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Wood & Bones, Chronicle of a Cottage, Part 10

Aug 9, 2010

Editor’s note: Here’s part 10 of Bill Smith’s blog chronicle about the restoration of a run-down cottage in Pasadena’s Historic Highlands neighborhood. Bill and his wife, Sheryl Scott, are both graphic designers and do-it-yourselfers who have expectedly found themselves headed for a year of home-improvement adventures. Look for a new post in the saga soon.

I Am The Lorax

Hello! I’m back. I’m sorry if the site has seemed a little dead. I should’ve mentioned in the last post that I was going to hold off on updating for a few weeks to let our friends at Hometown Pasadena — who are mirroring our endeavor — catch up a little. Sheryl and I have been making progress, but it seemed like a good time to pause as we worked out our floor and site plans to begin the permits process. More on that later. Our architect, a talented friend who shall go unnamed for now (her firm discourages outside work) is nearly done with the drawings.

Image One Wood & Bones, Chronicle of a Cottage, Part 10 Wood and Bones renovation Pasadena houses I Am The Lorax historic highlands Bill Smith  photo

But those trees! Those trees
Those Truffula Trees!
All my life I’d been searching
for trees such as these.
The touch of their tufts
was much softer than silk.
And they had the sweet smell
of fresh butterfly milk.

(from Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax)

Part of the offer we made on our dream cabin regarded preserving the two large deodar cedars on the property. One resides peacefully toward the front of the long lot. The other lives just a little closer to the house than I’d like. There’s not much we can do about that. When we disassemble the interior, I’ll check the foundation for level and we’ll do our best to compensate for any damage the roots have done to the structure. First priority, though, seemed to be freeing the tree from its concrete coffin.

Image Two Wood & Bones, Chronicle of a Cottage, Part 10 Wood and Bones renovation Pasadena houses I Am The Lorax historic highlands Bill Smith  photo

Cool Hand Dave bustin’ rocks. Actually I don’t recall Luke busting rocks, I think they mostly worked on clearing brush. But Dave does claim to be able to eat 50 hard-boiled eggs at one sitting.

Image Three Wood & Bones, Chronicle of a Cottage, Part 10 Wood and Bones renovation Pasadena houses I Am The Lorax historic highlands Bill Smith  photo

Early in the liberation of the tree, Dave sculpts what he believes to resemble a profile of the 37th president.

We removed all of the concrete around the tree. I placed much of the debris in a dumpster but then thought that we could reuse it in a creative way. I’ll be honest and admit that the “creative way” hasn’t come to me yet, but in the meantime, we started to stack the old concrete chunks in a pile for later. I remember the previous owner Mark explaining that his dad was good friends with a guy who worked at the local cement plant. When he had remnants from a job in his mixer, he’d roll over to the house, where Mark’s dad would have forms ready to take advantage of the free surplus. Short story: There is a lot of concrete on the property. We have about 500 square feet around the house that will eventually be broken up and dumped or repurposed — preferably the latter.

Image Four Wood & Bones, Chronicle of a Cottage, Part 10 Wood and Bones renovation Pasadena houses I Am The Lorax historic highlands Bill Smith  photo

Image Five Wood & Bones, Chronicle of a Cottage, Part 10 Wood and Bones renovation Pasadena houses I Am The Lorax historic highlands Bill Smith  photo

This is a chain that I believe was used to work on engines. It’s wrapped around one of the larger branches of the tree nearest the house. I’ve got to remove it, but it’s just a little high for any of my ladders, but think I can reach it if I put my extension ladder in the back of the pickup.

Image Six Wood & Bones, Chronicle of a Cottage, Part 10 Wood and Bones renovation Pasadena houses I Am The Lorax historic highlands Bill Smith  photo

A view of the smaller deodar.

In the photo above you can see the beginnings of the characteristic top and drooping branches of the species. The deodar cedar is not native to our area, It actually originated in Asia and is also called the Himalayan Cedar, but the tree is now protected here and is a really beautiful and unique evergreen that blends well with the landscape. You can find more info on Wikipedia and some interesting practical comments here. I like the info on this page, too.

That’s all for now. In the next post I will use ancient framers’ secret to straighten a badly-leaning garage.

Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.

Then the Lorax and all of his friends may come back.

***

To read more about Bill & Sheryl’s renovation adventures, and to see more photos, go to Bill’s Wood & Bones blog, or stay tuned here for a new installment soon.




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