Foundations

I truly am an introvert. It surprises me how much I hate having ‘strangers’ around my house. I know these are guys working to build my addition, but some days I feel like my cat, ready to growl when I see someone outside. Weekends are so relaxing. And this doesn’t have anything to do with my needing to get up really early. Since I retired I keep later hours, but I know with the heat of the summer the crew wants to work as early as possible and quit when it is too hot. That is fine with me, especially since that would also avoid the ‘possibility of afternoon thunderstorms’ that seems to be every summer afternoon. I have been adjusting my schedule.

foundation work

Even with afternoon and evening rains, the crew is making progress through the red clay mud. It’s quite a challenge, translating the plan with all of its ‘normal’ angles of the dome, plus the special link to connect the old and new is a whole weird set of angles itself. Doug did a good job with the first one and is making sure this one is accurate. He had to reset things just once today. He has also set a pipe under the foundation to drain off the rainwater that has gathers in the driveway and runs through that area. It will prevent washing out in the future, and likely keep standing puddles out of the drive.

view from my front door

Tomorrow we get a load of gravel so they can continue to prepare for the foundation pour. After that is the slab. That will still have a height difference from my front door of a few inches, as the flooring in the new part will be different. That’s better than the couple of feet currently outside the door. I’m parking at the back of the house and using the back door for the duration. I know there is always debris that may puncture tires. I’ve given them my parking spot for the mortar mixer, convenient to power and water. Since I have crushed concrete for the drive, it won’t hurt to drip there, either. Sharon did not like mowing over chunks of mortar drip.

We were lucky with the first build, as Doug easily found an electrician to work on it. He was semi-retired and passed away a year or so ago, so we are looking. So many people are leery of the dome, even though most of the wiring goes through the interior walls, which are standard construction. This is nearly the last licensed subcontractor we need, chronologically, so we aren’t excited yet, just frustrated.

Regrouping

scary damage to the truck

Truck arrived Wednesday and was unloaded within 3 hours. Only a couple of scrapes in foam on a couple of panels and one broken corner. Nothing serious, all easy to fix. The poor truck has a lot of scrapes, and it showed how lucky everyone was to have no injuries. If the driver had rear-ended my driver’s truck, we would have had quite a set-back on the schedule, probably having to get a new place in the production line.

arriving

leaving

 

 

 

 

 

 

stacks of panels spread around the meadow

The crew had a concrete saw and cut up and removed the part of my front patio that will become a true foundation under the addition. For the duration of the build, I will be parking in the grass and using my back door. And it is now loaded with everything that used to be in front. They stirred up a couple of ant nests, so I’ve been spraying where they were climbing the outside wall. After I had an invasion last year, I do not want any ants inside.

 

patio removal prior to new foundation

Thursday was unscheduled, as the bobcat driver (with the great laser level) was not available until Friday. I headed to Charlotte to pick up a waterproofing compound that will go into the mortar in the seams between the panels. I heard about Kryton on a This Old House show, and it sounds like it will prevent any intrusion of water. Even though the last paint we used is very good, I’d like to have an additional barrier. It’s expensive, except considering what can be saved if it works as promised: frustration at leaks, more expensive paint, and more labor to deal with it. I will report on the results, but probably won’t know until another winter/summer temperature cycle.

Delay

This project is just not destined to be completed anywhere near then end of summer. I was awakened by a call this morning from the truck driver who was in Florida yesterday and took on the load of panels from AI Domes. There was an accident near Colombia this morning – thankfully no injuries, but another truck behind him didn’t get stopped in time and slid between his truck and the one beside him, blowing out tires. He said it did not look like much touched my stuff, just a few gouges (easily repaired with spray foam or concrete). Since he doesn’t know how long it’ll be before he gets towed in to replace wheels and tires, we are planning for tomorrow. At least I was able to reach my foreman before he left home and only the most local worker showed up here before Doug reached him. Just not a good day to start things, I guess. We have to leave enough room in the meadow for the truck to turn around, so no other work will start until after delivery.

“Tomorrow’s another day.”

Here’s a picture of the truck leaving the plant yesterday morning. Lots of stuff.

loaded truck

 

I’m Ready to Start

Things are getting close to starting on the build. I have the engineer-sealed plans, have gotten approval of my septic system, and we have been working to get everything else lined up for county to approve a building permit. Got it today! Since I’m putting the connector to the new dome over the current front door, I will lose a lot of light in my kitchen. I have had the 2ftx3ft windows replaced with 2ftx5ft windows and they look great. The A/C unit beneath them has been removed, too. I’ll have to start parking in back and using my back patio doors, as the concrete at the front will need to be removed and a regular foundation will eventually be poured. There are still a few plants to be moved, and we’ll probably have to get a load of dirt for leveling the site. It is on a small slope, so looks unlikely we’ll have enough without tearing up the yard too much. Adding it will be easier.

new kitchen windows

Sharon and I had planned to go to the annual Mensa gathering this summer, but decided it was going to be a lot easier if we just waited to go next year. She is hoping to have a litter of puppies started, and I’m starting on the addition – plenty to keep us occupied. This also means I won’t be worried about getting jewelry ready for a market there. I’ve gotten so far behind while healing the shoulder, having to cut back to keep from getting too sore.

