aging (9)

Balancing on Indo Board

251131

I haven’t done this for a while, so a bit shaky here. One of the things I like about skateboarding is the element of balancing. Too often as people get older, they lose this ability.

Balance is a complex human skill. There are motors and circuits in the body that are necessary for balance, and they come into play unconsciously as you try to maintain equilibrium.

I sort of marvel looking at this as my arms, legs, and rest of body move in different directions, instinctively, to maintain balance — the body working without the brain.

Indo Boards are used by surfers and skiers, not only for balancing, but for strengthening leg muscles. Some people have a very high level of skill on Indo Boards these days.

Post a comment (4 comments)

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: lloyd@shelterpub.com.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

–J.R.R. Tolkien

Read More …

Post a comment

GIMME SHELTER – October, 2020

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 4000 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.


In these days of tweets and Instagram, this is insanely long. But what gets lost in this social media era of haiku-length communications is writing. It’s why I keep doing (minimal) blog posts, and continue to publish books, and so I just let it rip with these newsletters. Blah blah blah…

Apocalypse Now

We were under an evacuation alert for about a week. Suitcases packed, about 200,000 negatives and scrapbooks stored in my brother’s garage, mattress set up for sleeping in back of pickup truck. Luckily, the fire got put out, but it sure made me think. What if we lose it all? Have to basically start over again?

We’ve been here almost 50 years, and have got this small homestead crafted for our lives — all without a bank mortgage. If a fire sweeps through here, there’s only so much stuff we could save.

I talked to some people who lost everything in the Santa Rosa fire a few years ago; and they said they looked out the window to see the fire sweeping into their yard and they only had time to grab the kids and the dog and vamoose.

Fishing boats at night after air cleared

Fishing boats at night after air cleared

We Californians not only have Covid to deal with, but the geographical threats of earthquake and fire. The dark side of sunny California.

There was no escaping the smoke. A nightmarish week. It looked like an apocalyptic movie. Finally, western winds cleared the air. One morning, I woke up and fog had cleared the air and I could breathe. The fresh air was like nectar.

Stuff

Many people are getting rid of stuff these days. In our books, Tiny Homes, Tiny Homes on the Move, and Small Homes, we document people opting for less stuff, smaller homes, and simpler lives.

Funny, lately and conversely, I’ve been grateful for all the stuff around here. I’ve got tools to fix just about anything (with the exception of welding). We’ve got a few thousand books, a multitude of kitchen/cooking tools, I’ve got a surfboard, paddle board and kayak. Lesley’s got two looms, a spinning wheel — it goes on forever.

Living in California now, one has to just accept the reality that all material possessions accumulated over a lifetime might be gone in a flash. Rather than quaking in my boots and stressing, I’ve played it out in my mind: if we lose it all, we’ll start over. It’ll be a challenge, but maybe in some ways exciting. I think of Siddhartha, the wealthy Indian Brahmin, who in Herman Hesse’s novel, leaves behind all his (many) worldly possessions and sets out on a life of spiritual discovery with just a robe and begging bowl.

Here’s a post on my blog about Covid-19 and previous pandemics in history: www.lloydkahn.com/2020/07/hello-darkness-my-old-friend

Our Next Book: Rolling Homes

The idea of a sequel to our book Tiny Homes on the Move has been kicking around here for a while. There are some really good books on nomadics out there now, such as Van Life, by Foster Huntington (who coined the term/hashtag #vanlife), Van Life Diaries by Morton, Dustow and Melrose, and Hit the Road by Robert Klanten and Maximilian Funk.

But after talking to Foster, who encouraged me to go ahead, and starting to gather material, I’m excited. We’ve discovered a lot of different and new rigs; this book will be different. The Sprinter vans are super, true, but there are a lot more lower-cost and/or homemade options to the +100K van.

Not that there will be a lot of old VW vans in the book, but I did think back to the 1960 VW van I had in the mid-60s with a very simple plywood setup for driving, sleeping, and cooking. Here’s a photo of a spiffier bus, but the same vintage, with the same setup. Mine had a 40 hp air-cooled motor, and we drove it 3000 miles to NYC in winter,1965 (wrapped in sleeping bags to keep warm), and also down into Puerto Vallarta before the bridge, where we had to forge the river with a guide walking in front of the car. Plus I carried tons of lumber on the roof and building materials inside it in building a house in Big Sur in the ’60s. A simple and noble beast.

Please contact us if you have or know of any interesting homes on wheels: lloyd@shelterpub.com

Things People Say

When people say to you, “With all due respect…”, you know they’re gonna follow that up by saying something mean….

Someone recently used the phrase, in referring to a county bureaucrat, “…promoted to a level of incompetence” … (That was in answer to me saying that bureaucrats beget more bureaucracy.)

Winston Churchill: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” … Which reminds me of a response, possibly by WC, to a journalist who criticized him for a dangling preposition: “That is an impertinence up with which I will not put.”

