Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gimme Shelter

Enough with the snow already!
Remember that parody about the 12 days of Christmas? Well that's how I am feeling about the snow. Thank God I don't live someplace like Minnesota.
The first 6" of snow was a treat.. very beautiful, and a welcome sight.
The next 3" made me a little concerned about an elderly neighbor, so I went to check on her and used the only clear day (December 19th) to do another grocery run before the real storm hit.
At 18" I thought my 4x4 Jeep would just go out the garage and through the snow. Wrong. A neighbor came down, beat the snow down along the driveway a bit and backed my jeep into the garage so I would only have to go forward, as that is easier than going backward.
My 4x4 John Deere Gator also doesn't clear 18" of snow, and once I got it stuck, it took two hours to dig it free so I could back it the 5' I made forward , back into the barn.
Saturday afternoon Ed was supposed to fly home as per usual. Both Alaska Air and Southwest Air apparently felt that Portland Airport was a no-go , and cancelled all their flights, leaving thousands of holiday travellers stranded. After Ed waited all day at the airport, hoping for a make-up flight, Sunday was also a no-go.
Monday morning, with 4" more, I thought I'd better keep that driveway clear, so I tried to drive the jeep back and forth, like my neighbor did, to clear it. I don't back up well under normal circumstances, and I failed to factor that into the equation. After re-evaluating the situation, I thought I'd just park the jeep out near the road instead.Trees were breaking and falling everywhere, and it sounded like cannonfire. After watching several tree limbs drop like soldiers at Gettysburg, I reconsidered, and backed up (!) far enough to clear most of the trees, and left the rest to luck.
Ten more inches of snow for Christmas.
By Christmas day, I'd gone past the point of reasonableness, and called Ed in tears, which is not my norm. He managed to get some emergency time off, and thank goodness, the airlines were finally flying again.
Friday morning Ed flew home with my daughter and granddaughter. Thank goodness, because I wouldn't have been able to get out of the driveway. It started to rain Friday night.
Now, four days later, the snow is down by about half, the driveway is marginally passable, and it's supposed to rain quite a bit in the next week. I can hardly wait.
Ed spent his entire days off using the tractor to clear snow out of the driveway. He goes back to work tomorrow morning...if I let him leave. We learned several things:
1. 4x4 isn't the end all and be all of traction.
2. We need different tires on the truck and the jeep.
3. I need to learn to drive the tractor, even if it's scary.
4. I'm not as independent as I thought I was.
5. Snow is really pretty on postcards, or from inside the ski lodge.
It goes without saying that Ed didn't get as much done as he would have liked on the building project. He is still working on rough plumbing.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

There's Snow Business

Ed has been working on the plumbing for the last two weeks. I've decided that being a plumber is an underappreciated job, and for several reasons.
1. We all need it, but nobody wants to admit it.
2. It's really boring work.
3. It doesn't photograph well.
Ed was getting pretty frustrated because the waste lines had to go into the ceiling of the garage area (or under the floor of the apartment, depending on perspective). Cue in Paul Simon's "One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor". Well it's not like the garage is empty. There are piles of lumber, tools, tool buckets, firewood, loose coils of extension cords, not to mention a freezer and a 71 Boss 302 Mustang silently waiting to be restored. Try setting a ladder over that! A stack of can lights, the bedroom ceiling fan, a wall heater..on and on. Now drop the temperature to about 30 F just to add icing (sorry couldn't stop myself) to the irritation cake. Finally, he had to stop. We cleared out some stuff, and things went much more smoothly.
Finally he was to the point that he had to know where the drain line for the bathtub was going to go, so off to town for a tub. We were pretty sure we wanted a porcelain over cast iron tub, but we thought we'd look at all of them. The fiberglass is much less expensive. The deciding factor was weight. Can Big Ed haul a six gazillion pound cast iron tub up 15' in the air and through a window by himself using only a rope? The answer? Well of course he can! I'm a believer. But why should he? We got the fiberglass tub.
He finished up the rough plumbing for the kitchen and bath sinks, bath/shower, toilet and washing machine. It's all hooked up to the septic lines, and that's a very good thing.
This last weekend, we had snow. Don't you roll your eyes at me in that tone of voice! It's as much snow as two people raised in the desert ever need to see. It was darned cold..(stop that!) and we found out that the plastic water supply pipe doesn't flex well when cold, so we brought it into the house to warm up. Not exactly a decorator item for the living room, but whatever..Did I mention the door to the pumphouse blew open and we had forgotten to turn the heater on for the winter? We caught the pipes just in time.

