Friday, October 05, 2007

OK, so this blog update is obviously ridiculously overdue. I think I've set a new record for time intervals between posts. The good news, however, is that I have a lot of pictures and news and so this update will be followed quickly by at least one or two more.

On the very first day of assembling the shop frame (which was sometime back in June!!) one of my forklifts suffered catastrophic engine damage. Great beginning! So we ended up having to rent a scissor lift, which was actually a blessing as it made the job much easier. These two pictures were taken when the shop frame was nearing completion. With the use of the scissor lift and Otis, my trusty forklift (the one which didn't break) Christina and I assembled the whole frame in 5 days.

The next step was to put up the insulation and exterior wall panels. This is actually quite a pain in the ass, as the insulation has to be hung on the side of the building, and then the panel has to be quickly put up over it and screwed into the frame, sandwiching the insulation. Any significant wind or rain stops you dead in your tracks. Also, this job requires a minimum of three people, so our friend Cedar, among others, helped us out during this phase.

The Northern edge of our property is marked by an arroyo, or dry stream-bed. One day in July, an unusually heavy mid-afternoon rain turned that stream-bed into something more like a raging river. I think this is what "flash flood" means!

This was the scene on that day in the area between my storage containers. My storage containers are where I have stored pretty much everything I own. The water level rose to the point where I had 5 inches of standing water in each of my containers. I really haven't been able to get very far back into them yet, so I don't really know how much of my personal belongings were damaged, but I know it was a lot. Several of my machine tools have pretty aggressive rust on them. It wasn't much compared to New Orleans, but it was a bit of a personal disaster nonetheless.

At least Sprocket had a good time.

Here is the shop almost done, with the roof on and the windows framed out. You can see that our "commute" from the house definitely won't be causing any road rage!

We finished the shop in the last week of August, and here it is! The site of much future productivity and art creation! After getting the final inspection, we quickly moved Christina's tools in so that she could teach a Women's Welding Workshop in the first week of September. And pretty much as soon as that was done, I jumped on a plane bound for Amsterdam, where I spent three weeks building...... Ha!, you'll just have to wait for the next blog entry!

Stay Tuned!

Friday, June 22, 2007

OK, so this doesn't have much to do with building a house or a shop, but that's true of a lot of stuff I've written about on here, and this is too good to pass up!

I made a motorcycle "seat" for Sprocket so he can ride on my BMW K1100LT with me!

Holy shit, is that the cutest dog you've ever seen or what? His seat is made of leather and stainless steel, and is custom made for my bike.

His first time on the bike. For all you safety conscious types out there... don't freak out. I NEVER ride without a helmet, and the only reason I did on that day is that I didn't want Sprocket to freak out too much, not knowing it was me in front of him. Also, we only went on a very short ride.

OK, here's the payoff.... the video: (Check out those ears!)

OK, FINALLY the shop is about to get underway. A few days before the housewarming party the truck with my building arrived. Although you can't tell in the picture below, the day the truck arrived happened to be the windiest day in Taos that anyone can remember, even old-timers. So Christina and I spent most of that day unloading this semi-truck in winds that were a sustained 45 MPH with gusts up to 60 MPH. If we were more than 3 feet away from each other, we had to shout to be heard. It sucked.

There it is! That's the entire building laid out on the ground in front of the ready-to-be-poured foundation. It was dicey climbing up on top of the skid-loader in those 50-60 MPH winds to take this picture, so I hope you all appreciate it!

Wednesday June 13, exactly one year after I arrived in Taos from my LAST trip from LA, was the day of the concrete slab pour for the shop. A concrete pour is a big deal, and at 2100 square feet, this was a very big pour. You only get one chance to get this right... within a few hours you lay down what will be the floor and foundation for years and years to come. And concrete ain't cheap... within those few hours I spent about $9,000. Luckily I had an awesome and very competent crew.

Cedar and John Hunt screeding the fresh concrete. Screeding is the first step in the day-long effort to get the concrete super-flat.

My awesome slab crew. From left to right.... Cedar, Dillon, Elliot, Doyle, John Hunt, Marv, Peter (who expertly ran the crew) Russ, and Ben. Christina, Sprocket, and I are in the front. Several of these fellas, and the one lovely lady, commented that this was one of the nicest slabs they'd seen poured. Thanks, everyone.

