Monday, November 12, 2012

Getting back on our feet.

Being in a new place that doesn't feel like home, (the house part, not the setting, that feels perfect,) and being surrounded by coughing, runny-noses, and general poor health, has made for a rough week.

After a great stretch of health and vigor, my cold snowballed into a sinus infection, and on Monday I was back on antibiotics for the first time in over three months.  Even so, it took me until the end of the week to really start feeling like myself, with my energy levels up to my goals.

That didn't slow me down, it just made the work less fun.

The mornings have been filled with land reclamation, and the afternoons with house-related projects.

**Time-break: Sitting in the BTC for my Monday morning quiet solo breakfast, and a local police woman just came in to ask me if I could move my truck, which I parked in the none-parking space in front of the fire hydrant.  She was very nice and apologized for interrupting my breakfast, but because it was making it hard for people to see around the corner, could I please move it?  Small towns rock. **

Pricilla makes for good company when the kids are napping:

The first major exterior project for the house is to get the wrapping porches up.  At first I went around and dug out the footings one at a time, but after thinking it over, and planning through to the brick patio that will be at ground level, I went back to do this "right" from the start.  The front of the house has been excavated down to the footing level, the little magnolia that Pricilla was sitting in removed with all its roots, and everything graded about 10 ft out.  Once the footings are in place and the first level of the porch put up, it will be much easier to come back in with gravel and sand and brick on a level area.  

In the meantime, I'm fabricating the brackets that will be poured into the concrete footings and hold the vertical timbers in place.  A whole lot of cutting steel and drilling.  Mickey will be helping me with the welding until I get comfortable doing that part as well.

On Wednesday I took a break from the home projects and headed down to Starksville to visit with a few professor friends down there, and sit through 23 presentations on a new park design for the empty lot next to the BTC that a group of seniors in the architect design program have been working on for the past two weeks.  (If you recall, they came up to visit and view the site, and had lunch en-masse at the BTC.)

We took the morning to look at some of the projects the various departments at MS State have going on.  This is a museum around which they have set up an elaborate rain collection system.  The rain coming off the roof runs through gutters, down the raised aquaduct running perpendicular to the building, takes another right hand turn, and runs down a string of glass bottles with led lights strung through them to soften the impact on the ground. The rain water then filters through the raised bed with gravel/sand/plantings meant to remove particulates, and exits through a long stretch of curving channels filled with stone and surrounded with nice plantings.  Anything that gets through all these opportunities to be absorbed or evaporated runs into a cistern.

Next to the museum is an earth-covered roof project, being constructed on the top of an old gas station roof structure.  It's in the early construction phases, and I didn't snap a decent picture, but the concept, with a spiral stair up to the roof-deck, and planned green walls made out of vines cascading down from the roof, sounds cool.

We went out to the research farm to see some of the work they are doing out there to determine water absorption rates, energy efficiency around the roof-mounted thermal masses, and various plantings that are most efficient (and attractive) for these applications in the deep South.  The soil used for these raised roofs is made out of an aerated, baked clay that is very light to minimize the overall burden on a roof structure.  I took a handful, and was shocked.  It felt more like popcorn than soil.

They're running the same tests on flat vs. pitched roofs.

This put me in mind of getting an earth roof on top of the BTC building.  More on that later.

While we were looking at the roof testing grounds, folks were harvesting a plot of prairie grasses for their bio-fuel research.

As I said, there were 23 presentations by different college students, all with their own design and take on what the empty building lot next door could and should look like as a park.

The skill and passion of the students ran the spectrum.  I was pleasantly surprised, and came away with all sorts of groovy ideas and inspirations.  

This is one of the 23:

We took a family walk over at the nature preserve known as Wild Cat. It's getting dark early these days, though getting up at 6:20 feels less gloomy on the other end of the clock.

It was a good walk, complete with races, tiger and children hunts through the tall grasses, and minimal whining about tired legs.

Then!  D and D's BBQ opened their physical location a block down the street, moving indoors from their trailer-based business, on Nov 1.  We've been too sick to go visit, until the evening after the walk.  Our town is hopping.

The pigs have settled in, with a very charmed diet of BTC scraps.  

Annaliese helping on the driveway, in her new pink pajamas.

The days are full of family, potential, projects, and snuggles.  The house has a long way to go, but we're going to get there, in less time than you might think. Yesterday the floors in the kid's new bedrooms got sanded, and we'll be testing tung oil and wax to see which finish we prefer.  (We're agreed we don't want urethane.)  The ceilings in that side of the house are stripped back to wood, and over the last week they've grown on us in their bare form. Alexe started painting the kids' rooms our favorite bright white last night.  If I can finish these brackets by Tuesday, I hope to get the porch footings poured this week.  Once those are in place, assembling the porch will fly.  Then we can start blowing through the walls to install the many sets of french doors, then I can move the stairs, then the kitchen can be relocated, and the upstairs can be expanded into a single master bedroom with an awesome bath...

At the same time Alexe has a book to turn in at the end of the month, we need to move all our stuff out of the blue house and make a few repairs before the Dec. 1 closing, the store keeps moving along, folks keep breaking stuff at the building, etc. etc.  

Busy.  Just the way we like it. 


Anonymous said...

Loving your posts, pics, projects, plans, family, ... and YOU, dear, incredible K!

Anonymous said...

exhausted just reading your litany--whew!
MS state stuff sounds very cool---it just got added to my expanding list of places I want to visit in MS.