Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stripping Cement Forms

Nearly 20 months after we poured the concrete for the garage I’m finally getting around to stripping the cement forms that held up the garage floor. As you can see in the photos this is all overhead work so a hardhat is a must. Between wearing a hardhat all day and working overhead my neck feels like it’s been ran through the wringer. But, it’s been worth it to finally see how the concrete pour turned out. I have to say so far I’m very happy with the quality.

One portion stripped down to concrete and the joist pulled off the plywood just prior to the final stripping. Even though it’s overhead and gravity is working in my favor the ¾ plywood form is a bearcat to pull. But, when it lets go you better move out of the way fast!

A closeup of one of the grade beams. Note the round circles are the plastic shoes that held up the rebar.

I'll post more photos later when I get further along or get done with the job.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sitka Daily Photo

I was cruising around the world of blogs the other night and I came across a blog called Sofia Daily Photo. This is a blog that features daily photos from Sofia Bulgaria. I then noticed a link to a whole bunch of blogs that feature daily photos of cities all around the world. The idea of sitting at my computer and checking out interesting places to visit all over the globe intrigued me and a spent a couple of hours just traveling to cites I had been to and cites I want to go to someday.

Living in Alaska I know this state and area of the world is interesting to many people so I decided to sign up for a daily blog to feature Sitka, Alaska. I know I’m a little biased but I think Sitka is just about the most beautiful place on earth and I’m very thankful that I get to live here with my family. So, if any of you readers of this blog want to see more photos of Sitka please visit my new blog at this address:

I’m sorry I’m not a better photographer, but maybe I’ll get better as I take more photos of the wonderful city of Sitka and post them on Sitka Daily Photo.

Grandson Blake came with Connie and me on Sunday when we went to Sitka’s National Historic Park to take a walk and to take photos of the many totems in the park.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More Thanksgiving Day Photos

Nate runs everywhere he goes

Nate is always intrested in what big brother Blake is up to

Blake likes the loft

I guess I like the loft too. I set my dinner aside long enough to take this photo. I didn't have a wide enough angle lens on the camera to fit in everyone so poor Nate is not in the photo.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday and it was extra special this year with 4 generations of my family sharing diner in our new home.

I think I have always like Thanksgiving because it is the one holiday that is dedicated to being thankful for all the wonderful blessings that I have been fortunate to experience. I of course am most thankful for a great family.

Nate likes to play peek-a-boo on the stairs

Blake discovered that he can slide down the stair jacks. It’s hard to say don’t do that when I know how much fun I had doing it when I was a kid.

Connie as always put at one heck of a good spread of all the traditional Thanksgiving food.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pan Abode Homes

I came home over this past weekend with my head swirling with all I learned in just a few days of training at the Pan Abode Homes office in Renton Washington. I also came home even more impressed with Pan Abode.

Not only has Pan Abode been putting together home packages here in the USA since 1952, but I like their business philosophy and integrity. They believe in charging a fair price for a high quality product and strive to always make improvements in their designs. One way I judge a business is by what the employees say and how long they have been employed. I found the employees to be happy and 20 to 30 years of employment at Pan Abode is the norm. This says a lot to me and I’m proud to now be a small part of the Pan Abode Team striving to make dreams come true.

Pan Abode designs and builds 3 types of homes: The Cassic Timber, The Phoenix Timber Home and Post and Beam. Below is an example of each type of construction.

Pan Abode Homes Classic Red Cedar Home style that they have been designing and supplying material for in the US since 1952.

The Pan Abode Homes Phoenix Home system utilizes laminated red cedar logs to build a strong and very beautiful home.

Our home is a Pan Abode Post and Beam style house.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Silly Boys!

I’m heading out of town for a week but before I leave I figured I’d post these two cute photos of Blake and Nate from this past Saturday.

The boys showed up Saturday morning just as I was putting away some of my ties that Connie had been drying on the folding table after washing. I’m not sure Nate even knows what a tie is but he sure wanted to put one on. Then he wore it all day long and all around town. Silly boy!

This window that Blake is poking his head out of looks out onto the great room from the loft in the spare bedroom. It was Blake’s idea to put this window into the loft and he and his grandmother out voted me because I wasn’t going to. I guess this is a vote I’m glad I lost because it’s sure has been fun for me to watch the boys have fun in the loft.

