GIMME SHELTER – February, 2021

To anyone receiving this for the first time, I send these newsletters out every few months. They’re different from social media — old school in a way — in that they go to a select audience (about 4,400 people now), rather than blasting out into the internetosphere.

If you’re not signed up on the list to receive it, you can sign up for email delivery of the Gimme Shelter newsletter here.

“I would have written a shorter newsletter,
but I didn’t have enough time.”

–Iteration on a statement by Blaise Pascal, 1657

(And yes, I’ve said it before in these newsletters.)

I’ve been swamped with work for months now, and just getting rolling in the last few days, so this is a long newsletter. A dearth of soundbites.

The State of Shelter’s State

With new versions of Stretching, the Stretching Pocket Book – 40th Anniversary Edition (available in early June), and Galloway’s Book on Running, our sales are up over last year. And — ta-da — we’re just about to start on Rolling Homes.

We’re working on search engine optimization (SEO) for selling our books; we’re way behind in this area, and we’ve got an immense amount of content. Suggestions welcome.

I want us to keep operating for another 10 years — I ain’t retiring! For one thing, I’ve got 3–4 books waiting in the wings. Plus we’re running a hub for like-minded people. Sometimes I think of us as a tribe similar to the book lovers in Fahrenheit 451. Not mainstream, but committed to a certain lifestyle — we want to make stuff for ourselves, we want to be as independent, as self-sufficient as possible, we want our homes to be colorful and warm and inviting and handmade.

Rolling Homes

Drawing by Al Ortiz, Jr.

This will be unlike some of our books, such as Tiny Homes, where we came out with a publication at the onset of a movement. Nowadays, there’s a plethora of information about homes on the road. A number of pretty good books, plus on Instagram, hundreds of accounts of 21st century nomads. To see what I mean, do a search on Instagram for van.

When I first considered this book, it looked like there was a saturation of information. But as I studied the books, Instagram accounts, YouTube videos, and websites, I found a lot of sameness. There’s no end to Instagram posts featuring Mercedes Sprinter vans with young, attractive couples living idyllic lives; a lot of shots of them lying on the bed, looking out the rear view window at a beach or other photogenic background. They are, of course, linked in via satellite with iPhones and MacBook Airs, and some cases, monetizing the lifestyle.

Nothing wrong with that, but there is another, much larger group of people without the resources for brand new kitted-out vans. (And a lot of people these days are forced into mobile living.) Almost all of our contributors are do-it-yourselfers. We’re going to cover it all, from $400,000 Earth Roamers (not owner-built, but boy what rig!) to a $300 aerodynamic pickup camper shell — with everything in between.

We have so much material (it’s pouring in!) that I’m thinking of doing a series. We’re thinking about being a hub, an ongoing source of communication on the subject — not only with books, but also on our social media platforms and with YouTube videos. Handbuilt Rolling Homes, brought to you by Shelter Publications.

From our 50 years of publishing building books, we’ve got a robust network of people who like to work with their hands, and when we put the word out, we get lots of input (photos and stories).

Contribute to Rolling Homes

If you have or know of any road rigs, please contact:

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

–J.R.R. Tolkien

Galloway’s Book on Running – 3rd Edition

Jeff Galloway is a runner writing about running, rather than the other way around. He ran the 10K in the 1972 Olympics. In 1973, he set the American record for the 10-mile (47:49). At age 35, he ran the Houston-Tenneco Marathon in 2:16:35.

Jeff and his running mates — including Frank Shorter (winner of the 1972 Olympic marathon), Bill Rodgers (four-time winner of the Boston marathon), Amby Burfoot, and Kenny Moore — were a group of long-haired runners who inspired the running boom of the 1980s. What had been a sport for the few became an activity for the millions.

Galloway’s Book on Running, first published in 1984, has sold over 600,000 copies and has been translated into nine foreign languages.

In this third revised edition, Jeff explains his revolutionary new run walk run® method of training: “My run walk run® methods can take away the pain and bring the joy of running to almost everyone.”

