I've got just a few photos from the workshop here, you can see more over at my flickr site. I've written just a little about the experience below.
Monday, July 31, 2006
The mother ship. They built this huge structure because the farm is an educational center and it's a great space for classes and gatherings. The roof insulation is bales of straw! It was 110 degrees outside, those first days, but only about 75 or 80 degrees inside.
I'm back from my cob workshop up in Williams Valley, Oregon. I have so much to say I don't know where to start. It was really really great and far exceeded my expectations and hopes. I feel empowered to actually start building! I'm ready to go.
The workshop was held on a beautiful farm, which operates as a non-profit educational and csa (community supported agriculture) organization. 62 acres, with about a third farmable. There was an old barn where meals were prepared and we ate out front of that in the shade of some old fruit trees. (The food was, as one person put it 'out of control good'). Much of the food we ate came directly from the farm, including goat milk and eggs, and produce from the huge and lovely gardens. Our long friendly meals were a real high point for me.
Up a little hill was the big common house and all of our building projects were there. We built the cob oven and the attatched walls shown above, we built two other strawbale/cob walls-one with an arch, we worked on a straw-clay slip wall, we did all phases of earthen plaster on our walls and the sauna, we 'poured' an adobe floor inside the common house. We mixed countless batches of cob. We had design sessions, and guest speakers with inspiring slide shows. We watched a great peak-oil documentary on Cuba on night. We went on a field trip to see three dwellings under construction in the Valley. We swam in the big pond to cool off and camped under a huge white oak and the clearest night sky I've seen since I was a little boy.
Along with the paying participants and the staff, there were interns there for the whole growing season. They work in exchange for room and board and getting to attend the workshops--a real win win situation for everyone. Getting to know them was another high point, as they are all magnificent young folks (all between 25 and 30 I think). They brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to the workshop that deeply inspired me.
The two presenters--Jim Haim and Taylor Starr were just wonderful to work with. They had such a good program that I think all of us came away feeling confident about building our own places. And they are such great human beings it was just really enjoyable and fun.
Check out my flickr page for photos and click for more info about White Oak Farm and Cob Together.
Unfortunately for me, on thursday morning, while we were playing a really fun group game, I busted one of my toes! It was sticking out sideways and I had to yank it back into position. Ugh. It hurt like an ongoing yellowjacket sting, and it probably wasn't helpful that I continued to work as much as I could and then drove home for 5 hours. It's actually more swollen now than ever and I just hope that's part of the healing process.
It's ironic, getting injured, because the construction site itself was so safe. I've got a picture of Macy, Jim's little two year old, playing along with all of us barefoot workers. That photo is a real testimony for cob. Jim's wife Katie was the main cook for the week and a really good cook! But also really fun to be around. Watching the way she and Jim were parenting Macy, and the way Macy enjoyed all the interns and attendees was heart warming.
It was so good to see Krista and my own girls after 9 days gone (with no communication!), but I'm also sad it's over. It was a true peak experience with a fantastic group of folks.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
I decided to take some self portraits on my birthday. It looks like I've had my head pierced.
I'm off tomorrow morning for the cob workshop, so I'll be out of touch for at least eight days. Krista checked the weather forecast up there and it said highs up to 110! Holy Shit! I may come back all crispy. Wish me luck!!!
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Well, it's my birthday. I've had a fine day so far. Krista and I woke up early and opened up the house to let the cool air in. Our house has been staying blessedly cool during these hot summer days.
I called my sister early, hoping to catch her before she's out the door for her insanely busy schedule. My birthday is also the anniversary of our father's death. It was a good death, though premature, so not too sad. But today is the tenth anniversary, which seems somehow significant. And mind blowing.
Anyhow, I did some yoga and Krista and I drank tea and sat in our little hot tub, sans kids. A perfectly ripe avacado for breakfast and off to pilates--it''s been about 9 months or so! I really need to get in better shape so I thought I'd start my own new year off right.
I've been meditating on the amazingly fine constellation of friends and family I'm travelling though this time with. I admit that I was reluctant to incarnate this time. I have trouble keeping my perspective and sense of humor in the face of serial atrocities and environmental catastrophe. But I'm glad to be here with you all. It really is a beautiful world.
In a few days I'm back up to Oregon to study cob construction for a week. I'm hoping this will open a new door for me, career wise.
If you happen to have a big piece of land near Sonoma County, California, and you might want an alternative dwelling built on it, hey--let me know!
