Roof waterproof coat done with pigment

Put on a pure coat of just portland cement, as I’ve seen it made to a paint consistancy of 1:1 portland to water. It is then painted over cement walls of cisterns to make them waterproof.
In this mix, I put in iron oxide to give it color.

Roof portland waterproof coat put on .


Milestone reached! Shed Door Finished and Hung!

Finally, 2 years 2 months later from pouring the foundation, I have finished the door and hung said door on the Shed of Requirement.  This glorious shed I’ve built from foundation up, assembled without power tools, carried stone by stone,  pound for pound 220 feet from the driveway to the site.  The door was supposed to open outwards, but due to geometry restrictions on Gothic doors, it couldn’t open. Not a design consideration I had on my list.  Nonetheless, the door now is hung and opens inwards. If it hits anything, it is a sign I have too much shit in the shed.  With the lifespan of the shed targeted at 200 years, the door is expected to be the first to require replacement in 20-40 years.  Now the shed isn’t done yet, there are many hours left to do.

The inside is a Catalan Vault roof, well, technically a hogbacked oblong dome. I had to attempt the hardest variant. Note, I can lay 7 tile per hour to make that roof.
Shed of Requirement now has a door! Stained cedar door made with hand forged nails cleated thru, and a handle I forged this summer at summer camp.
Stained cedar door I made with hand forged nails cleated thru, and a handle I forged this summer at summer camp.

Catalan Vault half way done for roof

Oh my, this Catalan vault is quite the project.  I knew it would be labor intensive, but I had no idea the issues I’d have on the corners. Should have stuck with a barrel vault.  Guastavino, I am not.  Overall, there is about a 40-45% rise, so close to a perfect hemisphere of 50%.  Spanning 11 feet with a 4.5 foot rise.


Vault halfway done

The scaffolding is up and usable, but needs some plywood decks on it.

Scaffolding a little shaky but safe. The guidework is out of true 10 rows up, I have to fix that this week.

The corners are so labor intensive, 3-4 tiles must be modified for each corner per row.

Tools seen: water sprayer to get the receiving tiles wet. Giant pretzel container that keeps the plaster of paris dry overnight. Blue mixing container for plaster of paris.
Back of the shed with just a stucco cover

I figure 40 more manhours then I have to put on the coping stones around the shed, and then design a glorious Gothic door.

Found a very detailed plan of how catalan vaults were built in Great Britain, including tips and tricks that I really wish I knew before I started. If anyone out there wants to try their hand, follow this advice:

Construction of Catalan Vaults Thesis

Lessons I’ll be applying:

  1. Cover working edge with tarp to keep it moister
  2. With Satillo tile, like AAC, they have to be very damp to get a good bond.
  3. Do 3 courses at once to see the curvature, and because the course below will already be moist

Honey house walls clad

So this weekend, the mason and I finished the outside walls. 3 of them, actually, as the back wall won’t be clad.

Keystone will be redone. Stone flattened and redone.
Front of house clad, the keystone over the door has carving.
Side with mosaic “ML” for McLaura

Shed roof making progress

So the roof is up to 6 courses, with 5 having a second ply mortared on.

Roof up to 6 courses, from doorway now has gothic shape.

The corners continued to be a bitch until I realized I need to slope them in faster than the roof walls, because they need to get to the center faster as they have farther to travel.  Hence the nearby tiles are sloped in as I approach each corner. Now that that’s understood, I think I can make faster headway and get a row done and 2plyed in  2.5 hours. So maybe 3 courses a day 2-plyed completed?

The cross beams are going to be floor support for 2nd floor.



The sawhorse scaffold is now too low. The plan is to put in the rafter storage floor and use that as a scaffold.



Uphill side of roof shows the 2ply construction
You can see my guides aren’t that great, but I’m keeping a reasonable straight line for the roof sides.

First section of wattle fence done

I would have preferred to use broad leaf ligustrum as my weavers but I didn’t have the time or money to harvest so frilling many to have a fence made out of them.  Instead I found a guy who had just cleared out a batch of invasive bamboo and had a thousand linear feet or so. I had him trim off the leafy bits and leave me with the straight stalks.  Driving in the posts (juniper that don’t rot in 20 years) took me 6 man hours. Weaving in the wattles took 2 man hours.  Total length that I built is 32 feet.

The poles will be cut level, when I am done.
This is the effect of not having my posts in a good line. Also some poles had a bit of crooked to them.

