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We’re READY!!

Sarah and I celebrated the 4th of July by installing the ring of beams in the main house. It was a hot one – and we really felt it in the pit. We also finished the center platform where all the pie shaped floor pieces will come together in about 2 weeks! Eddie ‘gets’ to hand mix and pour concrete into the ‘cosmetic curb wall’ ( it ain’t gonna be pretty…) that didn’t get filled the other day. Sarah and I are going to finish installing the center platforms for the two small yurts. I feel the usual aaahhhhh out-breath of post-concrete pour. The fawn made an appearance yesterday, the crows-chasing-hawk-troupe made several noisy splashes across the deep blue sky, the water in the round tank is getting close to perfect dunking temperature… ahhh – summer! (PICS) Tomorrow we’re getting a truckload of pravel for the pit – and then we’re pretty much ready for delivery!! The trucks start arriving on Monday – and Oregon Yurtworks has scheduled one truck a day for three days to head up to our little island. Therese and I hope to take a short camping trip to the Olympic Mountains after the third truck is unloaded – to catch our breath, do some intensive relaxation before the BIG PUSH – which starts on July 16.

the joke’s on me!

We poured the sonotubes and footings for the smaller yurts ( we’ve dubbed them ‘Cedar’ and ‘Plum” for the trees and shrubs nearby) yesterday in a chaotic frenzy of unwieldy hoses, splooging concrete, and a willing crew. Yes, it took us forever to clamp the hoses together that delivered the miniscule amount of concrete to the far yurt ( Plum – in honor of the Indian Plum that hangs over it) – and we slopped more concrete on the ground than actually made it into the forms. And we did a much better job of delivery into the forms for the Cedar yurt. By the time we trained the hoses on the cosmetic curb inside the main house ( this is designed to keep the dirt from spilling from one level to the other) – we were more or less experts. Most of the mud made it into the forms – and then, there was no more concrete! Half of the curb wall remained empty!! A contractors nightmare ( # 305 ). Shit! I was pissed off – but tried NOT to take it out on the great helpers who were sweating and straining to move the hoses and concrete under the hot summer sun. I yelled “GOOD JOB” and then scurried over to ‘finish’ off the forms at Cedar – where the concrete was globbed and piled high covering the formboards and braces and everything!! Francis left without saying goodbye – and I feared that he was upset with me for not masking my frustration adequately – and I feared he thought I was pissed at HIM! When in fact, he had done a heroic job of pulling this very green crew together and getting them to help him with the very physical work of hose-hauling, hose-control, hose-lifting, etc. BOO HOO! Therese corroborated the notion that Franics was upset ( ‘he said he heard you say ‘fuck it’ and then you ran off into the woods..) which made me feel even WORSE. As soon as I finished working the stiffening concrete away from the forms and attempting to smooth it out – I called Francis. ‘Sorry for being such a pill’ says I. “WHAT? I LOVE working with you guys and gaias and feel honored that you called me to help out! I WAS JUST KIDDING!!! In fact, Dave elaborated on what I had said, and told Therese that you didn’t just run away – you ran CRYING into the woods!!!” Oh – I guess Therese did not get the JOKING part…. Anyway – we ran into both Francis and Dave at the Bainbridge Island Downtown 4th of July street dance that evening – and we all had a great laugh. Who knew we’d get so much mileage out of a ‘measly’ 6 yard pour. (more pics)

The heat is on!!

I’m channelling some major PUSH energy – as the countdown to T-day bears down upon us! Fortunately, Sarah is a powerhouse herself, and together we’re raising some dust! Yesterday was deliciously warm – it felt like summer. Unlike the past week – where the air was thick with drifting mists and Carmi said to me – ‘nice day….for early spring…’ C’mon summer!! And yes – when it’s warm, it gets really warm in the pit. I have renewed appreciation for the gladiators and lions wrassling it out on the floor of the Colosseum in those hot dog-days of the Roman Empire. Eddie joins us in the physical realm when he returns each afternoon from his physics class – and we give him a practical physics lesson… with a shovel. We were all on shovels yesterday as we laid out and dug the piers for the small bedroom yurts. We’ll install the steel today, and maybe get the second yurt piers ready for steel too! The structures at Oregon Yurtworks are pretty much complete – and they’re getting the pieces ready for their long truck ride up here. We’ll be ready. (view pics here, or go to the Sacred Groves homepage and find them there.. I’m encountering techie difficulties with the flickr site – it’s not letting me label the pics – and I often can’t find the pics I’ve uploaded… a call to Ariel is in order – or I’ll just wait until Therese returns from her monthly wilderness retreat and ‘let’ her deal with this glitch)

