Monthly Archives: September 2013

Cabin progress – Fall edition

It seems like we have been caught up in stuff lately and we haven’t been able to make a lot of progress on the deluxe shed.  Last weekend we spent all day Saturday doing stuff so I thought I would share an update.

Electrical meter on post
Electrical meter on post…so the wire is all underground

The electrical installation passed inspection.  It’s around a 3 week wait for the electric company to run the line from the pole to my meter but I am on the list now!  That will make many things different and easier as we work on the place.  Eventually we will add more solar and make a run at being off-grid or rather, grid tied but a net producer, but that will have to wait.

The back deck...installed!
The back deck…installed!

Now that the decks are mostly up (but there is still a lot to do…like hook them together and add a railing), we can finish a lot of the outside work we have been putting off.  In particular, at the rear of the building, the floor is 9 feet off of the ground.  Without a deck, installing the door and siding was going to be a real drag.  I mean, I added the sheathing and built the walls, etc  clear up to the peak (around 30 feet in the air) without a deck, but I decided I would not be doing that any more work on the back without a deck.

Siding on the cabin
Windows and doors and siding, oh my!

So, with the deck in place, we installed the back door and are about to finish the siding.  It’s amazing how much nicer the siding makes the back of the place look.  It was pretty well protected from the weather by the house wrap but its lifespan has officially passed even though it looks in good shape.  A few more hours and we will finish the siding as well as the soffit and fascia.

Siding on the cabin
Almost done!

You can notice from the pics that I still have to enclose the area under the house.  That has to happen before winter as I now have pipes in place that will freeze without protection.  Enclosing that space, adding a door into the “basement” and getting a heat source wired in place are the remaining things that must happen before snow flies.  My brother is coming in a few weeks and I plan to take a few days off of work to see how much we can accomplish.  I’d really like to get this place to a point that we could actually enjoy it some this winter even if it gets cold!  We have the best sled riding hills around!


Poor Abigail.  She has some bones she hasn’t yet broken.  That number is shrinking though.  You may remember a while back she broke her wrist while riding her scooter.  I finally found the x-rays.  I have a real thing for x-rays I guess.  I really like to see what’s happening inside.  It’s just fascinating that we can see inside a body without being Superman and without doing surgery.

Broken wrist x-ray
Can you see the break?

Anyhow, if you check out Abigail’s big arm bone towards the head of the bone, you can see the break.  Not bad (aside from the fact that broken bones are always bad) and she is completely healed by now.

Broken wrist x-ray
I think it is easier to see here

Of course, she couldn’t be completely in one piece.  Last weekend, somehow, she broke her toe.  She didn’t complain much and I don’t remember when it even happened but she started hobbling a little bit.  I looked at her toe and it was bruised badly…like black and blue and red and ugly.  It was her little toe so I figured it was no great loss but Emily wanted to get an x-ray to make sure it was ok.  They headed to the doctor and he confirmed it (but we didn’t get copies of the x-rays).  She has her toes taped together for a few weeks and should be fine.  Still, it’s another broken bone…

X-ray of a healthy wrist
Her other non-broken wrist

I wish I could say this will be our last broken bone report but I know better.  Abigail is growing into her body so I figure there will be more “moments”.  That’s ok and if I had my druthers, I would prefer broken fingers and toes to bigger bones!

A little of this and a little of that

I was fooling around  a little more at the cabin and as I turned over a patch of sod I dug a few days prior, I discovered another spider friend!  This is also a wolf spider I believe but he is much more gray than the last one I encountered…although just as big!  I love finding these critters out there!

Huge wolf spider Huge wolf spider

In other news, I switched mobile phones.  I ditched my iPhone and got a Samsung Galaxy S4.  It’s cool and mostly I really like it.  I know iPhone has similar things that you can get but I took a few pics and manipulated them with built-in editing software…I think it is very cool!

Pansies Pansies

Pansies Pansies

I was getting ready for work the other day while Abigail was fixing herself some frozen waffles.  I heard a crash and then silence.  That never bodes well so I walked into the kitchen where I discovered Abigail staring at a mess on the floor,her mouth fully agape.  She couldn’t believe that a maple syrup bottle could break.  It was plastic after all!  Friends, if you have never had to clean up a bunch of sticky syrup, you are fortunate!  It just smears!

