Monday, July 21, 2008

And the Walls Go Up

Much highly visible progress has been made on the shop. Isaac's been cutting lumber to size and preparing the way and on Sunday, Troy, Isaac and Joel got more than half of the outside wall up. They avoided the rain of Saturday but it was hot, humid and more hot. Joel's third beer asks you: would you rather have free beer for a lifetime or world peace? Com'on, be honest now...

Ok, some pictoral evidence of work accomplished:

We'll begin with some general shots:
And now for some specifics:

Tomorrow the outer wall should get finished, and then they (Troy and Isaac) can go around again with the inner wall. (I'm sure you were wondering what the second row of bolts was for!) Then the roof trusses etc, and before you know it, Bob's your uncle and your done!

My...that sounds easy.

Till next time,


Thursday, July 17, 2008


For those of you looking for aerial shots from our planned flight...I regretfully report that our flight was grounded due to high temps and bad thermals. New ETD is yet TBA.


Sunday, July 13, 2008


To use Wendy-speak, we have achieved slabbiness. Translation: we have a slab. A big ole piece of concrete. It was a big day, so I’ve got lots of pictures for you. It unfolded as follows:

2am, 3am, 4am: Troy is waking up with his head full of details, trepidation, and excitement. (Christina and Isaac are sleeping quite soundly.)

5am: Troy gets up and checks the weather: big front with nasty looking severe weather moving in from the west. Doesn’t look good. Troy mentally prepares for the worst. We can pour in rain, but lightening may get too dangerous. It is already humid.

5:45: Christina and Isaac finally get out of bed and eat what they feel are appropriate breakfasts (nothing, and milk and toast, respectively).

6am: We are all outside dressed in our grubbies waiting for the pump guys.

6:20: The pump guys show up. We’ll call them Bob and Doug. They case the joint, check things with Troy, set up their hoses, and we all wait for the first truck, expected at 7.

7am: David and Wendy show up with Jan to offer us tremendous help and support.

7:10: The first truck shows up. He is able to drive the truck between the garage and shop to the west side sparing damage to our front yard. (Oh, joyousness.) He fills a good portion of the foundation and then starts pouring at the west end. Bob and Doug have looked at the available help and decide they’d rather do the bulk of the work than wait for us to do it. They normally only run the pump, but for us they ran the screed, directed the truck drivers, finished with the bull float and generally ran the show. In other words, they were a godsend. (With apologies to Troy for any offense, but I think you’d find that he agrees.)

8:10 & 8:40: The second and third trucks arrive, respectively. It’s raining very lightly on and off. By the third truck, one of the ruts between the garage and shop is a good 20 inches deep and the truck tips precariously. This was the driver Bob & Doug were least impressed with (they knew almost all of them), and the air was full of grumbling as that truck was emptied. In general, the drivers were geniuses at directing the concrete flow from the end of the shoot. Since the shoot length was fixed, they had to swing the shoot back and forth while driving the truck backwards and forwards to be able to fill along the width of the foundation.

9am: The fourth truck arrives. We’re getting close, but can see that we will need the fifth truck, and that it will be enough. Relief! The cement from this truck is dumped into the pump unit and finally Bob and Doug get to do what they came for. They filled the north side where the shoots from the trucks couldn’t reach. By this time, Troy and David are working with them like long time partners and only need slight head jerks to direct them where to go. Wendy, Isaac, and I are not really encouraged to help, and we consider ourselves “reserves.” Jan also makes it known that he is very interested in the action and refuses to sleep through it.

9:25: The last truck arrives! The main slab gets finished, and then we use the excess concrete to replace most of the sidewalk to the east door. The previous sidewalk was 1. extremely uneven to the point that it was a danger to unsteady people, snow blowers, and lawn mowers; 2. missing two sections (I don’t know why but it looks like there never was a sidewalk there--right in the middle of the path there was 30 inches of grass!); and 3. was painted with a big logo of a rival college football team. So you see why it had to go. We were prepared enough with forms for about 80 per cent of the length of the sidewalk. So now we have a step down in the middle of our sidewalk. But it’s still an improvement.

And then my sense of time is gone. A lot of things started happening at once. Guys got paid, and left; David and Wendy left to do their own work, and Troy, Isaac and I kept on slugging on. We covered the slab with plastic because it still looked like heavy rains were expected on the radar. Then it was time to get moving on the bolts which will anchor the walls. Once they were laid out where we needed them, we got into a pattern of Isaac and Troy pounding them in and me filling in the concrete after them. The concrete got tough by the end, but the bolts seem ok.

Soon after that, it got even more humid and more sunny and the radar cleared up. So we ripped off the plastic so Troy and Isaac could remove the center 2x4’s (which the screed ran on) and fill in the gap with concrete. We got one wheelbarrow of concrete from the last truck to fill it in, but ended up mixing up a couple more to have enough. It was done a little late, but as Troy kept telling himself, “It’s a shop, not a piano.” Troy also ran the power trowel over the surface, but it was a little late for that too. I called the rental place to let them know that we would not have the stuff back that day. They did not seem surprised.

