Friday, August 19, 2011

On the Outside - Looking In?

I am opening this post with a photo from the inside looking out.  This is the view from my kitchen window.

I was trying to focus on the clump of wildflowers growing on the hump, but as I look at it now, what jumps out is the bulldozer in the background.

I've been in a bit of a low spot the past couple of weeks...

While it is amazing to look back and see how much we have accomplished, at any given time the list of things still left to do is so long, that it is hard to decide where to focus, and I get to feeling overwhelmed.

For example, here are a few of the things that still need to get done:
  •   finish putting up interior trim
  •   almost ALL of the interior trim that is already in place still needs to be painted
  •   finish painting entry and hall
  •   the upstairs bathroom, with the exception of the bath tub and toilet, needs to be completely installed.  This includes paint, tile tub surround, install sink base and sink, install light fixtures, etc
  •   finish painting upstairs front bedroom
  •   paint and outfit closets
  •   etc, etc, etc...
And there is a whole lot more, and plenty to do on the outside of the house too, like finishing the shingling.  I have not even mentioned the basement which could fairly be characterized as a disaster zone.  I am pretty sure that if I am still actually dancing by the time my "dance room" is rid of the piles of boxes and lumber and saw horses and cans of paint that currently occupy it, it will be with the assistance of a walker.

And all of  these projects have to be balanced with regular stuff too, like going to work, doing dishes and laundry, and exercise, and trying to do the occasional fun summer activity like go on vacation, or attend a Pirate-themed party. 


And let's not forget the ever important, blogging!  I started this entry on August 10th, and it has taken me how long to finish it?

So, I've been getting agitated with living in a construction zone, and I would like to be able to put things away, and hang art on the wall,  and see the surface of my dining room table, but this cannot happen until things get done. 

And the construction chaos itself adds it's own other level of challenge to getting things done. 

When we DO have some time to tackle a project, we can easily spend 50% of that time looking for tools and supplies - because nothing has a place where it can be predictably found, because it has not been put away, because it has no place to BE put away.  For example, I was looking for the allen wrench set for a small project which should have taken 30 minutes to do - I found the wrenches 6 days later!

But with the nice warm summer weather, it makes sense that the focus has shifted to the outdoors and so this post is about outside progress.

Getting Paved

We got the driveway paved.  It is really nice to not be tracking dirt and dust into the house.
We used a recycled asphalt product (RAP).  This is the stuff that is taken off roads when they do re-surfacing work.  We had 5 loads delivered.

and then Dean and our excavator worked to get it spread out.

We needed a little more to finish the job, so got another load which now leaves us with a little extra for patching as needed.

I decided to take a turn running the "squisher".

This is Dean's current plan for a parking scheme.  Perhaps we'll paint some lines?


We had a nice visit with Gracie and Shelby.

Building  a Garage

Building the garage is taking priority this summer.  Most of Dean's larger metal working tools are still in a rented storage unit, and it will be great to get them moved into a work space.  So here we go...

The first step to building the garage was to get a concrete slab foundation poured.  The bed for a thickened edge slab had been prepared by our excavator, and the concrete guys put up the forms and laid down the wire mesh.  Dean's job was to keep the bed moist in preparation for the pour, hence the sprinkler.

A crew of guys came out for the concrete pour.

I was going to include some video here, but it is taking forever to upload, so I have abandoned this effort.

We had to keep the slab moist for 1 week while the concrete cured.  Dean had heard that you could use a layer of hay instead of plastic, and so that's what we did. 

It left a sort of tie-dye stain on the surface of the concrete.

When the week was up, we removed the hay and it will be added to the compost pile.

Feeling very "Green Acres"...

With the foundation all set, Dean went to work putting in the sills.

We got this insulating foam strip for FREE from a one of our local free-cycling groups!

With the sills in place, we are ready for walls.

Putting on the purlins.

Raising the first wall.

A man with a plan.

Up she goes.

I was on the safety rope.  Here's my point of view.

Almost there...

And she's up!

Securing the braces.

The supervisor keeps watch.

Once again, I had the opportunity to be amazed and impressed by Dean's problem-solving abilities, and his understanding of mechanical advantage.  All those angles and fulcrums, and such - Sheesh! - I could not have figured this out.
Three more walls to go.  The plan is for three walls of the garage to be sheathed w metal siding.  The front facing wall will have cedar shingles like the house, 2 large garage doors, and a regular door.

More to come on this project...

Outdoor Shower

It wouldn't be a "Naked Summer" without an outdoor shower, now would it? Dean was very into this project and managed to complete it in just a couple of days!

Don't worry - no nudity here - so feel free to scroll down!

Adding some stone for drainage.

Our supervisor watches from the sidelines...

And then decides to join us.

Green Plans

Our "green" projects so far have included building a system of composting bins.  We got the pallets from a free-cycler.

And a clothesline.

Our plan is to put photovoltaic panels on the south facing expanse of roof on the garage.  Preliminary research shows this to be an expensive proposition - hopefully we can afford to do it! 

I had made an initial inquiry to a company called One Block Off the Grid, and the information on the website regarding rebates and such sounds enticing, but we have been playing phone tag with the sales people, and their phone messages are making me feel like it's all sales pitch and little substance.  So, we need to do more research on this.

We had been considering a small relatively in-expensive windmill, but when Dean crunched the numbers, we realized that we do not have enough consistent wind to generate enough watts to make it worthwhile.
We will most likely construct some solar hot water panels at some point in the future.

Bilateral Epicondylitis


AKA - tennis elbow.  You may have noticed that Dean is wearing arm band braces in a lot of the photos.  Here he is after one of his PT treatments showing off his steroid patches.

So, that's  all for this edition.  If my predictions on the dance room prove to be accurate, you'll be reading this blog for many years to come...