Monday, September 19, 2011

The Bathroom: Before and After

Before, there was no running water, the toilet was cracked and leaked on the industrial-grade blue carpet, which was disturbingly moist. The door was a piece of particle board. The cupboard (hidden in the left corner next to the toilet), also built of particle board, was the home to unidentified rodents. The clawfoot tub was cute, but needed refinishing and posed acrobatic challenges to even the most nimble while climbing in and out :

After? Well it's still a tiny little bathroom, but we're happy:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mixing It Up

After months of scouting tillers now and then on Craigslist, we finally got serious about our hunt last week, and sure enough, two days later we had ourselves a fine Craftsman rear-tiner. Two days after that,  I had purchased grass seed and dug up about 800 square feet of our "back yard." Dug down about 5 inches, then mixed in manure and peat. The next step called for leveling and flattening the new lawn space with a rented "roller." Screw that. Mason chainsawed off a fat hunk of a downed tree trunk, and we rolled that around (it took two of us) until we had a nice level future lawn. Hopefully we'll see some sprouts in the next few days.

Once I got my hands on that machine -- and make no mistake, this is MY toy, not Mason's -- I couldn't resist doing some more yard work with it, so I tore up the front bed and some spots here and there, and then planted a few new shrubs and moved a few others around. So far I've completed 5% of the plantings I have planned out in my head. Yes, I dream in green.

Oh, and Mason? He's made a fine run at a long list of assorted projects, including reinstalling the interior wood planks that we took down when we installed the French doors, and OH, finishing the bathroom! Guess I better post some photos of that tomorrow. That is, unless tomorrow turns out like today, when I curled up on a living room chair and read half a novel, while Mason hammered out crossword puzzles and roamed the property aimlessly. The truth is out: We do have the occasional lazy day!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Guest Writer, Cindy (Eggert) Johnson!

Lili, the Johnsons' wonder dog

When Nan and Mason describe their location on Flat Top Mountain as "remote," they aren't kidding. Once you leave the last bit of blacktopped road, you'll spend the next 20 minutes bouncing over outcroppings of boulders and thinking the idea of a Hummer is not so completely out of the question for some trips. Edina's 50th and France, this is not.

(For a videolog of the Johnsons' trip, go to

When Nan and Mason describe their home on Flat Top as "rustic," they also aren't joshing. But in typical Williams-Cook fashion, they've already transformed their humble abode into an oasis of order and charm. I'm fairly certain there isn't another property on Flat Top with Persian rugs on the floor, white slip-covered chairs in the front room and an array of artwork that easily could serve as the mountain's premiere gallery. Glimmers of their master remodeling plan can be seen everywhere, from the mulched trails flanked by new plants to the tidy and sturdy outbuildings. 

OK, I know I'd have a hard time limiting my electric consumption, particularly after seeing the array of gadgets we brought: four cell phones, two laptops, one GameBoy, one solar charger, one iPod, one iPad, one Nook. Thankfully, the Williams-Cooks were gracious with the firing up of their generator, and our boys -- 17 and 14 -- hardly missed a connected beat. Though they did miss internet service. But oh well!

Aaron, a serious chef in the making

Jake, cards in one hand, phone in the other

Nan fed us well for four days, including Lili, who swiped a homemade biscuit from the kitchen. We were treated to homemade pizza (amazing), orzo salad (yum!), chicken sliders, pancakes and more. Mason kept us well lubricated with homebrew, though I will admit to switching to a wimpier commercial brew after a few of his alcohol-heavy versions. But they are tasty!

Soddy Daisy and Chattanooga offered a lot of fun. We had an amazing whitewater rafting trip (class 3 and 4 rapids)...

swam in an amazing little swimming hole at a local park...

which with a little more rain, I'm sure would be even more pleasurable, hiked along Lookout Mountain to soak in a bit of Civil War history, conquered a not-so-difficult rope and zipline course. So, we didn't to a heck of a lot of relaxing on Flat Top. We did, however, take several excellent hikes around the gated community, and even discovered a few new cabins off the beaten path that Nan and Mason hadn't seen before.

The Flat Top Twins say they like to spend as much time as possible on their porch, and I can see why. There's usually a nice breeze blowing, and the quiet of the mountain -- with the exception of some overly enthused cicadas and the occasional generator or two -- is lovely.

So, I encourage you ALL to visit! We're hoping to back soon ourselves!