Monday, December 1, 2008
Last time I updated we had the skeeter disaster that we fondly call Armageddon. Well We attempted to go back up and believe it or not, the skeeters cleared out. We figured when we heated up the house they would come back in droves but fortunately they did not so we never had to worry about toxic chemicals in our house.
With the bug "thing" behind him, Dave continued to move on the chimney pipe for the new wood fired furnace in the basement.
Here you see the famous HOLE in the foundation he chipped away at so patiently.
Once that was done, Dave carefully assembled the new pipe out of the hole and fastened it to the side of the house and the roof. Remember, the reasoning behind this was simple. here we have a three level (2.5 actually) house that has head only on the top 2 levels. During the night, as our wood stove on level 2 burned down, the cold from the 1st level crept up. When the temps are in the 20's-30's this isnt a bad thing as the stove we have is extremely warm and efficient. When the temps are well below freezing however, the temperature in the basement dips dangerously low and comfort is tossed out the window. So, he then moved inside to complete the installation. Here we have a picture of Dave (looking Nordic as he checks out the fire that we had finally been able to start in the basement)
Now please forgive the picture quality. This was taken the next morning after a nice and toasty warm evening with our new fire in place. Unfortunately, the temperature as taken here was only 12 degrees and *I* the amazing photographer decided to take these pictures in my pajamas without a coat. Do i need to mention the 20mph wind gusts and SNOW that was falling. (incidentally despite the beauty of the snow itself, I was less than pleased to see it considering I just got my freaking motorcycle license and a brandy spanking new Triumph with less than 20 miles on it).
But I digress... and give you a "tah dahhhh"
I don't think we will be going up much until after the holiday or perhaps the first of the year. Hopefully the snow will not fall heavily and we will still have access to our love grotto via the very steep and crazy driveway but if not, we will persevere until our beloved spring.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
All was planned and going as scheduled...
My phone rings again at 4:40pm
"We have a problem"
My first instinct is that something happened to the house, or the dog, or dave. I soon find out, I am somewhat correct about the house.
Apparently the house is infested, i mean infested with Mosquitoes. Now keep in mind, we were up there for the day 2 weeks ago but we have since had some unseasonably warm weather. Hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes INSIDE our house that has no electricity or running water for that matter.
We are baffled but mostly we are concerned about how to handle this situation.
Nature may take its course and the skeeters may die off, but what does that mean for the spring? We could use a toxic bug bomb but what repercussions are there for our "green" house as well as the family and the dogs?
So Shmoopywood is now quarantined until we can figure out... what to do with the end of the world infestation.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
That being said, I have a little story!
The long and sometimes frightening driveway to our love shack ;)
2 weeks ago we headed up to S-wood for my favorite trip of the year. It was 100% peak foliage up there! We also had things we had to accomplish. A few blog posts ago, Dave mentioned the wood fired furnace that we purchased for the cabin. Well most of you know, with a wood stove/furnace comes a chimney. Dave tortured himself for weeks, heck, months about where this furnace would go to live. To be honest, I think he has been chewing on this since before we even HAD a wood fired furnace! Eventually he came to the conclusion that it needed to go through the foundation. Unfortunately, we hadnt thought we needed additional heating when we poured said foundation so we had no knock out. Now comes our weekend... Dave, armed with a chisel and a sledgehammer with 9 hours of work time, chipping away like a crazy person in jail with a spoon digging his way out. Seriously, for a while there it was so Shawshank Redemption it was almost frightening.
The Good news is, after 2 days and 9 solid hours of clinking and clanking away, Dave managed to break through the foundation and chip away a beautiful although unphotographed hole in our very thick and very expensive foundation. The bad news is, by the time it was done, we had to pack up and high-tail it out of there to go get the kids at their father's house and therefore left the above hole in the wall.
Sure we stuffed some fiberglass into it to keep out the rodents.
This weekend we will be returning and shoving some stove pipe into that hole. Our hope is to finish securing it and possibly even attach it to something, like a furnace.
I worked hard too that weekend - ok i didnt really... but I did enjoy one of the best fall displays I have seen in my life.
Oh and Django enjoyed it too.
