Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Vapor Barrier 1

Glorious days! A rainy day--which is fine now that I'm working on the inside of the JayBee. Nice, sunny days--but much cooler than the hot, humid stuff we'd been having. I took full advantage of these cooler days and plugged along with installing the vapor barrier on the interior walls. It is slow going but much more fun than insulating, so I'm able to stick with it for longer. For some reason, playing music wasn't motivating me, so I binge-listened to some podcasts (Dear Sugar Radio and Modern Love) and kept moving.





Friday, July 21, 2017

Time to Catch Up

I have been lagging in my posts! To catch you up...

I have finally finished installing insulation in the JayBee. It took me way longer than I'd anticipated because...well, everything takes me longer than I anticipate. Plus, I was working around some birds. Yup, birds.

This was the first sign that the birds were taking over. If you look closely, you will see a bird's nest sitting on top of the air exchanger that's above the north side window.


Then, I noticed mud splatters around the front door of the JayBee. And, a partial nest fell to the doorstep.


Not to be deterred, birds quickly finished this nest on top of one of the lights outside the front door.


Every time I went in and out of the JayBee, I had to contend with anxious, dive-bombing parent birds. I worried every time I turned on the compressor that I was traumatizing them. I didn't dare leave the front door open for air flow because I thought it would lead to a crazed bird flying around in the rafters. I couldn't hang the awning on the front of the house to cool it in the summer sun because it would block the parent birds from getting to the nest.

After way more weeks than I thought it was possible for birds to sit on a nest, there were finally two big fat babies.



As of the end of last week, it appears that all birds have left the nest. (No feathers in the driveway either, so the cats didn't snag any of them.) I've been warned that sometimes birds re-use a nest for a second hatching, so I better get busy with taking it down and crafting some kind of nest blocker.

In the meantime, I did finish insulating...



As I worked on the insulation, I kept finding places in the framing that needed nailers to catch the ends of boards when I install them on the ceiling and walls. To save time later, I installed those nailers as I went.







The city Code Enforcement Officer signed off on the insulation today, so that's good.

I took delivery of a lot of pine boards (for the ceiling and walls) and some fir boards (for the bathroom). 


As the load was tipped off the back of the delivery truck, the bottom boards stuck to the flat bed and pulled themselves far out from the rest of the load. In order not to snap those boards off when the load crashed to the ground, the delivery guy propped the load in a bizarre (but effective!) fashion.



I spent the rest of that hot, humid day carefully stacking every one of those boards. There were a few moments when I thought, "Wow, these stacks are getting pretty tall; maybe I should use stickers." Note to self: When you have a nagging thought, PAY ATTENTION!


The next day, when I heard a thunderous crash, I knew just what it was. (I worried that the avalanche of boards had killed George, since one of his favorite hangout spots is in here, but he was elsewhere and just fine.)


It took me another entire hot, humid day to pull the boards out of the garage and re-stack them--with stickers.



As I work on installing plastic as a vapor barrier on the interior walls, and installing the radiant barrier (which will also serve as a vapor barrier) on the ceiling, I am beginning to stain some pine boards so I will have some ready to install on the ceiling.


I had explored the possibility of using beetle kill pine on the living-room walls. It turns out it is outrageously expensive to purchase here in Maine, since it all comes from Colorado and Wyoming, so I nixed the idea and purchased regular pine. I couldn't get the idea out of my mind, though; I think it's that pretty! (Have you seen it? Check out these images.) So, I have been experimenting with creating my own faux beetle kill pine effect with a custom blue-gray stain, and white milk paint used as a whitewash or pickling on top. Something like this maybe?



For those more interested in news of the river...

It's still here!



The sturgeon are jumping. I hear their loud belly-flop smacks up at the house all the time, and I occasionally see one poised high in the air over the water.

I hear eagles every day, and see them often. There are at least a few of them living right around my house this summer.




We had some extreme rainstorms this spring. In all 26 of the years I have lived here, I have never before seen this kind of erosion occur as a result of one rainstorm. Bizarre, dramatic, dangerous.



For those of you more interested in the cats...

Cat (Bear) sleeping in the woods on a hot day.


At first glance, this next shot looks like George sleeping in the driveway.


It's really a dead-to-the-world George in the foreground...


...and interloper tuxedo cat hanging out with Bear up on the drain field.


