Ceiling Fan

Friday. 

End of the week. 

First day, since we started. that nothing happened at the house site.  Nothing scheduled for today.  Even I took a break and didn’t even visit.  No time actually, it’s been a busy week.  Finally had a chance to drop a painting off to a client, then out to dinner to celebrate the wife’s birthday.  We’ve been on overload all week we barely had it in us to discuss the typical: how much slate flooring, construction schedule, and the “what are we going to use the loft for” territorial verbal dance (by the way, you know who envisions bookshelves up there; weird, I don’t read, and she reads a lot, so who gets to use what sounds to be the “NYC Public Library in the loft” I wonder. Just kidding honey, Happy Birthday). We shelved any decision-making until another day.

We get home, hello grandma, thanks grandma, “say goodbye to grandma, and give her a kiss”, etc. 

It’s late when we get home so time to put the boys to bed.  I get tasked with rocking my youngest to sleep, which usually I have at least a Bachelors degree in (like from one of those online colleges).  Tonight he fights me.  Not full-out but enough to make me realize I’m not 25 anymore and I need my downtime too.  Upstairs, lights out, find refuge from big brother who spars with his mother half heartily as she tries to get his teeth brushed and butt in bed.

This way, that way, rocking, singing (which when I sing, small animals cry and god snuffs out kittens for sport)….nothing. Still fussy.  Not too bad, like I said, but enough for my weary body. Well my little baby, you’re “old man” has a few tricks up his sleeve.  Hop up out of the comfy chair, flip a switch, voila…..ceiling fan…..back in comfy chair, rotate baby off shoulder, face up, mesmerize, baby falls asleep, I write blog and go to sleep. ready, set, go.

Then it hits me. 

The second he looks at that ceiling fan he settles down completely and a little hand wraps around my index finger. Score one for dad.  Doctorate granted: “Baby-Put-To-Sleep-PhD”.  But then something weird happens. The little dude in my arms, you know, the one in the pj’s and staring up at the ceiling…..I just realized he has never seen a running ceiling fan before in his entire life.  And he’s mesmerized by it (just as I predicted).  And I can sense that as long as he has an index finger to wrap his tiny hand around, he’s pretty much free to enjoy that fan cause that means his dad’s there and ceiling fans (whatever those are) pose no threat, especially in dark shadowy rooms. 

I catch him peekin’ at me to see if I’m sleeping or not.  I pretend I am in hopes that he gets the idea.

But what hits me is not sharing that “my first ceiling fan” moment, as cool as that was, but rather that I’m pretty sure he grew up a little today. 

Or yesterday, or this week or something. 

He eventually loses his battle with the ceiling fan and I’ve got lying in my arms what used to be this ball of a baby that would curl up on my shoulder.  Now he seems longer, bigger……. I dunno how to describe it.  But I’m pretty sure only a parent could tell you what I mean.  And it’s not like I was in Guam all week binge drinking with a Taiwanese circus.  Just yesterday I carried him all around the job site and showed him my studio and the screen porch.  I’m pretty sure I rocked him to sleep at least 2.5 other nights this week. I didn’t notice a thing.

In the calm of the last hours of the last day of a hectic week I finally saw something that was right in front of me all along.

The most remarkable event of the week happened on a day when nothing happened at the house site.

It’s going really, really fast. 

I guess we did make one house related decision today, after all.  No worries Ju-Ju, we’ll make sure you get a ceiling fan in your bedroom.  Love you little guy.

-Chris

 

 

Stakeout

I actually didn’t do anything today.  Rather didn’t do anything at the house job site today.  I got a call around 3:30 that the house was staked out so  when I got home we packed everyone in the truck and headed out to see the first real indication of where the house would be. The surveyor’s team did a nice job surveying the property and staking out the house.  They staked out the corners and provided the excavator with some offsets and even showed me where my porch corner posts will be (which will be helpful, cause you know who most likely gets to put those in).

And today we got our first complaint, so I must be doing something right.  I guess a neighbor came over and was upset about me cutting trees down which, if you know me, is kind of ironic.  Winning friends and influencing people, that’s how I roll.

Tree killer. Oh yea, I'm gonna hang this bad boy on my wall next to my deer head. Sorry ladies, I'm already taken.

Setting angry neighbors aside we got the first look at the house site with stakes.  Kinda weird, I won’t lie.  There was more brush pushed aside.   Seems much more “open” now which was not what was in our mind’s eye.  We’ll get used to it.  Plus we’re planting a ton of trees so in the end it’ll be enchanted enough.

view towards house, standing in the orchard, garage in foreground, house in back

Christine lost her befriended little tree that was by the porch.  Kinda sad.  Maybe the excavator put him aside somewhere.  That’s what we’d like to think anyway. Maybe I’ll pay the excavator to find a similar tree and say “yeah, here’s that porch tree I saved for you.”

