too many words by laura lemay

The tiger in the room

I was going to use the obvious phrase “the elephant in the room” for this title but then everyone would assume I was making a bad mastodon pun. This is not about mastodon. This is about cancer. The tiger is a better metaphor for the thing I’ve been pretending isn’t happening.

Hello, I have cancer. Throat cancer, specifically. It is not that bad as far as cancer goes and my doctors tell me that once I get through the chemo and radiation there is a very high chance I will be 100% cured. Not like “in remission” cured but actually cured cured. It’s good news! But the chemo and radiation for the next seven weeks are probably going to be tough. I start today.

I did not restart this blog to turn it into a cancer diary, because unless you actually have cancer, cancer diaries can be super boring. But I am going to talk about it, because I think stuff through and settle my mind by writing about it.

I was going to seperate the cancer posts from my normal blog posts but it looks like that will be complicated and I don’t have the spoons for that. The cancer posts after this one will have content warnings in the titles, you may skip if you wish. I do hope to continue writing about other more normal things, such as cats. Because you cannot not have cats, even in times of darkness.

Yeah, the timing of the pandemic AND the holidays AND twitter collapse AND restarting a blog AND getting cancer is a bit much. I wish things were all different and that it hadn’t happened right now. But as a wise man said in a book once, that’s not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

So far I’m trying my best.

The "blog about the blog" blog post on the blog

I was going to allow myself one and only one post about the tech details for this blog that interests no one but other nerdy bloggers. And then I wrote 1000 words about it before the voice in my head that was yelling “SHORT POSTS. YOU WERE GOING TO DO SHORT POSTS” made me feel so guilty I stopped. Here is the shorter attempt.

The before times

For years this blog was in self-hosted Wordpress, which I had found increasingly slow, complicated, and unwieldy. I’m sure there were lots of ways I could have made it faster, simpler, and uh, wieldy, if I had wanted to really work at it. But I got to the point where the maintenance felt like a chore and I wanted to try something else that was just simpler.

The middle times

I have had so many incomplete “get the blog into something simpler” attempts, including delusionally thinking I was going to write my own blog platform, and also a couple passes of delusionally thinking I knew enough CSS to do my own design by hand from scratch.

I started using Jekyll, the static site generator that powers github pages, during one of those attempts. At the time it was the most popular and best-supported SSG. It’s since become less popular (everyone loves Hugo now), but I didn’t want to start over over again with yet another language and framework and templating system and and and, so Jekyll it is.

After I realized my own CSS was not going to cut it I settled on the Lanyon theme. It has some minor changes (I’m capable enough at CSS to poke at an existing design) but I mostly used it as-is.

Sadly I never made far enough in any of these blog reboots to actually stop running Wordpress.


Finally I made it far enough into a blog reboot to where I am no longer running Wordpress.

The site is still Jekyll, and still Lanyon. It is definitely much simpler and more comfortable for me to maintain and to understand.

I use git locally and push to github as a backup, but I don’t deploy anything out of github or have any kind of CI/CD system. I have an old-school web host that runs apache, and I just build the site and then copy the files to that host with scp like I am a caveman straight out of 1997.

Once more unto the breach

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a despairing twitter user in possession of a moribund blog must be in need of a blog reboot.

I have tried a bunch of times to restart this blog over the years, from writing more regularly, to design changes, to killing the whole thing altogether and starting over from scratch. All of these have been really hard things for me to get headway on, for various reasons. It did not help that twitter was right there, did not make me install any frameworks or learn new programming languages, and was really addictive. But, as you know, twitter. (deepest of sighs).

With the imminent-loss-of-twitter incentive I’ve gotten farther into the process this time. I’m trying really hard not to get mired in details and to just put something workable up. There’s still an awful lot of work left to do, but it’s up and there’s some text on it, which is a start.

My primary goal for the blog this time around is to not be so insanely perfectionist about it. One huge advantage of twitter for me was that everything about it (the character limits, the pacing) very neatly sidestepped my insane need to over-write and over-edit everything to death. So I’m hoping to spend less time on the Enormous Serious Thing It Took Me A Week to Write and more on just, well, short easy things that kind of look a lot like tweets. (Note: I’ve done four drafts of this post and it’s twice as long as it should be so maybe not succeeding so well yet.)

Also there will be lots of cat and garden and coffee photos, because of course there will.

Please hold

A new blog is forthcoming.

The best stuff i read in 2011

If everyone else in the world can do a year-end wrap-up, so can I.

