December 28, 2013



After many long months since the timber trusses were placed as the first portion of the roofing structure, we finally completed the roof!  A number of factors contributed to the delay it's completion, and we are thrilled to finally be on the backside of it. The weight/size of the wood and elevation on ladders, had this being one of the most daunting tasks we have taken on since the fire.  The living room area has a vaulted ceiling, so in order to make the 20' span with a 12/12 pitch and 19' peak, we used 16-foot, 2x8's on 24" centers. (12/12 means for every 12" of run, it elevates 12" in the 10' run to the center ridge, the pitch rises 10' high.) This section was built with a future house addition in mind, so we had to build it with a reverse gable.  The 12/12 pitch meets up to a perpendicular 6/12 pitch, appropriately known as a "bastard hip"...we were very fortunate to have Stephen Wusterhausen assist us with the complex cuts to create the valleys in the turn of the pitch.  A local waterproofing contractor, Adrian Santos, kindly helped us cut and lay the metal roof material.  During the process of hanging the metal, we also installed the windows and exterior doors. 

November 4, 2013



Boy howdy. One ladder rung at a time, one board at a time...and we are oh so close to wrapping up this roof business! In the next couple of weeks, we will have a seasoned contractor who will assist us in cutting and laying the metal down.
The roof framing has been an intense process for a couple of newbs like us...We have had to rely on the kindness of our friends, and we are so appreciative of each and everyone who has helped along the way.
We had beautiful weather this weekend...on Saturday our friends helped us knock out the roof framing by finishing up with the last of the purlins...and on Sunday we hung the floor joists for the loft. Hooray for a productive weekend!
Here's a view of the inside from each of the four corners....

September 4, 2013



It has been two years since the wildfire took our home and sense of normalcy.  We have been living life in this temporary situation that brings with it insecurity and uncertainty, but also wonderful milestones of success along the way. It is truly a "pulling yourself up by the bootstraps" scenario. We see it as a tremendous character building exercise to take on these tasks of tree harvest and home construction, when basically these endeavors are foreign to us. However, we move forward each day in faith, continuing to muster the strength and keep our eye on the prize.  
Admittedly, summer weather has had us a little stalled on the home construction. Rob has been working full time at the sawmill, and slinging boards in 100 degrees has him plumb tuckered out when the weekends come and in desperate need to rest his body. However, over this past anniversary Labor Day weekend, we were able to make some forward progress. We harvested the last of our biggest trees in order to mill what will be the wall and flooring material. Thanks to the help of a couple of friends, we were also able to put up the last of the big wood rafters for the roof. We are hoping with the fall weather approaching more can be accomplished as we move along.

June 24, 2013



For the longest time it seems, Google satellite images hadn't updated the fire area in the maps...they finally did and consequently, we discovered that Google Earth has a timeline function.  Compared to the memories we have, the dramatic view is seen each day at ground level, and now it can be seen over time from above (Click for larger image)

Google satellites happened to capture an image three days after the fire broke out (9/7/11), which was before we even received confirmation that the home was gone.  When we did return, we still were very optimistic about the trees around the home site, however over time the drought and fire shock were just too much.  You can see the 99% loss of the trees on our property...we only have a handful of mature green pine trees that remain. 

The image above also shows the logging road that was cut through the property for our timber harvest at the back of the property.  We still have many dead trees that ultimately won't be milled and most likely will be used along the property bounds as natural barrier and animal habitat.  My dad pointed out to me that the logging road is shaped like a raised fist...How awesome is that?!... Power to the people!... and the trees!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

It may seem odd to some, but it seems we have grieved for the loss these woods more than our home and "stuff".  We moved here for the natural environment and that old growth forest can't be replaced in short order. Facing the changes in the landscape has been emotionally challenging, leading us to this passionate mission. We are "big picture" people and know time heals all is a natural process for ultimate regeneration of the forest to an abundant vegetative state. 
With that, check out the natural growth of our new cottonwood and black willow trees. They came up on their own since the fire 22 months ago...and some already over 15' tall! On the left Rob (6'1") is standing next to a Cottonwood, and on the right he is pointing out the height of a baby pine. We are going to have this awesome willow grove in no time's a pretty cool positive sight to see.

