Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wire And Glass

Okay, so I really got started good on the window for the bath. I'm going to try to explain this but I don't know how good I'll be at it. If I say something that doesn't make any sense, which wouldn't be unusual, just ask me to clarify.
You have to have a good, sturdy table that is at a good working height so you don't have to bend over. Old, solid core doors make wonderful work tables. Anyway, screw two boards to one corner, making sure with a framing square, that the inside corner is square. You will start the window in this corner and work outward. The boards should also project about an inch or more above the top of the table surface in order to accommodate the layer of ceiling tile and glass. Leave the other two sides open. Then you take your full size cartoon of your window and tape it down, making sure it is up against the boards and square.
The zinc U-channel is cut for the two sides first and put in place and then you start cutting the glass in that corner, working out. Most people make two copies of the pattern in order to cut one up for tracing on opaque glass. I just lay the glass in position, making sure it is fully in the appropriate channel, and trace the shape on the glass. If I use some opaque, I just use some tracing paper to get that one shape. You also have to decide if you are building the window face up or down, as the glass is heavily patterned on one side. Keep this in mind as you build so you don't cut a piece wrong side up! Yes, I've done that. I use a grinder to smooth up the edges and perfect the fit, then slide the glass in place and secure it with horseshoe nails, keeping it tight in that corner. These nails have a broad head and are easy to push into the ceiling tile. Also, they are flat on one side and will not roll around against the channel. You can use small pieces of channel (came) as this is temporary, like in the photo below.
So, you just keep cutting the glass and lead came a piece at a time, working your way diagonally across the pattern. I am using a few pieces of zinc came on the long, straight runs to help keep the window from eventually sagging. I am also using copper foil on some of the really wiggly edges because it would be about impossible to get lead came to bend like that. This will add a real organic feel to it. I also write the type of glass I'm going to use in each space to help me get it laid out and to plan ahead.
Hope this makes sense. If not feel free to ask more. I am going to try to get a lot done on it tomorrow; didn't get much done this weekend.


*The Who

Friday, August 28, 2009

Groove Is In The Heart

I was sitting on the deck the other morning, enjoying a cup of coffee when I just happen to look down and spy this! Darn things are everywhere.
So, it's been raining on and off here for the past couple of days. I got the waterproofing finished just in time it seems! I'll have to let things dry out and get cleaned up a little first before I lay the drain in and backfill though, so looks like I'm off that project for a short while.
They called me to come back to work yesterday. I was surprised but it is only for about a week so it's okay; I'm still going to get plenty of time to work on the house. A small health clinic we are building needs a little framing done and it's for one of my favorite supers, so I said okay. It's not very far from the house either, well, relatively speaking, so another plus.
So, I think I'll work on the stained glass window today and probably over the weekend too. And yes, I'll show pictures and post about that. It's too wet to paint or for most of the other stuff I need to do and I really need to get that window done. I have three more that I have agreed to build for someone else so, I got to get on that.


*Deee-Lite

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Down Under

Today was spent trying to get the rubber membrane applied to the treated wall. This is fairly tricky when you are doing it by yourself but it can be done, albeit with shorter strips of rubber. This is a peel-and-stick kinda stuff and it works best to leave as much of the plastic film on the membrane as you can and then gradually work down the strip, peeling and sticking as you go. I peel the top edge first and apply it lightly at the grade I want, then peel the rest downward. Gravity lets the membrane lay down easily that way. Keep the membrane as cool as possible too, don't let it lay in the sun and try to not let it touch itself! Very important. This membrane has a white, fibrous coating on it, I think as a type of reinforcing against tears. This was some drop leftover from a job also, so this is only costing me the paint-on stuff, which is about $10/gallon. I let the membrane turn down onto the footing about 4 to 5 inches and lap joints about 6 inches. I have also applied a second run above this one.
I know a lot of people would think, well, if that stuff is so sticky, why paint on the goo too? Well, the membrane must be applied to a treated surface. No matter how well you clean concrete, it's always going to have some dust or film on it that would interfere with the membrane sticking.
After I applied all the membrane, I go back and use a butyl rubber caulking to seal all the edges. And you must use butyl rubber that is rated for 'below grade' applications. It comes in a regular caulking tube and you just lay down about a 1/4 to 3/8" line of the caulk and then tool over it with a putty knife, assuring that it has sealed the edge. I go over all joints and edges.
Now, waterproofing is the nastiest stuff you will deal with. Wear the worst clothes you have with the expectation that you will throw them away when you are done. I don't care how careful you are or try to be, how much you watch what you are doing, the waterproofing will get all over you. You remember in the first season or so of the Star Trek; New Generation series when Picard and the crew got stranded on that planet with the tar pit-looking monster? Okay, that tar pit monster was waterproofing. Yeah, you think I'm joking. This crap waits for you to turn your back and then it jumps on you. Everything will be fine and then suddenly...it's on your arm! or in your hair! Beware of it.
Of course, gasoline will take it off but so will WD-40 or similar and then you can just wash that off with soap and water. The roller and paint brushes you might use though are trash, so buy disposable.


