Archive for January, 1996

snow fleas

FROM:    David y Wright, 71510,536
DATE:    01-31-96 07:00 AM

last Sunday   had a picnic with the birds – we moved the table out of the pole barn into the sun shine.  They feasted on seeds, we on lunch meat on wheat, with mayo & mustard.

later we walked up front  to put out the bird cakes.  On the way back,  my  footprints were filled with snow fleas. Some prints were so thick that they looked like felt.  Julie wanted to know why there are snow fleas.

I went back Thursday It was very warm into the 50’s – and threating to rain and gusty.

The guys back were there doing the block thing.
They were putting up scafolding.  They make two levels with planks. one about waist high from top of wall – the other about 2 feet higher for the blocks.
At dump truck was there to deliver a load of sand for the morter.  I don’t know what’s wrong with the piles of sand from the foundation. Too many impurities  maybe.  The ground was very soft – and the truck got stuck.  The guy smoked his clutch. We used the tow strap I had and the Sky Crane to pull it out.

Louie tells me that the Insulspan is waiting for approval of the shop drawing from the architect.  we take some about state of things
He also tells me that he couldnt find the key to the gate – so he put a new lock on the gate.
He has a plastic rock he hide the key in by the gate.
He will leave a copy of new key in mail box in the barn we use to keep donuts .

I get home – there is a message on machine from Connie – The Architect’s associate – and the one who did most of the actual drawings.
They want me to authorize another 4-8 hours of to check the shop drawing.  I’m really torqued!
I call up to discuss the growing bill.  John won’t be in till Friday at 1
We set the time

Julie gets home and we talk about the issue. I wish she could be at the meeting. Feel like I  am in the middle – I must negotiate our family’s fortune, but  I must be able to compromise .

have the meeting – civilized, barely- John got “insulted” that I questioned his integrity.
I don’t think I handle things with as much diplomacy as I should.
I agree to pay the charges and tell him we have only $1,500 for architecte’s review  – the
maximum amount Julie & I agreed on.
John tells me how hard they workd on plans and that they went way over budget on inital phase of process.

Sunday 1/21 Julie & I inspect site

Julie tells me it looks small – I try to tell her that it just looks that way because it isn’t closed in,

we hang out new bird bait

1/22  basement wall almost complete, the guys are making great progress

Louie tells me not to worry about size appearance –  It just looks small in relationship to the surroundings ( the whole world).
its warm and sunny so, I take a long walk out the east side through the swamp on the state
land and back south  towards Elsworth Lake
I come across a opossom who is also out walking.

weather is very cold – was 40 this morning,  After lunch  its in low 20s and very windy

septic pipe is layed,  connected to tanks, and covered with pea gravel

the bird bait is completellly gone.

At night I went to ITVA meeting at a cyber cafe – we had a scavenger hunt on the InterNet.
moderate fun
bumped into Jim Hodel – he did the audio on my demo reel and was doing consulting at Ford
– but now between projects.
He has M II equipment – the technical equivelent of Beta SP – and not compatable. He is part time semi- pro, one step up from weddings.


pm – Went to DPA meeting – speaker was local young woman who now at Industral Light + Magic (digital roto scoping)
ran it to Jim H. there. We talked about possiblity of doing a video of Frogtown. A “this new
house”  heavy on the new technology angle.
will see if we can get sponcership from the builder, architect, manufactures…
Unfortunatly we may be too late – do not have treatment or inkling of script or any thing – and the house is going up.

Saturaday  Julie & I went out to Frogtown to check the progress.   cold – we only stayed half an hour.  put out more bird food.
I have plans for a 20 lb chick o dee for next Thanksgiving.

Sunday was even colder so we stayed home.

go to Frank’s to meet with new client – another acident reconstuction – a woman in Escort hits a tree – claim is seat belt latch failed.

1/30 tuesday
more cold – about two cm of snow  yesterday – not enuf to ski on but covers the grass
They were hanging steel today.  4 poles supporting 3 “I” beams. will hold up first floor.  Sky crane lifted beams into place.

roof trusses had been delivered and were lying in stack.

Talked to Louie about video – he gave me a name to call at InsulSpan – he seemed interested
The schedule of events over the next few weeks would be critical.

rest of week looks like it will be very cold – sub zero lows




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FROM:    David y Wright, 71510,536

DATE:    01-17-96 10:10 AM

Re:    Copy of: Blockage

Sunday Julie & I went to Frogtown to see the progress.

