Thursday, July 30, 2009

Visions of the little white farmhouse (and associated angst)

I thought I might share the view of our house from the plans. At this point, the porch and garage are future projects, and the chimney is no more (we decided to go with a propane direct vent...much more efficient). But this gives you the big picture:

What I have in mind is a traditional white farmhouse, with a greenish-greyish roof. I think that fits in with the setting, and after all this time, I find the crisp white farmhouses still turn my head the most. So I used the "Paint" program to give it some color:

The dormer is actually purely cosmetic, and a pain to frame, so we looked at some other possibilities to see what we liked best.

No dormer (disregard that dormer floating in space):

Moving the dormer higher on the roof toward the ridge:

Keeping the dormer in the current position (flush with the front face of the house), but with a layer of roof in front of it:

Same as above but with fascia extending to meet the main roof fascia:

In the end we decided we liked the original design best, although in reality the bottom corners of the triangle will not be cut off as they are here. that we have the PLAN in mind, here's what is going on in real life. The fascia is going up:

Can you see it??? The whiteness on that fascia board? And how lovely it looks against the backdrop of the hills?????

Actually, that board IS painted white. Mark went ahead and put the first coat of paint on so we have a little less to do up at heights once the house is fully assembled.

Speaking of heights, check out the roof!

Mark and Zack have sheeted one half, and will be working on the second half today.

Look at them scamper around up there.

Setting the sub-fascia:

And I can't resist sharing one last shot:

On our way out to the trailer last night, I spotted this rattler laying across the sidewalk. This picture was taken after Grandpa blew his head off with the .22 .

Sleep tight, kids!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Beautiful Downtown Hanford

This is the Fresno Amtrack station, the passengers quietly waiting for departure. A few of them. The rest are preschoolers on a field trip. No more peace and quiet! Mae and Abigail are in the background on the left here, acosting the teacher's 12-year-old daughter, whom they worship. Fortunately, she is very kind to them.

The girls' preschool went on a field trip, riding the train to Hanford, about 30 minutes south of Fresno. Hanford is a cute little burg, with a town square, a merry-go-round, and a famous dairy/diner. We hit it all on our whirlwind tour! In fact, there they go, off with the crowd and their hero, unconcerned about where their mother is!

The girls called Mark during the ride...excitedly telling him what they were seeing:
"Corn! Grapes! Junkyard!"

First stop: Merry-go-round! This is a fun one...older, so it goes pretty fast! We must have ridden it for half an hour.

Next stop: Superior Dairy. Now, I had promised the girls ice cream in Hanford, so we had been having our healthy snacks so that I could somewhat justify what I knew would happen...we'd be having ice cream for lunch. But even I had no idea what was coming...

THIS is a large sundae, with four scoops of ice cream. I thought four scoops would be about the size of four baseballs, not four mitts! We were quite the spectacle.

The girls were committed.

They gave it their all.

They are real achievers.

OK, I did help. And no one got sick or even complained of a tummy ache. In fact, we went back and rode the merry-go-round a SECOND time! Then we got a quick tour of the town in an old fire truck.

Getting ready to go home now.

What a great day! Can't wait to do it again!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

You've got a point

Oh, I mean the house does...Our roof now has its pointy top! Mark and Zack installed the small cap trusses, so the shape of the roof is complete.

The chaos of "Truss Friday" was followed by several days of tweaking and fine tuning so the trusses are all aligned...very important for attaching the sheet goods. Next is the work to "stick frame" that open space, which will be a storage area.

I like these pictures of Mark and Zack working together.

They make a good team.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Zack's new look, and THE THRONE

Now, anyone who knows Mark knows that he is, shall we say, independent of fashion. Not in a bad way. It's just that he is totally oblivious, and happily so. So it is with great trepidation that I offer him as the fashion trendsetter for our little group.

Enough beating around the bush...I'll just get to the point.

Mark looked so damn good after his haircut, Zachary decided to do the same.

All right, all right. Mark looked so much cooler (literally) after his haircut, Zachary decided to do the same. And he let the girls do it! I got to help, and I tell you...I must have cut five pounds of hair off that head!

I'd have to say, it was an eventful day for Zack, since it was also the day that he unveiled THE THRONE. THE THRONE is a seating environment designed and built by Zachary to usher his entrance into dorm life, Chico State, the right to vote, the right to be drafted, et cetera. And it is a real piece of work. See?

Yes, I feel majestic in it too. Heck, my drink even tastes better. Cheers!

Monday, July 20, 2009


OK, no attempt at clever titles here...the pictures speak for themselves. Of course, the other possible alternative, as suggested by my sister Gail, is "Holy @#$%!". That would be equally accurate. Last Friday was delivery and placement of the trusses, and it was a big, fat, hairy deal. Big wooden structures swinging on cranes, men crawling along them at perilous heights. Add to that some wicked high temperatures, and you have a little feel for the mood on Friday. Let's start out gently...

