Construction Journal Entry Week of 8/21/11

8/23-25/11 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I stopped and visited an old friend in Woodinville on my way up and didn't arrive at Camp Serendipity until 2:00. I had my lunch and my usual nap, and then went out and watered all the sequoia trees. I also checked on my bentonite experiment and saw that all the powder had changed into a very gummy clay. This had pulled away from the cracks in the rocks in some places, so it leaked when I poured water into it. I wasn't sure whether to interpret that as a failure or not. In the drainage application, there aren't any big cracks like that and the rock basins hold water pretty much the way they are now. I think the bentonite clay will simply settle to the bottoms of the channels and seal it up pretty well. At least that's my plan and I think it will work.

Before I quit for the day, I did a little preparatory work on the High Rock staircase project. I did some cleaning of the rock, gathered some form materials, checked the measurements again, and did some more thinking about the approach I would take. Then I went in for my shower.

In the shower, I could not make out the snow patch on Nason Ridge any longer. I thought it might finally have melted away. But afterward I saw that the patch, among others, was still there but a lot smaller. The lighting, and my poor eyesight, had made it impossible to see it from the shower.

Since I hadn't seen Bert and Ernie for so long, I decided to call Tutino's and check up on them. I was happy to hear that they are doing fine. Mike told me that they just don't like to venture out in the heat as much as they used to. I think it also might have to do with the sound of my truck, which they used to recognize. Since I got my exhaust manifold fixed, the engine is not nearly as loud as it used to be and the dogs maybe don't hear me go by.

On Wednesday I made the forms for the High Rock staircase and took a picture of them. Then I went in for my lunch and a nap. Afterward, I set up my concrete batch plant on the porch and mixed and poured all three sacks of concrete I had and filled up the forms exactly. I used every drop of concrete, there was none left over, and the forms were all filled exactly to the tops. That was either very good estimating, or one more example of Serendipity. I think it was the latter.

I was very pleased with the results and took a picture of the concrete-filled forms. After cleaning up the tools and waiting a while for the concrete to cure a little, I finished troweling and edging the stairs, and then went in for my shower and dinner.

On Thursday morning, I stripped the forms and took some pictures of the stairs. I had embedded wooden numbers into the forms to make '2011', and just like when we poured the long concrete staircase, the moisture from the concrete had dissolved the glue holding the numbers to the forms, so when the forms were first stripped, the wooden numbers stayed in the concrete. John had carefully picked the numbers out of the staircase the next day in the first case, but I decided to wait in this case. I figured that if I wait a few weeks, the concrete will be stronger and the numbers will have dried out and shrunk making it more likely to get them out without damaging the concrete. Incidentally I used the same '2' and '0' that John had picked out of the concrete we had poured in 2008, and it was an easy matter to make two '1's to go with them to make '2011'. The top of the '2' had broken off and the broken piece had been lost, so I sacrificed the old '8' and cut a chunk out of it to complete the '2'. We'll see if that is detectable when I get around to removing the wooden numbers from the stairs.

I spent the rest of the morning cleaning up the concrete mess from the porch. The scouts will be coming up the weekend of September 16 so I want to begin getting the place ready for their visit. Then the week following that, the cabinets will be delivered so I need to have the cabin ready to receive them. I plan to store the cabinets in the living room until I can get the kitchen floor down and ready for them.

I left for home at 1:15 feeling pretty good about the work plans for the rest of the summer. Things are falling into place.

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