How to Lift a House…

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The lifting of our house has begun and so have all the happenings of things that occur when you do good and big things. They come with problem solving, both enjoyable and unpleasant, but always somethings and things to do.

We are teetering in the air. We call it our tree house now. It sounds a bit creepy, but is much more exciting than I thought it would have been. When you sit on our mid century red couch and someone walks across the room you feel the wobble-wobble. After a few days we have begun to barely even notice it.

How is a house lifted?

First they take two long beams (about forty seven feet in our case) and they are placed under the house. That takes about a day, the steel beams are very large and unwieldy on a small suburban street. Next, the cribbings are placed like giant jenga pieces, and the layering begins. Within the cribbings, hydraulic pumps are placed, six hydraulic pumps for six cribbings. There is a control board on the bed of the truck with a lever on it that says “Raise and Lower” and numbers that list the numbers of one to fourteen. The lever is firmly pushed and slowly the numbers move towards fourteen, a little over a foot  at a time. At this point they stop and time to add more cribbings and the hydraulic pump is moved to the top of the cribbings for the next lift. This goes on about ten times. It takes about four hours to get eleven feet.

Once everything is finished, Kevin, in his very quick and efficient fashion (with the help of Matt, the best kind of friend ever) had all the essentials (water, sewer, gas) connected. He also made some very beautiful (in their simplicity), long, and functional stairs.

Now on to the foundation…

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Olive Picking

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Most of what I attempt to do is process driven. Which, though very engrossing, is long and drawn out and requires many layers and levels of time. It turns me into some kind of generalist but very bad at focusing at one thing.

I like to compare it to the levels of a garden. From the microorganisms in the soil, to the mycelium that connect them, to the function and aesthetic developments of plants, to the animals that regenerate them, and the human processes that re-energize them – everything in the world seems almost inextricably connected to something else.

 I was very excited to attend the Dorn/Kauffman olive picking party for the reason of adding another layer to a process I do very often, consuming olive oil. It also allowed the family to pick a motherload of olives while simultaneously educating everyone on “how your food gets to your plate” principles.

Picking olives is fairly straight-forward. One waits for the perfect window (which is rather short), they must be unbruised, and a balance of green and black, to create a balanced olive oil. Strip a tree branch, place into a portable receptacle, and then into a larger container, laugh and talk with others while doing so and then take the olives as soon as possible to nearest location where they may be crushed. (Unfortunately, I was not able to see this step but maybe someday).

Most olive oils are not this simple and uncomplicated by modern convenience, therefore it is important to check your sources to see if you are even getting something that is pure and made of olives. This is a good source if you are interested…http://www.truthinoliveoil.com.

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La Boqueria

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En route to Portugal we stopped in Barcelona. I lived there for a year when I was 19, and I am glad I was able to appreciate the hard-partying-up-all-night lifestyle before I became a “disgusting old ghost” last month.

La Boqueria is a completely authentic sort of market, while also being insanely touristy place. It is a dreamy place of piled meats, fruits, vegetables and fish.

When I go to the supermarket, I generally find myself going from dairy/meats/cheeses on the left to grains/veggies on the right. La Boqueria cuts the crap and takes the best non-processed foods part of a supermarket and smooshes them together.

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The Beginning Before

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Kevin and I aren’t the sentimental kind – our wedding bands were bought last minute off of Amazon for 99 cents. Kevin doesn’t buy me flowers, never surprises me with fancy dinner dates, and definitely does not buy me expensive jewelry, and I like it that way. My sort of sensibility builds houses, handmade furniture, and long arduous team building style adventure vacations. Our best moments are the working through the shit to find a diamond times, the tearing apart and then rebuilding of something together.

 

We first met six years ago in New York – I was fed up, in all the way that people living in New York get fed up. I had gone to Vermont that summer and spent time in a magical gnome house that had been built in stages, over years and expansive life stories, I wanted those kind of layers. Three months later, I met Kevin. He stayed at my house the first night and then helped me move into my new apartment (with five other friends) the next day, he never left. Kevin and I like to move fast. And so in our fashion we moved through living together, through extended travels together, to being engaged together (which lasted 5 years), to within a year buying a house together.

 

We bought our house through the bank, a foreclosure of a previous owner, who rented to section 8 tenants. But in the end really from Laura, the keeper of the house, for the previous 20 years. She was over 65, African American, Section 8, and slightly disabled (most likely from the black mold that inhabited the lovely shit hole we were about to buy). She was also known to keep an ax by the door to chase people away. In the beginning it was always really about Laura, her decision to sell and her desires, and so began my months in helping her find a new place slash being the  bearer of all she desired. Medications, Oakland funerals, many many potential apartment visits, with lots of Smirnoff Ice with an added twist of “White girl, you like my daughter”.  It was fun, a little bit weird, and the beginning of our adventure. Laura just died a few months ago, God bless her soul.