And let us not forget the clean up. Shovels, hoes, wheelbarrows, rakes, hammers, crowbars, power trowel, bull float (both rented), and boots all caked with concrete. (Oh my!) I must have had some small breaks because I had a chance to change clothes three times, necessitated by the weather and work. I was just grateful I was working at home so I had a chance to do so. (It really was muggy and gross.) And while Troy and Isaac were working on the finishing work, I was transplanting the grass plugs removed from around the sidewalk to the west side where we still have big bare areas. (Although they are shrinking, assuming the plugs take at all.)

We didn’t really get a chance for lunch, but let me tell you we were all grateful to sit down to some dinner at 7pm. It was a long full day, stressful in a good way; but we have a completely adequate slab and did not violate Troy’s rule: No bleeding!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Gendered Expectations

So yesterday on my day off, I went to see about getting my car fixed. An exhaust pipe had cracked. I found a muffler place by our house and went to check them out. The place looks old and run down, had the typical dusty, 30-years out of date, cluttered looked that a lot of private garages have. But the guy was friendly. They got me in right away; took me back to the work area so I could see what they were talking about; and did the job quick. I sat there for about 30 minutes while they worked and the place gives off good vibes. It gets my personal A-1, 5-star, double thumbs up recommendation.

Anyway, while I'm sitting there, I'm working on a tote bag that I'm making from cut up plastic grocery bags. (I'm always prepared for a little "down" time.) Three men who saw me there--the owner, a mechanic, and a customer--all noticed what I was doing, made intelligent comments on it (for instance, they knew I was crocheting and not knitting, quilting, or whatever else people pull out of their distant memories), and all had someone they knew that "did that." They were mightily impressed with the use of plastic bags too.

The only other woman that I saw there came in when I had about 10 minutes left. She sat down beside me and tentatively said, "Are you crocheting? that what that's called?" And she didn't notice until one of the guys mentioned it that I was working with plastic. She told me she never really did "that stuff."

Keep up the good work, gentlemen!


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

You Have Been Approved

No, I'm not talking about the latest credit card offer we got...I'm talking pouring cement!! Woo hoo and double woo hoo!

You can ask Troy about the experience of being evangelized by Inspector BS.

We hope to have a big ol' concrete slab/foundation by the end of the week.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Quote of the Week

Troy: The floor shakes when I drop my pants.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Many Hands Make Quick Work...2

A lot has been accomplished this week thanks to the three extra pair of willing hands. They finished laying out the two layers of insulation and re-bar, and Isaac and Peggy have tied more than 2,000 wire ties to hold the re-bar in place; they have a few more to do and should finish them tomorrow. Troy wants to add more reinforcements to the forms and he’s hoping to call the inspector on Monday. If things get done on time, we’ll be pouring cement on Saturday. (Ready, troops?)

When most of that work was wrapped up (we ran out of ties over the holiday so work on the shop was halted), we started on firewood. Last winter we “filled” our five racks and burned through about 3.5. So we have 1.5 racks of dried wood to start us off this year. But of course we still wanted to fill the 5 racks again to be prepared. Troy and I got a start on it about the middle of June, but only managed to fill half a rack. Warren started splitting the stump pieces Troy had already hacked off and finished off that rack on Tuesday. Then when the shop work was held up, Troy and Isaac got serious about making wood to split.

First they tackled the debris of the walnut tree and did about half of the wood there. Then they moved on to a hickory tree that had split during a storm. Several loads with the tractor (bucket in front and trailer behind) and Troy thinks he has removed maybe half of the side limbs and branches. That’s not including any of the wood from the main trunk that fell that he hasn’t touched. Warren split it and Peggy stacked it and today we filled the fourth rack. And this time I mean fill and not “fill.” In other words, the height of the piles this year is much higher than last year. We are going to have a lot more wood. We started filling the fifth rack this afternoon but Troy has had trouble keeping up with the efficient Warren/Peggy splitting/stacking machine. Sorry, no pictures of our wonderful stacked wood (and you know I love pictures of cut and stacked wood) because we got them tarped up pronto (and pictures of tarps are not so lovely).

This is all for now because I have to go to bed and try to sleep. Try to sleep though the neighbours are loudly celebrating the Fifth of July. Someone should send them a calendar.


Garden Update

Time to share some garden highlights. The lilies have come into their own. Most of them are a simple yellow or orange and very cheery. My Easter Lilies transplanted very well and I have two clumps of them that appear to be multiplying happily. I only put in the callas this year and they are a little behind the rest and not blooming yet. The glads also look very strong and vigorous this year, but no blooms yet.

And look what we’ve been enjoying from the wilder parts of the property:Warren and Isaac race each other to see who will find a patch first because there is not enough to share. In each clump of berries, it seems only the center dark purple one is ready. The rest are deceptively red and definitely not ready to eat yet.

I’ve managed to make it to the local farmer’s market a couple times now and have been rewarded with good produce. Leaf lettuce, spinach, strawberries, and for the first time today, cucumbers. (Zukes and beets were also available for the first time today but not for me, thank you.)

Hope you are eating as well as we are,

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