Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Big silence

I got this horoscope in my email today:
"Sometimes people have nothing to say because they're too empty," writes author Yasmin Mogahed, "and sometimes people have nothing to say because they're too full." By my reckoning, Cancerian, you will soon be in the latter category. A big silence is settling over you as new amusements and amazements rise up within you. It will be understandable if you feel reluctant to blab about them. They need more time to ripen. You should trust your impulse to remain a secret and a mystery for a while.

It's exactly how I've been feeling – not "soon" like he says, but for awhile now.

Things are happening. The building is getting built and I'm very happy with it – waking up at 6 a.m. on the weekends, excited for the sun to come up so I can get back to work. Thinking about it all the time, seeing new possibilities in my head and then figuring out how to make them happen – and then doing it.

It's been a long time since I've been this active, creatively, physically, mentally ... Even my relationship with Mr. A is thriving in this new energy.

Anyway – very happy. And feeling quiet. And loving it.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

All decked out

The decking is done. Even though it seems like it's taking forever, I got all this built in just a few days - it's just that I'm only working on Saturdays, and haven't really been starting until early afternoon - after the dog park, errands, and lunchies.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Birthday horoscope

Just got this horoscope in my email for my birthday week:

"Thomas Gray was a renowned 18th-century English poet best remembered for his "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." It was a short poem -- only 986 words, which is less than the length of this horoscope column. On the other hand, it took him seven years to write it, or an average of 12 words per month. I suspect that you are embarking on a labor of love that will evolve at a gradual pace, too, Cancerian. It might not occupy you for seven years, but it will probably take longer than you imagine. And yet, that's exactly how long it should take. This is a character-building, life-defining project that can't and shouldn't be rushed."

Funny! I guess anyone could always think of *something* they're doing or planning that could be described this way, but for me right now it's obviously my building. I have been thinking of it as "a character-building, life-defining project that can't and shouldn't be rushed" all along, so it's cool to see those words in my in box.
Especially since I always feel guilty about taking my time with things, even though I know I do best that way.
I'm in Utah for several more days, then home to Mr. A (who doesn't travel except for work) and the Beast and my character-building project. I'm finally going to show my building plan to my dad, which I haven't done yet because it isn't perfectly drawn up and extensively annotated yet ... Typical me, to want it perfect before I ask for input from anyone else. But I'm showing it to him as it is.
Family time has felt really, really great so far. My parents just keep getting sweeter and more adorable, and the rest of my family are all in the middle of life just about as deep as people can get, with kids, jobs, dogs, community life, church stuff, and everything else, and I'm so proud of everyone. My shed seems like such a trivial challenge compared with bringing up kids, but it's what I have and everyone's been very encouraging about it.
Anyway. Time to stop pontificating and help with dinner.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Inspecting the goods

The wood is here!
When the truck arrived with the entire load banded together in two piles - one for framing lumber and the other for plywood sheathing and flooring - my first thought was, "That's IT?" I had been picturing the mountains of wood that I'm used to seeing at building sites where houses are going up ... Because in my mind, this thing I'm building is more like a mansion, museum, or mall than a humble 120 square foot shed. Looking at the actual lumber and pier blocks all laid out in formation is very calming, even though they represent many hours of work to come (which also makes me nervous when I think too much about it) - because reality is almost always easier and less scary than the way I see things in my imagination.
The same day the wood was delivered I wrenched my right index finger somehow, and it pretty much put my whole hand out of commission for a week. It's still not 100% better but I'm writing this on the first day of a 10-day vacation with my family so I'm hoping by the time I get back it'll be healed enough to get back to work. It was distressing to realize how completely such a small injury could derail my plans; for the first time it occurred to me that someday I'll be old enough that injuries like this will Not heal in a couple of weeks, and in fact a simple injury could turn into a permanent disability that will prevent me from ever again being able to just decide to do something, and then do it.
Not to be morbid! And I guess permanent injury is always a possibility. I just was grateful to be reminded so early in the process to take my time and work safely - and also, that there's no time like the present to DO some of the things I've been daydreaming about for so long.
Building something isn't that different from thinking about building it, in some ways. I do tend to think things through maybe more than they need to be, but in the end I have to say I've been pretty satisfied with almost everything I've ever made, from chicken coops, fences and rose arbors to hats, dresses and jars of jam. A few years ago I re-acquired a dress I sewed for myself in about 1986 and later gave to a friend, who kept it around for over 20 years and then gave it back. It's not something I would wear again now so I was looking at it to see if I could take it apart and make something else with the fabric - and was really surprised and pleased to see how well designed and well made it was, down to the smallest details, even on the inside, where nobody would even see. It made me happy to think of the girl (me) who was young enough to be my daughter now, if I'd had a daughter, taking that kind of care with something as humble and utilitarian as a simple cotton sun dress.
I hope I can build this barn to a similar standard. I intend to, anyway. Maybe that's why I've been so slow really getting rolling on it, and why it keeps growing into such a behemoth in my mind. On the one hand, it's not all that different from other things I've built - it isn't "Fine Homebuilding" and I'm not planning anything especially fancy in the design or materials. On the other hand, it's bigger, more complex, and more expensive than anything else I've ever tried to make, so there's more opportunity to make mistakes that will be costly or even impossible to fix.
Augh! See how my brain does its thing?
It's Just A Shed. That's the magical phrase I keep coming back to. Just a shed. One thing at a time. Totally doable.
A nice byproduct of the process - not unexpected but also not guaranteed - is that building something together with Mr. A is turning out to be fun and challenging, in a good way, and really strengthening for our relationship, friendship, and partnership. He has a lot of technical knowledge of materials and processes (remember my first pseudonym for him in this silly online chronicle was "the engineer"), and he's also a safety freak, which is always a plus when you're using sharp heavy dangerous tools all day long in the hideous heat.
I contribute insight, oversight, patience, perspective, perfectionism, persistence, and a sense of calm. These are all good things, I think. We are learning a lot from each other and I'm grateful we've come to a place in our relationship where I feel like we're finally able to really work together. It hasn't always been this way. I always believed that it could be, though. And now we're getting there.
In a few weeks it'll be ten years we've been together.
My plane just landed so I'm off. More soon.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Level & square

