Tuesday, September 28, 2021


 I think that is a funny title-- the entire house is custom-made. But in this case we are referring to these items that we cannot (yet) DIY-- and aren't they gorgeous?

These brackets are key to tying everything together.

They aren't plastic with fake bolts, either. My husband found a local place that did them up quickly and just to his design. It is a small part of the house, but makes us very happy.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Escaping again...and don't do this

 One more attempt to get away from the smoke that year, and I should have just stayed away until winter! No wait- until Spring. Yes, that would have worked.

(everyone Oregonian needs yet another photo of Heceta Head Lighthouse!)

To the coast it was. I think we should admit defeat and build a summer cottage there, don't you?

While I was over in the clean air regions, an old friend invited me to come and harvest her huge tomato garden patch before it rained. Sure, I was up to that! Standing on my feet all day harvesting and then cutting and freezing ALL those tomatoes...

Harvest makes me do crazy things. At least I wasn't canning them, which would have taken longer.

While I was gone, I looked around my favorite hardware store, dreaming of lights and doors...

But the crazy thing I did here was not to bring home a chandelier too soon. No, it was to buy tile for the bathroom. It was a penny cheaper than at our local store at home, and had trim options. 

As it turns out, the tile was a. the wrong shade of white (this "shade of white" tile selection process would be the bane of my existence for a loooong time), b. it was not enough (we changed the design a short time after I bought it), and c. it was almost winter and the chances that we would be coming back over the mountains to return this load of tle within the allowed time frame were ZILCH. 

Wouldn't you know it, a few months later our local store brought it the SAME tiles with the TRIM in just the right shade of white and for a good price. You will hear more about that later!  

So my advice is, at least be cautious buying things in other states/counties/regions. If possible, don't do it! Tile isn't that easy to resell. But if you had a tiny bathroom shower to tile, and need some off-white tiles, let me know, we still have them around!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Some Kitchen Talk

 This was another version of my "construction kitchen." In warmer weather it was quite nice to get out of the RV and spread out on site. It was a bit difficult not having a sink, and we carried pots, pans, dishes (clean and dirty) up and down the hill to and from the RV. We managed to have some mighty fine meals in spite of the extra work!

I was getting pretty good at crock-pot cooking-- I used it for everything from casseroles to granola to bread! I kept refusing my husband's offer to buy me an instant pot. It seemed like a fad to me, and I wasn't sure I wanted another big appliance to put somewhere. When I finally got one it changed my life! Of course not everyone is cooking in an RV but if you are doing a house build and living in a fifth wheel, take my advice and get an instant pot first!

Here is a photo of something that no longer exists. Our plans for the kitchen included an extra water heater under the counter. Since we were doing electricity appliances and not gas, we decided against an instant or on-demand hot water heater-- we were told that they were more expensive to run on electricity. So I bought a small regular one and we got ready to hook it up.


Eventually, for various reasons, we took it out and decided to just use the main hot water heater.  The hot water didn't have too far to go..."they" say that the run from the hot water heater to spigot should be no more than 25 feet, and we were pretty much in that.

 Wouldn't you know it, not a day goes by that I wish we had put in the extra heater after all!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

History Opinion Poll-- The Vote

 I'm sorry I missed last week! Here are the results of the Writing poll: 

Most of you agreed with my opinion, and that is that we may never know all the writing that was done by ancient man!

This week's new History Opinion poll is about the Vote. You can choose more than one answer. I have given you many to choose from, but am sure that everyone will have a viewpoint so leave a comment! There are some TRUE and a lot of FALSE on this one as well, see if you can spot my assumptions! I read up on this subject, and it made for an interesting home-schooling-over-breakfast conversation for the older kids in the family. I highly recommend looking into the history of one of our most cherished freedoms.


Voting: “At the time of the first Presidential election in 1789, only 6 percent of the population–white, male property owners–was eligible to vote.” (according to https://web.archive.org/web/20160706144856/http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/charters_of_freedom_13.html) Do you think that the founding fathers only wanted property owners to vote because:
They were racist, sexist, prejudiced bigots
Geo. Washington had a vendetta against some tenants who trashed one of his rental houses
If you were smart enough to own land, you were smart enough to vote
Abigail Adams was sneaking in a way to make sure farmer's wives had their say in an oppressive regime
If you paid property taxes, you ought to have a greater say in what was going on
Land was cheap back then and most people owned their homes.
It would ensure westward expansion as more people sought land for the voting rights
You are so ignorant-- property could mean things other than land, even under colonial voting laws!
The founding fathers did not specify landowners and did not give us any rights to vote in the constitution.
Voting rights were left to the states to decide, not the founding fathers
Other (leave a comment in the post)
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Quote in the poll is from: https://web.archive.org/web/20160706144856/http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/charters_of_freedom_13.html

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Gazing at Loopy Wires

 I couldn't think of what else to call this post-- who would come here to look at wiring? Oh well, it's all part of a house build and WHAT a difference it makes in life. It means things like refrigeration and hot water:)

Don't ask me how that bathtub went upstairs. It was too scary to chronicle in pictures.

