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Shelter Serra skating bowl at Chelsea Piers skate park

Twins Shelter and Ivory Serra were born in Bolinas 35 or so years ago and now live in NYC. (They're sons of my longtime friend Tony Serra.) I hang out with them a bit every time I go to New York. When I was there for the book convention in late May, we went down to the new skate park on the Hudson. I got Shelter to strap my G0Pro Helmet Hero video camera onto his helmet as he made one round around the park and into and out of the bowl. Hang on!

Medical marijuana and insecticides

From an interview with homesteader Rosie Brown from the Mendocino magazine The New Settler Interview, Issue 149, Summer 2010, editor Beth Bosk.
Rosie: “…patients need to know that it is virtually impossible to grow organically indoors. Indoor growers are going to use something that you should not be using if you are really sick. This is herbal medicine, and…it's got to be grown outdoors. You wouldn't buy wine where the grapes were grown indoors. I don't even like hothouse tomatoes. Picture … apple trees lined up in a warehouse, under lights in rock wool. It's a brave-new-world. It horrifies me. Part of what make's herbal medicine good is its attachment to nature. Being outside. Being influenced by the sunlight and the moonlight. Everything is better being grown outdoors."
The lesson: know your grower. Your lungs are precious!

Cottage for sale Boston $235,000

This cottage for sale in Dedham, near Boston. 737 sq. ft., built in 1910, 1 bedroom, 1 bath.
Open house Sunday, July 18, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.,
Margaret Matthews of Donahue Real Estate in Dedham
Sent us by Kevin Kelly.

Mexican/American song about Arizona's new hate law

Photographer Bill Steen (The Straw Bake House) and musician Eugene Rodriguez collaborated on this great music video: Estado de verguenza -- State of Shame:

Mrs. Restino's Country Kitchen back in print

14 years ago, we thought the world was ready for a cookbook based on what's growing in the garden, the wild, or locally available. We published this book — which turned out to be ahead of its time. Now we're happy to have it back in print. It's a great cookbook "…for people who want to learn more about how to use healthy ingredients to whip up delicious meals without too much fuss." Suzy and Charlie Restino moved from New England to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, in 1971, built a house, planted a huge garden, large greenhouse, root cellar, had chickens, cows, goats — a real homestead. Suzy's a real writer, witty and insightful, and did all her own drawings. A few people have told me it's their favorite cookbook. This is the style of cooking we practice. As local as possible. As home-grown (or gathered) as possible. “Country cooks have to do a lot of improvising, experimenting, and inventing in the kitchen. You have to, since the store may be far away.…” Interspersed with homesteading experiences of two people who left city for country in the '60s (and super relevant today).
Available here: http://shelterpub.com/_mrck/mrck_book.html

Whirling logs — Navajo hogan

In Spring 1973, Jack Fulton and I took off in my BMW 2002 for New Mexico to shoot photos for the upcoming book Shelter. On our way home, we ended up on a dirt road on a Navajo reservation in Arizona. We pulled into a market, and this hogan was sitting out in front of the store. I put my fisheye lens on the dirt floor and set the camera on self timer. That's me and Jack standing in the doorway (and reflected in lens-bounce). This shows pretty clearly the ingenious method for framing hogan roofs, with succeeding layers of poles overlapping at 45° angles. They were then covered with soil (and probably bark underneath). This photo appears on page 35 of Shelter.

Witty carrots

Each night now Lesley goes out to the garden for dinner vegetables. Here, at the start of a salad, are sliced Purple Haze carrots (something you'll never get from agribiz farmers).
Growing here now: asparagus, artichokes, lettuce, fava beans, kale, peas, zucchini, green onions, carrots, golden beets, parsley, basil, scarlet runner beans, torpedo onions, chartreuse cauliflower, potatoes, strawberries, raspberries (prolific).
Coming along: tomatoes and lemon cucumbers.
Fruit coming along: plums, apples.
Every bit of our food waste for almost 40 years has been composted and is now in the garden soil. When I go to the city, I have a hard time puttingt food scraps into the garbage.

