Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The concrete is finished . . .

The title of this post might be an overstatement . . . but I'll get to that in a little bit.

First, I love this picture of me and Gardner taken one morning last week as I was going out to work. Children have such a genuine cheerfulness!

I finished the forms on Saturday. The kids helped move piles of dirt, hold the tape measure, chase tools, drink Gatorade, and just help keep me company. The video is of Joel using the compactor since the garage is where the garden used to be.

The strings are all coming together in the center of where the garage will be. They are from each corner and both sides - it seems as though everything is still square with the forms finished.

Laura noticed that the string was pink and asked if I wanted to keep the rest of the roll (she wanted it since it was pink). The string was to make sure that we had the right depth for the concrete. Laura helped me shave off some dirt from the high places.

Monday was a long day. I was outside with Joel and Laura shortly after 6 am, we had to get all the tools out, put down the plastic for a vapor barrier, put gravel in the bottom of the footers, and then back fill the forms (so the concrete wouldn't push them out). I went to pick up some of the tools and supplies before the first concrete truck arrived at 8:15. The kids had to be back inside at 8:00 for school, but they sure were watching all that was happening.

Bro. Mest, one of the men from our church, came and spent the day helping with the project; I couldn't have done this without him.

Below are a few pictures and video of the happenings.

The fun begins . . .

Fortunately, the truck had a 22' reach instead of 16' as I had originally been told. So, with the swing of the shoot, we could get the concrete to every corner of the forms.

Time for the screet board . . . it is the rough leveling. We used a couple of 14' 2X6's nailed together - you slide it back and forth across the top of the forms to make sure the all the holes are filled in and the high spots are leveled. It works like an old fashioned buck saw.

Laura wanted to show some of my new tools - usually, with a project, I'll get some new tools . . . :-)

Gatorade is an essential part of this kind of work . . .

It is also rather common to get things in your boots when you have your jeans tucked in to them (I'm cleaning dirt out of my boots). We were one yard short, not by miscalculation, but by truck capacity - so we are waiting for the final yard of concrete. Our neighbor, Dick Meyer, stopped to chat for a little bit. We have really good neighbors all the way around.

After the concrete was all poured, then it was time for the bull float - it is a 4' magnesium trowel with about an 18' handle.

Truck #2. The weather was almost perfect; it was a little cool and overcast - although we did have to keep picking out leaves - I'm sure there are some that are now a part of the "fiber" mix that was in the concrete. You can notice how the bull float has helped to smooth the concrete.

The final video is of me using the power trowel. There is definitely a learning curve with this machine. I had watched Clarence Moore use one at ABC and he made it seem to just glide back and forth across the cement. On this job, it was more like me getting jerked back and forth across the cement. Finally, I learned how to steer the thing by either pushing down or lifting on the handles and letting it steer itself; it still wore me out even after I figured some things out on it.

The edges did not finish as well as I would have liked. I couldn't get as close to the forms as I should have and I didn't stop to hand trowel when I should have - but that is only a cosmetic issue and the floor plates will cover most of the edges. A professional wouldn't have made those mistakes; when they "finish concrete" it is totally smoothed - when I "finish concrete" I have completed to task!

Overall, I'm very pleased with the result.

All of my building materials are supposed to be delivered on Friday, so we'll get into the kind of work that I'm much more familiar with in just a few days.

Tonight I let the kids roller blade and bike ride on the concrete; I recorded it, but it was too close to dark to be able to see.

Oh, I must again remind you of all the support that Carol is behind the scenes!

On the church front, we are now in the process of nominating our first deacons. I'm thrilled that God has brought us to this point and look forward to having Godly men working in this ministry. Things are going as well as ever and we are so blessed to be where God has placed us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The project is under way . . .

I finished cutting up the tree yesterday; the children wanted to leave the stump and asked me to cut it into the shape of a chair. I did, but it looks more like a stump that had half of it left standing - but the kids have spent a lot of time on it already.

After the tree was finished, it was time to begin marking out the garage and digging footers. Amazingly and thankfully, I (with Joel and Laura's help) was able to get it laid out square. I couldn't believe it when every corner measured accurately!

I'm about worn out from digging the footers - and I even used my tiller to cut the trenches. I guess I'm not as young as I used to be (stating the obvious). I'll probably pour the concrete this weekend.