And would you believe (and I think if you are a long time reader of this building series you would) that we took hundreds of photos of the plumbing and wiring, but there are still places that we somehow had just off camera, and those are the places where we just happen to have to saw through the wall. A note to the DIY builder: it's never enough. Take high resolution panoramas and a thousand more photos of wires than you care to have!

The electrician patiently instructed us about placement of outlets above the finished floor, how to wire this switch and that plug, and some of these things began to be left for our boys to finish up. It was a good education and I am glad that the electrician was willing to do a bit of teaching so we could DIY some of the house wiring. I'm sure he left shaking his head a few times but at least we are no longer helpless electrically.

Monday, September 20, 2021



 After a time that made us feel like we had turned into life-long smokers, we finally had some air-cleansing rain. 

Just in time to show off our new porch steps. "Temporary," of course.

Big porch= best decision of this build. We do not regret it a moment.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Keep on the Sunny Side


This Land... the West...with its big blue sky, the sun so friendly, the clouds so close, the air so clear and breathable....is like the little girl in the poem: "when she was good, she was very good, but when she was bad she was horrid."
That year we would watch for the smoke to roll in and spoil a nice day. Would it stay a day, a week, a month? 


It looks like fog but a whiff of it spoils the charming effect. Poor land... it's not always this area that is on fire. That year there was a lot of smoke coming down from B.C. and up from California, too. We have since learned the difference in smoke smell from a local fire, or one far away.

But to look on the bright side: the electrician lent us some LED lights to clip on in various places in the house. It was a thrill to see lights in here at last. Did it help us make decisions? Well, yes and no... without wallboard up and ceiling, doors etc. it was still hard to imagine what the light would be like when it had painted surfaces to bounce off of. I remember this particular night and a discussion we had about placement... that corner that we thought the light would reach once white walls were in? Nope. But that's in hindsight...we did the best we could at guessing these things at the time, and the anticipation of lights was very exciting!

Another bright side-- we always looked forward to those days when the sun would shine and we could have Solar Nachos on the construction site!


Friday, September 10, 2021

An important bit of the plumbing... and what we wished we'd done.

 Well this isn't the most exciting photo in the west, but it meant that my washer would no longer have to drain into the kitchen drain stub and could be moved into the laundry room! This humble plastic item was also making us nervous during the rough-in inspections because the inspector paused his tour of the system and made a phone call about it to headquarters. I don't remember why now but I think we had to fix the placement or something.

But what do I wish we had done differently? I wish we had gone ahead and bought  the DEQ permit (along with its subsequent yearly report to be filed) and had a grey water system put in. At the time it seemed that it was too expensive and perhaps not necessary; now that we have experienced this drought I would have been very glad for all my washer water (and sink & tub water) to be saved for a garden in a built-in system. Even though I save what I can from produce rinse-water and shower warm-up water for my poor little plants, all my washer water is wasted!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

New History Opinion Poll

 The first History Opinion poll did well I think!

The subject was CAVE MEN:
“Primitive people were wild animals. Unlike other wild animals, however, they walked on their hind legs.” -A Child's History of the World by Virgil M. Hillyer 1924
Thinking about ancient man, do you think your great-great-great-great-(and on and on) grandfathers were:

 Thank you to all who took the poll!

My next one is on the history of WRITING. We've heard the experts; now give your opinion! By the way, I have made it an option that you can choose more than one answer if you think several of the options apply to you. If you don't see your opinion here, leave it in the comments!

“PEOPLE of the Stone Age had learned how to talk to each other but they could not write for there was no such thing as an alphabet or written words and so they could not send notes or messages to one another or write stories.” -A Child's History of the World by Virgil M. Hillyer 1924 


WRITING: "PEOPLE of the Stone Age had learned how to talk to each other but they could not write for there was no such thing as an alphabet or written words and so they could not send notes or messages to one another or write stories." -A Child's History of the World by Virgil M. Hillyer 1924 Thinking about mankind and communication, do you think ancient man:
Was too stupid to figure out the need to write & how to do it.
Was the inventor of systems of writing that are lost to us.
Was not in need of writing things down because they had a fool-proof oral/running messenger system.
Could only communicate in pictures
Used hieroglyphics as a secret code and had an everyday mode of communication
Cave Paintings were actually graffiti
Even if writing was available, only the rich could learn how
I'm an ignorant peasant, go make up your own alphabet and don't ask such questions to make me discontent with my station in life
Created with Poll Maker


Here's a bonus for my blog readers, another excerpt from the book.

