Wednesday, April 1, 2015

This Old Cabin-Part 1

After moving back to my home-town in Northern Michigan, I really needed a place to live, and I wasn't fond of paying rent.  As a writer, adult education teacher and Hatha Yoga Therapist, I don't exactly top the high pay scales. But as luck would have it, I had already reduced my total "stuff" load to just ten boxes and a suitcase...and most of that is books. My partner and I wanted to a small home, easily cleaned, heated and maintained, all on one floor so it would age with us. In the end, we lucked out and found exactly what we wanted.

I closed on my little cabin last Thursday, and we've started in making it a home. The plan with this property was to be able to operate without a mortgage, in a space that is small, but enough. The house is very sweet (a little shy of 900 square feet), with lots of light and enough yard to do both a green house and a ton of raised bed gardens for food and flowers. We do have a couple of old Dutch Elms that the Disease took out; they will need to come down. But those are balanced by a grove of lovely maples that will be stunning in the fall. Eventually, we'll have a few chickens out back for fresh eggs and good compost working.

So far, we have liberated the ceiling line in the kitchen from some very old and dark cabinets.  They will make their new home in the pole barn out back and we'll replace them with open shelves. We've taken off all the painted-over light switch and electrical outlet panels, installed a new water reservoir for the well (the one we took out was only five gallons and probably destroyed the pump) as well as a new pump switch. We've also started in on damaged drywall--my son is learn the fine art of home "deconstruction".  At 15, it probably feels like therapy. HA! He is still agonizing about what color to paint his room.  I know it is a fight between what he wants and what he thinks his mother wants. Talk about a life lesson.

The Restore in town will come soon and pick up an old refrigerator, an old sleeper couch and various and sundry usable-for-others items from the shed. They already hauled away a bunch of used furniture, doors, old kitchen table and chairs. I'm always sure to get a receipt for later taxes.  We also learned there are quite a number of rebates available from one of our utility companies as we slowly and carefully upgrade this living space.  Keeping careful records and receipts will help the bottom line at tax time and save us money right now in some cases.

Life Lessons learned so far:

1. Rake when the sun shines...and don't wear white tennis shoes in the spring.
2. Give a teenager power tools and watch him or her light up
3. Working together as a family is so much more enjoyable than working alone.
4. Bad smells in an old storage shed don't always mean something died in there.
5. The Restore (a place where old house building materials and interior goodies are resold to new owners) is the most interesting place on the planet--new to me is still new.  And not adding to a landfill is a delight.
6. Fixing up an older cabin is one part vision, one part prayer, and one part a deep comfort with laughter, mistakes and learning curves--and always fodder for new poems.
7. Where water drips is not necessarily where the leak originates.  Same with human emotions!
8.  A "project" house means you get to do things the way you like them from the get-go. They are a control-freak's dream.
9. When in doubt, watch Youtube.
10. When people laugh at you, say, "no mortgage". Yeah.

Here are a few of the "before" pictures. I'll add more as we tear into the walls, pull up the old well pump, etc.  

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