks to Stephanie for this.

Two Great Books on Wild Foods

Nature's Garden & The Foragers Harvest by Samuel Thayer
Kevin Kelly recently sent me an email about these books, reviewed on his Cool Tools (here), and I just got them, and they are the best I've seen. From Kevin:
"…They are AMAZING. This guy knows his stuff. And he is a great teacher. He does not include any plant unless he has gathered and eaten it at least 50 times! So he shows the plant in all of its life cycle from seedling, to mature, to seeding, and in great detail of how to find it, and how to harvest it -- not just a few plants but enough for a meal. And the common lookalikes and their stages. And what not to do while harvesting. There's tons and tons of photos of his process. His chapter on acorns is magestic -- born out of years and years of making meal from dozens and dozens of varieties in dozens of different species in dozens of different states. And he is pretty picky about laying out what tastes good based not on one try but dozens and dozens of tries. He has two volumes; because these are based on his own first-hand knowledge, they are biased to the midwest. (If he cites any second hand knowledge beyond his own he humbly gives a full citation of the source.) Nature's Garden is a bit broader in geography, but really you want both volumes. They are similar with no overlap of plants, but each contains his general orientation, so can stand alone. He is to wild food plants what David Auroa is to mushrooms. I believe he knows more than Euell Gibbons did. I've spent evenings the past week reading it till late at night. He has completely re-invigorated my interest in wild greens."

Friendly Taxidermy

Paper mache hunting trophies made in Devon, UK, by artist Rob Mason: http://friendlytaxidermy.com/

Free Furs From the Roadside

It's funny that the word weasel is derogatory, because look at this beautiful little creature (found on the road by my friend Brendan). A few weeks ago I skinned him, plus a beautiful fox with bushy tail, stretched and salted the hides, and a week later sent them off to Bucks County Fur in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, to be tanned. They'll come back via UPS in about 2 months, soft and pliable.
   I now have 3 bobcats, 3 foxes, a bunch of squirrels, 2-3 raccoons, 2 weasels, and 2 skunks, one dappled deer (faun) skin. Maybe time for a coat.
   What strikes me is that these beautiful furs are obtainable anywhere in the country and mostly going to waste. I remember when I found a still-warm bobcat on the road at 6AM a few years ago. It was just stunning. The big paws! The soft fleecy white fur of the belly! No way was I not going to pick it up. Plus there are the skulls to render, which are fascinating.

iPhone Panorama of Golden Gate Bridge

I'm learning with iPhone photography; I didn't hold camera even while panning, and got wavy horizon line at right, but the iPhone camera is something!

Emergency Shelters

Relevant to my post in getting lost on a stormy night:
Sent: Fri 23/11/12
Subject: Fwd: to Lloyd (emergency shelters)
Hi Lloyd, I love your blog and read all your posts!! Here is a good article about emergency shelters. Read at the bottom about using an orange or blue plastic bag. You might want to carry one on your waist when on your adventures. http://shltr.net/U82pEd
Jerry Young

Mikey and GoPro Camera Times 2

That's Mike Basich, legendary snowboarder, spokesman for GoPro cameras, and star builder of Tiny Homes, shooting a self portrait (with his GoPro), of himself driving down the highway, with a billboard in the background featuring a photo of him wearing a GoPro Hero. Kids, don't try this…
Sent in by Evan Kahn

Heidi's Tiny Cob House in Finland

"This is Heidi's cottage, 'Elaman Puu', which means Tree of Life. It's built with a variety of natural building techniques with a rubble trench, earthbag stem walls dressed in stone, birch bark damp-proof membrane beneath the straw bales on the northern walls with cob and cordwood to the south and a reciprocal roof on a roundwood frame. All of the materials were harvested locally. Heidi began her natural building journey by investigating what natural materials were available on the land where she wanted to build her tiny house. Set in the forests of southern Finland the choice of roundwood timbers with a reciprocal roof was easy and obvious. Heidi also dug several pits on the land to search out the clay she would later use to plaster the interior of the home.…"
From naturalhomes (a really nice website)

