health (24)

GIMME SHELTER – October, 2020

To anyone receiving this for the first time, I send these newsletters out every few months. They’re different from social media — old school in a way — in that they go to a select audience (about 4000 people now), rather than blasting out into the internetosphere.

If you’re not signed up on the list to receive it, you can sign up for email delivery of the Gimme Shelter newsletter here.


In these days of tweets and Instagram, this is insanely long. But what gets lost in this social media era of haiku-length communications is writing. It’s why I keep doing (minimal) blog posts, and continue to publish books, and so I just let it rip with these newsletters. Blah blah blah…

Apocalypse Now

We were under an evacuation alert for about a week. Suitcases packed, about 200,000 negatives and scrapbooks stored in my brother’s garage, mattress set up for sleeping in back of pickup truck. Luckily, the fire got put out, but it sure made me think. What if we lose it all? Have to basically start over again?

We’ve been here almost 50 years, and have got this small homestead crafted for our lives — all without a bank mortgage. If a fire sweeps through here, there’s only so much stuff we could save.

I talked to some people who lost everything in the Santa Rosa fire a few years ago; and they said they looked out the window to see the fire sweeping into their yard and they only had time to grab the kids and the dog and vamoose.

Fishing boats at night after air cleared

Fishing boats at night after air cleared

We Californians not only have Covid to deal with, but the geographical threats of earthquake and fire. The dark side of sunny California.

There was no escaping the smoke. A nightmarish week. It looked like an apocalyptic movie. Finally, western winds cleared the air. One morning, I woke up and fog had cleared the air and I could breathe. The fresh air was like nectar.

Stuff

Many people are getting rid of stuff these days. In our books, Tiny Homes, Tiny Homes on the Move, and Small Homes, we document people opting for less stuff, smaller homes, and simpler lives.

Funny, lately and conversely, I’ve been grateful for all the stuff around here. I’ve got tools to fix just about anything (with the exception of welding). We’ve got a few thousand books, a multitude of kitchen/cooking tools, I’ve got a surfboard, paddle board and kayak. Lesley’s got two looms, a spinning wheel — it goes on forever.

Living in California now, one has to just accept the reality that all material possessions accumulated over a lifetime might be gone in a flash. Rather than quaking in my boots and stressing, I’ve played it out in my mind: if we lose it all, we’ll start over. It’ll be a challenge, but maybe in some ways exciting. I think of Siddhartha, the wealthy Indian Brahmin, who in Herman Hesse’s novel, leaves behind all his (many) worldly possessions and sets out on a life of spiritual discovery with just a robe and begging bowl.

Here’s a post on my blog about Covid-19 and previous pandemics in history: www.lloydkahn.com/2020/07/hello-darkness-my-old-friend

Our Next Book: Rolling Homes

The idea of a sequel to our book Tiny Homes on the Move has been kicking around here for a while. There are some really good books on nomadics out there now, such as Van Life, by Foster Huntington (who coined the term/hashtag #vanlife), Van Life Diaries by Morton, Dustow and Melrose, and Hit the Road by Robert Klanten and Maximilian Funk.

But after talking to Foster, who encouraged me to go ahead, and starting to gather material, I’m excited. We’ve discovered a lot of different and new rigs; this book will be different. The Sprinter vans are super, true, but there are a lot more lower-cost and/or homemade options to the +100K van.

Not that there will be a lot of old VW vans in the book, but I did think back to the 1960 VW van I had in the mid-60s with a very simple plywood setup for driving, sleeping, and cooking. Here’s a photo of a spiffier bus, but the same vintage, with the same setup. Mine had a 40 hp air-cooled motor, and we drove it 3000 miles to NYC in winter,1965 (wrapped in sleeping bags to keep warm), and also down into Puerto Vallarta before the bridge, where we had to forge the river with a guide walking in front of the car. Plus I carried tons of lumber on the roof and building materials inside it in building a house in Big Sur in the ’60s. A simple and noble beast.

Please contact us if you have or know of any interesting homes on wheels: lloyd@shelterpub.com

Things People Say

When people say to you, “With all due respect…”, you know they’re gonna follow that up by saying something mean….

Someone recently used the phrase, in referring to a county bureaucrat, “…promoted to a level of incompetence” … (That was in answer to me saying that bureaucrats beget more bureaucracy.)

Winston Churchill: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” … Which reminds me of a response, possibly by WC, to a journalist who criticized him for a dangling preposition: “That is an impertinence up with which I will not put.”

