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The Hawk's Nest

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Changing the Nest

When we started looking for a new home we studied all the options. One option that might fit our needs was a fixer-upper. This decision was influenced with my thought, “We could make it our own without starting from scratch.” It also meant I would have the bragging rights of “Ya, I built that wall there.”

So we started looking for homes that could work for us and were in need of repair. The first one reminded me of an old castle I ran across while touring Scotland. The castle had been built about 1100 years ago and not used for the last 600 years. I thought I was making a joke when I said it was a bit of a fixer-upper; to my surprise some places in North Idaho seem to fit that same category. Now you will say nothing here was built 1100 years ago, let alone abandoned 600 years ago. I think with proper archeological help I could prove that theory wrong. 

So we decided to “pre-qualify” the places we looked at with a few questions. First, how far out is it? We wanted to be out a ways. We have been living out of town, understand the hassles and feel they are worth it. Fortunately we are looking in the spring, during breakup. Out of town is a time factor, not a distance factor. Ten miles out of town on some roads in the spring can be several hours. So we had to adjust that question. 

Next question: when was it last lived in? The answer was nearly always, "It is being lived in now." Upon looking we decided to change that question too. "When did humans, homo sapiens, bipeds last live in it?" That was a better question. 

We finally decided on a place that sounded like it was worth a look. We found it and met the owner. “Ya, it needs a little work but she’s real nice,” he said. We looked; I said “What’s wrong with the foundation?” It was an obvious question even to my untrained eye. “Oh she’s crumbled a little in a couple places and rolled over in the back but the place is great otherwise.” We thanked him for meeting us, said we’d think about it and started to leave. He stopped us and said he knew a guy with a log cabin on a “real nice piece of dirt, just needs a little TLC is all.” We took the guy’s number and gave him a call. 

I asked all our questions over the phone including “How is the foundation?” We decide it was worth a look. We met “Guy” on the piece of dirt. 

It turned out to be a clear-cut turned knapweed field with all the slash left where it had landed. We went in the cabin to see where it needed TLC. As I looked at the log walls every line but straight came to mind. 

“Ya know whatcha need to do is take all the logs off - I’d number 'em if I were you - then just put 'em back up straight,” said Guy. 

“Is that all?” I said. 

“Yep, that’s all,” he said. 

We decided that if we gave the place all the TLC it needed there wouldn’t be any left over for us.

A day later a neighbor called. He said he’d just heard from someone about someone else who knows someone who has a house that a tree had laid across last winter. He gave us a number. 

We called. “Well a tree did lay across the roof and I haven’t the time to fix it” was the comment we heard over the phone. “It isn’t too bad though, and there’s probably enough wood in the tree to fix the roof, free.” 

Yes, I know if it sounds too good to be true…

We had to have a look. He was right. The Doug Fir that had “laid across” the roof certainly was big enough to provide all the lumber for framing the roof, plus another building or two. And it looked like the tree had “laid across” the roof with all the grace of a karate chop from an angry God. He doesn’t have time to fix it and we don’t have a bulldozer.

We’re starting to think, “Maybe we should call a professional” but with all the adventures we’re having without one we’re wondering if it would be boring. But we do want to move in this summer and a pro could probably speed things up. We’ll call today.

But first I just heard of a “Palace in the rough” at the top of a “terrific ridge” at the end of a “pretty darn good road” that some folks are "practically giving away," and we just have to see it. Maybe we’ll borrow my neighbor’s Power Wagon to find this one.

Are there bragging rights in “Ya, I write a check for that wall there each month”?

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

Tagged as:

remodeling, real estate

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