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Treehouse in Washington #1

These folks build treehouses and also rent them out to visitors. They are 30 minutes north of Seattle.


A Thursday in the life

Things are poppin around here now. We're approaching the finish line with the tiny homes book. pieces falling into place. It's been a long haul, and still 6 months to go (Feb 2012) until books are in stores. This sure ain't no instant book. Every day here is exciting right now. From our little recycled wood studio in the middle of a vegetable garden we're in touch with the world via our many Macs and the web. Yesterday for example:

I did about a dozen emails preparatory to going to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. It's a huge event, been going on since the 1500s, the super bowl of the publishing world. I stay in a small hotel in the elegant spa town of Bad Homburg, about 20 miles north of Frankfurt,and usually use my 3-wheel K4 scooter to go the mile or so to the train station from the hotel; thinking of taking my new Bhangra long skateboard this year. So far I have appointments with publishers or agents from Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Scandinavia, Russia, mainland China, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, and South Africa.

We've been having repeated problems with our DSL connection, and may have, knock on the pine desk here, solved it yesterday when we talked AT&T into replacing the fiber optic card down the road. We're really crippled when off-line. Thanks to Steve, our tech guy…

I feel like a juggler each day. Sometimes it feels as if things are skidding out of control. Permissions requests (mostly to reproduce drawings from Stretching), reprinting books when inventories get low, marketing, watching sales, trying to get the $$ to update our stretching software for Lion, and the big one: trying to figure out how to use the web to maximize publicity and sales.

Someone once said, at a publishing conference, that no one was in this business for the money. It's true, and my publishing brothers and sisters know this: we're doing this because we love books. We're readers! And communicators. For some 40 years, Shelter has been tiptoeing through the publishing game, trying to get the money from bookstores in time enough to pay printers. We've always seemed to squeak by. In the old days, Random House would advance us money, Lately we've been making it on our own, but we're approaching a very lean period, with sales down and the tiny homes book taking forever. We're betting the farm on this new book.

Tiny house in coconut grove in Costa Rica

Shot by photographer/surfer Leo Hetzl on the Osa Peninsiula on the southwest coast of Costa Rica

Humpback whale freed from nets in Baja California

From Boing Boing this morning, posted by Xeni Jardin:

Unusual Stone House in Portugal

"…The Stone House is located in the north of Portugal…the house was built between two giant stones on the hillside of (the) Fafe mountains… The house has some traditional components such as front door, roof, bullet proof windows. It was built in 1973….

Volkswagen bug motorcycle

Michael McNamara, one of the major contributors to Builders of the Pacific Coast, just sent me this email:

Hi Lloyd,
Sally and I were in Parksville the other day when this little beauty pulled up. I asked the guy if I could take a photo, he said "Sure, as long as I don't have to be in it."  Stock VW? "Yup, everything from here back is the car, even the suspension."  Asked him if he built it himself, "Yup ... in 1969".
Then he took off — fast — with that really tight & snappy VW sound.

Note beer keg gas tank.

Great book on San Francisco area wild foods

This is by far the best book I've found on wild foods in the Bay Area. Unfortunately it's long out of print and the few copies available are prohibitively expensive. Fortunately though, the entire book is available through Google: http://is.gd/flvrshome

New skateboard magazine in the works

Jack Smith is starting a new magazine, The Skateboarders Journal. Looks like it will be similar to Surfers' Journal -- high quality photos, old and classic along with new and rad, very few ads, classy:

"…The Skateboarder’s Journal will delve into all dimensions of skateboarding – culture, history, art, travel, technology and the future. We will also bring you photography from the world’s best skate photographers.Content is foremost. It will be presented in a clean, classic format that focuses your attention on what’s important, not on indulgent graphic design.

Readers will be able to access TSJ from their iPad, iPhone, other Internet-enabled mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer. Our goal is to make TSJ available to you no matter where you are, or where you may be going.…"

Louie Frazier's Yukon flashlight

Every time I visit my pal Louie, he's got some witty and/or delightful contraption he's put together. Just a crude hole punched in the coffee can, candle stuck in, thin wire handle. "Watch," Louie said, and he swung it first around in a circle, then back and forth. The candle flickered, but wouldn't go out.

