Unduly positive

We have spent the last week getting a 6 3/8″ wide strip of drywall attached to our ceiling. Why? Well, because we’re insane. And rather than accept splitting the house perfectly down the middle (which would have been relatively easy), we instead made it so the ‘great room’ (Lounge, kitchen, dining room) has the peak and about 7 inches of the other side of the slope of the roof. The bedrooms, in turn, stop just short of the peak.

This seemed like a fabulous idea at the time. That time before we really understood what a nightmare an unsquare building was, and how incredibly heavy plasterboard is, and, obviously, the limitations of our abilities.

So, cue much research, discovery of Straitflex’s X-Crack (which allows for uneven framing and helps reduce the risk of cracks at the top of cathedral ceilings). And then cue a solid week of finicking, making shims, working within the bounds of our design to try and bridge the problem areas.

And after a solid week, and some rather painful holding up heavy things at awkward angles…


We are both, I think, honestly amazed at how good it is. And how level it is. Of course, just to make things more tricky because the wall is parallel to the other walls – it’s not straight along the ceiling. So the pitch of the slope changes slightly, which meant we spent a cheery hour yesterday working out how to adjust for *that*.

But it’s done. I think.

I’m off momentarily to start cutting the shims for that.

But despite the frigging nightmareishness of it all, and the fact that while we do have an extension for our drywall lift it now means that we have to get the damn drywall up 18″ higher than we used to. Which is higher, I think, that either of us can easily lift it, it actually all feels doable again.

We sat down and calculated the drywall requirements for the walls in the other rooms.

I also – because I was feeling astonishingly positive (and the sun is out) actually washed the Rav:

Yes, it really is ours. I know it’s normally more moss-covered than that…

Which looks pleasingly shiny. At least for a few hours :)

Still need to clean the inside, but it’s a step forwards.

Well, bother. Again.

We wanted to rent a nicer lift – because our lift doesn’t reach the heady heights of the peak of our ceiling. And so we looked at the local rental place that claimed that they had one. And then I called them. And it turns out they don’t.

They don’t think anyone else local has one either – although apparently some places have the same shoddy lift we have with the extender. Given that isn’t really an improvement, we forked out for the 18″ extension for ours. That is a frankly terrifying almost certainly badly welded object consisting of a pipe with a bit of metal rod sticking out of it. I’m assuming. It’s not arrived yet.

your orders
I very much doubt ours will look this nice when it arrives

Of course, the problem with this is that it means that we have to raise the 12′ sheets of drywall up an extra 18″ to get them onto the lift. Which means, I suspect, a fun game involving a step stool and a giant heavy sheet of drywall. Fortunately, I think that we only have 5 sheets to do.

While we’re waiting we’ve been doing the bodgy bit – making the altered-pitch bit at the peak of the ceiling that covers for the fact that we didn’t manage to get the top-plates at the top of the wall perfectly aligned all the way along. I sometimes wonder if we should have done them differently, but I’ve absolutely no idea how we could have got it better. At any rate, we think we’ve come up with a method which should allow for the flexibility of cathedral ceilings, keeps the ceiling looking right, and doesn’t lose too much height. I also think we have just got enough of the x-crack (which is the stuff we use for the joins between the changes in angle sections of the ceiling, because you’re meant to use something that allows a little movement).

We have also ordered some super-duper-posh corner stuff for the corners of the wall, which I think is made by the same company.

And after Kathryn cut the 4″ strips of 3/4″ ply to go around the edges of the wall, I’ve been working my way around the edge of the house laying that and trying to work out pipe-routing around some of the more complex bits. Most of it was done for us, but there’s some quirks to our heating-system-manufacturer supplied PEX plan… like it going through walls. And there’s also some changes we made – like not having the heating under the bath (because the bath had to go in before the heating), and changing the cupboard layout by the front door…

All of which means it’s not exactly a straight transfer from their map onto the floor, and there’s quite a lot of concentrating and staring at things to work out where the pipes will run. I’ve done the space where we’ll have a bench and the cupboard next to the front door – both of which were very fiddly bits. There’s the two bathrooms to do next, but we don’t have any more 3/4″ ply.

