Woodpecker, sapsucker, flicker. Whatever the name, this bird’s damage to wooden structures is prevalent throughout my neighborhood in Colorado. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife website states, “During the early spring, woodpeckers hammer to attract mates, to establish and/or defend a territory, to excavate nesting or roosting sites, and to search for insects.”
At least five times over the years, the northern flicker has attacked my home and caused damage. Making a nearly perfect round hole through the cedar siding and sheathing. These holes have been patched with pieces of wood. However, one recent patch did not hold. A flicker broke it out and built a nest in my attic. This time I attempted to repair the intruder’s entry hole myself.
A couple of weeks ago I received a text from my cabin neighbor Alison and her little girl, “Maddie and I left you a little gift at your cabin door today; we all hope you like it!”
The next day, when I opened the cabin’s sagging and squeaky front screen door there was a cute little plastic bag hanging from the door knob on the front door. Inside the bag was a small package with a colorful bow along with a bright yellow envelope. The card inside read,
Preparation is never lost time. The seeds you plant today will bring a harvest tomorrow.
“Once you’re done ‘preparing’ your cabin, you can also enjoy the beauty of these hollyhocks! We can’t wait for your ‘harvest’ and for your family to make many incredible memories here in Glen Haven! 🙂 XOXO The Gdovicak’s”
I was taken aback. What a thoughtful gift. So simple, yet so grand.
Thank you Alison and Maddie for the little gift and being a part of the “incredible memories.”
Six weeks, three 18 yard dumpster loads and 145 “man” hours later, we have completed the demolition of the non-permitted, mold and rodent excrement filled cabin addition. All that is left is the flooring and the lower level deck. This accomplishment is cause for celebration!
What I learned from the demolition:
Wear protective clothing, goggles, and a respirator. You can never be too careful as my son-in-law found out when he opted for hiking boots instead of professional work boots and took a nail through the bottom of his foot.
Make sure you’ve had a tetanus shot in the past seven years.
Try to place the dumpster as close to your work site as possible. Due to all the large beautiful moss-covered rocks and the slope of my property, we were unable to have it close to the addition. This less than ideal placement required lots of walking, carrying and pushing a wheelbarrow of debris to the dumpster about 50 feet away from the work site.
When working remotely as we were, it was important to bring the necessary tools each day to the work site. We often needed nails we didn’t have, so I often removed nails from the demo debris to reuse. One day I forgot to bring the circular saw so we ended up cutting some ceiling joists with a hand saw made to cut tree branches. We could have left our tools in the cabin but felt that it just wasn’t secure enough.
Years ago my late Father visited my family in Colorado to help with a basement electrical installation. I believe it was around Thanksgiving and while having a meal in the dining room, my Father saw a bald eagle for the very first time in the sky outside the window. He was very moved and excited to see America’s majestic icon.
My Dad passed in December of 2013. Several months later, I was speaking to my daughter on the phone. We talked about my Dad and the subject of my receiving a small inheritance from his estate came up. I told my daughter I hoped to use that special gift to purchase a piece of mountain property some day as my Dad loved the mountains. Right then a bald eagle flew toward me on the deck and then flew over my house. I felt it a sign that my Dad approved of my use of his gift.
Last week, I realized I needed reassurance that buying and fixing up the cabin in the mountains was what my Dad wanted for me. I needed the sign of an eagle. Today, I got that sign. While driving home from a beautiful afternoon of work at the cabin, I spied a bald eagle in a tree along the North Fork of the Big Thompson River.
Thank you Dad for the sign and the gift of the cabin in Glen Haven. I love you for it and I hope you are proud of me!
October 2nd was the beginning of week four cabin renovation, but also the first day of Highway 34’s restricted usage due to the 2013 flood reconstruction project. During the week, I worked on projects closer to home and substituted on Thursday and Friday at a middle school.
On Saturday, October 7th, it was forecast to be a balmy 70+ degrees so I headed up the cabin around noon, outside the new normal morning canyon access hours of 6:00-8:30 a.m. Leaving at noon meant I had to go an extra 25 miles along the detour through the cities of Longmont and Lyons. Little did I know, “leaf peepers” were also headed up to Estes Park on the same route.
