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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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Oysters & Crabs in Baltimore

The real thing for seafood lovers.

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Pufferfish from Baja California Sur

I found this on a beach on the East Cape of Cabo San Lucas.These fish inflate to discourage predators (and how!). They have no pelvis and few ribs, allowing them to inflate and become spherical without breaking bones. Their skin contains an abundance of collagen fibers that allow it to expand 30 to 40%.

From National Geographic:

…Toxicity A predator that manages to snag a puffer before it inflates won’t feel lucky for long. Almost all pufferfish contain tetrodotoxin, a substance that makes them foul tasting and often lethal to fish. To humans, tetrodotoxin is deadly, up to 1,200 times more poisonous than cyanide. There is enough toxin in one pufferfish to kill 30 adult humans, and there is no known antidote.

As Food: Amazingly, the meat of some pufferfish is considered a delicacy. Called fugu in Japan, it is extremely expensive and only prepared by trained, licensed chefs who know that one bad cut means almost certain death for a customer. In fact, many such deaths occur annually.…

I have it hanging in my shop. Kids love it.

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Crab Season Opens November 15th

Our neighbor Todd Beeson getting ready for opening day. His truck is unique: a 1957 Chevy 2-ton Apache that he completely rebuilt. It’s got a chain-driven winch that operates off the boom. It looks like it might be a good crab (Dungeness) season this year.

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Thursday Morning Fish Fry

(The title above based on San Francisco columnist Herb Caen’s 3-dot journalism wrap-ups of recent doings.)

Well!

State of this blog (and my ongoing compulsion to communicate) In the early years of blogging, I put heart and soul into it — a lot of writing. As time has passed, I have a lot less time plus I’ve switched to more photos/less talk. Once in a while, though, I like to explain what’s going on. Life is very rich around here right now. I’m 83 and feel like I’m just getting going. I need a clone or two to do all I want to do.

Books

Driftwood book We just printed out proofs yesterday and I am beyond thrilled. What started as a short-run digital printing for friends has turned into a full fledged book. The book has doubled in size, now includes photos (and words) from my trip along the Lost Coast, and lots of full-bleed photo spreads. I like the small (8½″ by 8½″) format … it’s totally different than all my 9″ by 12″ building books, each with over 1,000 photos. Here the photos are larger, and fewer … here there’s consistency in that all the photos are mine, and Rick has brought out the best in each with his Photoshop skills. … I’m stoked!

Half-Acre Homestead book I’m about to start doing layout.

Galloway’s Book on Running Jeff Galloway has revised his classic book (650,000 copies sold) and we’re starting to put together the 3rd edition. Jeff, a 1972 Olympian, along with Bill Rogers, Frank Shorter, and Kenny Moore, were the first generation of long-haired runners in the ’70s, largely responsible for the running craze that’s still with us. Jeff held the American record for the 10 mile in 1973 (47:49), ran the mile in college at 4:12, and at age 35, ran a marathon in 2:16. He’s also a charismatic teacher and in recent years has popularized the “run-walk-run” method of training.

Stretching, which has sold over 3½ million copies worldwide and is in 23 languages (including Latvian), will have its 40th anniversary issue in 2020. Next year I’ll hang out with Bob and Jean Anderson at their home in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and we’ll put together the new edition.

The ’60s Whenever I get the chance I put up another chapter on this era. They are gathered under the button (above), “The ’60s.” It’ll take maybe a year to get it all posted, and then I might turn it into a book.

Non-profit books I have a bunch of scrapbooks I’m starting to print via the digital, short-run process. The first one is Pop’s Diner, 48 pages, a scrapbook of a 2-week trip I took through the Southwest in my Toyota 4×4, 5-speed, stick shift, 4-cylinder truck in 1989. Remote hot springs in Nevada, backpacking in the Paria Canyon, waterfalls and petroglyphs in Utah, hamburgers at Pop’s Diner in Arizona, and friendly Americans. I worked nights putting together a scrapbook — pasted down 4 by 6 color prints, hand lettered the text, and painted on some of the photos. I had a 2 copies made on a Canon photocopy machine at Krishna Copy in San Francisco (in 1989), paid $100 to have it bound. Print run of two! … I’d either loan it or ship it to friends in a plywood box, and they would return it in a few weeks.… the idea was to take the reader along with me, riding shotgun … when I travel like this, I pretend I have a passenger riding along … it’s a relief to do a “book” like this, with no worries about sales … purely to give to people when I see them.… this one printed by Lightning Source, 40 copies, costs about $6 each.… more to come when I have time…

Publicity

Christopher Ryan Tangentially speaking

L-r: Lloyd, Chris Ryan, Evan Kahn (Evan set up the interview.)

A bunch of stuff lately: Chris Ryan did a one-hour interview of me here for a podcast to be put up soon on his Tangentially Speaking podcast site. A delightful, insightful guy … Surfer’s Journal is doing a feature article on me, probably some time early in 2019. They’re also considering an article on my driftwood shacks photos … this I’m excited about because it’s such a classy publication … I got interviewed by people from a Japanese magazine for an article on wood … they interviewed artist/builder Jay Nelson in San Francisco for the same article, so I’m in good company … Monday I’m getting interviewed about tiny homes by La Leche, an Italian magazine for children … next week I’m getting interviewed by Alan Solomon for a book to be published by Abrams on reclajmed lumber, a subject dear to my heart … I’m doing all this and a bunch of “social media” things to make more people aware of our books.

Check out what Mari Lillestol and Evan are doing with Shelter’s Instagram and Shelter’s blog (the latter different from mine in that it’s focused entirely on building).

Shameless Commerce

I’d prefer that we could just produce books and they’d sell like crazy forever, but it doesn’t work that way. We encourage everyone to patronize independent bookstores (there’s nothing like browsing), but if you ARE going to buy books online, we’re now offering discounts on our website — we’re cheaper than Amazon with 2 books or more, plus free shipping. We’re also setting up to sell the entire “Shelter Library of Building Books” — 7 books —at a 60% discount. They cover the years from 1973 to 2017 … over 7,000 photos. We’re making an effort to get our books out there, so more people will see them. Our website: www.shelterpub.com

Miscellany

Entrance to Shelter’s worldwide headquarters. Wow

Got my 15 HP 2-stroke Evinrude running fine now, going crabbing tomorrow and when I put my two pots out, I’m going looking for a black bear that’s been spotted in the nearby woods, with a telephoto lens … Whole Earth Catalog 50th anniversary party in SFO October 13th, public invited … a lot of us have sent in photos from the ’60s to be on display … Music du jour: Linda Gail Lewis on tour in France: Rockin’ My Life Away: www.youtube.com/ …

Ground control to Major Tom,
Ground control to Major Tom,
Take your protein pills,
and put your helmet on …

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Killer Fishing Boat

Everything about this boat somehow looks right to me. I have a little 12′ Klamath aluminum boat with a 30-year-old 15 HP 2-stroke motor that was just rebuilt. I’m starting to explore Tomales Bay with it. The bay is clean, with white sand beaches on the west side. I’ve figured out how to get clams and mussels, and last week Doug and I put out 3 crab pots. (Rock crabs are legal year-around.)

With a boat like the above, I’d feel more secure about going through waves to get out into the ocean (which is what you have to do for salmon fishing here). But I plan to keep using the smaller boat for a while. Have thought of rigging it up so I could sleep on it at night in the bay. Swimming is great in the bay; water warmer than the ocean. I’m going up there this morning to pull the crab pots, get some clams, and swim.

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