Bubble wrapped…

Well, this was a new one for me. I assumed that when you build a greenhouse, that you put windows on the south side, maybe a glass (polycarbonate roof) and WaLa! It warms when the sun hits it and you will have lovely veggies all winter. HA!

Grammi’s Greenhouse.

I should have known it wasn’t that simple. I spent most of our sunny fall going back and forth to the greenhouse to open or close windows. If the sun was out, the temperature inside could top my thermometer at 120 degrees in just thirty minutes. So, I would open windows, but with the ambient temperature in the forties, I would have to regularly check the temperature to make sure it wasn’t cooling off too much. As the nights cooled into the thirties, I ran a couple extension cords out to the greenhouse so I could run a heater at night. That worked until we got the electricity installed and I could use a temperature regulated heater that turns itself off at the desired temperature. To solve my sunlight problem, friends said I needed vents.

I bought the recommended automatic, temperature regulated vent openers, and had our handyman ready to create vents and cut into the roof, when we noticed they were not recommended to use in winter. Sigh. Another friend recommended a solar RV vent. Hmm. I ordered one, climbed the ladder, cut the hole, installed the vent, and WaLa! It worked as advertised. When the sun hit the panel, the fan ran and pulled hot air out of the greenhouse. Only, it wasn’t pulling enough air out to keep it ventilated and cool. And, to add injury to insult, because there was no damper, it was allowing any remaining warm air to escape at night! Not good.

It was time for some more research. Somewhere on the vast resource called the internet, I came across an article talking about the need to insulate a greenhouse. A novel idea I hadn’t thunk of yet. Off to the local home improvement store I drove to pile several sheets of 2” thick foam type board into my van. Two days later they were successfully installed on the wooded north wall and joined with metal tape. That seemed to help a bit, and now I have a shiny silver wall. But, the temperature was still soaring in the sunlight.

More research indicated that I might need to insulate the polycarbonate that I used for the south walls and south facing roof. I had already covered my vent hole, so as to stop that air exchange. But, bubble wrap on the poly walls/roof? There were several greenhouse suppliers online I could buy “horticultural grade) bubble wrap from for $300, if I was willing to pay another $350 for shipping! Not on your life! Time to see how much non-horticultural bubble wrap cost. I was able to find a somewhat local packaging supplier in the area and to purchase the amount I needed ended up costing me $150 plus an hour of driving time and gas. Not bad actually.

Successfully insulated.

My father helped me with the installation of it. After several unsuccessful (and painful) attempts to use a hammer stapler to install it, my father suggested I go back to the shop and get an electric stapler and extension cord. I resisted. After noticing a huge bruise that had developed at the base of a finger, I relented and did as he suggested. That was so much easier! While we worked, I apologized for being so stubborn and not listening to him. Will I ever learn? I hope so.

Yesterday was our first sunny day since insulation was mostly completed (I still have to tape my seams and edges). It rose to a reasonable 80 degrees, with no window opening required. I know that I will eventually need to get a temperature controlled vent system in my cute little greenhouse. And I still have to figure out how much water my plants need indoors, but, this works for now. Maybe, just maybe, I am getting this thing figured out.

I hope that you are able to find the answers you are looking for today to solve whatever problems you are dealing with in this life.

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Now I understand…

A few month back, we had a round of inspections with the shop and house we are building. One inspection was to make sure our electrical panel was ready to energize. The inspector was friendly and helpful with suggestions. At one point, he asked me “so, you’re going to pull the wire?” I answered in the affirmative, and he repeated the question. I laughed and repeated my answer. At the time, I found it funny. Apparently I must look like I would not be capable of “pulling” wire.

Fast forward to this morning. The sun had just risen around 7:00am, but was hidden behind heavy clouds. It was light but cold, around 32 degrees. I headed to the property and met up with a friend who is coaching me through the project. We decided to take on the big project of pulling the main power wires between the master panel and the sub panel. We needed to run the wire approximately 225 feet. When I say wire, it turned out we were pulling three huge 1″ around, wires and one small through the underground conduit. At the same time.

OH MY!

Five hours later, the three of us, plus his wife who came a bit later, and a car finally finished the job. I pulled for a while, then shoved the wire into the conduit. I was so cold that I didn’t notice how sore I was getting. We went through one and a half bottles of wire lubricant. By the time we were done, my gloves were so slimy, I couldn’t hold anything. But, now I understand the inspectors repeated question. I could not have done that alone, and am humbled that our friend and his two older children took an entire day to help with the monumental task. And, his wife and other children also came out to help for a couple hours.

After we finally finished that task, we all took time to refill the carb load for energy, and went inside to run more wire and drill holes to help the process. When I say inside, it’s not like it was warmer inside. There are still open soffits, open walls into the garage, and a couple windows missing (they were broken when they arrived). Every now and then I would remove my gloves to shove my hands into my pockets to warm them.