Normally, when I drive directly from my home to the cabin on Highway 34, it takes me about 40 minutes to turn onto Memory Lane. On October 7th, it took 105 minutes (1-3/4 hours). I tried to enjoy the fall orange and gold scenery. The mountains had received a fresh dusting of snow. I was not going to get stressed out by the huge delay due to the crowded detour.
Once at the cabin, I worked for about 2-1/2 hours on more repointing of the old stone foundation, picking up and disposing of tar paper, siding, and lumber into the rented dumpster, loading miscellaneous metal into my car’s trunk for recycling, and spraying a bleach/water mixture on the original cabin’s tongue and groove moldy pine ceiling. Not glamorous work but I relished every moment in the warm gentle breeze, utter silence and the picturesque forest. I didn’t want to leave. It was so peaceful.
Following the pilot car on my way home down the “normal” Highway 34 route (I was within the evening access hours of 4:00-8:00 p.m.), I discovered how truly peaceful and content I feel for the first time in my retirement.
In Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
At the age of 100-1/2, Marguerite died on September 21, 2017 and her funeral was September 27. May she rest in peace. Marguerite was my son-in-law’s only surviving grandparent and he attended her funeral this week in western Iowa. I continued work on the cabin’s property cleanup and began “repointing” the nearly 80-year-old stone foundation.
You can learn how to do almost anything on YouTube.com, including “repointing.” According to Wikipedia, “Repointing is the process of renewing the pointing, which is the external part of mortar joints, in masonry construction.” I watched a This Old House video and then drove to Home Depot to buy the necessary supplies.
Spackling and repointing are similar in my opinion. You are filling in gaps or holes with a compound and smoothing that compound out so it blends in. I think it turned out pretty well for my first time at repointing. Doing the work myself saved a lot of money by not having to hire a stone mason to perform the tedious work and it was rewarding to know I could do make the stone foundation secure again.
Demolition exposes many nails and other potentially dangerous elements. Another nail made its presence known this week, this time to my son-in-law. He was working alone on the second story demo when he stepped on a nail and it went through his boot and into the bottom of his foot. After applying first aid, he went back to work for several more hours but he too wondered, like me last week, when was his last tetanus shot?
As Highway 34 is only open on a limited basis beginning October 2nd, we worked hard and fast to try to accomplish as much as we could this week. We finished tearing down the second story section of the cabin addition, tarped a portion of the roof and boarded up part of the original cabin. Work will slow now as the weather changes and the road closure restricts our access.
Much work remains but we are making progress and who could ask for a better working environment than in the Roosevelt National Forest in Glen Haven, Colorado.
My critical demo question this week was “When did I get my last tetanus shot?” While helping my son-in-law remove the second story windows of the cabin, I slightly ripped my work pants just to the left of my knee. I walked too close to a three-inch nail protruding out of one of the window frames. I felt some pain at the time but I didn’t think it had done any damage until later that evening.
After a much-needed shower and putting on comfortable clothes including shorts, I was eating dinner and watching the news when I noticed a deep bloody scratch to the left of my knee cap. It hurt when I touched it and that’s when I wondered “When did I get my last tetanus shot?”
Working under dangerous and unsanitary conditions on this cabin rehab has been interesting and a real test of my “guts to take on a fixer upper.” We knew we would be working with mold in the drywall and insulation. We knew there was low levels of asbestos in the floor tile. We knew we would be working around black widow spiders as we discovered two during our inspection. We also knew we would be working with rusty nails and wet, sagging floorboards. We didn’t know we would be working around large red ants and removing at least eight large garbage bags of animal excrement and pinecones discovered deposited in the walls and attic space.
Despite these working conditions, we accomplished a lot this week, as you can see from the photos.
I finally remembered I was immunized with the Tdap vaccine when my granddaughter was born in 2012. At that time I was employed as a high school teacher and my daughter wanted to protect her newborn daughter from pertussis (whooping-cough) so I was vaccinated. Now, that same vaccine is protecting me from contracting tetanus from the rusty nails I encounter during this cabin demo/build.