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October 18, 2009
The calm after the storm

Steve, Gail, Russell and Dirk celebrate having made it this far

Tuesday, October 13, was the worst October rainstorm in the Bay Area in 47 years. The one-day storm brought eight inches of rain and 65-mph winds in some areas. Needless to say, we were concerned about our mountain house, which gets 100-mph winds and fallen trees in normal seasonality.

Fortunately, we had already scheduled a visit to our building site the following weekend. Originally, it was going to be a “Russell and Steve weekend” (we haven’t had one of those in ages). Then, our friend Dirk asked to join us. Despite having passed the electrical inspection, Dirk says he still has some things to finish up. We are happy to have his company.

Our “men’s weekend” was further redefined when Gail decided to join us at the last minute. The collective response from the men was “Oh boy! We get good cooking!”

We all arrived on the afternoon of Friday, October 16. The good news was that the storm had caused no damage on our property. (Our building inspector, Dennis, told us that a tree had fallen in one of the county parking lots and smashed several cars.) The even better news was that we had absolutely gorgeous weather all weekend. It was bright and sunny, with no need for either the air conditioners or the heaters.

Having passed our last inspection successfully, we all came up more calm and relaxed than usual. Paradoxically, we also ended up being more productive than usual.

Dirk did several odd jobs when he wasn’t being requested as an extra hand by Gail or Russell. He repaired our table saw (which had broken the previous week) by installing and mounting a new power switch. He repaired a faulty circuit in the master bedroom (in a sign of good karma, the last leftover piece of scrap wire was just long enough to use). And he finished installing the exterior lights.

Dirk installs exterior lights. We now have a floodlight that illuminates the drive up to the house.

Steve continued grooming the terrain with his collection of axes and hatchets. He has now cleaned the main road, house pad and northern knoll (where we have the kids’ trampoline). He even set up a small burn pile. The grounds haven’t looked this good since we first bought the property six years ago!

Steve enjoys an evening burn pile

Gail insulated and dry walled the entire center chase downstairs. She also spent a lot of time cleaning up the downstairs area in preparation for installing the permanent kitchen, storing a lot of stuff up in the newly-floored parapet area. Gail is ecstatic to have discovered a new tool: the Dremel Multi-Max. Unlike a normal rotary Dremel, the Multi-Max oscillates, enabling it to cut, sand, scrape and grind. Gail used hers to cut drywall, which significantly helped her injured arms.

Gail installs insulation in the downstairs center chase. Unfortunately, all of this cutting still needs to be done by hand.

Gail installs drywall on the downstairs center chase. Fortunately, her new Dremel Multi-Max makes cutting a lot easier.

Russell made slow but steady progress on the stairs, beginning to install the first set of stringers on the middle flight. Taking advantage of all of the manly muscle this weekend, he also cut and installed a new eight-foot LVL joist across the upstairs stair hole where the upper flight will ultimately connect. This was a huge accomplishment, considering the size and weight of the 14” x 1.75” LVL. Even better, Russell only had to re-cut it once.

Russell and Dirk with the new floor joist. Note that the ends had to be angled and notched to fit into the existing glu-lam beams.


“Before” and “after” photos of the new floor joist

All in all, it was an enjoyable and productive weekend. We finished up with lunch at our traditional all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant in town before returning to the Bay Area. Gail is already thinking about driving back up tomorrow to do more drywalling.

One more treat: thanks to Dirk, we now have electric switches on all of the roll-down shutters!


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