Unless I’ve visited some site featuring illegal, filmed with a webcam in a Chinese or Russian theater pre-release leaked movies… and a weird pop-up came across my screen inviting me to partake of a Russian Marriage Slave…I’m safe. But when your wife calls you into the room and says, “What’s this?!! It says PORN….” it does make your heart skip a beat or two.
If all my problems were so easy to solve I’d be in a lot better shape. “OH!!! That’s just cabin porn!!!”, I say. “Cabin porn?”, she asks, starting to calm down. “Yes…that’s just freecabinporn.com!!”, I reply…as if the free part would cover even more suspicion with acceptability . “It’s a site with a bunch of pictures of cabins from all around the world…it’s pretty cool”.
Then I take her to the site and introduce her to the wonderful world of FREE CABIN PORN…and she gets a chance to get lost in the world of sod-roofed Norwegian huts…stone Italian cottages….funky little houses from all over the world. Once again, all is right in my world. The PORN was just a beautiful collection of photographs of small homes.
The site is administered by the folks who also bring us a site called beaverbrook.com . Cabin Porn is a collection of often reader submitted pictures from all over the world….amazing and modest and creative and colorful houses that are artfully presented. Just photos with brief descriptions of the location…sometimes a little more description to set the scene…but for the most part the cabins speak for themselves. The pictures seem to be pretty high resolution…so it takes a while for the site to load.
These are “human scale” and very personal little houses….a “wish book” source for quiet life design.
Here’s the description of the photo above…taken from the site:
My favorite handmade home of all time, found in this book.
Handmade Houses by Art Boericke and Barry Shapiro is one of the most important books for serious students of cabins, if only because the authors were pioneers in recognizing the wave of handmade homebuilding following the 1970’s back-to-the-land movement.
The book, in fact, inspired Scott Newkirk to build the first cabin at Beaver Brook, our place in the woods.
So there you have it…the only PORN on my computer. Well worth seeking out… and spending some time pondering your escape.
A Post Script….a whole lot of fiction for dramatic effect. My wife knew what the site “cabin porn” was…but it sounded a whole lot more interesting if I pretended that she was upset pre-explanation. Such is life.
Another post script 12/3/2013 If my site gets any hits from a web search, it was this posting under the original title, “The only porn on my computer”. What the heck? So I changed the title so that Arabic google couldn’t find me anymore. I don’t need that kind of traffic…even when I don’t get any traffic otherwise.
I’ve been playing guitar almost as long as I have known how to use a fork. You would think that I’d be a lot better guitar player than I am after 37 years…you’d think I’d be a gourmand after 50 years of using a fork…but I’m not in either case. I bash it out, I shovel it in…which is not to say that I don’t have a profound love and sensitivity for either …eating or playing the guitar…it’s just that neither of them is what I would call a highly developed skill.
I have many touch points for “what I was doing when”…cars, places…guitars. Ah, guitars….I’ve been through a number. My wife gets sick of me saying, “I had one of those Black Beauty Les Pauls! I had an ES125! I had…” . …all of them traded at the pawn shop for something else to satisfy my musical adhd (I traded the Les Paul for an Ovation 12 string and a Marantz cassette deck…arghhhh….bonehead!). Totems….lucky stones….6 string markers for the days of my life.
I think if I have a highly developed skill that it’s probably buying guitars. I don’t know if I’m really good at making a selection…but I am goood at the buying part. I used to love to hit all the pawn shops looking for guitars….trading, buying, reselling for just a little more than I paid for them (I passed along some great deals…holy, smokes)…enjoying the hunt along with the purchase. I probably went through about 5 or 6 Les Pauls that I paid about 200 dollars for each…which amazes me now… but I have to remember that I was making under five dollars an hour at the time. I bought lots of vintage guitars that at the time were just old.
Back in the day (we should all live long enough to be able to say, “back in the day”), before the internet and the Orion blue book, the random amazing deal was a lot easier to come by. If the pawn shop loaned somebody 25 dollars on an old beater Gibson, they probably sold it for 75 dollars. Outrageous deals were a common occurrence. Then the word got out that the Japanese were buying up all the vintage stuff…later the blue book started showing up…ebay happened ….and the market changed. You can still find a good deal….sometimes something so random comes through that the pawn broker can’t research it, can’t find out what it should be priced at…but those days of the “often occurring miracle buy” seem to be gone.
