We drove through wildfire smoke for 540 miles (I installed a near-Hepa rated carbon filter for the truck which kept our air in the cab much cleaner), and emerged to clear skies on the north slope of the Little Belts 20 miles from the ranch (we rolled down the windows!). The clear skies lasted a few days, then Canada’s firesmoke blew in. Just one more day of hot smoke, then clear skies and rain are in the forecast with daytime temps in the 40’s and overnight in the 30’s. On our last clear night the annual Nighthawk convergence moved up the valley to fly around the ranch house and surrounding forest from sunset to dusk. They pinwheel in groups of 15 or so, with around 50 birds in the flock, riding the thermals as the sunlight creeps up the east hillside pushing moths into the cooling twilight. The Cedar Waxwings that arrived as we left in July, have hatched chicks in their regular spot in the lilacs. The House Wren is tucked into her birdhouse, working on another brood. Goldfinches and Wilson’s Warblers flit through the hedges. The Snipe drops into the yard to stroll along the creek edge. The creek is still running through the yard with ducks in the little pond; a part of the magic green microclimate at the top of the valley.
In July I covered these windows and scraped the old paint, meaning to get on to painting. The painting didn’t happen so I pulled the covering off to keep the wind from pulling it while were gone. Now it goes back up, as this time I’ll get the painting knocked out first thing.
The border of the window frames are taped off, then the plastic is taped in place.
Upon setting the ladder high up the wall, I got about this far up and came back down in disbelief that in July I had climbed extended even higher and run a paint grinder up there. I made my usual declaration to finally buy a new ladder, stomped around the yard a bit, then got back on the ladder. My new bracing at the top makes working with windows much easier, and makes things 100x more stable, which is the reason this peak can finally get got.
A spray bottle with warm soapy water takes out the wasps.
A pokin-stick takes down the nests.
The bigger nest was tucked under the eve. The aluminum ladder is strapped to the deck posts, and this in turn braces the ladder on the pitch of the roof. I am directly over the friendly in-house beehive, they were active in July, but seem to have moved out (or colony collapse hit them…).
The small nest. Wasps that were out in the field when this calamity occurred buzzed and landed on the remaining tiny paper stalactite that had secured the nest to the house. These nests were just little hamlets of Castle Paper-Wasp that reigns from under the pitched roof centered above the porch.
All stripped down and ready for paint.
Painted with a new air-gun brought up from the SLC big-box store (my bday present from the Idiocracy); a great improvement to the old unit (deceased with honors) that had painted the barn, the garage, the grain bin, and the house.
Part of the fun of the AL ladder is the failing latches. I have to climb the yellow ladder and manually shift the latches to let the ladder telescope, then push them securely into place. Just another little facet to the endless fiddling. Oh, and the board crammed between the ladder feet keeps the somewhat crumpled L foot from collapsing inward. The bracing system anchored into the yard was invented when I used this ladder to paint the barn, it keeps the ladder from sliding down the building, and has additions to match a severe slope.
This silly angle was necessary, as there is a height gap between the Al ladder and the Yellow ladder. Tall ladder work takes a lot of time, as the ladder takes constant moving; and safety with this ladder makes every move a fussy endeavor. The wall is finally fully painted, and now will take a few days of drying for the linseed-based oil paint.
This is low-average for our smoke here. You can smell it, and sometimes taste it- 2.5ppm @ 160 to 200-ish. Morning and evening sunlight is pink and the moon is an orange wedge and Venus is Mars.
This is my $100 electrostatic air purification unit for the ranch house. 4 high-end air filters, a fan on top blowing upward, the fan’s box as a base, and our old friend duct tape (white). It works wonders.
Dan’s Mantra: our daytime high today is 10 degrees lower than SLC’s overnight- please don’t make me go back there…
7am @ front porch java-birdwatch: Wilson’s Warbler pair, Goldfinches, Calliope Hummingbird pair, Bullock’s Oriole pair (nesting in Willows), Cedar Waxwing pair (building nest in liliacs), Tree Swallows (nesting in porch box), Wrens (nesting in shed box), Red-Naped Sap-Sucker pair and fledges, Orange Flickers (nesting in barn- sharing barn with 15 pigeons), Mountain Bluebirds (nesting in corn crib), Snipe, Catbird, Meadowlark, Bobolinks, Robins, Eastern Kingbirds, Redtail Hawk, Redwing Blackbirds, also deer in the yard at 6:45am;
dusk @ porch: Nighthawk, Mourning Dove, Great Horned Owl (hooting up in the forest), SawWhet Owl (radar beeping in the forest), Coyotes up and down the valley.
