Beauty And The Beast

We’ve been planning on an addition to our small, but comfy cabin for quite some time now. We did actually get started last year, then life got in the way and progress stalled. Every time I walk out the door of the cabin I can imagine where the wash room is going to go and the extra room we will use for storage and an extra bedroom. I can do this because the floor joists are there, or most of them, and I continue planning in my head just how the layout will go, and the furniture and shelving that will be necessary to hold all our home canned goods from the garden, and the extra bedding for guests. It makes me feel like we’re still “in progress”.

Once again, as my husband and I were wandering through the auction house one afternoon, we came across this beautiful sink on a wrought iron pedestal. The colors of the interior of the sink were exquisite, very elaborate. Bright blue, greens and yellows. I was enamoured, a little out of character for me, the women whose best and favorite pair of shoes are work boots.  Right away I started imagining where I could use such a beautiful piece of……art! Our apartment downstate is very small. I thought maybe we could use it there in our tiny bathroom. It could free up some space since there was no cabinet to bulk it up, or secretively I thought, maybe the cabin.  So, we watched this lovely number on auction day and some times luck just comes your way. Not the cheapest thing we’ve ever won on auction, but way below retail for sure. I was so excited to get it to the apartment and fit it in the bath only to be just as disappointed in the fact that it was too big for our tiny space. So, maybe the cabin, maybe the new washroom in the cabin! My head was spinning looking for ideas. Maybe when we expand there will be room. No, probably not. It was just too pretty to sit next to that composting humanure toilet that will be in there. I just couldn’t do that to that exquisite piece of art. So, I now have to be realistic about it. I can’t make it work and I can’t take it with me. Disappointment is so hard to swallow.

The beauty is the desire to have material objects that make us feel good. The beast is the fact that you can’t have it all. Minimalism takes restraint. Some times, it’s just hard to say enough.




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.



Anticipated, but not Expected

Our cabin is located in an area of Michigan that has an unpredictable weather pattern. We are about 100 miles from Lake Michigan which has a great deal of control over our weather. Another factor in our weather is the terrain and the dense canopy inwhich our cabin is located. There are times when the wind is blowing high in the trees and we can hear it coming but never feel it because the terrain is rolling and the trees are tall and thick with leaves in mid-summer. Sometimes when it rains you can hear the drops on the leaves but can’t feel them until the water is so heavy the leaves can no longer bare the weight and it all comes crashing down through the thick foliage. So to say the least about living where we do, it can be challenging. There is a saying that goes something like, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes and it will change”.

I’ve kept a journal since we’ve started our cabin life journey so we have a record of weather patterns and bird migrations and the comings and goings of the wildlife in the area since 2008. Last year in October, we had already had snow, twice! The weather this year has been exceptional. A great growing season for the garden, the woods and the wildlife. Fall was ushered in with the usual rain, cool temperatures, some beautiful sunny warm days and then fantastic displays of color. You can never have enough warm, sunny afternoons in October when the trees are in full color.

We have not been to the Rollin’ Rock on a regular basis since the middle of September. Our obligations to our family were bigger than time would allow and we knew the planning of our daughter’s wedding would take time and energy, and it did. We pulled it all off in the last moments and the time and effort is now just memories in the bank of our history. I’ll have to say, she was a gorgeous bride!! Ok, well anyway, my point was that we have really done nothing in preparation for winter. Time ticks by and the anxiety of knowing it’s coming and you’re not prepared lays heavy on your mind.

We had heard the weather forecast was for some snow showers in our area, but you can never quite trust what you hear. All the factors I mentioned earlier all come in to play. So we sit and wonder, will we get it or not? When you need rain and its forecasted, we are always just on the outer edge, no rain here! So, sometimes with snow, it’s the same. However, this time, they were dead on. We got blasted with heavy wet snow, covering the ground within minutes. It was beautiful…and stressful, at the same time. Beautiful, because the woods is a quiet and peaceful place to be in the winter. Stressful, because we are not prepared. There was so much more we wanted to accomplish before the cold and snow came. Expanding the garden, working on the addition to the cabin, blowing leaves and general cleanup, the list goes on and on. But just like all the other years when we were caught off guard, it will all be there waiting for us.

So, bring on the snow, no more complaining! I’m getting the snowshoes ready. It’ll be a while before I can use them, but I can at least be prepared for when that time comes.


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.


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.