In case you were wondering, building a house is exhausting. I mean serious, fall-asleep-before-your-head-hits-the-pillow exhausting. We’ve been at this house-building business for 3 years now and I am tired! I’m tired of climbing up on the roof, looking for misplaced tools, cobbing and re-cobbing, cooking on fires and unconventional stoves, traipsing to the outhouse, and brushing the dirt off the bottom of my feet before lying down in bed. I’m tired of the flies and the ants and living out of coolers. I’m just plain tired. This homesteading endeavor is not for the tender-hearted, nor is Oklahoma a fitting place for the tender-footed, with all its sand-burs and sun-baked red dirt.
This lifestyle requires endless creativity, endurance, patience, improvisation, muscle, big-picture thinking, and serious partner-to-partner communication. This last skill prompted my newest project that involves brains and thankfully, very little brawn. Every marriage or partnership has its share of ups and downs, arguments, disagreements, worries, and compromises. In our latest debate about the exact placement of vapor-barrier underlayment, I wondered, as I often do, about other couples in similar situations. Do other couples argue as much as, or more than we do? Do other couples yell? Have they put blood, sweat, and tears into their homesteads like we have? How many couples have given up? And, how many have strengthened their relationships throughout the project?
I decided to do a little research. A bit of my own dirt-building journalism. I created a survey with about 10 questions relating to couples, married or otherwise committed to each other, who have built or are currently building an unconventional home. I shared this survey with our close friends as well as on some natural and earth-building Facebook pages. I gave everyone a deadline of September 12th and myself a deadline of November 18th 2016. So this November, you’ll get to delve into what I have discovered about building within a 2-person relationship. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a link to the PDF for the survey. If you or someone you know would like to participate in this research, please answer the questions and return them to my website e-mail: email@example.com.
Now, onto the progress. Porch building has continued beautifully, extending out past the middle of the pantry. We take great pride in knowing that the walls are now covered, and thus protected, in that area. The cedar beams are beautiful in the sunshine, when they’re wet, during a sunset… okay, they’re just beautiful all the time. I love the look and feel of the porch so much! I have visions and dreams of cordwood or granite patio, hammocks, a hot tub, and a big outdoor kitchen residing under that veranda.
We finished up the concrete piers to allow for more upright porch beams. We have 20 total piers, all of which are decked with a nice variety of colors of granite fragments. We have all the holes drilled into those piers, and nearly all of them have their corresponding brackets drilled. We’ve taken a couple of trips into the woods to cut more logs. I try to remind myself that these heavy logs are not near as heavy or as large and awkward as the logs we used for the reciprocal frame roof last summer. But they’re still heavy. And their sap is just as sticky.
Because the landscape “rises” and the house gets increasingly smaller with that rise from west to east, the upright logs on the west are much taller than the logs on the back. This means that the tallest, most difficult part of the porch is behind us. That’s a relief. An even bigger relief is knowing that there are only 11 more piers that need uprights. Whew! I find that looking at the progress each month and from day to day is more helpful than creating to-do lists. When I get overwhelmed I like to remind myself that the worst is behind us. Look at how far we’ve come. Giving up is not an option.
It also helps to have friends visit and awe at the work we’ve done. One of my oldest best friends and her family did just that on my birthday. The atmosphere was strangely more like October than August and made for great showing-off-the-house weather. We wandered around the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, hiked, saw some buffalo and an incredible lizard, and swam in Medicine Creek, where I was bitten on the bum by a small fish.
We also had a splendid poetry teatime picnic, visited the Holy City and looked out over Lawton and big expanses of plains from the top of Mount Scott. Having friends visit is quite rejuvenating.
You know what else is rejuvenating? Dropping everything entirely and simply leaving the state for 6 days. We had a wedding to attend in the boring old mountains of Colorado. We had to stay at a classy frat-house outside of Steamboat Springs, overlooking a gorgeous lake and mountain landscape. Okay, it was probably the most beautiful wedding I’d ever attended. During our stay there, I practiced yoga every morning with a slightly older couple and ate healthy, local, and home-cooked foods prepared by wonderful new friends we had the pleasure of meeting. We swam in the heated outdoor pool, played Bocci Ball, and relaxed in the hot tub. Oh yeah, and it was a great dance party too. We got so many compliments on our well-behaved boys. The ceremony was beautiful, complete with howling dogs and cannabis-themed outfits. This is Colorado, remember? I simply left all our stresses behind and thought very little about the work we would return too.
When we did return, we took note of the items of high priority with a fresh perspective, and eased back into porch progress.
Also this month, Aaron’s sister gave birth to her first child, giving me an excellent opportunity to practice my lactation consultant skills. I was there just minutes after the delivery and I was able to help her with her latch for that first initial feeding, and then later, I showed her the football hold, which I believe is her go-to position now. I am so ready to start a consultation business, but I don’t want to until we have a working shower. I wouldn’t want to head to a stressed out mama’s home smelling like gasoline and fresh cut cedar. Soon enough.
Books of the month: The big kid is working his way through the Ranger’s Apprentice book 4: The Battle for Skandia. Hubby read Ready Player One in 3 days and finished Herman Wouk’s A Hole in Texas. I read a few more chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird and had to set it aside. I was called to Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali. I also finished Julie Bogart’s The Writer’s Jungle, finally. I had an evening alone and devoured it, making notes in the margins for homeschool ideas. For the little guy, a certain library book has been read over 23 times. Emily’s House by Niko Scharer has a simple and whimsical story line and very cute illustrations. Its begs to be read aloud with varying voice inflections so it’s one of those that I can stand reading over and over again. And even though it’s not a book, but probably could be, Stranger Things has been on our radar lately. Actually it came and went rather quickly. We watched 3 episodes a night so we finished the series in less than a week. With that show and Ready Player One, we’ve had our fill of 80’s references.
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