Sunday, February 14, 2010

We started sketches!

What once was blank paper...  The site for the house is at the eastern end of a ridge that stops abruptly at a 100 foot drop into the river (more like a creek) below.  We pulled out our compass and found due east and west to make the long facade toward the southern sun.  This places the house off the edge of a flattish knoll and off into the trees.  The buildable site is small, since I start getting nervous about the land getting too steep for secure foundations.  We get some spectacular views to the north and east where I do not mind big glass.  

The knoll allows a yard for dogs and kids at an upper level of the house, while the logical road access can find its way to a lower level carport that allows prevalent breezes through the building to the decks to the north.  Knowing all this site information gives us plenty room to play with the design.

We want a simple roof and cozy rooms, but intricate detailing.  It is important to bring in lots of southern light to brighten the forest and amaze.  This may be home and work and home school in addition to all the gardens we plan.

While the house is mostly one long hallway facing the view, the keeping room has become two overlapping squares to make three distinct spaces: kitchen, dining, and living.  Homage is paid to Frank Lloyd Wright and Schindler and IM Pei as well as others.  Always credit the giants whose shoulders you stand on.

Valentine's Story

Wise men are supposed to go into the wilderness and find their wisdom.  Right?  I believe that wisdom is only gained by the act of coming back.  

Yesterday, the day before Valentine's Day, we went out to our land for the first time since the snow began to melt.  We could see the typography so clearly under all the trees with the snow fall.  We measured and contemplated our house site and shared a family moment before we scurried back to our warm rental house.

I was lost in thought as well because Christi had asked me to write a story for her for Valentine's.  It is important to me to make something for her, but a story seemed inadequate.  She is my every heroine and my every story these days.  It is so hard to make up something, when our lives seems so intertwined in our story together.  From the moment I met her, we knew both had a dream of escaping to the wilderness and making our way.  Our marriage proposal was on a backpacking trip, and our first land together is this acreage in the forest of the Ozarks.  But we are not to get lost here.  We intend to make it our place, our home, our homestead.  In that way, we are coming back from the wilderness and setting our hearth solidly on terra firma.

In college, I had asked a friend to write a story for me.  We were to do a collaborative project with his Literary skills and my Architecture.  A section of woods was our site and my building was to be an arboretum.   His story journeyed into the woods and set various characters against each other and apart in their isolation.  Though my initial idea, the collaboration failed mainly because I was thrown back by the power of his story.  As an undergraduate, I was sorely unprepared to work with someone else's talent and ability to see the wilderness in such a way.  Architecture projects in school rarely dealt with such issues.

Our best story was that my wife Christi and I had met before.  She was an architecture student, and I was a friend of her professor and guest juror on her studio review.  I remember her excellent project and she remembered a particularly difficult architect.  Surely she didn't mean me?!?  Luckily, we did not remember each other, for we were not ready to meet.

I was lost in my own wilderness.  My career was important and I spent my time developing my business.  Still, I would see a couple sitting on a public city park bench, oblivious to the world.  They too were lost, but lost in each other. 

When we finally met and shared wine in an urban wine bar, enjoying the pleasures of city life, we instantly began sharing our dreams of getting away.  I wanted to get back to backpacking.  She wanted to build a straw bale house in some remote location. We now dream together, lost in each other. Soon we shall build this house and strive to make a house into a home for us, our children and our animals. I shall never want to end that story, for which this blog serves as our chronology.  We have found everything we need.  Happy Valentines my love.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

After a brief respite

Ok, we took a while to get back to this blog.  Dreams seem never to have a logical progression and our plans are no exception.  But we are of the determined sort and that seems to be the primary prerequisite for homesteading.  Still, priorities asserted themselves.  We were busy moving and settling into our community.  Our design/build business needed some time to grow and strengthen, especially in this economic climate.  And our first project together as a couple turned out to be our most joyous.  To us was born Israfel Shae Collins on July 29th.  Nothing seemed as important than caring for her. At the same time, nothing drives us to build our home more!

Honing our goals, we are set on occupying the land first and foremost, and then setting things in order as we can.  Lil' Izzy needs her home.  We have chosen a new site for the first occupation, a cliff overlooking what is now a full creek.  We will not be able to integrate vast sheep fields and gardens as before on the northern side of the lot, but out from our living room we will be able to hear the gurgling sounds of nature far below and our house will nestle into the hill and trees above the flood plain.  We will leave the existing clearing on the north side of the property for the main house yards and farm as we can manage to cultivate them in the future. Nevertheless, this more modest homestead site will have orchards and bees and gardens and dog yard and chickens and all that our permaculture and architecture training can create on a quartz laden creek cliff.  

This will be our first stand.  Our Creek House.    Look for plans as we develop them!