July 18, 2011

Skating on AOL
Seems to be media month around here. A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by AOL in New York. They wanted to do a 1-1/2 min. video on me skateboarding for their "You've got..." series. I met the producer and camera guy in Golden Gate Park on a hot Sunday (when the park is closed to traffic). We spent almost 6 hours, filming, talking, setting things up. Jon mounted a GoPro Helmet Hero HD video camera on my board, and at one point a microphone on the board to pick up wheel noise, and he shot tons of footage with a big Sony video camera. Here's the direct link to AOL Video:

Then Mark Frauenfelder put it on Boing Boing (, and my blog stats jumped to an all-time high -- 4000 visitors yesterday. Hey, for me that's viral! Boinged.

Visitors from France
A week before that we had a visit from Julie and Chou from France, traveling on their exotic homemade carbon fiber tandem bike (note the 2-wheel drive). from LA to Oregon. They're from the Ardheia commune in central France, have built a bunch of structures inspired by our books, and there will be an 8-page feature on them in our tiny homes book. They flew from Europe to LA, disassembled the bike for air travel, and stopped by here en route to Oregon. Kindred spirits.

Visitors from France

Visitors from Barcelona
Then last week a husband-wife camera crew from Barcelona came by. They run the website, with over 500 well-done videos, a lot of them on tiny homes. (One of their videos, on Felice Cohen's 7' x 12' NYC apartment, just went viral, with over a million hits.)

Kirsten pulled out her big Sony video camera (tape cassettes) and started shooting within 5 minutes. Nicolas shot our homestead with a Nikon and just posted a slide show (75 of) them) on Flickr at: They were real interested (as seem to be many people right now) in my old '60s counter-culture books: The original Whole Earth Catalog, the Dome Cookbook by Steve Baer, Domebook One and Domebook 2, the Life Magazine with my wooden dome of those years featured (and Mick Jagger on the cover, ahem, ahem).

Lloyd Kahn

Shelter mentioned in New York Times article last week
There was an excellent article by Penelope Green in the NYTimes Home section last week, on a straw bale builder in the Catskills. Penelope wrote:

“Originally deployed by late 19th-century homesteaders in the Nebraska plains, straw-bale building techniques, though much refined, have essentially remained the same for the last century: hay bales are sliced into blocks, tucked into a frame and finished in plaster. (You can visit many of the early Nebraskan straw-balers, but not the first documented one, an unplastered one-room schoolhouse, because it was eaten by cows.)

Nobody paid much attention to this hardy Plains vernacular until the early 1970s, when Shelter, the building bible of budding counterculturalists, was first published. Included in its tour of zomes, yurts, and treehouses was an essay on the 'baled hay' houses of the Plains.”

She's referring to the photo of a straw bale barn on page 70 of Shelter, BTW, Bill Steen, who co-authored the best selling The Straw Bale House in 1994 with his wife Athena and David A. Bainbridge, told me that this photo was what got him started with straw bale construction in the first place.

Click here for article:

Tiny Homes book
This book has its own life. It's like a living organism right now, changing and assembling itself. We're just there to help. No kidding. It started slowly, and now it's roaring along like a locomotive. Stuff is pouring in. We're already beyond our 224-page count and decided to bump to 240 last week. It's obvious this is going to be a series (we've got tons of material for another book). Last night I shuffled the page print-outs, like a deck of cards, and it's falling into an order dictated by the subject matter. It won't be out until February -- such is the reality of our slow production process and the logistics of printing and shipping from overseas.

Back on bike, out in water
I haven't got out in the woods or beach enough lately, but yesterday grabbed myself by the collar and took off on a long bike ride to a secret pond. It happens over and over: I go for a run or bike ride or paddle after too long indoors and get exhilarated. Why don't I do this every day?


Sweaty when I got to pond. A ring of cattails about 15' deep had encircled the water, so I waded through them, pushing them down, then when it got too deep, lay on them and inched forward until I had a path through the reeds to the water. Lord, do I love to swim. Right now and for the next couple of months the ponds are warm enough to swim in comfort. Swam 15 min., then came back to see this orange dragonfly with yellow eyes (posing near yellow flower). You have to look closely. He's facing us head-on, and his eyes are like little headlights. A little orange B-52 bomber with fog lights.

orange dragonfly

Weather's been cold, warmed up yesterday. Here are two pictures of flowers in the garden, the 1st a hollyhock (note yellow translucent pentagon at center), the 2nd a Rhoeas poppy with seedpod looking like a little birthday cake. Nature unrolls these exquisite works of art to lure pollinating insects. Honeybee to honeybee, "Omigod, we've got to check out that shining pentagon!"

hollyhock rhoeas poppy

4 newly hatched healthy Silver Seabright bantam chicks (the setting mother is a bantam Auracana.)
We have 4 newly hatched healthy Silver Seabright bantam chicks (the setting mother is a bantam Auracana.)

Silver Seabright chickens
Chicks will grow up to look like this

I don't send these newsletters out as often a I used to, what with blogging daily. Here are a few things on my blog:

In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats: Your Guide to Turning One House into Two Homes, great new book by Mike Litchfield:

Long post from my trip to Mendocino county two weeks ago:

Chicken tractors, huge collection of moveable chicken coops:

Awesome bike tricks:


Music du jour: The Very Best of J.J. Cale.
They call me the breeze,
I keep blowin down the road,
I ain't got me no body,
I don't carry me no load.


"I love the life I live and I live the life I love."
-Muddy Waters (written by Willie Dixon, 1915-82)