Renovation Adventures – Upstairs Complete

The upstairs. A place where I spend a majority of my time. When I redid the upstairs about two years ago I did not include the bathroom in the phase. I needed to tear out the bedroom below the bathroom so I could have access to all of the plumbing. So I waited.

Recall the start of the bathroom tear out here.

This project turned out to be much more than I anticipated.

Such is life though. In life when we encounter people we only see the outside layers; at least until we get to know them. Humans are pretty complex beings because we know how to hide those deepest layers from the outside. That’s probably not always a good thing.

To recap, I found so many layers in the bathroom tear out. Previous posts talk about that also. The fun part was getting to put everything back together again. If only our lives were that simple. Tear something out, clean it up, and replace. Ha.

As a part of the bathroom update, I was also able to update the plumbing in the entire house. I ended up running PEX home runs back to the utility closet near the well ingress. I decided to rip out or abandon the copper lines running throughout. One main reason for the update is me having to already replace a couple of the copper valves in the old system. I got tired of finding a drip puddle when a valve decided to let go. So those lines are done. I did take out what I could but had to leave others in place. I think I’ve shown pictures of the new PEX manifold system. Here it is just in case I didn’t.

Rerunning those water lines was actually kinda fun. It’s a different way of handling water. Now I’m contemplating adding a water softener into the mix. My skin is taking a beating with this hard water.

Some of the other reno posts cover the progress I made along the way with the bathroom. Let me move on to more pictures of the work in putting this thing back together. Some pictures are repeats over the span of the project.

It’s important to point out, in the midst of completing the bathroom I decided to retire from my day job of Cybersecurity. I had been doing that type of work for 39 years; if you add in the 20 I served in the navy. In some respects as I was rebuilding this bathroom I was also redefining who I was. The many hours, weeks, months I spent working around my schedule to get this bathroom finished helped me make the decision to let the technology job go. And I supposed that is one main reason I moved up north.

Living up north on this homestead was supposed to bring in a very different life. One that reconnects back to simpler things. When I think of all of my nutrition patients over the years and how I often suggested they do what they can to let the stressors in their life go; even job changes and relationship improvements. I finally decided to hear my own advice. Now I can truly model something for my clients that is genuine to me.

I’ll write more on how that’s going. For now the next steps are to finish tearing out the basement bathroom/laundry room. It’s mostly demo’d. I just left the shower, toilet and sink in place while I finished the upstairs bathroom. Technically I could have ripped all of that out as well because I have a full bathroom out in the shop. I just didn’t want to make the mad dash out there in -30 below weather.

Thanks for tuning in. Please comment below with any questions or discussion items.

Another Sunday

This morning I am sitting in my office on my day off. The sun is just breaking over to the east; right outside my window. Spring is in the air and the snow is melting with a fury. Well, except at this moment. It’s only 25 degrees out. I love being up here in the north and working to improve things on my new homestead. I am ready for the nicer weather so I can be outside more. Yep, I’m getting a bit weary of the cold and being inside. This past winter for me will be memories of the extreme bitter cold.

The cold has driven me to stay busy on the inside. I’m trying to get my renovations done before the summer hits so I can golf, hike, camp, kayak, bike, run, and get out there with my camera.

The latest in my Renovation Adventures is ready to continue in full swing. I finished up the walls in the master bath and I laid down the shower pan. The shower pan project marks a milestone in the project and I was pretty excited to get it down. However, I did it wrong. I didn’t mix the cement properly and it just crumbled. What that meant was lifting the shower pan up and scraping the cement up. That, thankfully was easy because it was like pulling up sand. This was a sign I didn’t use enough water to mix it.

Shower Pan to go in this corner
Type N Mortar Mixed Improperly…not enough water.
Pulling up the bad concrete

The timing worked out in my favor.

I left the shower pan out because I was able to line up my drywall guy to come and tape and mud the drywall in the room. It was better the shower pan was not in place so he didn’t have to work around it or cover it. So the shower pan phase was delayed another week.

This past Friday, the taping and mudding phase was complete. Yesterday I was able to make my second attempt at laying down the shower pan. I used a Type S Mortar mix. This time I used enough water and all spread out nicely. I smocked the pan down on top of it and was able to have it settle down into the mortar.

