“Cowardice is the most terrible of vices.” (Mikhail Bulgakov)
“So much was uncertain, but the question wasn’t where to go or what was to be done; rather, to live a life of courage or to not.” (Andy Farkas)
Two of our most frequently quoted sayings relate to courage—we both agree with Bulgakov that cowardice is, if not the most terrible vice, at least the ruin of all things good and noble. Uncontrolled fear is not only a poor decision maker; it festers behind most hateful deeds, prejudices, resentments, and insincere and petty lives. A life lived large must be one of bravery, not necessarily a fearless or reckless life, but one where fear is ridden rather than running amok.
We borrowed the big delivery van from work to pick up the flooring from a nearby town, and as we maneuvered out of the driveway we looked at each other with excited “uh oh” faces. “It feels like we are kids stealing a car,” I said, and Sebastienne agreed, adding that she often wonders: “Where is the adult?” Maybe it is because we are both girls and of petite stature, or because we play when others trudge, but we frequently feel like children out and about in the world without adult supervision. In our mid-thirties with surprise wrinkles a little bit here and there, with a daughter old enough to hit puberty any day, and with a tea drinking and early to bed lifestyle of two grandmas–one would think that we should feel legit by now. Instead we maintain a giddy sense of liberation, as if we sneaked out the backdoor of our parents’ house and took off on a neck breaking adventure.
That said, we do occasionally get scared, and the exhilarated “uh oh” turns into a worried “uh oh-oh no!” Luckily, when one of us feels like hiding in an armpit, the other has got one (two!) to offer. Yes, it is scary to build your own house without any prior experience, to wire electricity from a manual, and to spend every penny you earn on something pretty much un-insurable that could get lost in a fire or tornado, or be cut in half by a tree. Here is where courage comes in. We are the first ones to acknowledge our imperfections and weaknesses (if not, we remind each other…), but one of the things we respect about each other is that at least we have gumption. That no matter if we get weak-kneed and nauseated by anxiety–we still do whatever it is we want to do, say, or be. Cultivating courage does not guarantee an easy life, but it will almost most certainly inspire a more beautiful one.
So…the electricity worked! We are now proud owners of a propane generator, which we’ll use until we get the solar panels, and later as a backup, and to load our batteries if needed. It felt like magic to plug in the extension cord (cut in one end) from the generator to the breaker box, flip the switch and have light. And to know that we did it!
That we now have electricity also meant that we could bring the out the chop saw and jig saw—both immensely helpful as we are installing the ceiling, walls, and floor.
Starting with the bathroom—Sebastienne cut a hole for the vent and installed the duct, and that was one of those wide-eyed kid moments when we kept waiting for someone to come and scold us for cutting a hole in the wall! I installed a white beaded board behind the stairs to the loft, since it will remain visible, before I stapled and taped a vapor barrier covering the whole bathroom interior: walls, ceiling, and floor. We decided on using v-groove cedar planks for both the walls and ceiling in the bathroom, since cedar is more mildew and pest resistant than the pine we’ll use for the rest of the house. Besides being a pain in the neck, quite literally, since I had to face up the whole time I did the ceiling, the v-groove planks were relatively easy and quick to install.
The cedar smells divine, and it finally conquered the lanolin sheep wool scent that we have come to associate with home. Unfortunately, the cedar smell will most likely subside when we paint it all white—even though we love the wood, bare planks look too much like a sauna for our taste. We will use the most heavy duty water resistant paint we can find, but we still have to be careful with water, and need an all-around shower curtain for the bathtub.
Sebastienne started with the short wall in the kitchen, since she wanted some fun inspiration after weeks of time consuming electrical work that rarely gave any quick results. Once the wall and the bead board under the mini-loft were up, she installed the kitchen lamp (from IKEA), and we could stand back and Oh! and Ah! and dream of potted herbs and hanging pans.
Yesterday we finally got to pick up our pine planks for the floor from a lumber liquidation warehouse/pick up location close to Atlanta. Besides being lightweight and cheap, we settled for New England White Pine because it is bright and simple, and fits with the classic (Swedish) country look we are going for. We picked 6’’ wide and 8’ long boards, since they are the most plank-like planks we could think of. As we delivered the floor to the tiny house, we got so excited that we laid the planks out in Ada’s loft to get a sneak peak. The floor oozes summer, it is not as yellow as yellow pine, (which we don’t really like), but it gives off a pale golden white shimmer. A floor to inspire bare feet. One thing to add: pine is soft and will get dented, stained, and bruised easily. We like the old and worn look, but if you don’t, pine might not be for you.
For the economically and practically interested, here is the budget for the last part:
Floor: 430 sq. ft. (220 main level, 120 for the loft + some extra for spill etc.) New England White Pine, 6”x8’ tongue in groove planks — $1.19 / sq. ft. roughly $480
Walls: 400 sq. ft. 1/4″ thick, 4″ wide, 8 ‘ long, knotty pine edge v planks (Home Depot)— $17.45/pack (includes 6 boards) $525 total (link to walls)
Ceiling: 400 sq. ft. knotty pine beaded planks (Home Depot) — $17.86/pack $535 total (link to bead board)
Generator: Sportsman 4,000 Watt Propane Generator (Amazon) — $360 (link to propane generator)
…and of course the added cost of a whole lot of finishing nails, a hole drill bit here, and some duct tape there. Still, pretty affordable for a whole house!
We hope to be able to take a week off work in the end of March or beginning of April to do another big push—now when we have the material we can’t wait to get to work! I only have to get myself out of bed first, since I’m back horizontal with yet another sinus infection/cold/flu like ailment. How much of humankind is held back by petty colds? I need gumption just to get out of bed.