July 31, 2010

Today slowed down a bit. We didn't eat breakfast to get out the door to build at the lot. The arctic entryway is complete. This signifies the fact that we're done with outside work for awhile. Now, begins the inside work of plumbing and electrical. Jason and I also moved all the kitchen cabinets inside the kitchen. Well, the house really won't have any work done on it for about a week. Jay left for Washington state this evening. It was hard to say goodbye to him. There is the emotional side of saying bye and well, I also have a ton of things to accomplish before he returns. It just kind of felt like abandonment :) We laughed about that and really, I think this little training will be perfect timing. He will appreciate the time away from thinking about building and to get away from the whole project and stress of the project. I'm really happy for him. Meanwhile, Romay and I will do all the little mundane jobs around the house that involve moving. We also have a bit of cleaning to do around the lot, including organizing the mountain pile of scrap wood that isn't usable for building anything. You know, the 4 inch pieces of 2x4 or what have you. Well, Romay and I will hold things down and work hard so that Dad can have a smooth transition when he comes back.


July 29, 2010

We reached a milestone in building today. There are a few more to go, but the fact that we no longer need to Tyvek or insulate the house is a big deal. First off, Dad (I know you will read this sooner or later), we used almost all the scraps to finish off the arctic entryway. We will take a picture of what insulation was left and I'm sure you (Dad) will nod and laugh at how tight the 2 inch material ended up being. We kept relating the fact that you did a wonderful job of saving everything to allow us to finish off the entryway. Jason found out that he leaves on saturday for a training in Washington. This means we have tomorrow and a part of saturday to do the entryway roof and door and perhaps start electrical. Meanwhile, Romay and I will pack up remaining things at our current place and clean up the yard a bit. We have accumulated quite an unusable scrap wood pile that will burn nicely in the wood stove. We picked out a GORGEOUS wood stove that will have to have its own blog entry later on. I can't wait to do that one. The weather was a thing to contend with today. Maybe we would have finished two hours earlier, if it weren't for the pseudo rain and 3 minute downpours that happened all day. The nights are now dusky and our midnights are actually nights where one would have to turn on their lights on vehicles. It is always a reminder that school is around the corner with fall up and coming. That is maybe a reality check, but not necessarily one that has to come quicker than it has to. Well, its a late night, like every other night. Until tomorrow, goodnight.


July 28, 2010

Between mists of rain and rain, we managed to get a few things done today. A quick recap: 1/2 of the sanding done on the floors upstairs, most of the sheathing done in the arctic entryway, most of the Tyvek up on entryway, insulation and strapping started. In all of this, we bar-b-qued some brats and not so great corn. It was definitely a noteworthy day, despite the crummy weather.



There are days where it just feels like nothing gets done on the house. In some cases, a small detail will end up taking so much more time than originally anticipated. Today was a culmination of a couple of those frustrating tasks...

Myra, who is so much more artistic than I am, took on the task of staining the posts and rafters on the second floor. Those rafters don't look like they should have very much surface area... three days later. They look absolutely amazing and My definitely deserves the credit for that job... "Jason, who taught you how to color?" was often asked as I lent a hand.

While Myra was working on the staining upstairs, I took on the task of building the beams and rafters for the arctic entryway... after building the main house, I looked at the little seven by ten area and thought to myself... two days... well, it has been slightly longer than that. The rafters didn't go together exactly as I had planned and so that kind of slowed me down... and then the last 2x6s I needed for the final rafter were acting as scaffolding up in the rafters so that Myra could stain and then the two of us could polyeurothane (who knows how to spell that word anyway?) the ceiling to keep finger prints and dust bunnies from staining the wood. They finally all went together and we got to the section that always feels like it is flying... sheathing, but the posts did not want to stand straight and level and I could not for the life of me figure out what to anchor them to while we were starting the sheathing... well, the pictures show that we made some headway on the whole ordeal and I am afraid to say that the arctic entry will be completely sheathed by tomorrow evening, but the arctic entry will be completely sheathed by tomorrow evening.