Dale Carnegie: “Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”

Neil Dickman on his music program, Bringing It On Home on KWMR, Aug 21, 2020: “I’m always certain, but often wrong.”

(In the weekly newsletter Recommendo, Kevin Kelly recently suggested Quote Investigator, which turns out to be a valuable checkpoint for, among other things, the authors of various quotations.)

In Praise of the Smartphone

I’ve preached about turning phones off, getting untethered, the need to get away from the small screen and read a book, or meditate, to be unavailable to the world once in a while. “A still mind is fertile ground for creative thoughts,” etc. BUT — once in a while, I’m freshly astounded by the power residing in my iPhone, what it’s capable of, how exceedingly useful it is.

No one ever told me I’d be carrying around a computer, camera, compass, music, dictionary, GPS, ride-hailer, the Google world, maps, podcasts, weather — an infinity of uses — in a device smaller than a deck of cards. So yeah, it’s good to disconnect at times, but — what a miraculous tool!

Posture

Ears above shoulders, shoulders above hips…

In Galloway’s Book on Running, Jeff Galloway describes legendary New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard’s technique for better posture: imagine you have a pulley attached to a harness around your chest. The other end of the pulley is attached to 3-story building a block away. As you run (walk), lift your chest up and forward.

Note: The 3rd edition of Galloway’s Book on Running will be published early next year; it will include Jeff’s revolutionary run walk run® method of training. It is, I kid you not, the best book ever written on running. It’s sold over 600,000 copies, and been translated into eight foreign languages. It’s not a book by a writer about running; it’s a book about running by a world-class* runner (who can write).

*In 1973, Jeff set the American record for the 10-mile (47:49), and at age 35, ran the Houston-Tenneco Marathon in 2:16.

Stretching

The long-awaited 40th anniversary edition of Stretching, by Bob and Jean Anderson, has just arrived in bookstores. It really looks good! There’s a new section on stretches and tips (posture-posture-posture) for smartphone users. I’m going to send out a press release to people on this mailing list in a few days.

Octogenarianism

Out of maybe 3,500 people on this mailing list, I’ll bet there are fewer than a dozen over age 80. But for all of you youngsters, who will be here some day, and since I am constantly forced to reflect on this new world of ancient age, I’ll continue posting observations.

  • Physicality: From 80-on, it’s a different ball game. Nature is starting to subtract physical functions. Things I used to lift easily are now a strain (a 94-pound sack of cement — forget it!) Distances seem longer. I’m less flexible, like less range of motion in my neck when turning around to back up a car. (Yeah, I should stretch more!)
  • Memorabilia: I’m really forgetting stuff these days. Us old people, our memory banks are overloaded. Only so much room in there. So if I forget your name or birthday, it’s all part of the aging process. (Someone told me this week that if you know you’re forgetting things, it’s not dementia.) Now where was I?
  • Happening more frequently: I’ll go into the house from the studio to get something, forget what I was looking for, and have to walk back to the studio to remember.
  • “What, I told you that before?” Happening more and more frequently. Seems I’m repeating stories multiple times. No sympathy from friends: “Yeah, you already told me that.” Brutal.

Working Out

I’m riding my Turbo Levo pedal-assist bike regularly now, discovering roads and trails in the hills. The bike is so much fun, I look forward to heading out. A few days ago, went for a hike with Doug (shown here) and Tomás; we are so lucky to have both this magic mountain and the ocean to explore in these parts. I try to do something physical every day. Plato recommended training in both music and gymnastic for development of the soul. Too many people leave out the gymnastic part as they get older. My long-time friend Bob Anderson says, “You never hear anyone say, ‘I’m sorry I worked out.’”

Keeping On Keeping On

“If you don’t know the exact moment when the lights will go out, you might as well read until they do.”

–Latest Readings, by Clive James, 2015

Curved Roof

My latest building, 10′ by 10’. Curved roof plus windows at eye level are design bits I learned from master builder Lloyd House (Builders of the Pacific Coast), which give you a feeling of spaciousness. Same principle with gypsy wagons (vardos). A lot of help from Billy Cummings in building this.

Shameless Commerce Department

Check out our books at www.shelterpub.com.

30% off with free shipping on 2 or more books.

Review copies of any books sent free, if you designate where you would be submitting review.

Forgotten Books from Shelter

In each newsletter I’m going to show one of our less well-known books.

