February 2003 Archives

What's Going On?

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We got snowed in on the weekend. Went to a wedding on Saturday of some good friends (congrats Mike & Alex). One of the best weddings that Jo and I have ever attended, nice ceremony, great food, fine company. When we left it was snowing somewhat and we decided to wait and head up Sunday morning. Big mistake. We woke up and there was a winter storm warning in effect. So we lost a day.

Fortunately/unfortunately I'm going to have more time to work on the house in the immediate future. My largest client is going through some tough times and has released me (and all other contractors) from my contract. Bummer. So I'm going to take this as an opportunity and try and get as much work done as I possibly can before I have to start looking for work in earnest. That said if anybody come across any web or UI gigs... I'm your guy.

On the agenda for this week is drywalling the bathroom, checking out stucco samples at Pete and Tina's, and installing lights. Oh, and I'm using my spare time to work out some stuff with my various web-sites, I hope to have comments working tonight on the blog. Dad's apparently been busy planing cedar which we'll probably use on the bathroom walls.

Noxious Fumes Redux

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We had a great day today. I caulked the outside windows. Dad and I put the second pane of glass in the front door. Dad is building a little hut for the generator so that it can sit outside and be locked up safely. We've been charging the batteries with the generator over a fairly thick 100' extension cord. By putting the generator outside of the battery room we can use a shorter length of #10 wire. So what? Well there was a 10 volt drop across the 100' cord and we could only charge at 15 amps. With the #10 cable we get no voltage drop and can charge at 25 amps. That makes a big difference when you are charging the batteries.

Mom and I worked most of the day on cleaning up the floor in preparation for sealing the remaining area. We finished the remaining three back bays, the kitchen, dining/living rooms and the gallery. So the whole slab has been sealed. I expected that we would only get half done today and we'd do the rest on Sunday. This means that we can start drywalling in the bathroom.

Monday we're heading up to see Pete and Tina to see about the finish coat of stucco for the inside. Pete's got some samples where he's added marble dust to the stucco. Sounds very cool.

3 pictures today.

More dead stuff

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Nothing takes the edge off a really really crappy week like working with incredibly noxous chemicals. You betcha. We started sealing the concrete slab this weekend. This is the first chance that we've had to get it done, we had to wait for the heat to be working to apply the sealer. So now the fun starts. There's months of marks on the floor as well as all kinds of stucco that spilled on the floor from the straw bale. So we vaccuum, scrape the floor, sand and brush off any marks, vaccuum again, and run over the floor with slightly damp towels. Then we apply the sealer. Only two of us can work because we only have two good masks, so Dad and I take care of the sealer and Jo and my Mom take the dogs for a walk. We do the sealer last, right before we leave, the fumes really are that bad.

We seem to have brokered a detente between the radiant system and the inverter. The radiant system is on a timer and is only allowed to come on every other hour. This saves us around 50% of the power but doesn't seem to affect the heat. The catch is that we have to leave the inverter ON. Normally you leave the inverter in search mode, but unfortunately the relay in the timer requires line voltage to trip and the search pulse isn't sufficient. We need to find a timer that is 100% battery controlled, one must exist, every timer we've found so far requires line voltage to trip the relay - or keep time.

The inspector stopped by on Saturday to check out the insulation, vapour barrier and our progress in general. He was happy with everything he saw. We had another neighbour show up this weekend as well, an older fellow, he and his wife moved to the farm about 6 lots east in 1945. He told us that he has kitchen cabinets in his house made from two Butternut trees off of our land. He invited us by to check them out. We rarely have a weekend go by without somebody popping in to check things out. Apparently we're known in town as "The Straw House". I'm sure we'll be known that way for years and years. "Those city people with the straw house." I'm looking forward to that.

The winter carnage continued this weekend. We found an owl by the side of the house, it looks like he might have flown into the big side window. It was a nice looking bird, I've never seen an owl up close before. So naturally, in our currently morbid fashion, I took a picture.

I See Dead Porcupines

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House wise, today was much like yesterday. Mom kept sealing up the vapour barrier and Dad and I did a bunch of odd jobs around the house. We labelled all of the circuit breakers and tested that they all had power. We sealed some of the front windows and worked at removing the ends of the window shims that are still exposed. I vacuumed up the gallery area, and finally got around to cutting off the extra window gasket. Periodically we'd go to the utility room and stare in a perplexed manner at the inverter or boiler. Something's going on between those two, and I don't like it.

My parents left around 3:30 and I took the dogs out for a walk, or rather they walked, I snowshoed. There's a couple of feet of snow in some spots, more in drifts. With the freezing rain we got last week there's a hard crust and then powder underneath. This is not the best walking terrain for the dogs. They tend to punch through the crust but then because the powder is so deep they get sort of 'hung-up' with all four paws down and their chests against the crust. I feel bad for Gator when the snow's this deep, as a certain part of his anatomy tends to carve its own groove through the snow. That cannot be comfortable. Gator spent most of this walk following in the path of my snowshoes, stepping on the tail of one now and again just to keep me alert. Ceara just wanders around looking for new kinds of shit to eat.

Today we walked the southern boundary of the property and up the east side into the coniferous bush. It's neat walking around this time of year since you can cruise over the swampy areas that are impassible most of the year.

I saw a deer, or at least the ass end of a deer, it's hard to be stealthy in snowshoes. I think I found where the turkeys live, or at least where they spend a lot of time. And I came across a dead porcupine. I think the poor fella froze to death out in the fields a couple of weeks ago. In Peterborough it was getting down below -30 at night, and doing anything let alone foraging for food is dangerous at that temperature.

Yup, pictures. WARNING!! There is a picture of the dead porcupine, if you're squeemish cover your eyes before clicking on the link!

The Problem with Three-Ways

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So the fun with wiring continues. Dad and I keep disagreeing on how to wire up three-way switches. Dad thought there was a problem with a switch and re-wired it but while it worked, it wasn't right. This morning we set out together and we re-wired every single light and three way switch in the house. We now have working lights in the back rooms, and the mud-room, plus proper switched power to the front and back door exterior lights. Paul (the architect) lent us a book about the electrical code and we just wired everything up with the book open in front of us, saved arguing, and everything works. We'll hook up the other lights as we acquire them.

The heat is lovely, we leave it set at about 17 degrees, and even though we're having some troubles with the inverter, the house can stay warm through the night with no heat. Which is good since both Dad and I have walked into the house in the morning and found the inverter off and displaying an unknown error. However, after a quick look through the manual (RTFM ya' know), Dad discovered that there is a way to display the type of error that has occured. So maybe tomorrow, if there's a problem again, we'll be able to figure out what's going on. Now wouldn't that be exciting?

We're just working on small stuff around the house these days, for a whole variety of reasons we've sort of slowed down while we get a grip on things. We're nearing the end of the project and there's not quite as much money left as we'd hoped, and we feel like we've been on a runaway train with rushing to get everything done. Now that we have heat we can slow down, take stock, and get all of the last stuff done right.

So Mom's been taping the seams in the vapour barrier, Dad and I are working on electrical, caulking, the bathroom, and figuring out how all of of new high-tech systems work.

The next goals are sealing the concrete floor, doing the final coat of stucco on the inside, and running the conduit around the perimeter. Then we have to finish the plumbing, finish the inside the bathroom, and then the kitchen. After all that, maybe, just maybe, we move in. It doesn't seem that far away now...

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