Monday, October 18, 2010


From WASTE AGE to TURKEY COUNTRY.......with a lot of crab grass and good porch time in between. Yeah. Remember a year-or-so-ago when someone accused me of being a "media whore"? Whooping it up about this house? Foaming at the mouth? Sending out press releases on the day the big cranes were on the site? Well, now you can read all about the house in the September/October issue of TURKEY COUNTRY......the one with "Muzzleloaders You Can Eat Off Of...15 Easy Steps on page 135" on the cover. So I guess that guy was right.

Vicki Cox wrote the article (which she actually began several months ago) and took the pictures......and happens to be the same journalist who interviewed the Human Cannonball who lives in Halfway, Missouri. I can only imagine how interesting HER life must be. (Vicki's life....that is.)

In addition to that frenzy of media attention, (which was brought to my attention by a very cool 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher at Jarrett Middle School.....or I never would have known about it) I have had some really good encounters from people who have read this blog. A couple of great people from Siloam Springs, Arkansas stopped by on their way home from Chicago.....who plan to build a shipping container house in California.......and spent time asking questions, taking pictures and tromping up and down the hill. I absolutely loved that visit. And another couple who live in this area came to see what the house looked and felt like and talked about a project they are thinking about that could be extremely important to a whole community of people. And a lot of emails asking questions (Bagelpower has stumped me with some concrete floor concerns, but I'm working on it) and offering support and keeping me informed about their progress and pitfalls. I had no idea this would be so INTERACTIVE. Especially since I was trying my hardest to cut down on my interactions. There you go.

So........not much to write about these days......but a whole lot of living is going on here.....and it is real good. Real good.

John R. planting David's Tree.......he'd be proud.

And just when I was ready to ship in a truckload of Amish to finish this thing up.......Michael and Jason showed up on a blistering hot day to pour concrete for the piers that will support the canopy for the carport. Out of the clear blue sky...........

......followed by pork tenderloin sandwiches and really, really thin onion rings at Joe's Diner in Strafford. That was a very good day.

This here is what's called "crab grass".

Remember the plan? Remember the turquoise hydro-seeded yard that was going to magically turn into Buffalo Grass? Native to the area......low maintenance.....drought-resistant.....don't have to mow it.......Buffalo Grass? Well, what we have here is what's called crab grass. But don't think for a moment that we haven't tried to remedy this situation. I am just choosing to leave this life experience out of the narrative at this particular time. %@*(&#**$!!@&

The motivation for these next pictures was the decision and purchase (FINALLY) of table and chairs for the two porches. Boy, does that make a difference in how I've spent my time. What a concept!

Next on the list......besides the canopy that will attach to the piers and to the storage container for a carport and storage/storm shelter....... a railing for the ramp.....some electric work for the storage container........light fixtures for both porches......and ceiling fans.

Now days, I'm whooping it up and foaming at the mouth about porch furniture and possible ceiling fans. I'd say that's progress, wouldn't you?

As I said before, there's not much to write about these's just all about living here. Look at that porch. How would you like to be able to bring your coffee and yesterday's newspaper out to that table......and not be able to take your eyes off the river long enough to figure out what #6 across on the crossword puzzle is? I go to work.....I come home to a house that I've wanted for as long as I can remember.......and then there's no place to go.....because it's all here.....and so am I. Phew. I'm thankful.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Back to the future.....and the here and now.

Back to the future....and the here and now. And, yes, it's been a while since I've reported on the day-to-day happenings. Let's hope I can remember what's happened.

I've paid more good money for good dirt.....some less money for not-so-good-dirt (probably something my parents tried to teach me at some point)....and I've gained some firsthand knowledge about spreading dirt (I'm pretty sure they talked to me about that one).

John R.'s friend Bryan helped with the yard detail....brought his tractor and rented a Harley Rake......John R. has gotten a newer, bigger tractor, in the meantime.....and Gabe and I picked up rocks and raked. On foot.

Next came the hole-digging for the trees to be planted.....with some slight miscalculations on my part about how big those holes needed to be. John R. and Gabe and I dug the holes....the trees almost fit.....Jamie came to dig more and deeper the next day........and now there are two spectacular River Birch trees planted in the yard with a hole just waiting for a third one. And, once again, I was getting some ever-thoughtful and well-researched advice and diagrams from my West Coast connection about placement and timing. We needed it.

