28 December 2007

An EXCELLENT reason to build your own shed

(click on photo to get the full impact of those blue eyes)

Having an excuse to spend the holidays with your teenager involved in something that will hopefully outlast you, and they can remember building with you long after you're gone.

And yes, that beautiful creature is my baby boy.

All the aggravation and exhaustion and delays are absolutely worth it, if only for the time I've been able to spend with him.
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27 December 2007

Reasons for building your own shed

This is a VERY old chicken house (or the remnants thereof) on my mother's property. It's at least 60 years old. I'm guessing more towards 100 years. It was built by folks who were going to use it. They didn't have power tools of today, laser levels, or Lowe's. But they did build it themselves and they built it to last. Considering how much exposure it's had to the elements, and that it's not pressure treated anything, the condition of it is pretty impressive. Okay the roof looks rough, but really, that wood just glows.

So I'm starting my "reasons for building your own shed" series.

Today's reasons to build your own shed:
  • getting wonderfully familiar with the seasons including the changes in movement of the sun across the sky in winter and summer
  • hearing the kids in the neighborhood playing on the trampoline they got for Christmas
  • knowing when the mailman comes because you actually know sound the creak of the brakes on the mail truck
  • learning to do something that shows how much you really did in a day, and at the end of the day, you can actually look and see progress (as opposed to 'work of the mind - in which your life consists of hitting keys on a computer for money')
  • developing work habits in a space all your own, and making up little rituals to open and close your work day
  • getting to make innovative changes along the way with only yourself to blame/charge extra/enjoy the changes
  • hearing the creek flowing again for the first time in months (drought's not over yet, but getting there, fingers crossed)
  • getting to listen to whatever you want to when building it and knowing that Millennium Disco Party vibes will forever be in the fibers of your deck

It's been a good one.

26 December 2007

Merry Christmas

You know you've got it* bad, when you get really excited to get chalk line for Christmas!

(*it is the building bug, chalkline is fior marking straight lines -like for joists etc.)

Fa-La-la, LA-LA-LA-LAHHH!!
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Bass Ackwards

Some days, it just feels like NOTHING is ever going to get finished.

This is what the office looked like about 12 days ago... Are we done now?

Are you kidding me?

Of course not.

BUT progress has been made.

There are times, like today, when I was finishing the roof while recovering from the flu (multi-tasking at it's finest) I realized this almost an adventure in how NOT to build an office.

Okay, so that's probably an exagergation, but I'm tired and finishing the last quarter section of the roof at the bottom feeling like my entire mass was hanging on a serious angle supported by some flimsy particle board, tar paper, random nails and staples felt stupid. I came to appreciate how "real" roofers do shingling etc. from the bottom up. It just makes more sense that way. Duh. And of course, that's just what I didn't do.

BUT it's done, it worked and other than some scratches on my hands and some basic aches, I'm done!! (with the roof, people!)

Tomorrow James and I get to the decking!! Yippeee...?

Yes, it will be great. I'm just sure of it.

Really. . .

go . . . team . . . go. . .
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18 December 2007

Framing the deck.

Today, my dear and beloved husband stayed home.

The deck is now framed out, level, plumb, straight, and ready for bolts and joists.

Yesterday was a bit frustrating. I didn't get as much done as I wanted to. I ended up working on the loft - because it was something I could do all alone. But I talked on the phone figured loft ladder stuff, and essentially lost the day.

So this morning when it looked like things were slow to start, I was getting frustrated, again.

I guess one of the challenges of working for oneself - or shedworking - is the official starting and finishing time tends to be much more flexible. Some days I'm up early and don't have time to get dressed (makes for entertaining impromptu video-teleconferences), other days I feel like I need to lick light sockets to get enough of a jolt to get going.

Anyway, the deck framing is now together and the next steps are things I can do on my own.

More later, I need to take an aleve and go make dinner for the men-folk.

17 December 2007

Cold and windy and ouch

The weather definitely took a turn. It was COLD and WINDY here yesterday so working on the roof was out. The cement wasn't set as firmly as I would have liked, so the setting of the posts wasn't going to happen.
So how did we take advantage of the spare day? We moved lumber. Lots and lots of lumber.

Front yard to the back yard.

Stacked it. moved it stacked it moved it.

I am trying to think of tasks like this as something akin to going to the gym and working out with weights, balance and cardio all at the same time.

But even so, yesterday, maybe it was the cold, maybe it was the wind, maybe it was just the sheer mass o'stuff, but I was a hurting pup. My legs and back were crying out for hours afterwards. Thanks to my favorite cocktail of aleve and tylenol though, I'm back at it today.

They say basic training for the army is getting up and working really hard physically and it hurts like hell, and then you do it again the next day and the next day and the next day until it doesn't hurt so much anymore.

I am not sure how well that works for someone my age, but I am thinking of adding to my list of benefits to building one's own shed in the bottom of the garden: increased physical fitness.

I guess the question is - can I get out there today and keep moving? Answer - after 2 cups of coffee and a reasonable nights' sleep, I am ready indeed to get going. Without my helper guys I may be a bit more limited, or need to be a bit more creative about how to do some of this, but regardless of my condition, this thing ain't building itself.

And at least the wind is calm today...

More soon!!

15 December 2007

Burning daylight... and the joy of mindlessness

Well, after a week or so of beautiful balmy weather that made everyone scratch their head and wonder what season it is, we are finally getting back to a Georgia winter. Georgia winters are wet, cold, and grey. They would be considered autumn or early spring in most parts of the world.

