Tuesday, October 14 2008
Today I installed 12 more concrete blocks on my greenhouse wall, mostly as a second tier on the east wall. This is the wall where I'd needed to step down the footing by the height of a single eight inch block. As installed this second tier, though, I discovered that I hadn't stepped the lowest part of the footing down quite enough, and now I needed gobs of mortar to hold this second tier to the correct height in the places where it crossed the stepped-up part of the footing. I ended up having to stuff little wedge-shaped rocks into the mortar, which then had insufficient support and wanted to slough out. It felt like a real disaster and I would have ended the day depressed were it not for the fact that the row of blocks I installed today ended up being perfectly level in all dimensions within a sixteenth of an inch. Even if this base tier (the lowest tier of blocks forming a complete ring around the foundation) ends up being a bitch to install, it will be worth it if I can keep it perfectly level, since they will dictate the trueness of all subsequent tiers.
Later I bought fifteen concrete blocks, 120 pounds of concrete (for footing edits and expansion), two twenty four inch pieces of rebar, and 80 pounds of mortar from Home Depot. As I loaded all of this into my Honda Civic hatchback, the one with dubious suspension, a guy asked if I was serious. Nobody ever makes any comments when I'm piercing the cab with sixteen foot dimensional lumber or strapping four by eight foot sheets of plywood to the roof, but this was the second time someone commented about me loading concrete blocks into the hatchback. I said that it would fit, but that the suspension was suspect and I'd have to be careful crossing railroad tracks. The guy was delighted, telling me about how he'd recently fit 36 two by fours in his sedan. Gas is temporarily cheap again (down to nearly three dollars a gallon) but it will be getting expensive soon enough, and as it does I expect to see more Americans with tiny cars using them as pickup trucks, the way I do (a less extreme version of the typical deployment of sedans in sub-Saharan Africa).
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