Bill Heavey's Deer Diary: Come Hell or Home Improvement

You don't want to move into a new old house in November. The furnace fan comes on, but the burner doesn't. You deal. Last night, in a room with unsteady towers of cardboard boxes, I tucked Emma inside my sleeping bag. We'd had hot dogs and lima beans for dinner, passing the single spoon back and forth to cut the dogs.

The vinyl window guys showed up at dawn, beating the walls from within and without. By 3 p.m., I'll have 14 new windows: solid vinyl, double-glazed, and argon-filled. That sucking sound is $8,400 leaving my Visa card account at the speed of light.

Meanwhile, my fishing buddy, Greg, is rebuilding the porch. He's a carpenter, quieter than the window guys but with a greater potential for danger. Every so often he calls me out to show another example of mind-bogglingly shoddy work by whoever built the thing 50 years ago. "They ran untreated posts right into the dirt," he says incredulously, shaking his head and exhaling cigarette smoke. "The whole thing's so rotten you could pull it down with your bare hands!" He has special ordered hemlock from a lumber yard 100 miles away.

I nod. I know nothing of carpentry, of vinyl windows and solar heat gain coefficients, or of furnace heat returns.

Here's what I do know. Right now, my Scent-Lok is tumbling around the dryer on high. My bow, boots, and climber are safe in the car trunk. I have just showered and dried my body using a bed sheet, the only clean fabric within reach.

Greg pops his head in the house. "I'm gonna need your help in about 10 minutes, okay?" he calls. "Some of this takes two men."

"You got it," I call back.

Five minutes later, I slip out the kitchen door. I release the parking break and let her roll 50 yards down the street before hitting the ignition. And then, at a high rate of speed, I proceed to the woods.

It's November, Jack.