Saturday, June 21, 2014

Declaring victory and getting out

It was a US Senator and Vermont Governor, George Aiken, that was responsible for the famous misquote that the US should "declare victory" and bring the troops home from Vietnam. Misused ever since, the term "declare victory" nevertheless includes a key insight, that while some processes in life really never do end, ordinary humans also very badly need stories to come to some kind of relatively tidy end.

Construction work is one such process, especially in the final days of a building project.

Trimming out a building seems especially endless. The trim work on a buildings seems to take as long as framing. At least it seems that way. One reason may be that I'm just not good at it. I really hate trim work.

I especially hate painting trim, and have evolved a series of avoidance measures. I use rough cut cedar for most outdoor trim, fitting it with screws so that when it eventually deteriorates it can be replaced simply by unscrewing and fitting new.

I also use vinyl for soffet trim, which never needs to be painted as long as you like your soffets white. I love white soffets. White is the only color for soffets.

My buddy Mike B, who campaigns against toxic waste, would hate that I buy vinyl, because its production is very polluting. But so is paint. And painting soffets is especially toxic when the soffet painter is turning the air blue with appropriate ex-Royal Air Force curses, which is what always happens around here.

Commissioning -- the process of bringing the building to life and using it, usually with some final modification -- also seems endless. We still don't have all the furniture we need inside, and haven't yet spent even one night in our nice new bedroom.

And, of course, all construction work blends into maintenance work at some point. You're not quite done with the building work but using the building, and then you begin to have to maintain the building. This building is easy to maintain, but I've already had to futz with a broken CO alarm, and Aimee had me redo some of the indoor trim because it didn't meet wifely standards.

All this goes to show that you never really know when a building is "done."

Last year in the early fall I found myself "declaring victory" over the major construction work. This was an important milestone because of course my summer came to an end and I had to get back to my day job. The extension was at the "Tyvek" stage at the time, covered in white house wrap, and nowhere near finished, but I badly needed to get my head into a different game.

Today I'm declaring final victory. There's still about twenty feet of cedar trim as well as most of the soffet board to be fitted, one light fitting to shop for and connect, and a solar PV system to fit, all of which will happen in due course as I finish up my very long honey-do list, but Aimee and I have plans for a nice family day, so this will be official Victory over the Extension Day.

June 21st 2014, summer solstice and VE Day.

To prove it, I have pictures. Here's the finished building from the south with the new siding and deck.  All that hay in front covers the grass seed over the septic drain field extension. :

Here's the new deck, with Ernie dog inspecting. The tall side poles hold a trellis intended for grape vines, which will give some needed shade in summer, as well as some fresh home-grown fruit. The same trellis holds Aimee's laundry line.

Ernie, unfortunately, is standing on the newly seeded front lawn. but I don't think he can do any damage.

Here's a close-up of the deck showing a set of patio furniture that caused us a good deal of trouble. We wanted some decent outdoor chairs and a table, but were not willing to pay the hundreds of dollars for new. Unfortunately, there is very much of this kind of stuff available secondhand. I grew tired of reading the same old ads for overpriced second hand patio furniture every day on Maine Craigslist, and eventually gave up in frustration.

My shopping skills are not great unless it's for something mechanical like a car or a tractor, but Aimee took over at warp speed, quickly finding a set of Sears patio furniture deeply discounted at Mardens, Maine's discount and job lot chain. That was the same day she came back with all the groceries and a huge box of new and secondhand baby clothes for only $25.It took me about an hour to assemble the parts, but I was pleased with the effect and have a new place to eat breakfast on cool early summer mornings.

I guess that there are some jobs you do need a professional for!

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.

The earliest posts, at the very end of the blog, tell the story of the Great Farm, our purchase of a fragment of that farm, the renovation of the homestead and its populating with people and animals. Go all the way to the last post in the archive and read backwards from there to get it in chronological order.

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