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  • Writer's pictureLisha

Construction Journal September 2004

September was an eventful month for our family! Here is the cliff notes version: Back in February Mark got what we thought was a bite on his thumb. It looked like a boil and then after a while, it went away. At the same time, I got one just like it under my arm. We just figured they were bites of some sort. Then in June (actually the workshop weekend) Mark had another “bite” on the back of his thigh. It festered and looked gross. I thought it might be a brown recluse bite because the skin was necrotic around the sore. I tricked him into going to see a friend of mine who is a doctor. Dave said that it did not look like a spider bite, but a staph infection. He gave him antibiotics and said that if it did not go away that I had to take him in. It went away after a week or so, and all seemed fine. Then Labor Day weekend he got another sore on his knee. He swore that it was only a mosquito bite from the lake while he was fishing with the kids. The next Saturday he woke up in pain in the middle of the night. He refused to let me take him to the urgent care on Sunday morning saying that we had too much work to do. Within a few hours, he was sick to his stomach, feverish, almost flu-like. Jim came down and told him he looked like crap and that he had to go see a doctor. Jim and I cleaned up the tools so that we could leave and Mark just sat there, which meant he was really sick. I took the kids and one of Bec’s friends that were spending the weekend back to our house and started driving Mark to the urgent care. I called Dave to find out what antibiotic he had given Mark so I could tell the doctor. Mark touched me while I was on the phone and he was burning up. I looked at him and saw that he was crying. This scared the crud out of me. I told Dave and he said to get him in quickly and let him know. When I got him to urgent care he had a fever of 106, heart rate through the roof, and blood pressure all wacked out. Basically he was going into shock. They gave him antibiotic injections and took a biopsy of the sore. We found out he had cellulitis from MRSA, a staph strain resistant to antibiotics. I had to take him in daily for shots and checkups so that he didn’t have to be hospitalized. I then got it, though mine was caught early enough that I didn’t get as sick as Mark, but I had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic. I was totally loopy between the infection, the antibiotic, and then the medication they gave me after the allergic reaction. The most difficult part was that building could not stop. We still had to meet with people and stay on schedule. There were times I grabbed something soft and just laid on the floor until I was needed again.

Now on to the work…

I think that I’ve made a decision on the earthen plaster. I love the concept, but it just doesn’t seem to be what’s best. The idea is to use what is natural to your environment and clay isn’t natural to mine. This means that I am going to have to buy it and have it trucked in. Money, gas, pollution, etc. Plus it has to be maintained. This means doing this over again every couple of years depending on the weather. It all just seems to be going against what I’m trying to do, so concrete plaster and gypsum texture it is.

On the weekend of the 4th (this was the Saturday before Mark got really sick) we met with Francisco to do the lath on the house. He really didn’t want to do the bale walls, but Mark & I figured it was for the best since we really didn’t know how to explain it to anyone. It was going to be a “learn as you go” for both of us. Francisco completed all of the traditional lath around the house on the 6th. We got a couple of bids to do the insulation in the ceiling. It turned out to be cheaper to pay them to do it than to buy it ourselves. Go figure. Tri-City Acoustics completed all the ceiling insulation on the 15th. Mark was sick during all this time; so he had to pretty much only supervise. I learned how to insulate the interior (we insulated things like bedroom walls for soundproofing) and garage walls and the Hardy Frame openings. The bales were cut so that they fit on the interior side of the HF, so I put insulation on the triangles that were left instead of stuffing it with straw. The straw was not staying in place and we did not know how long this was going to take with Mark incapacitated. Insulating is basically like wrapping a present. I was actually pretty good at it. I used a template of plywood to cut out the triangle shapes with my weight weighing it down so that I could cut the insulation with the utility knife. I would crawl back and forth on my knees and got huge blisters on my knees though! Totally should have used kneepads. We farmed out the drywall also. We figured that we could do it, but I couldn’t hold the 8-foot pieces of drywall very long, much less over my head to do the ceiling. Omar and crew came in and did all the drywall, mud, tape, and then textured the ceiling. At this point with deadlines looming and Mark and I both sick, we're farming out more and more. Mark & I will hand texture the rest of the house. By the end of September Mark was better and I could not keep him down anymore. Jim came over (as he does every weekend) and started cutting bales, so we put them up. The next weekend Tommy, from Mark’s work came out to help. Mark & Tommy put the last course up and I was cutting them. Oh yeah, we also worked on papering and wiring the bale walls all month. At one point, I was nailing on the weep screed (is that how it is spelled?) and Mark would supervise in a chair following me around. I would have to yell at him every once in a while to prop his leg back up. It was driving him crazy to have to sit and watch the rest of us work.

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