Friday Felines

Smokey and Sylvester got their summer cuts recently. Here they are right after Sly got his cut, but Smokey hadn’t.

sly and smoke sparringSometimes they get into it.

Here’s a better shot of Sylvester’s new haircut.

sly rollingHere is Smokey.

smokey on the couchSmokey’s summer cut doesn’t seem as drastic. It does cut down on his mats.

Late Thursday afternoon it started to get cooler and windy. Smokey and Sylvester both wanted to come in. Sylvester curled up on his cat tower.

sly dozingSmokey laid down on the couch.

smokey dozing


They came in to catch up on sleep. They’ll probably go back outside later in the evening, even if it is pretty cool.



Birthday and anniversary

The US government officially recognized me as old on Monday, my actual birthday. We had planned to eat huevos rancheros in celebration at Los Portales, our favorite Mexican restaurant, but Leah was having some intestinal issues, so we didn’t make it. But on Wednesday, our 10th anniversary, we decided to make it a joint celebration, my birthday and our anniversary.

Leah told our waitress, who knew we didn’t need a menu, that it was my birthday, which was a very pale lie indeed. So, since it was the day of my observed birthday, she had a margarita instead of iced tea.

As we expected from our celebration of Leah’s birthday back in March, the waitress brought out a sopapilla. Only this one was a super-sopa. Leah’s had a cinnamon-sprinkled, fried tortilla with honey, chocolate and whipped cream. Mine had all that plus a heaping helping of ice cream. Here it is with Leah insisting she would have none of it.

leah_and_sopaIt’s kind of blurred, which must be the phone’s fault, since I didn’t have a margarita. Here is the sopapilla, finished off but for one normal bite, mine, and one small bite, Leah’s.


I couldn’t believe we ate the whole thing, but we did, and I’m glad.

Later on at the dentist’s office, Leah and I were talking about how it was our 10th anniversary, and I did some quick calculations and realized that we have actually known each other for 50 years. Of course, for the first five of those, she ran away every time she saw me.

Anyway, we both recovered from lunch and the dentist found no cavities, so, all in all, a pretty decent celebration.


Tar and mud

The waterproofing crew came up to our new house on Monday morning. I was thinking of doing it myself, but ultimately decided to let an experienced crew do it because they could complete the work quickly. And it was quick. They were done by mid-afternoon Monday.

The waterproofing consists of a sprayed-on, rubberized membrane. A dimpled plastic panel was adhered to the tacky membrane to provide a path for liquid water to drain down the side of the foundation walls. Here one of the crew is attaching the panels to the top of the sprayed area.


I used a little poetic license for the title of this post. The waterproofing looks like the tar that was rolled on for waterproofing in the past, but it’s really not the same.

A French drain was installed at the base of the foundation wall. It’s different from what I expected. It’s flat, with a rectangular cross section placed on the footing. It may not be strictly necessary, but I might add some standard perforated tubes in the excavated area beside the footing to help drain any water that accumulates there.

A bed of coarse gravel will be dumped in beside the foundation, and then the rest of the opening will be filled with dirt.

Tuesday morning neighbor John met with me and the power company engineer and we decided on where to put the trench for the electrical power supply. Earlier John had rented a trenching attachment for his skid-steer loader.

It didn’t take too long for him and his helper to get a good start.



They’re just about ready to bear over onto the nice stand of winter rye that Sylvester was prowling through in the Friday Felines post. That grass is now history.

The power company requires a minimum depth of two feet. That was mostly fairly easy to achieve, but there were a few large boulders that limited the depth. Fortunately they were in areas where we can fill around the trench to get our required depth.

The power company engineer was a little concerned about digging the trench too far in advance of when they could lay the power cable, but I assured him it was not supposed to rain, and if it did, the trench wouldn’t fill with mud.

I watched John work for a while and then left to get a few groceries. While I was at the grocery store, John texted me a video of heavy rain falling on the mountain. Just as I got back up to our new driveway, John was leaving. He told me that part of the trench had filled with mud and his skid-steer was stuck with about 20 more feet to trench.

stuck in the mud


It doesn’t look like it here, but John said he can’t get the loader out of the mud. The trencher looks and works like a huge chainsaw designed to cut earth.

