Yesterday, I got up in the morning, and decided I needed to get away. It was a cloudy morning, and I felt miserable. I wanted to be dry and warm. I also didn’t have much work I could do on the hut, because I was out of lumber (again) and with the clouds threatening rain, I couldn’t paint either. So I went to Redding.
I got there around lunch time, and gorged myself on some Chinese buffet, then waddled over to the hardware store and gorged myself on lumber. Since I had a bunch of photos to upload, I headed to a Starbucks near the hardware store to use the wifi connection. Dressed the way I am, I didn’t feel particularly out of place at the hardware store, but I definitely felt weird at Starbucks, especially in contrast to the clean-looking cute barista who took my order. She had dark wavy hair, and a dimple in her radiant smile. It made me realize how isolated I’ve been. Waiting for my tall decaf mocha, I felt uncomfortably warm, so I took off the outer most layer: a Google hoodie, polka dotted with caulk and paint, and bleached reddish by some mysterious substance in the woods. The next layer wasn’t much of an improvement: a long sleeve flannel shirt. I considered taking that off, but underneath that was a long sleeve orange t-shirt, a size too large. I gave up, and since there weren’t any seats open with power outlets anyway, I left after picking up my coffee, and headed across the parking lot to the Safeway, where there’s also wifi and power, but fewer laptop users.
As I went about doing internet things, I realized that I was actually running a slight fever. My head felt fuzzy, and I felt clammy. This was rather inconvenient, since I was an hour and a half away from my land. I can’t honestly say that going back to my cold hut and spending another night in my 24″ wide loft, constrained in my sleeping bag, probably with freezing toes, particularly seemed appealing to me. But I knew that’s exactly what I would do. I chose to do this. It would take more than a slight fever to make me give up.
I decided to try the old family remedy for mild illnesses: tons of food. Chinese buffet for lunch was a good start. I decided to top it off with a burrito for dinner, downed with a bottle of vitamin water. It was around 8:30 or 9 by the time I got back to my hut, but fortunately, it was much, much warmer than on previous nights. The thermometers registered around 32F outside, 46F inside, with my kerosene lamp and new propane lamp I’d picked up in Redding providing some additional heat.
I have a wide variety of lighting devices in my hut. The most basic form of lighting is candles. I have 3 of them lit right now, and I like the soft warm glow they give off. A few days ago, I got an oil lamp at the local hardware store. It’s only about as bright as a candle, but probably much cheaper in the long run, since a $8 bottle of oil will probably last a month or so. Then, there’s the propane lamp I got yesterday. Even at its lowest setting, it gives off tons of light, but propane canisters are heavy and bulky, so I’m a little weary of burning through them too quickly. Lastly, I have an assortment of electric lamps that run off of AA or AAA batteries. Since I charge AA and AAA batteries from my deep cycle battery that in turn is charged by my solar panels, electricity is by far the greenest form of energy on my land. I have a virtually infinite supply, generated on my property. But, truth be told, keeping all these batteries recharged is an annoying chore.
I felt about as miserable this morning, as I did yesterday morning, despite the sunny weather. I felt lonely and isolated. My fever seemed to have gone away, but I was still cold and felt oddly empty. I got up briefly at 8:30 to pee (which, for me, means climbing down from my loft and going outside to the nearest tree), then climbed back into my sleeping bag. I didn’t come out again until 10:30, and just puttered around my camp in a daze. At one point, I found myself mindlessly eating honey roasted peanuts from a can I’d bought at a Girl Scout sale at the local grocery store.
Oddly enough, taking a dump made me feel better. There’s something about crouching in the open field, in the sun, with my pants off, boots on, over a shallow hole, that gives me perspective. I have a hut in the woods. Sure, there are things I don’t have that I long for, but I have a lot that other people don’t have. Most importantly, I have freedom. I focused on that, and thought about all the adventures I could go on. It made me feel much better.
I decided to utilize the good weather to do some painting, before bad weather returned. I spent most of the afternoon applying a second coat of paint, focusing particularly on the lower parts, where it was more likely to get wet. I then duct taped the paint roller to an 8-foot section of two-by-two to get the gables, which I’d missed the first time around. By the time the sun set, my hut was, for the first time, fully painted.
Using what little light I had, I gathered firewood for the evening, then headed down to the car to bring up some of the lumber I bought yesterday, in case I decided to do some work after dark. On the way down to the car, I thought about what work I had left. I decided to just leave the tarp over the roof until I could get some help putting on the roofing paper. I’ve also been concerned about how weather proof the plywood exterior would be. The cheap crappy ply I got is already starting to warp and crack in places. Would it survive the winter? Other than paint, what can I do to make it more weatherproof? A couple of weeks ago, I tacked on some of the roofing tar paper around the bottom half of the hut, sort of like a skirt, as a temporary measure. Perhaps I could do that, more permanently. But then I started thinking, why not use tar paper as siding? Why not cover up the whole hut in that stuff? I certainly had enough, and if I wasn’t going to use it for the roof, I might as well use it for something. And if I’m going to wrap up the whole thing in tar paper, why not also put my mylar-bubbewrap insulation on the exterior too, underneath the tar paper? Putting insulation on the outside is easier because all the columns and studs won’t get in the way, and it’ll also help protect the plywood. I also happen to like the exposed wood on the interior. Thoreau says “New ideas for new people, old ideas for old people.”
I ended up taking the evening off. I cooked myself a nice dinner of grilled chicken seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme, with a side of saute’d onions and rice. The rest of the evening was spent sitting by the fire, occasionally reading some Walden. It seems like it’ll be another reasonably warm evening. Last I checked, it was right around 32F outside. Inside, it is a balmy 46F.