April, 2005

Decisions, Decisions!

For Spring break we made a quick trip to Seattle, during which we listened to The Kalahari Typing School for Men and The Full Cupboard of Life, which are more of the series that began with The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. We also listened to Portuguese Irregular Verbs by the same author (Alexander McCall Smith). These really helped the 20 hours of driving slip by.

Between March 12 and 24, it snowed almost every day; there was 6' total accumulation at Bridger Bowl. There was another foot of snow as March turned to April. This made for the best skiing of the year. However, it was not enough to make up for the lack of snowfall earlier in the year. The good news is that Bridger Bowl had enough snow that they stayed open two days longer than planned; they can't stay open longer due to the environmental impact agreement with the Forest Service.

With the mild winter and early spring, bears are waking up and they are hungry! We haven't seen any yet, but have prepared for them by purchasing an UnBearAble Bin from the bear testing center in West Yellowstone. These are designed and constructed to resist a Grizzly, so we're confident that our Black Bears won't get a free meal from our garbage. We continue to see tracks and scat of Moose, but they are very secretive; perhaps if we didn't take the dogs with us, we could spot them.

Plumbing and HVAC are being roughed in. This view from the Laundry into the Wine Cellar shows material staged for HVAC work. The Wine Cellar is a room within a room: two parallel walls are framed — from this angle one for the Laundry and one for the Wine Cellar can be seen. There will be a lot of insulation between in inner and outer walls. Cooling is provided by the exposed foundation wall on the left, which is 5' below grade at the top and 16' at the bottom; tests indicate this wall will stay below 55°F. The slab floor of the cellar is thermally isolated from the slab of the other rooms, so it should be naturally cool as well.

We are now faced with making many decisions. Here, Pauline discusses with the architect where structural timbers will be visible and what implications that has for ceiling heights. Ceilings in the Dining Room and Kitchen will be over 13' high, which would be excessive were it not for the overall size and open style of the rooms. We have also been spending time selecting plumbing fixtures, looking at options for counter tops, flooring for the entry, and tile for the bathrooms. For some of the exterior masonry, we are considering using rocks we have found laying around the property. Any savings from doing that would be inconsequential; the appeal of it is to be able to say at least some of the house was constructed from material found on site.

There is a lot of equipment in the Mechanical Room: 4 furnaces, 3 air conditioners, 1 air-to-air exchange, 2 hot water heaters, 1 indoor air circulation system, 2 water pumps, 1 water softener, network switches, telephone exchange, alarm system, and probably more we don't know about yet. These pipes are the intakes and exhausts for most of that equipment. Since the heat-generating equipment is very efficient, the exhausts can be PVC pipe. This duct work takes up a corner of the Pantry. Other venting will join with this above the ceiling so we will have only one roof penetration on this end of the house.

Note: the curvature of the studs is an illusion due to the close-up lens.

April 6: About 6 people are working on framing and 2 on excavation. The piers that were to hold the entry roof were sinking, so they had to be removed and a new hole dug to the rock (about 16' down). Apparently, the excavation for the foundation weakened the soil quite a way out.

There has been more snow — almost 6" of very wet stuff fell two days before this photo was taken, then melted quickly. Of course, that makes things very muddy. We spread straw and sawdust around to help control the mud, but it is still a mess.

Be sure to check out the Main House Progress
(Note the timber detail in the 12 April picture)

Parting Shot

Pumpkin and Neko "Share" a Bed

Pumpkin takes her half out of the middle!