Thursday, April 28, 2011

Storm Update

We're safe and sound, fyi. We rode out the storms (which came in about four waves, and an ocean's worth of rain) with home brews and "American Idol" (can't believe I'm admitting that to the e-world). Photos today of destruction in the Chattanooga area, and of course throughout the South, make us feel pretty lucky. It's guaranteed that if a tornado struck our little cabin, it'd be a pile of Pick-Up Sticks. But somehow I think our mountain serves as a buffer against the storm's strength. Despite reports of 80-mph winds in the area, we never saw anything more than 25 or so. The only tragedy for us? We discovered the sunroof in my "new"car leaks.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stormy Weather

With the Killer Storms of the South bearing down on us, Mason raced to finish installing the new rain gutters on the back half of the cabin. Nothing like running around with long pieces of metal while lightning is flashing across the sky. (Notice the green trees -- suddenly everything is sprouting and we've realized we live in a damn forest!)

Minutes after he finished, the skies opened up, turning our front driveway into a small creek:

Met some more neighbors on this morning's dog walk; they were hunting Lady Slipper orchids in the forest. How cool is that? Oh yeah, they were also each already drinking a Bud Light. Or Miller Light. Or Natural Light. Of course, it WAS almost noon.

Meanwhile, here's that photo I promised of the new fenced-in storage area for garden stuff. Gonna hang that Tennessee flag there soon enough.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Burning Calories

The weekend's (and Monday's) glorious 85-degree afternoons were spent post-hole digging for the new garden storage area and acid-washing the porch rafters in preparation for new gutters. We're absolutely exhausted.

Mason's been on fence duty. It's a 4-foot-high jobber that blocks the view (and a bit of the sound) of the generator and creates a fenced-in area around the well house that lets us store all our garden-related tools and supplies. Very tidy. We like tidy. Not enough tidy around this place. Yet ...

Once again, my lack of real skills puts me on "scrubbing" duty -- washing down the worn wooden rafters with an acid that has also taken off the top layer of skin on my hands and arms (city women pay good money for this kind of thing, right?). I got the dark brown stain on the back porch and tomorrow, after the prerequisite dog walk, I'll stain the front rafters.  Then Mason will be on gutter-installation duty.

Both the fence and acid jobs called for major calorie-burning -- just as we were running out of food in the house. We didn't want to go into town, so suddenly it was a flashback to being on the boat and making meals out of mystery items found under the bunk. We got by on tuna for lunch and tonight's dinner will feature scraps of all sorts from the fridge.

As for all those calories we're burning, Mason is as skinny as ever. I know I've lost weight -- who wouldn't, going from a sit-at-your-desk-for-10-hours-a-day job to constant projects? But I haven't been able to bring myself to get on a scale yet; I know those evening beers are certain to be working against me. OH, which reminds me: The first batch on home brews came on line this weekend. OH GLORIOUS HOME BREW!! It's a copper ale, and yes, it turned out quite well, thank you very much.

To town tomorrow we go!! Yippee! That means a lunch out -- and a chance to buy more plants!!

Sorry no photos today. Tomorrow I'll snap one of the fence! Or of Mason on the tractor laying down a wide base of pesticide using our new tractor-mounted spray rig. A tractor day always makes for a good day, sez Mason.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Let In The Light

OK, the French door project is nearing completion. Here's the "before" photo (note the fortress-like bolt on that door! And you can't see it, but the lower hinge was "shimmed" using a pencil -- don't ask -- and, as you saw in a previous post, the door was a sieve when it came to keeping out the cold air -- and mice -- while keeping out the light):

And in the "after" photos, let there be light!!:

Mason did a kick-butt job of taking down all the siding on the outside and recutting to fit the new doors, not to mention building his own door jamb. Me? I'm responsible for the painting -- the grunt work. The inside shots show how we haven't quite finished the job. All the inside wood planks had to be taken down for the job, too, and we don't want to put it back up until we've purchased doors for the bathroom and utility room that are also against that wall.

Now, as for that big old bolt lock on that old door? When we first moved in, I feared it was to keep out the four-legged critters, particularly bears. But since then, we've learned that bears aren't really a problem. Instead, the bolt was intended to keep out the two-legged critters  -- thieves. Of course the French doors make it all the easier for someone to break in, but our outlook is that any burglars could as easily break a window to get into the house as they could break through the French doors, so screw it. Besides, we live here full-time, as opposed to previous owners, who left the cabin unattended for weeks on end.

So, let there be light.

The next big projects? A new front door, and a shed. ... And searching for fun things to do with the tractor!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Road Trip!

Good friend Cindy (Eggert) Johnson was in Atlanta for a few days, tagging along on a business trip with hubbie Dean. That's just a couple of hours south of us here, so off we went!! (Yes, we're THAT starved for social interaction!)