This morning I checked it and that pan is in there solidly. So far it seems things are curing up nicely. It feels solid.

TileRedi Shower Pan

While that was curing, I went ahead an painted up a coat of primer on the drywalls, getting ready to paint. It helps to have many options to do while different phases are drying or curing.

I continue to reflect on all of the many layers I have been doing to bring this house up to specs. It has been a lot. I didn’t know I was going to tear into the house the way I did. In some respects it’ll be a complete renovation of the house; inside and outside. I’m excited because I can see the end is near. In some respects this will be a rebirth of sorts. This is so comparable to how life can be. Work through the layers, some easy and some hard, to make oneself better. I like to think that has been my journey thus far.

The Walls Going Up

I’ve been poking at my Renovation adventures in the bathroom. I started putting up the cement board. I’m still waiting for the shower pan to arrive. Just putting up what I can in the meantime. I may order the drywall for the other two walls. Trying to decide on a new ceiling fan style as well. New wiring? I don’t know yet.

Plastic vapor barrier
Plastic vapor barrier
Durock going up
Durock going up
Working toward the corner
Working toward the corner

I’m feeling like I know what I’m doing as this project unfolds. It’s fun and I can see the end so I’m working to that.

The boob lights will get replaced as well. I hate those. I’ve literally removed at least eight of them since the beginning. The previous owners must have had a deal on them.

LevelQuick Poured

Renovation Adventures continued this weekend. Each stage of this part needs drying time. I poured the self leveling floor mix today. In preparation for that I ran spray foam around the base plate of each wall, and around each hole in the floor. Then I ran a bead of silicone caulk around that. Then put is some sill foam to help keep spacing for expansion. Today was the fun part. I bought two bags of LevelQuick. Each bag says it covers 50 square feet. Nope. I mixed both bags and poured. Barely covered half. So I made an emergency run to Home Depot. Got three bags, only needed two more. Mixed them and made the final pour. I’ll let it cure 16-24 hours before I walk on it. Getting excited with the completion of each step. The next phase is to install the cement backer boards on two walls and drywall on the other two. Still waiting on the delivery of the shower pan. Can’t start tiling until that gets here and installed.

Seal coating prior to LevelQuick.
Seal coating prior to LevelQuick.
LevelQuick poured
LevelQuick poured

Renovation Adventures Season 2 Begins

I have reached the point where it’s time to Reno the master bathroom. I’ve had ideas in my mind for awhile but then Ethan made a couple suggestions.

Anyway, I started with the hard part. The jacuzzi tub. It was built in and looked really heavy. Turns out it wasn’t that heavy and I was able to get it out on my own.

Join me on the project descriptions and some personal reflections (skip over those if you want).

Every time I slip into doing a renovation project I can’t help but reflect on how these changes apply to my life as well. When I moved up here I knew no one, including myself. I have spent the past (almost) three years getting to know who I am. This is the longest period of my adult life being single and living alone. At first things for me were a bit uncertain. I wasn’t sure I had made the right decision. But then I started to learn who I am. I believe this is a challenge to do for anyone when married or dating someone. It’s especially a challenge when you have children. Unless you already know who you are.

I have reached a point where I am very content being alone out here in the woods. I thrive on it. Maybe that will change someday and maybe it won’t. The peace and quiet I am experiencing is good for my soul.

My soul was not always at peace. I didn’t have the best childhood mainly because I believe my mom was a deep seated narcissistic, manipulative, angry, and negative woman. She sucked the life out of anything. I’m not sure how my dad and step dad made it through. Then again, maybe they didn’t. I didn’t get to know my step dad Jim (I’ve always considered him my dad…he adopted me when I was six.) My mom did whatever she could to get in the way of my relationship to him. In fact, it wasn’t until I left home for the navy that he and I were able to connect without the interference of her. Sad really.

I was able to lift this beast out of the stand it was setting in on my own. I wasn’t sure how that would go when I started. At one point I asked my son Ethan to come up and give me a hand. He was understandably busy on the short notice. Knowing that I was on my own, I proceeded.

It’ll sit here until I haul it out behind the shop. I’m trying to decide if I want to build a stand for it out back and use it for an outdoor tub.

