Monday, December 22, 2008

Progress Illustrated

Here is the shop wrapped up in Tyvek (from the southwest corner). The top 9' strip along the south and west walls is what Joel and Troy put up last week. Troy and I then added the bottom strip. The hunched over figure is Isaac working through the cold.
Here is the north wall where Troy and I put up the bottom strip. I think this is all we're putting up until spring. It's very hard to get in there (scaffolding doesn't fit back there) and very difficult in the winter. And Troy is thinking the worst of the weather would hit the bottom of the wall; the overhang will help protect the top portion (we hope). Obviously the peak areas still have to be done as well but I haven't heard what the plan is for that. (I suspect more time spent in scaffolding and less time spent knitting for me...)

We put in a lot of these cap nails. I ruined a lot too...
The new garage door:
and Troy's drywalling work too. I was surprised to see how far into the room he had to go on the ceiling. Here's a shot of the big-a** spring used to run it:
The garage guys still haven't come back to hook the motor up so Troy lifted it manually the other day. Apparently it is almost over balanced, and once you get it two feet up it practically lifts itself. This is good since Troy plans to add some more insulation and has no inclination to readjust the spring himself. (He had a shot to the head from a different big spring but that is another story.) The door runs very smoothly because when you order the high-end insulated version then you get all the other upgrades on hardware automatically.

The view out the north window:

And that is all. I'm trying to finish this up tonight while my sister is doing an origami project with Isaac (so I'm bored watching) and because I'm leaving in the morning. I didn't want to keep you waiting...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

We're Bad Neighbours

Friday night Troy said it was the night for us to finish up some more Tyvek. (Could you hear my little, "yippee"?) A friend had come by to help the previous weekend and he and Troy got up one strip along the top of the south and west walls. And they had to do it in very high winds which threatened to carry them away at every moment. (I was inside minding the fire, in case you were wondering.)

Well Friday Troy wanted to get the four foot strip of Tyvek done on the north wall...and more if we were good. He argued that it wasn't windy. (It wasn't.) It wasn't frigid. (But it was cold.) And there wasn't 2 feet of snow on the ground. (Now, only about 6 inches, but it was covered with ice so easy to walk on...?) In any case, out we went.

And not surprisingly, it went fairly smoothly. We did get the strip put on the north wall and then proceeded to the south and west walls. For that we had to lift the bottom of the strip put up previously to tuck this one under, but it all just takes time. Nothing hard about it, I mean. Troy got it cut out around the door and windows and I just kept hammering in cap nails. After a couple tries (i.e. time to warm up in front of the fire) we each found the right glove combo to keep our hands warm enough.

I told Troy he would be in trouble if all this hammering adversely affected my knitting. Troy optimistically said that maybe it would help my knitting. And although it did tire my forearm, I did not notice any negative impact. (Did I hear a "Phew!" from you? Why thank you!)

Oh wait! Why are we bad neighbours? Oh yes, that is because we were hammering those hundreds of nails in from 7:00 to 9:30. Now a good one would take a tap, BAM, BAM and it would be in. But a bad one would take up to a dozen hits (bouncy plywood). I'm sure the neighbours did not enjoy. But I'm sure they're learning that if it's not one noise with us, it's another. Troy at one point wanted to bring over some of my canned pears to make nice with them, but I told him that he could spend all day canning his own pears (and only getting 5 quarts out of it) to bring to the neighbours. I know, I'm not very nice, but I do shingle. Keep that in mind before you tut tut your condemnation.

The temperature now IS frigid so not much work is going to be done outside. Not much work is getting done inside, actually, besides keeping the woodstove stoked. The living room (where the woodstove lives) is having trouble getting above 60. For fun, Troy took out his remote infrared thermometer and started measuring temperatures in the kitchen. This is with the oil stove in there going. Various places in the room read in the 50s and 40s, but the coldest temperature was measured on the floor near the west wall: 36 degrees. **36**!! That's cold. No wonder the heating pipes there froze and burst last year.

Anyway, enough of that. Troy says he is working as fast as he can and I don't mean to give him a hard time.

Take care. Keep warm. Pictures to follow tomorrow if I can leave the living room.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tyvek excitement

As we press on to weather-tightness, we get excited. The garage door is about 90% done and should be finished today. So that plugs the big windy hole, then there's just three small ones, two windows and a man-door.

We can't put those in until we get the tyvek house wrap installed. Joel volunteered to help out on that a few days ago. You can see it in the pic of the garage door, the shiny new white stuff on the wall. The rolls we are working with are 9' x 100'. Now I have to make a little detour before I can fill you in on the rest of the tyvek story.

Airplanes were not the first method mankind used to get airborne. Prior to that, both balloons (thanks to the Montgolfier brothers in 1783) and kites have been used to put people up in the sky. There are sketchy reports about the Chinese doing this centuries ago, but the details are lacking about exactly when and how.

Samuel Franklin Cody was probably the most visible and famous proponent of the "man lifter" kites. The British army and navy both paid Cody a substantial sum of money for both the hardware and the expertise for raising a person into the air with a big kite. See photo above. The lucky person in the basket could look for enemies, or torpedos, or make signals with the wireless telegraph and other tomfoolery. Airplanes pretty much put the manlifting kites out of business.

And now for the rest of the story. The day we chose to install the tyvek was not too bad. Not really cold, not snowing, not raining, that's all good. Not much snow on the ground. But man was it windy! We tried to roll it out and nail it down as we went, pretty successfully. But there were a few moments where Joel almost couldn't hang onto the roll, and/or almost got airborne. Tyvek is a lot like a 9x100 foot kite if you don't restrain it just right. Eventually, we got it all properly subdued and nailed down tight. A little excitement every week or two is a good thing, provided there is no arterial bleeding and no stopage of breath. Only 3 more rolls to go.

Finest regards,


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Overhead Door (sneak peak)

This is the view that welcomed me home tonight.

