Teddy bear sunflowers!
Cowpeas shooting up (I need to get a trellis going soon):
No luck with watermelons yet. I also learned the lesson that tomatillos and tomatoes need light, light, light when growing from seed indoors. Putting it in a window is not nearly enough. I lost almost all of my starts. Not satisfied to think that tomatoes only grow with artificial light (like the pioneers had an Ott-lamp on hand), I googled around to see if anyone starts their tomatoes outdoors. I couldn’t find definitive info on starting tomatoes in situ, so I am doing an experiment outdoors. Planted the rest of my tomato/illo seeds in one five gallon bucket to see what would happen. Tons of sprouts so far. At this point in the south Texas growing season, I’m late on nearly everything (especially tomatoes). So my $20 spent on seeds is just an experiment at this point. I’m just excited that I have sunflowers.
I moved my worms outside and they are doing really, really well. It’s getting pretty warm though, so I think I’ll need to nestle them in the vines under my parents’ deck for maximum coolness. They love the wet that they get from the rain. I wasn’t keeping the buckets indoors nearly wet enough, and couldn’t seem to consistently feed them. I kept getting fruit flies. My new strategy is to toss food in regularly. There are a billion fruit flies in the buckets but it doesn’t matter outdoors.
I also scored about eight icing buckets from the bakery at HEB the other day. I’ve filled them with half-finished compost, shredded paper, leaves, and a handful of worms each. Kind of like lasagna gardening but in buckets. We’ll see what happens, I’m hoping for some soil to magically appear in a few months’ time.
It is unbearably exciting to see new plants shoot up. I’ve never grown anything from seed (except for a pretty ballin’ sunflower garden when I was little; but that was really my mom) so every new sprout and leaf shape is a surprise to me. I really, really love gardening in a way I never thought possible.
The door is painted (and more so now than in the photo above; the sidelights are also painted green). I still need a few more coats, actually. But that’s the general idea. Chartreuse! Not everyone’s cup of tea, but they can suck it.
You can also see that I’m painting the inside exactly the same. Another exciting element to this photo below is the insulation! I took over this job from Casey and managed to use up the whole pallet that we purchased. Thirty sheets. We’ve also used up four rolls of Reflectix at this point; about half of one more roll and we will be completely radiant-barrier-ed.
It seems like such small, slow, insignificant work, but I tell myself that every minuscule thing I do today is one more minuscule thing that neither one of us has to do later. Even looking at these photos from a few days ago, I like knowing that the house already looks different (Reflectix nearly everywhere).
We ordered the ceiling material (wood of some kind) and will be renting a U-haul this week to pick that up as well as to return the old ceiling material (luan), purchasing the final pallet of insulation (!!!) and some thin drywall for the walls. The electrical plan still needs finishing and then it’s on to that. I think we’re both tired of making decisions. Okay, I know we are both tired of making decisions.
Things I learned:
1) The seemingly innocuous paper on the back of the foam insulation will CUT you terribly.
2) Don’t bother with foam rollers. They suck! Get a nice brush ($5 at Lowe’s) and use that for door painting. We’re using semi-gloss and the color is Citronette from a brand I don’t remember. I also forgot to ask for low-VOC. Oh well.
3) Some work is better than no work. It was two weeks ago that I decided that I could work on the house alone. If I hadn’t cut that first piece of wall insulation, then I’d be a good 15 hours worth of work behind where I am now. Momentum is key; don’t lose it on your build.
4) We are using three layers of 3/4 inch foam insulation which bring us to R-15. The radiant silver barrier behind that adds no R-value but reflects a great bit of heat out of the house (we live in the perfect climate 7 months out of the year; the other 5 is dedicated to the type of weather suited to cooking eggs on the sidewalk).
Last night I had a dream that I showed up to my second-semester Japanese class and sat down to an exam. We were returning from Christmas break and my professor laid down an inch-thick exam booklet filled with Japanese letters.
“How is it that I don’t remember ANY of this from pre-Christmas?” I thought in my dream. “And why would the professor give us the final exam for the first semester AFTER Christmas break?” It was open-book, and I was relieved to find the page with the Japanese alphabet (“It’s all phonetic, remember, just match the syllables,” I said to myself) except, like dreams do, I couldn’t find the page at any point after that first discovery. My professor was telling me to finish and I kept telling her I literally knew NOTHING on the exam, and how was this even possible that I knew nothing?!?!? But I told myself that I was taking the semester pass/fail and it wouldn’t even matter.
I woke up and forgot about the dream until just now. In reality: I took one semester of Japanese in the fall of 2007 (pass/fail; I passed), which was nearly six years ago which also freaks me out, but not nearly as much as I was freaked out in the dream.
I was thinking about that fall semester yesterday (hello, dream), a semester in which I took 23 credit hours (7 classes and a lab or two) which included Japanese, architectural history, chemistry, biology, African-American thought, and two other classes which have mercifully slipped my memory. I was also an RA in charge of 20 freshman. And I was volunteering in a part-time position to help the new head of the dining hall make the dining hall a place where people actually wanted to eat. And I was on a committee for two other things.
I was busy. I have a hard time saying no, but it’s not because I’m a pushover (I doubt that word has ever been used to describe me by anyone). I have a hard time saying no because nearly everything on this earth excites and interests me. Why would I refuse something when I genuinely want to do and learn and see and help? In case you were wondering: my absolutely inevitable breakdown didn’t come until two months after that semester ended. Were I feeling more lyrical, I could weave a thread through this essay about how the title of this blog post is a song lyric from Billy Joel’s “Vienna” which was my personal theme song of sorts for many years before I actually traveled there. And I happened to travel there while recovering from my aforementioned breakdown. A song about being young and moving too quickly, called “Vienna,” and then there I was in Vienna. A beautiful coincidence.
