The Most Stressful Day of My Husband’s Life: Cabin Edition


It’s the Hemnes queen sized bed, matching mattress, and Friheten sectional sofa/pullout bed with hidden storage!  This is our black market Ikea booty that we essentially stole by sweet-talking a sympathetic warehouse manager and convincing him that the unmarked/unclaimed pallet of goods that had been sitting in his warehouse for three weeks rightfully belonged to me, Random Caller.  And because there is goodness in the world, I talked him out of returning the unclaimed goods to Ikea and fully supported him when he offered to forge some documents and give it to me instead.  Huge smiley face.

As we drove away with our booty and headed for the north woods, this is what was happening at the cabin:


The saddest thing about this photo is that no one would sit on the toilet for me while I took the photo.  I was happy to sit there but then no one would take the photo of me sitting on the toilet.  And that is not the first time I’ve written those words, by the way.  I’ve seen lots of toilets on the curb or along the side of the road and no one will ever take my picture on them.  It’s one of my greatest disappointments in life.

The happiest thing about this photo is that the old kitchen/wildlife preserve is gone. The Finnish Carpenter and his band of SuperFinns have torn out the island that housed an unknown living thing, the leaning counter of Pisa and all of the Nixon-era herpes carpeting.  After “The Awakening”, in which I made a list of all the things that kept me awake at the cabin, I identified the herpes carpeting as Enemy #1.  If you can’t walk on it barefoot without catching a disease, it has to go.  How expensive could it be?

Well, it depends.  If the previous owners GLUED the herpes carpet down with superglue and it’s been curing since 1971, it could be very expensive. What should have been a 30 minute job of popping carpet staples turned into 2 full days of hard labor by the SuperFinns;  picture 4 blonde Vikings with heat lamps, scraping tools and hazmat masks. And I’ve been told there was lots of pulling.  Lots of pulling and grunting and Finnish swear words.  Ch ching, said the carpenter.  Except I’m pretty sure that he would’ve gladly traded the big paycheck for the 30 minutes of staple popping.

But I’m not aware of this as it’s happening because I’m busy tracking down and taking ownership of my black market Ikea goods and then continuing on to  1) pick up the kitchen cabinets that the showroom referred to as “the cheap ones” and 2) swing by Home Depot to pick out, procure and load up a whole cabin’s worth of hardwood flooring to replace the herpes carpet.  Don’t worry – I have a Uhaul.

We are still high from our Thelma and Louise-style Ikea heist – our Hemnes queen-sized bed, matching mattress and Friheten sectional sofa/pullout bed with hidden storage tucked neatly into the aforementioned Uhaul – and we peel out from the back door of the warehouse and make tracks for the kitchen cabinet warehouse over the border in Wisconsin.  Which just happens to be one hour in the opposite direction of the cabin.  It’s going to be a long day.

In order for the flooring to fit in the Uhaul, all of the cabinets will have to fit in the back of our Jeep.


Except that they don’t.

To the tune of 1/16th – 1/8th of an inch.

We are so desperate that we resort to slamming the tailgate as hard as we can, hoping we can make a 1/8th inch dent into which the overflow will fit.  If you know my husband, you know he’s a carfectionist.  He would sooner tie you to the roof than let you ride in his car with your shoes on.  So this just shows you the depths of our desperation.

In the end, we unlatch the backseat and allow the seat to flop forward just a little bit.  This is where our child will ride for the next 5 hours, in the unlatched backseat, partially folded down.  I think about stopping at Target and picking up a bike helmet for him to wear back there just in case.  But then I realize that internal injuries are probably the bigger danger in such a situation and they don’t make a helmet for that.  We keep driving.

We forge ahead to Home Depot for flooring.  The black market pick-up and the cabinets not fitting are taking its toll on Mike but he’s still alert and on task as we enter the HoDe.  I’m proud of him.  This is not easy.

