Saturday, January 31, 2009
Now, I realize most people like traditional stained glass more than contemporary but ya'll trust me on this one; it will look great when done. It's hard to really tell what it going to be like when it's just a line drawing with no color. But I will not be offended if someone says they don't like it.
So's everybody busy today or just got the doldrums? Oh, I know. Everybody's doing their taxes. Yep. Started mine last night.
Well, alright...if ya'll aren't going to talk to me I'm going to go make my full-size pattern for my window.
So, what do ya'll think? Of course, the house is quiet contemporary in design so I wanted to go with a modern looking window. The top most arched area will be a light blue, to symbolize the sky and the wavy streak running down through the area will be pale yellow to symbolize the sunlight coming in. The other lines and blocks stand for the structure of the house etc.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Yesterday morning the superintendent called us all into the office before we got tools out; said he needed to talk to everybody for a minute. We all knew right then something was up. This boss is a quiet guy and never stops us from our routines at work unless something is up. My first thought was several of us were about to be laid off but that wasn't it. Starting next week we are all having to take a 4% reduction of pay and there will be no more company matching funds into our 401Ks. The pay reduction isn't horrible but it does effectively remove the entire raise we got back in October. I believe our company is really trying to keep everyone working though. All of our jobs are loaded up with personnel in order for everybody to have a home. When I say 'home' that's just construction slang for a place to work. Superintendents are often referred to as your 'daddy' also. Anyway, practically all the companies we deal with have been affected at this point. Many of our subcontractors have simply dropped down to a 32 hour work week. To tell the truth, I kinda wish that's what my company had elected to do. Many of the equipment rental businesses have laid off half their staff. Practically all jobs being bid now have 10-12 companies fighting for the contract. Most astounding of all is the profit margin that the companies are now willing to accept. Normally, if a job is cost plus, you get the cost to build the job and then 10% for profit. They are bidding jobs now at 2%. And for one of our biggest competitors, they are giving repeat customers a 1% rate.
We have actually started a couple of new jobs this month; very small ones but it's something and we continue to hear rumors of more work. So, we keep holding on. I'm taking today off just for a little break. There are plenty of carpenters on my job now so the boss said it was fine. We are kinda taking turns having a day here or there if somebody wants off. Many of the boys don't have that luxury, as they have a number of bills, but since I'm in a good way on that, a day off for me every once in a while will save a little labor cost for another day. And I can work on the house. One thing I have always liked about my company is that it really is like a family amongst the field personnel. We cling together when it's rough and try to watch out for each other. So, we'll ride this one out too.
Hey! one nice thing is that my orchid is getting ready to bloom again! I've never had this type plant before and wasn't sure if I could raise any but it seems to really love the house. This type orchid especially likes the abundant sunshine from this house design. It's loaded up with buds. They are such sparse and elegant plants. And in case you're wondering, I did not make that pot it's in but might try some in the future. So, hope everybody has a great Friday and I'll try to post some over the weekend.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
While I was working over at Red Diamond this last time, there were several painters there also, running their punch list. Most of them I have known for years but there was one that I had not met before. Funny thing about construction workers is that we often will work for months on a job together and never introduce ourselves. So, this new painter wanted to borrow one of my small artist's brushes to do some touch up and I gladly let him borrow it. I saw him later that day and asked if he was done with it, as I needed it. Oh yes, he was done and had asked his foreman where I was in order to return it. "I got in a lot of trouble because of the way I referred to you though", he confessed. I didn't quite know how to take that comment but he seemed to want to tell me the rest of the story, so I took the bait. He continues, "Well, I asked Forrest (the foreman) where that lady was working so I could return the brush and he got all over me!" "That's no lady, man! that's Annie!" was the foreman's indignant reply. We all got a big laugh out of it. I knew what the foreman meant but he ran up to explain anyway. He meant, that's not just any lady, that's Annie. I've often had some of the very young guys, from several different companies, come up to me and say, "Oh!, so you're Annie!" I don't know if that's good or bad but they always call me Ma'am after that.
