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20 steps

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

I made this video as a part of a daily digital storytelling exercise that I sometimes do.

(The assignment was “To begin, take a short video of the area you start your video adventure. Then, take 20 steps in one direction and stop, record another short clip. Repeat this process after taking another 20 steps. After you’ve captured 20 little videos, every 20 steps, you’ll edit them together to create a masterpiece. For a bonus add thematic music and snazzy titles.:)

Two interesting things that I found on the property while doing this that you’ll see in this video were a giant coyote den (large hole in the ground) and some massive tumbleweeds that must have blown in during the last big wind.

Red, red

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Here’s what we’ve been up to in the house:


Outdoor movie night

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

If you haven’t experienced outdoor movie night at our house, here’s what it’s like. (Oh and there’s fabulous food and drink, of course.)

Prime time for this right now. The weather is great.

Adobe is done

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

In the ongoing push on the house, we’ve finished the interior adobe. Here are some pics.

This is a heavy lot of brick. And much of it pretty high up.


Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

So the insulation is in.

The material for this is Icynene, apparently not made of soy as I’d thought, but rather from castor oil. It’s “low emission” and creates a tighter air seal than most anything else.

It’s water-based, and they spray it in with a tube. It comes out at 140 degrees, which made a hot day even hotter. (The truck the guys came in has a trailer with a big air conditioner in the back. Brad thought it was for the comfort of the installers, but it turned out it was actually for the material.)

It sprays on pretty thin and then quickly expands. Kind of like Crazy Foam. Once dry, it has the consistency of very dry angel food cake.

On the walls that are double (or will be), they foamed in about 5 inches, which is less space than we have, so no trimming was needed. On the walls that will get adobe though, they needed to trim off the extra. Here’s what that looked like.

When they were all done, they left three giant bags of trimmings. We’ve been brainstorming what we might do with those. :)

Stucco’ing Virga

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Finishing a big work project and finally getting some rain here gave me a chance to finish this video I’ve been meaning to assemble for a while now. (The actual work here has been done for weeks.) Enjoy.

[I always forget to say that this isn’t the final coat. The second coat is much prettier and also much easier to do.]

Big milestone

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

We have spent the better part of a week working on this, and the vertical vigas and glulam are now in place. (A glulam, for the uninitiated, is a long structural timber made of several layers of wood that are laminated together – the crossbeam in this photo. Vigas are wood beams made of a single piece of wood-the round vertical beams in this photo.)

The hardest part of all of this was that the vigas and the glulam are all extremely heavy. After we moved the vigas, Brad drilled holes in the bottom of each one and epoxied in a long bolt.

A metal plate that was part of the mounting kit went on the bottom.

We then drilled holes in the slab into which the other end of the bolt would be epoxied.

It was difficult to get the viga lined up with the hole, and we wanted to do a “trial run” first (sans epoxy) to make sure the placement was right. Once you epoxy them in, that’s where they’ll be forever.

The next step was moving the glulam up to the roof. It was heavier than the vigas, so we used the truck to move it and got a lot of exercise hoisting it up.

Then we cut out notches where the glulam would sit in the viga. We used a chainsaw for this, another new experience. I thought I’d really like chainsawing, but as it turned out, we both hated it.

The final work was done with a chisel and grinder. The grinder was really useful for this.

On one end, we built a little stack of 2x6s for the end of the glulam to sit on while we seated the other end. (Note the rope. It was very windy the whole time we were doing this, making it all the more difficult. You wouldn’t think a gust of wind could blow over a piece of wood that weighs several hundred pounds, but it can and did.)

After trying to seat the glulam in place, it didn’t quite fit. Not only does the notch have to be the right size, but how square it is (how parallel all the parts are down the line) makes a big difference. So we went through this a few times…trying it, grinding, and trying it again.

Eventually, the clerestory windows will sit above the glulam, and the room in front of it will have a high ceiling with vigas in the ceiling. Building the pony wall for those windows is the next task.

How we spent Christmas

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

We got up early Christmas morning (actually set an alarm if you can believe that) and headed down to Whitewater Draw where we’d heard there were a fair number sandhill cranes.

It’s about a 75 minute drive, and we got there at about a little after 9. There are some very pretty ponds there, and we saw some cute ducks, a beautiful bright red bird ( possibly a flame-colored tanager), and a lot of raptors, but no cranes. By 10:30 or so, we started hearing the cranes. (You can often hear them long before you see them. They fly very high and have a loud, though oddly pleasing, call.)

Before long, we could see flocks of 100+ birds overhead, and in the distance, many thousand were visible (with the lovely new binoculars Brad got me for Christmas). After 45 minutes or so of flying, they finally started landing. And landing and landing and landing.

By my very rough estimate, there ended up being between 10,000 and 20,000 on the ground. (They say there are as many as 30,000 there at times.) It was so amazing. For the most part, the birds just sat close to one another making their noises, but every once in a while something made huge numbers of them lift off. Wow!

More pictures here.

(If anyone is interested in coming to see these cranes, the season is roughly Nov. through Feb. Not the nicest time of year here, but certainly more temperate than the snowy north.)

Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Happy holidays to all of you! It’s been an exciting week here, as you’ll see below. Also, we saw a lovely pair of golden eagles this week. What a treat.

If you already saw some of this on FB, skip to the last minute or so, which is new. Also, as usual, if the video is chunky, press pause and wait a couple minutes before resuming playing.

Tumbleweed: the movie

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Last year, I did a video walkthrough of Tumbleweed to show how the rooms were laying out. I thought it would be fun to do a new updated video now.

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Tumbleweed walkthrough