Sunday, February 28, 2010

Still kicking

Oh crap. I am convinced that if I were a man, I'd be dead. The sniffles put a man flat on his back in bed. A cold like this would definitely kill one. Good thing I'm a ROAR woman. Still, the germs found me even though I hid under the covers. I went to the grocery store and got the usual cold fighting supplies: echinacea tea, lemons, honey, whiskey, eucalyptus essential oil, and all the fixings for chicken soup. I wanted to get lemon juice so I didn't have to cut and squeeze lemons but there were some things listed on the label that were, well, I don't know what the heck they were. It's logical to me, Spock, that one should not eat something that one doesn't know what it is. Grocery shopping is pretty quick for me because more than half the store has weird science stuff on the label. As an aside note, if you saw how much they sprayed your fruit and vegetables, you wouldn't touch the non-organic stuff either. However, the trip to the grocery store completely wiped me out. I ended up free basing the honey. While it soothed my sore throat, I think I should have hit the whiskey harder as I'm definitely being overtaken by germs. I mixed the essential oil with some jojoba oil and spread that all over my neck and chest so the apartment still smelled like Vix only the natural version. Do NOT put but a tiny, tiny dab under your nose or your eyes will burn and water. I need to kick this thing. I've got work to do.

Can you believe it is the last day of February? Wow. I thought we'd take a little trip down memory lane seeing how this cold has my whole life flashing before me. Today's picture was taken by the previous owner and is the picture that started it all. The Man and I had just watched the movie, The Secret Window. The Secret Window was in a cabin. Well, we wanted the whole cabin and not just the window so we went in search of The Secret Cabin. This was the fall of 2005. We would look at a property, look at each other and ask, "Did we find The Secret Cabin?" "No." Then Winter set in. Now, it was January 2006. I was surfing the internet and looking at the MLS listings on our agent's website. I was scrolling through and when I saw this picture, the world stopped and I gasped, "The Secret Cabin, ooooo." I called the agent. He checked into it for us and it was still available, in the area we liked, and that he'd see us in the Spring. I wanted to see it now. While our agent sounded shocked because there was 300 inches of snow everywhere (no exaggeration), he happily obliged. We met him at the driveway with rented snowmobiles and he rode on the back of the snowmobile with Mike. The driveway is tree lined on both sides for awhile and then it opens into a big clearing and the cabin sits up on a little hill. It completely took my breath away. More so than the photograph. The Man and I looked at each other and said, "The Secret Cabin." The next day was Valentine's Day and we went back out, this time in snowshoes. and looked at the property again. That was our best Valentine's Day ever. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


After my new contractors got the insulation and drywall done, they had to run back to Ohio for an important family event. Meanwhile, I have homework. Now that there's insulation and drywall, I'm lighting fires in the upstairs heater. Just small kindling burns to dry out the heater. I've got firewood coming at the beginning of the week. The electrician is coming out Monday to add some wiring for more lights on the front porch and we've got a few "stray" wires hanging around. I think they were inadvertently moved during all the construction chaos. My plumbing helper is back in town today so I'll get a hold of him and we can finish up the rough in plumbing earlier in the week. I have found a bathroom exhaust fan that I like. I emailed a picture of that to The Husband. He likes it so I need to sit down and order it. Keweenaw Specialty Woods will have all the tongue and groove cedar for the ceiling ready this week. When Eric and Jake get back, they're going to start mudding and taping the drywall and putting the cedar on the ceiling. I've got all the flooring picked out and Rowe Furniture here in town is working on getting that for me. The kitchen and some bath fixtures are sitting in 41 Lumber's warehouse. The remainder of the bath stuff is already at the cabin. I think I'm going to go ahead and bite the bullet on the bathroom ceiling material. Originally, I wanted to put Metallaire up in both the kitchen and the bathroom. It is way too expensive. It would cost darn near what the entire underside of the roof is costing for the tongue and groove cedar. The kitchen ceiling will also have tongue and groove. It will flow better which is important in a small home. However, the bathroom does have a door and it's really the only "room" in the house. Everything else is open. I was planning on going out to the cabin again today and clean but I've got a cold that is just kicking my butt. This germ fest started Wednesday. I didn't feel too bad when I got up yesterday but after messing around at the cabin yesterday (all week, for that matter) and running around town a little, it's starting to feel fatal. I haven't decided yet or not if I'm going to have a hot toddy and just curl up into a little ball and snooze the cold away or if I'm going to gut out about another half day of work again today. Really, I NEED to rest so I can be good to go again because there's lots to get done. Why is it so hard to rest when we really need to? Maybe if I pull the covers over my head the germs won't see me and they'll just go away.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dance of the Soul

