Archive for October, 2015


My Honey-Gold Tiny House

Today I sat in the sun on this beautiful fall day and looked at my tiny house and took it all in. The south and west walls are completely sided now and and so if you sit at that corner the house looks finished!

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With the sun shining, it also takes on this beautiful honey gold color that I have to say I absolutely LOVE!

I am feeling blessed and grateful for all the help I have been receiving recently. Having my family come two weekends ago was so much fun and got me from no siding to more than half of my siding up. After they left I continued to work carefully and diligently on some of the more complex parts, including the siding around my octagon window:

careful notching around these tricky angle!

careful notching around these tricky angles!

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I kind of enjoyed the challenge and am pleased with the results!

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having scaffolding set up that I borrowed from John was definitely helpful to be able to do this…

Then this past Sunday night my friend Olympia, who took a cabinetry course with me at Heartwood School, came and helped me, staying until this morning. And with her help the west and south walls are now completely done and the north wall is more than half done!

Putting the finishing touches on the west side: gable fascia and trim!

Putting the finishing touches on the west side: gable fascia and trim!

Couldn't have done this tricky detail work without Olympia's help!

Couldn’t have done this tricky detail work without Olympia’s help! We had beautiful sunny days, until the last day…

Then the last day it was Windy (so windy a ladder blew over! Luckily with no one on it) and rainy! But we were determined and maybe crazy so we went out their anyway!

Then the last day it was Windy (so windy a ladder blew over! Luckily with no one on it) and rainy! But we were determined and maybe crazy so we went out there anyway!

Afterall, we were SO close to finishing the south wall!

After all, we were SO close to finishing the south wall!

And now both the south and west walls are done!

And the north wall isn’t too far from being finished either!

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I got to say, even though the inside is still bare studs, it is starting to feel like a home, with a personality and everything! On days like today, I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave this home to go back home…

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feeling ready to move in?

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I can’t wait until I can indeed welcome people into My Home!

In the meantime, I am working on figuring out where I want my light fixtures and outlets to go so that my electrician can do his rough in… And plumbing will have to happen soon too! I am starting to get the itch to move to interior work but trying to stay focused on the outside while the weather is still decent!

That is all for now 🙂

(This post is based mostly on what I learned in a talk given by Jack Rossen, a professor at Ithaca college, at the Ecovillage of Ithaca on Oct. 22nd, 2015. Although I have done my best to present information accurately and with sensitivity to the first nations people of this land I am not an expert and welcome feedback, corrections, and comments and also encourage you to seek out your own truth)

Many of you will know of the Haudenosaunee confederacy as the Iroquois confederacy but Iroquois was not a name these people chose themselves. Haudenosaunee is the name by which these people, who come from the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, and later the Tuscarora nations, call themselves. These are the first nations people of the area in which I now live; They inhabited much of central, upstate and western New York, extending down into Pennsylvania.

The Haudenosaunee are a people who traditionally kept their history through oral tradition, with faithkeepers who are appointed by clan mothers, and stories that are passed down from one generation to the next. For most western, modern world scholars, oral tradition is not to be trusted, a belief that a Haudenosaunee person would find incredibly disrespectful. Imagine you knowing the stories of your family- where they immigrated from, how they ate, what they celebrated, where your ancestors are buried- and then being told by an outsider, a “scholar,” that no, you have it all wrong and since you cannot prove it with written paper documents or artifacts we do not have to return the bones of your ancestors that we dug up and now have in our museum basements. This has been the story of some of these people, including the Cayuga, whose homeland is in the Ithaca area.

One archeologist names Jack Rossen has been doing his best to work with the Cayuga and other Haudenosaunee people to keep their history from being revised by outsiders and give it back to them. And this is the story of one such way in which he is helping them gain acceptance from the wider world for a truth they already knew.

Oral traditions says that the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, perhaps one of the earliest known forms of democracy, was born 1000 years ago, around 1000 AD. But most western scholars say the confederacy was founded either only a generation before contact, in 1451, after contact as late as the mid 15,00’s.

To the Haudenosaunee the creation of the confederacy is known through the legend of the Peacemaker, a messenger of the creator who was sent in a time when there had been much conflict for centuries. It is said that the peacemaker traveled in a white stone canoe, seeking out the leaders of the five warring nations, the Cayuga, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, and Mohawk. In his searching he came across a woman who had no alliances and fed and sheltered all who passed through, including men from all tribes as they traveled to war upon each other. This woman’s name was Jikonsahseh and she was the first person to accept the Peacemaker’s Great Law of Peace and some say she is what inspired the tradition of the Clan Mother, a tradition that still lives on today.

