I was shocked and deeply saddened today to learn that my close friend and former colleague , Cathleen Asch, passed away two weeks ago. Cathleen, Joseph Haaf, and I were co-CEOs of Truevision, a company we co-founded nearly thirty years ago. My time at Truevision remains the most exciting and satisfying of my professional career. We were on a mission to change the world; and we did! Cathleen was a keen financial and business strategist with a gift for identifying and building critical relationships. She eventually became the sole CEO of Truevision and was the best boss I have ever worked for. She was a generous mentor and true friend who I will dearly miss.
It was only two months ago that she e-mailed me to coordinate plans for a 30 Year Truevision Reunion in Indianapolis. I was traveling in Ecuador at the time and we agreed to connect after I returned. Last week I reached out to her and thought it odd that she did not reply. This evening I received a call from her son, Zander, who shared the tragic news with me. Cathleen died from an adverse reaction to the immunotherapy treatment she was receiving to treat cancer. Within a week she was totally paralyzed and no longer able to breathe on her own. Her son accelerated his wedding date and travelled from London with his fiancé so she could witness their marriage. She died three days later.
Cathleen lived a rich and fulfilling life. I look forward to sharing my fond memories of her when the family celebrates her life at a memorial gathering planned for mid October.
The biggest obstacle to the completion of Maya’s tiny house has been the roof. Our plans call for a 24 gauge standing-seem metal roof. It offers light weight, incredible life span, and high resistance to wind damage (a critical characteristic for a house that can be towed on a highway). Originally, we had planned to do the work ourselves but could not find a local supplier willing to sell us the components (they don’t want their product’s reputation compromised by an amateur installation). The professional installers to whom they refer you, on the other hand, are generally not interested in a 250 square foot project. Rock and hard place. I finally thought to contact one of my soccer buddies, a former president of Harvey Industries, who hooked us up with Twin Metals last Friday. They had a two man crew on site by 7AM this morning and should have the job done by tomorrow. Maya, doing some networking of her own, obtained the exact same pointer to Twin Metals and there may be future debate as to who extricated us from our roofing dilemma.
Maya returned from Martha’s Vineyard early in the day and spent the rest of it on top of a ladder. She filled and sanded nail holes in the trim and helped me to finish all the roofing trim. We are both tired of looking at the white Tyvek and are anxious to start putting up the clapboard. If we can stay on schedule that should start by mid next week. We are quickly running out of summer which has us working from first light to dusk.
There is little doubt that Maya is enjoying her time with Caleb’s family on Martha’s Vineyard. This photo, courtesy of his mother, includes his father, both sisters and two of their friends. Back on the mainland, Kyle, Jeanine and I enjoyed a very nice dinner at Thai Chilli after another long day of work on the tiny house. Kyle worked with me for a couple of hours to install all the soffits. I spent the balance of the day shopping for materials and refining some of the trim work that was not up to snuff.
I completed the tiny house deck this morning by filling the screw hole openings with 3/8″ diameter plugs cut from a scrap deck board to ensure a perfect color and texture match. The process was very time consuming as I had to bevel the ends of each of the 120 plugs by hand. This took the better part of three hours but the results were worth the effort. Maya approved subcontracting of the clapboard painting to Kyle who completed the task in 6 hours with my assistance. Over the course of painting ~1100 feet of 6″ wide boards we refined our technique considerably. Our final solution involved the use of a dishwashing soap bottle to dispense paint and 4″ wide rollers. Jeanine captured a video of our unusual but highly efficient method which I hope to add shortly.
Warm temperatures and steady wind allowed us to stage the drying boards on the drive way in two groups of 16 before moving them into the garage to protect them from tomorrow’s forecasted rain. We painted a total of seventy 16 foot long boards.
Note to Maya: We ran out of paint with just 6 boards to go and made it to the paint store just ahead of closing for a final quart.
A neat trick for perfectly spacing deck boards makes use of old business cards (in this case, Jeanine’s Contact Culture business when we lived in Indianapolis). I slid all the deck boards to one side of the bounding mitered frame and filled the overall gap with close to 120 business cards. I then divided the number of cards by the number of boards plus one to determine that each board gap would be 7 cards wide. Each board is secured to the steel chassis with 6 self tapping metal screws. I predrilled the holes in my shop and will use matching plugs to fill them tomorrow. Maya had the pleasure of filling nail holes in the trim before leaving for Martha’s Vineyard this afternoon where she will be spending a long weekend with Caleb and his family. We spent a good part of the morning driving around Concord in search of a house to base our paint color on. Maya found two that she really liked and used a paint chip fan to match the color. Kyle has agreed to help with the tiny house build while Maya is away and will begin by painting the cedar clapboard siding that was delivered earlier in the day.
