brought to you by the letter “B.”


Dear Readers:

I’ve been remiss in my blogging duties and therefore have most likely squandered all of your goodwill & readership loyalty. I know that there are a small number of human beings out there (some of whom aren’t even related to me) who have enjoyed this blog and have checked it regularly. But recently I’ve failed to keep my end of the bargain, and have not posted anything new. For this, I can only apologize (and suggest that you might want to sign up for email delivery of my blog posts so that you don’t have to check the website to find out whether I’ve written anything recently.)

And now (drumroll please), my complete lack of blogging is brought to you by:

The Blues.

If you’ve ever built or renovated a house, you may understand many of the ingredients that make up the renovator’s blues, and make the project (and life in general) feel rather overwhelming. In our case, we’ve got our own special family recipe for cooking up a big helping of The Blues:

Begin with an unusually substandard piece of real estate. Make sure house has no actual virtues to recommend it (like functional plumbing or wiring).

Next, remove all substandard or ugly portions of the real estate, using a very sharp knife. Do not be afraid to cut away as many layers as necessary, even if it means reducing the house to a shell.

Then, take the unreasonably large gut renovation, and season with an unrealistically small amount of cash. Boil the project for a year or two over medium heat in a small, economically depressed town, and flavor with a hereditary dislike of debt that necessarily keeps working capital to an impossibly low figure. (Do not lower expectations of future home to reflect financial reality.)

At the same time, mix together the following ingredients in a separate bowl:

1) A genetic disposition (brought in from both sides of the marital family tree) that tends toward never ever hiring help, except in the most extreme circumstances (like open heart surgery).

2) A brand of perfectionism that results in a laborious decision making process, and an overwhelming desire to have the project built to our aesthetic & craftsmanship specifications.

3) A long suppressed desire to live in a house that reflects our aesthetic rather than that of various family members, landlords, roommates, and second-hand sausage vans.***

Allow the above three ingredients to marinate together for, say 30 + years (or to taste), so that their flavors are inextricably melded. Then pour the marinade over the project, making sure to soak thoroughly.

Next, add the requirement that the project be as energy efficient & green as humanly possible. Add plans for a solar electric system & a solar heating system into the pot. Thoroughly soak them in the marinade listed above. Do not, under any circumstances, reduce the scope of the project. If possible, expand the scope of the project to include a future solar-heated hot tub, handmade cabinetry, and structural renovations to the garage.

Carefully document the entire project, and require self to write about it in self-effacing blog. Garnish with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

Next, prepare the following side dishes:

Start with matching cases of the flu resulting in the production of copious amounts of both green phlegm and misery. Add this to a couple of marginal business ventures, and a general sense of discouragement about the direction of our lives (particularly our careers). Mix in a dash of the following: 4 -5 rapidly ailing grandparents, winter coming on like a freight train, and an international economic crisis that makes our already-shaky household income look extra scary. Add water & stir over medium to high heat.

Separately, combine a ticking biological clock with self-employment and citizenship in a country with few healthcare choices (none of them good for people like us), and add a handful of doubts about whether we really want to live in the town where we’re building this house.

Recipe serves two. (Can be stretched to encompass the lives of various hapless relatives.)


The result? A bit of a melt down (sort of like an economy we all know), a big pot of
The Blues, and, well…. a few weeks in which I didn’t do much blogging.

You’ll have to forgive me.

(*** Regarding sausage vans: that’s another story. If you’re interested in reading it, you’ll have to stay tuned. I’ll get around to writing it as soon as I’m done with this funk.)


6 Responses to “brought to you by the letter “B.””

  1. 1 Buzzardroost

    R is for regurgitation. A hopeful word that allows you to examine the contents of your meal which appears rather Romanesque in its, possibly extreme, volume.

    I would suggest carefully reexamining the scope of the project. Mainly, throw the scope out and renew with a plan that leads directly to your goal of living there as quickly as possible. Put all energy into living in the shed, then get a roof on the thing and zonally complete the interior so the end does not seem so distant. There are gobs of used, perfectly usable, kitchen cabinets and such things out there that will save a whole bunch of time. Don’t do the drywall yourself (I can’t advise that enough).

    And for the depression. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. . . . lots. Regurgitate.

  2. 2 Buzzardroost

    …and a hot tub should help cure the blues.

  3. I TOTALLY agree with the Buzzardroost comments. Especially the hot tub… but also decreasing the scope if at all possible (like maybe can you not live in the shed and just somehow get some auxiliary heat in your current place so you can really focus on getting that house livable by spring?–just a question)… Shed living idea is a good one, but has significantly added to the scope creep of this project. Also I’m all for recycled cabinetry… and your kids are going to scribble all over them with crayons anyway, so maybe you should just coat whatever cabinets you find with that blackboard paint and call it good.

    AND I have to say again that you are a great writer and don’t you all think she should write a book about this whole adventure? A writer you are girl, that is for sure.

  4. 4 Janet

    I’m so sorry for the understandable discouragement. I almost feel guilty enjoying reading about your mountainous challenges, but your superbly descriptive writing makes for great reading!

  5. Buzzard! They’re trying to build a home, not a den of iniquity. Then again…

    Anyway, the recipe writing is a treat, in that “Ladies Club Fundraising Cookbook” way – delightful to read of the horrors at a safe distance and imagine how it might feel to combine cherry jello, bisquick, liquid smoke and canned tuna.

    Remember to take hot baths and long walks. Sometimes singing helps…

    And remember continuity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  6. 6 Jennifer Roberts

    Okay, I just found your blog from the SLV Owner Builder page, so I hope you will forgive me. I lived on the land in Crestone for two years, and I am so there with how you feel right now. I know it well. I think it is easier if you break things down into really easy steps. Like, one, realize you are in survival mode, and figure out how to bathe, keep yourself warm, and eat healthy food on a relaxed and regular basis before you even consider anything else. Can you focus on the essential rooms, like the bathroom and kitchen so they are liveable? Do anything it takes to make that work. Then focus on income and stabilizing that. You are not in a normal situation, so just take it easy on yourself! Even if this doesn’t work for you, I hope it helps to be understood.

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