Now I have a family and the selfish pursuit of buying lots of guitars is way back on the farthest back burner. I still get excited when I ask the pawn broker, “could I see that one?”….and he hands it over the counter and I hold it for the first time…”umm…how much are you asking for this one? What’s the best you could do for cash?”…it’s all still a thrill. But I would be on such a list if I came home with every one that got my heart racing. Now my children are playing some guitar so I’ll have an excuse to look for instruments “for them”.
A recovering alcoholic doesn’t go into a liquor store…I don’t spend quite as much time in pawn shops as I used to….now that I’m a recovering “pawn shop guitar” junkie. To justify any of it, I suppose that I could be a crack addict or something worse…something worse than enjoying pawn shop guitars. That’s what I’ll tell my wife if I relapse.
In the 1970’s, there was a slew of books about owner built, funky, human scale houses. Everything was geared to reflect the personality and spirit of the builder…and the builders of these homes were not hobbled by normal constraints like bank loans or building codes. It was a creative time for a lot of things…and that creativity played out in the homes some people were building for themselves.
I read somewhere that the 60’s actually happened in the 70’s. I don’t know if that’s true or not…I’d like to think that it was as my teenage years took place in that time period. It seems a lot more digestible to be able to think that I grew up in the “late period sixties” than that I came of age in the disco era. Maybe it was a last gasp situation before we veered into the 80’s, I don’t know…but it was my time of youthful exuberance… so to me it was a golden age. ( All the flappers say, “How about that F. Scott?!! Wasn’t that a time?!!)
This book is one of many on this subject that I have in my collection. It seemed that for a time in the seventies that there was a lot of this type of book for sale. Like Carter in the White House…turning down the heat and putting on a sweater…I think we were pretty aware of what could be done after coming out of the sixties. Maybe we were getting further along in the practical application of our ideas…seeing how the conceptual actually played out when you could walk inside the dream…I don’t really know.
I was and am obsessed with this type of building. I’ve been in a few homes that completely reflected the personality of the builder…it’s a shock after living in and around most of the cookie cutter houses that the majority of us own. The building codes it seems are there as much to protect us as to guarantee that we use a certain type of material, keep a bunch of government folks employed, don’t build anything that freaks anybody else out…and generally just rein us in. If there wasn’t money being made from the process, I wonder how much interest any of them would have in my “welfare”? That’s a cynical viewpoint but it makes you wonder who’d come around to check on you if it wasn’t their job. Life is not meant to be a work of art (to the general population) …it’s meant to be a “standing in line”, a waiting…an expectation that at some point the living will start, whether at graduation or retirement or marriage. The beauty of these pictures of houses to me is that I get the impression that there isn’t a sense of deferral of life…they are vital and alive in the moment.
There are some beautiful books being published now on this subject. Many of my favorites are published by Shelter Publications (see the earlier blog post on them)…wonderful books full of life and color and brave people. This book, Handmade Houses, is out of print but still “findable” as a used book. It is worth seeking out…it’s a great little book with some really wonderful pictures.
I guess the house we live in is really just an expression of what we are. We become less, I’m afraid, when we are never given the gift of believing that life is more than a long period of “quiet desperation” before we die (Hey….whadda ya gonna do?!! That’s LIFE!!!) Like the frog in the “gradually getting hotter” water, we need to keep swimming… no matter how uncomfortable it gets…or get ready to jump.
“Well,” the attendant replied, “what kind of people live back where you are from?”
The visitor thought for a moment and replied, “They are mean and dishonest!”
The attendant looked up and answered, “Mister, you will find them about like that around here, too.”
A few weeks later, another gentleman stopped by the gas station with the same question. “Excuse me,” he said, “I’m thinking of moving my family here. What kind of people live in these parts?”
Again, the attendant asked, “Well, what kind of people live back where you are from?”
The stranger thought for a moment and replied, “I find them to be decent, honest folks.”
The gas station attendant answered, “Mister, you will find them about like that around here, too.”
I listen to books on tape while I’m delivering the mail (cd, really…I don’t know if anybody uses tapes anymore) and ran across this story on an old Earl Nightingale recording. I think the original story might have been by Carl Sandburg….I’m not really sure. Anyway…it’s a simple story that really resonated with me.
