Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Snow on the Way

The forecast for tomorrow night and Friday is for more snow--6-12 inches, in fact. I rushed home from work today and cut up those trees so I could move them out of the driveway in case plowing is necessary over the next few days. Yes, you guessed it; I did all that cutting with a hand saw. (I have never claimed to be the sharpest tool in the shed.) As I worked away, I kept telling myself things like, "Listen to those geese honking. Never would hear all that with a chain saw running."

When I was done moving wood out of the driveway, I spent some time daydreaming as I listened to the geese and gazed at the pretty light out on the river.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Trees Down

When I was in New Orleans earlier this week (for a conference for work), it was a sunny, humid, 82 degrees there. My first morning back home, I woke up to new snow falling. Oh, please! It's been cold the rest of the week (high of 30 degrees, basically), including today. It was sunny today but, especially with the strong wind, it was cold.

Even so, I decided today was the day to take down the trees--the trees that have to come down in order to park the JayBee trailer against the hillside. What's a little cold? At least the snowbank at the base of the trees was finally gone.

It did occur to me to cut down the trees with a chain saw. I own a chain saw but it has been at a friend's house for years. I wasn't very competent running it, and I certainly wasn't comfortable running it. So, I figured I'd just cut the trees down with a hand saw.

First, tree one.

Then, tree two.

Once both trees were down, I shoved them to the edge of the driveway. If we have a storm that requires plowing, I hope my plow guy won't be upset. Did I feel like using a hand saw to cut up the trees? Guess I need chain saw lessons after all.

The hillside against which the JayBee will sit faces south and is always the warmest spot in my yard. Even though there is still plenty of snow elsewhere, it is gone off the hillside, and daylillies are starting to come up.

It will be awhile before the snow in the rest of the yard is gone.

I tried to shovel the snow off the deck today, but it is a solid block of ice.

The river is finally wide open.

The tides are visible now. (See the low-tide mud flats on the far side of the river?) The small white spots in the water and the small white spots against the trees on the far side are geese.

Check out one of the ice slabs left along the shores of the river. This one, tossed on its side, is a massive 12 inches thick and 12 feet long.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

More Signs of Spring

I was awoken this morning by loud animal chattering right outside my window. This is what I found when I finally looked:

I live in an area where there is often a cacophony of animal sounds, especially during the height of summer--screeching, singing, snuffling, scrabbling, pecking, etc.--but usually so much foliage that I cannot visually see (nor take a photo of) what is making all the noise. One of the beauties of this time of year is that, without foliage, sometimes I get lucky. These two raccoons were way out on the same branch (the one on the right) when the noise started. Although they appear in this photo to be of equal size, the one on the left is the mama and the one on the right is a much smaller juvenile. The "chattering" I heard was the young one arguing and fighting off the mama ("Leave me alone! Stop licking me! I'm fine on my own!") until mama finally moved away. I watched for a long time as the scenario repeatedly looped around--they would be together on a branch and mama would relentlessly groom the young one, and then the young one would start screaming and clawing until mama would move away, then mama would come back and start grooming, and then the young one would scream--over and over.

I think the wildlife around here is as eager for spring as I am. I had my bald eagle sightings at the beginning of the week, then a fox sighting mid week. I startled three deer as I stepped out my door the other morning and, now that the river is open again, the ducks and geese have started to return.

Spring in Maine requires patience. We have some nice, sunny days, but we also have long stretches of cold, gray days steeped in an endless sea of sucking mud. This morning, it's snowing, even as the sun is trying to shine.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Open Water!

A U.S. Coast Guard ice cutter broke the ice on the Kennebec in front of my house today. If it wasn't for the fact that this is done to prevent ice dams and flooding, I would far prefer that the ice go out on its own. Natural ice-out can be quite a stunning, thunderous display.

In any case, I welcome the open water! After months of still, vast white, now there is flowing blue again. Tonight I heard ducks out there. How did they figure it out so fast? :-)

In the above photo, the thing that looks like a black navigational marker is actually my neighbor's Christmas tree. It's a tradition to see how far into spring the tree stands before being carried away on the tide. All that dirt around the tree gushed out of a stream and out on top of the ice during the pouring rain we had about ten days ago.

That red thing (above photo) is a real navigational buoy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Radiant Barrier Arrives

I was quite surprised to find all this reflective insulation sitting on my doorstep when I arrived home from work today.

