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

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas!

Shangri La - December, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Our Snow Removal Arsenal

Some folks have asked us how we deal with all the snow.  You know...when we actually get any?  Last year was our first winter, and we were ill prepared for it.  We had a quad with a plow blade, a snow shovel...and, that's it.  Fortunately for us it was a light winter for snow, and we nearly made it through the entire season in good shape with just those two implements.  The final snow of the season did have us running to Home Depot for a large walk behind snow thrower.  Then, in the spring we added the latest weapon to our snow removal arsenal when we bought our Kubota.

So...for those of you who wanted to know, here's how we deal with all of the (potential) snow.

Kubota BX1860
Ariens 16.5hp Snow Thrower
Polaris Sportsman X2
ACE Hardware Snow Shovel

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It ain't Snowmageddon, but...

...we finally have our first significant snowfall at Shangri La for 2012!  By significant, I mean measurable.  By measurable, I mean plowable.  By plowable, I mean that I got to ride the quad around the property at 15-20 mph while pushing fluffy white powder!

That is all.  Well, except for this picture...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Where we live...

One of our blog readers said that she liked all of the remodeling updates, but that she wanted to hear more on what we thought about our new surroundings.  I'm going to take a shot at responding to her kind request.

First, the vital statistics.  We live on ten acres in a very small town.  We have a Millersburg mailing address, and live in Ocqueoc Township (pronounced Ah-key-ok).  Ocqueoc is a Native American word meaning crooked water, and refers to the Ocqueoc River (which is within walking distance from our house).  According to City Data, Ocqueoc Township is 52.3 square miles, and has a population of 643.  Like I said...we live in a very small town.

One of the things I truly love about the area is the abundance of water.  We have the river close at hand, we're within a 15 minute drive of Lake Huron, and we're within an easy drive of several rivers and inland lakes.  It's a dream come true for a water bug like yours truly.

We're finally feeling somewhat settled in, and are slowly getting used to country living.  The biggest adjustment has been the loss of living close to our friends and former neighbors in Ohio.  I am a very social person, and I truly enjoy talking with people.  Because of that I fit in very well with small town that I'll talk to just about anybody.  However, talking to strangers just doesn't compare with hanging out and BS'ing with long time friends.  We are beginning to get to know our neighbors, and are getting more and more familiar with our local business owners.  We are planning on joining the local Millersburg F.O.E., to become more active in the community and to continue to meet more local folks.  We surely can't expect the locals to make us feel welcome if we don't make a valid attempt to become part of the community, can we?  No, we can't.

This area is so amazingly different than anything we've previously experienced.  Another adjustment for us was dealing with the long driving distances to larger cities for shopping.  The closest larger city, with a Wal Mart and K Mart for example, is Cheboygan at about a 45 minute drive.  We also have Gaylord and Alpena, with a Meijer, Home Depot and Lowes, both at about an hour drive.  We do shop at local businesses as much as possible, but there are times when only the big box stores have what we need to get a particular job done.  The ACE Hardware in Rogers City gets a ton of our home repair supplies business, but sometimes a trip to the Home Depot in Alpena is the only way to get the job done.

Living on acreage in the country isn't easy or convenient, and because of that many might wonder why we would choose to live here.  It's difficult to explain, as it's something of a contradiction.  There is a certain freedom we feel by being tied to a piece of property, which is dependent upon us for maintenance and care.  I doesn't sound entirely right to me either.  I'll try to explain.  The more we're becoming attuned to our land, and are providing the care and nurturing for its development, the more it is giving back to us.  The woods around us are a prime example.  They require regular care, with the cleanup of fallen branches and trees, and the clearing of dead fall that could become a fire hazard.  However, they most certainly pay us back for our efforts.  They are an ever changing tapestry of deep summer greens, vibrant fall colors, and snow-covered winter white.  Whether looking out our windows, or hiking under the branches, they are a constant source of peace and beauty.  The bottom line for us is, we get far more from our woods than they require of us.  That's a theme that runs through all of the additional time and effort required to live here.  What we receive in return is worth far more than the effort expended.  While we know that it's not for everyone, we know that it is most definitely "us".

