Three Months

It’s been three months or so since I gave Liam his first guitar. It’s an Epiphone Les Paul Express, in tobacco sunburst. A flat-top solid body electric that’s sized for smaller players at ¾ scale. He was thrilled and very proud of it. He’s taking surprisingly good care of it, too. The guitar hangs from the headstock on a hook on the wall behind the chair.

Already, he’s making some easy chords and is picking single notes and moving between strings pretty proficiently. He plays it several times a day, in total at least an hour a day and usually more, all of his own volition. It helps I got Rocksmith, a guitar training “game” put out for the Xbox and Playstation. You plug a real electric guitar into it, and it rates your playing. I got an old Xbox 360 from my brother that was his back in college, and Rocksmith is the only game we’ll probably ever have for it (good thing). I’m learning to play using the game alongside him, although I’ve learned one song years ago, which my fingers have forgotten how to play by now.

It occurred to me while driving – doesn’t all profound thinking happen behind the wheel? Unless you’re luckier than me and get to sit at the base of a tree or on a rotting log with any regularity – I don’t make enough time for that. It occurred to me while driving that Liam is making awesome progress for such a short time playing. He’s showing daily focus on playing guitar. He’s almost as good as I am already (which may not even be a compliment), and it’s only been about three months.

Three months.

So much has changed in the past three months. So much.

 

In the same spot where Katie spent so much time sitting on the floor while nine months pregnant, sorting the hardwood floor boards in preparation for me to nail them, we now have a finished floor and a couch. The pull-out couch where we slept after returning home with our baby, since we did not have a bed yet.

Where there was only a hastily-set toilet in the bathroom, installed in response to our camper completely freezing solid in a bitter cold “snap” that ended up lasting two weeks, we now have a finished bathroom with a deep tub, tile shower walls and floor, mirror cabinets and enough towel racks for everybody. There’s even a door now.

Over the spot in the hardwood floor where we laid some really bad quality boards, unsure we would have enough nice ones, we now have a black store-bought hearth and an antique wood stove that heats the whole house perfectly. Eventually, I’ll dry-lay some old solid brick for the hearth.

We have kitchen cabinets, countertops, and a refrigerator. There’s a gas line to the range we found cheap on Craigslist, simply connected to a grill tank outside. The paint-splattered porcelain kitchen sink I found in someone’s trash pile is now mostly clean of paint and installed in front of the kitchen window. We wash dishes while just staring out the window at the woods and fields beyond, watching the woodpeckers work, chickens scratch, and hawks soar.

 

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Of course, the biggest news is the birth of our little girl, Caroline. She was born March 1, in quite a hurry. Katie had an incredibly, painfully fast labor. So quick that the doctor left us, planning to check on things in a couple hours, and when she returned, the baby had been born. The nurse was hollering down the hall for a doctor, but I completely didn’t see the point of trying to get a doctor where there was none to be found. A random doctor was trying to suit up while Caroline was born into my hands. I had planned to catch her all along.

After such an emotional labor and birth, I feel such an incredible bond with my baby. I can tell Caroline feels it too. We worked and read and prepared and researched so much to achieve our goal of a completely natural birth, so when she was born, after Katie achieved our goal, it was such an incredible release. Katie and I grew much closer during this pregnancy and birth, and I’m so thankful for it. We were close, and quite happy, but now… it’s different. My company recently started extending parental leave benefits (time off) to all parents – adoptive, biological, gay, whatever – which I wholeheartedly applaud. I received three weeks paid leave, which I extended a little using vacation time. It was such a needed break with my family, for everyone, after having moved into our house only about two or three weeks before the baby arrived. We learned how we live in the house and how the house works, all together.

 

I recently found my first guitar in storage in the barn for a couple years, and brought it back to the house. It’s a modern plywood Hohner, a beginner’s classical acoustic. No worse for wear, even with a little pigeon shit on the pressboard and vinyl case. Liam was very excited to see I had another guitar, and since the kids had found a harmonica recently as well, we formed a band, and decided to put on a show. Emmie played harmonica, Liam his guitar, and I mine. I was reluctant at first to “play” the guitar since I don’t know any songs. But soon, I started just banging on the strings and making noise as they did. We played our show with abandon, and I realized just how cathartic it can be, just making noise for the hell of it.