The view at the dam which is about 900 feet from our house in an open field.
Django having some "me" time ;)
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
o Camp isn't always occupied in winter, so draining a hydronic system was not ideal, radiant floor isn't really an option either due to risk of freezing as well as cost.
o No pellet stoves, yes they are easier to vent but require constant electrical power and the fuel is very specific.
o No fossil fuels
o Keep the cost down.
o Forced hot air... minimal or no electricity required and the possible replacement of motors with DC
o Wood fired. Lowest tech and most readily available fuel.
We looked at some of the new units and found them to be VERY expensive 5K+ as well as the most common type being simply a relatively small add-on wood furnace made to augment existing gas systems.
Craigslist and some internet scrounging comes through again.
This unit was barely used, in super shape and was MASSIVE. Once we contacted the seller, we discovered that it had another huge and unexpected advantage.... There is a coil attached to the firebox which will heat water. The firebox is the "black section" and is surrounded by the orange outer case which is hollow and allows for air to circulate around the entire furnace.
I don't have any specs yet on the approx BTU output of this unit but its firebox is the size of a dump truck and I doubt they come any bigger. Seller was GREAT and helped me dismantle all parts and get it moved out of his basement and onto our small flat bed trailer, no small feat!
Given the intended location of the furnace at SW, pretty sure we can run the small amount of duct work required to heat both the bathroom and the spare bedroom on the first floor. We may even be able to use some flexible duct to run behind the (future) cabinets in the Kitchen. Going to start some research on a gravity/thermal hot water setup for a storage tank. The limited reading so far seems to show that with proper safety precautions we could put in a hot water storage tank nearby and allow the thermal properties of the heated water to circulate through that tank without the use of an electrical circulator pump. We will put a bypass and circulator pump on it anyway, so its available should electricity be plentiful OR have the option of running without. The research will also include replacement of the blower fan as well as any duct fans with DC units.
SO, basically couldn't be happier with the find. The addition of this furnace to SW should allow us to really get the camp up to a comfortable temperature quicker, provide heat in areas we don't currently have it, as well as regulate the heat during the evening. One thing we've learned with the large wood stove is that it does struggle to get the large mass of the camp up to temp (when arriving) but once there you really have to keep it burning hot to maintain the temp downstairs. While doing that the unintended consequence is that the loft is about 150 degrees.
There may be some slightly greener options (radiant floor or a wood burning gasification type furnace which may be more efficient) however... Given the off grid nature of our Cabin, the cost and complexity of those options and our desire to not use any fossil fuel, this was the best we could come up with. I guess we were able to stay somewhat green by finding the perfect unit used, vs. having to buy one new.
Next big challenge, other than moving this battleship into its permanent home will be to get a 12" hole in the concrete foundation wall for the chimney pipe. THAT should be fun!
*publisher's note (Lisa) I am so not making the whole in the almighty foundation. That is going to be all on D :)
Monday, September 15, 2008
It has been a while, I know. Sometimes life gets hectic but I assure you, S-wood is always on my mind and I am always full of posts, just a matter of sitting down and writing them out!
It was a gloomy weekend up there weather-wise and it poured yesterday but we still had a great time, great food, and great work time. It was also a “no kid” weekend which basically means that the children are at their dad’s for the weekend so we were all alone and able to work at our own pace and not worry about other people. Dave and I are usually pretty in tune that way and work pretty straight.
Bathroom: Dave finished installing the vent pipe to the roof (of course he had to paint it so it wouldn’t stick out) but I didn’t get any pictures of it. We have still not been able to get the rest of the wood for the top of the bathroom walls. We have the wainscoting but we are waiting for the rough sawn top halves so I can paint them all at one time. We did however get a door… well actually w had a door for the bathroom, we just hadn’t installed it. We had to make a few “modifications” (we cut it we cut it) but eventually we got ‘er up and now we have some privacy with our new indoor plumbing. *I say some because we haven’t found the “used” doorknob yet. I would like to find 3 matching because right in that area are ALL 3 of our interior doorways and it wouldn’t stink to have them all match!
So here is the Before... where the door didnt fit...
