Monday, April 12, 2010


Dad met with the inspector today, and we have passed our final inspection! Hooray.

Many thanks to all y'all who've helped build this house with your labor and prayers.

Grandpa would be proud.

(And there are, of course, still a few little tasks remaining...) ;)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Site to See

It was a big weekend for our house site--it went from bare dirt and a tractor to landscaped yard. Well, at least landscaped-ish yard...

Here's where we were at lunchtime on Friday--Nona kept watch from the porch (and sometimes inside the house, when the wind got too cool) as we moved the dirt around a bit, to make sure we had appropriate drainage away from the house. It was, honestly, pretty disappointing to drive up and see that some of the dirt moving we thought our hired tractor was going to take care of, undone. Dirt moving is SO not our favorite job...
There were a couple of other little jobs on our list for the weekend--I missed taking a photo of Matt's last indoor railing modifications, and of Dad's caulk around the exterior lights, but I did catch our friend, Jerry, installing his little door to the crawl space.
And what a cool gift to us it is--a super-engineered door, made from an old metal bedframe, with a handle bearing the Littlehale monogram. Cool stuff. We convinced Nona (and Mom and Dad) to pose with it by the front door. Which now has house numbers on it. Like a *real* house. Thanks for the beautiful little door, Jerry!
Our friend, Eric, showed up to help, too. Digging in, we realized that dirt moving is lots better with many shovels (and people to use the shovels. Technically, we've had lots of shovels all along, and we know shovels alone are not enough). We got things into place quicker than we'd feared.
Matt took care of some details for an irrigation system. And, you can see, we brought up a trailer with a big ol' load of mulch from the landfill.
Mom got into the action, too, shaping the front yard.
And, I started unloading that big load of mulch. It smelled wonderfully organic (in the earthy, decomposing sense). That trailer holds a lot of mulch.
As the sun set, we spread our last loads of mulch in the yard.
Now that we're over five years into this building project, we finally gave one of our wheelbarrows the name it deserves: the Evilbarrow. I painted it on the sides, lest anyone forget. That felt good. (Now that we're nearly done, I think we can offer one Evilbarrow to anyone who would want it. Not that we'd want anyone we love to be subject to this horrible, certain-to-tip-over monster...)

But not even tipping loads could stop us: here, Phil celebrates the emptying of the trailer.
Before heading in for dinner, we stopped for a quick photo of Friday's crew with the empty trailer (and one Evilbarrow).
Saturday, we set to work on the next yard project, which had dual purposes: clearing the piles of brush and branches that have been sitting around the site for years, and making them into wood chips to finish covering the yard. Our friends, Andy and Lea helped us tackle the pile behind the garage, alongside our neighbor, Bob.
Bob brought some ratchet straps, with which we tied big bunches to drag down the hill to the wood chipper. Kinda like we were human mule teams. Here, Bob and Andy show us how it's done.
Lea and I gave it our best effort, too. It was very satisfying to watch the huge piles of branches dwindle down. I can only imagine that the neighbors are relieved, as well...
At the bottom of the hill, Matt R. and Emily jumped in to the chipper-chopping work. (They didn't jump into the chipper; you know what I mean.) This time we rented an even bigger machine than the one we had last time (which was like, um, 6 years ago or something). It made (relatively) quick work of all that wood we'd had piling up.
All the wood--the burned manzanitas at the bottom of the property, pine and oak we'd had to cut down, went in to the chipper. Here, Matt feeds in a tangled, dry branch from an oak tree.
It was a lovely, sunny day. We kept the chipper running pretty consistently for hours, making a couple of trailer-loads of wood chips.
This next picture is beautiful for what you can't see: a gigantic pile of old branches. Now, we just have the big logs and dreams of freetime for creative woodworking projects.
The wood chips were to quick use, covering the rest of the bare ground. While all this was happening, Dad was hard at work (below, on the left) making a little walkway area by the garage door, using a few retaining blocks and some railroad ties.
We got kind of busy trying to finish everything up and didn't take many more pictures, but here's the final image of the weekend. We think we've now done everything on the Inspector's list, plus built a swell walkway of woodchips edged by local stone--and even planted a few native plants in the yard. Dad's planning to go meet the Inspector on Monday; hopefully, he'll agree with us that this is a beautiful, code-compliant house, ready for electricity and inhabitation.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

it's not too late to help!

Good news: we got the approval of the fire marshall this week. So, now, we have just 2 things remaining on the list the Inspector gave us recently. Matt will take care of the railing on Friday.

You're most welcome to help us take care of the mulch on Friday afternoon or Saturday! We have some piles of brush to put through the wood chipper, and mulch to spread over the bare ground. This is the kind of work that requires little skill, and is way more fun with friends. :)

If you're interested, just let us know. We'll bring good food and grateful spirits...

Monday, April 05, 2010

Inspecting and Correcting

A bit over a week ago, Mom, Dad, Matt and Emily spent a day working on the house. Dad did some finish work inside, while the others worked outside in the yard.

Here, Matt and Emily are cleaning out the old concrete wash-out pit, and preparing the area for a set of steps down toward the house.

They decided to cut up the old, burned power pole, to use as steps, and Emly started putting them into place.

Looking good, eh? This will improve both the look and the function of the hill!
Inside, Dad attached the edges to the kitchen counter. It all is looking amazing.
And, a week ago, we did have an inspection. With a new inspector. He had a whole list of new things to take care of, as well as the news that we cannot have our power connection until our final inspection is signed off on. So, Matt spent some quality time last week crossing things off that list while he was on Spring Break. (Mom and Dad, too.) Piece by piece, we're getting closer!

Last Friday--Good Friday--we had some fill dirt delivered, to level out the yard a bit and make appropriate slopes away from the house. Here, Matt caught the truck mid-dump, while some friends and I watched from the front porch.
But, I confess, our Good Friday trip wasn't for work: we went to enjoy the spring wildflowers in the desert. (They were beautiful.) And, we enjoyed our first *real* breakfast in the kitchen, making good use of the new griddle. We ate in the sunshine on the back deck. This is going to be a cool house to hang out in. I mean, really: just look how happy Matt is cooking there!

After looking at flowers, we did get just a small piece of work in: cutting a slab out of a log, so Matt could make the two more balusters that the inspector asked for on his railing. He's since cut them to the right dimensions in Dad's garage.

Now, we'll see what happens tomorrow when Mom and Dad meet with the Fire Inspector. Then, we have just 2 more things on our list: installing those balusters and putting mulch on the dirt where there are not yet growing plants.

We'd like to get all this done by next week. Which means that if you, Dear Reader, are looking for a way to help, and are free this Friday afternoon or Saturday, there'd be a job for you in Julian this weekend!