Monthly Archives: September 2012

“The house that never ends…”

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That is how I’d been referring to Little Yellow the last few months. Saying so sounds a bit more negative than I intend it to, but that was honestly how it felt. In fact, it felt almost impossible that the amount of work I contributed so very often seemed to take so very long and make so very little difference.

I remember starting last September. I remember looking at the lumber on the trailer and feeling totally out of my ball park. I remember thinking that the feeling would go away soon and I’d promptly skip out the door with hammer swinging conviction to work on my house every day. Well that thought was a good few miles off.

First, I certainly wasn’t able to work on it every day and, at least when I was alone, never started before 3:00 pm. Like, never. Probably not even once. Second, any attempted skipping in conjunction with the swinging of heavy, semi-hazardous metal objects was not to be in my future with a good ending.

But seriously; without fail, I would have that same overwhelming feeling at least once every single day for the entire build. Up to the last week, even. Like there was too much. There was just too much and I couldn’t do it. It’s too hard. It’ll never get done. How on earth will I possibly figure X out?

And it’s such a strong feeling. You’d think, seeing as I got it every jolly day, I’d figure out that as soon as I shut that part of myself the hell up, I’d almost always manage to get something concrete done. But that’s how it gets you. It has some terribly tricksy little fiendish way of convincing you that this is a different feeling than you’ve had before. All the other previous feelings of inadequacy were just tests, and this is the one that’ll get you. I can be pretty stupid for being relatively smart.

I wanted to talk about this because I’d like to make sure that those of you who have ever felt this way while building (or otherwise creating something that far surpasses your comfort level) know that you are not alone. You can do it, and it’s going to be great. Mentally pushing through can sometimes be your biggest obstacle, I’m pretty sure it was for me.

A little of the happy fuzzies before I go to bed in my lovely loft. My house is like something big that you really love compacted into something you can hold in your hand. Kind of like a snowglobe instead of Alaska. It is bright and warm and full of time, thoughts and cat hair. It is the very best thing I have ever had for keeps 😀

Little Yellow…

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Is done 😀

I might just write that again, because it looks so very nice. And this time, I shall employ caps to convey the enthusiasm as effectively as type can: LITTLE YELLOW IS DONE!!!! Alright, I’m freakin’ excited. But after a year of planning, more than a year of building, and what felt like 5 or so years of anticipation, I have a house. A whole house 😀 I. Have. A. Home.

Can you believe it? I still can’t. I worked sporadically on little things here and there the last few weeks (mostly moulding and oiling of trim and moving my life in) until I began to run out of things to do. It started to look like more things were finished than not. Then I’d come up with something else to sort out, and then I’d see even more things finished then not. And then it finally happened…I’m actually done 😀

About 90 some percent of my things are inside now. Somehow I managed to decrease my pile of clothes from one that could feed a flock of cloth-eating monsters for weeks to the size of a reasonable suitcase. And don’t scoff, I’m pretty sure there were more than a few cloth-eating monsters in closets I’ve had.

Even with everything in, Little Yellow still feels open and airy with a surplus of storage. I honestly didn’t see that coming. I thought I’d have every nook and cranny squished to the brim with things I just couldn’t part with (that’s kind of what I usually do) and I’m so relieved that I don’t this time around.

Living in my tiny space feels ordinarily easy. I’m still not completely full time out here, but the transition has been the least amount of bother I could wish for. My shower is inches from my clothes which are inches from my shoes which are inches from my door. From waking up to dressed and ready takes about 15 minutes, just because there are so few distractions from one to other.

Except for the kittens, that is. Pìseag, the calico tabby girl (meaning little cat, I call her Pee-sha for short) and Sionnag my silver tabby boy (little fox, shun-a) are all over the place. Playing attack cats in the grass, bouncing from the floor to the bench, doing leaps over each other and going whole hog at that suspicious rug in the kitchen that they are sure is out to get them. Yesterday they learned how to climb the ladder and spent the whole of last night assaulting me with their happy (really loud) purring, one curled under each arm.

Guess what?? I’m moving up by San Francisco in 2 weeks! House and all, down the road I go 🙂 Or at least, that’s the plan. Nightmares of falling houses and flying roofs bumble around my head on a far too regular basis, but what can you do? Hope for the best, and remember the shit tons of screws I stuck into that thing.

Open house announcement:

I’ll be stopping a few places along the way for tiny open houses if any of you happen to be near! The thought for the time being is 1. in my town (about 1.5 hours out of LA) 2. San Luis Obispo, 3. Santa Cruz. Not sure if any others might creep up, but those are what make most sense. More information to follow!

Ok, one more time. Little Yellow is done! You might just call me a happy camper 😀

Counters and mortise locks and dish racks and coat racks and porch posts and…

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Oh my. Gad zooks I’ve been a while! Things are doing very well, and I’m at the point when I can almost say my house is done 🙂 It’s not, exactly, but it’s so darn close that most people probably wouldn’t know to look at it. Ideally, I would delve into each section of progress in individual posts, but life is running away with me so I hope this picture laden compilation will do.

Firstly, a bit on the kitchen. The counter is attached (with little, 4 screw angle irons), I’ve gotten all the shelves in, the sink installed and the stove set up nice on top. It’s a denatured alcohol version by Origo where one pours said fuel directly into the unit, and since it doesn’t really need to get cut into my counters to work, I decided that it was fine just as it is. I’m quite please with it actually, because now I can put it elsewhere if I need more counterspace, then bring it back again when I don’t. I could also use it outside or take it camping, or just keep it in my car so I could cook wherever I go 😀 Less likely, but it is good to have options…

The finishing of Flemming’s priceless counters was an annoying puzzlement that spanned many attempts, reattempts and re-reattempts plus that ‘this is never going to work’ feeling that can do a number on one’s perseverance. But work it did, by cracky, after much ado. Essentially, this particular wood took very poorly to water. By poorly, I mean that each time any amount of water got left on the surface for any amount of time, the grain would raise and the wood would turn white, leaving an entirely displeasing trail of bumpy ugliness.

I’m sure this all could have been quickly solved by a layer or however-many of polyurethane-type counter finish, but that would have been too easy. I hate that stuff, probably for no good reason, but I’m an advocate for easily re-doable finishes and was dead set on oiling it. Boy howdy did I oil that thing. I put over 3 pints of oil on it (butcher’s block oil, i.e. mineral oil) thinking that the waterproofness would improve when it was saturated. I was wrong of course, and no amount of oil, different oil, beeswax or anything I thought of could keep this grain from raising.

With the advice of a few clever neighbours and a slow return of some good sense on my part, I finally stopped trying to keep the grain from raising and and started trying to get it to raise. I covered the whole thing in water. I literally poured cups onto it for several days until every little piddly section was grain-raised to the max. After it dried, I sanded everything down and there you go! Simple as that. Grain raising white spots of doom? No longer an issue.  I then oiled it again and now my counter is ready for anything. Well, at least water.

My cats live with me in and out of Little Yellow now, and they are the most delightfully entertaining, boot chewing, and lap warming little jumping beans. They are all curled up innocent-like on my knees right now, purring their tiny hearts out.

I spent the last 2 weeks scouting somewhere to put my house up by San Francisco. I haven’t got anything definite yet, but I have a few thoughts for the short term, and I plan to move by this time next month. It’s terribly exciting. It’s also terribly terrifying, but that’s the path I chose, and if my life didn’t have a reasonable balance of the two, I doubt I’d be very happy 😀