Sunday, July 24, 2011

This much closer to a toilet

This weekend we made real (aka "actual") progress on the Tiny House Adjacent Urine-Diverting Composting Toilet and Seasonal Shower Room!

The photo above is where the Tiny House Adjacent Urine-Diverting Composting Toilet and Seasonal Shower Room (THAUDCTSSR) will be built, on the northwest corner of the house near the cherry tree. Of course we originally allotted space in the floorplan INDOORS for a toilet/shower combo. But we've changed our minds, deciding we'd rather have that space continue as part of the kitchen with more storage and perhaps a propane cook stove down the line, and a seating area where we can eat meals. (As an alternative to eating in bed!) So the toilet must necessarily move.

It only seemed logical then to add a room on that would contain the shower and toilet. Now, not sharing the same heating source as the Main House haha, it will only be a seasonal shower at this point. An enclosed sun shower, basically.

But it's the toilet we're most concerned about right now. Last week when we went to Montana for the bluegrass festival we picked the brain of our friend Mike who is in the solar business re: what it would take to have a solar powered fan in the vent for the THAUDCTSSR. And short of having most of the materials we'll need, we confident on proceeding with the framing. Because it's almost already August!!!

I did offer to dig the holes, but Keith just laughed at me. Instead I helped mix and wheelbarrow concrete.

Keith praises the scientific innovation of the post hole digger. "Digging a round hole with straight up and down walls." A marvel!

Keith built some forms to hold the concrete to hold brackets that will support the posts for the framing.

And I wrote all of our names in the concrete for posterity.

Now we let that concrete cure and probably wait until payday before any serious framing of the THAUDCTSSR gets underway. There are some technical challenges to that part of it, so I hope we figure it out the first time. What are the odds?

Monday, July 18, 2011

R&R at the river

(camping at Lolo Hot Springs for the Green Grass Sustainable Bluegrass Festival this past weekend)

The heat was killing us yesterday and our tiny house is missing some kind of crucial cooling vortex we haven't yet taken into account so July tends to overwhelm. Until we get some window shades ordered, we're at the mercy of a box fan in the window and wishful thinking.

I had the bright idea of taking the dogs to the river to cool off, but there were people there. So we picked the next closest place, the Heart of the Monster.

Unfortunately, we found out too late, we had to run the Mosquito Gaunlet to get to the river from there. Keith and I each acquired about 50 new bites, in addition to the ones garnered from the festival this weekend, but the dogs had fun and Lazlo got to go swimming.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Green Grass Sustainable Bluegrass Festival

(See more polaroids from the weekend on my site. I was pretty happy with how these turned out, much better results than last time.)

 DIY lodging

The Acousticals

AKA Andy P. Bormes of South Dakota
killer on the banjo and great singing style (listen here)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

my local contractor

(This shot of Keith was on an old roll of film I just got developed when I sent in our 10-year anniversary camping trip film. A nice surprise! More of my film shots are uploaded on my Facebook.)

Keith is busying starting work on our bathroom - yay! He has the siding taken off the house where the Bathroom Addition will touch, we've drawn up a rough floor plan, and we'll be scouting for some tile when we head over the pass this weekend.

We're going to a sustainable bluegrass festival at Lolo Hot Springs and being that close to Missoula (about 40 miles) means we might as well head to Home Resource and see what kind of treasures we can't live without.

He's also taken out the 2-way  mirror on the east side of the house and we'll be incorporating that into the north side of the Bathroom Addition. And probably another window on the south side (tangential to the porch) for light and/or ambient heat since it will be separate from the house and therefore not heated directly. But really, how long do you spend in the bathroom?

Our composting toilet (similar to this) is going to be an experiment in design and function, but we're pretty set against having a septic system for a number of reasons, so a DIY composting toilet is our first choice.