They say that most entrepreneurs find success after they move to a new and fresh area. I don’t believe that this is only due to their ability to pick a strong profit center…to pick an area more conducive to their efforts. I think that it’s probably because they allow themselves to see potential where they couldn’t see it in the old place…and because they see potential, they act with the positive expectations the new perspective affords. This doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any potential in the old area…just that they didn’t see it…couldn’t see it …until their eyes were opened by the new unfamiliar.
We live in a nation built on immigrants. Now I hear people rail against the Mexican population…”they’re taking our jobs!!!”…but years ago, it’s a good possibility that some of the jobs were being “taken” by some of the complainer’s ancestors. Many of the most successful immigrant entrepreneurs are Korean. Why do you suppose that is? Maybe because they see potential and possibility in this country…because they see that if you work incredibly hard and live insanely frugally that this country gives them a lot of opportunity. Some of the complainers might say, “they take advantage of every entitlement!!! A white man can’t get a break!!!”, but I think that they see a better opportunity in the “land of the free”…and aren’t afraid to try and utilize the opportunity they’re presented with.
People talk about the ECONOMY….like it’s the best explanation for their own failure. “I coulda been a contendah!!”…if it wasn’t for the danged economy. Some of the most creative people have flourished during times of “hardship”…(this is kind of an aside…but I guess it’s relevant… Do you know why so many artists and writers…Hemingway, etc…went to Paris after the war? Did they recognize a place where an artist’s community would flourish? Did they think that the French women liked the sensitive Americans? Did they like the French wine? It was because the French money was so damaged after the war ended that they could live very cheaply there. The bad economy was a bonus). We find opportunity wherever it is if we are looking for it.
The story of the gas station attendant and the travelers is a good simple illustration of this idea. Our expectations color our experience to a large degree (although I did expect a decent hamburger at the Dennys on that trip to Washington DC…that didn’t work out so maybe expectation isn’t always enough)…our expectations and our perspectives are really all that we have any control over. Everything else just “comes at us” with its own personal momentum. We don’t have any control over the actions of other people or the actions of the world…but we do have control over our responses to what happens around us.
I had a friend at one of the thrift stores we liked to stop at when we were doing out “thrift circuit”. Jerry had lost his wife to cancer years earlier…and now he had cancer. I’m sure that there was a lot of times that I’d see him that he was in a lot of discomfort…but every time, when I’d say, “Jerry, how are you doing?”…he’d answer, “FANTASTIC!“. I suspect that he really was “FANTASTIC”…and his enthusiasm was infectious…genuine and infectious. He blessed me with his willingness to see the positive…and he blessed himself with the world he saw himself a part of.
We find what we look for…”as a man thinketh in his heart”…Lord, help me look to find the good in the people around me. It’s more fun for me when I’m surrounded by the “decent, honest folks”.
Dolly Freed, future rocket scientist and 17 year old possibility thinker, wrote and published this book about living off the land and living her own way in 1978…so I guess that means that “Dolly Freed” (a pseudonym) was “green” before being “green” was cool.
The title of this post is probably inaccurate. I suspect that Dolly Freed knew exactly what she was doing…and if anybody said, “you can’t do that!” she probably, at least inwardly, replied, “oh, really? well….I’m doing it.” The old “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than to ask for permission” maxim must have gotten a real workout in the case of Dolly Freed and possum living.
Living a low cost, low impact lifestyle so that you can be freed up to experience life your own way is an appealing possibility. The old Robinson Crusoe story was engaging because his circumstance allowed him the necessity of simple survival…and his creative ability allowed him to survive with style. He was alone…independent except for Friday…and he survived. Now it’s an alternative lifestyle choice. If you don’t have (or decide not to spend) a lot of money, you can wrap yourself up in the creativity of survival and call it “my alternative lifestyle”…re-frame your situation so it looks a whole lot cooler than it possibly is. Where I live, I suspect sometimes that if it wasn’t for their “trust fund parachute” that a lot of the hipster, dumpster diving, thrift store loving, patchoulie wearing temporary “poor people” would be terrified of not having a fully funded IRA and a good full time job. Poverty is a whole lot more fun when you can jump to the “other side” whenever you want.
