In which we buy a cabin

Throbbing Cabin.
Throbbing Cabin, circa August 2013.

Dear Internet,

Since we did not end up going up north this weekend, it seemed like a good time to tell you about our latest harebrained scheme.

The plan, of course, was to pay off our house in Grand Rapids, my student loans and car debt before doing any more big purchases. The house in GR was (and still is) to be the collateral for a home in Europe somewhere, with intent to purchase that within the next decade. Owning a cabin in one of the most expensive counties in the state wasn’t even a twinkle in either of our eyes at any time in the near future.

In a way, that sentence is not true. TheHusband had been coming up to the area on and off as a kid and I had been here myself when I was dating TheEx and loved it, ergo, a mutual desire of the area was acknowledged between us. TheHusband and I have vacationed up here often together, so there was a twinkle, but one of a nano scale, I promise.

TheHusband has a penchant for stalking Zillow and while I was in the middle of my recuperation from ankle surgery last summer, he found the listing for a short sale cabin in Leelanau county for scary cheap. When I got the all clear to travel beyond my bedroom, we road tripped up to the area for the day (dog in tow, of course) to check it out.

I will tell you dear reader, upon first blush I was meh on the ordeal. While the exterior A-frame was lovely to behold, the interior was sketchy.

Cabin: Kitchen

And by sketchy I mean the kitchen, with the exception of the fridge, has retained its original 1972 charm. The entire first floor, with the exception of the bathroom and back bedrooms, was entirely carpeted in white berber and it seemed they decided to take the no clean approach to keeping the carpet healthy.

Bed and gorgeous 1970s carpet.

The loft, which contained the master bedroom, was done in red shag so blinding of a color, you’d think we were in a house of ill repute.

Loft bathroom.

The half bath in the loft was hastily added in later, it seems, for the toilet was not a standard toilet but one for a RV or a boat, but they added in a standardized sink directly in front so the only person who could use the bathroom was me. I could essentially pee and wash my hands at the very same time.

The previous owners did a lot of DIY, but terribly so. They built cupboards under the eaves of the roof in the loft for storage but the doors didn’t fit. They sanded down and painted the kitchen from the natural cedar to a burnt green, but only did one coat. They stained the exterior of the cabin itself but only did it half way up until they could reach no more. The platform the gas fireplace was sitting on had been redone in field rock that was  so loose, if you stepped on it, pieces would roll away.

In addition to the interior work that needed to be completed, there was a lot of what TheHusband referred to as infrastructure work that needed to be done, such as:

  • Repair the well
  • Replace the septic and drainfield
  • Have mold removed from the crawl space and condition it
  • Replace the gutters
  • De-moss and de-lichen the roof and clean it
  • Power clean the deck and restain it

So even knowing all of this work that needed to be done, that it could end up being incredibly expensive beyond our savings, we took the plunge in the fall of 2012 and put a bid in for the place.

After several months of going back and forth (they wouldn’t leave the bear skin, they wanted the modern fridge, we didn’t want the cedar furniture they were trying to sell to us for $9,000), we closed the week before Christmas, 2012.

I had the good sense of getting our Internet turned on before the closing. We had no fridge, no furniture except an air mattress, no lighting except what we brought up, but by jove! We had incredible DSL speeds. Also, interestingly, my brother who is an industrial electrician, had just turned up 4G in the area a few weeks prior.

The cabin, thankfully, is all season and has heat, so we stayed for a few days. Initially, we planned on staying for a week but time started ticking as a winter storm was approaching, with discussions of feet of snow. Not inches, but feet. We talked about toughing it out, but we are 10 miles from two villages in either direction, and while the county plowed our road, we still had a long driveway to worry about. No food on hand, no fridge. We came home.  We scheduled for a local plumbing company to come out after Christmas to winterize the cabin and then we put it to sleep for the winter. We left one breaker on, the one electrical outlet that had our router plugged in for the Internet and our smart home application.

In the spring 2013 we would begin the renovations.

Oh. Joy.

x0x0,
Lisa (Day #37)

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

In which the dog hate pees, my boyfriend shows up, and thehusband admits he has no sense of humour

Hercules vacuum cleaner, 1930s / Sam Hood
Hercules vacuum cleaner, 1930s; State Library of New South Wales. Courtesy of The Commons, Flickr.

Dear Internet,

First I must tell you it’s much later than what the time stamp says on the entry. The second thing I must tell you is that I’m fairly high on Klonopin, which is in part thanks to having a physical anxiety attack this late evening. One pill couldn’t  cut it, it seems, so I took two.

This week was kind of adventurous, which I’ve got started as another post-dated entry, but to bring you up to speed, we’re up at Throbbing Cabin which was solely to be for our vacation and not for renovations. Yet instead,  it has turned into a comedy of errors.