Grizzly Trashes Toyota SUV

"There are no scratches on the outside of this car, but the vehicle is totaled! A man in Waterton Park, (south of Calgary), came out to find the inside of his 18 month old Toyota Sequoia trashed. A grizzly bear had somehow got a door open. Once inside it got trapped when the door shut behind him, probably by the wind. The Toyota was the Platinum edition, all the door panels were ripped off, the head-liner torn to pieces, all headrests, the leather seats, the dash shredded. The steering column was twisted sideways. Two of the six airbags went off, the other four the bear ripped to pieces.…" From yougottobekidding
Sent by Lew Lewandowski

Toots in Memphis

Back in the '80s I knew a guy working in a D.C. reggae record store who'd clue me in on good records. Vinyl. When I first got this I thought Toots was channeling Otis. Plus some Memphis Horns.
Here's an Amazon review:
Hibbert is widely revered as a reggae pioneer, but he's also a Caribbean cousin of Otis Redding and Al Green, which he proves on this collection of '60s and '70s soul covers. Sly and Robbie anchor the rhythm section of a crack band that also includes guitarist Teenie Hodges and Andrew Love of the Memphis Horns. Together with Hibbert, they reinvent Redding's "I've Got Dreams to Remember," Green's "Love and Happiness," and eight other classics (among them "Hard to Handle," "It's a Shame," and "Freedom Train.") The result isn't pure reggae or unadulterated soul, but a hybrid as appealing as both at their best.--Keith Moerer
   Last week I heard Toots doing "It's You," such a good song, I love the Itals' vocal harmonies. Who's doing vocal harmonies of this quality these days? Here (play the one on the album Pressure Drop).

WWII Tiny Prefab Homes

Christine Durand is our reporter in France and just sent us this story:
Bonjour Lloyd,
Seeing the foldable home on the cover of ''Popular Mechanics magazine'' (Gill's post) reminded me of the American prefab house where my grand-parents have lived for ten years. It's an old story but I guess it's one of the reasons why I love tiny wooden homes!
   This story begins at the end of Word War II on the French atlantic coast. The shipbuilding port city of Saint-Nazaire was the last city to be liberated in Europe. Entirely destroyed. In 1946, like thousands of war refugees, my grandparents were allowed to come back…be relocated. At that time, the Ministry of Reconstruction tried to provide emergency housing for 2 million of homeless. A huge challenge and a historic occasion for architects of all nationalities who design a wide choice of tiny prefab houses : cheaply and quickly built, ˆeasily transportable"!

Let the Good Times Roll - Shirley & Lee


Lost in the Eye of a Storm Last Night

I like running in the rain. Not at first, but after I get going and warm up, it's exhilarating. Plus the smell of the air and the negative ions.
   So I set out last night around 6PM, heading south along the coastal cliffs from Muir Beach. I had on my one layer of Maxit tights and a rain parka tied around my waist. The storm was just starting.
    By the time I got up to my lookout spot (a point of land projecting out into the ocean that feels very much like the bow of a ship), the wind in front of the storm was blowing at maybe 30-40 mph, and I put on the parka and faced into it, taking in the wind energy and the sweet smell of fresh storm air, leaning into the storm and it holding me up. The lights of San Francisco across the water.
   As I headed up on a fire road inland, the rain started. It got foggy and pretty soon it was like being in a tunnel, darkness all around and a six-foot circle of misty light in front of me. These small owls (actually, I've been told they're not owls, but related to whippoorwills) fluttered up from the sides of the road as I ascended; I think they wait for mice to cross the road.
   It was getting darker and rainier. I got to the top and started back down. I could hardly see. I was sending good thoughts to my Black Diamond headlamp, because I hadn't brought any backup light, and if I lost my light in this gloom, I'd be out there all night.

Shelter Publications World Headquarters

Photo on Friday by Bill Steen with his iPhone. (All the wood here came from torn-down Navy barracks on Treasure Island in the '70s.)