I never get the impression that Dolly was one of these posers. I think that she just quietly went about her life and, except for writing the book under a pseudonym, didn’t do a lot to draw attention to herself. It wasn’t a situation of “look at me…I found a banana in the dumpster….look at me!!!”…it was just eating the banana.
There are a lot of simple living books out there now…a bookshelf full of simple living books is pretty funny to me…I have a bunch of them…nothing too simple about a whole lot of simplicity cluttering up your life. Dolly Freed wrote one of the seminal books about freedom and simplicity and possibility…and even though it is an older book it is still in print and still relevant today.
I spent a lot of years thinking that the first song that David Byrne wrote, “Psycho Killer”, was the result of his inability to successfully imitate Alice Cooper. Something so quirky and original was , in my mind at least, the end result of the failure to not be original.
Blair Jackson, writing in Mix magazine in late 2002, wrote an article about the creative process that the songwriter went through when he was writing the song. I’ll include the whole quote because it helped me understand that David Byrne probably had a good notion of what he was doing.
Byrne noted many years ago, “‘Psycho Killer’ was written as an exercise with someone else’s approach in mind. I had been listening to Alice Cooper — Billion Dollar Babies, I think — and I thought it was really funny stuff. I thought, ‘Hey, I can do this!’ It was sort of an experiment to see if I could write something.
“I thought I would write a song about a very dramatic subject the way [Alice Cooper] does, but from inside the person, playing down the drama. Rather than making it theatrical the way Alice Cooper would, I’d go for what’s going on inside the killer’s mind, what I imagined he might be thinking.
“I wanted it to be like Randy Newman doing Alice Cooper. One way of telling the story would be to describe everything that happens — ‘he walks across the room, he takes so many steps, he’s wearing such-and-such.’ That tells you everything that’s going on, on one level, but it doesn’t involve you emotionally. The other extreme is to describe it all as a series of sensations. I think that sometimes has more power and affects people a little stronger. It seemed a natural delusion that a psychotic killer would imagine himself as very refined and use a foreign language to talk to himself.”
So…maybe it was the inability to write an Alice Cooper song that brought us “Psycho Killer”…maybe it was a much more conscious thing. The original quote made me think that it was only his attempt to write an Alice Cooper song…more naive and less self aware than the introspective quote above would have me believe. I kind of like the thought of it being a “happy accident” a little more than the idea that he knew what he was doing the whole time.
I tend to gravitate towards the artists who can’t help but be originals. Whether it’s the visual arts or music or any of the other ways people express themselves, it’s the people who are so quirky and outside the expected that capture my interest. I wonder how many of these people are never noticed or give up on their talents because they “can’t sing like Rihanna…can’t write like Bon Jovi…can’t paint like Leroy Neiman” …negative self talk because they can’t measure up to a standard that doesn’t have any need of being repeated? The “you sound JUST LIKE” compliment is really kind of the kiss of death if you look at it in that light.
On the other hand…the wishy washy other hand…a lot of artists start out with imitation and then move in to a different place when their ability catches up with their creativity. There was a quote that was featured in an old book I love called On the Loose…”After the First Artist only the Copyist” that really puts it in perspective for me… being “creative” is different than being “the Creator“. Our ego puffs us up…and brings us down…but it’s all just the work when you come down to it. Like Joan Armatrading said, “some days the bear will eat you…some days you eat the bear”.
We all copy…I think I read that Picasso said something like “good artists borrow, great artists steal”…it’s just that some people, either through skill or “naive savant-ness”, seem to copy with transcendent results. I’ve read a lot about people who were trying to approach a certain style, to write or paint just like their “hero”… who failed in the attempt to imitate but came up with something beautiful and fresh “by accident”.
In the end it seems to be just the “doing“…the “chop wood, carry water” approach that let’s the real creativity flow. Waving our empty hands in the air until a bird flies into them…putting in the mileage until we win the race.
Part of being a parent is trying to take care of things that can’t be taken care of…like putting together a thrift store Lego robot for your 3 year old at 6 in the morning. It only takes about 5 minutes to realize that the reason it ended up at the thrift store wasn’t only that the original child outgrew it….this ROBOT IS MISSING PARTS.
