December 2, 2007
Well, Houston, we have a problem...

We had one heck of a little snow storm yesterday. The wind was blowing the snow sideways and then the snow turned to sideways rain. This is an unusual situation but troublesome nonetheless; the result of which is the roof and siding were subjected to something that didn't necessarily create a problem - but it sure exposed one.

When Greg did his check for roof leaks, much to his disappointment, he found a puddle of water on the card tables in the lunarium, right under that last section of roofing. And to add to the problem, the Hardie siding was showing signs of water absorption!

After some experiments and calls to Hardie, we have come to the conclusion that we will have to back prime all the siding. Who knows if we'll ever experience this problem with the siding ever again on this most exposed side of the building, but we must attend to it - time consuming though it will be.

As for the roof leak, Greg will be spending a lot of time doing forensic searches to find the source. Better to have this problem now before we have drywall up.

Who was it who said, "Life is solving problems?" And so it goes.

December 17, 2007

Greg completes the exterior siding on the south side of the house - minus some finishing touches like final coats of paint and caulking (it's too cold so we will probably do it in the spring) . I know our neighbors are happy not to be staring at Tyvek - or maybe they got used to it after nearly 3 years!!!

December 20, 2007

There hasn't been much of anything I can assist Greg with for weeks, so he's been working all by his lonesome while I toil on other things. But today he needed some help.

Greg had a family lumberyard mill all of our exterior plantons and was able to have them make 24' pieces to eliminate the need to piece long runs together. Greg has been prepping the courtyard area above our garage doors so that he can apply the staggered edge Hardie above the Eldorado stone; and he needs the plantons in place so he can "work to" them with the siding material. Today he installed the plantons that go on an inside corner between the entry hall and office wall.

Somehow, while I was up on the scaffold, Greg weaved this huge plank up to me. Once I got ahold of it, he raced up the scaffold before I dropped the thing. Talk about awkwardly heavy! As with lifting or balancing anything heavy, I always remember to hold in my stomach muscles to support the lower back and spine - and I sure needed to do that here. Once he was up there with me, we worked together hand over hand to pull the piece up until it could rest on the top ledge of the Eldorado stonework covering the lower half of the wall.

Once we got it semi-secured, Greg did his best to explain to me how we were going to use a fulcrum made with a 2x4 to wedge the planton tightly into the corner. This poor guy was so exasperated with me, I just had to feel sorry for him. Had I seen it done beforehand, I would have understood what he was working so hard to explain; but as it was Greg said I'm a "fired Egyptian" and he would've sent me back to making bricks in the mudpit. But, finally we lifted both of the huge, heavy, awkward pieces into place.

Because we needed Greg's strength to hold the piece in place as well as make sure it was butt up tight against the wall, I was the one using the air nailer in certain places. Some tools work on a charged battery, some by electric cord, and some by "air compression." This nailer worked with the compressor. And most tools, and especially this huge one, are heavy and made for a man's hands and strong upper body strength. So this was awkward and difficult for li'l 'ol me. And at one point I had to hold on to the scaffold with one hand - 25 feet in the air - and then lean out around it to use the nailer with my other hand. A minor miracle that I was able to pull this off at all - those air tools have quite a kick.

At least from certain angles, the exterior is looking almost finished! But, alas it is an illusion.

Greg is sooo tired.

December 25, 2007

For more than two years now, our front door has been a huge piece of white primed plywood. Although Greg has been working on our massive front door for months, the locksmith still has work to do on the lock and Greg needs to keep going forward working on the exterior siding, so cosmetic worries like this one are very very back burner.

Well, today is Christmas and Greg told me he had a "small" gift waiting for me. Once we got to the house, Greg told me to close my eyes until we were standing in the front yard looking up to the front door of the house. No, it's not the finished product, but it sure looks like it! Evidently he couldn't stand it anymore either and decided to "faux" paint the plywood. What a great present!!!!

Before we left to take a rare day off, I took a few minutes to work on a recent project. There is an area just outside our garage and next to the front staircase that by necessity has become a "shade garden." After harvesting from other locations, I began transplanting some moss which is plentiful in this damp season. I just love the primal look of it emerald green and thick like carpet. It looks especially wonderful next to rocks. I'm hoping the moss will do great there. A neighbor from down the street where we're living has oodles of it and she has given me permission to harvest all I want. Great! Free is the best price.

Over the last two springs and summers, the grasses I planted to be part of my natural landscaping plan have grown so tall, I can see I must begin to edit some areas. Now that they are dying back from the winter weather, it's apparent they have overtaken some bushes and other plants in the section right at the base of the front staircase and begun to obscure all my hard work on the dry creekbed. So, now I must weedwhack the grasses down to the nubs and then apply vinegar to get them to die off. This whole endeavor is going to be a lot of work. After the grasses die, then I will find something else to plant there that doesn't grow tall and won't overtake the rockwork. And I'm finding it difficult to find some days when I can do this that isn't affected by the weather.

December 26, 2007

Today I took my neighbor up on her offer and began gathering the moss in her front yard. I could barely lift the tray of it into the back of my car - must've weighed over 50 pounds.

December 31, 2007

Where has this year gone? And the one before that and the one before that?

While Greg continued working, I went into town to pick up some custom steel work Greg had fabricated for the roof and also some parts for our 1939 tractor.

These pieces will hold a metal catwalk to our metal pitched roof allowing for access to change the lightbulb that illuminates the moon vane. Next to them is the prototype Greg made for the fabricators so that there wasn't any miscommunication about what exactly it was he needed.

Before we called it a day on this last day of 2007, Greg had completed the east wall in the courtyard. Barely visible in the left side corner behind the scaffold are the plantons we hoisted into place a few days ago. The plantons on the outside corner Greg was able to install without my valuable assistance.

Meanwhile, back at our rental house where it's warm (so that glues will set up properly), Greg glued up some of the wood pieces that will eventually be the corbels to be installed in the courtyard. These corbels have turned in to quite a time-consuming project, but Greg decided to do them now while he has the scaffold in place. They're over three feet tall and will probably weigh 50 pounds a piece. Once they're all glued up and shaped and routed, there's hours of work to be done to get them ready for the copper gilt and green paint.



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