I saw where my studio is going as well as the rest of the first floor, or footprint of the house.  Seems small, but that’s the goal.  Once again, it’ll look different once we build.  Our current house seemed small too and now it’s comfortable.

view of house, standing in screen porch, garage off to right. Note two tall cherry's left of the truck. Those are the ones that get in the way of backing out of the garage. See the tall cherry to the right? Yeah I gave him a reprieve too. Also note random "saved" maple tree in my studio.

The garage will be a challenge but not enough to change anything.  See, I deviated from the landscape  plan and spared about 3-4 cherry trees, two of which are where the drive turn around is supposed to go.  The others are where the grassy off-drive parking is.  Well the one tree by the garage will hopefully live but it bisects the garage exits, although it is on the other side of the driveway.  Should be interesting, but I think we can do it without moving the garage or chopping down another cherry tree.  Hey, it’s our house, we’ll be crazy if we want to be.  I pay my taxes.

I promise to be nice to my neighbors, even the ones who think I hate nature and the environment. 

We’ll start digging the foundation hole next.

-Chris

Lumberjack

Roller coaster day, but turned out to be pretty good and productive.  I woke up at 5:30 and stopped out at the site on my way to work.  Ugh, rain.  Huddled in my Volkswagen (where’s my Jeep?!) using a tape measure I tried to figure out how far up the drive the culvert pipe needed to be placed.  140′??? Jump out into the rain and track my once nice tape measure through the mud and spray paint some dots….Hmmm.  Doesn’t seem right.  Hop in VW, look at different site plan…decide to gauge off pin from surveyor, and I spray paint some lines.  Yeah, definitely spot on, well as spot on as can be expected.  It won’t be in the way and suits the lay of the land nicely.

Wandering around I notice a rogue survey stake and freak out.  No way the corner of the house is here.  Frantically run around in circles in waist-high weeds in my work clothes (i.e. dockers and short sleeve shirt and decent shoes) and ultimately realize no one’s up at 7 in the morning for me to freak out on and or commiserate with.

Battle traffic, work, then off to bank at lunchtime.  Fill out forms then back home.

Christine is gracious enough to make me a PB&J sandwhich. Scarf that down then off to the job site.  “Tick proof” clothes….again….I thought I was done with wearing long sleeves in 80 degree weather.  Throw the chainsaw in the VW (kick ass) and head out to the site.

dumping stone for the driveway, over the culvert

My friend Corky is waiting with his chainsaw and gear.  I’m still freaking out about the fact I didn’t line up my surveyor or anyone else to stake the house and we need it done pronto. If I do it myself I don’t know where to begin.  The ‘Little Red Hen’ route is showing some stress.

Well, I may not know where the house is but there aren’t any big trees in the plans to the left of the drive and there are big trees before us.  Easy enough, we end up cutting down 5 big trees (1 maple, 4 cherry). And by “we” I mean Corky cut them down while I stood there like an idiot.  I’m pretty much useless with a chainsaw.  I may know as much about 18th century Russian history as I know about cutting trees down (i.e. nothing).  Corky proved to be my first savior of the day and felled all 5 trees like a pro in 2 hours flat. Ok in all fairness I dropped one with his moral support and guidance.  I’m pretty much a 2-year-old with a chainsaw.

No he's not taking a leak, he's deftly cutting down that cherry tree.

After saying goodbye to Corky I walked back up and finished cutting up the trunks and branches.  The excavator can then push all that out of the way tomorrow.  After that was done I blankly sat on the ground contemplating where the house was supposed to go and thinking of contingency plans to get the house staked.  Foundation day is in two weeks!  My surveyor hasn’t called back yet.  Yes, I suppose I could chart it myself which is what I was contemplating.  I even have a 300′ measuring tape, all shiny and new from Lowes.  Hmm, maybe iPhone compass and GPS I could locate points….Ugh,  F-me. How far to the Pilot station for a six-pack?  When am I expected home?

And then, out of the blue, like a gift come straight from god, my surveyor rounds the corner of the drive and walks into the house clearing. Wow. I’m guessing in my morning panic I left a message and said I’d be out there and in lieu of calling he just showed up.  Short conversation later, we’re all set.  He’ll stake out most of the corners tomorrow and I can take it from there.  Thank you god (and surveyor of course).

So it was a good day.  I’ll post up some more pics tomorrow hopefully.  Christine and I will check out the stakes tomorrow and take a seat on our “screen porch” or at least where it will be and check out the view.

Foundation’s ordered, just need to dig a big hole in the earth. Tomorrow should be less stressful.  Knock on wood.

-Chris

P.S. ProjectCam seems to be humming along, something like 26 pics so far.

Day Two

 

We’re going at a brisk pace.  Hardly time to catch a break.  I bolted out of work, went home, dawned (sp?) my “tick proof” get up grabbed some papers, stake, and camera and headed out to the site.  Today was all about ordering the foundation.  Yeah, sure you can build your foundation block by block but our architect recommended a prefabricated wall system.  We looked into it and that’s what we’re going with.  I’ll tell you more once it’s installed.  Anyway, after looking over the vendor’s plans, comparing them to the architect’s plans I signed off and viola! Foundation ordered.  I’ll get an install date tomorrow.  Should be 2-3 weeks to manufacture.  Then a big kick ass semi truck and crane will bring the panels out and install them in about 8 hours.  In addition to the details of the foundation walls, I discussed the driveway approach to the job site.  There’s a tight chicane that will be interesting to coax a semi through.  Additionally there are some trees overhanging the job site portion of the drive, but those should be ceremoniously taken down tomorrow. 

For now the excavator has the drive roughed in and the house site cleared.  And of course everything looks different now so I’m totally lost.  Like a small child, I should have a site plan pinned to the cuff of my shirt. Incidentally, now that everything’s clear, need for my “tick proof” get up is eliminated unless I want to gallop through the bush, say to wrestle with my ProjectCam for instance.

 
roughed in driveway with stabilization fabric. house will be at the far end and to the left.
Driveway isn’t as “snakey” as I imagined but I just rushed through today.  I’ll analyze it more tomorrow.  It’s probably fine.  In a way it’s sad to see the land cleared.  Having walked it for a year, through the seasons I got used to it.   Like Christine said, I guess we just imagined a house would magically appear.  I try not to look directly at all the plants we had to clear out.  😦
bulldozer
bulldozer in clearing with “saved” tree.
There are two “bookend” preservation areas on either end of the clearing.  These tall stands of trees will hopefully not be affected by construction.  They will provide some much-needed protection from the elements throughout the year (e.g. harsh east / west sun, wind, etc.).  I may even drop a couple of the felled cherry trees in the preservation area and let them rot and eventually create a natural cherry tree nursery. We fenced the areas off with orange fencing and tape.  Keep out!
picture of preservation area fenced off
ProjectCam is now stabilized a little better and turned on!  It registered at least one pic whilst I was there.
latest project cam set up: stake, tree, cords, straps…..

Tomorrow I’ll stop out before work.  I have a culvert I need to spec the location on.  Every day a new adventure.

-Chris
 

Breaking Ground

After months of planning, waiting, laughing, crying, it’s finally here.  In a way it’s happening so fast now it’s anti-climatic.  Or rather there’s no time to stand back and let it sink in.  Literally, in 48 hours, we went from not knowing when we’d get the permit from the county to standing there watching as the excavator started clearing out the driveway.

I frantically left work, picked up the plans, changed into my “anti-tick” get up, threw some tools in the car and made up a plywood sign to staple the permit to (first blood by the way as I jabbed a drill bit into my finger, rushing to put boards together).  Stopped and got an SD card for our ProjectCam at Pilot and met the excavator at the site just as the rain stopped.

The wife brought the boys out and our oldest gleefully got to see his first of what will be plenty of “big trucks”.  In this case a big truck, literally, with a trailer and a big yellow bulldozer.

We quickly went over the game plan for the driveway: contours, elevation changes, and we walked out the proposed path, knee high in rain wetted brush (for the last time in some areas), all while referencing the site plan. For now, not a single big tree is “in the way”.  Fortunately I flagged a bunch of little flowering trees to save.  They proved valuable in marking our location and getting our bearings on the driveway. The excavator then proceeded with his bulldozer to easily plow through the brush that previously hindered my every move out there.  I was not sad to see a new “easy” path open up before me.  My son hung out and watched for a bit, happy to see the dozer topple little baby trees.  A couple of the flagged trees were easily set aside for potential future replanting.  We’ll create a little nursery on site and replant them this fall.

I staked the permit holder and then fiddled with my ProjectCam.  Of course the cam seems like it is set up to mount to a 2′ diameter tree and all I could find in the location I want to shoot from were puny 2″ diameter locust trees.  I set it up for now.  Though not sure I remembered to turn it on.  I’ll go back tomorrow with a better mounting plan of attack.  I’ll write more about the ProjectCam in the future.

Tomorrow I think may be taking a half day vacation and spend it dropping the larger trees that currently live where the house is going.  Sad to have to cut them down, but I’ll make my peace with them.  Try not to think about it too much.  Plus we’ll plant more than we cut down by time the project is done.

-Chris

Excavator's bulldozer begins cutting the driveway

Permit Day

I’ll bring you up to speed on the project in the coming days and weeks, but more importantly, I’m pretty sure today is “permit day”!  Which is both exciting and terribly frightening in many regards. What “permit day” means is basically the government says “Yeah, go ahead and start doing what you plan on doing and we’ll keep an eye on you.” What it means to us is that weeks, months and even years of planning go from “what ifs” to reality.  Exciting because what was once imagined becomes tangible.  Frightening because there are 1) still a lot of “what ifs”, 2) mistakes and poor planning (hopefully both are in small quantities) come to light real fast, 3) there’s a lot less pressure in the “what if” phase.

-chris