Tuesday, March 31, 2015

These past couple seasons

The past few months' progress have been mostly in the trim department.  The first rooms to get finished were our bedrooms.

Once we were moved in to our own rooms (whoop whoop) it was time to hurry up and prepare for cold weather.  Last winter caught us very unprepared for record-breaking cold temperatures.  We ran out of firewood by the end of February and I could not keep up by simply going out with a sled and cutting dead trees.  We had to get creative, burning scraps from our carpenter neighbor, pallets from anyone getting rid of them, or whatever else we could find.

This winter was way different, thank God and hard work!  First of all we built a decent 5-cord woodshed and filled it (in addition to our old shed).  Here you can see the sheds and two of our resident moles showing off their snow-ships.

The other key to coziness was a pair of propane wall heaters.  This one is in the utility room.

Installing these meant connecting to the existing gas plumbing, and connecting that to a big tank out in the yard. We were in a bit of a race to get the rest of the trench dug before the ground got hard, and then we had thigh-deep snow to clear out of the way by the time the propane company came to deliver a tank in early December.  The other difficult part of this process was chiseling a hole through the foundation for the downstairs heater's vent.  These stoves are "direct-vent" heaters, meaning you mount them on an outside wall and the fresh combustion air and exhaust are vented straight out the back.  Looking back it might have been smart to install a more-efficient central propane heating system, even though we still intend to use a masonry wood stove as our main heat.

Even though this February was the coldest on record, the spring at the bottom of the hill kept pouring its water out day and night.  The day this photo was taken the high temperature got up to -2, and that dark stuff at the bottom is moving ground water.  As handy as this abundance of wild water is, we found after having it tested that it was just hard enough to ruin our water heater and just acidic enough to eat up metal parts of the plumbing.  It had already been noted that it was difficult to wash hair and glassware with this water, and that dissolved iron left the toilet and bathtub impossible to keep white.  So after months of research I ordered a water softener and calcite tank from a company in Ohio and hooked it up.  We now have hot running soft water.  Sound the trumpets.

So as the road starts to break up we're back to putting up trim.  This week the mud room is coming together complete with coat rack, and trim for the little door to the fairy room.

 The kids built this room in the wall as we were putting up drywall.

 There's still plenty of snow up in these hills, but April promises some changes.  Here's hoping these promises don't fool us like they did last year!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fall is about to stand up

We have been working like ants getting the house finished this summer.  Painting, installing flooring downstairs, and building a decent woodshed- and then filling it with wood of course.

Now it's on to trim.  This week we're hanging doors and planing the boards we milled up back in 2007, as mentioned in one of the first posts of this blog.
Everybody's eager to move into their own rooms.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A trip out west

The train trip out west was excellent. Sleeping in those seats, however roomy, was difficult but other than that it was such a great way to see the country with the family and keep moving at the same time. If somebody needs to go pee, they get up and go. If you feel like talking to somebody, walk down to the observation car. Bring a guitar and you might get the chance to trade songs as I did with some kind folks.

One highlight of the trip out was rolling into Glacier National Park at sunset. The railway at this point departs from the highway. There was a pair of moose standing in a little lake watching the train go by. If you ever take this train, the Empire Builder, you might consider planning to stop a night or two in this fantastic park.

We are enjoying life in Bend. It has a lot in common with our hometown of Marquette, just with more people and less rain, and much smaller and fewer lakes and streams and much bigger mountains, some of them active volcanos. Tomorrow I'm playing at Crow's Feet Commons, a fancy bike shop with excellent local brews. I'm feeling right at home.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Will work for vacation

August is blowing by even faster than usual this time.  Mostly because I've made myself super busy in order to raise a little money so I can travel with my family out to visit my sister and her husband (my longtime music making friend Jared Smith) to welcome their new baby!  We're all very excited and it makes it easy to work like crazy during this season which is so prime for goofing around to know that we'll soon be on a train to Oregon.  We are still finding times to get down to the lake, even if it's just for an hour or two before bed time.

