Tuesday, October 9, 2007

7l's the lovely summer in review

Hi everyone,

I thought I would try and put our fabulous and exhausting summer of work into a bit of context with the 'principles' we started out with when we began this project. Overall I think we were somewhat successful adhering to them, but there's always that gap between theory and practice isn't there? Anyhow, for those of you interested, here's my report.

The 7l's we started with were....
1. Local
2. Logical
3. Light / Low-Impact
4. Liveable/Loveable
5. Low-cost
6. Long Lasting
7. Lots o 'uses

Over the course of our building project this summer we had about 8 people at every meal, fed over 30 different people, and averaged 168 meals cooked each week, for a total of over 500 during the three week “big build.”

Because the folks we were feeding were working so hard for our project, liveable and loveable were our #1 priorities for food --- in other words, folks had to be happy with that they were eating. Cooking for such large groups was a real challenge and I have to admit for the first time I understood the appeal of big box stores like Costco. It met two of our criteria, Low-cost and to a certain extent, logical. Even at Costco it was possible to buy some organic food (which I would categorize as low-impact) but we did end up with some of what I call ‘factory meat” (mostly burgers and bacon.) If we’d had a freezer (or even refrigeration!) on site I think my answer would have been to buy a bulk order from a local farmer. This should be possible by next summer. Another option I’ll work on for next summer is to expand on my vegetarian cooking so that we can give even the carnivores some new and satisfying meat-free options.

Milk and eggs were all local and organic/free-range as were almost all of our fresh vegetables. Highlights were the fruits and vegetables Maddy brought from the farmer’s market where she works, and Pat’s fresh caught local crab. Yum yum!

With an average of 8 people on site each week, we used about about 100 gallons of water per day. This included one or two showers a day (most people washed themselves in the ocean), being stingy on flushing the toilet (within reason) and the men “marking the territory” around the camp. We used durable plastic plates and glasses and tried a sticker system to keep them individualized, but when the group gets bigger than 4 or 5 people this system proved difficult to maintain.

We’ve read several different numbers about average water use, anywhere from 60-100 (US) gallons per day for an individual to the same amount per household. As we move into a more ‘sophisticated’ setup we’ll also begin rain water harvesting so even as we add indoor showers, more frequent flushing etc, our drain on the well would hopefully stay about the same, possibly even dropping over the long-term.

An ongoing struggle for us were the miscellaneous items we needed for a multi-year camp. On the one hand, we weren’t ready to make an investment in something that might be damaged by prolonged outdoor use, and on the other hand, we didn’t want things that were just going to collapse after a few uses. Although I think we were successful in not buying any ‘unnecessary’ junk our $6.99 camp chairs quickly fell apart and became known as the “weight restricted chairs” and several pairs of kitchen scissors and kitchen knives from Ikea also bit the dust. In retrospect, I think more of this could have been purchased used, although this would have been a larger investment in time and possibly gas to purchase these items bit by bit, especially when you are in a hurry to have them.

The beautiful benches Kevin “Chip” Nugent built will be a big help for next summer, and we may work on adding other homemade furniture as well.. Over the winter we will be visiting our local thrift stores to try and find some of these household items for next summer now that we have a better sense of what we need.

I think the biggest impact on most of the "L's" was the labour of love that so many of our friends and family put into this project. Loveable, liveable, low-impact, low-cost, local....your generous assistance embodied all of those principles and more. Thank you thank you thank you!

That's all I have for now. K is working on the actual building report & a run-down of where the project is going next. A huge step forward was the actual final installation of the solar system so yes, the POWER TOWER ACTUALLY MAKES POWER NOW! Woo hoo!

Monday, September 3, 2007

In just one month we've accomplished a tremendous amount, with all thanks to our great friends and family. Here we are at the beginning of the month
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From bigbuild augu...

Here's a photo taken at the end of the month, when the posts and beams were in place and part of the subfloor had been laid. Just before we tarped everything up for the winter, we had a lovely dinner of bbq chicken and crab out on the platform. Truly spectacular.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Getting to the first floor

The posts are up & a platform is rapidly getting put down. It's been a very busy past couple of weeks with the posts and beams rapidly being put into place. Exciting, exhausting & exhilirating! Thank you thank you thank you to Pere and Didi for the many many things they've done to make this project possible, RJ for his magic tricks and handyman skills, Jan and Rich who came from Alberta, Cath and Naomi for delivering lunch, Bonnie for cat sitting and costco runs, Joe, Matt, Marc and Doug (go A team!) Lewis for being "snack boy" kevin 'de nugent' for his wiring work and Maddy for taking time from the picket line to help out.

there are lots and lots of new pictures on the photo blog.

- Swim time
- Raising the posts
- Full moon
- Spotting the otter down at the dock
- RJ's magic tricks
- Watching cath Naomi, Didi and Lewis play "Hi Jack"
- Late night "capture the flag"
- Putting on the first plywood for the subfloor
- Bacon and more bacon
- watching the rinfret brothers try and electrocute themselves with a bug zapper
- Maddy's organic nectarines

- RJ's magic tricks

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

the big build!

Incredible progress and some minor setbacks in our summer building project. Check out all the pix in the photo album and more to come. One week left to go!

