house made of mud

rescuing a sonoran row house

Month: May 2015

return of the pascales

yes, you read the title right–members of the pascale family came to call today. juan pascale, you may recall, is the italian immigrant who built not only our row house, but the row houses on our entire half of the block. one of his great grandsons, john (named after his progenitor), recently contacted me. most of the family had eventually moved away to california, but he and his family are now in phoenix. his father, robert, who is juan’s grandson was visiting and they decided to google the pascale adobes–and found us.

robert and his wife carol and one of their daughters (who happens to be named kathy, interestingly enough, especially given that my father’s name was robert–more signs?) and her family stopped by. robert remembers coming to the house as a six-year-old with his father, joseph, one of the younger sons of juan. they would go down into the cellar below the living room in order to nap in the cool. there was also a candy shop in the corner grocery space (now collapsed) that he remembers fondly.

here we all are. they were tickled pink to see that someone was finally restoring the house. in carol’s words, “i can’t believe we’re actually going to see the place fixed up before we croak!”

from right: me, chris, robert pascale, his wife carol, their son-in-law dough, their daughter kathy and kathy and doug's son.

from right: me, chris, robert pascale, his wife carol, their son-in-law doug, their daughter kathy, and kathy and doug’s son.

day 126

at least i think it’s day 126? i hope no one out there is checking my work. counting was never my strong suit, just ask my second grade teacher.

so if there’s been a word to describe the last few weeks at the house, it has to be “mechanical.” every day now when i arrive it’s nearly impossible to park in front of the place because pickups line both sides of the street. we’ve had hvac, plumbing and electrical all going simultaneously, all in an effort  to finally (finally!) get the roof done. though the roof is completely framed out, and has been for awhile, everything that penetrates it (plumbing vents, air conditioning ducts, etc.) has to be in place before we can actually put the roofing on and get it all sealed up. my fingers are crossed that it might happen by the end of next week (feel free to cross yours as well).

in the meantime, a few progress photos for your perusal. disfruta bien!

tunneling plumbing channels into what will be our master bath. the plumbers were doing their best mole impressions.

tunneling plumbing channels into what will be our master bath. the plumbers were doing their best mole impressions.

and a few more into what will eventually be the guest bath.

and a few more into what will eventually be the guest bath.

we had to put in an all new sewer line (the only existing one dated to the 30s, and it was clay, shared with the neighbors.) here they are digging the new trench down the front.

we had to put in an all new sewer line (the only existing one dated to the 30s, and it was clay, shared with the neighbors.) here they are digging the new trench down the front of the house.

look closely and you'll see the new ductwork above the ceilings. pretty exciting!

look closely and you’ll see the new ductwork above the ceilings. pretty exciting!

this was yesterday when i was there. the electricians pulling a huge line of conduit into the ceiling from a giant spool on the ground. looks like we might actually have power one of these days.

this was yesterday when i was there. the electricians pulling a huge line of conduit into the ceiling from a giant spool on the ground. looks like we might actually have power one of these days.

in case you've ever wondered how you get power into an adobe wall: you channel. the wires will get laid into the wall itself and then we'll mud back over the channels.

in case you’ve ever wondered how you get power into an adobe wall: you channel. the wires will be placed into the wall itself and then we’ll mud back over the channels.

but it hasn't been all fun with mechanical. in the back corner of this photo is what was the one bathroom on the property (it was added in the 1980s), halfway torn down. this is the only area where we're changing the house's footprint, expanding it by a few feet in two directions to make a decent-sized pantry.

but it hasn’t been all fun with mechanical. in the back corner of this photo is what was the one bathroom on the property (it was added in the 1980s), halfway torn down. this is the only area where we’re changing the house’s footprint, expanding it by a few feet in two directions to make a decent-sized pantry.

the wall going back up between chris's study and the guest house kitchen.

the wall going back up between chris’s study and the guest house kitchen.

prepping the base for the wall going back up in the zaguan.

prepping the base for the wall going back up in the zaguan.

finally: a glimpse into the maw. this is the adobe mixer, which has still been going strong. not sure what the count is right now on how many adobes have been made at those, but it's at least 600, and we may even be pushing 1000.

finally: a glimpse into the maw. this is the adobe mixer, which has still been going strong. not sure what the count is right now on how many adobes have been made at the house, but it’s at least 600, and we may even be pushing 1000.

falling walls redux

one morning when i was over at the house this past week we had an unpleasant return to a stage we had all hoped was long past: another wall came down. we’d known this particular wall was in bad shape–there was a huge chunk of concrete at the base that someone had used to try to repair it in the past. unfortunately–though predictably–the concrete had heaved and had to come out. you can see it in the photo below, beneath the window.IMG_3154

when they went to remove it, however, they discovered that there wasn’t much left to the wall without it. luckily no one was hurt–the guys ran pretty fast–but here’s what i saw when i came around the corner.Photo May 05, 7 40 07 AM

what happened next was some mad, mad shoring. because it’s an exterior wall, it carries a fair amount of roof, and though we could have put the ceiling beams in the room back up if they’d fallen, no one wanted that to happen if it could be prevented. a lot of grabbing of shoring poles and hurrying into the now somewhat dangerous room ensued. not to mention a lot of swearing. while they were working somewhat frantically–though, i have to say, also with a good deal of aplomb given the situation (it helped considerably that randy, the boss, also happened to be on site and immediately took charge)–i stood outside photographing and watching that huge crack above the collapsed wall portion visibly widening. the only thing holding it up was the bit of door frame you can see on the middle right of the photo. my heart was pounding like mad the entire time. not only did i not want that portion of the house to fall, i didn’t want it to fall on anyone!Photo May 05, 7 31 00 AM

a view from inside. it was important that they get the poles in quickly–but also important that they be level. that’s randy in the striped shirt on the right.Photo May 05, 7 33 31 AM

once we were sure the ceiling wasn’t going to go (thank god!), it was time to knock down the rest of the wall.

here it is afterwards.  Photo May 05, 8 11 47 AM

and another view from inside. the dust lent a nice, apocalyptic air.Photo May 05, 8 12 10 AM

on the bright side–better that this happen now rather than later, when someone might be sitting in the room, innocently eating potato chips on the couch or something. the silver lining is that this section of wall will now be brand new–and much more stable. by the afternoon, they’d already started the re-build. Photo May 06, 10 31 03 AM

never a dull moment, really, at our little house o’ mud.

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