Thursday, July 31, 2008

House progress and recipes

Since the last entry, we've had our turret roof framed, gotten serious about the roof tiles, selected an HVAC system and acquired the flange for our fireplace insert. The mason has filled in the fireplaces and is ready to move forward. We are holding him up at the moment.

Today I met with Banar designs, Vicki and Jody to prepare for a year's worth of work on some mailing recipe cards - a serial offer. It's all about baking and should be fun. Jody has loads of experience and Vicki is an excellent cook and a thorough conscientious person, so I'm sure it will be fun.

We will be testing recipes and also creating new ones. 12 a week, 8 will be re-writes and 4 will be new.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Trusses and Cusses

Today the trusses went up on the house. Lots of cursing and swearing accompanied the trusses as they were hoisted up off the road, over the orange trees and onto the roof. About 10:00 the truss monkeys arrived on the scene and clambered onto the roof with hammers, triangles and hardware. They began raising, placing and nailing the trusses into place. Meanwhile the truss calcs did not arrive with the trusses and so we are waiting for them to arrive via email.

US Tile brought a trailer over with tile samples so that we could pick out colors. We have four blends on the trailer; rustic madera, carmel and rustic newport. The roof is boosted double here and there and boosted triple in a couple of spots. The small sample looks very good.

Cats are having fun with a dead mouse they found and are throwing around. One gets hold of the tail and then flips it in the air while the other watches. The flipper is mostly Buster with Pinkie watching closely.

Right now we are waiting for Rusty with WC heating to come over and talk to us again about our heating needs. This has been almost as difficult as windows. I guess in the end, everything is hard.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Lunch Surprise

Sharon and Gail brought us a surprise lunch today. Tuna salad with crackers, orange slices and cashews. She even brought a jug of iced tea! It was so kind of her and so delicious. We lingered over the tasty food and Gail told us a funny story.

In his hippy days of yore, he lived on a mining claim in Oregon, on the banks of stream. The stream was fairly wide and could be fast moving, in fact he said they could often hear the rumble of big boulders being pushed along the bottom by the current. Bothered by mice, but being concerned about preserving life, Gail would set "have a heart" traps to catch the pests. Mice, being primarily nocturnal, would spring the traps at night and Gail, after hearing the trap, would get up, catch hold of the offender, step outside and fling it across the stream to the other side, where the pesky rodent wouldn't be able to get back into their cupboards. One day, the trap was sprung at dawn and there was plenty of light to see. Gail flung the mouse over the stream and then watched in amazement as the critter plunged into the stream and swam across, getting back to the house faster than Gail!!!

He told the story well and we could see the hilarious event unfold. We chuckled over this all evening.

Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters!

J. D. Salinger would be pleased at our progress on Friday. The lift for beams and trusses arrived and we loaded two big permalam beams into place. The truss truck had to travel backward up the road to the house as there wasn't enough room for turnaround; well-equipped with special mechanism for tipping and rolling the big triangles, the truck was pretty nifty. The young man who drove it, cap on backward, with a ready smile, was pleased with himself for getting to the rancho at all.

Ken operated the lift while Jeff and his helper manipulated the beams into place. They rotate slowly in their fabric sling as they are moved and the framers had to grab at them with hammer claws to pull them into position, then guide them into place.

Jeff, a determined smoker, kept a cigarette dangling on his lower lip throughout the process. No amount of nagging, cajoling, wheedling or reason has convinced him to quit, or so he tells me. Like all smokers, he cites his grandmother and other lived smoking relatives as examples of those who are apparently cancer resistant. Lots of luck!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chimney flanges

Our new friend Tony the mason appeared today with a couple of people and quickly installed the flanges for the fireplace extensions. This means we can have Cheryl and gang at Hennings Fireplaces come over and add on the necessary pieces to give us a chimney the right length. Tony seems to work fast and efficiently. So far, so good. I have to go tomorrow morning and pick out the stone from the vast array at El Dorado. Richard and I have pre-screened them so the final selection shouldn't be hard.

