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Treeman Shaping Big Cypress Tree Tonight

Riding bike down my road tonight,and here was treeman extraordinaire Jack Oakander giving this grownup Cypress tree a nice graceful shape. Jack's company, Pacific Slope Tree Co., does tree work in the San Francisco area, especially Marin County. Sun just starting to set, can see it shining through bottom of tree.

Música del Día: Ray Charles

Sunny Friday morning, after 3 hours of emails on all sorts of biz matters (sigh!), Ray Charles came on, doing "Come Back Baby." The day was lookin better!
  Got me thinking about Ray and his recording of "Am I Blue," live in Japan (in '76 I think). Dialed it up on Grooveshark (here) and once again got chills (running from my ears down arms). A rare performance, with John Coles killing it on the trumpet, the crowd obviously tuned in.
  The second time Ray sings "blue," he makes it into a 6-note word. He starts bending all the held notes. At the very end, he makes "Am I gay…," go "Am I gay-ay-ay…" Just a stunning vocal.

Tiny Texas Houses' Recycled Airstream Project

Greetings Lloyd and Team,
My name is Heath Redding and I work with…Tiny Texas Houses. I wanted to inform you of our Kickstarter that we have just launched! We are taking our houses to the road and building the first Tiny Texas Roadhouse. The kickstarter we have set up is to help fund the tutorial video series that we want to release explaining the whole construction process. Our plan is to post these videos online so everyone can have access to them and do-it-themselves. I wanted to kindly ask if you might post the information on your blog to help spread the word and get this project viral. We have some really cool ideas for this whole endeavor so please check out our kickstarter page!
God Bless and all the best!
Heath Redding
Here is a link to the kickstarter page: http://shltr.net/tinyairstream
(Tiny Texas Houses was featured in Tiny Homes; the cover photo of the book was one of their projects.)

Really Nice Tiny Home in NorCal Woods

Hi Lloyd, …I wanted to share with you and your readers some photos of the hand-built house I recently finished. (Prior to this I had only built some crummy plywood furniture and a couple of sheds.) As with so many of us who read your blog, the design of this house was definitely inspired by Shelter books. When making design decisions I often looked in Builders of the Pacific Coast and asked myself which choice would result in something that felt like it could be in your book - I love the feel of those homes.
   A few things that are unique about my house: - It's solar-powered - The vertical redwood on the outside (and interior wainscoting) is from a really lucky find: I was able to buy a few hundred square feet of redwood T+G from a friend's landlord that had been sitting unused in a barn in Fort Bragg for 30 years!
- The tiny wood stove is called "The Hobbit" and it's from England and it's awesome.
- The house is insulated with discarded sheep's wool.
- I'm 6'6" and the house is big enough for me! (I can stand under the loft and sit up tall in the loft)

Usain Bolt Photo by Chang W. Lee

Yesterday The NY Times ran this photo of Bolt winning the 100 meters in the Olympics in 9.63 seconds. He is flying!
   18 other photos by Chang Lee here: http://shltr.net/leebolt 

"Every sport — actually not just sports, but everything that I take pictures of, whatever the story — is being done by human beings. There are things you never can predict. Things can happen that you don’t expect. As a photographer, you have to open your mind to different things.
   So if you see it — it’s too late — you need to anticipate.…"

Pot Farms Take Dirty Toll

THE GREEN RUSH State's medical marijuana boom is wreaking havoc on some fragile habitats. December 23, 2012, LA Times, |Joe Mozingo
EUREKA, CALIF. — State scientists, grappling with an explosion of marijuana growing on the North Coast, recently studied aerial imagery of a small tributary of the Eel River, spawning grounds for endangered coho salmon and other threatened fish.
   In the remote, 37-square-mile patch of forest, they counted 281 outdoor pot farms and 286 greenhouses, containing an estimated 20,000 plants -- mostly fed by water diverted from creeks or a fork of the Eel. The scientists determined the farms were siphoning roughly 18 million gallons from the watershed every year, largely at the time when the salmon most need it.
   "That is just one small watershed," said Scott Bauer, the state scientist in charge of the coho recovery on the North Coast for the Department of Fish and Game. "You extrapolate that for all the other tributaries, just of the Eel, and you get a lot of marijuana sucking up a lot of water.... This threatens species we are spending millions of dollars to recover."
   The marijuana boom that came with the sudden rise of medical cannabis in California has wreaked havoc on the fragile habitats of the North Coast and other parts of California. With little or no oversight, farmers have illegally mowed down timber, graded mountaintops flat for sprawling greenhouses, dispersed poisons and pesticides, drained streams and polluted watersheds.

Mayan Calendar: Beginning of New World

From Megan Paris on New Year's day:
"Mayan priests and spiritual guides in Guatemala have said, "The end of the period of the Fifth Sun (which happened on Dec. 21, 2012) will usher in a new era, in which there will be positive changes in every respect for humanity.
   A Mayan era consisted of 13 cycles, each named B'aktun, and concluded every 5,125 years. According to the Mayan calendar, Dec. 21, 2012 was the end of the current era, which began in 3114 BC, and the beginning of a new era.0   If you do the math, I think we are in pretty good shape to go…"

Scottish Woodworker + English Homestead

Just ran across these two nice blogs this morning:



Godfrey Stephens and Mini Mini Car in Victoria, BC

Around the Homestead as The Year Turns

Cold Weather Layering Brrr! Cold. For California, that is. Sunny morning. California defaults to blue skies in winter, whereas I've found Europe in winter defaults to grey. These mornings, it's 40-50° inside the production studio. Right now I have on 5 layers -- silk undershirt, 2 different weight Smartwool Merino shirts, homemade vest, Patagonia down vest, homemade (fingerless) gloves, silk scarf and large wool scarf, homemade Alpaca wool knit hat. Oh, and Smartwool Merino wool longjohns, knee-length wool socks and Army fatigues (which I love for the pockets), Keen (the brand, that is) lightweight hiking boots. Actually, I never toted up all my winter clothes before. Layers. We have a couple of little 660 watt ceramic electric heaters which we use to heat the person, not the room. I leave mine on for maybe half an hour on cold mornings, then turn off. Take a walk to get blood moving.
Skinning Roadkill Fox The other morning a large ice chest appeared in our yard with a note saying, "For Lloyd from Nate." Inside was a very large male grey fox that had been hit by a car. It had a beautiful glossy winter coat. There used to be lots of them around, then maybe 10-12 years ago, they all disappeared. Now coming back; beautiful, elegant little animals. They are to domestic dogs like buffalo are to beef cattle.
I skinned it, stretched it on a piece of plywood and salted it down. In a week I'll send it off to be tanned.

Losing Everything–Starting Over with a Tiny House

"The short story is: we lost the home and business in the blackhole of economic reality. We took what jobs we could find and started saving as much as possible. Thoughts of moving to a more rural setting filled our heads and we started to make plans. Through purchasing Mortgage Free by Rob Roy, we came across the basic idea of finding the best land we could afford to purchase with cash, and then live in a temporary shelter while we built our larger home. Temporary or not, we knew that we wanted a decent quality of life from the structure. We were challenged. How could we do this quickly and with cash? When I found tinyhouseblog.com, I was inspired by the ideas and immediately started designing our mobile mansion.…"

Firewood Art

Several people have sent me emails with these and a bunch of other photos of art made of firewood. (One of them is in our book Builders of the Pacific Coast, done by Alastair Hezeltine (p. 170).) I can't locate where this group came from.