Five tiny homes with European flair

From Yahoo News

Sign Petition for Drake's Bay Oyster Company

If you believe in family farms, local food production, and -- yes -- environmental responsibility, I urge you to sign the petition to allow the Drake's Bay Oyster company to renew its lease in the National Park. It's the very best type of food production -- no chemicals, fertilizers, watering, soil or water pollution. Plus the oysters actually filter and clean the water. Go here to sign the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/secretary-of-the-interior-ken-salazar-renew-the-lease-for-drakes-bay-oyster-company

Here's something I wrote last December:
Local Oyster Farm Controversy The Drake's Bay Oyster Company is being threatened by the same well-heeled "environmentalists" that recently forced the shutdown (in the next 5 years) of all trailers parked at Lawson's landing. See my photo-report here: http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/2011/06/lawsons-landing-under-threat-by.html "…Some observers see a David versus Goliath struggle, with a federal agency and moneyed environmental groups picking on a family-run business.…" http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2011/12/10/norcal_oyster_farm_dispute_spreads_to_capitol_hill/?page=2 For a very complete refutation of the National Parks Service's bad science and underhanded tactics (in cooperation with the Environmental Action Committee) in an article by John Hulls and Todd Pickering, see: http://russianrivertimes.wordpress.com/
And something I wrote last November: http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/2011/12/national-enviro-group-smears-local.html

For Sale: 1900 Gothic Revival, North Carolina, $19,500

Click here.

Simple Office Workout Equipment

When Bill Steen was here Friday I was showing him some of my office workout stuff and told him I might do a YouTube video on the subject. Homemade and/or cheap/effective ways to get some physical benefit while in the office (or at home). Bill got out his iPhone and we shot this quick video. I need to show these things and a few others and have a link to where you can get the straps, or the Lifeline Gym. Coming attraction…

Visit From Bill, Athena, & Benito Steen Friday/iPhone Apps

Bill and Athena Steen are authors of The Strawbale House Book, which became a best seller and started the strawbale building movement in North America. The Steens live at the end of a road in the desert south of Tucson (not far from Patagonia, Arizona), a lovely compound of strawbale and adobe structures built of natural materials. I've been down there 3 times and this is the 1st time they've visited us in California. See their website here: http://www.caneloproject.com. Their work has been featured prominently in our books Home Work and Tiny Homes.
   Bill and I have gone out on a few photo shoots together in Arizona, he with his Nikon, me with my Canon. In recent years Bill has switched to shooting almost everything with his iPhone; he'd told me about it, but this time I got a chance to see it 1st hand. I didn't even realize that my iPhone had an HDR (high dynamic range) option (if you're shooting a scene with two sharply different contrasts -- like an interior shot of the kitchen, with light streaming in through the windows). HDR takes 2 shots at different exposures and sandwiches them togetherv -- right on the iPhone. Voila!
   Bill uses these iPhone apps:
-Photosync to load on to computer
-HDR3 which takes the pic
-Bracket Mode
-True HD
-SnapSeed (which he used to shoot this photo of Lesley and me):

"'Own a New Home for the Price of a Car"

…so Molecule Tiny Homes says on its website. "The Santa Cruz, Calif., company, a collaboration between a former professional ballet dancer and a builder, creates fully customizable homes on flatbed trailers. One house, for instance, was built for a surfer, and was "designed to take full advantage of the beauty of the Ocean and provide a constant connection to nature," the Molecule website says.…" From The Oregonian

Mongolian Yurts For Sale in USA

"Based in Seattle, SunTime Yurts imports Mongolia’s highest quality handmade Gers (yurts) to the Pacific NorthWest. The Mongolian Ger has been tested and tried for thousands of years in one of the most remote and harshest climates in the world. Over the years, the Ger has slowly evolved into a practical modern day living space.…
   During a 7 month stay in Mongolia I fell in love with the nomadic culture and the thousand year old felt home of the Mongols. After returning home to cookie cutter suburbia USA I decided to add some culture and sustainable alternatives to our neighborhoods by dotting them with the white felt tents of Mongolia."

