Last year I talked about how a cottage on the Connecticut shore landed in our laps. The trouble was that the cottage was a horrible state of disrepair.
This summer, we are attempting to wrangle that beast into a livable space.
I am amazed at how many parallels I see between rebuilding an 80-year-old cottage and riding a bike the length of the Americas. It’s all about forward motion – although sometimes that motion is barely perceptible, it all helps. It’s about plugging away at it every day – the magic is in the doing. And it’s about persisting through the hard times and not giving up.
Work toward forward motion
Sometimes it seems like it’s two steps forward and three steps back. Our inexperience is showing big time around here. One day John and Davy spent hours designing and building a support for the toilet as the floor in the bathroom just has a big hole where the toilet will go (the pups are using that hole as their escape hatch right now). Finally, they set the support into position and lowered the toilet on to make sure it all fit… and discovered a major flaw in their design. A MAJOR flaw. They went back to the drawing board, this time with the knowledge of how they messed up the first time.
I guess that’s how it is with any big thing. The learning curve is steep and can only be mastered by actually doing it. Reading and planning only go so far. Real life experience is the best teacher around.
When the road is blocked, find a way around
Although we’ve only been here a couple weeks, we’ve already experienced some serious setbacks. Our plan had been to upgrade the existing sewer system just enough so that we could move into the cottage, and then work on a more permanent solution. That plan was nixed just hours away from completion.
Just like we did in Bolivia when we headed out for a 400-mile detour, we found a way around this setback as well. We hauled in a porta-potty, and are hauling buckets of rainwater into the kitchen rather than having running water. That will buy us enough time to dig out a spot for a holding tank, sink anchor bolts into the bedrock, line the pit with three tons of rock, and get a 450-pound holding tank down the hill and into position.
The magic is in the doing
It really is true that it’s all about doing. We could spend hours and hours researching and measuring and planning, but if we never started doing, nothing would get done. The cottage would remain without plumbing forever. We’ve taken the leap and have jumped in with both feet. We’ve still got a long way to go – we’re up in Alaska somewhere right about now – but we know we can get there.