Try as I might…with my son egging me on, “Noooooo….it needs wheeeels!!!!”…I am not going to be able to get this miniature Optimus Prime together. His head doesn’t sit where it should because the one little transitional piece that you need for true structural integrity isn’t even in the box. The instruction manual with the pictures of Optimus Prime transforming into a car ARE IN THE BOX…the instruction manual that tells my son that IF DADDY WAS A REAL MAN HE COULD GET THE DANG ROBOT TOGETHER. Most of the instructions are in Japanese…so I suspect that the subliminal message of Lego impotence is buried somewhere in the characters of the ancient Asian language. Or maybe it’s some weirdly latent Pearl Harbor holdout…take us out with some embarrassingly impossible robot toys…swoop in when we’re all exhausted from trying to get the Optimus head to stay on the Optimus body.
When you tell a child who wants to play with his new toy to “be gentle with him…he’s very delicate”, the end is going to be less than satisfying. Children don’t do “delicate” at the age of 3….and the instruction manual shows Optimus transforming into a fully functioning motor car with a head, so that’s the way this morning should go down. I know it won’t…but it should end on a happy, “robot all together…robot good” note.
I don’t think that a parent ever gets it perfectly right. We just keep putting the head back on, trying to explain why the wheels won’t stay on because the transitional piece wasn’t in the box (and realizing that phrases like “transitional piece” moves the conversation into the “talking with the dog” zone when Nate’s eyes glaze over).
I had a friend who said that his father used to tell him “do SOMETHING…even if it’s wrong“. I think that he ended up designing software for Microsoft. I’m on page 6 of a separate 36 page section, trying to find the 4 pieces that allow me to transform Optimus from a rickety pile of semi-complete plastic robot parts to an equally rickety and incomplete Optimus car. I am getting good at doing it wrong sometimes… but I’m seeing that some of the secret is maybe just in the doing part of the deal. Just put my head down and push through this big pile of Lego….stuff.
Time to quit writing. Mommy just got up and told me, “No….the car was together when we got it.” I think Nate heard that part….so even if he can’t verbalize his complex feelings…it probably just reinforces my Lego impotence in his eyes. I guess we needed a project for a quiet Sunday…Optimus RISE….or Optimus ROLL !!!
PS…later in the evening…my spouse tells me that all the pieces were there after I notice that she has the car together. I am sure the pieces were not there. Maybe she was hiding them from me?
Snooki had a baby. Why and how I know who and what Snooki is is a mystery…the melange of valid and trivial information floating around in my head is strange…total devastation in the Northeast and Ashton and Demi are having a hard time with their divorce and Snooki had a baby. And now my window won’t go up.
I am employed by the USPS. I drive a rural route down here in the Carolinas (which sounds more romantic than saying NORTH CAROLINA…”Carolinas” sounds soft and warm and welcoming….something I need to remember going into winter)…delivering mail year round…6 days a week now after the last mail count and resulting downgrade.
It’s funny how when you are cooking pizzas for a little bit of money, it’s a JOB…but when you join the UNION and they pay you a little more it becomes a CAREER. If you are in the midst of Art School (my capitalization), you think of yourself as an ARTIST…but when you deliver mail 6 days a week you darn well better think of yourself as a mailman. What’s your option? You wake up doing it…and go to sleep knowing you’re going to do it all again in the morning. (Some dairy farmer somewhere is thinking, “yeah?! So?!!”).
Anyway…back to Snooki and my window. My window stopped going up in the middle of the route yesterday. Luckily, it was stuck in the down position. It would have been really awkward to deliver the mail if my window had stuck in the closed position….so that it is stuck open is a good thing. It is a good thing. I went to the parts store and bought the ninety dollar part…sure that that would fix it (because what else could it be?)…installed it in the dark with the trouble light giving me fits…and it didn’t work. It was the OTHER THING that was broken. I need to buy the OTHER THING now (the switch)….that’s another hundred or so dollars if I can’t find it at the junk yard. Usually my method of repair is to just shotgun it…repair everything that might be wrong for like 189.61 in parts and then inwardly crow that I didn’t have to pay someone 250 dollars to diagnose it right the first time and just fix what was wrong. Admitting the problem is the first step to RECOVERY, right? “HELLO…I’M PETER AND I WORK ON MY OWN CARS”. I hear people say, “I’ll have my MAN look at it”…like if they just throw a little money at it, the problem isn’t a problem and the greasy stranger will make it all go away. Old habits die hard for me….we aren’t in the full on, full time panic mode anymore… “we need a lightbulb!!!!what are we going to do??!!! No…it’ll be alright…we get our EARNED INCOME CREDIT in another couple of months…we’re going to make it.”…but I still feel like I’m running around like a headless chicken when the cars are screwed up.