*Men At Work

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Move It

Wow! was it the title to that last post or what?! My hits were through the roof yesterday! Maybe it was my new profile photo? Haha! I don't think so. I think it was due to a new link to this blog. Anyway, I have gotten a fair amount done these past couple of days. They finally picked up the machine yesterday so I don't have that as a distraction anymore. I did use it all I could yesterday though to get a few last minute projects done. I kinda got these photos out of order but I'm not going to try to fix it. I had used the machine to rake the dirt back from the footing on the house and then had to clean it by hand, down to the concrete. This wonderful weather lately has allowed it to dry well and today I put the coat of waterproofing on. And I know some of you may be thinking; oooh, that looks like some kind of nasty petroleum based stuff and you would be right. I hate to use such but there really is not a better product for this situation. Now, once the stuff dries it will become inert and not be absorbed into the soil or anything, plus I am going to put a layer of peel and stick rubber membrane over this, further sealing it from the soil.
Now, a lot of people will tell you that you don't need to use this and that white paint on stuff works fine etc, and there are a lot of people out there with leaky basements too. In all of my experience with construction, and we bury a lot of concrete, this method is the only one that truly works over the long term. And I assure you, I don't want to be digging this footing out again when I'm seventy. It may seem like overkill to some but you do it right the first time, you know. 'Course, if I had really had a brain I would have put a keyway in the footing and inserted the bentonite coils where the wall joins the footing. But I didn't think of that back then.
Now, not much water will actually seep through solid concrete but you would be surprised how much can go through that crack between the wall and footing and through the snap tie holes. If you have concrete block that you are backfilling against you REALLY need good waterproofing. Water seeps right through that stuff. Here I have cleaned the footing and wall as best I could to assure a good seal. I've got to do a little layout and figuring tomorrow to know exactly how far up the wall it will be backfilled. I believe code requires that you stay at least 8 inches down from the bottom of your siding. Then you have to figure the ground sloping away from the house for good drainage.
After I get all of the membrane applied, I will install a French drain down at the footing level and backfill a couple of feet with stone and then cover that with dirt.
I also dug a deep trench for the permanent power line to come into the house. It is deep enough that I can go over it with the footing, without fear of hitting it, if I ever get around to building the other half of the house. And I know you are probably thinking, well, why wasn't this already done? Well, I thought the other half would have started by now and I wanted to place the meter on that side but things change so I'm going to go ahead run permanent as if this is all that there will be. If I do get to build more it won't be much trouble to move the meter if I want to but it won't be mandatory. I got pretty good with that excavator, huh? Pretty darn straight diggin! Dale would be proud of me! I hope to get the conduit in for the line soon and can go ahead and cover this up and pull the wire at my leisure.
This is the biggest of the trees that were cut. I used the excavator to carry the logs out to where I am storing firewood. I can cut it up later. I've still got to clean up some limbs and such.
I also painted some more on the north side of the house and am close to being ready to move the scaffolding down to the other half and be done with that side! Yea!!!! Hopefully, the rain will hold off for another couple of days.


*Cliff Richards

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shape Of Things

This is not a particularly good photo but you can sort of see the new colors of the rafter tails and all. I took Richard's advice and changed to a darker version of the siding color for the trim and soffit. It looks much better. The window sashes will go the same cedar color that is on the rafters. I've just got to finish painting the windows and do some touch up on the siding and I can move the pick board down to the other half of this side. I absolutely hate working off these pick boards as they are only about 18" wide. I'm only about 12 feet up but still, that's enough to break something if you fall. It's funny, I don't mind much greater heights at work at all but then, we are tied off there and I know I can't go far.
They called early this morning though and said they will be picking the machine up this afternoon, so doing final work with that is the primary concern today. I've got to clean up this large tree, dig out a couple of stumps and set a few more smaller stones if possible. Don't any of you squeal about the tree. It was rotten on the bottom and had virtually no limbs on it, so it was butt ugly and posed a risk to my house. It will make good firewood. I don't like to cut trees but this one needed to go. You can see how close it was to the house but Allen did a good job of landing it in a safe area. I appreciate him helping me even if he did take it as an opportunity to taunt me that I do, at times, need a man. I will not repeat the ugly words that issued from my mouth in reply.
The weather here the past couple of days has just been incredibly nice. It is so cool I have actually had to put on some clothes in the morning! Looks like this will be a good week as far as more nice weather and I will be able to get the waterproofing done and backfill behind the house. Wooohooo! Only been undone for 2 years! God, I'm ashamed of that. But it seemed other work was more important and I can only do so much.
I need to get out and do some kind of socializing this week also. I've been by myself too much lately and I'm beginning to feel it. Not sure what to do but I'll find something.
Hope you all had a good weekend.


