Construction Journal Entry Week of 8/24/08

8/22/08 I recalculated the concrete volume using a spreadsheet and made some fine adjustments to the calculations. This time the volume turned out to be 10.8 yards.

8/24-27/08 Sunday through Wednesday, John, Dave, Bill, Jim, Kerry, Harold and I went up to the property and poured concrete. This was a week to remember and to celebrate.

On Sunday afternoon, I picked John up at the airport. We went directly to Home Depot and rented a concrete vibrator. From there we went to Sam's and picked up a bunch of sandwiches for lunch and gassed up my truck. Then we went home where we packaged and loaded up the stuff we would need and we headed up to the property.

We arrived in the late afternoon. John met Bert and Ernie when they showed up for dog biscuits. We did some looking around, some last minute form fixing, setting up accommodations in the cabin for John to sleep, and we had dinner in the cabin. Harold Samdal was planning to join us but he couldn't get a flight until the next day.

There was a message on the answering machine to call Ralph's Pumper company at our earliest opportunity. This caused us some concern because we thought they might be wanting to change the schedule.

It was getting a little chilly so I started a fire in the wood stove. That made it nice and cozy up there. John slept in the cabin with an electric heater aimed at his cot. He said he was plenty warm during the night. I slept in my usual bed down at the trailer.

On Monday morning I called Ralph's right away and found out that they simply wanted to confirm the schedule for 10:30. That was good news. I also called Roy at Two Rivers and told him to change the order to a full truckload of 11 yards. Roy said that calculations were almost always better than an estimate, especially if the concrete is going into a hole. But just in case we were going to have excess concrete, John and I did some work preparing to pour a stoop and steps in front of the crawlspace door.

Bill and Dave showed up some time after 9:30 along with Dave's friend Jim Metteer. They helped us prepare the stoop forms. The pumper showed up shortly afterward and set up his rig. The concrete truck showed up about 10:50 and we got started pouring concrete. A little while after we started, Kerry Sedevic showed up so we had a nice big crew. Everybody pitched in and the pour and finishing went quick.

The special stair screeds John had shown me how to make worked well. They made the screeding of the stairs easier than it would otherwise have been. I was happy that he told me about those screeds. I was also happy that he had suggested beefing up my forms with more bracing. For the most part, the forms held, but I could see that without the extra bracing, the forms would have blown for sure. As it was, one joint came apart at the bottom and spilled a gallon or two of concrete. I stopped the flow with a big rock. The forms also bowed out a little at the deepest part. The extra bracing I had done in that area held the plywood from blowing out completely but it was stressed to the max. It was one of the many examples of serendipity that I have experienced on this project.

When the 11 yard truck was empty, it looked like we were going to be a yard short so I asked the concrete guy to order another yard.

In the meantime, the guys were screeding the concrete and the pumper guy emptied out his hopper and hose. That ended up providing enough concrete to just exactly finish the job. I called Roy and asked if it was too late to call off the delivery of the extra yard. He said it was too late. We would be pouring the stoop after all.

The pumper guy moved his rig further up the driveway so he could reach the stoop forms and about that time, the extra yard arrived. We pumped the concrete into the stoop forms and it again looked like there wouldn't be enough. The guys reconfigured the forms to hold what concrete we had and they did a beautiful job of forming up a stoop and one step down from that on two sides.

Some of the guys worked the concrete on the stairs, some worked the stoop and steps, and I started hosing down the pile of extra concrete the pumper had dumped down on the driveway when he cleaned out his hose and hopper. Before I hosed it down too much, I went up and asked the guys if they could use some more concrete. They said 'yes'. They could use some more in the forms and they could use it to vault the ten feet of electric conduit up by the house.

Dave and I loaded up a wheelbarrow with concrete down below only to discover that the wheelbarrow tire was flat. I tried and failed to find a tire pump so a few guys got around the wheelbarrow and lifted up on it so that Dave could wheel it up the hill. This was just enough concrete to finish the job. I hosed the rest of the concrete down on the driveway.

During the work, the gray jays showed up and some of the guys fed them from their hands. The chipmunk showed up too and we fed him some peanuts. Bill noticed that the little guy had an injury on his left cheek. It looked like there was a puncture wound on top of an abscess about the size of a marble. I think it was either an owl talon or a bobcat claw that almost got him. I hope he recovers from it.

The weather was perfect during all the work even though it had rained the day before and it looked like it might start raining right after we finished. Serendipity at work again.

When the work was done, we washed up the tools, washed up ourselves, and went in for lunch by about 2:00. We had a good time eating and laughing. Dave had shown Jim around the place, and after lunch, I showed Kerry around the place.

Kerry left after lunch to get to a business engagement in Wenatchee. He graciously took the concrete vibrator with him to return it to Home Depot for me since I wouldn't be back in Seattle until the end of the week. Dave, Bill, and Jim left shortly after that.

John and I took some forms apart before we had dinner and quit for the day. We both took showers down at the trailer before we went to bed.

On Tuesday morning, John and I started stripping forms. Harold had gotten to Seattle on Monday and had spent the night with his brother in Puyallup. He drove up to the property in the morning and arrived around 9 or 10 o'clock. He pitched right in and helped strip forms. We ended up getting all the forms stripped. I was very happy with the job and how the finish turned out. The '2008' numbers turned out perfectly.

We decided to spend the night at the property and start out in the morning to drive to the Columbia River Gorge so that John could do some windsurfing and to check out the area. We had dinner in the cabin and spent a rather long night talking, reminiscing, laughing, and draining a bottle of scotch. We had a great time. After Harold had heard several accounts of serendipity playing such a prominent part in the log home project, he suggested that we name the place "Camp Serendipity'. I think that is a great suggestion, although maybe I'll call it "Serendipity Acres", or "Serendipity Lodge". We also talked about a theme song called "Serendipity Doo Dah". Harold said the mascot should be the gray jay. I think that bottle of Scotch helped loosen up some of those ideas.

On Wednesday morning, we packed up and headed for the Gorge in our two trucks. I was ecstatic about the work that we had accomplished and that nothing had gone seriously wrong.

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