WEEK 2 2011
Mon- Tue- Wed-
Picture of the Week
17 March 2002
Ago, This Week, 2002
Ago, This Week, 2003
||Six Years Ago, this
Ago, This Week, 2006
Ago, This Week, 2007
Ago, This Week, 2008
This Week, 2009
This Week, 2010
Saturday - Well, still up in Martinez.
I am too lazy to hook up the PDA as a modem, so am not updating as
regularly as usual (if 'regular' is the right word). But since I was
sitting here with my morning coffee....
I didn't get
everything I wanted done here (surprise, surprise), and I've a couple
days grace from work it
seems, so I'm going to hang around just a big more.. Though the boss
called sometime last night, and said I need to call
Todays plan: more clearing and grubbing under the house.
Book #8 was Kris
Longknife #7: Undaunted.
Sometime in the last couple of days I also primed the closet and
damaged ceiling the the den. I also hit a few spots in the master
bedroom where the blue paint was showing through. Even Bin Zinsser
can't cover everything in one coat!
Update: Just for the record,
here is an image from this afternoon with a few of the utilities on it
- there are more, including a bunch I haven't even looked at yet,
further back in the debris field, and of course the bunch of stuff I've
pulled out already isn't visible. The presence of the live 230Vac
circuit - with bare copper wire at the end - shows why it's such a slow
process. One really really really doesn't want to be
crawling around under there and brush against this!
- finally getting to the tasks I intended to do, retaining walls and
floor supports under the house. I am still clearing out down there -
there are about 90 years of old plumbing and wiring and debris
scattered about, making access difficult. So I am filling the old
wheelbarrow with the junk and putting it in the side yard. I brought up
the Sawz-All, so I can cut the long chunks of defunct plumbing into
manageable sizes, and remove them for access. What a mess.
It's ugly, the support posts are 4x4's, nailed to the beams, and just
sitting on the concrete blocks. To make the downstairs rooms someone
cut away the earth near the foundation blocks, and some have started to
move. Looking at things I see that there are essentially three beams
holdings up the joists, these being 4x4's themselves, and running
longitudinally under the house (north-south). About half the support
posts are missing. Some are leaning, some have foundation blocks that
are moving, or likely to move. Some posts have earth piled up against
The rear wall to the utility room is a wood retaining wall, against
earth, and has moved in several inches, to where it is now pushing on
the water heater. This side wall, also wooded, has buckled in the
The southwest corner of the house foundation was undermined by about a
foot, to put in a small (abandoned) bathroom. This is where the water
pipe comes in.
It's a mess.
Book #7 was Kris
These aren't 'deep' books, but are easy to read when you are
tired. And some of the innumerable 'coincidences' are beginning to be
explained as behind the scenes maneuvering by various high ranking
individuals. Generally the books involve travel to a planet, then a
pitched battle between our heroine and some local evil forces. The
marines win, every time. Sometimes there is a space battle.
I forgot to bring entertainment with me. There is the PDA, and the
Kindle, and they are making the evenings a little less grim. I'm pretty
beat by 6:00pm, and moving all the rock, concrete, and earth is leaving
me a bit sore.
Thursday 13 January 2011
- So, instead of working on the foundation I worked on the plumbing.
This was sort of a problem. If I had tools I'd just cut the galvanized
and rethread with a new piece. But I don't have my father's tools, so I
was reduced to finding the couplers upstream and downstream and trying
to remove the piece entire. That didn't work. The couplers were frozen
and I had only a couple 12" pipe wrenches. If I twisted the pipe it was
likely to fail somewhere upstream, perhaps buried anywhere from 1' to
6' deep where it dives down to the sidewalk. The downstream (house)
was only a couple feet away, where it went from galvanized to the
copper at the house foundation, and that, with help of a torch to warm
the bolt at the joint, went OK. But the downstream coupler wouldn't
Eventually I just put some of the metal putty and a fiberglass bandage
on it. It's a temporary patch, until I can get tools to do a real
repair. Perhaps I'll turn off the water when I head south. No one is
living there, so it's not a big deal. The bandaid seems to be holding,
but one never knows...
I'll also put a shutoff in the line there I think. The shutoff at the
meter is very stiff, and requires a pipe wrench and a grown mans
turn, the prospective tenants need something a little easier to access
in the case of an emergency.
I guess this was a bit of a mixed blessing. The pipe was ready to go,
and would probably have failed with the tree's next growth spurt this
spring, probably when nobody was around, and caused a huge mess.
Wednesday 12 January 2011
- I started placing some more landscape blocks in the front yard. It is
supposed to rain tomorrow, so I figured I'd do the outside work, then
work under the house tomorrow.
This effort is a low terrace wall, that will delineate the front yard
from the side yard. I bought thirty of the blocks at Home Depot and
brought them back in the Explorer. I found a piece of plywood that fits
just right in the Explorer, so damage to the vehicle is avoided. Also I
noticed that the blocks weigh in at 23# each, so that makes 690# of
total. For some reason I had thought they were 17#, but 23# is more
what they always felt like. I had sand left from the sandbags that kept
the tarp on the roof
last year, so that was useful for bedding the blocks.
It all went well, since the earth is soft. I went carefully, making
sure to avoid the drain and water pipe I knew were present. At the
house corner there is a 'volunteer' Acacia tree. It had been partially
cut down last fall, but there were shoots coming out of it again. I
wrapped it in dark plastic, and began digging at the roots. As I pulled
on it and a leftover fence post stump I saw water bubbling out of the
It turns out there was another
water line there, buried only a couple
of inches, with Acacia roots wrapped around it. Old galvanized pipe,
brittle and corroded, it broke
easily - and from the void in the earth there might have been
some time. Bah. Since it was 4:30pm and getting dark (naturally) all I
could do was shut off the water at the street and wait for the next day.
Book #6 was Kris
Longknife #5: Audacious.
- I started cleaning downstairs, but spent most the the day in San
Francisco, visiting the Steinhart Aquarium with a friends daughter.
She had a membership card, so I got in free. What an amazing place! I
probably haven't been there since the late 1970's - it has changed a
lot, and for the better! I dropped off presents from here grandmother
& parents, and we had a nice lunch at a place she knew near her
- Rain is predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday, so I decided to do
the remaining room repairs. These consist of a small overhanging eave
that needed to be re-shingled, and the gap between the shingles and the
house that needed filling. Indeed, there as a hole through the stucco
about six inches square. I am not sure if this was original, or perhaps
a patch that fell out. In any case I used quick setting mortar for
patching the larger holes and gaps, and a nice caulk for the smaller
gaps. I also re shingled with the same shingles as used on the main
portion of the roof.
All this was done with a long rope tied to the pepper tree in the back
yard and looped as a safety line around myself. It's a long ways down...
This took over eight hours, hard to believe, but it did.
In the evening I went started cleaning and patching the master bedroom
closet. I had thought someone else had already painted it, but not so.
I was simply fooled by a newer (not new) coat of paint, which on
inspection appears to be a Navajo White color, liberally stained with
tobacco smoke. TSP and elbow grease for the stains, filler for small
holes and cracks in the plaster.
Book #5 was Kris
Longknife #4: Resolute.
Sunday 9 January 2011
- Went over to the new Lowe's, in Concord off Solano Way. I'd never
been there, overshot it on the freeway, and had to drive back through
Concord side streets. I was looking for railroad ties, which the
Lancaster store has, but didn't see any. I did pick up some bags of
concrete, ten of them, and brought them home. Six hundred pounds, but
it's probably just enough for a foundation in the utility room. I also
picked up a short handled shovel - it's close quarters in there.