Construction Journal Entry Week of 2/9/14

2/11/14 (Tuesday) Received a call from Darren Andrews from DNR informing me that the DNR map of our property was not included with my application. I thought I had sent it, but somehow it got lost. I told Darren that I would mail another one to him.

2/12-14/14 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Wednesday through Thursday.

On the way I dropped the DNR map in the mail and then proceeded on to Monroe where I had a nice visit with Uncle Charles. The trip over the pass was rainy and a little slushy at the top of the pass. As I drove past the Bartholomew's log cabin project, I saw Nancy standing outside with the workmen. I stopped and chatted with her for a little while. All of their rafters are up and they are just starting on the roof sheathing. I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 12:50.

There was 18 inches of fresh new snow on the ground but fortunately Mike had been in ahead of me and the driveway and parking area were nicely cleared off. I had no trouble driving in and parking.

I checked the end of the water line to make sure it was still running. First I had to stamp out a trail with my boots so that I could walk over to the end of the pipe. I had left the water line discharging through a loose connection between the ball valve the pipe and also squirting out of the end with the valve open just a little. There was enough water spraying out to keep the rest of the water line from freezing and it had made a giant ice sculpture all around it. I closed the valve down tighter to give me better water pressure in the cabin.

Next, I decided against getting the snowshoes out and instead just packed down the trail to the cabin by postholing with my boots. Most of that trail is under a giant tree so the snow wasn't as deep under there. And the snow berm that piles up under the eaves on that side is packed down pretty firmly so it is fairly easy to stamp out a trail over the top of it.

With the trail built, I returned to the truck and carried my gear up to the cabin. Then I went around to the back and stamped out a trail to the flagpole and the mixer. There was a heavy load of snow on top of the mixer so I shoveled it off right after I hoisted the flag.

Then I brought in a load of wood, started a fire in the wood stove, filled the bird feeder which was completely empty, had my lunch, and finally laid down for my nap.

My nap was cut short by a call from Bill. It was a delightful call. We hadn't talked in quite a while and there was a lot to talk about. We talked for about 2 hours so by the time we hung up, there wasn't time left to do any work, but I figured that conversation was worth much more than any work I might have gotten done. I spent the rest of the day cutting up a bunch of firewood.

It rained cats and dogs all night and on Thursday morning I slept in. The temperature was 33 and with the rain I figured we were experiencing a pineapple express. On the chance that it might warm up enough to thaw out the frozen hose, I went down to the end of the water line and hooked the frozen hose up to the valve. I deliberately didn't tighten the connection so that there was enough spray leaking out to keep the line from freezing. I opened the valve all the way so that there would be positive water pressure into the frozen hose and if the hose did happen to thaw enough to allow any flow at all, it wouldn't take long to thaw completely. In that case my pressure in the cabin would drop to zero and I would know that the hose had thawed.

Next, I went around the back of the front porch to size up the prospects of working on the damaged roof. Rain pouring down on deep fresh snow has always been my idea of the worst possible working conditions outside but I decided to see how bad it would be.

I climbed two steps off the porch and onto the sloping base of the cliff and used my boots to scrape off the snow from the three concrete steps that lead up the cliff to the high rock. The saturated deep snow doesn't slide nicely like dry powder does. Instead it immediately turns to heavy slush when you push against it. The slush is slippery and fluid as long as you are pushing it, but the instant it stops moving, it sets up into slippery ice. That's why I don't like working in it.

After seeing that boots weren't the right tool to clear the steps I decided to get a shovel. I turned around to take the two steps back down to the porch and my feet slipped out from under me. I fell toward the rock cliff that was right at my left elbow and I put my left hand down onto the snowbank to stop my fall. But the snowbank felt about as firm as whipped cream so my hand drove right down onto the bedrock which of course was hidden from view by the snow. As a result I jammed my left ring finger against the rock. It seemed to be more painful than an ordinary finger jam should be, but my finger still articulated and worked so at least I figured it wasn't broken.

