ThistleDew Farm

ThistleDew Farm
Established 2009

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ultimate Expression of Love

Have you every had an opportunity to demonstrate how much you love someone? I'm not talking about remembering to buy flowers for a special event, I'm not talking about really going out of your way to treat your love like gold. I'm talking about a true blue self sacrificing demonstration of just how much you love someone and your willingness to put it all on the line, no matter the outcome??? Have you? Well after this weekend I have....I can honestly say I put my life on the line for love. Not only for my love, but for the project he loves.

Although I was a Marine for 23 years and did a lot of physical feats I must confess that I am uncomfortable when my feet are not planted on terra firma. I know it's crazy, I know I have a picture of me rappelling down a 30 foot tower, just me, the rope and the guy on belay that I am trusting with my life. But let me tell you, there is a great difference between being suspended in the air in a safe swiss seat controlling the guide line with a redundancy down below in case you get crazy and forget to put the break on; and standing on ancient scaffolding 25 feet up with no guard is enough to make you sick....literally!

Although our farm is a co-op so to speak and we generally share complicated tasks, especially labor intensive ones, through a trick of fate I was the only one available on Sunday to assist Dan (my hubby) with the final two rows of windows in the great room of our house in progress.

I have alternately called this area of the house a cathedral and a lodge. If it all goes wrong, we can always rent out the living room for church services and weddings! It is very tall and impressive. Originally the house was going to be two stories with the center great room's cathedral ceiling soaring up both stories. Due to financial concerns we had to take off the upper story but Dan was committed to keeping the cathedral ceiling. The man is 6'3 and has spent more than 30 years hitting his head on low door frames, hanging chandeliers and ceiling fans....all of which are now his enemy! He was determined to have space to stretch his arms skyward without risk of limb. You have to respect his decision, he's got the scars to justify it. My hindsight recommendation is that any do it yourselfer should not even consider a cathedral ceiling higher than 18 feet.

Why 18 feet? This is the height at which I can reasonably function. Although on paper the difference between 18 and 25 is only 7, it is one of those tricks of physics which makes anything above 18 feet about double the height. Although I lack scientific proof...the air must also be thinner because I could hardly breath up there. Let's just say the baby labor breathing techniques came in handy! It is hard to believe that the carefree romper that I am was reduced to near paralysis because of 7 feet! But there you have it, I have admitted to a weakness, my enemies are circling now and my super hero cape is in jeopardy. The only thing left is to prove I am in charge and can concur this fear.....

So Saturday evening my hubby says to me, "I'm gonna need you to Cowgirl up tomorrow". "Oh" I say, wondering what task he has in store for me....I'm thinking he wants me to get the lead out and finish staining the siding. I stained 42 10 inch x 15 foot boards on Saturday (only 200 more to go!) and had considerable muscular soreness mainly in my back. My love handles haven't taken this kind of abuse in ages! Well to my surprise it had nothing to do with the staining, he wanted me to help finish installing the Pella Windows. To give you an idea how big this task is - we had to make two trips to Lowe's to pick them all up. (Another reason Lowe's loves us so!) Picture the front of a lodge entirely of windows - 25 feet up, A frame shaped, that's the front of our house. Crazy, I know!

I had watched Dan and his brother John install the middle two tiers Saturday while I was staining. The scaffolding seemed to work well and they were rapidly developing a system which with each window reduced the time it took to install and seemed moderately more safe. So I laughed and said no problem....I'm game. Terri and I always get into trouble thinking we can do something we've seen somewhere else. We're even considering devoting a site to projects that we scoffed at but then didn't quite accomplish....

By morning the scaffolding and the cathedral ceiling had doubled in size. It was like one of those storybook tales in which the offensive item took on a personality of it's own and became a monster.

Taking a deep breath I climbed to the third tier and assisted as he installed the left hand triangle which completed that row. This is at the 18 foot level. I was uncomfortable but I could actually walk across the boards without holding on. I chanted my mantra, "don't look down! don't look down!" and seemed to be alright. It took about an hour to install the window. Dan helping me inside and then he scurried up the exterior extension ladder on the outside and nailed it in place. Coming down off the scaffolding, I was proud. I had looked my fear in the face and deep breathed it away! I was all powerful! Right up until Dan said, "OK, let's build the next level". My mantra changed to "I can do this" and we started to build the next tier.