Lewie continues to check my progress and often inserts himself into the middle of what I’m doing. Sometimes that bothers me, but lately I’ve been taking it in stride. He’s just trying to make sense of the shit changing in his world.

The shower stall is next. I had to break out the edges of drywall around the shower to find the screws to release it from the wall. When I took that thing apart I found it to be so disgusting. Hiding in all of the spaces you can’t clean was years of God knows what sort of filth and junk shoved in there from multiple families. Ick.

I soon realized it wouldn’t fit out of the door. So what do you do when that happens? You cut that fucker in half. I decided quickly there was no way I would be able to repurpose this unit. It’ll go in the dumpster when it gets here.

Tomorrow I’ll decide if I’m going to tear into the walls. I’m planning to tile the walls over so the drywall will need to be replaced with cement backer boards all around. My son Ethan suggests I’ll need to apply some self leveling floor cement before I tile up the floor. Makes sense. Also, the question then becomes, should I put down in-floor heating? That might be a nice touch.

I’m also trying to decide if I’m even going to put a tub back in. I was thinking a self standing unit. Yet, I’m just not a tub guy and it’s biggest purpose would be for a resell if I do that. Right now, I’m feeling like this could be my forever home. Time will tell.

I spent some time reminiscing on the complex layers I’ve been learning about as I work on these projects. I feel like I’ve gotten more figured out, resolved, and forgiven out of this chapter in my life than I ever did with years of counseling in the past. Go figure. Right now I can honestly say I’m more grounded and healthy in my mind and soul than I could have imagined. I’m not a religious man but I am Spiritual. I have a relationship with God and Jesus without the trappings of organized religion. That’s all I’ll say about that for now.

This relationship has only grown stronger and the blessings are coming in fast and furious. I couldn’t do this without that. Thank you God.

Stay tuned for more progress on my projects. Skip over the personal reflections if you don’t care to read them. That’s ok by me.

Outdoor Renovations – Reflections on Life

I decided this summer would have a focus on outdoor renovations. This weekend I got a bunch done outside.

Yesterday I was able to head over to the Bass Lake Mill and get a pickup load of sawdust. I the. Spread that out over the raspberry patch. I’m hoping it will help with weed control. And it want it to look nice.

After that I started on ripping out this landscaped bed. It had become such an eye sore to me and it’s one of the first things my clients see when they come for a visit.

Old Bed filled with Wood Chips

I was able to finish it up today. It is a big pain to dig out wood chips. I then found three layers of plastic that had been there over the years. The edges were surrounded with big rocks which had settled down as well. Yep. I dug each one out.

Each big rock dug out

I then cleaned up the edges.

This bed is there because it surrounds the covers to the septic system. You can see the one just past the power boxes.

I put plastic down next.

A nice fresh layer. Again for weed control. There is nothing worse then weeds coming up thru the rock bed.

I was able to get the rock loaded in there. This is where I say the best money spent was on that tractor.

The finished bed looks great. I’m sitting here on the deck enjoying the view of it.

New Rock Bed covering septic access lids

My Reflections

It feels great to have that done. A quick win for the summer project list.

Now I sit and reflect on the transformation it went through. Years of layers of materials people kept adding in; never removing or exploring the layers that came before.

That’s kind of like life. How many times do we just keep adding on things believing it is an improvement? Sometimes we have to step back and review our life and dig into the layers of shit we’ve built up. We build them up thinking it will help, and sometimes it does. Sometimes those layers serve a purpose. Protection perhaps.

Later we find those layers are hurting us more than helping. We need to peel them back. Review the stories that put them there. Then let go of the stories that no longer serve a purpose. It helps to ask God and your Angels to help.

Then sit back with those prayers and release. The cleansing will happen. Peace will surround you, all steeped with Gods grace and His Love. Allow that in. When it is done you can look at the nice new and genuine result of who you really are. Of who you are meant to be.

Feel it. You are blessed. And you are loved.

Old Friends and Snowmobiling

God reminds me time and again. I’m blessed with friends I’ve made over my lifetime. I met people in the navy starting back in 1983 whom I have been friends with since. It blows my mind.

