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On the Road 3 Days Ago

 I love hitting the road in my go-anywhere 8 year old Toyota Tacoma (4x4, stick shift, 5 speed, 4-cylinder) truck, armed with cameras. This time I forgot my Panasonic Lumix G1 serious camera, just had the little Canon PowerShot G95. I breathe a sigh of relief when I get to farm land and I start scanning for pix. After splitting enough oak to fill my truck at my brother's, I headed up to Middleton and Harbin Hot Springs. There's something strangely relaxing about the funkiness and occasional white trash homesteads in lower-income counties.

I was reflecting on finding a balance between computer work and the physical world. I love all the email and blogging I've been doing lately. It's an exciting time, what with the popularity of this new book, and sometimes I get so involved here at the Mac that I forget about two necessary antidotes:
1. Working out (including hiking, anything outdoors and physical) for the body. Getting circulation going, stressing muscles, and stretching. I always feel better.
2. Doing something with my hands. Making a table, turning the compost pile, splitting shakes. Deep-down satisfaction to make something with hands.

Nice steel sculpture at a place with a sign "Art Forms" on Hwy 121, south of Sonoma

Thomas Dolby's Solar and Wind Powered Recording Studio on Lifeboat

Thomas Dolby's recording "…studio on a solar and wind powered lifeboat moored in Dolby’s garden in Suffolk, England.…Dolby named the boat Nutmeg of Consolation, after a book from Patrick O’Brian’s naval fiction series and transformed it into a sustainable recording studio, powered by a 450-watt wind turbine and two solar panels on the mast and renovated with interior with reclaimed wood."
This is a great article, at:
From Lew Lewandowski

Old Scale

On my brother Bob's farm in the Napa Valley, He bought it for $80 in Wyoming and rebuilt it. It's a beautiful object.

Farm Shed in Napa County Two Days Ago

Pedal Powered Bicycle Camper

Thanks to Anonymous

jonaven's Treehouse in BC

`jonaven moore says this about the photo:"…photo of the treehosue that I got by hanging from a rope, walking out on a branch 30 ft up an adjacent spruce tree. I only just this fall got connected to the power grid, so i built everything there off grid, and the powerstation in the caboose sustained a lot of it."`
Photo: Jeff Patterson

GIMME SHELTER Newsletter, January 2012

Sunset at Stinson Beach, California
GIMME SHELTER is an email newsletter I send out to about 600 people every few months. It used to be my main form of communication with people in the book trade and friends until I started blogging. We also post them on the Shelter website. Here's the latest, from mid-January: http://www.shelterpub.com/_gimme/_2012-01-19/gimme_shelter-2012-01-19.html

Tiny Homes Madness, Splitting Firewood, and SunRay Kelley's Temple in the Woods

Things are popping around here. Tiny Homes is selling like mad. It's been reviewed on about 20 blogs and/or websites. It's coming up in two of the biggest newspapers in the country (my lips are sealed until articles appear) next week. We're scheduling a tour for me with slide show and book signings in Feb-Mar-April-May June. Gadzooks! I've never had a book get this kind of attention.
   The other day, it occurred to me that this book directly addresses the overblown wasteful indulgent home building industry. I've been saying to people, "No, you don't have to live in such a small space, but it's the direction that counts. How can we do things better? How can we use materials that do the least damage to the planet? How can we heat water and living space most efficiently?" That's in addition to all the poetry of building in the book.

I took off from the madness yesterday and went up to my brother's farm in the Napa Valley to split (oak) firewood. A chance to do something physical. Exciting to get on the road with camera (yesterday only the Canon Powershot G-95). Afterwards I went over to Harbin Hot Springs to take a look at SunRay Kelley's temple (pp. 65-71, Builders of the Pacific Coast), and it looked in great shape, cob and all. It's a beautiful building, and it should have a little brass plaque on it saying : "Designed and built by SunRay Kelley," but the Harbin management is a weird bunch, and they give no credit to SR. There were about a dozen people inside doing yoga, and it was a lovely atmosphere, the wood and the cob and the lighting all in a soft glow.

