Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon Blessings

The 13th lunation of 2009 - a blue moon - rising in the east over our homestead.

The FULLY full moon occurs tonight on New Year's Eve, but I took the photo last evening, knowing that today's weather would likely obscure the viewing of the moon.

To quote Donna Henes - the urban shaman: "The last day of 2009 is a doozy -- triply auspicious. Not only is it the eve of a new year, a new decade no less, but there will be a full moon, a lunar eclipse and a blue moon to boot..." Read her entire post here, if you are so inclined.

Pumpy and I did a little walk-about inside and outside the house as I was waiting for the moon to rise yesterday...

We took a walk down to the brook. Pumpernickel loves to go there. I'll say to her "let's go walk down to the brook" and she gets a little spring in her step and heads straight to the trail!

Here's what Locke Brook is looking and sounding like partly frozen, but still flowing in mid-winter.

The house is pretty much buttoned up now, with a roof and the windows and doors installed. Here are a few more views of the exterior.

The East elevation

The West elevation

Here is a close up of the living room windows on the South elevation.

Main floor interior.

Upstairs interior - gable dormer.

Upstairs interior - shed dormer - future master bedroom.

View down the stairwell from the second floor.

  • Our builders will be working on framing the interior walls this weekend.
  • It seems like we are close to closing on our construction loan which is good because we have spent almost all of the money that we made on the sale of our house at 123 Main.
  • Still no electricity. Perhaps Unitil will get out this week?
  • Dean and I have started looking at our options for kitchen cabinets, countertops, bathroom fixtures, and lighting fixtures. Lots of decisions coming up...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Roof! Roof!

Pumpy says Ruff! Ruff!

I say Roof! Roof!

We got a roof this week!

Here is the house on the first day the roofing crew worked.

And here is the house on the second day they worked. By the end of this day, the roof was done. Sweet!

Also this week, Unitil was out at the property installing some cable between the poles, and it looks like they put up a transformer box. No actual power lines yet, but progress...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ready for Unitil

Well, we finally got the fish line through, and installed the very heavy upright metal pipe, and Dean secured it to the pole, so we are ready for Unitil to run the primary from the road.

Installing the upright went something like this: Arrive to discover a flat tire on the backhoe. Start up the generator - hook it up to the compressor, and fill the tire. Use the backhoe to straighten the telephone pole (which was leaning from being pushed during the trench digging). I got to hold up the plumb bob and direct Dean's fine maneuverings of the backhoe. He is getting quite good with it!

During the pole straightening, a delivery truck arrived, so we had to move the operation so the truck could pass.

Once the pole was straight, we lifted the pipe into place - using the backhoe of course and screwed it tight to the lower pipe which heads underground.

Can you tell from the description that this took half a day to accomplish?

So now we are ready for the power company to come out and pull the wires from the street to the meter.

Here is an interesting fact that we learned about Unitil - they do not work outdoors if the temperature is below 15 degrees...

They were supposed to be there yesterday - but they did not come...

On the house end, our guy Bob, is ready.

Obviously, the wires are not really "live" yet, but I like his optimism!

The house itself continues its progress. The basement floor was poured last week.

And this week, our builder constructed a set of stairs in the basement.

Many of the windows and doors have been installed

And the porch for the main entrance has been started.

Here is the North elevation of the house showing off all of its windows and doors.

We are now getting ready for the roofing contractor.

He came out and dropped off his trailer, and put a tarp on the roof - anticipating the snow storm predicted for tonight. He plans to start shingling on Monday.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Energy to go

Introducing the newest member of our cadre of internal combustion engines!

As you know, the brand new generator (Dean wants me to add that this is a cheap shit, Chinese generator. Longevity is the brand name. Don't buy one!) that we purchased after last year's ice storm, has failed to reliably generate. In its less than 50 hours of operation, it has broken down at least 15 times. So, it has been replaced by this Military surplus, diesel engine, 10 KW generator.


We have continued to work on getting electricity from the road to the house site. The conduit run is 99.5% completed, and the trench has been back-filled.

We spent yesterday - in arctic temperatures - trying to get a fish line through the conduit. It is a very technical procedure involving a balled up plastic grocery bag, some duct tape, a spool of string, and a leaf blower!