*The Yardbirds

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Boris The Spider

I actually had a little trouble deciding on the song title for this post as there are a number of good ones I could have used. I'll quote Jim Stafford at least by saying "I don't like spiders and snakes" either but I have gotten used to this type because I've convinced myself that they eat all kinds of nasty other bugs and would not bite me, so are 'nice guys'. And I'm sure they do, although they eat basically anything that gets in their web, 'good bugs' included. This one was resting comfortably on the side of the house yesterday. Well, he's been there for some time and it has been their custom every year to have at least one make their home on the side of my home. I did have to move him slightly, as he was in the way of my digging out the foundation but he took it all in good stride and just climbed higher up the wall. I wonder is he the offspring of the giant one that lived on the west end of the house all last year? And yes, I know it's very possibly a 'she' but I'm going to call it 'he'.
Anyway, did any of you happen to catch NPR yesterday morning when they had the guy from Animal Planet on? I'm not sure what segment it was; could have been "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me", I'm not sure. So, anyway, it was the funniest thing I've heard in some time. This guy is a vet who, in his younger days, was a bodyguard/roadie for The Stones and The Grateful Dead. So, he later becomes a vet for larger animals and now has a show on AP. Some of you may know who I'm talking about; I don't get that many cable channels so I don't know him. So, he's talking about some of the crazier things that have happened to him in real life and he was relating how that pets go in fads, unfortunately, and that right now, spiders are the big fad. Big spiders. Really, really big spiders. Now, he's creeped out by the things and doesn't like to deal with them. "Bugs shouldn't have hair or saliva", he says, "it's just not right". I agree and yes, we know they're not 'bugs' but they're not mammals so they're bugs for our purposes. But yeah, what kind of mouth must a bug have to be able to hock a luggie! That's not right!
So, this guy brings one of these large spiders to him in a plastic shoe box. It fills the box up. Now, he doesn't want to take the spider out so he trying to stall. He asks the guy what is wrong with the spider. "Well, I don't know; he's just not himself"..... Now, at this point I'm laughing my ass off. How do you know if a spider is 'just not himself'? He didn't get up and have coffee this morning?
"Well, what do you mean, 'not himself'?"
"He hasn't been eating and one of his legs fell off". His leg fell off. Well, that's a good indication of something being wrong. And that's just what the vet said. So, he's wanting to get rid of the spider (and the guy) so he suggests that a professor over at the university might be a better source to go to and sends him off. About an hour later this professor calls the vet. "Did you send this guy over here with the giant spider?" he asked, kinda harshly.
"Well, yeah."
"Did you tell the guy that the spider's leg falling off was a good indication of sickness?"
"Well, yeah..."
"Well, if you had taken the time to examine the spider, you would have seen that it was indeed dead!"
You can probably find a link on their website and hear this for yourself but I was laughing so hard I was crying. Good thing I had reached my driveway and pulled in. But what I'm wondering is, if you know your spider well enough to think, "he's just not himself", don't you think you'd notice too that he was dead!


