Saturday, October 17, 2015

Changes to Rosie

Now that Rosie is permanently rooted, I've decided to put in some concrete piers for better stabilization, and to bring down one of the stages permanently to be part of a wrap around stage/porch. There is now a huge sliding glass window where the back stage panel used to be. I'm enjoying the sunlight coming through.

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Homesteading Blog

Okay. Here it is, the homesteading blog. When I start working on Rosie, I'll begin posting here again. But for now, I'm off homesteading!


Friday, August 8, 2014

Rosie & Land!

Over the past three years I’ve been traveling in my tiny house/stage while continuing to build on the road between odd jobs. As amazing as this process has been I am finally ready to have a home-base to work from. My partner, Marisa, and I were contemplating buying a house. We were even approved for a loan, but the houses we saw that we could actually afford weren’t well built and/or there were too many problems to fix. And even if we could have been approved for more, we weren’t interested. The last thing either of us wants is to spend the rest of our lives working our asses off to pay for a mortgage. We don’t want to be trapped under high utility bills. The realty experience in and of itself was reason alone to NOT go through with the loan. And who wants to give banks money these days? They have far too much as it is… We thought buying a house would be easy. We planned on fixing one up and then selling it in five years to begin our dream place. But the reality is that buying land and building our dream place is just more practical…

So we are in the process of buying land. I found an intentional community in Ash Fork, Arizona and called to find out if the owner would be interested in selling us some of her land. I called a few places in Arizona. She was the one person who seemed genuinely interested and actually kind of excited about having two more crazy off-grid types out this way. Her intentional community hasn’t panned out well, most likely due to the remote location. We are an hour west of Flagstaff Arizona, but it takes an hour and a half to drive there because the roads into our place, which I affectionately call our driveway, are so rocky and rough that it takes thirty minutes to get to the house.

We arrived August 2. We’ve been getting Rosie semi-set up (I will later pour some concrete for a more level and secure foundation), by stabilizing her with jacks, putting our plants out in the front, setting up an outdoor kitchen space and solar shower, and building a compost bin so we can use our compost toilet. As much as I have loved the traveling process, pulling Rosie was not easy. She is heavy and big – built like a house… but on a trailer; she’s kind of a monster back there, one you love and are scared of. She sways in windy weather even with the distributors; you have to be extra careful going down these mountainous roads, and going up means downshifting and going slow in hot weather so the truck doesn’t overheat. I’m so glad to finally have her in one place… for good! No more moving, unless it’s just a few feet or so. I am HOME! Exciting for me, since I feel in some ways that I’ve always been searching for home, hence a home on wheels.

At some point I plan on opening up the stages and stabilizing them permanently. Then I would like to put in some glass to separate inside from outside, with a door that leads to my little stage/porch area. I’ll put some sort of canopy over the top to protect the stages/porch and then I’ll add more footage area – possibly extending it to the other side as well – a wrap around stage/porch if you will. I’m also thinking about building up, creating a pitched roof so rainwater is easier to catch and creating a loft area. I think about all the hard work I put into making a pulley system for the stages and I start to re-think all of this, but the truth is, even if I change my plans so that the pulley system isn’t needed, it was an amazing learning experience.

But for now, we are homesteading, which means focusing on building more tiny structures (not structures with stages) to live in, play in, dream in. We have no electricity or water. We are hauling water for now and plan on building a rainwater catchment system. We need to focus on solar panels as well… There’s a lot to do! So it may be a while before I work on Rosie again. But when I do – I’ll make sure to document!!

Till then – S.

All photos by Marisa Muro

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dreaming for the sake of spirits

Since my last post I noticed some 2,000 folks have visited our blog. This subtle form of cheerleading is very welcome, I need it today. I am stuck on the couch with the local bug. I am frustrated because I cannot give massage when I am sick and thus cannot make income and thus cannot purchase Foxy's next need. It's one of those Monday blues moments, but on a Thursday.

