The Cabin Diaries - Cancelled Until Further Notice

We've decided to hold off on building the log cabin on our property in Stokes county. The general contractor's estimate for costs came in at more than DOUBLE what we'd expected. And this is after he nickeled and dimed everything that could be nickeled and dimed, from cheaper kitchen appliances to having Blair and I stain the logs ourselves. DOUBLE. We just can't do it.

Or, we could, put we're not willing to stick ourselves into that deep a financial hole. It's a disappointment. We've owned the land, 38.5 acres, for years and years now, and have dreamed of having a little get-away cabin. (With no kids you might ask us, "Get away from what?" I tell you yet again that owning cats is very stressful...) But the price of everything has sky-rocketed in the past year and also--to put the blame where it belongs--we didn't do a very good job of doing our homework and getting a complete estimate before we started this madcap process.

I'm terribly disappointed for Blair. As always, he is Mr. Stoic. We've decided we'll save money for the next few years and re-evaluate what to do. Maybe put a stick frame there, which is considerably cheaper than log.

At the same time that it's a disappointment, oh my God, we have money again! Sweet Starbucks-mocha-buying money! We have been VERY well-behaved this year, cutting down on eating out and unnecessary expenses. We certainly won't go hog wild but let's just say I'm feeling a whole less guilty about what I spent to look good at my reunion. ;)

Meanwhile, I have to applaud our cabin designer and log home builder. The designer threw herself into overdrive trying to figure out ways to reduce the footprint so we could still afford it, and the log home builder actually offered to give us back some of the money we'd already paid him to use for temporary financing. He was under no obligation to do that. How incredibly sweet and generous is that? There are good people in the world. He also offered to try to hold onto our logs (already cut) for us and store them, but we told him to try and sell or rework them. He let us out of our contract with him based on money paid to date and not based on what was still owed. Nice, nice man.

As with everything, it was a learning experience. We'll be smarter and better prepared next time. And I feel confident there will be a next time. Meanwhile, if anyone wants to do some challenging trail runs, I know the perfect piece of undeveloped property we can go to...

What's Good In Life

Enough of the negativity already--I'm wallowing in it. Let's focus instead on what is good in life:

  • The uber housesitter left Eddy's Slow Churned Peanut Butter Chunk ice-cream in the freezer.
  • She also left lager in the fridge. (That's a good housesitter.)
  • If you'll recall from this entry, we'd lost the general contractor for our cabin. However, Blair found a brilliant man with loads of experience who came recommended by the Stokes County inspection center. He met with him and feels really good about working with him. Bonus: His name is Dallas. Important, I think, for a contractor to have a rugged name...
  • While I lost some valuable data in the computer crash, it could have been much worse. Since I'm not doing a whole lot of freelancing these days, there wasn't as much to lose. Recovering what I lost will be uncomfortable and involve some mourning (like for the half-finished article I wrote that's now gone), but it's nothing I can't bounce back from with relative ease.
  • The cats appear ecstatic to see us. They sit still to be combed and purr and wind around our ankles. The first night we were back, I woke up at 2 am to find a tabby had curled herself against my chest and under my chin and was pressed up against me as tightly as could be.
  • It's awesome to be home. There's just something about being surrounded by your stuff that makes you feel good.
  • I picked up the car today with it's "new" engine with 12,000 miles on it. Long live the Camry!
  • There is a red cardinal on the tree outside the window as I type this, staring in at me.

So you see, life is not all angst. I tend towards the morbid and dramatic at times (shocking, yes?) but all in all, life is good.

Happy Easter

Today's post will be a mish-mash of events. We had a lovely Easter meal, having become quite the...well, chefs is too strong a word. Quite the novice chefs, then. We pull out the cookbooks on Friday nights, along with our schedules, and plan meals for the week. I'd say we're  cooking 3-4 full dinners a week. Vegetarian Paella, Salmon & Asparagus Quinoa, Vegetarian Chicken Fajitas, and even ramping up simple dishes like spaghetti with marinara sauce by adding white beans and broccoli (recipe from Runner's World magazine.) It's fun, as most of the recipes are turning out to be not only edible, but tasty. Quite the new experience for me. We have two folders now in our kitchen. Green folder = recipes to try, Red folder = Tried & liked.

We just got back from hiking around our "mountain" property. I haven't been there all winter and I'm glad we went. It reminded me of why I want the cabin. Everything on the 38 acres is raw, natural, unvarnished. We climbed over huge pine trees uprooted by recent windstorms. We jumped on rocks to cross the creek as the wooden bridge we used to use now resembles an ancient Mayan ruin near collapse. We watched monarch butterflies trace the path of the creek and we got ambitious and scaled the hills covered in rotting logs and leaves to reach the far end of our property. It was beautiful and exhausting and nurturing, all at once.

Now we'll collapse on the couch, pull the leftovers out of the fridge, and eat more food than we need to while we watch the Carolina game.  The sun is shining, it's a cloudless 55 degrees, we have the windows open, and I'm going to go make hot tea and beg Blair to tell me where he's hid the dark chocolate.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Money, Time, & Nature Freaks

Blair and I were hiking at Hanging Rock State Park last weekend, describing our ideal days. Actually, we were talking about what our lives would be like if we were infinitely wealthy. I'm of the firm belief that you have to be able to "see" what you want if there is any hope for it to occur. It's why I'll never win the lotto: I just can't see that happening. But working hard and earning massive amounts of dough? That's within my reach.

So we're walking down this trail, chatting, and I asked Blair to describe his perfect day. He started by saying he'd rise early to make a pot of coffee and, given that we were at our cabin, he'd sip the coffee as he watched the sun rise, then would take our large dog for a walk through the woods. He'd come home, make breakfast for the two of us and we'd sit on the screened in porch and discuss our day.

Lovely. He added more details and finally got to lunch.

"Okay," I said. "That's the first part of your day. Now what does the afternoon look like?"

"Well, now I go to my part-time job," said Blair.

"We're infinitely wealthy," I reminded him. "Are you still working  a part-time job?"


"Okay, what is it?

Blair heaved a sigh. "I'm a park ranger."

Oh. My. God. I almost had to sit down in the path, I was laughing so hard. Just the way he said--like, "What can you do? This is my lot in life..." I was rolling.

"God, I can see it now," I said, wiping away tears. "We'll have to postpone our trip to Europe because you're scheduled to lead a bunch of kids on a nature walk."

"Nature is our friend," Blair reminded me.

I absolutely love it, more so because I think if we were infinitely wealthy there's a good chance he would be a park ranger. Just for fun.  And isn't that what life should be about anyway?

Cheers to all of you and the weird, funny dreams you cherish.