(And no, the shop is not imagining life in Pisa--blame the photographer who just got back from a Christmas party.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Overhead Door Preps

No pics today (I was too busy knitting and keeping the fire going yesterday) but just a quick update on what Troy's been doing. He got far enough along that he scheduled the overhead door installation for next Tuesday. So now he's got a deadline looming for the rest of the work that has to be done before the door goes in.

Thanksgiving weekend we hung a couple strips of moisture barrier along the ceiling and walls. (Ok, Troy did most of that too b/c I got interupted by company.) Then Troy got the drywall on the ceiling. Not the whole ceiling, just the part in front of the door. His new drywall hoist (correct term?? drywall lift?) tried to kill him but fortunately was not successful. The new one has been behaving and has been working well with the modifications Troy made. (Funny how a 12' drywall lift doesn't really reach 12'.)

He is trying to finish some drywall on the east wall as well, and I don't know what all else. But that is where we are at...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Adventures in Biodiesel or How We Became a Push-Me-Pull-Me

So tonight when I got home from work, the message blinking at me on the answer machine was from Troy...he's stuck in the parking lot because his car conked out. Could I please come pick him up and bring the ~~~~~ (that's static on the machine just at the spot where he tells me what to bring)? I must have listened to the message 6 times and could get nothing better than some consonants lost in static. And, he added, his phone was dead, so I couldn't call him.

I decided to leave without taking the ~~~~~. Not a hard decision since I didn't know what it was. But on the way out I turned on my cel phone so I wouldn't forget later. (We don't get coverage til about halfway to town.) Except today...I'm barely 1/2 mile from home and I have 5 bars and a message coming through. It's Troy and loud and clear I can hear the he wanted an empty gas can. Ohhhh....that makes sense. So I turned around for the gas cans, found them in the garage, and off I went to my poor waiting and chilling husband.

I make it to town and am driving around the parking lot looking for him in all the usual places. Just then he calls me [he bought himself a new charger] and we figure out that I am at WalMart and he is at Target. Ohhhh.... so off I go to Target and find him easily once I'm at the right store.

We head off to buy some regular diesel and come back so Troy can put it in the tank and change the fuel filter and hope that it starts. While he's doing that I head into the Super Target for some pizza and bring back some mediocre warm "hot" chocolate for Troy. The poor boy is frozen.

The car does eventually start. Cautious Troy drives around the parking lot a few times to make sure it's ok. The car quits twice and that's that. On to Plan B.

Plan B is for my Corolla to tow his Jetta. Troy has tow straps and gets it set up. We are hoping my bumper doesn't get pulled off, among other things.

I have never towed a car before. Troy can't see out of his windshield [ice/frost]. We've got 25 miles to get home.

I learned a few things: 1. Corolla's aren't really meant for towing. 2. Christina isn't really meant to drive 30 mph for 25 miles. I mean that is almost school zone slow. Ahh! Except one spot when we turned onto a secondary road that didn't really have the ice and snow cleared off of it. And we started going down the first clear shoulders...icy looking road...then 30 felt like a roller coaster at Six Flags!

The trip went well, though. I mean, we didn't hit anything, or each other. We made it home. Traffic was able to get around us and didn't get backed up too far. No deer appeared and made it more exciting than it needed to be. The experience did make me think of the Push Me Pull Me in Dr Dolittle. Anyone remember that film (the 1967 version, I mean)? It was a two headed, or two "fronted" llama-like animal. No back legs, just two heads with front legs attached in the middle and going opposite directions. Anyway, I was obviously pulling Troy; but then whenever we had to slow down, Troy would do the braking and he would be pulling me [back]. It was a bit of an odd experience. Perhaps it would have been easier with some walkie-talkies or something, but I'm not sure I had enough hands to manage that, the steering and the shifting. (Yeah, and really fast shifting helps in towing too.) And don't get me started on keeping your speed steady; there's a reason someone invented cruise control! It's really hard to keep your speed constant. You can be pretty motivated, though, when there's a big car strapped to your behind, so to speak.

We saved the most exciting part for last: getting up the driveway. I had a fun enough time getting up the initial hill when I got home the first time, just in me in my car. Now towing Troy behind, we had to make sure we had enough speed to get up the hill, or at the very least to get Troy off of the highway, but of course not so much speed that we wiped out. With me controlling the speeding up, and Troy controlling the slowing down. And remember: no communication. Anyway, that all turned out great too, especially since there was "mysteriously" no traffic right then on our busy highway.

And if I may gloat in my marital bliss: this whole evening of adventure was accomplished with nary a snarky tone, unkind word, deep sigh, or hint of recrimination. How lovely.

I will say I am very happy to not have to go to work tomorrow after this long night. Troy will be driving the truck in to work and we will see how that goes. I don't think I will be towing that with the Corolla (although I seem to remember a friend towing it with his Taurus...) Troy will also be buying regular already-winterized diesel fuel for the car through the worst of the winter.  On the up side, this means there will be more fuel to burn in the oil stove. (This makes me happy.)

All for now, it's time for me to snuggle in bed and try to soak out the last of this chill. Take care,

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Keeping your walls dry, a tutorial

Keeping your walls dry on the inside is important for all buildings, including our shop. I noticed from Christina's last post, that there is a slight inaccuracy, which leads to this brief and important tutorial.

Most residential structures are built using wooden framing. A few use steel studs. Neither one like moisture inside the wall cavity and both can be totally ruined due to moisture problems. Here's how to avoid that.

In the old days, they just built houses that were really leaky to air infiltration. In an old farm house on a windy cold winter day, it is entirely possible to replace all the air in the house ten times an hour. These houses are about impossible to heat in any affordable fashion, but they were very resistant to moisture damage. Any moisture that got inside the wall got dried out by the huge volumes of air passing through.

These days, for energy and comfort reasons, most houses are considerably tighter than the drafty old farm house. The good news is that they use far less energy and are more comfortable and far more affordable. The bad news is that if moisture does get inside the wall, it will takes weeks or months to dry out. This can cause the wooden framing to rot in a year or two, or cause scary amounts of mold to grow, which can make a house unlivable and is very expensive to fix. The moisture also usually damages the insulation so it never works right again, raising energy use and cost forever. So, what to do?

