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Quail sentry

The male quail is the lookout while the female shepherds the babies around on the ground, teaching them how to scratch and eat. Quail are ground birds, like chickens or pheasants. We also have a lot of doves, and a flock of wild pigeons, which are birds of the air.
The males are so beautiful, with their top knot and  white-outlined black face feathers, they sometimes stop me in my tracks. Such perfection. There are 2 families with babies skittering through the vegetable garden now, the babies starting to fly. We walk slowly around them and they've gotten used to us, so we can get pretty close.

Virginia Jones Kahn, 1907-2010

My mother was born Virginia Essie Jones in Salt Lake City, Utah, on February 13, 1907. With the help and love of her caregiver and soulmate Clara Morales, she lived until about noon on this Monday, the day of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. She was 103 years old.
She never had a doctor (except for emergencies now and then) in her life, never took any kind of pills or medication, and - probably mostly due to her Christian Science religion, saw everything through a positive lens. Several years ago, when she was losing the ability to walk and had other physical limitations of aging, she'd say to me on the phone, "Lloyd, I've never felt better in my life!"

She lived in the Aegis Assisted Living home in Corte Madera for the last 4 years, with Clara her constant companion and later, nurse. She kept things lively right up to the end, with wit, humor, and insight. And she hung on.

Friday she went to sleep and slept for about 3 days. On Monday, Clara's son Jorgito (one of her favorites) came to see her; she opened her eyes, smiled lightly, then closed her eyes and stopped breathing. Very peaceful. No diseases, no medication.

She married my dad, Lloyd M. Kahn in 1934 and they raised us 6 kids in San Francisco. We were a lively family and she captained the ship. The stories abound. Camping at a remote lake in the Sierras, summers at the Russian River, Thanksgiving at Grandmas in Santa Rosa with our (all-boy) cousins, dinners with 6 kids a 3-ring circus, corned beef and cabbage, 26 kids on our block of Ulloa Street…it was a vibrant and rich life.

Her great-great grandfather, George Krieger, fought in the The American Revolutionary War in 1779. Her grandfather, Samuel Crager, fought in the Civil War from 1861-1864.

She was a wonderful and beautiful lady.

Exile on Main Street

With all the recent publicity about the reissue of the Stones' classic album, I realized I'd never owned it, so bought the new version. It's tote-uh-lee great. Reminds me of the days when not a few of us dope-smoking drop-outs from polite society would vicariously strut along with Mick as he sang these incredible songs with his kick-ass band. Greatest rock and roll band in the world, you bet. Unique spin-off of deep and real American blues. I remember thinking that the English no longer control the world's seas, but they have sure revolutionized music. How could white boys be so good?
I'm enjoying the heck out of it this foggy sunny morning, working on my tiny houses book. Here's an anonymous comment on the album on Amazon:
"I came to terms with Exile when asked by a friend what I thought the five all-time greatest Stones songs were — songs that will still be alive 50 years from now. My response was fairly quick — Satisfaction, Gimme Shelter, You Can't Always Get What You Want, Wild Horses, and Sympathy for the Devil. Just my opinion. But I realized immediately none were from Exile, which I think is the Stones' all-time best album. Yes, Tumbling Dice and Happy are up there, and some cuts on Exile are, IMHO, absolutely awesome (viz their cover of Robert Johnson's Stop Breaking Down) — but clearly Exile is not rich in standout hits. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Like few other albums, Exile is a world, a place I immerse myself in — a distillation of American blues and gospel and country and rock — a funky smokefilled bar or afternoon fishfry or steamy bordello, with beer and bourbon, pianos and slide guitars and hard-partying working people letting it loose, shining a light, shaking their hips, boogieing, scraping the sh*t off their shoes, rocking the joint all down the line.…"

View from ridge yesterday

In just a few weeks, the hills have gone from verdant green to golden. This is looking down at Bolinas Bay from the ridge road.

Thomas Jefferson - dude!

I rise with the sun

"But whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise with the sun."
(Jefferson to Dr. Vine Utley, March 21, 1819. Peterson, Merrill, ed. Jefferson: Writings. New York: Literary Classics of the U.S.: Distributed to the trade in the U.S. and Canada by the Viking Press, c1984, p. 1417.)
"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object."
(Jefferson to John Adams, June 10, 1815. Cappon, Lester J., ed. The Adams-Jefferson Letters. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987, p. 443.)


"No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden … But though an old man, I am but a young gardener."
(Jefferson to Charles W. Peale, August 20, 1811. Lipscomb, Andrew A. and Albert Ellery Bergh, ed. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 13. Washington D.C.: Issued under the auspices of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association of the United States, 1903-04, p. 79.)

A Decalogue of Canons for Observation in Practical Life

  • Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.
  • Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
  • Never spend your money before you have it.
  • Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
  • Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
  • We never repent of having eaten too little.
  • Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
  • How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
  • Take things always by their smooth handle.
  • When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.
(Randall, Henry S. The Life of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 3. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1858, p. 525.)


All That Jazz - "Jagger & Gideon!"

I picked this up from Gravel and Gold's blog; it's really cute.

"From "All That Jazz" 1979, directed by Bob Fosse. Joe Gideon (Roy Sheider) is treated to a performance by his daughter Michelle (Erzsebet Foldi) and girfriend Kate (Ann Reinking)."

Me at Gravel & Gold in SF Friday night

I arrived a few hours early for my presentation at Gravel and Gold in San Francisco's Mission District. I had a problem: my new MacBook Pro laptop wouldn't accept the plug-in from my Epson projector. I'd been to the Apple store on the way over, and couldn't find the right connector. The three owners of the store, Cassie, Lisa, and Nile weren't dismayed. We tried all kinds of variations, but nothing seemed to be working. Lisa kept saying, "Don't worry we'll figure it out.” I wasn't so sure. Finally she took off in her car and came back with a borrowed projector. We transferred the data to one of their laptops, then couldn't get the projector going. We tried various combinations, with me having my doubts, but Lisa saying, “We'll get it working.”

Finally one of their friends came in and knew just what to do, and 10 minutes before starting time we were in business. I started by talking a little bit about the first Whole Earth Catalog, and how it and the Dome Cookbook by Steve Baer were my inspiration for getting into the publishing business. Then I showed slides from the three main builders featured in Builders of the Pacific Coast. Finally I showed some slides of tiny houses, the subject of my next book. (Actually, in retrospect, these were photos I grabbed at the last minute and they weren't really representative of the great material I have for this book.)

For me it was a pretty wonderful evening. The store is unique, with eclectic clothing, art, jewelry, crafts, and items you'd never think of until you see them there. Good vibes. The median age in the audience was, I'd say, 30. It's great to be connecting with this generation. Someone asked what I thought of Dwell magazine. I said I couldn't figure out who lives in those houses, but there seems to be no warmth or soul (or funk) evident in the Dwell style. Further, that people like us are interested in shelter that is full of life and warmth and the touch of the human hand.

Gravel and Gold has been mentioned in the New York Times and Vogue magazine and seems to be catching on. It's at 3266 21st St., between Mission and Valencia in San Francisco. Website here. Blog here.
Photo by Evan Kahn

Stuffed toy on fence down by tennis courts