We had a litter of five kittens three weeks ago:

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Here they are – sleeping or nursing

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We have two “named” so far.  One is named P.J which stands for Patches Junior because she looked a lot like her mom (who is named Patches).  The other is named Dozer because he is huge and pushes the other kittens out of the way to nurse.

Here is Dozer, P.J, and the others sleeping:

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P.J. is on the top left and Dozer is the one closest to the camera (that looks like a tiger).

They all have their eyes open now, but unfortunately they were mostly sleeping when I took this picture:

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What should we name the other three?

Building a little deck for a little house

In this post I will describe some of the work we did while building a 10′ x 10′ deck for the little house on the hill.

Because the house is on a rather steep hill, even getting to the front door was a challenge.  Having a nice deck to sit on goes a long way to making it a wonderful little spot to spend time.

It all started with digging post holes.  Rocky soil, on a hill, with hand tools makes for a lot of work.  Once dug down to 2-3′, we fixed them in place with Fast Set cement.  Poured it in dry and dumped some water on it.  Super convenient.


Once the posts were in place, we leveled and screwed on a frame made of 2×10 and 2×8 treated lumber.


Keeping the workplace neat.


Working into the evening on the framing.  Having 3 surefire flashlights handy makes this possible, even convenient.


Because much of the deck load will rest on the front member, and even more so because groups of people tend to converge at a railing, we made this from doubled 2×10 lumber.


Here we are installing the decking.  Rather than going with standard decking lumber (5/4″), we opted to go with 2×8 lumber.  It was only a few percent more expensive, and far stiffer.


Good workers hard at work.


We used a hand-saw to cut notches out of the end of the 2×8 flooring lumber where it (would have) contacted the 4×4 upright posts.  We live in a culture that thinks “power tools” for most things, but sometimes the hand-tools are the best for the job.


A close up of the hand-saw approaching the end of the line.


Notice that Eli (center) has hearing and eye protection?  This is because he was running the impact driver installing all of the screws in the decking.  There were hundreds and hundreds of screws to install.


Here is a view up the hill.


A very clear but warm day.


We made the railing with 2×6 lumber.  The top part of the railing had a 2×6 on the face of the upright supports as well as a 2×6 cap on top.  This resulted in a very strong (up/down and forward/back) railing that is convenient for setting drinks, etc… on.


For this project we elected to use Torx head exterior screws.  Coupled with a Dewalt 20v max impact driver, the 3″ screws made their way through treated lumber like a hot knife through soft butter.


Wrapping up.  Just need to finish screwing the decking down and add the top-plate to the railing.


The view out the front door.  Nice.


Spiders and bees and really small toads?

This photograph is of what appears to be a very small toad.  The item beside it is a 1/2″ diameter section of rebar, making this little critter about 1/16″ long.  I barely saw him.


This bee appeared to be out it the cold a bit too long and was pretty sluggish.  This is taken on the back of by glove.


Here is a daddy long leg in the garden, running as fast as he could.