In new construction, we use two different sheet plastic products. On the inside (warm side in winter) we install 6 mil (that's 0.006", or six thousands of an inch thick) polyethylene plastic sheeting. It's installed on the studs right before you do the drywall, and right after you do the wiring and plumbing inside the wall. Polyethylene is, for all practical purposes, impermeable to moisture, either liquid water or gaseous water vapor. It is commonly called a vapor barrier for just that reason. It prevents warm moist air from inside your house from migrating out through the nooks and cranies in your wall. If we do not prevent that moist air from getting inside the wall, the warm moist air eventually gets cooled off as it gets closer to the outside cold part of the wall.

When it cools off sufficiently, it suddenly can't hold all that moisture and water will change from a gas or vapor into a liquid. Now we have cold liquid water inside our wall where it can do its damage. A good vapor barrier prevents it from ever getting inside the wall in the first place.

A good installation will have every seam/overlap sealed with caulk and stapled. Every penetration (electrical wires, plumbing) sealed with caulk, or mastic or something. This is where good workmanship really pays off.

But, in this world, hardly anything is perfect. There are always little holes and tears and gaps, and perforations from the staples. So we must assume that small amounts of moisture can still get in the wall. That brings us to Tyvek or house wrap. That's the plastic sheet material on the outside, installed on top of the plywood or osb, just before the siding or bricks go on. House wrap is a peculiar polymer. They have discovered ways of manufacturing it so it has pores. The pores are generally big enough for gaseous water molecules (water vapor) to go right through it. Like heat, water vapor tends to go from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration. In the winter time, the area of high concentration would be the errant water vapor inside your wall and the area of low concentration would be the great dry cold outdoors.

Tyvek allows any trapped water vapor to escape to the out doors. But the really neat trick is that the pores are generally too small for liquid water drops to penetrate much. So, liquid water can't get it, but water vapor CAN get out. Tyvek also serves as an air intrusion barrier, to prevent cold air from entering the wall, and discouraging warm conditioned air from leaving the house.

So, Polyethylene on the inside (which is what we are doing now, in prep. for drywall) and Tyvek goes on the outside, which we will do right after we get the big garage door installed.

If you have an old house, there is no good way to fix this without tearing into the walls. You can vent moisture pro-actively from the kitchen and the bathrooms. You can buy special "vapor barrier" paint. You can caulk every crack and hole you can find, inside and out. That will all help, but will not be a guarantee. You could also do an air-to-air heat exchanger in either the old remodeled house or the new-construction house. Both help control humidity levels to (help) prevent moisture damage.

I am very happy to have the roof done and hope to never do another in my life. We'll see, I am generally cautious about using the "never" word, as you never know what God will send your way. I'm totally convinced He has a sense of humor.

Finest regards,


Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Little Bribery (not Flattery)...

First of all, important announcement: The Roof is Finished! The weather cooperated with the holiday and Troy managed to get the ridge vent installed on the roof on Thursday. Yes, we were thankful. We still are.

Also, Troy has rough power to the shop. The new electrical box in the basement is functional and when powered, the supply lines to the shop are live! There is nothing to receive the power yet in the shop, but all in good time.

As for bribery, that refers to Troy's [successful] tack of trying to get me to help him more. Apparently is it possible that I could park in the shop once we have accomplished certain things, including prep for installing the overhead door. This is great news after the disappointing realization that all hope of parking in the garage this winter was folly. I should say that the bribe was successful last night as I helped unload his drywall for the ceiling. It is not successful tonight as I sit in bed typing on my computer. I am exhausted. I expect a full recovery by tomorrow and I think we will be doing the first of the Tyvec.

Wish us luck and Godspeed,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Out of Chaos

This is a shot of a piece of our basement.

You really do have to make a mess to get things more organized. Three of these thick black cables were pulled through the conduit to the shop way back last summer. The other end has sat wound around the spool waiting all this time. And now finally its time has come. The other night we strung the loose ends along the ceiling ready to be hooked into the new electric box. That's Troy's next project: getting power to the shop. Somehow this is all for the larger goal of getting things ready for the garage door installation. It also happens to be able to be done inside; just a coincidence I'm sure as the weather is so cold and wet.

One more gratuitous shot:
Yes, the horror of icicles on our house. I'm very curious which way the wind was blowing to get one of the icicles to lean right and its neighbour to lean left. Seeing these out of every second story window is very motivating to get work done on the house!

Take care,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Winter's First Assault

The scene Monday evening before more snow fell overnight and on Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Passed inspection, and public thanks and recognition

This morning, we passed our second to last inspection (from the building inspector) with flying colors. I now feel almost invincible.

Furthermore, I would like to publicly thank my wife for helping out so much with the very time/weather sensitive shingling. Not many wives would be up there slogging away with tar paper and shingles in cold wet inclement weather. She did. Even when things did not cooperate. There are very few things she would not attempt if she thought it necessary. She is a jewel and I try to remind myself periodically how special she really is. Remodeling a house while you live in it, as a couple, is famously stressful. Christina makes it look almost easy. Maybe I can get her to blush.

Doing things that are difficult and/or unpleasant can have an "up side". Here's a quote that summarizes my feelings on this matter.

"Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance, self-control, diligence, strength of will, content, and a hundred other virtues which the idle never know." - Charles Kingsley (1819 - 1875)


Monday, November 17, 2008

Just in Time

So as of 6 pm EST yesterday, all the shingles were attached to the roof! Hooray! All we need now is a good sunny day in the 70s or 80s to glue them down and we'd be all set. (Ya, fat chance.)

I gave Troy the priveledge of finishing it up, especially as it included cutting shingles for a whole row and that is a pain in the keister. Plus I had other things to do. The "just in time" is because we woke up to a good 4-5 inches of snow that had fallen overnight. And although I have talked about shingling in the snow, it has never been anything that added up.