Wow. The tension of the last six months has left my back and shoulders. Big, happy sigh. Right now, in the dictionary under bliss is a picture of me and the cabin in the sunshine against a backdrop of snow, recharging our batteries (both figuratively and literally), a little fire in the heater, and washing it all down with a chai tea latte. It has been a good week for us. Eric and Jake navigated The Secret Cabin expertly waving their magic hammers around so quickly they were but a blur. After three days, the cabin is insulated and drywalled. They wrapped up some loose ends and corrected a few framing errors left over from my ex (contractor). They took care of what needed to be taken care of without me having to ask, ask, ask, scream. This is how it should be. I've always thought the difficult people and situations that are part of life and that we all experience was to challenge us to learn and grow. But learn and grow what specifically? Surely, not our ability to string together colorful metaphors. I thought the lesson, which obviously seems to have evaded me over the last 6 months of construction, was to learn to gracefully deal with these difficult others and situations. Maybe, though, the lesson is to recognize when things aren't working, cut those people and situations loose, move on, and surround myself with those that do the dance of the soul. The dance of the soul occurs when the task at hand is carried out beyond "just a job." It is elevated and performed happily and to the very best of one's abilities. That person is in the groove, in the flow, nailed it, spot on. Maybe the lesson is for each to learn his/her own dance of the soul so we can all dance together.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Big, fluffly, snowflake

photo for all those Winter photo fans. I'm kind of all hurry up and wait today. We've got snow. And a little bit of wind. Equals drifting driveway. I got up at 6:15 this morning to get out to The Secret Cabin so I could clear the driveway for my fabulous finish crew. I checked on them this afternoon to make sure they could get out for lunch and a quick run to 41 Lumber. I snapped some pictures of the cabin interior but about 15 minutes after they got back from lunch, they got more done and the inside of the cabin looks different again. I swear. Well, I know you know I swear so maybe a "cross my heart" would make the point. I'll take more pictures of the cabin after their done this evening. As an aside note, I do have a bunch of blog entries in my draft folder that I've been working on that will be added per their origination date so you'll have to scroll down to read those. I should have them done by the end of the weekend.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Playing with the sun

and gate. It was another beautiful and sunny day. I felt rested and ready to "get 'r dun". Armed with my cheat sheets, I headed out to the cabin. This time I couldn't get the gate open. The Jeep is skinny and goes through the snow pretty well so I was able to squeeze it through the smaller than usual gate opening. Some one else also thought our property was good for snow shoeing too and left tracks across our property. I'm hoping that doesn't continue when we get moved in full time because we enjoy the privacy our property offers and we want to continue enjoying it. We don't want to be sitting in our living room having a glass a wine in front of the fire with Barry White playing softly in the background to have the moment spoiled by someone bopping by a window. And we're definitely not sharing our wine. Plus, Diesel, my horse, tends to be very territorial. He goes a bit crazy whenever someone comes onto our property at the Ohio farm. He starts prancing over to where the person or people are wondering around only to be stopped by the fence and snorts at them. By the looks on the faces of the alleged invader, the horse can be rather intimidating. To be honest, I'm not sure what he'd do if he ever got out of the pasture. We joke that he's our "guard pony." Trespassers: Diesel on duty. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Now, for those that have been waiting on the edge of their seats to witness the transition of someone who has always been on grid to life off grid, here we go. After following the steps listed on my cheat sheet, I plugged the vacuum into the outlet. I looked at all the numbers and lights on the inverter (pictured above), charge controllers, and system control panel. Then I turned the vacuum on and ran back to look at all the numbers and lights again. Next, I did some actual vacuuming. Then I ran to look at all the numbers and lights yet again. I couldn't help but feel like I hit the jackpot in a Vegas casino or something with all those lights and numbers. Vacuuming is definitely more fun in an off grid home.

And for my final trick of the evening, I ended up hanging from the gate. After squeezing the Jeep through the narrow opening, I tried to swing the gate open more. I shook it. It didn't move. I shook it harder. The only thing that moved was my hair and my eyeballs. I shook it even harder. It gave way, followed by both my feet and legs and there I hung like a monkey. It's moments like that you hope the neighbors aren't watching, armed with a video camera and a padded envelope made out to America's Funniest Videos.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Solar Training for the Lady of the Cabin