Wonderful Houses Around the World, by Yoshio Komatsu, is a children’s book showing ten homes in different countries. Yoshio is in my mind the best photographer in the world of homes. With each photo of these homes, there is a watercolor drawing of life inside the home, with an emphasis on what the children are doing.

It has been used in Waldorf schools, and a company that supplies home schoolers buys 1,000 copies each year. It’s $12.95 at www.shelterpub.com/building/wonderful-houses

Method of This Madness

You know, it’s really fun to do these. It’s like having a chance to chat with friends, rather than addressing the world via blog, Instagram, (or books, for that matter). I wish I had more time to do these. I piece these together over a week or so and send the rough version to Rick Gordon, who transforms them into this nicely designed newsletter.

Música del Día



The Manhattan Brothers: Their Greatest Hits (1948-1959)

Over and out, (and please VOTE!)…

Post a comment (1 comment)

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

  • In 541 AD, the Plague of Justinian spread from Constantinople across Europe, Asia, North Africa and Arabia killing an estimated 30 to 50 million people — about half of the world’s population.
  • The Black Death, which hit Europe in 1347, killed 50 million people in just four years — one-quarter of the world’s population.
  • Smallpox killed 90 to 95 percent of the indigenous population of the Americas in the 15th century, after it arrived from Europe. Mexico went from 11 million people pre-conquest to one million.

Could the planet be responding to the critical state it’s in right now? Fossil fuel electricity is one big factor, as are cars. A myriad of other assaults on planetary health (exacerbated by this criminal American adminstration in eliminating any and all environmental rules) have pushed planet earth into a crisis.

The Gaia Hypothesis, promulgated in the late 1970s by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, which proposes (as defined in Wikipedia) “…that living organisms and inorganic material are part of a dynamic system that shapes the Earth’s biosphere, and maintains the Earth as a fit environment for life. In some Gaia theory approaches, the Earth itself is viewed as an organism with self-regulatory functions.”

The planet is a living, breathing entity, conscious in ways we cannot imagine.

I’ll go even farther into woo-woo land here. In the ’60s, when I was living in Big Sur, I’d always thought of the idea of hugging redwood trees as being New Age lameness. But one day I thought I’d see what hugging a redwood tree was like. I wrapped my arms around it, laying my cheek against the soft bark — and I felt a jolt, a connection. This thing was alive, and it knew I was there. Well, well.

A number of books have come out lately, including Underland: A Deep Time Journey, by Robert Macfarlane, describing the discovery of the “wood wide web,” or the “mycorrhizal network” going on underground between mycelium and tree roots, which share nutrients and information. In one case I read about an alder tree that was attacked by beetles: it sent this information to alders quite a distance away to get ready, and the latter manufactured some kind of antibody to resist the beetles.

Trees, as well as the living and breathing earth, are alive in ways we can hardly comprehend.

Is the virus sending us a message?

Post a comment (11 comments)

Smoking Marijuana Is Bad for Your Lungs

I say this after some 50 years of smoking pot. I kidded myself through all those years: sure tobacco is deadly, but not pot.

I could feel it in my lungs about 5 years ago, and I switched to vaping, ending up with an ice-filled water pipe bong, with herb activated by a German heat gun (no flames). But even that started to feel not so good.

A couple of things I realized after I made the break:

  1. You know the tar you have to clean out of water pipes? Where do you think that tar is going when you smoke a joint?
  2. Igniting pipes with Bic Lighters? What was I thinking? Inhaling butane.

I’ll bet these oils people are smoking are full of tar.

I got my lungs checked and they seem to be OK, but I think I’ve done a little damage. (Although a doctor once told me that if I quit smoking for 2 years, my lungs would clear.)

I know one thing: my lungs are telling me to back off on all heat-produced cannabis vapors.

Edibles. Sprayables.

Just sayin

Post a comment (2 comments)

The 40th Anniversary Edition of Stretching

The 40th Anniversary Edition of StretchingI discovered a homemade book called Stretching in 1979. It was aimed at athletes, with stretching routines for some 20 sports.

I wrote the author, Bob Anderson, and suggested he add stretches for builders, waitresses, truck drivers, kids, and older people. We started talking. I found out that he and his wife Jean (who did the drawings) had sold 35,000 copies from a garage in Southern California. End result: Bob and Jean rented a house on the beach here in Spring, 1980, and in three months, we did a complete revision of the book.