So, back to what I first mentioned. The BFA (big, fancy architect for new readers) and Allen both got on to me for writing about the recent personal stuff. Said it was awful and embarrassing. Never do that again etc. Just keep it about the house and so on. Well, you know, I've talked about this before and I really don't usually let other people determine what I want to do. I am my own person and know what I believe. You can tell by what I do for a living that I go my own way but I don't want to write stuff that gonna make people cringe or whatever. I just figured I was writing about life and sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not. I said, well, it's not like I wrote about how that I wanted to throw this man down in the cab of that train and make passionate love to him for several hours. Because I know I'm the only person who would EVER have thoughts like that. Or how that when we were all sitting around at lunch one day and the train pulled up in front of us, I kinda got lost in thought as I watched him unhooking the trains and bending over repeatedly in front of me. And how 20 years of climbing those steep steps had done absolute wonders for that man's ass. Then, when I noticed it had gotten really quiet and turned around, all the guys were staring at him too, until one of them broke the silence and remarked gruffly, "well, I don't see what's so hot about him!"
You know, it's not like I wrote about any of that stuff. I've been told often that I am a rather open and forthright person. But I don't see anything wrong with that. Life happens to everyone, doesn't it? Seriously, I don't want to make readers uncomfortable but sometimes it might help some people to see that they are not the only one having a hard time. I know a lot of times when you are down it feels like you're the only person in the world that things are not going right for. But I say that's not true. Everyone has problems; no one is alone and in this amazing world of cyberspace we can encourage each other from across the globe!. But for all my physical talents I guess I do not have the talent to express my thoughts correctly. It just ends up sounding like I'm whining. So, unless I can improve my writing skills to better express these things I will probably just keep the subjects limited to the house or work.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I have been unsure of the past few posts I've made (and deleted some of them) for 2 reasons:
Now, I know some of you may scoff at this but just listen to me. As someone who works in an industry somewhat ostracized by "polite" society, I am unsure what things regular people talk about. See, construction is sort of a society unto itself. We have our own social order etc. and we are often reminded by 'regular' people that we should stay to ourselves. We are told by our bosses to stay away from the white-collar people we must sometimes work around. Don't talk to them; mind your own business. Most construction workers are a very outspoken, candid bunch. Say what's on your mind and get it over with. But I know this doesn't always go in the social world; you're supposed to be more tactful than that. To me, the story of the Switchman is just an honest account of how life is sometimes very crappy and bittersweet, with a few funny stories thrown in. But some people might view it as offensive, which leads to my second reason.
I don't want anyone to think badly of the Switchman. When I left the railroad it kinda hit us that we cared for one another and we both expressed some of that. But we agreed then that there would be no contact between us. No calls, no dropping by 'just to see how you're doing' or anything as that would just not be appropriate. Only the promise that if he ever found himself single, he would find me. And so we've been running from each other ever since and that is what makes these coincidental (or not) episodes all the more frustrating. If it can't be then just let me forget the man, you know?
And I've tried. I have tried very hard to meet someone else. The funny thing is that I normally don't have much trouble with that. I mean, not that I'm all that, I just work around tons of men. The law of averages is just going to let you meet at least one every now and then. And I have met a couple of guys that seemed very interested and I thought, "hey, we might could get together" and then he just disappears or I get transferred to another job. Two other guys I know and have been friends with for some time have called and want to go out. I have been open to this and told them to drop by the house sometimes and we could talk but every time one of them starts to come by to visit or wants to go out, something comes up to stop them. I'm starting to feel like I've got the mark of Cain on me or something!
So, ya'll know that I got sent back over to Red Diamond a couple of weeks ago. The job that takes me very near to his house. This is also the job that they keep having cosmetic issues with and so they feel that, because of my art training, I'm the only one that can repair these problems. Can't send another carpenter, it's got to be Annie, so I can't refuse to go and my other boss can't refuse to let me. So, the building is essentially done and the people have moved in and are working. Most of them are very nice and actually want to chat with the four of us, which is a little unusual. One especially cold morning this slightly, older than middle age woman comes up to me and is making conversation about the weather etc. I remarked that I was just glad to be working in a warm building, as I usually have to work outside. Oh, she knew how that was! Her husband has to work out in the weather also and she really felt for him that morning as he bundled up for work. "Well", she continued, "he is a conductor on the railroad, he works for (same RR) out of the (same) yard so I really sympathize with all of you that work in the weather". I cannot express the terror that I felt at that moment. She seemed a little too old to be his wife but the way things have been going, I couldn't be sure of anything. I just thought to myself, "oh, no, no, nonono!" I somehow managed to squeak out, "oh, really" and prayed that my facial expressions were not revealing my panic. "Yeah, Joe just hates it when it is so cold." Oh, thank God! the Switchman's name is not Joe. I tried to contain my relief long enough to make it down the stairs where she went off to the cafeteria and I ran to find Steve, who some of you might remember, worked with me over at the RR. I told him what just happened and we were practically rolling in the floor laughing. I tell you, I was about sick.