*The Who

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bits And Pieces

Well, I have gotten squat done on the house this week. To have done so well last week, this week has been a bust. Between all the rain, trying to cut the grass, intermittently fix the push mower, having my computer repaired and just general loafing, I have not accomplished much of anything. A day or two of that is okay every once in a while but a whole week is inexcusable.
While mowing the grass, I scared this guy up out of the weeds. I know it was at least 6" across.
What a face!
I have prepared part of the foundation wall for waterproofing, which I hope to do next week as it dries out. I ran some siding but am waiting on Allen to bring the big ladder back so I can reach the eaves on front. I have to completely finish the north side before I can turn the corner to the west end, because the scaffolding etc. is attached to the west wall. I did do a little more clearing with the excavator earlier in the week before the rain started.
Here you can see the "eyes" a little. Such a pretty creature.
I must kick it into a higher gear on the house and I also have people calling me wanting side work but I'm really trying to avoid that, as odd as that may sound. I don't want any side work; I want to work on MY stuff! I do have two jobs that I have pretty much committed to but they won't be too bad and I'll make pretty good on them.
Found another one of these. It was a funny thing: I had not heard from Dale in over 6 weeks and so I called just to see if he was still kicking and left a message. He called me back about a half hour later and we talked for a while. He's about the same but sounded okay. Anyway, while we were talking I was walking around the yard and sat down on one of the logs at the flower bed by the drive. I just happen to look down between my feet and saw this. I sit at that spot all the time and never noticed it before. No, I don't think it means anything; just kinda odd. Dale is still in Louisiana and is off to Houston in about a month to do a job there. He told me he was home about 3 weeks ago and called me 2 or 3 times because he wanted to see me but the calls would never go through. He said he couldn't even get my message service. Thought that was odd too.
I have given up on hearing from the concrete cutting guy even though he asked me twice if I would go out with him and I made sure to give him my number. Why do guys do that? I mean, act all interested and then never call. Chickens**t.
And a friend came by several weeks ago and gave me the number of another friend that he thought I might like to meet. I actually tried to call the guy but his phone would never answer. It either said the number was out of service or just wasn't accepting calls. Period. So there. I think I have the mark of Cain on me. The karmic juju of love is against me but it's getting a great, big laugh out of taunting me with these hearts strewn about.
Oh well, back to work; that's what I know best anyway. Hopefully, I will have something on the house to show you soon.

*The Dave Clark Five

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Life

Computer difficulties have kept me from posting this week but it's all fixed now. I offer you this little questionnaire that I copied from another blog. Not got a lot done this week due to rain but am trying to get something going.


Been arrested? no
Kissed someone you didn’t like? no
Slept in until 5 PM? probably, a long time ago.
Ran a red light? oh yeah.
Been suspended from school? no
Experienced love at first sight? yes but I never woulda thunk it.
Totaled your car in an accident? no
Been fired from a job? no
Fired somebody? no
Sang karaoke? no
Pointed a gun at someone? no, but had a couple pointed at me.
Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t? yes; that's why I never say 'I'll never' now.
Caught a snowflake on your tongue? yes
Kissed in the rain? yes
Had a close brush with death (your own)? yes, a few times.
Seen someone die? no
Played spin-the-bottle? yes
Smoked a cigar? no
Sat on a rooftop? yes. many.
Smuggled something into another country? no
Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on? not a pool but a lake and I was thrown.
Broken a bone? yes
Skipped school? yes
Eaten a bug? yes
Sleepwalked? no
Walked a moonlit beach? not sure
Rode a motorcycle? yes
Dumped someone? yes
Lied to avoid a ticket? no
Ridden in a helicopter? no
Shaved your head? no
Made your boyfriend/girlfriend cry? yes
Eaten snake? no
Marched/Protested? no
Had Mexican jumping beans for pets? no
Puked on amusement ride? no
Seriously & intentionally boycotted something? yes
Been in a band? No
Been on TV? no
Shot a gun? yes
Skinny-dipped? oh yeah..
Ridden a surfboard? no
Drank straight from a liquor bottle? yep. ugh.
Had surgery? yes.
Streaked? not intentionally.
Taken by ambulance to hospital? no
Passed out when not drinking? yes
Peed on a bush? no, I just pee on the ground.
Donated Blood? yes
Grabbed electric fence? yes, grabbed, fell on, bumped into, got tangled in, etc.
Eaten alligator meat? yes
Killed an animal when not hunting? yes
Peed your pants in public? no
Snuck into a movie without paying? yes
Written graffiti? well, we sometimes sign concrete; is that the same?
Still love someone you shouldn’t? yes. dammit.
Been in handcuffs? uh....
Believe in love? yes
Sleep on a certain side of the bed? no, all over it.

*Billy Joel

Monday, August 17, 2009

Southern Nights

If you look closely, some of you may recognize this building. In person it is instantly recognizable but then, you get a better view. The little 'town' is so small it's actually hard to get a good shot of anything. All southerners would know this place as the Whistle Stop Cafe' from Fried Green Tomatoes.
I went to visit Cat Daddy over the weekend and he took me by here on Sunday. It's very close to the job site actually. We had a nice time just driving around the area and stopping in a few shops and state parks.
Much of the movie was filmed right in this area. And wouldn't you know, damn train tracks running everywhere. This scenario was made complete by the fact that Cat Daddy drives the exact same color, etc. truck as a certain someone, even down to same type and color umbrella that they both keep behind the headrest of the passenger side seat. I joked to Cat Daddy that he was going to have to hide the umbrella at least but I just try to laugh about the whole thing. Like Ninny Threadgoode says in the movie, "a heart can be broken but it keeps beating just the same".
The big barbecue pit that they show in the movie is actually out back of the building and I thought I could get a shot of the whole thing but it didn't come out well. We went in the restaurant but did not eat any fried green tomatoes. $7.50 just seemed a little high for a few green tomato slices. It's a shame that the movie and book are set in Alabama but the movie was not filmed here.

