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high desert. small house.

Days 3 & 4: Finishing the First Window

The weekend was incredibly productive.  We left the shack around 3pm on Saturday and were able to finish the first window before the wind storm arrived.  It was odd – the sky was full of dark clouds and thunder.  But the only thing that struck was some serious wind.  It shut us down for the day, but an afternoon off never hurt anybody.

We had dinner at Tre Rosat.  They had two soups that night - Asparagus Velouté and some (surprisingly) delicious gazpacho

We had dinner at Tre Rosat. They had two soups that night – Asparagus Velouté and some (surprisingly) delicious gazpacho

We worked at the house almost all day Sunday; finishing the re-installation of all the windows and getting the Magic Tape in place on one of the big, south windows.  We also learned that the way to get Trooper to calm down was to give him a place to sit (and he prefers an elevated place).  If you look in the featured image above, you’ll notice his highness quite comfortable on his pallet.

Sydney does not willingly calm down but occasionally she'll take a panting break to be next to one of us.

Sydney does not willingly calm down but occasionally she’ll take a panting break to be next to one of us.

Some other notes and lessons from the weekend’s work –

  • Your left hand (if you’re right dominant) does not have to be a pathetic, non-contributing member of your body.  If you want it to be more accurate and useful, you have to use it.  While hammering away on the end cap, I suddenly became motivated to practice using my left hand.  Naturally, the first 4-5 nails were terrible and several actually flew out because I couldn’t strike them square on.  I then developed the system of getting them in place using my right and then finishing them with my left.  Practice makes perfect.
  • The ladder may be awkward to re-position, but setting up correctly for working up high is super important for efficiency and safety.  A few times while hammering, I was too lazy to move the ladder.  The result – super cautious and slightly unsafe reaches that could have been completely avoided.  Get down, move the ladder and climb back up!
  • Star-drive, bronze ceramic coated screws with cross-cut thread are the bee’s knees.  We decided not to reuse the crew’s window screws because they were an absolute pain.  The new screws go in like butter (saving drill battery power) and don’t split the wood.
  • We also learned about nails.  There is a type of nail, the ‘box nail’.  This does not mean a box of nails and should not be confused with ‘common nails’.  The ‘box nail’ It is a thinner version of a given nail size designed to avoid splitting wood.  What’s weird though is that an 8d box nail is exactly as thick as a 6d common nail, so why not just specify one or the other instead of having different versions of each size?  Anyhow, we serendipitously ended up with a box of box nails, which were ideal for the end caps’ siding. So it turns out the high school girl at the hardware store does know what she’s talking about.
  • The big windows are heavy and unwieldy.  By working on the small windows first, we developed a system for removal and staging.  What worked best for us was to have a large piece of cardboard on a pallet.  The window would come out and go face-down on the pallet.  Know the destination before removing the large and heavy object!
    • It was incredibly difficult to hoist up the front windows back into their holes.  This probably isn’t a problem for most houses since they’re built near ground-level; but because our house is 30″ off the ground and then the window openings are 30″ off the floor, we had to lift the windows up 5 feet to get them in place.  That height is not at a convenient leverage point and it puts the highest point of the window 10 feet in the air, well beyond what our arms can reach.
We don't know if we have a resident herd of quail (officially called a 'covey') but we ALWAYS have some party trekking across the property.  They are a little like crickets - you hear them, you hear them, you walk toward them, then they're silent.  Brian was very lucky to catch them for this photo since they don't usually sit still for very long.

We don’t know if we have a resident herd of quail (officially called a ‘covey’) but we ALWAYS have some party trekking across the property. They are a little like crickets – you hear them, you hear them, you walk toward them, then they’re silent. Brian was very lucky to catch them for this photo since they don’t usually sit still for very long.

Lastly, we saw a HUGE owl alight on the top of a tree while we were working near dusk last night.  It didn’t like our noises and left soon after.  I can’t wait to see him with some binoculars.

For a full summary of our experience with Arched Cabins, please read Arched Cabin Summary.

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