31 August 2007

Been on heat-induced Hiatus

Nothing like a good, much needed, well intentioned nudge from my pal Alex over at Shedworking to get things moving again!!

Okay, It's been ridiculously hot here in Georgia the last several weeks.

The temperatures hover around 100 every afternoon, and even with the best laid plans, it's too hot to get much done.

But I have done this...

I have put down the lines for the shed to determine exactly where it needs to go.

I have taken down all of the trees within the space, except one, which I will take down soon. The heat was too much and I knew feeling as tired as I was that I shouldn't try to fell that particular 40+ ft. pine. On the other hand, I have developed a new appreciation of what I like to call "chain saw therapy"!! Of the smaller trees I took down, I've set the larger bits aside, and hope to be able to use them somehow in the process. The branches and leafy bits are being piled in a corner of the yard, and hopefully will make a great little shed for some woodland critter. I'm not planning on making chipmunk condos, but if that's what it becomes, so much the better.

And I've refined the plans again. My structural engineering buddy - a lovely Egyptian fellow, has helped me with the plans posted last time. The footings for the supporting post will need to be deeper in order to provide more structural support.
Since I decided to try to straw bale construction - I've been in discussion with Sue and Seumas, my greenest of green friends with lots of practical know how - I've decided to build up off the ground a bit. The drawings below was concrete slab, but this will be a bit better, and reduce the chance for water damage.
I've also found the name and number of the delightful woman who has been storing old wood and wants to find a home for it... so I'm hoping we'll be able to get an idea of what she has to offer this weekend.
Oh, and I've been working my touchas off on regular work work as well. Unfortunately consultants don't really get vacations like the rest of the world. That being said, I do hope to do a bit more work this weekend - getting the last tree down, checking out the wood, and possibly setting the footings.
So even though I haven't been as active about the hut as I'd like to be in terms of construction, I am making progress... sort of.
Thanks to everyone for your good thoughts and attention! It helps to keep this exciting and moving, and honestly, it keeps me motivated!!
All comments welcome!!
And I hope to post new pictures soon!

13 August 2007

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The PLANS!!!

Okay, so I like the hobbit hole look, and it does seem fun, but the reality is, if we dig out the hillside and then try to put in straw bales we are setting ourselves up for a lot more time and lot more work, and chances are... at LOT more problems with mold and fungus.

So we're using the straw bale construction above ground, with a concrete slab, and between the bales and cement a area with pumice and gravel to absorb any water, plus plastering, etc.

It is all very exciting. A good friend is looking at the plans for us - he's an engineer and may tell us that it is absurd, so we are waiting for his inputs... and then it's a matter of marking the space and clearing what we have to, highering someone to come lay the slab... and putting up the pole and beam construction "barn", ordering the straw, getting the plaster, getting everything ready to go and DOING IT!!

I can't wait. I'm not sure how soon it will be done, but once Ahmed signs off on it, we're getting started!!!


08 August 2007

I was almost giving up...

I have found that over time, I get to the point on things when I am just ready to give up...

And go to Lowes and buy some atrocity, that my neighbors would tolerate, and I would "make due" with... something really grim like this:

That the gods smile upon me, decide I've struggled with frustration long enough and show me the way out.

Honestly, the more exhausted and wits end I am, but not quite giving up, the richer the reward. I don't expect it, but I always feel grateful when it happens. . .

So this morning, instead of diving into the Project Summary I was supposed to be drafting I jumped over to my friend Alex's sight on "shed working" and found that though he's gone on holiday (it's vacation), he's left me a gem. It's a link to a site that is the inspiration and fun that I needed... Called Simon Dale's low impact woodland home.


This is IT!!!
It includes the building instructions, and thoughts on how to do this without spending a fortune!!

And then I sent the post to my awesomest friend Sue, who totally gets the low impact hobbit hole thing and she's thrilled too. I even sent it to Tim, the engineer, who said it looked good, though he's concerned about the heat here in Georgia with the straw bale construction... Honestly, just having SOMETHING would be great, and having this would be amazing.

It will be smaller, but I'm INSPIRED AGAIN!!!

I can't dive into it too deeply yet, Russian Arctic Stakeholders to analyze and then a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis for the Caspian, but those should wrap as the weather cools a bit here...

anyway, I'm thrilled and once again, feeling energized and optimistic. And ready to go start digging holes in the back yard!!

07 August 2007

Out of Africa

I'm BACK!!

Actually came back Sunday, but my brain evidently caught a later flight...

Yes, I was in Africa, South Africa and Namibia to be exact. Yes, it was beautiful and amazing, as always.

Yes, the work went well, had a great bunch of meetings, met some very interesting folks, and of course, I'm completely exhausted, swamped with work and REALLY needing a place to work.

It's hot as Hades here in Athens, GA now. Bill was going to try to get a bit of work done on the foundation while I was gone, but instead quit his job (yeah!) and started another working with PeachMac, the local Apple Computer Store. It's his dream job and I am thrilled for him!!

But, it means I'm still at the drawing board stage. I did spend some time with Peter Tarr - with SAIEA South Aftrican Institute for Environmental Assessment - who is a superstar of green building technology. (see the roof to his home below. It's made from real thatch and reclaimed posts from invasive species! Peter lives in a game park in Windhoek Namibia, and he and his wide Jackie are a complete delight!) I also spent an inordinate amount of time with my boss-ish, Tim, a civil engineer, who is a great project manager, and good friend. We worked ourselves to death, and I'm glad for it. But now I need an OFFICE!!

But things ended too quickly and the goodbyes that should have been said were cut short. That's okay, we'll see one another again, I am certain (INSHALLAH!)
And I'm back to the drawing board... But something has to happen soon!!!
Hope all is well!