Spring Break 2014 Days 1 and 2

Day 1 – We made it to McCarthy safely. LONG trip this time. 9 1/2 hours. Old truck, old trailer, old driver (he said it, not me!). Move in went well as it was warm: a balmy 38*. Started the oil stove only find find it wouldn’t draw. Thought the stack was blocked. Dave climbed up on the roof (after putting the ladder up on sawhorses in unstable snow!) and looked down the stack while I stood on the ground praying and thinking things that won’t be shared in public. All is well, he didn’t fall (thank you LORD!), the stack wasn’t blocked – it finally warmed up enough to stop belching black smoke into the cabin. 

This is a sight that always makes us smile.

This is a sight that always makes us smile.

Day 2 –

Weather: cloudy, and falling slop, 40*

After our move-in last night, it was good to have a quiet day to finish the set-up process. We got up late-ish and puttered our way through the morning. Jubal came over around 10 looking for a new carb boot. Since he runs a 600, Dave wasn’t able to help him out. Axel dropped in about 10:30 to see if we needed any help with anything. He was just in time to catch us sitting down for brunch, a nice spread of cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs and bacon with a glass of orange juice to wash it all down. Soon Laurie and Hannah arrived on skis, having heard from Axel that we were eating breakfast. (Small town dynamics at work – your business is EVERYBODY’s business!) We were getting down to a good visit when Keith arrived with his lunchbox. While their lunches disappeared we caught up on each other’s lives.

Late in the afternoon Tammy, Axel and Caitlin came by to see if anyone wanted to take a quick spin up to Kennecott via the wagon trail. Dave and Hannah suited up and they took off. They ran up to the Bonanza Bowl and checked out the conditions. Snowboarders and skiers don’t worry – they’ve left it pristine for you.

After a four-course dinner we’re ready to wind things down for the day. What will tomorrow hold?

(NOTE: I wanted to add many more pictures but the internet is very slow here, so until I figure out how to reduce the file size, I’m thinking the pictures will be few. Bummers.)

Catching You Up

Hey.

Remember me?

I’m the lady who said she’d let you watch along while her men (a couple of them at least) built a cute little cabin. Yeah, you’re remembering her now. She’s also the one that, for no apparent reason suddenly quit writing and posting. Yep, got ‘er pegged. So. I’m back. I know, I know, you’ve heard this before. OK, this time I’m not making promises. I’m just going to do the best I can.

Last time I wrote, I told you about the interior framing being completed. I think they finished that job sometime in August. And yes, they are a bit further along now. Rather than drag this out for another who-knows-how-many-months, I’m just going to catch you up. The short story is – it’s livable and has been since mid/late-December. Whew, that was easy.

For those of you who like more details, here you go: All summer Dave and Ben put in 40 hours at the Truss Company, then came home and put in another 40 hours on the house. In September, Ben started school and he found the 80 hour work week, plus school to be a bit overwhelming. So he scaled back on the house-work until the Truss Company slowed down and he had more time during the day to do his school-work. The point is, these men worked HARD all summer and fall and early winter to get it ready for Ben and Sharon to live in.

It is absolutely amazing to me how many details go into building a house. And the time it takes to figure out, plan, assemble materials and actually complete them is astounding. (To me, anyway.) So once the walls were up inside, I thought, “Great! It’s just plumbing and electrical, insulation, vapor barrier and sheetrock. After that it’s decorating. Easy!” NOT. No. Huh, uh. It took months(!) -September, October, November and December, actually. Late December was busy with painting, installing flooring, putting in the shower and toilet – and wedding planning. By the 20th, work on the house was done and wedding preparations were occupying everyone’s attention.

We (the Rowlands and Persóns) had a grand time with all the family that was here to celebrate Christmas and the Wedding with us. Sharon’s family began arriving on the 12th of December and our family started rolling in on the 20th; every few days someone was back at the airport picking up another one or two. We had meals together, we partied, we cooked and baked, sewed, crocheted, painted, worked on puzzles and shopped. This event was truly a joint effort between our two families. Ben and Sharon designed a beautiful wedding day and their family did a great job of making sure it came together. (Their pictures can be viewed at www.wilderarts.smugmug.com . There are two sessions to look at. you can click on “Ben-Sharon Pre-Wedding Dec 21, 2013” OR the wedding day pictures can be found by clicking on “Person Wedding Dec 28, 2013”.)

