26 November 2007

Working at home... with someone else!

My pal Alex at the AWESOME BLOG Shedworking

posted this link today.

Suffice to say, it explains why the size on my office is going to be 10' x 10' (or 9.29 sq. metres). I don't want it big enough that anyone other than my dogs will be able to fit!!



Lynsey Thomas on homeworking
Cohabiting the office with a dog is all well and good, but my husband? That's quite another matter
Lynsey Thomas
The Guardian
Saturday November 24 2007
I have been a homeworker for three years now, and for the most part it works very well. I admit it did take a while to get used to the differences from office life, but nowadays I have an established routine that lends itself to a high level of efficiency work-wise. I know which doors to close so that I am not disturbed by the washing machine, when to ignore the door bell and how to mute out the sounds of the dog on a conference call. I can configure my router with one hand and change the toner in my photocopier with the other. So you can imagine my dismay when my husband announced he was becoming a contractor and would subsequently also be working at home; "unduly perturbed" probably sums it up best.
And ever since that fateful day he has been here 24/7, sitting at an adjacent desk, eating into my bandwidth, tying up the phone line and typing excessively loudly on his keyboard. During the first week I wondered whether this was the end of my home working days, or my marriage. We have actually worked in the same office before but it was large, and full of other people I didn't have to go home to and spend the entire evening with. Other people whose very presence, whose participation in simple breathing, did not seem to drive me mad.
The problem, I think, is that as human beings we cling to routine and from that, the small pleasures that we know come each day; whether it be crossing Waterloo bridge on the bus to work, or the first day they start serving Christmas sandwiches in the shops. My homeworking pick-me-ups were simple; that cup of tea at 10am, the square of chocolate at 2pm.
Then, all of a sudden, my husband was there, making tea at inopportune times and eating all the chocolate. He takes pens from my desk, he borrows my power lead, he uses my mobile charger and all this from a grown man who is so territorial that he was moved to write his name on his stapler with correction fluid. I ask you, what's a girl to do?
The poor dog is now very confused. My working hours used to constitute our alone time together. He has a love of lying under my desk while I work and only comes up to sniff any output from the printer. Now, his master is home, striding around and talking mannishly on the phone. His loyalty is such that he must follow him, but between this and my endless printing and trips to the toilet he is constantly getting up and lying down. Subsequently, come 6pm the canine is completely exhausted.
I thought that I was hiding my annoyance quite well until my husband, in his wisdom, announced that I must be a very difficult person to work with as I am constantly stressed. True as this may be, quite frankly I had had enough. With all the regularity and comfort of my working environment destroyed, I was as dishevelled as the dog. Did I handle the situation in a mature way? I cannot be sure of the answer to that. I can say that I responded with several choice words (that I would not normally use on a fellow worker), quite a large amount of exhaling and stamping of feet and, to finish off, an encore of "Get out of my office!".
So, how has the situation been resolved? Well, he had to go. I needed the tranquillity restored to my working environment and he needed not to be married to "the most uptight woman in Britain". Obviously my solution of choice was for him to go out and get a proper job, but as that wasn't going to happen I settled with him finding an alternative office.
Now, with suitable arrangements made and peace thus restored, life has returned to normal and I put this question to you: who exactly does use a dining room for its correct purpose?

25 November 2007

Rainy days...

It's wet.

That's actually really big news around here.

So I am trying to take it in stride. I think - given that I'm finishing off some work for the Mediation Certification Course I'm doing, I'll focus on that, and be thankful for the wet stuff falling from the sky.

I'll get other things done for the next several days, and then get back to work on the office.

Also, I've decided that I need to plan out the basic deck I want to build. We'll need it, so it makes sense to actually plan it out, as much as possible now, while I'm waiting to move forward on the actual implementation.

It's sort of funny, but I'm finding that I'm actually really looking forward to having a weekend where I don't go to the office! Currently, my office is in my bedroom, so it's hard to avoid. Of course, it will mean having some separate time here and there, but over all, just having a bit of space. It's been a great quiet weekend with the boys, and I've enjoyed that.

