Saturday, October 24, 2015

Starting Over Again, Again

Ok!!!  I'm looking at this blank "page" in the middle of my screen and suddenly, I got nuthin'!

I love to write, once I get started.  Getting started is intimidating.  Here goes...

Since "I quit my job." sounds so loser-ish, I have decided to say, as one of friends counseled me, "I am no longer working for someone else.." Work on my house had pretty much come to a standstill, before the big overtime push came.  And that push threatened to last for 6 months or more.  So I said, "No, thank you."

I worked out a week's notice, and amid handshakes, a couple of hugs and a few tears on my part, I drove off at the end of my shift on Friday. I unplugged my alarm clock and packed it away and put my wedding ring back on. I will now be doing art, writing and working on my house.

So, today, being Day #1, I began the slow process of sorting out my stuff and getting organized.  I started out putting all the tools I brought home from work away.  I had no idea I had taken so many tools to work.  I brought them home over 4 days, but never had time to do anything more with them, but pile them up in the kitchen. This led me to trying to make some sense of the garage, and the 'Toy Room'. (We call it the Toy Room because my husband collects toys and the lion's share of this room is his. At least in theory...)

The Garage isn't the little two-car affair most suburbanites have attached to the side of their house.  First of all, it's a good ways up from the house, 20 or 30 yards, maybe.  Second, it's 30' X 50' and slam packed with stuff. Half of this building also belongs to my husband. (Again, at least in theory...)  I have my "Studio" in there.  Wood working equipment, MIG welder, ceramic kiln, etc. And all kinds of... Well... Stuff.  Salvaged materials, odd parts, hardware... Stuff! And I do cool work in there.

I call it The Studio at Wannabee Manor. Over the next few weeks, I will begin to offer my work for sale on my Facebook page.  Please, check it out, and "Like" it.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Winter Weather Floor Tile Vacation

On Sunday, Danny and I are checking on the weather for the coming week and quickly realized it was not going to be pretty. So I decided the best plan would be to just take the whole week off.  I called my supervisor first thing on Monday morning and asked for a week's vacation starting right away. He asked me if anything was wrong. I told I was just worried about the weather and that I had started tiling the dining room and I was really into it. He said OK, but I could almost hear him shaking his head.

Danny also took the day off. The weather hadn't started yet, so I sent him to town. While everyone else was scrambling for bread and milk, his mission was to get more mortar and grout. To be fair, he did bring home a gallon of milk and a dozen donuts, too.

Up until today I’ve been hunkered down here in the house, working on the dining room floor, and basically slacking off.  We had freezing rain on Monday.  Danny made it to work, all be it late, on Tuesday.  On Tuesday night, it snowed.  We tried to go out on Wednesday, but the road was a slickery mess.  The temperature never got above freezing on Wednesday or Thursday.

The design I conjured up for the dining room is kind of a crazy quilt in tile.  Unfortunately, this design has required quite a bit of tile cutting.  To be honest, cutting the tile isn’t my favorite part.  My tile saw is tiny and the blade is showing it’s age, so operating it is slow go.  It also sprays water back on the operator.  To protect myself from the constant spray of particle-laden water, I devised a stylish apron from a handle-tie garbage bag.  I just tie the opposite handles around my neck and the rest of the bag hangs down in front of my shirt.  I’m sure I should have provided a photo of this, but the mental picture is probably even more hilarious.

I’ve alternated between cutting the tile, laying the tile and grouting it for the better part of 4 days, with lots of breaks.  Tomorrow I should have the rest of it cut and laid, and on Sunday, I’ll grout the rest of it.  The WHOLE dining room won’t be finished, since I have the stairway and the wood stove alcove to finish before I can put tile in those places. It doesn’t seem like anything gets completely finished the first time around here.

We finally broke down and went to town today.  We were out of cat food and the laundry was seriously in need of washing.  I was starting to run out of big, fluffy socks.  The roads weren’t as bad as I had pictured them, we were still working against time.  The snow was scheduled to start falling anew around 4pm.  It’s 5:30 now.  We’re back home safe and sound.  I haven’t seen much of the predicted snow, but flurries, yet.  Who knows what we’ll wake up to tomorrow.

I should have this tile thing wrapped up by Sunday afternoon, so I’ll post pictures then.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Keeping Warm

We’ve moved into the house, but it’s not done! Not by a long shot….

