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Our Brothers and Sisters in France
Our friend Paula, who lives in a houseboat in Amsterdam, once said to us that France was “the California of Europe.” There do seem to be many French people who share the concepts in our books (which I believe reflect the California lifestyle) in building, gardening, and the spectrum of DIY. The French translation of our book Home Work sold over 10,000 copies.
Our French friend and carpenter Yogan and his creations have appeared in a number of our books. He was hiking in the Pyrenees recently and came across this beautiful little home. He recognized it from Home Work, where it was featured in a section on countercultural builders in France, and shot this photo. It was built by Jeanne-Marie; she based the design on the old stone barns of the region, but used wood rather than stone. It’s one of my favorite little homes.
(Home Work, published in 2004, is the sequel to Shelter. Many of the homes in Home Work were inspired by the builders and buildings in Shelter.)
Epiphyllum Oxipetalum, Queen of the Night Cactus
The flowers bloom only at night. This one is in our greenhouse. Lesley has been checking it every night and last night, voila! In India, it’s called Brahma Kamalam, named after the Hindu god of creation. In Japan, it is called “Beauty under the Moon.” It is very fragrant, may bloom once a year. And then — in exquisite restraint — for only one night.
On the Road
We’re starting to gather material for another book on rolling homes. A lot has happened since 2014, when our book Tiny Homes on the Move was published. For one thing, there’s been an explosive interest in vans, as evidenced by Foster Huntington’s Van Life: Your Home on the Road, which has sold 75,000 copies. People are taking off for vacations in vans, and as well, some people who have been laid off and can’t pay their rent due to the coronavirus, are looking at nomadic living as an option.
We’re looking for the new generation of road homes, circa 2020 and beyond — different from the vehicles (or trailers) shown in present books. What’s new out there?
If you know of any unique units, please contact me:
Send Submission Email.
Charlie Winton, Musician
Those of you who know Charlie from the publishing world (founder of Publishers Group West, the Avalon Publishing Group, and Counterpoint LLC); well, surprise! When he retired from publishing, he picked up his guitar and started writing songs. He’s just come out with his first album — Hold On Tight — and it’s great — rock and roll!
On My Blog
- Yurts in Cornwall: www.lloydkahn.com/2020/07/yurts-in-cornwall
- Surfers’ Shack on the “Wild Coast” of Vancouver Island: www.lloydkahn.com/2020/07/surfers-shack-built-by-bruno-atkey-on-the-wild-coast-about-40
- A post about plagues of the past (the Black Death killed 200 million people in 1347), and the coronavirus: www.lloydkahn.com/2020/07/hello-darkness-my-old-friend
- Walter Mondale, age 92, said to Nicholas Kristof of the NY ‘Times’, “Not too many more years and I’ll be getting old.”
- Gay Talese said something that caught my eye a while ago, like, “When you’re 80, you’re bulletproof.” Like you can’t be held accountable when you’re so old. I’m sorry, I can’t remember your name … Now where did I park my car? … No I didn’t get your text message…
- Posture-posture-posture. We have to work at it. At this age, nature is bent on composting us — pulling us forward toward the ground.
Leap Before You Look
Lesley’s been reading this book lately, and the title got me thinking that a lot of what I do is like this. (Ooops, have I written this before? Well, bulletproof, you know…) Starting a project and not knowing how it’ll turn out — the momentum carries you step-by-step, and pretty soon — voila! Most of my building projects are like this: I just start. Books too; I begin, a two-page spread at a time, and as I proceed, the book takes shape. Or this newsletter. I start, and add to it as time goes on. Or taking off on a wave where it looks grim — let’s see what happens here.
When I was training as a competitive runner, I’d sometimes run on the beach, where there were big rocks (like maybe soccer ball size and bigger)‚ and I realized that I was springing off of one rock, figuring out where my foot was going to land while I was in the air — leaping before knowing where I’d be landing. Somehow it worked.
Me Being Interviewed by 8-year-old Spanish Girl
Over a year ago, I was interviewed by a journalist in Spain for a children’s quarterly magazine, La Leche!, about tiny homes. The magazine arrived a few days ago — I hadn’t realized it would be in comic strip form — with a little girl asking me about building one’s own home. Here are two of the six pages:
Our Under-the-Radar Books
In our 50 years, we’ve done books that, for some reason, don’t sell. I’m going to list one in each of these newsletters.
I found (and fell in love with) this little catalogue at M. Weinreb, a bookstore for architects in London (in Bedford Square) in the ’70s. William Cooper manufactured prefab greenhouses, chicken coops, hog sheds, prefab homes, and rustic furniture in the early 1900s in London and shipped products all over England and to the colonies. 30 years later, I got around to publishing it. In preparing to do so, I got in touch with Mr. Cooper’s descendants, who were delighted that it would be reprinted, and they pointed out some of the Cooper pre-fab homes still in use in England. (Same in the USA with Sears Roebuck — which sold more than 70,000 mail-order homes between 1908–1940. It’s estimated that 70% of these homes are still standing.)
Here are two pages on the book reproduced in Home Work:
The designs are still relevant, 120 years later. For example, note the cold frame for starting seedlings, bottom row, 2nd from left, above. Top, right-hand page, designs for buildings made with corrugated steel (a relatively new product then).
The (hard cover) book has been reduced to $12.95 at: www.shelterpub.com/building/the-gardeners-poultry-keepers-guide. If you order it, plus The Half-Acre Homestead, you get a 30% discount and free shipping. Total for both books: $23.30.
I try to do an Instagram post every day. (Too bad the jerks at Facebook own it, but there’s no alternative.) You can view these (without signing up for IG) at: instagram.com/lloyd.kahn
Stuck at home? Here’s an enormous amount of info from “The Gentle Author,” who writes: “In the midst of life I woke to find myself living in an old house beside Brick Lane in the East End of London. I am going to write every single day and tell you about my life here in Spitalfields at the heart of London.”
One of the posts: spitalfieldslife.com/2020/07/13/marcellus-laroons-cries-of-london-x
In article by Anna Goldfarb in NY Times April 8, 2020, with headline Turn Off, Tune Out, Unlink. Then Get Some Work Done:
“Making ourselves inaccessible from time to time is essential to boosting our focus.”