Somewhere in North Central Minnesota
Old Friends at The Vintage Pub

The past two days was that precise reminder. My good friend Frankie Valez came by for a couple of days. Yep, in the middle of winter. When he arrived the temperature was -15F. And, typical of Minnesota, he leaves today and it may reach 40F. Quite a swing in range. We rented snowmobiles over by Mille Lacs lake on Saturday morning; returning them Sunday afternoon. We put on 93 miles the first day and another 95 miles the second.

We might be feeling the age in our bodies. It kind of surprised us the impact that kind of sledding had on the muscles, both a bit slow this morning. The cool thing is we made another memory to add to the many we reminisced over our time together.

On the Trail
Getting Ready

The scenery we discovered was priceless, seeing parts of Minnesota you can only find on the back of a snowmobile. The first day was filled with sunlight and day two was filled with snow fall; all day. We also discovered an awesome dive to eat and drink at called Jack’s Shack just a bit north on the east side of Mille Lac lake. I will definitely go back there.

Minnesota Snowscape
Jack’s Shack – Great food, great beer

This morning we wrapped our fellowship over coffee before Frankie headed off to the airport. We had final reflections on how we are able to be ourselves and don’t have to put on the roles the world expects of us professionally. It was a time to relax and be free, which is something we all should do. It’s been awhile for me anyway. That is what a vacation is supposed to do.

I love my navy family. Any of them are welcome in my home any time; day or night.

Fish House Villages on Mille Lacs

A Saturday Morning

I’m sitting here by the wood stove this morning. It’s -9° outside. The dog is fed and he’s been out; tho he didn’t stay out long. He’s no dummy. Well, that can be debated.

-9 degrees outside. Warm and toasty here.

Looking ahead on the day I’ll plan to join a friend at breakfast over in Askov. Then we’ll go walk thru the gun show being held there as well. I fear there will be a day when just saying I’m going to a gun show will result in some sort of report to the authorities. But then if we were at that point there wouldn’t be any gun shows so no need to worry.

What startles my imagination is how many intelligent people there are in the USA who are so willing to ignore truth when it’s staring them in the face. Is it fear that does that to people? You know what truth I’m talking about. It’s the truth about COVID-19, masks, the C19 vaccine; and yes, the illegitimate election results.

The truth is it’s sad that I actually fear posting that previous paragraph. You see, my fear is differing opinions no longer seem to matter. We can be silenced now thru ridicule, shaming, or guilt. We can be canceled out of the greatness that was in our country. My fear is based in reality because it is happening now. Look around. It even happened to Lou Dobbs yesterday. I don’t watch Fox News, or really any news for that matter, yet I saw the cancel culture strike out Lou.

If you are willing to be honest perhaps you’ll take notice of where dissension of speech is happening around you and in your lives. How about at the school boards and our children?

Yep, all this over a cup of coffee by the wood stove. Perhaps you’ll join me, even if we disagree. We can talk about all of the shit going on and how we can restore our great republic—without tearing each other down. If you’re able to do that with me, then it’s not too late.

Leave your comments below because Doing so on Facebook leaves it open to censorship. If it is the first time commenting it will get posted after I approve your permissions to post comments. Sorry, that helps keep the spammers at bay.

My First Deer

This morning was unseasonably warm. I didn’t need to dress up in my full winter hunters orange. Just jeans, a light jacket, my outer jacket and hat. No gloves. Weird.

I made my way out to the deer stand about 1/2 mile away on the far western part of my homestead. It’s an old stand out there and I checked it over the week before. This morning as I climbed up, I discovered the top floor support was a bit wiggly and if I tried hard enough could maybe be pulled right off. I almost gave it up and went to another stand. Instead I decided to climb aboard–it held.

I settled in to the small seat. Last year when I was out there I spent many hours on that little chair in the treetops. I was prepared for that this year as well. Usually when I get seated I drag out my coffee thermos and relax. Today would unfold differently.

I sat for a moment and reflected on hunting with my dad. In that moment, I really miss him. As a boy growing up I spent a lot of time out in the woods up northern Minnesota, near Two Harbors. He had a cabin up there with a bunch of his buddies. I remember many of their names too. Lyle, Paul, Gordan, and others. The camaraderie was strong with them. They always included me in as well as much as you can for a 10 year old.

I would go out in the woods and sit with Dad. He’d tell me to sit still and silent. Just listen. Back then I didn’t realize that is one of my favorite things to do as an older man. I’ll take that over any type of crowd or noise. In all of those times, I never once shot a deer.