Tiny Chapel in Mississippi Woods

Lloyd, I saw this tiny chapel in the woods while driving around southern Mississippi this weekend. I thought you might be interested. Regards, Theodore Scott

Step-by-Step Tiny Home Design & Construction

"Hey Lloyd, I recently discovered this blog on the trials and tribs of a small house life from the beginning thru construction to living the life…quite inspirational..unknown if you want to post it or not..just spent the better part of my evening going from one 'newer post' to the next…
anyway take care,  enjoyed your 70-ish post…I'm not too far behind you… Mike W ME/CA"

Old School Bus Turned Into A Tiny House

"I was recently sent these photos of an old school bus turned into a tiny house on wheels. The bus was completely remodeled and lined with a beautiful wood interior. It was recently sold to a young couple that has made it their home in the North Cascades.
   While it’s doubtful this bus is good on gas, having the ability to move your home where you’d like and travel with it is very appealing.
   This little home looks so inviting that I could imagine them living in this converted bus long-term."
-Steven, on Tiny House Listings

Snowboarders' tiny mobile home

"Some skiers and boarders will do anything for powder -- even live in a tiny house with four other people. Last year, five riders went on a quest across the western US and Canada living in a mobile tiny house with only 22.4 square feet per person. Towed by an old truck, the Outdoor Research-sponsored team lived it up for two months on the road.…" From Inhabitat today

Popular Mechanics Magazines from the 1930s

Last week, Gill sent in a comment on a post I did last year. It was a link to an old Popular Science Magazine, and I replied that I had looked through the entire issue. To which Gill responded as below:

Gill has left a new comment on your post "Vintage Transport":
Here are just a few or so... Like you I get caught up scrolling and seeing all kinds of stuff... Solar energy articles from the 30's... gotta love it huh?

Camping Trailer PM May 58 pg 149

Unusual Little Sailboat

Forwarded by Godfrey Stephens just now:
Subject: Galalweil, out of Port Townsend
Godzooks Stephens, master of many hulls n cabins
Here be that vessel I was telling you about last weekend.
I'm lookin for godfreytype pics. More later.

Adventure Motorcycle Riding

This is a great website with great photos: http://www.advrider.com/

Master Carpentry in San Francisco

You just don't see this level of skill in anything being built nowadays. This is in the Mission District.

Dylan Got Shelter at Age 4

Dylan Friedman stopped in at our booth at the Green Festival yesterday and said that his Mom had given him Shelter when he was 4 years old. He said he had called it "my picture book," and it and Winnie the Pooh were his two favorite books. He said he'd looked at the pictures when he was tiny, and built his 1st yurt when he was 21, and was now, as a result of that early inspiration, a green builder in NY.

Tiny (300 Sq. Ft.) Mandala Home in Canada

"Franklin Residence - "Quietude" - A Mandala - Built in 1999
The Program: To design and build a furnished residence for a single person within a severely limited budget of $28,000 Cdn. complete, that at the same time had the spirit to exalt the human soul.
   This was accomplished by analyzing the home functions and distilling these to the essentials in philosophy and fact with sustainable and healthy architecture…
   Even with such an extreme budget as this, it is possible to build an environmentally sound home that enhances the Joy, Life and Soul of humans.
   A quote from the Architect's recent book states "We are building sacred places, as distinct from profane places, to add layers of experience and importance to life patterns.…"
   The architect is Henry Yorke Mann, in British Columbia, Canada.

Tom Greenway's Blog from Woods in UK

Tom Greenway has left a new comment on your post "$1,000 Tiny Shed From Costco":

"Hi Lloyd, thanks for your great blog, here is mine http://1000months.blogspot.co.uk/ weirdly I'm a book publisher, skateboarder and hope to build a small space in my wood soon too! Anyway the main reason I'm writing this is to tell you about this UK tv series that I thought you would enjoy on small builds, can you view it online in the states? George Clarke-Amazing Spaces
-cheers Tom"

Can't view the above in  the US, but check out Tom's blog (above), described as: "Tom Greenway's blog on publishing, entrepreneurship, outdoor activities, extreme sports, woodland ownership, crafts, giving back and generally trying to cram as much into your life as possible!"