Tuesday morning we got up and it was 16 F. That's about as cold as it ever needs to get. We were expecting more snow during the week, so Ed finished up the door, and installed it. He also put a sheet of plywood over the front window opening to keep most of the snow out. Once we get the plumbing and wiring done and inspected, we can get sheetrock delivered and put that window in.

We've had about 7" of snow in two days, which for us is a lot. 7" of rain here is no big deal, but snow...well that's another ball game ..a snowball game.

I've taken this same shot off the balcony during the summer, fall, and early winter. So I took one of the snow in the pasture. In the spring, I'll take the last of the series and call it art!

OK..ok, just two more cause I'm goofy about the snow..

That's it. Thanks for not laughing out loud.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Wasted Day

Sunday Ed worked all day installing the kitchen waste line, only to finish with that little nagging feeling....better check the book. Sure enough, he made a mistake. He'll have to cut some of it out and re-do it.

We still haven't had any serious rain, so Monday morning Ed finished the house wrap on the second floor. He taped the wrap around the windows and down the seams, and by afternoon the rain had begun.. not the 3"-per-day-wash-away-the-neighbors rain, but wet enough.

The whole time he's working..up the ladder, down the ladder, hammer tacks in for the wrap, pieces of wrap flapping in the wind, using the skilsaw, whatever, he has company. Momma and the twins are chomping on the grass between the chicken coop and the garage. We make a point to not friendly up the deer because they need to be wary of people. As close to coddling them as we get is to teach the dog not to chase them. She started grooming one of the twins up one side and down the other, always aware but unconcerned with the entire construction process.

By Tuesday morning we'd had an inch of rain. We drove into town to get more ABS fittings and other supplies. He re-did the kitchen waste plumbing, and installed the vent pipe as well.

Meanwhile I've been turned loose with a paintbrush, always a risky endeavor. I painted the door frame to match the exterior trim, and stained the other side of the front door. A couple coats of spar varnish, and it should be good to go!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Flush Is Better Than A Full House

The week of the 17th, I went to see my kids for a few days, so Ed was alone, except for pet duty. My guess is, he gets more done when I'm gone, but the meals are worse.

There was a reason we went to college. It was so we wouldn't have to dig ditches for a living. Now Ed does it for fun! He had to dig a trench for the new sewer line to go out to the septic tank. The good news is..we have a good sized tractor with a backhoe. The bad news is..because of how the garage is situated, and the slope adjacent to it, we can't get it back there to help. So out came the shovel, and Ed went to work.
After hand digging a 40' trench, 4' deep, he figured he had his back and bicep workout in for the week. In went the ABS pipe.
He finished framing in the front and rear soffits, and the returns, and put the plywood up on them. It's amazing what a difference it makes. Then he started wrapping the house. That last window is still out because it is the only easy (a relative term) access we have to bring in the sheetrock.

The fireplace and the exposed plywood are wrapped. We've been pretty lucky so far in that the weather has held off. But any minute it could all change.

If you look at last month's entry, I added a picture of the valley dressed in her fall finery. Now most of the leaves have fallen. Usually hidden by foliage, we can see the creek in the middle pasture, and the west pasture is looking pretty bare.

But that's ok. It all has it's own beauty. In December we usually get a few days of snow, and the pasture is transformed. That little duckling turns into a beautiful swan!