Lessons learned:

  • Green bamboo is more flexible and better.
  • Once the diameter is over 1″ it becomes hard to weave
  • Make sure your posts are lined up!  Use a tight line to guide you.  I got off a little and it caused some bamboo to break around that pole.
musings news

Another Rainfall Harvesting Tank Installed

So the front orchard is going to need water. I could have just run the irrigation hose to the back tanks, but noooo that would have been easy. Instead I chose to harvest more water off the front of the house where very little water is harvested.  I already have two 55 gallon barrels taking in water on the front, those water the fig tree. They only catch a fraction of the rain from 1200 sq ft of roof surface during a rain. So I put in another rain downspout, and ran it under the sidewalk. The tank is a 330 gallon IBC tote, painted and with a shade cloth to mitigate algae growth.

Downspout then goes under the sidewalk before turning the corner. The trick is that I met the pipes that lead into the house from the City of Austin and couldn’t bury my pipes deep.

The easy way to tunnel under a side walk is using a water hose with water going full blast and shove it under. It erodes out the dirt and I can reach under and pull out the rocks.  Took 20 minutes to dig the trenches on each side of the sidewalk but only took 10 minutes to burrow under.  So the premise is the water will fill up the pipe, go down, then go back up the pipe and fill into the tank because the tank level is lower than the starting downspout level.

The 3″ lines go to the tank and up, the smaller 2″ lines fill the same trench and will go to the swale downslope.

Then it rained a week later, the tank filled up and then overflowed, because I forgot to drill anti siphon holes on the top of the overflow U, the entire tank drained out. But I discovered that at the end of the rain and fixed it, so the tank filled 1/2 full before the end.

The tank has a 3″ inlet pipe and a 2″ outlet overflow pipe. The slope of the side of the house puts the overflow lines at an odd angle because I only had 45 and 90 degree elbows to use.

The front orchard has 8 trees in it: 2 Texas Persimmons (at least 40 years old), 2 jujubes, 2 Pomgranates, and a VDB fig.

The Texas persimmons turn black when ripe. I measured 19% sugar with my refractometer, but they don’t very taste sweet.
The backyard dual tanks of 660 gallons. Overflow goes to the middle swale in the yard.
The Pomegranates and Jujube trees.

Front yard Orchard status May 1, 2017

Another Spring upon us. The winter was inconsistant with periods of cold and warm, thus most of my fruit trees didn’t get enough chill hours to bloom.

In the front yard, I got a Celeste fig planted near Biff Polywog, our sea dragon.

Celeste Fig and a sea dragon. Fig has a anti-deer cage.

The front yard swale now has 2 Jujube trees (Honey Jar and ?), 2 Pomgranates (a Wonderful and an Eversweet?), some family purple Irises, and soon another Fig from Dad’s place I call a Center White as it is a white fig with closed eye.

Texas Persimmon on left, and on the swale, the Pomegranates and Jujube Trees. Note the anti-deer cages to protect the trees.

Bought a roll of driveway rebar wire to make tomato cages and tree protector cages. It was tough to work with but it does the job.


Clean dust off a panasonic lx100 camera

The LX 100 camera is great compact 4/3 sensor camera. But it is prone to dust on the sensor which is likely pulled in by suction as it telescopes out.

Taking the camera apart is a chore, but I’ve read someone using a vacuum to apply suction to the lens assembly to pull out dust. Didn’t think much about it, but when I got dust on my sensor after 6 months, well. Had to try.

I turned it on and off twice to get the dust semi-airborne I hoped. Then turned on my vacuum cleaner and using the extension hose, i held it on the front side of the lens assembly then turned the camera off, which collapses the assemble and hopefully exerts positive air pressure. I repeated this 5 times. Then checked the camera using a white background. Poof, dust on sensor gone! Boy, was I surprised. I wanted to make an adaptor out of cardboard between the camera lens and the vacuum, but it wasn’t needed.


Harvested 8 Arctic Frost Oranges

My little orange tree at Schick that I bought at the nursery with unripe oranges this spring, finally ripened up and I harvested 8 oranges off of it.  Possibly ripened by thanksgiving. Definitely ripe on Dec 8.  Plan on making some cuttings to ensure the plant lives in case it dies this winter. The other tree, at my house didn’t have oranges this year. Dunno if that is a function of 3″ of soil on a rocky slope, or the youth of the plant. The Schick property has far better soil.

Easy to peel, and sweet.