Construction Journal Entry Week of 1/6/19

1/8-10/19 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

There was snow on the road all the way over the pass. It hadn't been plowed recently on the White River Road, but there was only 2 or 3 inches on the road, so it wasn't bad. I was able to drive right in and park when I arrived at 12:30. The temperature was 23 and it was snowing lightly. I brought my gear up in two trips, including a 13-foot pole that I will use for a stair rail on the back-porch stairs.

After hoisting the flag, lighting a fire in the wood stove, having my lunch and my usual nap, I went out on the front porch to get some work done. I started out by replacing three light bulbs in the ceiling fixtures by climbing up onto a tall sawhorse using my riser and a concrete block as steps. I am extra careful I don't fall while doing that, or any other time for that matter.

Then I brought up to the porch three very curvy pieces of vine maple that I had collected. I held them against the pole I had just bought to see if any of them would work at the end of the rail to turn it into the wall. The building department requires something like that. It looks like they will work, and I am eager to start building the rail as soon as I finish with the backer blocks.

Next, I set up a saw shop for making the backer blocks. I set up a sort of hammock using a tarp held on one edge to the workbench, then it draped to the floor with the opposite edge held up by the tall sawhorses. Then I put a sawhorse inside the tarp. I planned to use a Skilsaw to do the cutting and the tarp would keep the sawdust confined.

On Wednesday morning there was about 5 inches of new snow on the ground and it was still snowing lightly. The temperature was about 25. After breakfast, I ripped a fairly long piece of plywood into two strips, one of which was the width I needed for making backer blocks. That left a long 3-inch strip. I cut the bigger piece in half and with the two halves clamped together, I proceeded to cut the plywood into about 40 or so backer blocks.

Then I took those blocks, together with the others I had previously made and inserted them in place, mostly in the Grid 1 ends of the floor joists. The rest went into the joist structure framing the future stove hole near Grid 2,2. Then I went in for my lunch and a nap.

When I got up it had stopped snowing and the weather was pleasant. I decided to work outside, so I started by digging out the last of the big firewood rounds that I had stored under the tarp. The snow was frozen and icy over and around the tarp, so I had to chip it out using a square shovel and a spud. I had to free up enough of the tarp to get the round loose. Once it was out, I rolled it over to the cabin and split it up.

Then I went into the woods to see if I could retrieve some more big rounds from there. I dug out two rounds and started pulling one of them out using my stout rope in the usual way. There was about 5 inches of new snow on top of my skid trail and I figured that would just serve as a lubricant. Wrong! The new snow was perfect for making snowballs or snowmen, but it was so sticky that it just accumulated on my round making it impossible to drag.

I went back to the cabin and got the plastic sled that Ellen had insisted that I keep up there. Good thing. It worked perfectly to haul the 100-lb rounds out of the woods and down to the cabin. I hauled two rounds down this way and stacked them under the eaves.

On Thursday morning Dave called and we had a very productive conversation including a lot of computer help for me. After finishing the breakfast dishes, I went down to the crawlspace and screwed in all the backer blocks at Grid 1 using a cordless impact driver.

I lost my screwdriver bit on the very first screw and then spent a lot of time searching for a new bit. I thought I had a lot of them, but I couldn't find any in the cabin and I could only find two inferior bits in the truck. While I was down there, standing next to the truck, a big blob of snow fell from about 30 feet up and hit me right on the head. Then half of it went down the neck of my shirt. Back at the cabin, I took off my shirt, dug the tightly packed snow out of my shirt pocket, and sort of dried the shirt off.

Then I went back to driving screws. After driving the first four fairly accessible screws, I soon discovered that I had to go up and get my knee pads. Working on that uneven bedrock, with low headroom, and the workspace filled with the sewer plumbing, screwing in those blocks presented a unique and difficult problem with each one. But I finally got all the Grid 1 blocks done.

There was a little time left so I turned to work on the remaining blocks. To my surprise, when I turned my attention to the first block that an inspector would see, I saw that it was missing. After checking I found that a second one was missing also. I was not done making blocks after all. Fortunately, I have just enough scrap plywood to make two more blocks. I put that off until next week and prepared to have my lunch and go home. I left for home at 12:45, pleased but not proud of my progress.

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