I have possibly the worst musical taste ever and I don’t watch a lot of TV or movies, but I do read a lot. So this is the best stuff I read in 2011.


I post tiny book reviews to twitter; I’m also trying to keep up with longer reviews on Goodreads.

The Pale King: David Foster Wallace’s posthumous unfinished novel has moments that are undeniably brilliant, but it is absolutely unfinished and not so much a novel as a collection of fascinating potsherds. I’ve thought about it a lot over the last year. The good parts are just so good that even as sketchy as it is it was still worth reading.

War and Peace, Tolstoy: Yeah, I read War and Peace, and I’m glad I did. It’s an intimidating book in its length, but it is extremely readable. The characters are so well-drawn and the social problems they face seem entirely modern. There were a few times I actually put off important appointments because OMG I had to find out what happened to Prince Andrei. It is a brilliant, epic novel, and well-deserving of its reputation as one of the best novels ever written in any language.

Side note: I read this book in paperback in the Penguin edition (Rosemary Edmonds translation, two volumes, which makes it easier to hold), but I also used a free Gutenberg version on my Kindle. Having a searchable version on which I could take notes was very useful for keeping the characters straight.

Skippy Dies, Paul Murray: The best contemporary novel I read this year. I heard good things about this book for months but the title seemed off-putting to me. Ignore the title. This is one great book. It’s funny, and surreal, and poignant. It’s a big book, but it reads fast. The characters are all wonderful. Spoiler: Skippy dies.

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern: I was halfway through writing this post last week when I read this book, and I had to add it. I have a warm place in my heart for long, slow, quiet, ethereal, fairy-tale influenced fantasy, and this is that kind of book. I could complain that the ending is too obvious, the metaphors a bit heavy (hello! wizard in the tree!) and that a lot of the book feels kind of light and fluffy. But this is a beautifully written, otherworldly love story, and I loved it.

Short Stories and Other Random Things

I used to read short stories all the time, but my attention span these days works best on social-networking time (10 seconds or less) or novel-span time (2-3 days). Random point of note: I’ve been trying to finish The Stories of John Cheever for almost five years.

Escape from Spiderhead, George Saunders. Ignore the fact that this is from the New Yorker. It is science fiction, it is cynical and violent and profane, and it is absolutely terrific. It reminds me a lot of the dystopian Vonnegut and Vonnegut-style stuff I used to read as a kid in the 1970’s.

Six Months, Three Days, Charlie Jane Anders. “The man who can see the future has a date with the woman who can see many possible futures.” This is the rare kind of science fiction that I love, complex literary character-driven SF.

When I look at a Strawberry I think of a Tongue, Édouard Levé. This is not a short story, and its not an essay; it’s kind of a stream-of-consciousness piece of impressionist textual memoir, but it is just astonishingly written. Do not google Édouard Levé before you read this; the last few lines and the epigraph are devastating.

Blog Posts

How to Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon. If there was one blog post in 2011 that affected me more personally in 2011, it would be this one. The subhead is “10 Things No One Told me About Creativity” and this is one of those essays with pithy and seemingly obvious advice about creativity. I’ve read tons of these posts. I’ve read tons of books about creativity. Most of them are indeed kind of obvious. And as I once said to Jason Kottke, books about creativity are like books about swimming; eventually you have to stop reading and get into the pool.

It was this part that really thumped me in the head:

  1. Write the book you want to read.

Hello, obvious. But not so obvious to me. I’ve spent thirty years trying (and failing) to write a novel that I thought would be worthy of my talent. But what’s wrong with just writing a simple novel that is the kind of crappy fun book I like to read? Nothing. Nothing at all. Even if I write a crappy novel I will learn something about writing *any* novel. After this post I did actually start a novel, and although I’m not sure I’m ever going to succeed at it I’m making more progress than I have in the past, and it’s making me very happy.

Dear Sugar at The Rumpus

I wanted to come up with ONE Sugar column that I liked the best for this post, and couldn’t do it. Dear Sugar is an advice column, and much of the time it is the sort of advice to the lovelorn column you see anywhere. But the writing. The writing is so unbelievably good. For every column it seems there is always a turn of phrase, a metaphor, or an anecdote that is deeply resonant for me. I have sat in front of my computer and cried myself stupid more often for Sugar columns than for anything else this year. I managed to reduce my list of best Sugar columns to four, in reverse chronological order:

Dear Sugar #78: The Obliterated Place. “23. There is no 23.”

