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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