I guess all that snow shoeing, drift scaling, snow shoe boarding, and playing with the gate yesterday was a little more than I was used to as I was really exhausted today. To the point of not feeling very well. The tractor did all the work with the driveway clearing; I just kind of aim so I don't think that was an issue. As much as I don't like sitting out a day of sunshine, I did. I feel bad when I don't get much done. I did cook, take a nap, and got some solar training. The Man loves his manuals. There must be eight manuals for the solar system. Thankfully, he was able to give me the "cliff notes" version. I now know the electricity flows from the panels into the house and through the charge controllers, batteries, inverter, and finally, into the subpanel. I created a cheat sheet on how to power up the system and power it back down. First of all, there is a box on the pole that the panels are on. We have eight panels. There are two groups of four panels. One is named PV1 and the other is PV2. The breakers for PV1 and PV2 in this box on the pole are flipped on. Next, in the mechanical room in the cabin, in the distribution box (pictured above), PV1 and PV2 disconnect breakers are flipped on (pictured above). Then the breakers for Charge Controller 1 and Charge Controller 2 are flipped on (pictured above). Inverter 1 disconnect gets flipped on. The inverter then gets turned on (it's to the left of the distribution panel). Inverter 1 Out breaker gets flipped on (in the distribution panel). Now the juice is flowing to the subpanel. The subpanel is just your basic, every day, on-grid household breaker box. The service disconnect breaker is on. Right now there is just one outlet in the entire cabin and it's at the subpanel. Turning the system off is just doing the above steps in reverse order. I am also trying to get into the habit of standing to the right of the breakers that I'm throwing while using my left hand to throw them. In the unlikely event that the breakers blow (can you tell I've recently flown), they are supposed to blow to the left which would be away from my left hand and my body. DISCLAIMER: These are the directions for OUR system; the procedure could be different for different systems. Please be safe and refer to your own encyclopedic set of manuals.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


goes the snow as I clear off the driveway at The Secret Cabin.

Well, after being here for four full days, on day five today, I was finally ready to go out to The Secret Cabin. Today was also a day filled with weird little "thingies". Keeping in mind that I'm one of those people that gets tangled in tape if I tear off a piece longer than an inch, I had trouble getting the garage door open so I could get the Jeep out of the garage. Just a little ice and I only needed to put a little more umph into it but because I was having a really, really hard time with just the thought of going out to the cabin, I didn't want to give myself any excuse to put it off any longer and self medicate with something sugary. Going to the cabin was going to face my failures. Oh, yeah, sign me up for that. Sigh. I fought tooth and nail everyday for five months to get this place done so we could move in last year. It didn't happen. I failed. More important, though, I didn't want to hear, see, or feel the echos of last summer and fall. Homes have vibes. Before anyone gets all, "Yuck, I don't want to read woo-woo crap," consider how it feels to walk into a room where there has recently been an argument. "You could cut the tension with a knife," is a saying most of us are familiar. That's what I'm talking about. The Husband and I love this place. Never in our wildest dreams did we think a place like this actually existed yet alone that we would get to live our dreams. This is where The Man and I are going to party like rock stars and grow old together. We're not leaving until they find our dusty, spider webbed, intertwined old bones and haul us out on a stretcher. I was so afraid that the cabin and property that Mike and I love so much was going to be ruined by all that went down there last year. Yes, it was that bad. I wasn't physically attacked but I was emotionally attacked and mentally ridden into the ground. Constantly. I have to remind myself that The Husband is used to getting compliments regarding me. Last year was the first time in twelve years that he's received any complaints. He got plenty of them too and all from the same person. I thought it was against "guy code" to say anything bad about a man's wife to that man. I cling to the compliments that The Husband did receive from three different people from three different companies. After taking a little break over the holidays and then coming back, things have changed. They're the same. Oh, so the same. Yet, as I discovered once I got back to the cabin, which I discovered unlocked, only after discovering and scaling the two and a half foot snow hill left by the plowing of the main road blocking our driveway, which was yet again only after discovering my new snow shoes were both right feet, which I discovered worked better than two left feet, I have a slightly different perspective. I was more sad than angry. Oh great, the grieving process hard at work. Anger, sadness, guilt, etc. So, I was with sadness. That was until I got to the Lower Level (walk out basement) to, yes, discover more damn work for me. Dammit, dammit, god f'ing dammit. How many f'ing damn times did I tell the damn electricians that I didn't want that done that way and what kind of f'ing idiot puts shit that close to a wall that needs to be insulated and drywalled yet. And you took up some of my wash machine space-someone is going to die dammit! Tape measure broke? Missing? Too damn lazy to use it or your f'ing brain?! Ugh! It's not fun doing or paying for this stuff the first time yet alone redoing it dammit. Gee, I wonder why this is taking so long and costing so much. Hmm? I'm fighting this battle all by myself. The Husband was standing right there when all this went down. He told them also. But that's not enough. You've got to plant your feet in the ground like an old oak tree and say, "No." Then say, "No, that's not what I want," Then say, "No" again and again and again. And then say, "That would be f'ing ugly. I don't f'ing want to look at that shit in my house. I'm the owner and I sign the checks f'ing dammit." Then you get to mill around after they've blinked and glared at you for getting all super bitchy for no reason at all and make sure they do what you asked and not do what you asked them not to do. Michael is not used to that kind of crap. He tells the pilots how to fly. They either listen or kill themselves and a bunch of other people. (Wouldn't that be a cool skill to have with EVERY ONE that has well functioning hearing?) Not only did I grow up on a farm, work on a farm, and now have a farm and I'm used to wading in a pile of shit, I also was a secretary. Hear me ROAR. That reminds me I need to make an appointment to go get my blood pressure checked. Anyhow, homeowners under going construction/remodeling should be awarded a kill somebody-get out of jail free card. It wouldn't completely stop some of these "professionals" but it would be a kind of Darwinian way to eliminate some of the bad ones so they don't bother you or anyone else so it could be justified as a public service. Because I thought of this, I get more than one card. The important thing, though, I discovered our cabin is still The Secret Cabin that we love which I discovered before I discovered I couldn't get the gate to close on my way back into town no matter how much umph I used.

