SUMMER 2007
July '07 (click on YELLOW text for pictures)

ok, ok... we got a BIT of a late start this year...Kindra and Kerri bought a "fixer-upper" in Austin and like most renovation projects, it took on a life, budget and schedule all its own. And then, Bob and Mom (who were half of the renovation crew) were tied up in Texas with health issues until the end of July.

So finally ....

June 29-July1 - Kindra and Jamie (good good friend and a ringer who came to help Kindra through the last renovation push) road trip from Texas with the dogs Monki and Kody. We take our time and stop to enjoy the big sky, sunsets and moon rises. Just before leaving the heat of the desert floor we stop at the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa,NM for an icy swim before turning off the main road towards the mountains. For the dogs, who don't get so much out of scenery and swimming holes, it was a long trip indeed. And finally we arrived, the site was understandably as messy as we had left it last fall. Somehow mess seems worse when you haven't looked at it for six months. So Kindra and Jamie went about a major "feng shui improvement" otherwise known as organizing the clutter and moving it out of the entry path into a storage area around back.

July 2 - Jamie returns to State College

July 3 - 12 - Kindra is on her own... in compliance with the Mom's request she avoids ladders and power tools while alone on-site. That leaves... rock work! Ten days of zen puzzling with sandstone, after a hectic spring, it was a wonderful retreat!

The house was protected all winter but not closed in. Numerous creatures have taken to browsing the inside: three sage-green colored birds hatched and fledged in the loft and our bat regularly patrolled the house. Almost nightly we could lie in bed and listen for the soft woosh of his wings in the darkness.

July 13 - 18 - the Mom and Bob arrive and spend a day settling in and adjusting JuJu's haircut for life on a construction site. On the evening of the 14th, Kindra cooks dinner: soba noodles (100% buckwheat), which generates a severe allergic reaction in the Mom. Raylene is sick for two days and Kindra is banned from cooking for six months. Luckily everyone recovers.

July 19 - 28 - Raylene (aka the Mom) is back to work filling the space under the rafters above the walls with cob. Bob works through a punch list of miscellaneous items such as framing nailers and odd bits in the bathroom. He and Kindra also work to get the pond liner in place on the roof and then begin the hardi-board siding. Why cement based siding? Its totally fire proof. We come so close to readiness for final framing inspection but not quite... next summer for sure.

July 28 - Bob heads back for Texas, the Mom and Kindra stay on.

August '07(click on YELLOW text for pictures)

July 28 - Aug 10 - Living Roof Layers:

Edge of Living roof goes on.... made mostly of the cut-offs from the upper roof: this metal fascia sticks about 6 inches vertically above the roof surface. Its function is to hold dirt in while still allowing for roof drainage. The blue panels themselves are held about a quarter inch off the wood fascia/pondliner by washers and stainless steel spacers. The excess water from the roof then runs off through a layer of landscape fabric and pumice rock that provides a filter to keep soil on the roof while letting water pass through behind the blue panels.

Carpet on the roof. Our roofing system is what you might call a "frontier system". We use what is easy to find rather than pay for a super specialized system of layers. Pondliner first, then carpet. Many people like carpet under the pondliner too. Its a good idea, but our carpet is used and smells like old carpet, not something we want to risk getting a wiff of in the house. Carpet above the pondliner helps retain water and also provides a surface for plant roots to grip therefore preventing erosion. Its also important to make sure that the carpet itself does not slide off the roof. We tied ours across the ridge to ensure everything will stay in place.

And finally... the DIRT! With the help of H Excavation's backhoe we hauled dirt up on the roof. Unfortunately the backhoe wasn't tall enough to dump dirt on the roof, the bucket came just high enough that we could shovel the soil out. Its was HARD work but we kept reminding ourselves, its easier than 5 gallon buckets. Four scoops covered the southern portion of the roof and then we were physically too tired to continue. So we blanketed the fresh soil in clover and grass seeds and tucked it in with straw. With a little water every other day the seeds soon began to sprout.

Aug 11 - 17 - Kasi Munoz arrives to help finish out the month. We tackle a few postponed projects... putting the last cobs up around the gable vents and moving some big rocks to their new posts. Meanwhile the Mom chips away at the floor to install venting for Radon reduction beneath a layer of pumice to insulate the radiant floor above.

Aug 17 - the Mom heads back for Texas and her new class of pre-schoolers.

Aug18-30 - Last push... Kindra and Kasi start by pouring the earthen floor in the living room. They rent a big size concrete mixer in Taos for two days to combine clay gravel and sand. Above the pumice, the layers are as follows: heavy plastic vapor barrier, 3" heavy floor mix with radiant tubing pressed in, 3" heavy floor mix to bury tubing, 1/2" smooth coat (next year), alis for final smoothing and then linseed oil and polishers. We poured only the thick layer, let it dry two days and then hand tamped it. After drying the entire winter the floor will be ready for its finish layers next summer.

To keep creativity going during the heavy work, Kasi and Kindra set out to build a two level cob oven...
here is the series of photos:

foundation hole
drystack foundation
walls of lower chamber
sand mold for upper chamber
digging out sand mold

and the oven works great! The fires are smokey at first but once the oven gets heated up the pizzas and potatoes are tasty.

...meanwhile the septic tank is being installed around back. (yes.. we had to do a septic, it was the cheapest fastest way to a permit... the groundwater purists among the family are consoling themselves with grand greywater schemes.)

Aug 29th - Kasi catches a shuttle to the airport, and the rain starts again. Michael Blaha of www.ilovecob.com drops in for the afternoon.

Aug30 - the rain leaves a morning mist and finally clears for some final photos for the year as Kindra finishes packing and heads back to Texas for phase 2 of Jennifer's project and the Natural Building Colloquium.

Summer 2008... inspections, plumbing, electric, more inspections, plaster, floors and maybe even some kitchen appliances!