Shangri La

Shangri La

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene update

LSW here. As you might've heard on the news, Vermont got a surprise wallop from Hurricane Irene. We expected the worst in Connecticut, so we were prepared with lots of water, food and candles, but no one ever suspected that Vermont would take a hit. We're very lucky-- the cabin is fine. Unfortunately, some of the neighboring towns didn't fare so well. Our hearts go out to the residents of Grafton, Saxtons River, Brattleboro and all the other towns that are now faced with having to recover from the damage incurred by the overflowing river. No doubt it's going to be a long, hard road from here on out.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

We are FUN.

LSW here with the Top Ten Most Awesome Sauce Things About This Past Weekend in Shangri-La.

1) I forgot to pack The Boy's suitcase. Fun! Where do people go to shop for clothes in our little paradise? I have no idea. I drove 1 1/2 hours to the nearest Walmart.

2) Despite the fact that our "kitchen" consists of a toaster oven , a coffee maker and an electric griddle set over a couple of boards across some sawhorses, it's still nicer than my "real" kitchen at home.

3) There is nothing, I mean nothing, more exciting than styrofoam. (And clean underwear.)

4) Except maybe Battleship. Hours and hours of Battleship. 

 5) Sandwiches, but they're not on bread. They're on pretzels. Pretzels!

 6) We like to include an educational element to our weekends in Shangri-La.

 ("The otter die cuss it smoket to much" and "He done got shot." Can't make this stuff up, folks.)

7) Road eggs. So charming, so quaint. Until you accidentally stick a $10 bill instead of a $1 into the locked cash box.  

8) Beer. Called The Vermonster.

9) Fireworks in the pouring rain.
10) Clear water!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Nothing is Ever Quite Done

 Looking around this weekend I was struck again with how nothing ever seems to quite get finished.
  • The siding is done, but the eaves still need to be boxed in.
  • The plumbing is done except for the hose spigot and the bathroom vanity.
  • The landscaping is done except for the driveway surfacing.
  • The electrical is done, except for the track lighting, the ceiling fan and the exterior outlets.
  • And rewiring the porch lights.
  • And installing the bathroom light/exhaust unit.
And so it goes - a growing punch list that I’ll get to ‘next time’.

Then there is the unexpected re-work ; month I noticed that one of the porch posts - comprised of 4 glued-up pieces - had a couple of small seam splits about ½ way up one side. This last weekend there were similar splits on the center column and additional splits on the first column. What gives? Could a 6x14 porch roof really exceed the combined 7500 lbs the posts are rated for? Or is it a manufacturing defect? I’ll continue to watch them, but they’ll probably get replaced with solid 6x6 posts (with a little decorative embellishing) before the winter snows add to the load this year.

And the regular work continues. There was some additional taping and sanding in the bathroom, but most of the weekend was given to insulation and sheet rock. My father hung the first 6 sheets of wall board in the dining/kitchen space, so this was my first experience with gypsum board. Turns out its messy, fairly easy, and very gratifying. Like framing, the changes are dramatic and the clear evidence of progress kinda propels you along.

The tools are simple, too: Saw horses, tape measure, chalk line, pencil, utility knife, wall board saw and cordless drill.  Put a sheet on the saw horses, measure and mark it for pesky obstacles (like windows door), cut one direction with the saw, score the other with the utility knife, snap the sheet at the score and cut the opposite side with the knife.

Easy, right?

Until you discover that you cut everything ‘mirror image’ so the backside faces outward. Or that you measured the distance to the window from the wrong side of the sheet. Or you go to lift the sheet up without adequate support and break it. Or you don’t support a ‘snapped’ piece adequately while cutting it and rip the paper on the reverse side. Or you lay the piece up on the wall only to find that your framing apparently isn’t 2’ on center after all.  (How did that happen??)

Fortunately, my father had clued me into some of these pitfalls previously, so I only ruined one of the 8 sheets we ultimately put up. Another reminder he provided: Keep the factory edges where sheets meet - there is a ‘valley’ toward the edges that is designed to keep the seams level and invisible. If you must cut a factory edge, do it on an inside or outside corner, or against a door or window where it will be covered by trim work.

Really, though - this is up there with tiling as a job too easy to ever contract for again. Taping, maybe; putting the wall board up - no way.

On the walls, anyway. I suspect that the ceiling would be more of a trick, but we‘re using tongue-and-groove pine, so we‘ll never find out.

So now each downstairs wall is mostly done, as running out of insulation and the need for final wiring work prevented us from finishing the job. One more thing for the list of ‘next times’…