The Most Isolated Buildings in the World

(CNN) — Driving through the beautiful, winding country lanes of Georgia’s remote, western Imereti region is an immensely pleasurable travel experience — but not one you’d immediately associate with religious experiences. Until, that is, you pass a hidden lane signposted with a picture of a church.

This is the way to the Katskhi pillar — a natural limestone monolith that towers more than 130 feet, or 40 meters, into the air and on top of which stands what is probably the world’s most isolated, and most sacred, churches.

Situated approximately 200 kilometers (about 125 miles) west of Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi, this remarkable landmark is notoriously difficult to reach. There are no trains in this part of the region, so the only way to get there is by car or bus, but it’s worth the trek.

The final approach is done on foot, a 20-minute hike during which the monolith appears suddenly on the horizon of the vivid Georgian landscape. It’s a magical experience that only intensifies as you draw closer to the pillar itself. A steep climb up some half-finished steps is a sign that visitors are almost there.

At the base of the pillar, a monastery and a small chapel come into view on the right-hand side. To the left stands the 130-foot tall limestone column in all its mesmerizing glory.

sputniknews.com/photo/202008121080143078-introverts-dream-most-isolated-houses-across-the-globe

Sent us by Maui Surfer

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Rock & Roll!

If you ask me for my go-to favorite musical genre, it’s gonna be blues.

But once in a while, I get hit by the power of rock & roll. Like this album. a song of which was played by Neil Dickman on his great “Bring It On Home” (Friday, 7PM) program on our world-class local radio station, KWMR.

I just ordered this appropriately named CD.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvm1_WrF3ns

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Virtual Presentation of The Half-Acre Homestead

I did a virtual presentation of my book, The Half-Acre Homestead on August 20, 2020) at Bookshop Santa Cruz, one of my favorite bookstores in the world. I usually do a bunch of bookstore appearances for each new book; this year I just got the first one done at City Lights, before Covid closed things down.

It was recorded. About 30 minutes are me doing a slide show from the book. The last 30 minutes are questions from the audience — what do I think of domes, A-frames, underground houses? How to build nowadays? Cob and strawbale and Hardy Board? Chickens. My image looks blurry (at least here) and I suspect this is because of our slow DSL connection. (C’mon Horizon, ride to our rescue!)

www.crowdcast.io/e/bookshop-santa-cruz-7

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GIMME SHELTER – August, 2020

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.


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.

Epiphyllum Oxipetalum, Brahma Kamalam night-blooming flower(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.

truck camper

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!

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Shingled Cabin in France

I am Bastien Forestier. I live in Boussy Saint Antoine near Paris. One year ago, in the winter, I was driving across Normandy to go surfing. On my way I stumbled upon la Chappelle D’Allouville, a mystical wooden treehouse made by a monk in 1609. So I decided to build a shelter using this technique.

I began doing wood shingles and beams. First with axes, then I bought a shaking axe.

I used the trees around me. I know them all since my childhood. Now after a year i have a roof and walls. I am very sure to make more houses like this in the future, inspired by Tingely’s cyclops maybe.

I like that the people in the neighborhood call it La Chapelle (the chapel).

Note: These are actually shakes, rather than shingles.  –LK

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Louie Frazier and the Connection Between Our Books Shelter and Home Work

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I was photographing Jack Williams’ house in Point Arena, Calif. in 2000, and he said, “There’s someone up here who wants to meet you.”

We drove about 5 miles out of town, down into a riverfront valley, and I saw this beautiful little building. The two doors were open, and this guy, who I’d never seen before came out with an old tattered copy of Shelter, and he told me to crouch down in the doorway and look at the building’s framing. See this? He said? I built it from this painting (of a Mandan earth lodge) in Shelter.

Wow I thought, If Shelter inspired something like this, it’s time to do a sequel.

So Home Work, published in 2004 was born, and it featured lots of buildings inspired by Shelter.

BTW, the other day Louie said that back in the day, the saying was: “Turn on, tune in, drop out, and read Shelter.”

Note: With a 30% discount for 2 or more books, you can now get both Shelter and Home Work for $41 with free shipping: www.shelterpub.com

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Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

  • In 541 AD, the Plague of Justinian spread from Constantinople across Europe, Asia, North Africa and Arabia killing an estimated 30 to 50 million people — about half of the world’s population.
  • The Black Death, which hit Europe in 1347, killed 50 million people in just four years — one-quarter of the world’s population.
  • Smallpox killed 90 to 95 percent of the indigenous population of the Americas in the 15th century, after it arrived from Europe. Mexico went from 11 million people pre-conquest to one million.

Could the planet be responding to the critical state it’s in right now? Fossil fuel electricity is one big factor, as are cars. A myriad of other assaults on planetary health (exacerbated by this criminal American adminstration in eliminating any and all environmental rules) have pushed planet earth into a crisis.

The Gaia Hypothesis, promulgated in the late 1970s by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, which proposes (as defined in Wikipedia) “…that living organisms and inorganic material are part of a dynamic system that shapes the Earth’s biosphere, and maintains the Earth as a fit environment for life. In some Gaia theory approaches, the Earth itself is viewed as an organism with self-regulatory functions.”

The planet is a living, breathing entity, conscious in ways we cannot imagine.

I’ll go even farther into woo-woo land here. In the ’60s, when I was living in Big Sur, I’d always thought of the idea of hugging redwood trees as being New Age lameness. But one day I thought I’d see what hugging a redwood tree was like. I wrapped my arms around it, laying my cheek against the soft bark — and I felt a jolt, a connection. This thing was alive, and it knew I was there. Well, well.

A number of books have come out lately, including Underland: A Deep Time Journey, by Robert Macfarlane, describing the discovery of the “wood wide web,” or the “mycorrhizal network” going on underground between mycelium and tree roots, which share nutrients and information. In one case I read about an alder tree that was attacked by beetles: it sent this information to alders quite a distance away to get ready, and the latter manufactured some kind of antibody to resist the beetles.

Trees, as well as the living and breathing earth, are alive in ways we can hardly comprehend.

Is the virus sending us a message?

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