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May 29, 2011
Memorial days


Gail with her sister Debbie

Memorial Day weekend was supposed to be a family trip to our mountain home with our two sons. In addition, Russell invited Steve, one of his boardgaming buddies. Steve wasn’t interested in wielding a hammer, but he was interested in playing videogames and pellet guns with the boys.

On Thursday evening, our son Joss let us know that he had some school project meetings over the weekend. We excused him to stay in town, knowing that schoolwork needs to be his highest priority. When Gail passed the news to our other son Cameron, he too confessed that he would be better served staying in Santa Cruz to work on school projects. With both sons now staying home, Steve also bowed out.

Gail had also invited several members of her extended family to join us, but all of them had conflicts. By the time we drove up on Saturday morning, it was only Gail and Russell in the car. We were therefore pleasantly surprised when an hour later, Gail’s sister Debbie arrived in her car.

Debbie has gone through understandable ups and downs since her husband Steve passed away two years ago. We all have fond memories of Steve sitting out on the southern panorama on summer mornings to watch the sun rise. In fact, Russell has been using Steve’s tools to build the permanent stairs.

Fortunately for us, Debbie decided that she needed to get out of the Bay Area and spontaneously decided to come and spend one night. She was amazed at the progress we had made (her last visit was before any of the stairs had been built), and she was eager to jump in and lend a hand.

Debbie and Gail spent the next day and a half working on the grounds around the house. Over the years, we have let various piles of debris build up, creating various eyesores. The ladies hauled much of the stuff out of the way of the beautiful panoramas.


Debbie pitches in, cleaning up a pile of debris

In addition, Debbie got to see “weather” up on the mountain for the first time. (Her previous visits had mostly been camping trips during the summer.) For the first time, she was able to see how clouds and fog create mystical landscapes across the panoramas. She even saw a stunning rainbow, where the arc bent down almost vertically into the valley below us. “That’s from Steve,” she said.

    
An almost vertical rainbow arc was followed by a gorgeous sunset

Russell continued to work on the deck rails. With the skirt boards now complete, Russell installed all of the 2x6 railing caps. He has now done everything he can on the railings before we begin the challenge of installing the actual cables.

Meanwhile, Gail spent her time running back and forth between helping Debbie, helping Russell, and weedwhacking.


Gail helps Russell secure a 15-foot deck rail cap

    

    
Before and after pictures of the deck rail caps

On Saturday evening, Debbie treated us to a bottle of champagne and a cake in honor of both of our birthdays. She and Gail spent the evening watching the old “Dick Van Dyke Show” on DVD. After a bit more work on Sunday morning, she departed to enjoy the rest of her weekend.

The transformation of our mountaintop has been so gradual that sometimes we don’t appreciate the amount of change that has occurred. Having Debbie come up… and remembering Steve’s previous visits… helped us realize how much time has passed.


Gail and Debbie survey the newly-cleared “Steve's panorama”

Russell recently marked his first birthday where he didn’t have both of his sons with him. In two days, Gail will do the same. The times do change…

    
More before and after: the current state of the decks

 

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