And without having had much warm weather at all we find ourselves in mid-august with a coolness to the nights that can only mean that the end of summer is just around the corner. And I wish I could say that my absence on the blog has meant that SOOO much has been going on with the house-building that I’ve just been too busy. Well, I have been busy but the house is still a woefully long time away from being move-in-able. As these things go I suppose. There has been progress though: the floor is done (not finished but laid, with the in-floor heating tubes under), the first coat of plaster is almost finished (more on that below), the bathroom wall has been framed and is being filled with light-clay, some of windows and doors have been re-finished. We had our first Shabbat inside the house in July, on the newly laid floors!!
Whether or not we’ll be able to move in this year is still yet to be seen. In order to stay motivated -and possibly realistic- we are setting the goal of moving in before Christmas, and oh, what a Christmas present that would be! In order to expedite things a bit, we’ve decided to hire a few people to help with select tasks- a drywaller for the mudding and taping of the drywall (yes, there’s drywall in the ceiling and on a couple of walls) and my dad to build the window and door frames for all those reclaimed gems we’ve been refinishing. I know we saved a lot of money not buying new windows and doors, but amount of work involved in stripping, sanding, oiling and repainting has been phenomenal! I just hope they perform ok and that we love the rustic, reclaimed beauty of them forever!
As I mentioned we are almost finished the first coat of earthen plaster, inside and out. It went swimmingly well on the cob wall, so well, that we began to feel very optimistic about our speed of completing the plastering. Then we hit the light-clay (chip-slip) walls and things started going wrong. Mostly what we were encountering was patches of wall where the woodchips were not packed hard enough and were flaking out by the handful when we went to apply the plaster. It was a big mess until we learned the procedure to deal with patches: pull out fluffy woodchips, spray with water, gob with clay-slip, repack with sticky woodchip/clay mixture, and let dry (again). Oy ve! That extra step, along with needing to coat all wood studs with clay soaked burlap before plastering (a step I’m not entirely sold upon) made the light-clay walls go MUCH slower.
And as the first coat of plaster wraps up, we are getting ready for the final coat of plaster, at least inside- we doubt we’ll be able to get the outside second coat done this year (we’ve been living in our first small buildings for almost 5 years with just one coat of plaster inside and out, and while the outside is holding up fine, the inside is so dusty, I don’t want to move into the house before the final coat is done). We have a recipe that Tracy from Cobworks swears by and we have ordered a Japanese trowel. We’ll see how it goes- neither Zena or I have done any final plastering before.
Besides all the constant house-related work and children supervision we’ve managed to get some good times in. Between birthdays, Shabbats, BBQ’s, house concerts, and gatherings with friends we’ve had many delicious meals, music-filled campfires and convivial conversations. Actually it’s a wonder Zena and I manage to get anything done on the house when we spend so much time creating culinary masterpieces, tending the garden, chasing kids, etc etc etc…