A Voice…From Inside the Cabin Shouts “GET OUT!”

Mike and I arrive at the cabin by ourselves for a much needed couples-only respite while Liam is away at camp. It feels special. Grown up. Like we are finally mature enough to have a child who can go to overnight camp for a very long time. And we are also mature enough to feel secure leaving town while he does it. I’m looking forward to forty-eight hours of real and true solitude uninterrupted by the constant begging for Pringles.

We put the Jeep in four wheel drive and drive up the long-ass driveway, bumping over boulders and ducking under branches that scrape over our roof, cresting the hill with some effort, and finally parking at the rear of the cabin. Mike goes to unlock the cabin and take a look around, as is his habit, while I open the tailgate and begin the unloading process. I leave the cooler, which I like to call the “cold chest” so I sound campy and old-fashioned, and grab something much lighter for the first trip. Like chips.

And just when I approach the large bank of windows on the side of the cabin….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

…..I hear Mike shout “GET OUT!”

Followed by a door slamming.

I run to the window and look inside, my chin just reaching the bottom of the sill. Where is he?! What’s happening?!

As my eyes scan the interior of the cabin through the glass, I’m paralyzed with indecision; should I run to the car and lock myself in? Or stand here and witness the demise of my husband so I can ID the perp in court? It never occurs to me to go inside. That just seems foolish. Like opening the basement door when the spooky music is playing.

Because I’m already paralyzed, I go with standing at the window and ID’ing the perp.

That’s when Mike comes running out of the back bedroom, slamming the door again, and when he reaches the living room, I watch as he abruptly stops running and begins doing squats. Not a full set — just a few, like he’s warming up. It looks like he’s ducking from an invisible light sabre.

My nose isn’t pressed against the glass because it’s way too dirty but I really, really want to — as if that somehow helps you see better. What the H is he doing?

After a pause, Mike does one more squat —  and then runs out the front door, slamming it hard behind him. My head turns in the opposite direction, waiting for the perp to give chase. But instead, a big black bat comes swooping toward my window, close enough to make me do a couple squats — even though I am outside and he is in.

Mike opens the windows and doors on the porch and yells to me “Kristin! I’m going back in! I need you to watch for the bat!”

Because this is not our first rodeo, we know how to get a bat out of the house. I know because I googled it from the safety of my bathtub/bed while Mike was “out there” looking for a tennis raquet.

Bats like fresh air. And they will innately fly toward the fresh air which is hopefully coming from your open front door. But it’s not a perfect system so you might have to do a couple sets of squats before he finds it. Unless, of course, you’re sleeping in the tub.

So after opening windows and screen doors, Mike is going to open the front door and then make a run for the refuge of the bathroom. It’s my job to watch the bat and yell for Mike to come out and slam the front door behind Mr. Bat.

Once the plan is in motion, I start yelling at the bat: “Go! Go!” I scream, like I’m cheering on the bat from my bleacher seat at the window. “Go, Bat!” And when he finds his way to the porch, I shout “Do it! Do it!” As if the bat knows English and just needs a little encouragement.

That night, when the bats are out terrorizing y’alls neighborhood, we begin a bat eradication process that we foolishly thought had been done by the Finnish Carpenter. It involves a highly toxic expanding foam that makes superglue look like Elmer’s. Mike uses the Jeep to climb up on the roof and spray the foam into the supposed entry points.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He walks around up there all Easy Reader-like and I turn away so I don’t have to imagine my life as a widow. I calculate how long it would take an ambulance to get to this remote location and I decide that we will never have any emergencies here. We can only have emergencies at home where the fire station is actually on our street.

Sadly, there are clearly some bats who decided not to go out that night; we hear them panicking when they go to their regular door and it is no longer available. I swear, it sounds like they are actually conversing, frantically, in a language I don’t understand. I imagine someone flapping their wings and screeching “I TOLD YOU WE SHOULD’VE GONE OUT TONIGHT!” It makes me so very uncomfortable but I just keep repeating my mantra, “This is the natural order of things. This is the natural order of things. This is the natural order of things.”

The following weekend, post-bat eradication, we open the cabin only to find finely crafted pyramids of bat poop on the floor. I look up and do a warm-up squat. Mike shakes his fist and revisits the roof that night.

Each time we come back, we find the finely crafted pyramids of poop and respond by spraying more toxic foam into smaller and smaller openings, most of them no bigger than a crack. I’m starting to think that the bats are supernatural and just pass through walls.

On two separate occasions, we fight bats in the middle of the night, while our guests sleep. And on one occasion, our movie night is interrupted by a flutter and a mysterious breeze. “Ghosts!” I think. Until Liam calmly says “Oh….hello bat.”

Suffice it to say that hilarity ensued.

This particular visitor was a dive bomber — don’t let anyone tell you that bats don’t do that – my thighs are still burning from what was definitely the most rigorous set of squats I’ve ever done. Mike sets the plan in motion once again, running out to the porch with Batty hot on his heels, and deftly closes the door behind him, trapping the two of them on the porch. That’s taking one the the team, am I right?

Just as I’m straightening up from my squat, Liam lunges for the door so he can join Mike out on the porch.

“NOOOO!” I scream, throwing my weight against the door.

And Liam screams back at me, “I WANT TO BE A PART OF THIS!!!!”

I hold him back while Mike battles the bat on the porch — seriously, I actually have to physically restrain him so he won’t run out there and sabotage the whole operation because god knows he’s never shut a door in his whole gd life.

Five minutes later, we repeat this same exact scene when another bat dive-bombs our movie. Except this time, I shoo Liam out the door after Mike so he doesn’t miss out on any of the bat-dodging fun.
The next step in bat eradication is radical. And it hurts me because I am the one who’s taken great pains to make our cabin pretty. Our next step is to spray the highly toxic expanding foam on the INSIDE of our cabin. In the rafters, around doors, around windows, in places that we hang out every day — not like the roof. Do what you want to the roof, I don’t care. The only one who’s going to see what the roof looks like is the guy who goes up there to spray highly toxic expanding foam.

