• Subscribe to
    Lloyd’s Blog via RSS.
  • Check out TheShelterBlog.com
  • Tools for the
    Half-Acre Homestead

Big Storm Hits Norcal/$1500 10 x 10' Cabin/Solomon Burke & Otis Redding

Pacific Ocean Kicks Ass

We've been without power for over 36 hours now and I'm doing a little bit of office work running a Honda Generator which is pretty quiet, economical on fuel usage — am I sounding guilty here?
We live on a short peninsula, surrounded on 3 sides by water (Pacific Ocean 2 sides and a sea water lagoon)—— kind of like an island. Big storms come in from the south, and this one was a doozy. Maybe every ten years or so we get hit like this. I woke up around 3 AM, worried about roofs, fences, drips, flooding. Yesterday (Fri) I stumbled from one emergency to another. Battening down a flapping tin roof with a drill gun as wind howled and rain pounded. Quick breakfast, then a couple of hours unplugging a drain so water wouldn't back up into our (mail order) book storage room, also digging a narrow drainage trench in the rock-hard gravel road with a pick. Hey aren't I too old for this? Then guess what? A medium sized acacia has fallen across the road, blocking traffic. Local dude Isan cuts it in half, hauls the other half off so road is open. I grab chain saw and got maybe a third of a cord of firewood. Trees down everywhere, waves 30 ft every 14 seconds (surfers will know what this means). Logs washing in. Every once in a while us coastal people get reminded of who's boss. Mother Nature to earthlings: "Let's see what the California lifestyle is like without electricity for a few days, assholes." Cheery last night tho, no power, just candles and wood fire.
Update Monday, Jan 7, '08: It's now been almost 3-1/2 days without power.

Music du jour

First I listened to Solomon Burke singing his song "Down in the Valley," done with tubas and gorgeous vocal scales and trills in 1962. Hearing that I grabbed an Otis CD and put on the same song, done in '65. It just doesn't get any better than these two guys. Throw in Sam Cooke and you have a trio of Angels.

$1500 Cabin

Cheyenne's office. It cost about $1000* in materials in 2001 and was built by Ian Wall. Framed with logs from the woods — free. Sheathed with OSB particle board — quick, strong. Exterior walls "first-cut" cedar from nearby mills — free. Asphalt shingles for roofing. Front deck for sitting in the morning sun. Couldn't be much simpler — or cheaper. In many parts of the country you don't need a permit for a 100 sq. ft. structure. This is a brilliant little building.
*I figure $1500 today.
Cheyenne is one of the owners of Strongwater Camping,(cabins and campsites) in Egmont, British Columbia. She can't believe I'm putting this in the book. I told her, it's perfect, it's a practical, cheap and aesthetic way to get a roof over your head.
When I first got to the campgrounds, this little dude (Cheyenne's) came in and took my measure. Just stood there and looked at me for a long time, stone sober. Talk about presence.


A lot of people stay at Strongwater because it's near Skoo-kumchuck Tidal Wave, a whitewater phenomenon on the "Sunshine Coast" of BC that produces a long wave ridden by kayaks and, as of recently, surfers.

Crabbing On the Deep Blue Sea/Bolinas Fishermen

The last day of 2007 I went out on a crab boat with local fishermen Josh Churchman and Rob Knowles. I'm writing an article for the local paper, The West Marin Citizen, on the state of local fishing and pending regulations that may well put them out of business. I shot photos of them taking in about 750 pounds of crab on this sunny day and am starting to work on the article now. Local fishing is an environmentally sound, sustainable form of food production and bureaucrats and regulators seem to be moving in the opposite direction. I hope this article will show the wisdom and desirability of keeping small-scale local fishermen at work along the California coast. The real problems are with king size boats that drag nets along the bottom or otherwise practice a rape-the-ocean form of fishing. Go after these guys, not the little guys.

Rob works like a dervish, rebaiting each pot and grabbing the crabs and tossing them into boxes while Josh maneuvers the boat to make Rob's job easier.

At the end of the 4-hour day they had about 750 pounds of fresh healthy crab, which they unloaded onto Rob's truck. Crabbing is a wonderful local, sustainable resource

NorCal Battens Down the Hatches/Chantrelles and Blewits

There's a big storm system heading our way, due to hit this afternoon, with 60 mph winds predicted for Friday and Saturday. All the weather people seem agreed on this one. We surely need the rain. Just now I walked out to the cliffs to look out at the ocean (San Francisco is about 15 miles across the water from us), and the first big drops were falling, the high winds and deep rainclouds still out at sea. Exciting!
Two days ago I rode my bike about three miles and hiked two miles searching for mushrooms. I found just a few chantrelles and a nice bunch of young blewits. The ground was pretty dry. Bring on the rain! I love getting out in the woods. It's an antidote to spending so much time at a computer. Reconnecting with the natural world.

chantrelles on left, blewits on right

What Do Alexander Graham Bell, Buckminster Fuller, and Bill Gates have in Common?

They're ripoff artists. They appropriated the works of others without due credit. In a new book, The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret, author Seth Shulman says that Bell bribed a patent examiner to get a look at the work of rival Elisha Gray and was erroneously credited with filing first. (This from an article in the S.F. Chronicle on Dec. 31. 2007.) Buckminster Fuller, who patented the geodesic dome in 1955, was preceded some 30 years by the world's first geodesic dome in Jena, Germany in 1922. The true inventor was Dr. Walter Bauersfeld. I did some investigative reporting in 1973 and wrote about this in our book Shelter in the same year: http://www.telacommunications.com/geodome.htm and am happy to see (when doing a Google search for "jena/bauersfeld/geodesic," Bauersfled is now credited with his invention.
And of course Bill Gates and Microsoft have repeatedly lifted ideas from the best and brightest, usually without credit or recompense, to patch together the Windows operating system and reap the rewards of other people's work.
A book could be written on the subject, something like "Credit Where Due." An intriguing example of this is the work of Francesco di Giorgio Martini, born 13 years before Leonardo da Vinci. Di Martini was a painter, sculptor, military architect and engineer in Siena who designed an amazing number of gizmos, including weight-moving and -lifting machines; water-raising devices; mills; and carriages with complex transmission systems. The similarity of much of da Vinci's work to that of Francesco is striking. "In 1490, summoned by the Duke of Milan to give an opinion on architectural matters, Francesco met the young Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo, struck by the competence of his senior colleague, carefully studied Francesco's Treatise on Architecture, in which he made some manuscript annotations." Click here for a ton of drawings and models of Francesco's work at the Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy.

Treadmill-powered grinding mill

Good-tasting Liquid Multi-Vitamins, Liquid Glucoasamine by Mail

I had a problem taking glucosamine in tablet form. I was gagging on the horse-size pills and this seemed to cause an automatic antipathy to swallowing pills of any nature. After some research I discovered Utrition liquid vitamins. Their Liquid Vitamin Plus has an excellent lineup of vitamins A, B, C, D, and E + other ingredients and tastes like frozen orange juice. Their Liquid Joint Repair has 2000 mg glucosamine, 1200 mg chondroitin and is good tasting as well. I keep these in the frig and take a swig each day. Simple.

Liquid vitamins, joint repair

I also discovered a very sharp website: http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/multi.html that is totally on the ball, has quick service, and has thousands of nutritional products.

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.