When I finally returned home at 4:00pm, I took time to fix a warm, protein recovery drink before hopping into a hot, epsom salt and essential oil bath. It was while I was soaking that I noticed the dark purple bruise at the base of my thumb, and the slight swelling on the top of my other hand. I can only guess the bruise was from the sheer pressure of working the large wires. The top of the hand was when I was drilling a hole and hit a knot and the drill locked and threw and twisted my hand at the wrist and the top of my hand was slammed into a stud. One hip hurts, probably from bracing my body during the pull. Hopefully that is all, but we will have to see what the morning holds.

It feels good to have that big project out of the way. The rest should feel like a piece of cake comparably. I must admit, I feel confident now with working with the electrical. I feel satisfied to be able to say “I did that”. And I have enjoyed most of the process. Stripping wire and stapling is a fairly mindless job, which helps me relax. As long as I’m not shivering too much. I plan to take it easy physically tomorrow. I have some purchases to make, sub contractors to meet with and errands to run. Hopefully my hands won’t hurt too much to put in a full day of work on Tuesday.

New occupation…

It seems that during our building project, I have learned some new trades. I can now say I am a stripper. A wire stripper that is. Since we pulled a homeowner electrical permit for our electrical, I am learning tons about wiring a home, with wise counsel and guidance from a friend who is a licensed electrician. I have learned how to create electrical circuits, design my power panel, run wire, strip the sheathing off the ends of the wire, staple the wire to support it, and so much more.

In the process of working on these projects, I have also earned the title “rafter rat” by my co-workers, because of having to work in the rafters to run the wire and staple. This was a task that challenged me. When one of the guys on the job asked me to help sheet the gables by getting into the rafters to hold a side of plywood, my ego had me respond quickly with “sure!” After taking a deep breath, I climbed the ladder, and stepped onto the rafters. I did fine, and after some time, became fairly adept at maneuvering through them without hitting my head or palming a board with a nail sticking out of it.

The whole being in charge of building a house has been a real growing process for me. I have had to learn to stand up and speak my mind to the foreman about what is important to me, the homeowner, his boss. I have had to initiate hard conversations, request things be redone, and more. It has been hard and sometimes stressful. But it has also been extremely rewarding. To realize what I am truly capable of. To see a drawing become a house is an amazing thing.

We are turning a corner soon. We hope to have the plumbing and electrical done by and inspected by mid January. After that, the subs start coming in to do their thing. Siding, insulation, drywall, paint, flooring, cabinet installation, doors installed, the house trimmed, closet racks installed, etc. it sounds like a lot, which it is, but it will go quickly. In no time, we will be moving in. Moving is still a few months off, but is beginning to look imminent.

It has been a fun process, but I will be glad when it is done. I will keep you posted.

Learning flexibility…

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The internet seems to have no solid evidence of where this saying came from, or whether it is an idiom or a proverb. Many cultures have similar sayings. What I find interesting is the fact that the majority of the time I hear it spoken, it is about people. Not just old people, middle aged as well. I have also noticed that it is often used as an excuse. Maybe a person doesn’t want to do something, or hates change. This should not be so.

Years ago, a pastor I respected shared something to the effect that “when we feel there is no room for change and growth, like we have arrived, then we are in a dangerous place.” I tend to agree. As humans, we must be willing to adapt, learn to be flexible.

Over the years, I have been inflexible. Routine was my friend. Any unexpected requests thrown into my schedule caused stress, because I let it. I got frustrated and angry. “How will I get these other things I had planned for today done now?” “Ahh! Now I have to rearrange my schedule to add this car issue in”. With being the general for our house/shop build, routine has flown out the window. My Friday clean the house and prep for Sabbath has disappeared, Sunday mornings in the garden are hot and miss. Wednesday afternoon with the grands too. Now I have to prioritize my lists, and every day things have to get moved around because of the constant and changing demands of building. Calls to pickup supplies, pay an invoice over the phone, be onsite for an inspection, etc. Lack of routine has become my new norm.

I have two choices. Get frustrated that my routines have been turned upside down, or, realize that life will continue if my toilets aren’t cleaned every Friday. Admittedly, i find myself trying to establish new routines (maybe I can move my housecleaning chores to Sunday), but that can be frustrating too. So, I try to just do things based on priority.

It won’t kill me to hire someone to come in and clean once every couple months. The money we are saving on the house by me contracting still far outweighs the money I will spend on that. My pride needs some adjusting too. I won’t say this stretching has been easy, far from it. But, it has been worth it. I can see less stress in both myself and my husband. I was way more go with the flow when we took our trip to see family. That was helpful when we took a wrong turn in the country, when we were running late for something, and more. It was actually nice.

Today, may you learn a new trick, and like it!