The Stone Cottage, Chapter Two

Today was a landmark day. After two and a half years of patience, my permit was issued today. Hallelujah! Now, the hard work begins.

I am the general contractor for this project and will end up doing most of the work myself. I need to learn to do good plumbing, framing, electrical work, roofing, and wear many other hats. I feel like I’m a freshman in college again, books everywhere. But that’s a good thing. When your brain is taken up with dreams and plans, it leaves little space for mischievous thoughts, such as worry or sadness. Right now, the only part I want to contract out is the concrete foundation.

Foundation

I don’t know how it is in the rest of the country, but it is a challenge to find skilled work here. Historically, it has been because there such a high demand for building and limited skilled workers. While building might have slowed down across the country, it has not here. I have been trying to secure a foundation company for over a year. I think I have finally nailed that down. We have an informal agreement, but the owner will be here in two weeks to go over details and finalize a written contract.

Water

Potable water has been the impetus of the long delay. The community did not want me tying into their well due to fears I was building this as a rental. I am not. A new well would be north of 65K. I turned to rainwater catchment, but after two years, that was a complete waste of time and money. The company, which is the premier company in Seattle, fumbled the ball. So, with pity in my eyes, I was able to persuade the community that this building was an important part of my moving forward in my struggle against my illness. They agreed to give me their permission.

The next step was trying to find the plastic waterline, which was buried about 30-40 years ago. I spent about six weeks on this quest. I started by creating a straight line from the assumed water source, about 100 yards to our house. I began digging trenches across this line in several places, down to 36 inches, without success. Not only did I have to dig this by hand, but I had to use gardening tools to avoid cutting the line with a shovel or maddock.

Then I got smarter. I met with the one neighbor who was living here (actually she was living in our house in those days) when the waterline was put in. To my surprise, she drew a map from memory, where the line came in from the north, rather than the west. She seemed to know what she was talking about. At that juncture, I could have started digging random trenches again, or pay a plumber 2 K to come with ground penetrating radar to find it, or to think more. I pulled up a county LIDAR image, which had a tiny, 1/4 inch, indentation running in that direction. Then I used Google Earth.

In archeology, they often can find buried artifacts such as buildings and walls via crop lines. When earth has been disturbed, vegetation above the disturbed soil is a little greener. It is so subtle that you can’t see it with your eye on the ground, but you can see it from space. The reason is, disturbed ground retains moisture better.

Above is the Google Earth image of our property. The rectangle object in the center is Denise’s garden (who a group of you helped build when I was just diagnosed with cancer and couldn’t do it, thanks again!). The west is to the left. You can see the mow lines in the field that generally run from east to west, but if you look carefully, just west of the garden, you will see slightly darker line going from the southeast (right lower) to the northwest (upper left). My first trench across this line nailed the waterline, just 14 inches down. Finding the waterline was essential before breaking ground.

I will keep you posted as I progress and I will try to make this interesting enough to be “read-worthy.”

Mike

Published by J. Michael Jones

J. Michael Jones is married to Denise and is the father of five successful adult children, scattered around Washington state and Minnesota. He had a 38-year career as a physician associate, until he was forced into retirement by multiple myeloma in 2019. During his career, he waw a headache specialist at Mayo Clinic, and in the pacific northwest, and worked as a generalist in a variety of locations overseas, including Abu Dhabi, Oman, Cyprus, Egypt, Pakistan twice, Nepal, and Afghanistan's Khyber Pass. He has always loved to think and write, publishing seven books and countless journal articles. After retirement he has focused on his fiction writing including his coming book, The Stones of Yemen.

6 thoughts on “The Stone Cottage, Chapter Two

  1. I love you are building your own cabin! Let me recommend Youtube when you want to learn a new skill. Me and my friends call it being fathered by You tube. LOL.

    I hope you are doing well my friend. and praying this work isn’t just a good distraction, but a healing endeavor physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

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      1. LOL. No kidding. I even tought myself to use the 3d modeling program I use in my business on Youtube. (Sketchup)

        Yes Mike it is Ron! I hope your doing well. I have fallen behind reading your blog, so I am only surmising you feel better enough to tackle this project.

        Otherwise my old friend. How are you?

        I saw David Kines last spring on our way to Sedona. It was nice to catch up.

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  2. Hi Mike – I’m so glad you finally received your long awaited permit! Yes skilled labor is quite difficult to find here also and I imagine all over. And if you do find one, they mainly will only work on large projects or new home construction. So I’m glad you found someone to do the foundation and hopefully the contract and work goes smoothly for you with that. My brother (who died years ago at 41 years old in 1994) did foundation, block work, and then became skilled at brick work also and worked on some very expensive homes. He did the foundation for me when I had the cabin lifted to make into year round home – that was in 1993 so almost 30 years ago. What a huge project just finding your water line! Glad you found a woman who could give you more clear direction! You definitely are persistent! My dad was like that also. Once I start a project I can be abit like that but sometimes I can get overwhelmed with the thought of beginning some projects, so I really appreciated when he and I were able to work on yard and house projects together – I needed the “just start here” and not get overwhelmed with the entirety of the whole big picture. So I’m impressed with your ability and drive with all of that.Keep us updated on your progression! I love hearing the process 🙂

    May you and Denise have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I have a couple friends coming up from the Cities for a couple days and then several more that I think are coming just for the day (Friday) to share a meal, good conversation, and always laughter. One who is planning to come depending on weather, has four dogs (several Bernese mountain dogs) and so we, including my yellow lab Jackson, will be outside playing for some of the time :-))

    Be sure to say hello to Denise and ask her if she’d like to schedule a zoom call with me sometime. I have found that a great way to connect with folks and I can easily set that up and send her a link.

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