Monday, June 29, 2009

The second story

I wonder why they call floors stories? It never struck me as odd until I was writing it just now, but now I have to google it. If I find out, I'll let you know...OK, here it is:

The best answer I've been able to find is an anecdotal one that the word comes from the Latin, "historia," meaning history. Roman buildings had decorations of carvings or murals on the exterior walls on each floor level they called historia, depicting myths or historical battles. Multilevel buildings were marked by levels of historia. The word was shortened to stories and, today, a building is so many stories tall. Or, this explanation is just someone's tall story. The rest is history, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Now that we've got THAT out of the way, let's look at what made me think about it in the first place...our second story! Here is how the house looked just before the weekend. The framing of the second story external walls is now complete. can now access the second story with this nifty set of STAIRS (with temporary treads).

Can't resist...THE MAN and his stairs:

And lastly...Mark reflecting on life as he gazes wistfully out the window of the loft:

OK...not really. That's REALLY Mark doing what I tell him to do while I take his picture. But you knew that.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mark's Helpers

Things have REALLY progressed this week. Look...the first floor is almost completely framed, and shear walls are going in along the outside (that's the solid, plywood-looking stuff).

Framing is a very satisfying time of the building process. The results of the work are very visual, so you really get a sense that things are moving quickly (this is all according to Mark, of course). For my part, I have to agree! Mark had a lot of assistance this week, too. Our nephew Zack arrived, and has been a real help to Mark.

You can see...he's quite a sturdy young man, and a hard worker

Of course, Mark will teach him all about safety

Here they are securing the last section of "big wall". They have already started putting in floor joists for the second floor! We've actually stood up in the loft area on the second floor. I think it will be a wonderful place to hang out.

My sister Gail and her kids came down several times last week, and were wonderful helpers. Here is my mom tasking Abigail and Mae with the job of picking nails out of the debris pile. They enjoyed "helping".

They also discovered the work gloves laying around.

And of course, what pair of little girls doesn't immediately start up a boxing match? Abigail was at a slight disadvantage here, since she only had one glove.

What shy, delicate creatures we are raising!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Animal stories

Here's the proof that the story I told about the rattlesnake actually happened.

And what loving mother doesn't hand the headless but still squirming body to her children to hold for a photo op? Don't they look happy?

My other animal story has no pictures, thank goodness. Yesterday we loaded up six cattle to take down to the auction. Things went pretty smoothly getting the cattle from the big pasture into the corral. But that was the end of the smooth part. To say that they did NOT want to get into the trailer would be a gentle understatement. The biggest problem was a young bull with horns. He had already been sparring with the 3 other young bulls, and being the only one with horns, he always won. Once HE got into the trailer, no one else wanted to get in with him. He has been such a pain to deal with, it was almost worth it to send him down the hill by himself! But we did get the rest in, eventually. I use the term "we" loosely dad and my sister Gail actually did all the work. I tried to help, but was generally chastised for doing something dumb and dangerous, so I eventually figured out that everyone was happier if I just sat on the sidelines and watched. Quietly.

We may send another batch down today. Maybe this time I can help!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The big wall, part 2

At last...the pictures of our epic "big wall" raising. As a reminder, here was the concept for the frame to assist in applying a vertical force to the wall:

And here is the real thing!

Unfortunately, since I was driving the truck, I didn't get to see, much less document, the wall coming up, other than this view:

Here's the wall, happily raised. And the people, happily cheering.

And the happy home owners!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The big wall, part 1

All I can say was crazy scary, and it worked. Don't have pictures downloaded yet, but the tension was palpable as we gathered for the "big wall" raising today. If things go bad, where should we jump? Where will we brace? When will we brace? ............... WILL WE EVER we brace? We did, after what seemed like a loooonnnngggg time. My job today was to drive the truck. A low threat, high visibility job. But it went pretty well. Especially after I took my boot off so I could accelerate by flexing my big toe.

Doesn't everyone do that?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Raising the walls


The first walls were raised on Monday. What a rush! The whole gang turned out for the event. From left to right are Dad, Mom, my sister Karen, niece Casey, sister Gail, and niece Megan. And of course Mark pacing along, inspecting everything. This is one wall of our master bedroom. Nice window, eh?

By the end of the day, we had one entire side of the house framed on the first floor (not quite complete here).

