tiny homes on wheels (15)

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!)…

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GIMME SHELTER – August, 2020

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.


Our Brothers and Sisters in France

Our friend Paula, who lives in a houseboat in Amsterdam, once said to us that France was “the California of Europe.” There do seem to be many French people who share the concepts in our books (which I believe reflect the California lifestyle) in building, gardening, and the spectrum of DIY. The French translation of our book Home Work sold over 10,000 copies.

Our French friend and carpenter Yogan and his creations have appeared in a number of our books. He was hiking in the Pyrenees recently and came across this beautiful little home. He recognized it from Home Work, where it was featured in a section on countercultural builders in France, and shot this photo. It was built by Jeanne-Marie; she based the design on the old stone barns of the region, but used wood rather than stone. It’s one of my favorite little homes.

Epiphyllum Oxipetalum, Brahma Kamalam night-blooming flower(Home Work, published in 2004, is the sequel to Shelter. Many of the homes in Home Work were inspired by the builders and buildings in Shelter.)

Epiphyllum Oxipetalum, Queen of the Night Cactus

The flowers bloom only at night. This one is in our greenhouse. Lesley has been checking it every night and last night, voila! In India, it’s called Brahma Kamalam, named after the Hindu god of creation. In Japan, it is called “Beauty under the Moon.” It is very fragrant, may bloom once a year. And then — in exquisite restraint — for only one night.

truck camper

On the Road

We’re starting to gather material for another book on rolling homes. A lot has happened since 2014, when our book Tiny Homes on the Move was published. For one thing, there’s been an explosive interest in vans, as evidenced by Foster Huntington’s Van Life: Your Home on the Road, which has sold 75,000 copies. People are taking off for vacations in vans, and as well, some people who have been laid off and can’t pay their rent due to the coronavirus, are looking at nomadic living as an option.

We’re looking for the new generation of road homes, circa 2020 and beyond — different from the vehicles (or trailers) shown in present books. What’s new out there?

If you know of any unique units, please contact me:
Send Submission Email
.

Charlie Winton, Musician

Those of you who know Charlie from the publishing world (founder of Publishers Group West, the Avalon Publishing Group, and Counterpoint LLC); well, surprise! When he retired from publishing, he picked up his guitar and started writing songs. He’s just come out with his first album — Hold On Tight — and it’s great — rock and roll!

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Steve McQueen’s 1952 Chevrolet 3800 Camper Truck

There’s no doubting Steve McQueen’s rep as a bonafide gearhead. From making some of the greatest all-time car movies to having a massive personal collection of his own, he was always behind the wheel of one slick ride or another. This 1952 Chevrolet 3800 pickup is a little off-speed compared to the rest of his stable, though, and it was supposedly one of his most beloved possessions. The story behind it could’ve never been written; instead, it could only happen to someone as intriguing and treasured as McQueen himself.

And now, the camper truck is for sale.

www.thedrive.com/news/33279/steve-mcqueens-1952-chevrolet-3800-camper-truck-can-be-yours

From Lew Lewandowski

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“Tree of Life” Window

From Uncle Mud, who wrote: “I’m off to the mountains of Jamaica to teach mud building again next week. The village of Nine Mile is very sweet to us. The little kids call me ‘Meesta Mood’. People there make $20 a day but a sack of cement costs $10 so no one every finishes their house. When we were there in 2018 we taught them how to make windows out of bottles that get thrown by the side of the road, putting up a rough ‘Tree of Life’ window in the dead of night before our flight home. When we came back in 2019 we were treated to this lovely view of the finished window.”

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Milt’s Travels in Baja California

Milt (don’t even know his last name) stopped by here last year and showed us his drawings from travels in Baja. I think they’re really good. Here’s a link (scroll down to get to Baja):
www.wanderthewest.com/forum/topic/17817-milts-baja

Another link to Milt’s other travels: www.wanderthewest.com/forum/topic/13516-milts-illustrated-journals-in-review

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Schoolbus Home in Santa Cruz, California

Thanks so much Lloyd for everything you’ve done to stimulate my passions for freelance building & creating cozy living spaces. Good to grow older together through your writings. Here is my ’59 Chevy bus that I did in ’81. I lived in it for a long time, now it’s in my backyard in Santa Cruz, being a choice shelter for family and friends.

I recently finished the sauna and the WC. (Who needs a driver seat and steering wheel?) Toilet is plumbed in to the house sewer. Besides the bus being used as a guest quarters, it’s also my regular kick-back space.

Right now i am in the middle of converting the interior of my modest 130-year-old Victorian here in Santa Cruz. I grew up in the Netherlands and did quite a bit of traveling in the region. I decided to try for a farmhouse-feel interior. The 42 hand-hewn beams arrived from Pennsylvania a couple of years ago. I’m not rushing it. Half the fun is trying to figure it all out anyway.

Anyway Lloyd, thanks for responding, I’ve been a big fan of all your writings, from the get go!

Looking forward to saying hi next time you’re at Bookshop Santa Cruz, introducing your latest book!

–Rolf Pot
Santa Cruz

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Dodge Ram Promaster City Van

238425

Spotted this in San Francisco last week. Lots of interior space, sliding doors both sides. 178 hp. 4-cylinder, 9-speed automatic, 24 mpg, about $24k; half the cost of Mercedes Sprinter van (altho the dodge is neither 4 wheel drive nor diesel). Looks like a pretty good base for building your own RV.

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