What is Papercrete?
It is cement made from water, paper and Portland cement. When dry it is beautiful, practical, hardy, low-cost, green and, though hard work to mix and pour, not rocket science. Its attributes: highly insulative, lightweight, animal-proof, fire resistant (you cannot light it with a blow torch!), and waterproof. Read more
Posts tagged ‘mesa’
What is Papercrete?
Mid-September. The cold front arrived as promised with a heavy blanket of cloud and sharp rainy winds out of the northwest. I curled under cozy covers all night, intermittently sleeping soundly, but often awake, eyes closed, listening to the wind and rain, safe and warm. Snug in a storm.This is one of the keenest pleasures I’ve ever known. Read more
Work Weekend in August
A fantastic work team—Krys Statho, Ric Miccio, Iscah Paquin, Nathalie Molina, and Karleen Koen—came up the weekend following Summer Movement Monastery to help. Ravenrock is a construction site—messy. The Work Team was fabulously high spirited, hard-working, appreciative, and game. They hauled rocks, mixed and poured papercrete, shoveled colleeche into ruts in the access road—all heavy, dusty jobs but these are the basics at this point. Read more
Waking to the Snake
Yesterday, I stumbled out of the cabin at dawn to empty my pee can and startled a rattlesnake. It was curled at the edge of my doorway. I froze, it wound. I quickly backed my naked self inside the cabin but had to make sure that, yes, it was a rattler with the large jaws, the dusty diamonds and, of course, the rattle which it shook at me. The sound is wilder and edgier than I had imagined it would be. We were now both alarmed. Read more
Can’t Find the Grand Canyon
We engage in practices to open ourselves and to learn what it means to be present in this Moment, rather than caught in an old personal story. Last night at 2am unable to sleep, I slid into chanting thinking that I should be asleep and that chanting would calm me, but the chant felt dense, lumpy. A Being-ness had come over me and chanting felt like floating up from a depth. Then I realized I was awake because I was in the Moment. Read more
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. Read more
Yes, its a saga.
I began with ideas and a gorgeous, ideal architectural drawing from Dana Bixby. I sent these to five contractors in New Mexico. Two were swamped, one backed away due to conflict of interest, one is still working on an estimate two months later, and one gave me a detailed, transparent estimate which, though fair, was so far out of range that I was very, very demoralized Read more
Ric and I drove around to the Bill Pyles’–Volunteer Fire Chief– house in tiny Romeroville to purchase a second 1600 gallon cistern. (We already had one lurking near the barn.) It was too big too strap to our truck so Jamie hauled it the following evening once again through mud. He is good at mud driving.
According to Bill, who knows the formula, our capacious roof should be able to collect 800 gallons of water from one inch of rain or ten inches of snow melt. Terrific! My goal has been to get the catchment in place before the winter snow in the hope of harvesting enough snow melt and rain to provide for the coming needs of earth floor construction and possibly a portion of summer retreat next year.
Ric and Jamie had two hours to get a large PVC pipe, mounted below the gutter for the gutter to drain into, as well as the fittings onto the cistern before the sun set. They worked steadily as the light dropped lower and lower.
The final day on the barn is a day of finishing—edges & trims. All the doors and windows have been framed and installed except the slide doors, which lie in position on the ground at the south end, ready to be hung.
I walk around, inspecting, asking final questions about the bottom edge of the west wall which doesn’t touch the ground. Steve nods. “See it touches on the east side. The ground slopes ever-so-slightly which is why that side has a gap,” he explains. The barn is level and squared. I’ll have to seal around those edges before winter. I continue to inspect and see nothing to complain about. The barn is clean and sharp and wonderful.
They grind out their cigarette butts, heave up the first slide door, working it onto its track. Then the second. Jauny shoves them together. Thunk! He gestures to the door, like the circus lion tamer, “Fits snug as a glove!” And it does. The barn is done.
They will go now and I feel both sad and relieved. It’s been a consuming five days; I can use a digestion period. We shake hands. I give them the second half of the payment, a small tip each, a box of Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies for the ride home, and to Junay for his birthday, a set of antelope antlers I found on a hike. I wave them off and stand in stunned silence. Has this really happened, this thing that six weeks ago was phone calls and internet digging? Did I really find Wilson Pole Barn Company, research them, vet them, put in an order, transfer money from one account to another, send in the first half payment, fly out to the mesa and find the site, locate a jackhammer and a hauling tractor? Me, a dancer, who knows nothing of all this? Yes. I did. I cry as I imagine myself managing to do this, choosing it, learning it, and moving forward instead of thinking I can’t, or getting stuck, or saying that I’ll do it later.
It is a beautiful barn. A perfect barn. I feel such affection for the wonderful crew (Wilson Pole Barn specialists out of Wagoner, OK) who hammered in every nail by hand.
The barn looks like a barn. Tim makes the frames for doors and windows. All the wood is there. I love how you can’t see the barn until you are almost upon it, yet it has that lovely and inspiring view of Hermit’s Peak. Yay ravens!
This is for me the first major endeavor where the ideas and actions remain. As a dancer, all my work disappears—a performance that I prepare three months for is over in twenty minutes. The same with dances that I choreograph on others. My memoir was better. It lingers as do videos, but both of these are projects that are consumed rather quickly by others and which once I’ve completed them, I rarely look into afterward. The barn however is there. I will be going in and out. I see it again and again as I walk the winding dusty track between the pinions. I think back to the moment when the ravens revealed that spot and think how in just a few days, the Wilson crew is evolving the insubstantial into substantial. Not six months, or a year or two years. No. It is happening before my eyes. Like a pre-digital photographs in a dark room. The edges sharpening, the form filling, timbers, metal sheets coalescing into a barn!
A seed that has found ground and does not blow away…
I watch them continue steadily on. Very zen-like without any zen to their self-concept. Tim leans intently over the saw horses to trim a piece of 2X4 for a window frame. Every frame he has made fits perfectly. He didn’t finish high school. Never saw the need. None of the three have much use for college—didn’t go themselves and can’t see how it would have made much difference to their lives. If their kids want to go, they shrug, its up to them. On day #4, I hear more detail about their lives and opinions as they chug down orange soda (Tim), 7-Up (Juany), and Coke (Steve).
Steve has been married twice. He is wise. He has gentle sotto voce advice for impetuous young Juany, who, at 29 , knows it all: is so decisive, his wife spends all his money!, she wants him to make more money but she wants him home. Juany wants to get home soon cause he loves his little girl who misses him, she wants her daddy. Yes, he loves his wife BUT… And there is always the “I love my wife, but,” in every break-time effusion. Steve listens, off-hand, dropping a bit of succinct, calm advice here and there which is mostly ignored.