Open a window and you can hear it; the rise and fall of the waves as they drift up, crest, and crash down the other side in repeated rhythmic crackles and booms. It can lull you to sleep or drive you mad, depending upon the day. The only sound missing is the clanking of the halyards against the mast. Way out here on the ocean of eastern Washington the wind is your master.
When it really gets howling, more often than not, I seek refuge inside. It’s those times, when I sit on the couch staring up at the vast A-frame 70’s style architecture with its dark faux wood paneling, disjointed window framework and dark fake beams splicing across the popcorn textured ceiling, I review changes; changes in my life and the lives of many others. I’ve been doing this for over four years.
A gust comes, and reverberates in a deep base tone inside the chimney, traveling down and through the walls to your feet on the floor. This large sail boat of a house is called Zone 1 in permaculture and like a sail boat, becomes mighty small in its vast environs.
The dot in the background is the property, and now some Lyle Lovett
If I had a boat, I’d go out on the Ocean….
Each and every property throughout the world is its own living entity.
Energy is precious, especially because there’s only two of us.
Check the compass, time to reorient the direction we’re steering.
“When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way
Cause the truth you might be runnin’ from is so small
But it’s as big as the promise, the promise of a comin’ day”
This change in direction is the antithesis to how we approached our separate lives before we met each other, before we came here to this vast space in the Great Basin Desert, before we took our PDCs.
Let me explain. We’re no strangers to pendant lighting, granite counter tops, Brazilian hardwood flooring, travertine, or the latest colors and trends. In Will’s semi-distant past he custom designed and constructed through contractors this Pan Abode house in Carnation WA and I’ve had my share of ventures into the high-end of staging ** in the Seattle area.
When you’re single-handing a sailboat on the ocean, of course you have some sense of where you want to go, but you’d be a fool to demand the way to get there is through a Cat 4 Hurricane just because it’s what you want (to get there quicker, to impress other people). When you recognize the vastness of Nature and all that it offers, both good and bad, you might want to adjust as necessary, take down the spinnaker and reef in the main sail in order to cooperate with the wind and tidal energy to get where you’re going – not fight against it – given the information.
That’s a nice way of saying the Turquoise Lathe is still sitting in the living room (because the shop is not done yet, but it’s close on the list) and it’s also a nice way of saying; once you understand the larger picture, get your stuff straight and that means leave the lathe alone. Sequence matters. Make the soil first, get the award to buy the trees (and plant them) to make the shade and stop the wind, harvest the biomass, catch the water, and hold the water. All of that takes time.
This whole system is a living entity in its entirety so don’t throw Pc techniques around like paint color hoping it will stick, instead understand the property is already whole (like the ocean) and our job is to differentiate the parts (of energy) and work with them. http://makingpermaculturestronger.net/2016/06/25/christopher-alexanders-challenge-meets-darren-j-dohertys-design-process-part-one-of-two/.
When I first arrived here Will asked me ‘what would you like the energy of this place to be?”. I answered; a Grad school Ashram, a place of great learning and deep reflection. Geoff Lawton’s online PDC was the shining light during my self-elected education of numerous subjects regarding the world at large; energy, geopolitical history, liberal capitalist economics, human behavior, crashes, bubbles, cultures, society. It provided a direction, and possible answers to the sometimes agonizing discoveries of where this species might be headed.
The bulk of that education is done for now. The sticks we put in the ground are becoming small forests.
Think about how many times I have fallen
Spirits are using me larger voices callin’
What Heaven brought you and me cannot be forgotten”
There is something about telling yourself to wait, to exercise the emotional muscles of patience, to do without, that can take a person so close to the razor’s edge, it can tip you over and make you feel like you’re going to die when the water and the multi-tentacle monster of comfort demand comes over the bow. During moments like this, there are no certainties of a person’s future, the cognitive dissonance is all pervasive and life depends upon the Mariner’s Rule; one hand for the boat, one hand for the self. That is the moment you become friends with the Void. Once gone, you realize it no longer has power over you, you have separated the needs from the wants and you are freer.
Pretty heavy shit heh?
Go deep or go home.
Or as Socrates said “ an unexamined life is not a life worth living” – Hey he said it, not me.
Or as I say “don’t be a baby”.
