water witch

Or maybe warlock? In any case, he's an amazing surfer and also, appropriately, the superintendant of water on the island. In his later capacity he dowsed to find the water shutoffs yesterday so that today we can open up the earth and put in a water line, as well as, hopefully, conduits for power and phone, to the new place. That is, if the third backhoe operater I have employed so far (but first in my heart, Howie, never doubt it) shows up after driving the schoolbus this morning. Mr Piss-On-the-Ants himself has agreed to help me to run the conduit.
We'll see if all of these projects get anywhere today. But anyway, using two pieces of coathanger the wizard found the waterline I didn't know I had.


still but shallow

Manhattans are now, ironically, the drink of choice with this view.



flying a

photograph by Oceangurl

The pagan symbol to celebrate the hoisting of the ridge pole is known as the wedding bush, for some reason. Maybe because the ridge marries the rafters? In any case, it is meant to be the same kind of wood that the house is made of. On the island, we don't have a lot of wood of any kind, never mind Douglas fir, a West Coast plant. Usually, carpenters here use a bayberry bush, which we have a lot of. But the bayberry hasn't really leafed out yet. So Pomegranite, Citichild and I went out on an islandwide tree hunt. We wound up with this Japanese black pine, a gift from Pomegranite's father, and it went aloft the new fashioned way, by crane.


a very expensive sculpture

The guys left this morning. And now there's a very expensive sculpture in my yard.


the darkening sky

. . .last evening, right after the crew chief from South County Post and Beam arrived to prepare for the rest of the frame-erecting people who arrive today.


moving day

Today I move out to make room for the post and beam framers, who arrive on the 3:00 boat. Reach me on computer or cell for the next five days. Also arriving: an old friend from People days. Departing: Wolfen and the Cub.



Wolfcubs prepare the deck for painting. The carpenters thought it was necessary to protect the plywood subfloor from warping during the coming month or so it will be exposed. However, what with the nails and screws and glue they used to put it down, I doubt it would have.
The paint was applied just in time for a rainstorm.



decked out

Team CSC II: Done with the house deck, joists for the front porch and even now finishing the back porch. Then they pack up and hit the road.


please, mr. li

As the Architect recently pointed out, Mr. Li has been among the missing. Yes, there were times when his taste in e-bay artifacts didn't sit well with me (case in point: beer mug shaped like a toilet). But his passion, his zest for life, his love of kitch and above all his Engrish, endeared him to our readers, one and all.
We understand that, being preggers, Angelina has so much on her plate at the moment that she cannot honor her Jeal-Anon obligations.
But Mr Li, you are semi-retired, are you not?
I know I was sometimes mean.
But, please, Mr. Li, won't you come back where you belong? We do miss you. Hao xiang ni. You see, I am trying to learn Chinese to communicate with you better. Arigato godzimas. And Japanese. Any language, makes no matter. Please?

adverse conditions

Building a tent to build in. But that was yesterday.



South County Post and Beam is arriving to put up the frame this Sunday.

blocked island

Between thunderstorms, Peter and Chris cut and nailed something in the neighborhood of 200 pieces of 2x12 pressure treated lumber to use as blocking between the joists on the deck of the house. They are far enough behind because of weather delays that both put off their departures. Peter leaves for New York and New Orleans on Thursday, Chris leaves for Santa Fe on Friday. Today they hope to frame up the front porch and perhaps (should the buildings official arrive for inspection and the construction glue arrive on the boat) begin covering the deck with plywood. At that point, we are ready for South County Post and Beam to put up the frame. South County says they are cutting the lumber and need a week to hand finish it. They haven't yet booked the ferry.
PS: My horoscope for today. How hideous is this?
You at last seem to be making progress in a creative endeavor that has had several false starts in recent weeks. That's good but don't get carried away because there is a lot of work to do yet - this is only the first step on a journey that will last not for days but for weeks, months, maybe even years. Pace yourself sensibly.


the sultan of stop 'n' shop

The Cowboy's look for carpentry in the rain. Maybe we should all just put bags over our heads until next year. Maybe it will stop raining by then.


