Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our "workshop" weekend finally arrived! After much anticipation the big day was finally here! Heather and I got up bright and early, and headed out to the Hollow for some preparations. Keep in mind, it was freezing cold out, and everything was soggy from the rain the night before, so starting a campfire was no easy feat. We tried burning paper plates, and paper towels--even our precious straw--anything that looked even slightly dry. We huffed and we puffed...but to no avail. Of course Brian showed up and out of nowhere miraculously produced a bag of crispy dry newspaper, and of course all he had to do was look at our soggy logs and they immediately flared up into a blazing inferno. I would have been ticked if I hadn't been so happy to get warm. Anyway, Heather then proceeded to construct a "ladies room" out of shower curtains, and I threw together another luggable loo. We laid out all of the yummy food we had bought for the people who signed up...but wait a sec...where were all the people?????
I'm sad to say they were a no-show, and Heather, Brian, and I were left feeling like awkward pre-teens at a middle school dance--hair fluffed, jeans tapered, and dancing the Roger Rabbit in the corner of the gym because--despite all of your hopes--no one has asked you to dance. Well, that's more hot dogs for us! 48 of them to be exact...which really goes a long way between three people...especially when one of them is a Pescetarian (that would be a vegetarian who eats fish...not a Calvinist Protestant). Fortunately for us, good ole Jake and Abby eventually showed up to help us eat some dogs and s'mores! We can always count on Jake and Abby to make us feel all warm and fuzzy! And Brian, Heather, and I were still able to get 3" or so all the way around the house...and had lots of fun all the same!
Now Friday was a little better! Our sister Laura flew in for the event, Heather's husband Jon got into town (with Andy and Darcy--their English Sheepdogs--in tow), and Rhonda was able to come! And we had some surprise guests, too--Meme, Papa, and Sharyl! And, of course, Jake! And with our crew of 10 (plus two dogs), we were able to make some serious progress--on both the house and the hot dogs! We lapped the house twice, and I think we were able to get between 6 and 9 inches all the way around. Pretty good! but the best part was getting to spend some quality time with the family all together outside on a beautiful day. I just love that so many memories are being made right along with the house. Brian and I are blessed! So to all of you who came (some of you from quite a distance), thank you so much--it really meant a lot! And, Heather, thank you so much for putting this all together for us! You're the best!

From left to right: Jon, Laura, Heather, Sharyl "Sewing Machine" Braddock, Meme, Me, Brian, Rhonda, and Papa...Taking the Picture: Jake!

Laura found her calling: Professional Mud Stomper! She saved the day with her stomping skills, and had a ridiculous amount of fun doing it! Wish you could be here every day, Laura! Your "hopetimism" is contagious!

Here is our house at the end of the day on Friday. This is by far my favorite time of the week...when our work is done, the tools are put away, the sun is setting, and we get to take a look at how far we've come.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's a Family Affair

Work it! Work...it!

Well, just when Brian and I were starting to feel sorry for ourselves, reinforcements arrived! On Friday, Meme, Papa, and Rhonda showed up bearing lunch, lawn chairs, and enthusiasm, making that three generations of Harrisons working on the house! Papa was in charge of the bucket brigade, Rhonda was a stomping queen, Brian manned the mixer, Meme was all thumbs, and I pitchforked the cob with a devilish flair! Later, Everette showed up, and so did Jake (who might as well be family), and assisted all--making it quite the productive day! It was nice to feel so loved! It's quite the thing having people willing to get all muddy for you! Needless to say, we all had Ibuprofen for dinner.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Go Team Harrison!

There have been some big developments since I last updated you on our progress! Some very, very, good developments! Namely the CEMENT MIXER!!!!!
(I heart you cement mixer!)

Now I know some of you cob purists out there may see this as cheating.
Well...tough cookies! I want a house!
We didn't try the cement mixer sooner (I just kicked myself again) because we read that it wouldn't work. But what we figured out is that it mixes the sand and clay together beautifully if you mix it really wet! Then, all that's left to do is dump it out on a tarp, squish out the few remaining clay clumps with your toes, and tread in the straw! Easy-peasy!
Which leads me to the next big development....

(this is Brian's invention).
Because we no longer needed to make cob balls (you'll see more about that below), we needed a way to get the cob from here to there...thus, the cob conveyor belt was born! Now we just roll the cob burrito from one tarp to the next around the house until it's close to where we're working.

Like this!
And the reason we don't need to make cob balls anymore is because we are now using...

... a PITCHFORK!!!!
Oh, the time this spiky little angel saves!
Now I just scoop it off the tarp, and slap it on the wall!
Kersplat! Like this!
This new plan of attack is saving us a lot of time...and more importantly a lot of energy! Brian's been manning the cement mixer, and has been able to keep a steady stream of cob coming so that by the time I finish slapping a batch on the wall, the next one is ready for me. That's not to say it isn't still exhausting! I'm tellin' you--those pitchforks of cob are heavy! I'm going to have Popeye forearms by the time all is said and done (which I can't say is really the look I've been going for, but, hey, whatcha gonna do?). So I think it's safe to say that with these new little tricks, we're probably doubling our speed! Yay, us!
That being said, I was still about ready to "throw in the tarp" on Monday. I totally underestimated the amount of manual labor it was going to take to build this house, and I keep finding myself thinking "what on earth are you thinking!"
But then I'll see some progress, and it'll hit me that we're actually building our house, and I'm in awe that Brian and I get to do this really cool thing together. I mean how many people actually get to try something like this? It's really pretty neat when you think about it.


Ok...I'm horrible at taking pictures! I don't know what it is, but I really stink at it...that's if I even remember to do it! So, sorry, folks, but this is all I've got of our Open House! Despite what the pictures would lead you to believe, a.) there were people there, and b.) we had fun!

It was a beautiful fall day! We had a steady stream of visitors from one o'clock until six-ish. Tyler especially liked the cider...and so did the bees! I thought bees were supposed to be going extinct or something! Well, not in our neck of the woods they're not--they were a real buzz kill (Get it? Bzzzzz kill! I'm funny). There's going to be some cider and marshmallow flavored honey out there this year (which actually sounds pretty good now that I think about it). Anyway, I digress. We spent the day talkin', swatin', sippin', toastin', munchin', scratchin' and walkin'! Pretty good stuff! It was nice to be able to show people first-hand what we've been talking so much about. So thanks to all of you that were able to come! There are going to be a lot of memories built into this house!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Open House

If you've been curious about this "cob stuff", now is your chance to see what it's all about! Come out to Harrison Hollow, toast some marshmallows, have a cup of warm apple cider, and see our work in progress! Bring a lawn chair, and hang out for a bit...or if you feel like it, wear some play clothes, and get muddy! Either way, we'd love to see ya! (Weather permitting, of course).