Monday, October 26, 2009

House on the Coast, Post #4

The contractor is wasting no time in moving ahead with framing. This photo was taken on Friday afternoon:

Because this project has a an accelerated construction schedule, the steel contractor had begun fabricating the beams and columns well ahead of time, allowing them to be assembled immediately after the foundation was poured.

Since the last post, waterproofing has been applied to the exterior of the basement walls, visible as the black areas. The majority of the structural steel is in place, providing a large clear space for the garage, seen at the right-rear portion of the house. Most of the remaining area is framed conventionally, in wood. The corrugated steel pans at the right side will support poured-concrete patio areas, and the frames extending above the foundation support a second-floor deck over a large first-floor loggia.

The next major task is to set floor joists and sheathing on the first floor.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

House on the Coast, Post #3

The concrete for the basement retaining walls was poured last week, and when I stopped by the site on Saturday, they had nearly finished stripping the formwork. The notches at the top of the walls are locations where landscape paving meets inset door thresholds; the cantilevered projections on the left side are locations of fireplaces.

It rained a moderate amount last week, but you can't tell by looking at the ground here. We are back into 90-degree weather, and things dry out rapidly. Despite the general aridity, a layer of fog, known as a marine layer, which is common along the coast in the morning, is visible covering the ocean surface in the background.

The next major operation will be setting structural steel, before framing begins.

Evil Parrots! (2)

We new that they were up to no good; this is just the sort of thing that you need to watch out for.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

House on the Coast, Post #2

view from front, left corner of house

Placing of formwork for the basement walls continues. It is possible to see the size shape of the floor plan, now. The basement will house the garage (the location of the garage door is not visible, yet), as well as conditioned space. At the left rear, the break in the wall will be the location of doors which provide a walk-out to the back yard.

There is good weather now, but we are expecting a wetter-than-normal fall and winter, so it is important to get the basement done quickly and avoid having a hole filled with water.

view from front, right corner of house

The excavated area at the lower right will be where the driveway descends.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Each month brings something else into flower or fruition in the garden; October is the time that the pomegranates start to become ripe. At this time of year, the branches are weighed down with fruit to the point that we can't enter the driveway without poms bumping along the roof of the car.

Our tree thrives on neglect, and nonetheless produces mass quantities of large fruit. We can't possibly eat them all ourselves, but we have enough friends to eagerly accept the surplus. Occasionally, a passerby will knock and ask for one, and we are happy to send them away with several.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Evil Parrots!

Often, it is the small, quirky things that make a place special. For me, one charming thing about the city of Orange is that we have flocks of wild parrots. They can often be seen in the morning or afternoon, flying in small groups of up to 20 or so, in the downtown area, particularly in spring and fall. You hear them well before you spot them because they squawk loudly as they fly, and roost noisily together in backyards.

The various fruit trees that are common throughout the city provide them with plenty to eat, and in our neighborhood, they are often seen in walnut, palm and avocado trees, and are particularly fond of the small berries of camphor trees, which are common landscape and street trees here. How they wound up here is uncertain; they certainly are not native, and are endangered in their native areas in Mexico and Central America. For some time they have been the subject of a fair amount of study.

In general, we find parrots amusing because of things like this, and like to ascribe a certain amount of nefarious intent to them, because parrots are intelligent and social, and the seemingly deliberate nature of their behavior makes it seem like they are up to something. We have one or two ornithophobic friends who are sure of it. All in all, though, they are really much less bother than the local crows and mockingbirds (but we are keeping a close eye on them).

(Our sincere apologies to the unfortunate young woman pictured herein)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

House on the Coast, Post #1

This is a custom house project in Orange County, overlooking the ocean. I was working on this house before I was laid off, but I hope to be able to maintain regular updates as the construction progresses.
Reinforcement for the concrete basement slab is in place.

The basement slab has been poured, and forms for the basement walls are being placed. The ocean is visible in the background.


Southern California has been an important center for painting and decorative arts for more than a hundred years, now. Laguna Beach began as something of an artists' colony, and the area served as subject for plein-air landscape painters, as well as a marketplace for artists. The city has many galleries and studios, and hosts several art festivals each year.

The Irvine Museum, housed in an office building near Orange County Airport, is a treasure that seems generally overlooked by the local populace. The museum has an authoritative collection of Southern California Impressionist paintings, but is rarely crowded, even though the admission is free. The museum is small, but the collection is amazing, and presents frequently changing curated shows.

We are fortunate to own a few nice paintings by Michael Situ and W.Jason Situ, who paint in the regional tradition. We purchased these at The Gallery on Glassell and The Exchange Fine Arts Gallery, both in downtown Orange.

Corner of Street
Michael Situ

This happens to be a street corner in downtown Orange, just a few blocks from The Orangerie.

Glorious Tree
Michael Situ

(Probably Laguna Canyon.)

Laguna View
Michael Situ

Michael Situ is very good at capturing atmosphere, color and time of day. This is the Orange County most of us want to believe we live in.

W. Jason Situ

Hazy Day
Michael Situ

I believe that this is Santiago Canyon, just east of here.

I has a unemployment.

This week I was laid off from the firm where I have worked for the past 2-1/2 years. We knew in January that this would be a tough year, but hoped that there would be sufficient work to see us through the end of the year, and that prospects would improve in the beginning of '10. Unfortunately, new projects have been rare, and some existing ones were put on hold. I feel fortunate to have lasted this long, as I have many friends who have been laid off over the last year.

So, now it's time to rewrite the resume, reorganize, and gather things into the portfolio. It is easy to neglect all of the disorganized piles of photos and drawings of projects that accumulate as a matter of course, until they are needed in times like this. I have time enough and incentive to go through them now, though, and The Orangerie will be a convenient place to post some of it in a place that other people can easily visit. (I swear that most of my family has only a vague idea about what I do.)

The Orangerie