Chronicling the cleanup and restoration of our house and property in northern Michigan

Chronicling the cleanup and restoration of our house and property in northern Michigan

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Live from Shangri La...Part Two!

With both of us feeling relatively lousy, and with the shorter than expected time to be up here, we are tackling smaller projects rather than attempting any big projects.  After posting yesterday I got a small second wind and installed the new shower head.  That was it for the second wind, and we called in a night pretty early.

We woke this morning around 6:30 and took our time getting our butts moving.  We finally got ourselves cleaned up and fed, and then headed in to Rogers City to pick up a few items for the planned projects.  On today's agenda:  Installing a new wax ring on the toilet, installing a shampoo dispenser in the shower, and connecting the TV to the outside antenna.

The toilet project went smoothly.  I was concerned that the old wax ring had been leaking long enough to cause damage to the floor, but was pleased to find I was unnecessarily concerned.  We did find that the back and bottom of the toilet tank was covered in black mold.  The water from the well is ice cold, even in the hottest part of summer.  That, combined with heat and humidity in the house has the outside of toilet tank sweating like a glass of ice water on a hot day.  We bleached the wall and the tank to kill the mold, and now that we know it's a problem we'll be keeping an eye on it.  We're thinking that a spray of Lysol into the narrow gap between the toilet tank and the wall whenever cleaning should keep the mold from reoccurring, and we can make sure to wipe down the bottom of the tank whenever cleaning the bathroom fixtures.

The shampoo dispenser was a simple project, but one that makes a huge difference.  All of the bottles of shampoo that are currently cluttering up the shower will be gone!  We have one of these in our shower in Columbus, and it makes a huge difference.  I like the one that Shelly bought for up here, as it allowed for corner installation and takes up less space.

The last project planned for the day was to connect the outside TV antenna to the TV.  This was complicated by two things.  First, the antenna cable coming into the house was run to the master bedroom.  We wanted the TV in the living room but the cable wasn't long enough.  An adapter to convert from the two wire antenna cable to coaxial cable and a 25' length of coax solved this problem.  Second, the TV up here, though a nice unit, is an older model and is not capable of receiving digital stations.  We had to track down a digital converter box.  We hunted for one yesterday.  Wal Mart didn't have any, the Radio Shack that the GPS led us to was shut down, and the next closest GPS recommended Radio Shack ended up being a private residence.  Oh, well...we had a nice drive.  I went online today and found that Rogers City has a Radio Shack.  They had just one converter left on the shelf.  That left just running the cable and hooking everything up.  I drilled the necessary hole to get the cable from the basement to the needed spot in the living room, ran the cable, and hooked everything up.  Now, we both agreed that we'd be happy if we could just get a few local stations with a good signal.  We ended up with eight channels, all coming in extremely clear and strong.

The house is fully equipped with Dish TV.  I hooked it up to see if it all works, and it does.  The only hitch, we're not up here nearly enough to pay for the service.  Eight channels for free that we can watch whenever we're here, or satellite TV with a ton of channels that we can pay for even when we're not here to watch it.  Eight channels it is!  Heck, we've got too much to do around here to be sucked into watching TV, anyway.  It is good to know it works, and when we eventually move up here I'm sure we'll end up switching to satellite.

One small add-on project was to add a clock in the living room.  I found an older digital clock/radio in the basement, and with a bit of elbow grease it cleaned right up.  The radio even works well.

Not sure what we'll be tackling tomorrow.  I'm pretty much at the tail end of being sick, and am feeling better today than I have in a while.  Shelly feels better today than yesterday, but it's still kicking her butt pretty good.  I may start the prep work in the spare bedroom for the eventual painting project.  If I can get a good portion of the prep work done tomorrow maybe I'll be able to paint over the next long weekend up here.  Shelly's talking about clearing out the hall closet and maybe installing some shelving in the spare bedroom closet.

As promised, pics will be forthcoming.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Live from Shangri La!

Hello from Shangri La.  We finally made it up here yesterday (Tuesday).  We originally were planning to be here on Saturday, but between a major family upheaval and some vehicle problems, that just didn't turn out to be realistic.

There's about two feet of snow on the ground, and temps are ranging between the teens at night and the 20's in the daytime.  Fortunately we're surrounded by trees, so any wind is pretty much blocked.  We're not sure how much we're going to get done this trip.  Shelly and I are both under the weather, with her just getting sick and me just getting over it.  Damn flu bug is vicious.  I've been sick for over a week, and it's been kicking my tail.

Had a very cool moment last night.  I woke up around 3:00 AM, thinking, "Man, it's bright in here."  I looked out the window and found a full moon shining.  With the snow on the ground and in the trees and with the icicles hanging down from the eaves, the moonlight reflecting off it all actually had my breath catching for a moment.  I must have stared out the window for a good five minutes before I remembered that it was a full bladder that woke me up in the first place. 

The insulation in this place continues to impress.  We're heating with only a wood stove, and it'll chase you out of here.  We haven't stoked the fire in hours, and with temps in the 20's outside it's holding at 70 in here.

One nice new addition to the place:  We bought a small, bar style dinette set for the kitchen.  Space is short in there, so the bar style table is ideal.  The windows are high on the wall, and the taller table and chairs allow us to look out the windows while eating.  There are only two chairs, but it'll mostly be just the two of us up here.  When there are more folks up here people can eat in the living room, which is what everybody ended up doing even when there was a larger table in the kitchen. We plan to buy a nice wood set of TV trays.  I was wired after the drive, so I put the table together last night.  We had breakfast and lunch at the table...very nice.

