Saturday, February 4, 2012

A dirt cheap floor, a small green house, and other progressions

My friend Justin spent the month of January out here to progress the status of the dome project, which had been on hiatus for awhile due to a hefty music itinerary. In exchange, Justin left with a set of dome frames to begin his own off-grid abode. It has been awhile since I posted a progress update, so there are quite a few picture for anyone who might be interested. It is at this facebook album link, which I made public.

For more photos and the process description, go to this album link

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Mighty Monarch Migration

This last month has been gorgeous and eventful. The monarchs have chosen the Big Bend area as their point of Migration to the south...
view the rest of the album here
I am performing every Friday night at the Chisos Mountain Lodge this month. Last Friday happened to coincide with Yom Kippur. It was a magical night and a good way to start the 24 hour fast:
Panaorama of Casa Grande in the Chisos during a Monkey's Wedding

An above average sunset in the Chisos
more photos here

And last week, I just completed a nice little mini tour of Texas with a great songwriter named David Moss:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Shower House UP dated

After hauling and stacking many locally collected rocks (all within a mile) in the heat of the Texas desert summer, the shower house walls are at a finished level. All in all, I estimate it took between 40 and 50 man and woman hours. Since this wall is a dry stack, it will one day fall down, maybe tomorrow, maybe in 300 years. I just hope it doesn't happen while I am showering. 
The shower now has privacy. The temporary water collection bucket makes it easy to distribute the used greywater to the trees that surround the shower house. 

I spent a day helping a new friend work on a concrete floor in his hand built strawbale house. Greg Donner is here for a year to work on his paintings in an inspiring and distraction free setting. I try to sit in on friends' projects when I can in order to pick up new skills and inspiration. Greg then talked me into going to the hot springs in our national park, which I never would have thought of as a summer option, but any temperature water is a respite in this unrelenting Texas summer . 

Good friends and fellow off gridders Kevin and Zoe stopped by for morning coffee and a tour of Don's Domeland. Kevin and Zoey are also coordinators for our recycling program in town and have been naturally living by example out here for many years.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Texas' Toll on Trees

My fig tree before and after the Texas Summer

I go back and forth on whether to maintain this blog or not. It sometimes seems like a long ramble, and so I am considering a more focused approach, perhaps a short self-published e-book or downloadable PDF, something along those lines sometime in the future.

Anyhow, I am now back in the desert after my tour up the East Coast by train. This last month (after the tour), I have been visiting with friends and family in Houston and Austin, and somewhat dawdling my return to the heat of the desert. Now that I am back, I find the heat quite tolerable. Even though I don't have AC or even a swamp cooler, allowing my body to adjust to the gradual heating and cooling between day and night is easier for me than constantly going back and forth between very cold AC interiors and the scorching outdoor temps that have settled over Texas this Summer.

Sadly, my fruit trees (one plum and one fig) didn't make it through the Summer heat and drought. My water catchment and timer system was foiled. This is because either a good intentioned neighbor or a very evolved rabbit or coyote turned off the faucet that my timer was attached to. I know that I left it in the right position before leaving because I monitored it for the few days leading up to my tour. Perhaps someone was just thirsty and needed water. Who knows? But I've realized that an automated system is far inferior to a manned system when it comes to being a caretaker of life, or of anything for that matter. It is OK. I feel fortunate that everything else is intact. Many people around here lost homes, property and livestock from fires caused by the drought. I may try to plant new trees this Fall. Or just focus on harvesting what this area provides naturally, i.e. mesquite.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


The Solar House in Montreal with the Biodome in the background. 

I have spent the last week in Quebec, in the middle of the the old European settlements of Montreal and Quebec City. They are perfect models of integration between the old and the new. I asked a few people what the catch was to living here. The answer was unanimous. The Winter. I think this is an area that I would consider moving to if it weren't for the winters being brutal and long. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence in Canada

I am a free man in Canada. The train tour has come to an end, after the border agents required that I cancel the Canadian leg (3 shows). And now I am on a Canadian vacation, after leaving my guitar in Buffalo, New York with a friend of a friend. The border agents let me into their country on my 4th attempt under the condition that I didn't bring my "tools of trade" into their country. We were each triumphant in our own eyes. They feel that they prevented me from working illegally in their country, and I successfully got across the border when it was seeming less and less likely. I didn't come all this way from Texas just to go home. It is all an absurd display of protocol, because a guitar is not hard to find in Canada.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Entering Canada with a Guitar is a Red Flag

Stuck in Niagara Falls after being denied entry into Canada
Being declined crossing a border is like being declined for credit. Once you are declined, you keep getting declined. In fact, one of the standard questions at the border is "Have you even been denied entry into Canada before?". Like with bad credit, the gatekeeper doesn't view your circumstance from a fresh perspective but rather, from a lens that is tainted.