Monday, February 18, 2008

November and December 2007

Some Highlights during the holiday season:

Lindsay had Eli on Ryan's birthday November 8th-- I got to go to Colorado and help out with the birth AND moving! I loved being able to be there and see Eli be born-- though it did scare me a little :) Thanksgiving in Kady TX with my mom's sister Tina and Alan and their kids
My mom finally came to visit me! This was us and some of my friends eating dinner at an Italian restraunt after we went and toured an Olive Grove here-- it was really nice to show my mom around and have her meet some of my friends! Christmas Eve-- I had to work until 11:00 at night and really was not expecting Murv to do anything special for the holidays since he is usually pretty bah humbug-- imagine my surprise when we pulled in the driveway after he had picked me up from work and I saw this! My very own gingerbread house :) It was a great surprise. I was asking-- "how did you make them work, are they battery operated?" But then I opened the car door and heard the generator-- it was so funny to have generator operated Christmas lights. We had a great time sitting by the fire enjoying the Christmas spirit with our friends Roy and Marshall (see below).Roy and Marshall-- two travellers that got stuck in our town during the Holidays and had nowhere to go-- we crammed them in our cabin with us so they wouldn't be cold and they ended up spending christmas with us and helping murv finish the final coat of plaster on the cabin. Earlier in December Murv and I had prayed to really feel the christmas spirit this year and we felt like Roy and Marshall gave us that opportunity...Dru and Boo decided it was time to start venturing out off the land during this time too-- one day they escaped and Dru found his way home but Boo did not. After a whole night out on her own lost in the cold and dark she somehow made her way home-- a little traumatized with some slight injuries... that was a vey very long night for me, and a very happy reunion. They don't get to wnader much anymore these days...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A window and a door

I forgot the window and door stories-- they happened before plastering or roofing but I forgot to mention them...

Window: We drove about 30 miles away to a window factory-- we knew we needed a BIG window to let in a lot of light. We gave them our dimensions, they said they had one in stock-- we loaded it up and took it home. Murv installed it and i went inside to open it. It SLAMMED open! What the?? Oops.
We gave then dimensions and they gave us a window that was designed to be installed long ways instead of cross ways. The window was thus spring-loaded so that had it been installed as it was designed, it would be easy to open. :) So anyway, Murv took the springs out for me and it works just fine... boy did we feel sheepish though-- the things you learn to think about...

Door: This is a special door-- a good friend of ours that is a carpenter-- Robert Valentine, had this door sitting in his storage shed for a long time and didn't know what to do with it.

After having searched and searched for the right door-- and driving many many miles and almost getting a different door but backing out at the last minute because they were extorting us on the price... Robert offhandedly asked if we might have use for a front door. We went and looked at it expecting it to probably be a junk door but decided it was perfect-- glass to let in a lot of light, great UV protection, super-heavy, solid wood and character! Robert even came and helped Murv install the door. This door has great Karma! Hooray for free building materials that actually work out well!

In addition we got a BUNCH of lumber from the coal pile at the hardware store 20 miles away (miles are mentioned so you know how much time we spend driving everywhere to get every little thing-- one thing we didn't factor in when we decided to chase this dream in the country) and we got all of it for $75.00-- the guy was like "if you take it all right now and get it off my hands, you can have it for.......$75" how cool! We were feeling pretty fortunate that day!

Murv was able to use this lumber to frame in the window, door and lots of other little projects. We still have some left.

Anyway-- with the window and door installed we could finally keep out spiders, some of the rain, and other animals...a big step considering we had been sharing with about 500 daddy long legs and a bunch of other who knows whats!
(p.s. i added a photo to my Tough Times entry if you want to see my "ghetto kitchen")

Friday, February 15, 2008


So if you were wondering-- now is the part where you get to learn about Padobe. Paper Adobe.
With the roofing material on, we were now ready for plaster-- fortunatley this project was relatively inexpensive (except for that it required running water-- which we didn't have hooked up yet-but i'll get to that).
I mentioned earlier the sustainability co-op that we found the first week we got to Wimberley. We had been attending the group meeting every month ever since March-- as well as going to a work party once a month to help members of the co-op out with projects on their land. Well our name was finally drawn out of the hat and our turn was up! Murv was not excited about having a bunch of people on our property, and not really comfortable accepting help, but by this point I was! Once he accepted that it was going to happen no matter what -he decided that a good project for our work party would be plastering the cabin.
So here is the recipe for making plaster out or recycled shredded paper.
We are proud to say we used 2,000 pounds of waste paper to plaster our 385 sq. ft. cabin!