Yes, I did order it. They never sent an email telling me it had shipped, however. (Isn't that standard practice these days?) Also, during the Christmas-shipping season, both UPS and FedEx declared my address to be "invalid" (even though they had delivered shipments to me for the previous 19 years), so I fully expected to hear that UPS would require a different shipping address...

Surprise! And a pleasant one at that.

You Know It's Spring When...

the whole dang family* goes for a walk! ( * that would be me and the cats)

We haven't done this for months...since before the snow began to fly. So, even though the air was brisk and the road a bit cold and muddy on the paws, we went for a walk after I got home from work.

I did try to capture the two cats in one photo, but George likes to hang back

and Bear insists on being underfoot.

I was very puzzled by this odd dark shape out on the river ice. By the time I figured out it was two bald eagles doing goodness-knows-what out there and pointed the camera, one of them flew off. Extra points if you can spot the one remaining...

BALD EAGLE UPDATE: On my way to work this morning (March 15), only a few miles from my house, I came around a corner in the road...and slammed on my brakes because there was an eagle in the middle of the road eating some kind of feathered carcass (small wild turkey perhaps?). At first he (she?) seemed unconcerned...then tried to take off with the carcass. Too heavy, so dropped it. I think I held my breath the whole time. She was only about 25 feet in front of me. Watching those long, graceful, and powerful wings pump the air as she slowly took off down the road--the whole scene seemed to play out in slow motion. When I finally moved my car again, crows started flying in from all directions...If I'd been able to stay and watch, I might have seen quite the contest for that carcass. My morning was awesome--in the true awe sense of the word.

My Table Solution

People who live in tiny houses end up devising table solutions that fit their circumstances and lives, and that somehow work in the limited space available in their homes. Some use one surface to serve multiple purposes; for example, a counter or desk that is also used as a table. I've seen many creative examples of folding tables--tables that fold out of the way when not in use (and are usually permanently installed).

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have discovered that, unlike when I shared living space, I do not have a daily need for a table now that I live alone. When alone, I do not eat at a table. I never use a desk at home as a desk. (I never did, not even when I was in college.) I use a laptop computer in my lap, and I use a drafting board in my lap. Thinking honestly about how I live these days, I reached the conclusion that I only need a table when I have company over to dinner and for the occasional project (like when I set up my sewing machine, for example). Therefore, I will use a 28" diameter table that, when not in use, is folded away in a small closet with some folding chairs. When I need a larger table to seat more people, I will add a folding 48" table extender to the top of the table.

(These are not the chairs I will use in my JayBee, but I thought they added perspective to the table's size.)

One additional benefit to using a folding table is that I will be able to easily set the table up outside when I want to serve dinner on my deck.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Radiant Barrier (aka Reflective Insulation)

I will be using a radiant barrier on the ceiling, floor, and all walls of my JayBee--to stop radiant heat flow by both reflectivity (97% reflective) and emissivity (only 3% emissive). For this, I will be using two different products. The one I will use under both the subfloor and the ceiling boards has a double layer of enclosed air bubbles with a reflective, moisture-barrier surface on both sides. (I will use what is left on the roll after I've installed it on the house to make insulated window curtains.)

The product I will use on the walls is a perforated, kraft-paper product. The perforations make it breathable so it can be used under the siding as a house wrap. (I will be installing a separate moisture barrier on the inside of the walls.)

These products should add R14 to the house's envelope, which should especially help with the walls, since the walls will only be 3.5 inches thick.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Featured in Tiny House Blog!

I sent information about my JayBee project to Kent Griswold of the Tiny House Blog

about three weeks ago, and he published it today as a GUEST POST. How fun! Thank you, Kent.

I wondered if getting a mention on the Tiny House Blog might increase traffic to my blog...Until today, my blog was getting 10-28 hits a day. So far today, my blog has been visited 568 times! Answers that question, I guess.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

JayBee Progress...or...Hope for Spring

Even though I haven't posted lately, I have been making slow and steady progress on my JayBee plans. My framing drawings are finally coming together. I was near to finalizing my windows and door when I got completely stalled because I couldn't find a window small enough for one of the two lofts. Still haven't completely resolved that issue yet. And I have written (but not yet submitted) my application for a "permanent campsite" permit. Next huge task: putting together a lumber order.

In the meantime, we had three solid days of rain earlier in the week. At first, it didn't seem to make a dent in the snowpack. When it was finally done, it was exciting to see that, indeed, the snowbanks had shrunk. We're in for a mix of snow and rain over the next few days. There is a bit of daylight left when I get home from work now, so we're mostly headed in the right direction!