Monday, October 8, 2007

Closed for business

Sunday we woke without an alarm to a strange summery morning. It is incredibly dry around here these days; we're in a drought and our yard is crispy. The woods are turning yellow but the smell of fall is faint without any moisture in the air.

Just like the day before, John was anxious to get going and I was anxious to put some proofing behind me (I have a freelance thingy right now) so we went our separate ways temporarily. He made a run to the hardware store, then buzzed around the front of the house putting the ball valves in the three upstairs circuits while I knocked out 60 or so pages. Then we rejoined forces to crimp the pex onto our pumps and manifolds in the basement. Crimp, crimp, crimp (times 12 or so): Voila! A closed system!

Now, from where the underground lines enter the basement, through the pump, heat exchanger, gauges and valves, mixing valve, more pumps, manifolds, all 8 circuits and back again, we have a complete and closed heat system! All ready to pressure-test. Once we get this thing past the test we'll declare it done and start insulating. Even before doing the pressure test, this is quite a milestone. We stood there and admired the nuclear-submarine-like assembly we'd suffered over for more than two weeks.

What next? We thought about hooking up the furnace end of the underground lines, but discovered we didn't have all the right fittings. Then we thought about finishing up some electrical that we took apart to do the first beam (which would allow us to put those two stair treads back on, eliminating a minor hazard) but needed more info on the way that circuit is wired. (If you need details, ask John.)

One thing we could do: haul out our big extension ladder and scrape paint off the eaves on the south side of the house. Now, ever since early July when our families came and we got started on the big paint-scraping project, I've been chipping away at it (ha) and have gotten most of the first-floor trim scraped, primed and painted in odd moments when nothing else is happening. Haven't been able to progress to the second floor, though, because it's a two-person job to move the ladder around (and whoever's at the top of that ladder really should have a spotter). This was the day.

We did, after a while, figure out the easiest way to extend and retract the ladder, and develop a technique for moving it side to side, but there was some cursing and muscling before that happened, plus one instance of the ladder crashing to the ground with--we are grateful--nobody clinging to it. Another learning curve: If I plaster myself to the ladder, putting my center of gravity right on it, things are much better and safer than if I sort of kneel outward from it, swaying in the breeze.

Scraping itself wasn't too tough, as most of the paint up there was either in good shape or in such awful shape that it came right off. Got all the eaves and the attic window scraped. This is one of those mental hurdles that it's good to cross: OK, this is what this job will take. As I was scraping John patiently hung out and steadied the ladder and let his mind wander, and at one point he said that after our beams and temporary walls, the project of fixing the partially rotted porch columns seems much more obvious and doable. Great! Another mental hurdle down. Now we just need a Saturday and we'll knock that out too.

Last task of the day was to continue the ongoing path all the way up to the back corner of our land (the top o' the prop!), which John did with a machete, to clear a little spot for sitting, and to set up a table and two chairs back there. John cut a leftover beam chunk in half with the chainsaw (yeah, we got the tools!): 2 table legs. Then he carried a leftover piece of soapstone up: tabletop. We brought a bottle of wine and some brave tomatoes from the garden. Looked at the walnut trees, the goldenrod, the woodpeckers and the gloaming. Heard one car alarm (what th'?) and one hooted note from the barred owl.

- Erika

1 comment:

Rachael said...

Today I cleaned and vacuumed the inside of my car. I considered it quite a physical and mental challenge. There were times I felt like I just couldn't go on. There was one moment in particular when I was in the back seat and realized that had left the crevice tool on the floor by the front seat. I really needed that crevice tool. I'll tell you, I considered just forgetting the whole thing and watching a musical on VHS instead. But I didn't. I got out of the car, walked around the open door, bent down, grabbed the tool, walked back, and completed my task. It felt good.

I'm not exaggerating about my feelings of desperation and accomplishment during this job. I just don't understand how you all are making this whole thing happen. Just winners, I guess.