Field trip! Halloween-appropriate.

We recently found out that someone fulfilled a request I posted online years ago: on a web site called Find a Grave, you can request photos of someone’s grave site. Way back then, I had found this Find a Grave site and it listed the cemetery where Carlotta (who was the original owner of our house) was buried. I went to the cemetery, walked all over, and couldn’t find her stone! So I posted a request for a photo of the grave on that site. About a month ago, someone happened to photograph her stone and post it, so we took the photo (which had a useful view of a fence in it) and went back to find her stone. And we found it! We’ve since found out that she died in 1930, just a few years after the cabin was built.

There were some other quite old stones there, each with its own charm.

It was a good field trip, and we did a loop, stopping also to pick up some wood slabs (of course) and for a really great lunch at a place we’d never tried before in Searsport.

One more garden

So what if it’s fall already? Now is the best time to hit the nursery sales. And one area over our septic tank had fairly thin soil where nothing would take, so we rolled some rocks over and created one more raised bed. We put in some locally-raised junipers (var. Bar Harbor), some nice perennial grasses, and some echinacea. In back is an oak-leaf hydrangea (Ruby Slippers), made possible by the new light regime with the maple gone. The yard is almost starting to look organized. More gardening in spring.

Got the red out

We have been working on the porch like forever. It has been part of all the renovations since day 1 – first de-crapping it, making it sound enough to stand on, fixing the foundation, roofing, rebuilding the steps, putting up railings and posts, and decking. But when we looked up, it was still un-done. It still had a lot of red paint, a color we hope to never see again.

Because we saved the best (and least important structurally) for last: re-painting, re-staining, re-caulking, and re-trimming. Well, after many days on a variety of ladders, we finished! All that’s left to do is scrub off a couple of paint drops and put shutter dogs on the shutters. Oh, and restore two front-facing windows…next summer. And also install one last light fixture. Quick stuff!

Et voila!


Way, way before. 90 years ago.


After. Yeah ok, still need some second coats of stain.


Voluntary blackout

See that nice man in the cherry picker? He was here Friday morning to cut power to the cabin. 

Yes, we asked for a weekend in the dark. One of the last summer jobs is to finish staining, painting, and caulking the porch, and we needed to do the section where the service line attaches to the house. Because we’re 15 feet in the air on ladders doing this, and it involves at least one power tool as well as having to move the loop of wire to get to some logs, we opted to avoid getting shocked and just turn off the juice. Luckily, the garage is on a completely separate meter, so it could stay on! Totally unforeseen benefit. We had a schedule and a deadline, given many drying time cycles, and the weather just barely cooperated–we made it! Now to have them out to hook us back up tomorrow (fingers crossed), because we really need a shower! 

Here’s how we survived, besides filling a bunch of water jugs for drinking, washing, and flushing:

Porch coffee, thanks to garage extension cord.

And crock pot on a rock (tonight is stroganoff with some garden green beans tossed in).

Maybe later we’ll haul the microwave out on the porch for popcorn and movie night, running old DVDs on a laptop. Not so much roughing it…but that SHOWER would be just so great.

Evening quick project!

It was a long day of work and so I was pretty stoked to get home and put up shutters on the porch –
I realized yesterday that a set was ready to go with a super-quick paint addition. So, here they are:

Overseas, overhead, screened over

Last week I was in the Czech Republic, hence no blogging. It was awesome! It was a work trip with some sightseeing as well. Prague is as amazing as everyone says. There’s an eye-candy slideshow at the bottom of this post, but since this is a cabin blog, here’s what happened while I was away and since I got back.

K worked on making screens for all the windows! Having no screens on most of the good cross-breeze windows has meant either having lots of mosquitoes (no thanks) or being pretty hot in here (also no thanks). Next summer we’ll be set! He used a pile of never-used screens we picked up at the ReStore several years ago for about $10, and cut down/rebuilt to fit the openings. He used up all my vintage galvanized hinges, and knobs/hooks are on the way. Now you just swing open the screen, open the window, and close the screen again – we saw this style on some new Marvin windows a while ago, and it’s perfect for our windows.

Then, we got back to porch painting this weekend. It was ladder weekend, since the front section (the only one remaining!) is at a bit of a height. We did all we could this weekend, and need to get the power shut off to finish up next weekend. So we’ll be boondocking it. But, such an improvement – this is the last of the old, cruddy red paint!

And – the Czech trip photos:

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Last summer project!

Argh, the end of summer. We hosted my folks for their annual summer trip, and had some lovely dinners on the back ‘patio’. We dressed it up a bit, but next year we’ll actually make it a flat level surface (I promise, Mom and Dad!).