Three things are about to happen. How they happen will be a reflection of how much I’ve learned and contemplated over the last four years. The exterior paint job on the house to stop the aluminum siding oxidation, the repair and protection of window frames, and the inside paint job of the living room/loft area.
First let’s get past the emotional rogue wave that can swamp us if we’re not on the lookout for the lovely things this culture has instilled in us. Best to deconstruct by making a side by side list of words.
Consciousness Vs. Consumerism
Reverence Disruptive Technology
Innate Value Plastic Problem Solving
Reciprocity Having, Getting, Stewardship
I am grateful for a roof over my head and appreciate I have a house to live in. VS. Let’s face it this place is an outdated inefficient shit hole and all I’m doing is putting lipstick on a pig.
Remember that one? That one’s a marker for the over-hyped, in-the-know urban hipster made for TV reality show language and smacks of CLASSICISM – either real or wanna be (for that you have to go into debt).
I have Reverence for the old wood casings that are long gone, replaced by newer Armstrong old casings that are here (and failing) VS Gitter Done, rip these puppies out, Honey! We’re putting in all new Aluminum Double Pane Windows…where’s that f-g contractor?!
How are window casings repaired? What are the tools, the medium necessary? A trip to research land informs me about the windows of Ireland and their extraordinary craftsmanship centuries ago and how the new Disruptive Technology has been replacing windows that ordinarily would have lasted centuries but are now being replaced as fast as they can by aluminum (costly extraction) and plastic (oil products) instead of growing the trees (as they did in the past) to repair the sashes & frames. Here’s the PDF.
I remember when a Cornell Architecture Proff with too much money bought my grandparents’ home and ripped out every handmade iron window casing and threw it in the dump.
The Joy of Capitalism has been visited upon the peoples of Ireland for as long as it has existed and imperialism longer than that. When the British figured out how much the Irish loved their numbered window panes (often divided into 8,9 or 12 small panes) they passed a law taxing homes on the number of small panes existing, SO when I hear persons screaming I’m an American damit! I think, sure you are honey, if you consider being an existential rib of the last Empire part of your M.O.
Same shit, different day. How are those taxes working out so far?
Quiet vs distraction. Speaking of TV, if you don’t get a life, someone’s going to give you one and you’re not going to like it.
I used to Plastic Problem solve with credit cards, along with everyone else I knew – as it was the way to make things happen. There’ll always be more money and opportunities ‘just’ around the corner (to pay back the debt you just incurred), there has to be, that’s what they told us, that’s the only way we’ll grow the GDP. The GDP has to grow or the entire economy will collapse and we can’t have that so get cracking. There is an innate value in slow technology, a relationship of understanding that occurs when the time is taken to become intimately involved with what’s in front of you. Time departs from the hallucinatory oil driven circus that has become the reality of the new Religion of Progress, and the moment I chose to become aware of this, I realized just how unsustainable that circus actually is.
Sandpaper. Sand from Mexico, shipped to Canada, paper pulp processed & cut, shipped to the USA, packaged, marketed and sold. Whoa! That’s a LOT of oil.
The hallmark of an addict is the delusion that he/she can keep doing what they’re doing without negative results and the insistence that they’re different and it won’t happen to them. The United States of America is the latest crack smoking poster child in the long line up of failed empires and no matter how loudly we proclaim it won’t happen to us, unless we get a grip on how much energy we demand (that a peaceful world cannot provide), physics says it ain’t so. Refusing to change self destructive behavior leads to jails institutions or death, as the saying goes. That includes our children’s children.
What a Debbie downer.
The less I chose to honor exactly where I am, the more discontent I become. That’s the inner conflict of consumerism – novelty vs anxiety – I learned about in the book Prosperity without Growth.
It can be old, but not dirty, it can be worn, but not uncared for. These are the ideas I learned from old traditional farmers in Vermont years ago.
Time to go to work. Here’s what shape the window frames are in.
The dry rot had to be cut out completely. All the old chipped paint removed with a paint chipper and sanding (80 then 120).
The fungus that creates the dry rot can sit dormant in the wood for 75 years. Brush on a board defense solution (which helps to kill the fungus)after drilling holes. Next insert the Bor8rods. Mix the epoxy RotFix, then the ‘wood’ putty and another round of sanding.