When you spray even the tiniest bit, it quickly grows like some sort of sea monkey, and hardens into a puss-colored mushroom cloud. It looks like the spongey material of a booth from a ’70- era fast food restaurant, the kind that always had chunks bitten out by some toddler. And if you don’t act quickly and carefully, with your hands and arms fully covered, it will either drop on you and fuse to your skin forever or it will hang in perpetuity like puss-colored cabin stalactites.

But I don’t care.

Because the next time we visit the cabin, there are no finely crafted pyramids of bat poop on the floor.

When I tell Mike that the next Cabin Crush post will be about the bats, he says proudly, “I’M BATMAN!”
And I do believe he’s earned it.

A Collection of Cabin Recipes…..even though my cooking skills are limited to those that don’t involve heat.

Because…… my mom decided to teach me to cook when I was in fifth grade and I decided that I would NOT learn to cook in fifth grade. I was all Marlo Thomas and William Wants a Doll and Parents Are People (People With Children) and it just felt like she was training me to cook for my husband. And my eleven year old self was like “Hey! That’s not okay!” and “Hey! He can cook for his own damn self whoever he is!” I just could not envision a future in which my husband didn’t have two fully functioning hands (my apologies to those who really don’t have two fully functioning hands and I will totally cook for you if you need it. Without heat, of course).

So we have a system in our house in which I do all the meal planning and grocery shopping and Mike willingly and skillfully does all the cooking with heat. I’m happy to whip up a salad or a side dish or some kind of appetizer, I just don’t know what “braise” means. Basically, I could eat dinner with Cher in the movie Mermaids every day and be perfectly happy.

When I plan food for the cabin (because I am the meal planner), I settle on a single breakfast to be repeated twice, a single lunch to be repeated twice, and two dinners to cook on the grill (with heat. Mike, you’re up).

Here’s what I’m packing for this holiday weekend, all of them winners from past cabin weekends:

First Breakfast:
Peaches, granola and Thai Kitchen coconut milk (from the can!).

Attachment-1 copy

When I rise, I’m usually alone. The boys are out fishing and it’s quiet. They’ve presumably eaten something but I have no idea what and I need a little something to tide me over until they get back for…..

Second Breakfast:
Eggs and bacon are the traditional makings of “second breakfast,” which comes after fishing and before hot dog thirty.

Lunch:
Hot dogs. Just hot dogs. Every time hot dogs. It doesn’t even deserve a photo. Don’t get fancy with lunch because no one appreciates it. Save yourself a giant headache in the middle of the day and just stick your wiener on the grill (if you’re laughing right now, you can party at my house).

Dinner:

Here’s where we get creative. Dinner is nice and long because we’ve got nothing to do and nowhere to go so we might as well take the time to make it good. The following are some of our favorites so far.


3269f424133d959a57f7431e8274e114

Char Siu Chicken 

Adapted from the May 2015 issue of Saveur Magazine, we call this “Two Day Chicken” because it requires two days of marinating. Don’t skimp on the marinating! I’m going to go all Rachael Ray here because the only descriptive word I have is “Mm…Mmm” (pointing at food with mouth full).  You’ll be fighting over those little blackened pieces of charred chicken skin.

We use bone-in thighs for extra flavor.

Ingredients:

14 cup brown sugar

14 cup honey

14 cup ketchup

14 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

1 tbsp. hoisin sauce

12 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder

1 (4-lb.) chicken, halved lengthwise, backbone discarded

2 tbsp. canola oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Mix sugar, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin, and Chinese five spice in a bowl. Toss marinade with chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 2 days.

2. Build a medium-heat fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium. Remove chicken from marinade, and season with salt and pepper; grill skin-side down, turning once, until charred and cooked through, about 30–35 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh reads 165°. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes before carving.


e8ce32cd387823633d5552daf216e39b

Vietnamese-Style Pork

Also adapted from the May 2015 issue of Saveur Magazine. Again with “Mm…Mmm” and the pointing at food with mouth full.

Ingredients:

14 cup fish sauce

14 cup fresh lime juice

14 cup sugar

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 serrano pepper, stemmed and roughly chopped

1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 lb. boneless pork collar or shoulder, trimmed

Sliced cucumber, lettuce, and tomato, for serving

Instructions:

  1. Combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, garlic, serrano pepper, cilantro, salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl with pork.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

2.  Build a medium-heat fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium. (Alternatively, heat a cast-iron grill pan over medium.) Remove pork from marinade, pat dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper; grill, turning as needed, until slightly charred and cooked to medium, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the pork reads 140°. Let pork rest 10 minutes; slice against the grain into 12-inch-thick slices. *this is like a foreign language to me.

3. Serve with sliced cucumber, lettuce, and tomato


ef2c55857de7cc95388de1c33add8d1a

Banh Mi Hot Dog

There are lots of hot dogs at the cabin. And that’s okay. But sometimes I crave something a little more adventurous in the woods. Maybe a little less juvenile. Ketchup is a children’s food and we big girls prefer veggies and fancy mayo on ours. I got the idea from My Name is Yeh, a food blog by a New Yorker living on a North Dakota farm.

In addition to hot dogs and the optional bun, you’ll need the following:

Ingredients:

hoisin sauce
sriracha mayo (1/2 c mayo + 2 tsp sriracha, or more if desired)

fresh cilantro sprigs
pickled veggies (see recipe below)

Instructions:

Drizzle, stack, sauce your dog and eat.


Attachment-1

Pickled Veggies

I use the pickling recipe from Recipe Girl’s Bread and Butter Pickles but instead of using sliced cukes, I use thinly sliced carrot, onion and red pepper along with some diced cucumber. I use it like a slaw or a sauerkraut, adding a quasi-addictive tang to hot dogs, burgers or chicken.

