Leaves, sneeze and at least the eaves blossom

red pie cherry buds

Burgeoning pie cherry blossoms outside my future front porch

pencil poised
nothing on the paper
but cherry petals

~ Jane Reichhold

I love the word burgeon. I use it a lot in reference to my growing tiny house. It means to bud, sprout, put forth, develop. It originates from the late 1200s, Middle English for bud or plant shoot, deriving from the Latin word burra – wool or fluff, presumably from the down covering certain buds. To me it also represents imminent potential and those powerful forces of nature that make all things come into their own.

My recent sixth building stint was both a revel in a full spring blossom riot and a lesson in accepting that everything must take its natural time and course. You can’t hurry a bud. And sometimes you are your own bud. And sometimes you just have to be patient with yourself.

cedar waxwings

Migrating cedar waxwings facing the setting sun before I left Berkeley.

This was one of my shortest trips up to build, not quite two weeks. That means a full day of driving north plus the inevitable delays in gearing up, retooling the brain and body from its creaky desk job, pulling out the scaffolding and saws, figuring out materials lists and making several trips to the lumber store. And then at the end, you have to break everything down, clean up and pack for the drive back. Now that I’m writing this, I’m wondering what was I thinking, two weeks??? Still, I had grand hopes of finally finishing the eaves, laying out the rainscreen wall, and putting up all the trim so that when I come back up in the summer I could dive right into the siding.

Woman plans, the gods laugh.

bed springs creak
by snow-melt freshets
a redbud branch

~ Jane Reichhold

The morning I left was a mad scramble loading up the first of my belongings to migrate to Oregon. I was just starting to relax on the road, admiring the orange California poppies and blooming redbud trees in the mountains around Shasta Lake, when I got walloped by the fastest-hitting cold I’ve ever experienced. I held out a faint hope it was just allergies, but by the time I arrived at the end of the eleven-hour drive I was a sniveling mess. It kicked off a shingles relapse to boot. I spent the next several days in bed or on the couch doing all of nothing much. I felt like the days were slipping by but I finally had to accept that this was my body telling me I’d been running it too hard – too much stress at work and dealing with moving and building plans. At least if I was going to be sick, it was a beautiful place and time to do it.

silhouette naj haus

The bare maple tree from my last stint.

leafed out maple

Leafed out now in spring garb.


Tulips about to bloom.

the dam is broken
spring cascades into valleys
as apple blossoms

~ Jane Reichhold

This was Blossom Month in the Hood River Valley, when all of the apple, pear, and cherry orchards burst into flower. I haven’t been up to Oregon during the spring in recent years so this was spectacular to behold. I managed to drag my sneezing, congested head out to where my uncle and aunt are building a house higher up the valley.

Mt Adams

Looking down the Hood River Valley toward the Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Adams.

Hood River Valley

Looking across the valley. All the light-colored patches are orchards in blossom.


Blossoms (apple, I think, but I’m not sure. Clearly I’m going to have to bone up if I’m going to live here!)

chop saw table

It’s been fun checking up on the progress of my aunt and uncle’s house and seeing how professional builders work. I thought this was a clever chop saw station that could be easily replicated.

Mt Hood

The old alpaca pastures and Mt. Hood.

blueberry barn

Meanwhile, back down at the ranch, the blueberry barn got a new lick of paint in anticipation of the summer harvest.

blueberry blossoms

While the blueberries themselves were just starting to leaf and bud out.

silence in wood
between the growing

~ Jane Reichhold

As I lay flat on my back, watching the days tick by and beginning to wonder if I had mono or something infinitely worse, I fought a rising panic that I was falling behind. I’d get up and pull out my tools, then go back to bed. I summoned some energy to make the hour and half drive to buy the trim and siding. They were out of the siding I needed and the trim turned out to be soaking wet when I unloaded it. These are what they call signs. The universe was telling me I belonged on the couch.

I did do some research to figure out some issues I was struggling with on the upcoming trim and rainscreen installations, and I collected a bunch of tiny house photos to help make some decisions regarding widths and styles of trim and color schemes, so it wasn’t a total loss.


One day all I got done was propping up some trim to get a sense of what it would look like.