I also got to visit with a few of our other carpenters as we all met up one night at a bar in a larger town. We avoided any fights as we all conceded we are all too beat up as it is to get into stuff like that any more. One of the boys broke his back a few years ago in a fall on the job. Cat Daddy has had back surgery and I have torn a ligament in one foot so it's hard for me to run very well. So, we just shot some pool and threw back a few. They told me about an unfortunate rod buster on the job that had two fingers pulled/pinched off by a crane's outriggers this past week. He's actually lucky that it wasn't more. I feel so for these men having to work this type of job. Rough way to make a living.
So, we had a nice visit and I saw a part of the country that I had not seen before. Despite the fact that I am completely self-sufficient, the warmth of a man's arms does much to improve my mood and I'm not at all ashamed of that fact. So, maybe I can get a lot more done this week and have some new stuff to show ya'll soon.

*Glen Campbell

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hundred And Ten In The Shade

Actually, our summer has been quite mild this year, so far, and we are really enjoying the break from the normal sweltering heat box that is Alabama. Now, when I say mild, I mean highs just in the 90's, not over 100 degrees F. Last summer was extremely hot and the year before, when I was at the railroad, we had like 11 days in a row that it was over 100. Combine that with being surrounded by nothing but gravel and running trains, swinging a sledgehammer for most of the day and it makes for some rough times. So this summer has been a piece of cake, let me tell you!

But I digress, my topic for this post is how happy I am with the coolness that my house sustains. I am still amazed at how much difference it makes to just position your house a certain way when building and put just a little thought into the eaves. For those that haven't read back far enough, my house is a passive solar design; a basic rectangle laid out east to west, lengthwise. The majority of the windows face south, to pick up the winter sun when it drops lower in the sky. I do have a couple of small windows on the east and west ends but they stay shaded most of the time. The eaves or overhangs of the roof project outward 2 feet. This shades all of the southern and northern windows from the summer sun, as the sun is higher in the sky, almost directly overhead. I believe about the first of September the sun will just start peaking back into the house.
I have not installed a permanent HVAC system in the house yet, as I hoped to wait until the other half is completed and then size the unit for the whole house. And also, I hoped that they may make some advances in geothermal units by then and possibly the price for such might go down a little. But who knows? Anyway, for now I just run two small window units for cooling. Now to me, they do a fine job. The house is fairly open in the design so air circulates well and I have 2 ceiling fans in the main part of the house. I have one unit in the living area that is programmable and I run it during the day. It turns it's self on and off as needed to maintain the set temperature. Now that I'm here all the time I usually don't even turn it on until about 11:00 or noon and the house stays very comfortable. To me at least. I am comfortable with the house staying about 78 degrees, which it seems to do easily. I know a lot of other people want it colder and if I have company coming I will cool the house more, but for me this is fine. I turn that unit off about 6:00 or so and turn the unit in the bedroom low so it will be cool in there for sleeping. Sometimes I have to turn it off completely at night because I get too cold. There again, I know if I had someone with me it would need to run all the time. Now, get your mind out of the gutter! I don't mean because of that (actually I probably do, hehe) but just because two bodies make more heat. Oh, you know what I mean!
So, there was a couple of days I went to work and forgot to turn the air on before I left and I thought, oh hell, it's going to be unbearable when I get home but it was actually not that bad. It was in the 90's outside and the house stayed in the low 80's with no air. It didn't take it long to cool down either, once I got home. We've had several days where it rained or stayed cloudy all day and I didn't even bother to turn the air on.
Now, some hardcore greenies would say just don't run air at all, and I wish I didn't have to but when you work in the heat like I do, you've got to have a little relief when you get home or you will damage your body.
I hear a lot of people complaining that their power bills run over $300/month and that just astounds me. If I run my air a good bit, mine will be slightly over $100 and I know a fair amount of that is that damn water heater. I hope to get a solar system soon for water. What kills me is the people that I know who purposefully built these big houses, knowing that the power bill was going to be ginormous! Excuse me? And half the time only a couple of people live there. I'll never understand. So, if you are planning a house, please consider the size and positioning; it makes a world of difference.

