bikes (62)

Lights on My Pedal-Assist Bike

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Now have lights on my bestie Specialized Turbo Levo, means I can be late coming back home from a ride. Needed new helmet so got one that protects my mouth. Got warm gloves, rear view mirror plus Sean at Mt. Tam Bikes on Mill Valley reprogrammed the middle level of assistance and it now flies.

I end up getting a better workout as opposed to non-assist because I ride twice as long (and far). Am seeing a lot more of the countryside these days.

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Gimme Shelter: July 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.


Even More True Today

“We must realize that the world as it is, isn’t worth saving; it must be made over.”

–John Rice, founder of Black Mountain College, 1933

The Half-Acre Homestead

It was, of course, completely unplanned, but we came out with this book about doing stuff at home at precisely the time that people had to start staying at home. There are dozens of things you can do en la casa, besides staring at screens of various sizes. Here are a few pages from the book:

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Pages 38-39 from Half-Acre Homestead, by Lloyd Kahn and Lesley Creed

Get something done.  Bake bread, plant (more) vegetables.  Sprout some alfalfa seeds.  Start a small flock of chickens.  Make a table.  Knit a hat.  Fix that leaky faucet.  Straighten up that messy desk/workplace/shop.

One time, years ago, I was seriously depressed. I went out and spent several hours cleaning up my shop, and it really lifted my spirits. I often think about that — making lemonade…

I was scheduled to do two presentations at the Mother Earth News Faire in Nashville on May 16th, then flying to Italy to attend the La Biennale di Venezia, a bi-annual architectural exhibition in Venice opening May 23, where our book Shelter was being featured as having had an influence on architecture. Sigh.

“Hoping that endlessly won’t be for long.”

–Townes Van Zandt

Stretching – 40th Anniversary Edition

Drawings of right and wrong way to use a smartphoneIn 1979, I discovered a homemade book for athletes called Stretching. I was working as a carpenter and gardener, and the book helped me fix my back problem. I wasn’t actively publishing then, but I contacted the authors, who were living in Southern California. I called Bob Anderson and said, “What about stretches for carpenters, or truck drivers or waitresses?” (By then, they had sold 35,000 copies out of a garage at Bob’s folks’ house.)

Long and short of it: Bob and Jean moved to Bolinas, and over the course of 3 months, we added many more stretching routines, and Jean did all new drawings. We printed 50,000 copies on the first run, Random House was our distributor, and boom! It took off and never stopped, now at 3¾ million copies in 23 languages.

The big deal about this edition is the new section on smartphone problems, mainly bad posture, but also stiffness or pain. There are some simple suggestions for improving your posture, as well as new stretching programs for smartphone users.

Pub date: October, 2020

Note to our friends in other countries: We will be negotiating contracts for this edition in all languages.

My eBike

Specialized Turbo LevoA life changer. A Specialized Turbo Levo, with carbon fiber frame. After 25 years of competitive sports, I’ve grown tired of running the same trails, bored with lifting weights, dealing with the constant injuries. These days I want adventure when exercising, and the bike provides that. It’s not only got a brain, but it calls me to get out there. I can go so much further.

Plus it’s “pedal-assist,” meaning you’ve got to pedal. I’m going for 2-3-hour rides. I keep the level of exertion reasonable, and get to see a lot of the countryside while getting exercise. When I first got it, I was maxing out with “turbo” assistance, now I’m scaling back so I have to pedal harder and get a better workout.

Hidden bikeI’ve been riding out in the woods. When I get to a spot where I have to go on foot, I find a spot off the trail, lock the bike with a cable, disconnect the power, and cover it with foliage. Then I’ll put markers on the trail so I’ll know where it is upon return.

El Problema de Café

My friend Bruno Atkey told me that yerba mate tea has as much caffeine as coffee, without some of coffee’s side effects and, by golly, he’s right. I’ve started making it in our espresso machine, and it does have a stimulating kick. Only thing is, I enjoy the ritual of roasting and grinding beans, then trying to get espresso in crema form, then foamed milk for a latte — and zoom!

Author Michael Pollan experimented with giving up coffee, with interesting results: www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/02/10/803394030/michael-pollan-explains-caffeine-cravings-and-why-you-dont-have-to-quit

Foxes and Skunks and Spiders, Oh My!

In our book we show garden visitors: foxes, skunks, hawks, great blue herons, dozens of other bird species, butterflies, honeybees, spiders. Over the years I’ve come to realize that we’re only here temporarily, that the other forces of biological life, including termites, ants, and woodrats, are always chipping away at our self-made kingdom, and that eventually, they’ll take back over.