It was sunny and getting warm, mid thirties.

We XC’d to the back 80 and startled  3 or 4 deer .
on the way back my skis were sticking to the wet snow. Any clues as to what to do – like wax the waxless?

Yesterday, I got  a fax from John Barie Associates – A new contract for continuing work, and a bill for reviewing shop drawings for $600.. .Julie and I have been having some discussion about what we should have gotten in the way of original plans. I’m inclined to think the architect can’t anticipate all the details, but Julie thinks the plans should have been all that is nessary for anybody to build the house – no addtional work need

After wasting the moringi trying to come up with a marketing plan, I took a ride out to Frogtown to check progress.  Drive was very foggy –
some places, the trees were icing up.

The drive had been covered with sand and looked like it had been leveled a bit.  In the field were a front loader, a bulldozer and “Sky Crane” – a cross between a fork lift and a crane.   Six or so pallettes of cement blocks were next to dirt piles.
3 guys in the hole laying cement block, and 2 helpers gofering.
Jeff’s the forman. Dave and Bill are  other masons.  Gary and Brad, gofers.
Brad was stirring morter in gas powered mixer. He had a fire going in a large metal pipe under the pile of sand, that he feed with scrap wood from time to time.  It smelled bad, but kept the sand from freezing.  He took a pickup truck and 55 gallon drum to Devil’s Elbow – the partialy frozen stream that runs near by – to get water

Gary carried block and morter to the masons.

Watching the masons butter and lay the blocks is like watching the cook at a Chinese steak house.  Maybe not a flamboyant, but more precise and just as entertaining.

The scraping of the trowels on morter board and block punctuated with the “tap-TAP….tap”  from the trowel handle butts, adjusting the block’s height and depth,  made an interesing percussive accompaniment,

About 4:30 they started cleaning up. Styroforam sheets on uncovered footings, and 2×10’s on top partialy finished wall to keep ice, snow etc off.  Plastic tarps over blocks.  I’d guess they had about 1/4 of basement walls up.

Louie – the builder  showed up at about 5 – the talked to crew a while about what happens next – he’ll  move the remaining blocks into hole and layout lines for porch – what ever that ment

Louie and I talked some.
He told me that the front loader and ‘dozer were for laying the bed gravel for the septic pipe.  The dump trucks that deliver the gravel, can’t back down the hill – so it has to be tranfered with the loader, and spread with the dozer..
The news on  the geothermal is good finacialy  – we should be under or near original estimates, depending on some options.

Louie and I also discussed architect’s bill and what we needed from them in future – like site visits. Louie is of the opinion that plans were not as detailed or complete – which lead to confusion and reviews by truss and panel makers. Louie doesn’t think we will need any site visits or other further assistance from  them.
I guess I need to discuss this some with the architect.

The weather continues to be warmish, maybe fifties tomorrow  but cloudy and rain

lots of love

Dave (& Julie too)

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Slip Sliding

FROM:    David y Wright, 71510,536
DATE:    01-11-96 08:55 AM

Re:    Copy of: slip sliding

Greetings from middlen west


It snowed yesterday – not the major big stuff you’ve heard shut down the the goverment  – just a couple of inches
I had to drop off the cabinet door samples to Laura Marr Baur – the kitchen lady, & sister to Louie Marr – the builder.
so far we have selected Concept II – a white with oak flavor trim – Euro style – what ever that means.
Laura Marr Baur – she calls herself that on her answering maching – somewhere between poetic and cutisie – lives on W. Liberty, across from some big church.
She gave me samples of pesudeu Formica  to choose for counter tops.  6 chains of 2″x3 ” clackity pieces  a bazillion colors and patterns.  I can’t find the 50’s Boomerang pattern (and I really liked that one), but every imaginary wood grain is included – some even resemble actual species of trees.

I had decided to take a trip out to Frogtown to check on progress. Last I heard from Louie – they couldn’t get the digger started & so were waiting for good weather to jump start it.
We had a meeting last Friday with John Barrie & Connie  Brown – the architect people, Louie, & Eric from InsulSpan the people who make the wall panels  we will be using.  There were questions on the blue prints as to what was panels and what was conventional “two by” construction
Although the plans are “done” and we have paid for them, it seems that there is still some work to be done on some of this type of detail.  JB  associates has been after Julie & me to sign a time and material contract for the construction phase – to cover this type of work and for them to come out to Frogtown and sidwalk supervise (we got no sidewalk).  Julie doesn’t think this is called for. Plans is Plans.  I’m a bit mor liberal in interperting term of origninal contract – but do not wish to write blank check.