And here is Frankenstein checking out the first interior door of the house! (incidentally, he continued to go in and out of the bathroom for the rest of the freaking day)
And just for the sake of showing you where we are at, this is the bathroom (wainscoting piled on the floor)
Monday, September 1, 2008
Fantastic weather, wonderful company, good hard honest work and indooooor plumbing. What more can a girl ask for? I got up there late friday night, Django and I took an alternate route to cabin due to traffic so there wasnt enough time to do anything but eat and drink and get some shut eye but saturday the great indoor plumbing challenge began! The end result is pictured on the left.
Remember, we dont have running water as of now because the well is something like 800 feet and we dont have enough solar power to run a pump. So for now we will fill the tank manually as shown in the next photo.
The good thing in all this, of course, is no longer having to do the walk of shame and endure the heat, cold and rain on our heads, nor do we have to walk back up the mountain to get to the house. The 4am potty run's and the coyote are now a thing of the past. You can imagine how excited we all are.
Tarynn sanded the wainscoting and I painted all of the wood while dave plumbed the entire kit and kaboodle. He does not have a plumbers license, nor has he ever plumbed before but he does have a best friend with one to whom we have been sending photographic evidence and getting advice from. He did a fabulous job and it looks and works wonderfully!
It has been a long 3 years my friends and things just got considerably better!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
We left saturday for cabin, just got back today. We needed some time up there to get some stuff done so we took a few days off from work in order to do it. We arrived and went right to the lumber yard and got some rough saw wood for the bathroom. We had gotten the wainscoting months ago and just needed the top half of the walls in order to continue. I had this vision in my head of white wainscoting and white washed blue tops to the walls, thats why the tub is painted that color! SO we woke up early on sunday for this very reason. We put the kids to work, tarynn spent all day (i mean aaaaalll day) sanding the wainscoting and i primed them. Then I went out in the yard (I use that term loosely as there really is no yard at this point), watered down the paint and started to paint the top halves while dave STARTED THE PLUMBING for the bathroom. By the end of the first day we had roughly piped the toilet, and hung one wall of both top and bottom of the walls.
My yard set up for painting and drying.
The finished product... ok well not finished, I have to still put the finish white paint on the wainscoting and we still have 2 more walls to do (the outside walls) but we have a space now, that is enclosed! Its our first "ROOM" at the cabin and let me tell you... its an important room! Oh imaging using the facilities INDOORS!
Dave and I really worked well together this weekend and had fun doing it. you can see on the top of the blue boards that we used antique nails for the look.
I am covered in blisters and we still have to put up baseboard and the chair rail (and 2 more walls worth) but really excited because once we finished the plumbing, we can pee indoors while we are working on the bathroom! LOL... ok not at the same time but you are following me here. Course, we have to find a door now...
Friday, August 15, 2008
THe last 7 days my beautiful 15 year old daughter has spent countless hours on the creation of some rather beautiful (in my opinion) Hemp jewelry. Her purpose in this is to help the Great Dane Rescue that her mother spends so much time taking care of and working for. We have a meet and greet on 9/6 and we have been banging our heads against the wall trying to find something to give people when they make a donation. This is hopefully to inspire the donation but also to express our gratitude. I showed Tarynn how to create the jewelry and let her run with it. She has created beautiful pieces, so beautiful in fact that as a test run, I took some to work and left them in a ziplock bag in the kitchen. Ours is a company only of about 30 and much to my surprise, I have found later that 10 bracelets and 1 necklace to be replaced with $58. That may not seem like much to you, but with our limited budget and FOUR fosters in homes right now, it is huge. $58 can give a veterinarian exam, or a round of vaccinations, bag of food, a bed and toys for a dane that has lived its life in peril or outside its whole life. How sad to me that we have created a demand for these animals and then we treat them so poorly.
So today I make that departure from my normal blogging to thank beautiful Tarynn for the Danes and from her mother. We hope to continue selling these and creating more hope for the creatures to find their forever homes.
We stayed home this weekend so I fear, there will not be much of a Shmoopywood update. I have however, held back some updates from the last weeks and will keep you posted (ha get it? posted?)
