Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Schwing

This is a big week-end. Ed wants to get the cement footings for the posts poured, and on Sunday after church, he started forming the upper part of the post footings. Since most of the load from the roof will go down the walls of the garage, the footings on these posts are seriously over-engineered, but, hey, Mt. Ste. Helens and a resulting 7.whatever earthquake could hit any minute, and a little extra cement is cheap insurance. By Sunday evening, Ed had the four boxes installed in the front, and built for the back, ready to be put in on Monday morning.

First thing Monday morning, Ed called Chuck-the-building-inspector, to come sign off the rebar. The footing inspection went well, and Chuck walked through the rest of the project to see if he could head off any other hitches. Yea! We passed! Ed and Chuck went up the ladder topside, and Chuck says, "Hey, how'd that cat get up here?" Mittens, the union steward, apparently decided to tag along. Ed says, "Ladder." And Chuck says, "Well, how does she get down?" Ed says, "Ladder." So back down they all went. Ed, Mittens, and Chuck, in that order. Silly me, I was cameraless.

After a few phone calls, Ed arranged for a pumper truck and cement to be here at 0730 Tuesday morning. And darned if they didn't show up exactly when they said! Now, I'm no fool. I know that these guys will be out again in the next couple of years while we work on this project, so I met them with coffee and blueberry muffins. I want them to look forward to working with us.

I gotta tell you, that pumper truck is amazing. This place is tall...even for a two story building. Tom-the-pumper-guy, shows up and says "Piece of cake!" (actually piece of muffin, but whatever) . Tom proceeds to use a little robotbox to extend the boom and swing it over the garage. The robotbox is like what guys use to drive those annoying little radio-cars all over the sidewalk, except this is no little car. The whole time, he's chatting and sipping coffee and brushing muffin crumbs off the robotbox. It was amazing. Then when it was time to pump the cement, the cement truck dumps the cement into a hopper at the front of the pumper truck, and the pumper truck sucks it into the boom and pushes the wet concrete up over the building and down a little tube where Tom puts it into our forms with the precision of a surgeon. I think this was the cleanest cement job I've ever seen. By 0830, both trucks were finished, cleaned up, reloaded with muffins, and headed out the driveway. I went around and put in most of the J bolts, and Ed had the support brackets for the posts set. By 1100, Ed was ready to knock off the forms. At this point, the cement is firm but crumbly, so Ed can still knock off the extra cement around the forms, but has to be careful not to yank on a J bolt and break off a corner. He takes off the boards, scrapes off the cement and stacks them up. No sense in wasting the wood, it can be used again for something else. Then, lunch...


Those of you who don't
like pets may as well skip the next section.

Now let me digress for just a moment. Ed likes food, but most of the time he eats to fuel his body. I really like food and eat because I like eat. Mittens, Midnight, and Abby... they eat like it's a mission, a craft, a calling. So when Ed breaks out the ham, he draws a crowd.

Mittens is polydactal, which means she has six toes on each foot, which she uses to her advantage. She isn't a bit afraid to get between the dog and the snack. Notice Abby's intent stance..the focus... the love...the puddle of drool. If only I'd paid that much attention in algebra class..of course, I wouldn't have drooled. But everyone gets a bite, including Kendra the elder cat. She will probably never show up in a picture, she's so shy. You've heard of the Alpha cat? Kendra is about an "R".

After lunch, Ed started working on staging for the trusses. Saturday, my daughter and son-in-law, Dan, Dan's friend Abraham, and my granddaughter are flying in with Ed for a construction marathon. Dan and Abraham are both construction monsters, and I told them if they work, I'll feed them like kings. The trusses are supposed to come on Monday, and Abraham has to leave on Wednesday afternoon. Ed called the truss company and told them we would like the trusses here ASAP on Monday as we only have a crew for a limited time. The trusses get put up in a bundle by crane and then "walked" into position by the construction crew. Dan told Ed that on the commercial jobsites, they usually walk the plates with the trusses. I gotta tell you, that's so high and so scary, it makes my stomach hurt...and the hospital is really really far away. Ed built

a catwalk/scaffold along the inside of the back wall. By 1600 it had started to rain (first rain in 26 days) and Ed called the game. The rain gauge showed .59" in 24 hours. Not bad, and the skies are clearing now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Can You Dig It?

This week-end was chore weekend. Ed spent much of Sunday picking up the job site. Just like housework, its not flashy or particularly rewarding, but once in a while, it's got to be done. The debris pile is getting bigger and bigger. Anyone remember Pa Kettle? Well, we gotta take that stuff to the dump someday. He also moved a stack of 2x6s up and inside the new second story, which by the way,(cue in Paul Simon's "One Man's Ceiling is Another Mans Floor") I never know whether to call that the roof or the floor. But up they went anyway. He used the forklift to hike them up most of the way, then dragged them up the rest. The huge pile of lumber that was delivered at the beginning of this project is slowly dwindling away. Then he got the plans and the spray paint and figured out where the posts will need to go front and back and marked them.

Monday was Errand Day. Errand Day is always kind of an event, because it takes such a chunk of time. Get up (0700), have breakfast and walk the dog (0830), mail comes at 0900. The drive to Longview takes an hour, so we got there about 1015 with the road construction delay. Lumber yard, Home Depot, Dr's office, lunch, fuel (ouch), start back at 1315. Another appointment at 1500, and finally home by 1600. So THEN Ed can start back to work. Oy!