We measured about a quarter of an inch of rain, with a little more later in the evening. We got a total of about a third of an inch, not much, but enough to make a pretty good mess of the trench.

I’m not sure how we’re going to handle the silted-in trench, or how John is going to be able to get his loader unstuck. I have a narrow transplanting shovel that will probably just about fit into the trench. If I do any of the shoveling, I’ll probably have to let Leah hose me off before I can even think about coming back inside the house.

Depending on how things go Wednesday morning, the electrician may be able to get the temporary power post up and get an inspection. If that happens, we may be able to get the power company to lay their line in the trench and get power to the construction site this week.

Friday Felines

Sylvester walked with us the other day when we went up to look at the foundation work at the new house. On the way back down the drive, he stalked around in the grass beside the driveway.

sly in the grassHe was like a lion in the tall grass.

Unfortunately, all the grass will die soon, because it’s winter rye Mark put down early in the construction.


Foundation pour

The foundation crew put up forms for our poured foundation walls on Tuesday, May 12. Leah and I walked up to look Tuesday evening. Standing inside the basement-to-be, Leah thought the house looked small, but that’s normal. In my experience, a house under construction goes through stages when it looks too small or too large before it finally looks like exactly the size it is.

Late Wednesday afternoon, after the building inspector gave his OK, the concrete was poured. When I walked up to the lot around 2:30, the crew said the first concrete truck was expected around three. The pump truck was already there, idling in the middle of what will one day be our basement.

Three came and went, as did four. A little after four pm, the crew boss arrived and said the first concrete truck had overheated and had to stop at the base of the mountain, and then, after cooling for a while, overheated again about halfway up.

Every hour the pump truck was in transit or on site, even while idle, costed around $135.

It was nearly 5 pm before the first concrete truck finally arrived. The crew didn’t waste any time getting started.

foundation pour 1

In case anyone is not familiar with how these things work, the concrete truck (with the blue stripe), dumps its mix into a hopper (right behind the “TAYLOR-MADE’ logo on the pump truck). A pump then sends the concrete up the long boom and out the heavy flexible hose the worker is holding over the form.

Concrete has to be agitated in these 10-foot-deep forms to make sure there are no voids. The crew used a electric, flexible, vibrating rod powered by a generator. The motor is on the end to the right, and the business end is on the left.

foundation pour 2He dips it deep into the concrete and it does its thing.

foundation pour 3

I took some more documentary pictures, but I was ready to leave after about 45 more minutes. As long as I move, my back is fine, but if I stand around for any length of time, it starts to hurt. Standing for more than two hours was enough, so I told the crew boss I was going home. Besides, Leah had put beer in the freezer so we could have a really cold one, and I was ready for that.

Here’s a shot as I left. The boom operator has the boom controls hanging at his waist so he can stand where he can see what’s going on.

foundation pour 4Pump trucks are a life-saver for concrete pours. Without one, a concrete foundation like ours would be impractical for a typical homeowner.

The third of five trucks was waiting for me at the bottom of our driveway when I left. Leah and I were at home when we saw the last piece of equipment turn around at Wildlife Trail at around 6 pm.

The crew will come back Thursday (today) to remove the forms. Pretty soon after that, I hope, another crew will come to waterproof the foundation. Based on the estimate, the material alone would account for half the cost, and I’m not sure how easily I could get the right materials. So that’s one job I had intended to do, but won’t.

While I was waiting for the pour to start, an engineer from Georgia Power came by to talk about temporary power. I have to get someone to dig a trench for the underground service up to the temporary service post, and I have to get an electrician to get the inspection and provide some of the equipment. We’re setting the date for that around the end of the month, but I hope to get it done sooner.

Concurrent with that, I need to get a plumber to put in the drain pipe that goes below the basement slab and out to the septic system. That has to be done before the basement slab is poured, and the slab has to be poured before framing can start.

Framing is the biggest part of making a house under construction look like an actual house, so we’re looking forward to that.