Construction Journal Entry Week of 6/14/15

6/16-18/15 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way I visited with Priscilla in rehab and then proceeded on to Monroe to visit with Uncle Charles. He was napping so the visit was short. Then I proceeded on to Skykomish and had a nice lunch with Marilyn and George.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:00. The weather was warm and dry and there were no mosquitoes to speak of. It's nice to have a light mosquito year for a change. I turned on the valve to water Brian, the giant sequoia, and then had a short nap.

When I got up, I took Cindy into the woods and trimmed away a lot of branches that were shading Brian. The tree gets very little light and I am sure that if I could provide more sunlight it would do better. We'll see if the trimming makes a difference.

Next, I watered down the dirt at the stone staircase site so that I could compact it. Then I used the wheelbarrow to collect a bunch more flat rocks for use in the stairs.

On Wednesday I got an unexpected nosebleed when I was washing my face in the morning. I wasn't sure how serious it was going to be but I plugged the nostril up with a wad of cotton and left it in for most of the day. The bleeding stopped and it turned out not to be a problem. I'll report it to my Warfarin pharmacist though.

After breakfast I went to work on the rock stairs. I selected and fitted rocks over the top of the third existing stone step with the objective of raising the tread by an inch and a half. To make a better fit, some of the rocks needed to be trimmed. I figured I'd try one of the stone cutters that I inherited from Leonard.

First I tried the smaller one and found that it was too small for the rocks I wanted to cut. Then, when I went to get the big one, I decided that it was just too heavy to lug out of the crawlspace without first finding out if it worked.

The cutter has a hydraulic jack on it that squeezes the blades against the rock before you smash down on the top cutter with a sledge hammer. I wanted to make sure that the jack worked before I tried to haul the thing outside.

I tried to work the jack handle, but the jack wouldn't budge. I wasn't sure if the valve was open or closed. If it was closed, that would explain why I couldn't budge the handle. If it was open, then the main cylinder was frozen up for some reason.

The thing to do was to turn the valve to either open it or close it, but it wouldn't budge. I could have gotten a vice-grip or some other tool to apply more force to turn the valve, but rather than mess around with it, I gave up on the whole idea.

Instead, I got one of Leonard's rock hammers and used that to nibble away at the edges of the rocks that I wanted to cut. It worked great. I placed the rock on top of two stacked big firewood rounds so that it was at about elbow height. Then with the rock overhanging the wood about an inch or so I chipped away working it back to meet the target line drawn on the rock. It worked great.

When I was happy with the way all the rocks fit, I mixed a few batches of mortar and mortared the stones in place to the right of the Grid G3 column. I used Leonard's big mason's level and a yardstick to get the elevations of each rock as exact as I could. I was happy with how it turned out.

During the work I could hear a lot of activity on the property across the street. After cleaning all the tools I walked over there to see what was going on. There were two people doing some logging. I didn't find out who they were but the boss told me that the owner had hired them to cut some trees down.

After lunch and a nap, I mixed more mortar and mortared in the rocks between the Grid F.5,3 and G3 columns. That used up almost all of the mortar mix that I had.

Just as I was finishing my dinner the front doorbell rang. It was Byron Williams. He came in and we talked until I finished eating. He had floated down the river to the bridge and he was walking back home carrying his boat. I offered him a ride and he gladly accepted. We loaded his boat into the truck and then drove to his place where he showed me his recent progress. It is beautiful.

On Thursday morning, I got Cindy back out and trimmed the brush away from the concrete staircase. The bushes seem to grow fast down there and they were about to close the staircase off. It is nice and open now.

Next I carefully measured the as-built stone staircase and recorded the measurements. From them it became clear that I will have to raise the next lower step in order to make the stairs come out right. I took a picture of the work I had done on the steps and left for home at 12:10.

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