We did a first run of 50,000 copies, and the book took off, with Random House as distributor, and has been selling ever since; it’s now sold over 3¾ million copies worldwide, and is in 23 languages. As far as I can tell, it’s the best-selling fitness book in the world.

Tech Neck  An important (and timely) addition to this new edition will be stretches to combat the bad posture caused by (1) cell phone usage and (2) working on computers.

Take a look at how bent-over people are when talking on their phones. It’s called “tech neck.”

The point is, we all spend too much time at screens of various sizes, and it’s not healthy. Not good for the body.

Seeking Editorial Advice: What should we call this section? Stretches (or Stretching) for the Digital World? Technological Era? Digital Era? Tech World? Information Age? Computer Age? Technological Age? Digital Age?

How do we describe our world which is now filled with hours spent on screens?

Want to stretch right now? shltr.net/stretch

Post a comment (7 comments)

Shit in the Air! / Causes of Fires / Native California Land Management / Forest Management

Talking to Louie on the phone just now about the smoky air of the last week, he said, “That isn’t just wood smoke: It’s plastics, building materials, exploded gasoline, burned-up houses and cars…”

Shit, I hadn’t thought of that this last week. I wasn’t out running, but did take a few walks.

I shouda stayed inside a lot more.

We went on to talk about causes of these fires. He said that a lot of the problem is the type of logging that does not deal with the “understory” — all the saplings and plants that spring up afterwards. If they keep growing unchecked, they produce ever more fuel for fire. It makes sense to burn the understory (at its right phase of growth) on a windless day in wet or moist weather.

When foresters are involved in a cut, they will set a limit on the height of the understory, so loggers have to cut slash up into smaller pieces; this is managing the forest. However a lot of logging is interested in profit, not land management, and they leave behind conditions ripe for fire.

He then segued into how the Pomo of the Pt. Arena / Manchester area managed the land. In addition to hunting, fishing, and  harvesting, they used fire to clear selected areas of land, making it easier to move around, making hunting easier, producing green young growth.

I told him about this great book, Tending the Wild, by M. Kat Andersen; about “…indigenous land management practices …in… California when first encountered by Europeans and detailed explication of the care of, harvesting of, and use of California’s native plants.”

You can get it at Larner Seeds: www.shltr.net/tend

The cycle of life…

Post a comment (3 comments)

Free Brand New Car

When I was on the road, I heard Warren Buffet say this on TV (I’m starting to unscramble notes from my trip):

When I was sixteen, I had just two things on my mind – girls and cars. I wasn’t very good with girls. So I thought about cars. I thought about girls, too, but I had more luck with cars.

Let’s say that when I turned sixteen, a genie had appeared to me. And that genie said, ‘Warren, I’m going to give you the car of your choice. It’ll be here tomorrow morning with a big bow tied on it. Brand-new. And it’s all yours.’

Having heard all the genie stories, I would say, ‘What’s the catch?’ And the genie would answer, ‘There’s only one catch. This is the last car you’re ever going to get in your life. So it’s got to last a lifetime.’ If that had happened, I would have picked out that car.

But, can you imagine, knowing it had to last a lifetime, what I would do with it? I would read the manual about five times. I would always keep it garaged. If there was the least little dent or scratch, I’d have it fixed right away because I wouldn’t want it rusting. I would baby that car, because it would have to last a lifetime.

That’s exactly the position you are in concerning your mind and body. You only get one mind and one body. And it’s got to last a lifetime. Now, it’s very easy to let them ride for many years. But if you don’t take care of that mind and that body, they’ll be a wreck forty years later, just life the car would be. It’s what you do right now, today, that determines how your mind and body will operate ten, twenty, and thirty years from now.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/587506-when-i-was-sixteen-i-had-just-two-things-on

Post a comment (2 comments)

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.

Read More …

Post a comment (3 comments)

Work. Walk 5 Minutes. Work.

Article in NY Times by Gretchen Reynolds
“Stuck at your work desk? Standing up and walking around for five minutes every hour during the workday could lift your mood, combat lethargy without reducing focus and attention, and even dull hunger pangs, according to an instructive new study.

The study, which also found that frequent, brief walking breaks were more effective at improving well-being than a single, longer walk before work, could provide the basis for a simple, realistic New Year’s exercise resolution for those of us bound to our desks all day.…
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/well/move/work-walk-5-minutes-work.html

Post a comment