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Life’s a Ditch


Thursday, October 2, 2008

During my last quiet phase I was enduring a ditch digging marathon. Roughly four days of ditch digging is something I hope I will not have to perform again soon. There is something oddly satisfying about digging however. It must be some primal instinct that we carry on genetically from our evolutionary cousin the cro-gopher. The deeper I dug, the happier I became. In fact it was a bit of a problem in that I was constantly digging my ditches deeper than the prescribed fifteen inches. I’d find myself at a blissful two feet, my mind perversely sated, before jolting back to consciousness slightly annoyed at myself while at the same time weirdly proud. We have plans to install a rain catchment system which will require the interring of an 800 gallon plastic tank. And I look forward to clawing the giant hole required by such a vessel. 

After doing the ditch, we began building the forms for the foundation. This involves: String, wooden stakes, steel rebar, many board-feet of 2×8 lumber, and duplex nails. Everything must end up very straight. This usually means jumping through hoops trying to compensate for how crooked the lumber is. It’s like putting braces on a 40 year-old British citizen. You can tweak and cajole those planks, but it’s never gonna be Tom Cruise’s mouth. Um. That metaphor was whack, sorry. 

During slow times we roofed. After visiting ABC Roofing Supply, Kari and I drove around town looking at roofs. We were soon able to identify most recent roofing jobs by brand, product line and colorway. Naturally we decided on GAF-ELK Timberline Lifetime in “charcoal”. It was a close call over “weathered wood”. The whole roofing industry seems to be centered on making a roof look like something it very clearly is not. We often overheard the phrase “and from far away it actually looks just like antique italian slate!” Which is a complete lie. It looks like three tab asphalt shingles and that’s it. For the shed we picked a slightly less fancy version of the same color since nobody, from any angle, will ever see that roof. The roof on the main house will use a thicker shingle, which will make it look exactly like we roofed our house with Teddy Roosevelt’s eyelids from Mount Rushmore.

We’re leaving for France next Thursday (one week! yikes!) so we’ve been jamming to try to get the foundation poured before then. Rain is predicted for tomorrow, so hopefully we can finish the forms before the lot turns into a mud wrestling arena. All sorts of finagling has been going on to try to line up the city, the county, the lumber, the concrete, etc.

Oh! We found an old abandoned septic tank underneath the old slab. That was a surprise. It has a very tomb-like feel and upon opening the hatch I was sure that we’d see a human skeleton inside. Luckily it was devoid of bodies (and poo) but unluckily we now have to fill it with concrete to eliminate it as a structural nuisance. The city and county have been VERY cool about signing off on it before I do the pour.

If everything works out I’ll have photos of the new foundation before we leave for France. Wish us luck!

One Response to “Life’s a Ditch”


  1. Jon Campbell Says:

    Rad Blog Ed!
    And to think this entire time I thought you were just surfing everyday and living in a tent.