Sunday, June 30, 2013

Job Site Resourcefulness and Creativity

We had some resourceful and creative folks on the job site last week.  Here are two examples, and I'm sure there are more...

Nina forgot her belt, so she fashioned one out of the strap on the lumber that was delivered:

It even had a buckle:

She said that it worked great - she wore it more than one day - except that the buckle was really hard to get undone, so it required some planning ahead...

And then two of the girls presented me with a tiny house they made for me - I just love it!

They said they had some extra time and that they made it out of scraps.  I love that the nail is both holding it together and acting as a chimney!

I don't think Nina kept the belt - you know the downsizing rule of thumb - one new thing in, two or three old things out -- but I'm definitely keeping the little house!  It's on my night stand now, and I'll find a special place for it in my tiny home. 

Amish Beards

At the three day build that followed the first Four Light Tiny House Company workshop in February 2013, the day that we raised the roof Jay Shafer came out of his house carrying a shoebox. He said that Dee Williams had passed out these "items" at a workshop, and that they are becoming sort of a tiny house building tradition. The story Jay gave was that if you are getting weary, or didn't get enough sleep, or you need more coffee - you can put on this AMISH BEARD and it will give you the "ooomph" you are lacking to get the job done.  They were a narrow piece of "fur" with rubber bands to hook over your ears.

Now, before anyone calls this politically incorrect, let me clarify that the beards are intended as a compliment to the Amish and their barn raising days.  It takes a village.  Everyone shows up, brings food, socializes, and works.  At the end of the day?  Everyone is happy and a barn has been raised.  Or so I've heard.

Nina and I texted the week before we met in Camarillo:  "We must bring our beards!"  "OH yes!  We must!"

I found mine in my tool belt from the Four Lights build.  Nina said hers has been on top of her TV for months.  She said maybe that's why she doesn't have a lot of company - it looks sort of creepy laying there.

Tuesday evening we went to the build site - Daniel, Nina, and me.  Daniel had some things to do without other distractions, I wanted to draw the Seed of Life on the trailer floor, and Nina - she thought she was going to supervise, but she ended up making the Amish beards - cutting fabric into strips.

The beards we got were sewn into tubes.  There was no time for that.  I thought well, we can just have a strip of fabic, and they will just cup around our chins.  Reluctant beard maker that she was, Nina was committed to the project now.  "I have some glue in my tool bag."  Oh she had glue - it was E6000, the glue that glues ANYTHING.  Industrial beards they would be.

On the way home that evening we stopped at Staples so that I could get rubber bands for ends.  Nina stayed in the car, and I ran in.  When I came out, she had the back hatch of the car open and she was standing outside the car.  ??  "What are you doing?"  "The glue on the beards really stinks.  I thought I was going to pass out."  The beards were off-gassing.  HILARIOUS.

We went home to Laurie's, unloaded the car, unloaded the lunch cooler, changed clothes and I was ready to attach the rubber bands.  I couldn't find the beards anywhere.  "Where are the beards?"  "Outside, they really stink!"  LOL  Uh-oh.  So I sat on the back patio, armed with a razor knife (beards, razors, you see what I did there?  arr arr) and a huge bag of rubber bands. And hour or two later the patio table was furry.  I left them outside over night to... freshen up.

The next morning - Wednesday - the walls were going up, and the girls needed beards!  I told the story, we passed them out to everyone and off we went.  The rest of the week, beards showed up everywhere:

And then sometimes you just needed them nearby:

 They became tools for teaching and for meditation:

A few people asked me for more than one -- their toddler really loved it.  Their dog was intrigued... their sister wanted one...  Pay attention, you may see one in a nearby car at a red light!

And Then, post-Camp Sunday Morning

I am back in Dallas after MAGIC Camp in sunny California.  I tried to sleep on the plane - I only got about 3 hours of sleep on Friday night - but I was too keyed up.  When I got home my dog was here to greet me - that's the BEST - and my air conditioning was on the fritz.  It was 80 degrees in my apartment.... 

I spent the next two hours with an apartment maintenance man.  He was here until 11.  Do the math... I got 3 hours of sleep on West, coast time... yeah.  I wanted a shower, a dog snuggle, and my own bed.  But hey, I have a lot of fans, and I have them all on high.  He was very nice - and he's coming back this morning.  He had to wait to daylight to get on the roof.

