Where is the source of the water damage on this side of the house?

If you answered “somewhere up along the chimney” give yourself a pat on the back and what are you doing standing around, hand me that hammer….

So, a day of dashing about answering questions by contractors is insanely tiring. But that moment around 11 a.m. when there were two carpenters and two electricians hard at work, all in different parts of the house, drilling, sawing, nailing — priceless. (Not remotely priceless, it’s a figure of speech.)

The upstairs is wired, and half the downstairs; tomorrow the electricians return with the wire they need to do the water heater, the ovens, and the rest of the kitchen. So there’s a lot more of the “light at the end of the tunnel” feeling, but it’s complicated. All the wiring is in fact a prerequisite for many other tasks including insulation and sheetrock; but even so, none of that can proceed just yet.

The whole house is a web of interlocking sub-projects, and in addition to answering where we want this outlet, whether that ceiling will go up on strapping, and how we want to approach that other wacky problem that has just been uncovered, my mental state oscillates wildly from focusing on an immediate, concrete issue — say, the need to rip apart a bit of wall where a light switch is supposed to go — to broader decisions that require thinking through the orders of operation across several rooms and involving several vendors, contractors, or skill-sets.

But then I get a walk with Marsh and Homer, or a traipse out into the back meadow which is bedecked with daisies and fringed with strawberries, and I can wade back into the fray.

Okay, back to the chimney. While Jason’s assistant cut new planks to measure, Jason crouched outside the upper window on the staging and I demolished a section of door frame inside. We chatted. We talked about the problem(s) with the chimney. And Jason extemporized freely, eventually proposing four or five different approaches to correcting the lack of flashing, the need to adhere to code, the mediocre condition of the chimney mortar coating (which is only on three sides of the chimney in any case), the acknowledged unknowns higher up, my desire not to spend a ton, etc., etc. It was quite a virtuoso performance, as he recalled this product or that tool, explained how each would work, its relative benefits, its pitfalls for this particular application, and its cost both in materials and labor.

Through all this Kyle (who was standing in for Reid today) would return with a fresh-cut board, Jason would nail it, give Kyle another measurement, and we would continue jawboning. What we settled on is basically a “soffit”: he will build a simple frame out of 1×3 and plywood the entire height of the chimney, which because of its geometry will be very stable, and sheath it in tyvek and vinyl siding to match the rest of the house. It will look better (than the crusty gray mortar), and it WON’T LEAK.



I finished putting up string trellis for the peas. The peas really like this slatey soil. Not so much the tomatoes.

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