Cabin season #3 is well under way and we are still wallowing in the dregs of the Finnish Carpenter’s good intentions. To this day, two years after our cabin rehab project began, I still can’t shower at my cabin. Consider the kinds of activities that take place at a cabin, outside, in the heat, with fish. Add in one teenage boy and there just aren’t enough baby wipes in the world to take care of that kind of stink.
I have a shower – a beautiful one, tiled in river rock – but, unlike useful showers, my shower spits out a trickle of scalding hot water from the spout. It would take me two weeks just to get my hair wet in there. And adjusting the scalding temp isn’t possible because we’re missing a vital organ in the body of plumbing called a “mixer.”
The funny thing is, there’s a “mixer” at the Finnish Carpenter’s house that I ordered from HoDe for him to install. But, just like that Cure tape you left at your old boyfriend’s house, you’re just going to have to forget about it.
Because the Finnish Carpenter’s isn’t coming back. He says he is but he’s not. I now know that when he says he’s “gonna try and make it over there” he really means “see ya later fuckers.”
I’ve learned a lot from the Finnish Carpenter, a man who promised so many things and then just stopped showing up, leaving us to stink up our new cabin when things got complicated. Or boring. Whenever we discussed needs or wants for our cabin reno, the Finnish Carpenter would nod and go “Oh sher.” He said oh sher to everything, long strings of requests and questions, nodding his head the whole time. And I would always be like “Don’t you want to write any of this down?”
Oh Kristin, that’s just your obsessive need to control everything, I’d tell myself. I tried to let go and trust his ability to maintain lists in his head; my way isn’t always the right way, amiright?
Well, that was foolish. Just like the kid who gets bored with math because he can’t find his planner, the Finnish Carpenter doesn’t have my cabin in his head anymore – so it turns out that my way IS the right way! You DO need to write that stuff down or you might forget that you have people right across the lake from you who can’t take a shower. Can’t you smell that?
The next character to enter our cabin drama puts a salve on this wound. He is the antidote to the Finnish Carpenter. He shows me that I am right about just about everything and that my way is always the right way.
He is Frank Ford the Northwoods Plant Man, called in to tame my wild, rocky, weed-infested frontier. Don’t forget about my relationship with weeding; yes, this is supposed to be a wild place but it’s MY wild place and I will determine how wild is too wild.
And THIS wall of weeds is blocking my paradise. Frank Ford is going to help me.
The first thing I notice about Frank Ford the Northw00ds Plant Man, besides the sweatpants hiked up around his middle, is that he writes stuff down. Even interrupting me to do so, saying to himself “Just a minute now, Frank,” holding his forefinger to the sky, trying to remember what he was going to write down.
He takes copious notes and makes meticulous plans – ON PAPER! And he shares these plans either in person or . . . via the US Mail.
Because Frank Ford the Northwoods Plant Man doesn’t have an email account. He doesn’t have an email account because he doesn’t have a computer.
At first, I am horrified. And then, I am jealous.
The look on his face is always happy. He is never in a hurry. Everything he needs is on his clipboard. And his work is always impeccably done. DONE being the operative word. It is DONE in accordance with his meticulous notes, in an extremely timely manner. He finishes what he starts because he writes it down on paper with a pen. Maybe a pencil. End of story.
And I think he’s the happiest man alive.
“I gave my assistant $5000 to go to the cities, to that Apple store, and buy me all the doo dads and the goo gaws I would need, ” he tells me. “She said she’d set it up for me. But it’s still sitting there. In the boxes. I just don’t want it.” He waves his hand dismissively.
I warn him that equipment becomes obsolete quickly.
“It’s been sitting there for three years,” he says. “Is that too long?”
“It’s been sitting in the boxes, unopened, for three years?!”
“Yep,” he says. “She’s a little miffed with me.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “I’ll just email it to you. . . ”
Or “I saw it on Pinterest . . .”
Or “Can you send me some photos?”
He can’t do any of those things. But he can and does call me. We have lovely but brief conversations where we exchange pleasantries and pertinent information, just like in the olden days. Maybe he tells me how he once drove his car in reverse for 7 miles back in ’76 or ’77. Or maybe he tells me about his trip to London to see how they celebrate the Fourth of July. And then he reads from the notes he’s carefully written down so as not to forget anything.
And, if he has the time, he will definitely send me some photos of his progress. First he drives to my cabin with his Canon Sure Shot and he takes photos and then he drives an hour to the nearest Target to have them developed and then he puts the photos in an envelope with my name and my home address and a good old fashioned STAMP . . . and he will send me some photos.
And he is the happiest man alive.
As Frank’s work comes to a close, I will post before and after pix. I might post them right from my phone. Or I might draw them. We’ll see which way makes me happiest.