Construction Journal Entry Week of 8/2/20

8/3-7/20 I went up to Camp Serendipity for 5 days: Monday through Friday.

I arrived at 11:50, brought my gear up to the cabin, hoisted the flag, and then had my lunch and nap. When I got up, I irrigated Andrew with 6.4 gallons of water. Then, despite the heat, I went to work on building the "Legal Landing" at the foot of the front staircase.

Since the temperature was pushing 90, it would have been unbearable to work in the direct sun. So, I set up an old patio umbrella for shade. I used Leonard's heavy lifting platform, that he had used to hoist loads of brick up to the top of a chimney he was working on, as an anchor for the umbrella. It worked great and allowed me to position the umbrella however I wanted.

To start with, I used the Bosch Bulldog with a rock chisel bit to flatten a sharp projection of the bedrock that was sticking up too high. It worked well and I flattened the projection down to the grade of the final landing.

Bill called to catch up on things, so we had a great conversation before I quit for the day.

On Tuesday I got up at 4:30 so that I could get as much work done outside as I could before it got hot. The temperature was 50 degrees outside and 65 degrees inside when I started work.

I started by scouting for some more rocks which I could tell that I was going to need. I used the wheelbarrow to bring the big ones to the work site and just carried the smaller ones in my hands. Then I began placing and leveling rocks.

When the sun came up over the trees, I moved the umbrella to the other side so that it would shade my work. Since the spaces between the rocks would be filled with dirt, I quickly found that I didn't have enough dirt to do the job. I took the wheelbarrow to a couple different places and mined for dirt. It's surprisingly hard to find mineral soil in a forest that is on top of bedrock.

I got some dirt from the pile down at the parking area where the snowplow had scooped it up and piled it up with the snow. I also got some from a bank up past the privy.

After lunch and a nap, I irrigated Andrew and then decided it was too hot to do any more work outside. My day had been long enough.

On Wednesday I was up at 4:30 again for the same reason. When I started work, I had a long look at what I had done so far and decided to undo and rearrange quite a few of the big rocks.

The main problem was that there were two nice long but narrow rocks that had a slight airplane-propeller twist in their surfaces. It wasn't much of a twist, but it made one corner or another stick up too high. The overall planned surface of the landing also had a slight twist. The edge up against the bottom step had to be level, since the step was level, but the far edge had to slope slightly downhill to match the grade of the upper roadway.

The problem was that the chirality of the two twists were opposites. That is, the twist of the landing was opposite of the twists in those two big stones. That exacerbated the problem of the corners sticking up. Since you can't change the chirality by flipping the stones over, or by flipping them end-for-end, the only way to change it is to re-orient them by 90 degrees. Then the chiralities of the stones matched that of the landing, so that's what I did. And, of course, that had a ripple effect on a few other stones that now had to be moved.

I used the Bulldog to cut and shape some of the stones so they fit better. I eventually got all the big rocks placed and was happy with the surface they formed. All that remained was to fill the spaces between them with dirt. Just before I stopped for lunch and a nap, Robert called and told me that he would be over next week to begin moving his equipment out.

When I got up from my nap, I went into the woods to irrigate Andrew. In the process, I noticed a new pain in my right knee. I was a little concerned that I might have injured it by so much kneeling while working on those rocks, even though I wore kneepads. But after a while, the pain went away, and I concluded that I had just slept on it wrong during my nap.

Before I quit for the day, I used a piece of 1/4" hardware cloth to strain most of the dirt I had mined to remove plant roots and rocks. Since the dirt was going to act as mortar between the stones, I wanted it to flow down to fill the space as much as it could. I would also be tamping it in order to compact it and any organic material would mess that up. I got nearly a 5-gallon bucket full of nice sifted dirt.

On Thursday I was up early again and mined and strained more dirt. Then I used it to finish the landing. I was very happy to have that job done.

At one point, I was on the front porch and I happened to witness a gust of wind blow the front door open. Since the front door will close by itself, except that it doesn't latch, I have been in the habit for many years of not closing the door all the way. That made it very convenient to carry tools and materials into the cabin from out on the porch, especially long boards like the ceiling boards. I would use the end of the board I was carrying to push the door open, then as it was swinging open, I would walk in carrying the board, and just let the door close by itself behind me.

After the door had closed by itself, it stopped before latching but it was still closed tight enough so that mosquitoes couldn't get in, much less mice or lizards. What I didn't realize until I saw it happen was that a gust of wind could blow the door open.

I instantly realized that this could explain how the lizards got into the cabin. If I wasn't around, I'm sure the lizards could be hunting insects around the threshold of the door and if it happened to open, it seems likely that they might venture inside. Then, when the door closed again, they would be trapped inside and have to wait for me to find and evict them, which I have done twice in the past month.

This was a very happy discovery because I dreaded the thought that there might be a lizard-size hole in the cabin somewhere. All I have to do now is to change my habit and always latch that door when I shut it and wait to see if another lizard shows up inside the cabin. I think I will have to wait a long time. Meanwhile I'll consider the mystery and the problem solved.

I called Rich Campbell, the building inspector, and left a message that I was ready for my final inspection and that he should call me so we could schedule it. Then I put away all the tools I had been using and tidied up and hosed off the new landing. I was ready for inspection.

After lunch and a nap, I went into the woods twice to irrigate Andrew. The first time, after hauling the 6.4 gallons of water up the hill, I saw that the dribble hole had gotten plugged up so the dribble bucket still had two or three gallons in it. There wasn't room for all the water I had brought up.

I cleared away the plug, poured in one of the buckets I had brought up and left the other one nearby while I went back to the cabin. After an hour or so, I went back to Andrew and gave it the contents of the second bucket.

Late in the day, Rich called back and told me that he would be over tomorrow for my final inspection. He said he would call me in the morning to tell me when he would show up.

On Friday morning, Dave called, and we had another delightful conversation. When we hung up, I went out to the front porch staircase and tightened all the lag screws holding down the treads. They weren't as loose as the back ones had been, but I got a half turn or so on each one anyway.

I went into the woods and watered Andrew, and then while I was waiting for Rich to call, I vacuumed the first floor. Then I started packing up to go home and finally I had my lunch. I was just finishing my lunch when I heard a commotion and then a knock on the back door.

I answered the door and it was Rich. He explained that he had lost the note with my phone number on it so he couldn't call me. He said that he had already inspected my "Legal Landing" and was impressed by it. He also said that he had gone into the crawl space and seen the insulation and the water-heater restraint. He said he was extra impressed by that.

He congratulated me on successfully passing the final inspection and he said that an official document would be mailed to me. I asked him exactly when does the status change from being a construction site to an official house, and he said right now. I was overjoyed. I have been looking forward to this moment for 29 years.

I left for home at 1:00 exhilarated, elated, and with an unexpected sense of freedom. It had been a very special week.

Go to Next Journal Entry
Previous Journal Entry

Index to all Journal Entries
Go To Home Page

©2020 Paul R. Martin, All rights reserved.