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

Friday, April 23, 2010

Family and Uncooperative Chainsaws

As planned, we headed up this past Thursday to spend a weekend at the house...working and spending time with family.  Our typical 7 1/2 hour drive quickly turned into closer to 10 hours, but with good reason.  Shelly's Uncle Glenn had a large supply of new-in-the-box ceramic tiles that he wanted to give to us.
So, we headed to their house in Taylor, MI first to pick up the tile.  This would have us less than five minutes from Shelly's folks' house, so we knew we'd be stopping in there for a quick visit, too.  When we arrived at Uncle Glenn's we were informed that the tile was not there, and that it was at their place in Houghton Lake.  Oh, well.  We visited for a bit, and left with the address for their place in Houghton Lake.  We stopped for a bit at Shelly's folks' place to visit with Shelly's mom, then headed north.  We plugged the Houghton Lake address into the GPS and made our way there, with only a stop for dinner in Frankenmeuth at Cracker Barrel.  By the time we arrived at their house to pick up the tile it was around 8:00 PM.  They had the tile set out on the back porch for us, and we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of tile.  We quickly moved it from their back porch to the Explorer and got back on the road.  We finally arrived at Shangri La at about 10:30 PM, unloaded some of our gear from the Explorer, and started a fire in the wood stove.

Our major project plan for the weekend was to sort though, cut up, and stack the huge pile of wood lying in the yard.
This ended up being a bust.  All was going well, and then problems ensued with our chainsaw.  It would run well for a while, and then suddenly would no longer idle.  aaaaagh!  We fought with it for a while, but we eventually gave up and found other things to do.

We already had a burn pile going to burn the junk wood sorted out of the pile, so we went through and around the barns...looking for any burnable items.  Just a bit of "spring cleaning".  At one point I got a bit overly ambitious with the fire, and ended up meeting one of our neighbors.  It was a bit windy, and my overly ambitious fire was making him a bit nervous.  My introduction to him started with me seeing him with his camera phone, taking a picture of the fire.  My opening salvo:  "What, are you trying to get me in trouble?!"  That broke the ice, and then some.  I went over to the fence, and we started talking it out.  What we learned was, when he came over to inspect the fire he was expecting the absolute worst from us.  Sadly, we were already assumed guilty by association to the previous owner or our property.  It turns out that there was some VERY bad blood between his family and Dale, the original owner of the property.  The neighbor, James, said that on two separate occasions Dale had pulled a gun on him.  Yeah...we have some fences to mend. We had heard that James and his family had tried to reclaim some of their land from Dale when they found out that the fences were incorrectly laid, and that this was one of the big causes of "the feud".  He confirmed that they had in fact done this...and that they handled it about as badly as they could have.  Dale was out west hunting, and they staked out the "new" property line while he was gone.  When he arrived back home he found stakes going right through his barn.  It all ended up in court, and Dale ended up being awarded the half acre+ in question.  The end result for James and us?  James and Shelly & I talked for a good bit, and we told him we'd let the fire die down and would keep it down.  In the end we were laughing and joking around, and it felt like we had maybe gotten past...well, the past.  At the very least it was a good start.

We accomplished a few other odds and ends throughout the weekend.  Shelly bought some plastic containers to put all of the ammunition into.  Yes, I said ammunition.  We found bullets and shells throughout the house, and we wanted to consolidate it all on one of the shelves in the basement.  As a precaution against potential dampness Shelly put it all into the plastic containers.

There is a large mound around the apple trees in the front yard that makes grass cutting around the trees just that much harder.  I started digging it up to take it back to level ground, and used the dirt to fill in some holes in other areas of the yard where I had taken out some dead fruit trees.  I didn't make it all of the way through the dirt mound, but I made a good sized dent in it.  I also sawed down some of the lower branches from the same trees, which were coming close to taking my head off when I would cut the grass.