There is still an opening at the very peak of a couple inches, but the roof vent is on order to finish it up.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Git 'Er Done

Wow...reading through the "shingle countdown" pounds home the fact that we've been hitting the shingles pretty hard and steady. I was out again today while Troy was gone all day for CE. I had a half-hope that I could surprise him by finishing the north side but it didn't happen. For one, I ran out of shingles on the roof. I considered bringing more up by the 1/2 or 1/4 stack (not being able to wrangle 80 lbs up the ladder at one time) but then it started raining too hard and I guess I ran out of steam. Things were going smoother than last Wednesday though...that was an exercise in frustration.

Wednesday I got prepared to go out (which not only includes changing into many layers, but also getting the woodstove going steady so you can leave it unattended), laid out a row of shingles, got the gun, hit the roof, and...nothing. The gun would not work. When I pulled my earplugs out I realized there was a much louder than normal hissing coming from the air hose and sure enough, the hose had burst apart at a taped up connection. I went in the house feeling that I was defeated. But then the part of my brain that likes to work on shingles (it must exist) nagged the rest of my brain into remembering that there was another connection in the hose and long story short, I managed to hook up the air without the part that was leaking. Ok, back in business...

I nailed down the row I had laid out. Next was more tar paper because we were at the end of the tar paper and metal edging. Troy even left a roll on the roof so I was set to go. First roll went ok. Then I realized I had to roll out at least 3 more so that the metal edging could go on (it's 10 feet long). I carry up a roll up from inside the shop and as I roll it out, a few feet from the end it sticks to itself at the edge and starts ripping. I don't notice for quite a few turns and by then the rip is a good 8-10 inches from the edge. Crap! So I rip it off of the nails I had put in the end and go down for the last roll we have. This roll goes down fairly trouble free, but it's a little short (like the one brand has been). The only scrap left on the roof is 4 inches too short. :sigh: I go down to the ground and scrounge the strip of tar paper that had blown off by the wind. It has some nail holes, but with some creative placement, it patches the last bit that I needed. So now I've got one more roll to go and only a ripped one to do it.

I keep thinking, I have to get this done. So I look at the space that's left, and it's narrow enough that I can use most of the roll that had ripped. So I cut a clean edge, start unrolling from the other roof edge, and it does it again! Oh how frustrating. But I catch it a little sooner this time so the rip doesn't move too far up the roll. ("Git er done...git er done," I keep saying to myself.) By the end of that last run, I have patched together three other short pieces and finally end with one last 36 inch section and just a piece of the blown off tar paper with too many holes. I can't get the holes covered up so I finally leave it for Troy to decide. We went through a lot of nails with all that patching!

So then I think, well I can put the metal edging on the other end and start some shingling from that side. I measure the length that I need, and go down to a piece that was left over.'s a foot longer than I need. I bring it up to roof, put it in place, and it's 1/4 inch too short!! I don't know what happened to my tape measure while I went down the ladder, but that and the rain was the last straw and I quit  for the day. But meanwhile I got one row of shingles and all the tar paper laid down for Troy to work on that night.

One bonus of working in the rain is getting to climb the ladder and look across the lower roof line and see the rain running off the roof. It's like magic, so gratifying.
Here's a recent pic of the inside of the shop. The floor is slowing drying up. It has a nice echo too.When I was in the shop, I noticed this bag hanging from the rafters. I'm not sure if it's garbage from the roof or Troy hanging the white flag in surrender one day.
Troy should finish up the shingles tomorrow. (If he's worth his salt, anyway.) Then just when I'm thinking we're ready for winter, Troy talks up about insulating the foundation and putting up Tyvec...but I think we're way past getting this done "by winter" cause it has snowed a little too often for that.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Shitty weather and the Kingdom of God

So, saturday night I'm slogging along nailing shingles down in neat rows. I knew a couple of months ago that it would be a close race to get the roof done before the weather deteriorated into nastiness. The nastiness was asserting itself. It was cold. It was damp. It was windy, it was raining, it was dark and cloudy and foreboding. In a word, it was shitty.

Nobody really likes working out in weather like that. I don't either, but it had to be done. So there I was, slowing grinding it out. It was miserable.

However, before I went out, I made a nice cheerful fire in the wood stove. Our woodstove needs care and feeding about every 45 minutes to an hour. So once I got the fire going, out I went into the cold wet gloomy weather to do battle. But while I'm out there freezing my fingers off, and feeling the rain soak through my pants, I know the fire is blazing away in the living room. In a little while, I will go feed the stove, swap my wet gloves for dry ones and soak up the heat for a few minutes. The knowledge of the existence of a hot woodstove makes my present experience up on the roof far more tolerable. That radiant heat soaks right into your marrow in a way that nothing else can. The cold and the wet have no real chance when faced directly with the power of fire.

This makes for an excellent analogy for a Christian's current experience in life, and the expectation of things soon to come. The world is broken and sinful. Anybody with eyes to see knows that things are not "right" with the world. There is injustice, pain, starvation, war, cruelty, random violence, hurricanes and earthquakes. It's a long list of problems. Without an accurate view of the redeemed and perfected world at the end of time, it could make for a pretty miserable experience in the midst of so much suffering and unfairness. But Christians know better. Things will get better. My current plight is temporary.

In my view, there is no long term injustice. When God fixes things, He does a good job of it. There will be no halfway measures in the end. When the paralyzed man is made to walk again, I feel confident that he will not walk with a limp. Whatever wrongs we suffer in this life will be made right. Whatever wrongs we commit in this life, we will have the opportunity to make amends with God's help. Of course, this gives excellent reason to live an obedient and holy life, to the extent we are able. Less stuff to fix later on.

This all assumes you are a Christian. If you are not a Christian, I am merely throwing gasoline onto your personal fire. By definition, you do not have access to the One who makes everything right. For some reason, obvious or obscure, you have chosen not to trust the Master of the Universe who will right all wrongs. You could trust Him, for He is the most trustworthy thing in or out of the universe. You should trust Him, for you will be relieved of the burden of living in a broken world with no apparent solution. And I pray that you would trust Him. Why would you not? There is no down side.