Dear Sugar #69: We Are All Savages Inside. On art, and success, and jealousy, and privilege. “There isn’t a thing to eat down there in the rabbit hole of your bitterness except your own desperate heart.”

Dear Sugar #64: Tiny Beautiful Things. Advice to one’s younger 20-something self. “Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.” This made me cry myself stupid.

Dear Sugar #48: Write Like a Motherfucker: Probably the most famous Sugar column. Advice to writers, and female writers especially. The last line is most often quoted, but I like this one: “Writing is hard for every last one of us. … Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.” Cried myself stupid.

Final Note

My first resolution for 2012: try to write blog posts that are fewer than 1500 words and don’t take a week.


I’ve made a ton of fixes to the blog and to my main web site over the last week, including the broken archive links as well as redirects for links and ancient feeds that have been broken for years. In particular: you livejournalers are probably going to start seeing me again for the first time since 2007.

I note from the logs that a lot of people browse this blog by category. Only about 30% of the site is categorized; I’m still working on that.

Contact form is still broken.

I can write OR I can go make stuff OR I can maintain ever-decaying blog software. Mutter.

How to convert an old shed to a chicken coop in 45,732 easy steps (part four)

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three)

So you’re probably thinking, “Hey Laura, it’s been a really super long time since you wrote about that shed/chicken coop of yours. Surely you’ve made some progress that you could write about. Surely the shed isn’t just sitting there in your yard, incomplete, in the rain, taunting you with your short attention span and inability to actually completely follow through with a project.”

Yes, well, um.


I will point out that there is a roof on that shed now, and it took me a long time to put a roof on that shed, and that roof is what I want to talk about in this post mostly. But the real reason the whole shed to chicken coop project has dragged on this long is for a particular reason: I no longer have any chickens. I had a family of bobcats come through and wipe me out in August, and I want to write about that, too, because it’s been an important albeit not very amusing part of the story. But for now let’s talk about the roof. And about math.

Rafter Math

When last we left our stubborn intrepid narrator (me) in June in Part Three she had finished the foundation and framing for the walls of the shed, reusing as much of the old wood as possible and widening the shed by about 3 inches. There was a great sense of accomplishment and no small amount of back strain felt by all involved (me).


The next step was to set rafters to hold the roof. The original slanted roof of the old shed (as shown in Part Two) had rafters, thick redwood sheathing, and then about four layers of asphalt shingles. My plan was to replace all that with a simple corrugated (wavy) metal roof. But I would still need rafters.

The existing rafters were 10 foot 2x4s with notches cut into them so that they would sit at the correct angle on top of the vertical walls. The notches are called birds-mouths, and there is some fancy complicated construction math (otherwise known as “trigonometry”) that you can do to figure out where to cut the notches and at what angle. (You know when people say that you’ll never, ever use eighth-grade math ever again? This is where they’re wrong. If you ever want to cut birds-mouth notches in rafters, it will help to remember your eighth grade math.)

About three of the six of my old rafters were in fine shape. The other three were too rotted to use. I figured — no big! Lay the old rafters on top of new 2x4s and use them as templates for the notches. No fancy complicated construction math needed!

But here is where I will bring your attention to that thing back in Part Three where I widened the shed by three inches. The notches in the old rafters no longer line up with the top of the shed. I needed new notches in new places with new angles. I had to do the math after all. Darn it.

I am told that a common framing square has markings on it that are supposed to help you with rafter math. But I don’t actually have a framing square, and, honestly, every time I looked up a description of how to figure this out I felt like despite my actual college degree from a technical school no less I was sitting there in front of the computer slightly drooling and muttering “wut?”

I spent perhaps a month standing around sighing over this, and then I stumbled on a tip in the magazine Home Family Handyman (which, by the way, is total DIY homeowner porn, and if you’re still bothering to read all of my crap here you should be reading that). The tip said you could use hurricane ties — bent metal plates you can buy anywhere — to hold the rafters right on top of the framing, and not have to measure or cut notches at all.



12 hurricane ties: $11.76.
3 10 foot 2x4s: $9.48

After the rafters come purlins, which are just boards that go perpendicular to the rafters to support the roofing panels. I’ll skip this part because it was boring; I used lengths of 1x redwood I had left over from various other bits of the old shed and nailed them in mostly random places to the rafters.