Still, I'm starting to itch to get back to construction. (Maybe it's just thinking of all that straw?)

Well, let's see where it goes from here!

Be quiet, listen well, do good.

24 November 2007

Slow going... but with rain!!

It's been quiet lately. I've been feeling worn down, achy, and not able to finish off the roof. It's 3/4ths done, but that last bit needs doing. Then comes placing the straw bales, and such. That will be the exciting stuff. We did go to the Habitat for Humanity thrift shop today and pick up two nice double pane windows, in frames for a grand total of $42.10!! Can't beat that with a stick.

Thanksgiving day it rained,(YEAH!!!) so I spent the day before getting everything tarped and covered and moved around. Instead of working on the office this morning I slept in. Honestly, I'm not a morning person at best, but I'm fighting some bronchitis, and last year this time I was on death's door with pneumonia, so I'm trying to gently get through it this time. It's slow going, but I'll have to accept it. No point in working myself sick.

I remember reading some one's account of working to build their shed over the course of about 6 months - working on weekends only. I remember thinking I couldn't stand to wait that long. But at this point that's what we are headed for. I'll finish my mediator certification course next week, and hopefully have some free time to get to work. It's hard doing it alone, especially as the weather gets cold. But I'm looking forward to it, and to having it done!!

I look out my window at the roof and tarps and long to be out there. But I'm glad that things have managed to go as well as they have so far. It's fixin' to rain again tonight and tomorrow. And honestly, the rain is such a blessing I could manage like this for a good while without resenting it. I'm taking my hot cup of tea and climbing under the covers.

More soon. And thanks for the rain!

13 November 2007

Like playing with blocks!

Today was a little unusual for me. I was over on campus taking a course on QuickBooks. I have an aversion to math, but my accountant, my business partner, and my computer guru all told me I had to do this. So I did.

The course is held at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education, on the UGA campus. The first time I was on the UGA campus was for meetings there more than 18 years ago. Then I worked at the radio station there before graduate school. Going back to day was a trip down memory lane. I even got to have lunch with one of my all time favorite people, Robb Holmes, the music director at the radio station. I've been a huge fan of Robb's for a long time, and we had a great time catching up. I've always felt like the radio station was a second home for me on campus. That was definitely the highlight of the day. Quickbooks and all was okay, but accounting isn't really my thing.

So this afternoon, after class Robb was announcing the weather forecast - a chance of rain tomorrow. I'm in class all day again tomorrow, so I realized I needed to get the straw bales and wood under cover. In the balmy warmer night air, I found myself slinging wood and then hefting straw bales up on to the office floor. It's been a long time since I've worked with straw, but the wonderful clean sweet scent took me back to the years I used it for bedding in my horses stall. I couldn't resist playing some and decided to stake bales around the edge to get a sense of what it would look like. I've only got about 24 bales and I figure I'll need at last that many again. But it was so fun to do it. It was like playing with giant building blocks. I'd forgotten how much I love that sort of easy creative activity that really uses your body and releases the child like playfulness.

I restacked my blocks, covered them all and came in for dinner. Now, let's hope it will rain. . .

11 November 2007

Could I have more fun?

Seriously, thinks I've learned this weekend:

Carpenters wear baggy pants for a reason

Roofers are the same kids who always spent ALL of recess on the jungle gym.

I could do this all the time and vow to build a grown up sized jungle gym into this structure for my now grown up son James and I.
(We might make it look like a pirate ship even!)

Wearing those ugly croc shows while climbing around on rafters is awesome.

I am not afraid of heights.

When working on a project: think of everything I want to get done in a week end. Divide it by half. Be happy if that much happens.
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09 November 2007

Roughing it with roofing...

Okay, so this weekend's task is to get the roof on. (Raise the roof?)

We have the rafters, and the lathing.

A straw bale house needs a GOOD ROOF.