Back to work full-time for me, and so we are doing our annual mad dash to the finish line on one last big job we had planned for this summer: the porch. Even though we rebuilt it last year, we didn’t do the cosmetic stuff: repainting the ceiling, cleaning the logs, and staining/caulking them. So, that. It’s all over-the-head work, everyone’s favorite. But at least now we have the hot tub and can have a soak at the end of the day. Ahhh. That little snorkel stove heats up unbelievably fast.

So here’s where we are, just before I have to head out for a final work trip:

Meanwhile, the dogs decided it would be fun to make a bed in the herb garden. The cilantro is pretty flat and hairy now. So, no more fresh salsa. Alas, one more signal of summer’s end.

Cedar and granite: best possible configuration

All summer, we’ve been working on a super-special project. We originally planned to do this next year, but some things lined up and we were able to do it this year. Once we got the garden started, which as you recall involved hauling a couple tons of rock and soil, we spent most of May and June hauling more rock and soil in the back yard. Here we are just starting on what became a rather involved excavation:

We had to move a LOT of rocks, including one that was probably 1.5 tons, according to calculations based on the density of granite. We used a come along for that one; we had to accomplish about two flips to get it out of the way.

Then we dug. And moved rocks. And dug. And moved rocks. Long week or two. We dug down through part of the mineral soil and ultimately re-filled with decomposed granite (our mineral soil in this spot), gravel, and tamped it all down, thanks to a loaned tamper from Ben.

We created a form using rocks around the ring. And rented a concrete mixer. And built a stand for it. And built a conveyor using our ladder and a sled I built from plywood and scraps. Hauled ~80 bags of concrete up the ladder, then up a trail and another, steeper trail.

Then we poured. It looked like a lily pad, which was kind of cool. It’s a 4″ slab, about 6′ x 7′. We inset four tiles that a friend gave us about 15 years ago, that have moved through three houses, and never fit in quite right until here.

Then we moved more rocks – we needed stairs and a trail, instead of the dirt slope we’d been using. Some really large heavy rocks make up the stairs. Then we put in some little gardens and tidied up. And waited for the final item. We had to rally 4 friends and fill them up with pizza and beer to carry it up, after clearing a trail through the woods for the haul.

Guess what it is? A wood fired cedar hot tub!

Two soaks in, and we are loving the tub, the location, and have nearly forgotten all the backbreaking labor it took to get it here. The tub is absolutely gorgeous, and was crafted right here in Maine, at Maine Cedar Hot Tubs.

We will have tomatoes!

…and summer squash, and peppers, and cucumbers. Among other wonderful fresh veggies. Last year’s ‘garden’ was a bust – we tried to do a couple of tomatoes in pots, since we had no garden spot yet, and of course the dogs knocked them over so there went that. The year before, we were selling the other house this time of year, and weren’t really paying attention to the garden there. We had tossed some seeds in the ground to demonstrate to potential buyers its gardeniness, but not much came of it. So it has been a couple of years since we’ve had anything respectable in the way of a veggie garden.

We are so excited at how well it’s growing, despite the late start. The plant selection was mostly leftovers from friends and a couple of root-bound seedlings lingering on garden center shelves. Next year we’ll change up some of the plant placement; accidentally put some tall things in front of short things this time.


We made garden tags out of the pile of old railroad spikes that we found in the basement and dug out of the yard in various places, thanks to the previous owners. K ground down the tops and painted them our bright green, then I just wrote plant names with a Sharpie.


We also finally sourced some good cedar slabs, so we made a proper cellar door that is camouflaged with the rest of the logs. Just needs some stain.


And we spotted this absolutely gorgeous bit of lichen on a hike around the area last week. Mother Nature continues to win at gardening.


Shutter to think

When we first bought the cabin, one of these charming old shutters was hidden on the back/side window. As we cleared trash out of the basement and various other stashes, we kept finding more of them – a total of four pairs. With hinges! But totally encrusted with eww, and some structural issues.

We rebuilt a couple of broken ones last year, and cut them to size for the front and back windows; plus restored an extra set, and put one pair out on the curb. (As it turns out, a neighbor snagged them and used them on her shed). Then just as I got ready to prep and paint–my leg incident. 

So it was especially sweet to get them painted and get one set installed this week. We started with the ‘extra’ set and put them on the back of the garage, which, oddly, is the most visible from the street. Love ’em! Totally worth the elbow grease. Since we had all the hardware and used scraps and paint we already had on hand, the cost was negligible.