Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's been a busy day up at the construction site. Fritz and I went up this morning on our way out to do local errands and discovered that the last of the footings had been poured yesterday evening, one day ahead of schedule.

When we got back, there was a phone call from the general contractor to say that today was the day for pouring the shell of the first floor, and that the electrician would be there to place conduit into the forms so that all the electrical outlets that are to be in outside walls would be in place. The work would start around 1:00pm and I made sure to be there about ten minutes ahead of schedule to answer any questions.

The electrician came first and we settled the big issues right away--we want all our outlets to be 18" above the finished floor level, and the cable coming down off the hillside from the photovoltaic arrays will NOT pass through the back wall underground. It will come up above ground and pass into the house through the conventionally wood-framed section of the top of the first floor, above the concrete shell wall. When the general contractor arrived he agreed that I'd made the right decision--neither he nor the electrician thought it was a good idea to breach the back wall anywhere for any reason if it could be avoided. Both felt that no matter how good the modern sealants are that could be placed around such a hole, water would find a way in if it could, and none of us wants that.

By 1:30 everyone involved had arrived and the site was incredibly busy. The footings were being marked and prepared for the forms to go up. The electricians were constructing their conduit segments and the little feet that would keep them at the correct height within the forms during the pouring process. Throughout, a series of very gentle showers had passed over, not enough to stop anything from going on. By 2:15 it was decided that all questions had been answered and I came back down to the Center to do email and start this entry. It's now 3pm actual rain has started which may scuttle any further work. So far, however, I haven't heard the fleet of trucks come down from the site.

Amazingly, the crew stayed on despite progressively heavier rain. A little after 4pm, the excavator stopped by to check on progress as he'll have to do all the back-fill with crushed rock around the bermed-up portions of the house once the shell wall has been poured and fully waterproofed. He told us that pouring concrete tonight was out of the question but that the crew would finish the forms and set all the electric conduit despite the weather. With luck (and the forecast makes this seem very possible), the shell walls will be poured early tomorrow morning.

I'm on my way early tomorrow, stopping at MIT to prepare a big--and I mean big--chandelier that I was given for the new house for transportation back to New Hampshire. From MIT, I head down to New York City for performances on Friday and Saturday nights of the last two operas in Wagner's Ring Cycle, Siegfried and Gotterdammerung (Night Falls on the Gods) as performed by the Kirov Opera Company. On the way back from New York I'll stop at MIT and get the chandelier up on top of the jeep, tie it securely and bring it up here.

J, director of Intermezzo, the chamber opera company I design for, had this chandelier in his apartment and wanted to donate it to MIT's props collection or give it to me if I could use it in the new house. The thing that endeared it to me was its scale. At over three feet feet high and about three feet around, it’s the right size to hang over the dining area of the great room. It's late Victorian in style but not too over-ornate. Much of it is cast iron so there are some weight issues. I'd put it in the Jeep but the latch to the back door is currently jammed shut. I should be able to get it on the roof, on a mover's pad, and secure it without too much trouble. Given its very open framework, there shouldn't be much wind resistance.

Once the chandelier is here I'll have to find an electrician to rewire it and we'll need to decide how many of the crystals that it's meant to have (none of them has survived) we want to restore. Neither of us wants it to be too flashy. One thing I'm anxious to get is the large faceted glass obelisk-shaped ornament that is meant to be mounted on the base of the chandelier and rise through it. A friend of J's, the music director of Intermezzo, borrowed it for whatever reason. He and J christened it "the crystal dildo" and I can't wait to see it!

That sounds painful.

I was riding through Raymond the other day and thought of you guys.
A big old chandelier on top of the Jeep riding up the Eastern seaboard. Do you think anyone will know? The work sounds very very exciting....but exhausting. Enjoy the performances....I've never been.
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