Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sun and sweat - Summer in Alentejo

Bobby in the doorway of my studio, which is nearly roofed. I have got up the cane and have been battening it down using lath and left overs from R's carpentry. Nailing is not my strong point so a lot of explosive cursing across the valley as I miss or bend nails....

It has been really hot which makes it so hard to work, but I feel the need to press on before the weather starts to dampen.

I didn't have enough cane so I have put rabbit wire on the side and covered it in a straw-rich mud. Works fine. I have never done a roof before, on my own, and I'm rather proud of its wavy way... 

It's so nice to go in and feel that I am in a room. My very own room!

It was Laura's birthday on Sunday so we all went to Campilhas to have a picnic in the shade of the cork oaks, looking out to the water. The water was lovely for swimming, even though there was a motor boat and a jetski whizzing about some of the time.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

No photos! Imagination required.

So, without a camera to illustrate my words, I am challenged. I like a challenge!

My back is so much better, but still, I have to be careful and not over do it. I have been staring at the big beam for days and just longing for it to be up on the wall so I can see how it fits and how all the other beams fit around it.... and then I heard some activity up by the windmill. Aha! Workmen. I felt like some crafty old spider trying to lure some meat into my lair! So two hefty young lads and R put the beam up more or less where I wanted it, in the middle of the circle. Took them five minutes, and that was just the journey down the hill and back up.

Then I spent a couple of days staring at it and offering up poles. Of course there are not enough of the eucalyptus poles... but maybe there are, because I will make them fan out somewhat, near the centre, and I will use some other bits that we have here: olive, chestnut, pine. Shorter bits. It's quite exciting when I stop trying to think like a conventional builder. I can't because I am not. So, I am a dress maker, a quilter, a patcher, a mender... a cobber. This roof doesn't need to be straight, to hold hard flat things on top of it. It is going to have wool, and cardboard, and plastic and earth/straw. As long as it can drain away from the centre, the shape is ... what is the word? well, use your imagination. I'm going to!

I do have to raise the wall some, so that means more mud work. I am trying to pace myself. I think that if I had a couple more helpers it would be much quicker, but this is my 'Everest'. It looks so beautiful. The walls have gone a light tan, the colour of the earth, of course. I whitewashed the inside bits next to a window to see how it looked. It looked like it has been there for ever. And it stops the mud plaster from dusting off.

The broody hen has been sitting on a couple of dud eggs. So sorry for her. I gave her two more and she sits on.  What's up with Cocky? Is he not doing his thing at the moment? Maybe he is waiting til there is more green grass, when the autumn dampness comes. I am thinking of building a cob hen house... I know, I'm bonkers, but it would be so cool for them. I love this earth we live on. It is so perfect.

The garden is slowing down. Tomatoes are rather small. Celery is doing well. Always one or two strawberries. Some animal ate the rest of the sweet corn. There are grapes, beautiful, red grapes hanging from the vine near the house. Yes! Our shade plant is doing the right thing in a permaculture fashion. (Stacking functions - shade and fruit.)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bending Over Backwards...

Did my back in last week so work on the building has almost ground to a halt. Yoga and heavy lifting on the same day... bad experience. But the Bone Man in Sao Luis is very good. In just five minutes of gentle manipulation and feeling my pulses he set me right and told me not to do any heavy stuff for a week. Now, that is hard! So I did a tiny bit of plastering, just to use up the plaster that I had made before I went snap.

So while on enforced rest I went over to visit Monica and Carlos. Carlos was re threading his loom. It is a big job. One has no idea of the work involved in creating the lovely carpets and bags that he makes.

My happy girls!