I'm still sort of in a post-Camp daze; I need to decompress.  I'm still unable to put the whole experience into words. It's 8 a.m. Sunday morning and I'm sitting on my living room floor with coffee.  My cursor blinking at the next paragraph.  It's hard to come down from an 8 day high.

I guess the first thing in my head is the Camp girls.  Holy smokes.  If you ladies are reading this, here is a huge virtual high five!  You totally rocked last week.  It was fantastic to watch you work as such a well oiled team - and many of you didn't even know each other when you arrived.  You started out screwing a whole pile of boards together.... that part seemed to last forever, didn't it?  But on Wednesday, the third day of Camp, when you started raising entire walls ... to see the realization that now it was a HOUSE?!  I'll never forget your faces and your pride. (Guess what?  I'm crying.  LOL)

I have a short soundtrack in my head from that afternoon - Jasmine, your friend stopped by in the afternoon and you literally jumped up and down and pointed at the house and said, "Look what we did!  LOOK.   WHAT.   WE.   DID!!!  I don't think I will ever forget that.  I hope I don't.

I have a million of those flashes in my head.  I can close my eyes and be back out there with all the construction noise, and the... and the...  well, you know, you were there.  Soak it in.  Hang onto it.  

I have a few days of getting re-grounded ahead of me.  Honestly, I want to pack a bag and go back to the airport.  I miss everyone so much!  It feels really weird to be home in my apartment again, with a Monday morning at a law firm waiting for me.  But the flip side is, I'm super motivated to get rid of the rest of my possessions, and get ready for my house's arrival into Dallas in TWO WEEKS.  

I'm really glad to be back to my ROK espresso maker.  I can't wait to have my next phone call with Nina, and talk about our week.  I LOVE YOU NINA!!  I can't wait to have my Sunday night neighbor dinner.  I can't wait to hit the GYM in the morning.  I'm excited to tell everyone about the week and put together a brief (ha ha impossible) slide show of the build.

OH! -- Everyone who was at the Camp - I totally forgot -  I meant to tell you all that I'd love some guest blog posts from you!  What did you love about the week?  What do you think about the tiny house way of life?  What do you remember most?  If you want to email me a few paragraphs, I'll post it with some photos of you.  Believe me, I have a billion photos of each of you -- I took 100-200+ photos EVERY DAY.  LOL  Yeah, this is probably the most well documented build week ever... LOL

That's me, in my Amish beard, crying, watching the 4th wall go up.  What a day.  The roof was next...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Last Day of Camp

Here's how far we got - this is Friday evening.  Isn't it beautiful??

Thanks for the photo, Nina... er... Ernie, f/k/a T-Homie.


We wrapped up Camp on Friday - lots of post Camp clean up and a materials return to Home Depot last night - whew, a long and spectacular day.

Today we (okay Daniel) MOVED THE HOUSE and I traveled back to Dallas.

I promise I'll post photos and tell more about the Camp in post(s) tomorrow.  I just haven't had time!!

I am just so grateful, and so happy.  I don't know how I ended up here - it's all such a blur.  I'll call it providence.

Girls, if you are reading this, BIG HUGS, I miss you all.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday Magic

Another amazing day!

This is the house at 7 a.m.:

And here's the house at 4 p.m.:

I can't believe that tomorrow is the last day of the build.  I don't want to go home!  (Not to worry, Laurie, I will... ha ha)  

I just told Nina that I have about 15 blog posts in my head and I don't have time to get them all out of my head, down my fingers, onto the keyboard and out on the screen.  I felt this way last Fall, and earlier this year - just so much in my head  - and not enough time to document.  I've taken a ridiculous number of photographs every day, and I'm not the only photographer - this has to be the most well documented build ever.  I even have videos!

I've been taking several categories of photos - catching the girls doing tasks, capturing the mentors teaching, getting up close shots of techniques for construction reference for Nina's build, just funny entertaining shots, and then the "big" shots - walls going up, the roof going on, windows being cut out...  I intend to sort them out, but man, I'm taking 100-200 photos at day.  For FIVE DAYS.  Yeah.  See?  Well documented.  LOL

Nina's and my shopping excursions are basically Trader Joe's and Home Depot.  And recently we found a SBUX, so we added that.  But the car is on auto pilot - everything is blissfully close - but I think we hit both places every day, and sometimes multiple times per day....  hey, we NEED things.  Important things.  Avocados and hurricane ties...  Aren't those things on everyone's shopping list??