Pages 130-131 from Half-Acre Homestead, by Lloyd Kahn and Lesley Creed

Shameless Commerce

“Shameless Commerce” is what the Car Talk brothers called their commercials, and I’ve always felt ambivalent about sales pitches in these newsletters or on my blog. But nowadays, we need to survive, so:

All our books are for sale at www.shelterpub.com.
There is a 30% discount for 2 or more books, with free shipping in the USA.
Fawns in field

A couple of little beauties patrolling the vacant spaces with their ma yesterday. Notice how deer always angle their ears at you like radar antennas.

Opium poppy Opium poppy Opium poppy

Papaver somniferum in the garden this week

On My Blog

“Take it easy (and) if you can’t take it easy, take it as easy as you can.”

–Shaggy Man, on the Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City

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GIMME SHELTER In These Troubled Times – April 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.


To those of you receiving this for the first time, this is an intermittent and infrequent newsletter that describes what’s going on with our publishing operation and daily lives. The last one was two months ago. I’m sorry these are so interminably long, but (yes, I’ve said this before):

“I have made this [letter] longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”

–Blaise Pascal, 17th century French mathematician and philosopher

So much of what I write these days has to be short (tweets, Instagram, etc.) that it feels good to just let it rip once in a while.

Cover of the Rolling Stone

The big news around here these days (other than the end of the world as we knew it) is (was) the article on Lesley and me in the New York Times on March, 11, 2020. Journalist/writer Penelope Green and I have corresponded a bit over the years, but not in any depth. To my surprise, she emailed me after getting my January GIMME SHELTER newsletter, proposing she do a story on us in conjunction with the publishing of The Half-Acre Homestead.

Interesting, I thought, a sophisticated New York journalist picking up on our do-it-yourself California homestead.

When doing the book, there was always the issue of how much of our private lives we wanted to include. Getting covered in one of the biggest (and best) newspapers in the world was even riskier. How would we come across? A lot of it had to do with journalism. After emails and talking on the phone with Penelope, I felt comfortable with her.

She flew out on a Wednesday, came out here for about four hours, including lunch, on Thursday, and went back to New York on Friday. She got it. She liked what we were doing, what we’d done, loved Lesley’s weavings, got the history right. I was happy with the article.

It caused an explosion of emails, phone calls, and book orders. Things are just starting to settle down now.

Here it is: www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/style/diy-lloyd-kahn-handmade-homes.html

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

Dining table made of 3″ by 10″ used Douglas fir floor joists from industrial building

A lot of people are saying that this is a perfect book for these troubled times. That using your hands to create food and/or shelter is not only still relevant in this digital age, but especially applicable now, when people have to stay at home. Bake some bread, fix that leaky faucet, build a table, knit a hat, plant a vegetable garden.

We got a long handwritten letter today from a 29-year-old woman who said, “Every time I open the book, it makes me excited for a future when I can build a beautiful life with a loved one…”

If you want to review the book for any type of media, send us your address and we’ll send you a free copy. To buy a copy, contact your favorite independent bookstore, or go to our website (we have free shipping + a 30% discount on two or more books): www.shelterpub.com/building/halfacrehomestead

Note: You can get a sneak preview of the book by going to: shltr.net/homesteadflipbook. It gives you about one-third of the book.

Kids

Brother and sister planning their first homes with one of our mini copies of Tiny Homes

I gave one of our Tiny Homes mini books to a 10-year-old working as an apprentice at the Proof Lab Surf Shop in Mill Valley. He flipped through the pages excitedly and then said, “This is what I want to do. … This is so sick!”

Biennale Architettura 2020

This architectural exposition scheduled for this summer in Venice was to have an exhibit of “…the content and influence of three iconic counterculture publications on organic architecture published half a century ago by now 85-year-old publisher and builder Lloyd Kahn — Domebook One (1970), Domebook 2 (1971), and Shelter (1973) — on contemporary architecture practices.” They sent me a round-trip ticket and three nights lodging, and, as you might guess, it’s been called off. I’m hoping that sometime in the future I can finally see Venice. And boy, to be recognized by architects — that’s something new.

Stretching: 40th Anniversary Edition

By having to stick around here, I got the layout done a lot sooner than if I’d been running over the hill every week. Publication date is October, 2020. Here are two of the new pages:

Working on it has made me think about posture. Hold your phone up at eye level. Stop bending over to look at it. Pull your shoulders back and relax them. Try a few of the above stretches if you’re at a computer reading this.

