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8-20-13 - Thinking of Tiny homes - the Baba Yaga Hut

Due to the posts on Sarah Weintraub's tiny home and blog (here in engaged Buddhism/Current Events), I've been remembering my own such diminutive dwelling sans wheels at Yvonne Rand's former Muir Beach home.

A few months after Daya, then Dianne, and I broke up in 76 and I moved in with Liz in Bolinas, I got an apartment at 340 Page Street by the SFZC City Center to spend more time with son Kelly. In 1979 Dianne moved to Muir Beach. She and I looked at places including a small apartment below a house which cost 400 a month. I asked how much for the house - 900. I suggested she take that which surprised her till I pointed out it cost no more than our two city rents and Kelly's private school. He would go to public school with the Green Gulch kids. Yvonne made the whole move work by offering to let me use her tack house.

A tack house is a place to keep gear for riding a horse. I walked around it and looked inside, remembered when Bob Walter stayed there. He'd sit long hours of solo zazen punctuated by visits from so many women - sometimes with awkward overlapping timing. The times were promiscuous - and so were some of us.

I didn't need much room. Mainly I'd be in Bolinas in Liz's wonderful home by Agate Beach. But after a few days of use, I decided that the place could use some remodeling. It was like six by twelve with no window. Yvonne gave me the green light to do whatever I wanted. I spent a lot of my spare time in the next few months renovating, starting with moving the walls out with posts in the corners.

Most materials came from Green Gulch scrap - all the wood from a pile set aside to be cut into firewood. Inside was a two tatami (GG-surplus) room with oiled Tassajara sycamore boards around the edges. Two old windows provided a a sliding glass door and a view to Redwood Creek beyond two old redwood boards now serving as a low desk. Shelves and hanging space completed the interior. The ceiling was the insulated, sheetrocked underside of the pitched roof. When I stood up, the top sides of my head touched the peak.

In back there was a curtain leading to a coconut-sized corner sink from a trailer in a junkyard and a compost privy, a squatter on a platform. The inner chamber of this dry toilet was vented so that when the cover was lifted air was sucked in - there was no odor from below, just the pleasant smell of the adjacent sawdust used to cover ones droppings into the 55 gallon drum.

There was a porch out front made from 2 x 10s with ends sculpted with chain saw, one side partially surrounding the stone used as a step. Tar paper and chicken wire covered the outside walls for stucco applied by the expert hands of Niels Holm.

Yvonne called this place the Baba Yaga Hut after the legendary Russian witch who lived in a dwelling with chicken feet that would walk to find children to eat, their bones made into a surrounding fence. I didn't make the fence but I did do the chicken feet - from one inch rebar welded into the proper form, set on flagstones on each side of the hut.

I loved staying in this hobbit cave where I'd read, write songs, entertain guests, and tell Kelly Ekley stories till he fell asleep. I'd get up in the dark and walk through the Alders on a path out by the Pelican Inn into Green Gulch Farm for morning zazen. A large yellow and black garden spider kept spinning a web in front of the entrance so that I had to squeeze through on the side to avoid it. Finally I got it in a can and took it next door to Mayumi's.

Yurok shaman Harry Roberts was living at Yvonne's. He'd walk out on crutches and pay a visit during construction. I'd bum cigarettes and sometimes booze from him. Sometimes I'd have a bottle of Irish Whiskey and offer him a sip. One day he advised me to include some additional discipline in my work practice - not to start drinking till after noon. I complied. My proudest moment was when the job was almost done, Harry, who doled out few compliments, said he'd doubted this project all along but finally had come to appreciate it.

I stopped using the cabin in '85 when I moved to Green Gulch. Yvonne's with hubby Bill in Filo. The Baba Yaga hut is still there though the compost privy isn't - it's contents got washed out to sea in a flood that also took a 55 drum load of corks I'd collected from Greens Restaurant when I was host there. I didn't try to get to it in the high water and watched from a distance with Yvonne as the semi-sunken structure floated and bobbed, held only by a Romex electrical line and a 3/4" PVC pipe. After that I went to clean it up and was surprised and pleased to find the interior dry save for a few drops. It was tight.

I may have some photos or I could go get one or two the next time I'm in Muir Beach. I'll post them here eventually. But for now to me these words are worth a thousand pictures.

See Mick Sopko's History of Green Gulch Farm for more on Harry Roberts

Baba Yaga

Yvonne Rand cuke page

Niels Holm on cuke

Green Gulch Farm

Muir Beach

Pelican Inn

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