Idiot on The Roof

Which brings us to the roof itself. Wavy metal roof panels come in several different lengths and are 26 1/4″ inches wide. For the length of the roof, front to back, I needed 12 feet of panel. I actually had some eight foot roof panels left over from roofing the barn a few years back, so I ended up buying a few more eight footers and a bunch of six footers. The 8s and 6s overlap by 2 feet to give me 12 feet. Easy peasy.

Width was somewhat more complicated. Math was required (darn it). I had a 10 foot wide roof span. The panels are 26 1/4″ wide, and overlap in the waves in increments of roughly 2 3/4″. I wanted to overhang the roof on either side by 6 inches. How many panels across would I need?

This actually seemed a lot harder when I was trying to figure it out a few months ago, and seems obvious now; five panels to cover the roof itself (width – overlap = ~2 feet; 10 / 2 = 5), plus one extra for the overhang.

Wavy metal roofing panels:
2 8-foot panels $28.50
6 6-foot panels $64.08

To attach the panels to the roof you also need wavy styrofoam filler strips that go between the panels and the purlins, and special sheet metal screws with rubber washers on them.

Filler Strips: $20.74
Screws (3 boxes): $13.29

And now, we roof. I roofed by flinging the panels up from the low side of the shed onto the rafters, and then by standing on a step ladder from the inside of the shed, arranging the panels into the right configuration and then screwing them into place onto the purlins. The last thing I wanted to do was actually climb on top of the roof, for two very important reasons:

  • Metal roof panels are slippery, and that roof is frickin high off the ground. Also, I have neglected to mention that the shed is built on top of the side of a hill, so if I slide off the roof I am not only going to fall eight feet off the shed itself, but down another ten feet into a thicket of poison oak and blackberries. Also, there are spiders there.
  • Framing without siding is NOT STABLE. It wiggles. You may remember from Part Two that I had trouble removing the roof from this shed because it listed queasily around from side to side. It did this a lot putting the roof back on, too, only this time I was up there with an electric drill, standing at the top of an unstable ladder, leaning out over the roof and trying not to be sick. Short of confronting a pack of angry bobcats on the top of a seven foot electric fence with a garden hose and I’ll get to that part in a bit, this was the most terrifying thing I have done all year.


I also occasionally had trouble lining up the screws with the purlins. Whoops.



When the roof was two-thirds done I was arranging the next set of panels on top of the rafters when I noticed something funny. I was going to be about eight inches short. I thought, well, I think I must have done the math wrong. And then I stared at the panels I had already put on for a while and realized that I had overlapped them all by three waves instead of two like I was supposed to.

Oh, crap.

So. I had one of two solutions:

  • Buy another row of roof panels to cover the eight-inch deficit.
  • Remove three rows of roof panels and overlap them correctly.

I went with Plan B, because emotional trauma is always better than spending more money, especially for a shed/chicken coop that was originally supposed to be free. The good news is that putting the panels down for the second time took much less effort, because at that point I was getting used to being terrified on top of a ladder. The bad news is that it took twice as many screws, because I had to cover all the holes I had drilled for the previous overlaps. This roof is very firmly attached to the shed. Very. Firmly. Attached.

The final roof: it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good. Mostly I’m happy that its over.



Adopt this kitten!

Update: Squeaker has been adopted! Thank you for all the interest!

Regular readers: forgive the slight blog misuse. I was going to do a plain old HTML page for this, but blogs just make things easier these days, and I am lazy.

We rescued two tiny abandoned kittens from a feral cat colony living outside Eric’s mom’s house in Livermore, CA. We’re keeping one of them (much to the chagrin of our older cats), but we can’t keep this one, the younger and more active kitten. If you are in the California Bay Area, please pass the word around! Adopt this kitten! He is adorable!

OMG!  Shoelace!

This is Squeaker, a male 10-week-old orange tabby kitten. His fur pattern is called “classic” tabby, a more unusual pattern where his stripes are wider and more circular than the standard tiger-stripe tabby pattern. He is also very fuzzy, which leads me to believe he will be more medium-haired than strictly short-haired. As he gets older he will be a beautiful and unique cat.

He is an extremely friendly and active kitten, gets along very well with his “brother” (another kitten from the same colony) and with the older cats in the household. He is also extremely talkative and not shy about letting you know when he’d like more (or less) attention. We named him Squeaker for a reason. He does have all the energy and exuberance of a kitten his age and will need ongoing attention and training to set limits. He is significantly calmer now than he was even a few weeks ago.

