Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wind Power

Here's a cheap and simple collector for individual homes out of Australia, hopefully soon to be in production. $700 per unit.

Monday, June 25, 2007


triptych project
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Krista has been wanting to paint some new triptychs, or altar screens, so I got a sheet of nice half inch plywood and cut it up with Jerry's table saw. This was challenging, since it's not a very big table saw. Luckily Jerry and Krista were there to help get those first big cuts done.
Once the three rectangular parts were cut for each piece, Krista drew a design for the top and I took them home to hack away with my little jig saw.
I cut one of them and it was marginally okay. I think it took about an hour. But I ruined the next little one, so in desperation I called Danny. He said to bring 'em over to his woodworking shop. He cut the other seven (beautifully) in 45 minutes! It would have taken me two days. Thank you Danny!
But I still had to sand the edges and install the hinges. That took many more hours. Ugh. I wasn't careful enough either, about the sawdust, and got a bit of a sore throat.
Eden hung out with me while I was putting in the tiny little screws for the hinges. She tried to help as best she could, but the screws were so small they were hard to handle. I was glad for her company anyway.
So now they are sitting in the studio awaiting Krista's paintbrush. A lot more work and trouble than going out and buying a canvas. But they will be fantastic works of art and it is pleasing to me to have played a part (along with Jerry, Danny and Eden) in their creation.
Hopefully some, most or all of them will be done in time for the Oregon Country Fair and we'll sell them all!
I'll try to get some photos of the finished product up before we go.


Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Here's the line up. Ready for fantastic original artwork by Krista.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Good Fences

I've been thinking about fencing today. Meredith and Steve have about 95 feet of crappy old wood fence that needs replacing. Steve told me that having it done will cost over $4,000 and he's thinking redwood. Ugh.
So I got to thinking about the 'light straw clay' construction that I got to experience last summer. It's a wonderful system for dwelling walls. What about fencing?
This photo shows light straw clay walls going up for a laundry room with 8' ceilings and a window. The wall to the right is finished and waiting for plaster.
I'm thinking one could sink metal poles using concrete (not green, I know, but termite proof). I think the poles for chain link fence probably have holes pre-drilled. Otherwise a shop could do it for you.
I'd want to use 2x6's for extra wall thickness. So I'd attach a 2x6 to the post with a few bolts, so the wood would be off the ground and perpendicular to the line of the fence.
2x6 top and bottom boards go horizontal with a vertical piece joining them half way at four feet. I would probably add vertical bamboo inside the structure for extra support. Bamboo or any straight saplings or even old pipe or whatnot.
Once the structure is up, removable plywood forms are used to apply the light strawclay. This goes up pretty quick, using a little less than one bale per 8 feet.
Basically, the straw is mixed with clay slip on a tarp, using a hoe or hands, then tamped into the cavity between the plywood forms. It sets up quick and becomes very sturdy and sound proof.
I think a crew of three or four people could do the 95 feet in a day, easy.
But then would come mud plastering. That would need a work crew or maybe some day laborers? And probably two coats. Using natural plaster, almost all the cost would be in the labor (which might even be free).
This photo shows the same wall as above with a few coats of earthen plaster, essentially finished.

The two parts I'm not sure of are the cap and the bottom of the fence. A cap of some kind would help keep water off the plaster, especially if it had a drip edge. I know PVC pipe is pure evil, but I can imagine cutting a big one in two and laying it over the 2x6 top of the fence, with the edges overhanging. We could wrap it in some chicken wire and plaster over it with stucco. Just an idea.
The bottom of the fence could leave an open gap, but I like the idea of it being supported by the ground. I just don't know about termites migrating through the ground up into the wood. More research needed.
Anyhow, I've tried to find out if anyone else has built a fence this way. If so, they haven't put it up on the web.
I think it's a pretty good idea. Since the wood would all be encased in plaster, it should last for a long long time. It would need to be re plastered occasionally, but with a good roof cap I think it would need far less maintenance than any wooden fence. And it would be cheap. Even using new lumber I priced it out at $475 for materials for the 95 feet. And you'd have a very private, sound blocking and good looking fence.
If you have any thoughts on this project idea, especially if you see a glaring problem I've overlooked, please leave a comment!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Funniest 5 Seconds on the Internet

You MUST see this.

Warning: YouTube seems to have just launched a new feature, where after one watches the embedded video, related ones are shown. At least one of the 'related' videos shown after this one is nasty. Don't go there!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

OCF Looming

Every year, about this time, my enthusiasm for the Oregon Country Fair is at its lowest ebb. We've been working for weeks now getting ready. It's a big production. And every year we end up trimming down our ambitious list of projects, which is always a wrench.
Krista is working on a big painting to be done for the fair. It's one she's had going for months, but started back in on. I saw it yesterday and got really excited. Way cool.
She's also going to paint a lot of little ones. Some very little ones. And some triptychs (I have to cut the plywood and put the hinges on this week).
We were hoping to make lanterns too, but the learning curve was so steep that, even though we've pretty much got it figured out, we may not pursue the project for this fair. Sob.
One problem is that they would be fairly fragile and take up a lot of room in the van. A lot of room! But I can imagine them shining out at night on the path so beautiful. I can imagine people buying every single one we brought.
Hopefully we'll sell the triptychs and paintings we bring. I'd like to sell them all.
Along with helping Krista, I'm working with the girls to get their goods ready for sale up there. India is supposed to make all her camp money at the fair. I think she's going to have a pretty good store this year.
I think it's going to be a very good year at OCF.


Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

On Saturday we went to Peg and Dave's for a most enjoyable 'yard warming' party--they had a lot of guests, many kids and have white carpets, so we all pretty much stayed outside. Which was great because the weather was ideal and their yard is 5 acres and lovely.
There was live music and yummy food and fire dancing (Peg is involved with a troop of dancers). These girls, Gabrielle and Violet, were watching.
I am so happy and grateful to have such lovely, creative and fun friends.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ashes and Snow

This video is about 10 minutes long, stark, beautiful and must mean something. You might like it. If you aren't in a hurry.

Greening the Desert

Here's a short video to get you excited about permaculture and the potential it holds for turning things around. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Harmony Festival - 2007

Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Poor old Harmony Festival. It was held under a bad opposition - Saturn in Leo opposed Neptune in Aquarius. All that beautiful old spiritual & communal energy mucked up by greed and vainglorious burningman showboaters. The main stage music was way too loud, drowning out conversations and more humble performances. Leo at it's worst--demanding an audience. And Aquarius at it's most vapid - hunkering down in cliques instead of bringing everyone together.
May I piss and moan?

It used to be the "Health & Harmony Festival". Last year they dropped the Health. I think this year it was pretty much the "Our Money Festival". They bumped up the admission prices to where a family of four would have to pay $114 at the gate. For the day!

Most everyone we know either just came one day or didn't come at all. Jerry paid his $37 to get in (he brought our girls) and stayed for about 45 minutes. Ugh.

Still, there were good experiences to be had, for sure. Somehow I seemed to have forgotten how to enjoy myself much. But my long suffering friends helped me out.
Karen for example took this very photo.

I did come up with a strategy for counteracting the somewhat avaricious spirit of the promoters. I put a stack of deva luna cards in my pocket and gave them out for free to certain folks I'd notice. I swear, a few people seemed like they were going to start crying!

Anyhow, it was a long strange trip this year. I'm looking forward to the generous loving overflowing spirit of the Oregon Country Fair next month.
ps lot's more photos on Flickr.

India's Art

India's Art
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

India really wanted to get some new clothes at the fair, but all her money has been going toward camp fees.
So she made up a sign and brought her gear to the kid's area and did her face painting. She ended up making $26 and was able to buy three skirts!
Way to go India. Now she's thinking of doing face painting for parties or events. Krista and I are encouraging her. When she was younger she wasn't very good at it and kids would come away looking pretty funky.
But these days her face painting looks great and she had a line at one point. So if you're planning a party, drop her an email and she'll set up for your guests.

Transformations Art Village

Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Krista got invited back to be part of this collective for the festival. Mark Henson put it together for 15 visionary artists, many of them young 'uns. He did a good job of balancing boys and girls too.
Pictured is Lindy Kehoe, currently from Fairfax, Marin County. She was one of the friendliest of the group and my favorite artist, besides Krista.
I caught most of the artists with my camera and have them up on Flickr.
We sold one small painting and lots of prints and cards and ended up making about the same net profit we made last year with a whole expensive and labor intensive booth.
This year we only had to do a few shifts and help set up and break down. I liked hanging around with all these creative folks. The art was pretty damn good too.

tres amigas

tres amigas
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Eden had a lovely time both days. The girls dug around in the $5 boxes at this India booth and found matching dresses. They ran around like crazy things for hours and hours!
She got to play with Zoe on Saturday, Ash and Aja Sunday, and Paisly both days!

The Onceler and the Lorax

The Onceler and the Lorax
Originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

India practically begged me to see The Lorax play in the kid's area. I was reluctant. I actually found it hard to stick with any one performance, conversation or experience during this fair.
But I stayed for The Lorax with India and was so glad I did. We even came back the next day and watched it again.
Sadly, I forgot to find out who these performers were. Our friend Sean thought they were all exactly the same folks as last years play. They certainly had their roles down.

Biodiesel and the Holy Grail

The holy grail of biodiesel has always been algae. Things are looking up!

Here's a recent statement from the Boeing Corporation "With the potential for algae of providing 10,000 gal/acre/year, some 85 billion gallons of bio-jet could be produced on a landmass equivalent to the size of the US state of Maryland. Moreover, if these bio-jet fuels were fully compatible with legacy aircraft, it would be sufficient to supply the present world’s fleet with 100 percent of their fuel needs as well into the future."