Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Urbanite Retaining Wall at the Garden of Invasive Species

Welcome to the Garden of Invasive Species, otherwise known as my backyard...

We've got ivy

and japanese knotweed (deliciously edible tho)

and lots and lots of Vinca Major!
Not to mention, I compiled a thorough list with the help of my landscaping buddy, Ethan Rainwater. Here goes:
Ivy, Vinca Major, English Holly, Japanese Knotweed, English Laurel, Port. Laurel, Himalayan Blackberry, Dandelion, Wood Hyacinth, Sing. Hawthorn, Mazzard Cherry, and Norway Maple. Yikes!
So, I don't feel bad about changing this landscape and taking some of the heavy clay soil out of there for my next cob structure. Score!

Digging out a small retaining wall

Let's curve it to define spaces I'll actually want to use

We use up some leftover urbanite from the cob greenhouse project and have some fun with the lines we can create, nothing like getting nerdy and muddy with a fellow designer...

we find a little shiva statue in the ivy and give it a proper rebirth

soon to plant edible nasturiums and strawberries!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Little Moon Lodge

So, it's been a long time since my last post, the winter has been good--restful and yet productive, planning away the 2010 building season. I did manage to squeeze in some building time over the course of it however, and finally it is a project for myself! And a hardcore exercise in renovation! My folk's property in southern Oregon had this little run-down cabin on it, built some 60 years ago by a teenage boy who needed some room from the main little house. I believe all the wood used for it was logged and milled on site and the cardboard insulation is totally a tribute to the food that was popular in the 1950's. Our insurance company says we needed to fix 'em up or tear 'em down. And since this little cabin had just about the most character of anything on the whole place, we decide to fix it up and hire fellow builder, Sebastian Collet, for some carpentry assistance and the story unfolds...

we find home-canned salmon and blackberries still sitting on the shelves!

and all sorts of treaures

funky mushrooms grow on bits of wood beneath the steps

my mom and I frame out a 5 foot cedar deck using a ledger board

four 4x4 posts and a few steps
then we gut the inside of the little cabin, to discover nostalgic cardboard food boxes tacked against the inside of the siding... insulation? or to stop infiltration? I think a new earthen infill is in order here.
even though no people have been living here, turns out 1,000's of wasps have. Their beautiful paper homes fill the wall cavities. Good thing most have moved on and none are there during the winter season.

a lot of debris is produced, but

we take advantage of the scrap lumber being produced

and whip up some new compost bins!

my mom does a great job on this side project!

Hummus on the way!

Sebastian does the dirty work, and tears off five layers of asphalt shingles!
and finally down to the skip sheathing

wait, yeah, how about let's get rid of that too!

we completely reframe the roof and north wall (which was sinking badly)
the new beams and rafters extend to cover the new deck

we use plywood as underlayment for the metal roofing

we put up a temporary railing for the insurance inspection, a more natural version is sure to replace it at some point

mom and I are so happy!

then on to some more fun things, we harvest scraggily oaks nearby to frame the porch and railing

Sebastian works it with a drawknife

we enjoy peeling the fresh poles

and then we ran out of time for November...
and four months later, we finally finish them, putting in another building session on the moon lodge
we notch the bases really cleverly...

just a slit with a circular saw to slip in the base and you can't even tell there's Simpson hardware in there

the top branching part of the poles gets notched to meet the rafters

classic bread cuts!

it's looking so much better with those round poles branching up to the roofline.
Thanks for helping me, Sebastian, and having loads of fun!

the rest of the railing soon to come, stayed tuned