Don’t be afraid of this. This is a lot of directions for me but it’s definitely worth it – I even had to turn on the stove but I didn’t mind because it was a simple “dump and heat” situation; don’t ask me to put something in a pan, do something with heat, and then put other things in the pan at different intervals. That is just too much.

Ingredients:

5 1/2 cups (1 1/2 pounds) thinly sliced and diced carrots, peppers, and cukes

1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt

1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)

1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

Instructions:

1. Fill glass jars with chopped veg.

2. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.

3. Pour hot vinegar mixture into veggie jars; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.


You’re welcome. Now make a list, go to the store and get your holiday weekend on.

~Kristin

Photo credist: luna—belle, Kristin Nilsen, Saveur Magazine, Saveur Magazine ,Molly Yeh and Kristin Nilsen.

These Are My Cabin Pants

Why would someone need cabin pants?

Maybe because you’ve contracted Lyme Disease twice and you think there might be little targets on your ankles saying “Deer ticks: bite here.”

And cabin pants wrap tight elastic around your ankles and your waist, blocking entry to biting carriers. And if there was a cabin jumpsuit that added tight elastic around your wrists and your neck, you might buy that, too.

I’m very lucky.

So many people with Lyme Disease are really, really sick. They are in a lot of pain. They can’t get out of bed. They can’t go to work.

Fortunately, I’m not like that. My pain has been annoying at most and I get a little dizzy sometimes. My hands and feet get numb. I’m a little tired.

This is what I tell myself.

And for a long time, I kept doing whatever I wanted to do; early morning parenting plus a marathon trip to Target and the grocery store followed by a stop at Home Depot, then racing home for some office time and a workout (can’t skip the workout), then after-school management including pick-ups and drop-offs and homework (with a little screaming and shouting thrown in), topped off by dinnertime, nighttime parenting and, if necessary, working on a writing project late into the night.

Was I tired? Of course. Everybody’s tired. But these things needed to be done so I just pushed until they were done. I assumed that everyone was as tired as I was and we were all taking it on the chin because that is what life requires. And if I can do all this with Lyme Disease, I thought, then I must be okay.

But I was weak. In fact, it was a gym trainer who sent me to the doctor in the first place; she had been working with me for six months with absolutely no signs of increased strength — “how is that even possible?” she asked. And the mildly annoying pain in my knees and hips didn’t present in a normal fashion.  She was concerned. Shortly thereafter, a wise doctor pushed down on my knee and, when I couldn’t push back, she said, “I think we should test you for Lyme Disease.”

The test was positive, showing I’d had it for a year or more.

I did what I was told and stopped eating everything that I loved and took lots of pills and even stopped exercising in order to heal my overburdened adrenal system. I paid attention when I was tired and turned for home even when my to-do list was undone. I listened carefully to my body so I could heed its messages; and I was a little startled by how often the message of fatigue surfaced. I wondered if I was getting more fatigued or if I had previously been seriously gifted in the art of denial.

The mildly annoying pain and the daily fatigue didn’t keep me from my weekly dance class, though. It was only once a week and it was my primary physical and creative outlet. It was, as they say, my thang, my jam, the only thing I had been doing since childhood that I never grew out of. I would just hold back a little bit and it would be fine; I still secretly thought everyone else was as tired as me so surely I could manage one carefully executed dance class. My dancing was lackluster and uninspired but it was still fun.

Until it wasn’t anymore.

Eventually I had to stop and grab the barre if I changed directions too quickly. I got a head rush going from plié to relevé; and very little dancing involves staying totally upright and facing forward all the time. I got injured easily and old injuries resurfaced for no reason, refusing to heal. And, most notably, when class time rolled around in the early evening, I only had enough energy left for the couch and the TV. So I stopped going. “I’ll be back!” I said. “Maybe by Christmas! Or after spring break! For sure by the recital in this summer! I’ll certainly be better by then!”  It was embarrassing.

I thought my excuses and promises were covering up my embarrassing weakness (they weren’t). And I feared that everyone thought I was either lying or lazy (they didn’t). And when I finally publicly admit that I will not be back, I publicly cry like it isn’t just a hobby we all do on Thursday nights. I cry like I’m a member of the Dance Theater of Harlem and my feet just got chopped off. It’s still the one and only time I’ve cried over this stupid, annoying disease.

So it’s really no big deal.

I’m really very lucky.

But,

for the time being,

I can’t go to my dance class and I can’t ride a bike and I can’t walk with friends who go too fast and I can’t go to Target and Home Depot in the same day and sometimes I wonder if my driving is okay (I’ve never spoken that out loud). I can’t do the things that all the other people do.

And I also know that if I weren’t a stay-at-home/work-at-home parent, I wouldn’t have been able to play this charade of “I’m so lucky, it’s really not so bad.” Because if I had to be showered and dressed and sharp for a meeting with kids out the door at 8am, my denial couldn’t have survived very long.

Will I get better? Maybe. But’s it’s been a long time and I never seem to be symptom free.

I’ve followed every protocol for Lyme Disease from both Western and alternative practitioners; short course of antibiotics, long course of antibiotics, infrared sauna detox, intravenous vitamin C treatments, herbal supplements, vitamin and mineral supplements, detox protocols, epsom salt baths, anti-inflammatory diet (gluten free, dairy free, grain free, sugar free, caffeine free, alcohol free, nightshade vegetable free – there’s very little else to eat). Despite all that, I still don’t get to function like other people.

The moral of the story is that it’s tick season; many of you (and your children) have a higher susceptibility to the dreaded bite of the deer tick that delivers Lyme Disease. Some of you will be bitten, probably have been bitten, and nothing will happen. Others will get a bullseye rash and go to the doctor for a round of antibiotics and be done with it. And some of you will have mystery symptoms that go undiagnosed for years until you finally have to quit your job and lie down on the couch for a living.