Finest regards,


Singles and Sleet...and then Snow

Saturday night we were determined to get some shingling done. The south face was finished the day before and that gave us enough sense of accomplishment to spur us on to continue the work. The weather decided to deliver a wet night of intermittant light rain and sleet. First step was to determine if it was safe to be up on the roof. So we got changed into our work gear (which is sometimes the lionshare of the effort for some unknown reason) and tested our footing on the wet plywood. Ta-da! we were both very off to the races we went.

Step one: lay out two rows of the moisture barrier. It's adhesive on the back and more than a little awkward to handle on your own. So Troy would roll it out, make it straight and I would hit it with the nailgun. We got lucky when a scrap piece finished off the last 3 feet of the final row so Troy could return two unused packages: woo hoo!

Step two: nail the metal edging along the long low edge of the roof.

Step three: lay out 4 rows of tarpaper. Troy bought two different brands; one is too short and one is too long, but again we were lucky when the part we cut off from the one made up the difference for the short one. 

Step four: nail the metal edging along the side sloped edges of the roof.

Step five: nail on the "half shingles" you had cut previously to the bottom edge of the roof.

This is as far as we got on Saturday. With enough layers and my flannel lined rain coat, I stayed mostly dry and pretty warm, excepting my hands which were wet and frozen, but not frost-bitten. I'm glad we have an excess of working gloves because changing them often makes a world of difference.

Troy noted that he reread the instructions on some of the roofing supplies and it said to prevent the bed (right word?) from getting wet at all times. Well, we didn't have a lot of choice so we pressed on anyway. The next day when we went out we discovered one reason why: all the tarpaper had done what paper does when it gets wet: it was wrinkled up and very bumpy and lumpy. So when we were shingling on Sunday we had to use a lot more nails (25-33%) to get the shingles to lie flat and spend a lot more time to make sure they were in the right place. But it fit with the quilting analogy because it was just like when some of your squares don't come out to exactly 6" but you have to sew them to other squares that are 6". Pin down the ends and then work from the middle out to make sure you're working in the excess bulk evenly.

Sunday was a lot drier because the rain turned to snow, but not real snow. The little dry pellet kind of snow that doesn't really ever add up to anything. It was nice to be working in daylight at least, and we kept the fire going so a little break inside cured whatever was ailing you.

With some luck and determination, I will be out there again tonight so I can get the tarpaper that's out there covered and give Troy a head start for his big work day tomorrow. It's wonderful to be inside the shop and see how dry one half of it is!


After our weekend work: the north face with 14 courses applied:
Our inspiring south face (inspiring because it's done!):
A view Monday morning of the snow that fell overnight:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Shingling from a Quilter's Perspective

So as we're about to begin shingling, Troy is explaining how it all works to me. (I think he likes to use me as an audience just to talk things through out loud, but I just patiently listen...) As he's talking, this is sounding more and more like quilting. The pattern is like a strip quilt except the pieces overlap a little more than in a strip quilt. Even the scale is similar as the shingles show 5" for each row and a very common quilt square size is 6 inches. What is not similar is the area which needs to be covered. In quilt terms, the south face alone is about 17 king sized quilts. Pretty big. In quilting, your tools are the rotary cutter and self-healing cutting mat. In roofing, your tools are the utility knife and a spare piece of shingle. Of course what you don't get in quilting is the pneumatic nail gun. Shingling might be more cool just on that difference. (Of course, I think my new Husqvarna Viking sewing machine is pretty cool so maybe it's still a matter of opinion.)

But enough of that...on to the pictures. First we have the south face as Troy is preparing the first layers of moisture wrap (there's $400 I'll never spend on shoes, thanks to Inspector BS), tar paper, and fussy cutting (another quilting term) the first row of shingles.
Then the south face as the shingles are about half done. The last two rows were put in by yours truly, aka Rosie the Riveter.
This pic shows a piece of the house and you can see that the new shingles match pretty well in colour. The pattern is a little "livelier" on the shop, but I can live with it.
And finally, the north face, all swept off. But I will say I swept it in the dark, so I'm really not going to guarantee the quality. Of course, if we don't get the tar paper down quickly, we'll just have to sweep again anyway.
Troy and I worked quite diligently on Sunday after getting home from church with a break for the rain around 4:30 and to visit with Troy's uncle and aunt who stopped in. Apple pie is good for lifting spirits so we went back out until almost 8. The weather being so nice is encouraging and the threat of snow by the end of the week doesn't hurt for motivation either.

Monday I went out (yes on my own, since everyone asks that) after work and put in a hour or two. It was all worth it when someone drove up the drive to ask if he could put up a political sign in our yard the next morning for election day. I didn't really think about it until later, but in retrospect he was very surprised to find a woman working on a roof on her own. I was just happy he hit the cycle when I was using the nail gun! ::grin:: He commended me for working so late, and all I thought was, "It's not even 8:00 yet." I'd better watch it...I think Troy is rubbing off on me!

Still grinning,

Monday, November 03, 2008

Aerobic shingle hefting

We have commenced shingling. Once your plywood (or God forbid, waferboard/OSB) is all nailed on nicely to your trusses, it's time for tarpaper and shingles. Prior to nailing the tarpaper on, you should sweep the roof off to remove detritous, stray nails, seeds (maple helicopters for the most part) and anything else that would make a bump under the tarpaper. That would cause a stressed spot in the paper and then the shingle, potentially leading to a leak. It wants to be smooth and flat as far as the eye can see. Double check for the third time that there are no nails sticking up.

We have finished about 20% of the shingles. Each row of shingles goes on in about 15 minutes (pneumatic coil guns ROCK!), but each row only marches up the roof 5 inches. So, fast yet slow. So, we keep plugging along and will eventually overcome the roof and the rain and the snow. Somehow I had it in my mind that each bundle of shingles weighed 60 pounds. After I hefted the first batch from the pickup truck onto the roof, I decided I was either really getting old or they weigh more than that. So of course, I weighed one. 80 pounds. Well, that was a relief. I'm not quite ready for "old" status.