While Ben and Sharon were gone on their honeymoon, the rest of us took a good break. We were again running to the airport dropping people off every few days (very sad). By mid-January, when Ben and Sharon returned, almost everyone had returned to their own homes and schools. The UAF school year started again and the kids took some time to get their schedules established. And then work on the little house commenced once again.

So what has been happening to the little house in the last few weeks? Well, the water line from the underground tank to the pump started to freeze up, so they had to do a bit of tweeking on the heating system in the basement (remember it consists of a light bulb, a wire cage and a temperature gauge.) Then the pump began rebelling at having to push the water so FAR up to the pressure tank. (It was just being a baby.) Dave cleverly fixed this issue with a few bits of hose and strategically placed piercings. A sight glass was installed to tell them how much water is in the underground tank. Dave and I upgraded the refrigerator and washer/dryer in the big house (yippy for me!) and so we put our old stuff in the little house. Ben and Sharon chose hickory cabinetry for the kitchen, so those were ordered and then installed. They found a vanity with a granite top for the bathroom and put that in. And just recently they found the lights they want and have purchased/ordered those. That’s pretty good progress.

At the same time, the living room is still full of tools. They have no seating except two tiny camp stools. The countertops are waiting on the counter guy to decide to come out and measure everything, then build and install. And there’s no door on the bathroom. Not to mention the exterior is still bare ply-wood – but that will wait for next summer. 

Now that the end is in sight on this project – sort of – I’m dreaming of what we should do next. Like maybe finish the addition on the big house. But, for now, we’ll happily watch Ben and Sharon craft their little house into a home.

How about some pictures?

The electrical panel - all neat and tidy as per usual for Dave. Every wire is carefully labelled.

The electrical panel – all neat and tidy as per usual for Dave. Every wire is carefully labelled.

This little contraption is an air way that they can blow hot air through to keep the pipes from freezing.

This little contraption is an air way that they can blow hot air through to keep the pipes from freezing.

There are three layers of insulation in the walls. This is looking south from the kitchen to the living area and front door.

There are three layers of insulation in the walls. This is looking south from the kitchen to the living area and front door. – When I choose this pic from my files, I totally thought there was insulation in the walls – whoops. Imagine pink stuff filling up the spaces between the studs.

Check out the plastic on the walls behind Ben. Every single exterior wall surface had to be carefully covered with plastic. Dave spent days doing this job, making sure there were NO holes - not even pin-pricks.

Check out the plastic on the walls behind Ben. Every single exterior wall surface had to be carefully covered with plastic. Dave spent days doing this job, making sure there were NO holes – not even pin-pricks. Note the red tape, it covers a hole.

These slanted ceilings required three guys to put up the 'rock.

These slanted ceilings required three guys to put up the ‘rock.

A view from the living area looking up to the loft.

A view from the living area looking up to the loft.

The 'rock jack is a great piece of equipment. It enabled Dave to do most of the sheet-rocking on his own.

The ‘rock jack is a great piece of equipment. It enabled Dave to do most of the sheet-rocking on his own.

After 'rocking, came the mudding and taping - a long and very nasty job.

After ‘rocking, came the mudding and taping – a long and very nasty job.

With the sheet-rock and painting complete it was time to lay the flooring.

With the sheet-rock and painting complete it was time to lay the flooring.

They choose "spalted maple" laminate and it looks amazing.

They choose “spalted maple” laminate and it looks amazing.

Hickory cabinets in the kitchen.

Hickory cabinets in the kitchen.

A hickory vanity with a granite top in the bathroom.

A hickory vanity with a granite top in the bathroom.

Laundry! (And dishes - until the kitchen gets done.)

Laundry! (And dishes – until the kitchen gets done.)

Next to the strip of blue foam in the corner is a clear sight glass. This will tell them how much water is in the tank.

Next to the strip of blue foam in the corner is a clear sight glass. This will tell them how much water is in the tank.

Dave and Ben conferring on something. I was playing with my camera and happened to also get a shot of the sconces  on the wall behind Dave. I'll get better lighting pictures as they get installed.