Be prepared and do your homework. Seek out the rates of Lyme Disease in your area or the areas you’re visiting; if you’re near deer habitats — including urban and suburban environments — use a tick repellent and do a tick check when you come in. There are lots of designer and all-natural bug spray options but, just like sunscreen, the best insect repellent is the one you’ll use. Stay on trails and avoid areas with tall grass. Put your clothes in the dryer on high heat after being outdoors. Take a shower and scrub your body with a loofah sponge and peppermint soap (Dr. Bronner’s is good). And I hate to break this to you but tucking your pants into your socks is a good idea. I’ve gotten around this fashion faux pas by wearing cabin pants – joggers with elastic ankles and then applying tick repellent to said ankles.

It sucks that I have to be afraid. I should be able to enjoy God’s green earth without fearing it. But I guess I wouldn’t go for a swim in shark-infested waters based on the conviction that earth is a gift to be enjoyed without fear.

The ONE thing my cabin needed…

“Is your cabin done?”

This is a question I get almost daily. And I never answer it the same way twice. Some days, the answer is yes because we can eat, sleep and pee comfortably and I’m pretty sure the Finnish Carpenter is never coming back.

Some days, the answer is no because the shower water comes out as a gentle trickle and if you want to change the water temp, you have to go into the dirt basement with a flashlight and a wrench. And there’s a kitchen cabinet door that hasn’t been installed so, if we need something from under the sink, we just take the door out like a puzzle piece and set it on the floor. In the absence of kitchen drawer pulls, we peel the drawers away from the frames with our fingers. The Vintage Bare Bulb Flushmount remains our primary source of light in the kitchen. And, on the days I say no, I may have just spoken with the Finnish Carpenter who swears he’s coming back even though he’s just swamped because the weather has been pretty rough this year and every day it rains it sets him back two days but he’ll try to make it over there sometime this week (…sometime this week….sometime this week…..sometime this week….).

But he never does.

When we pack the car for each trip up north, it still feels like we’re moving in. We still worry that we won’t be able to fit everything into the back of our Jeep and I tread carefully as I put things on the driveway to be loaded, knowing that Mike is judging each item I parade out the door — because our definitions of “necessary” do not match.

When I take the deer head off the wall of my entry way at home and place it on the “to be loaded” stack, he puts his hands on his hips, clenches his jaw, and blows hard out his nose. Go ahead — try it. This is how you know you’re in trouble at my house.

In answer, I say “Why not?”

“Because,” he says. “I don’t want to take something away from here to put it up there. It makes no sense.” Mike likes things done. And if I remove the deer head from the entryway, our house will be undone.

“And then we’ll have a bare wall and you’re just going to have to buy something for here….why?”

Mike has forgotten about the closet full of art in the upstairs guest room that makes him so mad. And the canvases and framed pieces that lean against the stack of rubbermaid tubs in the basement. And for sure he’s forgotten about the two boxes I found tucked in a corner last week, unopened from our last move. And for sure FOR SURE he doesn’t know about my Pinterest board called “Art and Accessories” that’s just waiting to be tapped. Finding a replacement for the deer head won’t be difficult.

I assure him that I can make the deer head fit in the Jeep. I assure him several times. And the deer head goes to the cabin.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I spy with my little eye, a deer head.

But sometimes it’s just one single item, placed just so, that tips you over into the done category, even if you have a long punch list and a Jeep full of stuff that says otherwise. There’s something about that one single item that allows a space to officially claim its personality. And when this happens, you feel it and you relax because, finally, you are home. You are no longer striving to create something because, with this single item, “create” becomes “created.” You and your space have finally found each other, as if the house says “Oh THIS is what you wanted? That’s what I wanted, too.” And, this time, when you curl up on the couch, it’s soft and cozy and you don’t want to get up because the groove fits you perfectly.

For me and my cabin, it was a set of lighted marquee letters spelling the word LAKE, placed carefully on top of the game cupboard.

FullSizeRender copyFullSizeRender

Done.

When I got home from the cabin, people asked “Is your cabin done?” 

And I said, “Yes.” Even though I can’t take a real shower and I open kitchen doors by putting them on the floor. I tell them that, for the very first time, the cabin feels like ours, for real. because the moment I put those letters up, I stopped looking for what needed to be tweaked. Instead, I swam and I read and I went for boat rides without wondering what else we could do to make this place more comfortable and, magically, the soul of the place transferred hands for good.

In the end, the one thing my cabin needed was heart. The lake is the heart of this cabin. And just because the lake is outside doesn’t mean that we don’t need to feel it while we cozy up inside.

Before the LAKE letters, I had added a few other things that made me happy. None of them gave the cabin “done” status, but they were all rungs on the ladder to cabin perfection.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

                                                     

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Birches Pendant is an old discontinued item from Pottery Barn that we bought two houses ago. It goes with us to every house and I’m going to ask to be buried with it. What you can’t see is the big hole punched in the side during it’s last ride on a moving truck — but still, I refused to part with it. For three years, it’s been sitting on top of an office cabinet, homeless, just waiting for us to buy a cabin.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is Bjorn and Gus. They sit on a table next to Mike’s side of the bed. Are they necessary? Yes, because they make me laugh. And I picture them talking about Mike while he sleeps.

FullSizeRender copy 4FullSizeRender copy 3

After unsuccessfully trolling Etsy for months, looking for kitchen art that I had dreamt up in my head, I finally opened a kitchen drawer and found something fast (“it’s in my hand right now”), cheap (“free – because I already own it”) and functional (always add bonus points for functional). A quick trip to Target provided the $24 shelf upon which my fast, cheap, functional items sit.

