Urban cob forest experiment part VI: foundation continued

This week, I was only able to devote two days to the project as we were busily preparing for our new tenants, and I was rained out Monday and threatened with rain Friday. Even so, my right hand hurts every morning near the thumb, and feels a bit stiff. Brickwork is tough. Mental note: continue forced ambidexterity.

It was also quite a tough week for other reasons.  This past Friday September 4th  marked the sixth “anniversary” of my Dad Vasili or “Bill’s” death, and, quite sadly, Rob’s uncle Bill just died on the same day.  I did not know him well but he was very loved by the family and will be missed.

Foundation lessons: breakfast

On Tuesday, I fueled myself with banana french toast cupcakes & maple glaze.

Breakfast for reading on the couch

Breakfast for reading on the couch

Although delicious, these were not sufficient to power through brickwork. Within about two hours I felt tired and sick and had to rest.

Angry bad breakfast face

Angry bad breakfast face


I’ve never had to rest when fueled by my trusty whole-oat oatmeal. I was inspired last year by cousin Maria to make oatmeal  most weekday mornings.  I add fresh apple (which gets nice and soft when cooked), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, ground flax seed, and crushed “candied”  almonds and/or walnuts (with maple syrup, baked).  The whole thing takes about 10-12 minutes on the stove.  And it lasts me until lunch.

Two days of brickwork

In other forehead:desk “I should have done from the start” moments I measured out 12′ square space using string tied to stakes pounded with a mallet around the site to make sure I was (still) building within my boundaries.

In the boundaries

In the boundaries


I also realized after speaking with a friend (thanks Joe R.!) that I should indeed be wearing a mask when mixing with dry cement. I knew on some level (those levels being a video and Rob) but one death story was highly motivating.

It’s nice to try out the wall — stepping on it, grabbing it, and pulling it — and see that it stays in place most of the time.  I also made the work quicker by measuring out a stick to 16″ and using to ensure my walls stay relatively close to that thickness (rather than measuring anew with the measuring tape every time).

Here is a shot of the wall from the inside:


It should be roughly three or four more weeks to finish the mismatched chunk of brick foundation, depending on the weather.


Wall from the top, with stick measured to 16″ to ensure I keep building at the proper thickness

Thanks to everyone for reading along and asking questions.  Building is completely new to me (obvious statement if you’ve read this blog) and it’s slow but nice to do this “construction work” (as friend Kim called it) while listening to great podcasts and being away from computers and phones.


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