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Kitchen Cabinets, a Leaky Faucets, and a Runaway Truck

The winter months of January, February, and March are important times for us.  The inn is closed and we use that time for rest and renewal before the new season begins in the spring.

But the winter is also the time we use for repair, maintenance and projects.  Last winter, we were able to repair a major water leak under the concrete slab floor in the kitchen, install new mini-split heating and cooling units in seven rooms, and replace carpeting with new hard wood laminate flooring in a few rooms.  There is always a long list of leaks and drips, sticky doors, old door locks that require our attention.  We sleep a little later, but it is not unusual to spend several hours a day just doing odd jobs around our 65 year off facility.

Then there is the unexpected.  These are the events that aren’t planned but come up and require attention.  Sometimes these projects take on a life of their own.  Lainey decided  to paint the kitchen cabinets in our home.  They look great, but it turned into a major reorganization of the entire kitchen.  Some projects uncover more work than planned.  I imagine you may have experienced that for yourself.

But my story here is one I am reluctant to share because it begins with an admission of a careless, stupid act on my part.  So swallowing my pride, here we go…

In December, just as we were closing, I was heading to town for some reason in my 1998 green Ford Ranger pick-up.  You cannot operate and inn without a pickup, so even though it is old and has 130,000 miles of wear and tear, it is a vital part of our operation.  As I was pulling out of the driveway, I remembered our housekeeping staff telling me that a sink valve in the downstairs of Red Cottage was dripping.  All it needed was a washer, but since we were closing for three months, I decided to wait until spring to have a plumber fix a number of jobs we had.  So my plan was to just turn off the supply valve for now.  I pulled up the steep one lane drive to the lower level of the Red Cottage.  Since, I was just going to run in and turn off the valve, I left the engine running, engaged the emergency brake (or so I thought),  left the 5 speed in neutral and hopped out of the cab, leaving the door open.   I took a few steps and reached in my pocket for the door key when I noticed out of the corner of my eye some movement in the truck…..backwards.  The level ground where I had stopped was apparently not so level, and the emergency brake I had set was apparently was just a figment of my imagination.  The truck was picking up speed and heading straight down the steep drive heading toward Galbraith Creek Road and the trees beyond.  My immediate response was to chase the truck, jump in the cab (after all, the door was still open) and stop the runaway vehicle. However, this seemed imprudent as the truck increased speed, veered off the paved driveway, heading through some trees and toward a sharp embankment to the road below.  I stopped and helplessly watched by beloved 1998 truck and hoping there wouldn’t be anyone driving by on the road below.  The truck never made it to the road.  Two trees at the edge of the embankment made sure that wouldn’t happen.  They stopped the truck cold.  I was relieved, but devastated at the same time.  The rear end of the truck was severely damaged.  The rear bumper and the bed was demolished.

Sheepishly, I call Lainey to report that I had just wrecked the truck.  After determining that I was ok and after learning what had happened, her concern turned to laughter.  She was visualizing her 68 year old husband chasing the truck down the drive and couldn’t stop laughing.  Talk about a blow to my ego…

After having the truck towed back up to the drive way, I was surprised to find it was still drivable.  The whole rear of the truck looked just terrible and the truck shimmed a bit as I drove it up the hill to the inn, but there was hope.  Maybe this wasn’t going to be as bad as I thought.  Perhaps, just perhaps I could salvage this calamity.  I parked the truck as far away from sight as I could so I wouldn’t have to answer or explain what happened to anyone still at the inn, especially the employees.  I wasn’t ready for the ribbing that would inevitably occur.  For days I wondered what to do.  My preference was to remove the crushed bed and build a new flatbed.  Even though a friend gave me the basics of what to do, I had never tried anything like that wasn’t sure I possessed the skills to take on such a task.  First move was to take it to a body shop for evaluation.  They told me insurance would probably total it.  They discovered the frame was bent that was causing the shimmy.  But I arranged for them to just remove the old bed and straighten the frame.   I picked up the bedless truck a few weeks later and again parked it away from where anyone could see it.  Looking at it, I realized I had come too far.  I had no choice but to build a flatbed, but I had doubts.

For weeks I studied on how I could do this.  I checked out google and would stare at the truck, talk to some friends and stare at the truck, wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it and then go stare at the truck.  Finally at the end of January, when the weather began to warm, I decided to jump in and start something I knew very little about.  I worked a few hours at a time and slowly it began to come together.  In a week, the bed, with removable side rails was completed.  I had not felt such a feeling of accomplishment in a long time. I didn’t want to hide the tuck any longer.  I wanted to parade it down Main Street with a band playing “They said it couldn’t be done.  They said nobody could do it”. For most men with minimal carpentry skills , this wouldn’t have been a big deal.  But for me, it took me out of my comfort zone and even though I didn’t want to admit it, I was proud.

We sometime say a morning blessing at Hemlock Inn that includes the line “ Lord, help us see that it really doesn’t matter what comes our way today, what matters is what we do with what comes our way”.  I’m sure that refers more to matters of the heart and spirit, but I also believe it is meant to encourage all of us to learn to accept what happens, even the little things,  and then have the will to do something about it. Forget about pride and just jump in.  You may be surprised at what you can accomplish. I was………