Note: All my posts on the ’60s are gathered under “The ’60s,” above. Being a blog, these posts would normally be in reverse order, with the newest post on top. However, for this particular category, they are arranged with the oldest posts at the top in order to clarify the sequential nature of the posts. The newest posts will be at the bottom.

Gimme Shelter: July 2020

This is a newsletter I send out maybe once a month. If you’d like to be on the list to receive it, you can sign up for email delivery of the Gimme Shelter newsletter here.


Even More True Today

“We must realize that the world as it is, isn’t worth saving; it must be made over.”

–John Rice, founder of Black Mountain College, 1933

The Half-Acre Homestead

It was, of course, completely unplanned, but we came out with this book about doing stuff at home at precisely the time that people had to start staying at home. There are dozens of things you can do en la casa, besides staring at screens of various sizes. Here are a few pages from the book:

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Pages 38-39 from Half-Acre Homestead, by Lloyd Kahn and Lesley Creed

Get something done.  Bake bread, plant (more) vegetables.  Sprout some alfalfa seeds.  Start a small flock of chickens.  Make a table.  Knit a hat.  Fix that leaky faucet.  Straighten up that messy desk/workplace/shop.

One time, years ago, I was seriously depressed. I went out and spent several hours cleaning up my shop, and it really lifted my spirits. I often think about that — making lemonade…

I was scheduled to do two presentations at the Mother Earth News Faire in Nashville on May 16th, then flying to Italy to attend the La Biennale di Venezia, a bi-annual architectural exhibition in Venice opening May 23, where our book Shelter was being featured as having had an influence on architecture. Sigh.

“Hoping that endlessly won’t be for long.”

–Townes Van Zandt

Stretching – 40th Anniversary Edition

Drawings of right and wrong way to use a smartphoneIn 1979, I discovered a homemade book for athletes called Stretching. I was working as a carpenter and gardener, and the book helped me fix my back problem. I wasn’t actively publishing then, but I contacted the authors, who were living in Southern California. I called Bob Anderson and said, “What about stretches for carpenters, or truck drivers or waitresses?” (By then, they had sold 35,000 copies out of a garage at Bob’s folks’ house.)

Long and short of it: Bob and Jean moved to Bolinas, and over the course of 3 months, we added many more stretching routines, and Jean did all new drawings. We printed 50,000 copies on the first run, Random House was our distributor, and boom! It took off and never stopped, now at 3¾ million copies in 23 languages.

The big deal about this edition is the new section on smartphone problems, mainly bad posture, but also stiffness or pain. There are some simple suggestions for improving your posture, as well as new stretching programs for smartphone users.

Pub date: October, 2020

Note to our friends in other countries: We will be negotiating contracts for this edition in all languages.

My eBike

Specialized Turbo LevoA life changer. A Specialized Turbo Levo, with carbon fiber frame. After 25 years of competitive sports, I’ve grown tired of running the same trails, bored with lifting weights, dealing with the constant injuries. These days I want adventure when exercising, and the bike provides that. It’s not only got a brain, but it calls me to get out there. I can go so much further.

Plus it’s “pedal-assist,” meaning you’ve got to pedal. I’m going for 2-3-hour rides. I keep the level of exertion reasonable, and get to see a lot of the countryside while getting exercise. When I first got it, I was maxing out with “turbo” assistance, now I’m scaling back so I have to pedal harder and get a better workout.

Hidden bikeI’ve been riding out in the woods. When I get to a spot where I have to go on foot, I find a spot off the trail, lock the bike with a cable, disconnect the power, and cover it with foliage. Then I’ll put markers on the trail so I’ll know where it is upon return.

El Problema de Café

My friend Bruno Atkey told me that yerba mate tea has as much caffeine as coffee, without some of coffee’s side effects and, by golly, he’s right. I’ve started making it in our espresso machine, and it does have a stimulating kick. Only thing is, I enjoy the ritual of roasting and grinding beans, then trying to get espresso in crema form, then foamed milk for a latte — and zoom!

Author Michael Pollan experimented with giving up coffee, with interesting results: www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/02/10/803394030/michael-pollan-explains-caffeine-cravings-and-why-you-dont-have-to-quit

Foxes and Skunks and Spiders, Oh My!

In our book we show garden visitors: foxes, skunks, hawks, great blue herons, dozens of other bird species, butterflies, honeybees, spiders. Over the years I’ve come to realize that we’re only here temporarily, that the other forces of biological life, including termites, ants, and woodrats, are always chipping away at our self-made kingdom, and that eventually, they’ll take back over.

Pages 130-131 from Half-Acre Homestead, by Lloyd Kahn and Lesley Creed

Shameless Commerce

“Shameless Commerce” is what the Car Talk brothers called their commercials, and I’ve always felt ambivalent about sales pitches in these newsletters or on my blog. But nowadays, we need to survive, so:

All our books are for sale at www.shelterpub.com.
There is a 30% discount for 2 or more books, with free shipping in the USA.
Fawns in field

A couple of little beauties patrolling the vacant spaces with their ma yesterday. Notice how deer always angle their ears at you like radar antennas.

Opium poppy Opium poppy Opium poppy

Papaver somniferum in the garden this week

On My Blog

“Take it easy (and) if you can’t take it easy, take it as easy as you can.”

–Shaggy Man, on the Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City

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Bamboo Building in Colombia

This is a four-story coffee drying plant built in the late 1800s on the banks of the Guacaica River in Caldas, Colombia. The entire building is framed with bamboo, structurally remarkable for the size of the building and the heavy tile roof. From the book Tropical Bamboo by Marcello Villegas; One of the best books ever on bamboo. All the buildings, furniture, and other bamboo objects in the book are in Colombia.

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Local Berries

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A berry good time of year. L-R, the first is a wild cut leaf blackberry; the second is a boysenberry. Third is familiar wild Himalayan blackberry. Next, in order, in our garden, are red currants, blueberries, raspberries.

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Steve McQueen’s 1952 Chevrolet 3800 Camper Truck

There’s no doubting Steve McQueen’s rep as a bonafide gearhead. From making some of the greatest all-time car movies to having a massive personal collection of his own, he was always behind the wheel of one slick ride or another. This 1952 Chevrolet 3800 pickup is a little off-speed compared to the rest of his stable, though, and it was supposedly one of his most beloved possessions. The story behind it could’ve never been written; instead, it could only happen to someone as intriguing and treasured as McQueen himself.

And now, the camper truck is for sale.

www.thedrive.com/news/33279/steve-mcqueens-1952-chevrolet-3800-camper-truck-can-be-yours

From Lew Lewandowski

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The Isley Brothers, King Floyd Songs

These songs came on during Neil Dickman’s “Bring it On Home” show on our wonderful local radio station, KWMR. I listen to it most nights of the week from 7 to 8 or 9PM, while doing dishes. I tell you, this is a world class radio station, right in our semi-rural world.

Other great shows on KWMR: “Bakersfield and Beyond,” “The Celtic Universe,” and “Coast Highway Blues.” I’m hearing a lot of songs I would otherwise never know about.

You can go on to their website and play shows from www.kwmr.org/archives (or tune in around 7PM in the evening).

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