Construction Journal Entry Week of 6/8/14

6/11-13/14 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Wednesday through Friday.

After doing a couple errands, I stopped at Priscilla's and delivered some strawberry shortcake. Then I proceeded on to visit with Uncle Charles. After visiting for a short while, Mark came in so we had a nice three-way visit. I learned that Charles will turn 90 on Saturday the 14th, Flag Day.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 1:40. The temperature was a pleasant 72. When I entered the cabin, I found one mouse in a trap and hundreds if not thousands of dead ants all over the floor. It was almost as if the carcasses had been organized into piles. There were a few, slow-moving, live ants among them, and the live ones seemed to be dragging the dead ones around. It was clear that I had had a massive infestation and that the ant bait had done its job and killed most of them.

I had brought two more types of ant bait with me and I deployed some new containers at various points both inside and out where I saw live ant activity.

After hoisting the flag and turning on the valve to water Brian, the giant sequoia tree, I had my lunch and a short nap. Then I had just started sweeping up the ant mess when the doorbell rang. It was Ron Sideritz. I invited him in and apologized for the ant mess. We had a nice visit. In the course of our conversation, I was showing him the piles of ants. One of the piles seemed strange to me and I showed it to Ron. I had a sort of crumpled sheet of aluminum foil on the floor and inside one folded corner I could see that it was loaded with what I thought were ant carcasses.

I had just pointed it out to Ron when I picked up the foil and discovered that the mass of ants inside were not dead at all but alive. It occurred to me to carry the foil and ants outside and dump them into ant lion dens. I explained that to Ron and asked him to follow me outside. He said that he had never heard of ant lions, so I proceeded to show him some in action.

Most of the ants in the foil jumped off early, but I was able to get a couple of them into ant lion dens. Ron watched as the struggling ants were pulled down under the sand and disappeared. I was surprised that I was able to introduce Ron to something new in nature. He knows far more about nature than I do, so this was really a surprise.

Next we went into the woods to check on the sequoia trees. I wanted to make sure that the irrigation water was really making it up to Brian. I was happy to see that it was. The tree was well watered and seems to be getting greener and suppler.

Ron asked about the logging project and I told him that I hadn't heard from Robert in a while. He told me that the price of logs was way up right now and in particular the price of pine. That was good news to me.

When I walked with Ron down to his truck, he told me about his recent shoulder injury and the long, still unfinished, recovery. He had some artificial shoulder parts implanted and he was in the process of regaining his range of motion and muscle strength. His story gave me another good lesson in caution to make sure I don't injure myself in my work.

After Ron left, I proceeded to sweep up most of the ant mess and throw it outside. I was happy that all of the ant mess was on the floor. The kitchen counter, which had been alive with ants the week before, was completely clean of ants, either dead or alive. I was glad of that.

On Thursday, Robert called first thing in the morning. He said that he planned to come to Camp Serendipity later on depending on the weather and his progress on another job. I told him what Ron had said about log prices and he said something about Ron not being a log buyer. The prices had actually gone down, except for pine which was holding steady. I guess we will just have to take what we get. It's good, though, that the logging job is about to begin.

Robert told me that he had been up to Camp Serendipity earlier when I was not there. He remarked at how different things look now that the leaves are out. It is a dense jungle of underbrush and you can't see much of anything in there anymore.

After turning on Brian's valve and having my breakfast, I went to the truck and got Cindy. Then I went into the woods and cleared brush from the trails to the sequoia trees so that if Robert wanted to go back there, he would at least be able to find the trails. I cleared them past Brian and halfway to Andrew before I quit.

When I came back out of the woods, I found Earl waiting on the porch. He had just gotten there. We went inside for a nice visit and he handed me a book, "The People of the Deer", to read. We had a discussion about indigenous people of northern latitudes. I told him about the Teaching Company courses I had been taking on the people of the Eurasian steppes. I am excited about reading his book. Earl left just before lunch time.

At 1:00, just after having had my lunch, and before I could start my nap, Robert showed up with two helpers, Tim and Dennis (Dee). Tim and Dee weren't very well prepared for the clouds of mosquitoes but they used some bug spray and went to work anyway.

The four of us spent nearly two hours grubbing the island bounded by the parking area and the driveway just east of the power meter pole and transformers. Robert plans to use that area as staging for brush piles, and the brush from the grubbing was stacked into the first four piles. Robert climbed a ways up two big trees and cut off the lower limbs. One of them is a Doug fir that he will use as a pole to anchor a skyline he will use to bring logs down from higher up.

The work was done by 2:45 and the three of them left. The logging operation has officially started. Robert said he would notify the DNR to let them know.

That work had me pretty well worn out so when I went back up to the cabin, I took a very much appreciated nap. When I got up, I replaced all the knobs on the dresser with new ones.

On Friday morning, I did a thorough job of vacuuming the first floor to remove all traces of the ant mess. It felt good to have the place clean again. I left for home at 1:30 feeling a little bad about not finishing the roof repair project, but happy about the ant resolution and the start of the logging project.

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