Tom, Not Al Gore, Invented the Internet

Or that’s how I see it.  Since I am not writing to you from a coffee shop or laundromat or parking lot of a fast food chain I won’t eat in but will steal their wireless signal.

(Not really.  We never got that desperate.  But it was close.)

The phone line was cut, but the company has come out and run a line over the ground for a subcontractor to bury for us.  Then Tom put together a jack and scuttled under the house to hook it up. (Before this, the cabin only had one phone that was…hardwired?…maybe?  It has a big box next to it that is not a jack and it’s a rotary dial phone that we leased from Ma Bell in 1949.)

And just like that, BOOM!  It’s 1997 again and I have DSL!

In all seriousness, I owe my husband a huge thank you for thinking of Internet and getting the ball rolling when the house was still in shambles and I was too stressed to contemplate dinner let alone ISPs.  This was a cheap solution that ended up being a technical snafu and he patiently stuck with it.  We have another week or so to decide if this will be sufficient or we can cancel the order no penalty.  I think we’ll be firing up the PS3 and signing on to our Amazon Prime account in a little while.

Other big accomplishments today included re-installing three windows that needed glass replaced in them.  We had already done the fourth, and easiest, before family came – a quick metal frame slide-in slide-out deal that is part of the front porch wall o’glass overlooking the lake.  These last three were all single panes on large multi-paned windows.  Two of them were on hinges to open, the last was in a traditional up-down open-close setting.

Why doesn’t someone hire me to write about glass professional, I wonder?

The hinges unscrewed (and re-screwed) pretty successfully.  Tom did complain about the “patina of decay” on the old brass screws but not enough to warrant replacing them.  The last one, the double-hung window (see!  I totally know stuff!), he had to chisel out some of the frame and unscrew the runners.

Hmm…evidently today’s big accomplishments were all done by Tom.  Hurmph.  Well, I handed him screws.  And I shopped and washed bras and prepared corn for freezing but that’s another post.  The corn, not the bras.  Instead my blogging accomplishment today is to tell you HOW one of those panes of glass was broken.

Sometime while I was in college, a mother raccoon broke into the cabin during the winter.  I’m sure it happens frequently and I’m actually surprised when I stop my frantic cleaning and look around this place that it’s still even standing when I think how little care it’s received in it’s lifetime.  Or maybe that’s the secret to maintaining a 1909 cabin – don’t actually live in it.

ANYWAY.  We know it was a mother raccoon because the person we hire to “open” the cabin for us in the spring came and found one very big angry raccoon with several small, less angry raccoons.

Unfortunately the mother raccoon was too angry and defensive of her lovely home.  She was shot with a rifle outside the cabin, creating a bullet hole in one pane of glass.  Once she was no longer a threat, the babies were taking to a rehabber, the bullet hole patched with scotch tape, and the cabin slowly emptied of all things the mother raccoon had made into bedding during her stay.

Although I am sad to report the death of an animal, this quite possibly was the best thing to ever happen to the cabin.  It got new beds, new chairs, and a new sofa to replace the one that was originally in the cabin when they purchased it.  In 1950-whatever.  That sofa was asthma in rose print.

I still have my grandmother’s handwritten letter describing the replacements and costs to her homeowner’s insurance.  I have no idea why replacing the glass was not handled at the same time all the furniture was replaced.  No one even replaced the scotch tape in all this time.

In the very back of an old closet I found a two pieces of cardboard taped together to make a sandwich.  In Gma’s cursive across one side it read, “Pane of Glass”.  Stretching the tape and prying the cardboard revealed whatever was in there was also wrapped in old newspaper.

I sent it to the company along with the windows.  I hope they got a kick out of the newspaper.  I’m sure it was worth more than the glass.  Except to me.

At The Laundromat

Tom made it a priority to get Internet access at the cabin. Unfortunately, the easiest solution, DSL run over existing phone lines, is not proving easy. No big surprise when you consider the phone line hasn’t been used or tested in four plus years.