Maya’s tiny house has three different corner trim profiles; an outside 90 degree, an outside 115 degree, and an inside 115 degree. Fabricating these in advance of installation takes a little more time but produces a much higher quality result. Anyone who has ever made an 8 foot long corner joint will tell you that it is very easy to screw up if you do not have precisely cut miters. To ensure accurate cuts we used the setup shown below to hold our boards flush to our table saw fence and flush to the table (on both sides of the board). Glue up clamping was done using a butterfly method. Two boards are placed parallel to each other with their mitered outside edges just touching. A piece of duct tape is run down the entire length of the edge. After adhesive is applied to the mating surfaces, the joint is “folded” along the tape line into the final position and held in this position with additional duct tape.
A very productive day on the tiny house build. We completed insulation of the walls and moved on to external trim work. We constructed frames for all the first floor windows (the loft windows will be unframed). We are using PVC trim for all areas that are exposed to the weather. It is crazy expensive but will never rot and is totally free of surface imperfections. We used glue and pocket holes for all joints. We also machined a rabbet along the inside back edge so that the frame will sit flat against the house rather than riding up on the window nailing fins.
Maya’s tiny house includes a total of three loft areas. The main sleeping loft is 67 square feet. Two storage lofts totaling 33 square feet are located at the front and back of the house. Maya is pictured here finishing the ceiling insulation in the storage loft over the front porch. Two batten strips are tacked to each rafter where it meets the roof sheathing to create uniform spacing for the ventilation air gap. The panels are cut to exact size and must be pounded in with a mini sledge hammer for an air tight fit. All seams will eventually be taped or caulked to ensure zero air infiltration. The white square object behind Maya is a fixed HDTV antenna that is wired to the location where we will be installing a flat screen TV.
Maya and I spent most of the day working on ceiling insulation. We are installing two 2 inch foam core panels in between each pair of 2×6 ceiling rafters for an R value of 20. We are leaving a 1-1/4 inch air gap between the first panel and the roof sheathing to create an air channel that will provide ventilation for our roof. This is necessary to prevent condensation which is a common problem in tiny houses that do not include this feature. The work is slow and arduous. Each panel is beveled on one end to match the roof angle, must be cut to the exact size of the opening and installed in at least two and often as many as four sections. It is easily the least fun part of the project so far. Maya works on the ladder taking measurements and installing panels while I cut them in the basement on the table saw. For a little break from the monotony, I added the side walls around the top of the shower stall. The joints are so tight that no trim will be needed here. I will wait to install the shower head until the trim has been varnished to match the ceiling.
We celebrated Kyle’s 25th birthday this evening. John Quinn helped prepare a birthday feast and I helped eat the ice cream cake. I try and do my part at important family gatherings.
Nicolai and Karuna have adopted a dog. At the time this photo was taken it was named Moose. It is not clear if that name will be replaced but I rather like it. We would have preferred if he had waited to get a dog until completing college but for many years now this has been something Nico has wanted to do.
The tiny house is now ready for roofing and siding. Today we installed the loft windows and finished the Tyvek house wrap. Maya prefers to work bare footed while on the roof insisting that this maximizes traction. I prefer to wear shoes while standing on the ground watching Maya scampering about the roof.
Jeanine has had to deal with two flat tires in as many days. The first was caused by sidewall damage (probably from grazing a curb while parking) to one of the front tires. Given their state of wear, we opted to replace both to the tune of ~$700 (my first car cost less than this). The second was due to a puncture by a piece of metal to the left rear tire. When it rains, it pours. Speaking of rain. It poured like cats and dogs all afternoon into the evening preventing any substantial progress on the tiny house.
We are using all fiberglass Integrity windows from Marvin. They are fitted with double paned, argon filled, tempered glass with a U-factor of 0.29 and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.29. The first floor has one large picture window and two double casement windows in the living room. The kitchen has a triple casement window and the bathroom a single awning style window. We installed all of these today leaving just the four awning style windows in the loft to finish.
I am booked on the red-eye back to Boston this evening leaving me the better part of the day for some sightseeing. I decided to visit Long Beach, arriving by 6am, well ahead of the morning rush hour traffic. I spent three hours walking around the marina area before visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific, one of the best in the world.
I emerged with a bevy of great photos five hours later and was in the mood to get off my feet. A nearby cinema offered the respite I was seeking. I saw Atomic Blonde, a movie I was fairly certain would not interest Jeanine and one which I knew I would enjoy (billed as the female 007).