July 26, 2010

Staining rafters and arctic entryway rafters, that was today's story. One thing for sure, one does have a lot of time to think and process as one stains. Today my thoughts revolved around school starting soon. Unfortunately, this lead to some stress. Jason leaves next week for a week. He will be attending a training in Washington on teaching AP classes. I'm sad for two reasons, one: Jason is gone and two: Washington is my old stomping grounds, how I miss it! Well, I'll have more staining awaiting me everyday, no, that is not very comforting. Meanwhile, Romay and I will continue to grill. We had zucchini today with butter on the grill. Yesterday it was corn. You can't go wrong there. I'm convinced that it isn't just because we were so hungry either. We had a whole package of chicken drumsticks. We grilled the whole package. I can't remember how many there were, but they were all gone upon leaving the lot tonight. It was amazing to see the price on the packaging, $7.50. It was a Fairbanks purchase. Moving away from the topic of food, well maybe it is because that is the most exciting part of our day. "2nd verse, same as the first," type of day. When we came home, we dabbled in the garden. Dabbling includes picking the ripe raspberries and eating them. Sometimes we non-competitively race each other to get the best looking ones. Haha, I know, oxymoron. There was a little bit of sportsmanship as Romay gave me some of her raspberries. Maybe we will be dabbling with peas next week. Maybe tomorrow we can move onto something else besides staining for our blog entry. AND, of course, give a sentence or two including the kind of things that made it onto the grill.

July 25, 2010

Its a late night, but here are some updates!


July 23, 2010

My girls like to give me a hard time and so when I walked away with the computer this evening to write the blog, they played rock paper scissors to determine who would check up on me to make sure I was really writing and not sleeping. With that in mind, it was a long, full day.

We did a little work on the Bronco II in hopes of keeping it running a little longer. I honestly wonder if I should ever fill the tank completely since gas is expensive and the truck is likely to breathe its last at any moment. We shuffled crates around with Roger's lift... Myra learned to drive it today and she did a fine job all the while I serenaded her with "She thinks my tractor's sexy."

Myra and Romay worked upstairs today preparing the rafters for stain. It turned out a little darker than we anticipated, but it is a long ways to town for another color and we can do some things to make it a little lighter... one, we can let it dry and see exactly how dark it is going to be. The idea was contrast anyway since the ceilings and walls are going to be covered with a clear coat and left to their natural color as well as the floors.

While they did that, I tried to square up the floor joists for the arctic entry. Running diagonals is no fun on your own with a tape that keeps slipping off the corners and girls who keep calling for random tools from upstairs. "Romay, would you go and get some tape?" Sound of Romay walking down the stairs, "Dad, would you go and get some tape?" A job that should have taken around an hour lasted about a half a day. However, in the end, the joists were squared, the insulation put in place, and with Myra's help, the decking was put down almost to completion.

We had a late dinner of brats and salad (first lettuce from the garden). Romay and Myra beat themselves at a game of Euchre... I'm still trying to figure out how that works, and we are all getting for bed. Good night.


July 15, 2010

2 out of 3 exterior doors are in!


July 14, 2010

Each step is significantly closer in getting the house closed in. The windows have been packed in a crate and for the first time in Galena, saw the daylight. We started with a smaller kitchen window. We wanted to save all the fun for later with the 3 large south facing windows. Jason dreaded the roof, Dad dreaded the windows. Well, the roof is up and it was Dad's turn to question how this process was all going to happen. I guess Dad had installed a window that was a little bit challenging. You know, in a sense where it wasn't bad, just sort of a pain. The first kitchen window went in smoothly and we all wondered where the frustration and problem solving we thought to be involved had gone. So, on we went to the large living room window. That one, although a wee bit heavier, made this whole installation fiasco seem to be a thing we had built up in our minds. Our imaginations had brought on more than the reality of caulking, lifting the window to place, leveling it, and screwing the window in place. That is, until the first large kitchen window went in. Jay and I were outside, lifting the glass from both sides, meanwhile Dad was inside grabbing and holding the window as Jay and I were gingerly passing it up to him. It was a chilly day, but not enough for any kind of freezing, but it almost looked like Dad slipped on a patch of ice. Well, Tyvek is the next best thing to slip on. He had stood on a piece of Tyvek inside and brought down the window a few inches before Jay and I recovered. There was even a 'shhwit,' noise that traveled at the speed of light. Dad shuffled a bit and did an amazing footwork leveling procedure and caught the window as well. All was okay. No expensive reordering tasks or apologies needed. The rest of the windows went on without any bumps or slips. "Is the Tyvek out of the way," might have been repeated a hundred times more later on that afternoon. Its the verbal consequence Dad had to live with. Tomorrow we move on to the first floor doors and the rest of the Tyvek and insulation on the sides of the house. Electrical work is that much closer.