So instead of be insufferable, I thought I'd reminisce about my recent excitement. I decided to use my winter vacation to work on Foxy. Instead of motorcycling in Santa Barbara, I had three weeks of work time, unadulterated by other occupations. I filled Foxy's front room with amenities, appliances, creature comforts-- okay, the skeleton of comforts. It felt good to concentrate on one thing, building. Well, let me explain what I mean by "concentrating on one thing": learning biscuit joining for cabinet making, learning how to reinstall a fresh water system, learning how to install propane lines, learning how to (not learn) waterproofing windows, and then installing these components and all the mini details... that is what I mean by concentrating on one thing. Oh, I remember the days when I had a dance umbrella-- where I did lots of different things but the underlying topic was always the same, always in my area of expertise, always about dance.

Speaking of dance, the point of the last paragraph was to explain January's new feeling-- excitement! All the work achieved in a short time moved me closer to the light at the end of the tunnel, the completion of Foxy. I felt momentum, I felt confident, I felt enjoyment, and for the first time... I started imagining what I will do with Foxy when she is done.

So here I go, imagining.

First of all, I admit, I have been dreaming of this first event forever... I will drive the trailer up to the mountains, let's say to the state lands above Lake Wenatchee. There will be snow on the ground, a babbling brook nearby, and sun. I will spend three weeks making dance works, maybe editing video, eating yummy food, filling a tub for a bath outside in the snow, then journaling and making choreography notes. I will do this for three weeks. THEN, I will start to picture a business model for my work, I will start to make choices about how to use Foxy.

I imagine parking uptown at the local art walk every first Friday, and setting up a dance gallery. Let's say it is raining, no worries. Myself and dancers are dancing in the studio, no stage walls open. Spectators can view us from the windows that are framed by mirror-ish aluminum, enabling strange viewing angles. For more views, spectators can climb on ladders, or view from the inside door.

I imagine organizing a tiny home festival. All the locals can haul their mini homes out of the moss banks for all to see. Like the Feria in Sevilla, Spain, each home-owner can host their own events-- in Sevilla it is flamenco and amazing cuisine, but here the events can be at the mini home-owner's discretion. It'll be a roadhouse extravaganza of strange dreams, in a parking lot!

I imagine a debut performance on the lawn at O Space on Vashon, at Volunteer Park in Seattle. I remake my thesis performance for Foxy's stage. I invite some of the original dancers in the piece to dance with professionals from Seattle. It will be the performance I dreamt of in grad school.

I imagine driving to a city location, say Portland, with dancers I hire for a dance video. I shoot the film and download it to Foxy's computer lab, and the editor I hire starts editing while we rehearse. Then we eat, take a hike in the city, sleep.... and repeat.

I imagine visiting a mountain town, say Twisp, WA, invited for a residency by the local arts organization. They lead me up the local's favorite fire road, to a beautiful mountain top, where I park Foxy. They give me locals who want to learn improvisation and make an original work. After a couple weeks, the friends and neighbors hike to the trailer and see a mountaintop dance piece made and performed by their friends.

I imagine a professor position, teaching dance, choreography, improvisation, history, anatomy, somatic conditioning for dancers and building through an interdisciplinary department. I imagine residencies at other colleges doing the same, but teaching with my colleague and cofounder!

Over and out. -Hallie

Monday, January 20, 2014

Appliances are installed!

My post last month showed you pics of my demolition project on my parts RV. Since the RV is trashed I thought I'd take a moment to show you pictures of what my MPD, Foxy, looks like today. See below...
Foxy's side view, door side.
The back. The back stage wall is held up by a ratchet strap until the door hinge is re-installed.
Roxy's front. Notice the window's eyelashes.
Today I completed the window waterproofing project that has gone on since last summer. I added rubber window corners, seen below. I also caulked the newly installed corners with Sikoflex. This final step couldn't happen until it stopped raining so the sealant has a chance to cure. I took my chance and caulked it today.

The Sikoflex caulking happened today, but the appliance installation occurred over the last few weeks. I got word from my property host that I had until the end of January before I had to move my stuff. So the bf and I cancelled our vacation to Santa Barbara, and I had a full three weeks of free time to get busy. (Don't worry, vacation has been rescheduled.) Being the dead of Winter in Seattle, I admit the cold is temperate compared to most places. Nevertheless, it was c-c-c-cold. Thankfully, it wasn't very rainy.