This is the boys play loft in the spare bedroom and one of their favorite places to play.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Honoring my Father-In-Law On this Veterans Day

The USS Gambier Bay

Veterans Day is of course a day that has been set aside for us to pay our respect to the many brave Men and Women who over the last 2 centuries have given so much for us. I have to admit that sometimes I find it a tad hard to be patriotic in today’s world where we the USA no longer seem to live up the high standards that many of those brave folks gave their lives for. When I hear our President dodging the question of torture and when I look at the toll this never ending Iraq War is taking on our county I have to wonder.

However, when I think back to all my father-in-law George Durkop gave for the US and the high standard that he set I can not help but feel pride. I’m not only proud of my wife’s father, but I have to be proud of what he and so many others stood for.

George’s served active duty in 3 wars. The 2nd World War, Korea, and Viet Nam.

During WWII he was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Gambier Bay on the fateful day of October 25th 1944 when the only US aircraft carrier sank during the 2nd World War went down. George was serving as Gunner’s Mate 3/c on the Gambier Bay when she was hit by several 8” shells fired by the Japanese War Ship HIJMS Chikuma and at least two other Japanese ships during the Navel Battle in the Leyte Gulf. He spent over two days swimming in the ocean before being rescued. This was when he earned his 1st Purple Heart Medal. He finished the 2nd World War Serving on the USS Hubbard.

At the end of the 2nd World War he joined the US Air Force.

During the Korean War he served active duty in the US Air Force in Korea and somehow earned another Purple Heart. I never heard how he earned this one.

In 1968 during the Viet Nam war he was called up for active duty from the Colorado Air National Guard during the Pueblo Incident . He was sent back to Korea for a 2nd time. During this duty he was one of 2 Air Force NCO’s who was stationed on the DMZ to work as an air support spotter. He spent 13 months on the DMZ during this Hot time in the Cold War.

George Retired as a Chief Master Sergeant from the Colorado Air National Guard in the 1980’s.

George was a very humble quiet man who seldom talked of his time at war. Once shortly before his death I felt honored when he recounted the full details of the sinking of the Gambier Bay to me. After hearing how he watched men be blown up, burn to death and then some of them get eaten by sharks I could understand why he didn’t like to talk about some of the darker things he had seen in his life.

To me George was a real American Hero!

George I salute your memory and thank you for all that you gave to the USA!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Kitchen and Laundry

When Connie and I started thinking about building a house we knew that we wanted the kitchen and living room to not be separated by a wall. The idea of a peninsula with the sink in the middle so that we could wash dishes while looking across the dinning area and then out the front windows appealed to both of us. I don’t know about you, but if I can have a great view and talk to my family while doing dishes it doesn’t seem like such a big chore.

In the design phases of the home we were extra pleased that Pan Abode Homes was so very willing to work with us to locate the kitchen where we wanted it. And then when we asked them to add additional windows in the kitchen they were more than happy to do so. Connie and I were both willing to give up some cabinet space to get more sun light into our home.

We put the windows above the stove counters becasue our only view out that side of the hosue is of the neighbor's house, and this gave us room for stuff on the counters under the windows. The other window was installed lower so that we could have a full view of the lake while working at the stove.

A few folks have given me a hard time about mounting the microwave hood vent so high above the stove, but I didn't want to knock my head on it ever time I bent over the stove. That is why there are two microwaves. Sort of a "His" and "Hers". I usually use the upper microwave and my 5'1" wife usually uses the one on the countertop. But, I have to confess I like having two microwaves, because when I cook it’s almost all done the fast and easy way with a microwave.

This is the view we see as we come in the back door and through the laundry room.

The shelves in the pantry are built extra heavy out of fir so that Connie can climb them like a ladder. If you note the top shelve you can see the hand hold that is cut into the shelve. The two below this one are cut the same way.

Connie picked out all the appliances when we were furnishing the house, but I insisted on a mop sink. And, man or man was I glad we had this when we were doing the sheetrock mud and painting! You will also note the big jug of hand soap right over the sink, this is so I can wash up as I come in the house from doing some dirty job outside.

Wide Angle Shot of the Front of the House

I’d been having problems with my wide angel lens focusing so I had not taken any wide angle shots of the house until this morning. I was pleased when I figured out the only problem with the lens was a UV filter that made the shot look like it was in focus until it was downloaded. Anyway I removed the filter and I was happy with the results.

The House From the Street

The garage and the back of the house. Yes, the back of the house faces the street.

The lot is only 75 feet wide so we had to be creative to get the garage and house to fit within the city setbacks.

I took the above 3 photos as I walked up the sidewalk across the street. I think we are lucky becasue there is no sidewalk on our side of the street.