Out came the tractor, and he started digging. At our last house, an old Victorian, Ed jacked up the house and re-trenched for new footings and foundation by hand. This is much easier. You know how you have that sticker on your side mirror on the car that says "Caution, objects are closer than they appear"? When you're hunched down ready to take the photo, that bucket looks like something out of a bad 1950s monster movie. But man, can it chew holes in the ground in record time! Concrete? No problem. Tree roots, easy. Sure beats doing it by hand! By the end of Monday Ed had the four footings in the back all dug out.

Tuesday morning he was back at it. He moved the rest of the 2x12s up to the second floor, then dug the front four footings, fine tuned them all by hand. He cut and bent the rebar to fit. Then we zip-tied them together. Ed then installed the rebar with the adobe blocks. Next week? Cement!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

After a wonderful week of good friends, good food, and good times, it was time to get back to building. Sunday after church, it was hot hot hot. Did I mention that it rains here all the time? I lied. Ed spent the afternoon loading 16 sheets of plywood up onto the second floor.

You can't really see it but Ed has on a long sleeved t-shirt. That's because it's hotter than Hades here (Just how hot is it in Hades and who has the thermometer?).. I think it hit 98 today, which feels way hotter when you're working like a donkey. Anyway, to avoid chemo or possible death later, he's pretty careful about sun exposure. After that, he moved 27 sheets of cedar soffit, about the same size as the plywood. Isn't it weird how the first sheet weighs about..I dunno.. 20 lbs? But by the time you move the 33rd sheet, it weighs about 168 lbs?

It'll be my job to stain the soffit sheets. (I'm Helping!!) We're going to use Sherwin Williams Semi-Transparent stain/Cedar Bark SW3511. I'll be picking up a test gallon this week, and get a price on the 5 gal buckets and 50 gal drums. Yeah, we'll use it. The whole house and garage will be shingles.

On Monday, we both were up top installing plywood on the two support walls. Up the ladder, down the ladder. Up the ladder, down the ladder.

Mittens, the union steward, showed up and harped about the lack of hard hats and safety harnesses. " You can't be up here without the proper shoes. Where's your hard hat?" , she says.

So we bought her off with a little perk, and she went away happy. Her mouth was so full, she couldn't voice any other complaints.

Ed is very consistent about checking his measurements and calculations during the process, and because of the eyebrow dormer and the way the trusses will go, he has been extra careful. So he measures again. Oops! It's off by 1/4 of an inch, so he gets out the come-along and hooks it up and slowly, very slowly tightens the wall up to it's proper position.

By the end of Monday, Ed had the plywood on the walls to the height of 8'. Note how high the windows are in the front, 4 1/2 feet. Also note the contented union inspector taking in the view. That girl loves to climb a ladder.

Tuesday Ed was back at work on putting the plywood on the eyebrown dormer. First of all the the curve has to be perfect. Second of all, it's really really way up high, and it's on the outside of the building. So I decided to go down to the vegetable garden, because I couldn't bear to watch. "Just scream loudly when you fall, so I can run up and find you", I said. "Where's that danged union steward when I need her", I muttered under my breath. So there are no pictures of Ed precariously balanced on I-won't- even-tell-you. He measured and precut the front one, then put the back one up as sheets and then cut off the excess with the saws-all. Much easier, which of course is a relative term.

All the plywood along the dormer curve had to be notched to match the notches in the header, to receive the trusses. Finally by the end of Tuesday, the front and back plywood is on.

You can see here how high the windows will be in the front as compared to the back. The french doors to the balcony and the longer back windows will prevent the apartment from being too claustrophobic.

By the time Tuesday night came around we were both ready for a shady chair and an adult beverage. Mittens just had another mouse.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Let Freedom Ring

It's Independence Day week-end and we take this celebration seriously. You have to concentrate to have this much fun. Which means.....not much building going on. Ed went down to the building department to see what it would take to get approval to create a french door opening onto a balcony off the back of the garage studio, since the windows were so high. "No problem," they said, "just structure it like the one on the house." Hallelujah! What a wonderful place! We didn't have to bribe anybody, shoot anybody, or break any laws. We don't have to redo the architectural drawing, or have the structural engineering redone. Needless to say, we were thrilled. Ed came home and framed in the windows and the back balcony door, and finished shaping up the eyebrow dormer headers. He also notched the header to accept the ceiling joists, which is the next major step. That was pretty much it for this week. There was a party to prepare for!
We had family and friends up for the holiday. We played, took walks, ate, laughed..all the things we're usually too busy to really enjoy as they should be enjoyed. It was wonderful. OK , ok, so since I'm a foodie.. breakfast was scrambled eggs, fresh squeezed from my chickens, toast, chicken and apple sausages (not from my chickens), and hash browns. Needless to say we skipped lunch (well.. there was some snacking) then dinner was smoked baby back ribs with Aunt Joyce's SECRET bbq sauce (don't ask, I'm not giving up the recipe), corn on the cob, baked beans, salad, then after dinner was the bonfire and roasted marshmallows. When it finally got dark about 10:00 pm, we had a terrific fireworks show...yeah, we went for the big-boy fireworks. We all went to bed exhausted, but man, was it fun.