And the road goes on forever...

Saturday, February 25, 2023

“You can't always get what you want But if you try sometime you'll find You get what you need”, Rolling Stones


It’s been a winter of soul-searching for ideas, wants and needs for our up north property and hasn’t ended remotely as I ever imagined it would. Let me explain.

When Marc worked in WI back in 2007 he badly injured his right rotator cuff in a silly move. After seeing numerous surgeons who said it was unfixable, he managed an appointment with the orthopedist who treated injuries for the Green Bay Packers; arguably one of the finest in the Midwest. It was fixed, but with the caveat to take it easy on it as the way the procedure had to be corrected left no room or chance of ever fixing it again in a reinjury.

Building our RV shed last Fall, hurrying to get it done, Marc pushed himself beyond what he should have and his shoulder has done nothing but nag him with pain all winter. I know he began questioning just how much he was going to be capable of this year in terms of building, so to try and “help out” I kept reducing the size and scope our project to where I finally suggested just a 16x24 foot one room cabin! He still seemed non-committal, given his first priority is to finish building the shop this summer.

So, in the meantime, my thoughts turned to earnestly searching for instant housing; everything from tiny homes, park models, and manufactured homes. If anyone has paid attention to the price of these in the past two-three years, they have skyrocketed to absurd levels. After months of scouring new and used listings for a park model I finally just found a very nice used unit in TX that was in our price range. But an exorbitant transport bid ($16,000!) knocked it out of the park for us. Our former park model was a 2007 model and those are being listed for more than what ours cost new and many were only in so-so condition and would have required lots of renovation. Forget about purchase of a new one—something sticks in my craw about paying over six figures for a structure with wallboard walls and pressboard cabinets.

Three days ago as we’re sitting through the big Midwest snow storm, Marc suddenly came across a Facebook Marketplace listing of a destination RV (similar to the one we had) which is in a campground three miles from us! Yesterday we took a look at it and it was pristine (a 2021 40 foot model) and a great deal pricewise as well. The owner had been trying to sell it since last summer so was getting very motivated, so we decided to take advantage of that and made an offer, which she quickly accepted.

Will it be my ideal; the thing of my dreams? No, but….It will serve the purpose of comfortable seasonal housing; it will be relatively easy setup for Marc; and it conserves money we don’t need to spend yet allowing for us to also spend some for what we still need to do, which includes a new set of steps to the dock and a little remodel to the unit’s kitchen. We’ll be possibly ditching the cooktop and RV oven in favor of a full size stove/oven and also I’m not living with plastic countertops so those will likely be replaced with butcher block.

We have until mid April to get it removed from its current spot. In addition, the owner included a large deck and Rubbermaid shed which we’ll need to tear down and transport north. 

On another note, back at the end of October we finally broke down and ordered a new car. Although it still runs like a champ, I’ve been driving my Saturn for twenty years and we figured now might be a good time to get a backup. Our new, loaded Subaru Forrester (if it’s my last car I’m having leather seats dammit!), finally arrived at the end of January. It is so filled with electronic gadgetry I’m still not comfortable driving it, so for the most part it has sat in the garage and I’m getting around on all our salt-laden streets and highways in the Saturn. We did have the new car undercoated, which they guarantee against rust for ten years. Since it will be our last ever car however, we will baby it and keep mileage down and use the Saturn as much as we can until she gives up. My luck, that thing will just keep going and going because that’s the way she’s always been!

We await Spring thaw with anticipation and I’m getting really anxious to return to the land of pine scented air and the call of the loons.



Saturday, January 7, 2023

My Winter's Work


We’re enjoying above average temperatures in Wisconsin so far this fall and winter, other than a bad bout of minus temps for about a week awhile back. The snow hasn’t been too bad either. Both Marc and I have been keeping busy with our hobbies; his in the basement doing woodwork and mine in the sewing room continuing to produce things for the humane society auction coming up in February. Our winters are pretty quiet for the most part and spent close to home, dodging the public and not getting sick. 

I do a combination of mainly bookmarks and various sized art quilts, using both fabric and sometimes felt and wool. I’m not at all precise or precious about what I do, but they do seem to appeal to folks offering a sort of primitive, rustic charm. I know for sure I wouldn’t have the patience for real quilting like my mother and Marc’s mom used to produce.

These are just some samples; I've made many more!

Marc started off making salt and pepper boxes for a friend and his sister, then graduated to doing some cutting boards. The last attempt was the one he did for us for the RV and I think it turned out spectacular! He’s now building bird houses and toothpick holders for the shelter auction as well.


There will be another vaccination clinic at the shelter (offered to the public at cut-rate prices) at the end of January which I will help with and then the auction in late February but after that it will likely be June before I participate in much more for them. June is rummage month and I should be able to spare a couple days to make the trip down from the Northwoods to help set up or cover one day of the sale.