Fiddler on the Roof

We have not put any pictures into the computer yet, but for those of you who are keeping up with our progress, I'll give you the details in words... first... miracle of miracles... I know that people have been praying for me as most of my family and friends know that I have an extreme fear of heights. However, now I have to say that I had a fear of heights. A 12-12 pitch is something to behold let alone walk on, and I had no fear what so ever. I won't go so far as to say that I want to make my living by putting metal on roofs, but I could actually enjoy the view from the top.

So, long story short, even in the crazy wind that we received today we finished off the roof. The next time I go up on the roof will be to put the vent in for the bathroom. Let it rain. Once the windows and doors are on, the wind can blow the rain can fall, and I'll sleep just fine.

People keep driving by and it is funny to hear how the news spreads around town as everyone follows our progress. More and more people have stopped by to see what new things are going up.

We have had so much help with this whole thing. I can't help but be thankful. The joke I keep telling... if an English teacher puts up something and it turns out square and level... you know God was involved. God has been so good to us. He has also sent some great people our way... Kenton was willing to help us on our crazy steep roof, Dad has been Johnny on the spot wherever he has been needed with expertise and labor, Keith has been amazing with food, coffee, and labor, Myra... no better woman in the world as she cooks, hammers, saws, etc., the kids have been a big help. David Whightman with his equipment and expertise, Todd Brown with his metal skills, Lon just stopping by and swinging a hammer when needed, Dayton and his mad money skills, Tabatha with lunches, Jason Kopp milling sill logs... the list is never ending.

Stay tuned for the exciting photos of a finished roof... they'll probably be posted tomorrow.


July 9, 2010

I think I'm drawing a blank for writing because we have done a million things today. Between baby sitting a friend's dog, baking pumpkin pie in 80 degree weather and building stairs, its a tough call. Well, we've had several people in the village comment on how they like to take a nightly drive by the house to see what the latest progress looks like. Its amazing how hot weather keeps the mosquitoes away, but the other side to that coin is that we all move at a sluggish speed. There isn't a temperature in which you can have it all in bush Alaska, you either have mild temperatures and bugs to deal with; or hot weather and no bugs. Regarding the building aspect of today, we no longer have to labor in moving the ladder to get upstairs. Picking out the 2X12 runners for the stairs was an Alanis Morisette moment...remember the song, "Ironic." "Its like 10,000 spoons and all you need is a knife..." We couldn't find a 2X12 that wasn't damaged or had just a few knots. The common saying around the building process, all too often, "it is what it is." We make it work. Tomorrow mornings schedule includes installing the tin roofing. I've agreed to take Romay and Ethan for a jog, but I will be sure to be around to see this monumental task. Our roof has a 12 12 pitch. I suppose the snow doesn't have a fighting chance up there, but that includes the men having to work with it to get it all built. Actually, our friend, Kenton has devised a ladder that extends on both sides of the house to work off of. They plan on working at 9 am before it gets too hot. Kenton likes pecan pie and I've decided to pay him dearly with such a request of praline goodness. He isn't afraid of heights and has agreed to help with roofing, I think I can find a recipe that will make him believe his work was well worth it. Here's to pecan pies in exchange for roofing!!


Just pictures!

We're lagging behind in our posts, so my tendency is to post pictures and let the images tell the story. We're ALMOST closed in!! The roof, with its steep pitch, has allowed us to find muscles we thought we lost in our younger days, due to balancing and creeping, and stretching. Yesterday, Jason and I were up on the loft, rolling Tyvek across the small gap across the roofline. Tyvek is like strong wrapping paper, basically a vapor barrier. It took both Jason and I to roll the Tyvek, hold, and staple. I was behind him and very much in his bubble space as I was helping him balance the roll as he was stapling. Its a good thing we're married, I couldn't imagine the awkwardness involved with anyone else. The kids, Ethan and Romay, have been a huge help. They are the 'gophers,' they also remind us that it is time to eat lunch. The adults might work through lunch to finish up a particular project. Chicken mixed with mayonnaise on bread is amazing cuisine after a few hours of pounding nails!