He is flea and parasite free, and litter box trained. He enthusiastically eats both wet and dry food for kittens. He has tested both FIV and FELV negative, and has had his first set of FVRCP (distemper) vaccinations. He has not yet been fixed (kittens are usually fixed at 16-20 weeks).

almost in focus tiny kitten, getting bigger

You can see more pictures and video of Squeaker in my Adopt this Kitten flickr set.{.broken_link}

Stuff i read lately, tuesday 7/26/11

Normally I tweet all these links, but I’ve been thinking that I waste too much time on social networks. So, collecting and collating instead.

Matt Langer · The 7 Stages of Internet Grief{.broken_link}

  1. people tweet about dead celebrity
  2. people tweet about what dead celebrity meant to them
  3. people tweet insensitive jokes about dead celebrity
  4. people tweet about how it’s too soon to be tweeting insensitive jokes about dead celebrity
[the art of creative destruction Justine Musk]( “Too many of us die with our novels unwritten, our songs unsung, our talents undeveloped, our creative work left buried inside us. “

For Amy « Russell Brand: “She wasn’t just some hapless wannabe, yet another pissed up nit who was never gonna make it, nor was she even a ten-a-penny-chanteuse enjoying her fifteen minutes. She was a fucking genius”

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: List: What to Say When Friends are Discussing Video Games That You Have Not Played.: “Duke Nukem Forever: ‘How ironically are you playing it?’”

[July 26, 2011 Rhymes With Orange]( “Are you sure you want to shut down now?”

Why Don’t They Just Drop Dead, : a poem by Barbara Louise Ungar

“all these ex-husbands
of mine, instead of dogging me
like old tattoos, distorted

by wrinkles, faded & stretched by obscene
middle-age, humiliating me with my
unfortunate past lapses in taste.”

KMFDM – Dogma (lyrics): In the tradition of really bitter spoken word semi-poetry over noodly music. See also Radiohead’s “Fitter Happier” and much of the oevre of Jello Biafra.

“We fear that pop-culture is the only culture we’re ever going to have
We want to stop reading magazines
Stop watching T.V.
Stop caring about Hollywood
But we’re addicted to the things we hate
We don’t run Washington and no one really does
Ask not what you can do for your country
Ask what your country did to you”

An Academic Author’s Unintentional Masterpiece – (obnoxious NYT reading limits apply): Geoff Dyer’s new column in the NYT book review is about reading. This column is a complicated joke pretending to be a review, and its so wonderful I keep reading it over and over again.

[Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Elizabeth Taylor, Black Widow The Hairpin]( “Taylor’s life was much juicier and more scandalous before Sir Burton, when Taylor wrote the book on gossip in the post-studio system Hollywood, and that book is, at least by members of our (approximate) generation, relatively unread. And it’s even more of a page-turner than Twilight the first time around, before you realized that [SPOILER!] Stephenie Meyer was going to have the baby eat its gross-disgusting-anti-choice way out of the heroine. “

How to convert an old shed to a chicken coop in 45,732 easy steps (part three)

(Part One, Part Two)

A number of years back the roller on a drawer broke in our old refrigerator. This wasn’t that big a deal; the fridge still worked, but it was kind of a pain that the drawer didn’t open easily. But since the fridge was old, and cranky, and used a lot of electricity, we decided to just go ahead and buy a new one. There was this one small problem: the space around our kitchen cabinets for the refrigerator was designed to fit the original fridge. Newer refrigerators were all going to be too tall.

Our next plan was to take out the cabinet above the refrigerator and replace it with a smaller cabinet, thus making the height of the space for the fridge bigger. This would be a huge pain in the ass but workable. I found the manufacturer of the cabinets, found a dealer, and discovered that manufacturer not only did not make cabinets in the same style as the ones we had, but they didn’t even come in the same color. So then the thought was well, we could remodel the kitchen and replace ALL the cabinets, and get new appliances and a new floor and hey! maybe we could bump out the wall a few feet and make the whole thing bigger!

And thus a $10 refrigerator drawer part dangerously came very close to spiraling into an unbelievably expensive construction project. This story is not unique. I often wonder how often large remodeling projects start from very minor fixes to existing problems. (For the record, we bought the smaller non-matching cabinet and a new fridge and put off the kitchen remodel to another time.)

I bring up this story because this is where my free shed turned not so free. Now that I had the shed in various parts on the ground I knew the extent of the rot and what I could use and what I had to throw out, and it was worse than I had originally thought. There was a lot of rot. There was a lot of building to be done. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a chicken coop, not a cottage, and the chickens really were not going to complain about my construction skills.

