Hustle and flow

It’s been a rough bunch of weeks for my body. It’s August in Texas, so breathing doesn’t exactly come easy to my lungs. COPD is a total motherbitch sometimes. I’ve been struggling with fatigue in a way that I haven’t felt since the antidepressants really started working. My addict brain says “get the doc to increase the dosage”; the 12 steps tell me to hold off until the weather cools back down a bit and see how I’m feeling then. It’s hard, trying to wait; I hate feeling this old, sore, tired, and generally crappy.

It’s our busy season at the produce stand, so work is 10 to 11 hours of non-stop hustle. It’s basically outdoors, and it’s a lot of lifting and toting. It can be brutal in this heat and humidity. 

We’re building a house, so we’ve been non-stop hustle trying to get the place to an air & water tight point so we can slow down a bit. I’m sick of watching Sunshine kill himself to pay for things, and would like to see him rest & relax a bit.

The fall garden is off to a rollicking good start, but I still haven’t planted the squash and beans. Mr B has promised to help me tomorrow morning,  and he’s usually good at figuring out ways to do gardening that aren’t as punishing to our old-ass bodies. Hopefully,  he can prevent the planting from being an entire day of non-stop hustle. 

My trip to Georgia for my sister’s wedding didn’t help matters any. I spent entirely too long in my truck on both parts of the round-trip drive. I actually slept til 10 one morning; my mom was so alarmed she came in and woke me up to make sure I hadn’t died in my sleep. I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with my family, and am glad Sunshine will be with me to share the driving.

Today, I’m off to help the electrical engineer pre-wire our house; another day of non-stop hustle. We really need to save on labor costs whenever possible, so tag-I’m-it.  All I know to do is go with the flow and hope the weather patterns changes soon so I can maybe feel better.

Reclaimed wood (and being the change I wish to see in the world)

I mentioned yesterday that Sunshine wanted reclaimed wood walls instead of sheet rock, and that I chose not to fight that battle because I’m saving my arsenal for the kitchen cabinetry battle. I don’t mind letting him win that one since he is giving me a lot of control over the way the boards are arranged on all the surfaces that are getting them. I also like that reclaimed wood is reducing waste and all that hippy-dippy-trippy crunchy stuff, because it’s important to me and I have to be the change in wish to see in the world.

Before I get into pictures of the wood and such, let me give you the back story on the reclaimed wood. Sunshine searched craigslist for reclaimed wood, and came across The Tired Lumber Company just north of Dallas, offering reclaimed pallet wood for sale. He set up an appointment with them and took off without me to go get some wood. When he got back, he told me a story that made me wish I had ridden along.

The Tired Lumber Company is two young, minority teen-age boys who’s dad wanted them to learn the value of money and work and all those important life lessons.

Side note: I mention that the boys were minority because supporting woman & minority owned businesses is one of those things I really like to do. These are populations that have been disadvantaged for centuries, and the only way it stops being that way is if people start to step up and seek out these businesses and support them; so I have to be the change I wish to see in the world.

Apparently, the ad hadn’t been on Craigslist for long, because Sunshine said that he was their first sale. He cleaned them out. Sunshine bought every single board these two kids had reclaimed from palettes their father brought home from work.

When he got home with this wood, I was delighted to see that some of it had interesting markings on it. I was a bit disappointed that much of the wood was really new looking. Sunshine donated some wood stain that was left over from the window framing project and took me to the local hardware store for some supplies. We picked up 2 gallons of goof paint (white and light blue) and a can of stain so we could add some variety to these boards. We also grabbed a few random objects from the barn to use to distress some boards and give them a bit of character. The carpenter got into the spirit of things and made me a special tool to distress the boards.

It was really just a stick with a bunch of little metal objects attached that I used to beat some dings and dents into the boards. Then the carpenter got even more into it, and he started cutting remnants of cedar from the window frame project so they’d be a thickness that worked with the thickness of the palette boards. Then the carpenter went batshit crazy and drove to his house and loaded up a trailer with old fence panels and baseboards and such he had in a pile after he made some repairs to his home.
Sunshine and I stained and painted boards for several hours. Not all of the boards got painted or stained. Some were delightfully weathered already, and some showed several years of paint colors from the carpenter’s house. Some boards got both paint and stain to give them a cerused effect, which is a technique that uses paint to highlight the grain in the wood and then stains the wood the desired color.

Mr B got into the spirit of things, too. He broke out his torch and burned some of the boards.

I wasn’t around when he did that, so I gave him creative freedom. I was intending to have the boards feel more “collected”, and giving up control over Sunshine’s staining and Mr B”s burning was a way to achieve that feeling.

We’ve already put some of these boards to use. The bedroom will have a sliding barn style door leading into the bathroom, and the carpenter already has the door mostly assembled!