Why do I even read the forecast?

Last night, after working until dog tired, we finished the night off by putting tarps over the building in a makeshift tent-roof. So, today, our goal was to get as much closed in as possible not to have to go through that process again. It is 1:10 am and I am only now writing the blog for the day... that should be enough, I should be able to put in the pictures and you can fill in the information I have left out.

What the pictures don't show, is me on the phone with Myra as she was reading the forecast on wunderground that told of possible thundershowers and rain tomorrow morning. Dad, Keith, and I worked until we... well, at least I was dragging... then put the tarps back on. That will not need to happen after tomorrow!

Romay also came home and so things feel like they are a little bit more normal... well, if you can use normal in a sentence with our family. Even the dog is a little off plum after all and we are building a house after every bank in Alaska told us that people don't build their own houses anymore.

This really is a hodge podge of thought, but hey... I turn into a pumpkin around 10pm. Dad's new goal is to get the roof done tomorrow so that we can take the 4th off... "Jason, you need it." Once a dad, always a dad.

God bless,
The Harris Family


July 1... Sheathing in the Rain

I wish that I could say that sheathing in the rain is a joyous feeling like the song says... or is that singing in the rain? Whatever the case may be, rain is not a welcome thing while working with so much exposed wood. This whole project has been marked by sayings like, "I will be happy when (fill in the blank) is done." As in, I will be so happy when the pilings are done. It has only continued through where we are now with the current saying being, "I will be so happy when the tin is on the roof."

That being said, we are trying to be content and enjoy where we are now. This is a very rewarding section that we are on as we put up 1X8 tongue and groove sheathing. It is beautiful, rewarding, and feels relatively fast compared to 2X6 flooring.

This morning, we got an early start (well compared to some days) with eggs, toast (from home-made whole wheat bread Myra made yesterday), and coffee. Coffee was especially good today since it was my first cup in two days! So nice to be feeling better. The weather was overcast, but we looked forward to working in a cooler setting. The more walls that go up on the second floor, the warmer it becomes in the sunlight. We got everything up and got to sheathing and down-pour! The two days I was sick, hot and warm, the first day I feel well, rain, rain, rain. Rather than watch the wood get wet (even with tarps on everything) we decided to head for home... the rain stopped on our drive home and the sky turned blue. We still stayed at home for a while just to make sure it wasn't some cruel trick.

We went back to work and got the water off of the tarp, finished up the one sixteen foot wall and peak we had been working on and framed out the second wall. Sheathing was going up and we were making hay while the sun shined... absolutely beautiful weather. Then the air changed and it was possible to feel the rain arriving though it was still some time off. Down went the hammers, away went the saws and out came the tarps.

We are not really a family that is big into evolution... in fact, many of our jokes begin with "millions of years ago...," but Dad truly was a monkey as he jumped around on the ladder and rafters stringing up a make-shift tarp roof. I am afraid of heights, and so just watching him made me nervous. Admittedly, this project has put me out of my comfort zone on more than one occasion and I am gradually getting better, but I kept yelling at Dad and warning him about the stair hole and top ladder rungs and falling and what Mom would say... "Don't worry about me, if I fall, just call Mom." Yeah, I was more worried about what Mom would do to me if I called with a story of Dad falling two stories through the stair hole than the event actually happening.

So, the tarps got all put on (even through the crazy winds that threatened to blow them to Ruby), the rain began to fall, we got in the truck and drove home... the rain stopped before we made it into the driveway and though the sky looks like it may be holding a little rain at the moment... none is falling. Dad is convinced that the whole thing was either a test from God or a practice run for putting on the roof.

On top of that, all through the day, Myra was fighting off the beginnings of what I had for the past two days. I felt very guilty, but I now know the absolute truth. It was always rumored that Myra was most likely tougher than me... even though she felt sick, she worked the entire day, running chain saw, stacking wood, nailing in sheathing, running tarps around... what didn't she do today. And she had the same thing that knocked me on my rear for two days!