The last of the tribes to be convinced of the Peacemaker’s Great Law of Peace was the Seneca. As the Peacemaker asked them to consider the Law of Peace he told the Seneca to look for a “Sky sign” and legend has it that as the tribe leaders gathered at high sun (noon) when the corn was high (late summer) that the sky grew dark and the stars came out and this convinced them to lay down their weapons under the great white pine.

The white pine has long been a symbol of peace for the Haudenosaunee people and Jack Rossen found and carbon dated a piece of pottery with the great white pine at a Cayuga archaeological site to 1100 AD. This little artifact gave validity to the claim of the first nations people that their Haudenosaunee confederacy was indeed formed much earlier then western scholars have believed, closer to the 1000 year old date that their oral history says.

With needles in clusters of 5, like the five tribal nations that made up the original confederacy, and that stay green and never fall, just as the Great Law of Peace must be able to weather all seasons, the peacemaker made the Great White Pine a forever sacred tree to the Haudenosaunee people.

As Jack Rossen looked to other evidence that would further corroborate his finding and support the oral history of the Haudenosaunee he went and looked back at the records of full solar eclipse, the most likely explanation for the sky sign that the Seneca saw. Solar eclipses are not an everyday event, and to find one that would have been visible from Seneca territory, occurred in late summer when the corn would have been high, around noon, when the leaders always gathered and would have caused the sky to darken enough for the stars to come out seemed like an even more unlikely event to find. But indeed Jack Rossen found one. In the year of of 909, on august 18th, the sun reach full annular eclipse at 17:13 UT which would have been 1:15pm New York time. And so it seems that indeed, the Haudenosaunee oral history is correct that their confederacy was formed over 1000 years ago.

The confederacy is unique for many reasons. One such way is that the Peacemaker established a matriarchal system, called the clan system, to help to bridge these nations that had been warring for centuries. One’s clan is determined by your mother, so if you mother is of the bear clan, you also are of the bear clan. But one is not allowed to marry within the same clan and so through marriage there became members of each clan throughout the Haudenosaunee Confederation. And anyone in your clan is family, no matter whether they are Cayuga, Seneca, Mohawk, Onandaga, Oneida or any other nation. This allowed one to find family no matter where you were, traveling throughout the confederacy. There are nine clans within which they are divided into three elements; air (Heron, Hawk, and Snipe), water (Turtle, Ell, and Beaver), and land (Bear, Wold, and Deer). And within some clans, such as the bear and turtle clans, there are three different species. Even today, if you meet a first nations person they will often introduce themselves by their tribe and clan name (ei: I am ____ of the Onandaga nation and of the Heron clan.) Clan mothers hold great power in the nations, as they are the ones who appoint chief, faithkeepers and other important positions within the tribe. And they can also take these positions away if they feel an individual is no longer suited for it.

As a modern day resident of these lands I am grateful to be learning about the history of the people that were here before me, and not only for historical reasons but also because they are still alive here amongst us, and their struggles are still current. Two years ago I participated in the Two Row Wampum, an event that asked for a 400 year old treaty to be recognized and honored, a clear illustration of how these struggles are still alive today. Also, as we enter a time of the year where the veil between the worlds is thin and we often honor our ancestors, through holidays such as Halloween and Day of the Dead, if feels right to call attention to the ancestors of this this land that I now stand on and have chosen to build my house on. The Haudenosaunee were and are a wise people from which we could stand to learn many lessons from, about peace and living in harmony with the land, as well as many other things. And they are also a people that need our support, understanding, and recognition as they struggle to keep what is left of their culture alive.

Good Vibes All Around

Do you believe that the energy that goes into the creation of something becomes the energy of the creation itself? Well if you do, this past weekend definitely imbued my house with lots of love and positive energy. It was a cold fall weekend, where the first snowflakes of the season fell, and nighttime temperatures dropped into the twenties but my Aunt, Uncle, and Mom and Dad braved the chilly weather and drove up six hours from Boston with smiles, tools, and warm layers, ready to work. And we sure did accomplish a lot!