Sunshine and I will be putting the vast majority of these boards in the bathroom, on the outside of the bathroom wall in the living room, and on the bedroom side of the wall the sliding door goes on. We are also going to be using these boards on the living room side of my kitchen island. By doing it ourselves, we save the carpenter from having to deal with me and we save some money too. The money we save by doing the walls ourselves can be spent letting the carpenter do more specialty stuff, like building me a couple of spice cabinets to inset in the kitchen walls on either side of my stove.

We’re now getting into the fun parts of building a house. While I am absolutely the girl who thinks the hidden stuff is the sexy part, I do still like the process of making this house my very own with all of the lipstick and mascara stuff. And yes, I think it’s sexy to talk about things like structure and proper plumbing and safe electrical systems. Having a house fall apart because it was poorly built is not sexy; there’s definitely an appeal to having a solidly built home that protects me when I’m inside it.

We’re also about to slow down the progress a bit, so Sunshine doesn’t have to work so hard. I’m hoping we can find a refrigerator and and dishwasher at the ReStore or at the used appliance shop near us. It will save us some money while helping the planet, and that’s definitely a win-win.

Weekly progress report: choosing my battles

Lots of stuff going on around here this past week, and I’ve struggled to keep up. It’s that time of year when the heat makes even the healthiest of people feel lethargic, and I am definitely not the healthiest of people. I’m on the couch today, fighting off my second nap of the afternoon, because laundry (which never ever seems to be completely done).

My corn has reached the required height for us to go plant the remaining sisters for our fall crops. I do not have the energy to do that shit today, not in this heat. Maybe one morning this coming week I’ll be up to it.

Sunshine and I had a small battle of wills over the interior walls of our little house. I wanted sheet rock so I could paint it purple. He wanted reclaimed wood because he hates sheet rock. I came to the conclusion that I have to choose my battles, and this was not the one I was choosing. He also agreed to let me paint the outer walls of the storm shelter closet any color(s) my little heart desired to make up for not getting sheet rock walls to paint. I don’t think it was a very big concession to wring from him since he was going to have to do an adobe type treatment on those walls and now he gets out of doing that work.

Side note: tomorrow, we’ll talk more about the reclaimed wood. It truly deserves its own post, as everybody seemed to get into the spirit of it AND some of the wood has an awesome back story.

Today we picked up our electrical engineer and trekked over to the Home Depot to buy all of the supplies to wire the house. I didn’t get to choose any sexy stuff today, this was mostly about getting the stuff that stays unseen inside the walls and ceiling, like conduit and wire and breaker boxes and such. We did get a fart fan while we were out, and the nice employee who helped us find everything we needed was rather amused at how much enjoyment I got out of saying “fart fan”. 

Side note: Let’s face it, my inner twelve year old boy just refuses to grow up and farts are downright funny as hell.

The electrical engineer did cause me to change my choice for lighting inside the safe room closet. I wasn’t happy about giving up my sexy track lights I had chosen for that room, but I couldn’t argue with his logic about how low the ceiling is in there. I hate it when people come at me with irrefutable logic, because I like logic and don’t argue with it much (which sucks when it’s as emotional as the fucking ceiling fans are for me). I had to choose a very unsexy ceiling-hugging strip light to go in there so we don’t give ourselves concussions trying to get dressed. I also had to change my choice of outlets and switch plates, because the ones I wanted were really spendy. I wanted the brushed nickel finish but they were three times the price of the white or ivory ones. White it is, I guess.

Side note: Sunshine said we could always change the outlets and switch plates and stuff to the sexier ones in the future, and I really do have to choose my battles. He’s already distressed at how many light fixtures I want for the kitchen. Speaking of kitchen, the cabinets are coming up in the future, and there will be some custom (or semi-custom) cabinets involved because I refuse to have any upper cabinets and I refuse to have a microwave on a countertop. The kitchen cabinets are the battle I’m choosing, so I’m trying to earn myself some goodwill in advance of that declaration of war.

I did almost experience a total meltdown in the recessed lighting section. I want LED lighting throughout, which wasn’t a problem. The problem came from the limited amount of choices in wavelength. I don’t want warm lighting, and I don’t want soft lighting. I’m going with a lot of cool colors throughout my house and yellow tinted lights would just be gross on it. Sunshine actually understood why I was upset because he has the soul of an artist and knows about color theory. The employee who helped us did help me find some lights in the “daylight” wavelength, which was about as good as I was going to get without getting into fancy color-changing LED lighting and shit.

Side note: another one of those “choose your battles” situations. I’m absolutely determined that there will be no microwave on my countertop and no upper cabinets to house a microwave, and that’s the battle I have chosen. I’m just glad I didn’t have to put forth any effort to convince Sunshine that the outlets with USB ports built into them were a good investment; he was so excited to see that such a thing existed that he instantly agreed to not one but TWO of them.