Shelly's brother Jamie, his wife Lacey, and their two sons Collin and Devon arrived around 2:00 PM on Friday.  We were pretty much done working, so we just enjoyed the afternoon with them.  They took us out to dinner for Shelly's birthday.  We went to the diner that we found on our last trip up, Manzana's in Onaway.  Manzana's now has a few more fans.  We then went down to the Ocqueoc River, where it empties into Lake Huron to see if we could see evidence of the steelhead running.  We did find some carcasses, where somebody had cleaned the fish and dumped the remains back in the water, but we didn't find anything alive and swimming.  We then went in to Cheboygan to hit the WalMart.  Jamie and Lacey needed a few things, and we wanted a memory foam pad for our bed.  That old bed was beating the crap out of us.  Back at the house we watched some movies until bed time.  Nice afternoon with family, and we got some work done.  Good day!

Shelly and I slept very well on the new memory foam, and on Saturday we had a mostly lazy day.  The weather wasn't cooperating at all for any outdoor activity.  High winds and snow/rain.  Just a miserable day to be outdoors.  Still, Jamie and Lacey did take the boys down to the Ocqueoc River to do some fishing.  Shelly and I took Collin and Devon for a short hike in the woods behind the house.

I did a little work in the basement, just some simple organizing.  I also shaved the top of our bedroom door to fix where it was rubbing against the door frame.  Jamie and Lacey took the boys over to Uncle Donny and Aunt Lorraine's to spend a good part of the day.  They stopped on the way back and picked up a couple pizzas, and we just ate and relaxed through the evening.  The weather cleared just before sunset, and the claustrophobic part of me told me to go out for a walk.  I walked down to the end of the road and over to the river to just relax for a bit.

Sunday morning, and we started getting ready to leave for home.  One problem, the toilet was backed up and we couldn't find a plunger.  Can you imagine?  All of the "stuff" we've gone through, and no plunger.  I got ready and headed into Rogers City, hoping to find something opened at 8:00 AM on a Sunday.  The Ace didn't open until 9:00, but the Dollar Store opened at 8:00...and they had a plunger.  When I got back to the house I found that Jamie, Lacey and the boys had already left for home.  Devon has some respiratory issues, and the day at Uncle Donny's had him in pretty rough shape.  They wanted to get him back home as soon as possible, and I sure don't blame them.  We packed up ourselves and hit the road for home.  We stopped off in Newport, MI at my brother's house, as he offered to give us a chainsaw.  We spent about two hours there, just shooting the breeze.  It had been too long, and it was good to see him.

We arrived home around 7:30 PM, and just relaxed with the boys and Peanut.  It was a good weekend.  We didn't get done what we expected to get done, but that's okay.  We were able to spend some time with Jamie and Lacey, and their boys.  It had been a while since we've been around kids that age, and we forgot how much fun...and how tiring it is. :)  Those two boys flat out rock, and it was very cool to have them and Jamie & Lacey up there.

We're not sure yet when we'll be heading back up.  This will be one of our future projects.  This roto tiller was sitting outside for who knows how long.  We moved it into the barn, and plan to try to bring it back to life.

We'll let you all know when we're heading back up.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

We've got company!

We'll be having company again.  This time up it'll be family.  Shelly's brother Jamie, his wife Lacey, and their two sons Collin and Devon will be heading up to spend the weekend.  It'll be good to have a house full of family!

Shelly and I are planning on tackling the pile of wood out by the larger barn.  I tuned up the chainsaw the other day, so it's all set.  We should be able to pretty much fill up the woodshed.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate.  If not, we'll finish tackling the basement.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Next Trip

It's looking like our next trip up to the house will be the weekend of April 17th.  Not sure what projects we're going to be tackling as yet.  There are just so many to choose from!  Seriously, I sometimes don't know what to focus on.  I get a bit impatient at times, wanting to do it all at once.  Like I said before...I need to chill. 

We'll post an update after the trip.  :)