Shangri La

Shangri La

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October 3, 2011

This is the second of the Monday day-trips to work through the punch list before the season ends. I’m up at 4 and out by 5, something I haven’t done since ski trips in college. It’s dark out, overcast and drizzling while I pack up, and the rain continues off and on all the way to Shangri-La.
Next year, a spiral stair will replace the ladder.

I stop for coffee at Dunkin, and then at the Putney Co-op for an egg and cheese and something to stash for lunch. I’m thinking sharp cheddar and some fresh bread, but then a Thai peanut wrap catches my eye and I’m good to go.

At the cabin, the gloom and drizzle make it feel colder than it is, and I turn on the heat and discover that two of the units aren’t working. There’s nothing complex about electric wallboard heaters, so I’m assuming I have a bad connection somewhere. I’m not going to look for it today, however – I prefer to have someone else around when I’m working with 240-volt wiring. Yes, I could just kill the main breaker and have at it, but I’m cautious to the point of superstition with electricity, so I’ll wait until the LSW is up here with me next weekend.

I make the completion of the downstairs wall board the mission of the day. I’m this close to being done, and finishing it will allow me to free up space in the kitchen. The more materials we use or clear out, the more it feels like a living space rather than a construction site.

I’ve got a few big spaces to cover that will require full sheets, but I’ve got smaller areas as well. The first job is to sort through all the scraps to find pieces that have the beveled factory edges meant for taping – you don’t want to cut up a full piece if you have scrap that will work. Despite five full sheets and a lot of good scrap, I work over the next 5 hours and come up 4 sheets short: I need two 3 x 8 pieces – one for the entry and one for the back of the closet – a full sheet for behind the [future] refrigerator, and a 2 ½ x 8 piece for the ‘command center’ (where we have the fuse box, phone, thermostat, well and hot water heater switches). I also need another 4 sheets to cover the gable ends in the loft, so I’m about 8 sheets from being done – approximately $40 in total.
The 'command center'
The work continues to be simplicity itself: Measure, score, snap and cut. If you need a right angle or a cut-out for a gang box, some of the sides will have to be cut with a sheetrock saw: Stab the sheet and then saw. Position the board and screw it in using a cordless drill and sheetrock screws. Voila – Bob’s your uncle.

I interrupted the work only once to rough-in the wiring for the center lights and their 3-way switches. While  doing so, I nearly fell off the ladder at the sound of knocking on the porch door. I’m not the nervous type, but we’re just not used yet to getting visitors up here. Turned out to be a representative from FEMA making sure everyone knew how to contact the agency if they had a claim to file in the wake of Irene. Evidence of my tax dollars at work! Having weathered the storm with no damage to speak of, we spent 10-15 minutes talking instead about how one goes from being a desk jockey to building your own place. My response boiled down to overconfidence and a whole lot of books.
An oven, counter and refrigerator will ultimately replace the materials, sawhorses and ladder...

After the last board was up, I cleaned the place thoroughly, stacked the unusable wall board in the truck and reacquainted myself with the remaining tools and materials stacked under what is currently passing for a kitchen countertop (two sawhorses and a bunch of leftover siding). The only surprise was that I had an unopened second container of cement for mounting down the tile backer boards in the kitchen and entry. Bonus! I know what we’ll be doing next week…