Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lloyd Kahn again!!!!

Check out lloyd's latest blogs.
He really never ceases to amaze me.
There is a cool new coffee label inspired by him there and a really
nice link to a Natural Building book.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

manifest my dream please

Here is a "houseplan doodle" I did years ago. I have been sketching various versions of my possibilities for the shape and feel of the shelter/sanctuary/studio that I wish to build for some years now. If you know a benevolent soul with an acre of land to spare/rent to me to manifest this dream...please contact me at

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bill and Athena Steen

The first books that taught me THOROUGHLY what it is to
build a sustainable Strawbale Structure that I found more than
10 years ago were written by Bill and Athena Steen.

They head the "Canelo Project" and have done the most( in my opinion) to dispel myths (fire, climate etc) about Strawbale Structures and spread the idea that anyone can build their own house up from the ground. They also finish what they start and do most of the work needed to complete their structures themselves.

Check out their books :
The Straw Bale House
The Beauty of Straw Bale HomesBuilt by Hand:Vernacular Buildings Around the World
Small Strawbale: Natural Homes, Projects & Designs
The HandCrafted Life of Don Juan Morales
and their website is also very inspiring:

Friday, July 24, 2009

More Inspiration from Lloyd Kahn's Blog

Click on this for some cool pictures of a Dome Building Company in Vancouver, B.C.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

If you wanna build it, I will come.....

Some much appreciated positive reinforcement in the form of the Blue Rock Station
e-newsletter came through this week from Annie Warmke of BRS:
"Annie B., our June intern, returned to Columbus last week – a paying job is calling to her, she just hasn’t found it yet. She surely did an amazing job of earth plastering. We’ve never had anyone that had such a gift for it, except maybe a couple of early students. She left her mark everywhere with art and nature. We really appreciate her contributions".
WIth this experience combined with 15 years of hardcore research about Strawbale Buildings of all shapes and sizes and years of experiences building a plethora of decks, walls, fences and other assorted structures with my Carpenter Father, I am fairly certain I can design and build your shed, garage or small house. Send me an email and I'll grab my mud clothes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Yesterday was the first time that (after reading his book for over 6 months) I finally went online to search and learn more about Joseph Rael. This morning I started clicking on some of the pictures of the Peace Chambers and I just about fell off my chair to see my version of my strawbale Octagon dream house in this one in Michigan.
This man (Joseph Rael) has been building these all over the world. Pretty inspiring.
It's just the right size for me too.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A strawbale journal....
Really nice pictures and someone's journal of the process.

This is a beautiful illustration of Mayapple a.k.a. American Mandrake. Someone had the wisdom years ago to put this entire book online. I still refer to it alot when looking up medicinal uses of most plants.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Check out these wonderful videos Rumi Homes
"Work done with the heart and hand is ultimately worship of life itself."

–Soetsu Yanagi, the Unknown Craftsman

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Strawbale Course Slideshow

Ah Annie B. finally figures out the widget....

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Check out my Other Blog
and while yer at it...Check these out too...
Last one has lots of links to Strawbale related stuff via "Surfin' Strawbale"
By the way,,,the pictures in the slide show at the bottom of the page are from when I was still living on the coast at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero. The sunflower field and Barn ( I am a barn lover- geek) was on Kelly Avenue in Half Moon Bay. The outdoor altar is at a cool place called "Enzo" there too. Some of the other shots are of the Lighthouse itself and trees and such in Santa Cruz, California (where I will someday return to live again). Peace, Annie B.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lloyd Kahn and Shelter Publications

I am reallly surprised that I have not written about Lloyd Kahn before this, but here is my plug.
His book "Shelter" inspired thousands of people all over the planet to build many different types of homes, both off the grid and on. I met him in person for the first time at Solfest in 2006 at the Solar Living Center (Real Goods) there in Hopland, California. He had a booth promoting "Homework" his new book at the time. It is phenomenal in so very many ways. I told him that "Shelter" had been one of the most life changing books I had ever read and he gave me a signed copy of a poster for that book. Shortly thereafter I discovered his Blog. He actually inspired me to start my own blog and it's one of the only blogs I even read, 3 years later.
Take the time to go through it sometime. So amazing in so many ways. Then last fall he came out with his newest gem, "Builders of the Pacific Coast", which is hands down now my favorite Lloyd Kahn book. He sent me two of those posters when I was at the Lighthouse and one of them is there still, in the "Staff bathroom".
I saw him speak again in Santa Cruz, the night before I lost my job. I had wanted to find a place to learn how to build a Strawbale House next. Be careful what you ask for. Buy his books. Read his blog. Its about so much more than building, but quirky things about the things he sees, music, skateboarding, surfing. You name it, I love it all. Thanks Lloyd! His next venture is going to be about "Tiny Houses", another thing I am crazy about.
Here is the link to his blog. Enjoy! and support this amazing Earth lover and incredible spirit please.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This is a site I came across years ago that let me know that I wasnt so crazy in wanting to build a Strawbale Octagon. There are lots of shapes and sizes of varying square footage. Enjoy, Annie B. P.S. Also search The Last Straw for even more inspiration