Neither of us had been to Atlanta before, except that whirlwind trip to IKEA a while back. We met up with Cindy downtown at a spiffy hotel (Dean's in the biz) and headed to Piedmont Park so Nick could stretch his legs. We also walked through a cute residential area adjacent to the park. After three months in the forest, the cute little houses and well-kept gardens were a delightful change of pace.

Then we found a dog-friendly Mexican restaurant, where we sat on the porch with Nick and soaked up the sun, guacamole and cocktails. From there we headed to Trader Joe's to stock up on treats. Then it was back to the hotel, where we met up with Dean in between his afternoon and evening events.

Dinner was outside at a seafood place where the ambience was a bit better than the food, but we weren't complaining.  We were complaining by morning, however, when Mason and I realized that perhaps we had one too many drinks, or maybe it was simply exasperated by sleeping on the hotel couch and floor. We may be getting too old for that kinda of thing. ... Naw!!

Thanks Cindy and Dean for the fun day! And we'll be seeing them again in August, when they plan to come down from Milwaukee to check out our new home in the woods. Our first scheduled visitors! Yay!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mason's World Is Now Complete

Ever since living in Minnesota, Mason has been pining for a tractor. He'd spend his unemployed days surfing Craigslist for tools he didn't need, and he'd marvel at how cheap the tractors were in Minnesota. He threatened to buy one and park it down in Bear Hollow. I reminded him that perhaps he'd first like to fix that 1967 Triumph motorcycle he bought off Craigslist when he first got laid off. The chopper didn't run, of course. The bike had a named etched on its gas tank: Sweet Cocaine. It sat in our garage until we sold it for a huge loss at our garage sale.

Since moving to Tennessee, he restarted his tractor search on Craigslist. Sure, a tractor might come in handy up here, especially when I start my veggie plot, but as he kept looking at all these aging machines, all I could think of was Sweet Cocaine.

I tried to appease him with a promised trip to an antique tractor show on Saturday. But Mason can be insistent, and I can be weak. And frankly, the opposite is true much of the time, so ... I caved.

OMG! Isn't it the cutest tractor you've ever seen? I have to admit, I'm smitten with the girl!! She's a 1948 Farmall Cub, made by International Harvester in the good ol' US of A. Purrs like a kitten -- all 9 horsepower of her -- no Sweet Cocaine here!! And don't the headlights look like eyes??   To go with it, we also scored a plow (hello veggie garden!), a cultivator and a 5-foot finish mower (perfect for the "trails" that wind though our whopping 5 acres).

After a long day today -- driving about 150 miles to pick up a trailer, the tractor and then sweat out whether the old Dodge could get her up the mountain -- Mason promptly hopped up on the ol' girl, with a beer between his legs, and took off across the property.

He can now die a happy man. Likely in some sort of tractor accident, I fear.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Grandpa Mason: Version 5.0

Just a quick note to let you all know that Mason became a grandpa -- for the fifth time!! -- on Thursday evening. Jackson Harris Cook was born to Matt and Joanna Cook in Arlington, Texas. Apparently the little fella put up a fight, and had to be forcibly thrust into the real world -- sounds like a Cook to me!! He weighed in at 6 pounds, 14 ounces; 19 inches "tall" and his Mom and Dad are doing well.

There's a bit of a back story here. Mason wanted to name his and Wife Karen's first son Jackson, but Karen was having NONE of it. (Sorry about that, Matt.) She didn't go for it the second time around, either. (Ditto regrets, Bart.) But word is that Karen has had a change of heart, and she's now fully on board with the name.

Congrats Matt and Joanna, and Karen and Mason!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Project M-I-C-E (and back door)

See that gaping hole underneath our back door? Well last night a fat gray mouse scurried under it and made a beeline for kitchen cabinets that I've refused to use since we moved in, to Mason's frustration. About 30 minutes later, the damn rodent charged out from under the stove as I cooked dinner (the same stove we found a nest built in the broiler when we moved in -- I only use the stovetop portion).  Mason later confessed the sighting of a mouse in our new well house, and meanwhile there've been signs in the bathroom (dislodged insulation littered with aging deer corn) and the main floor bedroom (which is our junk room until we build the pole barn).

Enough said. Operation Kill Mouse and Install New Back Door has been launched. The well house critter was the first to fall to Mason's traps; he's now resting in peace in the timber company land next door, waiting for one of the hawks to carry him away. And rest assured, I will not rest (seriously) until the house is cleansed.

The back door project had been high on our list anyway. As you can see, the existing door is as airtight as Swiss cheese. When we were in Texas, we picked up some French doors off Craigslist. They'll let in a lot more morning light, but hopefully much less cold/warm air (and fewer of the aforementioned mice).  Give us a few more days and we'll get you a photo of our work.