Friday, December 17, 2010

Rain Barrel Footings & An Empty Wine Rack

These are the small footings for the rain barrel that stands alone on the opposite corner on the back of the house:

 They are 8" square, and 4" tall.  They will support a small steel table upon which the rain barrel will sit.  They will be embedded into one large concrete pad, as opposed to 4 small ones.

I'm a little bit twitchy these days about my rain barrels.  Two of the 5 had to be emptied so that Vic could move them.  A third one, when our weather got cold, the hose came loose and the whole thing drained.  I knew the connection was bad, but had been procrastinating repairing it, so I suppose I am to blame for that one.  But I am down from about 275 gallons of water to 110.... for some reason that's akin to not having enough good books in the house to read, or having a wine rack that is less than full...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Footings: Day Two - Evening

Vic got the first four of the seven large footings poured today.  They look picture perfect:

Here are what the embeds look like:

That's one upside down (left) and one right-side up.  These large ones are 12" square and 4" high. When they are embedded into the concrete, 4 of them need to be 3'1" below the finished floor of my kitchen, and 3 of them need to be set 4'11" below the finished floor of my kitchen.  Tricky.  Some of the holes are quite deep -- 3 feet or more.  Vic said he would look for China-men when he was digging.  He's a funny guy...      The holes are lined with rebar for support.  He made the footing that will be under the portion of steps holding the rain barrel extra stout, since that will be 417 pounds of extra weight.  All in all -- some fairly serious footings.

Footings: Day Two - morning

So today is Day Two of footings construction.  Vic arrived during morning coffee, causing Red and I to scurry.  I threw on some street clothes -- thinking I'd just briefly be outside to greet Vic and get him set up.  90 minutes later I gimped back into the house, my fingers and toes little pink blocks of ice.  I should have known better.

I did learn how to use a plastic tube -- like a garden hose type of tube -- with water in it as a level... and I learned about double headed nails... so there's that.  Twice during the 90 minutes he threw out the old familiar phrase, "oh yah, I have a tool in the van for that."  And he did.

He says he'll have the 4 footings against the house poured today, and he hopes to dig out the remaining 3 holes down to their necessary depth. 

Footings: Day One

Yesterday was Day One of Vic & the Magic Van.  James the steel guy called me last night and we worked out the measurements question.  "Worked out" means that James said to do our best and call him with the measurements when we are done, and he'll cut the steel to fit.  Sort of what I expected him to say.

So here's what my back step area looked like when I got home from work:

I should have taken a photo from inside the house, looking out/down, but I didn't think of it.  It is an odd view, though, looking down into seven holes.  I stood in the kitchen with a firm grasp on Greta's collar and opened the doors.  She did the beginnings of a lunge out the door but then realized the steps were gone.  She stretched her neck out... sniffing... perplexed.   Yes... yes, something here is different.

She of course thinks its a party to get to go out the front door (on a leash -- I'm not crazy-- ) all the time now.

And then there's this view of supplies, stacked in my carport:

Bagged concrete.  And I think that is only about half of what he needs; I'm not sure.  What I am sure of, however, is that it definitely looks like work!

The last vestiges of the old wooden deck lie in the foreground of the second photo.  Fortunately bulk trash picks up on Monday, so I don't have to have that around for long.

Once again I was surprised by how much Vic can accomplish in a day.  I mean, he's just one guy.  Although, he does have the Magic Van.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Elfin Magic

The elf costumes are evolving... these are for the neighborhood party.  Our goal (well not mine, but someone had a great idea) was to imitate the style from the movie Elf:

So a very talented neighbor loaded a bunch of us in her car and off we went to JoAnn fabrics.  Fabrics were selected, measurements were taken, and jackets were sewn.  Here is my jacket:

I struggled with the fabric selection -- and in the end chose a color similar to the movie poster.  (Sometimes I lack imagination.  The fabric store seemed so overwhelming that day!)  Note the embroidered name on the lapel... you can't see it very well, but my assigned elf name is Crackers...

Tights color became a major issue.  I tried on my jacket and felt like I needed more red.  I wanted some candy cane swirl tights (not the Wicked Witch of the West horizontal stripe -- who needs horizonal stripes on their thighs??) but couldn't find them to buy anywhere.  I ordered gold tights as a fall back.  Then I got the bright idea (was it really bright?  You decide...) to paint white tights with a candy cane swirl.  The process was  q u i t e   memorable... but here's the end result:

Yes, I know -- the white socks and shoes -- not to mention the men's boxers -- REALLY make the tights.

So then... elf shoes.  Because if you are an elf, your toes MUST curl.  We had fabric left over from the jackets, so I decided to craft some shoes:

I still need to add a bell, bow, or pom-pom to the tip of the curve... and if I have time I may add a fun border around the ankle.

And then there's the hat selection.  I don't have photos of these, but I have a traditional Santa hat.  I have a gold lame' hat with white fur.  I have a 4' long Santa stocking cap, and I have a traditional Santa hat with a spiral around it that dangles a piece of mistletoe over my head.

I have a black belt, but I can't decide if it looks good or not...

Someone recently asked me if I have elf ears!  I DON'T!!  I hadn't even thought about them!  That's on my must do list... and at this late date I suspect it will be a challenging purchase.

I'll have to have a fashion show for Red to decide on all my options...

A Foundation to Build Upon

Vic and the Magic Van arrived my house this morning to begin work on the concrete footings for my back steps!  We still have one question about height, so I'm waiting for the steel fabricator to call me back... But when I get home tonight my rickety old wooden back steps should be demolished  -- (leaving me with a 4 foot drop off out my back door -- )  and I should have about 35 bags of concrete stacked in my car port.

The fabricator tells me that installation can happen 3 days after the concrete is poured, so I am hoping installation will happen next week!  I'll be about a week without back steps, which is sort of a hassle dog-wise (she could jump OUT the back door -- down the 4 feet -- but getting back in... a little more difficult!)

The layout of several other items in my backyard has been on hold until the steps are in; I am such a visual person that I just can't tell what it will all look like until they're in -- so hopefully in a week or so I can start making decisions on where my outdoor dining table will live, and where my permanent garden will be, and, and, and -- oooo it's all so exciting!!

Here's what that area looked like when I bought the house:

Here's the July 2010 architect's rendering of the steps:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Time Gets Away

I took this photo of my fireplace and partially decorated mantle Sunday evening with intentions of posting it yesterday along with a photo of my decorated tree. 

I guess you've noticed there's no tree photo?  Yes, well.  That's because my tree still only has lights on it, although this morning I did unearth the red velvet tree skirt.  Wow!  Visually that made a big difference!  I have all of the tubs of Christmas decor in my livingroom.  Some of them are even open.  And I did get the stockings hung by the chimney with care (with care mostly because I don't want them to catch on fire, family heirlooms and all.) 

I had high hopes for last night.  Wrap presents, decorate the tree, put the tubs back in the attic, oh, and sew two pair of elf shoes.  Because you know, that will only take me a minute.  Alas, I did get one pair of elf shoes nearly complete.  They are quite charming, if I do say so... they aren't done, so I cannot post a photo -- but they are on my must-do list for tonight, so TOMORROW.  Tomorrow -- a photos.

Of course also on the list for tonight is grocery shopping for ingredients for the famous "big salad" to take to a girls' dinner Thursday night.  I'm wishing that I could score some extra hours in my days this week.  Of course, what did I do Sunday night in front of that toasty fire?  Put my feet up with Red.  But that's one of the most important things I've done this week.