Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Outsiders Among Us

Flat Top Mountain was invaded last week by our very first visitors: Milwaukee-ites Cindy and Dean Johnson and brave sons Jake, 17, and Aaron, 14, and their pup, Lili. Yes, we officially love them more than any of you.

We rafted down the 1996 Olympic-worthy Ocoee River rapids, swam in a local swimming hole (or what's left of it in this drought), ate too much and drank a bit more than we ate. The Johnsons also jet-skiied with Dean's longtime friend and zip-lined at Ruby Falls. In between, there was also a Flat Top hike (we found a couple of cabins that are so tucked away that they make us look like we're sitting in the middle of Times Square. Seriously.),  a small bit of fishing, an excursion into the urban wilds of Chattanooga and a mean card game of Up and Down the River.

When they left, Jake said, "It wasn't as bad as I was expecting." I took that as the best compliment an old lady could get from a teenager dragged along on one last family summer vacation before his senior year in high school.

What? You want photos from their visit? Yeah, we would, too, CINDY!?!??!

Next up on the visitor list: the oh-so-hip Plessers of Minneapolis in late October, quickly followed by my mom, Gerri, the most adventurous 70-something-year-old I know. Oh yes, lots of projects are on the to-do list before then. First up: Finishing the bathroom. I promise, photos will be posted as soon as the paint is dry.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sneak Preview

I think today was our 18th or 19th day of showering outside; we've started to lose track. But tomorrow? Oh yes, big plans. The shower is tiled and was ready to go tonight, but of course we bought shower curtain rings that are too small for the wood dowls we stained and varnished for the curtain rings, so the first shower in the new bathroom will have to wait until tomorrow.

Here's your sneak preview of the tile scheme and shower floor:

We're not done yet. of course. We still have to install the bathroom door, the drywall on that wall and the ceiling, and then mud/tape and paint the whole 5' x 7' room.  Umm, yeah, Johnson family (who arrives Sunday), you may have to endure an unfinished ceiling. But hey, we got the shower done! Not to mention the toilet reinstalled; it had been removed three times during the process. Mason says word to the wise: Stock up on No. 1 wax ring kits if you're doing a bathroom remodel, but go with No. 10 (40% more wax) for the final installation.

Let's be honest: We're exhausted. We're not used to putting in long (6-7 hours of actual work) days. The tiles cut our fingers; the mortar dried them out like jerky, then the grout? Brutal for grinding sand into those cuts the tile left behind. Yes, there was bickering and whining. But the worst is over!!!

Before you get the final photos, we'll contrast that with exactly how awful that bathroom was ...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Progress Report

So the new shower is framed and hardibacker-ed (don't ask) and ready to be tiled, floor to ceiling, tomorrow, which means Mason and I should be fighting by noon. My theory is start tiling in the most visible corner, so you get the most visible area in a good, pretty pattern, but Mason says starts in the invisible corner and let  the pieces fall as you go. He's SO gonna lose this fight.

So the new sink and new giant mirrored medicine cabinet are installed. Nice view out the new window, huh? Don't worry, there'll be an opaque shower curtain for privacy.

On an unrelated note...

So the past two times we've gone into town, our lunch stops have reminded us that perhaps we are taking a bit too well to the rural life. Both times, lunch turned into sensory overload as we felt bombarded by the crowds, noise and, well, people. We LOVE the chance to have someone else cook for us, but the whole obnoxious environment of modern humanity completely overwhelms us at times.  I'm just not sure this is a good sign ...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day Five of Outdoor Showers

We're trying to continue to embrace the novelty of showering in The Great Outdoors. Mason initially predicted it would be about a week before we showered like real people again. But, of course, every step of the remodeling project is taking longer than expected. The new estimate is two weeks, so that's just another nine days of cleaning the tree debris and bugs out of our (outdoor) claw-foot tub before lathering up.

And poor Nick, he wanders outside with us when we shower and sits there with a look of disgust on his face. He lies in the dirt with his head on his crossed legs and watches us from afar, like a humiliated teenager. ("What is WITH these humans?")

I think we'd be more upbeat if not for the 90+ degree heat and nasty humidity that settled in as soon as we tore up the bathroom. Last night was the worst night we've encountered in our post-air-conditioning world. But about 2 a.m., a storm rolled through and thankfully cooled things off.  Meanwhile, the past five days have been heavy on the productivity level, so the sweat has been flowing freely.

Oh, then there was Wednesday night, when a bat decided to fly into the house. OK, it was a really small bat and I know he was more-or-less harmless, but I don't like bats. Just ask the ex, Dvorak. Mason, of course, thought I should just ignore the bat until it left, but once he realized I was NOT coming back into the house until the hairy flying mammal was escorted outside, he finally got serious. Yes, I am to blame for the death of a small, defenseless bat. (Small enough that he died under the weight of a flyswatter.) And once again, Mason's my hero.

So the new shower is framed and the new shower pan is halfway done. We should be able to start tiling by Sunday. We hope.

Other random notes on rural life:
-- Coyotes (yes, three syllables) have been more vocal of late; must be the heat. At a local breakfast joint, two elderly locals (OK, one MAY have been in britches) were shooting the breeze when one of them mentioned something about "coats." Even the other local had to stop and make sure he was referring to "KY-otes."
-- We spotted a snake track in the dusty sand on a back road of our property. A BIG snake track. We've been told they're here, but haven't seen any yet. We're told that dogs will keep them away. Way to earn your keep, Nick.
-- A 4-inch-long toad was in the middle of our road the other day. He was dead, or we sure hope he was, because he was COVERED in ants. Nasty sight. Saw it on our late-morning walk. But by our evening walk, it was gone. Seriously, could ants crawl off with something that big?

Just another week on Flat Top.