Then there was the day I drove into the driveway from a hard day's work.......only to discover that the entire area had suddenly turned the most bilious (and that is the perfect adjective) shade of sea foam green I've ever seen. No signs.....just sea foam green forever. (A hydro-seeding trick in hopes of growing some Buffalo grass.)
Meanwhile, Tom and Sid (previously known as Frick and Frack) have been lovingly, carefully, methodically and knowingly preparing each and every cedar board (and the screws and nails that go with it) side by side in perfect.....and I do mean perfect....relationship with the finish the ramp and both porches.

Words cannot describe how it feels to have two friends who took it upon themselves to get involved in this project. Amidst record-breaking heat, wasps, bees, ticks, copperheads, lightning, poison ivy, long drives to get to work......and the never-ending life issues and family situations that most other folks are dealing with from the comfort of their air-conditioned homes.....they planned and measured, constructed and installed and gave me even more reason to love them and love this house forever. Thank you Tom and Sid. And thank you Michael and Jason for knowing that the cedar wrapped porches, the ramp and the cedar ceiling in the living room, kitchen and hallway would take this house to yet a higher level of design elegance.

I know that I'm not the first to mention this, nor will I be the last, but building a house is certainly a whole lot more than building a house. When I stop to think about all of the people I've encountered along the way....and the experiences that have accompanied the is definitely a very good way.

So....what's next? Michael is going to be back on the job soon with plans for the porch and ramp handrails and for the canopy that will attach to the storage container for a carport. And I will be sitting on the gravel bar in front of the house reading a magazine and eating my lunch.....or paddling slowly down the James. ......back to the future......and the here and now.

Whoa.....Fifth of July and I'm talking about a wood stove?

Whoa....Fifth of July and I'm talking about a wood stove? You betcha. (Strike that. I SURE don't want to sound like the person who ruined "you betcha" for me.) Yes. I forgot to talk about the wood stove, and I think it's definitely worth talking about. (*Background note: there was originally supposed to be a fireplace in this house, but there was an early mistake that made it impossible to add.......thus, the wood stove instead of my first choice fireplace.)

First of all, it's not easy to find a wood stove that isn't all goo-gawed up with scrolls and eagles and curvy legs......but not too hard to find beautifully sleek and simple Danish or Norwegian or Swedish designs that would make anyone drool....but also cost thousands and thousands of dollars. And well worth it. I'd been searching websites for a couple of years hoping for something affordable and PLAIN......then looked at the dealers around here.....and finally found someone who could order a SCAN a pretty hefty price.

I had plenty of support in making the decision to spend the money (and the tax credit that I was going to get).....mainly, because I sure needed to have a backup system if the power goes off during an ice storm. Which it will. Thankfully, before I had the dealer order it, I made one last check with other places around the area to see if I could save money and/or actually see a SCAN stove with my own eyes.

Lo and behold, I found one in Ozark, Missouri at Missouri Insulation, drove over and looked at it, liked it, liked the people there.......and that was the beginning of a most wonderful experience from beginning to end. The price was MUCH better than the other place and the people were honest, energetic, reliable, competent and hard-working. And all of those things came along when I sure needed them the most.

The installation guy came out ahead of time to see what he was in for......never having seen a shipping container house before........Jeff, one of the owners, came out twice before the installation and once afterwards.......and I couldn't be happier with the stove or with their whole company.

Yeah, it's July.......but good service and good people need to be remembered any time of the year.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

It's about time.......:

It's about time......time leftover at the end of the day to put thoughts down on paper....(not much)......time for a progress report.....(not much).....time to try and remember what I've talked about in this bllllllog and what needs to be said....(not much).

I've thought this thought before, but life these days....and probably for a lot longer than I'd care to like that old Road-Runner cartoon. I don't remember much about the cartoon, but I do remember watching him being chased by a coyote, or something, and the road would just crumble off at his heels as he was running.....and then he would get to the end of the road and his feet would keep running but he would be in thin air and come crashing back to ground. And, life would go on. Now, I don't mean this illustration to be grim.......I'm just saying that every day is a new day with new stuff happening (or old stuff happening on a different day), and I don't carry a lot of yesterday with me. And all of that blah blah blah is merely a disclaimer for probably leaving out chunks of what's been going on and for waiting so long to even think about it. it's Spring. I thought it was Spring, a month or so ago, when I was watching the flooded river from my window and tromping around the high trail where you can see the Blue Heron Rookery. In fact, you could see EVERYTHING.....forever. When I looked back at those pictures today, and look out the window now, it seems like that was the dead of Winter. Overnight it has become can't even see where you're stepping....and all of those blooming green things are BLOCKING MY VIEW!

