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Fin Whale & Killer Whales Off Haida Gwaii

 From an email from Aija Steele to her dad, Godfrey Stephens: "Thought you might like to see some whale pictures Jim just sent from the Whale Scientists who were following Off Shores around Haida Gwaii and beyond.
The first is a Fin Whale, second largest next to the Blue.
The others are the rare 'Off Shore' Killer Whales whose teeth are worn down due to their choice of cuisine; sharks!"

325 Sq, Ft. NYC Apartment Mockup

By Sally Augustin, March 22, 2013

"I dropped by to visit the “Making Room” show at the Museum of the City of New York, which features a mock-up of a 325 square foot apartment. I was curious to see the “micro-studio” with its handy tuck-away dining table and chair that turns into a ladder to reach high-up storage and fold-down to a full size Murphy bed that fills the space otherwise taken up by the couch. The visit confirmed, at least for me that living in a small space can be a good experience, if certain criteria are met. I took these photos at the exhibit.…"

Click here.

The Farm From Afar

Editorial, The Rural Life, The New York Times, March 21, 2013
Last week I got an e-mail from one of the two young farmers living at my small farm in upstate New York while I’m teaching in Southern California for the semester. She mentioned “green spears” shooting out of the ground. The thought threw me into a vernal prolepsis, a mental flash-forward to spring, for which there must be a German word or a Chinese poem.
   I imagined the barn with the woodchucks beneath it stirring. I can picture the horses shedding winter, and their hair drifting across the snow.
   There’s plenty of spring in Southern California. Spring comes every time it rains, and it seems truly protean — herbs, trees, shrubs and flowers jostling one another, a mob of blossom, a fog bank of pollen. But I find myself missing the intensity of expectation that spring brings to the farm, the sense that the weather is rushing to meet deadline, a linear thrust toward the heart of May. The cues come in sequence. One day it’s the hellebores, then snowdrops, and then unruly forsythia.
   None of the real farmers in my family have been very good travelers. They went to war — World War II, Vietnam — and when they got home, they didn’t do much leaving again. Once, I met an old farmer who told me he hadn’t missed a milking, morning or evening, in 40 years. It was more than just a sense of duty. It was a worry that things won’t go right — the corn won’t grow, the calves won’t fatten — unless you’re watching.
   In a small way, I know how that feels. Of course, the goldfinches will brighten without me. And the wild mint is already expanding its empire, I’m sure. The barn-loft door stands open, ready for the swallows. I’ll be along soon enough, just behind them.
   -Verlyn Klinkenborg


"In 2002, the government of Norway launched a program to attract more visitors to their 18 scenic highways designated as “National Tourist Routes” by building a variety of architectural overlooks and rest stops along the way. The 18-year project has already built nearly 120 sites that have been designed by…  
   Shortly after moving to Sweden I visited my new neighbor, taking a drive along the west coast of Norway to visit several of the sites. That trip left such an impression that it still inspires me to this day. Here is a selection of photos from that trip to encourage you to put Norway high on your travel destination list. "
-Brian Jones
Click here.

Straw Bale Gardening

In today's New York Times:
"…Are you ready to learn about a transformative garden technology that could change your life — for less than $100? No? I wasn’t sold either when I first heard about a peculiar food-growing method called straw-bale gardening.
…a straw-bale garden is a garden that has been grown in a straw bale. Really. It was Mr. Karsten’s clever notion to condition the bale with a little fertilizer and water, creating a kind of instant compost pile. “The crust of the bale decomposes slowly,” he said. This is the vessel. The inside, which decays faster, “is our potting mix.” Stick a soaker hose on top, then plug some tomato seedlings into a hole gouged out of the straw. Time to wash the taint of barnyard off your hands: you’ve got a vegetable garden."
Article by Michael Tortortello, photo by Tracy Walsh/Poser Design
Click here.

Retrospectives on Iraq War

There were three very good articles on America's debacle in Iraq in yesterday's Op-Ed page of the New York Times (3/20/13), byAhmad Saadawi (here), John A. Nagl (here), and Thomas L. Friedman (here). Retrospectives of the monumental blunders and continuing disaster. (I'm not sure if you need to be a NYT subscriber to get the articles in their entirety.)

Sliding Barn Door Hardware

From Mike Litchfield:

"Just came across a site that you might find interesting, that makes high-quality sliding door hardware--aka barn door hardware. Of course, sliding doors require less room to operate than hinged doors in space-starved houses, especially if it is an oversized door. Problem is that most barn door glides aren't precise and can jam. These guys feature a lot of stainless tracks and all the wheels have ball bearings. Looks like cool stuff."

Click here.