FullSizeRender copy 2

The deer head is so happy here. It’s a cheeky nod to typical cabin design without becoming a complete cliché. And the white papier maché lightens and brightens the dark interior so I don’t feel like I’m living in a Hobbit hole.

I think it’s clear that I tend to nest pretty hard. I need my surroundings to be comfortable and beautiful and, frankly, borderline irresistible. I spend my life in these surroundings, each and every day, and I just think my eye should enjoy everything it lands on (can you say visual learner?). When I look at something, I don’t want my first thought to be “I hope that doesn’t give me cooties.”

This is why I work so hard on the insides. The outsides come next. But, for the time being, I think the outsides will take care of themselves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My Secret Anxiety (hint: it has to do with Gloria Estefan. I’m totally serious.)

One night last June, I woke in the middle of night surrounded by the calamity of a shell that was trying to become our cabin. I was awake from 3am to 6am, that time when it starts to get light and you squeeze your eyes shut and whisper cuss words, willing yourself to sleep,  trying to bring on what is now known as “last night.” I hear people talk about this phenomenon, this not being able to sleep thing, and I always nod my head with absolutely no understanding of it and all I can think is “Damn, you’ve got a lot on your mind.”

Something was tormenting me.

When Mike told me he wanted to get a boat, I was like “Yay! I like boats! Boats are awesome!” What I didn’t foresee was the collision between my excitement about boats and water and my short history of worry that my child will die a watery death.

On our inaugural boat ride at our new cabin, I can’t relax and enjoy it the way I used to. Liam jumps and flits from one side of the boat to the other until I scream “LIFE JACKETS!” He lays down on the bench in back, near the 90 horsepower motor, and I worry that he’ll roll out and get chopped up in the propeller like that guy that died underneath Gloria Estefan’s boat. I see other boats on the horizon and  picture them aiming straight for us unless somebody DOES SOMETHING! LIKE NOW! I wonder why lakes don’t have lanes and traffic lights and police officers directing traffic. I wish the speed limit was ten miles per hour.

And when Mike installs Liam at the wheel, I start engraving all our tombstones, especially when he gets distracted by a birdie and absent-mindedly turns the wheel in the direction of his eyes. Dead. All of us dead.

It was so unenjoyable that I actually think “Maybe I should pop an Adavan before coming to the cabin. Perhaps then I won’t die.” I can put it in the first aid kit with the tea tree oil and the cat’s claw and the milk thistle and the Free & Easy Wanderer pills and all the other pure and natural remedies that reveal my distaste for synthetic pharmaceuticals. I don’t even know if Adavan works on an “as needed” basis but, if it does, I would throw all my hippie alternative ways out the window and pop those pills like Tic Tacs.

What rich irony is this? That I need to be medicated to relax at the place where I go to relax?

I understand the nature of anxiety and I try not to give in to it’s pull. I tell the voices in my head to fuck off. I watch Mike and follow his lead; I’m like the person with no rhythm at the concert, watching everyone else’s hands so they can clap on the beat. I copy his level of response (or lack of response) and I trust his judgement. It’s his child, too, right? If he’s not nervous then I should calm the shit down. So when I see Liam driving the boat — without crashing — I am both scared….and proud. So proud I can hardly stand it. I take pictures to document this moment, the moment he becomes a boatman, so I can show the boatmen (and women) that came before him that their boating genes have been activated.

And then I throw up.

Over time, with repeated exposure, I’ve gotten a little more comfortable. I don’t feel like throwing up anymore. I now know that Gloria Estefan’s boat was much bigger than mine. I even watched while we dragged Liam behind us on a tube, at top speeds, while he clung to a skinny rope and bounced over wakes like a rag doll in an earthquake. I didn’t protest and I didn’t ask to slow down. Instead, I looked at Mike and said, “People fly off these things all the time, right? That’s normal, right?” He laughed and nodded his head like “duh, that’s kind of the point.” 

But I must be blunt. “What I mean is, they don’t die when they fly off, right?”

“No. They don’t die.”

You’d better be right, I think to myself, or I will totally kick your ass.

I know I’m not alone. I know that many people, including some of you, have some crazy-ass anxieties about totally stupid stuff  (and seriously, if you could share them with me, that would help my mental health immensely. Maybe you are crazier than me and that would be awesome!!!). I also know that this is a first-world problem that I am lucky to have. But leisure is not just a luxury, it is also a necessity for wellbeing, regardless of privilege,  and if my leisure is inhibited by this singular anxiety than I’m in a real pickle. And this cabin experiment could be seriously tarnished.

My self-imposed treatment plan will be to collect other people’s irrational anxieties and surround myself with them in order to both expose the ridiculousness and feel better by comparison. So bring it on, crazies. Let’s put this shit to bed.

Cabin Insides and Cabin Outsides MUST Get Married

This is my new inspiration photo.  We’ve come so far on the interior of our cabin that I now have the mindspace to look at the exterior….and go “harumph.”

This one is currently for sale on Upper St. Croix Lake just north of Hayward, Wisconsin (click here for listing) and embodies the rustic log lodge vernacular beloved by American cabin builders throughout history — but it also has delicate, feminine, colorful touches that give it the European feel that I like so much better. What do you do when you dream about this…..

…..but you find yourself with this?

cabin exterior tilt shift

Now I have a template and some hope; the inspiration photo has the same log siding and basic log cabin shape as mine which makes it an attainable goal.

The traditional log cabin is, in general, very masculine and utilitarian, as if the lumberjack of old got tired of sleeping outside with the animals of the night and said, “Me lumberjack. Me make house.”

He stacked logs on top of one another to make walls and added a lid so he wouldn’t get rained on. He cut square holes in the walls so he could see the bad guys coming.

And then the lady lumberjack (the lumber jill, if you will) came along and put sheets on the bed. She also added a small table and a bedside lamp for reading when the lumberjack was sawing logs (in the nighttime way). And because her mind was growing numb from staring at all that brown wood, she hung a piece of art on the wall.

