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September 9, 2007
The other sides of the house

A particularly eerie sunset on the mountain, courtesy of two Bay Area forest fires…

The first week of September 2007 featured not one, but two major forest fires in Northern California. By Friday, September 7, the Lick fire had burned 40,000 acres in Henry Coe State Park in the South Bay Area, while the Moonlight fire had burned 60,000 acres in Plumas-Eureka in the North Bay Area. Together, these fires generated a continuous cloud of smoke that made the entire Bay Area seem overcast in fog and haze.

When Gail and Russell drove back up to our mountain house building site that Friday afternoon, we were not completely able to escape the haze even though we were almost 100 miles away. The smoky skies did create especially spectacular sunrises and sunsets during our stay.

…And a particularly striking sunrise the next morning

(On the wildlife front, we awoke early Saturday morning to see three little foxes scampering around the outside of the house. Very exciting!)

In previous weeks, we had concentrated our time on building interior walls on the northeast side of the upper story, which included Cameron’s bedroom, Joss’ bedroom, and the hall bathroom. We had reached the point where the walls were beginning to converge on the center post – which would present a different set of challenges – so we decided that it was time to begin concentrating on the other sides of the house.

Gail moved from the inside to the outside. She had become increasingly concerned that we had not finished staining the exterior walls, and the wood was beginning to suffer as a result. She decided that we’d better resume staining before the weather turned cold for the season.

Gail stains the downstairs wall outside of the stairwell

Meanwhile, Russell remained inside, but moved from the northeast side of the house to the southwest side, which included the master bedroom and bathroom, utility room, and living room walls. These walls represented the more challenging half of the house, as they joined each other at all sorts of weird and challenging angles.

The weekend's wall work:
the living room facing south towards the master bathroom;
the master bedroom facing west towards the master bathroom

Both of us made good progress, and by Sunday morning Gail was able to join Russell in constructing walls. Gail had made a point of taking frequent breaks throughout the weekend, but Russell worked longer than he should have. This became apparent midway through Sunday, when Russell suddenly smashed his thumb with a hammer. This painful physical accident was immediately followed by an equally painful mental realization that he had constructed the latest wall incorrectly.

This was our signal that it was time to quit work for the weekend. Despite ending on a down note, we still had the satisfaction of successfully completing six new walls. And our work schedule calls for spending every weekend in September here, so we’ll be back again next weekend.

Six new walls (actually seven, if you count the one we built wrong)


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