As I was putting the finishing touches on the paint on the south end of my house, I was lamenting the fact that this past summer has been All Work and No Play. Then I realized how much fun I have had working on my various projects, especially The Fort. And how much work I put into my play, as in triathlons. The early season knee injury benched me for the summer as far as racing goes, but it let me focus my vast amounts of energy on my little homestead. Turning my ugly, ill-used storage shed into an epic Fort (aka writing studio/guest house) has been an adventure all on its own. I mean, c'mon, how cool is it to build a fort? I have piles of rock and brick to build a stone patio, a walkway out to the Fort, a small patio at the Fort, and a stone fire pit. It has been a massive amount of work these last six months or so, but I have enjoyed every minute of it.
With the impending rains of autumn on the horizon, the Fort has been on hiatus these last few weeks as I scraped, sanded, repaired, epoxied, scraped, sanded, weatherized, primered, and painted the weather beaten south end, and south-east corner of my home. It has been in dire need of attention really since before I even knew this place existed. Now it is weather tight, clean, and the cedar siding has been repaired and renovated so it will last for another decade or more. I did it all by myself, as usual. With neurotic attention to detail, as usual. And it looks fabulous.
To add to the list of Work/Play, yesterday was a day of salvage. I spent a lot of time this last spring salvaging materials which went into the Fort, and the soon to be built patio. Now I am getting an opportunity to add to my dwindling supply of materials. Concrete block, brick, windows, and various boards. Yesterday, with the help of my Mom, and the loan of a truck from my uncle, I got a nice load of concrete block, red brick, hard fire brick, and boards. It was a helluva load. I dropped my Mom off, I figured she had done more than her fair share of the work (I tell her that she is the Brain and I am the Brawn) and came home with the load. I admit, I was already damned tired, but it was a race against approaching darkness, and a promise of heavy rain.
First I had to unload a multi-paned glass door, heavy for tired aching, muscles. Then came a real treasure: 9' long, rough cut boards a solid 2" thick, and ranging in width from 8" to 14". These boards could be 100 years old, with saw marks, and darkened with age. They will be the ceiling for the sleeping area of the guest house I plan on building next year. Next was 25 1"x6" cedar fence boards, likely the back wall of my soon-to-be-built greenhouse. But carrying these boards, and stacking them carefully on sawhorses made me begin to feel whiny. The arthritis in my hands and elbows, from years of rough sports, was screaming bloody murder. And the real work hadn't even begun.
I had a truck load of block and brick to be unloaded and stacked. Whiny doesn't even begin to describe the thoughts bouncing around inside my head. But it had to be done. Funny thing though, as usual once my body gets warm, my energy starts to flow unimpeded. Despite the pain in my hands and elbows, every block and brick I moved from the front of the truck bed, to the tail, then hopped off to unload and stack, every block went onto a mental checklist: landscape blocks and pumice fire bricks for Mom, cinder blocks for me, patio blocks for Mom....
I off-loaded the first half, then backed the truck up near the corner of the house, closer to the backyard where most of these will be used. That is when I really got my second wind (or third, or fourth... this late in the day it was hard to tell). Concrete block, to be unloaded and stacked with OCD neatness. These will be the foundation of my greenhouse. I admit, halfway through unloading this bunch I was beginning the mental litany that is not all that different from when I do an endurance swim and am counting down remaining laps. "Almost there. Just a few more. Almost there..." My shoulders were burning, but in my mind's eye I could see my greenhouse taking shape.
After the concrete block, there was still a pile of brick. Not as heavy, but I was getting a bit tired. Even so, as the light waned, and rain clouds thickened, as I ignored the sharp pain in my hands, lifting and stacking, I was envisioning the brick oven that I have been wanting to build. red brick, lined with hard fire brick, it will be a thing of beauty. In my mind I also saw brick lined raise herb beds next to the stone patio.
I was down to the last dozen or so bricks, the light was nearly gone, when the rain hit. Big drops, quickly soaking me, but it had held off all day. I laughed aloud at the elements, and thanked the gods of the elements for giving me the perfect day to add to my wealth.
Tired, dirty, wet. I wanted herbal tea, a hot shower, and yoga to stretch out tired muscles. For a moment I decried my lack of herbal in the cupboard, then chided myself, I have an herb garden overflowing. Shears in hand, flashlight held in my teeth, I braved the rain to snip lavender, bee-balm, rosemary, mint, catmint, and sage. I checked for bugs hiding among the leaves before tossing the handful into boiling water, I let it steep while I took a much needed shower. Finally, wearing the comfiest clothes I could find (I do love running gear), hot tea at hand, I sprawled on my yoga mat to stretch abused muscles. It was a long, glorious day.
Every bit of salvaged material brings me that much closer to completed projects. That much closer to realizing dreams and goals. A greenhouse to grow herbs and rose starts to sell at the Farmer's Market for a nice injection of cash. A guest house for my Mom when she visits, or needs to come live with me yet maintain her independence. The Fort has likely increased my property value by $10K, and a well built guest house will add even more value. So, every day that I can haul home these bits and pieces, pieces of the giant puzzle/project that is my homestead, is a fabulous day. And guess what? Sunday, I get to do it again.