Thursday, April 23, 2009

Things Are Looking Up!

I knew that once we had a floor, everything would start to move forward a bit more quickly. This week Oliver started wanting to go watch the action more than he has in the past. I think the space feels more comfortable somehow; he can bring a snack and watch the work going on without being in the way. Occasionally he can even help!

Mostly he has been looking up at the ceiling though, as the sheet rock lid goes up.
It's very exciting to see the great cover up of ugly, itchy insulation, vapor barrier and stripes of "black death" (acoustical tile sealant - best tip here if you're ever covered in the stuff is Pam cooking spray to get it off!). Sometimes it seems like you're in a giant bath tub until the neutral and comparatively clean dry wall makes it all disappear.

Everyone's rockin' out to heavy metal music thanks to Dave (don't worry potential future customers, when Flying Squirrel opens we will be playing a fun and varied selection of music, some of it from independent artists via Whole Wheat Radio - but not much heavy metal).

Despite today's cold, damp, rainy gray, Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe is a happenin' place. Pretty much, that's been the goal all along and it's very very cool to actually start feeling that. As I've always known, it's the people inside that are making it happen who make it a happenin' place.

Continue reading »

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I just looked up the definition of "to floor" on I must admit I was a little surprised at the definitions listed under the verb tense of the word.

–verb (used with object)
15. to cover or furnish with a floor.
16. to bring down to the floor or ground; knock down: He floored his opponent with one blow.
17. to overwhelm; defeat.
18. to confound or puzzle; nonplus: I was floored by the problem.

None of these definitions describe today's experience of being "floored"...all of them seem too negative. We, particularly Brian, have been working incredibly hard for 8 months on a seemingly monumental project - building a commercial restaurant facility from the ground up. We started in August, clearing trees, and finally, today, I feel floored.

It was a great day. Smooth. Three different entities drove up from the "lower valley".... Klondike Concrete with four concrete trucks (it was supposed to be three, but DOT imposed spring road restrictions on state roads just yesterday). McKinley Concrete Pumping. And the finishers from the combined team of Valley Masonry and Iditarod Masonry.

When I say we were floored, I mean it literally and figuratively. These guys must be the best of the best north of Anchorage. They were here at 8am and some of them are still here as I write this making sure it's darn near perfect...the floor. Yes, we have a floor!

It seems huge to me. After months and months of a building shell with snow, then dirt and ditches and drain pipes, the smooth, hard, clean and finished (well, not quite) concrete floor is a major milestone. It feels to me like Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe is so much more imminent now that we can put things in there that won't have to be moved out again.

I think I would add this definition to's verb list for "to floor:"

19. To amaze; to overwhelm with surprise or sudden wonder: I was floored by the fantastic experience we had today when our concrete floor was poured.

If only every contractor experience was like this one. We'd be writing more checks, employing more small businesses, and, perhaps, taking a day off once in awhile like we plan to do on Saturday.
Continue reading »

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Order & Chaos

Order. Neat lines and patterns. Red = Dining area in floor heat. Blue = Foam insulation. Brown = Steel reinforcing bar for concrete slab. Concrete floor will be poured tomorrow! Sometimes order feels good.

Chaos. After a week on the east coast with Oliver where magnolias and daffodils were in full bloom, we returned to this. Mush. Mess. Melt. Anything that's been under the snow for four months is rearing it's ugly head. It's unpredictable whether or not any given vehicle will make it to it's final destination during break up. Chaos has it's virtues, but is not exactly what I need right now.

Order. Even in order there is chaos. There is something to be said for straight lines, but the combination of form and function in our siding makes me happy. Wood has personality, personality means some amount of chaos. But there is definitely order in the accomplishment and finished-ness of a siding job completed.

Chaos. Sometimes it seems impossible to accomplish any order without a lot of chaos first. Concrete coming inside means everything inside gets kicked outside (can you find the dog's moose leg bone?). It's a miracle that anyone can find a pencil or a tape measure when they need one! But, believe it or not, this mess represents serious progress.... Onward!

Continue reading »

Friday, April 3, 2009

In and Out

Here is a selection of photos from the past few weeks. There is much talk involving inside and outside. Community members now constantly ask me about our progress since they can now clearly see the activity as they drive by - including the tree thinning that was done along the road and the gorgeous Alaskan spruce siding that is going up on the building. On the outside, things are seeming bright with more sunlight everyday making it hard to eat dinner before 8pm. Inside still feels dark and damp. Like a cave.

It seems like we are constantly moving items from inside to outside and from outside to in. Clean fill going in. Rocks going out. Water going in. Rocks going out. Siding going in. Siding coming out. Equipment and supplies lining up outside in tents, inside our house, out at the farm, waiting to come in. Winter going out. Spring coming in. Moose hanging out outside. Moose hanging inside. Moose inside out. Bills coming in. Checks going out. Nervousness going in. Forms and paperwork going out. And, most dramatically, lava and ash coming out...

I thank my lucky stars that most of the time I think I'm pretty good at going with the flow.

Mount Redoubt image courtesy of James Isaak.
Continue reading »