Sunday, January 27, 2013

Look What We Made!

A year ago we gutted the guest room and took down a bunch of uneven, mismatched wood planks from the walls. Mason was just going to burn 'em in the firepit, but Little Ol' Me?  I had other plans. And this past week, I finally got around to them.

First I downloaded some Adirondack chair instructions from the Internet. The hardest part was belt-sanding the wood, which, ladies, is one hell of a glute and lateral workout. Mason ripped and crosscut all the boards down to the right specs, and assembled everything once I had it all sanded and stained.

We plan to build a mate to this one. Mason's already got plans to "improve" the design, but I'm happy as a clam with this one.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tunnel Rat Warms My Heart

Y'all know Mason has managed to maintain his boyish figure despite his penchant for beer, burgers and sweets. The rat bastard! But after the latest home improvement project, I'm forced to withhold my grudge.

That's Mason, above, crawling under the house, leaf blower in tow. The project? Cleaning out the crawlspace, laying down a plastic moisture barrier and then sealing up the crawlspace to keep out cold air and the "no shoulders" -- that's Tennesseean for snakes.

We started this project last winter, but once spring was on the horizon and it got warmer, we put it off ... and off and off ... because, as you can see, there isn't much room under the house. And it's filthy. And these photos were taken at the end where it's downright roomy.

So while Mason was working under there, I'd pop my head under and check on him from now and then. At one point, after belly-crawling under the tightest spots, he yelled out: "Good thing I never got sent to Vietnam. They would have made me a tunnel rat for sure." He does have a talent for wriggling into tight spaces.

(Interesting side note: Mason was a Marine and was about to be shipped to Vietnam in 1971 when President Nixon decided to stop sending troops. Also, if Mason had not taken an extended leave -- UA, Unauthorized Absence, as the Marines call it -- soon after boot camp, he WOULD have gone to Vietnam with his original unit. But while he was home on that first leave -- six months in the making, by the way -- partying with his friends seemed like much more fun than life in the Marines. But he went back, eventually. OK, one last interesting side note: When Mason enlisted, the Marines decided to make him a truck driver. Why? He had racked up 62 traffic tickets in 3.5 years of driving, so clearly he had a knack. Luckily he didn't think to tell them that he was just a check ride away from his private pilot's license. Those helicopter pilots in Vietnam didn't have it too good, either.)

OK, back to the home improvement project. So here's how the crawlspace looks now (we still need to install corner pieces and do some paint touch-up):

We sealed off the crawlspace completely on Monday,  just in time for that arctic blast that brought brutal negative temps to our friends/fools in Minnesota and dipped our temps down to the 20s for the first time this winter. The good news is the house is now several degrees warmer and holds the heat better. Mark it down as another successful project on Flat Top! Beers for everyone, especially Mason.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

6 Inches and Still Falling

The creek, flowing up and over our road
Today is Day Five of the Rain That Wouldn't Stop. Since Saturday, we've been holed up inside the cabin, venturing out only for Nick's walks. And sometimes, we won't lie, we screwed him on that second walk and just stayed by the fire.  Stuck inside, we whitewashed more walls, played cards, cooked and ate, and ate some more. And tomorrow? It's supposed to rain all day. Thursday? A brief clearing before ... wait for it ...  MORE rain.  We're told we might see the sun on Saturday.

Above, that's the little creek that runs under our road just below our property gate, except that today, it was pouring over the road -- only about 3 inches was sweeping over about 15 feet of the road, but if you've seen this little creek in its usual state, you'd be impressed.

Flowing off the road
On Mark and Lisa's property
3 inches flowing over our road (and my cute boots)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Befores and Afters

First, our wood-planked cabin walls (the planks were cut and milled from poplar trees on the property, we're pretty certain: They're all sorts of thicknesses and widths -- none of which you'll find at the Home Depot -- and far from square). 
Before, they were rustic, but filthy, dark and dust-producing:


And now? Clean, bright and shabby chic. The whitewash helps the cabin feel a bit bigger. Sorry, wood purists, but I promise, you can still see the wood's grain and knots and such:



And second, the driveway. For the past few weeks, when we drove to town, we hauled our trailer with us and got a couple of tractor scoops full of crushed rock from Floyd's, the local hardware store. And lemme tell ya, raking out seven trailer-loads of crushed rock is a Flat Top kind of workout. (Not to mention the 30 push-ups we have to do for each homebrew.)




Next up on the blog: The cabin "skirt," and tales of Mason's oh-so-close tunnel rat days in Vietnam. (Had he ever gone, of course.)