So, back to Snooki. I’m trying to quietly figure all this stuff out. If you are LOUD AND LOST and they decide that it might be funny to put you in situation where they film you day in and day out (and you can sing like a FREAKING BIRD…no…that’s Beyonce…that’s someone different than Snooki)…you might be RICH. What’s right about that?
Dire Straits sang about “Money for Nothing”…but it seems like the narrator of that song was griping about somebody that was actually doing something. Now we have a bunch of role models…(and how about those STEROID FUELED, NON-HERO ATHLETES? WHERE IS THE HERO THAT YOU NEVER HAVE TO DOUBT? Oh, sorry….I digress…) a bunch of role models…a bunch of role models…what was I saying? Oh, yeah…a bunch of “role models” that people with even less ability emulate to lesser effect. There isn’t much that I can think of that is more pathetic than a watered down imitation of a watered down life.
So it’s a rant. I know it and should stop it , but I can’t. I RANT. (and how about IRAN? what the heck is that all about?) Maybe I’ll figure something out by the time I get my window to work again.
Back when this book first came out, I was still riding the old orange Schwinn Varsity that I’d gotten when I was 13. Nothing’s very sophisticated or high-tech about a heavy, steel framed dinosaur….but I loved to ride. Watched ” Breaking Away”….I was the Italian guy zipping around (in my head…on the bike…in reality I was still a little Norwegian guy on an orange bike). I read what books I could find on cycling…saw a couple of cycling movies….read some more….and, probably in a review in Outside magazine, discovered this book.
from the Amazon synopsis:
This is the delightful and often humorous story of an around-the-world bicycle trip taken by two young people, Barbara and Larry Savage.
It took them two years and 25 countries. Along the way, these neophyte cyclists encountered warm-hearted strangers, bicycle-hating drivers, rock-throwing Egyptians, over-protective Thai policemen, and great personal joys.
They returned to a new life in Santa Barbara, one Barbara never lived to savor. She was killed in a street accident, Barbara and her bicycle vs. a truck. We are lucky to have this memoir, throughout which her vitality, warmth and compassion glow.
I was formed by many things…I suppose we all are. Parental contributions are and should be first and foremost on the list…all the little things they did for us shaping us and helping us grow…but there are random but life changing things that come in from unexpected angles (the camp job in NC, smiling at the shy beauty for the first time who became my wife, other things more minor…) that mold us and leave a trace forever. This book was one of those things for me.
A young person thrives on the tragic…a sense of drama must come with the territory….and to read this book as a young and untested man and to discover that Barbara was killed after returning to the States…after all their shared adventures in what one would suppose were the “really dangerous parts of the world”… was mind blowing. It was a tragedy….horrible and unexpected and, to a young person, beyond understanding and unfair.
But that’s not what I remember taking away from this book. What I remembered then and what I remember years later was the LIFE…the adventure and humor and willingness to experience…the willingness to LIVE. Barbara and her husband Steve weren’t funded by CocaCola…they weren’t part of some big reality show where fame and fortune waited at the end of a filmed “adventure”…they were just a young couple out in the world, meeting other people on their own turf and on their own terms, meeting other people (not “visiting the Foreigners”…whatever that may mean..) and making friends along the way. I guess that’s the beauty of a bicycle…more chance to interact than you have at 70 mph.
I have friends I’ve never met…people who’ve never said a word to me directly who’ve helped shape my world view…and I would include the author of this book in that list. Thank you, Barbara.
A short PS…I may have had my first generation, second-hand steel frame Diamondback Ridge Runner mountain bike by the time this book came out…so that’s what I would have been riding…but an orange Varsity is still so much more picturesque. So…imagine me on that if it helps paint the picture for you.