General thoughts on pending restorations to the ‘Hobbit Hole’ cabin

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QUICK CABIN FACTS: I’ve calculated the enclosed square footage of this cabin as 273’ sq., including the loft and the ‘sun room.’ The construction is rough-hewn post-and-beam with kiln-dried members interspersed. Insulation unknown. Exterior cladding of shakes over marine plywood (of which I am suspicious). Interior floors of smooth-worn marine plywood just begging for me to find some nice, cheap oriental rugs. No indoor water except what you haul. All indoor lighting is either rechargeable or a combination of oil and candle lamps. There is no power at the cabin. Upon occupancy the cabin had not been thoroughly cleaned in years, and certainly never vacuumed since completion.

The improvements I’m set upon are in keeping with the limited scope and scale of this cabin and the ethos of the property as envisioned by the shepherd of this place, my landlord Alban.

  • I want hot and cold running water indoors and at an outdoor shower site formerly located below the cabin deck, on its south face.
  • I want to be able to flood the interior and proximate exterior spaces with light for living, entertaining, and winter sanity-preservation purposes.
  • I want to be able to charge a phone or laptop; maybe even power the odd low-wattage household appliance (e.g., immersion blender).
  • I want to build an two-part enclosure to process the cabin’s humanure (as recommended in Jon Jeavons’ The Humanure Handbook).
  • I intend to repaint the cabin’s outdoor toilet and rebuild its foundation.
  • I want to extend the beach-stone ‘walkway’ up and away from the cabin to provide downhill traction in wet months.
  • I am already collecting & cutting 1” sections of found wood to assemble into a corduroy footpath for some of the boggier spots on the 100m+ walk up to the cabin.
  • If I can locate an inexpensive source of sheet plexiglas or similar clear substance I want to build a small passive solar feature into a south-facing windowsill in the ‘sun room’ to help preserve the exposed window frame and shelter a section of the south wall of that room that shows a certain amount of past infiltration of water.
  • I intend to finish a cut and discarded piece of logwood by installing slabwood shelves, finishing with spar varnish, and securely mounting it to the corner of the deck.

Some of these projects appear pretty low on the list, as things that would be nice if I can get to them before winter. This cabin being the builder’s first, there are some fundamental mistakes that require thoughtful remediation if this is to remain a healthy place to live. Most important is to have spotted the problems. The ability to combine solutions for these with certain of the new projects listed above reflects my thorough, reflective nature and personal mania for efficiency.

The first project –the one I’m in the midst of now– is bringing water to the cabin, deeper analysis of which I will leave for my next post.


Dōgen on enlightenment

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Photo by flickr user Zach Dischner. All rights revert to originator. Creative Commons.
Photo by flickr user Zach Dischner. All rights revert to originator. Appears via Creative Commons public license.

Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.
The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.
Although its light is wide and great,
The moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide.
The whole moon and the entire sky
Are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.

-Dōgen, 12th c. Japan


Creation site of the Lower Elwha Klallam people revealed after dam removal

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Jamie Valadez, Klallam language teacher, dips a pendant into water in one of the bowls of the rock that is the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe’s creation site during the tribe’s first visit in nearly a century. Behind her is Luana Arakawa. — Photo by Wendy Sampson. All rights reserved.

There’s no part of me so bereft of my sense of origin that I can truly identify with the wholehearted joy this reconnection must engender in the hearts of the Lower Elwha Klallam people, but that doesn’t prevent me from feeling a great sense of pleasure at the improvement of their circumstances.

The creation site referenced in the stories of the Lower Elwha Klallam people has been buried under the waters of Lake Aldwell until the removal of the dam & draining of the lake earlier this year.

“You could feel the power of the rock,” Charles said. “You could feel the emotions. It was really overwhelming,”

“There were a few songs and prayers and just the overwhelming joy of realizing that this is reality. It’s not a myth.”

We killed the ocean

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Waves on Alabama beaches.

This photo of waves coming ashore on the beaches of Alabama is every bit as gut-wrenching as the photos of oil-soaked pelicans and dead sea turtles still coming from the coast. h/t Ecoterrorist.