Ranch Redux: A Ranch Done Wright

Getting Plastered | June 27, 2012

I haven’t written anything for the blog in the past few months, mostly because construction has slowed way down.  I could give several objective reasons for the slowdown such as:  Tim’s business has picked up and he busy making exceptionally beautiful ukuleles; we have had family obligations that have taken quite a bit of Tim’s time; in the past six months we have traveled more than we usually do; our construction budget is stretched so thin you could see through it if you held it up to the light; and Tim had to teach himself to be an electrician and wire the house  before we could drywall the interior of the house.  However, the main reason is that the house is actually pretty comfortable now.  Our motivation to spend every waking moment working on the project waned a bit in the winter.   With summer upon us, our motivation is waxing again.

We are really enjoying the house in its present state in spite of being rough.  The house used to be oriented to the east.  The living room faced the street and three out of four bedrooms took up the west facing wall.  Now the kitchen, dining room, and living room face westward, toward the backyard.  The yard itself is mostly dirt and construction debris as of yet, but the light coming in from the big windows and the skylights makes me happy.

Another benefit of facing the backyard is I can observe the secret world of chicken and cats.  You would think that the cats would dominate the backyard hierarchy.  After all, they are gopher killing machines equipped with razor sharp teeth and claws.  Yet, the cats live in fear of the chickens.  Moe will not even venture out the door if the chickens are in sight.  I have to distract the chickens with sunflower seeds to allow Moe safe passage.   Jade, the neighbor’s cat, is a little more bold, but he too gives the girls wide berth.  Clearly, Yoshi and Toto rule the roost.

The chickens love looking in at us too.  They sit outside looking in. It appears as if they are planning on taking over our “coop” just as soon as they can find a crack in our defenses.  If the window is open, they loiter around the opening.  Toto has even gotten as far as standing on the step and leaning in the house.  I imagine Yoshi egging her on (pun intended). “Go on Toto, you can do it!”  Toto answers “What if I get caught?”  “You chicken!” Yoshi chides.  Then the moment passes, something catches Toto’s eye, and they go back to scratching the dirt looking for bugs.

Although construction is progressing slowly, we are making some progress.  After the lathe, electrical work, and drywall on the exterior walls, we had the exterior plastered.  It took the plasterers six days to apply the scratch and brown coats.  The brown coat is really grey (I don’t know why they don’t call it scratch and grey).  First they mix the cement and put it on a hawk, which is like a heavy tray.   Then they apply the cement, by hand, with a trowel.  It is very physically demanding work.

They did a really nice job.  There were fast, careful, and neat.

Mike, the stucco guy, told us to wait as long as we can before we have them apply the color coat to give the house a chance to settle.  That way the cracks that are bound to happen will happen before the color coat is applied.  So we wait.  Before the plastering the house talked to us in a constant, quiet way.  It whispered, whined, and chuckled.  When it rained the house got more talkative, but it was never that loud.  Now that we have tons of cement hanging on the wood frame, the house has changed its tune.  It is quieter for longer periods of time, but when it decides to say something it bellows: “CREAKKKK!!!!”  With each creak and crack, the house settles and we get closer to the color coat.

We are struggling with the color scheme.  The house has some pretty dynamic angles so we don’t want to go too bold with the colors choice.  Tim’s dad, Joe, warned us against making the house look like a Rubik’s cube.  Sadly, I guess primary colors are out!  The chimney looks a little like a ship’s smokestack, so we are staying away from nautical blue-greys as well We are leaning toward green-greys,  grey, and taupe.  They are safe choices, but hopefully not too boring.  It is tricky because stucco is forever.

In the meantime we watch the chickens terrorize the cats, listen to the house settle, and enjoy  the balmy days of June.

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We are embarking on an adventure turning a boring little ranch house into a modern style remodel.

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