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August 9, 2009
August marathon 4: Two fans, one landing

Our nephew Blake checks that the first stairwell landing is being constructed squarely

For the last weekend of our August week marathon, we were joined not only by our eldest son Cameron but Russell’s sister Joanne and her family. In order to have two full nights at our mountain home, they left late on Friday, August 7 and arrived at 10:00 pm.

On Saturday morning, all four of them were willing and able to pitch in and help. The two children helped Gail and Cameron cut and install some more drywall, particularly the mold-resistant “green board” behind the shower in the upstairs bathroom.

Gail, Alison and Blake look on as Cameron cuts drywall

Joanne picked up where she had left off during her last visit, removing the packing adhesive from all of the shutter boxes that have now been installed.

Joanne carefully and laboriously peels a layer of plastic film from every shutter box

As he has done in the past, Joanne’s husband Matt volunteered for the most physically demanding tasks. With the ceilings now lowered in both of the upstairs bathrooms, we need the exhaust fans installed. Before this could happen, though, we need exhaust pipes fed to the exterior of the house. And before this could happen, we need holes drilled in the outside walls.

Matt took on these tasks, using a four-inch hole saw that our friend Dirk had loaned us. Matt drilled the “easy” hole first in the master bathroom, and it’s a good thing he did. Although he had a balcony to stand on when drilling the hole, he discovered that it was too small. Although the flexible pipe is 4” inches in diameter, the vent itself is 4-1/2”. Lacking a 4-1/2” hole saw, Matt had to use a Sawz-All to widen the hole.

The “easy” wall. At least Matt had a balcony to stand on, although he ended up having to widen the vent hole he drilled.

Gail models the amount of wood and insulation that needed to be drilled through

And that was the easy hole. The difficult hole needed to go through Joss’ closet to vent to the outside. Unfortunately, there is no balcony outside of Joss’ closet. The working configuration ended up including Matt standing on a fully-extended 20-foot ladder, with Gail and Joanne holding a rope between balconies to provide him with a safety line. Russell provided extra ballast at the bottom of the ladder when he wasn’t taking pictures.

The “difficult” wall. While Matt perched atop a 20-foot ladder to drill a vent hole outside of Joss’ bedroom, Gail and Joanne held a rope across the balconies to provide extra safety.

The view from the inside. The exhaust pipe for the hall bathroom had to pass through Joss’ closet to reach the outside

The task was much more difficult and precarious than the pictures indicate. Fortunately, Matt seems to have no fear of heights or edges (unlike the rest of us), as he has previously demonstrated during the original house raising and roof installation. Learning from his first effort, he sawed a 5” hole and covered the slack with caulking. He even caulked part of the exterior wall where the lamination is starting to come loose (more questionable work from Topsider, our kit house manufacturer).

The exhaust fans successfully installed in the upstairs hall and master bathrooms

As he has been doing all week, Russell spent most of his time in front of the PC, still trying to finalize the stair plans. Every time he thought he was ready to begin building, he would find one more error or change that needed to be addressed. He ended up with 22 pages of plans, covering every flight and landing.

Russell spent most of the week staring at a PC screen

It was not until Saturday, the last full work day, that Russell was finally able to begin building the first landing. He worked on it all the way until Sunday morning when we finally had to pack up and leave to go home. Fortunately, the landing is as solid as a rock.

Gail's brother-in-law Steve, who passed away earlier this year, was an accomplished wordworker who used to come up and help build. In memory, Russell is using Steve's tools to build the stairs. Steve will continue to be a part of our mountain home construction.

The first stairwell landing (finally): 37.5” high and built like a rock

There was also time for relaxing and socializing. Russell played several boardgames with the kids and Matt. Cameron took his cousins on a hike and for target practice with the pellet guns.

Cameron takes his cousins target shooting with air soft pellet guns

On the wildlife front, the kids met up with our wandering flock of wild turkeys, who actually came through the property twice. Joanne also spotted a young buck deer who wandered through the same knoll.

The wild turkeys wander past our car. They're getting big!

After more than a week, we are very sorry to leave the mountain, the mountain house, the forest and the clear weather. It feels like we are just on a roll of high productivity. Unfortunately, our upcoming weekend calendar is getting busy with church camp, family events and the start of school. With any luck, we’ll still be able to make a few trips in September before the weather turns.

Russell and Gail enjoyed one last sunset the evening before we departed


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