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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Wooden dreams of varying sizes

From the moment we bought our house, my wife and I have been involved in that most sacred of homeowner pastimes; Dreaming about renovations and additions. 

Most such dreams are destined to remain unfulfilled, either because they are impractical or because they require the participation or demise (G-d forbid) of a rich relative.

My wife's dreams tend to revolve around the inside of the house...  expanding and completely redesigning the kitchen... pushing back the rear living-room wall... creating a master bath worthy of a magazine layout.

While I share my wife's dreams, I also harbor my own, more impractical dreams (hey, husband=impractical)... and these dreams come in varying sizes... and are constructed of a commodity that I miss more and more here in Israel; wood:

Small Dream:

I would love to build a nice Scandinavian Sauna behind our house.  Nothing fancy, mind you... and not too big. 


But because I'm the only one in the family that would enjoy such a luxury, I doubt very much if this dream will ever reach fruition.  Maybe when the kids get a little older they might want to take a 'shvitz' with their old man.

Medium Dream:

Ever since I read about it on NYC Gadget Girl's  blog I have been dreaming of building a yurt overlooking the wadi out back.  It could be a combination studio/office for Zahava or a honey house (a place where one extracts honey from hive frames) for me... and/or a wonderfully private guest suite for friends and family. 


But the truth is we have a very nice guest suite... and once Yonah moves upstairs from the nursery Zahava and I will each have our own private workrooms/offices.

Large Dream:

This last dream is so far into the realm of impractical and expensive that it's almost not worth mentioning.  But heck, if you can't write down your dreams in a journal where can you put them, right?

I've done a fair amount of driving and cycling around this beautiful country and I would put Israeli landscapes, farmland and wilderness scenery up against almost anything in America.  However, with all the agriculture one sees here... the fields of grain... the lush vineyards... the expansive orchards... there is one thing missing:  Barns.

I'm not talking about the cow sheds and equipment buildings made of cinder-block and corrugated iron one sees throughout Israel.  I mean a real honest-to-goodness wooden barn.  The kind with faded Burma Shave ads painted on the side.


The lack of reasonably priced wood here makes it a poor choice for a building material.  But my dream would be to buy a plot of land in the upper Galilee or Golan Heights and import a nice old weathered barn from somewhere in New England or perhaps Pennsylvania.  I would finish the inside as a rustic vacation home, and the outside would remain a nice brick red (with a copper weather vane on top) to satisfy the longings of transplanted Americans who might pass by in their cars.

Heck, if they can bring London Bridge to Arizona, stone by stone, I imagine it wouldn't require too much to import a barn, right.  :-)


Posted by David Bogner on June 15, 2006 | Permalink


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Having just finished a month rotation in "rural medicine' I was working in a small clinic about 2 hours out of Montreal. Although the communte each day was difficult, the landscape was beautiful, all farmland with Barns, fields and cornfields...there is something about barns in particular.. makes me want to put on a pair of overalls and rev up the tractor!
on the subject of wood; " wood is good Jerry, wood is good...."

Posted by: David | Jun 15, 2006 3:08:15 PM

Wish I had a wealthy relative!

Isn't the arnona on barns something like 400% more than for houses?

Love the yurt! ;-)

Posted by: Jameel @ The Muqata | Jun 15, 2006 3:09:24 PM

I'm ashamed to admit that when I read "honey house", a place to extract honey from hives was not the first thing that popped into my head.

Posted by: lisoosh | Jun 15, 2006 3:58:27 PM

Why don't you talk to some researchers from a uni in the Negev, they should have by now come up with a tree species that grows well in really dry areas with quality hardwood/softwood... it's Israel isn't it? 'the hard is achieved and the Impossible takes alittle bit longer ...' who said that?...umhhh let me see ... it must have been Ben Gurion. :)

Posted by: pk | Jun 15, 2006 4:24:33 PM

David... I cannot resist. You really have left me no choice. The sauna idea? Lovely, however, your children have shared a 'shvitz' with their old man plenty of times. You (as well as other members of your family) don't need a sauna to 'shvitz'!!! The difference with having a sauna would be an enclosed area to HIDE the 'shvitzing'!!! Too funny! Nice dreams, though... really like the barn idea.

Posted by: val | Jun 15, 2006 5:38:55 PM

Oooh, I loved the yurt! : ) For some reason, I had this stereotype that yurts only exist in the steppes of Central Asia... but I guess not! It looks really cute!

Posted by: Irina | Jun 15, 2006 6:01:32 PM


Posted by: David | Jun 15, 2006 6:06:26 PM

From what I understand, wood isn't used here because it doesn't work well with the climate - Israel is too dry for wood construction to last. Sorry... but you can always paint your concrete barn red with white trim, if it will make you feel better.

Posted by: toby | Jun 15, 2006 6:25:41 PM

Umm... Lisoosh... Not sure what EXACTLY popped into your head when you read "honey house," but I would like to assure you that our house DID come with a bedroom... LOL. =:-P

Posted by: zahava | Jun 15, 2006 6:54:43 PM

Zahava - Well, variety IS the spice of life they say.
That or cinnamon.

