I’m not sure you understand just how dirty the cabin is….

Lamp before cleaning

After several weeks of convincing Janeé eventually agreed to keep the brown Pizza Hut lamp that we acquired with the cabin. With water finally flowing she couldn’t wait to get her hands on the lamp and clean it.

Lamp before cleaning

Oh. It’s not brown.

Lamp after cleaning



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!

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.

Toby and Max visit the cabin – finally!

Max in the window

It’s taken only a few weeks to get the cabin and property ready for the pups to visit.  We spent the day outside exploring the property, installing a new window, replacing the outdoor light fixture, and burning remnants of the wall.

Toby and Max declare the cabin awesome and cannot wait for all their friends to come over and play in the stream with them.

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celebrating dead presidents at the cabin

View across the cabin without the wall
Mary and I headed to Airvill to celebrate President’s Day with hammers in our hands.  We made quick work of finishing the wall demo, exploring which circuits sent power to outlets and/or switches, polishing off a bag of chips and whatever was in Janeé’s flask, removed a section of the kitchen counter, and started vacuuming.  We decided you could vacuum the cabin six more times and it would still need vacuuming.  

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View across the cabin without the wall

ROOM WITH A VIEW: You can see from one side to the other without the wall

making it ours – without that wall

From the moment we first were inside the cabin we knew we would take down a wall and closet the divided the tiny 360 square foot structure living space.

Of course, Biz and Mary wanted to have a hand in the demolition.

Let the cleaning begin

I cannot even begin to express to you how dirty the inside of our cabin is. I’d been turning a blind eye (mostly because we don’t have any power and it’s dark in there) but after a whole day not being able to see the river I took a bottle of windex and a roll of paper towels to the window. The first round of degreaser spray shook loose 25 years of nicotine, which streaked down the windows in rivers.  After the second round, I could see light. The third round was the ticket — I could finally see that view we’d bought!

Nine windows in total, a roll and a half of paper towels, and half a bottle of cleaner later and we could see inside! Oh wait, look at those cobwebs… my god, check out that dirt… hey, is that jelly? Oh my, we have a ways to go.

you can do it – put your back into it

Except for the most mentally disturbed, most people dislike cleaning.  It’s even more unlikable when you’re cleaning up after someone else.

Our cabin needs a lot of TLC – from a deck that needs replaced to throwing out the previous owner’s toothbrush, we’ve gone through a lot of gloves during our weekend of cleaning.  Beyond the PBR advertising paraphernalia, not much of the stuff left in the cabin is very interesting – all of it is headed to the dump.

When you live in a townhouse, the only hurdle would be how to get it to the dump.  However, when your property sits at the end of a long and steep trail, the difficulty is getting a truck to the it.  We found a nice fellow through the local paper The Delta Star who was willing to brave the trail to the cabin.  After a long, grueling trip in reverse with his trailer, he and his co-worker made quick work of the piles I had prepared.

After they left with my trash and my check, it felt a little easier to breath in the cabin.

Next tasks are to replace the door, remove the plastic from the windows, wash the windows, wash the windows again, and start working on eradicating everyone else who had been living in the cabin the past three years.

I’ve started another pile for them…