Construction Journal Entry Week of 12/2/18

12/4-6/18 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I called Earl to see if I could bring him anything and he said that he needed a sort of specialized battery for a doorbell-video camera. I tried to find the battery at Lowe's but it was too specialized for them, so I headed for the mountains empty handed.

When I stopped to explain my failure to Earl, we got into a rather lengthy conversation about the hallucinations he experiences as a result of his Parkinson's. I was surprised to learn about the identity and continuity of the "people" he sees. He told me that there was a family with a lot of kids that he always sees in his shop; that there were a couple of black guys in the garage above; that there were always a couple guys in my truck, etc., and that the people maintain their identities for years.

We went out to see if he could see the "guys" in my truck, and after peering in the windows, he reported that they had retreated back into a corner. He said that typically when he pays attention to the "people", they slowly fade into the background and disappear. It makes you wonder.

I arrived at Camp Serendipity at 12:44. The temperature was in the 20s and the old snow was frozen, although it was only a couple inches deep. I saw that Robert had taken his oil pan, buckets, and other assorted tools that had been lying in the parking area. He got them out before Mike, or Josh, came to snowplow.

I carried my gear up to the cabin in one trip, hoisted the flag, started a fire, and had my lunch and a nap. When I got up, I split one big fir round that I had harvested from the big log up in the sequoia grove. I had stacked ten of those rounds at the foot of the back-porch stairs on the cliff edge on the other side of the roadway and had covered them with a tarp after the August heat and before they got rained on. They are nice and dry, and they are perfectly seasoned for firewood. So far, I have split three of those particular rounds and each one supplied me with one week's firewood. That might change when the weather gets colder, but so far one round per week is enough. After stacking the firewood and bringing some of it up to the back porch, I went in for the night.

On Wednesday the temperature outside was about 18 when I got up. After breakfast, I went outside and started a fire in the burn pile that I had accumulated. The branches were covered in snow and frozen, so it took a while to get the pile burning, but eventually I did. In between my tending to the fire, I picked up more brush on the face of the high rock and sawed, lopped, or broke the pieces so they more or less fit into the wheelbarrow. When the wheelbarrow was full, I wheeled it to the burn pile and added it to the fire.

I kept at it until all the brush had either been placed on the fire, or it was salvageable firewood which I stacked in the appropriate stack. One big pine log and one fairly big maple log were left. The area looked neater than I had ever seen it before.

Some time during the work, I had just cut a branch that made a cracking sound. Just then, I heard another, much louder cracking sound coming from down by the road. I looked up just in time to see a huge cottonwood branch break off a big tree about 50 feet up. The branch fell to the ground with a huge crash with branches flying every which way. I could see that the branch had fallen in the ditch, but I decided to go down and investigate in case some of it was in the road.

When I got down there, I found a lot of broken branches in the road, which I promptly picked up and removed. It was a good thing nobody was driving under there when the branch fell.

Back up at the burn pile, I shoveled three five-gallon buckets full of dirt from a cliff just up the hill from the burn pile and used the wheelbarrow, in two trips, to haul the dirt down to the cabin. I carried each bucket to the back corner of the crawlspace and dumped the dirt into the lake that was in the corner. Since I had bailed sixteen gallons of water out of that lake, I figured that fifteen gallons of dirt, on top of the dirt I had already put in there, should pretty much fill up the lake. Since I can still harvest more dirt from that cliff even after it snows, it wasn't urgent that I do any more right now. We'll see how this works out.

After lunch and a nap, I got the chainsaw out and used it to buck up the maple log that I had uncovered. I have so much good fir and maple firewood that I decided not to buck up the pine log. I don't like burning pine if I can help it.

I got seven rounds out of the maple log and I carried each of them, one at a time, over to the woodshed and stacked them on top of the maple I already had in there.

Next, I tried splitting one of the big fir rounds that was lying up by the privy. Those rounds are huge, maybe 30 inches in diameter. Since they were frozen solid, I thought they might split easily so I got the maul and gave it a try. I was so tired that I couldn't put much muscle into it and I could only make dents in the wood before the maul bounced right out. I gave up and will use a different technique someday. The wood is so green that it needs to season for a couple years so there is no urgency in splitting them right away. I went in for the night bushed.

On Thursday morning the temperature outside was 16 and the weather was clear and sunny. Beautiful. I decided to use the opportunity to cruise the woods looking for a better rail for the back-porch staircase. I didn't like either of the candidate poles I had stored on the front porch.

I found one vine maple that looked like it might do so I used a bow saw to cut an 11-foot section out of it and to cut the limbs off to make it easier to drag through the woods.

On my way out of the woods, I made a tour through the sequoia grove inspecting the trees. There had not been enough snow yet to bend any of them over, so they were all standing up nice and straight and frozen solid. They all looked OK to me.

I dragged the vine maple pole back to the cabin and stacked it on the front porch with the two other candidates. Then I looked down at the parking area and saw two more trees that looked like either one might be a better rail yet. I walked down there for a closer look. The vine maple down there didn't look so good when I got up close. But there is a tall skinny Doug fir that really looks good.

It was bigger than I thought, with a butt diameter of about 7 inches, but it looked to be at least 60 feet tall, straight as an arrow, and with very little taper. I figured that I could find my 11-foot pole somewhere along that trunk that would be the perfect diameter for the rail. I decided to ask Robert to fell the tree for me the next time he comes around.

Back inside the cabin, I had time to vacuum the first floor before I had my lunch and packed up to leave. I left for home at about 12:30 happy with what I got done before the deep snow comes.

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