I realized recently that I am once again carrying too much. Far too much. I’ll spare you a list of everything and I’ll also spare you the details of the incredibly physical breakdown, except to say it was an illness that knocked me flat for nearly a week. I’m saying “No” now, to nearly everything. My dad told me that in a book he’s reading, a woman decided if it’s not a “Hell yes!” then it’s a “No.”
I don’t know if anyone else feels accidentally competitive in this arena. Because I realized just the other day that my thinking my whole life has been “Well, if she is doing all 26 letters A through Z in her life, then I should be able to do all 26 letters A through Z AND start on numbers 1, 2, 3, 4… and be totally fine!” When in reality, I think about 4 things is more than enough. Eating is priority, and then activity 1 and activity 2 and activity 3. I’m working on whittling down to three from about fifty by just saying “No.” It’s addictive. I highly recommend it. I’ve even been doing it in my head. When something starts to bother me I think “Wait…does this really matter?” And then I say “No!” and take a breath and smile.
I’ve already said no to Renegade in May. I hate to not be there but I know it’s the right decision. In the meantime, I’m working on making my Etsy shop incredible.
Also, I’m eating really delicious food. Priority one? Check.
Around noon last Thursday, Casey and I were sitting around bemoaning our frustration with how things were going with the tiny house. He’s been working hard to save up for the final materials buy for the build, but it’s still been difficult to not *see* progress at the house.
Then Casey said “What’s the one thing you would do right now if you could?” And I said I wanted to clean up the build site. Ten minutes later, we were in the Beetle. Three hours later, we had a full U-haul trailer of scrap wood and plywood that needed to be dumped. Friday we drove around finding landfills, and on Saturday, we purchased a full flat of 3/4-inch foam insulation and wall paneling from Lowe’s. Sunday the ceiling went from looking like this:
We put Reflectix up as a heat barrier (adds no r-value because there is no air gap between the roof sheathing and the Reflectix). I wasn’t sure if it would work, but we left and went to lunch on an 85 degree day. When we returned, I stuck my hand behind the Reflectix and was STUNNED to feel a 15 degree difference between the sheathing and the shiny stuff. I’ve spent the last three days groping the ceiling as the sun changes places in the sky. From bare plywood to behind the Reflectix to on top of the Reflectix to on top of the three sheets of 3/4-inch foam, I’ve been feeling and exclaiming my temp estimates aloud to Casey, who has been hard at work on the ladder.
This will keep the bugs out and allow for the house to breathe a bit (and allow heat to escape, which is perfect for our climate; not ideal for all of you Northerners out there). So now it looks like this:
And the loft ceiling is screened, Reflectix-ed and waiting for insulation:
So there’s the update. Nothing like one little action (cleaning up the build site) to restore momentum to a long-dormant project. Next is insulating the loft ceiling, hanging the 4×8 plywood wall panels on the main ceiling, and then closing up the porch roof. It’s incredible to be at a stage where the progress is so practical (making the house cooler) and easily seen. The visible changes were exactly what we needed. For the first time, I can really see the end, and the end is exciting.
It was a mad rush to the finish line, but we made it. SxSw was a hard, long weekend, but I met so many great people it was worth it in the end. I feel privileged to be a part of the Austin crafting and art community.
When we set up our booth on Thursday morning, I was finally able to see all of my guitar straps together in one place. I looked at Casey and said “This is the first time in my life that I really feel like an artist.”
And so I did.
Please watch this.
Yesterday I realized that the rush order of perle cotton that I’d been waiting for (and paid $$$ to ship quickly) was the wrong weight. And it was 100% my error. I cried after I made the phone call to order more (and subsequently pay even more $$$$-with four dollar signs this time-to have it get here by tomorrow), which I consider personal progress.
After sobbing to Casey that I was a failure who couldn’t even get her ish together in time to make a decent application to Renegade, I opened my email to read that I’d been accepted to Renegade (May 18+19 at the Palmer Events Center in Austin) on the basis of my hastily thrown-together application.
This has nothing to do with anything but every post needs a picture:
Gluten free lasagna I made for my grandparents last week. I’m not sure I’ve ever made anything so pretty and picture-perfect.
Guitar strap! Finished! (nearly, it’s not stitched). It slays me that these photos weren’t taken in natural daylight, but I had to get my Renegade app in by midnight on Monday.
I’m busy weaving and dyeing and tooling away over here. Gettin’ done what I can get done.
Come see us at Guero’s March 14-16th (Thursday, Friday and Saturday next week) from noon-nine pm to get your hands on one of these puppies!
Back to work.
Learn a craft. Paint a mural. Make a mosaic. Learn how to silkscreen t-shirts by hand. Weave. Throw a pot. Carve bowls out of wood. Learn coppicing. Grow and braid garlic. Bake gluten free brownies from local ingredients. Carve leather. Make saddles. Cobble a pair of shoes. Sew a dress. Knit a sweater. Make soap. Make paper. Letterpress something. Cure some cheese. Build a table. Weld something. Enamel something. Silversmith. Work iron. Build a computer from scratch. Repair an old device. Repurpose a table from a thrift store.
The world needs more artisans. The world doesn’t need printed-in-China throw pillows with your cartoon fox design on them. The world needs artists and craftspeople. The world needs more artisanal cheesemakers, not paper-pushers and deskwarmers and computer-sitters.
The world does not need a new, clever t-shirt design. Hop off cafe press and sell something useful and unique.