Until next time...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Regular blog updates? Yeah, we suck at that.

From what I've seen of the blogs I follow, one of the things they do consistently different than we do...they actually update their blogs more than three times a year.    So, do we step up our game, or do we reconcile ourselves to the fact that we truly suck at blogging?  I'm not prepared to commit one way or the other just yet, but lately we're sure leaning toward suckage.

In an effort to correct our downward slide, I'm going to try to catch us up.  Let's see...when was the last update.  July?!!!  Crap.

The roof of our root cellar was in need of some work, so BACK IN JULY we tore into it...literally.  It's a concrete roof, and it was deteriorating badly at the corners. We started by chiseling until we made it back to solid concrete.  This also exposed the re-rod, which we needed to do to effectively tie the new concrete to the old.  Here are some shots of the before and during the chiseling.  This is our first ever concrete project, so if any of you know the proper way to do this...well, please don't be overly critical.  We were winging it.  :)

This is what the above corner looked like as well, before chiseling.

Finally done chiseling down to solid concrete.
Forms for the new concrete.
Freshly poured concrete.
After allowing the concrete to cure for over a month, we painted the entire cellar with Dry Lok.  Here is the finished product.

Below is a picture of our grape harvest.  We have two nice sized vines, but only one of them produced this year.  The weird weather this year wreaked havoc on our fruit harvest.  We were pretty disappointed when our apple and pear trees produced absolutely nothing.  Shelly was able to make some flippin' awesome grape jelly from the grapes we did manage to harvest, and she made some equally awesome apple jelly with apples from a local orchard.

November was a busy month around here.  We had new windows installed, I did some work on our deer blind, we cut and stacked about five cord of firewood, and accomplished some much needed work on the larger barn.

One of two new living room windows.  We had the openings enlarged
on both windows, lowering the sills.  You can see where the old trim was
and where it ended on the bottom.  This was immediately after installation.
They're now trimmed out and painted.  The difference is stunning.
We're now able to look out at our woods while sitting on the couch.
Before we had to stand up.  :p
The wood siding was beginning to de-laminate, and there was a pile
of vinyl siding lying in the woods by the blind.  Soooo...I bought
the trim and vinyl sided the blind!  I also primed and painted the
scaffolding, and added the corner bracing you see on the wooden
vertical support.
On our way to having six cords put back for the heating season.
Barn soffit - Before
Barn soffit - After
Trim added.  I ripped this from lumber that was laying around.
This corner of the barn was never completed, with small
pieces slapped up and large areas opened to wind and weather.
It feels good to have that done!
This is the header over the door.  This spans 11 feet, and
before working on it, it was just two 2x6's.  I was able to sledge
hammer the 4x4 between the two 2x6's, and nail it in place.
With the long doorway span and the inadequate structure with the 2x6's,
the roof was beginning to sag quite a bit.  This shored it up considerably.
There were some large gaps around the window.  I trimmed it out
to fill the gaps, and to beef up the structure.
A shot showing all of the improvements.  Now, I just need a door!
Those are all of the pictures I could find for what we did.  Shelly did quite a bit of painting, in the entryway and in the living room after the installation of the new windows.  We also installed new light switches in the entryway, as part of our commitment to ourselves to check and upgrade the electrical as part of every project.  I'll get some pictures posted in a day or so, showing all of the new windows and Shelly's work on the interior.

The basement project has been on hold for the summer.  We figured it best to tackle outdoor projects while we had the weather for it, and move back to the basement when the snow flies.  I'll be diving back down there VERY shortly.  :)

That's all for now.  I'd tell you that I'll post again soon, but I'm not sure any of you would believe me.  Can't say that I'd blame you, of course.  So, until next time...whenever that might be!  ;)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Our last post was when?!!

What?  When was our last post?  March 19th?!  Are you sure?!!

Yep.  Our last post was on March 19th.  These past couple of months flew by, and strangely have not resulted in a ton getting done around 'ol Shangri La.  We've accomplished a couple of things, but nothing truly exciting.  Rather than bore you with a bunch of jibber jabber, how about we go with some pictures with a tad bit of commentary.  Cool?  OK...let's push on with getting caught up.