I am back at working my upper body for strength training again, increase of weight after 3 or 4 weeks. It still is not feeling like normal, but I can lift a lot more everyday stuff. Shoulder injuries are certainly not an easy recovery. I have also been doing a lot of stretching of my hips, various modified yoga poses. It is slowly easing up and allowing me to move more easily.

We (2 cats and I) are settling into a new routine with the third cat gone. They are each trying to fill some of the empty role Buster played. It would help if they got along better. I will have to consider another grown cat after we have more room.  I think they will survive the build by being closed into the back (bedroom) half of the current dome. They are both fairly shy cats and hate the noise and commotion, but did all right while the windows were changed out. It will probably drive me crazier.

Rather than try to match up the pale gray paint in the kitchen, since the plaster is torn up around the windows and more will be when the door is replaced with an open doorway, I will probably start with the one wall in a yellow. I love a yellow kitchen, especially one that faces north. With the room open to the top of the dome, I don’t want to have to paint that for a good while, so it will stay pale gray. I really had colors I liked in the other house, so will go back to using those. Sage and forest for living room and bedroom, and a combination of terracotta and a muted yellow for the master bath. And best of all, my stuff goes with those colors, so nothing to replace, saving money.

We have a really big oak to one side between Sharon’s and my houses. A very large limb fell just as she was having a fenced area started for a dog run. After a problem with the new chain saw, they are finally getting it cleared and back to the fencing. At least the tree is solid, just one limb was bad. They counted 65 rings on the limb.

tree limb cleanup

After my spending many hours on the computer and phone, we are getting a lot of stuff delivered for the build: Porta-potti, a lull (extended forklift), the panels for the dome, a water cooler for the workers (it is already pretty hot around here), probably will need a load of fill dirt when the site is leveled and compacted. I made a run to Ikea for things that won’t wait for after completion (like bathroom sinks and lights). I will be ordering the rest of the bathroom fixtures in a couple of weeks. I hope my budget survives with enough to afford solar panels, we shall see.

preparing to store panels under these trees

Spring

We are having a pretty spring, after such a warm winter I expected everything to be past blooming too early. Some things, yes, but still have a lot of pretty gardens. We are not back to fully average rainfall yet, after a full 12 months of severe drought, but it is improved.

First of all, health: I am no longer getting physical therapy for my shoulder (insurance company doesn’t want to pay for more). At least since I worked hard at it, my range of motion for all but one direction is about 90% of the good arm. I am working to strengthen, even back to my regular strength sessions. I really appreciate the advice and work of the therapists, I will continue to improve. Rotator cuff repairs are certainly complex and take too long for recovery for my impatience.

Addition: I am working to get all the details ready for the new dome, finding it surprisingly hard to find anyone to install radiators for heat. I moved from a climate where they were common, but here the heat pump rules. I just don’t find it to be all that comfortable, especially at floor level. Next on my list is looking for flooring locally. My first choice at present is cork, with bamboo second. Both are very eco-friendly for sustainability, and I like the looks. I do have plans to visit a Kryton supplier in Charlotte – this is a substance that should waterproof the concrete on the seams of my dome. I will have to rely on the elastomeric paint (which has done a good job) on the current part, but I hope the new part won’t have any leak problems after freeze/heat weather cycles.

Sad news, my pretty grey tabby has been ailing for the past 6 months, and just kept losing weight. I had to have him put down last week, he just went too far downhill. He was 15 years old. Suspect he had a tumor in the digestive system. I plan to plant a bearded iris over him, seems appropriate since he had a little tuft of longer hair under the chin, like a goatee.

I’m still working a little every day on my chain maille jewelry. I’ve been surprised at how much wrist action affects the whole arm. It has been good additional therapy on the shoulder. I have made a few commissioned items and am working on new weaves. I hope to sell some at a show this summer.

