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Joni Mitchell Doing “Coyote” with The Band at “The Last Waltz” in San Francisco, 1976

I didn’t know much about Joni back in the day. My loss.

I was knocked out by her “Coyote” in what is one of my most favorite movies of all time. Just playing it now and want to “share.”

Get lyrics on screen alongside video if you can. Sheesh!

I played the above after stumbling on to the one below performed a year earlier. (You know, YouTube algorithms are fine by me, they’ve turned me on to a lot of things tailored to what I’ve watched.

See below this second video for interesting story on the “Coyote” lyrics:

Coyote, the first song on the album, describes her brief relationship with Sam Shepard, whom she met at the Rolling Thunder Revue, the concert tour that Bob Dylan assembled with a traveling caravan of musicians. Shepard was hired by Dylan to write a script for a movie based on the events in the Rolling Thunder Revue. That did not materialize, but Shepard did write a tour log that was later released as a book. Joni Mitchell joined the tour for a number of shows in late 1975 and it remained with her as a lingering memory of ego clashes infused by pharmaceuticals and cocaine. Not only as a spectator, mind you, for she started a cocaine habit during that tour.

The road trip that gave birth to the songs on Hejira also led to an acquaintance with Chögyam Trungpa, a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. He snapped her out of her cocaine habit and she wrote the song Refugee of the Roads about him. In Coyote she references her memory of the sex, drugs and folk n’ roll experience that was the Rolling Thunder Revue…

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Cordwood Arch in North Carolina

Hi, Lloyd!

Thanks for the books and blog! Such an inspiration over the years. I wanted to share with you this cordwood masonry arch I built in the spring of 2017. It’s at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham, functioning as the entrance to a woodland playground area. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I thought you might appreciate it.

I’ve been fortunate to work on a few really cool projects at the museum over the years, including this arch and a series of interconnected treehouses, hideaway woods. The arch is about 24′ long by 10′ high.

The arch is built on a stone foundation. The cordwood is a mixture of southern pines and eastern red cedar. I used a lime and sand mortar with a smidge of Portland and pigment. The arch itself was no doubt the trickiest part. I did some math and made a full-scale drawing on a huge piece of cardboard to confirm that the angle of the 6×6 timbers was correct in relation to the span. It’s amazing how much the slightest change in angle of the arc components changes the span. One other thing, you can’t tell in the photo, but the arch tapers quite a bit as it rises. This keeps the center of gravity lower, making the structure more stable laterally. I consulted with friend and master stone mason Thea Alvin, about making sure the arch would be structurally sound. The taper was her suggestion.

It was my first cordwood project. Before taking it on, I’ll admit I had mixed feelings about the aesthetics and soundness of cordwood construction. But I ended up really enjoying the process, and found that with the right approach, it can look outstanding.

Thanks for sharing, Lloyd!

Michael McDonough
Rising Earth Natural Building
Troy, NY

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Louie’s Shop

When I first met Louie, in the mid-1980s, I was stunned by the beauty of this little building, and even more stunned when he told me that his design was based on the painting of a Mandan earth lodge on page 4 of our book Shelter. Moreover, his cabin across the river was based on the drawing of a small Japanese cabin (bottom right, page 21) in Shelter.

At that point, I had published Shelter II in 1978, but hadn’t really planned on any new books on building.

If Shelter had inspired buildings like this, it occurred to me that it was time for a sequel, and therefore I started working on Home Work, featuring Louie’s creations as the first part of the book. It turned out that a lot of buildings had been inspired by Shelter, as you can see if you leaf through Home Work.*

Since then, we’ve become the best of friends, and I visit him whenever I can. I stay in the little circular room (at right in the exterior photo), and it’s always a wonderful experience — looking up at the radial framing of the roof (with a Ford truck wheel at the apex), looking out at the grapevines, enjoying the design and quality of the building.

I always consult him on projects underway, and on this trip I took along the 30 or so pages of rough layout of our next book, Rolling Homes, and got his feedback.

Now that I’ve returned home, I’m back to work on this book, and it looks really exciting — what with the huge interest in nomadic living these days.*

Stay tuned.

