Meanwhile, back at the treehouse


In the middle of this renovation, life continues. There is still a full time job. Family. Friends. Bills. Body aches. Drama. Heartache. Laughter. Life. Oh, and Yard work. The grass is gonna grow. The leaves are going to bud, the flowers are going to bloom and there are enough helicopter seedlings to blanket the earth three times over.

This is generally my very favorite time of year. The newness. The anticipation and the promise of the beautiful summer fruit. It's such a parallel to life. When ever asked why I continue to live in an area with such long winters, I always think of that first truly warm day in the Spring when the convertible tops go back and the sunroofs all pop up with a grin..

No matter how bad it's been for a brief moment, no matter how old you are, you feel 17 again. Full of promise, hope and energy. If I could just bottle and sell it. Watch out Viagra. An uncontrollable all day smile trumps a 15 minute uncontrollable boner any day.

You start a project in one season, and it often continues into the next. A little thought into how that will affect your progression is worth the time. Something as simple as to wether it will be necessary or even comfortable to keep the windows open. How messy will it be on a daily basis going in and out? How much time will be diverted for seasonal needs? How will this change the budget? You get the picture. In this case it's a couple of acres screaming in green for attention as the first leg of the indoor work and winter comes to a close and a new door opens with a new set of challenges to add to the mix.

Weekly tasks that roll your routine such as mowing and trimming, get balanced by daily gardening, weeding, watering and general cleaning. These are usually jump started by a weekend "opening of the yard". The bigger the yard, the bigger your weekend may need to be. My downtown house has a very small, yet more precisely groomed yard.that after 10 years of grooming can be tackled in about a good long, drawn out Saturday.

This house takes more like a three day weekend with a couple of paid 18 year olds thrown in for good measure.

The first massive clean up in the Fall of "14 about 6 months or so after Mom passed, required dump trucks and tens of trips to the landfill, metal retrieval, donations, repairs and re-thinks.

Last Spring was a fresh start, but had also been preceded by a long winter and a stark clean slate that was unforgiving and showed every crack, crag and imperfection that needed attention. Even the perennial early daffodils looked like a new piece of jewelry pickered on an old faded house dress. Sometimes you have to begin with rebuilding your basics. The house needed a new pair of shoes and a couple pairs of basic black slacks.

Last summer was just cleaning,planting, re-planting, weeding, edging, trimming, cutting down dead and poorly placed trees, shrubbery and stump removal. A new lawnmower was purchased. The driveway was re-gravelled.

A couple ton of flagstone was hauled in by hand to create a temporary walk way in back. Flower pots with colorful annuals were placed and lawn furniture repurposed from here and other homes and projects. Test paint combinations were tried on different parts of the exterior to live with for awhile and make a final choice this year for when the most pleasing and practical color scheme would make its final bid. I'm older, more patient, and knew I needed to think this one out. Measure twice. Cut once.

The swimming pool was removed out of necessity, but the adjoining gazebo still had some life left in Her.

After a little thought, I believed that the structure could be moved out of the back yard where it would see little use, to flank the south end of the house and re-incarnate into a very usable and beautiful entertaining space directly connected to an older formal entrance that previously had little purpose but an emergency fire exit and to confuse salesmen and the weekly Jehovah Witness.

This is where the French Doors were installed.

I day dreamed often of the process. Talking daily with friends and family on the best and cheapest way to move the structure. After months of over thinking it and watching the potential cost sky rocket to the point that it would be cheaper to rebuild it than to move it. That was not in the budget and in direct opposition of the original plan. Finally I did what I should have done in the first place.......................asked Dad. Kenny Ellis. The man with the plan. Over the years I have seen little than he can't do and nothing that he won't attempt. He's a good ole farm boy with the brain of an engineer. Give him a task and the wheels start turning. I should know by now to never doubt him.

We spent the better part of an afternoon drilling holes in the footer posts and cross bracing them with 2x10's and long nuts and bolts. Then the chainsaw cut it to be free standing. A few days later we enlisted the help of our friend Bill with his Kabota. We backed a tandem trailer under the structure, jacked up where necessary, braced with 2x4's and then strapped the heavier front end towards the back. We slowly pulled the trailer with the pick up, while Bill balanced the lowered back end with the bucket of the Kabota. In less than 10 minutes the structure had been moved 500 ft, over terrain and under power lines without even tearing up the yard.

The structure was placed where it would stay permanently directly on top of the ground without footers, but with some custom made 3 ft stakes hammered into the ground and bolted to the legs to give it support for the Winter so as not to sink or blow over.

A couple of weeks ago footers were poured and the slightly settled and sagging gazebo was raised a bit for balance and attached for permanent support. Today we purchased all of the decking and sakrete to build the decking and privacy fencing which will connect the structure to the house and new French Doors. This will become over 500 sq ft of produced surface, not to mention the addition of adjoining landscaped area, to be accessed directly from the open concept living, dining, kitchen area of the house. I also feel that as the house sits on the very north end of the property, the gazebo, as being physically connected to the home, will give it visual purpose and weight. It seems that the two combined as one looks more substantial and balanced. A cohesive paint job and additional landscaping and lighting will be dramatic and beautiful. Re-purposing the gazebo saved me thousands and will give me, family and friends years of added square footage and pleasure.

Imagine the lattice on the sides replaced with a more solid enclosure. Privacy fencing between the house and gazebo. Solid decking level with a flat walk out from the house. Painted to match new color of the home, mirroring both inside and outside views. Landscaped. Electrified. Furnished.

Part of the journey is having a vision. The other part is the follow through. "To do great things, you have to DO!" Chop wood. Haul water. Stay focused. Have a little faith. Have a lot of fun. Take your friends and family along for the ride. It's really what memories are made of.

I've been connected and re-connected with so many buds and old memories through this. And, in the process have tried to work with many friends and often their kids. It's been a great learning experience. To be able to navigate our relationships at this point in time, and openly share time and experience with their children. A true gift.

It's important to share information as a tool and not hoard it as a weapon. We often connect more deeply by being vulnerable and allowing our failures to show than only showcasing our success. It allows someone into the reasoning. The motivation behind it and what propels your actions and hence your accomplishments and achievements, and yes, where you went wrong. This project has taken on so many reasons. Financial. Heart. Business. Practicality. Timing. They can all be edited with a few basic old school journalism interrogatives of Who? What? Where? When? and, of course, the one that motivates it all.......................The Why?