We can't afford a commercial composting toilet, so after a lot of internet research (as well as reading The Humanure Handbook), we plan on having all solid waste go into a rain barrel that will be vented and urine will be diverted and diluted with water that flows to a planting bed. We'll try worms in the barrel to help break down everything and we're not even sure how long it will take to fill the barrel---though I'm sure there's some sort of calculation available that would crunch those numbers.(Build It Solar also has some great graywater and toilet information.) Like I said, experimental.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

scenes from a 10-day roadtrip

(More photos from our 10-year anniversary camping trip to southern Idaho and back in June. Blogger is converting numbers, apostrophes, and the letter "eff" to weird characters, so play along.)

just outside of Pine

 a sheep wagon outside of Pine (right before we ran into, almost literally, a sheep drive)

Church of the Wildwood in Featherville, where Keith and I were married ten years ago
and where my parents were married thirty-five years ago

elk farm outside of Riggins

Packer John's cabin - John Welch, known as Packer John, ran supplies between 
Lewiston and Idaho City during the Boise Basin Gold Rush

near Lowman, you can see the effects of the Lowman Fire

in the distance is the Simco Road Regional Landfill near Mountain home

a dwelling near New Meadows, down the road from Packer John's cabin

aforementioned sheep drive outside of Pine

Monday, July 4, 2011

Last Saturday we returned from Lewiston (taking pics of my friend's beautiful baby girl Elly) and noticed Lazlo was acting funny, really lethargic, and we first thought he might have strained a hind leg. My mom said she laid down to rest and Lazlo didn't even jump up on the bed, which is totally out of character. Then there was vomiting and no eating and the vet said, "pneumonia." Oy.

So he's been on a diet of antibiotics and whatever we can convince him to eat (very litle until yesterday) and he was feeling pretty poorly (see: "round head" above). Keith and I both worried about him dying. We're very aware he's not going to be with us forever, but we're definitely not ready for that day yet. It's hard having a sick animal since you can't very easily find out how they feel (short of a rectal thermometer, um...) and the first couple of nights neither Keith or I got much sleep. I woke up every couple of hours to check his breathing and give him some love.

But he's turned the corner now and is mostly back to his old squirrel-chasing self, in short bursts of energy. Except he's getting spoiled on canned food (used to administer the meds after cheese failed to stay in his system) and thinks his dry food is for peasants. He's lost quite a bit of weight in the last week and his collar is loose. He doesn't normally wear a collar, but we have family in town for the weekend so the collar comes out for wrangling.

My Aunt Joy picked up my camera while Keith and I were defending our horseshoe title and I'm always taking photos (therefore never in them) so there's that. For posterity or something.
We played a few rounds of holey board and Team Yellow (my Uncle Jack and Keith) were the defending champs of that game. Aunt Joy (above) was keeping score when she wasn't playing.

Ophelia (the only "bought and paid for" cat among the eight or so on the property and a native of Missoula) thought she needed attention and almost got hit with a washer or two.

 Mom cooked ribs in the Dutch Oven and Keith cooked burgers, chorizos and hot dogs on the grill for about 30 relatives who showed up.

A friend in Kooskia is paying me to weed her garden (it's been overgrown for a year or so) and gave me a bag of garlic scapes, too. I've never heard of them before but she posted some recipes to my facebook that are tantalizing so I think I'm going to try some cannellini bean dip and maybe process the rest and freeze them for soups. Or pesto. Or pizza.

My dad had a rough time of it yesterday when the septic system starting acting up and the only toilet for 30 people was rendered unusable despite his best efforts (and the efforts of several helpers). After 50+ years of smoking a lot, he's eight weeks into being a non-smoker. So proud of him!! Yesterday's stress threatened to derail that achievement, but he held out and didn't give in to the urge! Go, Dad!!

Now there's a portable toilet next to the apple tree in front of our house and even more reason for us to break ground on our toilet, a process we're devoting brainpower to every day, even if we haven't been able to physically start on it yet. Keith's telling me his friend has offered to supply the 2x6s we need for the "addition" in exchange for taking down, painting, and re-installing a totem pole for him. Sounds like a deal to me!

I won two weekend passes to a sustainable bluegrass festival at Lolo Hot Springs in 2 weeks. Most of the bands play Portland often, so that's a good indicator of the quality of music and we might possibly meet up with some of our Missoula friends then, too. Hmm...sounds like summer plans are threatening to interfere with our toilet-building plans. Which. Can. NOT. Happen.