Thank you for reading if you made it this far. I have so much to be thankful for these days I try to live my life in a way in which I pay it forward to the next in need.
Dave and I will be riding our (ha! i say OUR like I actually own it) Harley to benefit Liberty House, the homeless veteran shelter nearby.
Take a moment and think about how "green" you live and how you can possibly make a difference in someone's life with just a small offer of your time, energy or even a few dollars.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Saturday morning we woke up early so we could get started on the railing. I was going to be putting in the "spindly things" all by myself. After proving my worth on the screen, Dave felt almost confident that I could do it but he wanted to set it up to be fool proof. THe man made me a jig, so that i would be putting the screws in the back of the railing at the same level and they would be even. WHen we finish, we are going to plug them and stain it, but we are going to plug it with a different wood so the plugs will show. Now remember, Dave has been hand notching the beams and has put hours of work into them so really, neither of us wanted me to screw (PUN) it up. So he created this jig for the screws and a guide for the spacing. The only problem is, the jig he created had a third hole.
"Do you want me to put tape over the third hole?"
"I think I can handle it Dave"
*insert eye roll here*
I mean I am a grown up right? I know which holes to put the drill in for goodness sakes. I raised 2 kids as a single parent on limited funds. I got 37 years under my belt, how hard could drilling 2 holes, countersinking them, and then screwing in a screw be?
Well Okay. Folks, I did the walk of shame down the the basement. I asked him if he had tape. He laughed thankfully and said it was easy to fix.... He did this graciously but I still felt very very small.
I did tape up the hole and our marriage was not destroyed. I also admitted my smugness was unfounded being an amateur and all. All was not lost and we continued the weekend.
Imagine that, he still worked with me after all that!
Thursday, August 7, 2008
But enough of my complaining, we hope to get some of the railing done this weekend and maybe even start the plumbing! (an additional collective yay).
One thing I did want to touch on was how happy we are up there. In our world the hard labor is worth the down time and the incredible neighbors we have met while up there. These people are the kindest and funniest people I have ever met. They are the type of people who will go out of their way to invite you to a party even though they know the host doesnt know you. Then they will sit by your side the entire evening and introduce you to your neighbors. They will check on your house in the long winter because they know you can't. They will go out of their way to do nice things for you and just get to know you. They are real people, they are who they are, there is no hidden agenda, no complaining and no grumpy. I have lived in our other neighborhood for 3 years and have yet to meet more than one of my closest neighbors yet up there in shmoopywood world, mi casa es su casa. Amazing.
Our dogs run free, we have turkeys, moose, deer, hawks, hummingbirds and all other kids of animals frolicking through our land (dont forget coyotes). My heart is there and i really hope that one day I will be able to be there full time. Django likes it there too ;)
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
"The quality of the tools you use is very important to the quality of work that you can do, so if you are going to buy something, get the best you possibly can and it will last a life time."
One of my favorite past times when I was 8 was (one which I never got in trouble for and my Dad found to be very humorous) was my habit of drilling into the sawhorses he made. Yes I had my own set of mini saw horses and still use them today, over 30+ years later.
These were a gift presented to my Dad at his retirement. They are only used for the finest work and I wouldn't dream of driving these things into a piece of pressure treated lumber or other abusive job.
Monday, August 4, 2008
I dont even know where to start. Many hours were spent, not by me, but by Dave who painstakingly notched every beam that you can see. The notcher can even be seen carrying a large board out to the front porch in this picture. It will soon be time to put the spindly things (still have not a word to really call them) in place and make this very strong, over engineered masterpiece transform from bessie's gate, to a real live loft railing. I am pleased to say however that through all this hard work, Dave has found some peace and much enjoyment (or so he says) in the very zen-like job of notching these large pieces of Hemlock. In fact, I dare say that I have not seen him quite so at peace in a while. Oh and there is also the added joy to purchasing hand tools to add to his already astronomical collection of things I have no idea what they are really for. I leave you tonight with this, my view of Dave working on our railing. I must admit though, being the phenomenal photographer that I am, I spied this vision from the window and as I ran to the kitchen to fetch my camera and came back he had moved.... so in the interest of candid photography I forced him back into the original pose. *laugh*
Well at least I was honest about it. Photography is fun for me, but even more fun is making fun of myself for not being that great at it.