The $50,000 playhouse

Bling for the Posh Tots
I love the New York Times, I really do. Both the hard copy and web versions. But last week they published an article in the Home section that had to be a joke. (A friend referred to it as "perverted.") It was on playhouses, some of them ultra-expensive.

Excerpts from "Child's Play, Grown-Up Cash," by Kate Murphy, July 21, 2011:
"APART from the open bar by the swimming pool, the main attraction at parties held at the Houston home of John Schiller, an oil company executive, and his wife, Kristi, a Playboy model turned blogger, is the $50,000 playhouse the couple had custom-built two years ago for their daughter, Sinclair, now 4.… the two-story 170-square-foot playhouse has vaulted ceilings that rise from five to eight feet tall, furnishings scaled down to two-thirds of normal size, hardwood floors and a faux fireplace with a fanciful mosaic mantel.…stainless-steel mini fridge and freezer are stocked with juice boxes and Popsicles. Upstairs is a sitting area with a child-size sofa and chairs for watching DVDs on the 32-inch flat-screen TV.…And, of course, the playhouse is air-conditioned. This is Texas, after all.

'I think of it as bling for the yard,' said Ms. Schiller, 40.…"

I mean this is a joke, right? Well maybe not, there's more:

"Dan Burnham, who retired as chairman and chief executive officer of Raytheon, the defense systems manufacturer, in 2003, wanted something elaborate for the 187-acre retreat he and his wife, Meg, have in the Santa Ynez Mountains outside Santa Barbara, Calif.…The multilevel house…has a gabled roof made of corrugated tin, an interior with hand-carved rafters and beams, and windows made of shatter-resistant laminated glass. Connected to the treehouse with a zip line is a second, fortlike structure with carved finials and flagpoles, as well as a rock wall, a firefighters’ pole and a slide…“We’ve got chairs arrayed all around it, so we can watch the kids run, climb and scream,” he said. “It’s adorable and worth every penny.” (Nearly $248,000 for the two structures.…)"

"…PoshTots, an online retailer, carries high-end playhouses from a variety of manufacturers, from $6,000 to $122,000…."

There are some lower-cost playhouses, but glorification of tasteless excess like the above in these times is clueless and pathetic. "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche."

Wildlife sightings

On Thursday, it was a coyote crossing the road in front of my truck. As I went by, he turned and seemed to look me right in the eye. That look of wisdom and humor -- the joker of the animal kingdom. Then the next day an immense blue heron fluttered down to check out our pond. Woe was me, my camera was out in the office, and I couldn't get to it without him seeing me. So I settled into watching him through the window. He circled the house, I believe looking for gophers. Seeing him so close up was unusual, because they are ultra-spooky birds (like the wild pigeons). It was such a thrill, this magnificent bird. He was almost 4' tall. And thirdly, a friend spotted a mountain lion on the edge of town. A vicarious thrill here; if I had to choose one animal to catch even a glimpse of, this is the one. (I've seen two.) It's a blessing to have creatures like these around.

In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats: Your Guide To Turning One House Into Two Homes

In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats: Your Guide To Turning One House Into Two Homes
by Mike Litchfield. Taunton Press, 2011. Paperback, 224 pp., 200 color photos, $24.95

Mike Litchfield has just written a very important book on building, not just for its subject matter, but for its timeliness in this era of tightening incomes. The subtitle says it well: "Your guide to turning one house into two homes."

There's a growing need for sensible and affordable shelter in North America these days, and Mike, the first editor of Fine Homebuilding, and the author of the bestselling book Renovation, has put together an immensely useful book here.

The book addresses a real need. For one (big) thing, baby boomers' parents are aging, and a cottage in the yard or an apartment above the garage beats a rest home or a retirement condo in both financial and human terms.