My point is that the simple log cabin, simple as it is, can be so heavy-handed that it’s not comfortable. It needs a lighter hand to bring it to life.  It needs delicate touches to elevate it’s presence and make it more comfortable for the eating and the sleeping and the dreaming and the cozying up. It’s hard to do all that on a hard cot with no sheets, surrounded by brown.

The same concept applies to the exterior as well because the exterior tells the story of what lives inside; the interior and the exterior need to speak to each other in order for each to realize its full potential. Photos for this listing show minute details like vintage window latches, door hinges and hardware, and even an old-fashioned telephone that hangs on the wall. Why? Why would these photos help sell this property?

The short story is that these details give the cabin a personality.

The long story is that these details can help you bond with an inanimate object. Instead of a box of logs, this is a carefully crafted structure that was created by people who cared about it’s integrity. The structure assumably housed and protected these thoughtful, creative craftspeople who loved her back in return, filling the structure with a lasting aura that I think is technically called good juju.

Over time, subsequent residents apparently cared enough about the old-timey details that they kept them and repaired them and maintained them instead of replacing them with shinier things from Home Depot. And the good juju grew.

My cabin is full of good juju but I can tell that some people came just to fish and left the lumber jills at home. Despite grandpa’s attention to detail when creating the cabin, the children and the grandchildren may have slept on hard cots with no sheets because all they wanted was to wake at dawn to get some more fish. The cabin was only used for sleeping a good distance from the animals of the night and keeping rain off their heads.

It’s different now. There’s comfort and color and places to read. But the exterior isn’t telling the whole story. And I have some planning to do if I want this cabin to speak her truth. Using the inspiration photo as a guide, here’s my plan:

Step 1: Where possible, add some shutters with European detail. In Scandinavia, it would be a heart cut-out. In Germany, it may be X or Z-shaped cross pieces.

Step 2: Replace windows with more detailed versions, adding mullions and vintage hardware. You may not even be aware of mullions when you see them but look at the difference here:

Step 3: By the same token, look at the difference that colorful trim makes. Adding more color (red? blue? or even more green?) along with white mullions for contrast will lighten things up considerably.

Step 4: Adding a stone fireplace to our tiny footprint is not super realistic but I’m willing to try because, DAY-UM, look at that stone chimney that anchors the whole freakin’ cabin so beautifully. And no, Mike, it is not impossible. (click here to read about Mike’s favorite phrase and why I’m morally opposed to it. Why someone would get off on things being impossible is beyond me but he clearly enjoys it. It’s the strangest fetish). 

It is possible that I could take the stone chimney idea and transfer it to the concrete block area of the cabin (what I’ve been calling “the skirt”).

Step 5: I need some window boxes overflowing with red geraniums that will water themselves while I’m gone (don’t worry, I will find a way to make this possible). Flowers are fun and it’s one of the best ways to bring happiness into your house. Are you feeling down? Go to the grocery store right now and pick up a bouquet for your kitchen or entryway. Voila. You just redecorated your house and had a breakthrough in therapy for the low, low price of $6.99.

Given the money-pit nature of our first year in cabin ownership, I’m guessing these changes are a long way off. But just knowing that there’s a fantasy, waiting to be realized, keeps me content.

If you have a cabin photo to share, I would love to see it and so would Cabin Crush readers. Input is the fuel for creativity! It doesn’t have to be your cabin — it can be the cabin you secretly write about in your diary.  Feel free to share in the comments section or send to me directly. Thank you and have a good summer weekend!

Photo credits: lakeplace.com, Betsy Speert, Houzz, vilinikon, stbeck, justmyfieldnotes.tumbler, Studio Shed, White Feather Dream

A Cabinista is Born

To say that this is self-proclaimed would be a huge understatement. But I do have an article published in the June issue of Edina Magazine about how to start your cabin search — which I am recognizing as my official coronation into the royal court of cabin experts. And that sort of proves that  “fake it til you make it” can no longer be dismissed as an unscientific method for success. She who speaks the loudest and with the most conviction shall conquer the earth, yo.

If you have dreams of becoming a cabin owner, you have to start somewhere. Click on the link below for your step-by-step guide, along with a little bit of our cabin search story, featuring cabins and cabin people from Edina, Minnesota.


 

logo-Edina

Cabin Quest: Shopping for a Family Getaway


The backstory to our cabin search began nearly twenty years ago. Bill Clinton was in the white house and Alanis Morisette was in the cd player and I thought my overalls passed for business casual. I was still quasi-grunge from the neck down and Friends from the neck up.

Mike and I were newlyweds and we were shopping for cabins.

We were shopping for cabins long before we ever considered buying a house. We were too young for a house. Houses were for grown ups. We were just a boyfriend and a girlfriend with a marriage license and we had no designs on anything practical or permanent that might force us to abandon our “we do anything we want whenever want because we can” mentality; we worked and we played and we road tripped and we were loathe to leave our old roommates behind. Roommates are valuable and we couldn’t let them go just because they had been replaced by spouses.

But, even so, we shopped for cabins.

We lived in a 600 square foot apartment with a hand-me-down futon and a kitchen so small that I don’t recall a single meal ever emerging from its loins; “We’ll cook more when we have a basement,” Mike famously said. I still don’t know exactly what that means — but we have a basement now and we definitely prepare meals in our kitchen. So there you go.

On weekends, we drove from Eau Claire or Naperville or Glen Ellyn or Wheaton, wherever we were living at the time, and travelled the back roads of northern Wisconsin looking for lake property that a young boyfriend and girlfriend with a marriage license could afford.

We never discussed our future. We never dreamed of the house with a picket fence. We never talked about babies —  until we actually got one. But we did fantasize about a lake with a little cottage on its shore that would be our getaway no matter where our jobs or our address du jour took us.