Two coats of oil base primer, two coats of latex paint. The hinges get cleaned, wire brushed and painted in black.
Yes, all of this work is my project.
yep, there’s the lathe inside
The exterior paints are no friend of the environment either in their manufacturing process or delivery. Nothing I can do about that now. In five years one side of the house will be painted again and every side after that for three years (one year to each side), that’s how my grandfather did it and that’s how I will too. Repeat the same process in 2030.
The window frames will require paint touch ups also. If there’s any more rotten frames, I won’t be using the toxic package repair kit I’m using now, instead we’ll repair the wood the Irish way, cut and splice hardwood into the frames to make them new again.
It’s not unusual for me to send Will a report or proposal from my lap top to his computer and then we discuss it after he’s had time to think about it.
If I’m going to transition from Grad School to Ashram this Sail Boat is going to need an overhaul. Here’s a portion of the report.
There’s not much we can do about the architecture, but we can do something about the feel and energy of the room we spend so much time in. This main space is the first room we see when we walk into the house and the first room we experience upon waking in the morning. It is the heart of the house and requires us to travel through it to access every other space in the home.
Surroundings; heavy dark crisscrossed beams, heavy dark clunky railings and light absorbing dark paneling can act upon the mind and overall well-being in ways that may not be obvious. The intended effects of the initial design, tall ceilings to create space, are lost when the material/color is not supportive or harmonious.
A space this dark tends to absorb all light
It can have a cavernous and constricting feeling
It takes an enormous amount of energy to recognize and appreciate antique furniture when the backdrop is the same dark tone. No one wants to do that much work- just to see the things they care for.
The effect is American Horder-ish
As for the railings – heavy lumber is useful if we’re intending to keep Buffalo in the loft.
It doesn’t have to be expensive; paint, flooring, hardware. It doesn’t have to involve a ‘renovation’ and weeks of disruption to our daily lives. We can set the intention to make the best use of the space to create a functional beauty.
When done correctly, the right alterations can change how the occupants see and approach their lives.
It can be transformative.
Color is everything.
Correctly chosen, color can ask large heavy beams to recede and invite the outdoors into the space. Light has a chance to accent those pieces you would like the eye and psyche to rest upon, in this way you guide the eyes to see what is uplifting. Color becomes a backdrop to receive light properly and allows the objects you love to support the life you desire to live.
I have taken a very long time to observe this space. For four years and 16 seasons I have observed where the sun comes up and where the last light touches the walls. I have sat in every corner both upstairs and downstairs, considering carefully, the existing effects vs the affects that could be. I have not rushed this process.
When I’ve made observations, I’ve challenged them, and waited over time to determine if they were correct.
I’ve considered budget, design, time and labor. I’ve taken a considerable amount of time thinking about how to combine these elements to create a design that will last for many years.
The color white minimizes features that you don’t want to notice, features that would be otherwise overbearing, recede and allow those objects you do want to appreciate to come to the forefront.
White evokes space, offers mental clarity and provides an orderly sense of cleanliness and the potential for serenity and you don’t have to fight your way visually past the segmented pieces of dark lumber for a glimpse of the natural world outside. It comes to you.
Notice how the beams recede and the stone walls and flooring come forward.
Off whites; there are over 4,000 off whites out there.
Laurel Bern, a NYC Interior Designer is by far the best interior designer when it comes to whites, off whites and the entire discussion of how this class of paints works, and she goes into great detail as to why. http://laurelberninteriors.com/2014/03/26/great-shades-white-paint/
Just recently I realized how much of an effect the outside colors have on our interior spaces here in the desert, and doubled down on selecting the exact right off-white color for this space. The best color for this space is Moonlight White which does not pick up or accentuate the desert tones of; gold, peach, orange, yellow.
Blues and greys (in moonlight white) are not what you want in a north facing window in an urban city apartment, which already has diffuse colors in that pallet, but you most certainly do want moonlight white in this room with north facing windows – especially in an environment overrun by harsh gold, and yellow light. Here are some samples of Moonlight White rooms.
In our case, we’re not trying to feature the beams, we’re trying to get them to recede.
The Idea is for the loft to feel like an open air Island library. The main elements are stone floors (paper bag floor), Moonlight white walls & beams, white & nickel fans, black brackets on the railings, accented by; white plantation shutters on the north facing window over the door entry to match the closet doors below.
