Saturday, January 29, 2011

Done with one thing; onto another

We finished framing today. Around two o'clock I helped Miles with the last piece of fire-blocking between studs, and when I looked around, there wasn't anything else to do. If we were a framing crew, our job would be done. But on this job we're an everything crew. Next week we become plumbers, and after that electricians.

The West Face

The East Face


Niwot Ridge

Friday, January 28, 2011

Catch and Release

When Pat, Miles and I went up to our garage for work this week, we discovered we had mice. Well, actually, we discovered we had mice poop, and made the next inference from there. Lord knows where they came from. Our outpost is in the middle of a barren wasteland without so much as a blade of grass. If a mouse did find itself in our neighborhood, I can't blame it for wanting to bunk up with us. I probably wouldn't have objected to hosting it, except for its tendency to poop EVERYWHERE. If you want to know where a mouse has been, check and see if there's poop; if yes, then yes; if no, then probably not (but maybe still yes). At this point we wrote on our chalkboard under "Things to get from town": Mouse trap. But the nights are long up there and we don't have many distractions, so catching mice seemed like a nice way to while away the evening.
What did we have to make a trap with? Well, we had a bucket. Maybe if we put food in the bottom, the mouse would drop in for a bite to eat, and then voila, it's trapped. Now what to feed it? It might like some things more than others, so to be safe, we made it Miles's favorite snack: An open-faced-almond-butter-jelly-and-banana sandwich.

Don't it look good?

So then we simply placed the bucket by a ledge that we knew the mouse frequented (it was covered in shit) and waited.

Mouse trap next to mouse thoroughfare

I slept fretfully that night, dreaming of mice. But when I awoke in the morning and checked our trap, there was an adorable little mouse looking terrified back up at me with those black doe eyes. He had hardly even touched his sandwich.

Isn't he cute?

We were somewhat at a loss of what to do. We weren't going to kill it. We couldn't set it free nearby. And we weren't going back down for a few days, so we had to just leave it in the bucket till we could give it a ride back to town. So we put a capful of water in the bucket, tucked it away on a shelf under the sink, and went to work. But at lunch time, the mouse was gone! Somehow the thing had leaped out of a bucket about 50 times its height. We were back where we started.
That night, with nothing better to do, we devised another mouse trap. Because of its trauma the night before, we thought the mouse might have developed a suspicion of the bucket, so we made our trap more clever this time.

Gettin clever

We took the same bucket, but drilled two screws at the top to act as a fulcrum, and then a third screw between them to act as a stopper. Then we cut out a top for the bucket which could pivot on the fulcrum screws, but would be stable on one side. Then we placed a morsel of its favorite snack (almond butter and banana) at the unstable side. The idea was that the mouse would walk out on the plank, and as soon as it passed the halfway mark, it would be dumped into the bucket. In case it tried to make one last leap away, we put a backboard on the bucket too.

Here, mousey mousey

This one worked too! Pat heard the trap trip in the middle of the night and got up to put on a lid. Good thing, because for several minutes I could hear the mouse bouncing around in the bucket, but by morning it was docile and doe-eyed again.

Slaking his thirst (Poop Everywhere!)

This time we were careful about keeping the bucket sealed, and the next day we took our friend down with us.


We put much thought into his new home, and settled on a grassy, dry creek bed many miles from our garage.


I hope he fares well.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Half way

What page was I on?

Was it this one:

or this one:

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Fucking up a measurement really takes the wind out of your sails. The other day I was up on a ladder and yelled down to Pat, "twenty-six and a quarter," so he could make the appropriate cut. Pat brought the piece up, and it didn't fit. We weren't fussing over quarters or eighths; this piece was inches off. Pat looked at me with a look that said, "you fucked up the measurement," but I looked at him back with a look that said, "yeah right, you fucked up the cut." One of us fucked up, so I climbed up the ladder to clear my name, but when I looked at the tape again (this time right-side-up) it read: twenty-NINE and one quarter inches. My brain couldn't invert what looked like a six into a nine.
We cast aside the now unusable piece--a souvenir for my inaccuracy. It would be nice to just put things like that behind you, but you can't. They get put down in an unspoken record, the sum of which makes up your competence as a builder. If you get too many such mistakes, then don't expect people to make your cuts for you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I built my first piece of furniture. It's a small table/bookshelf of a sort that I've never really seen anywhere else, but it fits my particular needs and wants. It's a short table about 30 inches high, and since I like books and own a number of them, I put two shelves below. Most bookshelves are deeper than necessary and jut far out into a room, so for this creation I kept it shallow, making it just as deep as my deepest book. All the pieces are joined with mortise and tenons, cut with either a table saw, hand saw, or chisel. I worked on it in the off time while staying up in the mountains, and it took me about 4 weeks from start to finish.

Hand sawing mortises

Legs and shelf

Gluing the whole shebang together

Clamping the top tight as Miles and Birsco observe


The Finished product