This last week Ed took out the laser level to check the slope on that sewer line and decided to increase the drop. As we all know from poker night, a flush beats a full house.
My job was to do something with the fiberglass door. We bought fiberglass because the west side of the building takes a beating from the weather. In the summer the sun doesn't set until 8:30 pm, often hotter than one would expect. In the winter, the storms roar up the river gorge and the west side takes all the rain and wind. I saw a youtube video by Zar stains http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rSZHQkfUFw&feature=related that said the textured fiberglass would take a wood stain, so I thought I'd try it. Actually the first half of the video is about faux graining a steel door, but in about the middle is the part about the fiberglass textured doors. So I figured if it didn't work out, I could always just paint it. Well I'll be darned if it didn't look pretty nice! You have to use a stain quite a bit darker than you would expect though. This is one coat of stain, and we'll apply two coats of sealer. We debated trying to put on a second coat of stain, but we were worried that it would dissolve the first, since the fiberglass doesn't absorb stain in the same way that wood does. I was just excited that the cats hadn't jumped up to take a look while it was drying!

Friday, November 14, 2008

An Electric Personality

The Genie garage door sensor replacement part came very promptly in the mail. Sunday as I headed off to church, Ed says "When you get home, I should have the garage door opener ready to go." OK! Two hours later, I come home and the garage door is up, so I think "Cool!"
It was raining too hard to work on the windows, and Ed was upstairs starting on the electrical wiring. This time of year, the sun sets at 4:30, and on cloudy days starts getting dark before that, so work days are short.

Monday morning Ed went out to start working, hit the button to open the garage door...nothing. So he goes over to the breaker box, and darned if the breaker had been thrown. So he flips it over and look out! Fireworks everywhere out of the master unit on the garage door opener. By the amount of smoke and stuff, we can pretty much assume the thing is fried. Thank goodness for modern electrical equipment, because short (little electrical joke) of a little smoke and sparks, everything is fine. No buildings were lost in the making of this episode.

For me, Monday was Theresa Goes Shopping Day. I pretty much bought out Lowe's. Ed gave me a list. We need 16 can lights, a wall heater for the bathroom, look at faucets, etc. etc. No problem! Silly me. I get to Lowes...who knew that can lights could be so confusing. 4" 5" 6" , black, white, 1" rims, 2" rims, fisheye, recessed, flush, kits, pieces. My brain felt like leftover jello. So I took the bit between my teeth, and started putting stuff in the cart. Then over to the faucets. Same thing..chrome, brushed nickel, bronze, 3" on center, 4" on center, 3 holes, 4, 5 holes. I'm starting to get a headache. I mean, it's exciting, but it's scary, sort of like when you're older sister teases you into taking that first roller coaster ride, and you get locked in your seat but nothing's moving yet..like that. But choose I did. Then on to Sherwin Williams for paint. More parts at the plumbing supply store. The jeep was full.

Monday afternoon and Tuesday Ed worked on putting in the wiring and outlet boxes. The local building inspectors, Mittens and Midnight, were helping at every turn. You can really have a lot of fun with the end of a wire if you're a cat.
All that work doesn't show up very well in the photo, but he got a lot of wiring up and boxes in. Tuesday it really started clouding up and raining. We were expecting quite a storm, and in fact in the 48 hours beginning Tuesday morning, we got 5.25 inches of rain. Rains here all the time...just another day in heaven.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Santa Drives an Econoline Van

Sunday Ed worked all day trying to re-install the garage door opener, which had to come out last spring when the roof came off the garage. How come they never go back together as easily as they come out? Apparently the sensor eyes aren't working and we had to order a new one. Thank goodness for the internet! It'll come in the mail.

Monday morning we were waiting for windows like kids waiting for Santa. Although this isn't a huge house, somehow I was expecting a truck slightly larger than an Econoline van. Whatever works..

Eleven windows, a patio door, and the entry door. Those doors are heavy!

It started to rain (rains here all the time) so we decided to go into town to talk to the plumbing and electrical supply folks. That pretty much ate up the rest of the day. We got home in the dark..too late to take the cats down to the barn. Lucky them..they got to sleep in the house.