In many cases, for the cost of renting a house or apartment for a few years, or for the cost of an elder and/or loved one in a rest home, you can create a rent-free or mortgage-free home. The book covers, in this order:
1. Is an in-law right for you?
2. Design of in-laws
3. Choosing appliances, fixtures, and materials
4. Plans and permits
5. Methods of construction, and the pros and cons of each:
a. Basement units
b. Garage conversions
c. Stand-alone units
d. Bump-outs, carve-outs, and attics
6. Current sources for finding architects, green materials, and products

Multigenerational Living in Paradise (Bali)

From Mike Litchfield's blog Cozy Digz at Fine Homebuilding:

"…When it’s time to add a new building—say, when a younger brother gets married and needs a kitchen, the work is invariably done by gotong royong (mutual help). …40 or 50 relatives show up over a period of days till the thing is done. For example, a 2.8 meter x 3.5 meter kitchen constructed for Legut and his new wife took 5 days to complete. In the spirit of gotong royong, there’s no money involved, just two meals a day for everyone who helps. Pitching in to help others pervades many activities in the village."

Dolphins racing catamaran

In the 2011 Van Isle 360 international yacht race in the waters of Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

I was on the swimming team in high school (Lowell, San Francisco, class of '52) and a teammate, Mike Barnato, said he wished he would be incarnated as a seal. Funny how you remember some things, isn't it?

Sent by Godfrey Stephens

Spiffy little Boston Whaler

Came upon this when heading out on my bike last week.

Solar bottles of light

From boingboing this morning

"The slums of the Philippians are getting an extreme home makeover in the form of two liter bottles in their ceilings. The bottles function as 60-watt lights powered by 100% solar energy. Refraction is an amazing thing, if you drilled a hole in your ceiling light would drop directly through the opening in a straight line casting a shadow on the ground in the shape of the hole. By placing a bottle filled with water into the hole, the light is refracted by the water and emitted at 360 degrees like a light bulb. Light bulbs are taken for granted in America, yet are luxury item for the Philippians slums. The two liter bottles filled with water and a small amount of bleach to keep algae from growing, act as a light in the often-unlit slums.…"

Lots of Teardrop trailers

American River Sales & Rentals in Auburn, Calif, has 20-30 Teardrop trailers for sale and/or rent. You can see them from highway 80, on the east side of the road.

"Teardrop trailers first became popular in the 1930s, when magazines such as Mechanics Illustrated published plans. The first teardrops were designed around the idea of using standard 4 by 8-foot sheets of plywood with hardwood spars. Teardrop trailers remained popular until the mid 1960s after which they disappeared from mainstream camping. However, in the late 1990s, plans became available on the internet and in recent years teardrop trailers have made a resurgence and are again growing in popularity." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teardrop_trailer

4 baby chicks hatched

For you people familiar with chickens: we have all bantams -- Silver Seabrights and Auracanas. Unlike full sized birds, you can't tell if bantams will go broody. For example, full sized Rhode Island Reds or Auracanas never try to set. With bantams, you can't tell. The non-broody genes sometimes don't get get transferred. (Bantam Rhode Island Reds are persistent and pesky setters.)

This Auracana decided to hatch some eggs, so Lesley put 6 of our Seabright eggs under her, since we have a Seabright rooster (and don't want to get Auracana/Seabright half-breeds). 4 of them appeared a few days ago and they look a lot healthier than the 1-day chicks we get in the mail. Within 2 days their mama had them out in the yard running around like punks (and dodging the pecks of the big girls).

Shelter-inspired cabin in woods

Shelter (published in 1973) has sold over 250,000 copies. Here's an excerpt from our forthcoming tiny homes book by Maximillian Godino, who was inspired to build his $1000 cabin in the woods by Shelter:

"Since I was a little kid growing up in a house made of railroad ties on Tennessee Valley Road in Mill Valley I have thumbed the pages of Shelter. Before my dad died he presented me with the well-worn copy you see here and it has given me tremendous satisfaction to be able to construct something inspired to a great extent by your research and photos."

Shelter mentioned in New York Times article yesterday

on a straw bale builder in the Catskills. Penelope writes:
"Originally deployed by late 19th-century homesteaders in the Nebraska plains, straw-bale building techniques, though much refined, have essentially remained the same for the last century: hay bales are sliced into blocks, tucked into a frame and finished in plaster. (You can visit many of the early Nebraskan straw-balers, but not the first documented one, an unplastered one-room schoolhouse, because it was eaten by cows.)