The HoDe situation looks promising;  I am not picky and I let Mike have his way because I need him to survive this day.  So I don’t stand in the aisle and wonder and ruminate and go back and forth and wish for something else at a different store;  I say “this, not this” and “if that’s important to you, then yes.”  We find a savvy HoDe floor expert who makes quick business of the entire affair.  He guides us and informs us and eventually leads us to the only option that is click-lock, not laminate, and in stock.  One choice.  Hope you like it.

And, you know what?  I don’t care.  Let’s just get it and go.

But I guess it’s not that simple.  I pictured getting a cart and loading it up with boxes of floor and then going through the checkout line and loading it into my Uhaul.  But there were lots of phone calls and skid steers and waiting and checking and more waiting and more skid steers.  And then there was a skid steer that I thought was mine and I almost paid for everything on that damn skid steer because everything at HoDe looks the same to me.  But luckily, somebody stops me.  And I go back to waiting for the right skid steer.

And then after the right skid steer arrives we have to wait some more.  Even now, I don’t know what we were waiting for.  Mike is getting frustrated.  He doesn’t want to be a dick to the poor HoDe floor expert who’s just doing his job.  And we still have four hours of driving ahead of us with a dented tailgate and an overly full Uhaul.  So he just walks away.  Like Moses parting the Red Sea, he just disappears into the aisles of orange.  The orange sea.  I understand.  I stand at the register with my skid steer and just wait for someone to give me the high sign to swipe my credit card.  He’ll come back.  I’m confident that he’ll come back.   Thank god for electronic devices as my child sits comfortably in his unlatched partially folded down backseat and consumes copious amounts of youtube. HoDe floor expert passes Mike in the aisle as he makes his escape and tries to say something hardware-ish to him  – but Mike will not abide;  he just keeps walking.  HoDe floor expert finds me and says “Um….is he gonna be ok?”  I smile and say “I’m not sure.”  And then I go back to waiting with my credit card in my hand.

We have to unload all of the black market Ikea goods in order to fit the flooring in.  We have one skid steer driver and one guy who’s purpose it is to entertain the skid steer driver – it’s like the Skid Steer Show.  And it helps.  Seriously.  They probably help people load up their Uhauls all day long;  people who’ve all been waiting with their credit cards in hand, on their way to their demo’d cabins with not enough room in their Uhauls and they’re all probably fairly stressed out.  So they take it upon themselves to entertain us which I totally appreciate.

And it all fits.  Just barely.  If you had tried to fit another molecule of air in there, we would’ve been toast.

We haul ass out of the parking lot and head north.  We’ve been on the road for several hours already and we still have 4 hours to go.  We get one quick stop for an Arby’s Farmhouse Salad and then back to the business of delivering the goods.

When we arrive, we spend exactly one minute getting acquainted with our newly demo’d cabin and then it’s time to empty the Uhaul.  It feels like Mike needs to purge it like a bad infection.  Like it’s been festering and throbbing the entire drive and he just needs it gone.

I am of no help.  I can dig deep and lift heavy things but I can’t dig deep and make my arms longer.  I can’t even get my arms around most of the stuff we have to carry which makes me useless.  When they package things, they don’t do so with the five foot tall woman in mind.  It’s a very powerless position to be in.  So Mike puts his work gloves on and starts hauling stuff by himself, in whatever way works.  Dragging, schlepping, sliding – there was more grunting and Finnish swear words. And a lot of focus.  Laser focus.  If you need something done, call 1-800-MIKE-KICKS-ASS.

I’m carrying things like the batteries.  It’s embarrassing.

And, this is the best part, he won’t ask for help despite the fact that there is a team of workers inside the cabin doing big manly heavy lifting jobs for pay.  And he yells at me when I offer to ask them to lend a hand.  Those guys live to lift and demolish and build and yet Mike doesn’t want to bother them.  Like it’s not their problem that we bought a bunch of Ikea furniture.

When it’s done, I stand in my demolished kitchen and look out the front window.


That’s my view.  It belongs to me.  And when the hard part is over, I’m going to stare at that view until my eyeballs fall out.


Here’s the kicker:  at that moment, the cabin is an empty shell full of tools, scrap, shards,  glue scrapings and industrious Finns.   And we are tired of sleeping at the casino.  So we turn around and drive the four hours home.


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