October 2 to 4, 2020
This was my final weekend to get things done. My last chance to finish All The Things before winter. Tuesday’s surgery would no doubt leave me one-handed for the next several months, at least.
My big plans for my final weekend: trim the windows on the interior, add three cripple studs to the second floor joists, install a 20-pound propane tank for my Mr. Buddy heater, gravel the driveway, add doorknobs and third hinges to the two downstairs doors, finish the upper-floor trim, and replace the flashing on the lower roof. The first four tasks were mine; the last three, Amber’s.
I headed out right after work on Friday, my truck loaded down with lumber, the propane tank, and 700 pounds of driveway gravel divided among ten five-gallon buckets. I knew how much each of those buckets weighed–I’d just laid twenty on my driveway in Olympia. Ten would be a good start at River Song, but I knew I’d need at least 40 before I could call it ready for winter’s rains.
I spread the gravel as soon as I arrived. As expected, it didn’t go far. I had just enough to cover from the road to Big Red’s bumper, about a third of the driveway, not including the turnaround area. Fortunately, I could refill Saturday morning at a nearby gravel pit.
I finished unloading the truck in the fading light and headed in for the evening.
Saturday, October 3
Raging carpal tunnel kept me up most of the night, and I headed out, exhausted and sore, early Saturday morning. I felt hung over and beat up after weeks of hard work and very little sleep. But, I wanted to be at the gravel pit when it opened at 8, and then pick up Amber on my way back, making the most of the day’s time.
“Oh, hello,” I said to a beautiful doe laying near the back of Big Red.
She looked at me without fear as I stopped to talk to her. It was an odd place for a deer, but I’ve seen them in odder places. I hated to disturb her; she looked so peaceful. But, I knew as soon as I turned the key, she’d bolt in a panic. Better to ease her up and send her on her way.
“I hate to disturb you, but I need to move my truck.” I took a step toward her.
She lurched to her feet.
Or tried to.
Her backend caved, dropping her to the ground. Her right back leg hung uselessly, clearly broken in several places. The other back leg looked broken, too, and her hips crushed.
“Oh, no!” I sobbed.
“OK, you stay there. I’ll go this way.” I back away and then ran around the far side of my truck, giving her as much space as possible. I needed help, and I knew my neighbors would have a gun. Although I hated the thought of taking her life, a two-legged deer is a dead deer. She was completely defenseless and unable to care for herself. The only thing that could be done for her now was to end her suffering, something whoever hit her should have done themselves.
I tried not to bawl as I woke up the neighbors. One of them called the Sheriff’s office for permission to shoot her, while another got the tractor to load the body into a pickup. I talked with one of the women while trying not to hear the shot.
I heard it, anyway.
How could I not hear it? I headed back to my driveway to move Big Red and make room for the tractor. The doe was laying on her side now in a pool of blood with her tongue lolling out. Suddenly, her body gasped and jerked, her legs flailing in the air. It was just her muscles releasing. It creeped me out. Death creeps me out. I looked away. I was angry at whoever hit her and left her here to die, making their problem mine.
We loaded her in the tractor and in the back of my neighbors’ pickup. They weren’t interested in salvaging her themselves, although the Sheriff’s office said they could. However, they knew several people who might. And, if no one did, then they’d drive the body far out into the wilderness and dump it for the wild animals. In any event, her body would rejoin the cycle of life.
I’m grateful I have such good neighbors. They even hosed off my driveway while I went to get more gravel. When Amber and I returned an hour later, no evidence remained.
And the work begins…
Amber got right to work on the front door. She was going to lengthen it, fixing the bottom where I’d trimmed it too much this past summer, add a third hinge to help with the warping, and add a doorknob.
While she worked on that, I started spreading gravel. Instead of purchasing ten five-gallon buckets, I had them dump a half yard–the equivalent of 20 buckets–in the truck bed. I got twice as much for half the cost and without the shoveling. However, poor Big Red sank like a giant St. Bernard settling on its haunches when the loader tipped its bucket and started pouring gravel. I hated the feeling and tuned out the sound of gravel hitting my shiny red paint and windows. But, Big Red’s a truck. I bought it as a workhorse, and scratches, dents, and dings are all well-earned work scars.
