vampire stakes and chunks of aggregate

6 07 2009

It’s 2:30am, so this probably won’t be a particularly insightful post, but I figure I’ll toss together a few things to get back into some sort of swing of writing after my month of living mostly off-the-grid.

EDIT: I actually finished after sunrise the morning I started it, so it’s more like 12:30pm now that it’s being published. Which basically just means I have fewer excuses if it is unintelligible. 

But first, a note:
One of the top searches that leads to this blog is “tight balls.” Um… yeah. I think that’s probably because of some post talking about tight balls and knots in my stomach? Mayhaps? I don’t even know. Weird.

****************

Some of you, dear readers (all 3 of you… hi Mom!), might be wondering what exactly I’ve been getting myself up to for the last handful of weeks I’ve been absent. Well, there’s been a lot of driving, very little of it in my car (which is having its second heart transplant in 5 years, but is expected to pull through), and quite a few states have been involved. There have been two very queer Pride celebrations, a smattering of birthdays, a lot of swimming in lakes and ponds and reservoirs and former quarries surrounded by green mountains, one dead snake, two orange cats of profoundly different sizes, many nights on my now-trusty air mattress, excessive amounts of straw in uncomfortable places, very dirty clothing, quite a few ladders, a singular squirt of deet-free (B”H) bug spray into my eyes, numerous bruises, and multiple dance-filled evenings. Life has been full and vibrant and exhausting and beautiful and engaging and challenging and fun. 

The shorter answer, though, sans weekend adventures, is that I’ve been building. Natural building, technically, and specifically, I was installing straw bale walls in a timber frame house in Hartford, NY, applying a rough coat of earthen plaster to a house in central Vermont, and mostly doing prep work for the finish lime plaster coat on a house in Deering, NH. I did get to do a bit of finish plastering though (just filling in and smoothing out cracks in already plastered panels), and damn, that’s fun and satisfying. 

I’m sort of blown away, and at the same time not at all surprised, by how much I’ve been enjoying building this past month. The days are long, regularly 10+ hours, and the work is more physically demanding than anything else I’ve done, but it is also satisfying and rewarding and challenging in very new and exciting ways. I’m on a hiatus from building for the next month or so, with perhaps a few days excepted, but hopefully will be back at it in August. Tragically, the finish plaster coat on the house in VT we just rough plastered is happening in September, and I’ll be busy getting my community organizer on, so I can’t be there. 

Building is great on its own, but it’s additionally really phenomenal to be working with and for the people I do – people who center the health and well-being of all involved, who understand natural building to be a comprehensive, holistic approach to building with a prioritization of social justice, ecological systems, community building, and the creation of safe, enriching, beautiful spaces. Very simply, that feels good, and I like it. 

My boss/friend also teaches natural building, specifically natural wall systems, and has been talking about building a curriculum that explores the histories and genealogies we can trace for natural building. An alternative to the narrative that is mostly filled with straight white homesteader couples “finding inspiration” from indigenous practices. I’m excited to explore and learn with him, to follow and draw those trajectories. I think that outlining our histories, tracing the lines that connect us physically, emotionally, and intellectually are incredibly important, and I feel full of anticipation.

There’s a lot more that I’m holding on to, have been thinking about and tossing around. I’m not sure I’m ready to put them all in one place, to consolidate scattered ideas into some semblance of coherence, so I’m going to leave things off here. But now I’m back in Boston for at least the next few weeks, with reliable internet access, and hopefully more time for blogging.

I’ll leave you with some pictures. 

 

Me, flat on my stomach, sandwiched between two bale courses in a wall, in the process of squeezing bales into a tight spot between the roof pitch and wall framing. Taken by boss/friend extraordinaire.

Me, flat on my stomach, sandwiched between two bale courses in a wall, in the process of squeezing bales into a tight spot between the roof pitch and wall framing. One of our crew, natural builder and solar power mistress, adjusts the bale positioning from a ladder. Taken by boss/friend extraordinaire.

 

   

A very sharp bale wall corner on the house in NY. Photo credit to AC.

A very sharp bale wall corner on the house in NY. Photo credit to AC.

 
 

Me applying a rough coat of plaster to a wall section of a strawbale house

Me applying a rough coat of plaster to a wall section of a strawbale house. Taken by boss/friend extraordinaire.

 

The sand pit, a former quarry-cum-swimming hole in East Montpelier. Photo was taken at dusk, and shows surrounding green hills and clouds reflected in still water surface.

The sand pit, a former quarry-cum-swimming hole in East Montpelier. Photo was taken at dusk, and shows surrounding green hills and clouds reflected in still water surface.

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2 responses

6 07 2009
MJ

I read your blog (I believe we went to college together), great work!

6 07 2009
Jo

Hi MJ. Thanks. 🙂

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