I used to fly airplanes with a guy who ran a construction company. Even back then, he was older than dirt. At least that's what it seemed like to me, a 16 year old at the time. I suppose he was 60. He was a pretty astute business guy, and more than anything else, he outworked the competition. When he carried shingles up the ladder, he carried two bundles. Holy CRAP batman, that guy was tough. I think he did it to make sure the young guys stayed motivated. Jeez, if the old geezer boss can run up that ladder with two bundles, I guess I better do it too. He eventually gave that up after his second hernia surgery.

Since I have no employees to impress or motivate, I'll stick with one bundle at a time. Steady pace wins the race, and no hernias. We only have 85 bundles to heave up there. To save you the math, that's 6,800 pounds of shingles, not counting tar paper and moisture barrier stuff, nails, etc.

It's a good thing I'm doing this for fun, because you could never pay me enough to do it for a living.

Finest regards,


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Inspection that Wasn't...or Was?

Troy called Inspector BS on Monday to arrange an inspection of the framing. BS said ok he could do it the next morning, but could Troy please call him to remind him. [The next remind him that they had talked yesterday for an inspection today.]

So Tuesday morning Troy calls BS to remind him of the inspection they had arranged yesterday and BS says, oh yes I came by yesterday and snooped around while you weren't home. (Ok, ok, so Inspector BS probably didn't use the word snoop.) He made no comment on the framing except to say that Troy had to have the roof done (sheathed and shingled) before he could do the framing inspection. So all this time we had been waiting to start the shingling, we could have actually been shingling. (You know, me shingling while Troy was finishing up the framing piddling things.)

AND Inspector BS verifies with Troy that he's going to also add a moisture barrier* over the part of the roof that overhangs the eaves. Troy replies, you know I am going to be adding R-50 insulation and there will be no need for that, right? BS says, oh yes that is true but the code says it needs to be there. Besides I couldn't get a variance when I built my own house so I am not going to give you a variance. [I will insert here, na-na-na-na-boo-boo, but I'm sure BS didn't really say that either.]

So we will commence with roofing including the moisture barrier with two thoughts in our minds:
1. We are basically approved because if Inspector BS had seen something wrong when he was around Monday he would have said something; and
2. Inspector BS saw that the roof was not done and stopped the inspection there only to wait til the roof is done to tell us what else we need to fix.
(Ok, really there is one more option: 3. Inspector BS basically approved it but when he comes back to see the roof he will decide he doesn't like something that he thought was ok the previous time.)

Wish us luck and just a touch warmer weather!

*Moisture barrier, you ask? This is for houses with insufficient insulation in the attic. This causes the attic to heat which causes the snow on the roof to melt. The melted snow runs down the roof and reaches the part of the roof over the eaves which is not heated and then freezes into ice and oh-so-picturesque-on-someone-else's-house icicles. This can cause an ice dam and then the melted snow can back up under the shingles and ruin your roof. The moisture barrier is used to try and protect the plywood from the damaging moisture. Of course, if your house is insulated, your attic is cold and then you have no need for this barrier, thank you very much, Inspector BS.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Inspection Time

Troy has called for an inspection of the framing and Inspector BS has said he will show up tomorrow morning. Please pray the cold wet crappy weather will put him in a good mood and we can get this done, and done in our favour.

In anticipation of the roofing that may follow the inspection, Troy bought me this lovely toolbelt. It is about the only "ladies'" toolbelt available so let's hope it works. He has not yet bought me the suspenders he seems to think are so necessary for his own, but hopefully I won't be carrying the 18 lbs that he is carrying in his belt. (I think that was without the screwguns.) Troy looked for it in red, but this is the only colour available. According to reports it will bleed onto my clothing so soon I will have "coordinating" pants! I can't wait.

Procrastination has Consequences...Still

So you think to yourself...I can skip that, do it later, same 'dif. But no, consequences seem to keep popping up. ::sigh::

We have all our firewood stacked and covered with tarps, as you've seen in numerous pics I've posted. When it all got stacked this year, I reused two tarps and used new tarps for the rest. Well the tarps apparently do not stand up to two years' use. We had noticed they were starting to wear thin and even rip when pulled out of the way to reach the wood...and then we had a windy day:

What do you think? Are they doing any good now? Ho hum...

And now back to procrastination. The windy day was Sunday. I had time to retarp the wood. I had tarps around I could use. I thought, "It's too windy today; it'll be too much work; I'll wait til Wednesday when I have the day off." So now it's Monday. It's been raining all day (actually it's slushy enough to say it's snowing) and the wood is now soaked. Someone had to take a leave from work and now I don't have Wednesday off either. I am a big fat loser and it's my own fault.

I do not deserve the nice roasty fire I am sitting in front of.

Of course, being a Calvinist, I don't believe I deserve anything but can only thank my Lord for showing mercy. And so I enjoy the warmth of the fire resting in his grace,

Best. Popcorn. Ever.

The title about sums up Troy and my thoughts on his home grown popcorn.

Troy had picked it about a month ago, let it continue to dry in the house (on the cob), had been sorting out the good kernels from the bad, and finally announced last night that it was dry enough we could try to pop it. And so he did.

And pop it did. We have an old air popper (I'm talking from 1994) and it works better with the lid off. (Not the large top part, just the little cup thing.) Regular commercial popcorn hardly ever pops enough to go out the top, but this fresh stuff was popping like crazy. It was all coming out the top until there was enough to sort of jam the opening.

But the best part was eating it. I don't even know how to describe how it was so much better than every other popcorn than I've ever had, but it SOOOO was! Super fresh, good texture, light and flavourful. Oh soo good. Troy and I each unsuspectingly took our first bites, and then looked at each other and said, "Wooowwww" at the same time. I'm serious, we did.

We just have a little more left
but Troy assures me that it will be no trouble to plant enough (next time...or some day) to keep me well supplied...can't wait...mmmm...

But meanwhile I very much enjoyed the popcorn I had and can look forward to one or two more servings.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes

We had some company last week, including my niece Lennea (3.5) and her brother Lewis (2.5). One day I had them help me pick some dandelions for the rabbit and our volunteer gourds (for me). As we were walking past piles of scrap metal; piles of wood either being used for or disgarded from the shop; the pockmarked and rutted lawn; etc, Lennea asks me very cheerfully, "Why's your house so broken, Aunt Christina?"

