LITTLE BLUFF JOURNAL - FEBRUARY 2018
February 28 - me and my best mate ever, Rick Kraus. RIP my brother...
Journal updated February 21
02/01/18 Wilson tried to eat an armadillo. We all were walking down the road, sun shining, tails wagging, smiles all around, warm and wonderful. Then we look up and there is a giant armadillo running right down the middle of the road at Wilson. He did not have a clue what it was until the little armored truck was a foot in front of him. Wilson jumped straight up in the air to get out of the way, then when he landed he reached out and tried to bite the armadillo and it jumped straight up in the air. Wilson and the armadillo both ran off into the woods as Wilson opened his jaws all the way and tried to clamp down on the full body - but of course his teeth just slid off again and again. Eventually the armadillo did what they do, and stopped and dug - dug itself right into the ground and disappeared in about 60 seconds. Wilson just stood over the hole and wondered what the heck just happened, and where is that armadillo I had in my teeth a minute ago? It was SO FUNNY!
Later in the day while my lovely bride and I were working to secure a giant plastic tarp over one of the piles of cabin materials down at the cabin site, the sky began to turn an incredible color. We both just instinctively dropped the tarp and walked backwards facing the glowing sky trying to take pictures. The colors intensified and spread more and more. By the time the color had peaked I was on the far side of the clearing and down the hill - I kept backing up to get more and more of the sky in the photo - it was just all so amazing!
At the moment I lowered the camera and just stood there in awe. And then I noticed Wilson. He was sitting on the hillside about 20 feet away doing the same thing - he too was mesmerized by the sky. Oh my what a sky!!!
There was great progress today on the cabin foundation - the block crew started work yesterday and completed the block wall all the way around the cabin part of the foundation - which means our builders can start BUILDING - yippie COYOTE! They will get the walls built for the garage tomorrow, and after it all sits and cures for a few days our builder and his crew will begin construction of the cabin. February and March will be fun months at Little Bluff!
02/02/18 Another spectacular sunset:
02/07/18 It has been two years almost to the day since we bought this raw wooded land in Newton County we call Little Bluff. And today we began to see a dream take shape. A crew of seven builders skidded along icy roads at dawn and immediately scattered with tools and equipment and supplies - and by sunset there was a plywood floor over joists and beams in the shape of our new home - YIPPIE COYOTE! It was a great joy to watch my lovely bride stand in what will become the prow of the new home she helped design, soaking up the beautiful last colors of the day. It has been a very difficult couple of years for us - Pam deserves every bit of happiness the future here will bring.
There was one glitch. The 8-ton lift (a giant 4wd forklift with long intending boom) that we've rented for the duration of the build stopped working right in the middle of moving about a ton of materials from where it was stacked at the gallery down to the cabin site. Oops! So the guys had to move all that material by hand - but they never skipped a beat, with the crew chief saying "they are young."
By sunset there was a plywood floor over joists and beams in the shape of our new home - YIPPIE COYOTE! It was a great joy to watch my lovely bride stand in what will become the prow of the new home she helped design, soaking up the beautiful last colors of the day. It has been a very difficult couple of years for us - Pam deserves every bit of happiness the future here will bring.
In the next week or two the cabin will emerge from the ground with great speed, then the shape will remain for months before seeing noticeable progress - as the guts are created inside. They tell us we'll have a complete cabin by summertime.
Just a brief explanation of our "cabin." To me, a cabin is a casual home in the woods - that does not mean a log cabin, nor even one made of wood. Ours won't be a log cabin, but rather a hybrid cabin with the main room having some timber frame design elements, but everything will be standard frame construction inside and out (drywall walls, lap siding, etc.), with a shingle roof - overall a simple layout and design - nothing fancy, but packed full of function (thanks to my bride!). The cabin will be smaller than our beloved Cloudland Cabin, and all on one level, with an attached garage and small bonus room above (for Pam's studio). We will share one room in the cabin for our office, plus one guest room and a small master bedroom. We'll have a storm shelter built into our closet for those times when the big thunder boomers come a calling. We will have a panoramic view through a 17' tall wall of glass "prow" that overlooks the Henson Creek and Upper Buffalo River drainages spreading out for miles. And my bride will finally get a small screened-in porch with special swing made by her daddy - once business chores are done expect to find her there.
The main contractor and his crew will work on our project until the main frame is erected and we have a roof and everything is in the dry. Then sub-contractors will come in and to do all of the plumbing, electrical, drywall, etc. - most of the labor and materials for the project will be sourced locally. Our main crew will return for more of their specialized work until the completed cabin is ready sometime this summer. (All of the dirt and landscape clearing work, concrete and block work has already been done by locals.)
02/08/18 Quick update this morning. The crew arrived before sunrise and within minutes had the construction machine back up and running, including a replacement lift which the crew put to good use. We expect to see walls rising within the next few hours...Here's a snap of their trailer with the sunrise just starting.
The crew did indeed get walls up - almost all of the exterior and interior walls in the cabin except for the ends of the great room are up. They will get the remaining walls up tomorrow, then hopefully the walls of the garage up over the weekend - unless the weather does not cooperate. There were several emotional moments when we got to climb up onto the floor and actually walk into a 3-D lifesize version of this or that room, and look out the window holes - SO MUCH BETTER than it all looked on paper. My lovely bride did a great job of figuring all of these rooms and windows out, and I do believe our new cabin will suit us well.