I had a great visit and dinner with a fellow artist last evening. We intended on watching a movie also but we talked and laughed so much it was too late when we realized the time. I have been able to be around more women lately and it's nice to not talk about hunting or trucks!
However, this evening I go to visit Cat Daddy so I'll be back tomorrow sometimes. You know the old saying, all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl! Hope ya'll have a great weekend.

*John Fogerty

Friday, August 14, 2009

I've Just Seen A Face

I have just recently come to find out that one of my readers is a quite talented ceramic artist residing in Kentucky and she sent me these wonderful pieces to use in my wall. Aren't they great!? Supposedly, these are all seconds but I can find little wrong with them. She calls them NQR's (not quite right) and so I thought they were especially appropriate for me! You can check out more of her work here. I am very pleased and grateful that she would offer to send me these and think they will make a wonderful addition to sneak in here and there amongst the stones. I have already found the right spot for two of them. In case you are wondering also, these are fired to maturity (meaning the clay has vitrified), so they will last about as long as the stone.
This piece fits in better than what this photo seems to show. I think in person all those shadows don't seem quite as concealing and the little cup fills up the space just right. After the wall is complete I will pressure wash the whole thing and then go back and permanently affix these and the other objects with a little mortar. I think this will all look great because you don't really notice the objects at first. It takes a few minutes of looking to start seeing them.
Also, check out her husband's blog, here. He is from England, which I'm sure makes living in the deep South a special adventure, and his writings are absolutely delightful.
I'm so happy to make their acquaintance (as with all my readers) and really helps me on days that I feel kind of alone. My life is so different than what most women experience that it really makes me feel like the odd nut most of the time. Not that I mind really but, I don't know, it does make me feel good when other people want to participate in the nuttiness!

In other news, they have not yet picked up the excavator (which I thought they were going to do yesterday) so more work on it today. And I have several social things planned over the weekend so I may not post much. But who knows? Hope ya'll have a great Friday!


*The Beatles

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Steppin' Out

Well, I set the last step this morning and then tried to straighten and clean up a bit. I think the steps came out pretty well. They're very sturdy if nothing else. I can be a little OCD about some stuff, insisting on perfectly straight lines and right angles etc. but with this type of material you have to be accepting of a certain, shall we say, organic quality to the work. There are some cracks and the run of the steps vary some, but it is okay. It is what it is. I like the challenge of taking found materials and creating with them as they are. Just making what you were given work, you know. Too bad I have trouble with this philosophy in other parts of my life.
I sit back and look at this, and other stuff I build, and I wonder sometimes why the hell go to so much trouble? Why didn't I just put the house where I wouldn't have needed a retaining wall for parking? Why not just build a regular house and be done with it? Just go to Lowe's and buy their stock cabinets or whatever, stick it in and go on with my life? It occurred to me today that perhaps it is vanity. Pure vanity just to prove to somebody that I can do this. I don't know who and I've built enough over the years that I don't think I really have more to prove.
I was so sore last night when I went to bed, I figured I would go right to sleep but I couldn't. I hurt all over. It would have been nice to have had a warm, male body to lie against. Maybe that would have helped me sleep, like a heating pad, you know. But the guys at work, and others, tell me that my doing stuff like this is intimidating to men and that I scare them off. This is not my opinion, mind you. This is what men have told me. It's emasculating for men to see that I can do this and don't need a man to help me. Maybe so, I don't know. I know I can see that look though, when I tell some guy I've met that I built my own house. And that is not something I am quick to say, believe me. But the look that says, "this woman's delusional and if she's telling the truth, she's psychotic."
Oh, sorry I'm in a kinda crappy mood. Well, not really crappy, just weird. Maybe I am insane and don't know it. They say that if you really are nuts, that you think you're fine. Hhhmm. Well, maybe one day I can find a way to have this land turned into a park and all the little kids can sit around and tell stories about this crazy lady that built all this! lol! And every once in a while she would lure some unsuspecting man back into the woods and ...... okay, okay enough of that! ha! Time to go visit Cat Daddy this weekend.


