Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Illinois sunset

The changing sky last night kept interrupting me as I made a blueberry shortbread dessert.

 The landscape near my mom & dad's house has changed, with the result that our view of the sunset isn't through trees anymore.

 I kind of like the openness.

 The shortbread turned out great by the way.  I made this recipe.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

west and the van

So I've posted a lot of pictures here.  But how about some words?

Sometimes I feel a little dizzy at all the travels.  It's just over three months that I have been on the road.  There have been some stays with friends or family, and other stretches with long drives, other whiles living out of the van while it sat in one place.

The crazy van idea has worked well.  It's functioned for all the various situations I've put myself into. Hotel parking lots work well in urban areas.  National parks have free campsites and the van worked well off-grid.  It worked well parked in a driveway when visiting a friend.  Parked on a farm.

I officially fell in love with the van in Badlands, South Dakota.  I arrived just before dusk after crossing flat prairies all day.

At one point I saw a butte.  It was a little hint:  you're almost there!

Then I arrived at Badlands.  I stepped out of the van, I felt the dry air, and saw the desert landscape around me.  It felt like the west, all of a sudden!

After the sun set I drove through badlands able to see a little in the dusk (although it was too dark for photos).  I noticed lightning to the south so I parked and watched.  After a while I climbed out my window and onto the top of the van.  Evening breezes, lightning flashes in the distance.  A brief sprinkling of rain.  After a while I laid flat on the roof and watched the Milky Way gradually increase in brightness.

And that is when I fell in love with my van.  It's still white and looks boring on the outside.  But it's a good pal for watching the night sky.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

photos on instagram

Just because it's easier to do from a phone, I have started posting on instagram.

This is the link, or you can follow me @paulathonney.

Phase 3 of the journey begins now.  Heading over to West Virginia today.

Friday, August 07, 2015

timber frame pavilion

In a couple of weeks I'll be helping to build a timber framed pavilion.  This is a rough sketch of the building, minus the rafters, which will not be timber framed.  A nice basic structure.  Lots of braces.

Hopefully I will have pictures of the real thing to post later this month!

Thursday, August 06, 2015

a passage by Sir Wilfred Thesiger

"For years the Empty Quarter [of the Arabian Peninsula] had represented to me the final, unattainable challenge which the desert offered.  Suddenly it had come within my reach.  I remembered my excitement when [British researcher O. B.] Lean had casually offered me the chance to go there, the immediate determination to cross it, and then the doubts and fears, the frustrations, and the moments of despair.  Now I had crossed it.  To others my journey would have little importance.  It would produce nothing except a rather inaccurate map which no one was ever likely to use.  It was a personal experience, and the reward had been a drink of clean, nearly tasteless water.  I was content with that."

From Arabian Sands, by Wilfred Thesiger.

As I prepare to go timber framing next week, Thesiger's thoughts resonate for me.  I've been offered an opportunity, which opens up a different world.  And I know it's going to be hard at times.  But I'm so glad to have the chance.

Friday, July 31, 2015

southern illinois

It's very beautiful here in the summer.  More beautiful still from inside of an air conditioned car!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

finish carpentry

In the finish carpentry class we focused a lot on the exterior of the tiny home.  We installed the soffit and fascia boards around the roof.  Then we made corner boards using a biscuit joiner.  We installed the windows with flashing and window trim.  We put up some siding, and got the door installed.

I took these pictures part way through the week.

And these pictures were near the end of the week:

On our last day we hung the door.  The couple who are getting this house built for them will finish the exterior siding and roofing.  Then they will work on the interior over the winter.  There's still a lot to do.  But they're so much farther along from where they were when they delivered the trailer to Heartwood.

Monday, July 27, 2015

my creek

After a day of learning and working, it's great to get down to the creek.

by the stream

beaver pond campsite

Friday, July 17, 2015

home building class

I've been learning how to build a house.  It's reviving my old dream of creating my own home.  My class at Heartwood consisted of classroom instruction in the mornings, and hands on work in the afternoons.

We learned about all the major components of a home, and then we built a tiny home!  It's not finished, but it's framed, sheathed in plywood.  Next week we'll put on siding, windows, and trim.

We started with a trailer.  The base had been insulated and sheathed in Advantec plywood.  In this picture we are about to raise the first wall.