These will be in darn close to chronological order, and I'll break it down for you by month.  :)


These next few pics are of areas Shelly cleared and cleaned up.  :)

Before Shelly kicked butt
Before Shelly went all medieval.
Before Shelly opened a can of whupass.

Our first northern MI garden.  In later pics you'll
see that Mother Nature is laughing her butt off at us.

The last update had the first section of basement
insulated and framed.  Section 2...done!
Cut up and split some deadfall, to supplement the load
of firewood we'll need to buy.  Got to feed the beast!


Not too bad of a grading job, for an upside down plow with a
cinder block on it being towed behind a garden tractor.
Ten cord of firewood being delivered and stacked by
a really cool truck.
Ten cord of firewood...delivered!  That should get us
through two seasons.  
Our new tractor being delivered by another cool truck.
This one is cool only because it's delivering our new tractor.
That's me on our new Kubota BX1860.  That smile?  It only
looks like it wraps all the way around my head.
These next pics are befores and afters for the painting of our son Michael's room.  :)

We really have nothing for June as far as activities around here.  It was a crazy month, which included a trip to Arizona for a campus tour for our youngest son's new college.  Yep...June was a blur.  :)


That picture of the freshly tilled garden-to-be?  Yeah...this
is that same space.  Did I not tell you that Mother Nature had a good laugh on us?  We left for a
week, and came back to a lawn where a garden should be.
To add insult to injury, what little we've been able to grow is
feeding the local bunny population...which by all accounts is quite
extensive.  Apparently they really do multiply like, well...bunnies.
So, Shelly toned down her ambitions for this year.  She bought
a few plants, and commenced to make them bunny-proof.
That's about two cords out of the ten, cut and stacked.
We're going to wait for cooler weather before we tackle
any more of that pile.  WHEW!
The third 1/4th of the basement, with the walls caulked
and Dry Lok'd and two coats of paint on the floor.  It's all
ready for framing and insulation...after some rerouting of
plumbing, anyway.
So, that gets us caught right up to today.  Literally, to today. I put the second coat of floor paint down just this evening.  

Looking back on it all, I'm going to take back what I said at the start of this post...about not a ton getting done.  We actually did accomplish some stuff around here since March 19th.  I'm glad I did this.  I'm feeling much better now.  :)

Talk to you all soon!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Honest! It's not another basement update!

Sunday's projects were all about staying out of the basement.  After finishing up the framing of the first section, we decided to take a break before plunging headlong into the next section.  A couple weeks ago we bought a new ceiling fan for the living room, and new faucets for the kitchen and bathroom.  Eureka!  These will keep me busy, and keep me out of the basement!

The old ceiling fan looked like something from that 70's show, and would spark when pulling the chain for the light.  Long story short, we didn't use it.  Pretty, isn't it?!

Existing Ceiling Fan
Here's the new and improved fan.  Five larger blades, plenty of wind, and no sparks!

Replacement Ceiling Fan
With the house sitting vacant for so long the seals on the faucets in the kitchen and bathroom are leaking.  They're not just dripping...they're also leaking around the handles.  Also, the sprayer is completely non-working.  We had a similar issue in Ohio and I replaced the faucet, and Shelly got used to using the sprayer.  See what I get for spoiling her?  ;-)

The existing kitchen faucet.
There's water everywhere!  AAAAAGH!
The existing bathroom faucet.'s gotta go.
Now, for the big reveal...all dripping with enthusiasm!!!  What, you'd prefer some watered down update? ;-)

New kitchen faucet.  Dry and wet where they're supposed to be,
and a working sprayer!
New bathroom faucet.
Soooo much nicer.
This was a nice deviation from the basement project, and all three improvements were immediately felt.  The ceiling fan immediately went into service, what with the freakishly warm temps.  March...northern Michigan...80 degrees?!  

It'll likely be a few weeks before our next update.  I'll be traveling for work this week, and then for the weekend we're out of town visiting with friends and then visiting our son Kyle.    So, we'll talk to you all in a few weeks!