Spilled maple syrup

It’s been pretty weird around our place lately.  From flowers and phones and spiders to spilled maple syrup, I guess it’s been a little of this and a little of that and absolutely nothing in particular!



My folks were in town last weekend to watch Abigail play soccer and Isaac’s middle school band play at the high school football game with the high school band.  They came in Friday night in time for the football “game”.  We had to be to the field an hour early but that meant we got good seats.  Unfortunately, we later discovered that those seats were right next to the student section.  Perhaps it’s all student sections, and I hate to speak badly of my neighbors, but those kids were real knuckleheads.

Middle School band

Anyhow, Isaac’s middle school band played the Star Spangled Banner and the high school’s fight song (is there only one fight song?  It sounded like all fight songs sound) and really sounded pretty good.  The middle school band is pretty large and doubled the HS band.  They played great together although the student section’s highest ranking idiot corps made it somewhat hard to hear.  I called the game a “game” above because it wasn’t really a game.  The football team beat the opponent 69 – 9.  It wasn’t much fun to watch but then, we came for the band anyhow.

Middle and High School band

As I said, my parents were here for the weekend.  Since our house is in a constant state of construction, they stayed in a nearby hotel…a hotel with a pool.  I think the highlight of the visit was the opportunity to swim in a cement pond!  The kids and my Mom and I had a great time two nights.  We swam and just had a lot of fun.  Isaac tried unsuccessfully to dunk me.  I threw both kids around the pool and we all got chlorine eyes!  That’s swimming pool success!

Swimming lessons Swimming lessons

Both my Mom and I worked as lifeguards in our younger years so we are capable swimmers and we try to teach the kids to swim whenever we can.  My mom in particular has taught my kids very well and she helped them refine their strokes this weekend too.  Both Isaac and Abigail are becoming much better swimmers and seem to enjoy it.  My mom and I both learned in the same water source, 30 years apart.  In my hometown, we swim in the outflow from the local Corps of Engineers’ dam.

Tionesta Beach
Tionesta Beach – photo from RH
Tionesta Beach
Tionesta Beach – photo from RH

It’s cold, fast moving, dark water where one learns quickly to sink or swim.  I stole a pic of my mom when she was a kid at “the beach” so you can get an idea.  My kids are learning in a pool and I am sure it is safer but there is something inspiring about learning to swim in apparently bottomless water.  Still, their lessons are going swimmingly and I am so glad that they have learned to swim as well as they have!

Ditching it all for power

The big project we were working on last weekend when we met our anonymous friends was a ditch digging exercise to remind me why I am so thankful that I do manual labor as an option, not an occupation.  A buddy of mine brought his excavator over to help dig a trench in which we buried conduit to get electrical service installed!

Trenching for underground power line installation
Trenching for underground power line installation

As you might guess, working without electric all this time has made our progress slow and difficult.  I mean, we have a generator but it’s not quite the same as having a socket on every wall we can use.  Having a way to cool drinks and pump water and turn fans would be really nice.  So, this project is a huge step forward and one that I will be glad to finish.

3 inch conduit buried a little over 3 feet deep
3 inch conduit buried a little over 3 feet deep

An excavator definitely makes ditch digging easier but there is still a good bit of manual labor that goes into getting a proper ditch dug and conduit and wire installed.  I guess I am sort of built for manual labor.  I mean, I am well enough and strong enough to do it but golly am I glad it’s only now and then.  Anyhow, we got the conduit in place and I installed the meter base, an outside disconnect and the panel inside the house.

Electrical conduit re-buried
Electrical conduit re-buried

Part of the requirements that the inspector will verify is that there is a proper pull-rope inside the conduit.  The conduit is buried a little more than 3 feet deep so do-overs aren’t really an option.  They require a poly rope be installed so they can yank the supply wire from the pole to the meter.  In my case, that distance is around 50 feet and there are 3 ninety degree turns.  You may be wondering, dear friends, how I got the pull-rope into the buried conduit…with a shop-vac of course!