That’s all for now!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Of Cabins and Christmas


One thing about winter in Wisconsin is it gives a person plenty of time to contemplate things. Our recent days have revolved around moving activities indoors as temperatures chill, although it has been a warmer than normal winter with little snow so far. 

I’m a jigsaw puzzle freak and always have one going on the dining table, which I cover with a big piece of cardboard to keep the cats from scattering the pieces. Our local library has a fabulous honor lending section of puzzles donated by others—you take them for as long as you wish and then return them for others to enjoy. In addition, I also manage to pick up a few here and there at yard sales, which I then also donate to the library. For such an immensely satisfying hobby, it costs me very little.

I’ve also started back in making jewelry and doing my art quilting. It took a long time after my mother’s death for me to feel the inspiration to be creative, but it’s back and strong now. The Humane Society I volunteer for holds a couple of online auctions during the year and I donate my art to them and they always sell quite well.

(my messy work space)

(These are all fabric bookmarks)

And finally, after a come-to-Jesus-meeting between Marc and myself, we’ve hammered out what we think we want to do with our northern lake property. Of course, we got interrupted earlier this year from being able to complete the shop, which will be on tap for our first chore early next spring, as weather allows. For now, we’ve decided to keep the Waupaca house and thus it makes no sense to build a larger house at the lake so we’ve settled on a small cabin plan. Most would refer to it as a tiny house, although it will come in around 600 s.f. It will be tucked back in the trees away from the lake, although still enjoy a view to it from its great room windows. This way, it preserves prime spots for future building in the event we sell the property and someone wants to build a mega-mansion and use the cabin as a guest house. 

“You Can’t Buy Happiness by the Square Foot” I came across these lines by Dale Mulfinger in a book written about building a cabin (by another author) on Lake Superior. I liked and identified with them:

“The site is chosen for its natural beauty. A cabin offers easy access to the outdoors, both through exterior rooms and through great views from the inside. A cabin adds to the land, never dominating it.

A cabin provides simple, basic shelter. It isn’t fancy. It doesn’t try to make a social statement, as houses often do. A small efficient floor plan is all it needs.

Everybody feels at home right away. A cabin’s furnishings are simple, often treasured family hand-me-downs. Its fireplace or wood stove provides physical and emotional warmth.” 

If our efforts can totally embody those feelings, I’ll feel we’ve accomplished a much needed refuge; a spiritual haven and my soul place. This floorplan is very simple but with some nice touches. It should be everything we need and of course, Marc will tweak it to further fit our lifestyle. We have no need for that back porch off the master bedroom plus French doors are very expensive, so that will be walled in so we can use it as a laundry and heater room. 

What shows as the plan’s stacked laundry area will be turned into a large pantry/storage closet. We’ll use the soffits that surround the great room to run the heating ducts for a small propane system; with a wood stove this will be more than sufficient to heat the small space when we use it in winter. Building it well insulated, there should be no need for any air conditioning. The kitchen will be done according to what most fits us; all lowers excepting for under the sink, will be drawers, which are so much better to use than cabinets. We already have a Spacemaker microwave new in the box from years ago, so that will hang above the cooktop in lieu of a hood. The kitchen window will have a forest view towards morning sun.

The fun part now is dreaming of what finishes I want. I’m drawn to having green painted cabinetry in the kitchen. Giving in to tradition of the Northwoods, the interior main room at least, will be done in tongue and groove knotty pine paneling. The question becomes whether we leave it natural or do a whitewash finish on it. I hope we can afford to do the high vaulted ceiling in beams as shown in the rendering. The living room windows are what will face the lake so simple furniture (maybe just recliners) will face outwards to the view. There will be no need for any window coverings except for simple pull down shades to keep the afternoon sun at bay if needed, since no one will be able to see the cabin. That’s one of the most precious features of our property to us: not a neighbor in sight, just wonderful, wild wilderness!


(love these green cabinets!)

(then the choice also involves running the paneling horizontal or vertical?)

Previously I’ve been drawn to luxury vinyl planks for flooring but we are rethinking that. I’ve been very dissatisfied with the Pergo laminate in our Waupaca house so I’m leaning towards something more indestructible and long lasting like porcelain tile; we intend to run the same flooring throughout. One of the advantages of such a small kitchen is that there really won’t be a lot of counter space, so buying top of the line anything I want (soapstone!) should be within reach. Marc will work on designing and building a small work table with a thick butcher block cutting area that can serve as a mini-work island. 

On a final note, you’ll notice the large dining table at the front of the cabin. We don’t eat at our table, but even there, a gal will need room to work her puzzles, ha! You’ll want to stay tuned to all this to see if it is accomplished as I envision. 

Meanwhile, Happy Holidays everyone and be safe! 

Cabins and Christmas just seem to go together!