Construction Journal Entry Week of 11/9/08

11/11-13/08 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at 12:30. It was raining when I arrived and there was a pile of snow under the eaves of the cabin, so it must have snowed quite a bit while I was gone. There was no snow anywhere else though. I was puzzled and happy again that there were no signs of mice in the cabin. Since I was going to be working inside the cabin, I built a fire in the stove before I had lunch in order to warm the place up.

After lunch, I finished installing the last five treads on the back staircase. I am very pleased with how the stairs turned out. It will be handy from now on to be able to use the back door in any kind of weather.

Next, I went to work on the dining room light fixture. The fixture is a wagon wheel suspended from a chain, but the chain is not nearly long enough to reach the dining room ceiling. I had bought some new chain and electrical wire in order to extend the reach. I took the fixture apart so I could install the new chain. I measured for length and cut the new chain. Then I wove the new electrical wire through the chain links.

In the process, I discovered that the fixture had a thin bare braided copper ground wire that also ran in the chain. I didn't have a new ground wire, so I couldn't proceed any further with the fixture itself.

I decided to install the electrical box in the Grid B purlin overhead which will support the fixture. I did some experimenting to see whether I could do the job with ladders, but soon decided that it would be too risky and awkward. Instead I decided to erect a scaffold tower to work from. I used the new staircase to carry the scaffold frames up from the crawlspace and they worked super good. I was protected from the rain and had a nice straight shot from the crawlspace up the stairs to the back porch and in the back door.

I set up a two-tier tower in the dining room which gave me a nice platform for reaching the purlin.

On Wednesday, it rained cats and dogs all day. It had also rained hard all through the night. I built another fire in the stove and went to work chiseling a recess in the underside of the purlin for the electrical box and to accommodate the top part of the lamp fixture.

There happened to be a knot right where I needed to cut, so that made the job a little more difficult. It is also pretty awkward to be using a hammer and chisel up overhead. My muscles just aren't used to using a hammer that way. It was a hard job, but I had it finished by noon.

When I went down for lunch, I noticed that the county road maintenance truck was parked near my driveway. I went down and saw that the driver was busy cleaning out the culvert. I took the opportunity to talk to him about the dangerous tree limb I had reported to the county on 7/17/08. This limb had broken off when I saw a much bigger limb fall all the way to the road on 1/4/08, but instead of falling all the way, this one got hung up about 20 or 30 feet up.

When I showed the guy the limb, he agreed with me that it was too dangerous to leave there, but he didn't have a way to get it down. I offered to get a rope and a rock that we might be able to throw over the limb and pull it down. I got a nice long light flexible braided rope and tied it to a medium sized rock.

I tried several times to fling the rock and rope up over the limb but I never got very close. The other guy tried four or five times, but couldn't quite throw it that high either. It was raining cats and dogs the whole time, so pretty soon the rope was saturated and was a lot heavier. Also, both of us were tired out so we could see that we weren't going to be able to do it.

I figured we needed a lighter rope, so I went back up to the cabin and got a length of parachute cord. I tied that to the rock and the other end to the saturated braided rope and after a few more tries, the guy was able to get the rock up over the limb. We proceeded to use the ropes to pull the branch down. It crashed on the road and the two of us hauled the broken pieces off the road and piled them in the ditch. I brought the soggy ropes back up to the cabin and then went in for lunch and a short nap.

After lunch, I went back up and installed the electrical box in the recess I had cut in the purlin. Then I strung a 14-2 w/ground cable from the box, through the rafters, to the Grid A1 corner of the ceiling. Next, I installed a two-gang electrical box in that corner of the ceiling. This will be a junction box, which I have designated as box "B" on my drawings. I cut and stripped the cable to the dining room light fixture box and installed it in the B junction box.

On Thursday morning, the rain stopped. I started another fire and went to work. Before I could get started, Bert and Ernie showed up at the door. I went back down to the trailer and got them each a couple treats. Then I went back up and strung a 14/2 w/gnd cable from the electrical switch box in the utility room, which I have designated as box "A", up and across the loft floor to the Grid A1 corner, up through the loft log corner, and finally into the "B" junction box in the ceiling. My plan is to complete the wiring necessary to energize the dining room fixture, since nearly everything is already in place and I am eager to begin using the switch that I so cleverly installed in the Grid B.5,2.5 column.

While I was stringing the wire, Phil Leatherman came to the door with his dog, Dutch. We had a great conversation about building, hiking, trees, and other topics. He gave me quite a bit of heads-up information about getting the insulation job done in the ceiling. Phil is a retired house painter so he was interested in how I had done the varnishing inside the cabin. All his advice came a little too late, since I am done with that job, but he reassured me that I had gone about it correctly. He agreed with me that there probably would have been no way of avoiding scraping the logs twice like I did. It was more important to get the roof on quickly and let the logs deteriorate from UV damage in the meantime.

We did the grand tour of the property so Phil could see my spring and the lay of the land. He was impressed by some of the big specimens of Grand Fir, Ponderosa Pine, Western Red Cedar, and Alder. I told him that I thought it was the presence of all that water from my spring that made the trees grow so fast and big.

I learned from Phil that I have a species of maple that I didn't know about. I knew of the Vine Maples and the Big Leaf Maples, but he told me that the ones that are midway between the two in trunk size are Douglas Maples. They grow in clumps and the trunks are more or less straight.

Phil is quite a hiker and he told me that he had climbed all the big mountains that are near the property. He offered to take me up Mt. Mastiff next August if I want to go. It is tempting, but I am not sure right now if I will be up to it. We'll see. Phil has also climbed Dirtyface, Mt. Howard, and Rock Mountain. I asked if he ever climbed Mt. David and he said that he does that every year. He is a fast hiker so he says he does Mt. David in a single day rather than spending a night up there. It sounds like I might have a hard time keeping up with him.

I gave Dutch a couple dog treats before the two of them left. I went back to the cabin and finished installing the cable between boxes "A" and "B". I left for home at 1:45.

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