only 22.5 inches of foundation wall to insulate
Thursday, September 7 2023
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY
Gretchen and I left for the cabin fairly early this morning (at something like 9:00am). We stopped along the way at the Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, mostly so Gretchen could get some bulk items like nuts, nut butters, and laundry detergent (as part of her small effort to limit her consumption of single-use plastics). Naturally, we also bought some prepared food, and I also got a can of cold-pressed coffee for immediate consumption. Meanwhile our Bolt had been charging at one of the several electric car chargers out in the co-op parking lot. We'd left the car running so our dogs could be in air-conditioned comfort. I let them out to take care of any business they needed to do as we loaded up the the car, and they wandered into an outdoor meeting being held by some of the co-op staff in the garden dining area, and they seemed delighted by the distraction.
After unpacking our stuff at the cabin, Gretchen immediately headed toward the lake so as to maximize her use of the fairly hot sunny weather, which wasn't predicted to last. I immediately took off all my clothes to resume work on the foundation insulation project, but then I saw that Neville was considering following Gretchen. I wanted to encourage that, so I decided to head down to the lake myself, naked as I was. In so doing, I managed to lure both Ramona and Neville down there.
When I got to the dock, I could see Gretchen far out in the lake swimming. I immediately climbed into one of the water hammocks to have my own watery experience. Then when Ramona arrived, she started whimpering, something she always does in response to Gretchen's swimming (either out of concern or FOMO). So I decided to make her happier by taking her for a ride in the canoe. We paddled out to where Gretchen was. I found that she was, like me, completely naked. "We have the lake to ourselves!" Gretchen exclaimed in bliss. "And there's not even any motor noises!" (Of late, there's always been someone somewhere running a weed wacker, a chainsaw, a lawn mower, an ATV, or a backhoe.)
Back up at the cabin, it didn't take me long to dig a slot for the eighth sheet of styrofoam along the south foundation wall (coming from the west). I used the technique I recently rediscovered of mostly using the handle-less spade bit to make a slot about four and a half feet deep and then using a square-ended ash shovel (normally used with the woodstove) to make the slot a foot or so deeper. These tiered layers seem to prevent trench wall collapse long enough for me to get a sheet installed (this one was cut about 88 inches tall, of which about 64 inches will be below ground). But then I made the mistake of standing too close to the edge as I was using spray foam to fill in all the tiny gaps, and the ground gave way beneath my feet, causing me and the soil to fall about four feet. I made a loud "oof!" sound as I landed, but was unhurt. The only downside of the trench collapsing at that point was that I couldn't dispose of extra styrofoam in the extra trench space at the bottom of the sheet.
There's not much I can do on the insulation installation project immediately after installing a styrofoam sheet, so I walked down to the lake and had myself another soak on the water hammock, this time with a cup of hot kratom tea in my hand as I picked bits of spray foam from my fingers. (I haven't been using latex gloves much when installing sheets along the south foundation wall.)
Back up at the cabin, I rapidly dug out a ditch a foot or two shy of the desired depth all the way to the southeast corner of the foundation wall. The main reason the digging went so quickly (other than the fact that I was excited by nearing the end) was that I now had two places to throw removed soil: either westward along the south foundation wall, into recently-excavated trench, or around the corner into the ditch along the east wall, which I'd last been digging in a couple months ago. As I worked, it became clear that I should install the corner piece (sheet #10) before sheet #9, mostly because sheet #9 was turning out to be only 22.5 inches wide (because the cabin is 38 feet wide, not 40 feet wide as I'd thought). Since I only had one full sheet left and one of those two sheets was going to have to be made up scraps cut from other sheets, I decided the corner one would be easiest to do if it was made from the whole sheet. So I dug out the four feet of the trench at its east end to a depth of about 65 inches deep, carefully cleaning the end of the sheet of styrofoam protruding south off the end of the east foundation wall. I then liberally sprayed the bottom of that south-most sheet of the east foundation wall with spray foam and did the same with the mating edge of the new sheet I was installing, the east-most sheet of the south foundation wall. Using some force, I managed to ram the new sheet eastward through a tight space created by the presence of a buried gutter drain draining the east-end of the south gutter overhead. The two edges of spray foam mushed together and became one, and now all I had left to insulate was a narrow 22.5 inch wide vertical stripe of foundation wall just to its west. But I would leave that for tomorrow. There had been the rumbling of approaching thunder starting the moment I had the ditch dug to the proper depth, so I was a little surprised that I'd had enough time to finish installing the sheet. (To have stopped part-way, with, say, the ditch dug but no sheet installed or, even worse, with the gutter drain disconnected, could've proved disastrous; a sudden torrential downpour, especially with a firehose of water coming out of a disconnected gutter pipe, would've quickly filled the ditch with eroded sand.) The thunderstorm never really materialized, but there was a brief period of light rain.
Meanwhile, Gretchen had prepared a "chili bar" with the chili I'd made on Wednesday and all the fixings. But the pseudoephedrine I'd taken this morning was so effective at suppressing my appetite that all I could managed to eat was two tacos.
Neville at the dock today. Click to enlarge.
Ramona at the dock today. Click to enlarge.
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