I'll show you some pictures.....

Looking out my window today. Where is the river?

So.....this is what happens when friends think your house-building pace is a little too slow. They assess the situation.....say they have a little time on their hands......have a conference with Michael.........order the lumber.....assemble their tools.......and I found them sitting on a stack of delivered cedar out by the road on the very day at the very moment they said they would be there. They may not have patience with me and my on-going project, but they certainly have the knowledge, the experience, the artistry, the ethics and.......God love 'em.....the generosity of spirit to lend their precious time and energy to applying the cedar to the ramp and porches. And talk about patience? Ask Michael about patience and cedar. Putting those boards side by side by side.....wasps buzzing around your head.....air compressors blowing gaskets.......nailers going haywire......getting locked out when they needed to be locked in....yes, they've got it.

These friends, who prefer to remain nameless for the time being (for fear of being inundated by other desperate, displaced homemakers with project lists and agendas) could be playing Pitch, shopping for khaki pants at TJ Maxx or enjoying the days with their extremely supportive, beautiful, and exciting wives.......and, instead, here they are.

I feel like Ms. Universe every time I walk up or down this ramp. Can you imagine the genuine "pain in the neck" that went with those cedar boards on the porch ceiling? And, there's more to come......
Michael prepared the ramp, the porch and deck for my "volunteer" work crew.....who refer to themselves as Frick and apply the cedar wrap.

Great looking wood stove chimney....canoe and kayak at the ready...... OOOOOOPS. I thought I could add all of the pictures that told about getting the new wood stove. For some reason, I can't include them.....the stupid @#%*&)** blog won't cooperate. I'll try to do an amendment to this one with just old pictures. Dang. And you're thinking, "What wood stove?"

Deck and porch getting ready for the cedar.....chimney standing by. What's that chimney for?

Those couch pillows in such disarray........that merely indicates a big time the night before. A big time: ten o'clock news and a chocolate-covered-mint Eskimo pie.I only got to use the Scan wood stove three or four times before it started warming up. The last three fires were certainly better than the first, but I can see why people like these things. It takes so little fuel, compared to a fireplace, to get the same result......with such a lesser degree of maintenance. Hmmm. I guess you could say that I like my wood stoves like I like my people. And vice-versa.

What wood stove?

This is where I try to figure out my Webster Electric bill each month. It's a lot like reading a Beirut subway schedule, I think. I read my meter......I figure it out....I send in my check.....and then I get A CORRECTION NOTICE AND AMOUNT DUE. Story of my life.
Michael is going to drill some holes for wire-hiding, and that will help this space look better I think. It's okay. (Right this minute, I am out on that porch that you can see through the NEW SCREENED DOOR......with a card table, a computer, my rolling chair, the river gurgling below, a Great Blue Heron honking, and that's definitely more than OKAY.)
Once, when I was living in the rental house in town (for 13 years!), I went to Eureka Springs for a weekend. I pulled in the driveway, when I got home, and there was a new garden beside my house. I had made no secret of the fact that I didn't want any houseplants, no green stuff to water or feed or fertilize......and some people just didn't think that was American.....or right. As much as I hate to admit it, I grew (so to speak) to really like that garden.....mostly the mint and horsetail. So, here we go again. Same friend. Same plan. Same hard heads involved on BOTH sides of the pick ax.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Here.....there.....or nowhere. That's progress.

If it's not in here.........with the exception of a weed eater, canoe and kayak......

or, someplace in there (meaning that beautiful house above).....including stuff that's still in cardboard boxes or paper sacks......then it's nowhere. Yep. Gone. No turning back. Moved out. I'm pretty much committed to living right here, right now......unless I run away from home and join an order that requires ridding yourself of all worldly possessions.