So many people to thank for all their hard work and good wishes but I'm only in town for the morning and trying to post this before I go hunting and gathering for more supplies. Goodbye to Marc ("the ripper") and Matt ("Monkey Boy") who head back to Ottawa after some tremendous work, so long Patricia and Bill who are heading on with the rest of their vacation, thanks to the mums and dads (Jesse, Peter and Judy) welcome to RJ who just got here from Montreal and big big thanks to "Cousin Joe" (aka Joey Pockets) who's been here for two weeks and is sticking around til Labour Day weekend.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

August 3rd - 6th

here are just a few of the photos we took this long weekend. There are more in the powertower & foundations photo albums. Major accomplishments: (1) the arrival (& cleaning!) of the "new" stove. Nothing like cooking for a crew of 12 on a stove you've never used before! (2) the completion of the tent platform in the woods (3) great progress on the power tower including plywood on the roof (4) more forms for the foundations proceeding at a feverish pace.

Our big huge thanks to...
Doug and Rohini (the form crew) Grady and Christa for the tent platform & the great banjo playing, Bill who left beautiful Hawaii to come to the aide of his brother and sister-in-law, Patricia & Jesse (my mom) who gave me a much appreciated break from the kitchen, Sean who just couldn't quit, Maddy who showed no fear of heights and Mike who swings a hammer pretty good for a lawyer type. And thanks also to Jasper for being such a mellow dog.

All in all another great weekend, despite the discovery of what may or may not be cougar poop on the road up to the building site. The deer don't seem too concerned though.

In the upcoming weeks Kevin's brothers & folks are coming as well as our youngest crew member, nephew Lewis. Give us a call if you want to join the fun!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

July 26-29 Family & Sun

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Here's someone (Kevin?) taking a little break on the top of the mule, which has also been working as the scaffolding for the power tower. New pix have been added to the powertower album & you can see lots of pictures of the beginning of the foundations in the photos.

This weekends heros:
Sean who brought the powertower to new heights, Doug who came out for the day to kick ass on the footings, Kevin N who was a sawing machine, my homegirl Patricia who came all the way from hawait to free me from the kitchen & her honey Bill who hauled concrete, Miles, our levelfetcher & mule driver, our friend Cath who first introduced us to Gambier and sent us up a yummy care package of spaghetti and cookies and last but not least, Bonnie & Andrew who've been our bargain hunters and grocery shoppers in the city.

Wildlife report: deers (check out sean's great pic in the album for this weekend) eagle, vulture, garter snake, hummingbirds, ravens, seals. Thankfully no sign of either the cougar or the bear which have been spotted in the area.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sweating in the rain....

Thank you SUPER TROOPERS who braved the rain, the slugs and the reports of a cougar spotted on a nearby ranch to show up and dig holes, hold measuring tapes, power wash and build our very first footing for the foundation.

Photos I wish we'd taken....Rohini & Doug with plastic bags in their shoes....Miles pretending to be a tyranosaurus rex, Matty right after she smacked her finger with a pick-axe...Sean playing guitar and trying to get us all to sing along to Delilah.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Power Tower Foundation

The foundation for the solar "power tower" is finally finished!
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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Early July

Concrete and excavation days after the approval of the building permit. Big milestones, big sighs of relief all around.

Kevin calls watching the work of the excavator "awesome and heart-breaking." Even though we have already transplanted many of the little trees that were going to be right in the middle of the build site, it is somewhat unsettling to see how quickly machines like this can transform a landscape. The excavator is being used to find bedrock for 23 posts which the house will be built on. In actual fact, the way we are building the house (raised on posts) was one of of the most minimally invasive ways we could build on this site.

More milling done on Friday, our fattest log yet. Are going to experiment with using the dremel to sharpen the saw blade, which has to be sharpened every other cut. We think the little portable solar power pack which Kevin built from battieres, solar panel and dolly (hence portable), will do the trick nicely. Thanks Dave for giving us those batteries!

Also thanks to Waylon and Amanda for had work and photo-documentation. Double thanks to Maddy who keeps coming back for more and is the first person to take advantage of our "name a building" project. Come help out and we'll name something after you! The tent platform Maddy's working on is being called the "Maddyshack." We tried to talk Waylon into a "Waylon wall" but he was skeptical. Maddy also worked hard for her concrete handprint in the PowerTower base. You can add cement tamping to your resume girl!

Two of the seven L's lured me down a dangerous path this past week as i purchased a multi-functional "sleeping system" which converted from one sleeping bag into three at Costco. Trying to figure out this system had me and Amanda in hysterics. Six seperate zippers with no colour coding or labelling and an instruction manual that was virtually incomprehensible.

Good wildlife viewing:
Deer (plenty including fawn) hawk, eagle, lizard, squirrels, snake, yellow bird that likes to rip up the foxglove, swallows, woodpecker, teeny little brown birds, slugs and spiders.

Great wildlife weekend

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The 7L's in no particular order

  1. Local
  2. Logical
  3. Light / Low-Impact
  4. Liveable/Loveable
  5. Low-cost
  6. Long Lasting
  7. Lots o 'uses

    This is the framework we are using for our decisions about materials, design etc. We know that not everything we do will work across the board, but it gives us a good starting point.

a blog about 1 cabin and 7 ideas

local / logical / lots of uses / long lasting / low impact / low cost /loveable

Big thanks to everyone!

Help Gambier Island

Gambier Island is facing numerous environmental threats at the moment when we are seeing a rebirth of wildlife. Wolves, whales, owls and more, all around us we see evidence of an eco-system on the rebound. But that resurgence is threatened by plans to allow clear-cutting, develop LNG plants, sink warships.