And…she’s up!

I am writing this from the living room in our city house. This room is about the same size as our new cabin that we BUILT last week!  Perriee and I took the week off of work to get as much done as possible and let me tell you, we needed every day of it to get the frame up and cover it with a roof.  As it stands, it might already be drier than the tipi and the end walls aren’t even up yet.

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My dad, step-mom, brothers, sister, and brother’s girlfriend came in on Saturday (from Cleveland)  to kick everything off. My brother, Carm, and his girlfriend, Rachel, helped us with some amazing math skills to figure out how to make these beautiful angle cuts on the miter saw with the wood that goes on the end walls.  My sister, Crystal, picked up lunch on her way in and took three, hour long trips to Lowes to make sure that we had the correct fittings for our hose that connected to our nail gun and compressor (just when we thought we had all the pieces, we discovered that the compressor hose we bought months ago did not come with any fittings on it- who woulda thunk?).  

We got the end walls and the ridge beam up on Sunday with the help of Matt and my family.  My brother Mark helped us get up 10 of the 30 rafters before he headed back to the city.  Perriee and I worked on the rest of the rafters, including floating “cat ladders” on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, we put up the nailer boards for the roof and two roofing panels. Brother Mark came back Thursday to bring it home with putting up the rest of the roof and a temporary ridge cap.  It was then that you could see how happy that cabin was to be in her place. That spot beckoned for her. She is settled in there like she has been there forever and we can’t wait to spend the rest of our forever with her.

Friday, Perriee and I decided our bodies needed a couple of days rest, so we tossed up a bit of Tyvek wrap on the back wall and organized everything before we left for the week.  I must not neglect to mention one more pearl…that we moved one of our homemade sawdust toilets into the cabin before we left. Not only did we build the shell of our home, but we also started design on our bathroom.  It is glorious. No more long, muddy treks to either the house or the “Number 2 Room”. From now, until we start sleeping in the there with the potty, there will be only short muddy treks to the cabin. It is even complete with a hand washing station, thanks to Ms. Gwen, Perriee’s mom, who gifted us a water cooler to keep out at the farm a while back.

Before we go back, we will have another consultation with neighbor Mark to talk about how to fix the ridge cap and get some guidance about putting up some of the plywood on the exterior walls. We may need to run some extra wood around the eave ends to give the plywood a place to latch on to.   It seems we may be getting a ladder soon, one long enough to get back up to the top of the roof. We rented ladders for the week, which were picked up on Friday, so we will let our savings recoup a bit before we get one.

Homework:

Need to work on a relationship?  Build a cabin together! Ok, maybe not a cabin, but work on something as a team that neither of you know how to do already.  Change a light fixture, put up some drywall, build a cat house, tile a floor. It might not be cheaper than therapy, but you will get to reap both the benefits of the project as well as grow stronger together in the process.  Perriee and I already have a solid relationship, but i realized this week, that every project we embark on together is like a team building exercise. It is almost comical to think about, but it is true! I am going to miss her so much next week when we go back to our regular jobs.  This week doused a load of fuel on our fire to move towards our goal of being together full time. We had roller coasters of emotions this week, but we were able to problem solve amidst all of our frustrations, and when we were packing up yesterday, it was apparent that not only did we build a strong cabin, but we made our marriage stronger as well.

Soggy and Successful Saturday!

Cabin Corner

Water in the hole!
Water in the hole!

It is January and it should be cold.  It has not been cold and we knew we needed to take advantage of the weather to get the piers for the a-frame poured before it turned.  Even though it was warm, it has rained a lot and there was a significant amount of water in those holes, which if frozen, would prevent us from putting concrete into them until a thaw.

 

The morning Perriee and I were getting ready to go to pour the piers, before we left the city house, I declared that I did not think we would be able to complete it.  There was still so much prep work to complete and I was sure we were going to run out of time. We had to dip the water out of the holes, re-cut the new concrete tubes, cut the wire to fit into the holes and get the concrete bags to the site- all before one drop of concrete went into a hole.  

I could not have been more wrong.  My brother met us there in the morning and we got rolling.  I love it when he comes out for so many reasons, but a big one is because when he says he is coming in the morning, it forces us to get up and moving in order to be ready when he is.  When you have help, you don’t make them wait! By the time he left the cabin site that evening, we had poured 6 of the 9 piers. Perriee hauled over 2000 pounds of concrete down to our spot between the two days, 1600 at least on the one day.  Elaine popped in to haul a couple of loads of concrete and gravel with her during the day and I was able to tag team a couple of trips, but I honestly don’t know how she did it. The mud was thick, the path was long, and the cart had two wheels.  The bags were 80 pounds a piece. She is amazing.