Herding the Pony walls

I don’t know why it’s taking so long to get these pony walls built. Really – they are straight forward framed walls- 2×6 plates and studs, plywood nailed to one side… OK – maybe there are several reasons why it’s taking so long. First of all, the carpenter doing the work has been distracted by : shoveling dirt for the guys on the dozers, being available to wave my arms around for the guys on the dozers, spending a couple of days ‘shopping’ for conduit for the main electrical hook-up, putting together a little platform for the septic electrical system, delivering shared tools to my former ‘boss’ Dennis, borrowing shared tools from Dennis, wondering what the heck to do about the access opening into the crawl space, carrying out the idea for dealing with the access opening, coordinating the electrical trenching with the power company, getting Eddie and Sarah set up to install the conduit from the pumphouse to the main house, making phone calls about things – many of them I’ve forgotten already…. Maybe the real reason I haven’t finished this aspect of the project is that I love the idea of horses roaming free- which conjures up images of me in my cowboy boots and red cowboy hat attempting to sweet talk the large rangy horse on the hill into letting me ride it – when I was 10 and the world was still a place where kids and horses communicated in the same language- and everything was possible. By the end of this week, I’ll have to get these ponies circled up and tied into place – and my attention turned, as much as possible, on sweet talking my way onto the next phase of this exciting beautiful wild-ride

Summer Solstice Countdown

We have only 17 more days before the trucks arrive with our house panels on them ( view pics of the panels at the Oregon Yurtworks production yard in Eugene, Oregon). Fortunately these are the longest days ( AND shortest nights!) of the year – I might need every drop of daylight to pull together the zillion things that need to be done between now and T-day ( truck day). How lucky can we get!! Early Wednesday morning we were visited by our fairy-building inspector ( no, not THAT kind of fairy…) who blessed our project with a STOP Work Order. When Mark the dozer operator saw the sign first thing in the morning he wondered what the heck?!! However, his consternation melted to amusement when he read the grievance : No work allowed on the Eve of the Solstice per Mother Nature 603.2.1. And during our Summer Solstice festivities later that evening, one of our friends asked ‘What are all the tiny umbrellas for at the house site’ – HUNH? What umbrellas? I thought he was pulling my leg – until I took a stroll over to the site and sure enough – there were a lot of tiny colorful umbrellas and festive crepe paper festooning the construction site. The Solstice Fairies had a quite the field day romping through our construction site….

The ground crew shapes up the house site

I’m pleased with JP Landworks and the work Josh’s crew did to create more order out of chaos. What a difference the backfilling around the foundation makes! And beneath all that backfill and soil they placed various pipes and conduits and tanks that will carry water, and electricity and waste products into and away from the house. And moved vast amounts of ‘material’ (soil, dirt, earth) from piles they created in April – to holes and trenches and mounds that help define and shape the landscape around the house. Josh and crew have been a pleasure to work with and they’re all just really nice folks to have around the site. And while Therese will NOT miss the noise of their machines, I know I’ll miss their smiles and helpful hands and their awesome toys! I’m finally getting my energy and focus back – I felt sluggish and sidetracked by various things these past few weeks : Andrea’s sudden health crisis ( she’s getting ready to go home this weekend!!!), the drippy cold weather, an overwhelming tiredness that made me want to sleep most of last week, ‘shopping’ for electrical conduit for the pending electrical hookup, AND no one to boss around. Well, fortunately – the last point has been rectified: Eddie returned from his family get together in Maine and Sarah has pitched her hat into the arena as a valuable bundle of energy! This morning they placed 80 feet of conduit in the trench(from the pumphouse to the main house) Eddie has been working on for the past few days, and then while Sarah helped me out with the pony walls, Eddie started taking apart more of the formwork that’s sitting on the drainfield. Progress! ( view pics here)

More machines move around dirt.

The ‘dirt-works’ guys are back this week with their machines, putting curtain drains along the footings, then back-filling against the new foundation walls, also finishing the septic system connections. After the big piles of dirt are moved, they will smooth out two more small sites where our two ‘detached bedrooms,’ (also from Oregon Yurtworks) will be located. We really appreciate JPLandworks, the business we hired to do the clearing and digging work, excavating the house site and installing the septic system. It’s a family business, good guys, all related in one way or another. They are respectful of the native plants and do a good job minimizing their impact, as much as could be hoped for considering the extent of the clearing they have had to make and the number of machines they have needed. One of their machines is even run on bio-deisel! Maybe by the end of the week we will start building the pony walls to complete the foundation so that next week we can begin the foundations for the two bedroom-yurts. But for now, we are busy rounding up electrical conduit for the hook-up for the site (to be dug and buried next week) and doing a hundred details behind-the-scenes. Therese is back, updating budgets, making phonecalls about this and that. There certainly are a million details to tend when building a house!