SunRay Kelley.jpg
SunRay Kelley
Engaging in the "real world" isn't always all its cracked up to be. There are hassles like mortgages, and nine-to-five jobs, and


Today in Awesome: Fantastic NW DIY Hippie Builder SunRay Kelley Featured in NYT

SunRay Kelley.jpg
SunRay Kelley
Engaging in the "real world" isn't always all its cracked up to be. There are hassles like mortgages, and nine-to-five jobs, and shoes -- just to name a few.

*See Also: Pop Quiz: Hipster or Hippie?

Fantastical Northwest hippie and DIY builder SunRay Kelley knows this all too well. And, thanks to a recent fascinating piece by the New York Times, now we all have a reminder that fitting into normal society isn't the only way to roll.

Don't beat yourself up too bad if you've never heard of Kelley; dude spends most of his time on a fairy-tale style compound in the foothills of the Cascade Range, where he's constructed "7 houses, 10 ponds, a hermit's hut, a 17-foot-tall maple-wood Jesus and a yoga studio whose sculptured pink doorway resembles (with frank anatomical accuracy) the female genitalia," according to the NYT.

Soon, however, you may hear more about Kelley. As the NYT notes, his DIY building exploits are scheduled to be featured on an episode of "Home Strange Home," on HGTV in early December. And that's not counting the inevitable status bump Kelley is bound to receive from a paper the stature of the NYT shining a light on the "perhaps 50-odd chimerical structures across the continent, from freaky folk palaces to Smurf huts" he's built during his 60 years.

From the New York Times:

A recent Saturday morning found Mr. Kelley rambling in the garden while smoking an herbal palliative the size of a cigar. He self-medicates in this fashion at certain times of the day, like when he is awake and doesn't have food in his mouth.

Over the years, he has fallen off a couple of roofs, breaking an ankle and both feet. His hip is seriously not right. More mysteriously, he has acquired a stigma on his forehead, a wound that weeps at random during the day.

In the spring, Mr. Kelley recounted, he was standing on top of a ladder, trimming a few jagged cedar boards on the roof of his outdoor shop. Then his chain saw caught on the rubber roof membrane, and, "Chu-chu-chu! It smacked me in the head really good," he said.

His right nostril opened up like a tent flap. "Not the most pleasant experience," he continued. He rubbed a knot of the leaking tissue on his brow. "It changed the geography of this area quite a bit."

Over a lifetime, Mr. Kelley has transformed the landscape of his nine-acre spread. And the landscape, invariably, has transformed him. In the 1920s, his grandfather established a homestead on a square mile of timbered woodland here at the base of Cultus Mountain and opened a cedar-shake mill. His father ran a few dozen head of cattle on a small part of the land. Neither vocation agreed with Mr. Kelley.

"The planet's a forest, it's a garden," he said. "I didn't like building fences or chasing cattle. You don't have to chase these" -- and he reached up and snagged an apple from one of the 200 trees he grafted himself.

The winter damp has bred decades of moss on the contorted, almost creatural limbs. Snow White's stepmother could hardly have grown a more bewitching tree. But then, Mr. Kelley has a fairy-tale manner himself, with his stocky build, white dreadlocks and fertile beard.

His partner of eight years, Bonnie Howard, a teacher and builder, has managed to trim this mane only once. "When we went to build in Costa Rica," she recalled, "his stogies were being put out by his own sweat."

Slip off your shoes, light your own stogie, and read the full article here.

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