I don’t even know if our visions were the same; all I know is that we agreed that buying a cabin before reaching virtually any of our adult milestones was a completely rational thing to do.

But little by little, life got bigger. Jobs intensified and babies cried and we eventually did buy a house; a little pink hacienda on a street with other mommies and daddies who were real grown ups. Not like us. We were just a boyfriend and a girlfriend with a marriage license and a house and a baby. The cabin discussion didn’t come up anymore.

And then that thing happened called STRESS. And we didn’t want any more of it. The cabin discussion came up again, after years in the closet, and this time it went like this:

“I have enough responsibility as it is.”

“I can barely handle what’s in front of me….I can’t put another single thing in my brain.”

“What if you HAD to go to the cabin? Because the lawn needed mowing or the dock needed work? That would be a total buzzkill.”

“I don’t ever want two lawns to mow. Or two houses to clean. Kill me now.”

“What if we wanted to go someplace else? Like Europe? Or Dollywood?”

“Why would we go to Dollywood?”

“Because Dolly Parton is awesome…..but we couldn’t go to Dollywood because we would feel guilty about not going to the cabin.”

“I’m not going to Dollywood.”

“That’s my whole point.”

Instead, we make a resolution to seek out the most awesome lake resorts in Minnesota, places with cleaning services and snack bars and kid’s clubs. Jesus loves the little children….and he loves their babysitters even more…..all corralled far, far away from cocktail hour. We will make one of these places our cabin. All the fun with none of the stress. And we will go back every summer so that Liam will remember it fondly and think of it as his.

So we do that a few times. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. None of them make me say, “I love this place so much that I will come back every year for the rest of my life!” The modified dream is not materializing as planned.

And then…..something happens to force our hand; our son becomes a fisherman. Not just a kid who likes to fish but a kid who likes to fish all day, every day if possible.  He likes it so much that he chooses to hang out with homeless vets and new immigrants at the city fishing dock instead of hanging out with his friends. Or, if I must be totally honest, his gaming system. And we see fishing as our chance to rescue him from a life spent in our basement fondling the game controllers.

“I want to buy a boat,” Mike says.

“Okay,” is my reply after picturing my son as a grown man in my dark basement with the aforementioned game controllers.

But then the boat comes home and I wonder where we will put it, hoping the answer isn’t “in the front yard.”

So we research marinas, resorts, timeshares, cabin rentals and lakeshore association homes.

 

But nothing – NOTHING –  gives us what we are looking for.

It turns out that what we are looking for is a family cabin.

 

There are times when we all feel mismatched from our chosen partners. There are times when “opposites attract” seems to be the glue that holds us together. Don’t deny it, we’ve all been there. But then there are times that bring us full circle, back to the people we were when we decided to be life partners. There are things that illustrate, in full detail, that we are meant to be together. So we grab our overalls, slip Alanis Morissette into the cd player, and head north.

The rest, as they say, is history.

A Cabin Rehab Re-cap with special feature: Adventures in Ikea Assembly

Our first visit to the cabin this season was both awesome and awkward, a warm welcome home to a place we didn’t yet know very well. It was like that summer camp crush analogy again — but more like seeing your summer camp crush at Target with his mom in the wintertime and he’s still sooooo cute and sooooo sweet but you’re not sure where you left off and if that even transfers over into winter. So you’re not exactly sure how to start a conversation. And even though he’s cute, he looks a little different with his mom. But, in the end, he tells you that he’s going to camp again this summer and you feel that spark ignite and you know it can be the same. You’ve just got to get away from Target.

We turned on the lights, the dropcloths came off the furniture, the rugs went on the floor, the beds got dressed in fresh sheets and then…. I stood back and assessed our progress.

um55_diamond_r14_silo

FLOORS:  The Nixon-era Herpes Carpet is gone, replaced by warm almost-hardwood floors —  from the most stressful HoDe visit ever — and a flat weave cotton Blue Diamond rug from The Company Store. I don’t know that a rug has ever made anyone so happy. I might write a whole blog post about this rug and its ability to do a cabin right.

photo-8 copy 5

KITCHEN: The camp kitchen that served as a wildlife refuge for Unknown Creatures from the Outdoors has been replaced by an 8′ x 8′ u-shaped culinary space that my true love Wesley might refer to as a KOUS — A Kitchen of Unusual Size. Or a “One Butt Kitchen,” a term coined by Mike’s almost 100 year old grandma.

Despite its size, the KOUS has a full-sized dishwasher for maximum rest and relaxation. We still need drawer pulls and a piece of art over the stove to transform our KOUS into a KOUC (A Kitchen of Unusual Cuteness).

photo 2

BATHROOM: The Bat Poo Tub and mouse traps full of mouse fur were ripped out of the bathroom and replaced by a still-not-quite-functioning shower (if you could sign my petition urging the Finnish Carpenter to come back and attend to the punch list items, that would be great. Thank you for your support. Actually, could you sign this other petition first – urging the Finnish Carpenter to acknowledge the existence of a punch list? Thanks once more for your support. Together, we can accomplish great things).

Even if we can’t shower in the shower, the river oak underfoot and the cedar sauna-like shower walls are nice to look at and a huge improvement over the guano tub. And the new cedar ceiling means that I don’t even look up before I pee anymore.

photo-8 copy 4

FURNISHINGS: During Trash Out, Tammy of the Manly Voice and her wiry cohort Duane removed a dirty whorehouse couch and everything else that dead strangers ever sat on or laid upon. Given its mere 800 square feet, the furniture needs were limited. We have a Danish modern find from HomeGoods for $199 and a leather butterfly chair from Urban Outfitters (also $199). We still need art to make this room feel like our personal family refuge instead of a wooden box that we sleep in.