My good friend Cindy's father (God rest his soul) had a construction business and we were able to borrow the scaffolding from her. The scaffolding is about 30 years old and missing several of the "x" shaped metal pipe supports. Dan made two sets from piping he had, (he's a really handy guy) but the final set needed to be made from lumber as we were out of piping. We're all about recycling at ThistleDew! Anyway we measured and adjusted and got the scaffolding together, dragged the 10"x 12 feet floorboards up to the top (me pushing from the ground and Dan hauling from above). It didn't look so bad! High yes, but definitely do'able. Ashley, the princess, was in charge of lunch and we were treated to the best PB&J sandwiches ever! No more procrastinating. Up the ladder!

I got to the top of the ladder which just reached the scaffolding floorboards which would then require me to shimmie onto the boards and stand up. Well that was the theory, I actually got some type of peculiar lockjaw type illness which affected my entire body because I couldn't let go of the ladder. I was frozen, well parts of me were frozen, the other parts were sweating profusely! Dan hollers that we can raise the ladder a few rungs to make it easier to step onto the boards. Well that unfroze me and I was down the ladder.

My next effort worked much better. I was able to step off onto the scaffolding and cling to the rafters. I had to stand there and collect myself and practice my mantra "don't look down! don't look down! It was working ok. Dan encouraged me to admire the view, but when I looked off over the trees and saw the neighbors silo three farms over, I thought I would throw up. Mostly because we were the same height!

I must admit that I was pretty useless. Dan kept saying encouraging things, like "you are doing exactly what I need you to do" and "don't worry you're doing great" know, totally useless words to distract me from the horrors going through my head. The only thing that kept me from throwing up this entire time was the thought of having to get back up on scaffolding to clean the windows, and that it would discolor the raw wood around the windows and we can't have that!

Dan hauled up a window and I kicked the cardboard off the scaffolding after he removed it from the windows. That was my first big accomplishment at this height - I say that because it required me to only hold onto the rafters with one hand. My next feat was to walk to the other end of the scaffolding, I think this took me a few minutes - it was twelve feet after all! We got the left top triangle into the hole, leveled it with the shims and then Dan left me holding the suction cup and rafter to climb up the outside. This is the part that really scared me. I am on a relatively safe all be it ancient scaffolding, terrified and my husband is climbing up 30 feet on an extension ladder propped against the roof! Watching him sway in the breeze and lean over with a 10 pound cordless screwdriver 30 feet in the air was a harrowing experience. My stomach was one giant knot. "Don't throw up you'll mess up the windows" remained my mantra. Dan made a comment about me looking a bit stressed so I blinked a few times to ensure my eyeballs wouldn't pop out and said I was fine and that it would be great if he could hurry.

I must say that my admiration for Dan increased that day. I was a ninny when he was doing things twice as scary. I noticed during the installation of the right hand upper triangle that Dan's hands were shaking a little. He was a bit nervous himself. He said you just had to do what was necessary. Dan definitely imbibes the ThistleDew attitude, he indeed will do.


Lisa said...

your a better woman than I, I could have never done that ! Those window frames would be forever stained in a new color by me. that's if I even made it up the ladder ! you need to post a photo of the house.

Terri said...

Okay, I was post-call, and dreadfully sleep-deprived, and all, but you could have called and I would have come over!

Actually, I might have been too tired to worry about falling, because you know I am a bigger ninny about heights than you are!


Thistledew Farm said...

I would have called Terri to help but remember our tangent for getting into situations that look easy at the outset? By the time I realized I was over my head, so to speak, I wouldn't have been able to find my phone let alone dial it! Besides, the bragging rights are nearly worth it....what am I saying....I'm never getting on a ladder again!

Lisa said...

well, you have my admiration !! Now can you come up to NH and point our chimney ? It needs to be done and my boy friend won't let me pay someone to do it but yet he just can't and no way am I getting up there ! I'm going to have to be sneaky about it I'm afraid !
( if you get tired of me posting and reading, just boot me, I like your blogs )

Thistledew Farm said...

You are so silly Lisa, I love your posting - spread our name around....but I will not be able to come to NH to point your chimney because at this point I am unable to even think about getting into an airplane!

Lisa said...

aww shucky darn ! Oh well,I'll have to hire someone on the sly. One step at a time. Hey you know, it is only a 18 hour drive to NH lol If we come down to Tenn. we'll have to stop by and see the farm, it sounds wonderful !

Thistledew Farm said...

You are most welcome to visit ThistleDew Farm....bring a rock or two for our collection in the friendship garden.