Dave and Ben conferring on something. I was playing with my camera and happened to also get a shot of the sconces on the wall behind Dave. I’ll get better lighting pictures as they get installed.

Still plenty to do.

Still plenty to do.

Interior Framing and Plumbing

One of the nice things about building a little place is that there are fewer walls to deal with. Though there are at least four rooms in the house, only one really needs to be framed. With the loft up and the stairs in, Dave and Ben turned their attention to finishing the framing of the bathroom/utility room.

Ben also built the “basement”. Since the 1,000 gallon water tank is buried below the house and the house sits up on pilings, the pipe running from the tank to the house must be insulated. Ben built a super insulated tiny room around the pipe so that he can get in there to work on the tank if necessary. He made a heating system based on a light bulb, a metal milk crate, a temperature gauge and timer to keep everything above freezing. I would show you pictures but the space is so tiny I couldn’t get in there with the camera. That and the space is made for someone of Ben’s, ahhh, agility.

As soon as the interior walls were up, they installed the rough plumbing. Then, with the rough plumbing done, they turned their attention to putting the planks on the deck in front.

Little by little, things are coming together!

View of loft and bathroom/utility room wall from the living room.

View of loft and bathroom/utility room wall from the living room.

From the kitchen looking into the bathroom.

From the kitchen looking into the bathroom.

Floor access (under the refrigerator) to the "basement".

Floor access (under the refrigerator) to the “basement”.

Yes, he's growing to be such a great man. :-)

Yes, he’s growing to be such a great man. 🙂

Cutting another layer of insulation for the "basement."

Cutting another layer of insulation for the “basement.”

Gluing the insulation in place.

Gluing the insulation in place.

Cutting pipe.

Cutting pipe.

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The watering, plug-in station.

The watering, plug-in station.

Laying the deck.

Laying the deck.

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Covering Up the Bones

While I was partying it up Outside, the guys worked their tails off to get the plywood on the walls. With it enclosed, they’ve been able to put their tools inside and keep everything nice and dry. Let the rain come!

I keep saying it to myself, “This house is so CUTE.” When we were talking about the design of this place I kept pressing them to make something with a lot of charm factor. As far as the proportions go, Ben and Dave have totally nailed the charm. From the dimensions, to the roof pitch to the exposed truss over the diminutive deck it is an appealing space.

With most of the outside work done (not all, but most) They turned their attention to building the loft, the stairs and installing the windows.

Much to Ben’s joy (ours also), Sharon returned early to Fairbanks from her summer of fishing in Chignik in time to help the guys install the windows.

Definitely a cute little domicile.

Definitely a cute little domicile.

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These stairs are proportional to the room, I'm used to a wide set (fits my wideness). These are narrow, it's good that Ben and Sharon are narrow, too. (Not of mind, but of body)

These stairs are proportional to the room, I’m used to a wide set (fits my wideness). These are narrow; it’s good that Ben and Sharon are narrow. (Not of mind, but of body!)

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Sharon helped  - she's good at working with them and simply being there to encourage them.

Sharon helped – she’s good at working with them and simply being there to encourage them.

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Gone Outside

While Dave and Ben are working industriously on the house, I left to take a little trip Outside to visit Lee and Beth in Utah and celebrate Mom and Dad Vice’s 50th Anniversary in Washington.

I spent the first long weekend with Lee and Beth in Midvale, Utah.

Lee at the "office". He installs air handling systems in new construction, so doesn't spend any time at this site.

Lee at the “office”. He installs air handling systems in new construction, so doesn’t spend any time at this site.

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Beth likes her work in food service.

After Utah I flew west to Washington and spent a week or so visiting with lots of extended family. While there, we celebrated Mom and Dad Vice’s 50th Anniversary. It was a great party!

Dee Dee and Harold Vice

Dee Dee and Harold Vice

Vice Clan Back Row: Bret and JoEllen Vice, Frank Vice, Laurie Hall, Colleen Gibbons, Allen Hall, Nick Gibbons Front Row: Dave and Renée Persón, Harold and Dee Dee Vice (missing Ted and Lea Schalow)

Vice Clan
Back Row: Bret and JoEllen Vice, Frank Vice, Laurie Hall, Colleen Gibbons, Allen Hall, Nick Gibbons
Front Row: Dave and Renée Persón, Harold and Dee Dee Vice (missing Ted and Lea Schalow)

Mom with most of her siblings (missing David) JoEllen Vice, Mary Lynn Brown, Raymond Thompson, Dee Dee Vice, Julia Grant

Mom with most of her siblings (missing David)
JoEllen Vice, Mary Lynn Brown, Raymond Thompson, Dee Dee Vice, Julia Grant

Happy 50th Mom and Dad!

