April 2005: The Bath Room Remodel, Phase I

Early Spring, 2005

By now our long-term guests have gone home and we are spending more time on the land after letting it go for the major construction phase of the last two months. We’ve been making use of our rototiller— a gift of Robin and James— to break up the weed party that’s been goin’ on in the veggie garden. The soil is slowly getting more fertile and we’re begining to see the cycles of growth and mapping out areas of the garden that favor the different plants. The earth is so challenging and rewarding to work with here!

Lisa and I continue to work at the Blossoming Lotus, although our roles have shifted somewhat: I am now on the line at lunch, a job I enjoy greatly— it appeals to my love of serving food, and there is an exciting performance aspect to the job. Lisa has moved into more of a mangement role, overseeing the preparation of food in the kitchen and the ordering of the wide range of foods used in the restaurant. The Lotus continues to chart an intersting course between chaos and order, but it has become our family and we accept it’s oddities and ambitious tangents with with love and some criticism while keeping our feet on the ground, helping to build it into the truly fine restaurant it is and could continue to be.

Over the last two months our main focus has been a major remodel of our bathroom (of the American misnomer) into a two-room water closet/bath room facility. The design concept has been kicking around here for some time, and James came in and made it practical. We started by clearing the area outside the bathroom and laying out the gravel bed for the concrete pad. The idea is to build an extension off the house for the tub and shower, while leaving the interior room for the toilet and vanity.

James and Jonathan test the trench for the greywater drain before laying in the pipe.

We’ve installed a greywater system, partly to give the old cesspool a break, but mainly to reclaim as much useable water as possible— after all, we’re paying for it! At the moment, this all drains out over a bank through a perf pipe, but will eventually go into a small pond stocked with plants (such as water hyacinth) capable of purifying the water. Small fish, invertibrates, insects and bacteria complete the ecosystem. The plants are then harvested and composted to reclaim the nitrogen and other nutrients, while the water is used for irrigation.

James and I pour the slab.

The exposed wall of the house will be opened up to allow access to the new bath room.

The idea for the new bathroom is to open up the existing roof and put on a shed roof of transparent polycarbonate. The new space will be light, open and comfortable— everything the old bathroom was not.

Decorating the slab was a group project: Jonathan, Dawn, Annette, Roland, and Lisa participate in decorating the entry space.

Of course, we wanted to play with the concrete, so we embedded it with designs of stones and glass. The shower gets a kind of swirly design and the entry a five-pointed star.

A pattern of stones and glass baubles decorate the entry.

Here you can see the hole we cut into the house. In the foreground are the shower and tub enclosures.

It’s looking pretty rough here, but we have a working shower— a vast improvement over the old fiberglass box we were using.

The exterior of the bath house, more-or-less complete.

Jonathan and I put the roof on and enough of the interior to make the space fully useable. By now, James and Robin have gone home, so we will be moving forward on the finish work as time becomes available. The screens are covered in reed mats for privacy, but eventually we will have the bath house largely screened in by vegetation.

On the agricultural front, I just harvested our vanilla pods. They begin the curing process and will be ready for use in a week or so. The house is filled with the aroma of the pods as they cure in the dehydrator. We are using a simplified, accelerated process developed recently in Mexico to cure the beans— the traditional process takes months and is really impractical on a small scale. This is one of the agricultural products we could be producing on the land here, a legacy of my grandmother, who originally planted a vanilla vine as a curiosity. I found the vine, grown huge, and cut it into 5 pieces and planted it around the property. I will be cutting more pieces for transplanting after the flowering season.

Our first crop of eight vanilla pods. I pollinated the vine in May of 2004.

These last months have been an intense time of development around here, a time of spending a lot of money and seeing many improvements while establishing foundations for improvements to come. We now have a full compliment of tools, along with the invaluable practical knowledge gained through all the work.

As always, we know this is all a gift of Spirit, and remember with gratitude all who have made this possible. Thank you and namaste.

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