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GIMME SHELTER – February, 2024

For those of you getting this for the first time:

Over the years, the list has grown — I’ve added anyone I thought might be interested — and there are now about 6,500 people getting these infrequent emails.

If you’re not signed up on the list to receive (that is, if you are reading this on Instagram or my blog), you can sign up for email delivery of the Gimme Shelter newsletter here.


I like getting back to emails. Completely different from social media. These come in to you; you don’t have to open anything up. Old school, in a way.

When I send these out, some older people say “I got your blog,” They’re not going to my real blog, and I can reach them this way.

Like a lot of technical advances, we all rush in, and then step back and figure out what’s missing with the new technology. And then try to figure out how to incorporate some of the old stuff (that’s missing) in the mix. Like recording music — the limitations of digital recording vs. vinyl or tape.

It’s a chance for me to tell people what’s going on in my world, in a direct and more personal way than Instagram or my blog.

Sorry for the length of this. (The last one of these was over a year ago.) As I’ve said many times before, paraphrasing Blasé Pascal (1647): “I’d have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have enough time.”


A Sad Year

I’m not big on broadcasting my personal life, but events of the past year have had such an impact on what I’m doing — now and in the future — that I thought I’d explain a bit here. I’m writing this for people who follow me in one way or another, so you’ll know where I’ll be “…coming from.”

In 2023, I lost my wife Lesley, my brother, and my two best friends, so I’m heading into new territory.

I’m coping — it’s a gradual process and I’m OK, but — without going into details — things are definitely different in my life.

Coincidentally with all this, I had decided I was weary of running a publishing business and was looking for someone to buy Shelter Publications — and this has just happened:


AdventureKEEN Takes Over Shelter Publications

Richard Hunt and Molly Merkle of AdventureKEEN in the Shelter studio.
Photo by Elise Cannon

As of January 1st, 2024, AdventureKEEN is taking over the operation of Shelter Publications, which I have been running for 53 years. Another big change in my life.

They will keep everything functioning and I’ll be able to step away from the (ever-increasing) business and technical details of running a publishing company, and go into a new phase of communicating. AdventureKEEN will be the publisher, and distribution will still be by my beloved Publishers Group West book lovers.

AdventureKEEN is a great fit for Shelter. Some of their other publishers are Wilderness Press, Adventure Publications, and Nature Study Guides. Hiking, canoeing, cooking, gardening, backpacking, animals, tracking — all stuff I’m into: adventure. I feel very sympatico with everyone at AdventureKEEN.

And a big tip of the Hatlo hat to PGW’s Kevin Votel for shepherding this deal along.


A New Way to Communicate

When I finally disentangle myself from all the responsibilities of running a business and being an employer, I plan to start posting on Substack, doing better Instagram posts, and making videos for my YouTube channel — reporting on tools, how to do stuff, the beaches, the hills, skateboarding, cool people, and all the amazing things going on in cities.

I’m excited to be shifting gears. Like when I switched from insurance broker to carpenter in 1965. Or when I gave up after building domes for five years and discovered real building in the ’70s. A fresh outlook on work and life.

For some reason, disengaging myself from the business of running a company made me think of the ropes of entanglement in this drawing (by J.J. Grandville) in Gulliver’s Travels (1756). Cutting the ropes and bounding into a new phase of life.

On Substack, I can write, and as well post images larger than Instagram’s 3 by 4 inches. (I want my photos on a bigger screen.) Substack is for writers, and is kind of a combination email and blog. And that I can er, ahem, hopefully get paid for (by subscriptions).

I’ve been a communicator since the age of 3. “Hey Mom, look at this butterfly.” I’m a reporter at heart — have been since my high school journalism class, and then running a newspaper for two years on an Air Force Base in Germany (1958–60). I shoot photos constantly and everywhere.

I find the world — in spite of all the darkness nowadays — fascinating. People doing great (and often unnoticed and unheralded) things, plus homes, tools, vehicles, art, signs, etc. that I’ll record. I want to take you along with me — riding shotgun — seeing what I see.

In the ’80s, I loved journalist Charles Kuralt’s TV program “On the Road,” his 12‑year motorhome adventures traveling the back roads of America and filming people and places. I’m gonna get out in the world and report on what I run across.

I’ll be going into full journalistic mode, not just the intermittent reporting I’ve been doing in recent years.

Thanks to Christopher Ryan, writer extraordinaire (Sex at Dawn, Civilized to Death), prolific podcaster, and more recently Substacker (chrisryan.substack.com) for turning me onto Substack.

“I’m a man who likes to talk to a man who likes to talk.”

-Sidney Greenstreet to Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon


I figure to be rolling in these new modes by March–April, 2024. And I’ll try to do these newsletters at least every few months.

I figure I’ve got a year or so to see if this is gonna work.


The Real Baja

I’m heading to Baja Sur in my 2003 Tacoma 4×4 (5-speed, 2.4 L, 4‑cylinder engine), with tent on top and foldable tarp for beach camping. Taking my old ten-foot Doug Haut Surftek three-fin surfboard and I’m gonna try to start getting back up on the board. Once I’m up, I’m OK. Looking forward to warm water. Also taking boogie board and fins. I’m gonna ride waves one way or another. Plus work on my crawl stroke, and some diving.

This will be my first road trip to Baja in 20 years. Los Cabos (the southern tip of Baja) has grown exponentially, but I plan to — as in the past — get outside the very narrow regions of heavy tourism — into the real Baja. Camping on remote beaches and in water-filled arroyos, visiting old mission sites, hot springs, remote ranchos.

For about a dozen years, I went to Baja whenever I got the chance, hanging out with my Mexican friends, and I came to love the people and the tropical desert of the Los Cabos area.

“It is impossible to account for the charm of this country or its fascination, but those who are familiar with the land of Baja California are either afraid of it or they love it, and if they love it they are brought back by an irresistible fascination time and time again.”

–Erle Stanley Gardner


I’ll be posting on Instagram as I travel. (I left on January 30.)

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Your Computer Is Not Going to Build a House for You

This the last part of a 7-minute video titled “Shelter – A Video about author Lloyd Kahn” made by Jason Sussberg (shooting 35mm film!) in 2009, when I was 75. He shows Lesley and me doing stuff around the homestead.
Jason included a minute or so of me skateboarding, with the sound guy on his crew (a skater) skating behind me and alongside me with the heavy 35mm camera.

Then I sat on the curb (in front of my skateboard) talking about housing.

Sorry this is so blurry, Jason’s work is clear, we copied this from YouTube.

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Dieter’s Compost Bins

My neighbor Dieter came over and looked at my compost bins (with adjustable sides) a few months ago and then built these — a great improvement over my funky bins. He said he added the concrete around the bottom because the rats (or skunks) were getting in. The idea here is that you add the slotted boards as you build the compost pile higher. The screened mesh keeps out varmints from the top.

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