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July 31, 2011
The last deck rails

Steve and Russell install cable railings on Joss’ deck.

Once again the year is passing us by. We originally planned to have a very productive summer at our mountain home, finishing the two major tasks still required for our occupancy permit. Unfortunately, due to everyone’s health problems, it’s already the end of July and we’ve barely been up here.

With everyone now relatively well, we finally had an opening the last weekend in July. The plan was for both of our sons to join us. We would leave mid-Friday afternoon after Joss’ doctor appointment. The four of us would meet our friend Steve in Jackson, then catch a 7:30 pm showing of “Cowboys and Aliens” on opening day. Finally, we would arrive at the mountain by 10:30 pm.

Unfortunately, Friday turned out to be Cameron’s last day of summer work, and the group was hosting a party past 5:00 pm. Then, Joss informed us that he needed to be back home by Sunday afternoon at 1:30 in order to see a friend’s play.

Accommodating both of these needs would severely shorten the weekend, so we gave the boys a bye and let them stay home without us. As the weekend approached, Gail also became tentative due to an ongoing migraine. Fortunately, at the last minute she decided to go after all. It would be Gail, Russell and Steve for the weekend.

As it turned out, Joss’ doctor appointment was delayed more than an hour and we got a very late start. By the time we arrived early Friday evening, Steve was already several hours into yard work.

For a change, we didn’t watch television that evening. Instead, we were treated to a rare double meteor shower: the Delta Aquarids and Perseids. (The Perseids are actually due to peak on August 12, but there will be a full moon that weekend. The current weekend featured no moon.) We reclined on lounge chairs with a bottle of wine and snacks, overlooking Scorpio to the south. We were rewarded with many shooting stars, including the biggest and brightest one we have ever seen. It was wonderful to be out at 10:00 pm still in short sleeves.

On Saturday we got down to work. We still had to install cable railings on the third and final deck, outside Joss’ bedroom. Steve had missed all of the previous work and wanted to learn the process, so he worked with Russell. By noon, all eight cables were installed. The deck rails are finished!

Joss’ deck, before and after cable rails

(We do have one last step. We have decided to install additional hose clamps on the corners, to further reinforce the angle iron and reduce tension from the cables. Unfortunately, the latest hose clamps we bought came from a different store and are too small. We’ll try again next time.)

Meanwhile, Gail discovered that the house is still being invaded by mice. They appear to have gnawed right through several spots where she had previously installed wood trim and wire mesh. She worked both inside and outside, trying to clean up the place and reduce any attractiveness for vermin.

While she was housekeeping, Gail also decided to rearrange the furniture in the downstairs living room. Here it is (right) compared with a photo from March (left).

With the deck task finished, Gail and Russell turned their attention to the second task required for occupancy: finishing the stairs. While the main finished treads are all installed, we still have two intermediate landings and the upper floor landing. The landing treads require both a bullnose cut and a dado cut. We decided to have those cut professionally.

We spent the afternoon trimming the landing treads to fit in place. Gail was very upset when she ruined one of the two pieces as she was routing the side. Fortunately, we were able to salvage the piece by splicing an additional piece onto the end. (Every other finished tread has a splice, so it actually matches the pattern.)

The middle stair landing, before and after we cut the (repaired) landing tread

A few hours later, Russell ruined the second piece when he cut it along the wrong pencil line. We decided that this mistake was not salvageable, pretty much ending our stair work for the weekend. (We need to order a third piece for the top landing anyway. We’ll just order two more instead.)

Saturday night was another evening of stargazing, this time with a view to the west instead of the south.

Sunday saw a noon departure, followed by our usual stop at the all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant. While Gail has to be wary of migraine triggers (MSG is a strong one), she was able to partake of the sushi and fruit.

It was at the restaurant that Gail realized she had left her wallet at the mountain house. It was too far to go back. Instead, we have an excuse to return to the mountain next weekend.

The southern side of the house gives us a gorgeous panoramic view, day or night. (The lounge chairs are still set up from stargazing the night before.)


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