Next door: Sharon is on her last term as a schoolbus driver to supplement her pension. Hooray! She and a friend have been working to start a small plant business. Her friend has a greenhouse and Sharon has the location on a busy highway to be able to sell from her front yard. They have a lot of plants ready now. https://www.facebook.com/SEGardensSenecaSC/
Sharon is also busy getting all the testing done on her one year old Goldendoodle female who will be bred later this year. There is a lot of work involved getting accepted in GANA, well respected breeder group, but worth it for buyers to know they are getting a very good dog.

We are staying busy here.

Winter and Recovery

bird feeder activity

bird feeder activity

We’ve had our first snowfall this winter in upstate SC. My preference would make it the only one, but we need moisture of any sort to help our drought, so I won’t complain if we get more. I can sit inside, watch the flakes, the birds at the feeder, and look forward to a warmer place next winter. I sold my house in Roanoke at the end of October, so I am preparing to start my addition this summer. I’ve put a deposit on the kit for another dome, to be attached to the current one. I plan to have a much better heating system, hopefully hot water baseboard radiators. That, with a flooring over the concrete slab should make it more comfortable.

view from front door

view from front door

I had arthroscopic surgery on my injured left rotator cuff and shoulder early in December. Just three tiny slits, but very tender inside. Finally! The orthopaedic center is just so busy, hard to get a timely appointment. I am now in physical therapy, have spent two weeks doing gentle stretches and am pleased at how far I can now move in most directions. It helps to have specific exercises that won’t re-injure me, plus having the encouragement of the therapists to go ahead and push a little harder as long as it just feels tight, not painful. Soon to start more weight-bearing exercise. My hips are really sore with the colder weather, and I plan to get a doctor’s referral for therapy on them, too. I really hope to be flexible enough to start yoga classes by summer and become even more flexible. I don’t want my retirement to be so restricted and painful. I’ve been trying so many things to help, this may be the one to finally push me back to full movement.

The cats have been quite happy to have me in the recliner post-surgery. They have all become lap cats as space allows. I think there’s a lot of jealousy over my attention that drives this, as only one liked laps before.

With the cold weather we’ve had this week, I noticed my scarf is looking a bit worn, so I need to knit another. I got inspired by the temperature afghans, blankets, and scarves that I saw online. I found some washable wool on sale online, and placed an order. For those of you who have not heard of this, the knitter (or crocheter) has a color for each 10 degree range and creates one or more rows in the color for the day’s high temperature. I’m thinking of adding one bead for the day’s low temp, too. I’ll post pictures later in the year. Sun is gorgeous today and yesterday, and even with temps right at freezing, the snow is melting. Temps in teens tonight may give us some nasty ice on the roads by morning. But, we are expecting highs in mid-60s in another 4 or 5 days. Should make an interesting combination on the scarf.

example of a temperature scarf

example of a temperature scarf from Pinterest photo

Colder weather seems to bring out the desire to cook. Both Sharon and I have been spending more time on our kitchens. That’s good and bad, as Sharon has baked her wonderful nutmeg pound cake. Even my best-behaved cat smelled it and stuck her head into my purse to try to steal what I’d brought home. Once I have the addition built, I will have a large space for pantry next to my kitchen. I will be able to use my upright freezer, but need to plan a proper organization so I don’t lose items to age and freezer burn. It’ll take more than just labels on a package for me.

Next Phase

Things happened fast this fall. After the contract on my Roanoke house fell through in May, the house kept showing well, but no offers. Since I had the mortgage paid off, I could just sit on it until I got a decent price. I slipped at the end of the summer and hurt my left shoulder as I caught myself from falling. I chipped a bone and tore the rotator cuff. Unfortunately the nearest orthopedic center is always too busy, and it has taken me a long time to get it fixed (still not done yet). At the end of September, I got an offer on the house with a requested closing of October 31, pretty fast. This one came through, and I was there the last week in October to empty the house. Frustrating that I could not use my left arm for much, still painful when I try to lift much. So a wonderful friend came over and helped me pack down the small stuff and I hired a local moving crew to pack the trailer.

Furniture Delivery to SC

Furniture Delivery to SC

Although I had a 28 foot trailer, they packed only 10 linear feet of it, and surprisingly, no other stops were made to use the rest of the space. The next week the trailer was delivered here in Seneca, and I had another crew unload it into a shed I had purchased for this purpose. It is stuffed and we had to put a couple of items elsewhere. My current house is so packed with stuff I’ve been bringing back for the past few years, am planning for and looking forward to storage space. And I really did get rid of a lot of things.

Closing was Monday, but the check was too late to file the deed that afternoon, so I got my money on Tuesday. That means I can afford to seriously plan and build the addition. First I need to attend to a couple of health issues, mostly the surgery on the torn rotator cuff. It’s scheduled for month from now, and I know it’ll take a while to recover, with lots of physical therapy, but I will be so glad to get back to normal movement.