Welcome to Painted Rock!


welcome to Painted Rock
Who am I and
what am I up to?

Sharing experiences
on my "island"

When a mower is
not just a mower

What inspires me
Connecting with
others for better understanding

who am I and what am I up to?

other projects

Cistern revival
Passive Solar Awnings
"First Purge"



hand pump sketch

To avoid using electricity,
I built a hand-pump from
PVC tubing and sump
pump check valves.





cistern replacement cap sketches


unused cistern = water harvesting
I’ve mowed by and stored things on an old cistern not ten feet from my garage. Several years ago I said to myself, "I should re-route the water from my garage gutters into that cistern and use it for my garden!" Better late than never.

I designed a pergola as the support for the new plumbing which routed the rainwater from my garage gutters, through a tube, across the path between the gacistern projectrage and the cistern, and down through a new cap into a 5 ft X 10 ft X 7 ft concrete tank. It had a little Japanese and Arts & Crafts Movement flare in the design. I left it airy so sunlight can still hit my flowers and the path below.

I'd researched cisterns and discovered that any water that had been standing in it could be quite toxic. There could be lots of scary bacteria and parasites, especially if any critters had found their way in and died. I did indeed have standing water — 5 feet deep. "Great!" I thought. I've lived here 12 years and not even lifted the lid to the thing. Who knows what's inside and what condition it's in.

That didn't stop me. I used an old sump pump that my brother revived and emptied all but the bottom 2 or 3 inches out. I took an empty gallon milk jug, poked with holes in the bottom, filled with about a dozen chlorine tablets (which I use for my septic system) and dropped it down a line to sit in the remaining water for a day. I swished it around a few times periodically, then removed it. The water was going to my vegetable gardens, I was sure it was fine now.

All it needed was fresh rain water to fill again.

footings illustration pergola corner
Digging, framing, and gravel prep
for the concrete post footings.

Looking up at the junction
of a post and cross-beams.

Wouldn't you know it, I finished building and we went 6 weeks without rain. The skies have opened once again and we're caught up on rainfall. There have been a few gliches in the system but some silicone sealer and a couple of screws fixed them. It took a good rain to see the problems. I've also discovered that the 2 downspouts are not enough for the total amount of rainfall coming off my steep pitched roof. I'll put a couple more at the opposite ends of the garage and let them fill rain barrels. The flower beds would love that!

pergola mounting

cistern/pergola plumbing

I bought some wooden skids from a paper company. I've cut them apart to use the flat pieces for a walkway across the now muddy path under the pergola. The wood is high quality and will look nice stained/sealed. The final step will be to stain the pergola and seal the outer concrete of the cistern. Maybe I'll add some landscaping pebble to finish off the look.

We had three good days of rain since I started this project and the cistern is already full again. I now have to think about putting in an overflow tube.

finished pergola and cistern


Check out other projects like my Passive Solar Awning page. I'm excited about that one!


starting a conversation
begins with a box of thoughts...

Powertools with purpose
With a new mission and a means
to do it, I tackle some projects...

Poeple I've met
There are those who've traveled
a similar path and have a lot to share...

connecting with others
A designer needs to understand their audience.

In order to to this, I created a survey and polled my community for friends, colleagues, and family. Through a series of questions I got a bette idea of where many folks position themselves regarding environmental concerns and degree of engagement in sustainbility efforts.

read more

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