A whelping box for our Entlebucher
Posted by sibylle in Entlebucher (Sunday August 23, 2009 at 8:18 am)

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Tristan drilling the pig rails; Gore Range in the background

On the Internet I found great plans for building a whelping box - the McEmn Mark III Whelping Box.

“Tristan, look! Let’s build it,” I called to my son, excited to build this deluxe whelping box.

“We have neither the tools nor the ability to build that!” he replied.

Well, it did require a router, which I used to own. And calling for rabbeting joints  …
I  borrowed a router from my neighbor Clint (of sidewalk-pouring fame) and bought lumber and hardware for the box. If we got stuck we could always ask a bona fide carpenter for help.

We cut the 4’ by 8’ sheet of plywood into  20’ by 48’ pieces  – we, that’s  Clint on his radial arm saw (I was also lacking a table saw).

We now had the four required side pieces, and I had the tools to measure, and drill holes in the correct places. It called for Steel Tee Nuts, which I’d never heard of, but the lumberyard found them and sold them to me.

I pounded in the Tee nuts; Tristan cut the “pig rails” to length, and we routed the edges round. Pig Rails go along about 5′ above the bottom of the box to prevent the mother from accidentally squishing a puppy when she sits in the box – instead, they’re pushed aside, beneath the overhanging rail.

It did say to: “Rabbet each end so that the ends of two pig rails can cross and be the same thickness as the original 2×4,” but I instead stacked the alternate rails on top of the lower rails.

A few turns of screws on the corner braces, and voila, we had a whelping box. We even managed some slightly crooked seats, and just in time for mom to start whelping (I hope).

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Earthship stucco repair, day 3
Posted by sibylle in Colorado (Friday August 21, 2009 at 8:34 pm)

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West bedroom has a new coat of stucco!

We’ve come a long way, from gaping holes in the wall that let in rain, snow and wind, to a newly-refinished stucco exterior.

Along the way, we extensively patched the roof, repaired the gutters, and re-poured the sidewalk. Now all that remains are minor chores like repainting the trim, caulking the gaps between stucco and windows, and cleaning up.

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South wall with  new stucco finish

We’re still missing the railing along the sidewalk and I’m looking for a carpenter that can help put it back up. Anyone know any carpenters in Summit County, Colorado?

earthship stucco repair day 2
Posted by sibylle in Colorado (Tuesday August 18, 2009 at 8:05 am)


Front wall, west bedroom and new sidewalk


West parapet wall


Entry, west bedroom


Front wall living room and bath

Working too hard on day 1 to take photos!

Day 3, application of color coat, is today. The stucco contractors said it would be a long day!

Sidewalk is done!
Posted by sibylle in Colorado (Saturday August 15, 2009 at 8:31 pm)

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Clint adds the finishing touches

My new concrete mixer behind on the right; the Gore Range behind Clint on the left.
This past week we finished pouring our new sidewalk; the gutter subs came and fixed the gutter, and yesterday we finished reinforcing our leaky roof with more EPDM (rubber).

Today, the stucco contractors came and started work on the stucco repair. They added lath over the cracks and tomorrow (YES! They do work Saturday and Sunday - it was their idea even - not mine!) they plan to start the first stucco coat over the lath.

while I’m thrilled that the repair work on roof and walls looks as though it’ll be completed before winter (which hits very early at 9,500 feet), I really, really wanted to go to Leadville today to watch Lance and other friends race in the LT 100.    However, I had to stick around the job site. My stucco contractors originally planned to start work on Friday, but it poured all day,which delayed the start until Saturday.

An earthship remains a fairly unusual type of house, so they had a fair number of questions about  what to do where, and some of it was what I preferred. I’m also interested in getting this construction job done as soon as possible, so my assistance can speed up the process. When they ran out of screws and lath, rather than sto wrok to get more supplies, I ran to the local lumberyard and picked up a few sheets of metal lath and  more long screws.

I sure would have loved to watch the bike race, though. I used to race road bikes in the 80s, and Tristan and I religiously watched the Tour de France this year.

I guess that’s one of the prices of home ownership  - you have to repair them when they break.

Wildlife in the Earthship
Posted by sibylle in Colorado (Thursday August 13, 2009 at 7:29 pm)


“Snakey” sunning itself on bath windowsill

Many animals live near the earthship – foxes, coyotes, deer, and elk appear fairly commonly in winter. A skunk has come to eat our compost, and a marmot lives in the rock pile bordering the garage.
I often see peregrine falcons flying above the house, and am thinking of buying a DSLR with a good telephoto lens so that I can shoot photos of them.

But a few animals come into the house, perhaps seeking warmth or shelter.

Last winter, an ermine mink visited our earthship, ran around the room and climbed on the planter. I hoped to see this graceful creature again, but that was his only visit.

Today, another animals we’ve seen periodically over the years paid another visit – a snake. We first saw “Snakey” entwined in the jade tree plant. Today Snakey was sunning himself on the stucco in front of the bath window – the hottest room of the house.

I ran to get my camera, and after taking several photos, which did not scare Snakey off, I leaned forward to touch the little snake. It stayed right where it was, sunning itself, and I got a little bolder and petted the snake. Since it didn’t seem to mind that, I picked him up for Tristan to take a picture.

