I had planned to stay in today anyway, and then it poured much of the day. Marsh and I badly needed a day to re-synch, a chance to look at pictures of the house together, budgets, calendars, floorplans, etc.
Understandably Marsh was feeling a bit remote from the latest developments, developments that she needs to be just as close to as I am. So we went at it hammer and tongs (I made sure I had an insomnia-impaired night, so I was sure to be as sensitive and patient as possible — SARCASM), and eventually withdrew to the grain store and the donut shop — away from the dogs and distracting clutter of our guest digs — to talk through our vision for our next steps.
We agree we have one overriding goal, which deeply colors all our immediate choices: to be IN the house at some minimal level of habitability as soon as possible:
- able to continue to work on the DIY aspects more readily (we’re 150 minutes away at present, with dogs that can’t reasonably commute with us)
- able to get back into a productive work schedule.
In other words, we’re not affording ourselves the luxury of getting the place “fully renovated” (whatever that means) as a condition of moving in — even if we were welcome with Marsh’s wonderful sister and family indefinitely.
So we have our “base list” of habitability requirements, which is now being informed by the reality of uncovered ceilings and walls. It’s stressful even to explore additional requirements (such as, say, upgrading electrical service to 200 amps, or hiring a professional to rebuild the inside staircase with its ridiculous dimensions), knowing that everything we add risks postponing the day we move in.
But at the same time there are logical concurrencies, such as making sure to do as much of the plumbing and wiring as possible while the heating ductwork is being done and the walls are opened up. Which in turn implies we should spend some time designing bathrooms and the kitchen, and deciding things which might not then be fulfilled for some months.
Stressful and exciting, both.
Tomorrow is another kind of “day off”: I plan to make a bunch of calls, following up on everything from insurance to chimney inspection. And Tuesday Marsh (and two dogs of our choice) will get up to the house and continue the adventure.
[Edit: About the “Zen” in the title — it’s our shorthand for whatever device, philosophy, or calculation that allows us not to lash out viciously when our preconceptions are threatened. For example: yes, we’re working like crazy to make this “cabin in the woods” work for us. But what if we imagine it turning out to be fundamentally unsound, or failing spectacularly in some other way? (Marsh is good at the worst-case scenarios.) We simply recall that we have found, and defined, our center. We return to “first principles.” We adjust. We build from scratch, under a new program of new priorities, perhaps living in a trailer or the like for however long it takes. Knowing what’s important, that’s the Zen part.]