Quick note this evening that has nothing to do with Little Bluff. I spend way too much time at the computer and of course on the internet. I don't use social media for personal stuff, it all seems to be business related in one way or the other. But still I'm on the net a LOT. This evening I wanted to see if my fitbit watch was actually adding steps while I sat at the computer surfing (most GPS units will do this - they are accurate if you are in motion, but once you stop, the meter keeps on running, and you can sometimes "hike" tents of a mile while napping on a log!). I spent nearly an hour at the computer without getting up and taking any steps. I'm happy to report that my fitbit remained at 14,408 steps for today and never changed! Since my minimum is 15,000 steeps, it is time to bundle up and take the pups for a walk in the moonlight...
02/10/18 Another quick update. The construction crew got to work before sunrise again yesterday and worked until after sunset. By the end of the day almost all the roof trusses for the cabin were up, and all but the front and back walls of the great room were up. So we've got most of the shell and inside walls done. Also Roger Faught's crew worked all day getting the garage floor ready so the slab can be poured sometime soon. Things are taking shape. Making a mental note to myself about how amazing all the workers are on this project, I said they reminded me of the best builder I've ever known - Billy Woods. It's like we have an entire crew of Billy Woods building our cabin - can't get any better than that!
Just FYI, our gallery is OPEN TODAY from 10am-3pm...
FOGGY all day...
02/11/18 Our builder called about 6am this morning to check weather/ice conditions. They had planned to take today off, but decided they needed to push on through and continue working until they get the shell in the dry. But I told him the work site was solid ICE, and that they could come play hockey in the living room, but it probably would not be safe to work for a couple of hours, so they had delayed starting until probably 8am.
Yesterday remained HEAVY FOG all day, and each time we hiked down to the work site to view progress, we couldn't see anything until we got right up next to the building - that was REALLY thick fog! Since we had the gallery open for business we didn't get to spend much time at the site, although as it turns out we could have been there all day since we didn't have a single customer show up. Until ten minutes before closing time.
It takes us 2-3 hours to get the gallery ready for business each time we open, including driving out to the highway to put up a sign, setting up the parking lot, prepping the prints (making sure they all are level, have the correct price tags, etc.), vacuuming the gallery, sales area, and book warehouse, and getting our personal kitchen and bathroom presentable. Then we sit and wait. With no customers all day, we took turns hiking down to the work site to see how the progress was going. The guys built the garage walls and the main front wall to the cabin, which included a bunch of detailed framing work for some odd-sized windows high on the 17' tall wall.
So we were happy to have a pair of customers arrive just before closing time, and after some good conversation, they drove off - and then my bride and I realized they hadn't paid for the book they got. So not only did we have a zero sales day, we actually lost money on the price of the book, ha, ha - a record for us for an open house! We got an e-mail from the customer a couple hours later when we realized he had not paid so we are all good, but it was all kind of funny.
Then our refrigerator/freezer in the gallery building broke down and we had to move all the frozen and refrigerated food into the smaller unit in our little camper van. This new fridge from Lowes lasted about 10 months. We had purchased it to get us by until the cabin was done. Oops!
The woods are beautiful this morning, and even though there is a thin layer of ice covering everything, the forest floor is soft underfoot and it's easy to just roam around silently. The tops of the tall pine trees are white and swaying in the breezes. The fog lifted during the night. I LOVE fog, unless driving in it. But it is great to be able to see out again.
02/14/18 Fog early, then heavy winds all day.
2/18/18 A amazing sunrise, and day 12 of construction - the last construction day for a while - waiting on the concrete guy
02/21/18 Jeepers creepers we got lots of PEEPERS! Spring peeper frogs are one of the first signs that spring is almost here - and also that we're finally getting some much-needed rainfall. Soaking rain at that - the best kind. My bride and I first heard peepers last week during an evening stroll through the forest. They would only peep when we were near, then they would quit as we walked away. Yesterday there were times when I was completely surrounded by peppers and could not tell which direction they were - peepers everywhere!
While visiting the old homesite here a couple of days ago I found a (small) sea of daffodil plants, all about six inches high and lush GREEN. A few had hints of yellow blooms that were rolled up like cigars. Yesterday morning I revisited the site and discovered the one in BLOOM - yippie coyote, the very first flower of spring at Little Bluff! A quick count of the plants looks like about 300 hundred of them, no doubt planted in the early 1900's - they could be 100 years old or more. It will be most interesting to see how many different heirloom species of flowers and bushes from the olden days bloom this spring.
It has been very quiet here since our construction crew left Sunday afternoon. There was constant construction noise (progress!) from daylight to dark the previous 12 days without a break, and now, nothing. Just the wind and puppies and sound of our footsteps through the quiet forest. Oh yes, and the past day or two we've also had HOWLING winds that brought in the great rainfall. We don't have a rain gauge here yet, but local wether stations are showing 1-2 inches of rain so far this week. We'll eventually have a full weather station on the roof of our new home, and hopefully will be able to hook it up to the WeatherUnderground site so everyone can get realtime data.
02/27/18 The Milky Way rising just before dawn this morning - I think we're gonna have a view of the STARS from our new home!