Monday, August 24, 2009

This past week we managed to get the trusses up on this building. We had a couple down days because the crane wasn't available on the day we needed it, then when it was available, we got rained out halfway through the day after getting just one set and a gable wall up. It was a somewhat frustrating week as we are considerably behind on this project, (as well as the next one), but, at least the trusses are up now and we are not having to rely on crane scheduling to move forward. Hopefully things will look a lot different by the end of this week.



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The truss sections are built on the ground to be lifted up later with a crane. We started this during the first real warm week of the summer. We had some days in the 90s with very high humidity.
Before that, it had been an unusually nice summer, rarely getting above 80 degrees with plenty of rain, though, in my picking range, the blueberries never did really take off.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The sauna door is taking shape. I have the last few veneer boards glued on. It will look like a cedar plank door, but it is really just thin veneers glued to a plywood box core. This is the way I will try to keep this door from warping.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Extreme Makeover in South Range Wisconsin:

On the weekend of August 8th, 2009, I went to a little place just south of Superior Wisconsin, a little town called South Range. Somewhere out in the country near there, a field with an old dilapidated farmhouse, (among a hundred other similar fields with old dilapidated farmhouses), had been transformed into a Hollywood set for a show called “Extreme Makeover, Home Edition”, or something like that. I have never seen the show and knew nothing about it, except what I saw on the end of a movie called “Wild Hogs” a couple years ago.

About a week ago, a friend, Chris Ismil, who runs a program called “Iron Range Youth in Action”, (IRYA), called and said he had been contacted as someone who could round up a group of carpenters to come and help on some of the finish trim work on the house. He told them he could bring five good guys who could do this work. He figured he could also bring a few kids from his program and make an experience out of it, which is a good thing, and since I had never been on any of Chris’s “adventures” with he and his group, (from sandbagging the river in North Dakota, to rebuilding homes after Katrina in Mississippi), I decided to go.

We were going to fill a shift that started at 4:00 am and went to 6:00 pm. We were going to trim windows, doors, stuff like that. We actually thought we would be needed and would be working hard for 16 hours.

We got there at 4:00 am. I wasn’t sure what to expect. There were lights everywhere around the house. Huge lights that each operated on their own generator. The whole place was lit up. There were people everywhere. I don’t know what the process is for choosing a home for this show, but I have to think that having a field large enough for a thousand cars and numerous RVs and several huge “movie star” buses, has to have something to do with it. The place looked like a fairground. There were security posts on the driveway coming in and volunteers directing parking traffic. There had been quite a downpour overnight and the field was now more mud than grass, but there, in the middle of it all, was a house that stood where the old farmhouse had been with hundreds of people in blue shirts and white hardhats moving in and out and around.

We were told the drywall crews were still in there and the mud was not dry, so there was no room for finish carpentry yet and we would have to wait. This was after we signed in and got our blue T-shirts. Not knowing how things really went around there, we waited…and waited...and waited. We found out later that there was really no rhyme or reason to the whole thing, we should have just walked in and tried to find things to do.
Eventually this is what we did. That’s not to say that there was no organization, there obviously had to be some grand plan or there would be no way something like this could be pulled off. There were a few guys walking around with microphones clipped to their shirts who would communicate with each other and have some idea where there was a shortage of help and send people in that general direction. By the time you got where they sent you there was usually a few others who had been standing around looking for something to do, that where already on it.

Before I went, I joked about probably having a job site where you would have five guys cutting one piece of trim, then five more taking it and holding it up to the window where five others would nail it in place. Though this is not exactly how it went, it turned out to be a surprisingly accurate analogy of how it felt.
When you did find something to do, it was usually at the expense of a few other people who would like to be doing that, but you happened to get there first and they would watch or find something else to do or try to help. Most people were just walking around doing nothing, which is what I spent a good deal of time doing.

We did end up trimming some windows, but the extension jams and trim were all pre-made, so, trimming a window took two guys all of about 10 minutes. The biggest job was locating the trim in the trim trailer, which probably took about 5 guys about 15 minutes.

Other than that, I helped shovel some concrete mud and helped erect a temporary shelter over a garage skirt pour, in case the rain should start in the middle of the pour.

After being there for about ten hours, I decided that there were plenty of people there who actually enjoyed this sort of thing and I wasn’t really one of them. I found it interesting to see happening, but, though I had signed on for another shift the next day, I decided they could carry on with out me.
It’s amazing how many people will turn out to try to be even the smallest part of a hit TV series, or, what I mean is, to help a family in need, (supposedly “in need“, we never really learned much about the family), get a brand new house that everyone there assumed they deserved, because they had been picked by, we would assume, Ty, himself, (who, incidentally, never appeared on the site while I was there).