But the thought of walking along the rim of that cliff to get to the base of my ladder and then climb up and work on that scaffold that I could see had an 18 inch load of snow just didn't seem like what I wanted to do. And I figured that that was a clear signal that I should find some rainy day inside project to work on this week. The roof repair job can wait a week.

There is plenty of work to do so it was no problem picking out a project. I decided to install all the cabinet knobs and pulls. I decided to start with the extra cabinet up in the loft partly because it would be getting a lot warmer up there as time went on because of the fire in the wood stove, but mainly because if I made a mistake, I would rather have the mistake up there rather than on the kitchen cabinets. I figured that I would be less likely to make a mistake as I got some experience installing the knobs and pulls.

Sure enough, I made a mistake the very first time I squeezed the trigger on the drill. I was trying to install a pull, which requires two holes, but instead I drilled one hole in the center as if I were going to install a knob. I felt really dumb but I was glad the mistake was up in the loft and I hoped that I wouldn't be so stupid from now on.

I drilled the correct holes, installed the pull and looked at that hole right under the middle of the pull. It was unacceptable. So I spent a considerable amount of time fashioning two wood plugs (the first one turned out to be as unacceptable as the hole) and plugged up the hole. I'm sure no one but me will notice the error unless I tell them or unless they have read this journal entry.

Having gained a little experience, a little confidence, and hopefully having learned a lesson, I went down to the bathroom and installed all the knobs and pulls in there without making any stupid mistakes. I stopped for lunch and a nap feeling pretty good about my project and my ability to do the rest of it correctly. I had also developed several tricks for speeding up the measuring and marking process by setting two combination squares properly.

After my nap I started on the upper left hand pull on the cabinet to the left of the range. The width was different from the drawers in the bathroom so I needed to adjust one of the combination squares I used to locate the holes horizontally. I needed to measure the width of the drawer, subtract 3 inches, which is the hole spacing for the pulls, and divide the result by two to calculate the horizontal distance from each hole to the corresponding end of the drawer face. Finally, I needed to set the combination square to that distance.

I did all that with confidence, but I made a mistake in the arithmetic so my combination square was off by 1/4". I made my pencil marks for the holes with equal confidence. In fact I was so confident that I failed, or forgot, to measure the distance between the two marks to make sure it was 3 inches. Or, if I did measure it, I didn't read the ruler right.

In any case, I drilled not one but two holes in the wrong places on the most prominent pull in the kitchen. Rather than making wood plugs like I did before, I got out a cabinet patch kit I had gotten with the cabinets, and which I had not yet paid any attention to. This kit had a stick of some kind of waxy stuff that you rubbed into the crack or hole. After the hole was filled, you use a credit card to scrape the surface off even with the surrounding wood. And then there was a felt tipped pen with the coloring that you applied to the patch.

I did all that and the result is good enough so that only the same people who I mentioned about the error in the loft will ever notice it. I might be a little more circumspect about who I tell about this one.

I was much more careful after that and did not make another mistake. By the end of the day, I had all the pulls installed and I had all the knobs installed in the upper kitchen cabinets.

On Friday morning it was snowing heavily and it looked like about an inch or two had accumulated overnight. After breakfast I went back to work installing knobs. Fortunately, I made no more mistakes and I finished the job by installing the knobs on the lower kitchen cabinets and on the two cabinets in the utility room. I was very pleased with how they look and I am happy that I can now open doors and drawers in the normal way without using my fingernails.

I left for home at noon and drove through a mild blizzard on unplowed roads from the cabin to a ways downhill on the west side of the pass. On the way, I pulled off the road to take a call from Marty at the DNR. He called to ask about the map and I told him that it was in the mail.

2/15/14 (Saturday) Received a call from Robert Ferrel. He updated me on his plans for starting the logging project and I updated him on the progress toward getting a permit from DNR.

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