Drawing of Yurt

This drawing of a Mongolian yurt is on page 16 of Shelter. We were never able to find out where it came from. For a great history of yurts, from ancient to modern (with a couple of dozen photos), see Becky Kemery's website: http://yurtinfo.org/yurtstory.php#traditional.

South of Broad by Pat Conroy

I just finished reading South of Broad by Pat Conroy. A wonderful book, its characters alive and vital. Here is Conroy writing about floating in a marsh in South Carolina:

"…I threw the inner tube into the retreating tide—it was the exact hour that the moon had issued the recall papers to all the waters of the marsh. As we stepped onto the dock, the tides turned, exactly as I had planned it. We dove into the warm, sweet waters and came up to the inner tube laughing, then began our long, slow-motion float out toward the Atlantic, which in its immensity and silence, waited for all things… Sheba looked toward Sullivan's Island and then back to the white chessboard of the city. The marsh held the deepest green of summer, the green of vestments, chameleons, or rain forests. The sparkling grass threw off a bright show-offy green that could change its aura when a cloud passed between the sun and the creek, invoking jade or olive oil in the ever-shifting light. Its green was infinite in the moment we found marshes alive in our newfound friendship."

Baby chicks and tiny houses in Petaluma

We got a shipment of baby chicks in the mail a couple months ago, and 2/3 of them died. A combination of cold weather, too long in transit, and the fact that they are all bantams, which are quite small. We ordered another shipment of 28 bantams, and yesterday I drove up the Petaluma to pick them up at the main branch post office, so we got them a day earlier than if we'd waited for them to be delivered to our town. This batch looks really healthy, they're already running around like a bunch of little punks. We keep them in the house under in a big box under an infrared light for a few weeks, then put them in a special wired-off area in the chicken yard, still under a light, until they're feathered out.

On my way home with the box of peeping chicks, I spotted this little building on wheels (at 1840 Petaluma Blvd. N.) There are 4-5 other little buildings there on wheels, the builder is Stephen Marshall, and the website is: http://littlehouseonthetrailer.com/

Tiny houses are hot right now!

Tiny house with 3 stories

In looking at Shelter for material on tiny houses, I ran across a drawing we had of a very steep-roofed little New England cabin. I was going to post the drawing, but in doing some research ran across a photo of the building, along with plans. It looks to be about 16 x 22', and is three stories. It's called The Peak House, and was built in 1680 in Medfield, Norfolk County, Mass. Along with the photo are plans for the timber frame. Available, along with plans for other timber frame buildings of early America, via the Library of Congress at: http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/100_tim.html

Barb and Johnrene with ATV wagon on beach

Barbara on our local beach with a Bobbybilt All-Terrain Beach Wagon, with pneumatic tires, a great beach hauler. Barb's kid, Johnrene, was displaying attitude. Yeah, I'll climb in the wagon for a photo, sure...

Woodstove with stainless water tank

Dennis Mossholder has 98 photos of sequential construction of a tiny cabin (a 12' x 12' prefab) here. Included is this great steel woodstove with stainless steel water tank attached, made by Four Dog Stove of St. Francis, Minnesota.
Sent by Lew Lewandowski

Mudbath in lagoon

A few nights ago I went for a paddle late on a foggy afternoon. The wind had been blowing for about a week, and the water was really cold. I paddled down one of the channels to a spot where there's black, oozy mud on the bottom. I didn't feel like a 100% mud bath, so stopped and plastered my face. The stuff smells of deep ocean and sea minerals and is like glue. I left it on my face for a few minutes and had a bit of panic because my eyes felt glued shut. Then rinsed it off. My skin felt alive.
Here's a post  about mud baths (with pix) from a few years ago: http://lloydkahn-ongoing.blogspot.com/2008/07/paddleboard-and-kayaklow-tide-lagoonmud_13.html