Gimme Shelter Newsletter, May, 2019

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.

Handmade: The Half-Acre Homestead

I never know what a book will be like until I start putting it together. I don’t do an outline or have much of an idea how things will turn out. I just start, two pages at a time, and let it organize itself. This one, covering almost 50 years of building, gardening, cooking, foraging, fishing, crafts, and other aspects of our lives, is maybe two thirds finished now, and I’m stoked. Due to the way publishing wheels turn, it won’t be available until March, 2020.

Being 84

How did I ever get so old so fast? I’m a little stunned, to tell the truth. Some observations:

  1. Considering physical fitness, and factoring in age, my golden years were mid-50s. It helped that I was doing a series of fitness books then, and hanging out with runners and bodybuilders and running races, doing triathlons, and still surfing.
  2. Getting to 70 was a big change. A lifetime of sports and training with accumulated injuries and just plain wear and tear and I had 2 knee operations, 2 shoulder operations, and a carpal tunnel wrist operation. Sigh.
  3. Turning 80 was kind of a shock. Jesus! How did I get here? I meet with my friends from Lowell High School (San Francisco — class of 1952) for lunch twice a year. Even though I started smoking pot, then peeled off from the business world, and jumped feet first into the counterculture in 1965, these guys are still my friends. Bill Floyd and I were in kindergarten together, so I’ve known him for 79 years.

My 20-Year-Old Luxury Car

I never thought I’d be driving a Mercedes; I’ve always been a truck guy. But I’m currently driving a 20-year-old Mercedes E320. 170,000 miles on it. I got it for $3500, put about $2k into it, and it’s a revelation. My first ever automatic shift, and surprisingly I love it. I’ve read about some E320s getting a million miles on the motors. It gets 22-23 mpg. It’s got so many well-thought-out features and is so comfortable, I am not worthy of this car.

Bird Brain

This scrub jay and I have known each other for a couple of years now. I’ve trained him to take peanuts out of my hand. When he was younger, he would come to the office door and make a racket. Now, he hops inside, perches on a rafter and waits for me to come outside with a peanut. He flies down from the apple tree and in one move, lands on my hand, grabs the peanut, and takes off.

Jays are members of the corvid family, which includes crows, ravens, and magpies. They are remarkably intelligent; their brain-to-body ratio is just slightly lower than humans.

Cutting Back on the iPhone

It seems like all of a sudden, people are backing off of 24/7 phone availability and social media usage. It’s all gone too far, n’est-ce pas? It snuck up on all of us. A NYT writer recently spent a weekend in the woods sans phone and felt regenerated. There seem to be articles appearing every week. People rediscovering real life.

I’ve cut way back on checking Instagram. I’ve never used Facebook, although all my Instagram posts get put automatically on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t carry my phone a lot of the time these days.

Two Great Books (from England) on the Natural World

  • Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin

    A “…remarkable celebration of the transforming nature of trees, exploring the ‘fifth element’ of wood as it exists in nature, in our souls, in our culture and our lives.”

  • How to Catch a Mole: Wisdom from a Life Lived in Nature by Marc Hamer

    The second part of the title is key here. Marc has lived a rich life in the natural world, and the book is full of his observations, as well as poetry and lovely woodcut-like drawings. I have an advance copy and find myself going back and rereading sections. Pub date October 1, 2019.

Another Good Book from England

  • Idiot Wind: A Memoir by Peter Kaldheim

    The publisher gave me an advance copy (pub date August 1, 2019) and I read it straight through. A true story that reads like a novel, Kaldheim went from editor in NYC to drug dealing to prison time to fleeing the city to escape violence and bumming across America, living in flop houses, eating at storefront shelters — to finally turning his life around. It’s as authentic and gripping as On the Road.

Música del Día

Listening to this just now, I got a chill. Ray Charles doing “Am I Blue” live in Tokyo in 1976, along with Johnny Coles on flugelhorn.

Palabra del Día

Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” The word ikigai is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. The word translated to English roughly means “thing that you live for” or “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.…”   –Wikipedia

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

3 Responses to Gimme Shelter Newsletter, May, 2019

  1. Glad to see that you’re using your Mercedes to carry lumber! I’ve always judged the worth of a motor vehicle by how many sheets of plywood or bags of concrete it can carry. Need to be careful with my Kia Soul, though. Go too fast and the aerodynamic forces acting on the plywood lift me clear off the road.

  2. Your mercedes E 320 weighs about 1000 lbs more
    than my Mazda3
    so it burns a lot more gas.
    Glad you are satisfied

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