Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Return of the Brush Pile

We straightened up the backyard this week. FirstDay says they provide roughly 5% extra lumber to take care of miscuts or damaged wood. The unused 2x6 flooring is stacked under the sawhorses, and the unused 1x8 tongue and groove sheathing is stacked on top. We have very little exterior shiplap remaining, and we used all of the supplied dimensional lumber; the 2x4s, 2x6s, etc. Some of the sheathing boards were left out all winter, and those are stacked on pallets to the left of the clean wood. They are beautifully weathered, and we will use them all. Some of them will become sides to the trailer.
Andy and Eli cleaned up an extra set of wheels from Andy's old Forester to put up on craigslist. They are just taking up space, and de-junking is always a therapeutic feeling.
Chris offered to pay 1 penny for every nail the boys found outside. He has paid out over 50 cents so far, and even Piper seems interested to get in on the action.
The brush pile was gone for a few days, but now it is back. There are a few more trees cut down since last week, and the hillside seems more flat every time we look at it. We have big plans for this area. Big plans, I tell you.
Andy stacked some more wood this week. Less on the ground, and more on the pallets. We have since expanded our pallet row, and will have even more wood stacked here to dry in the sun.
Yes, he likes blueberrries. :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Three New Pictures

Not so much picture-taking went on this week, but here you go...

Mindy transplanted the starts into some larger containers. The rolling workbench came in really handy for this job. The sunflowers on the right are supposed to grow up to 12 feet tall!
This picture is from a couple weeks ago. I wanted to show the progress between then and now. The large pile of trunks is here, the firewood stacked/tossed behind them, the large brush pile, etc.
I took this picture this morning (4/22) before I left for work. The stack of millable wood has all been moved, the brush pile is 95% burned, and all of the useful firewood has been moved. Lots of movement. Next up is to rebuild the stone wall at the edge of the house site, move the gravel, and pull a few more logs down from the upper hillside.
This is where a lot of the firewood has ended up. The wood here will dry for a year or two, and we will start using it in the winter of 2010.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Logs

Andy and Chris' sister came up from NYC with her children this week, and boys had a good time watching a movie on the wall. It made for a fun break before we put them all to work.
It's hard to share a tractor with so many boys! The boys swapped happily between driving and riding in the bucket. They tried to lift the chain, but it may be another year or two before they can actually carry it.
Hunter's turn to drive. He and Nathan are country boys at heart, but they live in the Bronx for now. Where they run around barefoot and climb the trees in the yard. :)
Hunter is driving, Chris is walking shotgun, and Andy doesn't know Karen is taking pictures. Edit: Karen didn't take this picture... I think Robin did.
By the end of the day, we had burned a lot of brush and moved a lot of logs. The excavation company will be back during the first week of May, so we need to have the rest of the area cleaned out before they arrive. Lots to do on the next few weekends.
The plants have popped up, and they eagerly follow the light as best they can.
The sunflowers really took off over the last few days. All the plants have been moved next to the windowsills now, and it won't be long before we'll need to move them to larger pots.
This pictures shows three things - First, you can see the progress Karen has made in sanding off the whitewash on the East wall of our bathroom. She decided she preferred the natural wood, so it's all coming off. Second, the door has been hung on the track, and now slides freely from side to side. We like dual-purpose engineering, so Karen wants to put a mirror on the door itself. Maybe on boty sides. When she has those picked out, we will route the door to provide a recessed area for the mirror to be mounted and still slide into the wall. Third, Karen and Chris put up some curtains - but we keep them wide open all the time, because we're so used to falling asleep to the moonlight!
Andy and Mindy put up curtains this week also, and they have started to move into their rooom. It's good to be home.
The boys' bathroom received another coat or two of paint. It's a very cool room.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Downstairs

Most of the snow is gone now, though we do still have a few patches left here and there. But we had flakes in the air this morning, and we lit a fire a few days this week. These are the miserable weeks of spring - when the calendar says it's time, but the weather disagrees.