Thursday night, Louie, Titsch and I went out for drinks and food at St. Orres, an upscale restaurant near Gualala. Louie had heard that they had a new bar menu (dinners are in the $40 range), so off we went. We had a great time. Wild boar tacos $2.50 each. Big seafood quesadilla $10.00. Good! We each got a drink, then a bottle of red wine (there goes our low-cost night out).
   It's a great building. Redwood, lots of light, some unique doors sheathed in copper. Attention to detail. They rent little cabins in the garden for around $150.

Titsch is a Welshman, last name Jones. My mom's maiden name was Virginia Jones, so we're distant cousins. (I once heard that there were 350,000 Jones's in Wales, as well as a separate Jones phone book.)
   For the toast to our first drink, Titsch said, "yaccudda" — pronounced "yakki da." (On Google it comes out as "yachydda.")

We started talking about the Welsh language and Titsch said the longest place name in Europe was a Welsh town, which he recited, much to our delight: "Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch:"

He said the name meant something like "St. Mary's church at the foot of the hill beside a willow tree next to whirling brook and a red cave."
Wikipedia details here.

Miniature of Shaker Living Room Circa 1800

Lloyd, My love of exquisite craftsmanship and all things small came together about 50 years ago when I first saw the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. Thought you might enjoy this. Mike Moore
Click here.
(Shaker living room, circa 1800. 9" x 21 3/4" x 24 5/8." Scale: 1 inch = 1 foot)

Stunning Photos of Arctic Animals

"Wildlife photographer Florian Schulz has made a career out of visiting some of the coldest places on earth and documenting the wildlife and incredible beauty of these extremes. His work has come together in To The Arctic, a 3D IMAX film and companion book featuring over 150 photographs. Here, we are highlighting some of the best of his incredible work, which shows us the splendor and yes, cuteness, that we can find in the Arctic."

Music on Highway One

Can we talk music? Rolling north on Wednesday, I got to Jenner where the road climbs so you see a big expanse of ocean. Sunny on the road, with a bank of fog just offshore. Nice light. When things are right, on the road, and the music's good, I pretend I'm a camera, filming the landscape with songs a la serendipity.
   Here's what the Garage station on Sirius played:
-On the album Elvis Live in Memphis, "Trying To Get To You," a lovely version, Elvis strong in voice, the band great, the crowd screaming. I suspect this is a great album.
-The Ramones, "It's Gonna Be All Right." Remind you what rock n roll is all about.
-Arthur Conley, "Sweet Soul Music." Written by Arthur and Otis Redding, I always thought this was Otis singing. This led me today to Same and Dave, James Brown, and Gladiators (reggae) versions of this great song.
-Herman's Hermits doing "Jezebel."

Old Carpenter's Bench

In Louie's shop, this old carpenter's bench from a high school woodshop. There's another vice kitty corner on the other side.  It's made to be utilized by two students. There's a swing-out stool on each side; you can just see the hinge on the right leg here. I'd love to find something like this, but can't locate anything either on eBay or craigslist.

The Chrysler Farmobil: German-Greek Agricultural Machine

"The Farmobile was a simple, low-cost agricultural truck, originally designed by agricultural machinery maker Fahr (in the early '60s). They used the BMW Isetta’s 697 cc engine (0.7 liters), and a Porsche-patented four-speed manual gearbox. Mark Bird wrote, 'The Farmobile actually has more in common wtih BMW’s 700 car than any other vehicle, sharing its entire engine and transmission, brakes, wheels, and transmission shift lever mechanism, supplied to Fahr by BMW.…'”
Click here.
Sent in as a comment from Gill 

Louie's Shop

I brought up my wood carving tools (shown here laid out on Louie's workbench) and we spent some time carving out a spoon from some (halfway seasoned) plum wood. Here are a few photos: Louie's strap for carrying cases of wine, made out of upholstery strap and drilled-out branch handle; his band saw (a powerful tool); Louie using a "slick," a large chisel used by ship builders -- the blade is slightly curved, it's a pleasure to use it.

Will try to put up more photos from trip if I get the time.

Trip #46 to Louie's/Roadkill Deer

After doing the symposium at the Art Institute (Wednesday, 3/13), I took off for points north. I haven't been up to my pal Louie's for some time, but now with shouder recovered (partly) and new Honda Fit, I headed up Hwy. 101, then cut across to the Russian River, to Jenner, and up the coast. This vehicle is a wonder. Drives like a dream; nimble. Even good on country roads. And it's like a clown car; you can get amazing amount of stuff in it. (You're just going to have to bear with me when I rave about this car.)
  Now the next part of this story is for country people, OK?

Tiny Home in Ireland

"…It’s a move from mass-consumption. When you live in a small space, it forces you to think what you need and don’t need.
   Noel Higgins will raise a glass to his tiny, wooden house-on-wheels on Mar 17 to mark the first year of a radical lifestyle change.