There's still a lot of work to be done.....finishing the storage container/carport with electricity and the canopy.....putting the cedar on the ramp and on the porches and deck....crawl space work....ceiling porch holes to be covered....making a decision about a wood stove in the living room.....covering the electrical panel and putting an outlet in the laundry area....exhaust fans in the bathrooms....trim plates installed....finding a dining table....finishing the counter in my bedroom and figuring out the best storage plan for underneath it....straightening and organizing all of those things in the storage container.........and working on the berms and planting on the outside.....stuff like that. But, just take a look at what's been done..........

Michael and I made a visit to Architectural Artifacts and picked out a couple of huge chunks of character-laden wood, which Michael transformed into a coffee table and three side tables.....similar to the work he and Jason did for The Coffee Ethic. They are gorgeous.....functional......and have as much history as the shipping containers themselves......or me, for that matter.

417 Magazine featured the house in their February Issue......and I can't say enough good things about Lifestyle Editor Savannah Waszczuk, who came out to see the house, talked to both Michael and me several times to make sure her facts were correct, and wrote an interesting, informative and accurate article that made me very proud. Photographer Kevin O'Reilly and Art Director Cassie Darst climbed up and down the hill like a couple of mountain goats, arranged and re-arranged lights and equipment, didn't waste a motion or a moment, seemed like there was nothing they would rather be doing, and stuck around for some hot chocolate when they were finished.

A message from the Editors in the front of the publication states, "Every article aims to make your life better in some way." That sure seems to apply to both the read-er and the read-ee.

Check this kitchen in another few months......see if it's still clean and shiny.

John R. has been transporting furniture, firewood and belongings on my behalf and has been the most capable and willing Wilderness Manager a person could ever have. He can load a load and back a skills we should all have......and appreciate.

Gabe, bless his heart, has had the challenge of Technological Training/Management for the Elderly and Dysfunctional.......need I say more? (And a whole gob of it is hidden in that cabinet above.) The best compliment I can offer, in describing both his patience and his thoroughness, is the fact that I have gone nearly four weeks without dialing ANY 1-800-hotline/help numbers....and we're talking TV DISH Network, Cell Phone, Laptop Computer and cheat sheets to go with 'em. What a man. I'm telling all of my friends.

I usually move that metal vase out of the way when we set up the bowling pins on Saturday night.

A glimpse of the laundry area.......

And part of my vacuum cleaner and heat pump..........

And this bed, my friends......and the one in Morgan's room.....was designed and hand-crafted in steel by my EX-landlord Ken Richardson. It may be hard to appreciate in this photograph, but we did away with the box springs, ordered a set of slats at IKEA, and Ken welded the frames and legs, and we have two beds that look like they just arrived from the Herman Miller showroom. (At a fraction of the price.)

Jason made this good-looking steel counter for the non-sleeping part of my bedroom. When I get the underneath storage figured out, Michael will finish installing it with the legs and holes for wires and hook-ups. I MUST be all times. HAH. And I'll need a chair with wheels and a different lamp maybe. And another cheat sheet.

What we have here, is decor. In tubs, boxes and sacks. Things that may or may not go on the walls or on a shelf. I've got some great stuff.......clay things that Ken Richardson made.....Eskimo artifacts......masks by Van Hee that I love........but I'm not one bit anxious to drive the first nail in the wall.

And this is Morgan's room.....with another bed that Ken made and the night stand that Michael made.......with much appreciation for my sister Judy, who hemmed up the bedspreads on both beds......and, believe me, that is the very LEAST of her gifts and talents.

Morgan keeps her cheat sheets next to her sleeping mask and her headlight.....out of sight for the photo op.

That little pile of papers by the propped-up mask (no nails have been used here) a collection of the Punch Lists that used to be taped up on the windows and throughout the house....and a few add-ons of mine. I've never HISSED at Michael when we've gone over some of those to do's, but I will admit to FLUTTERING those papers.......just to make a point.

This has been and still is a really big fat deal. All of the decisions....the anticipation.....the changes.....the apprehension......the permanency......the pleasure.......the pride........and that just applies to the planning and building part. The biggest, fattest and sweetest deals have been the relationships that have resulted from this........and the living that is just beginning to make this house "the only place like it on the face of the earth".

It doesn't exactly have the drama of airborne containers on cranes........but I'll keep you posted for a while longer......until there are nail holes in the wall and berm-fulls of buffalo grass.