New meter base and disconnect with underground service
New meter base and disconnect with underground service

I stood at one end and created a seal of sorts with my hands around the vacuum and the conduit pipe.  On the other end, Emily fed in a thin string which was pulled by the suction.  We flipped it all on and waited.  Pretty quickly, the thin string popped out the other end.  I attached my pull-cord to the thin string and pulled it back through…voilà!  A pull-cord installed!

Pull-cord sucked through conduit
Pull-cord sucked through conduit

This coming weekend, the inspector will come review our work and give the go-ahead for the power company to make the hot connection…I can’t wait to get power in the place!  I am not sure we will be ready for Christmas in the cabin but we should definitely be ready for the 4th of July!

See all of the progress on the cabin

Anonymous friends

We were up at the cabin this weekend working on some fairly large projects.  We were pretty busy running around doing things and trying to get stuff situated.  Nearing the end of the afternoon on Sunday, something came up that was a bit of a family emergency.  It wasn’t huge but it wasn’t insignificant either.  No one was hurt and everyone is ok, but we just had a bit of a freak-out.

Anyhow, we had to do some exploring about the ridge to handle the problem and we were in uncharted territory.  Typically, when we are on the ridge, we go straight to our place.  We don’t have time to explore and honestly, I have been on similar back roads…if you don’t know where you are going you better have all day and a full tank of gas.  Still, we had to venture out and we saw a good bit of the area  in the process.

A WV farm we discovered
A WV farm we discovered on our tour of the ridge

But that’s not the point of the story…we weren’t lost but we needed help and as we drove about, we happened upon some folks on 4-wheelers.  I explained the situation to them and asked for advice on how to take care of the issue.  Really, I just figured they would give me a quick answer and we’d be done.  Instead, they asked if we wanted them to help out and I said, “only if you have nothing else to do all day.”  They said they would help in spite of my attempt at a warning.  They drove all over the ridge to help us out.  I suppose they each burned at least 45 minutes of gas and didn’t give up until we finally got back together at the cabin to report that the issue was handled.

Anyone who says there aren’t good people around is wrong.  I offered to fill them up with gas or give them a drink…they wanted nothing and simply laughed and smiled and moved on.  I didn’t even get their names but I hope they will stop back by the place sometime when we are up there.  I hope I can be such a neighbor and be equally willing to help someone in need.  I know they won’t see this, but thanks to my new anonymous friends and to all folks willing to help a stranger!

Wow! Poop!

We have recently noticed, as we build the back deck on our cabin, there there seems to be a lot of extra…poop on the deck.  I guess it literally is a poop deck as the other decks do not seem to have as much.  It’s the deck highest off of the ground so I figured this would be the domain of only birds.

Critter poop Critter poop

Sure, other critters can climb but I am not sure why they would climb just to take a poop (although, if my poop deck is becoming a “destination” in the wilds, maybe it would be worth the trip).  Some of the evidence is very clearly from birds (apparently big birds), but some trophies seem like they might be from other sources.  Dear friends, do you have thoughts on the source of some of these poops?

Bird poop! A new door!
Anyhow, the poop deck is nearly completed and I couldn’t be happier with that progress.  Additionally, we added a door that opens onto that deck which makes it doubly nice.  We had always planned to add a door so it was already framed into the studding.  I just had to cut a huge hole in the sheeting and install it.  Once we get railings, it will be a really pleasant place to sit and watch for whatever creatures see the worth in taking a poop with a view!


We love Mother Nature out at the cabin we are building but this story may freak out some readers.  Honestly, it gave me quite a start as well.  As you know, dear friends, we are building this cabin from scratch.  Emily and I are doing the work ourselves so we get into a little bit of everything.  Plumbing has long been on the list but we had to get the bathroom floor finished and the stem wall built and a hundred other things.   I promise there is a plan to our madness, even if the plan itself is mad.