P.S.: I highly recommend the film Nomadland; it’s real (a rarity these days).

*Shameless Commerce Department

You can get both Shelter and Home Work on our website with a 30% discount and free shipping — which beats Amazon. There’s a money back guarantee on all of our books.

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Tiny Native American Baskets


I can’t remember where I picked these exquisite little baskets up. The 3 sizes are 1⅝″, 1¼″, and 1⅛″. They may be either Miwok or Pomo (both central California tribes). They’re sitting on top of our little Bose radio in the kitchen and we look at them all the time. Originally they had tiny hummingbird feathers attached to each of the beads, but they were destroyed by some kind of insects.

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I Wish I Still Had Time to Do Blog Posts Like This

I just ran across this post (below), done in 2006. What a difference 14 years can make! Our books were selling way better in those days, so I had the time to do blog posts.

These days — right now — I’m swamped with the business side of publishing: reprints, marketing, sales, publicity, foreign translations, interviews, podcasts, metadata as well as social media, and I’m getting very little time to work on new books.

My plan is to get as much of this stuff done as possible right now and, as well, farm out as much of it as I can in the future, and free up time to get going on the next book (which I’m really excited about): Rolling Homes.

I ran across the below post while doing a search on my blog for Godfrey and Bruno — this post came up first. If you’re interested further in these two amazing guys, scroll on down.

Note: When Godfrey first told me about Bruno (who I hadn’t met), he said: “He’s the ultimate guy.”

Note: If you want to get on my GIMME SHELTER email newsletter list (goes out every month or two to about 4000 people), go to:

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Michael Kahn’s Stained Glass Greenhouse in Arizona

My cousin Mike and I hung out together until we both went off to college. Mike started painting at an early age, moved to New York, where he sold paintings on the sidewalk, then to Provincetown, Cape Cod, where he painted, did pottery, and supported himself waiting on tables.

In the ’70s, he moved to a piece of land near Cottonwood, Arizona (near Sedona), where — partially influenced by our book Shelter — he started building a partially underground village of sculptural buildings, which he called Eliphante. I visited him and his wife Leda off and on, and in Home Work, published 24 photos of his wildly creative compound.

This is his greenhouse room built out of old auto windshields, put together with silicone caulk. The stained glass, which he got free, was siliconed on the inside of the windshields.

Mike is no longer with us, but you can learn more about him and Eliphante at:…

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First Nations Builders

The natives of the northwest coast of North America are referred to as First Nations people. In Builders of the Pacific Coast, we have a 12-page section, with 30 vintage photographs of their buildings and totem poles, as well as drawings showing how they raised the huge poles and beams of their remarkable longhouses. (A Salish building discovered by Capt. George Vancouver in 1792 was over 1000 feet long.)

Haida man standing in front of a six-beam Haida house at Haina, Haida Gwaii (formerly called Queen Charlotte Islands), 1888. Note the immaculate carpentry.

Kwakiutl (Kwagiulth) House frame of relatively recent times (note milled wallboards)

From the wonderful book, Cedar: Tree of Life to the Northwest Coast Indians, Copyright 1984 By Hilary Stewart, Douglas and McIntyre, Vancouver/Toronto

Rear totem of the Raven House at Skidegate, Haida Gwaii, Shows (from top) Raven flanked by two frogs, a human figure and the Thunderbird.

Interior post from the caps on big house of Yestaquana at Skidegate, Haida Gwaii. The post, originally painted black, red, white, and blue, stood at the rear of the house, aligned with the front door.

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Steel-Framed House on British Columbia Island by Builder Dean Ellis

From Builders of the Pacific Coast, pages 154 to 155.

As I go through the 1000 or so photos in this book, there are more than 100 like this that deserve large-formatted viewing. It strikes me that we could do an exhibit of selected photos from this book.

Note: We have an unconditional guarantee on all of our books. If you are not completely satisfied, for any reason, at any time, call us up and we will send you a refund. No need to return books. Also, we have a 30% discount on two or more books, with free shipping — which is usually a lower price than Amazon.

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