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Grandson Maceo/Barista coffee in Santa Cruz/Bike muscles/Frogs back

Today we took off early for the 3-hour drive to Santa Cruz to see, ahem, ahem, our first grandchild, Maceo, age 3 weeks, parents Will (our son) and his wife Aine. I won't bore you with photos, but he is a beautiful little creature. I didn't know that having a grandchild would be a such big deal, but it is.
When we got to Santa Cruz we went to Verve Coffee Roasters on 41st, excellent java, serious barista artistry, hip & friendly staff.

Backward and downward:
  • Yesterday I went out on my bike, slowly getting the bike muscles back. (John Howard, winner of the 1st Ironman and holder (back in the '80s) of world's fastest bike speed, said that we have "muscle memory," meaning that even if we get out of shape, our muscles remember the finer-conditioned moments, and will respond to training -- getting back in the groove).
  • I'm starting to hear frogs out in the hills, in the ponds. I can feel the barest nuances of Spring. The days are getting a tiny bit longer.
  • A little out of context, but I've been meaning to mention this great dish soap, made out of good ingredients, and OK for the garden as well as septic systems: Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid, I order 6 bottles at a time, under $2.50 each.

Bear-proof chicken coop in the forest

Nick Colyer, who lives …"deep in the forest, north of Nevada City, California," welded up this bear-proof chicken coop. http://www.channelingbikerbob.com/chicken-coop.cfm

House Republicans solicit lobbyists help in overturning clean air regulations

Read it and weep (or get busy):
"The newly empowered Republicans in the House aren’t wasting any time making good on their pledge to throttle the Environmental Protection Agency.

"On the first full day of legislative business, House Republicans introduced measures on Wednesday to block the environmental agency’s proposed regulation of greenhouse gases and new rules limiting toxic air emissions from cement factories.…

"Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California and new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has asked lobbyists and trade organizations to identify the federal rules they would most like to see overturned, and the E.P.A.’s air quality regulations were high on the list.…"

Bike, candy cap mushrooms in woods yesterday

I'm using my bike to get out in the woods, then parking it and searching for mushrooms (and animal bones). Yesterday found these candy caps. When dried they smell like maple syrup. Also got more of the bobcat bones I'd discovered last week. The bike is so great, with its disc brakes and air shocks.

Progress on tiny homes book

I started putting pages together a few months ago, getting a feel for what this new book was going to be. I've been gathering materials and making contacts over the course of a year. That's my m.o.: assemble a ton of material, then figure out how to put it together. This includes making physical (folders with photos and print-outs) files, as well as an email mailbox and folder on the Mac for each contributor (containing text and photos). There are over 100 files, and new material coming in almost daily.
Layout: I've been doing layout whenever I get the chance (and mood) over the past several months. I do layouts by hand, using a color copy machine. It's a pre-computer process and although time-consuming, gives the pages a touch of hand-crafting that direct-to-computer ain't gonna do.
I've been going through the folders (in a rolling file cabinet), grabbing ones that are the most exciting, spreading the material out on the layout table, and designing and assembling a 2-page spread at a time. And boy, is it going good! The book's got a life
It's such a rich world. Building small (rather than large) gives the builder a chance to do something unique. Not having a lot of money means being creative. Small and simple can be (even if only temporarily) the alternative to the half-million house or condo and mortgage enslavement.
Contributors seem to be aware of the significance of it, and are on the ball (with hi-res photos and text). People are (still) sending us one wonderful thing or another. Lots of women builders. Lots of cob. Lot of road vehicles.
I've been thinking about a book like this -- the kind you'll hold in your hands and thumb through the pages -- compared to an eBook of any persuasion..."I knew Jack Kennedy, Senator, and you're no Jack Kennedy..." This ain't gonna be no stinkin eBook.
The times are obviously right. It reminds me of 1973 when we were assembling Shelter. There's a spirit of simplicity and self-sufficiency afoot these days. Hell, even the New York Times is on it. I think this will be a major book, as was Shelter, a reflection of the times.

Shameless commerce dept.: we are selling a package of 3 building books -- Shelter, HomeWork, and Builders of the Pacific Coast -- for a 40% discount. Both of the latter 2 books have lots of buildings directly inspired by Shelter, so there's a continuity and some history here: http://is.gd/kfiEq

Climber's view going up 1768' broadcasting tower

Sent us by Dean Crandell

Layering, music, running, sk8ing

Layering for the cold: Yesterday I managed to get up at 6 AM - needed to get work done on tiny homes book before heading over the hill - dark and cold at that hour. We have very little heat in the production studio, so I wear layers. Silk t-shirt, other layers of various wool shirts*. Gloves with open fingers for typing. Yesterday I had on 7 layers. Lesley came out and draped one of her homemade coats on me. (She dyed and wove the fabric, then made the coat), So I had on 8 layers. Plus my Cowichan warmest-of-hats with ear flaps (from Hill's Native Art).
*My favorite article of clothing of all time is my Icebreaket Sport 320 shirt, which I wear every cold day (all winter).
Music on the mountain: Took off around 9 for Mill Valley, sun was out, yahoo, powdery blue skies, sun reflecting off water in the lagoon, felt warm, John Lee Hooker singing Chill Out (Things is Gonna Change), perfect. On the road again…
As I drove, I was thinking of the "downturn:" Fact is, we (Americans) were way over-consuming. It couldn't go on. Plus the money-savvy pricks , with Bush & Co. leading the way, caused a huge transfer of wealth to the few.
"It's not over til it's over,
And it's not over yet…"
by Billy Joe Shaver came on, a great song by a great songwriter/singer. Then Lay Down Sally by Eric Clapton, next Good Old Boy (Gettin Tough) by Steve Earle, and I turned up the volume full blast as I went through the redwood trees with dappled sunlight on the mountain road. Creeks were gushing. Little seasonal waterfalls were streaming, the mountain's alive…

Running at night: I ran by myself south along the coast from Muir Beach last night. I counted  lights of 14 crab boats out there. Best crab season in many years, they're all over out there, creeping along the ocean bottom. Deep blue black night, here they are once again after all the rains: Orion, the glittering Pleiades, and my boy Taurus. A beautiful night. I'm running lightly, boy, when you don't care about speed or training for races, it's a whole different experience. Went down the ridge to a lookout spot, San Francisco across the water, 1000 feet down to the waves. Place of power.
Pic of Mt. Tam yesterday driving into Mill Valley
Oh yeah, I got on my skateboard for the first time in 4 months yesterday. Old brown eyes is back.

SunRay and Bonnie

In our driveway last week, on their way to Mexico

Sculptural treehouse in woods near Portland, Oregon

"It took 7 years for this project to come to reality and it’s easy to understand why.… There are only few straight lines in it’s design. Dominating curves harmonize the house with the surrounding nature and some elements of steampunk make it look exotic and mysterious. The round hallway to the cylindrical lounge is in the focal point of the interior. Large panoramic windows let in the calmness of Portland forests making the house a perfect place to escape from the city bustle."
Architect: Robert Harvey Oshatz
Photo by Cameron Neilson
Sent us by Tilikum

The Beatles - Something/onetrippass.com

The Lads cavorting with their respective ladies. I just picked this up from Jay Carroll's excellent blog, http://www.onetrippass.com/blog/

This led me to John's Imagine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVg2EJvvlF8&feature=related

Translucent bamboo house in Costa Rica

"The overall idea, envisioned and executed by architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe, inverts the traditional roles of forest and home – instead of surrounding the house, the bamboo wood establishes the basis for every part of its interior. Plants growing between the two core living areas – situated under a roofless portion of the structure – reinforce this open-layout, inside-out concept…"