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May 11, 2012
Gail does floors, walls and ceilings

Gail installs hardwood flooring in the corner of the upstairs sitting room

As we previously wrote, Russell aggravated a hernia in February during our South America vacation. He will have surgery on May 23. Because it is open surgery (as opposed to arthroscopic), Russell will be out of work for two weeks and unable to lift anything for six weeks.

Gail is also affected. As Russell’s primary caregiver, she will have to shoulder most of the work during those two and six weeks. In anticipation of being homebound starting at the end of May, Gail has decided to spend as much time as possible at our mountain home construction site before then.

Gail made a first solo trip from Tuesday, April 24 through Friday, April 27. Her main task was to make more progress installing hardwood floors in the upstairs sitting room. This involved bringing in piles of salvaged floor strips from the outside gazebo.

A pile of floorboards that has been sitting outside in the gazebo for the past year

On the plus side, Gail is always more productive when she works alone. First, she can keep her own hours without worrying about feeding, entertaining or accidentally waking anyone else. Second, without Russell she can make as much noise and mess as she wants.

Gail’s typical working environment

Gail took advantage of all of this. She was able to finish the entire far corner of the sitting room where the couch normally sits. She also continued her long-term task of installing drywall around the various walls.

The upstairs sitting room: before and after

But the most exciting event was that Gail saw our first-ever skunk on the property! On Wednesday, her first morning, she looked out to see a lone skunk moseying around on the west hill. It came as close as the bench swing before heading off in the other direction.

Our first skunk!

After a week back home in the Bay Area, Gail made a second solo trip from Sunday, May 6 through Friday, May 11.

Gail really wanted to be up on the mountain that Sunday evening because that weekend featured a “supermoon” – the largest full moon of the year. The moon would approach within 222,000 miles of Earth in a rare perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system.

Some of Gail’s snapshots of the “supermoon”

After the “supermoon” of the first night, Gail immediately got back to work. She finished hardwood flooring the rest of the upstairs sitting room, in front of the sliding glass door. She finished flooring the upstairs hallway, at least up to the bookcase on the end wall.

The upstairs sitting room floor… finished!

The upstairs hallway (before and after)… finished! (At least up to the backcase at the far end, which Gail couldn’t move by herself)

Gail also continued her wall work. She drywalled, taped and mudded the rest of the pantry, the downstairs corners, the stairwell, the master bathroom and the upstairs hallway. When she needed a break, she went outside and sprayed weed killer around the grounds.

The master bathroom cupboards (previously framed by Russell): after drywall and after mudding

Gail’s completed task list looked like this:

The upstairs hallway ceiling, after drywalling and after mudding. (Working around the center post and beams is always particularly challenging.)

Gail even beautified the unsightly pressure-treated support joist in the middle of the stairs, by installing trimwood around it

On the wildlife front, there were two more noteworthy events. First, two raptors followed each other around in the sky for hours. Gail likes to think they were a couple.

A couple of raptors, making lazy circles in the sky

Second, Gail found herself battling yet another indoor mouse. This one showed up the second night in the master bathroom. Gail created barriers around all known exits, but somehow the mouse disappeared. The following day she sealed every visible crack in the master bathroom. She then went out and bought more glue traps, as well as sonic anti-rodent devices. We’ll see if any of those work.

Gail drove back home on Friday afternoon, just in time to attend an evening play with her mother. And we still have a couple more weeks before Russell’s hernia surgery – plenty of time for Gail to fit in yet another trip!

We began this letter with Gail on the floor. We’ll end it with Gail on the ceiling.


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