Days of hammering nails into the porch frame of the barn transform me. I’ve gotten good at swinging the hammer, letting the tool do the work, the nail going straight in, but I have to focus on each strike. I breathe and strike. Breathe and strike. Then I stand and gaze at the march of 2X4s thinking of the time when the boards will all be screwed down and people will sit here, chatting, or quietly watching Hermit’s Peak. This thought makes it easier to bend forward and begin striking again. Breathe and strike. This is mantra work. This is breath work.
But a day ago it was a breaking point. I hammered in those nails. Tension built. I was hot and dizzy. The winds blasted dust into my face. I would need to completely wash down before bed, not the smallest task by candlelight without running water. I was tired of grit in every crevice, my clothes saturated with dust. I was sore, overwhelmed. I plopped down on a stack of lumber and swigged some luke warm water. These niggling internal complaints circled something I couldn’t quite get at, because I actually don’t mind the mesa’s clean dust, and I enjoy the physical labor, especially now that I have Si Avila, ace builder and super wonderful person to help me.
Then I got it. The truth is I am coming down off delusion. I’ve lived in a maya for a while, the world of the Electronic Fantasy, that groundless, disembodied computer screen where I pour my mind hour after hour. I spent the winter there. Our culture lives tethered. Hypnotized. Hammering the deck was like being in rehab and going through DTs. It didn’t feel as good as I’d wish, but strike and breathe was ridding me of Internet Maya. It takes learning over and over again how to stay in this body, now. This one body, this one moment.
The mixer. Its all about the mixer at this stage. The components are finally lined up. It was difficult to find the axle. I made many calls to Steve at Highlands Wrecker who was hard to reach while he was cleaning up a large traffic accident on I25 but he dug one out of his yard. Then Charlie Norman will weld the chassis together over at his shop. He was tough to reach too. Often he was out on the range in Watrous putting in a ranch gate. I’ve gone to Mallete’s Farm Supply to get the stock tank (basically a big steel tub where you dump water, paper and cement, and stir), Sears to get a lawn mower blade, Hacienda (Home Depot of Las Vegas) to get plywood. Si Avila will pick up the chassis and all these parts from Charlie and put the mixer together.
Papercrete takes a lot of water. Good news—the catchment put in last fall works really well! The winter snow nearly filled the 3000 gallon capacity tanks. Next news. We need a lot more water to put in the floor so I’m having the second side of the roof guttered and fitted up with tanks. Once the floor is in, the water can go toward a garden, showers, etc. Bill Pyles, the local volunteer Fire Chief, puts in catchment.
The deck will be done shortly I decided to start from the edges and work in. It important for volunteer community labor to hang out or to stay overnight, so we start with a great deck to sit on, kick off muddy boots, eat dinner, get out of the sun, etc. The Winter House will follow, a papercrete learning project to get the formulas and strategies sorted, that will be housing for volunteer builders. This leads to a Builders’ Retreat—a blitz build perhaps with a team to get the floor down. The best thing is finding Judith, Papercrete Maven, to give advice, and Si Avila, excellent builder and all around super wonderful person to be our Foreman and make sure whatever goes up won’t fall down. He seems a bit excited about the papercrete project and thanks to him, the above-mentioned deck is beautifully constructed. I’ll be asking for help from a few good women and men soon.
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