I joined the navy right out of high school and I did do some hunting in Maine when I was stationed there. That was back in the late 80’s. Last year was the first time I picked it up again so it’s been a long time.

This year I headed out on my own. I was hoping to get the boys up for opener weekend, but they had other things going on. As I sat there I could hear rifle shots all over the area surrounding me. The season was on.

My reflections were snapped back to the present when I heard noise off in the distance. I noticed two or three doe walking along from the south to the north. Straight ahead in front of me. Then suddenly two more came crashing up from the east, behind me. Something had them spooked. Daylight was just getting to the point of being able to see through the grey of the trees. I watched them for a moment.

I was just thinking about dragging my coffee out when I heard another sound directly in front of me. I saw movement and grabbed the rifle to look through the scope. I was thinking another doe when I first spotted it. He then raised his head and I about shit. The rack on this monster deer was huge! He was poking along behind those earlier doe. I followed him through the scope and watched. He was oblivious to my presence high up in the tree. Straight out, I’d say he was about 60 feet. I waited for the right position. His lifted up high as he sniffed the air in his pursuit. That’s when I’d figure he’d smell me out but the wind was still.

I followed him along further. He stepped behind a cluster of trees. Then he turned around and stepped right out in an open clearing for me. A perfect broadside angle. I lined up for a high shoulder shot. Breathed. I don’t even remember pulling the trigger. The rifle jumped! I looked out past the scope expecting to see the deer running off. I didn’t want to loose him.

But I couldn’t see him! Where the hell did he go?

No where. He dropped immediately where he stood. His grey coat blended right in with the landscape. I climbed down out of the stand in disbelief. I had only been up there for 30 minutes. At 7:10 am, I shot my first deer! Ever. I was so excited.

I made my way over to the buck laying there on the ground. He was still moving. When he heard me come up he tried to get up. I didn’t let that happen and dispatched him quickly. I could have let it bleed out and die, but that seemed cruel.

I moved up next to him, taking in the sight of my first kill. I was leaning against a tree admiring this beautiful deer and feeling grateful for his sacrifice to my table. I looked up when I heard another noise. Here I see another buck coming along from the north. Just walking along totally unaware of the scene taking place just yards from him. He finally looks over at me and can’t see me. I’m perfectly still. Yet he finally looks right at me and knows there is something wrong. He actually started coming in closer to me! Just a young buck with two spikes and couple small branches at the end. I suppose technically that would be a four pointer. He was getting closer when I finally moved and he just jumped in surprise and bolted the other way. When he jumped and snorted, three more doe further back from him jumped and did the same. I was surrounded by deer! If they put their resources together they might have been able to take me out. Thankfully, we’re not there yet.

The night before I had reviewed several YouTube videos on how to field dress a deer. Today needed to be especially speedy given how warm it is out there. I thought I could just do what the videos told me to do and I’d be done in 15 minutes. Ummm. Nope.

I’ve never dressed out a deer before. After a bit I cried uncle and decided to call my neighbor who I know is quite skilled in this practice. Don said yep, thankfully, and headed on out to find me. He got there and helped me finish out the cleaning in short order. I was having trouble because I wasn’t feeling any of the typical landmarks where the lungs and heart should be. My shot had gone right through that area and chewed things up pretty good. I’m also thankful Don came out because he helped me drag this beast out to a clearing by his 4×4 with trailer. It took the both of us to get it on the trailer then into the bed of my truck.

I headed right out to the meat processor over in Askov. There was a line. As I got out of the truck, a couple guys pulled up behind me and got out. They quipped suggesting this was deer season, not moose season; a testament to the size of this beast. I was feeling pretty good about all of that. Instant camaraderie with total strangers. It’s hard to believe that’s still possible given the climate of this country right now.

I didn’t take the deer in to be weighed and I’m not going to have it mounted. Who would want that after I pass? I’ll keep the antlers and mount those to the side of my shop and start collecting those I supposed. I’ll get the deer processed into steaks, chops, roasts, summer sausage and sticks. Should be some stock for my freezer.

Here’s the pictures.

As I write this and look the pictures over I really wish my dad could have been here with me. He would have cheered me on and been proud.