Large old wooden pillars
Bring these into the design on the first floor, off white using chalk paint or milk paint to retain the distressed look. They’re already ‘distressed’ so that should be easy.
We make the milk paint ourselves for a cost of around $20
Over- all energy: heavy, thick, formidable, dirty, tired, overdone.
Visually and aesthetically they are overburdened and give an exaggerated heaviness to the whole loft. It all feels so unnecessarily heavy.
The design is obviously done by a man who has never cleaned a home in his life – they are filth collectors and an utter barrier to minimal dusting. Likely as not, the ‘inside’ of these dirt collectors have not been cleaned for over 20 years or whenever the heck they were installed.
Laurel loves Benjamin Moore, a product considered to be ‘high-end’ based upon cost and performance. Recently southern California passed a code known as the CALGreen Code. In short, the code is established to reduce construction waste, make buildings more efficient in the use of materials and energy, and reduce environmental impact during and after construction.” Which includes mandatory requirement of low VOC materials (Paints).
Founded in 1883, Benjamin Moore is based in Montvale, New Jersey. The Moore Brothers founded the company in Brooklyn, New York, with one product, “Moore’s Prepared Calsom Finish”, and sold their paints only through independent retailers. They were bought out by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkshire_Hathaway, that’s right, Warren Buffet. Benjamin Moore’s line of sustainable paint products under the name Aura have been described as “an ultra-performance, exceptionally eco-friendly interior coating” and have received multiple awards since it was released in 2007.
Sea of Cortez, part of working aboard boats
Check the compass, time to reorient the direction we’re steering.
I would like this to be the last time in my life that I use commercial petroleum based interior paint. I believe this is possible. Milk and Chalk paints are on the rise and necessity is the mother of invention.
Sail boats are self-contained systems. Every object brought onboard must be considered, it’s weight and purpose carefully measured because there is no store to ‘run’ to, and no ‘away’ to casually dispose of garbage. I have been working for four years with systems trying to figure out how to recycle objects back into useful helpful purposes that serve to reduce the ‘away’ and trips to ‘just go get it’.
Paper is one of them. That’s where the flooring comes in. The original floors of the house are wood, the ‘newer’ floors in the addition were never finished. That’s ok.
Brown contractor’s paper, the kind used in packaging will be the new flooring. The following slide show demonstrates how I converted the upstairs room and used paper bag flooring. (still working on the slide show function!) 🙂
This has been a strange life. I have traveled far and wide by land and sea, and not all who wander are lost. There’s a period of my life that placed me in and around boats and oceans for fun, for adventure, for work. I did not know I had Asperger’s then, and it probably would have made things easier.
The 185′ boat I worked on in La Paz Mexico, Sea of Cortez
I have met hundreds of persons in love with sailing and to a person each shares this captivation:
Motoring we clear the harbor; the rigging is solid, the back stays and shrouds strong, the motor idles us slowly into the swells, everything is intact on-board, now we raise the jib and catch the first breeze, she begins to respond, we are almost home free, wonder and ecstasy as she accepts the power of the wind. Cut the motor, hoist the main sail and revel in the sacred silence of a non-motorized world.
“I have been around the world
(Lookin’) Lookin’ for that woman girl
Who knows love can endure
And you know it will, and you know it will yes”
I have been very lucky. There really is nothing like it. A spinnaker change 60 miles offshore the Pacific coast on an X class yacht at 2am, stars overhead, life & silence everywhere. Leaning over the bow moving with the dolphins, effervescent florescence of blue green algae in the spray, and salt sea air – the only thing you need.
Sea of Corez
Jumped off the helicopter deck 3x’s a charm!
And that’s MY kayak I built from steamed red cedar to model the traditional Inuit kayaks!! They kept it after the staging 🙂
This post is dedicated to Joshua Slocum and Bernard Moitessier.
“I have my ship and all her flags are a’ flyin’
She is all that I have left and music is her name”
– Southern cross (Crosby,Stills & Nash)
*with the exception of pics of Will’s Carnation house and the 4 interior design photos, ALL of these pictures were taken by me (or with my camera).
**the crazy $ house I staged on Samish Island, now a very pricey vacation rental.