A view of the ramp that leads to the house from the parking lot and garage. The deck and ramp was my design, but the superb workmanship on the deck was done by my son Zach.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Steel and Concrete

I know there is little rhyme or reason as to the order in which I have posted photos. But, the last couple of days the subject of concrete and rebar has come up few times, so I figured I post some more photos of the concrete work that we did. I’ve elected to highlight the garage since it was the bigger of the two projects as far as concrete work.

After the helical piers were driven, pier caps were poured. Each cap is 1 foot thick. The larger pier caps are where double piers have been driven.

Rebar was placed on 1 foot centers and perimeter grade beams as well as interior grade beams were formed. The blue board is 2” of foam insulation placed onto the plastic vapor barrier. The vertical rebar is where the pillers that support the upper floor will be formed.

The 20' X 22' pad has been poured and again you can see the dowles where the pillers will be formed.

Three sides of the piller forms were built at Zach's shop. They were brought to the job site and placed around the pretied 5/8" rebar. The forth side of the form was put in place after the forms were in the proper location and the rebar was tied into the center of the forms. Note the tent we built over the project so that we could work in rainy weather.

2x4 stud walls were built on 16" centers to hold the plywood forms for the upper deck. Note the steel strapping around the vertical forms. This kept them from "blowing out" when the concrete was vibrated.

When you are going to pour a concrete floor that weighs over 70,000 pounds you better place lots of cross bracing.

The upper deck is formed and the first lawyer of rebar on 8" centers is sitting on top of plastic rebar shoes that keep it 2" off the form. Note the grade beams again around the outside and down the interior.

A typical corner where rebar not only ties into the pillers but ties the corner grade beams together.

In this photo you see Connie tying rebar. Connie, Zach and I all tied hundreds of pieces of rebar together. Zach tied the lions share with Connie and me tying in the evenings and on weekends.

I'm finishing tying the last of the rebar just prior to pouring. One side of the forms had to be left off so that we could push 22' long rebar through the grade beams to tie both the upper and lower layers of rebar into the grade beams and pillers. The upper layer of rebar is on 12" centers and the lower is on 8" centers.

A close up view of the 2 layers of rebar for the upepr deck of the garage.

A slightly out of focus look between the layers of rebar.

After the pour the tent came down and the forms were stripped. With the forms off we were pleased in the job we had done pouring over 45 yards of concrete for the garage. We were extra pleased at the finish and were told by the inspecting engineer that this was some of the best concrete work he had ever seen.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Card Catalog

When I worked at Sheldon Jackson College, one day over the inner-office e-mail the college librarian advertised that she want to get rid of some surplus furniture. One thing she had for sale was an old card catalog. I knew it would be a couple of years before we would have the house ready for such a piece of furniture but I figured it was unique enough that it was worth storing in our storage locker. Yesterday I finally got around to converting the drawers so they could be used for something beside the Dewey Decimal System.

60 drawer card catalog

I pulled out the inner guts that use to hold cards and put 1/8" thick plywood in the bottoms. Yes it did feel a little sacrilege to pull out the guts and remove all the indexing, but I took comfort in knowing that the computer has replaced this piece of furniture. (However, with the closing of the school the library closed too. )

When I purchased the card catalog I figured it would be a good storage system for Connie's sewing stuff. So this is what I had in mind all along.....
But Connie also figured it would be a good place to put little toys for the grandsons to find. If nothing else it could make a good memory game!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Millie’s Panoramic View

This morning I picked up from the framers the panormamic photograph of the view Millie enjoyed from her Colorado home before moving to Sitka.

Millie stands in her room admiring the photograph that her good friend Teri gave her as a going away present when she moved from Colorado to Southeast Alaska.

Millie and Connie had already decided the photograph would hang above the closet doors in Millie's room. So as soon as I walked in with the newly framed photo I hung it.

I wish the photo of the photo did justice to the view that was out Millie's window. Millie lived in the same home for around 45 years and over the years she watched the view change from seeing very few homes to many, many homes. Out these same windows she watched her children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren play. The gift from Teri helps keep those memories alive.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Grandson Sunday

Connie and I love Sunday mostly because we spend extra time with both of our grandsons. Usually we pick Blake up at this home and he comes to town with us. Later in the afternoon Zach, Jenn and Nate come to town and pick up Blake. So we get to spend a good part of the day with both grandsons.

Blake and Grandma enjoy the Sitka Cross trail in the glorious sun!

Nate enjoys a homemade organic chocolate chip cookie and hot tea which he drinks with a bombilla (straw). Grandpa just enjoys watching the little guy have fun. What a pleasure it is to be a grandparent!