My mom and dad arrived Friday around noon and I taught them the basics of carpentry. We went over how to change a bit in a drill and driver, some basic saw safety, and then I explained to them what we were doing and why; furring strips on top of the insulation board to create a rain screen, bug screen at the tops and bottoms of the walls to keep wasps and other insects out, and then siding. As we got ourselves into building mode my dad started doing what is now officially “The Tiny House Jig” …

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It was serious business 😉

Friday night passed in a blurr of fun times taking my parents to see Liz’s finished tiny house and Amy’s almost completed tiny house over at Hammerstone and then going to dinner at The Finger Lakes Cider House, a hopping scene of delicious local food, cider, and music on Friday nights located at The Good Life Farm, an amazing horse powered permaculture farm.

Saturday we made a big pot of chili and put it in the crock pot which we brought to the site and plugged into our solar power so we would have hot food all day, and then we got back to work, starting in on putting up siding! An hour or so later Peter and Melissa arrived, reporting that they had driven through snow and rain! But here at my tiny house site it was sunny and beautiful, if a little chilly, and I was grateful!

Saturday went amazingly well. We got siding going on two walls and Peter got my southeast corner post up!

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Peter working diligently to figure out how to notch the pieces of wood that would be my corner trim around my wooden braces. And me in the background starting to figure out my door trim. John came up with a brilliant solution to my door that allowed me to keep almost my full 180 degree outswing!

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Melissa and my dad working on the siding on my south wall! My mom was working hard too, but was behind the camera lens taking many of these pictures!

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Barry showed up too for parts of both saturday and sunday and allowed Peter and I to work on staying ahead of everyone with trim details while he was the cut guy and kept the nailing crew of my mom, dad, and melissa busy. It was definitely a team effort!

Saturday ended with us all feeling quite satisfied with our full days work and tired. Melissa and Peter had gotten up at 4am to get on the road and be in Ithaca by 10am! So we went home, freshened up a bit and then headed to downtown Ithaca for dinner. My aunt and uncle had never been to Ithaca and so we walked through our newly finished car free commons and then found a delicious Mediterranean restaurant called Sahara to fill our bellies at. I had never eaten there before but will definitely go again as it was very yummy!

Sunday we were back at the sight by 9:30 and zoomed along with siding even though snow did start falling from the sky! And Peter got the last corner post in too! Wahoo!!

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Hammers, smiles, and tape measurers

Here is the crew near the end of our second work day:

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Can you see the white snowflakes falling? And look how much we got done!! WoW!! So grateful 😀

Many have been asking me what my siding is so let me tell you. It is just hemlock shiplap siding from a local mill operation run by Cory Schillif. And then I stained it with a 50:50 mixtures of raw linseed oil and pine tar, a natural wood preservative, that I got from Solvent Free Paint.

Sunday afternoon my parents had to take off to get back to Somerville but my aunt and uncle stayed and we got the 3rd wall started!

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The first course is often one of the trickiest- getting it level, going around the wheel well, all those details that if done right will make the rest of the wall go relatively smoothly. So having three of the 4 walls started is a huge deal!

It was an amazingly production weekend and I am immensely grateful. And thank you crew for making it such a fun time!

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from left to right: Barry, Iku (mom), John, Michael (dad), Melissa (aunt), and Peter (uncle)

After we finished our work for the day Sunday I got to take my aunt and uncle over to see the other tiny houses at Hammerstone, which was also quite fun. It is amazing how much variation there is in style and aesthetic choices even in a tiny house; they truly can be like an art piece that reflects the personality of the inhabitant. I am quite pleased with how mine is coming out thus far! And now I must say, I am tired in that best kind of way; satisfied after a good full weekend of work. Buenos Noches!

It feels like I have been putting the winter coat on my house the last couple days, and it has been quite exciting! Even though it is just roxul insulation board that I am doing on the exterior it somehow makes the house suddenly look much more finished. Take a look!

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Here it is from one more angle. Not bad, eh?

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Today I tackled the window trim of my tricky, but beautiful octagon window and am quite pleased with how it came out.

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Tomorrow I hope to start putting up furring strips which will allow me to start putting up exterior siding when my family comes for a big work weekend next week! So I have spent this evening sketching and brainstorming how I want to put up my siding, as my furring strips will determine this. Here are my sketches.

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Above is my north wall and below is my south wall. I am pretty sure I like this design, of horizontal for most of it with small vertical sections in the dormer.

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And in the top right is my west wall. Pretty set on horizontal for this whole wall. But then my east wall… I don’t know what I want to do there! 