Prefab Off-grid Tiny Home

"'House Arc' is a modular, prefab housing system developed by Palo Alto, California-based Bellomo Architects. Designed to be 100% off the grid, the 150-square-foot unit can be flat-packed and shipped in a box that is 4x10x3 feet in size.
   Considered a model for compact living, the structure's curvaceous shape is formed from a lightweight frame made of steel tubes - when complete it weighs only 3000 pounds. The intention of 'house arc' is to aid people located in areas devastated by natural disasters and other unforeseen events, as a means of replacing residences that were not built to withstand certain forces of nature. Hence, it has been constructed to withstand tropical winds and weather.
   The capsule-like dwelling features a solar energy generating roof. large windows allow natural light to flood through the space, while also funneling air through the interior, creating a cross-breeze, while a shading trellis limits heat infiltration. The raised structure permits air to flow beneath the framework for cooling, while maintaining permeability of the site.
   'We designed it to be a kit of parts that the average person can assemble quickly–like an IKEA house, only easier to put together.'
- Joseph Bellomo, Architect"

Amazing Canadian Bike Rider

Sent in by Anonymous yesterday

Into the Wet Woods Yesterday

After a 6-week drought, we had about 5" of rain on the weekend, and it was wonderful in the woods. A slight breeze, the air like cool nectar, smell of earth. I wandered down a hitherto unexplored canyon and discovered a stand of good-sized redwoods still scarred from a fire. There was a real old, mighty tree, thick at the base, that had a complete room inside the truck, hollowed out by the fire. Bottom right pic is looking out from inside the tree.

Solid Cedar Teardrop Trailer

Phil Miano sent us an email after seeing the post on teardrop trailers: "…I found this builders site…and was knocked out! Solid cedar teardrop trailers built in a style that would fit right in with Builders of the Pacific Coast for $9k. Each one a unique functional piece of art."
"Queen size mattress, Double doors, Solar panel, Skylight, Tension bar suspension, Sliding windows. A full kitchen which includes, a pullout pantry, a pullout cooler storage, dual lights, and a table that hooks to the side of the trailer for outside dining."
1153 Spruce St., Junction City, OR 87448  541-729-8763

Vintage Surf Pics

Review of Tiny Homes on one of my favorite blogs, 23 Breaths: "A tiny home fits nicely with the current as well as the ancient wisdom."
Looking around on 23 Breaths I found links to the skateboarder (below) and this vintage surf photo. Looks like a Model A Ford (I had a Model A "Victoria" coupe in Santa Cruz in the '50s, with a rumbleseat. Hubba hubba.)

Hiace 1996 2.8L Diesel Surfer Van Sleeps 4 - New Zealand

"Sleeps 2 down below and 2 kids up above. It has roof-racks for surf/paddleboards, gas/240volt fridge, cooker, sink,water pump, 20l fresh, 20l grey, stereo with ipod aux, power, solar panel, house battery for interior lights, etc. With 177,700kms on clock and runs like a dream. Cruises at 100kph easily and drives around like a car. Uses no oil. Always serviced and lives up to Toyota's reputation.…" http://shltr.net/yDkpjC

Skateboarder Rodney Mullen

 Hard to believe

Vintage Bedford Housetruck for Sale in New Zealand

"Asking price: $14,000 Or Near Offer/Listed: Thu 19 Jan
1949 Bedford EDLOB housetruck. Repowered with an ex railways bus S33? 300 petrol motor with Eaton gearbox and diff.
-Timber panelling throughout in rimu and kauri. Floors are matai and NZ silver beech.
-Large sleeping loft fits queen bed.
-Shower stall.
-Kitchen has stainless sink, 3 way fridge and 4 burner gas hobb.
-12 volt water pump and underfloor tank. Hot water via gas califont.… "
This website has tons of trailers, campers, busses and housetrucks for sale in New Zealand.