Here are a few random photos - and then I need to unpack and repack the lunch cooler.  Tomorrow comes extra early and tomorrow is a big day - finishing up and a graduation ceremony.  Holy cow.  

Wonder Woman...

Daniel on the fork lift

Random Wednesday Photos

My eyelids seem to fly open between 4:30 and 4:45 so I'll take advantage of marginal minutes and post a few random photos from yesterday.

Yes, those are beards.  Amish beards.  That's another post...

The purlins are going up.

The Seed of Life.

Attaching the hangers for the rafters

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


My posting is seriously lagging - sorry.  I am beat.  Ernie and I laugh about being so tired, when we haven't done anything physical all day long - but man.  I guess it's the emotional rollercoaster combined with the heat that's getting us.  At least - that's my story.

Our days start early - I'm setting my alarm for 5:15 a.m. but today, for example, I awakened at 4:45 and couldn't go back to sleep - and while the Camp day wraps up around 4, Ernie and I find plenty to keep us busy.  At the end of the day, after showers, and errands, and/or other tasks, I sit down and download photos from my time lapse camera and my phone (over 200 photos today!)  THEN I'm ready to blog, and I am just bleary-eyed tired.

There is so much to tell you that I'm daunted to begin, because I know there is no hope for an accurate accounting.  My cursor blinks on the screen, and my eyelids are so heavy - that I just have to call it a day.

For now, I'll leave you with this spectacular photo that Ernie took:

Yep, that's me at the end of the day, sitting and marveling...

And here's one without me blocking the view:

I have many blog posts to do for the day: Amish beards, the Seed of Life and gifts, the walls and roof being framed, the roof/loft being set (hello forklift) and a party after -- but I can't do any of them justice tonight.

Thank you for reading.

MAGIC Tuesday

UPDATE:  I've added some photos...

We've wrapped up day two of the build and we are ahead of schedule.  The floor structure is completed - joists, cross bracing, aluminum sheating, insulation, and subfloor.  It was squared, squared and resquared.  It's resting on the trailer, but it is not affixed yet.  

We had some problems with the materials order that is delaying us slightly.  We should have the missing materials delivered Wednesday morning.  

The girls are a delight - they aren't afraid of the power tools, and they are fast learners.  It is really entertaining to talk with them and hear what they think about the tiny house lifestyle.  They have some really good questions!  And so many of them really seem "in their element" on the job site.  It's super fun to watch.

It helps that we have fantastic mentors - really it's difficult to give enough credit.  And I am fully aware that I am wading into treacherous waters to start naming names - I am SURE that I will forget someone!  I'll apologize in advance for that and I promise to do a more thorough and accurate post later when I have time to string two thoughts together.

The SeaBees from the Naval Construction Battalion are ROCK STARS.  These women build for the Navy all over the world and they really know their stuff.  And they are so good with the girls, teaching, and being phenomenal role models.  )And they are just really nice!)  Each of them has such an interesting story.  I am proud to have them in our military and on my build.  No, I mean I am PROUD. 

Wayne Pendry is here, he's the "solar guy" and so much more from CET.  He's here all week and is just invaluable.

Beryl Schwartz, a carpenter journeyman, from the Local 150 spent the day with us today.  Nina and I were mesmerized by her knowledge and tried to soak up as much as we could.  (She also owns Feast Bistro, I wrote about that yesterday.)

And the "women of NAWIC,"  women from the local school district(s?), the board members of MAGIC Camp - all provided support in the way of organization and lunches, and t-shirts and I'm sure a host of other things that I am unaware are going on behind the scenes.

Laurie, who is hosting "Ernie" and I are her house is THE.  BEST.  She has really made us feel at home - this would be a whole different experience if were in a hotel.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  We recognize we are a handful...

And  ERNIE.  I so owe her a build week when she builds.  I know she's learning a lot too, for her tiny house, but having her here this week just completely puts it all over the top.

It goes without saying that we've all crowned Daniel king. : )

I've got to get going - time for Wednesday -I'll post photos later - I took well over 100 yesterday!

Monday, June 24, 2013

MAGIC Monday, Part 2

(I am suddenty so tired I may slip into a coma. I'm going to have to make this fast.)  I took so many photo today, there is no way in this forum to show them all.  So I'll choose a few and you can follow along.

I'm too tired to write, but you can see the day's progress.