Nobody paid much attention to this hardy Plains vernacular until the early 1970s, when Shelter, the building bible of budding counterculturalists, was first published. Included in its tour of zomes, yurts and treehouses was an essay on the “baled hay” houses of the Plains."

She's referring to the photo of a straw bale barn on page 70 of Shelter, BTW, Bill Steen, who co-authored the best seller The Straw Bale House in 1994 with his wife Athena and David A. Bainbridge, told me that this photo was what got him started with straw bale in the first place.

Click here for article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/14/garden/in-the-catskills-building-stone-by-stone-bale-by-bale.html?hpw
Photo by Raeanne Giovanni-Inoue for The New York Times

Lloyd in 1½ min AOL skateboarding video

You’re watching You’ve Got Lloyd Kahn. See the Web's top videos on AOL Video

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by AOL in New York. They wanted to do a 1½ min video on me skateboarding. I met the producer and camera man in Golden Gate Park on a hot Sunday (when the park is closed to traffic). We spent almost 6 hours, filming, talking, setting things up. Jon mounted a GoPro Helmet Hero HD video camera on my board, and at one point a microphone on the board to pick up wheel noise, and he shot tons of footage with a big Sony video camera. Above is the result.

Here's the direct link to AOL Video: http://aol.it/oz2Fkp

Rick Huffan, bike traveler extraordinaire

This is a followup to my post of July 7th:

When you look at Rick and his bike, you immediately see that something is right. It's so obviously a pared-down-to-essentials setup that it resonates.

"All you need are the bare necessities," says Rick. Firefighter's sleeping bag, 2-man tent, ground tarp, bike tools. Food: cans of tuna, kippers, bread, flatbread,His carefully-crafted setup is sleek and light.

Rick worked as a bike mechanic for 2 years. He now travels about 3 months out of the year, otherwise living in Washington. He designed the rack in front that carries his sleeping bag and tent. He sleeps in campgrounds or wherever he finds a good spot.

We had coffee and shared a sandwich in Pt Arena last week. I showed him Builders of the Pacific Coast and he studied it pretty intently. When I offered to give it to him, he didn't consider it for a minute. "Nah, I learned a long time ago, you pack your burden…it'd be more pressure on the hubs, the brakes, the bearings…."

He told me he'd passed a young guy that morning. "A brand new bike, new gear and equipment…it looked like 200 pounds…"

I said, "It's all in the weight,isn't it?"

"That's right. I want to enjoy myself, not kill myself."

"Yesterday I was way up on a hill, and I seen a red-tailed hawk take a dive, and he got what he was after. You don't see that passing through in a car, just the road ahead of you…"

Note: Oh for the ability to do layout in Blogger! It's a fabulous resource, but trying to position text and photos is like driving a car without a steering wheel.

Attention runners who speak Belorussian

The introduction to Jeff Galloway's book on running a marathon has been translated by Olga Skachko into Belorussian.

Here it is: http://sportsbettingspot.com/online/marafon-be

Or in English: http://is.gd/marjeff

Woman faces jail for growing vegetables in her front yard

From Daily Mail Reporter, July 8, 2011

"A woman who put a vegetable garden in her front yard has been charged with a misdemeanor and could even be facing jail.

Julie Bass, of Oak Park, Michigan, created the garden after her front yard was torn up to replace a sewer line.
But a neighbour complained and called the city, who deemed it unsuitable.
Every front yard in the area is grass.…"


From Evan Kahn

Salvaged water tank

This was salvaged from a wrecked ship and is now used as a water tank in Pt. Arena, California

Road vehicle with VW van welded on top

From the "Eco-hobby" website in Russia. Since I can't read Russian I don't know what or where this is.