Posted by: lisoosh | Jun 15, 2006 7:02:01 PM

I too have small, medium and large plans for additions, improvements and renovations.
tho yurt and imported barns never crossed my mind...huh.

Posted by: lisa | Jun 15, 2006 7:43:02 PM

I can't remember where I read it, maybe Architectual Digest, but they had a fantastic layout of stories and photos of Rennovated Barns, something to check out, even if the reality of doing it in your dreams.

Posted by: jaime | Jun 15, 2006 8:07:51 PM

Go for yurt.

Posted by: Jack | Jun 15, 2006 9:15:18 PM

Hey, it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

In my more panicked moments, I have researched cheap ways to put a roof over our heads if we DO get, uh, expelled (expulsed?) from our settlement (this is how mechanical engineers deal with stress...). I rejected yurts and geodesic domes - their shape is impractical and you will melt/fry in them in our climate (there's your sauna!).

Try these links for your yurt and barn-building - they are both quite suitable to our climate (and in one case, to the type of limestone rock that we are living on).

1) Slip-Form Masonry:

An easy way to construct rock-faced concrete walls using fieldstone.



How a woman built her own home this way (amusingly written, too):

2) Papercrete and "Fidobe":

Concrete is mixed with waste paper pulp instead of gravel - the result is a lightweight, insulating material similar to "Itung" foamed concrete block.



Posted by: Ben-David | Jun 15, 2006 10:20:51 PM

Nice dreams Dave.....keep em coming maybe I'll write them down sometime....

Posted by: Jewish Blogmeister | Jun 15, 2006 10:25:56 PM

Please let me know when the sauna's done...

Posted by: Ben Chorin | Jun 15, 2006 11:39:22 PM

Hey, put a barn-made-into-a-house in the Galilee and you can quit your day job! Just imagine how many people would line up to stay overnight in that puppy. And not just us Ameri-nadian transplants.

Nice dreams :)

Posted by: Yael | Jun 16, 2006 3:57:30 AM

I love hearing about renovation dreams...I have dreams of my own, too... Enjoy your dreams! You never know, they may come to fruition one day! :-)

Posted by: Essie | Jun 16, 2006 4:45:06 AM

Suddenly I had all this traffic coming from your site and didn't know why! LOL

When I eventually defect from NYC and build my yurt (~T~ and I have some fancy floor plans drawn up), you'll have to come visit.

Posted by: jg | Jun 16, 2006 5:43:24 AM

OK, Scandinavia is COLD. In the summer, the water- like let's say the Baltic Sea- is freaking freezing, even when it's 85 degrees out. So you get hot in the sauna and then sprint into the ice water.

Israel is HOT. And there is no cold water to run and jump into.

So I say go for the yurt. Especially because your guests could come inside to use the facilities, which makes the yurt much more fun.

Posted by: Alice | Jun 16, 2006 4:08:58 PM

Dave wants his barn
Supplied each day.
He scrapes his punim
To get the hay.
* Burma Shave *

Posted by: Elisson | Jun 16, 2006 4:53:11 PM

David... 'Rural medicine'... is that like Northern Exposures rural? :-)

Jameel... Of course you and I would have to add the optional firing ports an the walls of the yurt. :-)

Lisoosh... Obviously I was afraid of that which is why I added the parenthetical explanation. :-)

PK... They can grow a lot of things in the dessert, but creating a miracle tree species that will grow very quickly yet have good lumber characteristics? Not setting the bar too high are you?

Val... To borrow a great quote from the Princess Bride: "You keep using that word [shvitz]. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Irina... These are made in the US... although the left coast of the US is not that far removed from where yurts traditionally are made... philosophically anyway.

David... Indoor plumbing? I;m a man... the world is my bathroom! [beats fists on chest].

Toby... It has to be treated (painted or stained) or it dries out rapidly. But barns are supposed to be dried out.

Lisoosh... You just named my favorite spice!

Lisa... I could so see a big barn out back of your place. Come to think of it, isn't your garage sort of a barn, or am I thinking of someone else?

Jaime... I have an Internet folder full of such clippings. If I ever win lotto I am going to be all over these plans. :-)

Jack... Did you check out the photos I linked to? How cool are these things???

Ben-David... Well there's a happy thought. Thanks for the links though. :-)

Jewish Blogmiester. Why would you do that? I already have. :-)

Ben Chorin... Count on it, naybah! :-)

Yael... You seem to have mistaken me for someone who likes to share my toys and play nicely with others. Uh, nope.

Essie... Yeah, dreams are one thing of which I have no lack. :-)

JG... Can't wait to see it.

Alice... It gets pretty cold around here in the late fall winter and early spring.

Elisson... Love it. By the way, did I ever tell you that when I was on my midlife crisis route 66 trip I actually found a whole case of Burma Shave (tubes) in a little town's Rex-all that was having a going out of business sale? I still use it (on my neck)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jun 16, 2006 6:28:55 PM

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