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February 18, 2007
Full house

Gail prepares the last two upstairs sliding-glass doors for installation

When we last visited our mountain home in January, we were able to install two of the four upstairs sliding-glass doors before we ran out of time and energy. A full month later, the last two doors were still waiting for us when we came up for the long Presidents’ Day weekend.

While Gail, Russell, Joss and our friend Steve were returning, Cameron was not – he was gone for the weekend on a church ski trip. On the other hand, we would be joined by Gail’s sister Debbie and her family. They were going to visit a snow park and use the house as an overnight accommodation. In addition, Gail’s mother and step-father said that they might come up to visit. If everyone showed up as planned, it would be the largest crowd we’d had since the original house-raising party in April 2005.

Our family arrived on Saturday morning, February 17 at mid-morning. Daryl Zellers was already up on site repairing the freeze-damaged water line and pump – in fact, Daryl had heard Steve arriving via motorcycle earlier and thought he was a trespasser.

The four of us – Gail, Russell, Joss, and Steve – immediately got to work. Last time, we had set up a very efficient procedure for getting the sliding-glass doors all the way up the stairs; we simply repeated the process with Steve taking Cameron’s place. In almost no time, the last two doors were upstairs.

While Russell pushes from below, Steve, Gail and Joss stand ready to pull a heavy sliding glass door up the stairs

Feeling very confident, we decided to tackle a second, opposite task of getting the original four (erroneous) doors from upstairs back downstairs. This literally involved doing the same process backwards – strapping rope to the doors then lowering them down the stair ramp – but it was much easier because this time we had gravity on our side.

Ironically, we had a corresponding task of moving another set of sliding glass doors from the second floor down to the first floor

(We brought the erroneous doors downstairs because a local charity was supposed to come by and pick them up. Sadly, they never arrived, and we are now storing these doors downstairs inside the house.)

By mid-afternoon we began installing the two sliding-glass doors. Russell took the task of prepping the openings (removing the plastic sheeting and wood trim), while Gail and Steve performed the actual installations. We were right in the middle of this when Debbie, her husband Steve, and son Eric arrived.

It was at this point that the afternoon descended into minor chaos. We had expected Debbie and her family as guests – not part of the work crew – and had scoped our tasks accordingly. Instead, arriving early because of a lack of snow, they now eagerly set about looking for constructive tasks to do. Right after this, Gail’s mother and step-father also showed up.

Fortunately, we were able to get the final two sliding glass doors installed – in fact, brother-in-law Steve and nephew Eric helped install the second one. Debbie and Gail’s mom attacked the second-story living space with a broom and vacuum cleaner. Russell and Gail tried to cope with the sudden influx of people while also trying (less-than-successfully) to stay in contact with each other.

Steve and Gail install the final sliding glass door outside of the upstairs living room

When the dust finally settled at sundown, Gail (with Debbie’s help) cooked a typically wonderful meal for the party of nine. Gail’s mom and step-father went off to a local motel for the night, while the rest of us spread our sleeping bags around the second-story floor.

Our original intention was to take advantage of the long weekend and stay two nights until Monday. What we didn’t count on was how (1) bored and (2) teenagerish Joss would be without his brother to amuse him. From the time we arrived on Saturday, Joss began complaining that he wanted to go home. We worked out a compromise: we would not go home as early as Saturday, nor would we stay as long as Monday. Instead, we would work a full day on Sunday and leave by Sunday afternoon.

(It has long been a concern that the boys’ increasing adolescence would correspond to a decreasing interest in coming up to the mountain. We seem to have reached that point.)

Before Debbie and her family departed on Sunday morning, we improvised a task that would involve everybody. Although we hadn’t planned to work on it this weekend, we have been erecting yet another gazebo in our long tradition of self-destructing gazebos. This one, made out of solid wood, was currently half-constructed. We took advantage of the large work crew to move the structure onto a flatter pad. In addition, the men succeeded in assembling the roof skeleton.

(Clockwise from bottom) Debbie, Steve, Russell, Gail, Steve, and Eric all lift and move the gazebo shell to more level ground

By lunchtime all guests had departed, leaving Gail, Russell, and Joss to do the last chores and clean up.

In addition, the weekend’s accomplishments included a few touches to make the house more habitable. These included putting up a railing around the stairwell hole, mainly out of concern for Gail’s mom.

A railing around the stairwell hole, using salvaged pieces of our last self-destructing gazebo
Our living room is now “furnished”

The most significant gesture occurred just before we left on Sunday afternoon. For the first time, Gail suggested that we lock the front and back doors. Her reasoning was that we are starting to leave more valuables in the house now that it is weather-tight. For both good and bad, it is one more step on our journey to having an actual home up on the mountain.

Joss (looking very teenagerish) installs a doorknob in the back door


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