Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Big Happenings

So much great stuff to update!
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


I am going to depart from the normal update to just reflect for a moment. You can either read process and consider, or you can X out.

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

"I Think I Can Handle It!"

Let me set this up for you.
We drove up in torrential downpours on friday evening so that we could make sure the cabin is okay. This part of new hampshire is under flood warnings and flash floods and despite the rain, we headed up to make sure everyone and everything was ok.
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!

We still have to put the "top" on to the railing but we are probably going to put it on hold for a while. We have a 4 day weekend up there over the twenty something and would like to start plumbing. Plumbing alone isnt enough, we also need walls lol...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Real People, Real Problems, Really Great place!

Off to cabin we go tomorrow (collective "yay"). The days are growing shorter and the nights are growing colder and our days are numbered. So now begins our crunchtime if we want to spend any time at all up there this winter. The wood stove is sufficient to keep us warm at night in the cold but it takes a good 6-8 hours to bring the cabin to a temperature that is comfortable. Then we have to deal with the driveway that is at a very steep incline. This driveway with 2 + inches of snow is impossible to pass and unfortunately with the street plow there is no where off the road to park and there is nowhere off our drive to stop and hike because the snow banks reach in excess of 5 feet!

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

Woodworking Zen-David

I'm not sure how to put everything into a post like this, other than to just write down a few things that have been bouncing around in my head lately. My Wife has a very keen eye when it comes to if I am enjoying something or not... This is especially true of some jobs around the cabin. As far as my background goes with respect to woodworking, I have "no" formal training... Everything I know about wood, tools, how and what to use as well as being safe comes from my Dad. Growing up, I spent a lot of time following my Dad around the shop or the house either watching or helping out with projects, probably like a lot of people my age. My Dad, Who passed away in 1995 was a carpenter and cabinet maker for basically his entire life. When I was growing up my tool box did have what today may be referred to is the little plastic "Bob the Builder" type tools.. Plastic hammer, saw, drill etc... These play sets were quickly replaced with the REAL DEAL and under my dads supervision most play time involved REAL TOOLS. Of course, today if you were walking through your neighborhood and saw an 8 year old with a power drill or electrically powered "sharp thing" some may let out a GASP! and call the authorities.

When working on projects around the house or cabin, I constantly find myself being reminded of something my dad may have said in the shop or some trick that he taught me and am extremely fortunate to have inherited a huge shop of quality tools that I have a sentimental value. Unfortunately, many of these very special tools had fallen into disrepair or had become rusty in the garage. When not at the Cabin on weekends with the family, I've been spending a lot of time in the shop restoring them. With all the specialty type work being done on the cabin these cherished items will once again have life. This is the ZEN part of the building...Not simply putting two-by-fours together.
Quotes from Dad
"The most dangerous tool in the shop is the Dull one"
"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."
"Always use the right tool for the job, if you don't have it, save up and get it."

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.

This is a picture of my saw blade carrier (super handy when dealing with so many different blades)

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

The real McCoy

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I was a bad blogger but now I intend on making it up to you with the REAL update post.
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 :)

Turkey Epidemic

We had a great weekend full of progress and cheer. We are really coming along on the railing. I say we, but i haven't done a single thing other than help carry 10 foot hemlock beams up the side of a mountain. I have pictures of the progress but my brain has left me and I apparently have forgotten to upload them and I am not near my camera so you will have to wait until I am. My apologies.

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.
Lets stray a bit from the issue at hand since i forgot to upload the correct picture, lets talk about something I have been noticing and maybe you folks will be able to offer a confirmation or rebuttal of this new observation.
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. :)