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August 7, 2009
August marathon 3: Toilet number two

Cameron, working from the bathtub, installs a toilet bowl in the upstairs hall bathroom

On Monday, August 3, our friends Dirk and Steve said “goodbye” and departed our mountain home construction site. Gail and Russell would have a few days and nights to themselves before we had additional visitors.

Though the weather continued to be gorgeous, we still had the Knight fire, which had been burning all weekend several miles away to the southeast. This left a continuous ring of black all the way around the horizon.

The ash from the Knight fire left a ring of soot around the horizon

On the wildlife front, we discovered a nest of baby finches in the tree right outside our living room balcony. We were also treated to our usual sightings of dragonflies, bats and raptors in the sky. (Russell has bought a 1.5 acre bug zapper hanging light, so we can spend evenings outdoors without being bitten by bugs.)

We discovered a nest of finches in a tree right next to the house

We took the time to slow down work tasks and enjoy ourselves a little. Knowing that she had to rest this trip, Gail had brought up her oil painting supplies and spent some time painting. Russell was practically glued to the PC for several days, trying to complete his stairwell plans so he could start building.

Gail was able to paint for the first time in years

We did go ahead and lay down some sheets of OSB in the kitchen (Cameron’s bedroom) and living room, where furniture legs were constantly falling into the wiring chases. This gave us a chance to rearrange the living room furniture to make the sofa bed more usable. We also repaired the futon that Russell had scavenged from a Stanford University move-out day years ago. The metal frame had finally buckled from constant use by the big guys, Steve and Dirk. We installed a wooden frame instead.

We haven't even finished the house yet, and we're already rearranging the furniture!

We were also visited by both our building inspector Dennis and our plumber Curtis. Dennis looked over Russell’s stair plans and made some suggestions, but approved them overall. Curtis came at Gail’s request to answer some questions about the installation that he had done almost two years ago. (Curtis has actually been spending most of his time in the Bay Area lately. Due to the economic recession, he hasn’t done any residential work in Calaveras County for the last year and a half.)

Gail and Curtis Jaspers talk plumbing

On Wednesday, August 5, Russell left Gail alone on the mountain and drove back to the Bay Area for a work meeting on Thursday morning. When he returned on Thursday evening, he brought our oldest son Cameron for the second weekend. (Our youngest son Joss is still away on church caravan.)

On Friday, Russell and Cameron took on the task of installing a second toilet in the upstairs hall bathroom. For the last two years, we have been relying on the single toilet downstairs, which (as Gail has constantly stated) is very inconvenient in the middle of the night. While he was here last weekend, Dirk hooked up a spigot to the water intake pipe. The site was ready for installation.

The upstairs hall bathroom, all ready for a toilet

Russell was very excited about teaching Cameron the finer art of toilet installation. In fact, he was so excited that he left out an important step. While demonstrating the use of ABS cement on the toilet flange, Russell accidentally glued it to the waste pipe without trimming the pipe first. As a result, the flange stuck out of the floor by several inches as opposed to being flush.

Russell spent the next half hour hacksawing the flange back off. Cameron was most likely not impressed.

The toilet flange, correctly installed (after a half hour with a hacksaw)

Fortunately, the next steps went very well. Cameron screwed the ring to the floor and installed the bowl.

Almost there. Unfortunately, we hit a snag after the bowl was installed.

Unfortunately, when we tried installing the tank, we discovered that one of the carriage bolts was badly threaded. We tried forcing the nut with several screwdrivers and several larger pieces of metal. All Russell succeeded in doing was slicing his hand open on a piece of metal.

Fortunately, Russell’s sister Joanne was driving up that night with her family. She was able to stop at a hardware store and pick up a replacement bolt. At 11:00 pm Friday night, the second toilet was finally installed.

The upstairs toilet, finished at last!

We will have a full house again for the remainder of our week. The weather continues to be terrific, and we are looking forward to the company.

Sunset reflected in the house windows… just gorgeous!


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