Why He’s Building It

Remember that I told you Ben was building a house? Well, there’s a good reason for him to want to be building. He’s very eager to get out on his own.

Well, that, and he’s getting married. In December. On the 28th. How’s that for construction motivation?

(photo credit: Raena Rowland of Wilder Arts, Fairbanks, Alaska)

(photo credit: Raena Rowland of Wilder Arts, Fairbanks, Alaska)

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I was in Utah with Lee and Beth when Ben called to tell me the news.

“Hey Mom. It’s Ben.”

“Hey, Ben.”

Silence (Ben believes in long pauses when speaking on the phone. You must imagine them between each exchange.)

“Where are you? Are you with someone?” he asks.

“Um (I start getting nervous – this solicitous behavior is strange for Ben.), I’m here with Lee and Beth.”

“Oh, are you having a good time?”

“Uh, (anxiety level really rising) yes, we’re having fun. What about you, what’s happening?” (I can’t stand the suspense and must get to the bottom line!)

“Oh, I just wanted to let you know that I made it to Palmer safe and sound.”

“That’s good.”

“And well, I’m engaged!” (He usually prefers getting to the bottom line pretty quickly himself.)

“What?!” (I fall over with relief and joy, with tears running down my face.) “That’s great! I’m gonna put you on speaker phone – tell me all the details.”

“Well, I took her for a walk down to the cow pasture. But we decided to climb up into the birch trees, ‘cause the pasture was full of cows… and a LOT of cow patties.” (Not the vibe he was going for.) “We sat up in the trees and I asked her to marry me.”

Naughty mama that I am I started singing: “Ben and Sharon, sittin’ in a tree…” Ben actually almost giggled.

Lee and Beth and I spent the next few minutes teasing Ben and laughing with him. Yay! Another sister for our family!

Sharon Rowland is from Unalaska, Alaska. Our families have known one another for nearly  forty years. For about the last ten years we have spent Spring Break together in McCarthy. It really is our joy to have another woman in the family.

(following photos taken by Tammy Rowland)

Cows everywhere.

Cows everywhere.

Will you?.... Sure!...

Will you?….
Sure!…

The Rock(s)

The Rock(s)

Back At It

After returning from our blitz trip to McCarthy, Victory, and Palmer, the guys got busy right away. With walls up and more sunshine in the forecast it’s time to get the roof on. This is the job that Dave has been really pushing for. With a roof on, they will not have to worry about protecting the walls and deck from rain.

The tarp provides shelter from the elements.

The tarp provides shelter from the elements.

To my eye just having the trusses up makes the skeleton look complete. But, little do I know, there is BRACING to add. It’s little things like that that keep a house together. (There’s a metaphor for life.)

It was good to have the boom truck so that they could set each truss individually.

It was good to have the boom truck so that they could set each truss individually.

Early in the day.

Early in the day.

Ben's working Dave to the bone. He's lost so much weight that he had to re-size his tool belt to keep it from falling off.

Ben’s working Dave to the bone. He’s lost so much weight that he had to re-size his tool belt to keep it from falling off.

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Truss all up on the house.

Truss all up on the house.

Putting on the deck truss. This will be "exposed".

Putting on the deck truss. This will be “exposed”.

It's always best to concentrate when using the chop saw.

It’s always best to concentrate when using the chop saw.

Jay came over and challenged Ben to a little game of monkey bars.

Jay came over and challenged Ben to a little game of monkey bars.

Dave tells me that the framing is the fast part of building and from now on things will move along much more slowly. What that means for you the readers is that the photos are going to be detail stuff. “Oh look! Another electrical box!”  “How about that; more black pipe stuff in the walls.”  “Yep, I see more bracing.” It also probably means that I’ll insert other events that are occurring here, like the garden or trips or cooking or sewing; whatever takes my fancy.