 

Once Laura was settled, so there began our years of little by little. It was demo nights and my clean up dump days, which turned into camping in the yardweeks to camping in the house months, then on to the air mattress in the living room era and finally to completely unfinished but livable rooms. The years accented by baby chicks in unfinished bedrooms, finding three legged kittens in the streets, and little James (our favorite neighbor) wandering the wreckage and teaching us how to dance The Jerk. There were also days of exploding toilets where poop flowed from the ground and finding ourselves and some really awesome friends scooping bucket loads in the rain. Plumbers are really expensive.

 

Kevin and I aren’t the kind to enumerate our accomplishments, and in the end I wish I had documented more, because, some days I am really proud of us. We have dry walled, plumbed, scraped, cleaned, nailed, tiled, built our way to, not the top, but up enough to see a pretty good view and (through the help of some great friends and one awesome electrician) have been able to create something that is not close to perfect but has become a reflection of us, our abilities, and some sort of sum of our love.

 

I wanted to post some pictures of the past few years because I never have and we are about to begin the next stage of our process. The Lift. Which will be documented and spoken about at further length in the future. So here it is, the beginning, the asbestos and the dust and beautiful reclaimed hardwoods and the mess and the mold and all the things that have pulled me away from internet world and into the us.

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Archery

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Until recently I had not given archery much thought. The only image I had was of Kevin as a young blue-eyed boy – and as most young boys interested in danger and destruction – playing chicken, the archery version. A game where you direct your bow straight into the air and whoever stares up into its trajectory the longest is the winner – or is impaled. If you like doing dangerous things you probably know what I am talking about. I, on the other would shudder when I would ask Kevin to tell me about his childhood games.

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Even (as shown in these photos) is an instructor at Trackers, an admirable organization that teaches kids how to do compelling and adventurous things like track animals in the forest, throw knives (and tomahawks!) and shoot at things with bow and arrows. It was through Even’s stories of summer camp and Kevin’s nostalgic love of shooting at things that I felt inspired this week to go with Even and buy Kevin a bow and then test it out for myself. And after I read that archery has about as much injuries as bowling and less injuries than golfing a year, I was game.

Venture into the hills of Oakland and you will find an archery range called the Redwood Bowmen’s Archery Club. This is really manly, yet graceful stuff here. Surrounded by redwoods, sexy bowmen, and an archery trail that sports targets of shapely moose, how could it not be perfect.

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 Archery in its former life began in the Paleolithic/Mesolithic era. First came the atlatl (an ancient spear thrown contraption that everyone should read about) and then the subsequent evolution and reign of the bow and arrow. An inherent object of grace and style, manly, while also integrating into itself a certain finesse and grace. In my mind is the most metro sexual of all the killing machines.

One must only thing of bows and arrows to conjure up images of Greek mythology – feminine, naked men scampering through the forest killing young bucks or other mythological figures. And then of course there is Cupid, the naked baby. The scenes and poetic themes around Cupid and arrows are romantic in their references and as oft used to have been killed by Hallmark in a bloody death of repetition and holidays.

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000036Cupid was know to carry two arrows. One was golden tipped and filled the victim with uncontrollable desire and the other with a tip of lead which led to aversions and desire to leave.  Not often told there is also a story of Cupid as a honey thief (Even as beekeeper.)

“In the tale of Cupid the honey thief, the child-god is stung by bees when he steals honey from their hive. He cries and runs to his mother Venus, complaining that so small a creature shouldn’t cause such painful wounds. Venus laughs, and points out the poetic justice: he too is small, and yet delivers the sting of love.”

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Sadly, firearms were rendered archery obsolete. Gone were the days of men riding the Mongolian tundras or American West on horseback adroitly killing prey and/or enemies, and in came the cowboys and the era of erratic yet powerful muskets.
Then one day after the  Napoleonic Wars archery again became popular among the upper classes. Framed as “… a nostalgic re-imagining of the pre-industrial rural Britain”, it was also known for its popularity among females. “Young women could not only compete in the contests but retain and show off their sexuality while doing so. This archery came to act as a forum for introductions, flirtations, and romance. ” Archery parties were all the rage at this time and a perfect example of some of the fashionable pastimes of the rich and famous in Victorian times.

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I personally would love to host an archery party, except I don’t live  on a fancy grassy estate and as of my first experience I look like a scrunched up owl when shooting my bow.
Here’s to more hobbies, going into nature, and being a sexy come hither archer that shoots at the males of your desire with arrows of gold and not of lead.

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