(I am secretly OK with this because I hope we get something better than DSL. I foresee much video streaming in my snowed-in future.)

We did bump up our phone data plans, but that just puts a small dent in our needs. There are several establishments in town that provide free wireless. Most are coffee shops, which means we have to feel leisurely and wealthy enough to use them. We average one day a week right now for lunch.

The other most convenient place to get some free data is the laundromat. Sometimes our decision to wash-n-fold is dictated by the number of App updates we need.

Other items to mention:

1) Family visit went well. I got the deep cleaning done and enjoyed prepping for guests in a place with real guest bedrooms. We had bonfires, ate at a favorite breakfast joint (Donna’s), cooked out twice, and had a real hot day where George, Mom, and I swam in the lake. Good times.

2) Lady dog traveled back with Mom. They really bonded while we were gone. I thought I was OK with this. Now I’m not sure. I’m giving it a little more time.

3) Things are progressing on the winterizing front. If “things” are dollar bills and “progressing” means leaving our bank account.

Actually Tom is doing a lot of research on parts and fronting most of the labor himself to keep costs down. But there’s a lot he can’t do, like running natural gas lines.

4) We have settled on hydronic radiant floor heating to warm us. It is non-evasive (no need to run duct work and cut holes on the floor), cost-efficient, and has the added bonus that running it under our floors will heat the crawl space so our pipes won’t freeze. It’s actually recommended for old, poorly insulated homes. And that we have!

It’s a little daunting to not go a traditional furnace route, but several of the people we’ve talked to about working on the house have seen them installed and approve.

5) Today I commence looking for a job. I put it off until my family was gone. I’m looking forward to the idea of work. We’ll see if that holds true when it is more than just an idea. (I am not looking forward to the job search. Fingers crossed my computer skills impress.)

We are definitely planning to still start our hiking store, so don’t let my short term traditional route towards cash fool you. But there are a lot of questions we need answered to even know where to start and Tom’s time is better spent on the house right now. So I hope to find something to being in a little money, keep me busy, and hopefully get a feel for the area from a retail perspective.

OK. Gotta go fold!

Almost Perfect

I’ve had time to write, just not the energy.  When the physical doesn’t get to me, the mental does.


(“Bathtub” could be replaced in that last sentence to a lesser degree by “dish washer” or “washer/dryer”.  But the reality is I miss the bathtub most.  Not for soaking in, but for using it like an extra big sink.  It’s where I clean the cat litter boxes (currently done outside with a hose.  When it’s negative five…???), where I can hand wash my delicates without slopping water everywhere, and where I go to fill large buckets of water, especially when the kitchen sink is full of dishes.)

I’d say about every other day is a good day for us right now.  We get up early, energized and motivated, and cross a huge amount off the list.  But those are interspersed with days where we’re tired and the general chores of keeping two people and three cats clean, fed, and healthy get in the way.  I also have huge blocks of time where I’m stymied by the fact that while accomplishing other things I’ve thought of several important crucial items that I promptly forget.  I need to sit, read a book, play a game, and just generally let things stew.  It stresses me out because there is SO MUCH that needs doing.  Yet if I don’t take the time to let my thoughts catch up with my hands I won’t get anything accomplished.

Today is almost a perfect day for me.  Tom has driven off to my mother’s where there are some pieces from my childhood home and some of my father’s tools that we’re bringing up here.  I have enough food, water, and clean clothes that I don’t require a trip into town.  My mother, brother, and sister-in-law will come up for the weekend and I have been putting off doing some of the deep, deep cleaning needed until this week.  I’ve vacuumed walls and ceilings of mold, dust, and spider webs.  I’ve moved furniture and mopped underneath.

