I recently completed teaching a workshop in Meadville, Pennsylvania which once again reminded me of how much fun it is to build a house with my own two hands. In the case of the workshop, it was more like 25 sets of hands, but the idea is the same. There is nothing quite like seeing a project grow from an idea to a reality. One thing that I know for sure is that many hands make for easy work. That is so evident in the workshops I teach as so much is accomplished in such a small amount of time. In fact, I did a quick calculation and discovered that in just 7 days, we accomplish what would take two people seventeen and a half weeks to complete (when calculating “man-hours”: a measure of one person working one hour on a task).
Back to Meadville. I promised the host’s mother, Barbara, that I would sing the praises of the hosts and their extended family, and I can do nothing less than that. The hospitality, food, and kindness were all so wonderful that it is no wonder everyone worked so hard to get the house as close to complete as we did. I would like to extend a public thank you from us all (I’m sure I can speak for the group on this one) for a wonderful experience. We all felt right at home and thoroughly loved and supported.
I was thinking of calling this post “To Heaven and Back Again” due to the contrasting experience I had at the workshop juxtaposed onto the last several days back at home. Let me explain. When I returned home from the workshop in Pennsylvania, I got straight to work on our own homestead. We are currently building a tiny house on a trailer (238 SF plus sleeping lofts) that will be our home for the next few years while we explore our new property and plan for our straw bale “forever home.” That part is wonderful; however, the weather has decided to not play nice. I have been building in a steady downpour of 40F rain which has turned the ground into a thick mess of sticky clay. I have never been a fan of high heels, and I certainly don’t like them on my work boots, but the mud seems to enjoy traveling wherever I go. The extra 4″ or so makes reaching high things easier, but everything else is harder, slower, wetter, and less enjoyable.
I have stayed in positive spirits along the way, but today’s weather nearly defeated me. I was not able to stand the wall I was framing at the end of the day (as I had hoped to) because of all the mud on the deck, and that was disappointing. I did make it back to Heaven, after my short trip through a wet Hell, by way of a cedar hot tub. It was the one thing that kept me going during the downpour: the smell of wood burning in the Snorkel Hot Tub stove. If you’ve never seen a snorkel Stove Hot Tub, check them out. Although not as easy to assemble as we might have hoped, it was well worth the effort in the end. There is nothing quite like a soak in a wood fired hot tub under a rainy sky after a long, cold, damp day of construction.
Ahh, the joys of building!