I'm Not the Man I Used to Be

I don't think anyone over 70 reads this blog, so to all of you out there, there's good and bad news. The good: you aren't 70 yet. The bad: you will be.
   Things got way more difficult physically at seven-oh. Injuries more frequently, and they take longer to heal. Hand/finger coordination more difficult. With shoulder problems I can't do a pull up, and I used to do 10. Just general difficulty in things that used to be easy. I had real difficulty in climbing over a high cylone fence recently. I get out of a car more slowly; never used to think about it. The indignity of it all!
   Plus, I'm bored with "working out." If 'd go to a gym regularly, it would solve a lot of problems; I certainly know the drill. But there's so many other things I'd rather be doing. No more training for running races/b-o-r-i-n-g. What do to do? Hiking, exploring, paddleboarding when this shoulder gets functioning. I want to get "exercise" while exploring/having fun, so I'm in a new world of activities to keep some kind of body/mind balance. Working on it.
   I've been pretty active all my life, and a lot of the problems are from wear and tear. There's another approach: at my (60th) high school reunion last month, one of the guys told me he had just rented a city condo, and he could drive his car into the garage and take an elevator that opened in front of his front door. He'd given up.

More San Francisco Mission District Graffiti

Barista Art at Ritual Roasters This Morning

Youngest Ever Reader of Tiny Homes

This guy came into our booth yesterday and I handed him a mini book. He promptly passed it over his shoulder to his kid. I expected the kid to drop it, but no, he started looking at it while working on his pacifier. This is Phoenix Davidson; parents are Michael & Angelica Davidson.

A Real Circumambulation of the Pt. Reyes Peninsula

"Hi Lloyd, I read about your attempted trip around Point Reyes and got really inspired to try it myself. My girlfriend and I, plus a couple of friends in Point Reyes Station, are currently making plans and building out our ultralight kits. In our studies we came across this page and thought you might find it interesting: Click here. Thanks for the ongoing inspiration, keep it up! -Sean"

San Francisco Mission District Graffiti #2

28 Year Old Inspired to Change Life by Shelter

Reida clapped her hands when she saw a copy of Shelter at our booth (at the San Francisco Green Festival) today. "This book changed my life," she said. She said she bought a used copy in a bookstore in New York when she was 12. Here she is with her friend Eqo.

Art & Architecture in San Francisco

Early start Saturday morning. I get so excited in the city (Manhattan as well).  That's the old Marwedel Building with its unique glazed tile surface, on Mission St. In the '40s and '50s it was where we bought copper and leather and other art/craft items. Further on down Mission, the graffiti is just wonderful. Here are just a few shots (I shot a ton of great art in about 15 minutes). Country yokel bedazzled by urban creativity…Sending this off from Ritual Roasters on Valencia, a place this morning full of kids and their parents/sunlight streaming in, rocking music. Barista heaven. Now over to the Green Festival.

Surfing Under Golden Gate Bridge

Yesterday morning. This spot under the bridge is one of my go-to places when in the city. The guy in the outrigger was being very cautious. The beach here consists of big boulders, not a place to lose what looks to be an elegant, expensive boat.

Learning Timber Framing

I thought this comment was important enough to bring front and center.

scott has left a new comment on your post "Learning To Be A Carpenter": Check out the Timber Framers Guild @tfguild.org  . There may be a project in your area in the near future. They also have an accredited apprenticeship program through individual shops.

Sailboat Photos by Henrik Lindstrom

Henrik Lindstrom and his adventures on his sailboat Misty were covered in Tiny Homes (pp. 204-205). Since then Henrik and his girlfriend Ginni have sailed from Baja California to French Polynesia (including Tahiti) and are heading for NewZealand. We will cover their latest adventures in Tiny Homes on the Move: Wheels & Water. Here are a few photos from Henrik's blog, OnVoyage, taken when he was in British Columbia: