Sunday, November 12, 2017

one quick sketch

Daytime temperatures have been ranging from 15-40F this week - quite a shocking plummet from ~70F one week prior. I set up one of the bucket de-icers a few days ago; I think this may be a record for how early in the season I've done that.

At noon today it was 32F, not windy, and brightly sunny. I went outside with the cats - who zipped around maniacally and were probably quite warm - and Piper - who almost immediately turned around and stood at the door, waiting for it to open in the correct direction. I opened the door and she headed straight for her couch, which I must admit, does look rather appealing:

In the time it took to open the door for Piper and take this picture, both cats raced back inside, did a lap around the house, and then raced back outside again. Wheee!

My energy level is somewhere between the cats' and Piper's. I went back outside with one little pan of black watercolor paint, a waterbrush, and a little sketchbook. I tilted back in a chaise (which felt exactly like having an icepack on my back which was fine with me) and I painted this quick sketch looking up into a red oak:

My fingers were soon numb, so Moxie and Della and I came inside. They are already cozily asleep in pools of sunshine. I'm going to back outside to set up the second, slightly more complicated, bucket de-icer. Which will pretty much guarantee a return of warmer weather.
Here's hoping!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

in partes tres

The builders are away on another job this week, and I am using the time - and the quiet - to tackle other things and generally recharge. So this seems a good time for a little Construction Project 2017 report.

The whole project is actually divided - like Caesar's Gaul* - into three parts. Thinking of it this way helps me to keep the Overwhelm at bay. After all, Caesar supposedly dictated his commentary while riding his horse and conquering Gaul...I'm just trying to keep a roof over my head. Easy-peasy, right?
Even if the project is big enough to have Three Parts.

(There are also a few "small jobs" associated with the larger three, but progress on those separate items just feels like a big bonus.)


Part One - and the impetus for all the rest - is a necessity: repairing the roof. At a minimum, this meant removing two existing layers of shingles and the heavy tarpaper beneath, and putting down a new layer of wimpy modern tarpaper and a new layer of shingles. Instead, I went the extra mile and chose metal roofing instead of new shingles. Greater material costs and more skill required to do the job properly, weighed against anticipated longer roof-life and less (some say zero) concern about moss growth or ice-damming.

After the old roofing was removed, a layer of weatherproof plywood (the green you can see in the picture below) was added to create an even surface. Can you see the carefully fitted patchwork of boards in the original roof? This is my kind of building method, based on probable necessity and certain thrift. Most of my little house was built, from the studs to the roof, with previously-used lumber. Perhaps it was salvaged from the original farmhouse; I've always thought so.

The original roof boards were almost all in excellent shape; little replacement was needed. The light spot in the center of the image above is a new patch, where a large branch from a white pine had come straight down like a spear during a huge ice storm in...2008? 2010? Hang on, I'll find a snap.

Right through a one-inch-thick board.
That was quite a night.
The hole had been "temporarily" patched with metal the day after the storm, but it didn't leak so it stayed that way. I knew I'd be redoing the whole roof sooner or later.

Well, eventually.

Part I, current status: the house is 100% reroofed.


Now here comes an example of a "small job" related to the roof: the relocation of the Poultry Palace, built onto the southeast corner of the house a couple of decades ago by professional carpenters. I had hoped to be remove it either intact or in wall sections, and add it to one of the goat barns. The chickens spend most of their time in the goat barn anyway, and it would be a little easier for chores.

By the way, if you want to see how small your house really is,
put a couple of humans on the roof.

This was one of those "no problem" jobs that turned into a rather large-scale undertaking with four people and a tractor all working hard.
Mostly the tractor and operator. 

It turned out differently than expected, but the result is good. Or will be when it's done. Because now that is another "small" job. I'll try to get to it soon, but it's not a priority compared to the Big Three.


Part Two of the construction project is an extension of the roofing. Literally. I asked the builder to extend the roof so it continues 12 feet past the east end of the house, supported on a post at each outer corner. No walls, no floor. (I think this may be called a "portico," but if you have another word for it, please share.) Here, a Winter's-worth of firewood can be stored conveniently close to the back door. Piper, Moxie, Della, and I will have an option for getting fresh air at any time, night or day, without getting soaked in rain or swimming through deep snow.

Part II, current status: structural ~80%, roof 100%.

Piper loves it already!

This Winter, I may put up a clothesline.
If I can find one to reclaim, there may be a porch swing.
There may be a potting bench and...
an outdoor sink with freezeproof taps.

Which brings us to Part Three...and the end of this progress report.

Part III will begin when the carpenter returns next week.

And oh my gosh.
Part III is going to be a doozy.

*Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres, quarum unam incolunt Belgae, aliam Aquitani, tertiam qui ipsorum lingua Celtae, nostra Galli appellantur.
"All Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third." 
- Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico (Commentaries on the Gallic War)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

sunday snapshots

It's still totally dark outside at 6:25AM, and I'm hearing wind-driven rain hitting the house. But here are a few pictures from yesterday, which was a perfect Autumn day.



Thursday, October 26, 2017


In the past two days, we have had more than eight inches of rainfall. There have been interludes of drizzle, mizzle, and mist, but for the most part it's been hours of relentless rain, all day and all night.

Beech. There isn't a moment when I don't find it beautiful.

A large materials delivery was scheduled to arrive this morning, so I found my raincoat and went out to move my vehicle to clear the way. Just in that few minutes, I got soaked to the skin.

While the driver was making trips back and forth from his big truck to the top of my driveway in a nifty three-wheeled forklift, I held an umbrella over my camera and took a few snaps.

It was in weather like this - waiting for the rain to stop and rushing out to do a bit of gardening whenever possible - that I planted the saved candy roaster squash seeds in the Very Raised Bed. They had a late start - I think it was early July! But the plants did their best, and have been providing late-season food for bees and perfuming the October air with blossoms. I think the 2016 plants cross-pollinated, as these seeds have produced interesting and varied results!

I must harvest soon.

VRB, winding down.

And, when the rain stops and the muddy ground dries,
work can continue on Very Raised Bed II.
It won't be as high as the first,
and my goal is to have this bed ready for Autumn planting.
My Occasional Helper is ready to pitch in.
I am hopeful it can happen.
Weather permitting!

VRB2. A good start.

Tomorrow - Friday - the forecast is Not Raining. The builders will be back, and it's going to be a very busy day. I believe my job will be staying out of their way.

The Saturday forecast is also clear, and I'm hoping to take Piper for a long ramble by the pond that day, before the rain returns on Sunday and Monday.

And that will be my week, over in the blink of an eye!
How about you?