Dolphins Riding on Backs of Whales

By Maggie Koerth-Baker at 8:39 am Monday, Jan 23, http://boingboing.net/2012/01/23/good-news-whale-and-dolphins.html 
"…this video from the American Museum of Natural History details two recent instances where scientists have observed a whale and several dolphins interacting in ways that are something we might classify as 'play…'"

The Return of Teardrop Trailers

"Here's an item from America's past I would not have imagined would make a comeback: The teardrop trailer. First produced during the Great Depression and designed in the Streamline Moderne style, the towable campers were lightweight, economical alternatives to full-sized trailers. They typically offered sleeping/lounging space, storage, and a makeshift cooking/food prep surface. Gas prices being what they are these days, teardrop trailers are back in vogue; some models are so light they can be towed by microcars and even motorcycles.…" Posted by hipstomp, 23 Jan 2012

Thanks to John Norton for this

Writer John Steinbeck's Road Vehicle "Rocinante" from "Travels with Charley"

"…Travels with Charley: In Search of America is a travelogue of his 1960 road trip with his poodle Charley. Steinbeck bemoans his lost youth and roots, while dispensing both criticism and praise for America. According to Steinbeck's son Thom, Steinbeck went on the trip because he knew he was dying and wanted to see the country one last time.…" - Wikipedia
Photo: Flickr
Sent by Lew Lewandowski

The Boomtown Boys Skating in Santa Barbara

Crank up the sound!

Girl Skateboarders: Make Your Own Damn Meals!

Breakdancing Filipino Traffic Cop

"Here's a Filipino traffic-cop performing his duties while breakdancing, to the great delight of a large and excited crowd."
By Cory Doctorow, Sunday, Jan 22, on Boing Boing

Last Third of SunRay Kelley Day on Blog

Last month SunRay wanted me to come see his latest creation up near Fort Bragg (Mendocino coast), but I couldn't get away.
SunRay is not easy to get ahold of. He doesn't exactly have a smartphone that's on all the time. But once in a while he'll call. This call a week ago was fading in and out, but he was describing the "Waterfall House," just completed, and I caught snatches of what he was saying:

"It's got a living foundation. It's grounded into the earth…it ascends to the heavens. The living walls are clay and straw and they breathe. It's got a living roof…mushrooms and flowers and moss…It's 6-sided, there's a timber frame…cut trees in a fairy ring…"
   The phone disconnected…
   Anyone else saying stuff like and I'd be thinking, yeah, right…But SunRay is the real thing. He's a true nature spirit. His buildings are poetry. Hey New York Times, do a story on SunRay Kelley!
Photo inside Waterfall House by Camille Nordgren
Other photos of Waterfall House: http://shltr.net/An3mLK

SunRay Kelley's Woodcraft Artistry

Outside of Hani's Man Cave.
SunRay's a master of "natural materials." He has a sure touch in making structural frameworks from twisted, gnarly trees. The posts and beams and oak cross pieces here all look like they've grown together. The joints are tight – competent carpentry.
   "I want my buildings to sing and dance. I don't want them to be static. Life is motion. Live is movement. The life force is always moving through us." - P. 59, Builders of the Pacific Coast, where there are 26 pp. on SunRay's work

SunRay Kelley

SunRay Kelley in "Hani's Man Cave," which he built last year in the hills near Middleton (Clear Lake Area), Calif. (His friend Hani has a wife and 4 daughters, and SunRay thought he needed some yang space.)
   I got there on a misty December morning, just as he was in the finishing stages. It's a lovely little building. It improves on the nature surrounding it.
   He calls this a "kit." He cut trees and milled lumber for the 12-sided, 14-½' wooden yurt on his property in Washington and trucked it down to California. SunRay says he can ship kits like this anywhere: http://www.sunraykelley.com
   This interior wall is sculpted cob, a SunRay specialty (the secret is clay), but it's essentially a wooden building. The porch is framed with locally-harvested manzanita, bay, and pine.
More on pp. 100-101, Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter