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August 5, 2007
Life on a mountain

Our mountain house, as seen from across the valley

The past week that Gail and Russell have spent at our mountain home has been exciting, memorable, relaxing, productive, and generally wonderful. We had several reasons for wanting to spend Gail’s only week of vacation for the entire year up here: to relax, to be productive, to practice working together, and to deepen our relationship. We accomplished all of them.

One of the biggest results of our time together was a further observation – and appreciation – of Russell’s and Gail’s drastically different work styles.

Russell is a thinker. His gift – and perhaps curse – is that he is unbelievably meticulous. (At home, the family jokes that if Russell is not given his familiar dinner fork, his head will explode.) Russell thinks abstractly, and spent many hours simply thinking about obstacles and challenges and working them out on his ever-present pad of paper. As a milestone for the week, he finally filled up his first pad (first begun two years ago) and started on his second.

Russell, always the writer, scribbles and sketches in his pad

Russell does one of his “thought experiments” to work out a problem – in this case, how to attach two walls that join at an angle

Gail, on the other hand, is a doer. Her gift is her versatility. For years, Russell has referred to her as “The Amazing Wonder Woman” – her ability to do everything from fix gourmet meals to fix automobiles and appliances was indispensable during our trip around the world several years ago. This week, her tasks included cutting, carrying, and constructing wood; cooking meals; and cleaning both house and yard.

Gail uses her step-father's chop saw to cut wood, then assembles the pieces

Gail had to scrub every single piece of wood with bleach, to kill the mold that had built up from years of sitting out in the weather

We had come up during a hot spell in the weather, and our typical working day was 85-90º inside the house. We were still able to walk around quite comfortably at midnight in shorts and T-shirts. With her usual ingenuity, Gail improvised several comforts. She regularly covered the inside windows with towels, sheets and screens. We ate our lunches outside under a set of water misters that Gail had installed under the decks overhead. (It was even hotter in town – we registered a high of 108º in the valley.)

Gail covered the windows with blankets, towels, screens, insulation blocks, and whatever else she could find. The interior still approached 90º every workday

We relaxed as productively as we worked. One of Russell’s conditions for spending an entire week up here was that we replace our double-bed air mattress with an actual mattress. During our drive here on Saturday we stopped at a furniture store, and our new mattress was delivered on Tuesday.

Our reward to ourselves for hard work: a real bed (the mattress is new; the bedframe is our first marriage bed from almost 20 years ago)

After hard days of work that typically began before 7:00 am, we spent our evenings catching up on DVDs of “Deadwood” and “Rome” – shows that we would never dream of watching with two teenaged sons.

We drove into nearby towns for dinner every other night. In doing so, we found some terrific places that we will definitely patronize again:

We also found time to take a couple of scenic drives. During one drive, when we went across the valley to try to see our mountain from afar, we stumbled upon a small reservoir called Lake Tabeau. Gail was greeted here by a flock of friendly geese and ducks looking for a handout.

Gail with her new friends at Lake Tabeau

We enjoyed the wildlife on our own mountain as well. Russell was lounging on a deck when he was greeted by a young stag deer. Gail saw a small fawn leaping around in the grass behind the swing.

A young fawn peeks out from behind the swing

All in all, the week gave us a wonderful taste of what our days will be like when we can finally come up here just to enjoy ourselves. It’s still a long ways off, but we’re definitely looking forward to it.

We haven't posted a picture of a sunset in awhile. They're still gorgeous.


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