As of this morning, we have two sections of 18 foot walls left to complete the first floor. Of course, those will be real boogers to raise, and we've been putting our collective heads together to come up with a way without killing or maiming anyone. Our current concept comes from my Dad's explanation of how the mast on a boat is raised, with a smaller frame that gets pulled up first, and in turn pulls on the big wall in a vertical direction versus a horizontal direction. Here is the fancy graphic for this one:

So for our next post we'll either show pictures of a successful lift, or post information on visiting hours in the hospital! Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Kittens and Lumber

My daughter Mae is moving out of a phase, and I want to note it for posterity before I forget all about it. Mae likes to pretend that she is a kitten. While she’s playing, she feels the need to state all the conditions of her kittenhood, so that I know all about her and can treat her accordingly. She actually will tell me all my lines during our play, but this is just character development, I guess.

At first, she was just a kitten. Then, she was a one-year-old kitten. Then, she was a one-year-old crazy kitten. Her final version was:

“I’m a one-year-old crazy kitten named Belle who likes to swim, and is very well trained, and she’s very shy because you just got her, and she just came out of her mommy.”

Of course, I feel compelled to remind Mae that the kitten can’t be one year old AND have just come out of her mommy, but this conflict doesn’t really bother her.

Anyway, at its peak of fashion, the kitten statement was made multiple times a day. Yesterday when she said it, I realized it had been days since I’d heard it. So we may be moving out of the “Belle the Kitten” phase and on to some new fantasy.

I’m gonna miss that crazy kitten.

Now we’re ready to talk lumber. Lumber to construct the first floor was delivered just over a week ago. Since then, we’ve taken three days off to go see a change of command down at my old stomping grounds at the Rocket Lab at Edwards AFB, and STILL, even with that break, Mark has the beams in, the joists “rolled” (which to me just seems like “stood up in place”), and the subfloor two thirds done. We should start framing walls next week! This Friday, we’ll attend high school graduation for our nephew Zachary. By next Friday, Zack will be here to help for a couple of months before he starts college. That will be great…a dedicated partner instead of one who has to take kids potty, is afraid of heights, and trips over her own feet while carrying sheets of plywood. I’ll still pitch in and bring lemonade, though.

This is where we were last Tuesday, as the lumber arrived:

Lumber delivery was interesting. The lumber was strapped together as a package on the back of a large truck. The bed of the truck tilts up like a dump truck. As soon as the lumber starts to slide, the driver guns it and runs out from under the load. I wasn’t quite expecting that! The load comes of surprisingly intact, and off we go!

And Mark goes to work!

The girls had fun up at the site, at first playing up on our NEW FLOOR, then rooting around in the crawlspace.

Here's Abigail showing off all the glue blobs she's speared off the ground in the crawlspace. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why it pays to LOOK busy...

Before we completely move on from the foundation and talking about framing for the next several months, I want to talk about MY role in the creation of the foundation (aside from making lemonade for the real workers). One day, when I had successfully managed to get the girls up to the site before noon. I was standing around, considering pictures to take and apparently NOT looking industrious when Matt Saar, the concrete guy, said “Are you looking for something to do?” Well, I really wasn’t, but I was intrigued with the possibility. What was he going to suggest? What he DID suggest was that I cut and bend some rebar, which are the iron bars that go into the foundation. So the job was to turn this

Into this

Using this

Very simple machinery that simply requires the proper force on the handle to bend or cut the metal. Matt showed me how to do it. It didn’t look easy, but it didn’t look TOO hard, and after all...Matt and I weigh about the same, so I have as much force to throw on the handle, right? I’m sure anyone who has done this job is laughing at this point, but let me just say...I did figure out how to do it! It wasn’t pretty, and I fell on my keester plenty of times. In fact, Matt saw me do that once, and he had the good grace not to laugh outright. What he DID do was holler out “Hey, why are you sitting down on the job?” Funny man.

My mom, who is a tremendous sport and loves to get into the action, came up to the site and wanted to help. So now the two of us are throwing our weight on the handle, and we beat that rebar into submission! But I did make one observation on the mechanics of the whole process. When we were bending the rebar, some bars were much harder to bend than others. Was something wrong with some of the bars? No...what I eventually concluded, through experimentation, was that the orientation of the bar made the difference. See this little seam on the bar?

If we were bending the bar and the seam was on the top and bottom of the bend (12 and 6 o’clock if we were bending about a line from 3 to 9 o’clock, it was much harder than if the seam was on the bending line. I've created some GRAPHICS to illustrate my point:

This confirms what years of schooling have taught me...that material further away from the bending axis makes a bar more stiff. You wouldn’t think that little seam makes a difference, but it does. See how that PhD comes in handy?

I’m going to have to tell that smarty-pants Matt about this.