 

While Perriee moved the concrete and gravel, my brother worked the piers.  We had to first mix concrete in the holes where there was still some remaining water.  We carefully dumped the dry mix into the holes and churned it like butter with a piece of wood.  After the holes were filled, we leveled the tube on top of it, packed gravel around the base, and filled the tubes with mixed concrete after fitting the rebar and wire inside of them. He lifted and shoveled and mixed and scooped and leveled all of the heavy stuff.   By the time we finished our last pier for the night we were exhausted. Perriee and I made some delicious wraps in the tipi and went to bed. It was a solid 12 hour day and despite our fatigue, we were pretty darn proud of ourselves.

 

The next morning, Perriee and I finished the last two piers.  To be efficient, we hauled the rest of the concrete bags down before we started and ended up with three left over. We then had the privilege of hauling  them back up the hill.  We got our money back for those bags that very day. If I know anything about concrete, it is how they get heavier when they soak up a bunch of moisture from sitting around doing nothing.  I was not going to risk that. It was evening before we we made it home to the city, but again, we were tired yet accomplished. It was exactly one of those weekends where we felt we were living life to the fullest.  

So tired!
We poured the 7th pier by Biolite!

Next steps?

The next steps will be to cut the 6 x 6 posts which will serve as the connecting points for the beams and attach the 2 x 8’s to them.   I feel good about it and am looking forward to putting the next supply order together.  We pretty much have enough to attach the 2 x 8’s except for the hardware needed to attach them.  The next order is going to be composed of the sub-floor materials.  

 

Thank you brother!  Thank you so very much for rocking out this foundation project with us. We.  Did. It. Concrete. Bags. Are. Heavy.

Homework

Ride the wave of victory.  I want to hang on to this moment for as long as possible.  It will be a couple of weeks until we get back out there to work on the next steps.  In the meantime we will bask in our win and you should bask in your wins too!  

Tipi entryway
We threw down some gravel and mulch to help with the doorway. She sure is looking green these days!

Giving Thanks, Cliche, Cliche…

Thanksgiving is here again.  I am grateful.

Here is my list:

I am thankful for my wife. She is patient and kind.  You know, like that Bible verse thingy that everyone quotes at their wedding.  I should go on, but I will just tell her instead.M and P

I am grateful for my family.  Go and say what you will of yours (I hope you think yours is the best too), but, I am convinced that all of my siblings (in-laws included) are the best of any.  We have some pretty darn great friends too. You know who you are. Thank you all!

Our pets are amazing.  We have two beautiful kitties and four beautiful ducks.  Shoot, I am even still thankful for all of the pets who have passed.  Each one was so very special in their own way.

Every single day our pets (or, friends whose language we have yet to master, if you will) are clearly so happy to have us home.  Think about it. Every person you have ever known in your life has not been beside themselves with joy EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU COME HOME.  Like jumping for joy happy. Not just, “Yay, they are here.” More like, “Holy hell!!! You came back AGAIN! Yay!” Never once have I picked up the, “Eh, you didn’t have to come home so soon” , vibe.

I feel those loving sentiments from the cats towards both of us.  They may not greet us like a dog, every time we come home, by panting by the front door with a wagging tail, but they show an affection that is just full of love.  Sometimes it is in the form of a bread knead, or maybe just a kitty by your side throughout the night. The ducks are the same. They shriek for joy every time we walk outside. If they are out towards the back of the yard, they will come running.  I know, it is probably just for food, but let me have this moment.

 

While we are on this topic, let’s think of some reactions that we never get from our pets, with few exceptions, of course.   

Annoyance.  Anger.  Fear.  Hate.  Aggression.  Deceit.  Disappointment.

 

I am not suggesting that we must eliminate these feelings towards one another, as humans (although, we should probably work towards that, even if we never get there).  What I am implying is, that we give our pets a little more credit for being so perfect and pure. That is no small feat for us to do, but they do it with grace and ease.  I digress…

I am thankful that I can spell grateful. That came later in life than I would like to admit, but, there you go.  We all can’t know everything at once. I just happened to need to know how to make homemade meatballs and sauce before knowing how to spell that word.  #worthit

It is hard for me to admit being thankful for material things, but thank goodness for this amazing house and for our amazing tipi.  To make it worth it, we try to take care of our homes so that they last longer to reduce the need for more “things”.

Homework

Make sure to express your thanks everyday.  Thank your people and thank your pets. Thank the ones who are closest to you.  No one could make it through this world alone. Appreciate everyone who helps to nudge you along, every little step of the way.  Happy relaxing and safe travels!

June and I
June and I, post foot bath. We are still working on our cuddle stance.