Sunday, December 22, 2013

Updating That Resume

Yesterday I officially added a new "skill" to my resume: Forklift Operator. I know, my parents must be very proud. That college degree and 20-plus years of newspaper editing are really paying off.

At the nursery, we use forklifts to unload trees and shrubs and such from semi-tractor trailers. And spring, when the plants arrive daily by the truckload, is just around the corner. So I got my first forklift training yesterday, on the nursery's new Toyota nonetheless. Very exciting. Not sure if they'll really tap me for the unloading task, but hey, how cool is it to say: Yeah, I can run a forklift. I'll be putting that right after "proficient in Adobe InCopy Design" on the old resume.

Until spring, however, I'll be taking a few weeks off from work. "Praise Mohammed," exhales the lonely mountain man Mason. January is a slow month at the Barn, so why not take some time off to smell the roses? Or paint the new shed and the cabin ceiling, while I'm at it.

The projects awaiting my attention are endless, but we'll focus on the new shed, the cabin loft ceiling and expanding the non-tiki bar "tiki bar" area with some new mulch. Oh, and building up the flower bed in front of the porch. And finish raking and shredding all those leaves. And I need to sew some covers for the beer crates. And it'll soon be time to start taking down trees for NEXT winter's firewood supply. And I need to ... well, you get the idea.

Meanwhile, sorry Mom if it's disappointing to say, "My daughter threw away her good career to go live in a hunting shack drive a forklift." Who knows, maybe I'll go back to editing someday. Until then, who else do you know who can lift that Dumpster (yes, people, that's capitalized; it's a proper name) and take it out to the curb (or kerb, in Australia)? Take THAT trash talk.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nail Gun Alert

The new shed (right) will sit next to the crowded old one (left), and we'll create a little covered area in between the two. 
Productivity returned to Flat Top today, coincidentally just as the temps climbed back into the upper 50s and the sun returned in full glory. The project du jour? Shed No. 2.

Another shed, you wonder? Well, take a look at how crowded that first one is. We're really not pack rats. We do a good job about tossing/recycling/donating all those things we don't use. But when you live on the mountain and are constantly in a state of construction, you need a lot of tools. Not to mention that my gardening affliction requires a mower, tiller and a wood chipper/leaf shredder. The final straw came when Mason refused to start building the guest cabin until he got his cluttered shed resolved, and I want that damn guest cabin, so ...  meet Shed No. 2.

Mason exceeded expectations today by getting all but one small wall up. Me? I helped now and then, but spent most my time on an art project that's going to be a Christmas gift, as long as it ends up looking more crafty than crappy.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Solar Panel No. 3

Getting ready for the new (smaller) solar panel.
We thought today was going to be a washout with rain all day, so we slept in. (Well, yes, Mason always sleeps in ... But I stayed in bed, too, reading "The Tiger.") As it turned out, we slept through all of the rain and rolled out of bed to the slightest orb of sun trying to burn through the clouds that have been hanging over us for nearly two weeks now. So much for our lazy day.

After our usual leisurely breakfast (scrambled eggs with smoked turkey, celery, shallots, bell pepper and cheddar!) and dog walk, Mason launched into installing our third solar panel. Yup, a third one! But it's just a small one, and it's not about powering the house. This one's for juicing the battery on the propane generator. (When this "emergency standby residential generator" is installed under normal circumstances, the battery is kept fully charged by "utility power." So we needed a workaround ...)  

I managed to get all of the plants on the back porch into the ground, and found various other projects outside to kill the day, which topped out at 54 degrees. Not bad, considering the suffering of friends in sub-arctic Minnesota and family in icy Texas. (And speaking of killing, Nick unearthed a fat mole that was burrowing in near the house and sent it to mole heaven.  Good boy!)

Yes, that's right, we're feeling pretty good about Tennessee just about now.

Yet another Mason butt shot. Can you blame me?
Oops, she did it again.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

An Early Resolution

Leaves, leaves everywhere.

Now, you may not celebrate this news, but I’m making a New Year’s resolution to more frequently post accounts of our life in the Tennessee mountains. I know, I may have said this before. But hey, sometimes change starts with a sputter.  Just ask President Obama. And yes, I know it’s still 2013, but I’m trying to get a head start.

I don’t want to bore you, but then I started to think about how I check my friend Leslie’s daily photo blog every day. Now, granted, she posts a stunning photo every day and a hip-happening urban lifestyle to tell us about. And I’m not going to aim for a daily update, but maybe at least weekly.

This week we’re rejoicing over my return to the mountain. I’ve finally dropped down to a three-day workweek, which means I get to spend more days puttering in our yard than I do helping other people with their yards. During the fall I dragged home a bunch of plants once they hit the clearance rack, but for weeks they sat on the back porch because my free time was minimal. But now I’m down to just four more to nestle into the soil before the cold of late December and January come.

Bottling the latest batch.
 Mason just finished installing a second solar panel, which we won’t need in the summer -- but in the winter months, when the sun drops low in the sky, it should keep us better juiced. Of course, as soon as he got her up, the skies clouded over and we've hardly seen the sun for the past week.

Now he can return to building the second storage shed, which has a shiny red floor but no walls yet. And when he’s not building something, he’s brewing or bottling. Our latest favorite homebrew is Midwest Supplies’ “Ferocious,” which mimics Surly Brewing Co.’s super hoppy Furious ale. Good stuff.

In between all that excitement, I reveled in my first buck sighting since moving on the mountain. We see does and fawns all the time; they ate just about every leaf off my mountain laurels last week. I'd be mad if they weren't so cute. But this buck? Gorgeous! I spied him running across a foggy field on the morning after Thanksgiving as I was driving off the mountain to go to work. Almost made the workday worth it.