Monday, December 22, 2008

The Boys' Bathroom

Signs of the season. We had our first big snow of the year this past weekend, and everything is beautifully white. The sleds, unfortunately, are buried underneath the snow somewhere. Perhaps we'll have a short thaw so they can be recovered before spring.
Andy spent some time in the boys' bathroom this week, framing in tricky bits and putting up drywall. Between the stairs and the plumbing, there is a lot of time-consuming work here.
Same view as the previous photo, but a little further along. With some good tape and mud, this will look really good soon. We put up a bit more drywall after this shot, and only have a few more night's work in here before we can start to finish off the surface.
The other side of the shower. The supply for the shower head is visible here, and will be plumbed directly through the wall.
Between the two weekend days, we had just about 18" of snow. On the right side of the house, above the living room, you can see where a large section of snow slid off the roof. When rain falls off the house, it drops straight down once it clears the edge of the tin. Snow is a totally different story. Snow gathers mass and inertia, and hits the ground about 10' from the house - exactly where the roof pitch would put it if the roof continued all the way to the ground. There is quite a 'wumph' when it hits, so we will definitely not be parking any cars alongside the kitchen windows!
We didn't clear the snow on Saturday, but three out of four cars drive through the snow just fine. The Miata knows when it is out of its element, and stays parked safely at the top.
Over the stone wall and into the clearing. The trails through the woods are gorgeous this time of year, and the hemlocks in particular really add to the scenery.
This is what the cars look like after tromping through a foot of snow. Sometimes we go up the hill a little sideways, with all four wheels spinning. Totally accidental, of course. Safety first!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Ice Storm

First off: the local library doesn't trust its patrons with a right-click, so I am unable to adjust the order of these pictures. If they don't comprise a flowing narrative, please forgive me.

For those of you not in the Northeast, we had a major ice storm last week. The worst ice storm in decades, they say. We lost power at our house for only three days, but some people in our area are still out of power, and may not have it back by Christmas. The utility companies have said they basically have to rebuild their entire distribution grid. Lots of work for everybody, that's for sure.

Andy took the day off work when he saw all the ice. Smart move. It would have been a long, slow drive. Andy and Mindy went for a walk with the boys down to the brook, which was really moving with all the rain that had fallen. There is a video of this section of the brook at the end of this post.

Dory had a great time hopping around down by the brook. She is always happy to bound around.

The brook was pretty swollen, and approached both banks. It didn't overflow like it has in years past, but it was still an impressive sight.

Andy's artsy shot through some ice and over the stone wall to the house in the background. We missed most of the major ice by about 100' of elevation. Just a little higher and we might have had lots of trees down like some neighbors had. In the sunlight on Saturday and Sunday, the sparkling ice was incredible, though. Not something you see very often.

Andy and Chris fiddled around outside on Saturday. We straightened up the back of the house, cleared some parking spaces, and cut a lot of kindling. We should have kindling for at least a month or two.
What to do when the girls are out shopping? Take things apart on the dining room table. :) The generator saw a lot of use this past weekend with the power out, and it was making a rough squealing noise. It turned out to be a bearing in the genset, which will be replaced under warranty this week.
Ethan was awfully excited to see the generator. We ran it a few hours a day to run the refrigerator and the Christmas tree lights. Candles provided enough light and ambiance for the house, and the wood stove kept us plenty warm.
Eli fell asleep next to Dory one night by the wood stove. Cozy as can be.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Vestibule

I know, I know... the Christmas tree has nothing to do with building the house, but the outside shots show a little glimpse of what it is like to arrive at the house at night, with the glow of the wood and the doll-house like view of the inside.

Mindy likes to put the Christmas tree up on the weekend after Thanksgiving, so that is the Skyline tradition now. No, we didn't cut the tree from our land. Our trees are all forest growth, so they're either 70' tall and scraggly, or they're 3' tall and thin as a whisp. We could grow some just for Christmas, but those will all be a few years out. This tree came from a local tree farm, a cut your own place just up the road.A little further away, and a lot more fuzzy. Night shots are difficult without a tripod, and it's apparent that Chris didn't use one for this picture.
Getting ready for snow. One of the ag tires for the tractor needed to be inflated, so Chris took it to a shop to have the bead reset, and Andy bought a compressor on craigslist. Yes, we go there again. :) Ahh, it's good to be back. The front tires are set at 30 psi, and they're both on the tractor now, ready for the first snow. It's a little tractor, and we expect to have a lot of fun clearing the first good snowfall. After that... it may get pretty tedious.
We finished the North wall of siding on Saturday, complete with a motley selection of boards. Function over form, right? Besides, this is the back of the house, and aside from the blog, doesn't see much action right now. In a few years when the garage is in, and the bbq pit is done, the back of the house will be its own destination. Until then, it's the place where we pile everything that will one day fit in the garage.
Speaking of a garage, we decided that we needed somewhere to store our tools and spare parts and such. A full on garage is out of the question for this year, so we designed an addition to the house, one that will keep the weather off a few things over the next few months. Brian helped us finish the last bits on the North wall, and then stuck around to help design and install part of the vestibule. We chose the North side of the house, and will use the flat area just outside the craft room window. It's protected from the weather already, so with a roof overhead we hope it will really be a decent spot.
This isn't the final structure, but it's a solid start. We have a few more boards to put up for strength, some for looks, and some for convenience. It covers a 10' x 12' area.
A more distant view, but taken at the same time, so no further along in the process. Benson is familiarizing himself with the tractor. He thinks he's big enough to drive it. We think he's the right size to drive it, but we're not going to let him loose on it quite yet.
Benson helped nail the roof on the vestibule, and had a good time up there on the slant. He said he had a really good view from 12' feet off the ground. We really like the red of the finished boards, but these natural boards certainly have their own beauty, too. They will all be grey by the time spring comes around.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The South Wall of Siding

Andy installed the ballisters on the stairs to the loft this week. We haven't fully committed to a plan for the end of the railing or the top of the posts that support it. We're working on it. Sort of. It came up about a month ago, but we haven't discussed it in awhile.
Mindy had some fun at Ikea last week, so the boy's room is pretty well sorted. There is plenty of room for books, toys, and three little boys.
Robb and Colin, a father and son siding team, came out with some other friends on Saturday again. It's fun to get together with good people and do good work. This was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so we had lots of turkey and pie for lunch.
This is one of the retaining walls that help the house to settle into the ground. There are two more much like this one on the other side of the house. The windows on the half wall are pretty low to the ground, and we wonder if we'll need to shovel snow away from them during the winter.
Harold Gushue came out on Saturday, too. At 91, he's the oldest helper we've had out here. He even brought his grandfather's hammer to use on the house. Harold built a cottage on an island off the coast of Canada a long time ago, so this was all old hat to him. The view from the cherry tree. Maybe I should have taken this picture at night - then you wouldn't be able to tell that we'd run out of painted boards! I think we'll run out of primed boards before we're totally wrapped up, but they'll be ok for the next few months. By the end of the day we had boards past the windows on this wall. The East wall isn't in any of these pictures, but it's about 75% done. With as much help as we've had, it has been great to work on multiple walls at the same time. Ladders really become the bottleneck at that point.
The parting view from Saturday afternoon. With the siding up, it really looks like home now.

Words cannot describe the joy we feel when we come home to the house. With smoke curling up from the chimney, the lights of the Christmas tree in the central dining room window, and that beautiful red wall settled into the hill, it's an amazing thing to behold.

We truly appreciate every moment that has gone into this project, both our own and from all of our friends and family who have helped over the last year or so.

We love it!