Forward Operating Base – Sonoma

20180119_154542I’m back to the blog! The Loveandworktour has landed in Sonoma County. I’m creating a compound here  – my Forward Operating Base.

I spent the year between August of 2015 to August of 2016 touring the country, visiting friends, working on projects, directing and producing, and taking it easy. In the fall of 2016 I spent a hard month (with the help of a friend or two) uncovering a concrete slab on my friend Annie’s ranch–clearing away the long grass and remains of an old chicken house, at the north fence line. I bought a shipping container and a 31-foot travel trailer and parked them on two sides of the slab. We got me connected to water, electric, internet and cable. For most of 2017 I traveled and did theater. In the fall of 2017 I bought two military equipment-repair trailers and parked them on the slab. My plan was to turn them into a home–sort of Mad Max meets Frank Lloyd Wright. These trailers are perfect–fully insulated, able to withstand tremendous stress, resting on 8 enormous tires, and fully wired.  In an earthquake, I’ll only jiggle. In a flood, I’ll ride high and dry. But first I had to find an electrician to convert them from three-phase industrial to standard residential electric.

I found Geo. On Craig’s list. He’s an RV technician, with extensive knowledge in the electrical field. When he came to consult with me about the job, we ended up in a 2-hour conversation. He liked my audacity, the fact that I am willing to take risks, and the fact that I listened when he explained the conversion to me, and understood what he said. He offered me a reasonable rate. I told him I’d be in touch after I got more estimates. He called later to offer me a better rate. I liked his attitude, and we made a deal.  We’ve been working on the compound now since November. Geo knows how to build, in many mediums. And he loves the project. We take my drawings, make adjustments, and turn them into reality.

It’s fertile ground for a friendship, this kind of collaborative process. I love building – the smell of the wood, the jingle of screws in the pocket of my Dickie vest. This past Thursday afternoon it goes like this – Geo stands at ground level, his head and shoulders all I can see from my vantage point on the deck that we are assembling. I’m gapping my end of the pressure treated 2×6. He secures his end with his impact driver while I block the sun from his eyes with my body. As he moves into the shady area, I started putting screws in on my end of the board. I’ve gotten skillful with the impact driver. It’s how you hold your body, it’s a straight-on connection with the screw, it’s letting it bite into the wood a little bit before you bear down.  I like this kind of learning. And Geo is an excellent teacher. He teaches me how to build a deck the same way I teach an actor how to do a monologue. Offer praise, be patient, correct technique, assume the best. We are engaged in such a worthwhile enterprise. Each day there’s something tangible right there in front of my eyes. Tuesday the small deck and half the steps are complete, Wednesday, we pour concrete for the base of the steps and Thursday we complete steps and the larger deck. Friday we set the supports for the floor of the solarium.  Next week we’ll do that floor.  After we’re through working, we clean up the site, get a shower, eat dinner together, drink some wine and talk. It’s a great way to work.

Now I’m getting ready to host my good buddy Julia, arriving tomorrow to help me on the project for a week, just for fun. She’s a fine artist, a metal sculptor, and she’s going to make railings for me. I”m so lucky to have her, and Geo, on my team. I plan to post in this blog about this process until it’s all built. We anticipate that will be by end of August 2018, making this whole thing a two-year process.

I hope you’ll tune in to the FOB (Forward Operating Base) blog in a few days to see what is going on with Julia, and that you’ll check back regularly. I plan to keep blogging about this project, for several reasons. One – my friends back in NYC (and all over the country) are all getting vicarious pleasure out of my building project. Two – I’ve done some research and I think I am the only person in the country building a home out of military trailers, so it’s worth making an online record of this process. Three – this is such a magical project. It’s a production on a scale larger than any I have taken on before.

I hope you can come along for the ride.



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