“Put him down! He’s terrified! You’re scaring the poor snake,” Tristan adamantly insisted. After the photo, I put the snake back down on the bath stucco, where he stayed right where I’d put him and continued enjoying the morning sun.

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‘Snakey’ up close

Pouring a sidewalk for the earthship
Posted by sibylle in Colorado (Wednesday August 12, 2009 at 8:23 pm)


Freshly-poured sidewalk
It’s finally coming together. Yesterday we poured section two of the sidewalk - section  one is pictured above.

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The next section covers the far part, where the post is still in place.

The gutter folks  put up a gutter on the garage and a new end cap on the gutter above the entry.

Today we finally finished patching the EPDM roofing!  After so many weeks this year, and many days on the roof last fall, it looks like our roof is complete.

Tomorrow we need to finish installing  flashing beneath the windows because when the original  builders built our structure, they didn’t flash under the windows. It may be possible to get away without flashing in the desert, but at 9,500 feet in snowy Colorado, the melt and thaw cycle plus a high snow load eventually separated the stucco from the underlying lath, resulting in a very crumbly structure.

And Friday, if all goes well, the stucco contractors will begin patching and replacing the separated stucco. I’m so happy that someone else will be doing that part of the work, and we may finally have a day off. We’ve worked on it 7 days a week for about three weeks now, and  both look forward to a day off.

A sad day in the climbing world
Posted by sibylle in Eulogies (Monday August 10, 2009 at 8:46 pm)

When I got home today, I read that Craig Luebben was killed in the Cascades. Craig was not only a great climber, but also a husband father, mountain guide, and inventor of BigBro tube chocks. He authored numerous books on climbing and was previously on the  Board of Directors, American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA).


I didn’t  expect Craig to be killed. When John Bachar died climbing last month, it did not surprise me, since John soloed so many climbs that I did not think it unlikely that he would   fall to his death sooner or later. But Craig mostly climbed in the U. S., and mostly on rock, using a rope, so I gave him a good chance of survival.Plus, he had a wife and young daughter, and in my experience, many parents climb more conservatively.

After reading the shocking news, I walked out into the living room.

“This is not a good year,” I said.

My son  turned and looked at me. “Who died now?” he asked.

How sad, and what a statement about our passion, climbing, and the lives of our friends, that when I say it’s a bad year, or day, my son doesn’t ask if it’s money, or my job, or the economy  - but immediately asks the obvious:  who died now.

I wonder if that’s the right reaction for a teenage boy, that when I say it’s bad news, he immediately thinks it’s death. Of course, there have been a lot of deaths  lately. In June, our  good friend Micah Dash disappeared  in China. I first met Micah in 2001, when I lived in Yosemite’s Camp 4 on the SAR (Search and Rescue ) site next door to Micah and Amelia’s tent cabin. Tristan, then 10 years old, spent a month there with me, and looked up to climbers like Micah and Craig Luebben.

He’d gone to Micah’s birthday party at Indian Creek, and as he learned to climb harder, was excited to know so many of the country’s top climbers. Now, he’s learning a sad reality of life: it is so very, very short.

I learned this truth early, since my father was also an avid mountaineer. I learned to love climbing when my family and I joined him in the mountains, and I learned to love the high places that he loved. And I learned that there’s a price to pay for our joy and for the beauty: it may take our lives. Yet I never felt that I would give up climbing because it was dangerous. After Tristan was born, I gave up climbing in the world’s highest mountains, the Himalayas, and I gave up climbing ice in the Canadian Rockies, Europe,  and similar places, but continued to climb rock throughout the world. I missed ice, and the spectacular beauty of high mountains, but I loved to rock climb, so that was ok.

I wonder if some climbers can’t limit themselves to  rock, with a rope, and feel caged by those boundaries and  must continue to push themselves  on harder, and more dangerous terrain?

People always say, “He died doing what he loved”, but to me, that’s not as good as living doing what we love. I  hope that my friends who are  climbers will find a way to joy in the mountains that allows them to survive to climb again, and to enjoy more days with their friends.

Earthship sidewalk repair
Posted by sibylle in Colorado (Saturday August 8, 2009 at 1:32 pm)


Tristan removes the railing while Nanda Devi supervises

Our sidewalk developed a severe slope toward the hosue, which caused cracking of the stucco wlls, so we decided to remove the railing and then re-pour a new sidewalk with an outward slope.

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The longest section of railing

We suceeded in removing the  large piece of railing above in one long section.

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We next removed the post bases.

The middle photo shows where the stucco began developing cracks after water draining toward the house, and underneath the sidewalk, weakened the stucco.

Nanda Devi’s going to have puppies!
Posted by sibylle in Uncategorized, Entlebucher (Thursday August 6, 2009 at 8:11 pm)


Jonas snowshoeing with Nanda

She’s not content to be second in line, but soon passes to get to the front!

Our normally very active Entlebucher now spends most of her time laying on the floor, panting. she’s geting fatter, and apparently hotter, as she tries to find a cool spot in the shade.

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Nanda cooling off on the flagstone floor

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