Thursday, June 23, 2005

Permit Progress

I received today a package from our engineer in Bellows Falls, Jane Morano. She has drawn up new site plans showing a revised water system to suit our new building locations. She wasn't able to eliminate the holding tank at the bathhouse, but we can now proceed with our Act 250 amendement and water system amendment in anticipation of putting in the water system this summer.

Bambi has not yet heard back from the loggers. Hopefully soon because they are the first contractors we need on site to get the ball rolling.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Away Again

I will be away for a few days, until June 21.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Logging Map

Bambi created this map showing where we're planning to cut trees in the development area. We're expecting to hear back from the loggers this week.

Monday, June 13, 2005


I spoke with our wastewater engineer, Jane Morano, this morning. She is going to draw up a new set of prints for our wastewater plan based on the final location of the bathhouse and kitchen. She thinks she'll have them done some time this week which is great because we need to file for an amendment as soon as possible so that we can drill the well, get the septic and water system in by fall. Destiny will be a different place with running water!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Short Mountain: Other Spots

There are many delightful and inspiring architectural moments at Short Mountain. I've put a few of them here. Sometimes it's just a simple post and beam assembly, sometimes a gate in the garden. Sometimes the backside of a kind of wild structure like pavilion or the funkyness of Project X. So many people's hands are visible in the built environment that it creates a sense of community through its diversity. Me in a gate
The garden expands
The pavilion, backside!
A porch detail

Short Mountain: Dazle's Place

Some snaps of Dazle's new room. It's built with many of the techniques we're thinking about. The walls are adobe and rammed earth finished with an earthen plaster. Notice the inset colored lights and the depth of the walls and the way this catches light. The structure is heavy timber cut from trees felled by a storm that blew through a couple years ago. It's a beautiful room that just feels right. In the main part of the house there's a sun room that looks out through the trees and has beautiful light. Adobe block
Inset colored glass
Sun room

Short Mountain: Kitchen

Here are a few photos of the Short Mountain kitchen. It's a very functional place with sinks and stoves placed at the perimeter and work tables at the center. A large spice and dry storage shelving unit sits against the stairwell wall. A fridge hangs out in a corner and stores a few temperature sensitive items. For the most part the food prepared there is fresh and veggie in nature so doesn't need refrigeration. Much of the goat milk that's produced is turned into cheese right away. Outside there is a dishwashing station for gatherings that keeps dishwashing out of the way of the gathering cooks. There is no snack station and several people there mentioned it would be really nice to have one since at gatherings there's often too much commotion in the kitchen as it is without people wandering in wanting to make sandwiches all day long. Interior. Orchid and a raw meal--delicious
Outdoor dishwashing station
The rack--herbs, spices, sundry

Short Mountain: Bathhouse

This is the Short Mountain Sanctuary Bathhouse. It has a dressing area, a sink, a shower area with bathtub, a sauna in the center and a massage area just outside the sauna. It's surrounded by porches and there's a solar heated outdoor shower off the lower porch. The bathhouse has a nice feel created by the wood finish interior. The ceiling is rough wood as are the walls. The different levels create a feeling of spaciousness. The sauna in the center creates two spaces on either end that feel connected but separate.

Mortises and Tenons

tenon This weekend I tried my hand at a little mortise and tenon woodwork. I went down to the hardware store and picked up a cheap chisel, mallet and a handsaw, then headed into the woods and sawed a couple ten foot lengths of fallen white pine (I think) and a six foot piece of birch. I lugged them down to the road, flipping them end over end. Not having ever tried creating anything with a chisel before, I was pleased to find that it wasn't very hard. I made an initial cut with the handsaw 3 inches from the end of the log and then chiseled to the cut creating a flat side. I rotated the log and repeated. In a few minutes I had a 2x2x3 inch tenon, pretty neatly square without much trouble. Never having tried this before I was pleased. gate

I repeated this on the other post and then took up the birch creating the mortises to receive the tenons. This proved a little more difficult since I was cutting into a log and because the birch seems quite a bit harder than the pine. Even so, it didn't take too long.

The next morning, Ribbon and I dug post holes and raised the gate. The birch simply sits on the tenons, so it's not really a complete joint because it doesn't have pegs, but, hey, it's just a gate.

Logging and Site Work

Bambi, Ribbon and I walked the development area with loggers this weekend to get their take on our project and to get estimates. Both loggers impressed upon us the amount of waste that will be generated by cutting 200-300 trees. We had thought we'd have the waste chipped, but one logger estimated we'd have a pile about the size of the kitchen to contend with. Chipped wood anyone? Bambi and I both started thinking that we may want to scale back our clearing plans to minimize the waste issue. We both also got the feeling that clearing costs might be higher than we anticipated. We'll know next week at some point when the loggers get back to us and we can make some informed decisions then.

At a minimum we need to clear the mound site and the kitchen and bathhouse sites. The area above the mound and the yard above the kitchen could be cleared later, we figured, a few trees at a time as work weekends allow.

We also received an estimate of about $45,000 from our excavator for doing everything we'd told him we'd like. Our wishes seem to exceed our budget. So, I will be talking with him next week to figure out what we can drop to help bring the excavation back in line with our means. It never hurts to ask, but it hurts if one becomes attached to wishes!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Short Mountain

There's been a lot going on despite the lack of posts here.

I just returned from Short Mountain Sanctuary in Tennessee where I taught and participated in the yoga gathering. I also got a chance to check out all the construction there including some straw bale work on their "temple" and cob at "project x". dazle built an addition to his place out of adobe block. all of the work is beautiful and inspired me. everyone there commented about how much work it is to build traditionally.

Currently the Design Comet is gathering bids for work on the land. This weekend Bambi and I are meeting with loggers. We have initial estimates for the septic, trench and site work from our excavator. I am working with our engineer to develop final drawings for the septic system and to apply for an Act 250 Amendment.

I've been further researching timber framing and am thinking about putting up some small timber framed sheds as practice, perhaps attending a timberframing workshop. There is a great appeal to me in building simply. I'm not quite sure what it is but perhaps it has to do with learning how to live without all the energy eating appliances in anticipation of the end of oil. Having renovated about 60,000 square feet of commercial space in the last 10 years I feel ready for a change.