Jumping right in without caring who is watching.

***

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in waiting

Mid February

in waiting

heard the spring peepers last night, windows open

and still this morning early, but different

The moon a bowl shaped crescent

one of those wonky off-centered wooden ones

so warm outside I wore shorts, even early

but my bare feet are cold

I was hoping for frigid cold

need to work in the woods

finally got this great wood stove, but can’t burn

Late afternoon working by the big window, the vultures are circling and soaring

beneath the fast moving cumulus

She’s bouncing on the yoga ball again

we’ve tried everything to get this kid to move

All the wive’s tales

guess officially we have a few days still

Update time… 

Katie here…. Yes it has been a while since our last post, but mostly because we have been working non stop on the house. I will do a small quick update here…

Insulation and drywall we had hired out. We used wet blown in cellulose for the walls and dry blown for the ceilings and rafter bays.

A little over a week after the insulation was done, drywall got started and that took a little over two weeks from start to finish.

While the insulation and drywall were in progress, our momma chicken hatched her eggs and we ended up with 5 baby chicks. Momma and the baby chicks are doing great.

Also we slaughtered our first round of pigs. Scott and a friend did it themselves at our house. 2 pigs, about 230 lbs each, we estimated.

Scott installed the Chimney for the wood stove before drywall.

Next big project for the house once the drywall was done: priming and painting the entire house! Scott got a bunny suit and sprayed the entire house with primer!

After the primer was on we got to work painting. We painted. Painted. And painted! We had great help from family and friends too!

Also during painting we had to take a break and bring the flooring in the house! Our neighbor’s loader saved lots of steps bringing the flooring upstairs.

Finally, painting was done, Scott started to work on the bathroom. He placed the cement board where the tile will go, and also put the tub in place!

Next, cabinets! Yes you hear me right, kitchen cabinets got installed. Along with countertops and sink placed (just not glued). We got quite a large set of solid oak cabinets used, but with the layout of the kitchen, we could only use one upper cabinet. We have some open shelving that matches, though.

And lastly, the huge project we are in the middle of working on right now: flooring! We are laying down unfinished white oak. Once it is placed it will have to be sanded and sealed.

Nothing like ringing in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy by laying flooring down.

Slipping Timelines

We’ve got a chicken sitting on eggs. It’s one of the Black Australorps. I’m surprised it’s not the Buff, they tend toward broodiness more often I think.

She surprised me when I went to grab the eggs yesterday, all puffed out and clucking rhythmically. She was sitting on seven yesterday. Now there’s twelve under her. Katie said she lifted the nest box roof earlier today to find the broody hen puffed up and angry because another hen was half sitting on her, laying an egg. They all have their favorite nest box, and it’s currently occupied.

We decided today to let her sit, see how she does. She went broody before, but not for long. She gave it up after a few days when we kept collecting eggs from under her. I used a red lumber crayon to draw a rough circle around the eggs’ middles so we know which ones to leave alone. We marked the calendar, too, just in case she makes it four weeks.

We are flush with eggs. There’s more than 3 dozen in the fridge, and a small bucket of them overflowing on the counter. I meant to bring in a couple dozen to work, sell em for $2/doz to the folks I like, just to be nice. They keep em in their desk cabinets, cook em for breakfast in the microwave. Maybe that’s what I should do. But I’ve never microwaved an egg, and it doesn’t sound terribly appetizing.

The pigs are getting close to butcher weight. I finally moved them to a new pen, which they’re enjoying rooting up. It’s under a shagbark hickory and I can hear them crunch the hickory nuts. It’ll be their last pen. We hope to butcher them here on the farm, with the help and borrowed equipment of a friend. I still need to find a .22.

The insulation contractor might be here next week (they were supposed to call this week), and the drywallers will follow soon after. I am so happy to pay to have those two large jobs done for me. Just getting drywall carried up the stairs was intimidating to me; these guys will bring a lift and load it through an upstairs window opening.