And with some siding samples. Back to bed…

toolshed location

Another day I stared at my tongue and wondered how people actually attach tool sheds to them. And how deep did they need to be to house batteries? Back to bed…

Finally, two days before I had to leave, I recovered enough to do some building. If nothing else, I wanted to finish closing in the eaves since I’m not sure how much longer I will have the scaffolding. This was a pretty straight-forward process but I was a bit stumped because I needed to add a nailer board and, to be even with the rafter across from it, it had to “float” down from the roof sheathing:

eave nailer1

Notice the gap between the nailer on the bottom and the outrigger above it. I wasn’t sure how to hold the nailer in the correct place in order to attach it since there wasn’t anything to clamp it to. My attempts to sneak up from behind and quickly drive screws in before it knew what was happening were a failure – the nailer just skittered around like a nervous gazelle.

clamping eave nailer

Then I remembered a trick Dee had taught me of adding a screw to provide something for the clamp to grab. I fiddled with shims until the nailer was at the correct height and sandwiched it all together. I had pre-drilled holes into the nailer and inserted screws partway so that once it was clamped I just had to drive them home (see to the left of the top clamp – the screw had to go in at an angle since the fascia blocked my impact driver if I were to go in horizontally. This was really taxing my still-clogged head!)

upper eave vents

I stained the ridgeboard and other places that might be exposed to the elements and added some of the Cor-A-Vent venting strips I had used in the lower eaves. Not sure this was critical (it’s an unvented roof but has closed-in eaves) but it seemed like it might provide some air circulation within the eaves during the summer.

chopping gable eave pieces

After staining some cedar tongue-and-groove boards, I chopped them to size, using a template to mark them out faster.

staining eave ends

It was easier to stain the cut ends up on the scaffolding so I set up a little stain station up there. As I worked, I discovered that the neighbor’s roosters liked to crow in time to Iron and Wine.

installing gable eave pieces2

Then it was just a matter of fitting the pieces in and screwing them down. I used a piece of 1x to put on the tongues as I pounded them into place with a hammer so that they wouldn’t get damaged. I used the same 1x to act as a marking guide so that my screws lined up evenly. I left a small gap for expansion between the house and/or fascia. I was kind of making this all up as I went but it seemed to work.

gable eave partially installed

And up they go…

ear eave pieces

Once again I had to deal with the crazy angles for the “ears”. The hardest part was getting the last piece of tongue-and-groove to fit in well against the vent strip. Let’s just say I’m glad it’s so high up my handiwork won’t be too noticeable.

completed ear eave

Ta-da (don’t look too closely!)

completed roof and eaves

At least if I was only going to get one thing done this trip, it was the eaves. This brings about a great feeling of satisfaction since it means the roof is entirely done! This is the first part of the house I can say that about and it’s a big milestone psychologically. The rest of the exterior seems fairly doable (once I work out a couple flashing issues).

temple view

This is a strange angle but I like it because it looks rather Japanese and temple-like.

saplings from the far ridge
all these thoughts

~ Jane Reichhold

So that’s all I got done construction-wise. But it was also a time to really think about my impending move. I’ve now given notice both at work and to my landlord, even though I won’t move until the end of July. I’ve started clearing out my place and brought up my art supplies and some books and extra kitchen gear I haven’t decided to part with just yet. I’ve started my application to retire from state service and am working out how to transfer my projects to my replacement. The train has left the station and is starting to pick up speed.

This time in Oregon, I had one foot there and one still in California but my weight is shifting more and more to the northern one. I feel like I’m finally going home, but I’m also leaving the place I’ve been in for longer than I lived in Oregon. Where exactly are my roots? Are you a transplant if you’re returning home after a very long time away? I pondered these things. Deeply. When I wasn’t sleeping.

It helped that I’ve decided where I will, at least initially, park my house. That gives me something to visualize, makes it more real. Plus I’ve now observed the spot in all seasons and weather patterns (another place I had picked out didn’t get any sun during the winter and the frost hardly melted – no thanks!).

burgeoing spartans

I’ll be parked back behind the barn, just to the right of the flowering cherry trees.

front porch view

This is looking at my parking spot from behind the barn, toward the two pie cherry trees and blueberries that will be the view off the front porch. I’m already starting to salivate.

kitchen window view

An old apple tree seen from my future kitchen window. Overall it’s a pretty sweet spot if you can block out the squawking roosters and the African crane that carry on from 3:30am to 10pm and the interesting transactional activities of another neighbor.

One other thing I did while I was up there was design some business cards for my blog. Since it’s not an easy-to-remember site, I thought I could hand these out to people when they’re interested:

naj haus biz cards

My new (tiny) business cards!

Designing the cards is also easing into some ideas I’m kicking around for the future.

As I slowly burgeon.



Categories: construction | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Leaves, sneeze and at least the eaves blossom

  1. Kathleen Krushas

    i like this word burgeon

    Kathleen Krushas To the Point 503-241-7878 tothepoint@imagina.com


  2. Glad you are feeling better! The roof looks great! Cheers and good luck on your transition. Feel free to stop in on your journey north sometime!

    • Thanks, Logan! Usually I’m booking through but will let you know if I have a more leisurely trip. I wave every time I pass your exit. 🙂

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