And I am not sure how to do this. Now I could be clever and call someone (like a builder) or I could spend hours reading up on it. But mostly I'm just fretting about it.

One of the most exciting and even intimidating aspects of this project is having to figure out how to do things. Years ago I worked in the horse industry - training horses. I'd been working with horses for years prior to this, but I found myself in the position of being a professional - which up to that point had been something of a life long dream. And for a while I really loved it.

Until I realized 2 things. (1) There is not a single "right way" to do things, regardless of what anyone proclaims, but there are a lot of very WRONG ways to do things - that seemed to run rampant. And (2) Horse people are crazy and most horse owners are generally idiots. (myself included, at times, I'm sure) My problem was that I loved the horses but found a lot of the people, especially absentee owners unbearable. They got into horses for the status, but didn't want to dedicate the money, time, or effort to really care for horses. So we lowly stable folks would put in hours and days and weeks taking care of their beasts and training them, only to have some yahoo come out on the weekend and abuse the poor beast to the point of back tracking on the work we'd done. And then they'd be snotty about how we were getting paid to train their animals, but they were not seeing results. I was young at the time. I think I would handle it very differently now.

Anyway, building this structure is feeling very similar to that whole experience. Except it's an office, there is no single authority on how to do it, and I am increasingly aware of all the things I could do wrong...

But despite my overt lack of confidence, I'm sure we'll figure it out.

That, in itself, is it's own reward, isn't it?

08 November 2007

Are you kidding me here?

Okay, so from time to time, around the world, I take a little grief from folks about living in Georgia. After all, there is that whole Gone With the Wind to Deliverance thing that makes Georgia seem Oh-So-Special to the rest of the world. Most of the time, I point out that I live in Athens - THE ATHENS of Georgia. The Blue County in the Red State. The most liberal city in Georgia, where the average age (24) combined with the amazing international presence due to the university and the music scene (Think R.E.M., The B-52's, Widespread Panic, Dromedary, and of course, WUGA) makes Athens a very cool and exceptionally tolerant place to live.

As I've said before, we're in a BAD DROUGHT. Athens residents are pitching in, and for the most part, leading the way in water conservation efforts. I'm proud of that.

On the other hand - this just sort of floored me. Our Governor, who has not done diddly squat to limit growth in Georgia, or to curtail water usage leading to this incredible drought situation now has a plan. He's going to pray for rain. See Here - I couldn't make this up!!

Listen, Sonny, if praying for rain were the only way to resolve this problem, I think the Middle East would be an oasis. We're not quite dealing with the same challenges as the Euphrates, yet, but this sort of "leave it to a higher power" sort of thinking isn't going to get the aquifers refilled. Come on!! Maybe all those folks ribbing me about living here are on to something after all.

But we can't just worry about it tomorrow. Even Scarlett learned that lesson.

07 November 2007


Bill surveying the scene....
We're BACK!!

This past weekend was an amazing build-a-thon thanks for some great friends, good weather and the need to have something built SOON!!

Last Friday, Bill was surveying the progress (above) and there was certainly a lot to do.

The weather held last week - it was balmy enough to work outside during the day. The verticle posts were up, and I decided to just get on out there with my laptop. Yes. Mostly I work sitting on the floor while out there. I find that I feel like I've been in a day long yoga class - at least when it's warm enough... But when the cooler evening breezes got underneath that plywood, it did get right chilly.

So we had to insulate the floor. It was an odd way to do it, but we got it done. No, that isn't a rouge Talibani, that's Edwige and Regan spreading insultation. It was post consumer waste - newspapers, phone books, etc. It's pretty thick there, but very dusty to spread. I think Regan was reading bits - as an Doctoral Candidate (!!!!) he's prone to that sort of thing. After all, you never know where that last bit of information will come from!

With half of it done, we had to go back to the store to get more. The guys at Lowe's are getting to know us really well now. But we liked that is looks like pre-made rat's nests. Still, the R-Value is high- and it will help keep the place COZY!!