Chicken tractors

"…here are over 180 pictures of chicken tractors I have collected! No blueprints, no descriptions, just pictures. I hope they inspire your own project. A chicken tractor is basically a bottomless cage or pen of some kind. This is so the chickens can scratch (a chicken's raison de etre) and eat off of the ground such things as grass, weeds, bugs, etc. In the U.K., chicken tractors are called chicken arks. You can drag or roll your chicken tractor around the yard if you want. They often feature wheels. Without a cage bottom, the chicken manure goes directly onto the ground and becomes fertilizer. Chicken tractors are perfect for a small number of city chickens. If you don't want to move your chicken tractor, just let the manure accumulate. Throw fresh straw or wood shavings on top of the poop to absorb any standing water. When a bunch of layers of litter and manure have accumulated, just move the tractor, rake up the poop with a hard-tined rake, and compost…"

From Lew Lewandowski

Fisherman in kayak and his dog

Coming down the coast Saturday, I went down to a cove on the beach. To get there you had to rappel down a rock face on a rope. Here was this guy fishing out of a kayak, with his dog waiting on a rock. I don't know how he got dog and kayak down there, but more power to him.  He waved, and in the 20 minutes or so I was on the beach, I saw him pull in a nice size Greenling rock fish. It was a beautiful day, clear water and good ocean smells. I'm going back to check it out for abalone.

New photos of Lloyd House's Leaf House

Lloyd House was the featured builder in Builders of the Pacific Coast. Michael McNamara, who introduced me to Lloyd in the first place, just sent me these really nice photos he took of Lloyd's Leaf House. Michael says: "…I had an occasion not long ago to take some photos of the interior of Lloyd House's Leaf House…. It has always impressed me as such a perfect little place. So complete. So minimal.

Right now it's uninhabited… But it doesn't feel empty or raw. Very peaceful and complete, even without the usual trappings of living. Just a few cushions and anyone could move in. It's being maintained rather well as part of the park.

Thought you might be interested in seeing a different angle."

(Note how the ridge beam (found on beach) cantilevers way past its supporting post.)

Circular studio at Louie's

Where I hang out when visiting Louie…

Country cabin bathtub

Motorcycles -- old Norton, 2 Harleys

These bikes are in the shop of Steve Main in Pt. Arena, Calif. The (black) Norton is a '68-'69 850 Commando that was found in a barn and restored. Steve says the owner has put on 20,000 miles in the last 4 years.

The two Harleys are for sale (the Norton isn't). The Pearl grey one (at left) is an 883 HD Sportster. $4500 or will trade for an ATV. The silver one (below) is a '99 Dyna Super Glide and is $7000.

I like these compared to the overloaded steroided-up chromed--out Harleys you see these days. (In college I had a Harley '45, it was like a farmer's motorcycle, cheap, simple, dependable.)

If interested call Steve at 707-882-2818.

Long post from the foggy coast

Visitors from France on Tuesday, before I left on trip. There will be 8 pages on their rustic commune in France in the small homes book. Check out the homemade bike. On their way from LA to Oregon. Kindred spirits seem to abound these days.

Whew! Where to start? I left home early Wednesday and drove up to the Sierras with my son Evan to meet with the star of our tiny homes book, a world champion snowboarder who has built a most incredible house in the wilderness. We had been struggling with the layout -- a huge number of great photos -- and lo and behold, our builder had done stunning layouts, 10 pages in all, of his creation and its spectacular mountain surroundings. Yes!

This book has its own life. It's like a living organism right now, changing and assembling itself. We're just there to help. No kidding. It started slowly, and now it's roaring along like a locomotive. Stuff is pouring in. We're already beyond our (224) page count, and it's obvious this is going to be a series (we've got tons of material for another book). It won't be out until February -- such is the reality of our slow production process and the logistics of printing and shipping from overseas.

Then back from the Sierras through the heat of the Sacramento Valley. In Auburn we stopped to shoot photos at a place that sold a variety of Teardrop trailers (popular in the 40s-50s, being rediscovered now). In Fairfield I dropped Evan off at his car, and proceeded westward to the coast. By the time I got to the Russian River, there was a cool freshness in the air, and I drove along the river out to its mouth at Jenner, then headed north in the night along the foggy coast.

