Better to see you with, my dear

Jen mentioned that we’re behind on the blog, not for lack of working. Every weekend, we get up early and make the 75-mile drive up to PA, then work ourselves to death until the sun goes own and we can hardly drag ourselves back up the stairs to the car. Then the next day, we do it again. My weekends have never been so exhausting.

Last week, we took some time off and actually slept at the cabin. (More on that adventure another time.) What a relief. You know you’re exhausted when an air mattress feels like Stearns & Foster pillowtop.

We had big plans or three solid days of work, but as we are discovering, everything we do takes seventeen times longer than we expected. Being a two-hour round trip from Home Depot takes some getting used to. In addition to much, much building and much, much burning, we managed to put in eight new windows (and when I say “we” I mean Jen while I sat around and was more or less useless). This project, delightfully, was much easier than we thought. Score!

We’ve been dragging our feet on replacing the windows at our house, mostly because our decrepit asbestos siding crumbles into bits if you do much as sneeze in its direction. The windows at the cabin are all at ground level, right in front of our face, and apparently held in with just a few rusty nails. They came out easier than kids who hear the ice cream truck. We did our damn best to compensate for the fact that nothing at the cabin is level, square, or plumb, and Jen got creative with the shimming. A little silicone caulk and they’re firmly in place. About 30 minutes per window!

Here’s a snap of Jen getting ready to put the last one into place.



Leveling the floor with shingles

Renovating an old and saggy building has lots of challenges – one of the biggest being the floor is uneven.  Since it’s only our weekend cabin, we believe the unlevel floor adds character.  Translation:  There is no way we’re going to shore up this building so just live with it.  Our plan is to lay a new layer of 15/32″ of sanded plywood and slap a few coats of paint on it until the budget allows for something a little more desirable.  Round and round about the best method to level our floor, I found a terrific article from Fred Fauth, How to Level a Plywood or OSB Subfloor Using Asphalt Shingles & Construction Felt.

We tried the method first in the kitchen – which was definetly the worst spot in the cabin.  After almost an entire pack of shingles, Janeé declared it done.

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BTW:   plywood floors can be a fabulous flooring choice!

Life lesson: Installing a new toilet

Jon installs toilet

Jon (Janeé’s brother) and Dani (his fiancé) joined us for their spring break – somehow we convinced them to join in on the work at the cabin.  To prepare him for his first “let’s tile the bathroom floor” weekend of adulthood, Jon got to install the new toilet.

Jon installs toilet

Water flows downhill here

In addition to a siezed motor on the water pump, the water line seemed to be missing something important:  water.

The previous cabin owner was quite smhart – he devised a gravity spring fed water line from a cistern 20 feet uphill to a storage tank underneath the cabin.  Water is pumped into the cabin via a shallow well water pump.

Janeé bravely donned rubber gloves and went in search of the cistern.  After nearly an hour or dredging, she unearthed the screen covered pipe to the cabin.  A quick check and water was flowing!

Almost empty cistern

Water water everywhere – but in the cabin

Seized water pump

A major part of our decision to purchase the cabin was the fact that it had water and septic.  We all intemately met the septic tank several weeks ago but held off turning on the water until the threat of a solid freeze had passed – the last big “unknown” to us was if the water would flow.  It didn’t.

Seized water pump

Janeé displays how limber she is while trying to pump air into the pump. 8,367 pumps later and the pressure remains at zero. This guy is headed to the dump.

Diagnosis:  the shallow well water pump motor was seized and my uninformed opinion was that after non-use for three and a half years the rubber bladder inside the pump had degraded (wouldn’t hold pressure).

A quick search online and we both exhaled a big sigh of relief – a replacement pump was close to the cost of a kitchen sink and not the many extra dollars we feared.  We purchased the same thing sitting under the sink since neither of us have “plumber” in our credentials:  a Wel-Bilt Shallow Well Pump.

Keep your fingers crossed for a simple installation (yes, that’s sarcasm).

spring cleaning means burning sh*t

In the last three weeks, I’ve learned a whole lot about junk removal.  There is a whole industry of shady characters who will come right to your house and haul away stuff you don’t want.  These folks seem to be retired guys for the most part, and they don’t think girls can do anything. They’ll mostly even take your metal stuff for free!  That was excellent news for our 200+ pound coal stove that Jen and Mary wrestled outside with the sheer force of will. I’d thank Keith Nolastname, who fought the muddy road and had to be pulled out, but I am pretty sure there ain’t no internet where Keith lives.

Another excellent way to get rid of shit is to burn it!  Sometimes we play this game while camping, which we’ve coined Eat It, Burn It, or Chuck It.  Needless to say, NOTHING at the cabin is safe to eat so we’re trying to work our way through 25 years of wood paneling and oak flooring by burning it a bit at a time. You definitely can’t do this in Columbia.  Two metal garbage cans have been perfect for keeping the fire under control-ish.