Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Wetting the Bush

When the roof goes on and the structure is more or less closed in, all those stuck-together boards begin to really feel like a house.  For centuries (some say dating back to the Druids) traditional builders in many countries have celebrated with a little ceremony called Wetting the Bush.  The builder or owner attaches a sapling to the peak of the roof, and the owner buys drinks and something to eat for the crew, and together they toast (wet) the little tree.  This honors the good work the builders have done and hopefully brings good fortune to the house.

Lee and I had a bush wetting party when our Lakeside home was completed back in 1988, and we invited all our friends.  For 27 years, there was love, happiness and good fortune in that house.

This year, on Christmas Eve, I cut a little sapling from this property, clambered up on the front porch roof and attached it to the gable end. We then had a small celebration with soft drinks and french fries (because I'm the last of the big spenders...) and I thanked the boys for their good work, and we toasted the house.
The crew: Manuel, Andre, and Donald
Andre got on the Bobcat and filled in all the ditches after we passed the inspection of the underground piping, and this week Manuel and Andre are building the back porch roof - the last of the framing.

Here's hoping the bush wetting brings good fortune to the little bungalow at Sabado in Campo.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

It's beginning to look like Construction Christmas

The crew has been off on other jobs this week, so Molly and I have kept ourselves busy puttering around the place.  Yesterday, I decided we needed a Christmas tree, so I found an old pallet and some construction bits and pieces and made us a tree.

Some gold screws, a bit of rope, a few framing brackets and some nail-gun ammo!

The other Big Event yesterday was the arrival of the propane tank.  (We get our thrills however we can out here in the country..) Now I just wish I had a stove.  Or a kitchen.  Or even a roof.  The foreman promised they would finish sheeting the roof on Monday.

Molly is decked out in her country girl attire and on the job inspecting the trenches.  Oh, we passed the underground plumbing inspection the other day, so hopefully soon we can get the bobcat back out here to fill in all the ditches.

The shop doors are all together and ready for stain, glass, and installation, so stay tuned for pix of those.

Hopefully one more post before Christmas. I gotta go find an oven somewhere because I just got signed up to make pumpkin pie!


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Some days are beautiful, some not so much...

Last night Molly and I got in our bed early and listened to the rattle of a cold rain on the roof of our little tin shack, so grateful for this cozy box, with its own heater and hot shower, and thinking about those who don't have a warm place to go when it gets nasty outside. And I'm especially grateful for the bigger boxes taking shape outside my window in the skillful hands of Mr. Manuel Valenzuela, a true craftsman.

It was 36 degrees in the trailer this morning, but outside it was a bright, crisp, gorgeous morning. Even my pet  War of the Worlds Martian in the background seemed to sparkle.

Molly loves to be outside, no matter what the weather, but she has a raincoat!

Since the shop has no doors or windows yet, I keep the holes boarded up, and just take the boards down when I want to work inside. Unfortunately, when it's cold and rainy, I have to choose between being warm and seeing what I'm doing, since there are no lights inside yet. I really wanted to get some work done yesterday, so I cut holes in my home-made doors and windows and attached translucent plastic over them, and voila! windows that keep out the wind!

At the end of the day, Her Doggieship and I usually walk down to the mailbox, a little exercise for me and a little recreational urination for her, and then we sit on the new front porch and watch our cool upside-down sunset, as the shadows climb up the hill to the East of us, making the sun appear to be rising up the hill, until it disappears off the rock at the very top.

... And there it goes...
Got the first door glued up today, so I'll post a shot of that tomorrow.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The stack in front with the plywood on top is 15 solar panels.  The rest of the boxes are batteries and equipment.  The long tube on the floor is the mounting racks.  It will be nice to get this stuff out of the shop!

Half of one door coming together.  Three more halves to go.

The frame rails have been rabbeted (notched) so the two "Humpert panels" drop in half the thickness of the frame. Another frame will be laminated on top of this, also recessed for the panels.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The biggest news today is that the solar equipment arrived - half a dozen pallets and they're taking up a big chunk of the shop.  It was nearly dark by the time we finished unloading, so no photos. Mañana.

Here are a few more little updates though...

Door Progress

Carved out the little pattern of squares for the shop doors

Shop Heater

Got a new shop heater.  It will be mounted on the wall and hooked into the main propane system eventually, but for now, it's attached to the only surviving 4x4 post from Sherryl and Jerry's gazebo, and it's on wheels.  Of course the weather turned warm the minute I got it sett up, but that won't last.

