Monday, May 25, 2009

Week Three

Well, it has been a few weeks since "Week Three" of my internship took place. I ran into some trouble while trying to do my blog that week, so I skipped it and then when week four rolled around, things got so busy I just couldn't get to an Internet cafe to catch up.

So here it is, Week Three, three weeks late! Better late than never, hu?

During week three we worked on many things. We started the week with a broken window, but I won't say who did that! I was going to take pictures because a 4'x8' piece of double pane broken safety glass with the sun shining through is quite a sight to see, but I didn't want to upset anyone, so I didn't document this huge boo-boo. Regardless, work was done on the front of the building. Ted gave me a break from the hard labor and had me help him with placing the sheet metal onto the front of the building. It had to be cut and bent so that each piece fit together, covering up any exposed tire or wooden surface. I learned how to bend sheet metal. I also learned how to rivet the pieces of metal together, and got my boob caught in the tool during the process. Apparently it is a common thing to get some part of your anatomy caught in the rivet tool. OUCH!

Anyway, here is the product of our labor:

The next day, a man and woman showed up who were renting one of the earthships. The man ended up staying with us all day pounding tires. This was a somewhat common occurrence on the jobsite: random people showing up to help. Amazing! Here is the difference between a pounded and unpounded tire:

Tim and I worked on the tire garden wall on the west side of the building. Lucky Tim, he got the inconvenient task of training me for most of the internship. I don't think I messed up too much stuff. But he was patient and a good sport. Here he is contemplating how to proceed with the bottle wall which will go on top of this garden tire wall.

He had me porcupine nails all along the top of the tires so the cement for the bottle wall would have something to grab.

This view shows the other side of the garden tire wall and the start of the bottle/can wall running underneath the rainwater drain. The black covering is the EPDM used on parts of the roof.

As I was standing around, I realized the "bushes" I kept overlooking along the fence line were really stacked up tumble weeds.

As the week progressed we moved up to working on the roof. We got the roof inspection for the electrical so it was time to cover it all up. Honey Bear, Ted's dog, came to work with him everyday and she really loved sitting up on top of the roof and hanging out with us. It was good because we didn't have to hear Ted yell "Honey Bear" all day while searching for her!

Here is the whole crew laying the perlins down on top of two layers of 4" thick rigid insulation. The perlins act as anchors and give something on which to attach the Pro-panels.

It was very challenging working on the roof because the rainy season had just started. It seemed every morning we worked on the roof and by lunchtime we were scrambling to cover it up again because of the pouring rain.

I was very happy when Week Three ended, not only because of the torrential downpours, but because Peter and his mom came to visit. Here is Peter is the Hut, lifting his collar for the cold weather!

Our course I acted like a tourist with them and we went to several "Peter" inspired places. Here is the adobe church we visited. We talked to a lady in the gift shop and she said the whole congregation gets together every June and restucco's the church. Sounds like so much fun!

Peter, his mom, and I went to a very tiny restaurant in Taos. I mean extremely tiny. There were only four tables, and if I didn't know any better I would believe they were cooking our food on the roof! The food was incredible and Dolores got the biggest smoothie I have ever seen! It was a meal in itself.

While we sat at the restaurant, bikers continually rolled past making way to a motorcycle rally somewhere (still couldn't figure out where they were all going!)

As we left the restaurant, I snapped this picture of the courtyard and gate. Typically lovely Taos.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Week Two

Monday morning started soon enough after a relaxing weekend. Life is interesting living in an Earthship. Each earthship has a planter inside the house which serves to filter the sunlight which pours in as well as serve as a black water filter. To put it bluntly, black water is sewer water and it goes through a number of filters inside and outside, some of which are planters. For more information on this systems see: http://

I have learned in my years of gardening, where there are plants, there are bugs. The indoor earthship planters are no exception. Nightly I am lulled to sleep by the chirping of crickets. It gives the sense of sleeping outdoors. It is quite relaxing.

Well, I will give you a tour of one of my days at work.
This is the front door of The Hut. Like most earthships, it has a very artistic front door. One of the guys I am working with, Tim, built this front door.

I walk to work most everyday, and as I am leaving, Dooley, the neighbors dog, walks with me. Here he is waiting for his daily walk.

Here Dooley goes, trudging ahead of me, leading the way.

And he is off! Wait up, Dooley!