But there is a lot to do outdoors as well.  So whenever I get to a good stopping point (i.e. whenever I want), I go outside to rake leaves or sweep the cobwebs and dirt from the eaves.  I even halfheartedly traipsed out to the road with a shovel in order to dig up the old wrought-iron mailbox post that was too low for current regulations.  (The InProgress men were not known for their building skills, and it’s obvious the post is not embedded in concrete, but it refuses to budge.  Hopefully Tom will be impressed with the hole surrounding it when he gets home.)

The weather is almost too warm, except the breeze is delightful.  I thought I might go swimming, but a general blanket of clouds has covered the sky.  Light enough you still get sunlight and shadows, but thick enough to ward off Northwood’s lake adventures.

While Tom being gone allowed for my whatever-goes attitude towards getting chores done today, it’s evening now and I miss him.  We have taken to eating on the front porch, or even down by the lakeside.  We have been letting two of the cats have supervised outside time (Celeste, a rehabbed feral, cannot be trusted.  She got her first halter this weekend and has had two semi-successful trips outdoors with it on).  We often have worked on different projects and have different agendas throughout the day, so in the evening we confer and (somewhat, try to) agree on priorities for the next day.

I also somehow gained a day; I spent most of today planning as if it was Wednesday.  While this is wonderful news in the terms of getting things done, it makes me all the more antsy for the weekend.  I can’t wait to have guests and show off what we’ve accomplished so far.  (Especially to guests who are intimately aware of the State of Things prior.)

After our family has broken in the welcome mat, we expect you to come visit too.  We won’t even make you rake leaves.  Probably.

ACK! Sums It Up Nicely

That was the title of a post I started last week.  But I didn’t finish it.  Because, well, ACK!

As of yesterday, everything we decided was coming inside the cabin came inside the cabin so we are officially and truly moved in.  (Without the crawlspace underneath- which needs to be kept empty so we can work on insulation and one day having more than just a crawlspace- things are tight.  We are keeping the trailer for extra storage.  It currently holds our tools and camping/hiking equipment.)

Oh I wish I had felt good enough to keep notes and update you on the drive here!  The first day/night was truly terrible what with the meowing and the meowing and the oh, fyi, MEOW.

We had requested tranquilizers from our vet just in case.  It turned out that all the cats traveled better sans medication (unlike their owners)  (I kid!  Maybe!).  We ended up staying an extra day in GA with my in-laws to rest because the MEOW kept up us all night long.  Thank goodness the cats settled down and did not pick fights with resident cat and dogs so everyone got to have some down time.

I surprised myself (and Tom) with how well I handled the long drive here.  I was worried about pushing the cats to their incarceration limits but at the same time just wanted to hurry up and BE HERE ALREADY.  We made the 19 hour drive from GA in two days so that was pretty awesome if you ask me.

Since then I have been in heaven in the sense that we require many lists.  It has not been so heavenly accomplishing things on said lists.

When we cleaned up the cabin last fall, we did not entirely do so with the idea we’d be moving here.  The idea hadn’t solidified.  While the work we did to clean and clear out junk was useful, it still meant there were 549,103 towels in the linen closet.  Just in case.  And that linen closet is also the 3rd bedroom closet/suitcase storage area/extra clothes closet because every bureau/closet in this place is TINY.  Also the exercise equipment storage area because hey, why not?

Also, while I did not keep any of our old dishes because I knew we had plenty here, 1) I kept my Gma’s “Christmas China” (my words, not hers) because I loved it so and 2) I could not bear to give away the old, old uranium-rich fiesta-ware hanging out in the cupboards because who does not want to eat off uranium??

The kitchen is a tad cramped, is what I’m saying.  Also, please come over and steal some towels.

But here we are!  And we are happy.  Even on our first day here, our to-do list included putting up the humming bird feeder and buying sunflower seeds.  We have had many arguments, but they are over the small stuff.  Currently I am typing this from the 3rd bedroom/study area where I can see the suet we hung for the woodpeckers with the pine trees, lake, and sunset as a background.  That’s the big stuff.  And it’s not ACK in the least.