12/08 unedited tahoe mt. news story
By Kathryn Reed
Enough is the same that friends and family do a double-take. But it’s just enough different to misplace shoes and make late-night bathroom trips potentially disastrous.
“I think about where things should be and they’re not,” Larry Lambdin said. “I catch myself in déjà vu moments. I was the last one in the house before it burned. The fire was right across that lot.”
“That lot” is across the street from the Lambdins’ rebuilt home on Mount Olympia Circle. Kate Lambdin was the first to move in. Contractor John Dalton had promised she’d be home before she graduated from South Tahoe High School in June.
Her parents, Paula and Larry, joined her when the school year ended. Elder daughter Anna arrived when Oregon Tech let out. The four spent a quiet Thanksgiving in their new abode last month.
The girls have different ideas about where the Christmas tree should go. The woodstove is gone and a wall is in its place. That area is one idea. Next to the much larger television (they had a 15-inch screen pre-Angora) presented another possibility.
Despite having coverage to be able to build much bigger, the Lambdins opted to keep their modest footprint. They are a little underinsured, but aren’t complaining.
Issues with State Farm are not finalized and don’t expect to be soon. Conversations about whether they really had three stashes of nails and the value of opened laundry detergent continue. Reams of paperwork relating to the claim from the June 24, 2007, disaster are in the upstairs office.
When the Lambdins bought the original house in 1995 this area was a nursery. The rebuild allowed them to expand it into an open office by taking space away from the girls’ rooms.
Not much hesitation filled the Lambdins when it came time to decide what to do once they found out their home was a total loss. The community outpouring sealed the deal to stay and start new.
Dalton, who owns John P. Dalton Construction in South Lake, was hired to do the job. He is building five houses in the burn area. Four had been destroyed, one just had a foundation before the fire.
His approach is to make it as easy as possible for Angora survivors because they were starting from scratch because they had to, not because it was a dream to do so.
Dalton traditionally uses local subcontractors – something that appealed to the Lambdins.
“My plumber and a guy who did the granite on one of these jobs both lost their homes,” Dalton said.
DJ Plumbing put in a tankless hot water heater. It’s one of the decisions the Lambdins went back and forth on. But with their plumber living across the street, it makes them rest easier with their choice.
The couple is buying as much from locals as possible. Lamps from Bijou Furniture still have plastic on the shades. Some furniture was bought off the hill. Kitchen appliances came from a dealer Dalton works with in Placerville. A seven-speed hand mixer could not be found at the Lake, so it was bought in Carson City.
They have a typed register of locals businesses which have contributed to their home. A partial list includes Champion Carpet, Mountain High Cabinets, Roofs by Wood, Tahoe Outdoor Living, Tahoe Paving Stones, Don Lance Heating and South Shore Glass.
“It feels like friends helped build your house,” Paula Lambdin said. “I think people take ownership when they are local.”
Michelle Langlois with Blinds and Designs spent ample time at the house to figure out what would be best for the Lambdins. The honeycomb insulated will keep out the cold, cut down on sunlight and muffle the wind.
“They are going to have a lot of UV exposure from the sun that would definitely fade anything from wall paints to fabric,” Langlois said. “They are going to have a lot of wind out there because it’s barren.”
The garage door is local. Hardware purchases were made at Meeks. Larry Lambdin is fired up to use his Nel’s snowblower that has hand warmers.
Their BMPs are in, but not all the landscaping. Some trees came from Aspen Hollow, seedlings from the U.S. Forest Service and California Tahoe Conservancy.
Paula Lambdin was resistant to granite countertops. She’s learning to like them. The kitchen is a bit bigger. The skylights are gone, but by rearranging windows and altering their sizes the natural light is not diminished. And with fewer trees outside, more light is naturally flowing indoors.
The garage has less storage. The furnace is there, which put another closet inside where shoes can get lost.
The master bath’s door is not where it was before – making reminders necessary when walking in the dark.
Ceiling fans are new. Cement siding was used. Fire resistant decking in front and back was installed.
They have a box of manuals for how to use everything. Nothing is the same.
Most walls are empty. A few snapshots decorate the living area. Some have been taken post-Angora, some are reprints from family members of photos that were lost.
Even though the county excavated and Tahoe Sand and Gravel delivered mounds of dirt, items continue to be found. Old pans are part of a memorial of sorts out back. A piece of glass likely from the fish tank was just discovered.
Something they are all getting used to is being able to see neighbors. The loss of their forest within the neighborhood makes other houses seem a little bit closer.
All four agree that shopping has lost its allure. It’s not about what they want, it’s about what they need.
Looking around, it looks like they just need a few more neighbors to make it a complete neighborhood.