Tom Ramcigam (magicmarmot) wrote,
Tom Ramcigam

Well, not so much weekend as Sunday.

Started off around 10 in the morning with Barb starting the cooking down of some foul-smelling weeds that she's using to make fiber for papermaking. This process consists of filling a stock pot with weeds and water and I think perhaps a bit of baking soda or somesuch, and boiling it for hours.

It reeks.

She took off to go to work, leaving me with the instructions to check on it periodically and add water as necessary. I took thye added step of opening as many windows as I could.

Did I mention the reeking?

You see, when a plant is harvested, it contains a lot of starches that it uses for food. If the plant is cured after it's harvested (like tobacco), it is kept damp but dark, so it converts those starches to sugars that it uses for food instead of sunlight and photosynthesis. However, if it's just cut and dried, then the starches are mostly unconverted. They have to be removed from the fibers before they can be used for making paper, and the process is best handled by boiling-- essentially making tea. Except that this "tea" has a cloying, sweet, slightly rotten smell.

Happily, I decided to work outside.

The porch was the big doggie of the day. The top row of block was the target, since that was the row that needed all of the blocks to be cut to fit. I had precut most of the blocks previously, but as it turned out, they were just too big and needed to be trimmed again, so I went back and forth between trimminmg blocks with the diamond saw and gluing them into place with some marvelous masonry caulk.
The other missing piece here is that I was also installing screen between the layers so that when I do the final concrete pour, it will just fill the voids in the top layer, except for some select cores that will be filled from top to bottom. What this will end up as is a monolithic concrete post-and-beam foundation.

Something that I discovered was that the masonry glue needs to cure for something like 72 hours. And it's unbelievably sticky. Happily, it washes off with liberal doses of denatured alcohol. Eventually. And it has a tendency to wick into cotton and form some sort of bond with the cement dust that was kicked up by the diamond saw so when I finally tried to take off my gloves at the end of the day, they had hardened into a form-fitting exoskeleton around my knuckles. I almost had to cut them off.

Happily, I finished early enough that I could take a badly-needed shower and a nap before a nice dinner out with the lovely Robin at Shelly's Woodroast. Excellent food, good company, and a mellow night was a delightful capper to a busy and hard-won weekend.

The rest of the week is hopefully slated somewhat toward getting the porch foundation finished, spending some pooch time with my sadly neglected dog (at least she says she's being neglected), and a few other bits and pieces of projects that really need to be finished quickly. Making the transition into winter is going to be really odd. I'm not ready for it, but it will happen anyway. And I will adjust as I always do, maybe a little worse for wear.

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