In other news, the place we were going to get our wall finish material… has closed… both of its West Coast operations. So we’ll have to find a different dealer – but it’s a shame because our friend recommended it as a good resource for eco-friendly building materials.

But in good news, we managed to score bathroom wall tile for ~$1/sq foot. I’m sure, like last time I used B&Q cheap tile, it’ll be a nightmare to install. But pulling random ones out of the box, they looked fairly square and uniform. And I’m much more used to tiling than I was back then, so hopeeeefully, it should be okay. It’s nothing exciting, just white subway-stile 3″x6″ rectangles. Not the really nice bevelled ones. Just plain. But they look okay…

We just need to get to the point where we can put them up.

Well, it’s 2019.

So I can’t say that I’m entering 2019 full of hope. I’m hoping that it’s less miserable than 2018 was. I normally do a year in review; but the beginning of 2018 I think I more or less skipped it, 2017 having been so much of a car-crash.

2018 hasn’t been a lot better. I mean, it has in that by changing job I managed to pull myself out of the pit of burn-out and depression that I’d spent so much of 2017 in. I’m not going to rehash the awful political situation, and I’ve spoken enough about how unsafe I feel outside Olympia thanks to the rampant white supremacism, bigotry, and the insane availability of guns. I don’t feel we really need to rehash that. Politically? Socially? 2018 – in a nutshell – sucked.

But 2018 has also run by in a blur of missed deadlines and frustration over the house. A frustration which has, unsurprisingly, spilled over into 2019 as we wonder when the house might, just possibly, be finished. And how we’re going to get to that finish line. The list of jobs is both much more managable and simultaneously, so massive as to be terrifying. Partly because while I can start work on the floor in some areas, much of the work that’s left to do requires two people. And that is kinda restrictive.

There’s still the exterior work to finish, which is at least partially single-person-doable, except that… we have no on-site storage except the house. And for the exterior stuff we need wood; lots of it. So that puts somewhat of a crimp in that. And the move-in readiness stuff? That’s mostly two people for the forseeable. Which is fine. Which we’d talked about. But right now it feels kind of overwhelming.

Part of this is, no doubt, that I’ve just got back from CES. And that was an all encompassing, all consuming event. We filmed, we talked about filming, we planned filming, and then we (well, Nikki) edited late into the night. We ate, drank and slept CES. And coming back to the real world after that kind of event is actually kind of strange. I’d not really thought about the house – or the mortage+rent situation. I’d not really thought about the complexities of the things that need to happen.


CES, incidentally, was a blast this year. Last year it was a hard slog. This year it was hard, but we actually properly had fun, we knew a bit more what we were doing, and some of my stuff in front of the camera felt more – well, I felt better about it. I still need to get better at interjecting when I have something today. But that’s on me.

And the road-trip turned out to be exhausting but awe inspiring. We crossed the high desert, we went up and down mountains, we drove through cities and towns and near deserted villages. We saw tumble-down houses and massive skyscrapers.

TBH, it was really cool.


Granted, I could have done without the 3am arrival at Las Vegas, and the 2am arrival back in Portland. But – all of that was done in an EV, fully laden, with essentially an entire studio.

And that whole thing really cements the functionality of EVs. More charging stations would have made life a ton easier. But it’s doable now.

But having arrived at home? Suddenly, all that real world stuff is back.

Bills – distressingly large ones – have arrived. And the phone call this morning – in the middle of my yoga routine (and I rarely give myself time for yoga, so: Really world? Really?) – from the garage that has my minor – saying that they have not really managed to come up with a solution to the missing / mismatched parts and they’d like to look at shipping her off to a different garage… and I’m left suggesting that I’ll call JLH back in England and beg them to send as many bits as they can think of that might fit and I’ll pay for shipping them back…

Well, it’s disrupted a fragile equilibrium.

Or, to put it another way, has left me feeling quite shit.