Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Birds and the Bees and the Cows

Earlier this week, a new calf was born, and my father, Mae, and I were there to witness the event. I even got it on videotape to share with the rest of the family! And while I'll spare you that little piece of eye candy, I'll just note that it was pretty interesting both to watch the process, and to see Mae's reaction. She was amazingly matter-of-fact, and not the least bit squeamish. The calf was halfway out, starting to breath, and making little calf noises when the mother struggled to her feet. THAT was quite a sight. After about 30 seconds, the desired effect occurred...the calf dropped out and onto the ground. We were a little worried about both the mother and the calf, since they didn't seem to be bonding initially, but things worked out, and now we have this pretty little one:

So now here is cousin Casey explaining to Abigail all about the afterbirth and its function: mistake. They're just getting ready to poke it with a stick! Endless entertainment.

Ah, that country livin'...isn't it beautiful?

Monday, October 26, 2009

One down, three to go

We had another crazy week with nothing going as planned. Abigail, Mae, and their cousin Scotty all came down with fevers last week. Abigail was sick from Saturday til Tuesday. Mae succumbed Tuesday night, and still had a fever last night (Sunday night). Scotty actually was confirmed with Influenza A mid-week, so of course the concern was whether we'd have any larger issues with H1N1, since 90% of Influenza A is H1N1 right now. Mae had a pretty high fever, so we ended up getting her checked out, but found that it was likely a good old fashioned virus, not H1N1. Here the girls are prior to the hammer coming down. Grandma Fran picked up these dresses for the girls to play dress up in, and dang it...that's what they're doing!

Meanwhile, Mark slogged away at the siding, and finally finished up the first wall. Quite an achievement, considering how much he did all by himself!

So you can see that work has started on on the south wall. This wall should go more quickly since it is much shorter than the gable end. The west wall, however, will be the worst...40 feet tall at the peak!

Fortunately, we've gone through the process once already, so maybe the big wrinkles are already ironed out. I hope to be more help on this wall, but we're not off to a very auspicious start: Mae home today, volunteering in the classroom tomorrow and Friday. Well, there's always the weekend.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Spider in the house

Continuing with the spider theme, I'd like to mention the gigantic alien spider from space that has settled in our attic.

It is, of course, really NOT a spider but rather the ducting for heating and cooling for the second floor. It looks like the map of your arteries from biology class. And really, that makes sense, since the object is also circulation of a fluid (air is called a fluid in techno-geek speak). Meanwhile, on the outside of the house, Mark continues to progress up the side of the house. See the scaffolding?

Mark raises it as he works his way up using the pump jacks, his latest piece of professional gear (man toy) with which he is having a love affair. He is very pleased with the stable platform they provide, and I am very pleased with the safety rails. I've even been out on the scaffolding myself without continuously seeing my life flash before my eyes. A couple of safety rails makes a world of difference! Of course, as we approach the top of the wall, the only way to access the scaffolding is on the loooonnnnggg ladder. At that point, Mark will be on the scaffolding, and I'll be handing things up out the window and up through the floor of the platform. I hope this part goes quickly. Mark is very comfortable with heights, but I'm always worried about him!

Last week's rains have changed the hills completely. Within three days, new growth is springing up from the formerly hard-baked dusty fields. It's been warm, humid and hazy...very un-Californa-like! The hills and fields are glowing with fresh green patches.

Hard to believe it's October!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Don't hit the spider

Ten days since I last posted...what has happened?

We had a couple kind of slow days continuing to figure out the siding and the scaffolding. I need to get pic up of THAT.

Mark pointed out that he has, in fact, worked with fiber cement siding, and was mildly insulted at my ignorance of that fact. Mea culpa.

We took a 4 day weekend to go to San Diego for a birthday party for my grandmother (my mom's mom). Her 90th! What a party! So I need to post pics of that too.

Once we got back we had to weather the storm of the century, at least for California in October. 6 inches of rain...25% of our average annual one day! Building was put on hold, but we went scavanging downtown, looking for deals. Solid woven bamboo for $3.60/sq.ft. -- doesn't that sound good????

And here we are, today, Thursday...a beautiful afternoon. The tarantulas think so too. They are out looking for mates, and one had the misfortune to wander across Mark's path. He was plucked up and brought to the girls for observation.

This was followed by a game of "don't run over the spider with your bicycle". The poor spider is cowering at the left end of the stick here.

The spider seemed perplexed with the tennis court net.

Finally, we released him into the wild.

Doesn't he look happy? And determined?

Single hairy male spider seeks single female spider. All comers welcome.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Windows and siding

As expected, last week was a whirlwind of activity as we received siding and windows. There is a huge learning curve as we learn HOW to put these things onto the house! I mean...of course Mark KNOWS how to put them on, but this is his first time working with fiber cement siding, and of course my first time working with anything.

The windows are Milgard, and we were very pleased with their appearance. They are white vinyl, with divided lites in the upper half...kind of an arts and crafts look thrown in my little white farmhouse. We got interior grids for ease of maintenance, so the only downer is they don't show up as much as I'd like due to the tinting of the windows. Yes, the windows are tinted like the windows of a rock star limo not because we like the look, but as a function of the low-e glass. In the words of Wikipedia "These coatings reflect radiant energy, thus tending to keep radiant heat on the same side of the glass from which it originated. This often results in more efficient windows because: radiant heat originating from indoors is reflected back inside, thus keeping heat inside in the winter, and infrared radiation from the sun is reflected away, keeping it cooler inside in the summer." Doesn't it sound like a good thing? But there is a small price (literally and figuratively).

Here's my Mom surveying Mark's work. I believe it passed inspection.

Can you see the little white farmhouse coming to life?