I began by installing the fridge/freezer. That 3-way fridge/freezer is worth more than the entire RV. I thought about finding a smaller fridge, until I remembered a summer without ice. Here it is, the fridge camouflaged amidst the Roxy's interior plywood. You can see the dance room through the threshold, and the future bathroom, which I am leaving until a later date, is between the door and the fridge.

Next, the stove, sink, and water tank. This is not standard cabinet construction; I used 2 x 4s to secure the structure due to one problem, the tank. In order to allow tank removal, I had to keep the corner column off of the ground. Other than that, the construction went one - cut - at - a - time. Result, a very square support. The sink and stove fit!

Then I roughed out the bench seat. To my delight, it turns out to be long enough to sleep on comfortably! The supports pictured below were made with a biscuit joiner and glue. They are not installed, just there to show two voluminous storage compartments. During the wood construction phase I discovered myself hopping out of Foxy and literally running to the mitre saw. I loved cabinet making! Next, the water heater. I cut a hole in the exterior, then slipped the heater in. It is in the center compartment, below.

 Appliance installation is not complete until the appliances are usable. Above you can see a bunch of hoses on the ground. The hoses are part of the fresh water system that I installed with the help of a borrowed crimping tool and some new copper crimp rings. Below is the exterior locker that connects the fresh water system. From left to right, you can see an exterior shower unit, the pressurized external water hook up (as in a garden hose), and the tank intake.

Next, the propane. Using iron pipe for beneath the trailer frame, and copper pipe for inside, I retrofit the RV system to Foxy's needs. Randy, the fabricator who built Foxy's metalwork showed me how to use his pipe threader.

The threader with my pipe inside of it.
Me, with the iron pipe work complete!

Voila, the propane system is installed. OK, it took two days of molding fragile copper pipe into subtle turns and twists to fit it through the floor holes I drilled and into the pipe under the trailer frame. 

Bad news, my beloved DIY door failed me. The plexi glass is very thin and thus very brittle. I suspect it broke after repeatedly closing the door. To add insult to injury, the exterior shingles started falling off. Result of all this DIYwork: I will probably buy a new door anyway.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hallie's Summer, Fall, and Winter 2013

Hello from Hallie on Vashon Island,

It is winter here, freezing cold and sometimes sunny. Since the summer's last post I've accomplished quite a bit. My last post showed how most of the exterior was complete. 
This pic shows the unfinished exterior before we moved out of the O Space warehouse.
This is the stage layed out in the new summer location... 
...where I added the legs and leg frames.

This is a picture from inside of the dance room, looking out.

Dancer friends admiring the staging options! The side walls are open, the back is not.
Since then, the rains proved to me that I was NOT finished with the exterior.  Last summer I installed the plexiglass windows but the aluminum window frame seemed to leak. After moving Foxy (a fourth time), most of the fall was spent trouble shooting, sealing, then removing sealing and re-sealing the window frame. I resolved this leakage with rubber/aluminum flashing strips. I am waiting for the next heavy rain to see what happens... so far, so good.

The front windows, before plexiglass is installed.

After plexi was installed. Even with all this caulking above above the frame...
...there was lots of water leakage. Notice the discoloration above the frame.
The fix with eyebrow rubber strips above the window frame. (sorry about fuzzy lens)

Other leaking collected in a few spots near the hinges inside the dance room. Sarah warned me to super-weather-proof every crack and crevice. After all the flashing was installed last summer, the only leaky gaps were in the top corners of the stage walls and, well, every inch of the lower stage wall edgesI designed and ordered aluminum flashing for these areas, fashioned to be removable by using latches and gaskets. As with most problems on this project, each section's gap is unique. This means I have to custom order gasket/tubing for each one. Gaskets are expensive, so I have to wait until I can afford it. So the gasket project is temporarily on hold.

Flashing duct taped in place until I intall gaskets.
The duct taped flashing for one of four upper corners.