More to come :)
I did however hang some curtains over the plastic/insulation walls, Keep in mind that it took me 2 years to pick out curtains for our "every day" house. I think for me it was a necessity this time in order to make the place feel more like a house and not a work in progress.
So has anyone else noticed the turkeys? I mean everywhere, turkeys. I saw at least 50 on just one drive down our country road. Heck, I see them at our every day house just standing on the side of the highway looking, judging, maybe even sizing me up. I have been going to S-wood now for 3 years, never saw so many flipping turkeys let alone on one day! So keep your eyes out and let me know what you observe. Maybe someday you will hear on the news that we have a turkey epidemic and you will not think me as nuts as you do right now ;)
So please expect the real update post later. :)
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
It is amazing how much work that is involved with building your own home, especially when its just us two, so the winter snuck up on us and then came the spring and when the 5 feet of snow that dropped in our lot melted, there were the logs... still.
I mentioned that I got a very romantic gift of a wood splitter, that too was covered with snow. Now that they are both unveiled and Dave is busy with building the railing, I finally got around to some splitting. Not having the forethought to take the picture BEFORE i split the wood, you cannot really tell that i made it about 75% of the way through before I took this picture. Here is my very sexy and very reddish splitter. Thats right girls, captain romance is all mine as well ;)
This gives you a better idea of how much wood I have split... Ahh the wood...
edited to add: I was just reminded by captain romance himself that the log splitter was MUCH more romantic than the ax and maul I got the year before. The boy has a point.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Here is one of the batteries. We had two dead car batteries laying around in the garage waiting to be recycled when I found out that Tractor Supply would take the cores and refund some $$$ of new batteries. Purchased two Stowaway 12V deep cycles. Each is 105 amp hours
Monday, July 28, 2008
We got up to Shmoopywood on Friday evening and really when you get to camp on Friday's, the only thing there is to do is unpack and have yourself a Coors light (or 5). That is precisely what we did. The sky was completely LIT UP with stars Friday evening and we spent a great deal of time gazing at shooting stars and watching satellites go by. We are only about 80 miles from our other house and the difference in the sky is amazing, without light pollution you can even see the milky way. We had great weather all weekend with only one thunderstorm on Saturday late night so we had plenty of time to get stuff done.
We ended Saturday much in the same way we ended Friday, with some beers only not without the star gazing due to lack of sky ;0)
This is the way it looked by the end of day on Sunday. You can see the 10 foot beam kind of hides underneath that plywood we have resting against it. I should be a better photographer and move stuff but it was hot and I was tired ;). The handrails are fitted nicely into the notches that Dave worked so hard at. The bottom beam is still not cut but you can imagine what that will look like with a foot lobbed off the top.
Here is a picture of one of the corners where the handrail's are snugly fitted into the notches that Dave created, the second rail isn't in this picture but you can clearly see the notch that it is intended to fit into
We spend alot of time working when we are up there but we have also started to know people in our community. It has been an amazing experience but I will reserve the details for another post ;)
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
So this weekend we are leaving on Friday night. We have the kids and the dogs but have great intentions of working on the rest of the railing for the loft. So many things to do and so little time is starting to wear a bit I think on my brain function.
On top of having to complete the gorgeous railing, we have some basic living items to take care of. Last year, Dave and I used the trees that were cut for the placement of the house and pretty much cut them all into more manageable pieces. The intention there was to split it all and stack it for use in the wood stove. *it was mainly pine* For my birthday my loving husband got me a log splitter (captain romance!) and off I went splitting wood. Well unfortunately the seasons changed and the snow arrived unfortunately burying a pile of wood at the base of the driveway that was already split, and the log splitter that is up behind the house. So this weekend, my kids and I are going to haul the wood from the driveway, stack it and finish splitting the rest of the already seasoned wood from last year. I dont have any fascinating pictures of them, they are after all, just piles of wood to most people, but to me... they mean using the cabin all winter long... once again... PRICELESS!
