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Men and Women Builders

Bettina Snyder sent us this email yesterday from India:
I have 2 grown sons, both sort of computer nerds and more artsy fellows; after reading your HOME WORK I will give them both your book as soon as I can afford it, and tell them to start learning a USEFUL craft with their hands! I can see clearly that an independent and more satisfying life style is only possible when you can create something of your own. All those handsome and bearded men in your book are hands-on, hardworking type people and they are the ones who mostly make it happen. Needless to say I have great respect for the few women in your book and one of them who said "…if I can sew, I must be able to build a house too!" CLASSIC!

Well, Lloyd, you must be used to so much praise from your first book, but even AFTER-the-70's, your vision still inspires, and I badly want to become a contributor for your next book by at least finding and sending photos of some home-made shelters in India. Unfortunately in this Moloch of a city, Delhi, I only come across slum dwellings by the poor who simply steal bricks and and put one stone on top of another without any mortar and for a roof use a thick plastic cover. Hardly qualifies for aesthetics and natural materials...but I hope to find something beautiful soon....

NeemraNa Fort. Palace Hotel

Bettina Snyder, now living in Delhi, sent us this picture of the Neemrama Fort, now converted to a hotel. It is 120 km from New Delhi on top of a plateau and was rebuilt in the 1990s. It covers 3 acres and has 10 stories. Beautiful stone work.

Steady Decline of Reading in America

In a report released in December, 2007, by the National Endowment For the Arts, here is the average number of minutes different age groups spent reading each weekday in 2006:
15-24 years: 07 minutes
25-34 years: 09 "
35-44 years: 12 "
45-54 years: 17 "
55-64 years: 30 "
65-on: 50 minutes
As reported in the November 19, 2007 issue of Publishers Weekly

Stone Castle Fixer-Upper in Bronx

From a story in this mornings NY Times by Joyce Cohen: This stone mansion in the Bronx, dating back to the late 1800s, was built of granite shipped from Europe and carried from the Manhattan docks by horse and buggy. (The workers and their families were said to have pitched tents in the yard for a year as they worked.) It was recently bought by a couple from its 91-year old owner for $675,000. It needs a lot of work, but for the price of a sterile condo, this family will have a unique home.


(c) 2007 Christian Hansen for The New York Times
Full story in the NY Times

Chinese Proverb/Winston Churchill

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
-Chinese Proverb

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
-Sir Winston Churchill

Count Rumford Fireplace in Action

Fireplace at home of Greg and Margie Smith in Northern California. Greg is one of the builders I'm covering in my next book, BUILDERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST. This uniquely shaped fireplace is based on the designs of Count Rumford from the late 1700s, and features a tall, shallow opening and angled sides to radiate heat. It also has a streamlined flue for better draft. Construction details are in Vrest Orton's The Forgotten Art of Building a Good Fireplace.

I was there on a cold December night and four of us sat around the fireplace enjoying the radiating heat.


Click here for a critique of Vrest Orton's book.

Northern California Barn

I've decided to try to make shorter blog postings — more frequently. Here's a barn on river-bottom land near Honeydew, Calif.

The Holkham Bible: Irreverent 14th Century Cockney Version/Jesus Surfing on Sunbeams

I discovered this last night on BoingBoing: A cockney version of the bible from the days of Chaucer. In November, the British Library published a facsimile version (about $100). It includes a translation (the original is in Anglo-Norman French).

Noah and his ark


Here is a video from the British Library showing many of the pages:
9-minute video of the bible from the British Library
Following is a review of the bible from Amazon UK:
"This celebrated medieval picture-book tells the Biblical story, focusing upon the Creation to the Flood, the Life of Christ, and the Apocalypse, with the help of illustrations of everyday 14th-century England. It is based on the biblical narrative but also includes plenty of apocryphal episodes, for example Christ surfing on sunbeams as a child, and God telling Noah to hurry up with the Ark so that he is forced to finish the top section in wicker rather than wood. The costumes, tools, weapons and buildings in the pictures give a near documentary-style representation of many occupations in the age of Chaucer, such as dyer, smith, carpenter and midwife. This distinctive manuscript has now been carefully photographed and reproduced on special paper designed to replicate the look and feel of the original vellum. The facsimile includes Michelle P. Brown's full transcript and translation of the text, and a commentary based on her unrivaled knowledge of the period."

Photo Trip to The Lost Coast: Muscle Bus/Highway Art/Seaside Hawk/Red Red Apples/Barn

I took off early last Thursday morning for points northwest. After a latte and donut in Petaluma, I decided to veer off Hwy 101 and hit Harbin Hot Springs. The hot pool there is 110-115°. Hot! Then under water in the cold pool, and mojo is workin. I love driving through uncharted territory with my camera, searching for photographable objects. It's like hunting. Here are a few shots:

On Hwy 101, south of Garberville


Cut-out art on side of road just north of Ferndale; flock of birds in background


Hawk near beach south of Ferndale


Lovely red colored apples in old orchard near Honeydew


Barn in a deep valley on road between Ferndale and Petrolia (shot with telephoto)

Builders of the Pacific Coast: Alastair Heseltine's Woodpile

I'm working full blast on my next major book on builders, Builders of the Pacific Coast. Alastair Heseltine is a sculptor living on an island in British Columbia who does exquisite weavings with willows and other plants. Some of his creations are with living plants. We are doing two pages on his work. Here is his witty woodpile for 2007 (being reduced in size as we speak for winter heating):

Seasonal sculpture: 50 ft. x 12 ft. split firewood. "This big pile was completed in September and started going into the stove piece by piece in October." ©2007 Alastair Heseltine


Alastair's website showcases the variety of his unique creations:http://www.alastairheseltine.com/

Subterranean Homesick Blues Revisited

I read an article in Ode Magazine* recently titled "Fire Your Gurus," about dumping coaches, therapists, priests, and other masters who promise enlightenment or a better life, or a million bucks in the real estate market. It rang a bell. I thought of Dylan's "Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters," and decided to look up the lyrics. Wow! Reading this as poetry for the first time, all these years later, it stands the test of time. Here are the first two of four stanzas:
Johnny's in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I'm on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he's got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It's somethin' you did
God knows when
But you're doin' it again
You better duck down the alley way
Lookin' for a new friend
The man in the coon-skin cap
In the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got ten

Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin' that the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone's tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May
Orders from the D. A.
Look out kid
Don't matter what you did
Walk on your tip toes
Don't try "No Doz"
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows...

Full lyrics at: http://bobdylan.com/moderntimes/songs/subterranean.html
Copyright © 1965; renewed 1993 Special Rider Music
Ode is a great new magazine, I believe originally from Holland. It's "green," but not preachy, with insightful, relevant articles.

Mark Morford on "Shrill Bible Thumpers"

Mark Morford wrote another great column in the San Francisco Chronicle about boycotts of books and movies by the "…ultraconservative sects of Christian-blasted America…" Specifically, their "pale, dour representatives" are hysterically upset about the books and a movie (The Golden Compass) based upon Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.
"Phillips luminous novels have nothing to do with rejecting faith or destroying the spirit or inhibiting the exploration of what it means to be divine. They relish spirit and the magic of belief and love, are soaked through with divine inspiration of a kind any intelligent Christian (or honest spiritual seeker of any type, for that matter), should crave.…The nefarious thing the books aim to kill is religious authority. It's about the destruction of dogma…"

Title of the column:
Jesus loves 'His Dark Materials'
Shrill Bible-thumpers boycott 'The Golden Compass'; world's children grin devilishly

Click here for full article