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August 9, 2008
Gail alone

Gail pulls wires downstairs

When we came up to our mountain house building site in the first week of August, Gail kept commenting what a shame it was that we couldn’t stay longer. Our sons were out of town for the entire week on their annual church caravan trip, but Russell needed to be back by mid-week for work.

Gail first proposed that she stay a day longer than Russell and drive back on Wednesday with her step-brother Jim. Russell counter-proposed that she stay the entire week and he would drive back to pick her up on Saturday. Gail initially had major reservations: she would be alone for three nights, she would have no car, we didn’t have enough supplies. Once we were up here, though, Gail agreed that there was plenty of work that she could get accomplished.

So on Monday, August 4, Russell drove into town to pick up everything that Gail might possibly need, from food and work supplies to books, a radio and a heating pad. On Tuesday, Russell said “good-bye” and left Gail with Jim. (Russell’s own departure was delayed by a flat tire, but that’s another story.) And on Wednesday, Jim also said “good-bye,” locked the gate and left Gail completely alone.

Gail, ever the workaholic, had an extremely productive three and a half days. She completely washed and cleaned the downstairs floor (actually the concrete foundation). She removed insulation, washed and scrubbed mold from the downstairs walls and ceiling, and painted several sections to weather-proof them. And she continued to pull wires for electricity.

Some of Gail's handiwork – next to the front door, before and after wiring (note that the entire section has been cleaned and painted for weather proofing)

Gail and Jim made notes to help her continue wiring after he departed

Gail also cleaned, scrubbed and painted several of the walls and ceilings downstairs, using the spray painter

Gail had no problems during the evenings and nights either. Originally afraid of being bored or scared, she was neither. She never even opened either of the two books that Russell had bought for her. Instead, she watched Olympics coverage on television or simply fell asleep, exhausted. And with the quiet and beauty of the mountains around her, she also got some of her best nights’ sleep in a long, long time.

Gail ended up not being completely alone, either. She was constantly entertained by the squirrel that seems to have adopted us. He comes down out of his tree every morning and watches us work for hours. He also loves to play in the outdoor sink that Gail set up. She put out food (granola) and water for him, and watched amused as he kept falling through the hole in the sink while trying to retrieve water. Gail even gave him a name – “Rupert,” after a squirrel that had befriended her parents decades ago.

Gail entertains – and is entertained by – Rupert the squirrel

Gail also saw several deer. A couple of young bucks came almost all the way up to the house, watching her as she watched them.

Gail saw several deer, including a young buck with only one antler (right)

Overall, Gail loved the time that she spent alone up on the mountain. She enjoyed waking up every morning to the sheer beauty of the panoramic view outside her bedroom window, and she enjoyed watching the sun set over the Central Valley every evening.

By the time Russell came to pick her up on Saturday afternoon, Gail was sorry that we couldn’t spend just one more night. She’s already thinking about when she could come back up to spend more time here.

Gail enjoyed – and photographed – her own sunsets (shades of Russell)


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