Dale Carnegie: “Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”

Neil Dickman on his music program, Bringing It On Home on KWMR, Aug 21, 2020: “I’m always certain, but often wrong.”

(In the weekly newsletter Recommendo, Kevin Kelly recently suggested Quote Investigator, which turns out to be a valuable checkpoint for, among other things, the authors of various quotations.)

In Praise of the Smartphone

I’ve preached about turning phones off, getting untethered, the need to get away from the small screen and read a book, or meditate, to be unavailable to the world once in a while. “A still mind is fertile ground for creative thoughts,” etc. BUT — once in a while, I’m freshly astounded by the power residing in my iPhone, what it’s capable of, how exceedingly useful it is.

No one ever told me I’d be carrying around a computer, camera, compass, music, dictionary, GPS, ride-hailer, the Google world, maps, podcasts, weather — an infinity of uses — in a device smaller than a deck of cards. So yeah, it’s good to disconnect at times, but — what a miraculous tool!

Posture

Ears above shoulders, shoulders above hips…

In Galloway’s Book on Running, Jeff Galloway describes legendary New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard’s technique for better posture: imagine you have a pulley attached to a harness around your chest. The other end of the pulley is attached to 3-story building a block away. As you run (walk), lift your chest up and forward.

Note: The 3rd edition of Galloway’s Book on Running will be published early next year; it will include Jeff’s revolutionary run walk run® method of training. It is, I kid you not, the best book ever written on running. It’s sold over 600,000 copies, and been translated into eight foreign languages. It’s not a book by a writer about running; it’s a book about running by a world-class* runner (who can write).

*In 1973, Jeff set the American record for the 10-mile (47:49), and at age 35, ran the Houston-Tenneco Marathon in 2:16.

Stretching

The long-awaited 40th anniversary edition of Stretching, by Bob and Jean Anderson, has just arrived in bookstores. It really looks good! There’s a new section on stretches and tips (posture-posture-posture) for smartphone users. I’m going to send out a press release to people on this mailing list in a few days.

Octogenarianism

Out of maybe 3,500 people on this mailing list, I’ll bet there are fewer than a dozen over age 80. But for all of you youngsters, who will be here some day, and since I am constantly forced to reflect on this new world of ancient age, I’ll continue posting observations.

  • Physicality: From 80-on, it’s a different ball game. Nature is starting to subtract physical functions. Things I used to lift easily are now a strain (a 94-pound sack of cement — forget it!) Distances seem longer. I’m less flexible, like less range of motion in my neck when turning around to back up a car. (Yeah, I should stretch more!)
  • Memorabilia: I’m really forgetting stuff these days. Us old people, our memory banks are overloaded. Only so much room in there. So if I forget your name or birthday, it’s all part of the aging process. (Someone told me this week that if you know you’re forgetting things, it’s not dementia.) Now where was I?
  • Happening more frequently: I’ll go into the house from the studio to get something, forget what I was looking for, and have to walk back to the studio to remember.
  • “What, I told you that before?” Happening more and more frequently. Seems I’m repeating stories multiple times. No sympathy from friends: “Yeah, you already told me that.” Brutal.

Working Out

I’m riding my Turbo Levo pedal-assist bike regularly now, discovering roads and trails in the hills. The bike is so much fun, I look forward to heading out. A few days ago, went for a hike with Doug (shown here) and Tomás; we are so lucky to have both this magic mountain and the ocean to explore in these parts. I try to do something physical every day. Plato recommended training in both music and gymnastic for development of the soul. Too many people leave out the gymnastic part as they get older. My long-time friend Bob Anderson says, “You never hear anyone say, ‘I’m sorry I worked out.’”

Keeping On Keeping On

“If you don’t know the exact moment when the lights will go out, you might as well read until they do.”

–Latest Readings, by Clive James, 2015

Curved Roof

My latest building, 10′ by 10’. Curved roof plus windows at eye level are design bits I learned from master builder Lloyd House (Builders of the Pacific Coast), which give you a feeling of spaciousness. Same principle with gypsy wagons (vardos). A lot of help from Billy Cummings in building this.

Shameless Commerce Department

Check out our books at www.shelterpub.com.

30% off with free shipping on 2 or more books.

Review copies of any books sent free, if you designate where you would be submitting review.

Forgotten Books from Shelter

In each newsletter I’m going to show one of our less well-known books.

Wonderful Houses Around the World, by Yoshio Komatsu, is a children’s book showing ten homes in different countries. Yoshio is in my mind the best photographer in the world of homes. With each photo of these homes, there is a watercolor drawing of life inside the home, with an emphasis on what the children are doing.

It has been used in Waldorf schools, and a company that supplies home schoolers buys 1,000 copies each year. It’s $12.95 at www.shelterpub.com/building/wonderful-houses

Method of This Madness

You know, it’s really fun to do these. It’s like having a chance to chat with friends, rather than addressing the world via blog, Instagram, (or books, for that matter). I wish I had more time to do these. I piece these together over a week or so and send the rough version to Rick Gordon, who transforms them into this nicely designed newsletter.

