Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Building of Our House: First Things First

When we purchased our little fishing shack (called The Cabin) we had to realize a couple things: 1) It was old and rustic, 2)It was so far in the middle of nowhere that any work now or in the future would have to be done ourselves, and 3)We were basically forcing ourselves to become Luddites in many ways. The experience has been quite wonderful, but also a bit intense at times.

Since we purchased The Cabin "as is," we got everything inside it and waved any inspections before purchase. We had been inside a few times previously, spoken to the owner and had him walk us through the house, but never had anyone formally crawl around in the rafters or underneath. This meant that not only did we not know exactly what we would find once we started, but it also gave us an interesting look into The Cabins previous inhabitants.

We inherited things like 8+ year old tubes of sunscreen, lots of dried up fishing bait, more disposable plastic dishes than I imagined one person could own, an old fold out cot, half secured (and sagging) shelving, 7 fishing poles of various size and effectiveness, a hot plate that didn't work, the oldest microwave I have ever seen, a stool which had half caught fire, a very industrial looking potato gun, and a whole slew of other stuff somewhere between abandoned and forgotten and neglected and abused.

The Master Suite. We had some very swanky living conditions for the first month or so! About 2 weeks in, Jules and I swapped out our Cats Meow bags to experiment with a Ray Jardine 2 person quilt and like it much more.


Most of the first weekend was spent gutting the place of everything that wasn't bolted down (and even a few things that were) so that we could adequately assess the growing money pit we had just purchased.

The plywood walls would need to come down so we could insulate. God only knew what was inside them! The horrible bead board wall would need to be replaced by something that wasn't falling off. The old chimney would need something, but we had no idea what. The trim was in need of a serious face lift. The deck would need to be converted into two separate bedrooms at some point in time. The kitchen and bathroom....well...they had ghetto bachelor pad written all over them. (Jules and I still sit up at night staring at them and wonder what we are going to do).

Have a look into our kitchen insanity! We later discovered that both the shelves and boards on behind me weren't ever secured but merely resting on a couple of bent nails. Needless to say, they came down.

(Click on the Picture to Enlarge)


With the vigor of new adventure upon us, the boys set to work pulling down trim and walls. The Barracuda is required to help us with building the house. If he is going to live in it, he has to help create it. Required is stretching it a bit. All one really has to say is, "Would you like to help _______?" and he is already front and center with a hammer.

Sticking your tongue out while focusing appears to be a genetic trait in our family. I still do it and, as you can see, so does my son. Luckily, Jules finds this endearing.


While they ripped things down, I went old school Cinderella on the floors. I don't think the place had been cleaned since the Reagan administration.

The floors are one of the things I fell in love with almost immediately. They are the original extra wide cedar plank flooring. The color is natural and they are unsealed. Years of use has made them smooth and dense.


The time was productive, but as the midden pile of stuff grew so did the future work. The water heater didn't appear to work, the kitchen faucet leaked, the outdoor patio didn't keep much dry, the single pane windows were barely holding on, and there was a good inch and a half of daylight showing under one corner of the door due to the floor sinking on one end of the house, much of the old electrical would need to be rewired and we were frequently amazed the entire place hadn't burned to the ground years ago. There was still no stove, no refrigerator, no heat, and no storage to put anything.

Before the Master Suite (show above) is rolled out, the fine dining tarp graces the floor. We feast on such delicacies as baked potato soup eaten from plastic SOLO plates the previous owners left.


The craziest part of all this was that we were really, honest to goodness happy. We were laughing and being silly together for the first time in quite a while. The dog was ecstatic outside, the boy was bouncy at learning to use dozens of various tools, both Jules and I were filled with wonder at all the wildlife and serenity around us.

As Thoreau wrote in Chapter 1 of Walden, It would be some advantage to live a primitive and frontier life, though in the midst of an outward civilization, if only to learn what are the gross necessaries of life and what methods have been taken to obtain them; or even to look over the old day-books of the merchants, to see what it was that men most commonly bought at the stores, what they stored, that is, what are the grossest groceries.

And so that was it. This venture of ours into a dilapidated old fishing shack became our mission to find the grossest of the groceries. What did we really need to be happy and how could we find it together?


5 thoughts:

Mr. H. said...

Busy, busy, busy. Looks like a lot of work but well worth the effort. I love that quote from Walden and am sure that this new life will keep you connected with those things that really matter in life. How's the fishing?

Mel said...

My comment just disappeared... anyway, what a great adventure. I'm so glad you are all happy.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun! Work can be so much more interesting than we usually think.

Hope you'll be able to get it all together by winter.

PS: you waived.

Granola Girl said...

@ Mr. H ~ The fishing is supposedly really great. The Barracuda has a pole and we have been out a few times. However, we suck at fishing! :) It is an area that both of us are completely clueless about. We're going to keep trying!

@ Mel ~ That happened to me just the other day! I hate it when the Internet eats my thoughts! I look forward to hearing about your adventure soon :)

@Anonymous ~ Winter is a bit daunting. We get to spend most of July chopping firewood!

Megan Payne said...

Perhaps this what Thoreou was talking about. Hmm... I'm sure you guys will fully adjust to your new home soon.

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