Thursday, March 14, 2013

Paul’s Yurt, Progress Report, March, 2013 Ninole, Hawaii

Into each life some sun will shine
It has been a little over two years since my Colorado Yurt Co. 24’ high wall yurt was erected on a sloping piece of land mauka in a rain forest region on the Hamakua Coast.

 Fitting it out with furnishings and utilities has been an ongoing process based loosely on the Japanese aesthetic philosophy referred to as Wabi-sabi. This aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". Driving this philosophy has been a combination of personal taste, funds, and the availability of materials.  The interior has been furnished with the highest respect for the beautiful, open vaulted interior space that is so attractive and pleasing.  No walls or partitions have been permanently constructed, but rather furnishings, fabrics and other movables have been used to define the living spaces; seating, storage, sleeping, cooking, etc.  Emphasis has been given to natural materials, such as wooden floors and furniture, while color has been added with printed wall hangings, blankets, pillows etc. 

 Other objects with the theme of peace have been added both as decoration and to help focus the tranquil tone of the interior.  Closeness to the natural world is emphasized with views of plants, flowers, Mauna Kea and the Pacific Ocean from windows, doors, and a small lanai.  Rain in its many forms, the wind in nearby Eucalyptus trees, animal calls, and a small stream create a peaceful acoustic soundscape.

 There is still much to be done in the interior, and in the spirit of Wabi-sabi these changes will come as the vision matures and the appropriate furnishings and items make themselves apparent.  There is a conscious theme of moving away from items made of plastic and replacing them (chairs are high on the list) with re-purposed pieces made of more natural materials that have character and spirit.


And that sun can become electric...
 Several utilities and conveniences have been added to make the yurt comfortable and practical.  Perhaps the most useful modern addition has been the recent completion of an off-grid photovoltaic electric system.  This system consisting of four solar panels, batteries, a battery charger and an inverter allows the yurt to support computers, a printer, lights, a radio, other plug-ins, and a refrigerator.  I am still wrestling with a growing number of black cords and power strips, which challenge the Wabi-sabi aesthetic!  The system hardware is located on the exterior of the yurt; panels in a nearby open area, and the electric devices installed in a storage closet in an open space under the yurt.

 The kitchen, located inside the yurt along the wall, consists of a granite topped cart that stores cookware and utensils, and a single burner gas cook top.  Interior water, used for cooking and drinking is carried in by hand at this point.  Exterior water, used for washing and bathing, is collected in 55 gallon barrels and then pumped through hoses to outlets and to a propane instant-on gas heater.  The finishing touches of an outdoor shower are being currently complete.  The shower which is located in an open space under the yurt features an ocean view!

Loveable Loo
 A composting toilet, referred as a “Loveable-loo” is found in the open area under the lanai.  Waste matter mixed with absorbent peat moss is collected in the toilet device and periodically emptied into the compost bin, elegantly recycling the waste back to the land.

 The composting toilet, photovoltaic electric, catchment water, and instant on hot water system reflect an ongoing value of living simply and respectfully on the land while striving to be as independent and self-sustaining as possible.  

 The process of building and creating a yurt-home is ongoing and fulfilling.  As Ferris Bueller once said, “I highly recommend it, if you have the means.” 
I consider myself a fortunate and rich man.