Concrete Mixers (2-3)
Generators (if you have no electricity like us)
Gasoline (ditto)
Portland cement (we bought waste bags of it for a fraction of the cost)
Lime (someone donated this to us because they had a ton of extra)
Wheel barrows
Plaster appliers (can't remember what they are called-- float thingies)
Scoring Instruments

here are pictures of the process which Murv will explain:

One ton of recycled shredded paper

Soaking the paper in water to soften it upgotta give credit to the gasoline which makes the generator go! about $10.00/day if you're working all day...
When the mixture is ready it's about the consistency of tuna fish This kid is about as happy as a pig in mud!Up close-- this is the scratch coat Messy job site!The variegated color effect comes from using waste bags of portland cement which are all different colors-- it's like a water coloring-- (we will be painting over it so it's all one color eventually, but it's fun for now)
This is the slipcoat-- final coat (the structure has two coats of plaster in total)-- looks like handmade paper up close-- it's beautiful, very durable, weather resistent, adds yet another element to the insulation factor (very important for our HOT summers) environtmentally friendly, and utilizes products from the waste stream~

Murv has also been experimenting with the mixure to make padobe bricks and tiles which make a very lightweight, durable building material also.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


By the time Michelle came to visit we were no where near finsished, even though we had been being very frugal and creative-- but we had maxed out our building budget. We were also finding the job market in a small town pretty difficult-- especially with all the rian and bad weather-- it seemed like the whole town was struggling to make ends meet. I didn't feel like I had the energy or the means to try to really push things with my coaching business and Murv was having a hard time finding work as well. We were at a point of pretty much just barely being able to keep fuel in the car, pay the bills and eat. This was not encouraging as far as getting projects done and getting any closer to having a finished place to live. And though it was a great upgrade from a tent-- it was still not really functional as a living arrangement:

My new rule of thumb (learned by trial and error): In construction, everything costs three to four times as much as you expected, and takes at least three times longer that you thought it would. :)

After all the rain finally dried up-- and in order to be able to plaster the house-- we had to get the roofing material onto the roof (another project Michelle helped a lot with).

The roofing stuff was estimated to cost $1400.00-- we had exactly $700.00-- a generous gift from our church-- but still only half what we needed. Murv set to work figuring out how to make it work! He is great at that, and by his genius and some miracles-- he figured out other materials he could use and came up with a system that works great!

The material we used is called TPO (Thermoplastic polyolefin membrane)-- It's a white reflective membrane that cuts a lot of heat (keeps the inside of our cabin nice and cool), and does not off-gas-- making it a great roof for suntanning, living roofs (growing plants!), and rainwater collection-- rainwater collection being a very important part of our sustainability plan.

We got up on the roof just the other day to enjoy the sun and it was like being in a tree house and at the beach with no sandy mess. The breeze was blowing in the treetops so that it sounded and felt like being at the ocean. The roof surface was comfortable and cold to the touch even though the sun was beating down on it, yet we bot got some great sun exposure. It's really amazing stuff! Not to mention now if it starts raining again-- our bed will never get wet again!!!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dare to be a Daniel

Since it was Daniel's birthday this week I had to post this for him-- I have been waiting for the right time...

There is a guy here in Wimberley that always has stuff written on his back window and one weekend this summer he had this on there-- I had to take a picture

love you daniel-- happy birthday!

(if you don't know daniel he is my friend susan's little brother and you can meet him here)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New Belly Pic

As per susans request... (i'll put a few more soon but we have to take some)
I felt the baby move for the first time at around 5:00 Friday morning-- at first i wasn't sure-- but now i feel it all the time! active little one-- I LOVE being pregnant...
this was taken in front of our one and only grocery store in wimberley-- but that's about to change... me and some friends and other interested parties in the community have just set up an LLC called The Bountiful Sprout-- our own food buying group where we get organic and natural food for wholesale prices as well as supporting local producers-- I am VERY excited about it-- stay tuned for more on that as we progress-- we hope to have our own store soon and what we are doing has a great impact on relocalization--it has to happen...

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Big Boost

In late September my friend michelle (great friend from when I was a missionary in san diego) called and said she was going to come visit us and help us work on our cabin! Considering how worn out we were, it was a breath of fresh air! Hooray for Michelle!!!-- she gave us just the shot in the arm that we needed. She was literally an answer to our prayers and thankfully we had good weather the entire time she was here! She had to put up with the two of us and our bickering-- but overall we all had a great time and we got the lathe up on the house in preparation for plastering it.

Michelle is a hard worker!

Ready for plaster!

Chillin at her going away BBQ on her last night with us

and some of our favorite wimberley friends

MMMMM. Foil Dinners.

Also at this time a new addition came to our family-- a black lab puppy-- she had no name for about three weeks until she finally told me her name was boo. And boy am I totally in love with her. Her personality is mild and sweet and obedient (unless food is involved)-- just like my family dog Widgeon that we grew up with only black instead of yellow. Opposite of Dru's hyper, willful personality. I say Boo takes after me and Dru takes after Murv! :)

Cutest Baby Boo

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tough Times-- you really should read this one