The thing is, I can pass off the occasional sighting of the Switchman on the highway as just chance. I mean, we both live north of the same large, metro area and therefore must travel the same major highway. I can pass off every job I've been on since having a train connected to it. We build industrial and heavy commercial buildings after all, and they often use trains. I can even pass off our company having to go back to the same railroad job. Accidents do happen. But getting sent back to this job, having to drive down his road, parking beside Steve every day, who drives the exact same model and color truck as the Switchman, hearing that damn train blast it's whistle off every, freaking time we come out of the building and now, listening to this sweet lady who just loves to talk about her dear husband and his job as railroad conductor (and who knows all those other conductors over there, as she says), is just a little much. Whether it means anything or not. It's just these constant, persistant reminders. The guys are starting to take bets on when I'm going to run into him again. I feel like beating my head against the wall. I have laughed about it as often as I've cried I guess. What else can you do?
So, only time will tell. Maybe it will all make for a good story one day. A story that has a happy ending.
Friday, January 23, 2009
So, I don't know. The past 2 weeks have just got me shaking my head again and thinking of all kinds of stuff. Some of it has been pretty funny too and luckily I've had Steve to laugh with at work. I know I analyze most things way too much but sometimes I think you just can't help but wonder.
So, I'll try to come up with something about the house soon. My stint at Red Diamond is over and Monday I return to the hideous, muddy food distribution center. I really dislike that job. I hate to complain because I am glad to be working but I really don't want to go back. The boss and crew are great so I don't really know why I dislike it so. Well, it will be over with in March so I don't have much longer.
Monday, January 19, 2009
My reason for deleting the original post had nothing to do with any comments made or my reply to any comments. I just get really paranoid somebody might take something I wrote the wrong way. See, the oddly coincidental things concerning a certain Man, have occurred once again and I mentioned that. It's getting to the point now that I fear some might say that it is not coincidental at all, that somebody is contriving something. But that's not so. Now, he did send greetings to me through another carpenter I work with but that's it (as far as anything planned)and was done innocently enough. I guess I just shouldn't mention the stuff at all but it is so weird to me that it has become somewhat fascinating just for the 'odds of it all' factor. I don't think I've ever continually ran into someone so much for so long, that I did not work directly with. Plus, you all that have been reading for a while know the story and it's just something funny and quirky to write about when the house gets slow; which it does often. Besides, if Fate ever intervenes, I want this crap recorded! what a story that would be!
So, anyway, my bizarre life continues. Oh, hey! I'm going to be in a magazine! Several of us craftspeople that worked on the Big House (from waaay back) are going to be featured in a locally published, national magazine! Hey, hey! And the lady I spoke to said that they all thought I was so weird (she didn't use that word but you know..) ,because of all the stuff I do, they want to do a full-length article on just me!! later on. Ha! We'll see.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
There are several ways to patch drywall but this one is fairly easy. This way uses the same pieces you cut out and you just tape the cuts. This is 1/2" drywall installed on wood studs so I used 1 1/4" coarse-threaded drywall screws. You need to countersink the screws between a big 1/16" to 1/8" so that enough mud will cover the heads and the spots not pop back out when the mud dries. Now, you must tape your joints will either regular drywall tape or you can use this mesh sticky tape. If you don't your joints are going to develop cracks. This mesh type is handy and easy to use and it sticks on the wall itself so you don't have to apply the mud first and bed the tape in it. Not that that is hard to do but it just saves a step.
I still haven't finished this patch myself! Hopefully I can get it done today and paint it soon. Most of the time it seems that I am just going at a snail's pace towards finishing this house but I guess as long as you are moving forward, no matter how slow, that's what matters. I guess.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Although the crew here is great, the conditions suck! Mud everywhere and it's cold. I have been hoping and praying something would come up to get me sent to another job; any job. It's going to be 15 degrees here Friday! That's just nuts. Oh God, why couldn't I get sent somewhere else! So, today while I was rolling around in this 5' deep ditch, trying to wrestle 3' fittings onto 16" diameter Schedule 40 PVC pipe (because our company thinks for some reason we are now plumbers) the boss comes out and tells me I'm being sent back to Red Diamond tomorrow! Glory, Hallelujah! Yes! Yes! A heated building, running silly punch list! That art degree paid off! WoooHooo!