Time to build a god-damned shop already, so we can get back to work!
Yes, yes, I know you've all been clamoring for pictures from the housewarming party... Well here they are!! (OK, maybe not clamoring....)
Our cute little gear house in the early afternoon of the party, set against Taos Mountain. You can see the kids already climbing all over Christina's outdoor aerobatic/trapeze rig...

Oh, there they are! Kids everywhere! People like to procreate here in Taos. Must be the thin mountain air.

I was lucky enough to have two very awesome out-of-town guests for the party. On the very left of the picture (not a great picture of him, to be sure) is my cousin Eduardo who, amazingly enough, is a robotics student and robot builder in Brazil! He totally surprised me with his visit (although he didn't come all the way from Brazil for the party, he was already in San Francisco for RoboGames.) And the fellow helping me fill the flamethrower tank on the Subjugator is my very good friend Doyle, who also came out for the party. Doyle earned the title of being my first non-family friend to come see the house, and the first person to stay as a guest in the K-Shack. He also helped fix a few robots (and break one!) and pour the concrete slab for the shop (see the next blog post)

Thanks a lot for coming, Eduardo and Doyle!

We shot the air cannon several times that night, and always let kids do it. Here's Corban, one of my favorite kids in Taos, firing it (while wearing the Brazil T-shirt we brought back for him)

And, here's a first for this blog.... A movie! Here's another lucky young fella, Luca, firing the cannon.

Gratuitous shot from inside the house. This gives a little feel of how the inside looks these days. We don't normally have that many flowers, believe me. People bring flowers to house-warming parties, apparently.

Look, people really came to our party, see!

One of the best things about the party (besides fire-breathing robots and drunk dudes falling over rocks) was the awesome live music we had. Jemma played the accordion inside and the El Rito Marching Band christened the house as the sun set.

Thanks for making it such a great time everyone, and helping Christina and I make the transition from "finished construction project" to "Home."

And for all you who couldn't make it, you were missed.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Howdy Folks!

Well, like I said last time, we moved in! No, really, we did!!

So now, it's time for the housewarming party! Come one, come all, to see the fruits of our labors. The party will be on Sunday, June 10th, from 4PM onwards. Here's the front and back of the invite:

Having finished the house, we're now moving in......

Havoc the cat asserting dominance over the bear rug, and.....

Unpacking my skull collection on the multi-purpose kitchen table. More pictures of our newly moved-into house to come soon.

There's other exciting news, though, too! The preparation for the concrete slab for the shop is coming along.... Here's what it looks like right about now: (The edge of the house is barely visible at the extreme right edge of the picture)

And, last but definitely not least.... I got a dog!! I don't necessarily expect the rest of you to share my excitement about this, but I am very excited! He's a 10 month old Weimaraner/Lab mix, very well-behaved, and super cute! His name is Sprocket.

So find your way to Taos, everyone, and share a beer with us on June 10th! And meet Sprocket!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Yes, right, it's been a long time since I blogged last.... I should really stop making any effort to apologize for the long gaps between posts, as it seems to be the norm for me.

And, as usual, a hell of a lot has happened since the last post.

This was the day we poured the concrete countertop which would come to serve as our kitchen table, dining table, reading table, project table, etc. etc. etc.. All the rebar and formwork is ready.....

Now skip forward a few weeks and......

We're IN!!! YES, it's true!!, we got our final inspection and we have moved in!! Christina took all these pictures during the few hours when the house was still empty, before we started filling it with all our crap from our previous lives. The two pictures above show the same countertop, the centerpiece of the kitchen and in some ways of the whole house.

Two views of the East wall. The first pic above shows the view that we wake up to every morning from the sleeping loft. The bottom pic shows the same wall seen from the ground.

My room. Now full of stuff. It will never look like that again.

Don't take the small things for granted, oh ye city dwellers!

As of this post, we have been living in the house for about two weeks. Showering! cooking! sleeping! using the internet! It's pretty amazing. The bad news is that moving in is quite a lot of work, too. Christina and I realized that by the time this whole escapade is over and things settle down, we will have been moving for about two years!!