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Favorite Quote fromThe Grass Harp

"It may be that there is no place for any of us.
Except we know there is somewhere;
and if we found it, but lived there
only a moment, we could count ourselves blessed".
From "The Grass Harp" by Truman Capote

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

3 Weeks and a day....

Well, I finished the inside of the Firefly yesterday and completed one of the outer walls with a finish coat today. I was planning on working on the last outer wall that I had spent a good deal of time making smooth and even with a scatch coat, tomorrow. But at the end of the day when I was about to quit and keel over with arm pain, Jay showed up with a new (really old) helper, Josh ,to put a finish coat on it. Josh is a neighbor who helped Annie build the Earthship when he was a younger man. Then Laura from down the road (who we all met on her land during the weeklong course) showed up and grabbed a trowel and went to work on that last wall too. It was nice for a change to have some help and company, though I didn't see it that way at first.
So the surprise was that I won't be working tomorrow after all. My amended plan was to leave on Friday until I found out Annie was leaving for Comfest on Thursday.
Then Annie announced that they were going over to Greg's ( remember him and his tiny John Deere windmill?) tomorrow night to help him start his project. Being as run down and physically exhausted as I am (see previous meltdown blog and I actually feel as if I have something like mono that I havent felt since college days) I couldn't imagine having enough energy to go over there and start pounding tires. Sooo, I decided if they weren't going to be here tomorrow anyway, I would end my camping and working trip even earlier. I am leaving tomorrow and it will be really hard to leave everyone here (all animals included) and go back to Columbus, but it is time to go.
I will forever be grateful for Annie and Jay for giving me the opportunity to hands-on-learn and practice these plastering skills at this time of (in- betweeness) in my life. I can finally stop saying, "I have had a 15 year dream of building a strawbale house". No, It's not mine, but when I find the landowner who will sell me an acre, I'll be darn ready by golly, to build my own. I was also able to build a gate in the goat barn and put together a list/guide for them of "The Traditional, Folk and Medicinal Uses of Plants of Blue Rock Station". I hope to lead a Night hike here( July 11th) and do a Medicine Walk (July 25th) if folks indeed sign up.
So it looks like Josh has a new job helping to finish our Mayapple project.
Many hands working on these things is good karma all around. I would have liked to get my hands on it myself, but the reality is I really need a paying job too now. So
tomorrow I will cry and say see ya later ( but never Goodbye) and drive the old black truck with an amazing feeling of accomplishment in my heart, down the highway to the rest of my life.

Monday, June 22, 2009

More recent shots...

Kevin is a "Mover and Shaker"

So I heard from Kevin and his wife, Heather yesterday and he was dead serious when he said he was starting on his Strawbale project as soon as he arrived home.
Check out their blog at
Pretty darn impressive. Go Kevin, Heather and Arabella! :)

More recent photos....

The Little Black Truck that could....

Our living roof with some Gorilla Gardening thrown in.........

My Corn and Squash...will add the beans soon for "3 Sisters growing"

Monarda (Bee Balm), Ox Eye Daisy and the beauty of the BRS meadow

Okay, Okay..I can't turn it now but beautiful Tiger Lilies here.....
The Firefly on the picture for bigger, neat effect

Miss Chica Monica

Rosie the Wonderdawg

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Summer Solstice

My picture to the right that is always there was a painting I did years ago for Summer Solstice. I think I was out of watercolor paper at the time and painted that on an envelope that I found lying around.
We had a serendipitous celebration of Summer Solstice here at Blue Rock Station (at dinner last night), following a full wonderful day of BRS Open Day here that brought about 35 new folks out for a tour and tea led by Jay and Annie. I got to use some of my experiences using nature art with kids and we did leaf rubbings and then painted them with watercolors. Alot of fun with 4 amazing kids and their parents. I also met a really neat family from Kettering ( who also felt like my long lost family)and they were really curious about Herbal Medicine, so I was able to share that part of myself too. These things fuel the very essence of my spirit. Earlier in the day , between the public day and the dinner with some of Annie and Jays friends and (Thank You C/Kathy for the AMAZING Hungarian food... and two surprise friends), I had taken a nap. I woke up with " I have to find out the correct /official time of Summer Solstice" and went in and looked it up on the computer. I came across this amazing site( www. ) and read this prayer/invocation at dinner. We also talked about what Summer Solstice meant to us and I was able to drum (and sing some) with Elisa (Thank You) up in the garden as the sun was going down. Thank You Great Spirit , God/dess, All-That -Is
for sending all of these people my way. Annie B.
Pictures later hopefully

2009 Solstice Celebration
June 18 – 21, 2009
A Morning Star Rises
For each child that's born
a morning star rises
and sings to the universe
who we are.