Ready to frame out the decking for the floor. Laser level is my new favorite tool - without it this was taking forever and even then the accuracy left a lot to be desired. Now this floor is more level than the floor in our kitchen.
This is looking west, toward our neighbor's vineyard. We're planting a hedgerow for privacy along the fenceline, with space between the trees to maintain the wildlife corridor. I saw a little spotted fawn out there today trying to figure out how to get through to the other side ... I don't know why there needs to be a 10-foot fence on a less than 1-acre hobby vineyard, but that's the way it is. We do our best to make space on our side for animals to get where they need to go.
The pipe along the back wall is just to help me align the pier blocks. The chain link fence will come down after the building is finished, and the back will have a tall narrow window on one side framing a view of the Mayacamas range over our back field. If I position the window just right you won't even see the giant telephone pole that's planted right in the middle of the view from almost everywhere else on the property.
It doesn't show in this photo but there's a little fig tree growing just on the other side of the fence. It will be in shade for most of the day after the building goes up, which I think it will like just fine. At some point I plan to make a little shade garden back there.
One thing at a time, though.
Tomorrow I'll check my diagonal measurements one more time, and put together the first section of framing for the floor.
I did cut my hair short, by the way. Not super short, but much shorter than it's been in about 10 years. I'm liking it and may go even shorter in the next few weeks before my vacation.
Also, I've been pretty anxiety-free for awhile now but I had a full-on anxiety attack the day I started actually digging out the space. I sat in the living room crying, ready to ditch the entire project – until Mr. A said, "Put your boots back on, we're going to the lumber yard." Which we did. And I've been OK since then. I guess it shouldn't be surprising that I'd react that way to the actual beginning of a project I've been dreaming about and planning for over 20 years. I was surprised, though. I'd sort of thought (or maybe just hoped) I was done with all that.
I did get through the panic a lot faster than I used to, and I'm happy with that.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Ground breaking

Believe it or not this little wooden outline is the official start of "the infamous building" I've been planning and fretting and daydreaming about for the last 40-odd years.
I broke ground on May 3 and have been slowly finding my groove, with a lot of help from Mr. A and the Beast, who seems to find all the digging pretty exciting and fun.
More photos as the job progresses.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Under our feet

I'm sitting in the shade in the outline of what will be the foundation of my long- planned shack-in-the-back, drinking a bottle of water and watching Bea and her friend Molly quite literally dancing on Tater's grave.

To the uninformed eye it might have looked like wrestling but I know pure dog joy when I see it and they were really dancing, feeling good, and enjoying life. It sounds stupid but seriously - they were absolutely engaged in the present, they were in flow.

I felt so happy seeing that. I still miss him and it feels good to see new life growing and enjoying its existence. They are not thinking about the past, I'm pretty sure.

I actually love that expression, "to dance on one's grave." I know it's meant to refer to the happiness you feel in an enemy's defeat, but to me it always seems like a happy thought to know that some living person would be around after I'm gone, dancing and feeling happy, and that they might include me in the moment too by doing it on my grave.

It seems like the greatest compliment or honor you could offer a dead person, living well and with intention.

I guess that's what dogs don't do - they do seem to know how to live well, they just don't THINK about it.

Anyway, I started to mentally blog about it (the dogs are back for round 2 of wrestle mania / love Fest), thinking about how everyone who has ever lived is still here in body if not in life - and so the whole world is in a way, a graveyard - which I realize is not my own original idea - and so we can honor life by living as if we are always dancing on the earth, etc ....

Also not a new idea, I'm sure.

Anyway, that's what I'm thinking about today. Planting seeds, too. I've been planting gardens all my life and every spring I find myself still secretly skeptical that anything will happen. Every year it seems like a brand new miracle to me when the little seedlings actually appear. By the time I'm cutting flowers I've usually forgotten all about how I felt in the beginning. I like to remember those times though.

Hence this post.

"Heaven is under our feet as well as I over our heads," said Henry David Thoreau. That about covers it for me today.