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July, 2007

Almost Home
ETA: 6 weeks or less

Which is the hardest working of the trades building a home? In the summer, the answer is without a doubt the concrete subcontractors. They start at sunrise and work to sunset, and often work weekends. But on their breaks, one notices that they talk about long ski vacations, surfing in Hawaii, or other Winter hobbies. Their business is slow in the Winter.

Work on the house continued its shift to finer details of finish. At right, Dan and Ken start installation of the Kitchen and Pantry cabinets. Once they are done, final measurements for the granite counter tops will be made. The whole house is busy with electricians, painters, plumbers and the odd subcontractor coming in to get ready for their work. In addition to the 3 finish carpenters, Paul has returned with Lars and Adam to complete the interior timber work. The stucco "crew" of one finished and three of the five patios were poured.

After two weeks of measuring, sawing and chiselling, Paul and his crew were ready to test fit all the timber trim that stretches along the center of the house at the North of the Kitchen, Dining Room and Great Room. Even with all the clamps and the need for the painters to work their magic, we can see the tremendous difference in feel it gives the rooms. Now one has to take several more steps into the house to reveal the full impact of the view. Comparing the picture at left with the 09 July and 16 July pictures gives some idea of the difference.

July brought record highs, with temperatures regularly in the mid to high 90's at the Main House. The house stays relatively cool because the eaves allow little sun to come in at mid-day. Downstairs peaks in the low 70's and the finish carpenters try to work there as much as possible. Our over-worked little air conditioner in the Carriage House "wine closet" broke down, so we moved the wine to the Wine Cellar.

During design of the house, we regarded gutters as a necessary evil. However, they have added to rather than detracted from the architecture. We selected half-round gutters made of the same material as the roof, and fastened them to the fascia with brackets every two feet to handle snow loading. At right, the timbers are suggestive of traditional Japanese architecture, and the brackets give the half-round gutters a bamboo-like appearance.

The balustrades for the Stairwell have been installed. The balusters are square iron rods twisted through their middle section; this style matches the cabinet and door hardware. The newel posts are hewn timbers that continue our interior theme of mating highly finished fir to the structural framework of hewn fir timbers. The view at left is looking northeast from the west wing entrance to the Entry Foyer. This picture is taken from almost the opposite direction as the 09 July picture showing the Gun Wall from the Entry looking through the Entry Foyer (before the balustrade was installed).

At right, Paul works on framing for the half wall that separates the Dining Room from the Promenade (the open hallway running from the West Wing to the Master Suite). At the left of the picture, Nick takes the Summer off from his studies of Mechanical Engineering at MIT by getting some practical experience. He's looking forward to getting back to Boston soon!

The picture at left is taken looking directly East from the West Wing along the Promenade and may help clarify the previous two pictures. At the far end of the Promenade is the entrance to the Master Suite. In the foreground at left is the Stairway and at right is the door to the Powder Room. Further along are the steps coming down from the Entry toward the Great Room. Beyond that on the left is the "window" to Gary's office and on the right is the half wall (barely visible). Finally, before the Master Suite is the Library (some shelves are barely visible to the left of the arched doorway).

Major things for next month are: finishing the oak flooring, tile for the Entry, completion of the HVAC systems, installation of plumbing fixtures, installation of Kitchen appliances, and regrading of the area immediately surrounding the Main House. Unless there are significant problems, we should be ready to move in during the first or second week of September.

This month, we had three sets of visitors. Bill and Elaine from the Bay Area stopped by for a couple of days on their way to visit friends and relatives in Canada. Next, Wendy and Kevin came from British Columbia to see the sights. They entertained themselves with day trips, and we went with them on a hike to Gallatin Petrified Forest. We learned about the petrified forest by chance; it is accessed by driving many miles of dirt roads with no signs to guide one. We did not get to see much because other hikers told us of a Grizzly mother with two cubs on the trail. Now that we know where it is, we will try again and hope there are no Grizzlies. Back home, we spotted a bull moose on the ridge across Place Creek while walking up the drive to the Main House. Later, we saw a mated pair of Sandhill Cranes in the grass below the Main House. Finally, Hiro and Akiko visited as they returned to Japan and we took them on a 3 day trip to Glacier National Park where we saw moose, marmots, sheep, goats and glaciers. This was a three moose month!

Be sure to check out the Main House Progress

Parting Shot
Pumpkin's Favorite Toy

Pumpkin waits hopefully for a workman to throw the 5-gallon bucket lid she has adopted. We bought her a frisbee, but she abandoned it in favor of the lid. She carries it everywhere (but we don't allow it in the house), and only lets us throw it when she feels like a chase.

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