But wait there's more....

The Husband took two more of our elder feLIONs to the vets for their check ups. Poor Guy Cat. He hates going to the vets. We have to put an extra towel in the carrier so he can burrow under it and hide. Did you know that if you don't look at someone they can't see you. Both, Guy and Grant got a clean bill of health. Kind of helps me put things into perspective. Good news about our feLION family members from the vet makes any day a great day and life is right for The Man (aka DaddyCat) and me. So a shout out to everyone at The Fremont Animal Hospital in Fremont, Ohio. HELLO!

And to finish off a pretty, darned good day, I went to the artists' circle tonight at the Calumet Art Center. Artists just hang out and talk. It's so nice. We can talk about color, shape, composition, how the light and shadows play, etc. and no one thinks your weird or if someone does think you're weird, it's perfectly okay. If someone would have told me that I would be hanging out and talking and becoming friends with these amazing artists that are so well traveled in their careers, I would have never believed him/her. Wow, we've discovered home too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

At the risk of ....

starting a stampede to the UP, I give you these photographs of 1) The most sumptuous Cinnamon Bun ever. (Yep, beats Cinnabon and yep, it was as good as it looks.) and 2) Sunshine. (Also, as good as it looks.) You can get your very own cinnamon bun from The Conglomerate Cafe. If wine is more your speed, as I mentioned before you can get wine in the evening on Fridays. This Friday there is LIVE music. Babette told me what kind of music but, of course, I forgot in the one minute it took me to cross the street to my apartment. Oh well, at least I remembered there's going to be LIVE music. As far as the sunshine is concerned, well....

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Calvary is coming!

The Calvary is coming! Eric and Jake, of Chris Arden Homes, Perrysburg, Ohio; will be here and ready to start The Big Finish Faze of The Secret Cabin on Monday morning. More good news today came from The Husband. He had to take feLIONs Tim Tim Tim Tim Tim (that's Tim to the 5th power) and Mars to the vets. Just a little infection for each of them so nobody is old and dying or just plain old dying and breaking our hearts. All this was cause for celebration. So, I went shopping. I got this cool bowl by my friend, Artist Ed Gray (Jikiwe) from the Ed Gray Studio-Gallery. You'll be hearing more about Ed from me. He is a major force behind the arts in Calumet. He's the reason we have the Calumet Art Center. I have been admiring this bowl since I think November's First Friday so I'm pretty excited to be able to have it. This week is kind of my getting settled in week so I'm a little all over the place but I will have a lot more coverage of the Calumet art scene in the future.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Fabulous Fabio

But not so fabulous picture. Sorry about that. I'm going to have to work on my fish photography there. Whoa. Anyway, it is good to be home. I had breakfast at The Conglomerate Cafe this morning and got to see some friends. Babette, the cafe owner and my friend, greets all the regulars by name. She can remember each person's "usual". Very "Cheers"; only real time and with food. Wine is on Friday night. And, she bakes all the bread herself! I know. She bakes all the goodies in the goodie case too. If you're ever up in our neck of the woods (that's so literal here; anyway) you have to stop in and treat yourself to something. It's on Fifth Street. My beta, Fabio, has been living in Babette's office and Aunty Babette has been taking care of Fabio for me while I was in Ohio for the holiday. Saturday night and Sunday (the cafe is closed on Sundays) at the apartment was a little empty and lonely without Fabio. So after I got to visit with my friends, Fabio and I made the short walk through the snowy streets of Calumet back to our apartment. All I need now is The Husband and our really furry family members and we'll be all set.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

She's back

I'm back Up North again. Here's some shots of my apartment. Just one of the many historic sandstone buildings in Calumet. Pretty swanky, eh? Trying to get geared up for construction round two or Faze II - The Big Finish.