Reflections on February, 2017

February 2017

Wow, talk about a short winter.  I think we’ve had over 5 days of t-shirt weather and fewer than that number of freezing nights.  I’ve noticed that my mood fluctuates according to the weather.  On the days when it has felt like spring and even summer, I am full of energy and exuberant about the progress on the house.  On the cold, overcast windy days, I am irritable and drawn to the comfort of the bed and the couch.  Julius has been marking the days on the calendar, patiently waiting for the new baby.

When I’m not lazing about in my last stretch of pregnancy, we are steadily kicking butt on the porch and I am very pleased to announce that it is finally done!  All the decking is in place, after much diligent work-as-a-team family motivation.  In a way, we’re like a used pallet family assembly line; I take the pallets apart, our 10 year old removes all their nails and sorts the boards by size, shape and quality, and Aaron cuts and attaches them to the roof.  Oh, and the 2 year old “builds stuff” out of the scrap pieces.  Boy am I glad to be done with those pallets.

Super-human pregnancy strength

Super-human pregnancy strength

I actually broke our good pry bar with my super-human pregnant mom strength.  I felt gratified in resting that day while Aaron went to the hardware store to fetch another one.

Speaking of the hardware store, we are well-known there, not that that is something to write home about.  There are plenty of builders and contractors who frequent the local hardware store and develop friendly relationships with the employees.  What is cool, I found, is that they keep records of all our purchases, so when it comes time to put all the expenditures together, we can ask them to print up a list of all the items we’ve bought.  Just for curiosity’s sake, I asked if they could find out how many boxes of screws we’ve purchased in the last year.  Since last February, we’ve forked over $16.99 for each of 12 boxes of screws.  Most of those went into the decking on the roof.  I just think it’s cool that we have that kind of information at our fingertips.  It’s the organizational nerd in me.

Face boards and metal trim

Fascia boards and metal trim

After we got all the decking done, the big kid and I took turns helping Aaron to hold the fascia boards on the roof edges.  He carefully made each one slope down toward the back of the house as part of the water catchment system.  It is a pretty genius approach actually.  Using some left over 1 inch black poly pipe, we laid out several “invisible gutters” that will help direct rain water from the entire roof to the back, where it will fall down into this expertly devised DIY gutter catch.

Poly-pipe invisible gutters and metal trim

Poly-pipe invisible gutters and metal trim

Now here’s the big change of plans we’ve come up with.  We’re going to try using spray-foam insulation as our actual roof.  A 1 inch layer provides an R value of 6-7, but it also creates a waterproof rigid layer that seals up the upper envelope of our home.  After several inches of spray foam are applied, we will then coat the roof with a white elastomeric roof coating, which will be painted on.  While the spray foam is expensive, it can be applied as needed, so when we can afford more bottles, we’ll keep adding layers.  It is also supposed to be environmentally benign, last 20-30 years, and be rigid enough to walk on.  If we get giant hail that can actually puncture this strong stuff, it is easily repairable.  You fill in holes or gaps with more foam, sand it to the right surface height, and repaint.

As of this last day of February, we have enough spray foam to cover 600 feet of roof, but we’re going to only apply a half inch layer over 1200 feet, to give us a nice waterproofing on our most lived in room.  The only thing holding us up is that it has to be an almost entirely wind free day.  There are two bottles that contain a chemical and in order to create the ideal mixture, they need to be in the temperature range of about 70-90F so we have to keep them warm inside.  We are both really excited to see how well the stuff sticks, how it applies, and how it will change the sound of the rain falling on the roof, which is currently quite a din.

We completely reorganized our thoughts on how we would approach the master bedroom and bathroom layout.  We did have the bathroom taking up one quarter of the round room and consuming 2 windows.  It felt small and cramped.  Then we decided to lay it out with the bathroom along the back (north) wall of the room and have the bedroom in the front area.  We would build a stick frame wall with a totally encompassing bookshelf on the south side of the wall.  One of the awkward corners will become a closet, the other, a doorway.  Here’s what we’ve come up with:

Master bedroom and bathroom plans

Master bedroom and bathroom plans

And now for our monthly literary update:

Julius (10): Our avid little reader read 2 more books in the Warriors Series by Erin Hunter: The Sun Trail and Thunder Rising, and finished Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series with Fire.  We also celebrated Darwin’s birthday this month and so his assigned reading was The Giants of Science: Charles Darwin by Kathleen Krull.  There is a cornucopia of literature for kids about Darwin so it was hard to choose one novel, but this one was a hit.

Aaron: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, which he really wants me to read, but the more he describes it, the less interested I am.

Mason (2): The library find that we’ve really enjoyed this month is Pug, Slug, and Doug the Thug by Carol Saller with beautiful illustrations by Vicki Jo Redenbaugh.

I needed a skosh more pre-civil war slavery fiction I suppose because I picked up a book for its pretty cover at the library.  The Known World by Edward P. Jones was the longest book I have read and man, it was a slog to get through.  Way too many characters and jumping back and forth in time.  Sometimes I just can’t stand to abandon a book.  Hopefully I’ll have a more satisfying title to share next month.

And, we all read Julius’ other assigned reading for his history of India study, Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan.  This was an excellent choice for a study of India’s culture.  I highly recommend this one for a historical fiction novel for a mature third grader all the way up to 8th grade.

Looking ahead, we’re planning another home-birth with our favorite midwife.  I will surely write up another piece on this experience to share with you all.  Accordingly, we probably won’t get much done on the house.  If you’re into sending positive vibrations, I’ll gladly accept them for strength and willpower to bring this baby into the world.  “Her” due date is around March 20th.  A spring equinox baby would be just fine with me.

Update: Just after writing this blog, Aaron decided the wind had died down enough to apply some foam to the roof!

Spray-foam insulation

Spray-foam insulation

It turns out that the stuff has a steep learning curve for consistent depth of application.  It isn’t nearly as rigid as we imagined.  I think it would be after several applications, but the spring could bring hail, which is worrisome.  I think we covered about 20% of the east room with this first application, so we’re going to need A LOT more.

Happy homesteading!



1 comment to Reflections on February, 2017

  • Thanks for the update! LOVE the new floorplan and think it will create much nicer living space. You guys could always create a solar magnifier for the ceiling in the bathroom to let more light in. We’re thinking about doing that in our bathroom. Looking into Homeless Bird now.

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