GeRue's Reviews

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Just in case you run out of energy, relax with one of these and you will become reenergized. If you have a nomination, please e-mail us.

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George Ehrenhaft has opened a new door, one that leads into the mystical, highly personal realm of why remodelers, rehabilitators, and home builders create their personal domains with their own hands. This is touchy territory--one potential subject flatly told Ehrenhaft it was none of his damn business. Others made excuses. I'm glad the author persisted. The result is a balanced offering of widely diverse stories: teacher, housecleaner, teacher, architect, graphic artist, symphony flutist, policeman, artist, builder-writer. Most interviewees began their projects overenthused and underinformed. Lacking knowledge, skills, and tools, they were impelled by financial necessity, curiosity, fantasy, a hunger for a transcendent adventure. Men with wives struggling to understand; women dealing with macho members of the building trades. Personal relationships gone awry. Disaster and achievement. Despair and elation. The author found sentiment, resilience, intuition, testing of limits, reverence for nature, "a conspiracy of forces," and "'being filled with a thrilling and joyous sense of Shelter--with a capital S.'" Like writers who must write, owner-builders must build. Pity those who never feel the natural high of living in their own created shelter. Pity yourself? Or step into the lives of these nine and live the transcendent moments with them. Go to Amazon's page THE BUILDER'S SECRET


In 1966, when he was 22, Paolo Lugari and his brother drove over barely passable roads to a desolate area 200 miles east of Bogota, Columbia. The llanos area is a poor-soil barren that grows only a few nutrient-deficient grasses, a vast expanse of sun-baked plains in spite of over 100 inches of rain per year. A place of deadly water and hungry mosquitos. Conditions were so daunting that the Columbian government abandoned an attempt to build a road through the area. Lugari saw an opportunity to create something very special. And he did it. Today Gaviotas is a thriving, sustainable community of hundreds of joyous people studying, inventing, producing, singing and dancing amidst a huge forest that they planted. Residents from all walks of life have designed and built, planted and harvested, birthed, nurtured, taught, and entertained. There are teeter-totters that operate super-efficient pumps to bring water to the school, solar heat to cook meals, solar kettles to sterilize drinking water, ultra-light windmills to provide power. The hospital has been designated one of the 40 most important buildings in the world. Some have called Gaviotas a utopia. Lugari insists that, "Utopia literally means no place. We call Gaviotas a topia because it's real." Gaviotas the village is surprising, uplifting, extraordinary. Gaviotas the nonfiction book is as compelling as a novel, as educational as a textbook, as inspirational as the biography of a great person. If you need to rise early, do not take this book to bed with you. Go to Amazon's page GAVIOTAS

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