Anyway, I'll keep you posted.
ps, that photo is from my trip to Bali this last March. I was about to discover the ecstasy of scuba diving and scared as hell. What a year it's been already!
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Every year after the OCF, our friend Nancy gives us shelter and comfort, beauty and yummy food. This year was no exception. Nancy took some years off painting and channelled all that creative force into fixing up her house. It's such an inspiraton to visit. This year she's added a hardwood-bamboo floor to the living room and is putting up a new outbuilding!
And she started painting again!! you can see her work here.
On wednesday Krista and I set out to peddle our cards wholesale in Eugene. It was a real eye opener for me! In all but one store (Ruby Chasm) the cards were all either Leanin' Tree or Tree Free--two big distributors who have all but cornered the market.
I talked to one store owner who said he sells 100 of their cards for ever blank note card from a local artist! His assertion was that people want the pre-printed 'sentiments' included with the corporate cards. Maybe so.
The problem for us is that the images they've chosen, for the most part, and the glitzy presentation, the corny sentiments all add up to a rather unattractive lowest-common-denominator sort of thing. We're not so sure we want to be part of it, even if we do get licensing offers from these same companies.
But one thing is for sure: we can't compete with these big guys. At least not until the card buying public gets sick of their schtick.
One of the wonderful things about our post OCF Eugene visit is getting to hang with Danny and Vicki and Riley and this year their friend from Oz, Doreen and Hila from Napa.
Vicki made us an awesome Thai dinner and we had a dance party. These guys really know how to have fun!
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I've got 138 photos over at Flickr! I'm not going to post anymore of them here, you can just follow the link and see the OCF 2006 set.
We're staying with Nancy here in Eugene at her ultra comfy home, slowly getting rested back up.
It was a very challenging year for us. Despite my vow to the contrary we arrived more tired out than ever, and about 27 hours late! We left a day late because we just couldn't get it all done and then blew out a radiator in Redding. We got to our booth at dusk on Wednesday night! Yikes.
Thank goodness Jerry and Joyce and Karen and Danny were already there. The floor of the loft was down and the kitchen area all swept and they helped us offload the van.
It wasn't until sometime Saturday that I really was up to speed. It's horrible being so tired when urgent fun is being had all around you. I felt the fair slipping away too fast.
But finally we did catch up and it was really worth it! There really is nothing like it. A beautiful and astonishing outpouring of creative offerings to a wildly receptive family.
India made about $600 and gave us $500 towards her Not Back To School Camp tuition. Eden and Zoe each made about $100, I'm guessing. That was really cool.
India especially has a devoted following. It's so amazing to see these really groovy stylish folks bending down to ooh and aah over her stickers and gnomies. She started selling on Thursday night and her face was all lit up with happiness like I haven't seen her in months.
It's hard to believe the fair is over. We'll be heading back down in a day or two. We did pretty well at the fair, about the same as last year, but we're needing to make some big life decisions. Maybe I need to get a job? Or maybe we need to move to Bali or something? We'll keep you posted.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Our good friend Art put on a party yesterday. Even though we were dead tired from getting ready for the fair, we dragged ourselves over there and had a great time.
His house is totally encrusted with intense artwork, but he cleared out a whole room, down to the white walls, for 5 or 6 artists (including Krista) to hang their work. It was lovely.
Monday, July 03, 2006
Well, it is the night before. We're supposed to leave tomorrow at the crack of dawn and we're once again exhausted. And we're still not really ready. I mean, the van is 95% packed, but there's still laundry to fold, and clothes to pack. Ugh.
So, we've decided to show up a day late! Rested. And refreshed (as much as one can be after a 9 hour drive). We'll just take tomorrow 'off' and clean the house a bit, put a little more energy into our 'costumes' for the fair and just sit around panting.
If all goes well we'll be there by 3pm Wednesday. Instead of 5 pm Tuesday.
Yesterday we were busy silkscreening the girl's designs onto various t-shirts we got from the Salvation Army. Most of them came out pretty good. I can imagine them being popular. I hope so. We also did a huge sticker project for both girls. India has 14 and Eden 11. Some of them in color. We've been running our new color laser nonstop for days and days.
We also printed up about $400 worth of our new Yes Notes. They look fantastic. I'm hoping people buy them. They were an awful lot of work to make!
And Krista ordered a gazillion photo prints which I ended up bagging up this morning. They represent many of her favorite paintings that never made it into print form.
An absurd amount of stuff. A ridiculous amount of work.
I swore we'd have it all done yesterday and today we'd just kick back. Oh well.