Tuesday Ed pulled all the windows and the sliding glass door up to the second story with a rope sling. I don't have a picture of that. I was too busy biting my nails, and besides Ed was really straining to pull that sliding door unit up by himself. Far be it from me to diminish that..it was darned hard. I got to help with the easy stuff. Ed built a temporary platform out where the balcony will be and we put the south windows in first.

The north windows went in much faster, mostly because there was a relatively secure place to stand while Ed was working (I got the inside part). Ed wants to keep the big central window open until after sheetrock is delivered. We'll probably order that next week.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's Not Cramped, It's Cozy!

Ed finished the interior framing this weekend. Man, that bedroom is tiny! It's about 10'x10', more or less, which is about the same size as our guest bedrooms now. It will be livable, but only just. We had friends that lived in a cab-over camper for a year while their place was being built, and they had a toddler! We only have a dog and three cats. We can do this.

This is the kitchen. The refrigerator will be first along the left wall, then counter space. The double sink will be under the double window, then the counter will run to the right to the wall (bedroom wall) , turning into desk under the large window. We'll have an island, about 4'x6' that will have the stovetop and oven, and an eating counter. Can you see it?

Ed spent most of Tuesday morning finishing up and cleaning up for the rough framing inspection. The building department here has been pleasant, helpful and easy to work with. But having an inspection is like having your teeth cleaned. They don't hurt you, but you hate it anyway. All went well, of course. Ed is pretty precise about his projects. It was a milestone though. One baby step down, 150 baby steps to go!

Windows and exterior doors come Monday. Of course, it's supposed to start raining this week, and we won't see the sun for a while.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

He Was Framed

Sunday it was raining a bit, and Ed helped a neighbor install a pellet stove, but by the afternoon, he was back up working on our project. We decided to go with Milgard Tuscany windows for the apartment. They were lower priced than some, but not rock bottom. Because the windows are custom, they get pretty darned pricy very very fast, so we decided to conserve here and spend the big bucks on the house. But we also didn't want the windows so different they would be visually jarring when the house and garage are complete. To make a long story longer, the sliding door and transom show as one unit on the house, but Milgard Tuscany windows don't come that way and had to be made as separate units. So, Ed had to put a header in between the door and the transom. He also finished framing the arched windows both front and back.

Ed started framing the interior walls on Monday, and into Tuesday. That's the fun stuff. This is where I can really sense what it will look like. Ed is visual..he can see it all in his head. I'm tactile, and have a tough time until the hardware is up.

For instance...above is the pantry. The kitchen will start on the right side of that wall. First the fridge, then cabinets, and the sink will be centered between the two windows. The coat closet is the same size, on the opposite side of the door.

This is the bathroom, and the bedroom closet will be to the left of the..um..left wall..you know..Anyway ..the bedroom walls aren't up yet, and there is more (and more, and more) blocking to go in for the sheetrock, but hopefully by next Tuesday afternoon, Ed can call for his framing inspection.
Finally as the weekend comes to an end, it's always good to stop. Smell the air. Hear the sound of a thousand crisp maple leaves drifting their way to ground, and the creek singing as it glides toward the Mighty Columbia. Elk call out their challange to one another. Ravens gronk as they settle in the tree tops. Life is good. Say thank you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One Two Red Blue