We are our grandmothers' prayers.
We are our grandfathers' dreamings.
We are the breath of our ancestors.
We are the spirit of Love.

We are mothers of courage,
Fathers of time, daughters of dust
Sons of great vision.
We are sisters of mercy,
Brothers of love, lovers of life and
the builders of nations.
We are seekers of truth,
Keepers of faith, makers of peace and
the wisdom of ages.

We are our grandmothers' prayers.
We are our grandfathers' dreamings.
We are the breath of our ancestors.
We are the spirit of Love.

For each child that's born
a morning star rises
and sings to the universe
who we are.


We Are... (from lessons by Y.M. Barnwell (c)1993)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Annie B. has Meltdown

Okay so I have been homeless for a little over two months now.
Whether I am forthcoming in admitting it to myself or not, I am
a nester.
I have been truly loving the pace of this work, mixing the
clay, straw and sand plasters, pushing the wheelbarrow down to one of the unfinished shelters and applying layer after layer of insulation made of this Earth.
But there are some things besides the lack of a space of my own that have
helped to send me over the edge.
It is monsoon season in Ohio, which in the summer is sometimes (when not in drought) most of June. I should have remembered
this from when I lived here in Ohio from 98-05. Every June in those years, it rained buckets, and my garden thrived.
But I wasn’t camping in it for days on end. And the humidity. It’s not like I forgot that part either, but pretty much right after you get out of the shower here, you start to sweating again. I am too cranky and my body hurts way too much sleeping on the ground, the older I get. And speaking of the ground upon which I sleep, there is a tree stump right smack in the middle of this unfinished strawbale “chalet” in which I have set up my tent. When we were here for the weeklong course, I told folks that it seemed to be getting wet from below, but a few looked at me as if I was crazy. When I returned on the 9th, I saw that the oak stump had been waiting these past 3 years and had sent up 3 small leaves…so I wasn’t crazy and it is still alive. Simple tree biology dictates that as one of the most amazing water pumps of all, this tree, like all trees has brought up water from underground. (Read “The Man Who Planted Trees” for more). That water then transpires out into the atmosphere ( my mattress) where it will eventually turn back into rain and fall down upon us again. The Water Cycle.
And there is the issue of excruciating pain that I acquired after 3 years of non-stop computer reservations at the little hostel on the coast. I finally figured
out while looking at a book of Annie W.s that what I am dealing with is Carpel Tunnel
Syndrome. The night time is the worst. Yes, I am taking lots of herbs and trying to take care of myself but the details above make it unbearable at times…mostly when I am laying down and trying to sleep. So there is little of that (sleep).
So tonight after dinner I went back to my tent and cried a little and felt sorry for myself
And drummed on my drum. Then I put on my shoes and long mosquito proof clothing
And went down to the Mayapple Strawbale and low and behold there was a chair set up in there and it was completely dry inside. So I sat and dreamed about having a little House like this of my own. The birds were calling everywhere and it was so very peaceful to just sit there and think of all of the love that went into building that
little shelter. I looked lovingly around at it’s strong walls ( still growing grass like a chia pet) . I am proud ( and all of you should be too) that it has very even walls.
It has the most amazing presence there in the forest on the way down to the creek.
Something ( a bird maybe) has already built a nest above the bottle windows and beam and below the roof. I saw the most amazing Redbird (hill-billy language )aka Scarlet Tanager that I have ever seen . I heard a Barred Owl call down in the valley (as it was nearly dark). I thought of all of you who helped build it and all was okay in the world.
I got up and went up to the garden and put the corn seeds from Kevin that I had sprouted into the ground, planted the squash plants Annie gave me and fixed the screens around it so that the chickens wouldn’t eat them. I know that it’s okay to have meltdowns every once in a while. If nothing else, the amazing Pacific Ocean taught me day after day that everything in life ebbs and flows.
Tomorrow will be another day. I will finish the final coat on the inside of the Firefly shelter and hold onto the hope that someday soon, somewhere on this beautiful Earth, I will have home of my own. AB

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thank You Annie and Jay for Sharing Your Pics

Some of these pictures were taken by myself and some were taken by Annie Warmke , the mover and shaker behind Blue Rock Station, a sustainable living center in SE Ohio.

And here are a few more....

There are so many amazing pictures to choose from and this was a gathering of really extraordinary folks for this weeklong Strawbale Course. Lots of Laughter, lots of hard work and cooperation.

I will upload more as I get more time. I have been painting the wood in the Firefly the past few days and hope to start the finish coat inside today or tomorrow.
Annie B.