“But there was no paper in those days and so the Egyptians wrote on the leaves of a plant called papyrus that grew in the water. It is from this name papyrus that we get the name paper...The Egyptians books were written by hand of course but they had no pencils nor pens nor ink to write with. For a pen they used a reed split at the end and for ink a mixture of water and soot.”

-A Child's History of the World by Virgil M. Hillyer 1924

Sunday, September 5, 2021


Here's something I haven't said much about, probably because it is a slightly painful subject to revisit: electricity. 

No, that wasn't a pun, I didn't get shocked!

If someone asked you to tell them where you want lights, switches, outlets... you would know, right?  And I thought I was sure where I wanted things like that. But get an actual electrician on board, and suddenly you get asked those questions with some expertise behind them. 

All summer the electrician would ask me to make decisions. I don't know why most of those decisions fell into my lap, but they did. Usually my brain would have worked fine but I was suffering with the smoke, shortness of breath, anemia, pregnancy brain, and I could sit there with the electrician an hour and still not be able to make up my mind about a light bulb. 

Do you know the new all-in-one cheap LED light fixtures (that are in most new houses) don't have bulbs to change? Yup, you just take the entire fixture out and throw it away when its over. Granted, they last for years and years. But it bothered me that the whole thing was a throw-away item, which delayed decisions while I thought about alternatives.

I knew for efficiency we wanted LEDs. Did you know there is a huge selection of LED lights? In all tints of color? Do you want a cool white, a warm white, or sodium yellow? Do you want this in a strip, a round bulb, a flat light, an aimed light...

Do you want a double way switch here or a triple way switch? Dimmers? You will need a GFCI here and there because of code... and no you can't have that there or this here because you want that on a different circuit (I do?). 

I did know that I wanted outlets on either side of the place where the piano would go, rather than one behind!

Thankfully the electrician thought of things like an extra-heavy-duty outlet for my iron (now the lights won't dim when I turn the iron on!) and my sewing machine, too. 

At this point, all the indecision was over the roughed-in electricity; the angst over light fixtures would come later. 

And now that the electricity is "done" (hint: it seems to never be quite always done) I can see places where I REALLY need an outlet, or wish I had a light in the ceiling. There are lights in places I don't want them after all, and outlets that have been moved so many times they can't scoot over any more. The banks of light switches I thought I wanted (all in one convenient spot, right?) just have me standing there switching on the wrong lights (I really need to label...). If the electrician happens to be reading this, he'll get a big I-told-you-so laugh out of that one. 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Day the Skies Cleared

Construction stopped briefly for a local event, and the smoke cleared out for ONE DAY-- what a gift that was, because it was the day of the Apoceclipse. That was what we were calling the influx of people, traffic, the popping up of new campgrounds big and small.

The construction workers at my place went out back to hike up to the top of the canyon walls for a better view of the eclipse. I stayed home with the little kids and did laundry while I was waiting for the big deal, which was probably going to be just a few minutes-- all that fuss and travel people were doing for a few minutes! 

We were not alone in viewing the event though-- some neighbors and their friends were trying to get up higher than the street, so I invited them up to our site. We also had a chipmunk come out to watch with us. I found that eclipses are more amazing than I thought. My phone didn't take good pictures of course, this was the best I got.

Now I am a convert! If there was an eclipse within a day's drive-- yeah I think I would travel to see it. Amazing! 

The aftermath of traffic down on the highway in the valley (a rather quiet highway, usually) provided amusement after the main show, and then the work day went on.

The next day the smoke came back. 

(Yes I know I am dating myself with this post... it has taken us this long to build the house...)

Friday, September 3, 2021


Even on vacation I couldn't help go into the BIG hardware store and look at stuff. It's not like I have never wandered a home improvement store and oohed and aahed over doorknobs, cabinet handles, model kitchens and sinks. But I usually wasn't in the bathroom fan section trying to find something that looked nice. You don't know that you have an opinion about how a bathroom fan looks until you have to buy one! And nowadays-- do you want the plain jane or the one with strobing LED lights that plays music from your phone?

No, I'm not kidding. You would be amazed at the innovations in bathroom fans.

Always on the hunt for tile...one of the biggest regrets was that I yielded to temptation and bought tile in another part of the state, and too soon for the bathroom to be completed. By the time that we realized the tile was not enough and also the wrong color, it was past the point of returning it and past the point of traveling back. If you have a small half bath that needs a creamy subway tile you know who to call...

And then I traveled home, back to smoking country.