Last summer I rebuilt these bedroom storm windows and added swing hooks that they hang from. Prior to this they had been held in place by 4 bolts I’d outrigged, and had to be removed and stored during the summer (and prior to that they had been screwed in place and sealed with caulk, and the inner windows painted shut). Last summer I ordered antique/vintage stainless steel arms that open and close the windows from the inside, bracing them open as seen here: I just got around to installing them today.
The bedroom is breezy and fresh, with birdsong and the sound of the creek. I had to work the windows a bit more to get them to slide up far enough to fit the screens, prior to this the screens were a bit haphazardly placed with blue-tape holding them against the outside of the windows.
Here the window is help open by the stainless steel mechanism, one on each side of the window.
The long arm has a little groove that latches onto the beak at the sill, and out at the window the arm is swing-hinged.
The arms pull in and swing down, squeezing the window to shut tight.
The long arm provides easy leverage to squeeze the window closed, and is held in place with the little pin-head nail near the bottom.
Just push up the sliding window a bit to pop out the screen, swing the storm-window open / closed, then replace the screen and pull the sliding window down onto the screen frame.
If a storm blows up, the windows can be closed from inside in a jiffy.
The handrail is set, it took 20 pilot holes to find two studs- the wall needs replacing anyway as it is under the leaky spot from last post.
This spot, in case you forgot seeing this mess.
It is mitigated; drywall over the blow-in section to L, and the adjacent gable roof with new drywall panel. The water catchment saw a few more drips as things dried out, but we have had days and days of rain and it has remained dry. Still drying out.
This area had damage from a leak starting at the chimney, coupled with two planes of roof meeting and ice dams forcing down through the joint and bursting out under the soffit- all prior to the metal roof. I fixed the collapsed soffit a few summers ago, but in removing this damaged bit inside I could see a gap in my fix out there- about a thumb’s worth of hole, and behind the panel were massive paper-wasp nests from prior seasons. So I foamed the hole closed from the inside and set the new drywall panel.
The wind is gusting at 50mph, and the old pink bedroom breathes heavily as those gapped planks are the skin of the house, covered outside by clapboard and the roof. Enormous wasps walk in and out of the gaps with the wind. Sprayfoam. I’ll tidy it up at some point.
The pink board is a manufactured plaster/lathe board, quite a few generations from drywall. The white paint may be “fixes” from holes in the board (water damage) when the room was still occupied. Just going for envelope right now.
In the big upstairs bedroom above the cold parlor / guest bedroom. Long standing water damage to the plaster and lathe, with areas of bare lathe board and loose plaster. On the ladder is my oscillating tool with a cutting diamond horseshoe fitting. It cuts through the aggregate plaster endlessly. I cut away the bad sections to fit drywall.
Peeling off the dead plaster and chucking it in a steel bucket, but mostly it crashes to the floor (onto a thin padded sheet).
One big hole filled with drywall, and little holes to the L and center still needing fill.
This keystone section above the door has five planes. It had been a disaster.
Already so much better.
Next I ground down to the plaster along all the cracks in the wall, then cleaned the crack itself by grinding along it with the wafer edge of the diamond tool. Next I wiped it clear with a big sponge and discovered that these rooms aren’t painted, they are colored with a tinted plaster/lime topcoat. It dissolves when wet. This also means that if I ever want to paint these rooms, I’ll need to find a plaster/lime solution. Or make one.
Prepped and ready for plaster.
First coat of plaster. Everything is sealed up tight and secure. Uneven and wonky, but no gaps = no bugs and less upstairs funk.
I left this picture from the tear-down, cut-away, and drywall step to show the ceiling lathe board section.
Here is the ceiling and wall with drywall and ready for plaster. The “pie pan” on the wall is a special fitted cover to the old chimney shunt, as this room had a stove at one time. I took a look inside the chimney, and it is full of old honey bee honeycomb (empty of honey). The chimney was unused since at least the 50’s, is enclosed at the ceiling down below, and capped at the roof when the metal roof was installed decades ago.
Mid afternoon rainy darkness, chilly up here, but done. For now.
The other side of the room with all the cracks prepped; and last summers refurbished window.
Cracks plastered. Still the worst bedroom of plaster/lathe trouble- the one with the access panel shown a few days back. I’m low on plaster board screws, as I tightened up the lathe panel boards in the large bedroom with the fixed/drying leak, and that ate quite a few. I’ll clean up in here, bring up the rest of the drywall, and have it ready for next time. There’s always other projects…
Quiddler Poem Generator:
FAX default was Aqua / A Meer step from Rain, We Ran / Closer than a Rat scrambling to Get / the COVID Puke Jab / we would Taxi around the Shoddy square / we would Cling like Tiny Bees / Ooh! Dueling / We fell for every Bean Hoax / every Junker Alien craft.