Sunday, January 11, 2009
What you see in the photo above is what we construction workers refer to as 'dunnage'. Dunnage is 4x4 posts about 6-8 feet long that is used to elevate shipments of steel and equipment off the beds of flat-bed trucks in order for the forklifts or lifting straps to get under the load and it be removed. We also use dunnage to keep bundles of rebar or lumber up out of the mud and to be able to move it around easily. Dunnage is usually cut from cast off hickory, oak, pine and poplar so it is good wood. Now, sometimes it is roughed up to the point that you have to cut it to be able to tell what kind of wood it is but it is easily sawn with a circular saw, chainsaw or whatever. As far as I know it is not treated in any way, although some of it might get a little paint on it. It normally never has nails in it either.
Now, the reason I'm telling you is this: they throw this stuff away by the tons. Every day. We have stacks and stacks of it on the job I'm on now. Some truck drivers will take their dunnage with them and some jobs save all they get to use throughout the job but there is a lot still out there thrown away. It occurred to me that if you live in an area where hardwoods do not grow, this may be a way to procure some because often times structural steel and equipment is shipped across country. If they get a shipment from an area ripe with hardwoods, the dunnage is most likely going to be hickory or so.
If you don't have a connection to someone that works on construction sites then there are several rules you must follow so you don't piss these guys off. We have to be very aware of liability issues nowadays so please, do as you're told. Not so much by me, I mean the workers. First, go directly to the job trailer where the superintendent is. DO NOT enter the job site where work is actually going on and approach the guys there. Be very nice to the super and just explain what you are looking for. Use the correct terminology; they will respect you more. Do not say you are just looking for their scrap wood because he'll just say, we don't have time for that, go away. If they are willing to let you take the dunnage you will probably be required to come back before or after work when nothing is going on. However, if they tell you to wear a hard hat or boots or whatever, DO IT. Be quick, do what they say and don't start looking around for more to take. You will not be allowed to cut it there either so just load your truck and get out. Oh, be sure to thank them.
Now, like I said, I don't know what companies do in other parts of the country but here we try to give away what we can to keep it out of the landfills. Many companies now are requiring the sites to recycle more and more, so be aware also that they may not be allowed to give you stuff. That doesn't make sense either but you know how bureaucrats are.
So, maybe that is of some help to somebody. I know I burn dunnage when I can get it. Right now I am mostly using the trees that I am trying to get cleaned up from clearing etc. but do bring home a few sticks. Well, if the super doesn't beat me to it!
*John McCormack / written during WWI
Friday, January 09, 2009
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Saturday, January 03, 2009
OK, this is a crappy little drawing but if you click on it and enlarge it you might be able to make sense of what I did with the sink counter. I know my photos of the pouring did not show things well. I was in a hurry and didn't realize I had not taken any photos until after I already had one bucket of mud in the form.
I then tied #3 rebar to the #4 bars and long enough to run the length and width of the counter. I used #3 because this would take up less space, allowing more concrete around the bars but wanted stronger ones (the #4's) in the wall for obvious reasons. You can bend #3 bars pretty easily but #4 is much harder to bend.
The counter is 42" long and about 22" deep, so it is not really that big of a surface. However, it is still pretty heavy and I think if I had made the counter any larger I would definately put 2 brackets under it for support.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
I hope everyone has had a great New Year's Day or at least a peaceful day with no stress. Well, that's a great day in itself, right? I enjoyed the day off but have to work tomorrow. That's Ok though.
I cooked the traditional southern new year's meal and Fred and Allen came down to eat with me. Of course, we had ham (for progress), cabbage and black-eyed peas (for prosperity), potatoes (just because I like them) and cornbread ('cause you got to have it with greens). It was very good I must say and the cabbage was my very own from my garden! I was very pleased with it. I have never grown cabbage before and thought this was very tasty. Oh, and that is unsweet tea; very UNsouthern but we won't tell anyone. So, what do ya'll eat for New Year's in your parts?
I did a little work on the house. Allen helped me rip some of the last exterior trim for the siding. Mostly I cleaned and got organized from the holiday mess. Lika and I went for a couple of walks and I kept a fire burning all day and night.
I hear next Tuesday and Wednesday they are trying to organize a Cyber Yard sale where we are all supposed to show our junk! Post any funky junk or crap or decent stuff you want to get rid of. Sell, trade or just give away. I'm trying to come up with something but I have done some major purging over the last year so I'm not sure what I've got. I know I can come up with something though.
I wish everyone out there a very happy and prosperous new year and hope we all see peace and joy in our lives. May we all make great strides in our goals and in creating a better, safer and cleaner world.
Note: I'll respond to the comments on the previous post just shortly. I appreciate them all and ya'll know I like to answer each one. Just a little short of time right now.