Jeff says that when talking to groups of new runners who had discovered his method, most told him that they hadn’t even considered trying to run until they heard about run walk run®. Many of them tried to run non-stop for short distances and had to stop within a city block or less due to pain, shortness of breath, or injury. As soon as they used the right RWR strategy, Jeff says, “…a whole new world opened up.”

There are also detailed training charts for running 5K, 10K, and half marathon races. There are chapters on speed, pacing, and the art of racing. There are also tips on treating injuries, food, and shoes. Jeff’s wife Barbara has written a chapter on women’s running.

The new book is just now shipping and should be available in bookstores and from by mid-February, 2021.

“Jeff Galloway is one of those rare individuals who
not only knows his craft, but also has the ability
to convey this knowledge through teaching.”

–Frank Shorter, Gold Medalist, 1972 Olympic Marathon


The 40th Anniversary edition of Stretching is now available. A key addition is a new section on stretches and tips to help correct bad posture from smartphone usage.

Here are 7 stretches you can do while talking on the phone (print it out from the linked full-res PDF or put it on your phone):

The new book is currently being translated into French, Spanish, Italian, and Thai, with more languages to follow. (Previous editions have been translated into 24 languages.)

“A bible of the stretching gospel”

–The Washington Post

Stretching Pocket Book – 40th Anniversary Edition (5″ by 7¼″) is also being updated and will be shipping June 6, 2021. It contains the full book.


I’ve been communicating since high school journalism: reporting on what I see going on in the world. Now everyone’s doing it on Instagram. It’s great sharing photos so easily, but you know what I miss? Words.

And — that tiny screen! I’ve gone back to blogging every day, with large photos. Give me that big screen! For example, take a look at this blog post on your computer:

Also, ownership by Facebook is troubling. They’re such jerks.

Foster Huntington, who has 1 million Instagram followers, has backed off on it in recent years, and just now started blogging again. Foster is again taking us on the road with him and friends. See

My Blog

I started out blogging in 2006. I really got into it, posting every day. By 2012–2013, I had about 2,500 visitors per day.

For example of a post when I had time to write, see this one from 2006:

But as time went by, I didn’t have as much spare time, plus I started posting on Instagram, and cut back on blogging. (And we needed income.) These days I’m down to maybe 400–500 visitors per day.

So, in the same vein as doing these (old school) newsletters, I’m starting to do more blogging (and, inspired by Cabinporn: larger photos). I’m also going to tie it in to the new book, Rolling Homes — sharing photos and stories of 21st-century nomads online as well as in books.

Check out a few recent posts:

“Refinement’s a thing of the past.”

–Henry VIII

Cool Tools

Once again, it’s the electronic Whole Earth Catalog, and remains up-to-date and immensely and increasingly useful:

Hey Alexa!

My daughter-in-law Chelsea gave this little (1″ by 4″) magic box (an Alexa Echo Dot, $25). I’d seen Alexa working before, but never used it. Wow!

“Hey Alexa, play…” And it does it! Plus the little speaker is good!

Testing it out: First Al Green – “Tired of Being Alone,” then Otis and Carla doing “Tramp,” Sam and Dave, Aretha … Then more obscure and by golly, it played “Loop-de-Loop Mambo,” a less-than-mainstream R&B song that was playing on the radio the first time I drove into Santa Monica at age 18 in the early ’50s. Just today, Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli … Jeez!

Because of my age, I’m less than cutting-edge-tech, but the upside is I’m astonished by a lot of what’s going in the digitalverse these days.

“If you’re high enough, the sun’s always shining.”

–Mathew McConaughey


First, my memory is increasingly shot. 80+ years of worldly experiences makes for pretty crowded neuron storage. What did you say your name was?

Second, the urge to talk about the “good old days” gets ever stronger. Lord, the old days were good, but a lot of us old guys tend to overdo it.

Third, we say things over and over. Those close to me now cut me off at the pass. “Yeah, you’ve told me that twice already.”

And we manage to combine the above two for the worst: the old days repeated. “It was a foggy summer morning in 1954, glassy, 6–8 feet at Steamer Lane, and four of out. Dave Devine, Gene van Dyke, Tom Burgess and me … blah blah…”

Last, I’ve found that we embellish memories, more so as time goes on. We edit elements of a particular experience in time. I’ve found that sometimes my recollections are wrong.