My Oregon family has found me a bunch of music dates out there, including accompaniment for some yoga classes where Nora teaches.  This is a new thing for me that I've often thought about.  Both yoga and music have been great ways to get outside of the confines of my head and get a fresh perspective on things.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mission Statement

I sometimes wonder why I chose the life of a musician, to major in music in college, to study song after song. But I do know that everywhere I look I see and hear reasons and logic that tell me that people are to be separated and compared, and put together in groups and so on, but in my heart I know that we are all one. Music is the most powerful tool I have known to cut through the labels and divisions our minds attach. My greatest goal in life is to allow this healing to be revealed in myself and everyone I encounter!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Recording dates

This house had its first job as a music studio last week, thanks to a visit from recording engineer Ryan Staples and his drumstick-wielding wife Stephanie Whiton.  Here are some photos.  I'm so grateful to have such kind and brilliant people come over:

Jason Moody

Aya Jane

Kerry Yost

Sven Gonstead

We spent one evening in Marquette to record some additional parts.  Here's Peter Gummerson adding a piano and other keyboard sounds in the chapel at St. Paul's Episcopal church.  We recorded about 10 songs and intend to add a few more soon and get them into some kind of listenable package sometime in the snowy season.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Music for builders

Hello again friends.  It's been months since my last post I know, but the truth is there hasn't been much to write about with this house.  When we started building we had the idea that after a year or so I'd go back to work full time at the business of music.

Nearly five years later we got to the level of functioning bathtub (however crude) and now that switch is starting to happen.  For instance, I've started writing on the first page of my music website, michaelwaitemusic.com.  But I'll continue to keep this site up too, by moving posts over here after a bit.  The subject matter is bound to move away from house building and into things that this house allows us to do.

So to celebrate this blog-restructuring I write today about the best music for working on your house.   I've found that the different building processes each have their own essence, and so work best with different kinds of music. This is based on my scientific research done in da woods by da swamp:

Digging -Traditional Irish dance music.  This stuff makes it easy to enjoy a simple challenge, no matter how unhealthy.  I think within this joy is the urge to show the devil who's in charge.

Framing -The temptation is to go heavy on drums and guitar, classic rock or other masculine stuff.  But I find intelligent string band music (like Chris Thile or the Silk Road Ensemble) keeps me from working too hard without being too slow and thoughtful.

Plumbing -Blues.  As Irish music helps us enjoy great challenges, the blues helps us enjoy apparently endless frustration.  "Just Got Lucky" From Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown is a good one.

Electrical -You can get a little more brainless here, but to keep it moving some solid beats are in order:  try something funky like Dr. John's "Locked Down" recording.  Since you want to be moving from room to room quickly and can't be caught stopping near the boombox to catch the end of the stanza, it has to be something that you either know very well or something where the meaning of the words is not that important.

Pulling stumps with a minivan:  Definitely some kind of punk music, can of beer in the cup holder. 

Making firewood -this job is so mindless that it lends itself to any kind of music or podcast.  Lately I've been listening to the podcast called "A Crash Course in Miracles," which has turned the woodshed into a holy place.  Sometimes being out in the woods with the occasional breeze in the pine needles or a passing company of chickadees is the best -until you start going nuts with the roaring monotony.

Hanging drywall -This is the probably the reason that classic rock stations exist.  Anything loud will work though.  As with other grunt work, don't think about what you're doing too much.  Just keep moving.

Drywall mud -Pavarotti at Carnegie Hall.  Anything distinctly Italian would do I think for this.  There is something about the Italian vibe that can insist on excellence and beauty without getting hung up on perfection, whatever that is.

Seriously put on whatever makes you feel whole and shining in your work. 

There is still a ton of drywall finishing to do, but soon we'll be on to flooring, trim, and building a deck.  If anyone has suggestions for music for those processes I'd be so grateful.

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