As some of you may know, earlier this week I had a round of The Plague which changed everything, namely this entire week was to be our vacation week where the cabin was to be our actual vacation home and not a money pit of despair. The hope was to have day trips all over the area and see things we haven’t seen yet outside of our little 10 mile area.

We were obviously too ambitious.

We came up to Throbbing Cabin late Thursday afternoon, two cars packed with goods. After getting unpacked, it is discovered I left the non-perishable groceries on the counter in the kitchen back in Grand Rapids, which leads us to quick on the fly thinking of where to do for food, ending up having dinner at Little Traverse Inn, where their gastropub specialize in British foods with a twist. I really enjoyed the haggis parcels.

After a marvelous dinner, we head into Glen Arbor to grab the missing dry items left in Grand Rapids, head to the cabin to get ready for bed and sleep.

Except that didn’t quite happen. Wednesday had been acting odder than usual since I picked her up from the bordering place earlier in the day. I had thought it was their off her schedule walking that twas giving her troubles, but even after we right the wrong she decides to do two things:

  • She pees on the new wood floors right after we arrived
  • She pees on our bed at the end of the night, soaking through the duvet, sheets, and the mattress pad

Even better? TheHusband had been laying on some of the pee.

Thankfully we had back up sheets and comforters on hand. Also thankfully the mattress pad was designed for just such an occasion so the mattress itself never got wet.

Now I can speculate for as long as the day as long as to why both instances happened:

  • She’s 13 (or 101), and she’s incredibly picky how things are done. If they are not done just so, she gets upset
  • Boarding place said they had walked her twice before I picked her up at 11:30AM that morning, yet she almost immediately shat and pissed in my car. So see point the first.
  • We walked her more as soon she got home and after, yet our punishment was the peeing in the house.

It’s worth nothing that today she’s been fine. As a precaution, we’ve removed the water bowl we kept for her in the bedroom (since we’re upstairs, and she cannot get up/down stairs).

With that incident having now occurred, we knew we were going into Traverse City to do emergency laundry and then the thinking went, well as long as we’re in Traverse, might as well run a few other errands since we’re in the city.

Which completely shot our damned day. We were thinking beach! Hikes! Things! Not sit in a laundromat, watching DEAL OR NO DEAL.

My boyfriend, as he’s referred to, is the contractor who laid down our flooring and also builds homes. We’ve been getting price quotes from him to do work beyond our means, like rip out the second bathroom and redo it properly. We’ll also be contracting him further down the road to gut out and redo the kitchen (hopefully via IKEA).

He’s called such because it seems he only calls me, not TheHusband, for anything and we’ve now moved on to texting. The luck of the draw is that he looks like someone I would date. And there might be slight chemistry between us. But it’s kind of hard to feel the allure when the only times he’s ever seen me is when I look my not so very best.

After TheBoyfriend had come and gone to drop off some contract work, breakfast was made and consumed, we spent time putting together yet even more IKEA items from our haul this week. I prodded TheHusband to call a pest control person for we were finding little piles of dust in the master bedroom area and as luck would have it, the pest control could be out there early evening.

With our chores and bathing done, we started the slow trek into Traverse as we had stops such as at the recycling and gas station to embark on.

The bane of my existence during our courting years was TheHusband’s obsession on finding the perfect engagement ring. I looked at hundreds, if not thousands, of rings that all began blend into the same one.

Shopping for floor rugs with this man has the exact same experience. Online or off, there is always something not quite right about anything we have seen. We stopped at a rug showcase on our way to the laundromat and one after. My eyes were glazed over with all the seemingly same choices. My final threat was we were going to pick up something from Target, which turned out how our search ended with two area rugs thrown into our cart. Now we’re finding ourselves saying things like, “Well, if we don’t like it, into the guest room it goes!” which was also our mantra for Throbbing Manor.

Which explains so much about our decorating process.

Errands done, finally, headed back to the cabin, we meet up with pest control guy who showed up a little early. After poking and hunting around the cabin, he can’t quite find any trails to suspect carpenter ants are eating at the cedar. Since it’s either them or carpenter bees, and the bees are not here, then it’s got to be the damn ants. Traps were laid about the house and the outside perimeter was sprayed with poison. We report back to him in a week.

After all of this is done, it’s now closing in on 8PM. We wolf down dinner, grab the dog, and head to the local beach to watch the sunset and ended up staying for little over an hour. I was hoping to see more stars, with zero light pollution, but we were woefully unprepared for hanging out on a darkened beach.

We headed back to Cedar and got slushies before heading home, and here we are.

Mood update: Mood update has been pretty chill, though I’ve been sick for the better part of the week. I skipped a few days of the klonopin because I didn’t want to have an interaction with Day/NightQuil. I have not started Wellbutrin but several friends are reporting they are feeling good things about it, so that is still a  might see.