I guess I should start back in November of 2013.  The house was closed in for the most part and I was anxious to cook the Thanksgiving Dinner.Thanksgiving was “my” holiday before we moved into the camper, and for some reason, people weren’t excited about having The Dinner in my camper….

So, I contacted a heat and air guy and he came over and let’s just say, it went badly.  He was talking a good 5 figures, which wasn’t even close to what I had in my head.  That’s when we started scrambling for an alternative.  We came up with wall mounted, blue-flame propane heaters.  The first 2 we bought were too small (10K BTU) and just plain crappy.  The blue-flame was actually orange.  Unfortunately I put far too much time into trying to make them work, so we couldn’t take them back.  Now, there are a pair of 20K blue-flame heaters in the house. One in the living room and one in the kitchen.  And I’m pretty satisfied with them.

Once we got our first two heaters, we had to have the propane swapped over from the camper to the house.  Getting a propane man to come and do work at one’s house in the middle of November isn’t as easy as snapping one’s fingers.  The tank we’d used in the camper was far too small, so after it was moved over to the house, we still had to wait and get a new tank.  By the time all this was accomplished, we’d eaten our Thanksgiving Dinner at Mommy & Daddy’s house.

Once the propane had been removed from the camper, we needed to go ahead and move into the house, so that’s what we did, on December 15th, 2013.  It wasn’t nearly the Balloons & Confetti Event that I thought it would be, after over 6 years of living in the camper.

The first 2 months of living in the house, we mostly froze.  Our heaters were too small, the weather was cold and cloudy, and I seriously underestimated how long it would take for all this concrete to warm up.  And most of the ceiling hadn’t been installed when we first moved in.  We spent our whole Christmas Break, putting up the ceiling.

Now, a year later, we’re mostly pretty snug.  The insulation, which goes on the outside of the house, in the form of Styrofoam between the block and the brick isn’t all installed, since the brick isn’t all done. There are still a few places around the ceiling that aren’t sealed up, but we’re doing it!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Hey.... Is anyone out there?

I'm going to try to start blogging again.  I've been trying to get past the thinking stage of getting my book written, and as a way to get going on that, I've been compiling my old blogs.

Am I going anywhere with this???

Well, I don't know.  My old blogs had so much of the day-to-day of getting my house built. Now we've been living in the house for over a year, and there's still so much to do.  And what's next anyway?  My vision has always been to write my book (about building my house) and do art.  Circumstances have dragged me into a different path.  And to be honest, it's not the path I want to take.  So, to continue the metaphor, I'm trying to find a cut-off or a switch-back that leads back in the direction I want to go.

Step one has to be to get back to writing.  Not just whining in my journal, really writing!!!

And then there's the Art part of this vision.  I gotta quit being so chicken-shit!!!!  I gotta do some work and get it out there.  Sadly, chicken-shit is quite comfortable.  I'm hoping by The "Holiday Shopping Season" this year, I'll have some cool stuff available and a venue to sell from.

If anybody's still out there, let me know.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Life in the Camper UPDATE {finally!}

Maybe today is a good day for finally updating my “Life in the Camper” blog, since I’m stuck in the camper, waiting for my frozen water to start running again.

We’ve been here in the camper since September of 2008, and the camper just seems to get smaller. When we moved in here, I had this na├»ve vision that I’d keep stuff picked up and orderly. Well, obviously, I didn’t just magically become some other person, a person like my Mom for instance. My Mom is the neatest, most organized person I ever met, not a slave to cleanliness, or compulsive about putting stuff away, just naturally organized. I didn’t get that. The camper is most often cluttered, and there’s more stuff in here than we need.

So far most everything in the camper has worked most of the time. The first winter, I had to replace the little water heater that came in the camper. Luckily for me, I once worked in the plant where they make the little water heaters, so I was able to score one really cheap. I had to adapt it a little to fit, without buying a whole new trim kit, but since the camper sits still, that’s no big deal.

The furnace quit once, but magically, by divine intervention, it started working again. Since then, I’ve always talked sweetly to it, and never take it for granted.