Seems like it's going to work fine, although I have to climb up on a ladder every day to light the pilot. Once that's done, a little thermostat regulates it until time to shut it down for the night.  The pilot flame is pretty large - about two inches long, so I don't think I'll be leaving it on all night.  The amount of wasted gas would be negligible, but it would bother me.

Oh, by the way, the windows also arrived.  That's them leaning against the wall, protected by a sheet of flakeboard.  Thirteen of 'em, including the shop windows.  Sure will be nice to get all this stuff out of my shop!

Guest RV Hookups

The pipes sticking up out of the ground are water, electricity, and sewer for a guest RV parking spot.  So when you come to visit me, you can bring your RV!

There's my little rolling home as seen from the guest bedroom window - another place you can stay (The guest bedroom, that is.  You can also stay in the trailer if you like...!)  Once all the underground plumbing is finished and inspected, I'll probably move my trailer over to the guest spot, because I don't really have hookups where I am now, unless you count 200' of extension cord and no less than 300' of old garden hose extending all the way from the well.

The well pump is so powerful that it keeps blowing the garden hose.  There is a switch at the generator to turn on the pump, so I have to put the hose end in my water tank, then walk out to the generator and turn on the pump.  I can't see the trailer from the generator because the house is in the way, so I have to move out to a point where I can see when to turn off the water.  I'm so far away that I take binoculars with me to watch the trailer. When the tank starts to overflow onto the ground, I run back to shut off the switch.  Sometimes the hose, which is on the other side of the house, blows and I don't even know it until get tired of waiting and go investigate, and by then I have a big puddle.

The whole operation is pretty hilarious, really.

Roof Trim

About the only visible change on the house is that they're starting to install the fascia - the trim boards around the edge of the roof, and it makes it look a bit more finished.  Still more work to do on those.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Starting to look like a porch

That stack of triangular things in the foreground is the set of trusses for the back porch.  The truss company takes your drawings and makes up a kind of kit, and when the carpenter puts the kit together, you get a porch roof like this one.

400 Pounds of concrete and probably another 100 pounds of dirt in the hole will hopefully keep the light pole standing. 

The back half of the house will have a nice walk-around (as long as you're no taller than me) attic.

Lots of colorful plumbing.  It's called PEX and it's cool stuff.  Definitely easier to install, and modify later if necessary.

Everybody's taking a few days off for the holiday now, including me, although all the windows are being delivered tomorrow, but they'll just get stored in the shop until the framing is done.  I'm about a third of the way through the shop-door-building project, so I might get back on that some this weekend, but then again, I might just be lazy.

Every evening Molly and I walk around the property, at least down to the mailbox and back, and tonight as the sun was going down, I brought along the binoculars to get to know the surrounding hills a little better and see if I could spot the border fence.  Across my field of vision I saw a beautiful red-tail hawk making circles over the property and landing in one of our oak trees.  I decided maybe Molly should go back in the trailer....  But after I tucked her away, I looked for the hawk and he was gone.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Progress sampler

Lots of different little things going on this week.  It all counts!

The shop door panels are glued up and sanded

We're starting to see a dining room

...and a front porch

We did an Iwo Jima-style pole raising today and hopefully will get some concrete in the hole tomorrow.

I roughed out the knee brackets that will go on the front of the house.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Something old, something new

I've been anxious to get some tools in the shop and get to work on the things I'm signed up to build, starting with the big nine-foot-tall shop doors.  The boys obliged by putting the skin on the shop first, but the roof won't really be waterproof until the shingles go on.  So yesterday, just ahead of the latest Campo rain showers, we got a big tarp up there.  Good timing too, because it rained most of last night and again this morning.

Several years ago, I built a gazebo for my good friends Sherryl and Jerry, and unfortunately this past year a big pine tree fell on it and destroyed it.  Only the deck boards survived, and  with Sherryl's permission, I plan to incorporate many of those boards in the new shop doors.

Running the boards through the planer showed good wood about 1/8" down, with just enough imperfection to give them character.


It was so great to be back in the woodshop again after all this time and this operation certainly produced a lot of sawdust!

Since there are no doors or windows, I board them up at night.  That's a window on the left wall.

Here's what I'm hoping the shop doors will look like 

Wish me luck!