Construction Journal Entry Week of 7/16/06

7/18-20/06 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon so I didn't arrive at the property until 5:00. There was no frog in the gate can and the mosquitoes were thick again. I didn't even start any work after moving in.

On Wednesday I checked on the trees and they all seem to be OK. The middle Sequoia by the drainfield is brown on the top half and the one on the right has a few brown needles at the bottom. We'll see if they make it.

I went to work and stripped the forms off the second pad. I was happy with how it came out. The concrete wasn't worked right up against the form in some places, but it is good enough. I hauled a plank around that had been propped up under the back door. It was the only one left after using the planks for the porch deck. I decided to use this one for making a header at the top of the stair.

I got the chainsaw out and felled the skinny bent tree I plan to use for a handrail on the staircase. I have been watching this tree ever since it bent over double during a bad ice storm. The top had been frozen to the ground for most of the winter and it has been struggling to get up straight ever since. It will now serve a good purpose.

Herb Roberts had suggested that a white plate with water and Lemon Fresh Joy in it would attract and kill mosquitoes. So I prepared a plate like that and set it on the ground by the trailer door.

After lunch, I limbed and peeled the tree I had felled. The mosquitoes were thick during the work. I took a few pictures of the bent tree trunk and of the new concrete pads. Then I piled up the slash and bark from the tree.

Next, I went back up to the cabin and measured for the header at the top of the stairs. I had been thinking for a long time about how to fasten the tops of the stringers to the porch structure. No alternative seemed to be a good option until I thought about the idea of a header. Using the chainsaw, I cut the header to length so it would span from the Grid F.5 beam to the outside of the Grid G beam. Then using the chainsaw again, I cut a mortise notch into the Grid F.5 beam and trued it up with a big hammer and chisel. Then I fashioned a tenon on the end of the header so it fit tightly into the mortise. I had to trim the end of the Grid G beam a little to make the header fit squarely and snugly. Then I fastened the header to the butt end of the Grid G beam with two lag screws. I didn't fasten the mortise and tenon joint at all since it fit so tight. I was really happy with how it turned out. It will work great to anchor the two stringers.

I rigged up a sling of two chains hanging from the Grid F and the Grid G purlins and hung a come-along from the sling. The come-along was directly above where the center of gravity would be for the left stringer. I used the come-along to lift the stringer just above where it will finally go. I will align it carefully and scribe for the cuts that will allow it to fit up against the header and inside the CB66 at the bottom.

I tried scraping the suspended stringer to see how easy it would be and discovered that it was a lot of hard work because of all the raised knots.

Sometime during the day, I discovered that the bait was gone from the mousetrap in the crawl space. I put a new peanut in the trap and went upstairs. The peanut was gone and one of the two mousetraps up there had caught a mouse. I dumped the dead mouse outside and then went looking for a way that he could have gotten inside. I couldn't find any way. I re-set the trap and put another peanut out on the floor. I guess the war with the rodents is never really over.

In the evening when I took my shower I realized that I had developed a hernia. It was probably from mixing all that concrete and it was either part of, or was disguised by, the stomach distress I had last week. I called Dr. Kantor and left a message about the problem. He called me later on and confirmed that I had an inguinal hernia. He said that it would still be OK for me to go to scout camp. He would fix me up afterward.

A few mosquitoes were still in the trailer when I went to bed and I realized that I had a mosquito netting in a cupboard. I got it out and rigged a tent from it over my pillow. It worked like a charm. I was able to sleep without getting mosquito bites on my lips and nose.

On Thursday morning, I decided that it would be a lot easier to use the Log Wizard and gwiz the stringer logs than scrape them by hand. Since the other stringer was lying on top of the porch, I decided to lower it down to the upper roadway and gwiz it down there. I rigged up chains, a come-along, and a rope and lowered the log to the ground. I made sure I took it easy so as not to aggravate the hernia. The plate with Joy in it had only caught two mosquitoes and two flies by the time I left. The thing didn't work for my mosquitoes, but I needed the dish soap anyway. I left for home at 2:00.

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