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March, 2007

A Short March ...

We're off to England, Wales and the Czech Republic for the remainder of March and beginning of April, so this report is coming out a bit early. If you like mountains, snow and Marines, follow the link above.

02 Mar 2007 – Looking West from the Main House Drive
The day after a big dump; note the interesting drifts on the roof.

This photo illustrates our strategy for plowing snow around the Carriage House. We want as much snow melt as possible to drain down to Place Creek rather than contribute to mud and ice at the Carriage House. There is a catch basin and lots of brush between the drive and the creek to ensure the run-off is clear of sediment. The embankment created by plowing serves another important purpose: it may catch people who come down from the Main House too fast and find they cannot negotiate the turn.

It was good the roofers got underlayment and some metal on the roof the last day of February because the weather man missed the forecast for March 1 in a big way. Bridger Bowl claimed 30" for the day. The Bozeman Chronicle headline noted a corresponding widespread outbreak of the "snow-day flu". We got so much snow at the Carriage House we thought no-one would show. However, seven workmen showed up and three more came up to assess work that will begin in a couple of weeks. As has been the case many times before, the Friday forecast for the weekend was "clear and sunny." But, people here do not work on weekends. As usual, Gary and Pauline used the weekend to clean up the site.

The weekend's good weather continued into the work week. Inside, the central vacuum, rough plumbing and HVAC were well underway. Best of all, the roofers were busy completing the metal roof. At right, a roofer works on the cricket. Our big assignment was to lay out the plan for the lighting and switches so the electrician could get started.

The sun and warm weather brought a repeat of February's fast melt and run-off over soil still frozen a couple of inches below the surface. We only suffered a bit of run-off damage to the drive, but some of our neighbors had wash-outs and flooded basements. Some streets in Bozeman were impassable. It was almost as bad as mud season, especially for the dogs, who do not appreciate being hosed off before they can come inside.

At the Main House, our concerns with moisture were the joints where the concrete for the Garage met the new foundation and new Mud Room roof (recall that the Mud Room and Garage are underground). Water was leaking through these joints, which would prevent us from putting insulation and drywall into the areas below. Before the new concrete was poured, special tubing was mounted along the joints; now that the concrete had cured enough, the tubing was injected with expansive rubber-like foam to make a good seal. As added insurance, we coated the exterior of the joints with tar. The mason put cement block as footing where the wall will be faced with stone then covered the blocks with a tarp to protect from the weather as the mortar set. These measures appear to have stopped the leaks. The final step will be to lay down a thick rubber membrane over the top and up the walls, then join it to the membrane already under the dirt at right; this should prevent moisture from reaching the joints, making our current measures a second line of defense.

By mid-month, the roof and windows were finished so the electrician got started. Most electrical systems were straightforward. The difficult problems were how to light the Great Room and the South Patio. Solid timbers with lots of glass limit options for wiring, and we didn't want to deface timbers by mounting light fixtures to them. But, we had to compromise to come up with a strategy for the Great Room lighting that meets most of our goals.

As we near the time for insulation and dry wall, many decisions have to be finalized. We often stroll up to the Main House to see what is happening and wind up spending 2 or more hours being peppered with questions from the workmen about how to wrap up details. This is compounded by the fact that we will be away for 2½ weeks and they don't want to be held up by unanswered questions. When we return April 12, the house should be ready for final inspection before insulating. On our last weekend of cleanup detail before leaving, we were joined by a Mountain Bluebird that kept trying to get into the house. Perhaps it saw its reflection in the window.

Be sure to check out the Main House Progress

Parting Shot
Canary Spring, Again

Visitors Kevin and Wendy from Chilliwack, British Columbia, accompanied us to Yellowstone. We saw wolves, big horn sheep, a bald eagle, coyotes and the usual bison and elk. We stopped for our obligatory picture at Canary Spring so we can track the encroachment of the spring on the boardwalk. It appears the encroachment has slowed since September, 2006. The viewing platform had to be truncated after September, 2005. As they left to return to Canada, they were treated to a sighting of Sand Hill Cranes at the bottom of our property.

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