I’m kinda late in discovering Dylan’s latest, but it’s masterful. His voice is great, lyrics witty and unexpected. “Goodbye Jimmy Reed” is classic rock ‘n’ roll, a 79-year-old rockin’ out with a tight band, and he’s still doing his sly rhyming, like:

Goodbye Jimmy Reed, and everything within ya.
Can’t you hear me calling from down in Virginia?

Health and Fitnessism

My Specialized Turbo Levo pedal-assist e-bike is a continuing joy. These bikes run between $5500–$13,000. I got mine from a family friend for $4200, and it’s one of the best investments I ever made. Yeah, it’s a lot for a bike, but how much is being healthy worth? Thanks Bryce!

I’m out on this thing 3–4 times a week. Because it’s so much fun, it drags me into all sorts of places I’ve never been before. I like leaving here on human power, instead of driving somewhere to ride or hike. It keeps me out cycling a lot longer — good not only for exploring, but staying in shape.

I guess I’ve given up surfing. I’m creaky getting up, and there are now so many people in the water just about anywhere that it’s more stressful than fun. But one of these days I’m gonna catch up here enough to go to a place with warm water and longboard waves.

Check out this one-minute, high-intensity, heart-thumping, office workout:

“I’d much rather wear out than rust out.”

–Dolly Parton


I’m getting as many wild foods as I can these days, mostly on the bike (or biking, then hiking). This year, with ultra-low rainfall, mushrooms are scarce.

Cartoon in New Yorker by Drew Panckeri; check him out on Instagram.

However, I’m getting nettles and yerba buena (form of mint) for tea, miner’s lettuce, watercress, New Zealand spinach. Littleneck clams (cockles) and mussels (smoked some mussels). I collect and dry seaweed and grind it up to use like salt. I’m gonna try to find a class on gathering wild foods. Our local fishermen are bringing in Dungeness crabs. I tried gathering and roasting bay nuts, but I think I need the get them earlier in the year. They are abundant on the mountain and don’t require leaching as do acorns.

It’s a dual function (multi-tasking). If I have a purpose while hiking or biking — bringing in food (or feathers, skulls, seashells) — it makes it more meaningful and fun.

Smoking Cannabis Is Bad for Your Lungs

Relevant in today’s cannabis stampede: yes, have said It before: pulling hot smoke and tar across your lungs is not good. Sure, tobacco is (way) worse, but still … And yes, vaping is better, but still damaging in the long run. Not to speak of sucking in fumes from Bic lighters.

I say this as a person who used cannabis for 40+ years and who really can’t smoke these days. Doesn’t feel right. Just sayin…

Música del Día

This is one of my favorite albums, with Jimmy being interviewed about the background of each song. It’s especially great when he talks about his love and respect for his wife (“the boss lady”).

Shameless Commerce Department

Check out our books at
30% off with free shipping on 2 or more books.

Whew, long, eh?

On Just Starting

Lastly, on the subject of starting a project: first-time builders often ask me how to start. I tell them about the first house I built, when my friend Bob came over to help me get started. I said “Bob, what do we do now?” Bob picked up the shovel and said, “This,” and started digging for the foundation.

Even if you have doubts, get started, and you’ll find things will fall into place. (This applies to just about any new venture, not just building.) I’m not the first one to discover this practice:

“To know what you are going to draw, you have to begin drawing.”

–Pablo Picasso

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:

One Response to GIMME SHELTER – February, 2021

  1. I’m really looking forward to “Rolling Homes”. Having been interested in the idea of a home on wheels for a long time, I recently watched “Nomadland” which was gorgeous and heartfelt, but also depressing in that it stripped away a lot of the romantic illusions created by #VanLife. While I’m currently lucky enough to own a house, the way things are now, I don’t think I’ll ever feel economically secure, and having a THOW seems like a good backup option, should I lose my land home. It will be so good to see a variety of rolling homes in the Shelter Publications spirit.

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