Sheltering In Place

Our life isn’t all that much different. Lesley doesn’t have her friends over for tea these days, I don’t meet my running pals on Tuesday nights, but we have a lot to do in our daily lives around here that’s pretty much unchanged. The cooking, gardening, fixing stuff, weaving, getting firewood, dealing with critters such as mice, ants, skunks, and gophers — running the publishing business — it’s not like were cooped up; it’s pretty much business as usual.

And there are the good things amidst all the gloom, throughout the state. LA has some of the “cleanest air of any major city in the world.” The tourists, which have become onerous out here in recent years, are not clogging the roads on weekends. People are cooperating and helping each other out, neighbors helping neighbors, masks (Lesley’s made about 30 of them for friends) and gloves and distance now part of daily life just about everywhere.

I like it at home! By staying home, I’m more in tune with the weather, the tides, and the rhythms of the surrounding land. I’m doing more foraging, hunting, and fishing. I’ve been making nettle tea every morning; it tastes good and has a lot of healthy ingredients (steep leaves 3 minutes in boiling water, add small amount of honey). Also collecting and eating miners’ lettuce, watercress, a few mushrooms, wild onions.

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”

–William Morris, 1834–1896

A few weeks ago I took a 3-mile round-trip kayak paddle and got clams, mussels, and seaweed (the latter to dry and grind into powder to put on just about all foods). I’m making an annual calendar with harvesting times for various wild plants, Like like early summer for cattail pollen, later summer for cattail shoots, early fall for Manzanita berries and huckleberries … there’s a lot of wild food everywhere. Now there’s more time to get it.

I’m certainly not the first to say it, but things are seriously out of whack on the planet — all being made worse by our loathsome president and his greedy, vicious cohorts. It’s as if the planet is conscious (the Gaia hypothesis), and taking steps to stop planetary abuse and untrammeled consumption. One can only hope that when it’s over, the world economies will do a reset. The problem is, the most vulnerable are suffering the worst.

Making Do

I’ve come to realize lately that there are a ton of used things in my life that I’m nursing along, and that I get a lot of satisfaction from making do instead of buying new. A few examples:

  • Replaced damaged plastic knob on teakettle with piece of madrone
  • My 20-year-old Mercedes E-320, bought for $4000, a fantastic car
  • My 10-year-old Smartwool merino wool jersey, with patches and holes
    (my blankie)
  • Coffee roaster top held together with high-temperature silver tape
  • 70-year-old (family heirloom) wooden pruning ladder, still working fine
  • Stool re-covered with piece of old Persian rug
  • 25-year-old Evinrude 15 hp outboard, motor rebuilt twice

The Aging Body

One of the things I learned working on fitness books in the ’80s and ’90s, was that it’s not so much age that makes you lose strength and agility, as it is disuse. People stop using their muscles and they deteriorate. I read about a 35-year-old doctor who broke his leg skiing. When the cast came off, his leg was shriveled, “…like the leg of an old man,” he said. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle. If you stop using your muscles, they’ll shrink, and you’ll get weaker. It’s not that aging doesn’t take its toll, but steady exercise — if possible — is key to staying healthy and fit.

Bob Anderson, author of Stretching, my frequent running partner through the years, told me once: “You never hear anybody say, ‘I’m sorry I worked out.’” So true. Every time I hike, walk, paddle, ride a bike, or lift a few weights, I feel much better. Especially paddling; something about being in the (cold) water and getting an upper body workout leaves me feeling energized and happy.

My New eBike

I started competitive running at around age 50, did it for 20+ years, and quit racing 10 years ago due to knee problems (I wanted to be able to walk for the remaining years of my life).

I started skateboarding at age 65, and kept at it for maybe 20 years until I broke my arm pretty badly a few years ago. I didn’t give it up right away, but the trauma made me tentative, my skating awkward, and I lost my confidence. Sigh!

My latest activity, at age 85, is with my new Specialized Turbo Levo Fattie pedal-assist e-bike, Is it exciting! I know that hard-core mountain bikers don’t exactly love bikes with motors, but there are three reasons I finally made the jump. First, you get a break when you’re over 80. Second, our good family friend Bryce, a professional bike guy, had bought this bike for his wife, and she decided not to keep it. It was the perfect size, the perfect bike, and I got it for a healthy discount. The third reason, which I discovered on my first ride out into the hills, was that it was fun. Really fun!

