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July 26, 2009
Let us all re-joist

Russell saws through one of the bathroom ceiling joists, as Gail (reluctantly) holds the board steady

We have entered that period of summer that we normally call “the marathon,” when we try to be extra productive by traveling to our mountain house construction every weekend during the warm weather. As usual, we left our sons at home for the weekend of July 24-26. And as usual, we were joined on Saturday by our friends Dirk and Steve.

As each worker arrived and settled in, everybody assumed their usual positions. Inside the house, Dirk and Gail worked on electrical wiring. Russell worked on construction. Outside the house, Steve worked on the overgrown scrub.

Russell’s agenda had been decided last weekend, when we discovered that the bathroom exhaust fans would not fit in the current four-inch ceiling joists. Russell would need to re-route the joists to run lengthwise instead of crosswise, so the exhaust hose could run to the exterior of the house. In addition, Russell would need to add a second layer of joists to make the ceiling thick enough to accommodate the fans.

To help Russell figure out how to re-joist the ceiling, Gail and Dirk drew this handy illustration of the exhaust fan on the bathroom wall

It took almost all of Saturday just to complete the hall bathroom. The master bathroom is even more complicated, with its zigzagged combination of 22.5º, 45º and 90º angles. Russell got less than halfway through the second bathroom; the rest will have to wait for next weekend.

The joists being re-engineered
The hall bathroom is on the left; the master bathroom is on the right

First, the cross-joists had to be cut where the fans and exhaust hoses would be installed

Then, new joists were installed lengthwise, creating a chase that would keep the ceiling structurally sound

Finally, a second set of joists was installed directly below the first set. This expanded the ceiling space from 3.5” to 7”, enough space to install the fans (someday). Russell only finished the hall bathroom; the master bathroom will have to wait for a future trip.

Outside, Steve worked on clearing the main approach road of overhanging branches. Gail helped on the main road as well, raking several hundred feet of rocks from the dirt road. In addition, Steve made two runs to the dump on Saturday and three on Sunday. (Unfortunately, we heard later that Steve’s truck overheated during his drive home.)

Gail had a weekend of very bad luck. While raking rocks, she developed a large blister on her hand. While installing a spigot on the water supply line in the upstairs bathroom, she stood up under a cabinet and developed a large welt on her head. Finally, while standing outside chatting, she was stung on the arm by a yellow jacket.

On the wildlife front, we were visited once again by our flock of wild turkeys, which came by early Saturday morning at 6:30 am. Gail was so excited that she set the alarm clock for 6:00 am on Sunday morning. Rising bright and early, she made herself a cup of coffee and snuggled under blankets next to the panoramic windows downstairs. Unfortunately, the turkeys never made a return appearance. The only other life Gail saw that early in the morning was Dirk. (There is a straight line there, but we’ll just leave it at that.)

The flock of wild turkeys on Saturday morning. Sadly, they did not make a return appearance on Sunday.

Once again, Dirk and Steve outlasted Gail and Russell, who had to depart at Sunday noon for obligations back home. But no worries – we’ll be back up here again next weekend.

In a gesture of compassion, Dirk and Steve volunteered to wash dishes before Gail injured herself further. We don't quite understand the pose.


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