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Some jobs find you. You’re not looking for them, but suddenly you’re on the way to Pine Mountain Lake near Groveland—elevation 2,795’—to look at a family member’s cabin in need of our expertise.

Our first stop was at Priest’s Grade summit—because everybody needs a break after the switchbacks and hairpin turns on that road. I wish this photo was the view from the summit. It’s not, but it’s still a cool painting. And the lilacs were blooming, which always makes me think of my childhood home.

What’s fun about taking our remodeling show on the road is exploring a new area, and encountering surprises you didn’t see coming...there was a BIG one at the end of this job. Wait for it… 😉

The cabin’s washing machine went bonkers and soaked the carpet across half of the main floor. Covid hit about the same time, and getting anyone in to fix the damage and replace the flooring was impossible. Until I decided this sounded like a “fun” little getaway/job for us to do, along with Paul’s brother Don.

For some reason I pictured a pleasant day of work followed by a leisurely stroll around the lake shore, dinner at the Iron Door in Groveland, maybe a fire in the woodburning stove…umm…I guess that’s why I write fiction. The job was much more involved than I anticipated. If I never see another staple or piece of tack strip in my life, I’ll be happy. But, as usual, the end result was gorgeous.

DAY 1: DE-construction. Out with the old (carpet and pad)—sounds so much easier than it was—and in with the new waterproof floating floor. Paul and Don made a great team. I had to work fast to stay ahead of them pulling nails and staples.

My other job was re-staining and applying polyurethane to the old baseboard, along with some new pieces we brought with us.

The trickiest part was snugging the planks right up, nice and tight, against the rock fireplace hearth. Paul was not amused, but the finished product shows his mad skills and craftsmanship.

We finished off the day by moving the furniture back in place so we had a comfy spot to drink a well-earned beer. 

DAY 2: Chilly morning. No fire in the stove. We hit the ground running, convinced we could knock out the rest of the flooring and head home early. No such luck. The water damage in the bathroom was worse than we thought. We had to replace sheetrock, tape, and texture. This is a process. Believe it or not, one of my jobs was holding a hairdryer to the wall to get the “mud” to set up faster. Finally, we had to admit we’d have to finish the next morning. We were too tired to drive to the Iron Door. Scrambled eggs on croissants were a big hit. 

DAY 3: When you work hard, you sleep hard, right? Until someone pounds on the door at 4:52 A.M. Scrambling to make sense of the rude awakening, we stumbled to the door to find two sheriff’s deputies on the porch. They told us there was a house fire nearby and we needed to be aware “…just in case.”

We leaned out the door to look and saw this. 

Gasp. “Nearby?” How ‘bout NEXT DOOR? (The truck in the foreground is ours.)

Happily for us, the firefighters were topnotch. They quickly contained it. Sadly, for the neighbors, the inside of their home was a complete loss. The structure was still standing when we left for home later that morning. We heard the homeowner was able to get out safely, but we never learned the cause of the fire.

Here’s my parting shot. Looking pretty darn amazing, I think.

Last week's Q&A was: Do you have a daily exercise routine? Yes or No?

I’m impressed that so many of you are dedicated to healthful practices. At different times in my life I’ve run, walked, swam laps, practiced yoga, lifted weights, hiked, and—recently—practiced Zazen. Since Covid, I’ve found my dedication and attention a bit lacking. But you’ve inspired me to start again.

My two randomly selected winners this week are:

Kamie Matsunga
Jennifer You Wish

(Kamie and Jennifer congrats. Please email me your pick of either a $5 Starbucks or a $5 Amazon gift card.)


This week’s Do you have a pet? Yes or No? (I may have asked a form of this question before, but I’ll tell you why it’s come up again next week.)

(Two winners will be chosen by random drawing to receive either a $5 Starbucks gift card or a $5 Amazon gift card. Please reply the usual ways:
email or on my DebraSalonenAuthor Facebook page.

Stay well, my friends, and happy reading,


Next week: What the dog ate…and size matters 😉



Copyright © 2021 Debra Salonen