Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's a Stake Out!

Gary went back today and staked the back corners of the house and connected the dots for me.  It's starting to look like the outline of a house.  Of course, it also looks like a drunk laid it out with all the ins and outs.  But those are all the features that add so much (to the appeal and the cost)! 

The design team came out to have a look and give everything their blessing. 

They compared the plans to the stakes, marveled at how different the lot looks, and took pictures.

You've already met Gary, now here is the design part of Team 3375.  On the left we have Graham Pittman, landscape architect and author of the site plan.  Then we have Denise Johnson and Justeen Oess of Justeen Oess Architects, who designed our house.  It was great to have them out on the lot and see the progress.  It looks a lot more like a house site than when they all first came out.

In the end we all decided that everything looked good, but we would shift the house two feet to the north (left looking at it from the street) to give us a little ease.  ~Why is "Time Warp" from the Rocky Horror Picture Show running through my head? "It's just a step to the left..."~
This is pretty much the view from the front door back to the street right now.
And this is the view toward the front of the house.
In the background, you can see the feature that every house should have:
a dirt pile!
All you really need in life is one good friend, a dog and a dirt pile.
Anyone up for a quick game of King of the Mountain?

Making the Grade

Today when I arrived Gary and Jason were hard at work figuring out how to make the grade. They got out the transit and the measuring tape and figured out where they needed to cut the lot down.
The enormous mulch pile in the background didn't help matters.
You see, in order to be able to move the dirt around, stake out the house and eventually dig the basement, they needed to put all that mulch somewhere. So, they piled it up between the soon to be next door neighbors' driveway and the house site:
The mulch pile is so wide that they couldn't cut it back as far as it will eventually go, but it will be enough for now.  They cut right to the edge of the pile.
It sure does look big with the mulch pile on top.  Especially with a person in front of it to give it some perspective.
We will slope down to the wall that will go here eventually, so that the wall isn't so tall.
To stake out the front corners of the house, we had a visit from a real surveyor. Here he is in transit with his transit,
which he soon set up and started consulting the plans.
With the remote control and the tripod, he kinda looks like Ansel Adams, don't you think?
He and his helper got busy setting the corners of the house.
Meanwhile, Gary and Jason were back to studying the plan, now wet from a rain shower.
And Jason's helper struck a pose:
Somebody must have let it slip that the modeling agency was bringing cute kids out again.  That would also explain Jason's fashion choices today -- or would it?
At any rate, we had a huge dirt pile in the back from cutting down the lot.  Just a photo of a mound of dirt is pretty uninspiring, but add some adorable kids, climbing and sliding, and you've got something special:
Don't you think the modelling agency sent some good ones?
I hope the agency provides Tide when they send the models out on shoots like this.
It was definitely a trac hoe bucket full of cuteness.  I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mulch Ado about Nothing

Saturday brought a surprise.
The man with the mulch chipper brought it on down and got started chipping.
It doesn't look too menacing, does it?
I don't think its looks warrant its name:
Even the warning label seemed a little over the top:
I guess this is the part that will get you if you are unfortunate enough to get caught on the conveyor belt:
I sat and watched it chip up trees, trunks and stumps for a while and it was a beast.
Of couse, it had a little help from its incredibly menacing friend, "Pinchy"
Pinchy was hungry.  He would take a stump like this and chomp it into two pieces like this:
He would take trees and crack them in his powerful jaws.
Even when Pinchy took a little nap at lunchtime, he had a tree trunk for a pacifier.
I loved watching the teamwork between Pinchy and the Beast. Pinchy would grab the logs and turn them into matchsticks,

then the Beast would chew them up and spit them out as mulch.
It was hot enough to broil your brain on Saturday, so I took a cue from the dogs I have known.  I sat down in the shade of the idle track hoe.  Nestled down under the cab and between the tractor treads was 10 degrees cooler than standing out in the sun and gave me protection from the occasional tree shard that would kick back from the Beast.
Later in the evening we went down to see the mulch pile.  Here's how it stands up to a 6'4" boy.
Pinchy got a little nervous about our presence.  I think he thought my model would steal some precious mulch, so Pinchy grabbed him:
Luckily, I distracted Pinchy with a nearby log and the model escaped unscathed.
In the end it was mulch  ado about nothing.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Before and After

When Trees Fight Back

Jason really didn't want to take down these last few trees.
The only place to fell them safely was up the hill.  The problem was that it's hard to put the trac hoe down hill of a tree and get enough leverage to push it over.  When the canopy of the tree is mostly on the downhill side, you don't get any help from gravity, either. 
The tree, loosened from its moorings, will want to just fall downhill -- back on the trac hoe.

So, he dug carefully around the rootball and then built a ramp.  It was like an invading army building a ramp for the siege engine.
When the ramp was tall enough for the siege engine to be able to reach high enough upon the trunk to move the tree, they began to push it.
Things got a little tense and scary when the tree decided to retaliate and started coming back on Jason.  He had to shout for his helper to come with the bulldozer and help push.
I retreated to higher ground.  It was the equivalent of peering between my fingers.  I didn't really want to watch.  I was so afraid the tree would get them both.  But I was the only other soul there, and I knew I had to watch to call for help if the tree retaliated and squished them. 

There was a tense moment.

And then another.

And finally the tree was defeated and fell up the hill. 
After that, Jason and his helper decided that the siege engine needed a little help.
A carefully placed notch on the uphill side of the tree followed by a team effort: one man pushing with the trac hoe and one cutting - poised to exit quickly- on the back side of the tree.

In the evening, the log trucks came and took the logs away to Drew's mill. 

They brought two trucks and made two trips. 
Next we will grind the brush pile and root balls into mulch. None of our trees will be taken to the land fill. They will all be returned to the lot, either as flooring, millwork or mulch.