The PMC Clubhouse had an accessibility problem. The back door opened three feet above the ground and the front entrance had a precariously balanced set of steel stairs and some very uneven terrain right outside. Tracking in dirt and sand has always been a problem, and we never really hung out outside much since there wasn’t much to the yard. It was time for a deck.
Using a tape measure and scratching into the ground with my shoe, I felt out various possible sizes. I settled on 12′ square since it provided ample space while keeping my shopping list and design needs simple.
Trimble SketchUp (previously Google SketchUp) is instrumental in planning any kind of building project. I scoured the internet for deck building tips and methods and got to work drawing the deck frame. SketchUp gives you the liberty to work out your mistakes before you ever cut or even buy a single board. I was able to tweak my design so I could use 2x8s for most of the joists and for the beams, only using 2x10s for the outside border. This saved a decent amount of money. I designed some 45-degree 2×4 cross-braces that required me to tweak the location of the corner posts. It all worked out perfectly and the notching and angle cut on the beams add a nice look to the final product. I also wanted a wider set of stairs come out the side rather than the front. This gives us more room to get by with the trucks and ATVs and helps define the little “yard” area in front of the trailer. The metal stairs get reused for the back door.
The pickled egg is an acquired taste, but it’s something many of us at the PMC enjoy. That being said, a pickled egg you’d find at a bar doesn’t have much to give it any unique taste. Most of them are jarred with little more than vinegar and some onion. I decided to try my hand at home-pickling to see if I could add some flavor to these smelly snacks.
Proper pickling takes two to three weeks, so I wanted to try multiple recipes at once. This way, if a batch isn’t that great, it’s not a complete waste of time. In this first effort, I chose three different recipes. Since most recipes call for making around two dozen eggs in a gallon jar, I bought two-quart jars so I could just cut the ingredients in half and not have to factor weird fractions into an already unfamiliar situation.
Arrived around 6:30 pm with a strapped down load in the truck bed. Two mattresses, some 2″x6″s and two sheets of 5/8″ OSB to build the trundle bed, 10′ 1″x12″ shelf boards, extra planks for the deck stairs, and a brand new door for my trailer. Unloaded everything into the pole barn and got my first good look at the deck in the daylight. The current goal is to finish the platform and stairs; the railing will get added on later this summer.
I hadn’t planned on resuming work on the deck until Saturday. The project for the night was to build a trundle bed and provide a much-needed upgrade to the sleeping accommodations in the trailer. I had found a simple plan for building a frame online and tweaked it to allow for a full mattress on top and a pullout twin mattress. I set up shop in the pole barn and got to work building the full mattress frame. I forgot to grab the caster wheels for the small, simple twin pullout, so that’ll have to wait. The OSB can be lifted out of the 2×6 frame leaving a light, sturdy assembly that’s pretty easy to move around.
Leader of The Band – Dan Fogelberg
I was watching some of my grandpa’s old camcorder footage the other day (which I will eventually upload). He was taking panning shots of the big trailer and talking about his plans to build additions onto it. It hurts a little to listen to that now. Richie always had plans like that. This is why Puckaway has an abundance of bricks, lumber, plywood, corrugated metal sheets, piping, small engines, lawnmowers, appliances, and everything else that makes up the clutter we’re now focused on clearing out. My grandpa grew up during the Great Depression and spent the rest of his life never taking anything for granted. Throughout his career with the City of Milwaukee Sanitation Department, he was in a prime position to snatch up all sorts of leftover building materials that otherwise would have been scrapped. Later, when his son-in-law, Andy, owned and operated Custom Craft Vehicles, Richie had another opportunity to grab cast aside treasures. He was always on the lookout for deals and never passed up an opportunity to take on a new project.