Música del Día



The Manhattan Brothers: Their Greatest Hits (1948-1959)

Over and out, (and please VOTE!)…

Post a comment (1 comment)

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!

Post a comment (1 comment)

Gimme Shelter Newsletter – Shelter’s 50th Anniversary – Jan. 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.


This is so un–de rigueur in these days of concise communication, but here I am with a long, rambling newsletter to start off the new year.

Shelter is 50 Years Old!

In 1970, we printed 5,000 copies of Domebook One and began our publishing career. We’re trying to figure out if we should have some sort of event celebrating the occasion this year. We’re still rolling!

The Half-Acre Homestead: 46 Years of Building and Gardening

I picked up 12 copies of the just-bound book in San Francisco recently. The thrill is NOT gone! After a year of putting it together, page by page, not being sure how the whole would look, came the moment of truth — it, ahem, looks really good. The size, the colors, the soft cover. It seems friendly. From us to you, here’s how human hands have created shelter and food.

The shipment of 5,000 books is now on the high seas, heading from Hong Kong to LA, where they will then travel by truck to the Ingram warehouse in Tennessee. Books should be in bookstores in late February.

Shameless Commerce Department: We’re offering it on our website for pre-order, with free shipping. It won’t go out until mid-February or so, but pre-sales will help us with printing bills. www.shelterpub.com/building/halfacrehomestead

Here’s a link to how I did the book (this was in the previous GIMME SHELTER newsletter). www.lloydkahn.com/2019/11/the-half-acre-homestead-book-is-finished

The 40th Anniversary Edition of Stretching

I discovered a homemade book called Stretching in 1979. It was aimed at athletes, with stretching routines for some 20 sports.

I wrote the author, Bob Anderson, and suggested he add stretches for builders, waitresses, truck drivers, kids, and older people. We started talking. He said he and his wife Jean (who did the drawings) had sold 35,000 copies from a garage in Southern California. Wow! End result: We rented Bob and Jean a house on the beach here in Spring, 1980, and in 3 months, we did a complete revision of the book.

We did a first run of 50,000 copies, and the book took off, with Random House as distributor, selling madly. It’s been selling ever since, now over 3¾ million copies worldwide, and in 23 languages. As far as I can tell, it’s the best-selling fitness book of all time.

Tech Neck  An important (and timely) addition to this new edition will be stretches to combat the bad posture caused by (1) cell phone usage and (2) working on computers.

Take a look at how bent-over people are when talking on their phones. It’s called “tech neck.”

The point is, we all spend too much time at screens of various sizes, and it’s not healthy. Not good for the body.

Want to take 30 seconds and stretch right now? shltr.net/stretch

Analog Tool in This Day and Age

We’re going to print up some self-adhesive stickers to go on the back of phones. You don’t have to turn on an app: just flip your phone over and take 10 seconds to s-t-r-e-t-c-h.

This is just a rough first copy of the sticker. It will also have drawings of bad and good posture.

The new book (and stickers) will be out by May, 2019. Read More …

Post a comment (16 comments)

Lloyd’s Podcast with TheTinyHouse.net

Play the podcast:

Intro & synopsis from the podcast page (www.thetinyhouse.net/lloyd-kahn), which also contains more images and videos:

Today my guest is Lloyd Kahn; and if you don’t recognize the name, you’ve probably seen one of his books. Lloyd published the seminal book, Shelter in 1973, documenting alternative housing ideas not limited to, but including, tiny houses, well before the current modern movement.

Lloyd has a lifelong fascination with shelter, and this conversation, we trace the steps of how an insurance broker in San Francisco built his own home and slowly transitioned to publishing internationally about Geodesic Domes, Tiny Houses, Mobile Houses, Driftwood Shelters and more. DIY building. While many thousands of the homes that Lloyd has documented over the years are small or tiny, he’s got a healthy amount of skepticism about the tiny home movement.

In this wide-ranging conversation, we talk about Lloyd’s books, his original influences of the counter culture of the 1960s, and how the concept of shelter has changed over the years.

In This Episode

  • How did Lloyd’s fascination with shelter begin?
  • Why Lloyd’s 1973 book Shelter is the most important of his work
  • Why Lloyd decided to pull his Dome Books off the shelves even though they were selling
  • Why Lloyd says that Builders of the Pacific Coast is Lloyd’s favorite book
  • Lloyd tells the story of meeting and building with Derek ‘Deek’ Diedricksen
  • Why Dome homes have fallen out of favor (and Lloyd is more than okay with that!)
  • How Lloyd got into publishing in the first place
  • What is causing the current fascination with tiny houses?
  • Lloyd’s advice for first-time DIY home builders
  • Lloyd’s two favorite houses of all times
  • Lloyd’s take on aging well (He’s 83!)
  • Lloyd’s new book coming soon: The Half-Acre Homestead (It sounds amazing!)

Links and Resources

Post a comment (2 comments)