No construction has been started yet!
So, don’t ask how high the walls are or anything like that! … We’re not there yet!
However, I and the project have not stayed idle as I will describe and show you below.
More importantly, it has been a busy period of change for me on the personal level:
I am now on my own: I was hinting to it in my previous blog and it is now done: I have moved to a small apartment, one of these semi-basement apartments. It is small but nice & new and very important, owned by very good people, close to the transit. So, once I got adjusted, I was ok. It is for the better and we lived to our commitment to a loving separation. As always, change came with some stress, but it went really quite well; besides, you all know how much I love change and eventually, I came out of it better and stronger. There you go, that certainly kept me focused for a while!
Work has also be another focus for me early during the April/May period as my previous contract was expiring by end of May. Eventually, I was awarded the opportunity to take over another project and my contract has been extended. In any case, I am very happy with the new situation. The team is great, I like the project and the environment is excellent. I only need to tell myself once in a while that “even this will pass” (Dr. Dyer) to remind myself of the impermanence of things! But I enjoy it.
Leisure highlights: I took one week of vacation in mid-May with a group of my good friends and we went paddling in Georgian Bay for a week of what we call a “kayak retreat”, based in a beautiful cottage on a small island off Honey Harbour. I camped in my tent though. That was one week in paradise with lots of lovely friendship, exploring this part of the gorgeous Georgian Bay in kayak, time of quiet, reflection and prayer, great food, and a lot more.
And how about the Earth Bound project, you are asking? There is a number of achievements to list:
1 – In mid -March, I installed the generator and its little shed. I can now have power at the trailer when needed. Obviously, since it is a noisy generator that consumes gas, this is not a permanent solution for powering the trailer, but it did allow me to do a number of things including running power tools.
2 – In the second half of May, I built a large storage shed (9ft x 10ft). This took me two weekends to complete alone. I just put the lock on it last week. Now I can keep all my tools and supplies in there. I must say that it is the largest construction I ever built. It is a light build but that will do. It was a good learning experience and certainly gives me a better appreciation for the strength and suitability of the various building materials and techniques.
3 – Now that I can connect my vacuum cleaner, I finally cleaned my camper for the first time and it really feels good. No, I was not wearing my French Maid outfit for the occasion!
Meeting with the local blackflies and mosquitos: The first weekend when I was working on the shed, I got eaten alive by the black flies during the day. At night, I did not sleep much, as I had to hide from them under the covers in the camper. But you can’t breathe under the covers for very long! Hence the lack of sleep! Thanks god the worst is over now but we still have some mosquitoes. So I bought myself a mosquito net for the bedroom! It is really cool to hear the mosquitoes buzzing sometimes at night and knowing that they are on the other side!
Roof leak: I also had to apply a little (actually not so little) patch of tar on the roof to seal a water leak. Now talk about a messy product! But it works! It only cost me a pair of gloves and a plastic spatula (on top of a jar of tar).
The June 30th weekend, I finally opened the camper’s awning to check in what condition it was. The good news is that it is in reasonably good shape. However, since it has not been opened in a long time, a serious cleaning is required. I think I will try to wait until I have running water or I may give it a try if it rains heavily one weekend this summer. There are also a few minor mechanical components to fix, but overall it is nice to have some possible shade at the camper.
4 – I have cut a number of trees each week-end. If you compare the older photos and the new ones you will notice that the big pine by the shed is now gone. It and a number of smaller trees were too close and I had to cut them. I also cut a number of dead ash trees. It seems that there is a disease that is killing a lot of ash trees in the area and indeed most of my ash are dying.
5 – The June 22nd weekend, I finally met with Marty. He is the neighbour who will do all the ground levelling and reshaping work for me. We are planning to start this the July 6th weekend. Some of the work to tackle: a) finishing the driveway that will curve around the house because the house will actually block the current driveway; b) Move some of the rubble that the previous owner had pushed to the side and use it to build the driveway; c) Strip all top soil and organic material from the building location and remove one stump that is on one of the walls location; d) Bring in some fill and level the building site.
6 - The June 30th weekend I cut down the tall grass and weeds in the building area and in the area where we are going to re-route the driveway so Marty can see the. I had to equip myself with a serious gas powered weed-whacker in order to do the job. To tell you the truth, I felt like one of these proverbial “faucheur” (in French, a person who used a “faue” to cut hay) because when the grass is high and dense, I have to use the same rotating movement to get the grass to fall off to the side otherwise it jams the machine. The big difference is that with a “faue” all you hear is the zzzzing of the steel through the grass, while in my case, I had to wear hearing protection because mine is gas powered. So much for the bucolic picture, but the result is there. I am afraid that the deers won’t be too happy with me because they seem to like lying down in the tall grass. I will leave lots of it for them away from the building site! We just scared one away this Sunday morning when we were walking around the area with Justin.
I did a couple of huge bonfires at night to burn all branches that I had accumulated over the last few weekends. But when I left yesterday, I had already created a large new pile! At least this time I put it in far away from the construction site or the driveway path so it can stay there the summer and dry.
7 - The June 30th weekend, I also met with Mike Weschke (Solar Depot in Bancroft) who will supply me with the solar system that I plan to install this summer. I will use this system now for the trailer and re-use it for the house later. I have two alternatives: a) buy only a scaled down version of the final installation to use during the construction period for the camper then re-buy a full battery bank and the additional two solar panels in 3 years, or b) buy the full package now and make a temporary installation. See the discussion table in the "Phil's Technical Info" section of the web site for more detailed listing of the pros and cons for making this decision.
The installation will need to be temporary as I will later install the solar panels in the back of the completed house and the inverter and battery bank in the house.
A temporary install could be to have the panels mounted on the final frame, but the frame rigged on the trunk of a large tree close to the camper. I will need another small but strong shed to house the battery bank and electrical panel close to the camper. In fact I may place it where the generator shed currently is and move the generator shed down by the large shed closer to the building site where it will be mostly used.
8) The June 30th weekend, I took some time off all this hard work and went paddling a few times. Once in the evening around Lake L’Amable and once on Sunday afternoon on Lake Paudash for a longer paddle and a swim. That was really nice to unwind!
9) The June 30th weekend, I met with Justin and confirmed that:
a) He did get a license with the Ontario Tire Stewardship program. It looks like they will not sort the tires for us. So I will have to rent a truck and go pick them up myself from the depot someday. I will need a hand for this one. It is apparently a dirty job during which we are likely disturb a lot of critters who found a home in these tires;
b) He will print me a set of plans for the construction site next week.
c) He will talk to Marty to do an exploratory hole for the septic system.
d) He is still trying to get the City Hall engineer to process my permit application.
Altogether, I like the way things are progressing: slowly but surely. In spite of other focus points, the momentum is still there. Besides following up on all the points listed earlier, I need to:
a) Improve my reaching out to the community through Facebook in order to reach out to volunteers to help for the tire-walls erection.
b) Ensure that I take some time off with my friends so I don’t turn too much into an overworked loner!