Saturday, 26 January 2013

Winter Construction

Construction in cold weather can be slow, or some days impossible. Temperatures have been too cold for the guys to possibly work this week, until Friday.  It was a balmy -15C and more pieces of the ICF (insulated concrete form) product arrived for the foundation walls.  Luckily this work can be done with gloves on. These foundations are complicated.  There are different wall widths on each side of the same building and the reinforcing bar size and spacing changes with height.  There also are several heights of ICF panels and a step for the masonry ledge, so sorting out the pieces is a task in its own right.  By afternoon, the crew was into a rhythm and progressing well.

The wood form in the foreground is a shear wall which will support the rear of the buildings over the carport.  This form is made of differing thicknesses of horizontal plywood 'boards' so as to leave a textured pattern on the exposed walls, rather than flat planes of concrete, like a bridge or civil structure.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Morning Practice

The side door of our home faces onto the opposing windows of our neighbour's front room.  I mention this, so you don't assume I'm creeping them.

Most mornings, when I go out, I notice Jim practicing for his next Ottawa Symphony Orchestra performance on his Cello.  You can just hear a teasing resonance of the full, rich music he is making.  I felt a little voyeuristic sketching him, but did ask his permission to post.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Patterson Westfalia

The block between Patterson and Strathcona Avenues is a narrow.  Maybe not half the width of the regular Glebe blocks, but thin enough that the homes face one way and have rear yards, driveways and garages facing the other side.  To add to this eccentricity, homes on the two end blocks face south, while those in the middle block face north.  Infill projects are changing this middle block is to back to back houses, presenting front doors to both Avenues, which is gentrifying it's lane-like character.  Too bad.  I like it as it is, but that's the trend across the whole neighbourhood.

This sketch is the middle block, the Patterson side. Aside from the large trees and saplings, I have a soft spot for vw camper vans.  As noble a cause as it is, sadly this venerable Westfalia is not likely to last a whole lot longer than the adjacent garage.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Postcards from the Canal

We've been getting some real winter here. Crackin' cold, but bright and sunny.  Perfect for making ice and skating.

These aren't actually postcards as I did them in my small Laloran sketchbook that I received at the Urban Sketchers symposium last summer.  It is postcard sized and fits easily into a pocket.  At first I thought it too small, but have found it adequate for little vignettes.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

38th World Wide Sketch Crawl

Today was the World Wide Sketchcrawl.  It looks like there are gatherings in well over 100 cities around the world, including about 100 participants in Sydney Australia.  Here in Ottawa, there were 4 of us - a 200% increase from our first meet up.

We met at the Canadian Museum of Nature and I didn't manage to get beyond the first floor.  There is a nice display of dinosaur skeletons complete with a constant stream of parents and small children.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Openning Day on the Canal

The Rideau Canal skateway opened this morning.  It was cold, but I was able to sit at a sunny table out of the wind and sketch for a few minutes.  At -16 C you can get away with this if you move fast, but soon your hand seizes up and starts to really hurt.  I wouldn't even try to paint at that temperature.  The watercolour was applied at home.

This is the change shack and Beavertail concession at 5th Avenue.  Beavertails are a sort of cinnamony, gooey donut that is very popular with schoolkids and also seems to be memorable to tourists. They were selling well and the girls in the foreground were sharing one.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Bank and Third

It was cold and grey yesterday afternoon so I headed to a coffee shop for my sketch break.  There is a lot going on here between the clutter of publication boxes, Tim Descloud's sculptures and the shop's sign and exuberant graphics.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Casting the Footings

The long hydraulic boom of the concrete pump allows it to reach well into the excavation and deliver very controlled amounts in the right locations.  The operator stands close to the work with a wireless controller so that he can maneuver the pipe and pump the right amounts of concrete.  Its a brilliant piece of equipment and more than worth the rental fee.

The carpenters watch the forms for blow outs and screed the concrete level, then place the reinforcing bars.

Its sort of like a performance - it's all in the preparation.  A full week with 5 men to construct the forms and then the actual concrete placement happens in just a couple of hours.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Pumping Concrete

While the thaw has delayed opening of the canal skateway and kept me off the ski trails, it was a real break for forming and pouring the footings at Stirling Avenue.   It took four truck loads of concrete but with the help of a concrete pump the footings were cast, complete with rebar and tarped over by noon on Friday.

The pumper is a large truck with mechanical arm and hose that has a long reach.  It would have taken several men all day and probably several spilled loads to wheelbarrow the concrete down a ramp and into the forms.  A great way to finish the week.

Next stage will be forming the foundation walls.

January Thaw

We had sharp cold and plenty of snow coming into the new year, but the mercury suddenly shot up above freezing last week.  There was open water in the lagoons at the Arboretum, and plenty of dog walkers enjoying the warm temperatures.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Stirling Ave Footings

When I moved to Ottawa in the early 80's construction went on hold until March or April.  Between the milder winters and construction techniques intermittent work right through the winter has become the standard practice.

Last week we had minus 20 C for several days and about 60 cm of snow.  I was thinking, maybe we should hold off till spring.  Brad knew better.  The weather broke this week.  It has been just at the freezing point for several days allowing the guys to form the footings on clean bedrock.  They drilled lag bolts into the rock to brace the forms which are level on top, but slope, or step,with the slope of the slab rock.  Today the forms were about done and the guys were starting to assemble the steel reinforcing bar grids and dowels that will go into the footings.

Looks like they are in good shape for placing concrete on Friday, which is forecast to be mild so we won't have to pay the 10% premium for cold weather admixture to the concrete mix.

Friday, 4 January 2013

St. Adolph d'Howard

St. Adolpde d'Howard is a pretty village in the Laurentian mountain region of Quebec.  We spent a few days there after New Year's playing broomball, skiing and eating, mostly eating actually.  There was more snow than we have seen in few years and cold enough (-20 C) that drawing outside was not an option, so I sat in the passanger side of my car one overcast morning on the main street.

It is close to Saint-Adele and south of St. Jovite and we skied at Saint Sauveur.  I think of the areas as the "Cantons du Saints", even though many of the place names are not actual saints but the names of the original founding families.