Speaking of rat's nests...the insulation is encased in double layers of 6 mil construction plastic. And sealed up fairly tightly. We'll do additional boards on the bottom soon too.

Speaking of boards... I FINALLY sorted through all the Barbaritoes wood that we harvested from the pre-demolished site in July. With the autumn sun, it really gave off a wonderful warm glow!!! I can't wait to have this glow IN SIDE MY OFFICE!!!!

But of course, before there can be an "inside" to my office there needs to be an outside. Seumas, our hero, came to help on Sunday. While I was sorting through wood, the men folk were levelling all the posts and beams. They tell me that's important. I think they all just wanted to play with the lazer level.

I often say that Seumas is the consumate boy scout. He's done a lot of neat stuff, builds his own canoes, is a woodsman of amazing ability, and just an over all groovy dude. He also sent me back to Lowe's to get more stuff.

He and Bill threw the rafters up in no time flat. I think they even nailed them down! Damn, it looks nice, doesn't it?

To give a clue about where I'll be working... the tiny "shed" on the left is a nifty bird feeder, and yes, directly off the porch is a small potting shed. But it wasn't going to convert easily, and sits in the hottest sun of the summer. Besides, off in the woods I'm in my own magical little space...

Speaking of spaces - this is the underside of the office. Those pillars are filled with rebar and cement. We'll put plywood underneath to protect the plastic. The middle lines are extra stakes used to plot out the position.

Once the rafters were up, Bill and Seumas got to work on the lathing (is that right?) Seumas crawled around up there like nobody's business. Once we got the support brackets in, it was definitely sturdier and Bill got up there too. I didn't. Yet....

But, progress was made!!!
I am now beginning to think we may want to forgoe the bay window/doors, I'd initially planned and just build a flat front - with Southern Exposure. Honestly, the temps here have taken a dip and I'm coming to appreciate how HARD doing the bay doors will be. It means loosing some floorspace, but also, getting it done sooner.
It turns out that Lowe's even sells straw bales. Now I'd love to buy them from a local farmer, but the nearest "local farmer" selling straw right now is about 100 miles away, and it will probably take 2 truck loads to get enough. Which means several days of driving back and forth to get straw, and gas, and dealing with trucking it through Atlanta... so.... I am thinking of taking the Lowe's option.
This coming weekend, we'll hopefully get the tin roof on. (Fingers crossed) It's cold enough now that it's hard to work out there without being wrapped in a sleeping bag, wearing long underwear. So I need to get SOMETHING up soon. . .
But honestly, I am so incredibly grateful to Sue and Seumas, Edwige and Regan, and of course Bill and James for all your wonderful help!! THANK YOU!!!

01 November 2007

Working in the digs.

Well, due to some unexpected developments, I am pushing up my move in date for my office!!

For those of you who have been following this, you'll know that at the moment, I have floor joists, vertical posts, plywood floor (not yet secured) and a desire to get stuff done out here, that ranges from simmering to flaming hot. Today it is flaming hot - so to speak.

The unexpected developments involves my father now being home full time again. There were some problems at the college, he and the dean reached an amicable agreement, and he's back to being retired full time.

And I am not under the gun, but under the cannon to get a host of things done in the next week, and must work uninterupted as much as possible.

So, this morning I am sitting on said platform - putting in my time. It's 55 degrees (f), slightly breezy, and clear at the moment. All in all, it's not unpleasant. Actually, thanks to lots of layers it's sort of sweet. (In that "I'm a hearty woman" sort of way)

I'll post pictures later.

Wish me luck!!

Oh - naming of the office space. I need a name for it. Something that I can call it that will reflect it's character, and not be too over the top.

Current ideas are:
The Estrogren Hut (I live with 3 men and 4 dogs - I deserve a girl place)
The Fortress of Gurlitude
The Shed of Productivity
The office (boring!)
The Pirate Ship (thanks to my son James)
The Pod (thanks to the husband)
Deep Space Mine (ugh)
MySpace (Already taken by some web page)

OKay,.... must be productive... back to work!!