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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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Conversation with a Three-Year-Old This Morning

I was having a latte and a corn muffin and working on my homestead book at Andytown Coffee Roasters this morning when a woman came in with a tiny girl in a pink hoodie. The little girl was sort of fidgeting, so I handed her one of our Tiny Homes mini books. (Her mom said she was 3 years old.)  She opened it up and spotted a photo of me, held the book up pointing to the photo, and said “You.” Yes, I said.

Then she proceeded to go through every page in the book, pointing to each house and asking, “Your house?” No. “Your house?” No.

“Where you live?” Across the bridge. “Far away?” Yes, far away.

Then she pointed to a house in the street and said. “Your house!” No, I said and she hooted with laughter. She was teasing me.

“Where your car?”

That silver car with the box on top, I said. We could see it through the window.  “Oh.”

“What your name?” Lloyd; what’s your name? “Maggie.”

I just got interviewed by a 3-year old!

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Coffee, Food, Pubs in NYC

Coffee

-Cafe Reggio on Bleeker

-Stumptown Roasters: 30 West 8th (2 blocks from Washington Sq.), and in the lobby of the Ace Hotel at 18, W. 29th (which looks like maybe a good place to stay)

-Blue Bottle: 450 W. 15th, 54 W. 40th

-Abraco, 81 E. 7th Street. All time great place. https://www.abraconyc.com/

Restaurants

-Saigon Kitchen, 114 McDougal Street

-Snack Taverna (Greek), 63 Bedford at 7th Ave.

-Periyali (which means “seashore” in Greek), 35 W. 20th  between 5th and 6th. https://www.periyali.com/

-Rosemary’s, 18 Greenwich Ave. https://www.rosemarysnyc.com/

-Blue Ribbon Sushi, 119 Sullivan St.

-EAK Ramen, 469 6th Ave.

-Cafe Mogador, 101 St. Marks Place. https://www.cafemogador.com/

-An Nam, 234 W. 48th, Times Sq. district. Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese food. Normally this combination would make me suspicious, but this place, in an area I wouldn’t normally eat in, was really good — and inexpensive. I had a big plate of duck on brown rice, nicely cooked vegetables on a lunch special for $9.50. Plus delcious spring rolls.

Pubs

St. Dymphna’s, 118 St. Marks Place

The Blind Tiger Ale House, 281 Bleeker

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On The Road to Santa Cruz

I had a radio interview to do yesterday, so hit the Cliff House in SF for an Irish Coffee and popovers to start the day, then got rolling on Hwy One, making the coastal SF/SC journey for maybe the 300th time. By the time I got through Half Moon Bay and it was just brussels sprouts, strawberries and arroyos leading down to beaches, I was sailing, getting that exhilaration that comes from moving smoothly through space.

Got into SC, took right on Swift Street, past Haut’s shop, then to Steamer Lane, which was breaking and surprisingly uncrowded. I SO love Santa Cruz, having lived here on and off in the ’50s. The water’s warmer, the waves better, it’s more tranquillo, like it’s 15% LA (Santa Barbara is 70% LA). Like San Francisco, it’s overcrowded and expensive, but its carefree and playful, with soul intact.

When I discoverd surfing at age 18, I rearranged my classes at Stanford so I had no classes on Friday. I took off at noon every Thursday (either on my Harley 45 or hitchhiking) and spent 3-1/2 days of the week in SC. 4 of us rented a cabin on Ocean Ave. for $20 a month.

I can hardly believe it now, but we surfed without wet suits. So stoked were we. SO cold.

There were maybe 20 surfers in town and for some reason they accepted me, didn’t treat me like I was a college jerk. SC then had a population of 25,000 in winter and 75,000 in summer.

Right now am in v. cool new barista shop, Cat and Cloud, on Portola Ave., soon to head back up the coast for a meeting in our office this afternoon, where we’ll be strategizing tour/marketing/blah blah for the new book.

Ike and Tina Turner, Shake a Tail Feather Baby playing right now. What an incredible band! Their CD “Proud Mary”is a great chronological record of this phenomenal band.

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Injury # 163

There’s a line in Hank Williams’s “Why Don’t You make Up Your mind,” where he says “The hide’s gettin’ scace” (pronounced “skayce”), meaning scarce. I don’t know why, but it’s stuck in my mind for years. In the song he’s moaning about difficulties with his girlfriend, but I’ve always thought of the phrase as having to do with the body getting hurt.

My latest was tearing some shoulder muscles last week. No, not again! My body feels so battered from a lifetime of activity. — sports, carpentry, adventures. Thank god I wasn’t the football star I wanted to be. Yet still — operations on both knees, right shoulder, right wrist (carpal tunnel) and the capper, a bad broken arm a year ago–all since turning 70.

OK so I’m whining here, but I’m on an up-note. After moping and gimping around for a week, dreading another operation, visiting the doc, dealing with pain, suddenly it turned a corner. Must have been the red wine in the evenings (plus big doses of Ibuprofen). But all of a sudden I could raise my arm halfway. Yeah! I’m gonna get better. Two things to convey here:

1. You always get better. Pretty much. So no matter how deeply depressed you are when injured, it’s gonna get better if you do the right stuff.

2. Don’t give up. Get right back out there on that bike, surfboard, trail, slope — maybe with more caution and care. Because you’re gonna lose it if you don’t use it.

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Tale of Two Cities

As much as I love NYC and New Yorkers and the ultimate big-city stimulation and delight and inspiration, I get an almost punch in the stomach when I come over the mountain and see the Pacific Ocean. Home! I just barely got back into California mode when I took off for Oregon. Coming down yesterday, everything looked so green, especially compared to parched California.

Portland is as sweet as ever. It’s so mellow for a city. In fact, Oregon and Oregonians are mellow. The Feng Shui of the whole state is right. (When I first came here in the late ’60s a long-haired guy came up to me when I was getting gas and handed me a freshly-rolled joint.) After coffee at Stumptown Roastery yesterday, I headed out to the coast, where it was windy and wild. Miles of sandy beaches, off-shore rocks, and a medium-sized swell.

I decided to head back to McMinnville, followed a curvy rural road west, checked into McMenamin’s Oregon Hotel, a venerable 4-story brick structure built in 1905, then headed out to the Golden Valley Brewery, where they make all 10 or so types of tap beer they serve. The bar (shown here) was salvaged from a hotel that burned down in Portland. The owner, Peter Kircher, has a nearby ranch where he raises vegetables and beef for the brewery; they feed spent barley from brewing to the cattle—nice cycle.

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