Here is Gail, the larger half of the "ground crew". The other half being me. She let me help...sometimes. Gail set up the lines, tied the knots, and hooked the trusses to the crane. We completely wore out every "hooker" joke we could come up with on short notice. Gail was unphased.

The truss gets lifted up:

Once the truss is lifted into its proper spot, it is nailed in place then and there. So the process is fairly time sensitive, especially since the crane costs $100/hour! We had to keep focussed, paced, precise, and safe for hours in the heat. It all worked out, but it was a high intensity day!

This is, in fact, the last truss getting placed on the gable end of the house.

This is a happy man, hammering that last truss into place.

More to come...I'm behind due to modem problems, but those are resolved, and we should hopefully catch up soon!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Heat is On

Whoa...what the HECK is going on up at the site?

It looks serious.

This rig is up here drilling our bore holes for our ground source heat pump. It will be doing all the heating and cooling for our house. There will be four bores, each 200 feet into the ground.

The water flows through tubing, down, then back up, returning to the house to a heat exchanger. In the summer, the water in the pipe cools the fluid in the heat exchanger. In the winter, it warms it. If you really want to know the details, go to this website as a start.

The bore itself is only 5 inches in diameter. They'll be filling the shaft with "grout" (like a cement slurry) that will encase the tubing and make solid contact between the tubing and the earth.

The system is very expensive up front, but with the current incentives (tax credits for 30% of the cost), it pays for itself in 7 years or so. After that, we are saving money every year over standard systems.

Plus the technology is really cool, and as you know...Mark and I are total geeks. This system puts us in super-efficient, get-off-foreign-oil euphoria. Ahhhhh.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dents, Cuts, and Pony Walls

Last Tuesday, we headed down to the lake for my dad's birthday. As kids, we grew up around the water, boating and water skiing, so this is something that our family continues to enjoy doing together. My dad has a houseboat on Pine Flat Lake called the "Skinny Dipper" ( good reason). My sister Karen has a ski boat which she brought along, and my sister Gail has mastered the art of prepping for and running an extended stay at the houseboat, so she is basically in charge of the trip. I'm the newbie, but wanting to learn the ropes. This will be important later on. So we had a great time down at the lake, skiing, tubing, swimming, playing cards, and using up sunscreen. My intended two-day stay stretched into five. Mark had to return home on the third day to receive our next lumber shipment. While we were there, I celebrated my 43rd birthday knocking the rust off my waterskiing bones, skiing for the first time in several years. All in all, a fantastic five days...that is, until the very end.

It was my job to drive the jetski back home, so I had to back the tiny trailer down to the launch ramp. I've backed the 35' travel trailer before, so I was certainly game to try this. Well, try I did...literally probably 40 times. In the process, at some point unknown to me, the trailer jack-knifed enough to put a whopper of a dent in the bumper of the truck (to the right of the hitch).

Of course, I was distraught and felt like a complete boob. But the thought of how Mark was going to take the news made my blood run cold...a dent in HIS beautiful truck! However, he took the news very well. Uncommonly well. Shockingly well. Later, he confessed that the book that he just finished, "The Last Lecture" (a gift from his brother John), tempered his reaction. So...thanks, John! If that's not a powerful endorsement for a book, I don't know what IS!

After we returned from the lake, we finally got around to giving Mark a long overdue haircut. The girls wanted a part of the action, so I did the first half:

And then they took turns. Only minor bleeding resulted.

And what of the house progress?

Here is the loft, with the new "pony wall" (the half wall in front of Mark).

The loft will be open to the living room below. What may not be apparent at first glance is that there are windows in the pony wall, which is kind of funky. We have a lot of southern-facing windows for passive solar and natural light purposes. In order to let the light deep into the house, we incorporated these interior windows (with safety glass). We chose this over a more traditional treatment of balusters (like this),

because I thought it might be too common for stuff to drop down from the play area in the loft, and I found the look of so many little posts overpowering. The trick will be to make this look farmhouse-y, versus modern. I'm thinking divided lights may help.

Here we are, in the loft, looking at Mark working, as usual. The ladder beyond him leads to the now-complete subfloor for the attic storage space.

We went up there:

It is freaking HIGH up there! Think THIRD STORY! Now, I'm not real comfortable with heights. I distrust my own, and everyone else's, ability not to fall off the edge. I have involuntary spasms and cringes when people get anywhere NEAR the edge. Zack in particular finds this amusing, and has proposed that he and Mark belly-crawl any time they get within six feet of the edge. I think it's a darn good idea.

Just what we need...another smarty pants in the family.