You fans of DIY will love to hate the story of my beloved door.  In my last post I showed how I removed the RV door and put it into Foxy the MPD. The next step was just as fun: tiling the door exterior with PBR cans. I've wanted to do something with recycled cans since EcoDance started three winters ago!


The door's final 2 steps: to cover both sides with plexiglass. The door needs some sheer strength, so the plexi provides it. But, alas, a brisk windstorm blew the door off Roxy's hinges before I could pick up my plexi order. I am glad to see this happen with Roxy safely parked, rather than by watchibg it fly away from the rearview mirror on the highway. And then salt to the wound: I picked up the plexi but it was too wide. Arg! I must go back to Tacoma (everything is two hours away when you live on an island, thus the Arg!).

The flashing project and the door project are on hold. So, I started demolishing the parts RV. I have no experience with propane appliances and DC electrics; I avoided the demo project up to this point. EcoDance continually teaches that there is nothing like action to teach you what you need to know. As it turns out, removing a stove, electrics, a breaker box, a sink, a water heater, a water pump, a water tank, and plumbing is doable. I still need help moving the fridge/freezer (which wont seem to budge) but everything else has been removed! This project makes me value my decision to buy a parts rv and cart it around with me for a year. The propane/DC/AC fridge-freezer alone is worth more than than I paid for the RV. All those parts add up, and I'd say I saved at least $1000 by transferring the old (but in good condition) stuff to Roxy. Eventually I can sell the RVas a flatbed frame, and maybe fund the cabinets, appliance, plumbing and electric installation project that is coming up. Guess what that means? After three years, I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

 Over and out from my current location! -Hallie

Monday, July 29, 2013

Update from Sarah

It's been a while since I've posted info. and pics about my building process, so here it is - a little update before I head off and begin touring again.

It was cold in Ludington much of my stay and I wasn't able to live in Rosie through the winter but in May I happily moved back in and began working again. One of the first things I did was to attach a ladder to the outside of the structure so I could climb up to the roof with ease.

One of the difficulties with building on the road is that you are generally in a hurry and fighting the elements. When I left Champaign Sept. 2011 there was a gap between all three stage panels and the roof, which meant there were waterproofing issues with one side area and the back of Rosie. 

In Texas I used some reclaimed flashing to cover the gap to help with the rain. It was not a pretty sight, but it worked for a while.

Now I finally had some time and a little more money to build out and to install some weatherstripping between the tiny space that was left. It felt great to tear off all that old flashing!

The next project was the roof - again! I was warned that flat roofs were not a good idea, but I tend to be really stubborn. I did NOT want a pitched roof - meaning I have paid the price for not listening... yup - puddling and leaking. I should add that there was a 2" incline on one side but the plywood got rained on and some of it expanded and contracted before I had time to attach the galvanized steel - and because I needed to move there wasn't enough time to tear it off and start over. So a year and a half later I'm having problems with the roof. I am grateful to Mark Fisher for coming out and helping me install a corrugated roof over the flat roof. So far so good:)

After adding the flashing around the edges for the roof more water than usual began streaming off and hitting the windows and door. I used some of the old flashing to create thin metal awnings to give the door and both windows a little more protection from the rain. It doesn't look like much but it helps and the metal is thick enough for high impact winds i.e. driving down the highway.

After that I began working on one of the most important components of my MPD - the stages! I built them like you would build a floor - with studs only 12" apart because I wanted to make sure they were strong. They are incredibly strong and incredibly heavy. In the past I have needed help bringing the stages up and down and I would like it to be a one person operation. The first thing I did was take 1 stage apart, tear off the OSB and replace it with a thin, lightweight plywood. That almost made it light enough... but not quite. So I began building a box frame on the inside.

And I bought a pulley and some rope...

and actually brought one of the stages up and down by myself! That was an exciting moment. I laughed and cried and ran inside to kiss my sister and brother-in-law. Sometimes it's the simple things.

Soon I'll be leaving Ludington to continue the tour I began September 2011. For more information about my traveling journey take a peek at my blog: I'll be posting information about the journey in the next week or so.

Thanks for reading:)