Friday, June 27, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Military Industrial Complex

I've been meaning to blog this for awhile. When we stayed at the Luminhaus (I'm beginning to sound like a broken record) we were awoken in the middle of the night by the most outrageous roar. Took it happening a second time a bit later to realize that some military aircraft were flying what must have been RIGHT OVER the house, and I mean spitting distance away. Gets the adrenaline going to wake up that way at four in the morning.

Fast forward a year to last summer and Craig and I are sanding cedar before the house has even arrived. The sanders are loud, and Craig has on ear muffs AND his ipod. I'm going au natural. And with no warning at all two jets streak right over our heads, and again I mean RIGHT OVER OUR HEADS. Couple hundred feet about us, tops. Insanely loud. They're gone in an instant, and I look over at Craig and realize he hasn't heard or seen a thing. Later I asked some of the guys working on the foundation about it and they said it's not uncommon for jets to run the valleys, often below the ridge tops. It's happened a few other times when I've been out there (including a not-so-subtle wake-up call at 6 or so last week) and whatever you may think about our $450 billion dollar defense budget, I have to say that it is awesome - in the very literal sense of the word - to get buzzed by one of those things. And I suppose I should add this scenario to the "What to do if..." section of our little instruction book for guests.

Monday, June 23, 2008

With these kinds of guests...

When we stayed at the Luminhaus, we had a sense of how much time and labor had gone into building it (of course not as much as we do now). And we took care of it accordingly. We broke the coffee pot and I drove twenty minutes to find a replacement. And I hope that's the attitude people have at our place. So far it certainly has been. And I can't imagine we're ever going to get renters who are partying or beating on stuff.

But all of the folks who have stayed so far have been superstars. John and Laura, our first guests, talked with me for an hour on the phone about their visit, and took copious notes. (And have already booked two more weekends!) Chris and Ritamary chipped in one of those wire brush scrubbers for the grill. Ross and Libby sent along a professional-quality blurb and a fancy corkscrew. And Jake, whose Herculean bicycle trip from Pittsburgh to our cabin really cannot be appreciated unless you are a biker (and I am and I still can't really get my arms around three consecutive 100-mile days in the mountains), sent along these pics:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What Part of Lockbox Don't You Understand?

Anybody use one of these lockbox things to keep keys for visitors/contractors? Have one that you particularly like/dislike?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Some things you just can't do yourself

Here is the working version of our website right now. Front page (which has gone through a bunch of iterations) and subpages (first crack at these). And to think we were going to try to pull off a .mac page. SO GLAD we decided to pony up for this. (Blue boxes will have pics, and the photo gallery will run through flickr.)

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

My brother Brian very generously offered to come down from NYC during his week off from work and pitch in. I figured the right thing to do was not let him pay for anything while he was down here. Until I forgot my wallet when we drove into Harrisonburg to hit Lowes, grab lunch, get gas, etc. (I paid him back when Sarah showed up with some cash...)

We got a lot done, including hanging the closet doors in the basement hallway:

Simplex sent along 20" solid core doors and Stanley mounting hardware. I wasn't really excited about them (I wanted to put in some sort of sliding system with stained plywood or polygal). But you work with what you have, right? And they look pretty good.

Brian also did a lot of grunt work, including caulking almost all the molding in the house and the stairs. We got the bathroom pretty much knocked out (vanity, corian, fixtures, toilet). We got the rest of the mulch down under the deck. (We didn't take very many pictures.) A huge thank you to Brian (and Michelle for letting him get away).

Viva le Tour!

Yesterday began a stretch of nine straight days with guests in the cabin. Sarah's aunt Chris is there with a friend this weekend, and next weekend the very first people to inquire about renting (what seems like a year ago) will be coming. In between is Jake from Pittsburgh, who is RIDING HIS BIKE all the way to Lost River. He's blogging his trip on his iPhone - don't know how much he'll be able to update, but check in and wish him luck.

Happy Birthday to Me

A roommate in college sang "Happy Birthday to Me" onto the answering machine of some girls in the apt downstairs who didn't show up at his birthday party.

We celebrated mine by cleaning most of the mess I'd made since the last time we cleaned the house. And with cake and sparklers:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Another Casualty

Took the actual toilet out of its box (one full year almost to the day since the house was delivered) and it is also cracked. Not so bad, just a corner of the base. This is what happens when you have to move things around thirty times because they are on site earlier than they should be. Put it in last night and the crack is hardly visible, so now we just have to wait 4-6 weeks for the replacement top to come and we're in business...

Also just about cut my pinky off slicing a bagel.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hope they eat slowly

Having some trouble finding a good place for my bird feeder. So many oaks with no horizontal branches. This pine's first branches are about eye-level with the deck, so that's good. But don't want to have to drag out a 24' ladder every time I need to refill it...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Anybody out there run a B & B?

We're trying to find an affordable merchant payment system that will allow us to authorize security deposits (and process charges against those authorizations in the unfortunate event that becomes necessary). I can't figure out a way to use PayPal to effect that sort of setup. Any advice?


Last week I dropped (and shattered) the tank cover for our Kohler toilet bowl as I was getting prepared to install it in the downstairs bathroom. Disappointing.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Who takes care of this when I'm not here?

So the crazy weather in DC yesterday was crazy weather in WV first. Five minutes of watching BIG oak trees bend with the wind, then lots of rain. Repeat. Didn't have power for most of the day; we barbecued homemade pizza on the grill. Which was pretty great.

In a break between squalls, I went on a run to the hardware store to grab some things and saw this in the woods:

And this in front of me on the driveway:

And hour later (and after getting some help from the boys), we were back in business:

Can't very well ask a tenant to do this, though, can I?

Whatever the kids are listening to these days

It'll sound (and look) pretty good in here. Hard to believe that these are the first (and only) nice pieces of audio equipment I've ever owned - the Sony receiver and cd player (anybody use those anymore?) date back to sophomore year of college - that's 1993 - and the Bose cube speaker system goes back to 1997 when my brother was a salesman there and hooked me up. The iPod docking station, I figure, is a necessary nod to a more modern moment...

Took this pic before I painted over the drywall repair spots:

These, however, are decidedly NOT fancy. $29 at Circuit City, but they sound fine outside.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

In a world where I have infinite funds...

...and am not horribly in debt, here's what would be going up on the walls in this house. These:

And these:

One Step at a Time

This actually wasn't so hard. Used construction adhesive and my finish nailer (which is a little tricky, you have to get the angle and location just right to replicate the effect you get from a floor gun). One of the things that really hit home doing this whole house project has been how much each phase of construction depends on how well the last thing was done. Imperfect joists mean imperfect boards on the deck and lumpy drywall on the ceiling; poorly hung drywall means sloppy seams when you mud and tape; stringers on the stairs that don't perfectly match mean risers that have gaps where they meet the treads. But you make do.

The risers here are actually just two 4" boards of bamboo, with the top board ripped to size. The treads came from the manufacturer in 6' lengths that I cut to size. I was able to get them all to sit cleanly enough that we won't need to trim out the stairs. (John at Res4 was hoping I could do the landing that way too, but I'm not that good...) Caulking should hide all the gaps. (I've got a LOT of caulking to do; haven't done any of the cleanup on the trim yet, and lots of places outside could stand to be caulked as well.)