Foundation and Empire

The original base of the shed was made from 2×6 dimensional redwood (actually 2 inches by six inches planks, as opposed to the 1 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ trim we use today). The joists were held together by short chunks of wood on the long side toenailed in, like this:


This made the base less than sturdy. A number of the shorter chunks of wood had gone missing, and one joist had broken off on the end of the foundation altogether. So my first plan was to replace all those shorter boards with long end-boards, nailed straight to the ends of the joists in the way all foundations are made today, like this:


Cost of 2×6 x 10 foot pressure-treated end boards: $21.94

Cost of framing nails: $2.54

But before I built the foundation I had to come up with a plan for how to put the shed onto the ground. There are a variety of ways of doing this, from a full concrete pad to skids (6×6 or larger posts, laid on the ground), to just putting it down flat on the dirt (which I didn’t want to do). I settled on a compromise with these concrete blocks, called bond beam blocks. They have slots in them to fit (conveniently) 2-by lumber.


I dug small foundation holes, filled and tamped them with gravel, and set the blocks on top of that, levelling the blocks across the high and low points in the spot where I was going to put the coop (fortunately, it was already mostly level). The chickens helped by making sure that every hole I dug was rapidly filled in again, often before I could put a block into it, and by eating the gravel.

Cost of 8 blocks, and 6 bags of gravel: $28.36

Cost to replace stupid chickens that died from eating rocks: $0 (luckily, so far)

Then I built the foundation right on top of the blocks. A few of the joists were rotted on the ends, so I had to cut them a little short and nail on incredibly ugly but stable extensions I cut from the discarded long ends of the shed. “It’s a chicken coop,” I kept reminding myself.

I was rewarded for all my hard work with a torrential rainstorm that lasted more than a week. But despite the rain and the mud, it all remained level. I was pleased.


You may note from this picture my apparent inability to evenly space the joists across the width of the shed. There’s a reason for that; I was planning on reusing the original redwood planks for the shed floor, which were in good condition (and I had been careful when I pulled them up). The planks were all of specific lengths, so I spaced the joists to fit the planks. Setting the floor went quickly, and the foundation was done.

The Frame-Up

Next up was framing. I was planning on using most of the original frame, which was lying in chunks in my driveway, although I did have to replace some parts that were rotten, and I wanted to make the front door wider. I reused as much as I could, but I did buy more 2x4s to make the repairs.


Cost of many 2x4s: $22.36

Cost of more framing nails: $2.65

The astute reader will have already noted a problem I ran into at this point because of lack of foresight. The original shed was 10 feet by 7 ft 3 inches. That was with the shed foundation built with the short lengths of wood inside the joists. By replacing those short lengths with long boards on the ends of the joists I had widened the short side of the shed to 7 ft 6 inches. The frames of two sides of my shed were three inches too short.

The solution? I replaced the sole plates (bottom board) of all the framing with new 2x4s at the right length. For the tops, I added more unbelievably ugly nailed-in frame extensions.


I win no awards for construction talent, but I get a gold medal for kludgy hacks.

Engineering Technique, circa 3000BC

I put together all the framing in the driveway, on level pavement, on the other side of the house and the other side of the property from the chicken coop. My next problem was getting the completed framing sections up the driveway, past the house and the garage, around the corner, through a four-foot gate into the garden, and into the chicken pen.

Here’s where if I were smart I would have asked for help. Even the long sections of the shed would not have been that heavy to carry with two or three people, maneuvering them through the more complicated narrow parts of the path would have been much easier with help, and setting them upright and plumb would have been a piece of cake with someone to hold the walls in place.

But I got a notion into my head that this was going to be my chicken coop project, and I was going to do the entire thing myself, with my own two hands, and absolutely no one was going to help me. So why bother asking for help from one’s husband, or one’s neighbors, when I could pick up a wall and physically drag it the long way around the house over the lawn (once you get it moving it’s not too bad…) I could set it upright, carefully balanced on edge, and then painstakingly wiggle it through the narrow gate, a few inches at a time. And then through the garden I could just rotate it end to end to corner to corner over the raised beds and paths until it was in place on top of the foundation. Then I could tip it up and brace it mostly plumb with random bits of wood and bungie cords tied to the fence, and if I was really lucky I could manage to get it nailed securely down before it fell over on top of me.

I only really hurt myself twice doing this. But bull-headedness is its own reward.

(Continued in Part Four)