Why indeed?

I told her it was so broken so we could fix it. Which leads me to wonder, which came first: the desire to fix or the brokenness?


ETA: When I relayed this story to Troy he said, "It's not broken; it's just showing its parts." Clever boy, my Troy.

Quick update: Plywood done.

Yippey kiyay. The plywood is done on the roof. Mathematically, that's 81 sheets. Each sheet has approximately 100 nails in it, so 8,100 nails went through the nail gun. This is the penultimate step to having a weather resistant shell so work can continue apace regardless of what the weather does.

The next step (assuming a passing building inspection, and not a trivial assumption I might add) is to roll out roofing felt (aka tar paper) and then shingles. So, three bundles of shingles should cover 100 square feet, so now we "just" need to nail on 81x32 = 2592 square feet of shingles, or 26 squares, or 78 bundles of shingles, give or take.

I was feeling a little bad that my plywood is getting rained on and starting to look a bit weathered. Eventually, that would damage the structural integrity of the plywood. Yesterday, I realized that short term exposure to a little rain can be a good thing. There were 4 sheets of plywood that had internal defects (glue voids I would guess, or just crappy wood) and they got some major warps and sags. Only 4 spots. If I had done the roof with a big fast crew, the plywood would never have gotten wet and those 4 defective spots would never have been revealed. Now they have been chopped out and replaced with sound plywood.

I still have a few more details to tidy up to get my proverbial ducks all lined up in a neat row, then I call the inspector. Proverbs 19 says, " In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has." This suggests that wise Christians should use their God given intellect to plan ahead. We should anticipate problems, issues, and needs so that we can live in the future in ways that give glory to God. This verse and the underlying principle have vast and far reaching implications. The immediate application for me is to make sure there are no loose ends that muck up the inspection.

We'll see how that goes.

Finest regards,


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Fiddly prep work.

Tuesdays, I have a morning available to work on the shop/house since I only work 5 hours at my day job. I try to "set the table" monday so I can get real and significant progress done with my big block of time. That didn't happen this week. By the time tuesday AM rolled around, there were 429 little details that demanded they be looked after first. So even though it wasn't very satisfying, I got a bunch of piddly stuff taken care of.

For example, when we hung the fascia boards on the tails of the trusses, Christina and I worked together because that's a four handed game. To maximize the utility of my trusted helper, we would clip right along, just putting one nail in each truss. They really want two nails per truss, so I went around and got everything nicely tidied up. There was one last piece of trim/fascia that needed installing on the west gable, so I got that taken care of as well. As an aside, I used sort of an unconventional material for the fascia boards. Traditionally, you used a 1x6 piece of pine. A hundred years ago, when it was good old growth pine, the boards were really an inch thick, and we still used the evil oil based paint, fascia boards could last 80-100 years with modest care.

These days, about the only old growth pine out there is in places where logging is not allowed. I once saw a house over by Detroit that still had the original 2x20 pine flooring. And they were actually 2 1/2" thick. Trees like that are just gone.

Since the big old giants are unavailable for lumber use, we use the quicky designer Spruce/Pine/Fir trees from the managed renewable forests. These mature in about 1/4 of the time of the old species. The down side is that some of today's SPF lumber is, in some cases, slightly stronger and more durable than styrofoam. So, renewable is good, but there is a down side. A 2x4 from a mature old growth hemlock tree could easily be twice as strong as the modern SPF wondertree equivalent. The immediate consequence for me is that using cheapo SPF 1x6 pine for the fascia board might produce rotten no-good worn out wood in 10-15 years, no matter what you paint it with.

Since I am lazy, AND a good steward, I chose instead to use pressure treated deck boards. In theory, these are 2x6's doped up with either CCA (copper-chromate-arsenic) or the newer friendlier borate/borax treated stuff. The great irony here is that these special "deck" 2x6's are almost exactly the same size as the traditional 1x6 from 100 years ago. They are thinner than the normal 2x6, which itself is only 1 1/2" thick. Please please Lord may we switch to metric now??? Anyway, the additional thickness and preservative pretty much assure that I will never have to replace these in my lifetime. I may also oil them with used soybean oil as additional treatment rather than latex paint. Much less expensive and probably more durable, along with being far more water repellent.

Thus, pretty much all the insignificant yet necessary details are behind us. Plywood dead ahead! I got a couple sheets put up before work this morning and should be able to get ALL of the roof sheathing done by next sunday, PM. I know it's dangerous to set goals like this, but oh well. Perhaps Christina will start an official plywood count. The total number of sheets for the roof will be 81 and we are presently at 40. I can do slightly better than 2 sheets an hour.

Finest regards,


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Catching Up

Been wondering what we've been up to? I can tell you Troy's been busy with plywood. The south side of the roof is done except for the final pieces along the east side. He still has to add the overhang for the eave on that side and he can't do the plywood until that is done.
Troy did cut off the plywood on the west side over the eave so that side is looking very finished now.
I don't know if this picture will convey the feeling I had the other day, but I was walking to the compost pile and glanced over to the shop and thought, "Wow! That looks like a room now." I guess it was the trusses making a ceiling, even if an incomplete ceiling.
Troy has also made the frame for both windows in the shop. There will be one on each of the north and south walls.

As for other little projects around the house, the upstairs sink is now working again. (Super YEAH! Especially since we are expecting company soon.) And while we were having the super deluge of rain a couple weekends ago, I mentioned to Troy that it would be really nice if he could find the time to fix our chimney since rain was falling into it and making our stove and pipes rust inside. Not nice. (You may recall that the chimney topper and top section of pipe were ripped off in a big wind storm last winter.) Troy found time in short 
order, and the chimney is now working splendidly.

