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The California Fires, October, 2017

By Lloyd and Lesley Kahn

Saturday morning October 14th

We went to bed last Sunday night with no inkling of what was happening. About 3 AM, a fierce wind started blowing and we smelled smoke. At daybreak we learned that it came from fires some 60 miles away, mostly in neighboring Sonoma county. It’s been a grim week.

Everyone seems to know people or have relatives that have lost their homes. My brother was luckier than most with his farm in the Napa Valley: he lost a barn, tractor, Toyota Tacoma, and an accessory building, but his house was OK. He has 2,000 olive trees and they were not burned, but he’s not sure if they’ll be ruined by the smoke. It was his biggest crop ever.

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Trump, Trapped in His Lies, Keeps Lying. Sad!

From the NewYork Times, article by Lawrence Downes, Jan. 10, 2017: 

He hasn’t taken office yet, but Donald Trump is lost, wandering in a labyrinth of lies and trying to drag the country in with him.

Witness his reaction to being called out on Sunday by Meryl Streep. Speaking at the Golden Globes, she said she had been stunned and heartbroken to see him mock a reporter with a physical disability.

It happened at a speech in 2015 in South Carolina. Mr. Trump’s target was Serge Kovaleski, of The Times, who has arthrogryposis, a condition that leaves his right arm and hand bent and rigid. “You ought to see this guy,” Mr. Trump told his audience, flailing his own right arm and hand in the air, making spastic movements, disgracing himself.

The act was contemptible, and in a way unbelievable: a future president showing the maturity and schoolyard viciousness of an 8-year-old.

 “I still can’t get it out of my head,” Ms. Streep said, “because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.” In early morning tweets, Mr. Trump attacked Ms. Streep and swore innocence:

“Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him…….”3:36 AM – 9 Jan 2017 

 “‘groveling'” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!”

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Our Next Book – SMALL HOMES – Now In Production

I started 3 days ago. My M.O. is to open the file drawer and start picking out folders (there are 50-60 now) to work on.

I pick them out randomly and start doing layout— with scissors and removable scotch tape. No stinkin computers at this stage.

I print out the text in 3 & 4 columns, adjust photos to desired size on copy machine, and do rough layouts.

This is turning out to be really fun. We’ve accumulated material for maybe a year and now, the book is starting to assemble itself, in random manner. Organizing will come later.

Note: contact us if you know of small homes (400-1200 sq. ft.) that would work in this book:

smallhomes@shelterpub.com

We are especially interested in any kind of homes in cities and towns.

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Shots of Jameson’s and Spectacular Spider in Kauai

I had so many experiences and shot so many photos during my 3 weeks in Kauai that I could do a mini-book, but there just ain’t the time. So I’ll put stuff up in dribs and drabs. This is Jeremy Hill and his girlfriend Jen (from San Diego) at Mariachi’s bar/excellent restaurant in Kapa’a one night. They bought me a shot.

Jeremy showed me this photo he’d taken of a spider on the island, looks like a fanciful drawing.

A week later Jeremy and I ended up at the Bistro, another v. good restaurant in Kilauea and had a great visit while we ate dinner at the bar.

So much “content,” so little time…

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Candy and the Ship in a Bottle at Aloha-n-Paradise

Yesterday I discovered the espresso hangout in Waimea, called Aloha-n-Paradise, run by the very lively Candy Baar. While waiting for Candy to make my latte, I spotted a dust-covered bottle on a shelf on the porch. It was an exquisite little bamboo house, complete with 2 people and a palm tree impossibly ensconced in a bottle with a rusty cap with a diameter of about 1-1/4 inches. Did they build it inside the bottle, or have it folded so they could slip it in and then pull it erect?

I had to have it. Candy and I agreed on a price and when I get back, it’ll be a star exhibit in the Shelter office.

Coffee is excellent and there’s an art gallery and wi-fi connection.

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Meeting John Henry in Normalville

Got into Pittsburgh on the redeye yesterday — no sleep — can’t ever sleep on planes, even with 3 seats. Picked up rental car, drove out to Seven Springs mountain resort, where I checked into the hotel/ski lodge for The Mother Earth News Fair. On the way to my room I asked the housekeeper about barns in the area. Well, she was local and she started giving me directions. A maintenance guy came along and joined in — he was local, then 2 more women, and they all started giving me directions at the same time, me scribbling down notes.

How about a place to eat, I asked, in a small town, not at one of the restaurants in the lodge. Vikki, the housekeeper said, well, the locals all go to Seymour’s in Normalville.

Normalville? No way was I NOT going to a place with that kind of name.


After a half hour’s drive and many stops for photos of barns and houses (and the ’50s tableau in the photo that was unexpectedly on the side of a small road), I arrived at See-More’s All-Star Grill in, sure enough, Normalville. Authentic! The real America, in many ways. Not a trace of hipsterism, or cappuccino or kale or wi-fi. Local tractor drivers, farmers, people who work with hands.

I had the breakfast special — “Cream Chicken ‘N’ Biscuits/MashedPotatoes/Corn” and it was delicious. I started talking to the guy next to me at the counter. He was lean, maybe ’50s, pony tail, silver earring, turns out he harvests wild ginseng. Which got us into mushrooms, deer hunting, wild foods. We hit it off and shook hands as I left — strong grip. Told him my name, and he introduced himself: John Henry, he wasn’t kidding, I said steel driving man, huh? and he said yeah…

One thing I’ve learned when traveling to never-before-visited places is: Ask-ask-ask. I used to venture out solo, but now whenever possible, I ask people. Barns, food, coffee, music, new hip city neighborhoods…If people see you’re interested in what’s on their turf, they’ll go out of their way to help. Here, several times, cashiers walked out of their stores with me to point out directions…

Had a great day yesterday with cameras, drizzly rain notwithstanding, the excitement of newly discovered territory…

Lots of interesting stone masonry in area. This is a chiropractor’s office on the road to Seven Springs.

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The Serra Boys

From left: Chime, Tony, Shelter, Ivory at a small town 4th of July parade. I’ve known Tony for 60 years, twins Shelter and Ivory since the day they were born.  Not many people know that Tony was a star high school athlete (Lincoln H.S., San Francisco, 1949-’52). Fullback on the football team, he also passed and punted, and he excelled at baseball and basketball. No one does that nowadays, what with sports specialization.

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