No....I didn't forget. It's just that things have taken a slight detour. Ed hurt his hand and hasn't been able to use the hammer. Weekend before last we gave it all a rest and took off for Portland for the day. We went to Lumber Liquidators to see what they had to offer. Then we went around the corner to check out the high-end plumbing fixtures. We don't plan on getting too carried away with the apartment above the garage, but it's nice to see what the choices are. And what choices there are! Brass, bronze, copper, chrome, stainless steel, granite, onyx, concrete, porcelain, soapstone, glass...and that's just sinks and faucets. Did you know there are electrified toilets? Lids that go up automatically, go down silently, heated seats, quiet flushes, one button flushes, two button flushes ..red flushes blue flushes. No,wait, that's Dr. Seuss' bathroom.
It was fun to see all the stuff though. Go figure..I zeroed in on the cute little faucet that was only $850. That's a water faucet...not a champagne faucet! We'll be skipping that one!
We did manage to get the Mustang pushed back into the garage. That's a good thing because winter is right around the corner. Ed hooked a big old tire to the front of the tractor and pushed the car ever slow slowly while I sat inside and steered..which I hate. I was scared to death I'd steer it right into one of those pillars we just put in. But we managed to get it in there without hitting anything!
This last weekend Ed's hand was much better so he was back at it. Unfortunately all the stuff he did was not camera-friendly so I don't have any pictures. He put in more blocking, nailed off the rest of the hurricane clips and finished nailing off the plywood.
Finally on Tuesday he started framing the interior walls. By next weekend he should have the majority of the interior walls framed in. Once he is done with that....(drumroll please) we can call for the framing inspection!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bats In The Belfrey!

Sunday Ed put up the scaffolding on the east side of the project. He'll probably leave it up for the duration, since he will need it to put in windows and shingles and stuff. Just getting the scaffolding up took the better half of the day.

Monday he started hanging the plywood for that side. He nailed up some blocks along the wall and lifted the plywood, set it on blocks, lifted the plywood set it on blocks, moved to the next tier of scaffolding, and started over. Lifted the plywood, set it..well you get the picture. After doing that all day, he got the Big-Boy-Backrub.
After fighting the rain through half of August, it feels good to get the roof complete and the walls up. It looks really different from inside. I spent some time topside, laying rope and electrical cords on the floor where the kitchen cabinets and interior walls will be, trying to fix in my mind how the rooms will feel, besides small, which is a given.

Those are the views...west, east, south and north.
We're due for rain next week too, so Tuesday Ed wrapped the chimney with roofing paper, and tarped the door opening. Windows and doors have to go in before the real winter stuff hits, but for this storm, we're calling it good. The rest of Tuesday was spent cleaning up the jobsite and doing a few pre-season chores like tarping the part of the woodpile not covered already, and cleaning out the woodstove chimney flue. Did you know that if a little bat gets trapped in your chimney in the summer, the little bat-mummy just doesn't weigh anything at all! Poor thing...and HOW does a lizard get up on the roof and inside there? Ed vacuumed out two dead bats, three mummified lizards, and rescued one live lizard (after a brief E ticket ride through the shop vac).
I'm pretty sure Ed will be framing interior walls next week. WoHoo!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Roofer Runs Through It

Thursday was another dump run, physical therapy and general running around. We got home in time for Ed to put in a few hours, so he gave the fascia boards a coat of dark green paint. It goes great with the roof shingles (Pabco Sherwood Green).

Friday is the day we have been waiting for! The roofers showed up bright and early to start the shingles. I can't tell you how glad I am that Ed's not doing that job, and he just wants it done before it starts to rain again. Ed roofed the barn, and when you're doing it by yourself and you only have a few days a week to work on it..well..it takes forever.

This is where having the right tools for the job makes all the difference in the world. That lift truck was just too cool. I wonder where you get one of those..by the end of Friday they had most of the roof covered with shingles, and the rest covered with roofing paper. We knew we would be getting rain over the weekend, so we were just happy that it was more or less water tight. What a huge relief. They'll come back Monday and finish.

Over the weekend, Ed worked on the interior. He installed ceiling joists, and more blocking for plywood and drywall. He filled up the truck with another load to the dump, and took down the staging front and back. Sunday he put up truss blocking and hurricane clips..and before you say it, no we don't have hurricanes. We do have 90 mph+ winds several times each winter, but since they don't spin, they just blow, it's just wind.

Monday the roofers returned and finished up. Isn't it pretty? A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Actually, they are 30 year shingles, but at our age, that's close enough to forever. We are so happy to have it finished.