Finally we completed the epoxy job and installation of anchor bolts aka earthquake proofing around the whole house. Today, Richard had to leave and run down to Pine Tree Lumber to get some bolts they were short...turned out they didn't have enough at Pine Tree and I had to pick up ten additional pieces at Home Depot. The inspector was a nice guy, jovial and chatty. He did in fact inspect the installation of each and every bolt and charged us $575.00 for the privelege. And people wonder how the price of houses has risen. Even the inspector wonders about the value of all he stated, how many houses built before this reg have actually fallen down. We know the chimneys used to go, but the number of bolts we installed...over 70 seems like overkill. It's added about $1500.00 to the cost of the house in bolts and the inspector. If you add in Jeff's labor to drill the holes and then do the epoxy, you'd probably have to say it cost more like $2500.00. Yikes.

Three D!

In this case the letters should stand for Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest. Journey to the Center of the Earth. We were lured to this movie by the prospect of the 3D which was very good indeed. The technology appears to be the same - and you get the glasses to wear. At first I found the effects to be startling and wanted to duck when projectiles of various kinds came your way. After a short time either my vision or brain adapted and I didn't see them as much anymore. Maybe because the story was so brain numbingly stupid that all senses turned off.

Yes, it's a ridiculous fantasy story, but it has been turned into a pitiful parody of action films, Disney family schlock and stupidity. I gaped in disbelief that a script could be sooooo bad.

Here's a kicker. Our local theatre offers a lower price ticket early in the day WITHOUT 3D. What insanity! You'd have to be crazy to pay a dime to see this mess without the 3d which is the only redeeming feature of the thing.

After eating we went to Chinese restaurant next door and ate well.

July 15th

Progress is slow at the moment. Getting the anchor plates and hold downs ready for the special inspector, has been a problem. The framing crew seems to have fallen apart yesterday in a hail of accusations and anger. Four times the special inspector has been delayed because the crew either didn't have the holes drilled, then they didn't have the right drill bits and finally yesterday they discovered they didn't have the right bolts. We drove around trying to the get the materials they needed and meanwhile the inspector was cancelled yet again.

Obviously there is a problem in management and we think Ken, our framer, has taken his eye off the ball due to the discovery of his critically high blood pressure. Fortunately his numbers are now under control and perhaps he can get back to concentrating on our job.

Meanwhile we have placed our order to Bali and the work will take 7 to 8 weeks to complete and then 4 - 6 weeks on the water. We won't have it until about Nov. 1st. I called the stucco people to ask if this would be a problem. While it isn't ideal, they can work around it.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Joe Bfstplk - alive and well?

Ken, the framer, found out he has very high blood pressure and was put on medication and told to immediately change his life style. For Ken this means, no more fast food, beer and more exercise. His job requires that he spend far too much time in his truck driving from job to job. Currently he is working on an animal hospital near Oxnard and our job. He's bidding on a few jobs down south of San Diego. In this economy, he is willing to go wherever he can find work, but it has it's price.

Ken, musing about what he might do to change things, was telling us stories about his construction experiences. He told a funny tale about a guy that he worked with who just couldn't do anything right. As an example, he told about a day when the boss left and told Ken and the other framers to keep an eye on this fellow and not to let him touch any equipment. No sooner had the truck pulled away from the site than the fellow picks up a brand new broom - snap! The handle was broken within minutes. Later, they saw him getting on an elevator device that's used to haul lumber upstairs...he was trying to get lumber loaded on it when it crashed, fell and broke a water pipe located just under the threshold of the supervisor's trailer. And so on....a Joe Bftsplk or a "cooler". Ken said that despite the guy's curse, his friends kept him on working with them for years. You wonder if it was a case of "the devil you know."

July 4th

Framing has been going along at a good speed. We have had two or
three people working every day. Ken comes by once or twice a day to check progress. The second story floor is almost complete and some of the walls are closed in. Every day there are questions about doing something. We call the architect every two or three days.

