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August 7, 2011
Stairs: middle landing

Gail fits pieces of hardwood flooring onto the middle stair landing

We returned to our mountain home construction the weekend of August 6, mainly to retrieve Gail’s misplaced wallet from the weekend before. Russell was in the middle of his earnings preparation for work, but he brought his PC and planned to work remotely.

As an added bonus, we were able to convince both of our sons to go with us. Our friend Steve met us on Friday afternoon as well. As usual, Steve arrived several hours earlier and was already trimming brush from the access road by the time we arrived at 7:30 pm.

We picked up right where we had left off the previous weekend. We set up lounge chairs on the south side of the house and looked for shooting stars. Gail convinced Cameron to join us. Unfortunately, the stars were now obscured by a half-moon. Nevertheless, we were able to see several shooting stars before we called it a night.

On Saturday morning, everyone got to work. Steve hit the brush as usual. Joss had the thankless task of securing 24 additional hose clamps to the deck posts. Cameron had the thankless task of installing heavy-duty wire mesh around the exterior of the house for rodent control.

Steve with a trailerful of scrub brush
Joss works on the decks
Cameron works on the exterior of the house

Gail and Russell resumed their work on the stair landings. The landing treads need to be specially cut with a dado transition from the 1” bullnosed tread to the 1/4” landing floor. Last weekend we had cut the tread for the middle landing and put on three coats of cherry stain. This weekend we were ready to install it.

In preparation, Gail had been prepping several planks of hardwood floor she had salvaged a couple of years ago. Gail had also purchased a large staple gun and some hardwood flooring brads. She spent the bulk of the afternoon trimming and sanding the floor planks, as well as fixing the staple gun as it constantly jammed. She finished the upper landing just in time to make dinner that evening.

Evolution of the middle landing:
1, The unfinished landing
2. The stained landing tread in place
3. The flooring slats in place

Russell, who spent most of his day writing an earnings script, has this to say about Gail:

“Gail spent this morning walking around the house with a leaf blower. She took a break to frost a cake she had baked. She spent this afternoon cutting and sanding wood, installing a hardwood floor and using a staple gun. After that, she cooked dinner for five people. How many other people do you know who could do just one of those things, let alone all of them? Gail is truly the amazing wonder woman!”

Gail, the amazing wonder woman, at work:
1, Cutting floor slats with a chop saw
2. Sanding floor slats with a belt sander (the clamps are to prevent the slats from flying off the table)
3. Securing floor slats with a staple gun

For Saturday evening, we moved the lounge chairs down to the southwest knoll for a less obstructed view of the sky. The adults spent another evening under the stars, while the boys stayed in the house and played PC games. Unfortunately the moon was very bright, and we didn’t see a single shooting star. Nevertheless, the stars were beautiful and the conversation was great.

Joss and Cameron play “Team Fortress 2”

(Unfortunately, Gail did not have an enjoyable Saturday night. She was visited by a mouse not once, but twice. First was at bedtime, when a mouse ran across the floor and hid under the portable heater. Second was in the middle of the night, when a mouse decided to run around the ceiling inside of the vapor barrier.)

By happy chance, the next morning turned out to be the first Sunday of the month, which Steve was lucky enough to remember. We were able to drive into Glencoe for the monthly all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at the American Legion Hall (the same breakfast we had missed when we cancelled our July Fourth trip). We saw many familiar faces, including our “neighbors” Tom and Deanna for the first time since they had invited our sons shooting several years ago.

On the drive back after breakfast, we stopped several times to pick wild blackberries from the side of the road. (Joss is using a Flip videocamera to film Cameron.)

We had just enough time to clean up the house before it was time to depart. We stopped in Tracy on the way home to have a late lunch/early dinner at the Mongolian barbeque restaurant.

We are especially pleased that our sons had such a good time up on the mountain. With Internet access and a MicroCell cell phone receiver, they have all the comforts of home. Cameron spent Saturday evening taking pictures of the sunset to share with his girlfriend back home. Joss had bought himself a Flip video camera, and made several videos of himself playing the guitar in the open air.

Summer is coming to an end for our sons. In two weeks, Joss will move to San Jose State University and start classes as a freshman. A few weeks after that, Cameron will return to UC Santa Cruz to begin his senior year. In the meantime, Gail and Russell will need to keep returning to the mountain to finish the stairs.

The worldtrippers – and Steve – at the American Legion pancake breakfast


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