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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.