Construction Journal Entry Week of 10/30/11

11/1-3/11 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way, I stopped at Priscilla's and did some work on a project for Ellen so I was late in getting on the road. Even though the leaves were past their prime, the drive was beautiful because of the new snow. It had snowed at the pass for the first time this season.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at about 2:30 and was promptly greeted by Bert and Ernie. I had just finished giving them their hugs and biscuits and was turning on the water when Ron Siderits drove up. He helped me carry my gear up to the cabin. We went in and had a nice visit.

After he left, I had a small, late lunch and then set to work unmasking the rest of the hall, the kitchen, and most of the utility room.

At about 5:30, while I was up on a table with my respirator on, de-masking the utility room, there was a knock on the back door. It was Byron and Barb Williams. They are building a log home exactly one mile up the road from Camp Serendipity.

I had not met them before but they said they also work on their project during the midweek and had thought about stopping in many times before. I think they said that Karen Arnold had suggested that they do so. At any rate, I was delighted that they stopped and that they showed so much interest in what I am doing. They had a lot of questions about the project. Most of the time I didn't finish answering any questions because the conversation would branch off into other related subjects and never get back. It was delightful talking with people with such a keen interest in the project.

At one point, Paula called asking me to help Alaina with a math problem. I interrupted my conversation with Byron and Barb long enough to help Alaina understand her problem, and then we continued to talk. I went into elaborate detail describing the process of wiring up the switch boxes in the log columns, just as I had for the Burtons and Kings last week.

They were also curious about the bronze Mt. Rainier model, so we unfolded it and looked at it while we reminisced about various adventurers we had had in the park.

It was a great visit and I promised to go up the road and visit their project some day. I took a couple pictures of them, but I didn't learn until later that the camera dial had been set on "mountain scenery" so the pictures didn't turn out very well. After they left, at about 7:00, I quit work for the day and fixed my dinner.

On Wednesday, I resumed de-masking the utility room. It was freezing outside and it was a little nippy inside, so I burned up a bunch of cardboard that I had used for masking. That warmed the place up even a little too much.

The weather was cold, crisp, and clear perfect for working outside. Rain or snow was forecast for later in the day and in the days to come so I decided to take advantage of the good weather and work on some outside projects.

I started by getting a chainsaw out and bucking up all the logs from the old snow shelter that I had stacked up on the upper roadway. I stacked all the resulting firewood up against the foundation at the Grid A3 corner under the eaves.

There was still more gas in the chainsaw tank, so I went down to the old trailer site and bucked up the few logs from the snow shed that were still down there. Then I wheelbarrowed the resulting two loads of firewood from there up to the upper roadway and stacked the wood on the firewood pile. I think I have enough firewood stockpiled up there now to last through the winter.

After lunch and a nap, I went back outside. The weather was still gorgeous. I got my loppers and trimmed a bunch of low branches off the trees near the compost pile. My intention was to walk and clear the hose trail, but I ran into those low branches on my way and I took the time to trim them.

This was the perfect day to clear the hose trail, which I do each year at this time. When most of the leaves are down, and before the snow arrives, I follow the temporary hose line that has not yet been replaced by the permanent buried copper pipe to make sure that no branches are lying across it anywhere. I also trim any vine maples that are leaning over the hose line. Otherwise, the snow bends the small trees over and presses down on them and on any branches lying over the hose, and the pressure can pinch off the hose and stop the flow. If that happens, the hose line freezes solid and I have no water flowing into my plumbing system. I haven't had that problem for many years because I do this line-clearing trick every fall.

Bert and Ernie joined me in the woods while I was walking the hose line. They got plenty of hugs but I didn't have any biscuits with me. They followed me after I finished the hose line. We proceeded on to the spring where I cleaned out the leaf debris. Then we all went back to the cabin where they got their biscuits.

Next, I re-installed the light in the utility room and removed the temporary trouble-lite I had rigged up there. Then I went to work re-installing the bedroom heater. It is mounted on a stud wall and had to be removed in order to install the drywall and paint the wall.

I am sure I wrote down the locations for the screws in the wall to mount the heater, but I gave up searching for them after looking everywhere I could think of. I think I could save myself an enormous amount of time if I could somehow improve my organizational skills. I spend way too much time looking for things that I put in really clever places which I forget about later on.

