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February 28, 2010
Bathroom break

In the tiny downstairs half-bathroom, Dirk and Gail try to share space as they install fixtures and drywall

As we have mentioned in previous posts, Gail and Russell have almost opposite working styles in the building of our mountain home. Russell works methodically and meticulously. He will measure four times to cut once. He makes detailed plans and preparations for what he expects to accomplish on each trip. His joy is in working his way through a particularly complex or difficult problem.

On the other hand, Gail tends to be more flexible, spontaneous and opportunistic. She will measure once and improvise the rest. She often changes her agenda once she arrives on site, moving from project to project before any single task is completely finished. Her joy is in seeing visible change as a result of her work.

This working contrast was especially apparent during our last two working weekends.

On Friday, February 19, Gail and Russell went up for a twosome weekend. With his rough stairs now constructed (and corrected), Russell’s next task is to install the finished treads and risers. In order to do this, he will re-use wood from a couple of half-stair flights that Gail picked up at a salvage yard. The challenge is to dismantle stairs that were never meant to be dismantled – without damaging any of the wood. After days of work, Russell only got halfway done.

We first brought the two antique stairwells to the property in June 2009;
Russell meticulously dismantles a stairwell;
Some of the salvaged oak treads (and molding)

Gail came up to take advantage of the unusually rainy weather. She continued to work on repairing leaks in Joss’ and the master bedroom exterior walls. At the same time, she continued to install drywall, alternating between Joss’ bedroom, the master bedroom and the upstairs living room.

In a moment of dry weather, Gail recaulks one of the master bedroom windows

Speaking of salvage, we also transported a five-foot bathtub that Gail found on craigslist. We are nowhere near being ready to equip the master bathroom, but the opportunity was too good to pass up. Gail figures she saved several hundred dollars with this purchase. Having driven the van to transport the bathtub, Russell also went out and purchased yet another 15 sheets of drywall, storing it upstairs in Cameron’s bedroom.

Gail and Russell carry the master bathtub upstairs;
We are currently storing it where it will someday be installed

The weekend of February 26 was supposed to be a weekend for Russell and his friend Steve. (Steve has been patiently waiting to watch the Season 6 opening of “Lost.”) At the last minute, our other friend Dirk decided he would also go up Wednesday through Sunday to do more electrical work. At the even later last second, Gail decided to go up with Russell to take advantage of another rainy weekend.

As a result, we ended up with another full house for the weekend. Dirk had been happily working in solitude for several days when he saw Gail unexpectedly arrive with Russell. He got the feeling that his agenda was about to be reorganized.

Sure enough, Gail decided that this should be the weekend for drywalling the downstairs and upstairs hall bathrooms. She wanted to take advantage of Dirk’s “plumber hat,” as several fixtures would need to be removed in order to drywall. Dirk was happy to oblige, believing that “all progress is good progress.”

In the end, Gail and Dirk not only drywalled both bathrooms, they installed a ceiling, a sink and a temporary door in the downstairs bathroom (none of which is actually required for our occupancy permit).

Our first ceiling! Gail installs drywall above the downstairs half-bathroom.

Before and after: The downstairs half-bathroom (note the door!)

Before and after: The upstairs hall bathroom

Russell kept to himself, continuing to work methodically at dismantling the old oak stairs. The good news is that he finished the project. The bad news is that he injured himself when one of the heavy oak treads fell over like a toppled tree and drove a rusty nail into the top of his foot.

Steve kept to the outside as usual, working the grounds even in the pouring rain – and enjoying every minute of it. He tried several times to start burn piles, but the combination of rain and wet wood prevented anything from staying lit. Between Russell limping around with a sore foot and Steve limping around with a sore knee, the two guys were certainly feeling their age.

Rain and wet wood: Steve tries (unsuccessfully) to start a burn pile

We continue to make steady progress, though it means coming up in the rain and leaving Joss home alone. We’ve already done that for two weekends in a row; next weekend will make three.

A couple of panoramas of the finished drywall in the upstairs living room


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