Dave has a post he is working on as well to show the modifications of our little solar battery charging set up. Its neat! Otherwise, I fear this is a boring update. So I will tell you a little story...
Back story: Our first summer at Shmoopywood was spent in a 10 x 20 hunting cabin while we planned our future home. Once the snow fell, we discovered that not only did we have 2 adults, 2 children, and a great dane (only one at the time), but we had been housing mice. I am an animal lover so at first it was humane removal. I researched have a heart traps and these cute little sachet's that contained herbs that were pleasant enough smelling to me, but apparently repulsive to mice. As time went on it became evident that these little guys were not going to be stopped with conventional weapons. They became bolder, running across our pillows at night while we slept, chewing into our mouse-proof storage containers and even eating my toothbrush holder, the bristles and pooping on the rest. suddenly it was an all out war. I would leave the cabin on sundays and set 10 traps and come back on friday to find all tripped and no mice but mouse crap right there next to the trap. The little *(&#@( would eat the cheese and crap and run away.
I will leave you now, with a picture of our most recent discovery. I apologize for the poor quality of the picture but I am proud of it anyway because it was taken from VERY far away. This "little" guy is I believe a "Coopers Hawk" and I also think his recent arrival has helped abate our mouse problem. I am happy to say that Shmoopywood is mouse free in 2008 ;)
I love nature.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Exciting news, well for me anyway, we finally began the railing project. It is not in any way shape or form done, but having what we have thus far has taken some of the stress off of me. You see, we just were not getting any sleep because Django wanders around at night. Neither dave nor I could keep him downstairs. We would build these barricades to keep him from attempting the dangerous ascent to the loft but somehow every night, about 3am-4am he still managed to get around them, push them out of the way or leap over them and come on up. Its about 10 feet or so up off the ground with NO RAILINGS and no barriers to tell big gangly great danes "hey you are too close to the edge dumbass" so we basically have been sleeping with one eye open on the weekends that the kids are not with us.
Great pains (not great danes) have gone into the actual design of the style of the railing. You see, at first, we wanted to build a rustic cabin. We wanted it to be alot like the Little House on the Prairie houses we all loved so much as kids but since the actual plans for the house quadrupled in size and took shape into a fairly large CAPE, It just didn't fit. Then we started to acquire many furnishings from our D-store and Craig's list, so it morphed more into an early 1900's style. With the addition of the brown couch (that nobody will ever see because its covered with sheets to keep down the Drool from Monsters - shown on the left) it kind of just morphed back into eclectic styling. Finally one day, I just surfed the net and pulled out a bunch of pictures of different style railings ranging from stick rustic to regular bannister type that you see in every house and by golly, we found something that was rustic but sturdy. Dave has set off to building it.
We are aware that at this time it looks a bit like a corral fence to keep in cattle (isn't that what it basically is?) but its not close to being done at this point. Once we do the finish work - little spindly posty things between the beams - and stain it, it will be far more elegant than Bessie's gate... Ok maybe not FAR more elegant but we really like it and 200 pounds of dog can bump and lean on it and they will remain on the second floor and that really is priceless.
Here we see the right side railing.
And here is the left side. You might be asking why it doesnt go to the wall, I have an answer for that (some may argue I have an answer for everything)
The answer is: Knee wall ;)
I needed to add in this picture because it really shows the very fine, tight fit of the beams that Dave painstakingly chiseled out by hand. The beams are rough saw Hemlock to match the beams that we installed under the loft which are shown in the next shot.
There were some modifications done to the tiny little solar set up too, but once again, I will let Dave post about that because I do not posses the knowledge to post about it in any way. ;) I am really happy with the progress this summer and I think Dave is too. We have the top 4 items on the list and still have a good 3 months to complete them. 1. Porch 2. railing 3. dog fence 4. Indoor plumbing. We realize we need walls and the solar stuff as well but we actually work full time and had to prioritize the big things and work on the other things in the mean time. Since we have spent 2 solid years up there without ALL of it, we are OKAY as far as I am concerned. Thank you for hanging out with us.
On the Green front: our composter is on its way! WOO HOOO
ok thats it have a great night!