I have a meeting tomorrow morning with the electrical engineer and the carpenter to walk through and mark the locations for outlets, fixtures,  switches, ceiling fans, and etcetera. Once I do this walk-through tomorrow, things are going to start happening and any changes get expensive. I’ve already been nicknamed “change order”, for fuck’s sake; but only because people started making decisions while I was out of town.

Once the electrical is done, the roof goes on. Once the roof goes on, the fireplace gets built. After that, things will probably grind to a halt for a while so that Sunshine can quit working himself to death to pay for things. The little house does me no good if I don’t have Sunshine in it with me, and having Sunshine in it is another battle I’m choosing.

the bigger picture

I got a request for pictures of the whole house in progress, so here they are. The exterior walls are almost done; they just need to finish the complex webs of concrete posts and beams inside the foam blocks (that’s a lot of concrete mixing, toting, lifting, and pouring with which I want no personal involvement).


It’s kind of starting to look like something. Once they finish that concrete poured, the electrical cables will get run and then we can put a roof on. Once the roof goes on, Sunshine builds the fireplace, and after that we can put pockets in the exterior doors and start drying out the inside of the house to get it ready for finishing. Then I get to do the fun stuff, the lipstick and mascara, the tile and paint and fixtures. I’m just ready to have a real kitchen again.

Final note: that’s Biff you see in the pics. Biff has a new nickname, bestowed upon him by the Kitchen Magician. Biff is now known as Goldilocks. It’s sticking, whether he likes it or not.

How did I get here?

Have you ever watched those HGTV and/or DIY shows where a couple builds or remodels a house? I’m not talking about any one show in particular; because ultimately they’re interchangeable.  Boy meets girl; they plan a house; she (or he, depending on which one is the bigger asshole control freak) starts nitpicking and changing things, causing change orders, overages, and delays.

While often entertaining to watch, those nitpickers are a nightmare for the general contractor and all the subcontractors/skilled tradespersons. Sunshine has dealt with many of those nitpickers in his career as a Mason, and he’s figured out the best way to deal with the nitpicking change order junkies is to repeatedly demonstrate that there are consequences to all the changes and nitpicking: every time the nitpickers come at him with a change or addition, a change order form gets filled out and a 25% deposit is required on the spot. Generally, it works.

Side note: sunshine HATES those HGTV and DIY shows. He says they’ve spoiled homeowners  to the point where they expect their contractor/tradesperson to hold their hand, present them with a set number of options, and explain the pros and cons of each option. He is not amused.

Tuesday,  I did a walk-through, looking over the progress that had been made while I was traveling. Overall, I was impressed at first glance. The blue glass has been set into the wall between the bathroom and bedroom, the exterior walls are almost finished…it’s starting to look like something.

Then I started walking through rooms, and ended in the bathroom. Which is where shit started to go awry. Sunshine had made the shower too narrow, and I wasn’t having it. I moved the wall. Which totally negated all the special work he had commissioned for the bathroom window frame. I feel bad; however, now is absolutely the right time to be widening the shower–before waterproofing membrane and tile are installed and fixtures are in place.

I added a cabinet/shelf in the bathroom,  a tiny broom closet between the studs of the wall, an in-wall fold-down ironing board, and a pot filler over the stove.

Of course, most of that changed again as I walked through the house with the electrical engineer. So did a lot of my lighting choices, because I got talked into ceiling fans.

Side note: I do NOT want ceiling fans. I can’t find any ceiling fan lighting kits that I like, and can only find ceiling fans that I can sort-of tolerate. I’ve also nixed some of my light fixtures because of the additional pieces pieces-parts that I don’t want to have to figure out how to hide.

I’m sitting here this morning, wondering how in the hell I got here. How in the hell did I become the nitpicker who changes everything every time she walks through the building with a tradesperson? I don’t like me right now, yet I refuse to compromise on some of this shit because I have to live with it for the rest of my life. Hopefully, I don’t drive Sunshine too crazy before it’s all over.

Final note: they have already nicknamed me “change order”

Progress on our little house

Some years ago, Sunshine was presented with the opportunity to go into a defunct tile distribution warehouse and get what he wanted. He took me with him to help choose, and to help carry boxes of tile.

Amongst all the tile, we found quite a bit of this cobalt blue iridescent murano glass mosaic tile. It went in the bathroom of the magic bus. There’s still quite a bit left, so it is going to become my kitchen back splash.

We also found this crate with three large pieces of textured blue glass. Sunshine gave one of them away (without my permission). The remaining two pieces were both the same size and shape, so they are going in the bathroom wall to further filter and diffuse the morning sunlight coming through the windows on the eastern wall of the house in the bathroom.

That’s our carpenter’s butt you see in the background.  The opening centered under the blue glass will be a sliding barn door, and the walls on either side of the door will be covered in reclaimed wood (Sunshine’s choice–I wanted sheet rock so I could paint the walls midnight blue or twilight purple or something).

Even though reclaimed wood on the walls walls wasn’t my choice, I think it’s going to be very pretty when it’s finished.