*Joe Jackson

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stepping Stone

First thing this morning I was off to the quarry to find some stone for my steps. I hated to spend much but any alternative, such as concrete, would have cost much more, so sometimes you just gotta bite the bullet. So, I ended up buying around 3 tons of stone and, with delivery charges, it was about $300. Not horrible and the guy was real nice to let me run around and pick out each stone. Of course, I was picking through the drop, so it was stuff they didn't care much about anyway. Normal cut stone would have been much more.
Drop is what is left from breaks and cuts etc. The scrap, basically. Aren't the colors in this one beautiful. You know, these things didn't look that big out in their yard but when they slid off the truck into my drive I had to think, "what the heck have I gotten myself into this time". These things are huge. I know a lot of you say, 'wow, you do so much' and 'I can't believe you do that' and stuff but it's not that I'm all that, it's more like, "holy crap, I just bought $300 worth of stone. I've got to do something with it!"
So, you just start setting the things. I eyeballed where I wanted them to go and leveled a place in the dirt. The boards under there are just so I can pull those straps out and then I wedge up the stone with a Burke bar and pull the dunnage out. Kind of a pain but it's just what you got to do. At times, I had a 20 lb. pry bar in each hand, prying the pry bars out! I made sure this first step was set as best I could and, amazingly enough, it set perfectly level with very little adjustment.
This is actually the third step. The first one is pretty much buried at this point from digging out the successively higher steps and the dirt rolling down. I set these about the same as the rocks for the wall in that I filled in behind the stones as I went up.
This photo is kinda crappy but basically you can see what I've got so far. The stones are all almost exactly 7" thick, which is perfect stair riser height. Due to the fact the front edges are not cut and kinda wavy, the run of the steps is between 12" (standard) and 14". Actually, I think 11" may be code but anyway, I thought this dimension felt right. They climb very comfortably. I set one more step after this photo so I have 5 up and one more to go. It started to rain slightly on me but it actually felt good. Cooled things off some.
I'll try to get some better photos tomorrow. I almost forgot to take any today, I got so caught up in what I was doing.
Now, it's bed time. I'm really tired for some reason.

*Duffy

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hit The Ground Running

Well, today was my first day of vacation!! And I basically pissed around all day, lol! Well, I had some errands to run in town and such and just took some time to go to a couple of stores and look around. Had to take care of some household chores too. But tomorrow, it's down to business! Now, ya'll are going to have to put the whip to my back if I start lolligagging any.
I spoke to our personnel director this morning and basically have no idea how long I'll be off. It could be two months or they could call me back next week. I have a feeling it will be awhile though. But, at any rate, I've got to make the most of this time and keep the attitude that it's not going to last long.
So, my to do list includes:
Finish the rock wall and steps
Grade parking area and apply gravel fill
Finish siding and exterior trim on house
Completely, absolutely finish painting house
Install porch light fixtures (yeah, I know, wth? that's not already done?)
Clean deck and rebar handrails and apply fresh sealer
Build garden/ tool shed
Plow garden under and till in fresh compost
Build decorative gates for garden
Build small shed for firewood
Fill bare spots in lawn and reseed
Build fire ring and benches
Install two sculptures I already have built
Build two more sculptures I have in my head
Oh, finish stained glass window for bath, duh!
Transplant native flowers and shrubs to area above new wall
Clean and organize basement after I lay block knee wall against dirt bank there
60 million other things

I was informed that Lika was getting too much web time and Grendal was getting left out and she agreed to pose for a few shots. She's gotten pretty good about that lately. She is doing well and I finally found a flea medicine that works and doesn't make all her hair fall out.

Don't ya'll worry, I intend to have some fun while I'm off work too! My spirits are up these days so I'm eager to work and cut loose a little too. Perhaps I'll go visit Cat Daddy if he can't come home. I'm sure we can find something to get into; I haven't been in a bar fight in some time now...