Wolf spider on her egg sac
Wolf spider on her egg sac

Anyhow, hooking up the bootwasher was pretty high priority for obvious reasons.  I took a day off of work to be on the job.  We loaded up a bunch of pvc pipe up and I headed off to the site.  I measured and cut and fitted and glued.  I then cussed and cut all of that pipe down and cussed some more when it almost fit.  If you know about pvc pipe, you know that it is rigid.  There may be some play in a plumbing system but generally there is not a lot.  When things work, that is a good thing as you don’t want pipes full of…stuff…moving.  So I almost had things hooked together but something just didn’t meet up like I had planned.  I had to cut it all back out (because pvc glue sets fast and does not forgive) and do a bunch of it the tune of $45 wasted.

Wolf spider on her egg sac

So, I was aggravated but that’s just construction it seems.  I flopped back down on my back and wiggled up under the bathroom floor in the underneath of the house.  As I was about to begin work again, I turned my head and not a foot away was a gigantic spider sitting atop a bag of baby spiders.

Wolf spider - spiderlings
Wolf spider – spiderlings

Spiders don’t freak me out but I have to tell you, I sort of startled a little bit.  It’s just weird when something you don’t expect presents itself…and I think people are sort of programmed to be wary of spiders anyhow.  Anyhow, I let her be as she was just preparing to raise a family of spiderlings (yeah, that’s the technical term), apparently without a father figure around.  Who am I to try to mess with a mother doing her best.  I finished the plumbing and was on my way.

A few days later, I was back by and the spiderlings had hatched.  There were literally hundreds of itsy bitsy spiders on a web that Momma spider had spun very close to our initial encounter.  I couldn’t get a decent picture as they were tiny, but to the eye, it was quite a sight!  I don’t know what the survival rate is, but I may have hundreds of wolf spiders under my new place eating other critters that aren’t welcome!

Boot washer!

Yesterday felt a little like Debbie Downer so I have some really good news too!  Even with all of our soccer running around, we recently got the boot washer hooked up at the executive deer stand!  Although it has been fun using the outdoor litterbox, it got a little old for the ladies, especially.  I don’t understand but then I am not a lady.  I was sort of excited actually when we got the deck built.  You can imagine, as a guy, that a high deck and  the lack of indoor facilities was a temptation too good to pass up!

Bootwasher aka toilet installed

The funny thing is that the very first construction we did at the property was install a regulation septic system.  It remained unused for 2 years as we built our cabin.  I have had the pipe sticking up under the house for 8 months or so.  I just needed to complete that final step where we join the toilet to the pipe.  With my usual schedule, 8 months seems pretty good!

Pipes...who knew how exciting pipes could be?!
Pipes…who knew how exciting pipes could be?!

So, it is functional but we don’t yet have water hooked up.  No worries though…we always bring water for washing and flushing.  I haven’t installed the tank yet.  I’ll get to that  after we get the walls insulated and covered with drywall.  I don’t care much for wrestling a full complete toilet.  I’ll tell you, with the fall muddy season nearly upon us, I am so glad to have the boot washer in place!

See all of the progress on the cabin

Soccer 2013

Soccer is back in season for both kids.  It’s a great time of year but also a bad time of year.  We love the game and the kids on the teams and the fun but we quickly get tired of non-stop running.  I am the head coach for the middle school team on which Isaac plays.  Especially now, in the time leading up to the start of games, practice makes us very busy.  We try to practice 5 days a week for a couple hours each night.  I have to contact other coaches to schedule games and there are always meetings to attend.

I really enjoy the boys and I have coached a large number of them in rec-league and middle school since they were 7 or so years old.  I have a great group of boys and I look forward to watching them succeed.  It’s really tough this year, however, since Isaac cannot play…at least not yet.  It’s not clear whether he will play at all, honestly, but we are hopeful.  It’s more than a little frustrating for both of us.  I do like coaching the boys but the best part of it would have been the opportunity to coach my own son.  His blood clot seems to be on the mend but he is still on blood thinners and cannot play because of the risk of a hard contact that would cause a dangerous bleed.

I am definitely committed to the boys on this team, but I just wish things could be a little different.  Isaac still gets to come to practice to participate in the non-contact drills but he does not enjoy having to sit out for the majority of each practice.  I figure it is good for him to be around friends though and also to see me follow through with a commitment.  Our games start next week so I figure that the team spirit will carry us all once things get rolling along.  Wish us luck dear friends!