Yesterday I went into Gualala with Louie for breakfast at Trinks, a triple threat cafe -- excellent lattes, breakfast, and speedy wi-fi. I downloaded a ton of email. Hoo-whee,things are popping right now, on all fronts. Sunday I spent 5 hours getting filmed and interviewed about skateboarding for AOL. It's for a series of 1-1/2 minute videos they run on their website, called: "You've got..." There seems to be a lot of interest suddenly in someone of my, um, age, skating.

Click below for rest of post.

Tiny Housecar with its own lawn in the '30s

From Boing Boing, posted by Cory Doctorow:

"Back in 1930, Modern Mechanix reported on Charles Miller, of Portland, OR, who was rambling around the nation in a homemade mobile-home that included a plot of grass from his beloved hometown.

From Modern Mechanix: "WHEN Charles Miller, of Portland, Oregon, found the wanderlust too much for him in spite of his love for the old home, he decided to see the world and carry his home right with him, too. So he built a complete bungalow on the chassis of his car--not even forgetting to put in a nice bit of lawn. Then he started out and since starting he has traveled over 200,000 miles and isn't through yet. Mr. Miller claims to have the only motorized house and lot in the country. The "lot" consists of a narrow strip of earth and turf."
Carries Own Grass 200,000 Miles (Feb, 1930)

New House Built With Old Charm

"(Architect) Clay Chapman’s approach to design: 'The product of our efforts must withstand trend and fashion and be held with deep affection from generation to generation.'”


George Carlin - Modern Man

"I'm a modern man, digital and smoke-free; a man for the millennium. A diversified, multi-cultural, post-modern deconstructionist; politically, anatomically and ecologically incorrect. I've been uplinked and downloaded, I've been inputted and outsourced. I know the upside of downsizing, I know the downside of upgrading. I'm a high-tech low-life. A cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, bi-coastal multi-tasker, and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond. I'm new-wave, but I'm old-school; and my inner child is outward-bound.…"

The words: www.freewebs.com/amodernmangeorgecarlin

Sent by Paul Wingate. This was on an HIBO special in 2005. 6 years ago!

Bruno Atkey's sailboat

Bruno, one of the 3 major builders in Builders of the Pacific Coast, is getting ready to launch his Ola Suerte, a junk-rigged steel sailboat he has been working on for 22 years. (He built it from scratch.) Our mutual friend Godfrey Stephens will be there at the launching, and we'll have photos of the occasion.

Paddleboards and outrigger canoes

Here's a Picasa slide show of the annual Shore-to-Shore paddle race put on by Live Water Surf Shop of Stinson Beach, Calif. a few weeks ago. These photos show a variety of boards and boats. I'm fascinated by the outriggers, they weigh like 21 pounds!


Jackrabbit Homesteading

I was just reading Lloyd's blog and watched a video of him talking about his work (and skateboarding). I wanted to share a audio project (and book) I put together on Jackrabbit Homesteading out in the Mojave a few years back. Thought it may be of interest. Anyhow, the website is: http://www.jackrabbithomestead.com/

Kim Stringfellow

Lesley's mini-quilt

I've had this little piece by Lesley hanging on my office wall for some years. It's 13" by 16".  I love the asymmetry within the symmetry of her quilt work. See: http://www.lesleycreed.com/

Awesome bike tricks

Danny MacAskill, April 2009
I just can't believe this guy. Sent us by Brage.

Rustic recycled small buildings in Minnesota

"16 Years of custom building, located in central Minnesota, The Rustic Way offers a custom service to create your eco-friendly personal dream in cabinetry, furniture, picture framing, buildings and an asortment of speciality items. All of The Rustic Way’s products have the warmth, character and lustre created by using wood that has experienced decades of aging; before it was carefully preserved from buildings that date back generations."

"…Dan Pauly has a passion for old wood – its warm luster, tight grain and fascinating, unique history, first as trees harvested from old-growth forests in the 19th Century and then as lumber from old structures – barns, granaries, grain elevators, warehouses, stores. 'This wood reflects our natural heritage,' Dan observes, 'and has a much richer and more attractive patina and grain than modern wood.'"


Sent us by Irene Tukuafu