Construction Journal Entry Week of 6/2/19

6/4-6/19 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

There was no answer when I called Earl, so I skipped visiting him this week. I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 12:10, brought my gear up to the cabin, hoisted the flag, had my lunch and took a nap. When I got up, I calibrated a 1-gallon jug with marks for pints. Then I took the jug and my cellphone up to Andrew and timed how long it took for the irrigation hose to fill the jug. It took just under eight minutes which means the flow is about one pint per minute. I was happy with that rate and the fact that the pump was still working.

I returned to the cabin and got what I needed to do a little surveying. I used Leonard's old transit level and a home-made 8-foot rod. Being a one-man crew, I held the rod upright by driving a length of rebar into the ground and attaching it to the rod. I measured the elevation from the hydraulic ram pump up to the first ridge the hose had to cross. I measured it to be 17 feet.

I was feeling tired and somewhat light-headed so I didn't go any further. Just looking at the hose, though, it looked like it gained about another foot in elevation before it began running downhill. So, I guess the pump must develop a little more than 18 feet of head pressure.

Before I returned to the cabin, I timed the pump strokes and found that it pumps 46 strokes per minute, a little slower than my heartrate.

On Wednesday I started out whacking down weeds at the hairpin turn with the string trimmer. Moving up the roadway, the first battery gave out halfway to the front steps. I put in the second battery and that took me to the front steps before it went dead. The first battery was still charging so I switched from weed whacking to working on the back stair rail.

I felt tired, dizzy, and a little nauseous at times all day and really didn't feel like working. My doctor had increased the dosage of one of my blood pressure medications and Ellen had guessed that that was why I was having the symptoms I was. I took my blood pressure readings several times during the day and it was about 20 points lower than my old normal. I decided I should report it to my doctor and see whether that's OK.

I worked at a slow pace and rigged up a suspension system to hold up the top stair rail. That will be needed when I manipulate it in order to make the mortise and tenon joints at each end and when I finally assemble the thing especially inserting all the balusters. That's going to be a trick.

The suspension system was easy to set up. I started with a long rebar S-hook that I had used for scaffolding hanging under the eaves. Standing on the steps, I was able to hook the S-hook to a lag screw that was sticking out high up on the log wall. I had used that lag screw for scaffolding before and I had left it sticking out of the wall for just this sort of purpose.

Then I found a 1x2 that was just the right length to reach from the cabin wall to the stair rail. It also had a convenient half-inch hole near one end. I placed the 1x2 perpendicular to the log wall and three feet, or so, above where the rail will go. Then I hooked a short rebar S-hook through the hole and then hooked the top of it to the long S-hook completing the hypotenuse of a right triangle sticking out from the wall.

Then I made a stout hook from number 9 wire and used it to hang a come-along from the end of the 1x2. Next, I used a small rope to make a bridle around the rail and then lifted the rail up and hung the bridle onto the come-along hook. That held the lower end of the rail. The other end could either be set on the upper newel post, which is close to its final position, or it could be set onto the back porch deck where it would be more stable. I'll also be able to move it anywhere I want when I get to the point of making the mortise and tenon joint for that end of the rail. For now, the suspension system was ready and could just wait.

Next, I removed the old temporary rope rail from the staircase, coiled it up, and stored it in the crawlspace along with a bunch of other ropes that had been retired. Then I got a couple wrenches out and removed the old newel post. I stored it on the firewood pile for cutting up. It has served its purpose and has just one more use and that is as firewood. Then I carried the new newel post from the front porch to the back staircase.

After lunch and a nap, I whacked the weeds on the upper roadway in front of the cabin. Then I used the Sawzall to square up the butt of the newel post. The post is a little curved so squaring it up was a little tricky. I started by standing the post up in a doorway so that it was up against the door and one jamb. Then I moved it around until the top of the post was plumb which meant that the bottom of it wasn't. Then I used a block of wood as a spacer and used it to draw a line parallel to the floor around the base of the post to mark where to cut it. Then I cut on that line and got a nice cut that is square to the top axis of the post. It now stands up nicely by itself on a level floor. Then I went in for the night feeling tired and weak.

When Ellen called in the evening, we decided that if my symptoms persist, I should call my doctor and see what to do.

On Thursday morning, I felt a lot better and felt like working. Ellen called me from on her way to work to see how I was feeling. She was happy to hear that I was feeling better.

Right after Ellen hung up, Dave called, and we had our usual delightful conversation. When we were near the end of it, there was a knock on the door, and it was Robert. I said goodbye to Dave and let Robert in. We had a nice visit. After he left, I used up two batteries worth of charge on the trimmer to whack the weeds around the concrete staircase, the trail to it, and the upper roadway from the flagpole to the privy. Then I had my lunch and packed up to go home. I was happy to be feeling normal again. I think my body was just getting used to the lower blood pressure. I left for home at 12:35.

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