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June 21, 2009
It’s the water… and a lot more

A full house on the mountain: Cameron and Joss with their cousins; Gail and Russell with the grown-ups

The week of June 16-20 saw the most people staying up on our mountain since the original “house raising party” more than four years ago.

On Tuesday, Russell drove up by himself. On Wednesday, he was joined by Gail, Cameron and Joss, as well as by our friend Steve. On Thursday they were joined by Russell’s sister Joanne, her two children and their cousin, as well as by our friend Dirk. On Thursday evening we had 10 people staying at the house.

Somehow the sleeping arrangements worked out. Gail and Russell were in the master bedrooms. Cameron, Joss and their cousin Blake were in Joss’ room. (We brought up and installed another bed – an extra-long twin that Gail had picked up from Craigslist – that became Cameron’s new bed.) Joanne and the two younger girls were in sleeping bags downstairs. Dirk slept outside. Steve started out sleeping outside, but a “large animal noise” in the dark drove him into the house and onto the futon.

Joss and Cameron and the new sleeping arrangements (they're playing a PC game against each other)

With the temperature in the mid-90s, we had all three portable air conditioners running. (They have been working terrifically as both heaters and coolers.) We had a very productive week, although we always wish that we could have gotten even more done.

Russell started out with a goal of hanging the final three security shutters, over the front door, back door, and bathroom window. Unfortunately, he underestimated the time it takes to stain and install trimwood, hang the rails, drill wiring access holes and hang the shutter boxes. With help from Steve and Joanne, he ended up installing three sets of rails, setting two boxes and hanging only one curtain.

Joanne and Russell (with Dirk's help) hang the shutter box over the front door
Russell and Steve hang the shutter curtain over the back door

Gail and Dirk, who had intended to proceed with wiring, constantly found their agenda usurped by Russell. Both the front and back doors needed to be re-framed to accommodate the shutters; Gail, Cameron and Dirk ended up spending all Thursday morning getting the back door to open and close properly. But as the unflappable Dirk remarked, “I don’t care what kind of progress we make, as long as it’s progress.”

Cameron and Gail try to figure out why the back door won't hang straight

When Steve wasn’t helping Russell, he spent all of his time working outdoors. He made three more trips to the dump with trailers full of brush. He weed-whacked and axe-chopped. (He also wanted to chainsaw, but we nixed that due to the hot, dry weather.) And he got his clothes and equipment covered with poison oak.

Steve tackles weeds that are as tall as he is

When Joanne wasn’t helping Russell, she helped with the massive amounts of used hardwood flooring that Gail has been scavenging. We had several hundred square feet of flooring that needed to be de-nailed, sorted, stacked and tied together. With an increasing need for floor space downstairs, Russell and Cameron took a lot of it down to the shed for longer-term storage. Even so, the lower floor of the house is still filled with wood.

Joanne helped bundle flooring wood
Cameron and Russell stacked it in the shed

But the major milestone of the week came courtesy of Dirk, who apparently dabbles in plumbing as well as electricity. Aware of the number of people who would be invading the house, Dirk came prepared with the equipment and tools necessary to connect our first interior running water! Joss volunteered to do the actual work. Dirk was a terrific mentor, helping Joss to connect both the faucet and drain for the upstairs bathroom sink.

Dirk gave Joss a crash course in plumbing
Success! We have running water!

This is a huge milestone. Until now, we had still been filling and storing gallon jugs of water, as well as draining our used water into a bucket. Gail did yet another happy dance.

There was also lots of time for fun and enjoyment. Russell got all of the kids hooked on “Dominion,” a card game that ended up getting played over and over again. The trampoline and tree swings got a lot of use. And the three boys enjoyed several skirmishes in the woods with their air soft pellet guns.

Steve, Joanne and her family departed on Friday. That evening we experienced the double-whammy of a flat tire on the Prius and a cracked radiator on the van. Our friend Dennis put a short-term fix on the van with some epoxy, while Russell and the boys departed on Saturday to get a new tire.

That left Gail and Dirk on the mountain, where they were finally able to make some real progress on their original agenda of wiring the house. As usual, Dirk was the “last man standing” on Sunday, putting in several more hours of productive work by himself even after Gail left.

Sunday, June 21, marks the first day of summer. Either our car troubles or our work accomplishments foreshadow the coming season, and we certainly hope it’s the latter.

When you have your own mountain, you get to do fun things like ride around on the back of your van


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