We needed to buy some supplies, so this morning we took a drive to hit the Wally World in Cheboygan.  We picked up some food and sundries, and a new toaster oven.  There is a gas stove/oven in the kitchen, but due to it's age and tired condition we're a bit hesitant to fire it up.  There is a newer stove in the basement that we'll eventually move upstairs.

After getting back I fired up the tractor to see how well the snow thrower attachment works.  This is the first opportunity to use it since doing all the work on it at the end of October.  It works like a charm!  The driveway, which extends from the road to the house, around the house, and then back to the road is all clear.  I don't know how much life the old tractor has in her, but I'm going to run her until she drops.  We're hoping she'll keep running until we're ready to move up here.  Nobody is going to steal her, as she looks like a derelict.  If we buy a new tractor we'll have to haul it from and back to Ohio, as we would have no way to secure it up here when we're down south.  I'm dreaming of getting a nice zero turn mower, and there's no way we could leave an investment like that unguarded up here.

That's pretty much it for today.  It's now about 4:00 PM, and both Shelly and I are whipped.  We're going to relax this evening and hopefully hit things harder in the morning.  I need to replace the wax ring on the toilet.  I'm going to replace the seal between the tank and the bowl at the same time, as that'll be the next thing to go and it'll save me from having to take it apart yet again.  We also bought a new water saver shower head.  The current head is far from being a water saver.  It's an old shower massage, and the hot water heater is emptying way too fast.  The water doesn't cost us...well water...but the electricity to heat the water does.  That, and the second person to shower runs out of hot water before finishing.  :)

More to follow as the week progresses.  I'll post some pics as well.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Been a while, so Dave's stepping in. :)

It's been quite some time since this blog has seen an update, so I'm going to try to get it caught up a bit.

Our last update was in August, and there's been quite a bit of activity and progress since then.  Thanks to a ton of effort from Shelly's aunt and cousin both of the barns are cleared out.  They provided the labor in exchange for the ability to sell anything we didn't want/need at auction.  This was a win/win for all parties.  They needed the money, and with our limited time to be there this job wouldn't have been done for a LONG time if it had to wait for us.  Even better, they found somebody to clear the steel and aluminum scrap piles, and to take all of the 100 or so windows that were laying around the property.  The place is looking GOOD!

One problem we had been having was a roof leak, which was coming into the house around the vent for the wood stove.  Shelly's uncle said that he had been up there and had tarred the heck out of it, and that the problem must be further up the roof, with the water running under the tin roof and in around the stack.  I figured I'd take one more shot at tarring around the stack.  Once on the roof I found cracked tar and some gaps.  I filled it all in, and we haven't had a leak since.  Afterward I told Shelly's uncle.  He said that his son had been up there, but when I talked to his son he said that his dad had.  OK...lesson learned.  :)

At the end of October, when the grass stopped growing, I did some work on the tractor to get the snow thrower attachment operational.  It's running like a champ!  It's backed into the barn with the battery conditioner attached...just waiting to be put into service when the snow flies.  Okay...we're so late in updating that the snow has already begun flying.  :)  I also did some work to get the walk behind snow blower up and running.  I also performed a temporary fix for the "window" between the master bedroom and the bathroom, tacking up some Reflectix.  We'll be drywalling this in.  Also did some work on the futon to make it usable.  The bars on it could be felt right through the mattress, so I attached some 1/8" plywood over the bars.

During all of the trips above Shelly has been cleaning and organizing.  She reclaimed all of the rooms, getting everything cleared out, cleaned, and organized.  It is really beginning to feel like it's ours.

All of the trips up weren't about work.  Shelly's brother and I headed up there to do a bit of Salmon fishing in October.  We did some work getting the trails to the deer blinds cleared, and laying some feed.  More recently, he and I went up in November to do some deer hunting.  Shelly's dad and uncle, and a friend of the family also went.  We didn't get any deer, but we had a great time. 

I did end up having to do a bit of work on the place during the hunting trip.  We got a call from Shelly's uncle, who had stopped by the house to check on it just a few days before we were heading up.  He let us know that the basement was flooded.  The sump pump had failed, and it had rained so much that the root cellar filled up so much that the water backed up into the drains in the basement.  I installed a new sump pump, and mopped up the water in the basement.  I got a burn pile going and cleared out all of the ruined boxes and such.  I also bought a dehumidifier, and set it up in the basement to drain in to a floor drain so that it could be left on.

I mentioned that Shelly's dad was up for the hunting trip.  This is the first time that he has been in the house since giving it to us, and I was surprised that he was staying at the house instead of with Shelly's uncle.  See, he and Dale, the previous owner...and resident until he passed away 2 years prior...were extremely close friends.  Shelly's dad is not comfortable in the house...too many memories.  He is also not comfortable with the changes we've made, even though he realizes that everything we're doing is necessary.  He stayed two of the four nights, but then packed up and headed back south.  Honestly, he stayed longer than I thought he would.  I think he had a good time, and the next time likely won't be as difficult for him.

With the cold weather and the snow flying we're going to move the work indoors.  We plan on heading up for the week between Christmas and New Year, and our plan is to seriously tackle the basement.  Shelly, when she was still at Lifecare, was gifted three gallons of Kilz mildew resistant paint.  I'm hoping to get the walls in the basement painted, which should help to keep the moisture down.

So, that gets us caught up.  Hopefully I didn't miss too much. Here are some PICS back from September that will show some of the completed work.  We'll be updating more regularly after this, so plan on coming back after the first of the year to hear and see about the work done just after Christmas.