The stove works Ok, but the oven will set off the carbon monoxide detector if I keep it on for much more than 30 minutes. This has kind of cramped my ‘cooking style’. I’ve learned to bake stuff on my propane grill, but try not to do that too much, as it uses a LOT more propane than a regular oven. I also have a toaster oven that I use for some stuff, but it’s small. I also use the crock pot a lot. Since I try to devote as much time as I can to working on the house, I try to cook ahead. A lot of our meals consist of heating stuff up I cooked earlier.

We had to replace the mattress and box spring that came with camper. It was so old, the mattress still had metal buttons on it.

I found out that the shower/tub thingies that go in campers need to be supported really well, too late. Ours has a crack across the seat. I’d have to disassemble the entire bathroom to replace it, at a cost of nearly $200, so it’s going to stay that way.

When we first moved into the camper, I decided we’d just unhook the hose when it got down to freezing. That didn’t last very long! The water hose is now wrapped with heat tape and two layers of foam pipe insulation. The pipe insulation has held up much better than I expected it to. The water still freezes when it gets really cold. This winter it hasn’t been cold, so today was the first time we had a problem with it.

My husband was out of work for three months this winter, so the camper has seemed even smaller. I’m very grateful that it’s paid for though and that we’ve been able to stay warm and dry without worrying about the foreclosure and eviction that so many have suffered. I’ve enjoyed using this camper as a canvas for some of my idle artwork, and as a place to display the artwork of my grandchildren and my friends.

I hope none of this sounds like complaining, since it was never meant to. This whole camper episode, though it’s lasted longer than I thought it would, has been a great adventure. And to be honest I kind of enjoy bragging about the obstacles I’m overcoming to make my house a reality! Besides, no matter how small this camper gets, as long as my internet connection holds, it’ll always be big enough to hold all my friends!!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Repost from 2008 - Life in the Camper

I wrote this blog for MySpace back in September of 2008, annd thought since there are a lot of my readers who weren't "around" back then, I'd re-post it.

Our camper is 23 ft. long, built some time in the early, orange brown and yellow 70’s. It was cheap! Probably not cheap enough, but cheap. It took me months to get I cleaned out and fixed up good enough for us to live in. There’s a little room in the back that had 3 bunks in it. I took the bunks out and built a computer desk to go in the corner. Our little closets are back there, the books that I saved back from the storage building, and the DVD’s we kept out. I also have a 2 drawer file cabinet for papers and stuff. We call this the other room.

There’s a tiny bathroom in the middle of the camper. The last people to own the camper had painted the bathroom, shower, tub, walls cabinets, nearly everything, school bus yellow- with a broom! The only thing I could do with the tub was jerk it out and buy a new one. RV parts are expensive, and the people who sell them tend to be snobs. I turns out that the roof over the bathroom had been punctured by a tree branch, a tree branch that went undiscovered for a whole season before the roof was repaired - poorly. Quite a bit of the bathroom had to be replaced, and painted.

I’ve given the roof on the camper up as a lost cause. It was repaired and had been doused with white roof coat, but it isn’t bowed up like it’s supposed to be, actually it’s bowed in. Water sits on top of it and can’t help but leak. We’ve just put a big tarp over it. It’s stretched out with poles from the camper where the trees aren’t in the way. It makes a great over hang/porch, along with the dining canopy I screwed to the side of the camper over my scrap-constructed porch.

The rest of the camper is sleeping, cooking, and dining. It’s not too bad. The bed is actually a real full size box spring and mattress, really old and kindly sagging, but far better than foam rubber cushions wedged together, on top of a broken down dining table. The “dinette” is the original camper table, seats with foam rubber cushions. The sink is tiny, the stove isn’t very big either. The refrigerator was nasty, and I never even checked to see if it worked. I pulled it out and used the space to make a pantry/cabinet and a place for my microwave. We have a fridge on the “porch” that we’re using, and another in the garage for over flow.

There are several things that we’re having to adjust to. One is that we have to put stuff away promptly. We’re not dirty, but we aren’t fastidious either and having just 2 or 3 things out of place throws the whole camper into a turmoil. We’re always asking each other to pass us stuff. No matter what I want to lay my hand on Danny’s in between me and that thing. And it works the other way around too. We’re using a portable camping potty, and we have to dump it into the septic tank pipe everyday. First of all the dang thing gets in the way. The toilet that came with the camper is still in the tiny bathroom, but it’s got a problem with the valve in it and we weren’t interested in fooling around with the holding tank experience anyway. The little potty just fits in the floor space that’s left in the bathroom. In order to bathe, we have to move it out into the “kitchen” floor.