a note to our readers

Guys, I know you're out there, and how many of you there are.
I know we have a regular reader in Lombardia, Italy, for instance. (Hello, Lombardia, reveal yourself. Who are you and why do you check in every other day?)
We are about to be linked to the This Old House magazine site.
It will look really bad if none of you comment.
Please. Do it for Mama Claude.

architect and wolf cubs

Island ho!


first wood

They came from all over. The mason and his son from Vermont (left). My bro from Santa Fe, and our friend from New Orleans. Blood was thicker than mud, but thinner too. And, alas, it has poured and howled until even those of us of tough northern stock sat shivering around the stove. They return to sunnier climes next week. Who knows if they'll ever come back for round two.


about the shower

One thing is for sure: There will be two inside showers this time. I thought guests would be happy enough with the outdoor shower, but when I'm here (off season) they seem to prefer the lack of gooseflesh and use the one in my room. (Contrarywise, I use the one outdoors.)
One bathroom will have, again, a clawfooted tub--this time with a shower with curtains. The other bathroom will have—what? I'd like to have tile and no door, but with a wood floor that seems contraindicated. The glass door I have now costs $1100. Wholesale. never mind the difficulty of putting it in. I like it, but am not crazy about the fiberglass stall. The acrylic ones, however, are both expensive and ugly (with molded seats and such). Then there's the door issue. I would prefer tile, but that's even more expensive, and then there's the door issue.
What to do?


with the bathwater

Erase, if you will, the jets from these pictures. The bathtub will not be having jets, as there is no plumber to fix jets with issues. And then tell me which you prefer. All are on the large side and the deep side. This is known (without jets) in the current lingo as a soaking tub. So step in. Soak. Decide.



Setbacks do occur. Serves me right for boasting about the weather.
However, consider this the formal warning of my incipient splat into a genre known by my bro as "house porn," with the debut of a column entitled "Ms. Dowling Builds Her Dream House." That is, it will debut (in September) if I write it within the next two weeks.
As you might possibly guess, the title is not my idea. It is based on a book and movie (with Cary Grant) called "Mr. Blandings Builds His..." This book (and movie) apparently contains nothing but chapters of reverses suffered by the hapless title character. I have ordered the film from Netflix in the interests of research. I am hoping that things will go rather better for me than for Mssr. Blandings, but perhaps I am too sanguine. Viz: the picture above.


another hat

No sooner did the carpenter hit the island, than he had to open his tool boxes (five of them at 150 pounds apiece, shipped by UPS), read the manual for his new Hitachi compound mitre saw and buy some wood. After we put a bunch of two by fours and plywood in the truck, he felt happier, and immediately went to work in the rain building a table for his new saw. "Purpose built," he calls it. His last purpose-built worktable became my picnic table. He seems unwilling to reuse either that or the sawhorses I've been using since his last project, which was the porch he's working on now, thanks to the rain.
But why is he wearing that silly hat? Where does he think this is, Bermuda?


down time

The bushes will be happy: it's raining. The mason, on the other hand, kind of has to hang it up. He managed in gusts to 40 mph yesterday, using his truck as a wind block. But today looks like a wash.
The windows have arrived at the lumber yard already—I don't need them for a month—and I'm still fidgeting with the openings. I also just shortened the front porch by a foot, because the mason thought it jutted into the driveway too much. We were both picturing late-night partiers plowing into it. Adusting the idea to the actuality is where the, ahem, cement hits the dirt.
In the really big news, Bro arrives today to take over.
"I've started sleeping," I told him.
"I've stopped," he said.


one brick at a time

They came over on the boat in a cube of 525-something, which we unloaded at the site. There's a clamper thing, called brick tongs, that picks up to ten bricks at a time. At a couple pounds per brick, that's a nice little workout. Gym be damned. Today, getting ahead of ourselves a bit, the pressure treated lumber arrives. Then we need to pick up another cube of bricks at the dock. And on Thursday, three more cubes.
We're running out of space on the grounds. Those darn bushes are filling up the place more than we would like.