All that time away from my shop is starting to take a toll on me. At some point in my life I realized that if I'm not making something, I get cranky. Well, I haven't really made anything for almost a year and a half, now, and I'm getting cranky. Luckily, we broke ground on the shop this week, and will hopefully pour the slab in about three weeks!

So start making your plans to come out and help build the shop, everyone! You know you want to! See you soon......

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The guy who we hired to spray the urethane insulating foam onto the outside of the quonset was the single most frustrating person we had to deal with on this house. After the third or fourth time he didn't come on the day he said he would, Christina was just about ready to strangle him. Anyway, he did eventually come and finish the job. The overspray got everywhere... the uncovered parts of the forklift now sparkle in the sun with little micro-drops of urethane!

The house is finally holding heat the way it should.

(In this pic you can also see the burly new front tires on the forklift!)

Not long after the foam was done, we got the plaster team back to do the final coat on the exterior. We added quite a bit of Charcoal dye to the plaster, so the exterior is pretty dark. It's already been referred to as the Goth House.... Hmm...... I think Gear Box is better. With the exception of the front door, the exterior of the house is now totally done.

(Oh boy, look at those tires!)

The interior is getting closer and closer, too. In both of these pics you can see that the interior plaster is now done. More than anything else so far, this step really unified the interior into one finished visual space.

The floor of the loft above is also now done, thanks to Christina's hours of back-breaking sanding and sealing.

The room below the loft, where I'm standing, will be my room.... or perhaps more accurately, the repository for my tons of stuff!

Two views of the kitchen. The kitchen has no walls, it's just one part of the main room. The countertops will be poured concrete. In these two pictures they have been framed and the concrete formwork has been done. The piano-shaped counter has a square-shaped inset, which is where the stove will go. This counter will also serve as the dining table. Christina apparently just can't wait to start cooking!

Next up, bathroom!

The building permit and the loan money for the shop are now both in hand! Ground-breaking on the shop within weeks!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Wow, not a single blog update between February 7th and March 5th! When will I be demoted from blogger to miscreant?

For our 2-year anniversary, we decided to be bold and daring and not work on the house for a day. Instead we took a drive through some rural areas surrounding Taos, and came across some interesting stuff.

After one look at this crumbling adobe house, Christina decided that she had designed our house all wrong. And I sort of fell in love with this crumbling adobe hardware store. What were we thinking making out buildings out of such durable materials like metal?

Another thing one sees in rural New Mexico is lots of dead animals. There's something so beautiful about them, don't you think? For some reason that bobcat was strung up on a fence, like a warning...... To other bobcats? To trespassers? That didn't stop us from bringing it home and cutting off its head and putting it in a bucket of water. (No, we're not satanists, we just like skulls.)

We decided to hire professional plasterers to plaster the outside of the house. Foklifts, when fitted with scaffold planks, make really awesome mobile work platforms. The plastering team took entire wheel-barrow loads of plaster up with them on the lift, and they plastered the whole outside in one day. In fact, less than a whole day; the bottom picture was taken after they left on that same day. However, don't get too excited; that is just the first coat, and we're not even ready for the first coat of interior plaster yet.....

The interior is coming along, though. The first two pictures are of the same wall, before and after sheet-rocking. I discovered I'm really good at sheet-rock.... who knew? I'll really miss seeing all that plumbing all the time. This wall separates the kitchen from the bathroom, and so I suppose you're wondering why the hell there's a big hole in the wall, right? For a fish-tank, of course!

The bottom picture shows..... that the house is a mess.

Note to self: When moving scaffolding by yourself, remove large heavy objects from the planks above you. Because if you don't remove things like cordless drills, they can fall off the scaffolding and hit you in the head, which really hurts.

That is what the sky and the house looked like at sunset tonight. Really. It almost made me forget about the annoying electrical short in my truck. Actually it did make me forget, for about a minute.

Oh, and I turned in my building permit application for the shop today... a big feat considering how much paperwork was involved. Hopefully we'll be breaking ground on the shop within 4 to 6 weeks. Man will that be exciting. Start making your plans now to come out to Taos and help me build the shop, everyone! Seeya soon!