Fun, progress and hot water!

A lunch with family and friends
I don’t see a safety issue here do you?
This is the very first meal cooked on our new indoor stove
Men being silly with the manometer which actually has something to do with propane.

Such a great mix of fun and progress as we begin the finishing work on the cabin. Indoor cooking! Plumbing! Hot water! It’s all kind of amazing.


Late October

The weather was perfect, the food was great and the card playing highly competive! A great weekend all around.

Terrible picture but great food: sitting down to a dinner of BBQ chicken, ribs and potato salad.
Curious fur-filled poop discovered on the upper road. Cougar?
What is this amazing monolith? Could it be the very first post in the new railing system?

Decking discs and divine dining

It’s been a great spring so far. We’ve had mint from our planters, good times on the green roof and of course the nearly completed exterior siding!
But even among great weekends this weekend was special.

In the work department, Kevin finished some milling and Mike and Malcolm started on the much -anticipated decking.

is that decking going down? oh my so it is!

lovely lovely decking

The work was great but the fun was even better. Saturday lunch was tacos and a fabulous homemade lemon cake that Mike brought. Afterwards we had a lesson in disc golfing on the course that Malcolm designed.  Dinner was some amazing halibut which Malcolm brought down from up north, Then Sunday we had cold smoked salmon, also courtesy of Malcolm and our first inaugural game on the completed 12 target course!

Halibut, collard greens, corn and roasted potatoes onions and fennel
With room for strawberries and homemade biscuits
Work it all off with decking and disc golfing!
Malcolm shows us how it’s done
Looking for lost disks
Watch out for the water trap
Somewhere in the distance is the 11th target!

Now Malcolm says I have bo excuse not to priint out the map and score cards. so watch for that soon!

So to recap where we are as of the middle of June 2013:

  • The exterior siding is almost completed and only awaiting the installation of a bathroom window to be done.
  • The decking in the breezeway and guest cabin area has been started
  • The green roof is mostly planted and growing nicely
  • The disc golf course is finished
  • Life is good!

Big progress, bocce and brownies to die for


A great weekend at Gambier with many thanks to Louise, Sean & Mike for great food, good progress and bocce mania.

We invited a new term: “real-time design” for some of the modifications and adjustments that get made along the way. Installing the window on the second floor was a perfect 3.0 — e.g. the third time we tried to complete this aspect of the building. The first time we got the measurements wrong, the second time we got the measurements for a sliding door (which we didn’t yet have) right but decided to use a window (which we did have) instead. The many discussions around this reminded me again that the ‘logical’ criteria in our design philosophy is almost entirely subjective! Maybe logic is the thing that balances out all of the other values, the simplest path to meeting the most needs. Anyhow, we used a window we had left over and we didn’t have to buy a door and we rebuilt the wall so we wouldn’t drive ourselves crazy with wishing, years from now, that we’d taken the time to do it right the first time.
So that’s logical right?

Safety First Sean!

The geek in me was helpless to resist the animation possibilities of these two photos of Sean. It would be smoother if I did it in Photoshop but not bad for the first animation generator I googled. Click on the picture to see it in action.

From Jun 2011

In addition to the installation of the window we did a lot of tidying and sweeping in a space that everyday is feeling less like an idea and more like a real cabin. We had music on the deck for the first time thanks to the sweet sound system Louise brought. Mike made brownies with a cream cheese filling from his cooking muse, Nigella Lawson, and she did inspire him to greatness. The weekend was all about keeping the carnivores happy: Sean brought the bbq to life with some amazing juicy burgers and Saturday night we went Ukrainian with sausage and perogies.

The daisies are out


From Jun 2011
and the weather on the ride back was fantastic! Thanks again everyone for a rockin’ weekend!

7l’s the lovely summer in review

Hi everyone,

I thought I would try and put our fabulous and exhausting summer of work into a bit of context with the ‘principles’ we started out with when we began this project. Overall I think we were somewhat successful adhering to them, but there’s always that gap between theory and practice isn’t there? Anyhow, for those of you interested, here’s my report.

The 7l’s we started with were….
1. Local
2. Logical
3. Light / Low-Impact
4. Liveable/Loveable
5. Low-cost
6. Long Lasting
7. Lots o ‘uses


Over the course of our building project this summer we had about 8 people at every meal, fed over 30 different people, and averaged 168 meals cooked each week, for a total of over 500 during the three week “big build.”

Because the folks we were feeding were working so hard for our project, liveable and loveable were our #1 priorities for food — in other words, folks had to be happy with that they were eating. Cooking for such large groups was a real challenge and I have to admit for the first time I understood the appeal of big box stores like Costco. It met two of our criteria, Low-cost and to a certain extent, logical. Even at Costco it was possible to buy some organic food (which I would categorize as low-impact) but we did end up with some of what I call ‘factory meat” (mostly burgers and bacon.) If we’d had a freezer (or even refrigeration!) on site I think my answer would have been to buy a bulk order from a local farmer. This should be possible by next summer. Another option I’ll work on for next summer is to expand on my vegetarian cooking so that we can give even the carnivores some new and satisfying meat-free options.

Milk and eggs were all local and organic/free-range as were almost all of our fresh vegetables. Highlights were the fruits and vegetables Maddy brought from the farmer’s market where she works, and Pat’s fresh caught local crab. Yum yum!

With an average of 8 people on site each week, we used about about 100 gallons of water per day. This included one or two showers a day (most people washed themselves in the ocean), being stingy on flushing the toilet (within reason) and the men “marking the territory” around the camp. We used durable plastic plates and glasses and tried a sticker system to keep them individualized, but when the group gets bigger than 4 or 5 people this system proved difficult to maintain.

We’ve read several different numbers about average water use, anywhere from 60-100 (US) gallons per day for an individual to the same amount per household. As we move into a more ‘sophisticated’ setup we’ll also begin rain water harvesting so even as we add indoor showers, more frequent flushing etc, our drain on the well would hopefully stay about the same, possibly even dropping over the long-term.

An ongoing struggle for us were the miscellaneous items we needed for a multi-year camp. On the one hand, we weren’t ready to make an investment in something that might be damaged by prolonged outdoor use, and on the other hand, we didn’t want things that were just going to collapse after a few uses. Although I think we were successful in not buying any ‘unnecessary’ junk our $6.99 camp chairs quickly fell apart and became known as the “weight restricted chairs” and several pairs of kitchen scissors and kitchen knives from Ikea also bit the dust. In retrospect, I think more of this could have been purchased used, although this would have been a larger investment in time and possibly gas to purchase these items bit by bit, especially when you are in a hurry to have them.

The beautiful benches Kevin “Chip” Nugent built will be a big help for next summer, and we may work on adding other homemade furniture as well.. Over the winter we will be visiting our local thrift stores to try and find some of these household items for next summer now that we have a better sense of what we need.

I think the biggest impact on most of the “L’s” was the labour of love that so many of our friends and family put into this project. Loveable, liveable, low-impact, low-cost, local….your generous assistance embodied all of those principles and more. Thank you thank you thank you!

That’s all I have for now. K is working on the actual building report & a run-down of where the project is going next. A huge step forward was the actual final installation of the solar system so yes, the POWER TOWER ACTUALLY MAKES POWER NOW! Woo hoo!