Monday Ed started working hanging the plywood on the west wall. It's just really hard by himself, and after a few false starts and some scary moments, he decided to build scaffolding on the side of the house and work from there. Much better! He had to put it up, take it down and move it around a bit, but well worth the effort. Trial and error ate most of the morning but once the scaffolding was up, things went a lot faster.

By the end of Tuesday, he had the west wall done. Considering how much time out of the last two weeks he had to spend taking care of me, he got a lot done, and things are shaping up nicely.
Ed went back to work this morning, and rain is expected this week. Of course it is! It rains here all the time!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

He's Been Around The Block A Time Or Two

Ed has been a busy guy. He lost three days of work taking care of me, waiting on me hand and foot. After that I was sufficiently mobile that I could sit around eating bonbons, trashy romance novel in one hand and walkie-talkie in the other. With the other half of the radio in his pocket, he went back to building. On days where I had physical therapy, he only had a half day to work, since he was chauffeur the first part of the morning. Considering how his work time was split up, it is amazing how much he got done.

He installed a drip line on the barge rafters ..I'm not sure what a barge rafter is, but since I couldn't get up the ladder to take any pictures all week, you'll have to take my word for it. Then last Saturday, he finished all the blocking downstairs and drilled and epoxied in the remaining tie downs along the foundation. On Sunday he was back up on the roof and put the last of the plywood on the roof. After that he moved all the lumber up to the second story that he would need for the interior and end walls.

On Monday, he put the headers up on both 11/12 gable end trusses for the end walls. Once again, he figured out how to do it by himself. He fitted the lower end into place and fixed a rope pully. Once he got it hoisted into place but not snug, he tied it off and shot a few nails to hold it, pulled the rope, and then nailed it tight.

He put up the primary framing for the east wall, with the window framing still to go.

Tuesday he was my driver again in the morning, so didn't get to start building until about noon. By the end of the day he had both end walls framed, door to the west and windows to the east.

Wednesday.....more blocking. He nailed in the second floor blocking and built the 4' walls that connect the two different roof slopes. These areas will be closets, pantry and storage areas once the apartment is finished. This shot shows the bedroom area, bedroom to the left and closet to the right, both on the northeast side of the unit. There will be a second one on the southeast corner, and two on the west side, on either side of the entry door.

Thursday is physical therapy again and the roofers are scheduled to come on Friday, but that will be another chapter.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Three Sheets To The Wind

Sunday after church Ed was back up on the roof...again... At least we're able to see the light at the end..or is that a train? We got a few sheets of bad plywood where the glue failed and the stuff buckled apart. Ed had to remove those pieces from the roof and recut and renail new pieces. He was not a happy camper. But by Sunday night, after a few more sporadic downpours, he had the roof just about done.

He did leave a small spot on the back where the chimney for the wood stove will come up. Before Ed started framing for the chimney, he decided to clean up the floor on the upstairs. It was littered with piles of sawdust (wet and slippery), ends off 2x4s, miscellaneous cut-offs from plywood, empty water bottles, an old sawblade, and about a gazillion used nails that he pulled out of boards as he went. He took down the interior supports (now unnecessary) and the scaffolding, and made a nice, neat pile of the reusable lumber.

Once the jobsite was rendered safe, back up on the roof he went, this time to construct the chimney. Once again this involved, standing on a slick slope, holding a very heavy sheet of plywood and a nail gun. Did I mention that the tendon in Ed's shoulder has been barking at him? Add gusty winds to the mix, and stir....I took the dog and cats inside the house so when that plywood came sailing down, nobody would get killed. Oh me of little faith! Ed never dropped a single sheet. Almosts don't count. By the end of Tuesday, the chimney was done and ready for the roofer-guys. Yes, we are gonna shell out the money to have someone put the shingles up. They can get it wrapped and shingled in a day, and it will be worth every penny!
There may be no entry next week as I'm having my hip roto-rootered, and plan on being heavily medicated.....unless I can talk Ed into working as ghost-writer.