Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pour Day!

As my friend Emily would say, "Nous l'avons fait!" We did it! Here's the scoop...

Drew couldn't sleep and got up at 4 AM to keep working on unfinished details. His left-hand-man, Michael, came over to start work at 5 AM. No rest for the weary! Around 8 AM, a whole bunch of other blessed friends and neighbors showed up, one of whom was the country doctor bearing a large bowl of fresh-picked cherries from one of his trees. What sweetness, in the midst of focused panic.

At 8:30, I returned to the house to get my bag of collected trinkets to toss into the forms, and the phone rang...neighbor Cedar, who lives closer to the center of Petrolia, said, "I think I hear the first truck, I'm waiting to confirm...yup, it just passed us." "OK, I'll tell the crew." Ella and I went out, camera in hand, to wait for the truck and to document the proceedings. We settled ourselves for a moment atop the "mountains" (as Ella calls them) of dirt that came out of the house site.

As the first truck was visible above the tops of the scotch broom, I admit to an overwhelming excitement that nearly brought me to tears. It suddenly hit me what we were about to do: to literally set in stone this idea we've been dreaming about separately and together for at least the last 10 years. Here was the moment it was becoming reality! What a magical place to be! The stress and anticipation may have had something to do with that feeling too, hoping that everything went well, without any of the various problems that can compromise a pour: form blowouts, concrete setting too fast, inaccurate estimation on amount needed, etc. The pumper was having some difficulties getting his hose to work, which provided me a perfect opening in the show to run Ella off to her babysitter next door. She was feeling a little nervous about the "big tucks comin toDAY".

By the time I returned ten minutes later, the filling of the forms had begun, and I snapped some photos, and then Drew set me on the task of setting our rebar uprights into our stem wall. Our house is going to be built out of insulated concrete forms called "FasWall", which are made of ground up wood chips and cement. The wood chips are a waste product from a lumber mill in Oregon. The blocks are like cinder blocks in concept, and require rebar reinforcement. These uprights will tie to longer pieces, which will run vertically through the entire height of the finished walls.

As the form was getting filled, a crew worked behind, screeding, or leveling off the top of the form. They had to move rather quickly, as the concrete was beginning to set up. It was a delicate balance between working fast enough, minimizing waste, and keeping up with the tamping and knocking (to prevent voids in the finished pour).

Just as we finished the first truck, the second truck arrived, and we repeated the whole process over again, although by now the crew had reached a rhythmic harmony. We were in the groove, each doing what needed to be done, somehow getting it all done. Another neighbor showed up with shovel in hand (thank you!) just to help out. Cedar bent rebar pieces which will attach to the second level slab from the middle retaining wall, all while watching his little baby, Arlo. Here they are in the shadow of the concrete mixer truck and the pumper, and that's them below, helping move the VERY heavy concrete hose (with Arlo asleep in a backpack).

Once again, just as we finished with the second truck, the third arrived. As we were reaching the end, and all the forms were nearly full, we got the report that there was approximately one yard left in the truck, for which our neighbor had a back up form planned out. Drew had overestimated his numbers by one yard, so this means his calculations were RIGHT on, a relief to find out! And just as the pumper filled the last bit of trench, and had switched the machine over to clean out mode, it stopped working. We marveled for a moment at what kind of trouble we'd have been in if it had happened a few moments, let alone half an hour earlier. Thank you universe for your support...

At this point, most of the crew vaporized and we were all left with spinning heads. We had some drinks, and ate some cherries, made some lunch. Drew rushed off next door to pay the concrete company, and then began the project of taking it all apart. This entails a lot of nail pulling. I'm not sure that we will finish pulling the forms today, but I expect by the end of tomorrow they will all be off. Our dear friend Kai showed up yesterday after two years traveling, and has been immediately put to work (well, we let him eat lunch first).

A HUUUGE thank you to our wonderful community of friends and family who have supported us through this really busy month, and the wild and crazy pour day. Hats off to you, you helped us begin our house, with love.

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