Summer of transitions: AUGUST

peace flags

“Make tea, not war” – peace flags made by my visiting nephew at Peace Camp.

So after the craziness of June and July, I was now a full-time Oregonian – but the craziness continued. I had a month before I turned 50 and I was determined to move my house outside and spend my first night in it on my birthday. To do this, I had to get my trim and siding up. It seemed doable, but I should know better by now than to impose a deadline on myself.

sanding siding

First up was giving all my siding a light sanding to take off the light film of dirt and grease, chalk marks, and fuzzies (highly technical term).

rowena fire 1

One afternoon I made a run to Home Depot thirty miles up the Gorge to get stain for the siding. A forest fire had started nearby. This is what it looked like when I went into the store…

rowena fire 2

…and when I came out! I had to drive back down the Gorge (to the right side of the photo). At one point, this was ranked as the highest priority wildfire in the nation due to the threats to a populated area.

rowena fire 3

Sun behind smoke.

rowena fire 4

Coming out of the smoke and seeing the burned hills above some houses.

stirring stain

Stirrin’ up stain in sweltering heat.

rolling stain

Rolling it on. I experimented with several techniques and ended up doing a combination of rolling and then using a paint pad to take off the texture from the roller. Once again, I totally underestimated how long it would take to put two coats on every piece of siding.

tracy staining

My sister helped with edges one day when she was visiting.

drying racks and visqueen

I had plotted out where I wanted to park my house behind the barn and knew that I would be putting down a layer of plastic to prevent moisture from rising out of the ground under my house. I decided I might as well buy it now so that I could lay out my stained boards to dry.

visqueen spirits 2

These little ghoulies appeared when I unfolded the plastic!

siding drying

Stained siding, one of many, many batches. We were also having the hottest summer on record, which made it tricky getting the stain on when it was over 90 degrees.


cutting down temp door

I realized that if I was moving it outside, I’d need a front door. I’m planning on making a custom door but knew I wouldn’t get to it before the end of the month. My neighbor Steffen and I went to the rebuild it center and bought a cheap (interior) door that looked like a kid had projectile vomited a concoction of fruit punch, green glitter and glue all over it. I had to cut it down to size and thought it was interesting that under the veneer it was just cardboard.

refitting lower door rail

I refitted and glued the bottom part of the frame back in to the shortened door.

gluing lower door rail

Waiting for the glue to dry.

finished door rail

And voila!

temp door jamb spacers

Then I learned how to hang a door by making a pad of the right width of shims…

plumb jamb

and checking for plumb.

me with installed temp door

A door! It’s funny how even an ugly door makes the space feel more like home.

breaking in

As I was installing the hardware, I managed somehow to lock myself out, not once but twice. The credit card trick really works!

interior with temp door

Jumping ahead of the story, all of this turned out not to be necessary but it was a great learning experience and I also realized I definitely want a window in my door.

wooden scaffolding

I had to return my great scaffolding awhile back and was worried how I was going to get the trim and siding up with my heights queasiness. Steffen came over and helped me build a platform from scrap lumber. I kept making him add more bracing until I felt solid up there, which is why it looks the way it does!

PAD tiny house mixer

In amongst building, I attended the PAD tiny house mixer and did a little presentation at one of their workshops. Always great to mingle with the tiny house community. That is Laura Klement’s tiny house in the background.

staining trim

Back on the build, I also had to stain more of my annoyingly warped trim boards and get them installed.

sill and side trim close up

The trim involved cutting several angles to form the sill and to get it to seat tight against the wall (there was bead of glue from the manufacturer on the underside of the window that was getting in the way).

ambivalent window trim

First trim board is not so sure about all this!

working on trim layout

Making trim decisions…

mocking up corner trim

Mocking up how the corner trim will integrate with the trim under the eaves.

making corner trim

Drilling the corner trim together, which was tricky since it was so warped. Steffen was a huge help guiding me through this.

stain jar

Since you have to seal the ends of all your trim and siding boards, one neat trick is to get a jar or plastic container with a lid, cut a whole in it, and insert a brush. This way you have an easily accessible jar of stain that won’t dry out in between.

trim support

One of the hardest parts about installing the trim solo was holding things in place. Using a board to wedge pieces in place worked well in some cases.

Crisis point

It was now the end of the month and I was nowhere near getting all the trim and siding up. I was completely worn out from a month of non-stop staining and building following several months of stress and when the drill bit snapped in a sill I was attaching, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Although Dee, Joan and Rita were coming out to help move my house outside and celebrate my birthday, I had to admit that it was a stupid idea to leave the nice warm, dry barn right before winter, particularly since the house was still naked. I was so, so tired and a total wreck.

Dee showed up a couple days early willing to do whatever needed doing. I was a gibbering idiot by that time but it was incredibly nice to have help and company.

dee mocking up wheelwell trim

Dee and Oly went to work making a template for the trim around the wheel wells…

trim installed

…while I finished the trim on the tail end.

half gable end siding installed

On my last day of 49, we got half a wall sided.

oly signs siding

It even had Oly’s stamp of approval.

naj haus happy birthday

And on the day I turned 50, we got the entire side done (banner by my fantastically artistic friend, Sarah Wildfang!!).

gable end siding installed

After so long of staring at the ugly house wrap, I was completely choked up getting a glimpse of what my little house will look like. Best birthday present ever.

creative process

Saw this on Facebook and it pretty much describes my whole tiny house build!

dee and uke

Dee was a rockstar helping me get through that crazy time.

kate joan dee oly

And Joan and Rita (taking the photo) showed up to help celebrate my half century. I could now finally kick back and relax. Looking back, I realize how important it is to maintain a pace that is mentally and physically healthy, and to take time out to enjoy the things that matter in life.

naj haus at night

We had talked about at least moving the house right outside the barn just so I could spend the night in it, but wouldn’t you know after the long, dry heat wave, it was showering off and on that day, so we just threw open the doors and sat outside drinking Double Mountain growlers instead. 🙂

first night

That night I did get to sleep in my house, and it was quite moving. Naj joined me. I was happy to find that I felt right at home in my little loft listening to the crickets and the rain showers, and at peace for the first time in a very long time.

peace of wild things

This goes out to all my friends with heavy hearts right now.

Categories: construction, PAD | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Summer of transitions: AUGUST

  1. Diane

    I have been following your home build for some time now… it’s already beautiful and will be so amazing when finished. Best wishes to you. And thank you, more than I can express, for that poem. It really helps tonight.

    • Thanks so much for the nice comment, Diane – it’s very nice to hear. And I’m so glad the poem resonated with you. It’s one of my favorites.

  2. Kate,

    This is moving. Thank you for writing so honestly about your experience and struggles. Good reminders to enjoy the process and not push yourself too hard. You are an inspiration to me, and I am cheering you on! Hugs–


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