The Chelan Travelers have settled down for the next four months or so to help their daughter Rachel build her house. Heaven knows she’s due for one. For the last eight years she’s been living in this vintage single-wide trailer that is well past its prime.


I’m not a professional carpenter, plumber, electrician or any of the recognized building tradesman but I know just enough about the various building trades to piece together a decent house. Our goal is to do as much of the work ourselves as possible so as to maximize Rachel’s modest capital assets (money.) My confidence that we will succeed stems from the knowledge that I pulled off what, in retrospect, seems to have been an astoundingly audacious act thirty five years ago: I built my own house and I knew nothing about the trades then.

I’ve already saved Rachel $5000 in excavation costs by scraping out the hillside site with my Bobcat. That’s the price quote she got from a contractor who promised her a “sweet deal” (sweet for who?) In addition, I drew up the house plans and walked them through the county planning department. That’s got to be worth a few grand.

Rachel, Mary and I were all out there working today. Rachel drew the short straw – the pick and shovel work. (This is her house, after all.) Mary spent the day pulling nails from the lumber we salvaged from an old shed. I built footing forms. Sonny, Rachel’s three year old, kept himself from underfoot by playing in the dirt pile with his toy dinosaurs – a considerable contribution in itself.


Rachel and I were nailing forms together when Sonny, who was under Grandma Mary’s supervision, shouted from the trailer’s bedroom window this exciting news:

“Mommy, I maked a big turd!”

Sonny is currently going through that most important stage of life when one transitions from diapers to toilets and “making a big turd” is thus big news indeed. Sonny’s proud moment did not go unrewarded. For depositing his big turd in the toilet he received a whole cookie. (Smaller turds warrant commensurately smaller fractions of a cookie.)

Our first inspection from the planning department is scheduled for Wednesday when we will hear if our footing forms are up to code. Wish us luck. Concrete pouring is scheduled for Thursday.