It took about an hour and a half to spread the gravel over most of the driveway, and then I headed back for a second load. Good timing! I got there just as they were closing. Big Red sank under the weight of another load, and then it was back to River Song.
This time, I first graveled the path between the driveway and the cabin, and then graveled along the north side and back of the cabin. Hopefully, this will help cut down on dirt and mud being tracked inside and also help with splashing along the back of the cabin.
Once I was happy with that, I then spread the remaining gravel in my turnaround area. I will probably have to add another yard in the spring. But, for now, this should be fine.
By this time, it was around 2 p.m., and I was exhausted. I set up a chair outside and took a break while checking in with Amber. She was still working on the front door. It looked amazing, but nowhere near done. Screws, bits, and tools littered my new laminate floor.
But, whatever. She was working hard, and I stayed out of her way. When we knocked off at 5 p.m., however, the door still was not done. And nothing else had been done, either. I was pretty discouraged.
Sunday, October 4
Another hard night fighting carpal tunnel. I don’t think I got more than three hours total sleep, leaving me exhausted, sore, and sick. My head hurt, and I just wanted to go back to bed. But I knew that would be fruitless. Instead, I hopped in Big Red and headed into town for biscuits and gravy.
It helped. I still felt like crap, but I had the energy for a few tasks. First, I trimmed out the windows on the interior using some fence scraps a friend had given me. They weren’t particularly pretty or even uniform, but they nicely sandwiched the plexiglass between the exterior window trim, securing it in place. I filled the gaps with caulking cord, which is a lot easier to work with and far less messy than silicone caulking.
I tackled the propane tank next. I’d purchased a heavy duty ten-foot chain, which I wrapped around a foundation block, ran through the extension ladder leaning against the side of the cabin, and then around the propane tank, securing it with a heavy duty lock. It’s not enough to stop a determined thief, but it is enough to stop anyone without heavy duty bolt cutters.
After the tank was secure, I cut a hole in the side of the cabin, just big enough to run the propane hose through. Because the Mr. Buddy heaters are designed to use Coleman propane canisters, they require a special adapter hose when connecting to a regular propane tank. I’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the amount of pressure in the types of tanks.
After running the hose through the hole, I filled the gap with a piece of pool noodle and ran a bead of silicone caulking around the outside. It looks great and should protect the cabin from moisture and pests.
Unfortunately, however, I’d forgotten one important component–the heater itself. D’oh!
I decided to wait on installing the three cripple studs. The upper floor is well supported and secure, so this is not an urgent task. Installing them will involve removing all of my shelving, as well as moving the table and wash stand, and I just didn’t have the energy. Especially for a task I could easily put off.
But, there was one task I couldn’t put off–my rubber raft was still down at the river. I needed to get that before my surgery. I grabbed a climbing rope and headed to the north end of the property. The raft was still where I left it, although completely deflated now. I shook off the leaves and twigs and left it next to the climbing rope while I took one last walk along the river. Who knows when I’ll be able to climb down again?
The water level was up, although not quite as high as the previous weekend. I wandered along the bank, heading south. Four trees had fallen across the river just downstream from my place. I thought the river had sounded a little different, and now I knew why. Those trees completely blocked the river and need to go, but they’re too big for my chainsaw. They’re also on someone else’s property. Hopefully, this winter’s heavy rainfalls will enable the river to carry them away, but I doubt it. They’re just too big. Sadly, we may end up with another log jam, similar to the one just north of my place. I have no idea what that will do to my section of the river.
I headed back to the cabin, picking up my raft along the way. I’ll take it home, wash it, and bring it back for next summer.
With that done, I locked up and headed home. It was a hard drive. At one point, I had to pull over for some sleep, but I took my time and made it home safely. And then passed out for nearly 12 hours. I needed it!