It’s changed my life, in spite of the fact that I was crossing a big puddle on a fire road yesterday and the wheel sunk down, and I went over into the water on my side, along with the bike. That’s why my leg and arm are covered with mud here. No real harm, just embarrassing. I squirted the bike and me off when I got home, and I’m going out again today to pick nettles and mushrooms. After a lifetime of riding a bike, this is like having superpowers. You’re going up a steep hill and you kick in the motor and it’s like someone is pushing you from behind. And this bike is beautifully designed, it not only has power, but it’s a kick-ass trail bike.

Lesley has had a Rad eBike for about 6 months now, that she uses to pick up groceries downtown and to visit friends (once that’s possible again).

The State of Shelter Publications

The coronavirus has closed bookstores, and much of our income is cut off. This isn’t exactly unchartered territory for us, because we’ve been in the red for about two years now, and could well be out of business in the next year. We’ve applied for a Payroll Protection Program loan, as well as an Economic Disaster Loan, but the processes are confusing and disorganized. We’re looking into getting a grant, or an angel that would help us keep us rolling (paying printing bills of about $40,000) until we get some income from the new version of Stretching. At that point we hope we’ll be self-sufficient enough to do another 5 or 6 books and keep our communications hub operating for another 5 years. We’ll see.

In any event, it’s been a great 50 years, and a privilege to have been in such a wonderful business, and to have followed our hearts in whatever we’ve done.

In the meantime, we’re going to, as the Scots say, och wheesht and get oan wae it.

On My Blog


My Instagram account (8400 followers): www.instagram.com/lloyd.kahn

Shelter’s Instagram account (13,000 followers): www.instagram.com/shelterpub

Música del día

Springsteen, Sam Moore, E Street band live at 25th anniversary of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “Hold On, I’m Comin’”



““Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

–High school football coach Eric Taylor, Amazon Prime series “Friday Night Lights”

Over and out…

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My New eBike

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After a few years of internal debate, I got a Specialized Turbo Levo pedal-assist ebike and it’s changed my life. It’s drawing me out into the hills and yes, I know the purist objections to motorized assistance, but first, you get a break once you turn 80, plus is it FUN! Like having super powers.

Here I am having returned home after sinking down and falling over sideways (me + bike) in bottomless puddle on fire road; note mud on leg and sleeve. Embarrassing, but no harm.*

I’m working on my biking skills, like looking where you want to go, rather than fixating on what’s immediately in front of your wheel. Not only does it have a fine motor, but it’s a kickass off-road bike.

*Whenever i fall — skateboarding, cycling, or just tripping — the first thing I do is look to see if anyone saw me. Then, I check body parts for injuries. This time, other than getting soaked in muddy water, there were no onlookers or injuries. Onward!

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Night Vision Binoculars

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Foster Huntington was arriving after dark Tuesday and I texted him, got a flashlight? He texted back … got something better than a flashlight.

When he got here we walked out into the dark. He said, “Close your eyes.”

Whereupon he fitted this helmet with night vision binocs on my head and said “Open your eyes.”

The dark night was alight! 10 times as many stars. I could see a galaxy. Trees, road, paths, animals all bathed in ghostly light.

It’s like a third world: formerly I had day and night. With these you have lighted-up night. Sure, you can see at night with a flashlight, but it doesn’t light things up 360°. Also, people and animals aren’t aware that you can see them. Foster says he’s been out at night with them, and he can walk right up to rabbits.

Surfing in primo spots at night (they are waterproof, but you sure wouldn’t want to lose them); hunting for mushrooms in secret spots; mountain biking at night without visible light — possibilities are endless.

The only problem is that apparently, the good ones are really expensive.

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Notes From NYC #3

Wrapping it up this morning, am at Grounded Coffee in West Village with latte/double shot and bowl of oatmeal. Getting picked up by Supershuttle around noon, thence to Newark and flying the friendly skies, albeit in the cattle car section this flight. The business class via frequent flier miles getting here was a dream, but not enough miles for the return…I’ve got to say, I really like United — service, airplanes, it’s an intelligent giant. Plus the United terminal at SFO is as good as it gets. Fast wi-fi, recharging stations, great art exhibit.

New camera I bought a Panasonic Lumix DSC-ZS100 at BH Photo Wednesday,. It’s small (carrying it in my fanny pack). It has a 1″ sensor and a 25-250 mm zoom, an extraordinary range for such a small camera (about the same size as the Sony Cybershot RX-100). Kevin Kelly has been using Lumix’s for years, and I’ve long been attracted to the zoom features. So I’m trying it out. Here are a few pics shot at maximum zoom.

