October, 2009

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Sisterhood of the building pants…or…Time to go shopping

Friday, October 30th, 2009

This building stuff is hard on the pants.


For those interested, here are two local web sites we’re building: Portal Rescue (our local fire and rescue group) and San Simon USD (the section on San Simon under For Community has a lot of great info on the local area…kids wrote it all). These are both “in progress” but have been fun to work on.


Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Well, the weather forecast was right. It didn’t get out of the 40s today, and there is snow in the mountains. (None here…yet.) We just went and harvested a bunch of lettuce and covered the rest, since it’s supposed to freeze tonight.

We also put the tomato plant (which has a half dozen still-green tomatoes….it’s thriving on drip irrigation) into the house. Despite the cold, our house has remained toasty warm (and the fireplace is not hooked up yet). This bodes well for when we move in. The only bad thing from this weather is that the winds have been howling, and for the many-ith time, some of our house paper has ripped off. I’ll be very glad when we get some stucco on it.

Also, in our big driving adventure yesterday, we broke a strut on the truck….really broke it right in half. It is amazing that in 10 months of living here, this is the first car problem we’ve had. It’s something I’ve been kind of dreading, because of our lack of proximity to anywhere, but we found a repair place in Douglas that seemed pretty good, and thankfully the truck made it there.

360 on the doors

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

In one afternoon, I have totally changed my thinking about interior doors.

Originally, I had been thinking about rustic wood plank doors. Then I looked at prices and decided that it wasn’t worth it.

Then I found some pretty nice and inexpensive wood doors at Lowe’s that I liked. They have a kind of arch in the top panel that I thought would look nice with our other arches.

This afternoon we went to visit someone’s house who has solar to see his setup. (We also heard he has a very nice adobe house, and I’m always eager to get new ideas on interiors.) We weren’t exactly sure where he lived and inadvertently ended up at someone else’s house. It was someone else we’d wanted to see though (they’re on the board of the local fire & rescue, for whom we are doing a web site, and they have done their own lovely cabinetry), and so we took a quick tour of their house. It was a very nice house, and they have done all the work themselves. As we were walking through, lo and behold, they had the Lowe’s doors I was thinking about. I really liked how they looked which helped confirm my plans to go with these doors.

Then we went on to the house we had actually intended to visit. Wow. Beautiful house. And all the interior doors were made by the owner out of plank wood. They were stunning. He said that all he did was laid 2×8’s on a table, glued the edges, and clamped them. When they dried, he nailed two planks crosswise at the top and bottom to add stability. Then he rough finished them with a wire wheel and distressed them a bit to add character. (He also hand forged his own cast iron handles, but I would be happy just buying those.) So that all seemed manageable and something we could do (which Brad confirmed on the way home).

We really only have one interior door in the main house, but we have several in Tumbleweed. I would like to try this there. My only real hesitation is that we have so much else to do, but I think we could leave this door project until after we move in.

Also on this drive, we found another old abandoned train car. I took pictures and am still working on my collection. Stay tuned.

By the way, it is windy and cold here. Yesterday, it was 36 when I left in the morning. They are talking about possible snow later in the week.

I put a lid on it

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

The battery house is progressing nicely. Yesterday, while I had some other work to do, Brad put up hangars for the i-joists. Then this morning, we cut and put in the i-joists. Then while Brad cut OSB for the decking for the roof, I nailed it all on. I didn’t count the nails, but it was a lot. A 9′ x 12′ space with i-joists every 16″ and nails every 6″ on every i-joist and every edge. Very satisfying work. Brad also got the back wall covered with decking which added quite a bit of stability to the whole structure. I do think that framing is one of my favorite parts of construction.



Now, for an update on some of the everyday details of our life here and some of the things we worried about initially and how they’ve worked out. (Feel free to stop reading now.) The 50 mile distance to a grocery has been no issue at all. We go shopping  every couple weeks, though we sometimes go into town more often in need of construction supplies. I cook every day, and we eat better than we ever did in California.

We just ate our first salad with produce entirely grown ourselves. The compost…well…it’s about the same.

The guesthouse we are staying in continues to be a godsend in terms of easing the whole building process, though I am anxious to move into our own house. This will most likely not happen by the end of the year, but I am hoping for early next year. I keep thinking of ways we could move sooner, but always forget about that pesky occupancy certificate.

We have both lost weight and are in better physical shape than we’ve been in a long time. (Amazing for me, since I’m eating more than I’ve ever eaten. I’m worried that when we stop building, I’ll gain a ton of weight.) We are still running every week, but the yoga has fallen by the wayside for now. We’ll resume it again at some point. Brad found a new doctor that he really likes, and his  blood sugar, etc. is better than it’s ever been.  I have started taking the full recommended dose of Gucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM, and my hands are better.

Our Internet here is great (more reliable than the phones and/or power sometimes), and we don’t miss cell phone service. We have started using Google Voice which works well. We don’t miss much from “civilization” except for the occasional sushi (which we have in Tucson) and once or twice, a movie (Julie & Julia…, Star Trek, which we’ll catch on pay per view).

I love my new camera. (In case you don’t get enough of the photos here, you can always check out our Flickr page.)

My planned decrease in regular “work” work has gone well. I’ve been able to spend a good amount of time working on the house, while still maintaining enough business to pay the phone bill. :) I am doing projects with three local school districts now as well. I’ve managed to reduce my travel significantly. I have a couple projects that are ramping up now (one that involves no travel and one that could be a lot of travel but only for a few months) and am a little worried that will cut into construction, but we’ll see.

We love spending 24/7 together (but that’s not really a change). And I especially love working outside in the sun almost every day. Very good for the mental health.

All in all, we are loving it here. Come visit!

This week’s news

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

So, this week, we’ve been up to a few new things. We’ve framed in the wall between the office and the guest room to accommodate the new fireplace. This morning, we lifted the (very heavy) fireplace into place, and it looks great. (Ultimately, this will be bricked in on one side and probably tiled on the other.)


We’ve also started framing the battery house, which is just behind the storage container. The walls are wood framed. We did the back wall first, and since it will be up against the container, we had to finish it before we stood it up. The other three walls will be stucco’d like the house, but we just covered the back wall with corrugated metal.


The slab for the main house and the new stoops are done. And the lettuces we’re growing in the greenhouse are looking good. We’ve had some problems with leaf-eating worms (those big green ones) but not too bad.


Brad saw the bobkittens this week (we hadn’t seen them for a couple weeks) and says they have grown quite a bit. We also saw two large buck deer in the area near the oaks.

The weather has definitely cooled off quite a bit (and we’ve had good, hard rain twice…so much for it never raining in October here). It’s been as cold as the 50s in the mornings, generally warming up to the 80s during the day. It’s much more pleasant to work in these temperatures. I’m even starting to remember how cold it was last winter.

Catch-up day

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

It is a rare day of steady, hard rain here. It’s supposed to rain all weekend…very rare for Oct., we hear (except for in 1983, when Tucson got 7 inches of rain in a couple hours and it took out the freeway). While the weather quashed our plans to spend the day in Bisbee, it has given me a chance to catch up on some work and to do some writing and video editing.

It has been a busy week here. In addition to having Brad’s mom visiting, we are taking care of 6 horses, 2 burros, 2 cows, and 4 dogs for our neighbors. Whew!

Oh yeah, and the main house slab was poured on Friday.

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Pouring the slab


This is the color.


They dump it in the mixer, bag and all.

And here are the final results (well, not exactly final, but for today:):