I gave up on finding the paper and decided to guess at where to drive the screws into the wall. I convinced myself that the 2x4 backing I had built for the heater mount was wide enough that I would hit solid wood with nothing more than a good guess. After wiring the heater back up, I drove the screws in to hold the bracket and was gratified that it felt like each screw was into solid wood. It was also gratifying to feel that heater come alive and start warming up the bedroom.

By the time I finished, it was time to quit for the day. Since it was a little chilly on the first floor, I decided to build a fire in the stove using the newly stacked firewood. I figured that it would be going good by the time I finished my shower and that it would make getting out of the shower a little more pleasant. There is no door on the bathroom yet, so there is quite a draft in there when you take a shower. But the stove is located in line-of-sight to the shower through the door opening, so it really did make a difference having that radiant heat hit my body when I stepped out of the shower. It was very pleasant.

On Thursday morning I did some more de-masking and I put a lot of tools, paint, and other stuff away. It is looking a lot less cluttered in there now. I had a couple of big cardboard boxes left, so I decided to load the smaller of the two up with empty paint cans and lids and bring them home for recycling. Then I decided it was finally time to recycle all the old one-gallon plastic bar oil jugs that had accumulated in the crawl space for the past fifteen years. When I was heavy into the log work, I bought my bar oil in bulk using my own five-gallon bucket. When the saw shop quit selling bulk bar oil, I would buy it four gallons at a time in one gallon jugs. I stomped on and crushed 25 of these empty jugs and loaded them into the big cardboard box. It made the crawlspace look a little less cluttered when I got them out of there.

Next, I re-installed the door chimes. Fortunately I found the sheet of paper where I had written the specs down for the locations of the mounting screws on the wall, and the location to cut the hole in the drywall to retrieve the wires for the chime. I used a plumb bob to help locate the holes exactly, and the installation went smoothly. I was happy to have the doorbells working again, and I rang both of them several times just to enjoy hearing them bing and bong. Now when I get visitors, they can ring the doorbells in the proper way.

While I had my table positioned under the chimes, I used it to re-install the hall light fixture. Also while I was up there, I was dismayed to see how sloppy I had been in painting. There are places on the end of the stair stringer and on the header where I will have to scrape paint off some day. Scraping off of the end grain of the stringer will be a particularly hard job. I should have been more careful or masked better. Oh well, that's life.

After having my lunch, I swept the front porch good. It hadn't been swept for quite a while so there was a lot of pack rat poop mixed in with dirt and leaves. After the porch was all cleaned up, I installed a second electronic rodent repeller. I set this one on top of the workbench at the extreme left side aiming horizontally across the top of the workbench. The other one I placed on the left end of the lower shelf of the workbench also aiming horizontally to the right.

Previously I had only the one on the lower shelf but it had been on the right side aiming over to the bench on the other end of the porch. It seemed to keep the bench clear of pack rat poop, so now we will see if the range is long enough so that it will still keep the bench clear as well as the workbench shelf. Now that there are no turds on the porch, this will be a good test to see whether it might keep the rodents off the porch altogether or whether I need to rearrange them somehow. I still keep the one under the hood of the truck while I am parked there, and there has been no mischief under the hood so far this year.

I left for home at 12:45, but instead of heading straight home, I decided to drive up and look at Byron and Barb's place. When I got up there, I mistakenly thought the first place was theirs. There seemed to be no one there so I walked all around the building looking at it to get an idea of their project. Then I got back into my truck and headed down the driveway.

There was a vehicle coming up the driveway at that moment and since there wasn't room to pass, I backed up and got out of the way. The vehicle had a load of lumber on top and it continued past me and on to the second place. I got out to talk to whomever it was to tell them I was looking for the Williams' place.

As soon as I got close, Byron called out to me. Their place was two doors further on and they were there working. Barb had driven the vehicle with the lumber up past me. I had a great time visiting their project. They started out by introducing me to one of their helpers, and it turned out to be Walt VanAtta, whom I worked with for many years at USWest. Barb showed me all around their place including their campgrounds. They have been living in tents up there so far. I left for home at about 1:30 looking forward to more visits with them both at their place and at ours.

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