We had an interesting family outing today. I normally attend the Illiana pastor's fellowship that meets once a month at one of the churches in our area. The host church for today's meeting encouraged each of us to bring our families. They had breakfast for everyone, a nursery for pre-schoolers, and a retired teacher who sat with all of our children who are home-educated.

I must admit, it is not easy to get all 9 of us out of the house by 7:00 am (we had an hour and a half drive and the fog was REALLY BAD for the first 20 minutes of the trip), but it was certainly worth the fellowship as a family and with other families working in the ministry.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thanks for teaching me . . .Ben Haupt, Hugh Hagerman, and Mr. Dallas

Several lessons that I've learned over the last 15 years have been put to good use over the past week or two. When I was working at ABC on the maintenance crew, I watched Ben Haupt (an outstanding arborist) cut down several trees. He never just walked up to a tree, cut through the trunk, and then watched it fall hoping for the best. Rather, he would climb it and take it down a little at a time with ropes. I think he could have cut a tree down and loaded it into the back of a truck without any of the wood ever touching the ground - he was good.

We are getting ready to build a garage in our back yard. I had a big maple tree that would have been locked in between the house, the shed, the power lines, and the garage if I had left it. I figured it was best to take the tree down before the garage was a part of the puzzle. However, the tree was hanging over the electric and phone lines and leaning towards the house. So, thanks Ben (even though you probably didn't know I was learning from you) for showing me that you don't have to take the whole thing down at once. (Any of you who might know where Ben is can pass on my gratitude to him - I think he and his wife are traveling in evangelism with Tom Palmer.) My insurance company is probably glad I watched him.

The next round of thanks goes to the farmer for whom I worked as a teenager, Hugh Hagerman. He used to tell me that there was very little that you couldn't move if you had the right kind of leverage. So, with about 40 feet of chain, a good come-along, an 8 foot steel fence post driven in the ground, a couple of ropes, my chainsaw, and a long tree saw, we managed to get it all down. I must say, that we had a good breeze from the right direction at the right time also. Every limb and the main part of the tree fell right where it was supposed to fall. The only casualty was the fence post that happened to have the top of the tree land on it when it finally came down - it is now bent over in an "L".

The kids (whom I kept out of the way while cutting) were persistent in dragging limbs to the pile that we made. They also stacked up all the wood that we cut up for firewood. I'm sure this is an experience they will never forget - especially Joel who was my "stacker" on the brush pile as well as pulling with ropes and the come-along. Now you can enjoy some photos and videos.

I'm getting the chain hooked in the tree here.

John is carrying wood and Josiah is going after more.

Josiah loved stacking up the firewood.

Joel kept our brush pile neatly stacked and tight - I think he enjoyed being up on top of the pile most of the day.

Grant is growing up very quickly!

Josiah actually got this limb over to the pile . . . ambition and energy combined . . . good picture Laura.

Here is my motivation for the day. These two energize me - the smile and the stare!

Kara had to stay on the porch today - for safety reasons; she has just had a bath and so her hair is still a little wet.

Almost finished . . .

Laura was our photographer today, so she had to take a self-photo to get into the history book.

I think this is only about a third of the wood there will be when we are finished.

All my helpers - Grant, Laura, John, Josiah, and Joel.

This final video is what they had been wanting to do all day.

Carol had some really good mesquite pork loin ready for us when we were finished. The kids had all worked up a good appetite; the only thing left was a small helping of greens - go figure. :-)

One final "thank you" that I have is to Mr. Dallas. We were given quite a bit of shredded cabbage a couple of weeks ago. Even though we like cole slaw, we couldn't eat it all that way. While working in the kitchen at ABC I helped Mr. Dallas make egg rolls. I remembered how he had done it (trade secrets that can't be revealed - just kidding); sausage, cabbage, garlic, and plenty of ginger wrapped in the egg roll wrappers, sealed with corn starch and deep fried . . . Dipped in sweet & sour sauce they are irresistible. (Someone is welcome to pass this on to Mr. Dallas.)

We made 40 of them . . . and they didn't last long. The picture below is when most of them were already gone and I thought I should take a picture before they too disappeared.

Thanks to all of you who have influenced me some way or another - whether I wrote about you this evening or not.