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Rebirth and Renewal - The Ground Floor Rises

Timbers frame the mountain sky
Kitchen and Dining Room; timbers frame the sky
November 18th, 2006

Today is beautiful. The sun is bright and warm and feels wonderful. A few inches of soft, powdered snow covers the construction site but work goes on. Aaron and Justin wear many layers of clothing which they mostly shed by lunch time and then put back on when the sun dips over the western ridges a few hours later. The sun is a powerful and welcome solar heater in the thin mountain air. When a cloud blocks the sun's rays the temperature may drop 5 or even 10 degrees. As late afternoon rolls around and the sun disappears behind the Gallatin mountains to our west, the temperatures often plummet 20 degrees Fahrenheit within two hours.

Framing in Montana
Ground Floor Framing
Tim Brockett
Author and Snow Shoveler with a frosty moustache
November 30th, 2006
North to South House Axis
The central house axis runs north to south and
connects the front and rear entrances

Ivisit the site of my new home almost every day. It always feels good to walk on my own property despite the devastation wrought by the ferocious Big Creek forest fire. I often help whomever is working on the house. Since winter first announced its arrival in early November I volunteered to shovel the snow. I learned from almost my first day on the job that snow must be shoveled immediately after falling otherwise it turns to ice. After a day spent melting ice from the basement floor with a propane weed burner, I arrived early and often stayed late when snow started to fall. This afternoon I dutifully shoveled snow from my kitchen, living room and entrance foyer.

Note the symmetry, in the photo to your right, of the main entrance way and north to south axis. Eight foot tall doors will open from a columned portico into a 13 foot wide entrance hall. As you walk towards the photographer, you will pass through another set of eight foot tall doors to a hallway. Then you will walk under an eight foot arch and into a warm and friendly kitchen.

Chip Board Floor Joists
Keith watches Justin mark joist positions
December 7th, 2006

Pearl Harbor Day. What better way to celebrate our God given, individual American freedom, than to work with friends and neighbors on building a new home? Were it not for the courage and sacrifice of my parent's generation, our country would have succumbed to the cruel, inhuman and barbaric rulers that threatened the world in the 1930's and 40's. After the war, my parents generation unleashed a wave of prosperity that was unparalleled in human history. Their generation's courage, hard work and sacrifice allowed myself and a majority of Americans today, to achieve the dream of home ownership.

Thomas Jefferson, our third president and the man who wrote in the Declaration of Independence, " We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. " would be proud of the country he helped to raise, I thought.

The new looped driveway is working perfectly. Even in snowy conditions 30 foot trailers negotiate the driveway with ease. It is made to accommodate 18 wheelers with up to 48 foot trailers. Parking is plentiful too. On a busy day there is 8 to 12 vehicles parked with a wide lane is left open for deliveries. Once the house is completed I will eliminate a few of the parking spaces and trim the driveway width a little when I create a yard and lawn. I plan on keeping the driveway accessible to semis with 40 foot or shorter trailers and of course, hook and ladder fire trucks.

Justin meticulously positions a second floor joist
New Holland LS 190
Rich skillfully unloads lumber in the slippery snow
Roof Trusses
The roof trusses arrive

After shoveling snow I helped Keith carry 40 foot long joists and push them into position on the second floor. The joists are made from laminated particle board and feel like a wooden noodle when we pushed them on their side up to the second floor. Once positioned upright, they are lighter, stronger and more environmentally friendly than the old 2 by 12 inch Douglas Fir joists of my childhood.

Just before lunch a tractor trailer load of roof trusses arrived and Rich asked me to help carry some to the garage site. We shouldered the 150 pound trusses, trudged through the deep snow and slid them down the hill to the garage. Several hours later the trusses were sorted and stacked. I headed back to my temporary home in the woods for a late lunch and a well earned nap.

Garage Storage Trusses
Neatly stacked garage trusses
Carpenters in the sky
Aaron and Justin - Carpenters in the sky
Montana Mountain Sunrise
Montana Mountain Sunrise
Montana Bear Tree
The Bear Tree on Montana Route 89
See the black bear with his paw extended?
December 8th, 2006

Beauty surrounds us in Montana but it is not always apparent. Nature's majestic beauty reaches thousands of feet into the bright blue expansive sky and often makes it difficult to see loveliness on a smaller scale. Last year I was too busy driving my packages from Branford Bike to the Post Office to notice the Bear Tree along the way. Lori, the always attentive postmaster, finally pointed it out to me. I took a picture of Montana's Bear tree and gave it to here for Christmas.

Train Load of Timber
Fire killed and scorched trees head to the lumber mill
Northern Pacific Logo
A stone pediment with an elaborately carved cartouche
at the Livingston, Montana, Northern Pacific train station
Classic Lion Ornament
Classic beauty in Livingston, Montana

Livingston, the town up the road from my home in Emigrant, boasts several beautiful buildings. Do you like the brick column, artfully carved column capital and lions head pictured to your right? I discovered them on the recently restored Northern Pacific train station in Livingston last summer. The entire design, except for the bricks, was first used in ancient Greece over 2,500 years ago.

The trim under the lion is called "egg and dart". Below that are dentils; they look like teeth, do they not? Are the ornaments beautiful? Many of the ornaments made popular by the Greeks originally came from Persia. The Greeks adapted and modified the Persian designs and used them extensively in art and architecture. Egg and dart and dentils were most commonly used in the Ionic Order but are sometimes seen in the later Corinthian Order as well.

Roman Window Keystone
Concrete keystones and brick trim adorn the
second story railroad station windows
Ornate Brick Column Capitals
Ornate brick column capitals decorate the
Northern Pacific station in Livingston
Sun Rise
The second story rises on my new home
December 9th, 2006

Ithink that man first saw beauty in women and then in nature. Ancient Greeks modeled their buildings after the beauty they found in the human form and then added decoration from nature. Columns resembled a standing human. Decorations included plants, leaves, eggs and animals. I believe that ancient Greek buildings often appear beautiful to the layman's eye simply because the Greeks so artfully followed human dimensions and employed natural ornaments. Nature's beauty is often overwhelming while man's beauty is more likely seen in the details. Is it possible to improve upon nature's beauty? Is it possible to create a building that is at least as beautiful as the tall green fir trees that graced my property before the horrific fire, I quietly asked myself, while I watched God paint the morning sky before me.

Mountain Sunrise
Emigrant Peak sun rise

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