Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Progress of Walls

At this stage, the house begins to look like a giant box. All sheathing is going up, after which window openings will reappear, and so on. I'm starting to get a sense of how tall this house will be (surprisingly tall) and am quite satisfied by the headroom beneath the loft joists. My sister and her man visited this weekend, in part for a pre-emptory housewarming. Lovely!

All these angles appeal to spiders and in most crooks, they're weaving. My ears caught a buzz and I swiveled to see one mean mama turning a bee over & over & over in her web, the bee as large as the spider herself. From within more & more layers of spider silk, that buzz kept whining out and made me suck in my breath. What a sight. What a feast, esp. since the bee had a full load of pollen on each leg. Work done, the spider returned to the calm centre of her web to wait out the fading buzz and let her serum do its liquefying work. Oh, Nature. Sometimes the physically small can fill my eyes & imagination.


Immediately across from the hardware store is this funny little sign, which, any who have followed it will know, points to the best bakery this side of France. Marie et Guy have settled deep in Nova Scotia, effectively turning runs for screws into runs for pain au chocolat also.

On the theme of distractions (which is, perhaps, to underplay the intrinsic value of attending theological college), my father and I were marvelling at how swift progress would be on a project like ours if we were dedicated to it day after day. As it is, the tiny house is a weekend project and about this, I have no complaints. I'm savouring the time we can spend on it and find that I can turn the next stages over & over in my mind throughout the week. It's a pleasure to be involved in something that is unfolding, but slowly, especially as the rest of my week has suddenly been taken up with pressing through piles of information & ideas in concert (or dissonance) with a chorus of fast company.


Down over the mountain is everything I need to buy. Last weekend, there was a fair bit of to & fro: picking up yet another window (for the bathroom), then picking up more screws and nails when Saturday afternoon was going so well we were going to run short. Time was, I worked in retail and sure did appreciate what a world unto itself the shop could be. I sold art supplies. It was a great job to have while I was in, ah, art school. And in the ever-revolving way of retail staffing, I worked alongside a raft of good souls for shorter or longer times. One starred (is that the word?) in B-rated superhero/vampire flicks, one had the same top-knot hairstyle as the dog she toted around in the basket hanging off her bicycle handlebars, one kept cigarette butts in her breast pocket and all gave that one a wide berth. There were various in-store liasons and drug deals and dramas, of which our regular customers were privy to greater or lesser extents. I've left retail but I haven't lost my eye for interesting staff. It's a great pleasure to frequent Fraser's Pro Hardware because all the staff there seem freakishly content, even by Nova Scotia standards. It's so true of rural Canada that the hardware store is a hub of economy and action. And the Fraser's staff knows their stuff and know each other and I am secretly proud when any of them indicate that I know what I'm on about with my problem-solving in this little house project. Lines of respect are worth a lot in this builder's world. Though I did get a decent shot of Mike behind the cash, it hardly seems fair to plaster him online, so here's the window art at Fraser's Pro.

Monday, September 6, 2010


A new schoolmate asked me this week why I had the idea to build this little house. I can come up with a great array of answers, but perhaps the biggest is that it's just exciting to live in a variety of places. This bus/home is a couple of country roads away from here. (The region is liberally peppered with experiments like this one, praise be!) I would happily live for a while in a bus or a horsebox or a manor house (record shows...) and I've no illusion that the tiny house is going to be my terminal address.

Last weekend, I welcomed my first houseguests into the proto-house. They were passing through Nova Scotia on their annual camping trip and I knew them to be sympathetic to my housing ideals (such as they are). Their camping trip is a yearly opportunity to trim living essentials down to virtually nil, while their home life is defined by modular & folding furniture, a shared cat, but two apartments joined by an interior door that can be both opened and closed as life dictates. May the tiny house know many more fine visitors.

Four Walls, Ladies & Gents

...perhaps not complete walls, but progress is good. Once we had all four walls tacked down, there was the challenge to level & straighten them. The trailer is on uneven ground and even though I acquired 3 jacks from my friendly neighborhood auto wrecker, levelling the whole rig would've been a real palaver. My father came up with an ingenious jig for the spirit level and, with one person reading the level (thanks, mom), one pushing against a wall, and one screwing in a temporary brace, we arrived at a rock-steady, square, and beautiful construction.

Sheathing, a thin plywood layer just outside the framing, will eventually cover the whole structure (minus window & door openings). It has made sense to fix the sheathing on some portions of wall before lifting them into place, while the rest will be fixed much later. With four walls in place, I'm aware for the first time how strange it will be to have only one way into the house. It's tremendous fun to swing and hop through every available space in the houseframing.

Next job: rim joists.

Weather Permitting

"Work" is a beautiful word. Lying on the desk of my new dorm room at school is one schedule; here's another. As part of our Labour Day work, my father and I co-ordinated schedules, with me judging when I'd be able to get away from the city. Weather permitting, we'll get enough done that, on the next holiday weekend, we can roof the house.

BTW, Earl-the-hurricane rose up the other coast of the province, leaving the Valley virtually untouched. This is one of Canada's biggest apple-growing areas; there were many tense, then grateful prayers mingled with Earl's breath here. The storm blew in fresh air and all creatures (builders included) seem to have sprung back to life. We've had more birds than usual circling over our work today and, amongst other tasks, I was charged with freeing a hummingbird from the workshop. Thought I'd killed her in my attempt to net her, but once outside, she hummed fast out of my father's hand. Lots of sighs through that drama, too.