Cooking is a trip, too. While it’s warm, I try to do most of my cooking on my gas grill outside. I’ve learned to cook a wide variety of food on the grill. Even breads and casseroles. In the camper I have a microwave and a toaster oven. I’m not a real big fan of microwaving too much stuff, but I’d rather not try to live without it. The camper stove was icky, but I got it mostly clean. One of the eyes doesn’t adjust very well, but the rest of them work really well. I’ve only used the little oven a few times, but I’ve checked it with an oven thermometer, and it’s right on. Having the fridge outside is fun to get used to.

Actually the whole Life in the Camper thing is pretty fun. We spend a lot of our time outside or in the garage while we’re working on the house, so we’re not getting claustrophobic. And we really like each other! It also helps that we’re both people who have learned to count our blessings. And we don’t take stuff for granted. On a global scale, we are still far better off than a whole lot of people, even people who haven’t been displaced by war or famine.

As we go along, I’m sure there will be more postings concerning had we’re getting along. Especially as it gets colder.

The pictures I've put in this blog are all pictures taken "back then".  I'm planning to post an updated Life in the Camper soon.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What We're Up To

I said I was going to start my blog back up, and wrote a couple of little blogs and then…

Well, there’s this, that and the other thing! I’ve been working on the house as much as I can. Danny’s still looking for a job, which is tying up the computer a lot. And I’m spending a lot of time with him. This has been pretty stressful for both of us. So far, we’re OK with money, but with everything so uncertain, it’s hard to tell what “OK” really means. And on top of all that, I just haven’t been really sure what I wanted to put in this next blog.

We’ve got the roof on, and closed off the front of the house with greenhouse plastic. The greenhouse plastic is temporary. The front of the house needed to be closed off, and we just weren’t ready to plunk down the kind of money it would take to do that, so for a measly $500, I got the front closed off, the back of the living room where the brick still needs to be laid is closed off, the windows on the camper are sealed up for the winter, and I still have plastic leftover for whatever else I’ll need to do.

The Real Plan for the front of the house is to put some awning windows across the top with thermostatically controlled electric openers. Then the slanted part, which is where the greenhouse is, will be mostly glass across the front and solid wall down the two triangular sides. That will be a little ways down the road though.

The main things we’re working on right now are the pine log ceiling beams, the QuikWall on the inside, and installing the windows on the back and sides of the house.

The ceiling beams are going up slowly, as we have decent weather to cut the trees down, and trim them to fit. We’ve been cutting the pine trees for the beams in the house out of the woods on our property, starting with the floor beams for the bedroom and the upstairs bathroom. When we did the beams for the living room ceiling, we used mostly trees that had been blown over by the tornado. Before the tornado came, we’d already planned to thin out the pine trees in the woods and let the hardwoods kind of take over. Over the last few years, I’ve also been slinging the seeds, nuts and acorns of trees that I found interesting into the woods. Then when the tornado came through a lot of the pine trees were blown over. We used the ones we could and have been slowly cleaning up that mess. Most of them are too far dead to be used now, so we’ve gone back to cutting the suitable pine trees down. It’s going to take years before the forests around here recover from the tornado, ours included.

The QuikWall is a slow process. QuikWall, Surface Bonding Cement is a masonry material containing fiberglass that’s used to bond together block that has been dry stacked. Eventually all the concrete block surfaces, inside and out, must be coated with at least an 1/8 inch of this stuff. It’s heavy, and gritty, and I don’t like working with it!! I do like the way the finished wall turns out though.

And then there are the windows. I’ve still got 2 windows to go on the back of the house, and an arched window that goes over the front door. First of all, the window openings must have the QuikWall put on them. Then I have to put a wooden frame around the inside of the opening to screw the window to. I’ve been stuffing plastic grocery bags in the gaps between the wood and the concrete before I caulk them. Some of the gaps are over a ½ inch wide in places. OK! Maybe I could have gotten the walls a little straighter… So far I’ve been able to get the windows in using scraps of lumber I have on hand.

I think this has gotten long enough, so I’ll go ahead and post this for now. I’ll try not to take so long before I get the next installment up!