I tested it today with a nice roasty fire. The air is getting
 chilly, that is for sure; this is the second fire for us for this season. (The first one I insisted Troy make for me after helping him outside on a cold drizzly day.) Currently I am absolutely cooking in the living room, even with all the fans running. As soon as this is done, I will seek cover in another room.

I think this is all for now. I tried to do shingles today, telling Troy I had a whole day free to offer him. But (alas) the work must be inspected before we can continue to shingles. So I was off the hook. (I'll try not to "yippee!" too loud.) Troy said he needed to finish the plywood on the roof (including the east eave and leveling the east gable) and then it's inspection time. Let's hope nice (but still crazy) Inspector shows up instead of his other personality, evil and crazy.

Take care of you and the ones you love,

Monday, September 22, 2008

Six days you shall labor...

We North Americans are a spoiled lot as a whole. Most work cushy 40 hour per week jobs. We have decent houses, cheap food, plenty of entertainment (to the point of distraction), etc.

It’s killing us.

We need something to scare us or shake us up bad enough that we all become willing to work hard like it mattered. Alternatively, if we could all figure out what work really gives us joy, it would not be a burden to “work” hard and long. We as individuals and we as a country could do so much better. Work is presently viewed as a necessary evil. We try to minimize it and get out it at every opportunity. Many studies have shown that the average worker wastes 5-12 hours per week while “on the job”. This attitude about work is a lie. In reality, work is a blessing in the very real and literal sense of the word.

For a long time, I was always a bit worried about the 4th commandment. Paraphrased, it says that for six days of the week, we should labor, but on the seventh day, we should rest. My difficulty is that I was always worried about breaking the “rest” half of the equation. My day job is totally desk bound. So “rest” for me might mean nailing 2x4’s together so I can get off my butt, get some exercise and a little fresh air outside. Some branches of Christianity have very prescriptive and legalistic ideas about the observance of the Sabbath. I am sure they will frown on my view of restful Sunday activities. Oh well, I am not answerable to them, but only to my master.

Eventually, I realized that it’s a very individual thing. Think about the golf pro. He plays golf for a living. Do you think he wants to play golf on his Sabbath? Is that relaxing for him? What about the literature critic or the editor? Do you really think it is restful for them to read another book on Sunday? Maybe they want to get out and wash and wax their car and give their critical neural faculties the day off. But for the person who works at a detail shop who washes and waxes cars professionally, this would be the last thing they would want to do on their day off. I could give many other examples that illustrate that what is restful and even worshipful for me, might be work in the worst sense of the word for you.

The idea that recently got my attention, and the real focus of today’s post, is the fact that I had been ignoring half of the commandment for decades. Rest and worship are good and needful and commanded, but don’t forget that the first half of the command says, get off your ass and go do something useful and productive and WORK six days a week. Not 4.5 days, not 5 days, but six days you shall labor. There are numerous other references in scripture that say various un-pc things like, If you are able bodied, and you’re not working, you shouldn’t eat and, by implication, we should not and will not feed you either. Wow, when’s the last time you heard a sermon on that?

I’m totally convinced I could cure 2/3 of everything that’s wrong with North American culture if I could just get people to turn the TV off and work steadily, at something they love, six days a week. We wouldn’t be polluting our minds with a lot of the unhealthy garbage that one finds on the TV programming and the blasted ads. That’s big win number one.

Consider the current Wall Street financial meltdown as an example. It’s big, it’s bad, it’s ugly, it’s stupid, it was totally avoidable and it’s wrong on 10 different levels I’m sure. But how big is it, really? The level of hysteria and media screeching puts this at the same level as the Great Depression. PLEASE!!

The current number being thrown around is 700 billion dollars the taxpayers might lose. Together with the 300 billion they have already thrown down the rat hole, that makes a trillion dollars of your money and mine. They might get some of it back. They might even make a profit in the long run. All irrelevant to our discussion. For illustrative purposes, let’s suppose the government completely fritters away a trillion dollars of our tax money. What does that work out to per person?

That’s $1,000,000,000,000/300,000,000 people. Are you ready? That works out to $3,333.33 per person. Right, approximately 3,500 bucks for every man, woman and child in the United States. We will let the kiddies off and not force them to get paying jobs right now. But suppose all the rest of us, say, 200,000,000 (200 million) able bodies adults got part time jobs to pay this off immediately to prevent our economy from quitting in its tracks. Let’s see, that makes it an even five grand per able bodied adult. Let’s say we could all scratch up a part time job for ten hours a week and seven bucks an hour. $5,000/$7 = 714.3 hours. This entire, world economy stopping, great depression could be totally paid off and gone in 714/10hrs per week = 71 weeks. In 1.36 years, the whole thing would be a bad memory.

But no, that would be unpopular to take your medicine now and get it over with. We’re going to let the Federal Government administrate this to death for a decade or two and allow it to screw things up until our grandchildren have to deal with it. And really, it’s just an illustration of how powerful this concept is.

In conclusion, let me say that my day job takes up 50 hrs/wk, not counting transportation, etc. My biodiesel hobby takes another 5-6 hours per week. I heat my house with wood, so that sucks up another couple of hours per week all year long. I don’t have much spare time. But I do feel like I am obeying that fourth commandment, both the second half and the first half. I really feel that God is blessing my efforts.

I anticipate that the shop will be done in one year. So somehow, I have managed to build a structure the size of the average house, in my very limited “spare” time. It will add tens of thousands of dollars to the value of my property. It will give me decades of pleasure in the pursuit of my hobbies. It is a physical testament of what we could accomplish if we were motivated.

Collectively, we in North America could work veritable miracles if we just got off our duffs and did useful stuff, like we meant it, six days a week. Incomes would go up. Tax revenue would go up. The deficit (which threatens to kill this country and many others) would magically melt away. We would suddenly all have plenty of money to retire with dignity and without the need for government hand outs. We would have piles of cash to provide record breaking levels of charity. People would stare in open-mouthed wonder at the success of our nation.

All from simple obedience to the fourth commandment.

Of course, I am not endorsing work-a-holics, or people who worship their job more than their creator, or people who are obsessed with money, or people who neglect their family because they work too much. It’s all about balance.

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