Plenty good came from his drive over the years. Grandpa built all sorts of things from the nice hardwood pieces he got from CCV. Some of the bricks he salvaged found a place in landscaping at Puckaway, his home, my aunt’s house, and my parents’ house. Worn-out railroad ties became garden boundaries. Richie had a knack for repairing small engines and I don’t think he ever had to buy a new (or even running) lawnmower, riding or push, in his life. He had plans for everything he salvaged, he had the know-how to see those plans through, and most of what he salvaged in his lifetime ended up at Puckaway.
Jake and I came up around 11:30. Sunny but cool, mid 50s. We had stopped in town for some housekeeping and storage supplies and Princeton was packed with people. Didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the opening weekend for the Princeton Flea Market. I pulled Jake’s PowerWheels ATV out of the back of the truck and he set off to explore the yard.
I set up the new outdoor speakers for the pole barn. For now, they’ll just sit out, but I want to make some sort of mini-roof for them and mount them on the side of the building. They’re water-resistant but probably don’t need direct exposure to the elements. Got some tunes going and moved the truck over to my trailer where the rest of the day’s activities would take place.
Shop Vac – Jonathan Coulton
Puckaway tends to attract some uninvited guests. Particularly mice. Particularly mice that get in my trailer. Particularly mice that get in my trailer and wreck all my clothes and blankets. We’ve made some strides in keeping them at bay, though. This is mostly thanks to the miracle of expanding foam sealant and me blasting it into every crack and possible point of entry I can find. And then there’s vacuum bags.
They’re mostly known for turning this:
Reeling in the Years – Steely Dan
Here it is, folks: our first Project and first Archive post. I’ve started the process of digitizing the logs. I didn’t think scanning would work all that well given the varied sizes of the source media and the maddeningly slow pace of most flatbed scanners. So I got a little creative and put together a capture studio.
I didn’t want to spend a lot of money or take up a lot of space, so I kept it simple. I’ve got a Canon PowerShot S110 that takes very nice photos but doesn’t have much in the way of advanced features. Unless you mess with it a little, that is. With the help of some clever software called CHDK and a little surgery on a spare USB cable, I crafted a remote shutter button.
Couldn’t Get It Right – Climax Blues Band
Well, the last post got a little emotional. Let’s level out and talk about this site and how it works.
I have a terrible habit when it comes to creative endeavors, especially digital ones: I rarely end up with a final product. It’s typical perfectionism. I don’t want something out there in the world unless I know it’s as good as I can make it. But historically, this has only led to me not having much out there in the world at all. I’m going to make strides to change that with this site. I’ll put content first and worry about organization and polish later. This is new for me.
Came up around 3:00 with a truck full of tools. Stopped in at town first; the Dollar General is a welcome new asset. Loaded up on cheap Gatorade and a bunch of bottled water. Also got a gallon jar of giant pickles because it looked too intriguing to pass up. Unloaded the truck, drove the ATVs out of the shed, sharpened the mower blades, and set off to tame the yard.
We need a different solution up here for mulching leaves. The sweeper can only go so far in the deep stuff before it catches and drags. Bagging the leaves either clogs the chute or fills the bagger so quick that you spend more time emptying it than you do picking up leaves. Today, my solution was to be a glorified leaf blower. I cleared the driveway, around my trailer, the pole barn, and the burn pit by directing the chute towards the edges of the yard. It’s not ideal, but it works.
I’m Your Captain – Grand Funk Railroad
My grandpa kept a log of every visit to Puckaway. And “log” is definitely the right word. These were not verbose journal entries or opinion pieces. He took down the events of the day. The work he had done, what the weather was like, who stopped by–stuff like that. I’m not sure how much they would interest anyone else, but they help me bind my memories of him to this place.
Richie wasn’t the only one who kept the log. If Inee (grandma) came up with him, she’d usually take up the pen. There are entries from their friend Jeannie, my mom, my aunt Linda–it served as a guestbook of sorts where visitors could briefly transcribe their experience. There are even occasional mini-entries and margin notes from a young me. After grandpa died, my dad took over writing duties during deer camp. But while I came up as often as I was able, I would never write.