I will finish with a small gallery of George--who turns 18 this summer. He appears to be quite deaf at this point, which puts him at a distinct disadvantage because things can creep up on him. In fact, he was attacked by a fox (yes, a fox!) as he lounged on our deck. I was home at the time, heard the commotion and ran to the door, just in time to scare off a fox. George did not appear to be injured, and he still wants to spend all his time outside, so I just hope he keeps his wits and sharp claws ready. He still is able to channel his former alpha self when it's needed, thank goodness. And he still likes to go on walks with me.

[Side note: I felt like wildlife was invading my life this spring. Bird nests everywhere. Fox attack. Eagles screeching every day. Startled a porcupine sleeping in the garage one day when I went to take out the mower. Three strange cats (tuxedo cat, marmalade cat, and tiger cat) spend a lot of time in the yard--sometimes "hanging" with my cats, other times fighting with my cats. Startled a skunk on my deck one night--yes, who sprayed, thank you very much. When taking compost out to the compost bin, I regularly startle deer who are grazing on top of the drain field--and they startle me back. I spent eight weeks covered in a rash caused by caterpillar hairs that had me digging my skin raw. Thankfully, things seem to have calmed down a little these last few weeks. It was just exhausting!]






When I heard George make a cat-fighting sound one morning a few weeks ago, I immediately went running. I thought maybe a fox was after him again. Instead, this is what I saw. Now, keep in mind that George hasn't caught a creature in forever. I never see him stalking or catching anything any more. Back when he did hunt, he did it silently. So, for him to make a fighting sound means that either something attacked him or startled him. I think this stupid squirrel touched a soundly-sleeping George, and this is what he got for his trouble.


The squirrel ordeal wore George out so completely, he didn't leave this spot on the deck for the entire next day!



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Water Line Repaired!

Back in January, the water district sent me a letter saying they had identified a leak in my city water line, and that I needed to fix the leak immediately, or my water would be shut off on February 11. Standing on the rise to the west of the JayBee, I could see hundreds of feet into the woods to where the leak was.


I could not imagine that I would be able to find someone who could get equipment into the woods to fix this problem in the middle of winter...

Many inches of snow later, after negotiating with and updating the water district multiple times, and after early spring had finally melted the snow...

I had a plan for fixing the water line. First, I needed to cut a path through the trees for an excavator to make its way in to the leak.

From down in the valley, looking back at the house...


There is a LOT of water running through the valley in multiple streams, especially this time of year.




Both George and Bear came through the woods with me. George quickly found a cushy pile of leaves, curled up, and fell asleep. Bear spent more time hanging out with me.



Here's the leak identified by the water district with some blue flags. It doesn't show in the photo, but there is quite a stream of water running down the hill--and it has eroded a deep trench in the hillside.



Above the leak, it is hundreds of feet to the upper road where the excavator would need to travel. I spent hours clearing a path...




Finally, fix day arrived. Walking the repair guys through the woods in to where the leak was, we startled a family of six deer. They bounded away too quickly to get a photo. Here is the excavator at the site of the leak.


After the excavator found the leak and the pipe was cut for the fix...


Hours later--after two trips for more parts, and coordinating with the water district for water shut off and on--the excavator filled in the hole and left.


Unfortunately, below the fix, there is still a long, deep trench that I should fill in to protect the water line from freezing in future winters. I mentioned my concern about this to the guy doing the repair, but he really didn't want to deal with it. I guess I have some heavy-duty shoveling in my future!



My biggest concern about this project was my worry that, once the water was turned back on after the fix, the plumbing in my old house (the one I want to tear down) would burst left and right from the increase in water pressure. (After I did work on the water line in 2004, the water pressure rose above 100 psi and the shower head blew off!) Luckily, this time, no plumbing has burst in the house (yet). A couple of the fixtures act a bit stressed with the high water pressure (even though I have to say that taking a high-pressure shower is quite nice) but, so far, they are holding.

It is exciting to have a repaired water line and to know that I will have great water supply for the JayBee!

In other spring news...

George on a walk with me along the river.


There is so much water in the river right now, with all the spring run-off, that it can be hard to see the difference between high and low tide. In the photo below, it is an hour and a half before high tide, but the gully between the road and the river is filling up with water.




The spring flood tides pick up all kinds of debris. Below, near the near shore is a huge tree floating down the river.


This can't be good. Directly in front of my house along the railroad tracks is a cement box. It always had a metal lid secured on it, and I assumed it held stuff related to the railroad crossing of the road a short ways away. Recently, the lid suddenly went missing. Who does this stuff? Vandalize things for no reason. Was it really enough metal to salvage for money? Anyway, I peered in the box the other day. Old batteries submerged in water. This cannot be good.