We built a platform on the East edge of the house site on which to dry some firewood. As it is, this will hold 2-3 cords of wood. We will add a few more pallets to the right and will have a good sized area to dry the next few years' of wood. This spot is naturally flat, and will get plenty of sunlight. Now who wants to stack all of it?
Mindy started some growing things in the kitchen - some flowers and some vegetables. We're working to get the garden space ready, but it's a good thing it isn't planting time here yet.
The bottom of the stairs used to be clean, but only because we shoved all this extra wood into Andy and Mindy's closet. Andy cleaned out the closet, so the hallway is messy again. Maybe we should actually build something with this, instead of moving it around every week?
One of the walls in the craft room is installed - this used to be open framing until the sheathing boards were put up. The sheathing really looks good downstairs. The FirstDay 'basements' are very different than the traditional New England cellar.
The boys' bathroom downstairs has been mudded, sanded, and primed, and just needs some tape and some paint. And a toilet, a faucet, a doorknob, cabinets...
Another view of the boys' bathroom. The white primer really cleans up the space.
Holy blue, batman! Mindy started on the first coat of blue this week. It is a very bright, vibrant blue, and will look great in the boys' room when it's done.
The dining room is a woodshop this week. We needed to move the cherry wood, the tablesaw, and a workbench to clear out Andy and Mindy's room downstairs, and this room was a good catch-all. The boys plan to use drop cloths to contain the dust in the dining room when we build things here, but the girls disagree. They would rather not disrupt the main floor. We'll see how it goes. Maybe if they had book club every night for a few weeks we could make good progress and they wouldn't see the mess.
Ethan will occasionally avoid the camera, and occasionally play to it. He was watching Andy mark the route lines for the french doors. The bedroom is mostly clean at this point, and the walls, clearly, have been primed and painted. It's great to have this space livable!
Mindy painted the bathroom one night this week. It's a different color than the bedroom, but they look very good together.
Yes, we are very Eastery in our house. Perhaps we should repaint for every holiday?
Another painting view...
We began to install the railing to the downstairs. Nearly all the materials are down or up at this point, and having the open area to move things off the stairs is no longer as helpful as it once was. For the downstairs post at the end of the rail, we sistered three 2x4s and ran them from the floor to the ceiling. We know that the boys will come flying down the hallway, grab the last post, and whip around it to jump up the stairs. It seemed prudent to build proactively and plan a solid post to handle the stress of three boys.
The french doors to Andy and Mindy's bedroom, as seen from the hallway. They will be painted soon, and we will add some trim around the doorframe. But they sure add a touch of class to what has been a workshop for so long.
The french doors from inside the bedroom. There will be curtains hung on the inside, and we will fit a trim piece to overlap the gap between them on the inside. And we will probably mop the floor, too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Logs

We spent most of Saturday getting together with family in New Hampshire. Live free or die! So we lived free, but we didn't make very much progress on the house. We did have a great visit with family up at the beach in Seabrook, though.

The living room changed a little this week - the pew has moved, and some photos have been added to the "shelf" above the windows.
Yes, it's warm! Eli isn't too sure about the motorcycle. We burned a lot of construction scrap and brush in the background, and the pile has shrunk considerably. It grew and grew over the last year, and then everything froze solid over the winter, and eventually it was just a giant monstrosity of mess. We are glad to see it mostly gone.
Benson helped with the steel wool and another coat of oil and urethane on the window sills. We have three coats on now, and there is a pleasant but not overbearing sheen on the wood now. It looks and feels well protected, so we expect to leave it at three coats.
With the warmer weather, the pull of the outdoors has been constant. Our garden spot needs to be cleared and prepared, so we spent some effort cleaning up the space to the right of the driveway. This is a before picture, so nothing has been moved yet. Except for Andy's car, which is parked in the woods past the stone wall.
This is an after picture. We used the tractor to move some logs off the pile - some have been moved across the driveway, and some have been moved up the alley behind the house. Without a mill, they will need to wait for a bit. The chainsaw will be used to cut down some of the larger logs into manageable lengths. The oak logs 18" around and 12' long are just too heavy to move with our tractor. It has saved our backs a lot of work, but it only weighs 2,000 lbs itself, and some of these logs weigh far more than that. The parking lot in front of the house this morning.