Wednesday, April 23, 2008


What a beautiful day it was today: sunny and up near 70 degrees. There was no wind to speak of and everything is drying out nicely. Except for the north side of this cabin I've been working on. I put in a shower stall last week and the owners liked my work enough to hire me to put a screened in porch on the front of the little cabin.

I had to retro-design things because there is a false dormer over the front door, so I decided to drop the platform by about six inches and run a very shallow-pitched hip roof out from under the existing eaves. At this point, the plans are all still in my head. Not to worry, though. There is plenty of room up there to store them or to lay them out flat and turn them around.

So I have been working on the platform of the porch, framing up the 20 by 6 foot base and propping it up on blocks and odd scraps of wood pending its final attachment to the cabin. Now I should mention here that this is a summer rental cabin. It has no basement or even a pad - it is supported by blocks of concrete at the corners and in a couple of spots underneath. It is not insulated, and only lattice covers the rudimentary foundation. There are lots of leaves under the building, some spiders, and a handful of scrap boards and odd pieces of PVC pipe. In short, it's a cruddy little hole that never sees the sun and probably never entirely dries out.

The blocks are important to the story because I needed to mount the porch to something, and because I had to drop the platform six inches, I was left with nothing to nail to but a few concrete blocks (not great in the nailing department) and some spider webs (certainly no better). So, I bought some bits of metal at the hardware store the other day and brought them home to weld into reinforced brackets. I can now attach the brackets to the platform via some half-inch carriage bolts, and to the support beam/floor joist with some equally nasty half-inch lag screws. I welded six of these brackets and spaced them appropriately along the back plank and then set about to mounting the things to the underside of the cabin.

Not much maneuvering room under there. Certainly not for a plus-sized lesbian and her tools. Damn. I was under there five minutes and had soaked through my knees and elbows in mud, had fetched my head a nasty crack on a broken cement block, and dropped two washers and a nut in the leaves. It took some doing, but I got a mostly workable system under there, and I have a few little odds and ends to finish up tomorrow and then I can start laying the decking and building the walls.

But today was a muddy, dirty, cold, nasty adventure.

To be fair, I did spend enough time standing at the chop saw and walking around that I managed to get a sunburn on the back of my neck. It was warm enough as well for a few mosquitoes to venture out. I slapped a few but did not get bitten. This too shall pass.

In another vein, I am getting disgusted with vehicles. We have three, but not one of them has a valid sticker. And today, on my way to work on this cabin, a golf-ball sized rock spun out of the top of a dump truck and smashed into my windshield directly in my line of vision. It looks like a fake, it is so perfect. Except I got a lap full of glass shards. I had to hold Quinn very still on her side of the seat (she was pretty freaked out) so she wouldn't get into the sharp stuff. Glass guy says it will cost $225 to fix. Add that to the muffler and tailpipe, the leaf springs, shocks, struts, front brake job and the rest, it's going to eat up almost every penny from this job. It is depressing. Some days it feels like I make a few steps forward only to get kicked back six more. Damn.

Quinn and I were ok, though, so that's a good thing.

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