My walk is about 35 mins. This is the road leading to the vistor's center where I work. It is the last set of buildings in the distance off to the right of the picture.

Since so many people complained about not seeing pictures of me, I stopped to take a pic of myself. That's me with the mesa in the background.

This week, I worked inside which was a nice break from the hot sun and windy afternoons. This is a picture I posted last week of one of the can walls inside.

This is that same can wall after Tim, Ted, and I worked on it. The cans go all the way up meeting the vigas.

A shot of inside the building and how the doorways meet with the can walls.

On Wednesday, we began plastering over the back can wall which serves as insulation on the back of the earthship. Here is Mike, one of the crew members, carrying a load down from the back. You can see the archway Tim and I worked on last week on the left of the picture.

Here is the can wall we plastered.
Upclose of the wall before and after plastering.

And here is another picture of me, except this time after work. I come home absolutely filthy and exhausted! but look, a smile! ****

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Week One Misc.

As I drove into town today from the mesa, it hit me. I am in love with Taos. I remember feeling this way over 10 years ago as I drove down Oceanside Blvd. and encountered the Pacific ocean for the first time. It is an overwhelming feeling of peace and comfort. A feeling like I belong.

What this community is doing here is remarkable. Everyone comes together as one, works together as one. I am amazed at what is accomplished on a daily basis. Next to the visitor's center is an experimental site. Mike Reynolds is building a two story, tower structure made of tires and cans. Here is a picture of the tower from my job site. If you look closely you can see Jonah, Mike's son, pounding dirt into tires.

This picture is an upclose of the previous one. This door frame was built by Mike in place, about 15 feet off the ground, as opposed to building it on the ground, then hoisting it into place. The crew was amazed he did this and did such a good job with only a circular saw. The doorway will be lined with a bottle wall which will let light into the space through colored glass.

Here is the new visitor's center I am helping build the archway for. This is Russell, my mate from Australia. He and Ted, our boss, are putting up blue board insulation along the tire wall.

As we were working Wednesday, I looked over and a dust devil was forming. Check out the view as well. This is what we look at everyday on the job site.

Here is Tim putting on some tunes and Russell hanging out about to eat his lunch. We are sitting inside the future greenhouse of the new visitor's center. It stays amazingly cool inside all day even though the temperature is rising into the 80s here and there is no insulation on the structure yet.

Me and my mate, Russell.

And back at home. This is the view from the living room of the Hut, where I am staying. I tried to take a picture of the full moon shining through the windows last night, but it didn't turn out so well. I am sure you can imagine how spectacular the shadows of the plants look in the light of a full moon.

Moon rise over the mountains last night:


Week One

I have completed my first week of the internship and it is amazing! I am also amazingly soar, but it feels good. My arms are beginning to get some definition to them!

The first day we got a tour of the Earthship Community and saw some new things being built as well as some beautiful, finished residences. The "mothership" of all Earthships is the Phoenix. It is a maze of gardens and rooms with few walls. Spaces are divided by planters filled with veggies and banana trees. At the front of the house, there is a dinning area surrounded by a pond. What a lovely place to eat!

On to the job site: I chose to work on the new visitor's center which will also serve as an educational facility. While working on the job site, I have been amazed at how many people pass by and stop to visit. The most amazing thing is the crew. They are more than happy to stop working, invite the general public onto the site, and answer any questions. It is such an open environment. Mike Reynolds, the creator and architect of the earthships, is always on site, pounding tires, and giving advice.

Here is a picture of the visitor's I have been working on. This is the entrance for which I have been helping build an archway. You can see the rebar arches have already been embedded in a concrete footing. Also, notice the tire wall beyond has not been plastered over, while the one in the foreground have been plastered over.

Here is the archway with all the cross bars and lath added. For two days, I twisted wire and added rebar and lath in order to help form the structure.

This is Tim, the boss man and the plaster expert. Here we have started to put the cement mixture over the lath. My job is the help mix the cement and shovel mud up to him.

By Friday, Tim had finally plastered two layers of cement mixture over the lath and began to form a shape of the arch. It was a messy job, slapping mud upside down on the inside of the archway.

I am happy to have the weekend off! All of the interns are traveling with Mike and most of the crew down to Nogal, NM for the start of a new earthship. I am staying behind to help Tim, Ted, and the rest of the new visitor's center crew.
More later,....