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To say I’m not getting burned out would be to lie. This week has been especially rough for me for some reason in that department. There was a free set of concerts down by the waterfront that I desperately wanted to go to, but I haven’t allowed myself that kind of luxury so far, and I couldn’t see breaking the trend when we are getting so close to being able to move in.

Close being relative. Once the inside is drywalled, it’ll feel damn near ready to move into, but I’ll still have to put the whole bathroom together, kitchen cabinets and counters, flooring, paint, lights and outlets, doors, I’ll quit listing things here.

I’ll need to finalize the exact location of the woodstove soon. I would quite appreciate anyone with real world experience of clearances from a non-catalytic, non-blower stove. (Ours will be a Jotul 118) My main concern is distance from a 6×6 solid ash post. Please be in touch.

Things are going OK. Some days I feel quite in control. Earlier this summer, I was doing better than I am now at accepting and enjoying things as they are. I suppose I’m out of practice.

My goal is Thanksgiving to be moving in… Wish me luck.

Windows and Inspector

It’s been quite a while since we have updated the blog, but I’m going to act like it hasn’t. It’s easier that way. 😉 

Things are moving along on the house at a pretty good clip at the moment. I have all the windows installed, all the plumbing roughed in, all the electric roughed in, the electric meter base installed, and service conduit buried. I also have contractors lined up for installing insulation and drywall, and a local sawmill ready to saw ash logs into floorboards for me. Just Saturday I hired the local bank president and his teenage son to bring about 15 dump truck loads of the excess dirt (from constructing the driveway) back to the house and repair some gulleys and low spots around the house. 

The windows I have installed in the house are not the ones I have bragged about getting, “a house full of windows for $300 plus a load of firewood.” I do still have those windows, but I was forced into installing brand new windows by my ….. building inspector. He remembered, apparently, way back from when I was getting my permit Dec of 2015, when he got offended by my surprise at the requirement of a building inspection, and by my surprise at his unwillingness to let me use local full dimension hardwood framing. He remembered from way back then my interest in installing used windows in the house. So, a month or two ago, after my framing and electric had passed, he told me he would give me my electrical sticker (permission, basically, for the utility to hook me up) once he saw my windows and doors installed and my plumbing roughed in. 

Never again will I be required to work with a building inspector. Ever. New rule to live by. 

I am very close to being completely done with this inspector. Once I get my electric hooked up, it’s done. This last inspection might happen this week or next. I plan to be gone when he comes to inspect. 

From here, it looks like I could really be starting painting and putting the bathroom and kitchen cabinets together in about a month. I need to install one door, and buy and install another, then get inspected. Then the contractors can start. 

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I was doing some thinking recently about my work ethic. I generally don’t mind working, but I also generally don’t want to start a job and only get partway done. I think I use that as an excuse to not start sometimes (a lot of times), and in the past couple of months I’ve realized that it goes much quicker if I believe I can do it, and don’t plan jobs around time available. (This isn’t making as much sense here as it did in my head.) Suffice it to say that recently I am getting more work done on what matters, and less mowing done. 

Anyway, new philosophical breakthroughs aside, I’m excited and I have a newfound vigor and drive to complete this house, because Katie is pregnant with our third child, due in February. 

Framing & Electric: Check! 

Things have been going pretty well over here. A little over a week ago Scott finish the rest of the electric. Last Friday we had the inspection for framing and Electric. There was one minor thing that needed to be fixed with Framing. Also he just had to add one wire into the internal smoke alarms that are wired in the house. Other than that the house passed. So again I’ve already said it before, but I want to give a big shout-out to my amazing husband again, congratulations Scott! He’s worked so hard already from planning, building in the hot, in the cold and in the rain (day and night)! He truly is amazing. He has come so far and I’m so proud of him.

This past weekend he dug a trench so we could put the rest of the electric underground from the last electric pole all the way to the house. I know I wasn’t the one out there digging, but I will definitely tell you it was a hot weekend! 

And I also must admit sometimes you can’t take a country man seriously lol

As I’m sitting here right now, he got home from work today and he is on the tractor putting the dirt back in the hole before a big thunderstorm tomorrow. 
Next, bring on the plumbing 🙂