like a laborer
Saturday, June 18 2022
location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
I woke up early from a dream that had me somehow angry at (and giving the silent treatment to) my old Charlottesville friend Jessika. In the dream, she and her partner Aaron were doing very well financially, and I was envious. And then somehow I randomly found myself in the same town at the same time as their wedding, something I just stumbled into. But I hadn't planned to attend a wedding, so I was seriously underdressed. I might've actually not been wearing pants (at least for part of the dream) since that's a dream I have often.
After I got out of bed, I gathered up my tools and a can of cold-brew coffee and went down to the lake to work on the dock. It was amazingly cold for this time of year, with temperatures in the low 50s. My initial task this morning was to install a pair of new pipe brackets onto the fixed part of the dock about midway on its length in places that coincided with the shore-side edge of a large granite boulder or piece of bedrock. I found the perfect place on the south side of the dock, attached the bracket, and then pounded in a 1.5 inch wide piece of galvanize pipe. This was the piece I'd initially (and experimentally) attached to the lake floor last summer using concrete. It had since broken free, so I thought using it for a mid-span support was perfect. Surprisingly, I was able to pound that pipe at least foot into the lakefloor alongside a granite formation that I'd assumed to be bedrock. But the fact that material between it and the shoreline was soft enough to drive a pipe into suggests that the granite "ledge" (or "reef," as I've also called it) may just be an enormous flat-topped boulder. With a support pipe now fixed firmly on the shoreline-side of a massive obstruction, I had more confidence that nothing would be able to drag the fixed dock away from the shoreline. I then added a similar pipe bracket on the north side of the dock, but now I only have 1.25 inch gavalanized pipe to drive into the lakefloor. This time the pipe ran into something hard about eight or so inches into the lake floor and could be driven no further, but that was plenty good enough for my purposes, especially since, again, it was running down on the lakeshore-side of a massive boulder embedded in the lake floor. Originally I'd planned to pour concrete around the pipes in the places were I'd driven them, but that no longer seemed necessary. I don't know if I'll find a use for that concrete I just bought before it absorbs water and becomes useless. Once I'd tightened the set screws on the pipe brackets, the new support pipes became additional legs on the dock, giving it a firmness beneath my feet that is rare in docks (particularly the rickety ones on Woodworth Lake). (Flooring, decks, or stone pathways shifting beneath my weight as I walk on them is one of my pet peaves.)
Back at the cabin, it was only about 9:00am and Gretchen was still in bed. I wrote the letters for the day's New York Times Spelling Bee on a piece of cardboard and placed it up high in the window so we could both see it, which is the usual ritual. Since I'd already had coffee, I started drinking kratom tea a little on the early side.
Gretchen and I walked together down to the lake in the late morning with the dogs trailing behind. Initially Gretchen thought she'd be able to sit and read, but it overcast and temperatures were still in the 50s, so she quickly abandoned that idea and walked with the dogs back to the cabin.
I stayed and spent hours installing hardware onto the ten foot by twelve foot framework of the floating part of the dock, the first part of the dock that I'd built but then hadn't touched since buying the floaters at Kadco back in September. That was when I'd learned the important differences between docks and decks, and how the former must be built much more solidly than the latter. I'd then ordered a full kit of brackets of the dock, a kit that ended up weighing something like sixty or seventy pounds. That box of brackets had languished in the cabin basement over the winter, periodically serving as a weight to press together things being glued. Last weekend I'd finally ferried it by canoe to the dock site and today I finally opened the box. There were a great many pieces in there, along with bags of nuts, two by 3/8 inch carriage bolts, and washers. I soon figured out how the pieces interconnected. There were pieces for the outside of corners, pieces for the insides of corners, and lots of pieces to beef up the butt joints connecting joists to end boards. There were also some unexpected pieces, including two pipe brackets (for smaller pipes than the ones referred to earlier) and brackets with holes designed to hold connector pins (for interconnecting separate dock units). My initial focus was just to put in the conventional brackets, though I also did some of the initial work of planning how the floating part of the dock would connect to the hinged part of the dock that I'd worked on last weekend. In so doing, I used one of the tabbed corner pieces to build one of the corners of the floating dock, with the idea that I'd be installing tabbed pieces (from this same kit, assuming there were enough pieces) onto the hinged part of the dock as well.
After I'd installed six sets of brackets, I wanted to to take a break, so I got in the canoe and paddled into the outlet bay to gather more chunk of granite from the shoreline for use beefing up the dock's abutment. I didn't get great pieces, but the abutment doesn't need that much more work. Before leaving the lake for the day, I dumped some gravel in the cracks between rocks in the abutment to solidify them that much more. It's all very solid, but I don't want the rocks working their way apart as they get repeated tromped across.
Back at the cabin, Gretchen had prepared a cornbread marbled with faux-meat chili, and she'd also made a chili containing that chili as well as black beans and other ingredients. I was very hungry and this was exactly what I wanted to be eating.
After dinner, we took the dogs for a stroll down to the top of Ibrahim's driveway and then turned around and went back, because I was underdressed for the cold weather (Gretchen, meanwhile, was comfortable in a winter coat). Along the way, Gretchen brought up how visibly angry I get whenever she tries to offer advice on what step to take next on one of my projects, particularly the dock-building one. I responded that it often seems like she wants to see progress and will suggest ways to produce visible progress that aren't actually very helpful, such as that I should, while waiting for the hinged dock's floater (which has been delayed a week by lightning damage at Kadco) cut up the planking pieces for it. I know from experience that plans often change at the last second and it's rarely a good idea to pre-make pieces to be used later, especially when the process of making them doesn't require much effort. But Gretchen doesn't understand this stuff; she just wants to see visible progress. And it makes me resentful that she can't just trust that I know what I'm doing. I also pointed out that often when I'm doing chores at the cabin, Gretchen makes me feel like a laborer, and I deeply resent being treated that way. I've mentioned this in the past, but she acted like this was a new revelation, and she said she could understand how I might feel this way and that she would try to do better and not make me feel this way in the future.
Back at the cabin, I made some alterations to the upstairs bathroom cabinet door to make it able to swing open a little wider. I also added one of the many animal-themed pull handles that Gretchen had I bought for the cabin (this one a cute little bat) with a big one-inch perforated rare-earth magnet surrounding its stem bolt. I countersunk that magnet so it was flush with the back of the cabinet door and then put a simple steel screw in the carpentry I wanted the door to rest against when closed. This resulted in a nicely-closing cabinet door.
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