April 29, 2013



We are so pleased to have the opportunity to appear on the Texas Country Reporter.  TCR is a Texas treasure for those who watch the show, and know the quality of their production and the fantastic storytelling they do. What a great honor to have our story told in such a beautiful was an emotional experience for us to watch ourselves in relation to the devastation and recovery.

We were featured in the Bastrop Recovery Special Episode.  Here is a condensed version that appeared on KFDM, out of Beaumont, TX.

Weekend of April 27th 2013, Show #1339
Texas Country Reporter ©
Weekend of April 27th 2013
Show #1339

"This week on a special edition of Texas Country Reporter, Wildfires devastated Bastrop County more than a year and a half ago, but hope is alive with the residents who still call it home. a couple who lost their home, but not their resolve, as they personally rebuild using the very trees that caught fire."

"Texas Country Reporter" is a highly-acclaimed TV program that celebrates the history, emotion and beauty that make Texas and Texans so unique. Since 1972, Bob Phillips has traveled the backroads of the Lone Star State and shared the stories of real Texans. From artists to cowboys, hobbyists to musicians, "Texas Country Reporter" explores the passions, interests, and lifestyles of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Every week you're invited to hop in and travel with Bob as he meets the folks that make Texas such a special place. Bob Phillips, Jason Anderson, Ryan Britt, Brian Hawkins, Mike Snyder, Dan Stricklin.

April 20, 2013



For our 11th wedding anniversary, Robert called in the calvary and got me some roof framing... *he's so romantic* ....and sure knows the way to this girls heart! 

We found this scorched cedar tree on our property and have installed it as a support post for the valley boards in the roof framing. If you look closely, it has a gnarly face in it...beard and all.

- Jamaica

March 31, 2013



Together, Robert and I have completed the framing of the two short gable ends.  They may not look like much, but their completion feels like a big accomplishment...especially when lifting heavy boards 20' in the air on ladders.

Life has forced our hand in many ways to grow from this experience. Robert has overcome so much on this recovery mission...and this now includes his fear of heights.  He has a "gotta do, what'cha gotta do" attitude and is our family's hero.

- Jamaica

March 2, 2013



Installation of our custom trusses went off without a hitch, and we had the Texas Country Reporter production team back to film their installation!  We are extremely grateful for Stephen's time and talents given to us in order to have this unique element in our home.

The timber trusses are a very exciting and special addition for us...we love them! Symbolically, they represent the big, heavy work done to accomplish this home...they show the rugged, burned scars we've acquired, and the ultimate beauty that rises from the flames and ashes.


February 23, 2013



TA-DA! Check out our awesome timber trusses that were completed today!...12/12 pitch, 20' wide, 10' tall, D-Logs with a raw edge, burnt bark and custom steel plates. Jamaica created the flame design, Rob cut the steel, and Stephen cut the weekend, their installation!

January 8, 2013



In the early part of the twentieth-century, prior to the advent of plywood and other sheet materials, many homes were built with 1-by lumber as a structural sheathing on the exterior of the framework.  In an effort to maximize our lumber resources, we opted to employ this type of construction using rough sawn 1"x12" boards hung diagonally across the studs. Due to the high cost of solid board sheathing, today this type of sheathing is rarely used, however it is recommended in areas that are earthquake or hurricane prone for it's structural integrity.  Oddly enough our situation, having the timber resource and relationship with the SAW Mill, has it being more cost effective to sheath with this method compared to buying ply or OSB.  This is a win-win-win solution for us in terms of cost, it's high structural rigidity and the utilization our timber.
Currently, it looks kinda strange....the boards extending past the top plate will continue up into the gable ends when the roof is constructed...and next on the list, the trusses and roof rafters.