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October 15, 2006
Openings and closings

Steve tests the quality of his installation work

On Saturday morning, October 14, 2006, Gail, Russell, and Steve returned to the mountaintop for the second of two consecutive weekends. Our goal, one way or another, would be to seal the upper floor against the coming winter.

Gail had been unsuccessful in having Topsider deliver any replacement materials before this weekend. However, we couldn’t wait any longer to seal up the house. The weather here is unpredictable, and mid-October is considered to be the changing of the seasons.

Gail didn’t want the upper story to be completely wrapped in plastic as the lower story was; she wanted to be able to see something out of a clear window. So our plan was to install as much glass as we could within our timeframe, then cover everything else in plastic.

We had never installed double-paned fixed windows before (then again, we pretty much hadn’t done any of these things before), but Gail had done some research. The big question was whether we could get the heavy 81” by 40” panes of glass to the upper story without breaking any of them.

As it turned out, Russell and Steve were able to carry the panes up using the inside stairwell.

Russell and Steve carry a double-pane fixed window up the stairs

Two of the windows would go in the living room. The other two would go over the stairwell, where there is a sheer two-story drop on both the inside and outside of the house. We decided to try one of the easy ones first.

How to install a fixed-pane window...
Step 1: After caulking, move the window into place

Step 2: Hold the pane in place with several glazier points

Step 3: Secure by nailing strips of quarter-round trim on all four sides, then caulk again all over the place

As with the full window units last weekend, the installation of fixed panes turned out to be ridiculously easy. By Saturday afternoon, we had installed all four fixed panes, including the two over the stairwell.

In order to install the fixed windows above the stairwell, we covered the hole with a make-shift floor
Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy on the outside, where Gail got to practice overcoming her fear of edges

As planned, Gail covered the remaining holes with plastic. The result is an upstairs that is much warmer and secure, but still provides us with beautiful views of the magnificent nature outside. We were so far ahead of schedule, that Gail and Steve were able to spend Sunday morning stuffing insulation into various cracks throughout the house.

The last planned task for the weekend: covering the remaining holes with plastic sheeting

There were other memorable events this weekend. Walt Perreira had installed an electrical outlet for our use. When we simultaneously used a microwave, several lamps, a cooler, and a PC, we blew out a circuit somewhere.

We also had several encounters with wildlife. When we first arrived, we discovered unfortunately that a small bird had fatally flown right into one of our new windows (we have now taped newspaper to the glass to prevent this in the future). For the second weekend in a row, Gail found a (non-venomous) snake making its home near the house (last week it was a gopher snake – which is often mistaken for a rattlesnake; this week it was a California racer).

We discovered that a bat had been nesting in the inside rafters – we discovered this when we sealed up the house and the bat suddenly couldn’t find a way out. It flew around in circles for hours, while we worked to open windows and direct it outside.

On Sunday morning, we were visited by a flock of no less than 16 wild turkeys, who meandered back and forth across the property for more than an hour.

It was a wonderful finale to a very productive weekend. The house is now closed up and weather tight, but the weather is still unseasonably warm. We see ourselves returning throughout the winter to do more work. If we’ve done things right, we will be able to keep working even when it’s raining outside.

Gail makes a new friend


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