I cancelled my appointment with Dr. H. on Monday because I had completely spaced on the appointment AND I don’t have the ready cash. Dr. P. and I have been unable to connect for a few weeks so hopefully I’ll get to see him soon.

x0x0,
Lisa (Day #21)

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2003, 2003

Anniversary Weekend: In Pictures

Dear Internet,

To celebrate our third anniversary, we took off for our cabin and get it opened for the season. We were beyond excited, I think me more than TheHusband. Wednesday? She was ambivalent of the entire thing.

Pug says hello.
Pug says hello.

Upon our arrival, as we started unwinterizing the plumbing and such, we couldn’t figure out why the water pressure in any of the faucets or toilets was inconsistent. Then we realized why: We were flooding our crawl space.

The plumber we worked with last winter told us we didn’t have to contact his company to unwinterize the plumbing when we came back in the spring. As long as we followed these steps (turn well on, turn water heater on, turn heating elements on, etc) we’d be fine. Except, he didn’t tell us all the damned intake pipes in the crawl space would have their valves open to prevent excess water from freezing during the winter.  Hence, turn well on, flood crawl space.

We called the plumbing company and someone was going to come out in a few hours to take a look so to kill some time, we decided to head to Good Harbor beach and walk the white sand. The drive to the beach is less than 5 minutes from our cabin.

 

County road ends at water.
County road ends at water.
5 minutes from our cabin.
Lake Michigan, 5 minutes from our cabin.
Sand cut by the recent rains.
Sand cut by the recent rains.
Snail shells.
Snail shells.

We did a lot of exploring along the beach, collected rocks and shells, and followed inlets that were created from all the rains. TheHusband skipped rocks across some of the flatter pools of water and we talked about spending lazy days on the beach this summer.

Amg! Just leave me here to DIE!
Amg! Just leave me here to DIE!

The pug was not amused at being left alone during all of this. Ever. But her age and arthritis makes it impossible to do long walks, so she pouted at home.

Our original plan was to come up on Saturday morning, unpack, take note of what we needed, make a run to the nearest village to get supplies, THEN take a walk on the beach and do a fire on the sands while drinking a variation of sparkling wine while toasting our anniversary. Sunday and Monday would be lazing around, with plans to leave late Monday morning.

Quack.
Quack.

Instead we flood the crawl space, find out TheHusband burned out the elements in the water heater, and by the time the plumber was gone1, we had enough time to get supplies and then come home and crash on Saturday. And of course, with discovering other things that needed to be immediately done around the cabin, we made a second trip to get home supplies Sunday morning.  After spending a life time in Home Depot and Lowes, we come home to get shit done.

I used the reverse camera function to guide where to hold the wrench while TheHusband tightened bolts in the toliet tank. #realmarriage
I used the reverse camera function to guide where to hold the wrench while TheHusband tightened bolts in the toilet tank. #realmarriage

One of the problems was discovering the seal had broken on the 1st floor toilet and the toilet on the second floor had some mechanism wrong. We spent most of Sunday in various positions under toilets either fixing or cleaning them.

hellofirepit
Hello fire pit.

The original plan was to have a beach campfire on Saturday night, eat s’mores and swig sparkling wine from bottle like the classy fucks we are. Since that didn’t quite work, and TheHusband wasn’t digging any of the fire pits we were finding in various stores, we built our own fire pit at the cabin.

At some point in the cabin’s history, someone spent some serious cash on landscaping due to all the intricate circles, trails, and other formations of rocks everywhere2, so I followed a trail of them and gathered them to create a circle around a small pit dug by TheHusband. Thanks to the knowledge of YouTube, we had a blazing fire going in minutes.

thepugagrees
The pug agrees.

We had stopped in our village earlier that day and picked up a bottle of local sparkling wine for the evening’s festivities. After finding out it was our anniversary, the clerk serenaded us in front of the store’s growing line of an audience. Overly friendly people make us nervous, so we made haste to the cabin where that evening, we had a feast of salami, crackers, s’mores, and swigged the wine from the bottle just as the good lord intended.

theduck
The duck. (Temporary location until we get furniture.)

On Monday, TheHusband changed out the shower head in the bathroom, we finished out a few small projects, and then packed the car to come home.

It's all about the tots.
It’s all about the tots.

We decided to stop in Glen Arbor for burgers at Art’s Tavern and cherry lemonade at Cherry Republic on our way out of town. We discovered that Wednesday was turning the interior motion alarm on inside the car so it took minute to figure out how to turn that off.

Ping pong, 7PM Wednesday.
Ping pong, 7PM Wednesday.

Then we can home.

Our plan is to start going up every weekend we can, hit as many festivals as possible, and learn how to relax, without the use of drugs. You may need to pray for our souls.

xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2003, 2010


1. Due to the misinformation relayed to us by the plumber from last winter, the plumbing company did NOT charge us for the house call or for fixing the broken on Saturday. Now we know that just as we schedule to winterize, we must also schedule to unwinterize.
2. Or aliens.