I digress

Got to Frogtown.  gate was locked , but fresh tracks indicated sombody had be by recently.  Half way up drive vehicle tracks indicated loss of  traction. and feet prints continued up drive ( and back)  Having 4WD I contiue up  without problem.   The rest of basement footings were dug.  They are 40″ lower and slip under footing created before Christmas. Digger obviously had been started – and now was parked next to pole barn.

I had to fill the bird feeder in front of the pole barn. It was the lid from a wok.  The same wok I used to make the bird bath I had put the lid in a honeysuckle bush, and filled it with generic bird seed we get from Dexter mill in 50lb bags.   The chickodees swarm over it and don’t notice my presence. Other birds – blue jays & cardnials are much more cautious – and intimidate the chickodees  The blue jays like the sunflower seeds.  they knock the other stuff out of dish looking for them. very messy

I had broght my xcountry skis and  decide to take a spin.   I got real gutsy – I keep going past the end of our property – into the out back.  The hills are steep enough, and with out major obsticals so I can actual practice stoping and trying to turn.  Then I find the path through the woods  to the stream. It was cut many years ago – but quite neglected.  I had to move a couple of small dead trees  Julie & I tried to get through this summer – but it was too dense so we turned back.  It’s snowing.  I’m overdressed.  I wore my perscription ski goggles – and they fog up pretty bad.   I get through and back almost to the stream – there are several deer trails  and some fresh prints.  very nice.
I figure I better head back – no body knows where I am and should I have a problem, it might be a while for assistance. I’d guess its over half a mile.

I head toward front of  our property to check on other bird diner.  Julie got this recipe from some craft  place – you mix up this glop – 25% bird seed, 10% corn meal, 30% suet, and rest is peanut butter and spread it on pine cones – which you hang on trees with thread.  too cute.  We did that.  The microbuzzards cleand them out in a couple of minutes (well maybe a day or two)  So we started getting serious – making cakes of the stuff 2″x4″.hanging with stout twine   Three or four  of those lasts almost half a week
I think we are going to have to start making it in industral vats  and molding it in 10 gallon pails. We will secure the feed blocks  to 4×4 posts with lag bolts or steel chain.
I got with in 5′ of the pine tree where we have them hanging.  a chickodee was sitting on top of one of the cakes and pecking away.  several others are hanging out
One of them flys over to the bush next to me, not more than  18″ away.  It sits there making a wierd noise- almost like purring..
It flys off after several minutes,  then returns and starts singing  or at least making chicodee noises.
After five minutes standing still, I’m getting realy cold – the sweat on my back is starting to freeze – so I shuffle off.  I still can’t navigate or slow down for beans –  going down one trail  both skis pass on  different sides of sapling cartoon style.  fortunatly it was a small one – but still made my eyes water a bit.

I got home and headed for bed.   My lower back – the area just north of the cheeks is really cold  The result of gaps in clothes and excess thermal mass.  It takes a couple of hours to warm up.  I  plan to seal gap between blue jeans and  jacket with polyurethane isocyanate foam next time.

Today the Sun came out  I did some work – made a few business calls and had lunch with Dale – he started the Ann Arbor Multimedia Users group.  Mostly a bunch of wanabee ‘tooners, and a couple of old pros. We talked about how to get experience for newbees.

By 3:30 I had forgotten the day before  so I decided to go back Frogtown and try again.

Gate locked but lots of tracks in drive indicating more activity.

a huge area of the east hill between the swamp and house had been dug up for the septic field.
The ground was still warm and smelled like fresh dirt. There were two large concrete boxes – almost buried  that will be the septic tanks.

I took a bunch of pictures  then got on skis and headed out. I regret to say that my skill level hadn’t improve overnight.  I visited several other sapplings and sat in the snow a few times.  I hope to be competent or at least, not dangerous  by mid July or August.

Saw lots of animal tracks in snow and explored  some of the State Land to east.  Wore my self out completly – so must have had good time.

More later

dave (& Julie)

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