Long Time No See

 

image

We are lost in the shuffle of life. Stuck in a time and place that seems to have no end. Rifling through the memories of another. Trying to figure out what should go where and who should get what. A tiring unending job to settle the dust of someone else’s life.

We have been absent from home for months now. One thing after the other seems to be breaking down or just falling apart. It’s the life season of many decisions. Do we sell, rent, buy, replace or struggle along? Notice I didn’t say choices. The options are limited and when you’re in limbo, do you put a bandaide on it or bulldoze ahead and make decisions you may regret later?

Trying to wrap things up and plan our move forward is  overwhelming at times. I think we’re over the fact that you can’t complete this task in 30 days since we’ve gone beyond our expectation. The end is in sight, but there are many steps to get there. This mile of the journey is brutal. There is nothing left here to quench our tired souls.

The freedom of no time tables or caregiving responsibilities leaves a bit of guilt and loss of consistency leaving room for time to just get lost in your own thoughts and dreams and time ticks by and productivity slips away.

We will return home soon regardless, for we have the responsibilities of our future waiting for us to get started. I have garden plans and building projects waiting for my creative energy to once again begin to flow into action. The kitty needs to return home to roam the woods freely and excercise her unbridled need to hunt and play in the underbrush. She has had enough of apartment living. Even the smell of canned food turns her off, when just a short time ago she couldn’t get enough of it. The dog sits in anticipation each time he believes this is the day we’re going back. Anxiously pacing back and forth on the deck just hoping to be loaded into his kennel in the back of the blazer. It’s sad to see his disappointment when he figures out all we’re doing is taking out the trash.

We are all ready to begin our new chapter. We have struggled through the pain and guilt, and the fear of moving on. Now, it’s closing the book on the previous chapter that is so difficult to complete.

Cross It Off The List

We had an awesome week at the cabin. We just could not have planned for better weather if it had been our choice. Warm days, a little rain, and a super moon. Who could ask for more?

We worked very hard taking the last opportunity to tie up some of the loose ends before old man winter comes knocking at our door. There is always more I’d like to do, but at some point, time will run out and I won’t be able to finish, and I really hate that. Les was able to get leaf blowing under control, and some major mowing in the east20 with Pinkie and the brush hog. I got the garden space all prepared for the Concord grape plants I bought this fall at a deep discount. It was not an easy job. I dug up an 8X12 spot in heavy vegetation with a pickax and a shovel. The first 3 hours were a piece of cake, that was the first day. The second day, and the last 4 hours, was pretty tough on my hands, and my patience. But it was exhilarating to see the finished plot of ground all nicely hand tilled to perfection. The grape plants have been put aside to rest for the winter and will be planted in the new soil in the early spring.

I also worked on the blueberry patch. I now have 9 blueberry bushes. I have added 3 this fall. The ground around that garden also had to be hand dug and prepped which proved to be a little frustrating due to a large boulder right in the middle of the last row. I made allowances on both sides of the monster rock for the bushes because the rock won out and stayed tightly gripped in the sands of time. No moving that one!  Our property is full of rocks and boulders, and that’s why it’s called The Rollin’ Rock. You can’t dig without having to deal with a few rocks, some the size of a small automobile. In spite of it all, the berry bushes are all tucked away from hungry deer and the chill of winter.  Hopefully, the next growing season will be a good one.

When we return, in a few days, we will be putting the plastic “storm” windows on the inside of the cabin. These are window coverings we made out of 4ml thick heavy plastic to help keep our heat from escaping. We cut each piece of plastic to fit the window, and then outlined each piece of plastic with Velcro strips. Each window casing also has Velcro strips so the plastic can be applied and removed easily and used multiple times. I think we get 3 years out of each set we make. Minimal cost, huge savings on our heating loss.

So, we got to cross a few things off the list. If I think too long on all the things that will need to be done in spring, and all the things I want to add on as new projects, it becomes overwhelming. I have so much I would like to accomplish in the next couple years. I guess I’ll just have to….put it on the list.

 

 

Home Again

November 1, 2016h

We’re finally home once again. November 1st. and 64 degrees, unbelievable! This must be the Indian summer we always hear our grandparents speak of. Well, this is Michigan, and guess what….we were here a week ago and it snowed!!

The sun is just starting to set over the trees on the western edge of the property so it is intensely focused on the eastern border. The color is beautiful. Most of the tall trees are already bare, but the shorter aspen and beech tend to hold their leaves well into winter long after their color has faded.

I hurried around greeting and feeding the cat, got the mother-in-law settled in, the truck unloaded and off Dish and I went into the woods for a walk. We are taking advantage of our last hours of evening sunlight. In a few short days, Michigan makes a time change and we will soon be in the dark by 6:00pm.

There is no wildlife spotted in the brush or in the woods, however, Dish can hear and smell far more than I so he has the whole story. There will be movement soon as the sun sets further into the trees. We do spot a few signs of bobcat, many deer tracks in the walking paths, and an owl calling from deep inside the woods. All good signs we are doing our part to promote harmony here.

