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December 7, 2008
Chipping away

Russell with his wood chipper (he wanted this photo taken because he figures the chipper will never look this clean again)

When we first bought our mountain “kit house” back in 2003, little did we dream that we would still be working on the thing five years later. The advantage is that we have been able to work continuously for the past five years without spending a lot of money. Everything from the wood to the glass was shipped with the kit. We have only had to pay for the metal hardware and the various things that Topsider screwed up.

Unfortunately, we have now entered the stage where we are starting to have to pay for things ourselves. While we spent almost nothing to do the interior framing, we have had to pay for all of the electrical wiring ourselves. As the work increasingly starts to hit our pocketbook, we have had to slow our pace down. And with the current economic downturn, we are having to slow down even more.

Even as we have been concentrating on the house and its construction, we also have to worry about the 50-acre property itself. We recently paid a couple thousand dollars to have our dirt access road re-graded. And much of the land has become overgrown with tall grass, Manzanita and tree saplings. This is an increasing fire hazard, and we have to start dealing with it.

The southwestern knoll (the one with the shed) in 2003.
The knoll has become overgrown with Manzanita over the past five years.

For the past several months, Russell has had his eye on a 250-horsepower wood chipper as our next major purchase. He waited patiently until his Christmas bonus. The day he received his bonus – Friday, December 5 – we drove up to the Lowe’s hardware store near our property and bought the chipper.

Our original plan was to spend a private weekend up on the mountain with just Gail and Russell. At the last minute, however, our friend Steve inquired about joining us. Steve recently lost his job and he needed a getaway – not only to de-stress, but to take out his frustrations with a chainsaw. With a request like that, how could we refuse?

We were also joined by our local friend (and former building inspector) Dennis. Dennis had some free time this weekend and offered to help Gail make further progress on the electrical wiring. So on Saturday morning, Gail and Dennis worked inside the house, with Dennis making suggestions and offering some best practices.

Gail continues wiring the house with Dennis’ help

Meanwhile, Russell and Steve worked outside. Steve chainsawed and clipped Manzanita bushes; Russell put them through the chipper. It was a surprisingly sunny and warm weekend for November. We worked in short-sleeved shirts and enjoyed the sunshine.

Steve lets out his frustrations with a chain saw.
One of the nicest working environments one could imagine!

In the evenings, Steve had no problems watching the “chick flicks” that Russell had brought for Gail. Gail was getting tired of constantly watching “movies where things explode,” so she – and the guys – greatly enjoyed “27 Dresses” and “The Notebook.”

In further variation, we skipped having our usual Chinese restaurant lunch in town on Sunday morning. Instead, we attended the local monthly pancake breakfast at the nearby American Legion Hall, where we chatted with the locals and neighbors. It was a perfect way to end a perfect – and productive – weekend.

The southwestern knoll, after a hard day’s work


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