Farm fresh food Last night I had dinner at Rosemary’s in the West Village, (after watching the Warriors at The Blind Tiger pub). “Farm fresh,” they don’t take reservations, super popular, usually long lines, but last night, Sunday, rainy, a bit cold (temp drop of 30 degrees from previous day, lots of tables, I sat at the bar. Good food, not as expensive as you’d think, They have a garden on the roof.

Getting around in the city:

(1) Uber works well, although the pool rides are sketchy. The drivers all seem personable compared to today’s cabbies, who seem a sour lot. Almost all Uber drivers use the app Waze to navigate; I downloaded it (free) and it’s really good for city navigation (for cars, not pedestrians).

(2) The blue CitiBikes are a huge success for going from point to point. No need to lock up at yr. destination, you use your phone to find drop-off point.

(3) Subways are in one sense a miracle, that you travel so fast under the city, but many of NYC’s lines are in dire shape.

(4) On foot: I probably walked 3-4 miles a day, using the app Citymapper, which is brilliant.

Friendliness of natives: I can’t get over it. I got into conversations with a ton of people in bars, restaurants, park benches. I invariably give people one of our mini books — a great conversation starter.

Venues: The Village Voice is gone, and Time Out magazine has morphed into a free and lame advertising mag, so it’s really hard to find music, among other arts. My friend Kim turned me on to Pollstar online, and it seems to be the best thing, but nothing like the The Village Voice was (or SFWeekly still is in SFO).

Photos: NYC is a photo wonderland for me. I’ll post some in the following days.

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Notes From NYC #2

Yesterday had an early dinner at EAK Ramen (thanks, Mark), 469 6th Ave., rich ramen along with Kawaba Sunrise Ale. This morning I took the subway to the East Village and went to Abraco, thanks to tip from my friend Doug. Unique coffee shop, great coffee and pastries, long lines that never abated, no stinkin laptops allowed, wonderful place, good vibes, latte as good as it gets. When I left, I gave the manager, a cool guy who was moving around with alacrity and humor, a mini-copy of Tiny Homes. When I was out in the street, he ran out and said: “Lloyd, this is brilliant.” So good when people get it.

I walked around the corner, and there was Do Kham, a Tibetan shop with elegant things in the window. Serendipity at work. I went in, and everything was just right. The owner, Phelgye Kelden, is a former Tibetan monk, who has assembled a shop of totally wonderful things. His specialty is Tibetan hats, which he designs, and which have been featured in Vanity Fair, Elle, and other major fashion magazines:

I had vowed not to buy anything on this trip, but, ahem…a beautiful wool scarf, a necklace of prayer beads, a rock carved with Om Mani Padme Hum: “Tibetan Buddhists believe that saying the mantra (prayer), Om Mani Padme Hum, out loud or silently to oneself, invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion.” So as I walk around today, I’m chanting it to myself.

It’s been hot and muggy this week here, like it usually is in August. (Global warming is a hoax, right? )Walking along St. Mark’s place, I spied St. Dymphna’s Pub, and it looked authentic, cool (in both senses), and I went in and had a pint of Guiness and talked to the bartender and the guy next to me, a director of plays, and a native of Philly about a variety of subjects as we watched Serena Williams in the French Open. A good restaurant? They recommended Cafe Mogador, across the street, Moroccan, and crowded, and good.

I’ve finally learned to overcome shyness when traveling and ask-ask-ask. I think 90% of the places I’ve eaten, visited, or had coffee at on this trip were by following recommendations of friends and strangers.

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Doo Wah Diddy

Never fails/checked in to my little hotel in G. Village, stressed out from Byzantine check points at Toronto airport, slept an hour, hit streets. Man! It’s like plugging into another planet with double the chi flow. Ate at Chinese noodle shop, ended up talking to (and sharing dishes) with people sitting next to me AND it turns out one of them is Nancy Bass Wyden, proprietor (and descendent of founders) of none other than the.venerable Strand bookshop, the 5-story ages-old NYC landmark; we exchanged cards.

Then out into the streets to Washington Square, then random street walking, talked to this guy delivering food for Caviar (Elmer). Then to McDougal St., Cafe Dante now slick, but Cafe Reggio is same dark soulful noisy Renaissance good-vibes place it was when I first came to NYC in 1957 (and rented a room on Morton St. for $60 a week while working the night shift at the Durkee shredded coconut factory in Queens, waiting to take a ship to Europe for a 3-month motor scooter (Lambretta)/youth hostel tour of Europe.

I love it here, the city so energetically inspiring.

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