Stacking Stone

The wall building project is now well along, with sections of completed wall and the outline what it will look like when I am done now apparent.

Tools ready to hand as work continues in the backyard
Tools ready to hand as work continues in the backyard

At this point there is 18 ft of completed wall, another 52 lineal feet of various height walls in various stages of completion from first course laid to nearly topped out. Another 11 feet will be started shortly to complete the first phase of wall building.

To create this much wall over five tons of rock has been loaded, driven 19 miles, unloaded, and hauled to the back yard. Twelve wheelbarrow loads per ton. About 70% of that rock has been stacked into the walls, the remainder in piles awaiting use.

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A Wake-Up Quake

This one woke up everyone in the house, cats included.

A plot of the magnitude 3.1 in North Kohala on the morning of Nov 9, 2019
A plot of the magnitude 3.1 in North Kohala on the morning of Nov 9, 2019

While the eruption of 2018 had the island shaking, 2019 has had seemingly few felt earthquakes. I have gone several months without feeling a quake.

It was something of a surprise when the house rattled this morning just before 6am.

Deb asked me, “Was that a quake?”

“Yes.”

From the short, sharp rattle I guessed it was close… I was right, a magnitude 3.1 in North Kohala. It was also deep, a bit over 14 miles down. This was a classic settling quake as the weight of the island presses into the ocean crust.

On a Saturday morning we did not stay awake for long, cats included.

Update: The quake was later upgraded to a 3.4 after review by the USGS.

Building More Walls

With the big wall completed along the driveway, and a bit of a break over a hot muggy summer, I am again building walls.

Back Yard Wall Excavation
Excavating for a series of terrace walls in the back yard.

This is not the sort of wall between people, I detest those, but rather a real rock wall, terracing the backyard to make the space available for landscaping and other projects. This puts into action a plan that has been brewing for years.

Part of the impetus is that I have a source of rock secured, a very large pile of very nice rock found in a Waimea backyard. One of my co-workers casually mentioned he needed to rid himself of a pile of rock, to which I quickly asked… How much rock?

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Laboring on Labor Day

The labor day weekend project? Replacing a few more rotten boards in the lanai.

Replacing a few more boards in the lanai
Replacing a few more boards in the lanai

This has been an ongoing project for years, including a few more boards to replace this summer. Over the last few weeks I have replaced half a dozen boards in the lanai.

I write this as I wait for paint to dry. There are three more big gaps in the lanai waiting for new boards. Those boards have been cut to size, drilled, and are almost ready to screw into place. Deb bought me another box of decking screws last time she was in Kona, should have this done shortly.

Unfortunately the original builders scrimped a bit when building the lanai. No paint on the ends of the boards, no paint underneath, and no paint on the joists. Where the lanai is undercover that has not been a problem, where it is exposed to the weather that has resulted in a fair amount of damage.

Unlike the carpenters who did the original work, I am painting each board on all surfaces before installation. I also clean and paint the top edges of the joists underneath while they are exposed. This should slow down the damage due to exposure.

The last challenge is to get the gaps right. Much of the lanai is nicely spaced between the boards. There is a zone where the gaps are all wrong, the boards right against each other. This is also right where the drip line is from the roof and most of the damage is. The result is a lot of careful measurement and ripping the boards to get the gaps looking good again.

I have two or three more boards identified as needing replacement, but not in any great hurry. They can wait for another weekend. Just need to wait for the latest round of paint to dry and I can screw the next three boards into place.

Give Me Enough Rope

Longtime readers will know that our household is ruled by cats. This means that some household chores have higher priority than others. One of the odd chores that has to be done every few years is re-wrapping the scratching pole with rope.

Re-wrapping the cat scratching post with new rope
Re-wrapping the cat scratching post with new rope

Yes, the cats use the pole, usually more than they use other soft surfaces around the house. The result is a shredded mess of sisal fiber hanging from the pole. Eventually it gets bad enough I just cut it away and re-wrap the pole in rope.

Conveniently a 50′ package of 1/2″ rope from the local hardware store neatly does the job. Just an hour spent cutting the old rope away, then wrapping the pole neatly with a drop of glue to secure the end down inside the tube… Done, with happy cats busily clawing away at the fresh rope.

How long will it last?

May 18th, 1980

Living with an eruption of our local volcano through much of last year often brought to mind previous memories. The 2019 Kilauea eruption was the second eruption of my life, the first being the 1980 eruptions of Mt. St. Helens.

The eruption of Mt. St. Helens taken on the morning of May 18th, 1980, photo credit USGS
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens taken on the morning of May 18th, 1980, photo credit USGS

St. Helens was just another of the pretty mountains that dotted the horizon through much of my childhood. I could see it from my bedroom window, at least in the winter when the leaves were off the trees.

When the mountian started rumbling in the early months of 1980 everyone wondered if it will erupt. No one expected it to do what it did.

We did not hear the eruption, somehow the sound skipped over those nearer the volcano. It was the television news that first alerted us.

Seeing the reporting I ran out of the house and down the street a little bit to where I could see past the maple trees. There was nothing to be seen of that pretty mountain, just a dark line in the sky rising from where the mountain stood. West of the line it was a cloudy NW sky, east of the line is was just black.

After the eruption we could no longer see the mountain on the horizon, with 1,500ft gone from the top it no longer stood above the ridgelines.

Building a Wall

The project that has consumed my weekends for several months is complete. The wall is finished. I poured the last bags of concrete this weekend, I stacked the last rocks into place.

Retaining Wall
Fitted local stone makes up a small retaining wall,

It is done!

Thus I have spent many a weekend digging, more digging, hauling soil and rock, then pouring concrete. I found that about ten bags of concrete was a good work session, about as much as I could do in one go. It is also as much as I wanted to load in the vehicle, 600 pounds a heavy while safe load for the Explorer.

Other work sessions were simply fitting rocks. Selecting likely rocks, spinning them about and finding reasonable fits, tossing aside those that did not fit. With a single layer added to ten or twenty feet of wall I could then spend the next work session pouring concrete and cementing that layer of fitted stone into place. Rinse and repeat.

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The Last Load

For weeks now I have been digging. Pickaxe, shovel, wheelbarrow, hard manual labor, and it just gets harder.

One last load of dirt and rock to remove from the work zone.

I am digging away at the slope behind the garage, solving longstanding drainage issues, creating a nice level walkway, building a small retaining wall.

The first stage was digging out all along my garage, reworking the slope, pulling the soil away from the foundation, giving the water somewhere to go other than right along the wall. This involved a couple dozen wheelbarrow loads of soil and rock removed and about thirty feet of two foot retaining wall… Done!

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