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Wonderful Houses Around the World

Yesterday I read in the paper that sales of children’s books are booming, due to schools being closed. This brought to mind our one and only children’s book, Wonderful Houses Around the World, by photographer Yoshio Komatsu and artist Akira Nishiyama.

There are 10 photographs by Yoshio of homes in different parts of the world. All the homes are built of natural materials — earth, wood, thatch, sod, bamboo, and stone.

Each photo is followed by a watercolor drawing of the inside of that home, showing the children and their parents going about their everyday activities: food gathering and processing, cooking, sleeping, working and playing.

The book is timely in this day and age: it shows what people do in their homes. Timely also because it’s great educational material for kids being home-schooled: look at what what kids your age are doing in other parts of the planet.

Yoshio is my favorite photographer of homes in the world. Not only are the homes invariably soulful, but his composition and lighting are perfect — and he has a knack for making people feel comfortable, so that the homeowners look natural, often laughing.

The book is $12.95 and you can order it through your independent bookstore, or from:

Note: We have a money-back guarantee on all of our books (no matter where you buy them). If for any reason you are dissatisfied, call us and we’ll return the full purchase price plus shipping. No need to return the book.

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Changing Nature of This Blog

I started blogging in 2006—13 years ago. After a few years,I really got into it — posting daily. (To this date, over 6000 posts.) But gradually, over the last few years, I’ve cut way back on my blogging activity, for two reasons:

  1. The photographer part of me discovered Instagram. Shoot the photo, and wham! It’s online.
  2. Lean finances. There was no money in blogging, and I needed to put more time into book production to keep us afloat.

Right now this blog is a bit half-assed. I throw things up whenever I can, but I’m not committed to daily posts as I used to be. (For example, see the posts from February, 2014)

I’m about two thirds of the way through doing layout of my new book: Handmade: The Half-Acre Homestead. In reality, I spend more than half the day dealing with the ever more complex world of publishing. In an ideal world, someone else would handle all the business affairs, and I could just produce books. But it doesn’t work that way, and I spend a lot of time on checking inventory, printing, marketing, dealing with foreign publishers, doing interviews on a variety of subjects, and handling whatever crisis shows up in the morning’s email.

Handmade: The Half-Acre Homestead

This book is my focus these days. (It’s been a long time coming.) Each week, I give Rick maybe 10 pages that I lay out with scissors and (removable) Scotch Tape, and he transforms them into InDesign/Photoshop files for our printers in Hong Kong. It’s a thrill to see the pages as they get printed out on our Epson inkjet printer. I’ll try to remember to post photos of random pages as I go along.

I’ve taken thousands of photos around this place over the past 40+ years, most of them not specifically for this book. Rather, I’d see bees gathering pollen from a sunflower, or a fox sleeping in the garden, or sunlight on the dining room table and shoot photos. Now, I’m looking through all my digital photos and gathering up the ones that will appear in the book. Note: with over 200,000 photos, Google Photos has been invaluable: I’ll type in “flowers,” and Google will algorithmically come up with all the flower pictures on my computer.

The book is breaking down into these categories (and more): House / Kitchen / Cooking / Foraging / Fishing / Garden / Greenhouses / Chickens / Flowers / Pests / Butterflies and Insects / Quilts / Weaving / Shop Tools…

Hit the Road, Jack: Adventure Travel

Yogan and Menthe, French carpenters, worked their way along the Pacific coast in Summer, 2017, trading building skills for room and board.

We are slowly gathering materials for this book. If you know of any unique homes on wheels, contact evan@shelterpub.com.

The ’60s: Stop Children, What’s That Sound

Right now I’ve put a few chapters of this book on the blog (see drop-down menu above). After I get the homestead book finished, I may go back and start work on this book again. For sure, I’ll eventually get it posted. But lately I’m once again thinking of turning it into a real book.

One last thing: I just came across a bunch of vintage photos of surfing in San Francisco and Santa Cruz in the ’50s, before wetsuits, and I’m incorporating them into my slideshow on driftwood shacks that I’m doing tomorrow night at Mollusk Surf Shop in San Francisco. (4500 Irving St., 7 PM, Saturday, March 16), and Tuesday, March 19th at 7 at Bookshop Santa Cruz on the main drag in SC.

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Dining Table from Recycled Wood

Table is 9″ long, 32″ wide, 2½″ thick Douglas Fir. I’ve made about 6 tables out of 2″ or 3″ recycled* Douglas Fir. It’s strong, relatively cheap, and got beautiful grain.

*In the ’60s-’70s, we called it “used wood.”

(With the driftwood book off at the printers, I’m getting back into working on my half-acre homestead book.)

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