We woke up this morning to grey overcast skies and the threat of rain. Though climbing out of bed was difficult, knowing that there were 16 bags of cement mix in the front yard was incentive enough to get out and get those moved (loaded into the trunk of the car no one drives). Those snugly stowed, the rain decided to start. Not to one miss the opportunity of an occasional downpour, I lined up the 2 x 6s that were the seats at Barbaritoes in a former life, and scrubbed them. They are now the floor of my loft. *yes, I have a loft now too.

The rain wasn't going to make me miss a day of vacation - so I got a bunch of screws, put on my snazzy tool belt and got to work. The loft is about 8 feet up under the sloping roof. It will have windows on 3 sides, and I can now confirm, it will be ideal for the occasional nap.

I spent the grey drizzly afternoon with dropping temperatures enjoying being very zen with the power drill. I decided to screw in the wood instead of hammering it in. I didn't want any stray nails sticking out beneath, and wanted to be able to remove a board if possible. It sort of goes against my quest for green building, but my rationalization is that the use of screws will enable the structure to last much longer. And it was quieter. With my iPod on, the whirrrr of the drill, was the perfect compliment to the drilling of the rain on the tin roof.

We are getting close to the shortest day of the year. And at 6:00 it's too dark to see outside. But working outside sets a nice rhythm to the day.

The more time I spend working on this project the more I appreciate the tempo of the day. I'm more aware of when the birds are active, when neighbors are out for walks, when the cool wind blows as the sun sets, and when the last light of day fades away.

So much of my life, my *real* life is spent staring at a computer, and under electric lights, I forget what the ebb and flow of a day feels like.

Not having tight deadlines, or the endless glare of the laptop releases my mind and I wander. I don't find myself trying to concentrate, or feeling like I have to pull my thinking back to something. It's as if in the physical labor my brain is set free to relax and go where it wants. It's a delightful feeling. I know what I'm doing and I just keep doing it until the task is done. I think I'm remembering what it feels like to be mindless for the first time in ages.

As a graduate student, I would be so exhausted after the term ended, I'd read junk and watch TV, and still feel the pressure of life, knowing there'd be another set of hoops to jump through in few weeks. Then there was the dissertation which was rife with "ought to's, must do's and whose who's", the work as an assistant professor was plagued with demands on my time I quickly grew to resent, and the world of an independent consultant is one of forever pushing to deliver the best possible project in time, and forever scoping for more work.

I feel like I haven't stopped in ages. In a lifetime. In my son's life time.

I don't know that I'm "stopping" now. After all, I'm in the middle of a huge building project that's got a mighty steep learning curve.

But after today, I can honestly say, I like this kind of vacation more than any other kind I've had. Because it just feels so good.

14 December 2007

Cement - MIXED

So, I managed to mix 600 lb. of cement today and get 7 posts tiers set.
(that's just over 272 kilograms for our metric friends)

It's amazing how a can of Red Bull and some good tunes can get things moving.

Actually, I'm very happy with it. L bolts are sunk and we're in good shape.

After I finished, I went out and sat on my deck. Well, okay, I sat on the lumber that will be my deck. And I watched the beautiful moon.

I have to check the weather for tomorrow - hear it may rain and I still have some un-used cement mix in the front yard that needs attention.

So that's today... tomorrow is another day.

Daunting? this? Me? Oh heaven's yes!

It is a beautiful day - already in the low 60's (Yes, I know this weather is WRONG for December) and we've had the house windows open for the past 3 days - even at night!!

This morning my buddies from Lowe's brought over my lumber etc. It was a BIG order and is now sitting in my front yard, waiting to go into it's various places... It's sort of mind boggling at the moment.

Yesterday I thought I knew what was up. Now I'm not so sure. I'm getting a sense of having bitten off more than I can chew.

But come on. I'm a clever girl. I can figure this out. It's not rocket science. Probably.

It's just a lot of work, which is sort of daunting.

The next step, I think...

Is to get out there and check my measurements, look at the nifty designs that they so generously printed out for me, get my mojo working and...MIX CEMENT! All day long...
(I wish I could just mix the cement right in the hole I'm pouring it in. Wouldn't that be nice?) Okay, I know better.

So here goes. I'll try to take picutres and keep you all posted!
Fingers crossed, Inshallah et. al.

Any one who wants to cheer me on here, or even lend a hand, is more than welcome!

Really, I'm thinking this could be a lot of fun.

12 December 2007

Well, WHO KNEW???

Okay, so today is my second full day back at work ON MY OFFICE!!!

We finally finished off the last big project we had for the year so I am now dedicating my time and energy to making some serious progress on my office space.

Monday I was mostly done, but also mostly brain dead. I spent most of the day pulling nails out of salvaged wood and listening to Stephen Colbert interviews. It was what I needed.

Yesterday I decided to tackle the deck and figure out everything I needed to get it done...

Today I went to Lowe's to buy lumber.

Turns out it was a GREAT learning experience. The store was calm for a Wednesday and the staff could not be more helpful. I love it. I asked one of the guys if they noticed things being slower - they said sales are way down. The economy - the housing crunch. It's hitting everyone. But they were all working and helping me and I appreciate it so much!!

And in my incredible learning experience it became clear that I'd made sort of a REALLY STUPID mistake.

Pressure treated wood needs to be nailed with galvanized nails. Regular nails (what I used) will disintegrate over a few years from the chemicals in the pressure treated wood. Melt. Deteriorate. Rust away to nothing.

Okay, all together now... OOOOPPPSSSS!!!!

So that roof? Those floor joists? yah...

Good news, my pals at Lowe's also told me how to fix it.
And they are delivering my lumber on Friday!!!!

So tomorrow, I'm doing pre-emptive repairs. It puts me a little behind schedule, but not nearly as much as having my office roof and floor collapse around me in 3 to 4 years. See. It's all a matter of perspective. . .

It won't be pretty but it will do the job. Thanks GUYS!!

Until tomorrow...