After only being back from my travels and enjoying our little cabin for a few days we were crushed when we came home from working after a long rainy day to find a torrent of rain rushing down through the roof panels into our house! right in the center of our bed!
this time we BOTH cried.
Sadly, the matress was never able to fully dry out because of the rain and humidity and eventually had to be taken to the dump becasue it molded.
The house would occassionally dry out for a few days and then it would rain again-- even with big tarps-- it was impossible to keep things dry... when we would lay down at night the mosguitos would go crazy, many nights we would drive to san marcos (15 miles away) and hang out at the IHOP till 2 or 3 AM just to have some place to be out of the wet and muggy/ buggy air. We couldnt do anything on the cabin because we couldnt seal the moisture in. We couldn't even put the roofing material on for fear of locking and sealing the mositure permanently into the structure.
Everyone kept saying--"this rain has got to let up. it can't keep going like this." But rain it did. Occassionaly the sun would come out long enough to dry everything up -- just in time to start raining again.
And lets not forget what comes with rain. MUD.
We had to keep all our clothes, books, paperwork, mail, bathroom stuff, tools etc... in the back of the jeep. our life was a crazy MESS.
We couldn't use the outdoor kitchen and because of the heat and humidity things would not keep in a cooler. Anything i cared about that wasn't already ruined got shoved back into the storage unit which was becoming increasingly disorganized. Everytime we went there to try to find anything-- we ended up in a big fight. (i don't handle chaos and disorder very well, and murv doesn't handle "complications" very well). Anytime we were hungry or needed to go to the bathroom we had to go into town -- it seemed like we were spending every penny on fuel and eating out and getting fat and unhealthy and borrowing other people's toilets and showers. Our dream of camping out on our land while building our cabin was turing into a nightmare. Even dru was miserable. The thought of other people in the world stuggling to survive, or being connected to our pioneer ancestors wasn't really even consoling us anymore.

One day the sun came out for a few hours and i decided to clean and organize the jeep because the mess was really starting to make me crazy. I laid out a huge tarp and took everything we own out of the jeep and began to clean it. I cleaned and cleaned. Then I organized everything on the tarp and folded and straightened out the mess. I was about to put it all back but got called and a friend was having an emergency and needed some immediate help. I quickly covered everything up on the tarp with another tarp and in my haste to get to my friends aid- I absentmindlely backed over the top of my tarp as I was leaving. I BACKED OVER all our stuff with my jeep. WHAT?? HOW?? By the time I got back to asess the damge it had started to pour again and even with the tarps, water and mud soaked the big pile of run over stuff (it's ok, you can laugh). A lot had to be thrown out, some was salvageable-- a bunch of books will never be the same, I had to throw away our crushed little portable DVD player. SAD day. TOUGH TIMES.
I honestly don't know how we made it through that time...but for the grace of god, a lot of faith, and some really great supportive friends and family members-- neither of us gave up, though we took turns thinking about it weekly. And lets just say unfortuantley we didn't really figure out how to stay friends with each other during that time. It was pretty stressful and hard on our relationship. i wish I could say it brought us closeer together but really it almost tore us apart. I could say looking back, it has greatly strengthened us, but while we were in the thick of it, we didn't figure out how to lean on each other the way i wish we could have. But I can say neither of us gave up.
And then in early fall it finally stopped raining.
And THEN it got windy. Just when I finally started to get to use my outdoor kitchen, 60 mile an hour winds came through our camp and tore it all down. I was totally devastated-- kick a dog when they are down! seriously! I really thought i was at the end of my rope.

This was my kitchen which I started calling my "ghetto kitchen" after I had to cover it with tarps and a piece of tyvek paper (which I got when Murv was cleaning up on a job site) to try and keep things dry-- this is the very same kitchen that was destroyed by the wind... :(

One good thing that happened during this time though-- the missionaries and our home teachers stopped by to offer encouragement and support-- the polynesian guy is actually the cousin of one of my favorite companions from my mission, sister paongo-- small world...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Pilgrims Progress

Our first adventure in the rain came shortly after the chiggers. The second weekend when I returned home from working in Austin it rained all weekend. It was also very humid. At one point water was flowing so steady through the land that it actually flowed through our tent-- good thing I bought the army surplus cots to keep us up off the ground. But that didn't do much for the rain that was actually dripping through the rain mac and the tent. I was so sticky and wet-- even my sleeping bag was wet. Between that and the itchiness of my week old chiggers, and my period, I was really feeling pretty oppressed. I told Murv-- This is not fun...
I have to admit that by the second night of this i laid in the tent in the dark, rain drops falling on me intermittently, and cried. I told murv not to worry--that i would get past it, but that i just needed to cry.
he said, " you know, at times like this i think of all the people in the world who have no home, and people like the pioneers, and it makes me feel good that I get to experience these trials along with them-- especially because a lot of them didn't have a choice and we do. It makes me feel stronger." It was kind of amazing how in the challenge of the moment, i really did feel grateful and blessed and connected to humanity in a stronger way than ever before.
Little did we know this first weekend of rain was just a foreshadowing of what was to come... We did have a few more weeks of sun and like I said while I was gone Murv got a lot done so that by the time I returned from travelling-- this is what I came home to...

It was very sweet to come home and upgrade from the tent to the cabin. i cried when i looked in the front door becasue murv had set up our bed, dresser, lounge chair, rugs and even a big palm houseplant-- OSB and all it-- it was still a home! finally a home of our own! sort of:)
i immediately set to work creating my bathroom and outdoor kitchen spaces. I set the kitchen tent up in the park...
and worked VERY hard to clear this trail and level the ground to set up my outdoor solar shower. I laid the bark and gathered all the rocks to line the path-- my first path on the land-- I was very proud!