Now we are working on heating and air conditioning and trying to decide between various brands and sizes of units. Looks like we will need two of each - two heat pumps and two heaters. Between these two and the fireplace insert we should be warm. We found a mason we like, Tony...actually Ken ran into him at a gas station in Fallbrook and gave us his phone number.

I took down the window shutters in spare bedroom to save them from further destruction. They have to be removed before installing the new slider and before stuccoing anyway. A good clean-up job is in store for them and then stowing someplace safe until construction is over.

We had a scare as we were leaving for home about 4:00. Pinky was no where to be found and we searched high and low for him. We walked along every road, calling his name. We looked in every possible hidey hole - the pipes, up in the trees and in all his favorite places. Each of us kept going back to places he might have gotten closed inside - the tool shed, the garage, cupboards in the casita.
At 6:45, Richard, nearly starving drove into Fallbrook and brought us back KFC. About five minutes before he returned, I spied Pinkie running back to the casita from the front gate direction, little mouth agape and panting. He ran inside and went directly under the sofa. Buster went to him and started licking his face. I was so relieved and so was Richard, when he pulled in and I was able to give him a big thumbs up!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

No Ribs Night

All week we were anticipating ribs at the Fallbrook Cafe with Ross. We checked the "specials" board on our way in and were horrified to see that ribs were not listed. As it happened the cafe owner was on duty and we asked him about the ribs. He rushed into the kitchen and emerged to tell us that their meat supplier had neglected to deliver them.

Boo hoo! We were all salivating for ribs and the beef stroganoff I ordered was no substitute. In fact, it was hardly edible. Richard opted for the gyros and found it quite acceptable. Ross had the sandwich special - a chicken salad sandwich too big to eat. He requested the cafe business card so he could call ahead next time so as to avoid disappointment.

The week prior we all chose the catfish which was an excellent choice. Ross told a story about back in Missouri when the alcoholic father of Helen, Ross's wife, caught an enormous catfish. While landing the fish, he put his arm in the gill and the catfish thrashing around, nearly drowned him. He had to be rescued!! Once landed the mammoth catfish was strung up like a marlin and then sliced into steaks. Ross says the whole town joined in the catfish fry.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Swiss and Syrian Visit

Some wonderful house guests spent a few days with us. Roger, Maguy and Stefanie who have just completed a year in the US - Roger at War College, Stefanie at a public school and Maguy enjoying Washington DC. We had a full day together which we spent visiting the rancho - Maguy enjoyed picking fruit and filled a bag with plums, apriocts, nectarines, lemons a grapefruit and some oranges.

We ate a late lunch in Old Town and did an olive oil tasting there. Then on to wine country to the South Coast Winery where we endured a wine tasting. Awful...the place was crowded and understaffed. The staff they did have were surly and paid no attention to ordinary details, like rinsing the wine glasses between white and red. You had to hunt for spit buckets, hunt for the tasting menus and fight for a spot at the bar. Decidedly unsatisfying experience and if we go wine tasting in that area again, we will skip South Coast.

An unlikely coincidence was the high point of the visit. When Maguy arrived and mentioned that she was from Allepo, Richard told her about Zouka, Joey's mother-in-law....Maguy said quickly, "Yes, I know Zouka" - she lived in the same neighborhood. After further discussion it became more apparent that she really did know our Zouka. Near the end of the day, we connected the two by telephone and they chatted away in French for about half and hour, reconnecting. Maguy loved it and it was so much fun to hear her laughing and talking a mile a minute. After she hung up, she told us that ZouZou's family was one of the best in Allepo - her father, a doctor, was a cultured man and the family was well known in Allepo. Maguy and ZouZou went to the same school, although ZouZou is older by about 15 years than Maguy, she is close in age to Maguy's older sister.

We have pledged now to arrange to visit Allepo when Maguy is there probably next year in September. What fun it will be to see the sights with Maguy and Stefanie!