the boulder of gold
By Patricia Belyea
Content Warning This blog post contains nothing about quilting or Japan.
WAUCONDA WA It’s not often that pennies rain down from heaven. That is almost what happened when a boulder bounced down the hillside behind our country home last November. The impact, when the one-ton projectile hit our house, shattered seven logs, broke two windows, and shifted an interior wall by two inches. This in turn skewed the upper kitchen cabinets so their doors flew open and their contents smashed onto the stone floor.
My husband Michael was on the property at the time. He recalls hearing a low rumble, a moment of silence, and finally a big KABOOM. The boulder did not roll down the hill. Instead it ricocheted across the hillside. When the boulder got to our back fence, it flew over the top and made contact with our house about 8′ above ground.
Our insurance company is Foremost, owned by Farmers Insurance. Foremost insures remote homes such as ours that are ten miles or more from the closest fire station. We made the insurance claim online as the incident happened on a Saturday and the Foremost offices were closed.
Jack Craemer, a Specialty Property Rep, reached out to us first thing Monday morning. The level of service we received seemed incredible as the Paradise Fire had started just ten days earlier and every West Coast insurance rep was crazy busy. After two days of deliberations, we learned that Foremost was covering our claim. Yeah!
If the boulder had hit our house at ground level, it would have been considered a Rockslide—which our insurance doesn’t cover. Instead the boulder was classified as a Falling Object which is covered in most people’s home insurance policies. Falling Objects are typically trees, tree limbs, or blue ice from airplanes.
The next step was finding a crew to repair our log wall and interior damage. Jack C directed us to three construction companies in the area that could repair the log wall. When I contacted all three, only Jack Bacon Woodworks got back to me. Jack Bacon immediately headed to our Wauconda home, a 45-minute drive from his Republic workshop to check out the job.
When Jack B called again, he has an excellent assessment of the problem and a solid approach for the repairs. In discussing the details, it seemed that Jack B owned our project. He was our man!
Jack B started at the end of January when 20″ of snow lay on the ground and the temperatures dipped below zero at night. A rancher neighbor, Doug Pritchard, plowed our long drive with his tractor so Jack B could get access. Our home was winterized for the season so there was no running water at the time. Jack B warmed the house by turning on the propane furnace.
Finding replacement logs was the first challenge. Paperwork from the owner/builder showed us that the original logs were made of lodgepole pine from a company in Idaho. Jack B learned that the company no longer makes our style of logs nor uses pine. Ultimately the blades that turned our logs were uncovered and new logs were made from Douglas fir. The logs were then freighted to the Feed & Seed store in Republic where Jack B picked them up.
Installation of the logs was tricky especially since Jack B did most of the work by himself. Matching windows were ordered from a local company.
For interior repairs, our kitchen was demolished and the damaged wall was rebuilt. Custom cabinets were built by Bill Scott out of knotty alder. The bathroom was repainted.
Nothing was easy. The tumbled marble floor had to be extended for the footprint of the new lower cabinets. The kitchen ceiling, which flows into the dining area and two hallways, needed a fresh coat of paint. All in all, the job was completed in just under two months.
More amazing, I never met Jack B while we worked on the project, or gave him any drawings. We only talked over the phone, usually very early in the morning.
Michael and I drove over to Wauconda after the repairs were completed. The next day Jack B stopped by for a visit. I got to meet the man with the warm Indiana drawl whom I trusted to take care of everything.
What happened to the boulder? A friend of Jack B’s demolished it with a jackhammer. Then the rubble was hauled away.
I am so grateful for all aspects of this calamity. Thank you Foremost Insurance for streamlining our damage claim. Thank you Jack Bacon for delivering confidence and a remarkable resolve to all the repairs.
The wayward rock that tumbled down our hillside has been nicknamed the Boulder of Gold. From the destruction came a new custom kitchen that I never planned or expected for our 25-year old log home. I know my life is blessed but this is more than I could have ever hoped for!