The Small Dome

Small dome in summer

We just closed up the “small dome” for winter. It doesn’t take too much work. We make sure the windows are all shut and locked, that the kitchen sink drain gets blown out, and that anti-freeze is poured into it as well as into the toilet. We sweep up a bit, wipe off the counter and make sure the little refrigerator is closed so no mice get into it. The circuit breakers are then turned off, the door is closed, and out we go.

The small dome was not part of our original building plan. In fact why or when we decided to build a dome for our main house I don’t recall.  I had originally fallen in love with the idea of an octagon house. How cool, I thought. I had seen a photo of one built on a beach, and it stuck in my mind as something that would be fun to build and to live in––crazy walls jutting out making odd-shaped rooms, and then trying to fit furniture into them. We talked about that among other ideas, but soon the octagon shape melted and oozed into the shape of a dome.

And a geodesic dome it would be.

“I want you to practice by building a small dome,” Mark told them. “It’ll give you an idea of how the parts go together, and it can also be a place to store your tools.”

Like building with Tinkertoys, only bigger

We purchased a kit from Natural Spaces Domes––all the struts and wall panels included. Two of our nephews and two of their friends, all builders, came from New York City to spend their summer building it. They slept in tents, put together a stone fire pit and cooked over the open fire. They worked without electricity except for a small generator. A porta-potty was brought in. A make-shift shower was installed All the comforts of home!

They bought the wood, built a base, and then began constructing the small dome. The frame looked like it was built with oversized Tinkertoys––and it certainly didn’t look like a dome. If I thought the octagon shape was unusual, this turned out to be an icosahedron, but with the bottom point cut off.  Although it was unfinished inside and out, it served perfectly as a tool shed and sometimes a place for them to sleep.

Years later, after the main house was built, and we were living out here, the small dome still remained unfinished. Wood was stored in it. Black snakes basked in the sunshine on the window sills. Eventually we cleaned it out and finished the outside. Slowly the inside took shape. The walls were paneled, the loft was built, a small kitchen area was put in––counter, sink, microwave, small refrigerator and eating utensils. The toilet was installed, complete with its own pump and septic tank. And there are no more black snakes!

A place for grandchildren

Each spring we go down to open up our small dome which sits all golden down in the meadow in front of the forest; and there are benches and picnic tables surrounding the original fire pit made by our nephews and their friends almost 20 years ago.

     The old work area is now the gathering place for the whole Moynahan clan for the 4th of July weekend.

Tents go up in the field and in the tent sites we made in the forest. We roast marshmallows and hotdogs in the fire pit. And who would have guessed so many years ago that this small dome would be filled with grandchildren, nieces and nephews, talking, laughing and sleeping in the loft and on the floor.

But now it is silent. It is closed up for the winter.

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I love that you got a blog. What a great idea! Most people can’t say that their grandparents have a blog, and that it’s interesting at THAT! This page is officially bookmarked in my Favorites toolbar.

Love you both! Can’t wait to read the next one! xoxoxo

Hi Moynahans!

Hope you’re handling the winter cosily!

Was out flying my R/C models yesterday morning, then lunch with my granddaughter, 11 yr old Eleni, to plan a woodwdworking project with her. She’s going to make a desk for her bedroom in the workshop here at 177 Alamos.

Love to you both,


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