As you can tell from my 4 possible sketches, I am undecided for my back east wall, which has the little overhang and braces. I would love opinions and feedback on these possible designs, and any and all permutations of top and bottom. which is why I have 1a and 1b, etc.

Someone once told me that horizontal gives a grounded, Earth energy feeling, and that vertical is more the Tree energy and diagonal is Fire energy. It feels good for my house to be mostly earth energy, grounded and sturdy. But I feel I want a little bit of Fire and Tree energy as well. Perhaps I am getting too philosophical here but the upper left design of my east wall, 1a and 1b, is the one I am drawn to most at this point and it feels to me like it has a nice balance of energies. Although diagonals may be Fire, it somehow to me also feels like it has a boat like Water energy. Can you see how it could look like the bow of a boat? A boat that can cut through even fire… And then I also see mountains and hills in the herring bone pattern, making it have a grounded earth energy… This pattern may be the trickiest to pull off but I probably will only build my own house once, so why not go all out? I would love to hear what others think about the possible designs I am considering. Do you have any thoughts or opinions?

MY ROOF IS ON!!

WAHOO! My Roof is on! And my stove pipe chimney is in!!! And just in time as temperatures have suddenly plummeted and is feels like it could be November! Although, it may be a few months before my stove arrives from Orcas island, Washington :-/ But thats ok. Now I know my house will survive this coming winter, even if for some strange reason I had to stop working on it tomorrow. But my hope is I will have ALL my exterior work done before the snow fly’s! That means, the rest of the window trim, my insulation board, furring strips, and siding all still need to get done! But I am feeling good and excited for my my family work weekend coming up in just a few weeks and then possibly another work weekend in early November witth a few friends from my cabinet making class at Heartwood!

So here are a few pictures of my roof:

This transition from the 3:12 pitched roof over my loft to my 9:12 roof for the rest of my house was quite a trick. I studied the first tiny house that Hammerstone did carefully, which had a similar roof line, and mimicked how Maria flashed that one. It was a good full morning of careful work just to do this little transition on both sides, but I have to say I am pretty pleased with how it came out.

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Here it is from another angle, before the ridge cap went on. There were multiple layers of flashing and counter flashing going on here, all carefully lapped to shed water out.

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And that fascia board is stained with the same linseed oil – pine tar stain that I used on my window trim! I think I am going to use it on my whole exterior, which I imagine will give my house a bit of the look of a rustic log cabin in the woods. But I am open to suggestions and am curious what people think! Although tell me soon if you think it is a horrible idea because I may move forward and start staining my siding as soon as next week 😉

And my stove pipe! That was quite a trick too to put in! And I couldn’t have done it without the help of my friend Saahas, so a big thanks to him! Right now it is assembled as it would be for “travel mode;” just barely sticking up out of the roof. But when it is stationary and I am burning fires there will be another 3 foot length of stove pipe before that cap goes on.

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Although Saahas was there helping me yesterday, today I finished this roof up all on my own, doing that fancy transition between the two pitches and putting on the ridge cap.

When I got to the ridge cap I kind of wanted a second person around as it would mean less climbing up and down and someone there just in case something went awry (roof work does have it’s risks) so I called my friend Rena to see if her or her brother might be able to come over and give me a hand. Rena is in the middle of her own strawbale timberframe build, and when I called it turned out Saahas was over there helping them get her roof on! I got a kick out of realizing how parallel our two builds are right now, and how wonderful it is to have such a close friend going through her own process with her build. It has been a powerful reflection and a great place for me to practice mutual support and celebration of both the joys and the struggles of building. (Rather than competition, comparison, or envy… No I am not perfect, and sometimes I fall into that, but I think most days I can celebrate us all)

So since they were all busy on Rena’s roof I managed to finish the ridge cap on my own, and this is my selfie at the end of the day; Happy, exhausted and relieved that my roof is on!

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Let the rain gods come now, I say!

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I have to say, I was really tempted to just take a nap on the ridge cap a few times… Scooting along that thing and climbing up and down the ladder gets tiring after a while! But I finished it and got to say I feel pretty proud 🙂

Afterwards I took a drive over to Rena’s where they were just finishing up hers! And we swapped stories about how we both had some leaks in the 24 hour downpour that we just had which got us both motivated to get our roofs on asap. And now they are both on! Her’s green, and mine red, her’s strawbale and mine on wheels, both beautiful and unique works of art and labors of love.

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So there she is!! My beautiful house, one step closer to done 😀

 

Creative by Nature

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