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September 27, 2009
Dirk’s marathon

Steve and Dirk enjoy breakfast before beginning a day of work

We have been unbelievably fortunate to have the help of our friend and amateur electrician, Dirk. Dirk has stretched the boundaries of friendship, joining us at our mountain home construction site continuously over the past several months, driving his own van loaded with wires and electrical gizmos, and crawling around in tiny spaces to pull wires.

We are certain that Dirk had no idea what he was truly in for when he originally volunteered to help, and this has undoubtedly turned into a much bigger project than he ever imagined. Nevertheless, he continues to contribute his time and services, compensated only by Gail’s great cooking and a chance to sleep out on the deck among the stars and fresh air.

With a milestone electrical inspection approaching in October, Dirk decided to ratchet his efforts up by even one more level. Packing his van and cooler, he arranged to spend an entire week up on the mountain – with or without us – from Tuesday, September 22 through Monday, September 28, in order to complete the last electrical work.

For the first half of the week, Dirk was joined by Gail, while Russell remained in the Bay Area to do his real job. With her elbows and shoulders slowly healing, Gail assisted Dirk as they graduated from pulling wires to connecting outlet boxes and appliances. One highlight of the trip was their successful installation of ceiling lights over what will eventually be the kitchen downstairs. Entertainment for the evenings included all three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.

This downstairs storage area will someday be our kitchen. In the meantime, at least we have an overhead light!

While Gail departed on Wednesday, September 23, Russell took her place and drove up on Friday, September 25. Russell was joined (as usual) by our other friend Steve, who spent the weekend (as usual) clearing brush around the roads and habitable areas.

One of Gail's requests was to have some low-hanging branches pruned. Steve was happy to oblige.

With his own knee and elbow slowly healing, Russell tried to make further progress on the construction of the stairs. He was able to arrange workspaces so that he did not need to kneel on the floor, using the stair landing, saw horses and a picnic table to measure and cut wood standing up. By the end of the weekend he had successfully cut the first set of rough stringers, treads and risers.

One disadvantage of sawing while standing up: What happens when you exceed your reach?

While the guys did not have the benefit of Gail’s great cooking (Russell’s contribution was frozen TV dinners), we did get to enjoy Russell’s great collection of DVDs. (We watched the Beatle’s movie “Across the Universe” and further episodes of the HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon.)

Upstairs, Dirk's last wiring task was to install a light over the stairwell. The only way to do this was to stretch a 20-foot ladder from the stair landing to Cameron's bedroom wall.

Downstairs, we had to completely clear the center chase (not easy!) so Dirk could install switchboxes and outlets

Dirk described his own electrical progress as “slow and steady.” He professed that he was not making progress as rapidly as he wanted, possibly distracted by the beautiful weather and ambiance of the location. When Russell and Steve departed on Sunday afternoon, Dirk was still hard at work. If he is anything like Russell, he is probably looking forward to some private time of peace, quiet and solitude up on the mountain.

We are already getting ready for winter, moving everything from outside into the gazebo


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