After a day of cutting a lot of pieces and assembling them, the first wall is complete and braced into place.

Then we got all 4 walls up, checked for square, and nailed together.

Some people worked on sheathing the outside in plywood.

Others worked on the loft supports inside:

Here is the completed loft, which quickly became a hangout for chats after class.

Once the plywood sheathing on the walls was completed, we put in rafters.  Then we sheathed the roof in plywood too.  I don't have pictures of that step but I made sure to get right up there and deal with my fear of heights.  It wasn't too bad after all.

Then we wrapped the house with Typar...

...and learned how to install a window.

 My class next week is about finish carpentry.  We'll do siding and trim details around the window and roof.  The tiny house won't be completed but we've given the owners a bit jump forward.  They'll finish insulating, drywalling, and all the interior finishes.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

camping in the van

Where do you park?  I get this question a lot.  The photos below are of the most beautiful place I've found yet.

Isn't that the best campsite ever!

I'm really into all the mushrooms.

it looks like there's a slug picnic happening!

a great place to take a swim after class.

I'm back at Heartwood taking Comprehensive Homebuilding.  I think I love stick framing!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

scribed timber framing class--we built this

An earlier Heartwood class built the earth oven.  We built the structure supporting a future roof over the oven.  We learned how to incorporate natural timbers, including one piece that was a cherry tree one morning and went into the frame in the afternoon.

I'll be back at Heartwood next week for comprehensive homebuilding.  We are building a tiny home.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

van pictures

I'm in Massachusetts now for my scribed timber framing class.  But right now I have some van pictures.

After the sink area and the shelf for crates, the third built-in item is a box/seat with a hinged lid.  It  contains the wheel well bump so is convenient for storing the bedding, hammock, and curtains.  

I may eventually add some cushions here.  It's almost big enough to be a bed, but I am sleeping in the hammock so I don't really need a bed. 

Next up:  My solar recharging lamp.  It looks like a large glass jar but the top is a small solar panel and under the lid are 4 LED lights.  If I charge it long enough in the direct sun during the day I can get a few hours of light each night.  It's great and I have positioned a few eye hook screws in the ceiling for hanging.

Finally, my little kitchen is in use!  As you can see the water dispenser is positioned for its job as a faucet.  I located powdered milk (whole, not skim) before leaving NJ.  That's my coffee creamer.

So here's the all-important coffee set up.  Boil water on camp stove (have good ventilation).

Not pictured:  coffee sock.  Scoop in some grounds, add boiled water.  Let steep, then lift the sock.  Here's coffee.  Just add sugar and powdered milk.  Not bad!

I purchased a safe for storing valuables like my computer.  So far it hasn't been necessary but maybe I'll be glad I had it.  It's secured to the floor.

And because I ran out of time, this is my tool storage set up.  Just totes sitting on the floor, sliding back and forth a little as I drive.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

kitchen area

My computer time lately has been dominated by craigslist posts, selling many things in preparation for moving.  Hence my camera is full of photos of furniture and household goods, and I've been on a hiatus from van thinking.  

Today I managed to get out there to work on the third built in item.  But for now here are photos of the kitchen area.  Countertop is completed!

I LOVED carving the countertop edge with my chisel.  I need to get a good detail shot of what the effect is. 

I also used the chisel to carve the opening for the sink.  That was the fun part.

The not fun part was removing paint from the middle board.  In an effort to use up my various collected scraps of wood--I've been making do with all sorts of wood in various conditions.  The rough surface reveals a mighty struggle against a painted surface that we scraped off in what turned into a battle of the wills.

I think the final result is unconventional but wonderful.

Securing the countertop to the structure was another wild ride.  I worked my way underneath, grateful I don't have man-sized shoulders.  Then I drilled straight up, with wood particles raining down on my safety-glass protected eyes, into my clothes and hair.

I have new respect for plumbers, and people who do things underneath things.  Mechanics.

The counter and sink are secure.  I had envisioned lots of built-in storage above the sink but the two crates below will do for now.

Thanks for reading!  It's fun to know people are following along.  I was hanging out in the van tonight, resting in the hammock.  I have a little solar light that casts a lovely glow on the wooden walls.  The hammock swings gently.  I am growing to love my little home.  It's amazing how different it feels in there now that the surfaces are wood instead of metal.