on the grid: we got the hookup(s)!

Whew! We’ve been some hardworking fools over in Ashland these last few weeks.  Since Argie first landed and had her initial demolition plus fixing of the lock, we’ve managed to do quite a few other tasks, though, sadly, she’s not move-in ready. Yet, she’ll get there!

In the meantime, we’ve been crushing on the basics.  First of all, Matt has managed to get her leak-proof, so hopefully we’ll have a dry winter (at least on the inside). Upon our initial inspection of Argie after the first rain storm (i.e. Hurricane Joaquin), I walked in and inquired:

“Why are the walls wet?”

To which Matt responded, “Oh, well, I had the windows open, airing it out, that must be it.”

I wasn’t quite buying this solution, but couldn’t think of another reason, so I figured, OK, condensation is a thing, right? Something about the dew point? I don’t know, I’m not a scientist.  Once he started tearing all of the stuff out, we realized that there were several leaks/holes that had been blocked from view by existing materials (e.g. tiny, hideous closets) and were indeed allowing “the wetness” to invade our tiny little house.

So, once everything was removed and Argie was bare on the inside, we were able to figure out where those leaks were and Matt went right to work with some Bondo, doing his finest non-canoe patch work yet!

crack up top
crack in the lid
mr. fixit
he’s Mr. Fix-It
A view of the awning (the fabulous brown rainbow) and Mr. FIx-It

Once we had the leaks fixed, we figured we could move on to bigger and better things: painting. I loathe painting. It always takes five times longer to paint than one would initially think. I was thinking we would crank out painting in a single weekend (Matt and I do not share a day off and that a “weekend” is actually driving out to Ashland once Matt gets off of work at 3pm on Saturday and Sunday, trying to work until dark).

We barely finished taping our first “weekend.” The week we started the painting process (i.e. taping and priming) was also the week that we were preparing for Big Mike to come and help to get the electricity running to the Airstream. Big Mike made it clear he wasn’t going to do any digging (he says he’s “too old”) and we did everything within our power to make his visit as efficient as possible.

So, Matt and I had to divide and conquer: he to dig the 200+ foot trench (don’t worry, he mostly used heavy machinery) and me to come over after work several days for two weeks to apply coat after coat after coat. Taping, cutting-in, rolling, digging brush hairs out of dried paint. Ugh. It took me a while to find the correct tool to use, as the rounded sides of the walls made getting even coverage difficult.

The interior texture of the walls is quite slick yet bumpy, so I needed to apply several coats of primer to ensure that paint would stick to the walls. Also, though we had scrubbed the walls, there was about 40 years of crust and grime to cover, so it was definitely a big job.

lemon something or other
“lemon something-or-other”

Once I started, though, the instant gratification that it looked bigger and brighter and happier made it worthwhile, with just a few coats of Kilz! Not having any furniture or furnishings will contribute to it looking bigger (duh), but the primer took it to the next level and actually made me excited to finish the painting.

front end: before.
front end: after.
mellow yellow
it’s so much brighter in here!

Meanwhile, in the yard, Matt was busting his butt for days. Literally, days.  We were rushing to the last minute the weekend Big Mike arrived to finish prepping the trench and try to get the water installed (yes, we managed to get water running out to Argie, too), and even I was taking a break from painting to dig in the trench to ensure it was the same depth of 30 inches for all 200+ feet. I was definitely feeling like a strong she-beast after that! Digging through red clay is hard, especially when it’s so compacted.

From the chicken coop to the bend
chickens like the trench
chickens like fresh dug earth!
inside the trench, some of the clay we had to hand-dig

Big Mike arrived on a Sunday afternoon and was a big hit!  He fit in right at home with Matt’s parents and we all managed to work well together.  The only thing that impeded the productivity of getting the electricity out to Argie was rain. It hadn’t rained since the aforementioned hurricane a few weeks before, and we had two straight days of consistent rain. Rain + electricity = no bueno!

big mike wuz here
people are always confusing east Virginia with west virginia

Luckily, I was off of work on one of the mid-week rainy days, so Big Mike and I enjoyed a hiatus from working and got to hang out and explore Richmond a little bit. We get along really well and it never seems like we get enough time together, hence, we had a blast just hanging out, eating and watching a few movies. What else would I want to do on a rainy day off? It was great.

paintings finest harkins

Unfortunately, we were working on a time-crunch (Big Mike had plans to leave by Friday). After two days of rain, the menfolk were returning to their work on the yard, and as of the beginning of the day, were missing some key materials to finish the job.

Yet, they crushed the task and got it done (though, this would not have been possible if Matt hadn’t managed to squeeze a “personal day” into the week). They finished running all of the wire to Argie and several outbuildings on the homestead, as well as managed to get the electricity working inside the trailer by the end of the day.

“just pump it up!”
It's electric
box of electricity.

Everybody worked really hard and we are so thankful to have been able to have Big Mike drive all the way down from Michigan and temporarily leave retirement to help us out with this massive project.  Thank you, Dad!!

The big lesson we’ve learned so far is that nothing is ever going to go as planned. We are learning to accept this about home renovation projects and life in general through this process: just because you plan all of the details meticulously, does NOT mean that everything is going to go easily or as planned. It’s surprising how much long individual tasks take to complete; I wish I could just wiggle my nose and everything would be done!

I feel like each week brings its new set of challenges and hiccups, yet through this experience we’re learning a lot about our relationship, how we work together, what it means to own a house (even if it’s a tiny house with wheels, it’s still a real house!), and how to manage our time around our full-time jobs. These have been very positive lessons and we are thoroughly pleased with the outcome.

Even though it really feels like all we do lately is work, renovate, work, paint, work, dig, think about the Airstream, work, sleep (sometimes),  now that we have water and power and a few coats of paint on the walls, it’s starting to feel like we might actually get to move into this thing sometime and it’s not just a dream. Is it December yet?

the lights
all lit up.

1 Comment

  1. You guys, these posts are excellent! We love reading the updates (and seeing them in person)– we can’t wait for the next installment. It’s amazing how hard you two are working 🙂 We love you guys!


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