Construction Journal Entry Week of 5/6/18

5/8-10/18 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at 12:50. The weather was beautiful and sunny with the temperature about 72°. When I brought my gear up to the cabin, I saw that a total of 14 mason bees had occupied my 2x4 bee house. After hoisting the flag, I had my lunch and my usual nap.

When I got up, I got a disturbing call from Earl. They had just returned from California over the weekend and he told me that they had had a very bad winter. Parkinson's had progressed significantly in both of them and one of Earl's corneas had completely failed. He was no longer able to drive. He said the winter had been so miserable—the pool temperature had reached 95° at one point—that he never wants to see the place again. He put his home up for sale down there. I felt really bad for both of them; I wished there was something I could do to help.

When we hung up, I went outside to work. I brought the chainsaw up to the brush pile on the bluff and bucked up a bunch of logs that were tangled up in the brush. I threw the firewood rounds out of the pile and out of the way.

Next, I inspected the irrigation of all ten cedar seedlings. Some of them weren't dripping enough so I fixed them one way or another. I also adjusted one of the shades that was in the wrong place. When I quit for the day, I wheeled a wheelbarrow load of firewood down to the cabin.

While I was fixing my dinner, I noticed that dark clouds were coming over the ridge. By 7:00 a booming thunderstorm was raging, and at 8:00 the power went out. I had not yet gotten my normal call from Ellen, so I tried to get cell service. I couldn't get service at the cabin and I wasn't about to go out in the dark in the raging storm to get service, so I just went to bed wondering whether the power would be back on by morning. It came back on about 1:30 AM.

On Wednesday there was no rain. After breakfast I went up and started burning brush on the bluff. After having bucked those logs, I could get at a lot more brush in the pile and I burned a lot of it. That exposed yet more logs, so I got the saw back out and bucked some more firewood. In the process, the saw started rattling and I could see that the exhaust manifold had loosened up again. When I went in for lunch, I wheeled more firewood down to the cabin.

After lunch and a nap, I went out on the porch and counted 23 mason bees in the 2x4. That left only five holes for more bees. I did a lot of thinking about how to make a bigger and better set of holes for them.

I went back up on the bluff, burned a lot more brush, wheeled more firewood down to the cabin and stacked it, and then I went to work fixing the chainsaw. The manifold had come loose before and I had had to use a washer to span a cracked corner of the manifold, but I saw that that was still holding. It was the other side that had come loose. Worse, it looked like the machine screw for that corner was gone.

The next problem was to find a replacement machine screw. I consulted my inventory of parts and found a close match. I need a 1/2-inch screw, but I could only find 1 1/2-inch screws. No problem; I have a hacksaw.

To add to the complexity, that missing machine screw could only be placed with the chain and bar removed. So, I took the saw apart, removing the chain, bar, and exhaust manifold, and cleaning each part as I took it off. Then I noticed that the missing screw was still there. Even though it had come completely loose, it was still trapped in its hole by the bar. Once the bar was removed, I could get at the screw with the Allen wrench.

With all the parts nice and clean, I put the saw back together and really tightened up those machine screws. Then, before I went in for the night, I brought the posthole digger (PhD), the Bosch Bulldog, and a can of post preservative down to the truck so I wouldn't forget to take them home. I need them for a fencing project in Seattle.

On Thursday morning, I checked the cedar irrigation system and it seemed to be working correctly. Then I carried buckets of water up to water Brian and Andrew. I was happy to see that there were no more brown leaves on Andrew than there had been the week before. Maybe it is going to survive after all. I trimmed off all the brown leaves so that I could see if any more die later on.

Next, I harvested a skinny pole that I had dug out of the brush pile on the bluff and dragged it down to the cabin for possible use as a back porch rail. I tried spudding it, which didn't work very well, and I tried drawknifing it, which worked very well. I left it under the eaves for future use.

Back up on the bluff, with a clipboard, a yardstick, and a pencil, I measured and recorded the heights and bushiness of each of the cedar seedlings. That will serve as a baseline for figuring out how the trees do.

Then back at the cabin, I made a wood block with 105 holes in it for the mason bees. I wasn't sure whether the bees would prefer 5/16" holes, which I had drilled in the earlier block, or 3/8" holes. So, I alternated rows of holes between those two sizes. Now I can see whether they have a preference and what it is.

I left for home at 12:45 feeling pretty good about what I had accomplished this week.

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