Lots of ground to cover before dark, where’s Dish? image

Come on Dish!

It’s great to be here, what a beautiful place in time.

It’s Been A While

 

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have been away from our home for almost 2 weeks. Staying down state has been cost effective but very anxiety inducing. There had been a couple of storms which produced freezing rain and a couple of inches of new snow in our northern region and we have been stressed about the food in the refrigerator and the condition of the driveway and the amount of propane left in the tank. The only good thing was that we had enough foresight to bring the kitty back with us knowing our stay down state may be more than just a few days. Thankfully she settled in to the tiny apartment like a champ!

We’ve had the worst luck with our vehicle. First the accident, then a mechanical failure. Not just a simple mechanical failure, it had to be the ultimate out of our budget kind of mechanical failure. So we look for a simple solution, which really there isn’t one, and we purchase a substitute vehicle to get us by until we can make the needed repair to our Trailblazer. Finally we can make the trip home after struggling with getting this, new to us, vehicle on the road while also managing grandkids sporting events (in which we like to participate ).

The Cowboys are crazy to get back to the freedom of the woods. However, they are apprehensive about the new ride. Dish is particularly anxious. He has been really scared to ride since the accident. Now we’re loading him up into a strange vehicle and he is visibly shaken, won’t even take a treat. We had to physically lift him in.

The ride north seemed really long and loud. There are some tweaks that need to be made to the new ride.  As we pass the Cedar Springs exit, the snow on the side of the road is increasing. By the time we get to US10, there is a considerable amount of snow.  As we turn onto our road, it is ice covered and with a soccer mom van, it’s pretty scary. Upon arrival, my husband Les, has to shovel the end of the driveway before our first attempt. First attempt is a failure to get in, then a second and a third failure.  Time to get “Pinky”. Les hooks up a tow strap to the back of our vehicle and after many attempts with the tractor, finally pulls us up the driveway. The very first thing I do is open the back and let the boys out.

Before I can even get to the cabin Newt is circling the picnic table. His eyes are crazy and he is sniffing the ground and running around that table. I walk over close and see an animal under the table and I’m hoping for a raccoon. Nope, it’s a porcupine. A big “porky”. The porky doesn’t seem too ruffeled, but both dogs are excited and trying to get under the table. I yell for Les and he is able to get Dish into the cabin and after numerous attempts, I am able to snatch Newt by the collar, barely, and get him into the cabin too.  We stayed inside while Les took care of the porky, I’m not a participater in the elimination process.

I hate even the thought of killing an animal, even a mouse, but porky’s are very destructive. During the winter for the last two years they have eaten the tender boughs at the top of several hemlock trees which eventually kills them and have destroyed many trees in the compound by eating the bark off. They are also notorious for eating the siding off cabins and outbuildings causing thousands of dollars in damage. Most often, I make Les trap the raccoons and one time, even a skunk (under his most adamant protest) and then release them out of harms way. But a porky is a different deal. Their tails are down right treacherous. One swipe and you could be pulling quills out of your legs or arms or the nose and mouth of your dog for hours. Or worse yet, a stressful, costly visit to the vet or ER to have them removed properly so infection doesn’t set in.

image

So, with the porky now deceased and dusk setting in, I cook dinner, and we can finally crash for the night. The end of  yet another interesting day at the Rollin’ Rock.

Saturday brings sunny skies and warm 39 degree temps. On go the snowshoes and off we go into the snowy northern woodland we call home. The dogs are at their best running free through the snowy forest. I can tell I’m 2 weeks out of shape, but it’s great to be home again, even for just a short while.

 

A New Blog For A New Year

image.jpeg

Skinner Lodge is an off grid 12×24 Amish built cabin on 30 acres in beautiful northern Michigan. We are off grid currently using solar with a wind turbine waiting for installation. We are miles from the nearest utility pole, so electricity is not an option. Our bathroom remains a nicely built privy with a shower not far from the cabin. No indoor running water, but the well we had drilled in 2011 has been one of our greatest assets so far. As we develop our garden it helps to have available water on site instead of trying to carry it all from the city, which was very painstaking and costly I may add.

Our goal was to retire to the Rollin’ Rock in 2019, but things just haven’t quite worked out that way. My husband has taken an early retirement and as of this writing we are not able to live there full time due to family obligations, but soon, we hope!

I’ve started Cabin Life News for the new “blogging 101” class , to get blogging once again and to gain new tips to become better at what I like to do. I thought this would be a great way to share up to date progress at Skinner Lodge and the Rollin’ Rock in general, some new things I’ve learned over the past year and introduce some very interesting and talented people we’ve met. Most of all, I’d love to promote the beauty of northern Michigan and all it has to offer.

You can also follow our historical journey, in progress, at SkinnerLodge.com.