Rough plumbing passed inspection and we hooked everything up. Well, we hooked up the kitchen sink, dish washer, and shower anyway. There’s still some wiring to be done in order to run the dish washer and the washing machine. But this is a huge step forward.

We’ve put the permaculture layout on hold as we work on the house. However, I finally made some time to take the initial sketches ( located here ), the rough contour map, and the “basic ideas” map (not shown below), and mix it all together in Photoshop.

This is only a small step toward creating a full plan, but it’s fun to see a little forward motion after so much time spent working on other client projects and the house. I’ll need to make time to finish illustrations for swales, hugels, and the like, but… one thing at a time.

Isometric Overview




Thoughts on the myth of “8 Hours Uninterrupted Sleep”.

Our culture swings and misses.

Since moving to a rural setting, our little family has unintentionally adapted to a natural human sleep pattern. It helps that, except for over head lights when we cook, we only use low lighting at night. We also use Flux on our computers to avoid cooler wavelengths. If you’re not familiar, check it out here: It’s free.

We all hop in bed around 8pm most nights. I sleep until around midnight and wake to stoke the fire. I usually stay awake for an hour or two tinkering with this or that, stoke the fire again and sleep until the sun pops up. I’ve never felt so rested as I have this last year.

It turns out that this is pretty much the way that humans evolved to sleep. Here’s a very quick TED video which may be of interest.


If you have trouble sleeping, try turning off the wifi signal, blotting out all LED lights and shutting off whatever doodads and gadgetry make electric humming noises. Just a thought.

Everything is an experiment.

Manijeh and Orin have gone to Florida for a month and a half to visit family while I get the house buttoned up and livable.

After a little back and forth with the building department, I’ve settled on a plan, albeit a complicated and difficult one to accomplish.

The usual plan of attack for ceilings and insulation (in a round house such as ours) takes place before the metal roofing goes on. It is far, FAR easier to tackle it all from above. Unfortunately in our rush to get the house out together while we had the help, no one was there to say “Whoa, WHOA! You gotta stop and think this through.”

Be nice and just let me chalk it up to inexperience.

So I rented 25′ of scaffolding and bought 2400sqft of R19 recycled denim insulation. The county requires an R value of 38 for ceilings such as ours. Since there is no R38 denim, I chose to double up on R19 and use a plastic “cardboard” as the vapor barrier. Yes… plastic. There seemed no way around the use of plastic if I want to ever get the thing permitted.

With the help of a friend, I also installed cardboard (of the paper variety) baffles to keep insulation from bunching up and covering the vents above the top plate.


After enlisting the help of friends and neighbors, we knocked out the insulation in about a week. The denim was cut using a circular saw and a jig (template) I made out of plywood.



We cut 108 wedges for the 54 rafter bays and installed them from top to bottom in “pizza slices” with a hard plastic “crust” and two layers of delicious cotton “toppings”.



After that came the tongue and groove which took another week or so of on and off work. Excruciating tedium.


But it does look lovely.


Our cook stove is installed, inspected and approved by the county. Hooray!

This is the Pioneer Princess which we ordered from Lehman’s. The guys at TrueGorge Spas installed it. Nice fellows. I highly recommend them.


We’re still waiting for the warming closet which sits atop this lovely lady. The original shipment arrived damaged. But… I’m ready for a toasty fire now!

Wildfires keep cropping up. We, the Appleton Fire Department, recently got paged out at midnight for what was almost certainly the result of yet another arson.


I returned home at 4am covered in soot and reeking of what I have come to think of as “fireman ass” which is a combination of sweat, smoke, mud, and diesel fumes. Usually I shower. I chose instead to spread my gear in a rough line from the front door to the bed where I collapsed face down, instantly asleep with the door still ajar.

I’m not an especially cruel man, but with all that’s going on – running a startup business, building a house, raising a three year old, preparing for another baby, and trying to plan for future permaculture endeavors – I sincerely hope the culprit is located soon and forced to endure a never ending series of Hallmark Movie Marathons.


16 Aug 2014



More on this later. . .

The last couple of years have seen an exponential increase in both the count of my grey hairs and the depth of my laughter lines.

Had we known the difficulties lying in wait, we might have changed our path. Then again, we are a stubborn lot and prone to unreasonable levels of persistence.

For as far as I can see, the days ahead will be hard and then harder still. I only hope that our laugh lines continue to grow at the same rate.

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2014-07-29 19.50.18-1

06 Aug 2014

Prep work for making a cobb oven. Unfortunately I’m missing photos from day #2 in which we did the actual building. Will have to do some digging.

This class was taught by The Earthen Hand at Wildcraft Studio in While Salmon, WA.






In order to be approved for an Occupancy Permit, one must show that water is available (and tested) on the property. After getting a few quotes, we chose our driller based on referrals and his experience with using nontoxic materials.

We set up a drill date for mid May.

After not hearing anything by mid June, I wrote and asked what was the scoop. His answer was simply “we’re running behind and will get to you.” A phone call later and we landed on “in a few weeks”.

Another month passed with no word.

Yesterday we received a brief email letting us know it’s finally time! Today we start drilling our well.