I was, however, impressed with how civil everyone was. I didn’t hear a harsh word from everyone in ten hours I spent as one in hundreds of generic bodies in blue shirts trying to appear busy, (and occasionally succeeding), around a construction site/Hollywood TV set.

I was impressed by the underlying organization that I new had to be there, in order that the apparent chaos that I was witnessing could result in this project taking form and being complete in 7 days.

I was impress with a Perkins Restaurant that was packed at 3:00 am, which illustrated to me the only real benefit to this community, the thousands of dollars these Hollywood people must be bringing to this place plus the tourists coming to watch.

I was impressed by Paige Hemmis’s shiny pink hard hat and clean pink work gloves and boots when she came on to the site for a few minutes of filming.

I was impressed with the food.

But I never really could get the enthusiasm. People throw around phrases like “Giving back”, when asked about why they are there. Giving back to what? There must be a dozen incidents every week that offer us each the opportunity to do something important that might make a difference to somebody, but I didn’t see this as one of those opportunities.

I guess I’m glad I went, just to see how these things really work, but, in the end, I felt like I had seen a slice of Hollywood mixed with ordinary humans, that just left me feeling a little bit queasy. It seems we have the capacity to be so well intentioned and good, and so ridiculous, and in this case, all at the same time, (me included, I was there too).

At the end of the day, I took my nice blue T-shirt, (now a little soiled), and went home.


Here are some pictures:

This is a view from the project house looking out into the field where the tents, buses and cars were arraigned.


This is one of the "stars" standing next to a wind generator tower that they were erecting. They had camera guys up in the lift and on the ground. They put this tower up and down several times while he talked and they filmed. I don't know this guys name, but he was the main guy posing in different situations as if he had something to do with the work going on.




...Paige...there she is. For many of us, this was all we needed to see. I could now go home fulfilled.
(you might wonder, if I had never seen the show, how I knew who this was. After I new I was going, and before I went I did stumble upon the show as I was flipping channels one night. For some reason, she was the only one who's name I remembered in the 10 minutes I spent watching).

I found out later that this was a tree house for the kids that they were building.
I was up on some scaffolding when I took this picture. We were trimming some high windows. At any given moment, this was what the house looked like inside. Everyone was either trying to do something or look like they were doing something, or trying to stay out of the way of people that were doing something. The lady in black, (without hardhat), must have been a designer or something. She seemed to be involved with a huge concrete piece of "art" going on in the great room. You can see the top of it in the foreground where the guy with the blue shirt and white hardhat is working.
This is the front of the house. (I'm not so sure I would have went with the green.) This was a rare moment where there weren't too many people in the view. The guy on the right is Chris Ismil, a guy that really does make a difference in many lives. A real hero to many kids on the iron range. You can find out more about the program he runs here:

http://www.irya.org/index.php

The other two guys just happened to be there, I have no idea who they are.

Friday, August 7, 2009

...and now for something completely different...
As soon as we get the sauna building done and a couple other loose ends tied up, we are going to build a huge pole building for Hamiltons Boat Storage. This isn't something we normally do much of but it is for someone I built a lake home for in the past and the location of this building is very close to home here, so when he asked me if I wanted to do it so I figured, why not?

Here the slab has been poured with steel brackets for the posts and the materials have been delivered. Hopefully we can get it started next week.

Thursday, August 6, 2009



With the building standing like this we started to re-think the siding. We had intended to go with regular 6" beveled siding on the lower parts with cedar shingles into the gable areas, but we started thinking this might be small enough that we could just do the whole thing in cedar shingles.
...Except for the lower 28" which will be rock...


Anyway, I decided to make this sketch and run it past the owners:
They said they like the look. I could find anyone who thought it might not be a good idea, so, cedar shingles it is...

Monday, August 3, 2009

In the mean time, in the shop, I have begun to make some doors for the sauna.
I still glue up the stave cores myself, and I took a couple pictures of that process and the result.
These will be simple plank style doors, but I still need a good solid core.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

The framing oges up next. Here we have the walls framed and the roof framing has just begun.
It's fun to work on small projects, occasionally, that go together fast.
We've been having plenty of rain, but not a lot of hot weather. It is another disappointing year for blueberries, I don't know if that is because it was such a cool spring or what. I don't think there has been a day yet this year that has had me feeling like jumping in a lake. Maybe August will bring some warmer weather...Not that I desire warmer weather, it's just that this time of year, you start to feel how short the summers really are and, as much as I like fall weather, I don't want to start feeling like snow could be any day now just yet.