Construction Journal Entry Week of 11/30/03

12/2-4/03 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I had a pretty bad cold but I took daytime cold medicine and I squirted Dristan in my nose so I was able to keep my ears clear going over the pass. I had to follow two snowplows all the way down and that forced me to go slow making it easier to keep my ears clear.

I arrived at 1:00. There was about a foot of new snow but happily my parking place was scooped out. My wand was also still standing. I was afraid that it would break off when the snowplow went by but so far it didn't.

I put my snowshoes on and made trails to the trailer, the cabin, the privy, the propane tanks, the compost pile, and back to the pickup. Then I took the snowshoes off and packed my gear up to the trailer, moved in, and had lunch.

After lunch, I checked out the cabin and found some pack rat poop. There didn't seem to be as much poop as usual so I had reason to hope that they had finally left for good. There were also some short evergreen branches in the loft that I hadn't seen before. I hoped they pulled them out of a stash inside the cabin. Otherwise it meant that they were able to get out and back in which I don't see how they could. Time will tell if they are out or in or whether they can still get out and back in again.

While I was dumping some of the poop outside, I found two adorable gray tiger-striped kittens who seemed lost and very happy to see me. I poured some canned milk in a bowl and the kittens drank it up as if they hadn't been fed for several days. When they finished the milk, I tore up two slices of bologna and they ate all of that as well. Then after a little more milk, they seemed satisfied and we started getting to know each other. They seemed to like the trailer. It was nice and warm. They purred and curled up next to each other on the bed and took a nap.

I called all the neighbors and no one knew whose cats they might be. We suspected that someone just dumped them. Mike agreed to take them when I went home Thursday if I couldn't find an owner before then. That was quite a relief for me.

When I went outside to go to work, the kittens followed me out. A flock of jays came by for peanuts, but they left right away when the kittens showed up. I went up to the cabin and made a figure-4 trap for the pack rats using an old refrigerator vegetable bin. Since I was feeling sick, I decided to quit early so that was all I got done for the day.

I called Mike again, and then drove over to his place and borrowed a quart or so of dry cat food. The kittens had a feeding frenzy going after that food. When they had stuffed themselves, they promptly took another nap. When I had my dinner, the kittens ate nearly all the meat and gravy out of my dinner and left me the vegetables. Their tummies were nice and round so I knew they weren't starving. They slept on my bed that night, but unfortunately one of them peed on the bed. I discovered it right away so I was able to keep it from going down to the mattress. It was also over to the side so after putting some plastic under the bedding, there was still room for me to sleep. I guess I should have prepared a litter box.

On Wednesday morning, I was still not feeling well. The trap had not sprung and there were a few new turds lying around. The kittens came up to the cabin with me and watched me work. I started planing the ridgepole and the top of the southwest gable wall. I got about five feet of the ridgepole and the top three logs done. It stressed my shoulder quite a bit, but I don't think I overdid it.

I noticed that the hose had stopped running and I found that a caddisfly larva was stuck in the nozzle. Deja vu. That meant that I had two problems. It meant that flies were getting through the screen protecting the overflow pipe at the spring and it meant that the screen protecting the water pipe somehow let the larva through. I knew that the overflow screen was overdue for replacement but I was surprised that the other screen inside had failed. For the rest of the winter I better not have the nozzle on the hose when I'm not there. And, in the spring, I'll have to fix the two screens. It's always something.

I screened some left over mortar sand and put it in an old basin for use as a litter box. I hoped that would prevent a repeat of the night before.

The kittens were underfoot all day wherever I went and when I quit early and had dinner, they again ate most of the meat and gravy from my meal.

On Thursday morning, I was still pretty sick. During the night, I heard the kittens use the litter box so another accident was prevented. The kittens finished all the cat food I had, so I filled them up again with canned milk. The pack rat trap still had not sprung and there were a few more turds around. I may have to try a different approach. I covered the trap with a box because I didn't want to catch anything in it while I was gone.

I went to work and varnished the three logs and the end of the ridgepole. My tests had shown that the varnish cures with no problem in this freezing weather. I had my lunch and fed the kittens the rest of the milk I had and the last two slices of sandwich ham I had. Then I packed up my gear, including all my bedding, loaded the kittens in the pickup, and left for Mike's at about noon. He had a carrier-cage all ready for the kittens so we loaded them into it, I said my goodbyes, and left for home. It was fun having those kittens for the three days, but they sure interfered with my work. Mike says they will have a good home in Chelan.

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