Oh yeah, and a shop vac. Blowing on one end, and sucking on the other, sent the line part way through, but we did not quite make the connection.

There is quite a bit of water in the conduit, so a stronger force will be needed. Dean will be at it again today. His plan is to try using the compressor to blow the line through.

I took my turn up the ladder.

While Pumpy kept watch from below.

In other news:

  • The basement floor was poured this week.
  • The doors and windows were delivered - and installation started yesterday. Photos coming soon!
  • We have to pick out doorknobs this week

Monday, December 7, 2009

VICTORY! and some visitors

First, the Victory. The swale has worked out well, and we were finally able to empty the trench of water and expose the ends of the conduit so that we could finish the run to the pole.

Dean and I worked as a team on Saturday. He in the trench - figuring out the geometry, then dry fitting and gluing the lengths of conduit - and me as the trench wench - fetching sections of pipe, running the sump pump, and giving words of encouragement. Not unlike being a midwife except colder and muddier...

We managed to complete at least half the run. Dean will finish and hopefully get it inspected this week. Then Unitil can come out and run some wires so we can have real electricity!

And now, the visitors:
Last week Beth and Kate came out for a look-see.

A roofless upstairs makes for a good photo op... We are standing in the master bedroom.

And then, this past weekend, we were visited by my old friend Marc and his wife, Susan and daughter Julie. He was in town for a conference, so brought along a couple of colleagues - Damian from the UK, and Sylvia from Australia.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Civil Engineering 101

Thanks to my brother Joe for the title of today's post!

Dean is making some progress in the battle with the muck.

If you have been following along, you know that the trench that will eventually house the final bit of conduit needed to complete the run from the road to the house (so we can someday have electricity) has been filled with water and mud.

There are some wetlands on either side of the driveway, and when it was constructed, there should have been another under driveway culvert installed - but it was not - and therefore the water was crossing over the driveway and dumping directly into the trench.

With all of the rain we have had lately, the earth is saturated and the trench kept filling in spite of being pumped out.

And the sump pump just could not handle all of the muck, so yes, we had to purchase a trash pump. We had rented one, but it was going to be too costly for the amount of time we needed it, AND my husband cannot resist being the owner of another very useful tool...

Well you can pump water until the cows come home, but if the source is not diverted, you will never empty the trench.

So light finally dawns on Marblehead, and a plan to divert the water from upstream is hatched. What we need is a swale!

Dean using the backhoe to dig a swale.

And here is the swale doing its job moving water down the opposite side of the driveway - away from our trench and into the culvert. It's not pretty, but it works!

So now we can pump out the water and have a hope of actually emptying the trench.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Waxing philosophical on Thanksgiving Day

The project so far has been quite a roller coaster ride of emotional ups and downs, and a general feeling of the project progressing a lot more slowly than anticipated.

A few weeks ago, I had a crisis of faith in the project as we were trying to lay out the basement, and finding it impossible to fit in all of the utilities and still have room for the laundry room and dance room that I was planning. We kept trying different configurations, and it just was not fitting, and I was thinking "fuck - is this house too small?" Which lead me down the path of wondering what the heck we were doing, and are we crazy to be doing this, etc, etc, etc...

So here we are on Thanksgiving day, and the project is still progressing so much slower than expected - but IT IS in fact progressing - and I realize we are so fortunate to be able to do something like this. So here is my moment of feeling grateful for this and all the blessings that I enjoy.

Which is not to say that I won't be wallowing in self pity again with the next little (or big) snafu that comes along.

An email today from my friend Rema contained a favorite poem by Rumi (translation by Coleman Barks)

The Guest House

This being human is a
guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary
awareness comes as an
unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain
them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who
violently sweep your
house empty of it's furniture.
treat each guest honorably.

They maybe clearing you
out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door
laughing, and invite them in.

Be Grateful for whatever comes,because each has been
sent as a guide
from beyond!

I am thankful for this reminder that it is ALL good.

So, here is what the house looked like on Wednesday.

Last week I went up to the top floor to take in the view.

Also, last week, I had the opportunity to do a little hands on work. Here we were laying the insulation for the basement floor that will hopefully be poured this coming Monday.

As is her way, our project supervisor continues to take it all in stride.