*Jonny Lang

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Rock On

I know ya'll are probably getting sick of seeing this wall but I'm trying to focus on getting this thing done. They are coming to get the machine this Thursday, so I must get the biggest rocks set. So far, I've just shown general photos but I thought I'd show ya'll more of how I'm building this wall. The level there shows that the wall is not plumb. I'm letting it lean back about 2-3 inches into the bank, just as a general precaution against the bank settling and pushing outward. I don't think these rocks are going anywhere but it never hurts to be a little cautious. I can afford for it to come out a little but it's a major pain in the wahzoo to get it back in.
After I set the first layer of stone and get it situated where I want it, I backfill up level with the rock to give the next rock plenty of support. It's also easier to get a more solid backfilling this way. On a side note, I did not pour a footing under this wall, like I normally might, because it's not that tall and the ground underneath was not disturbed. The stones sit on hard, packed dirt that was never cut into, so I think the chances for settling are minimal.
Since most of the stones are so large, I've had to put a strap on them and lift them into place with the machine. This takes a lot of time when you are working by yourself but that's okay. Here, I have picked this one but couldn't get the strap to tighten correctly, so I had to stick a small stone in there as a spacer, so the larger rock would sit up straight and not fall out of the strap.
Here, I have the rock about where I want it and am lowering it into place. Once it's sitting on the other stones I can move it some with the long spike. I also use the spike to leverage the stone up and pull the strap out. Allen says this is a mighty ambitious project for such a little girl as me. It's not so bad though. It did take me about an hour on each of these two large stones but it is actually fairly easy to swing them into place. Somehow I always pick the right stone too. I've never had to take one down because I couldn't get it to fit right.
Of course, there is always a little filling in to do if you don't cut the stones any and I like to work with their natural shape. Besides, cutting these stones would be a major job! The vertical stone on the left is where this section ends and there will be steps leading up to the house on the other side where the bank is not cut back.
I'm fairly proud of the way this project is turning out. I am going to one of the many stone quarries in town tomorrow to see about buying some precut stones for the steps. If they are not too expensive it would be much easier than pouring concrete steps or something like that.

Ah, yes, and it is now official; I am laid off! Got to call the office tomorrow and see about my vacation time etc. I have over a week's worth of paid vacation and our pay is a week behind, so I'll receive my regular pay for the next two weeks and then go on unemployment. I'm very excited and hope to get so much done. Yea!!! I hear rumors about one or two jobs starting in September and October so I might get on one of those. Or, hell, I might retire and never go back!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Dragon Attack

I noticed this year that I seem to have an abundance of dragonflies here and among those, a pretty good variety of species. This morning, while I was out enjoying the somewhat cool air and a cup of coffee, the dragons were putting on quite an air show but I managed to capture a few images of some of them resting.
In trying to identify these, I found some interesting info on them. In many cultures, they are considered evil, an accomplice to the devil even. I remember when I was a child, it was common to hear the older people, here in the South, refer to them as 'snake doctors'. Purportedly, for their habit of following the reptiles around in order to assist the snake if it was injured. I was fascinated with this idea and often thought I might be lucky enough one day to spot a 'snake doctor' with his patient. Alas, I never did!
Despite being blessed with 6 legs, they do not have the ability to walk. But they love mosquitoes! I remember seeing one not too long ago, perched on a rock in the flower bed, absolutely stuffing his face with a large mosquito in true Cookie Monster fashion. It was great! I never was able to locate a good source for ID so I have no idea what these species are. If you know feel free to inform the rest of us.
I have often wondered why we love the dragonfly so. I have a small birdbath (that I made) with a dragonfly inscribed in the bowl and several stained glass ones that adorn some of my potted plants. Is it their alien beauty? Do their bright colors attract us, even appeal to our greedy subconscious with their jewel-like vibrancy? Or is it because, when they nod to us with those enormous eyes, they seem to know something we don't? Something ancient that we, as a species, have never been privy to because we just wouldn't get it.
I think that somehow, when they acquiesce to sit next to us in the garden, it simply makes us feel that just maybe, there is a little hope for us. Maybe, we with only two legs aren't so bad after all. Maybe one day we will finally understand.


*Queen

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Too Much To Ask

I had grand designs to move this rock over to my wall from the far side of the house. I put my boot in there to show scale but it doesn't do the stone justice. It seems much bigger standing next to it. I was able to dig the rock up (you can see how much was buried) and move it out into the open but couldn't get it picked up with the bucket. So, I thought I would put a strap on it and carry it that way. I had successfully moved one other rock that way and I was able to strap the rock and get it about a foot off the ground but that was about it. These excavators have a small dozer blade on the front which you can also use as an outrigger to stabilize yourself when picking an object or digging. When I let off on the blade, in order to travel, the front of the machine started tipping forward and forward....and so I let the rock back down and took the strap off. This is how you decide which rocks will just be lawn ornaments.
Little Tachie (the excavator) just didn't have enough ass to carry that much rock so we tucked our tails between our legs and had to settle for this little thing. Not even a bucket full. Pfft. Well, it all helps!
I have made a little more progress on the wall and added one found object just to see how that is going to work. Can you spot it?
Here is a full view of all I have up so far. Actually, I think I continued to work after I took this and I have the wall up to it's full height all the way. It's almost addictive to me to start working on this because it becomes like a game to find just the right rock to fit and so on. I worked until it was almost dark. Hopefully, I will have lots of time for it next week.
I think my design work is fair but then you find something like this. Such subtle beauty in this tiny design. Makes my handiwork look clumsy and awkward.

*Avril Lavigne