Many of our other furniture pieces came from Ikea via forged documents at a warehouse in a suburban industrial park — and they required assembly. This portion of our program is called Adventures in Ikea Assembly. I helped by taking photographs.

photo-8 copy 7 photo-8 copy 8

Here is a really poor quality photo of Mike assembling our sectional couch with hidden storage that pulls out into a full-sized bed. I took this photo out of fear that the Ikea hinges wouldn’t hold and the whole top half of the couch would slam shut, slicing my husband’s body in two. I will use it for the trial.

images-2

The is the Brimnes platform bed, also with hidden storage. So much hidden storage at the cabin. I continue to help the assembly process by taking photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is 2pm. I know this by looking at this pretend watch on my wrist. I bet this will only take a small commitment of my time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Look! There are instructions. I bet they will be helpful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This amorphous nonhuman is very nonthreatening. He makes me feel good. and even a little happy. I feel positive about my ability to build this bed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a lot of pieces. I know what happened….they accidentally sent me pieces for two beds. I will donate one to a homeless shelter. I am a good person.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Uh oh.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What the?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Quick! Show me the picture of the amorphous nonhuman again.  That’s better. I can do this. Goddammit!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dad, let me try.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

No! You are only a child and you can’t even read the language of the amorphous nonhumans in these very helpful instructions!   Oh.  Thank you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

K: Will you go check on Dad?  L: No. He very specifically said, “Don’t touch me.”

In the end, we can eat, sleep, sit and pee at the cabin. We cannot yet shower. But we do have a beautiful lake that will cleanse our bodies and our thoughts and our souls should it be necessary.

And we also have a new ritual. At the door of our cabin — the best door on any cabin that ever existed, IMHO — we hung a picture frame with hinged doors on it. Behind the doors lies a drawing of a little cabin with a plume of smoke curling out of its chimney. Above the drawing are the words “Up North.”

photo 1  photo 2

Upon arriving at the cabin, we open the doors to welcome us, like the opening bell. And upon leaving, we close the doors, marking the end of our time at the cabin….

…. just one weekend of many to come, each one adding a page to our family history.

Enjoy your long weekend, everyone. Say hello to your cabins for me. 🙂

What Does the Cabin Do to Mother’s Day?

It is Mother’s Day.

It is Prom Night.

It is also “Fishing Opener.”

Prom night doesn’t really affect me so much, I’ve just always thought it strange that two events that are so important to women collide with this event that is so important to men. And unless you are an avid mama angler, or your high school is called Lakeside High (home of the Warring Walleye), we can’t do them together at the same time.

I knew that I would be spending Mother’s Day at the cabin because my people are Fishing Opener people….and because I don’t want to miss out on our first cabin visit after a long winter absence. It is also the first anniversary of the day we took possession of the little cabin that made us cabin people, a new holiday that I’m going to write Hallmark about.

Normally, I would opt to stay home and spend the day BY MYSELF PRAISE GOD AND HALLELUJAH BEST MOTHER’S DAY EVER but, given the unique circumstances, I will be at the cabin while the Fishing Opener people tend to Fishing Opener business. Never one to squander a day that is all about me, however, I post a request on Facebook to solicit ideas on how I should celebrate this unusual Mother’s Day, by myself at the cabin while my people are away on the lake. Most responses involve books, wine and DIY spa treatments. There is also a suggestion to join the fisher people but I’ve learned that I’m a casual angler at best, like twenty minutes worth, maybe less. I don’t mind baiting my hook or slimy scales — I’ll even touch a fish eyeball on a dare — but I do have a new anxiety about getting hooked in the eye by a twelve year old.

So I make a trip to the bookstore and pack my favorite beverages. I picture myself on the dock in my robe with freshly scrubbed feet, a mask on my face and a good book in my lap while I close my eyes to feel the weak sunshine on my face. Maybe I could even take a leisurely boat ride to one of the many islands in our lake with a picnic packed in jars, just like you see on Pinterest.
But I don’t do any of that.
It is cold. Thirty seven degrees. Outside is beautiful, for a little while. But then I’m happy to experience outside through my window.

I do nothing.

I don’t even read.

My phone runs out of battery.

I sleep the sleep of a teenager. I wake up unwillingly at 9:00am only because I smell bacon and know I will miss it if I don’t get up. The men have already come back from fishing and I stumble to the table just before they finish their second breakfast of the day.

By noon, I am napping again.

I spend two days napping and staring out the window, allowing my brain to clear the clutter and rest and recharge by absorbing the vintage postcard that lies beyond the glass.

For a time, I venture outside to read on the dock, bundled in a hoodie and wrapped in a blanket. But even printed words are too noisy. And my eyes keep moving upward to see the lake. When I look down again to read, I feel like I’m missing something, like a parade going by, so I close my book and allow the lake to be my parade. Then I get cold and go inside to nap and look out the window some more.
I clearly needed this. Our brains are not meant to multitask. Study after study tells us that we are not more productive and that the quality of our work suffers when juggling more than one task at a time. And yet this is what the modern world requires of us. The cavemen generally had one thing to do each day — get food. Okay, they had to keep the children alive but that is all. There were no requests, no need for time management tools, no FYI’s to sift through, no email box to empty (ha! like that’s ever going to happen!), no junk mail to sort through and recycle, no modern junk mail to unsubscribe from, no pings, dings, chimes or chirps that make up the soundtrack of the day, each one representing another line item on the to-do list.

I am barraged by requests via the sound of a chime, a swoosh and an old phone. I change one alert to the sound of crickets thinking that the insinuation of nature will mitigate the pavlovian reach-for-the-calendar motion and accompanying chest tightening I get with each sound. But it is more like an insult to nature, a digital rendering that gives me anxiety instead of peace.

Until I lie there doing nothing, I have no idea how much I need a digital detox. I am not designed to handle so much information at once. My fractured thoughts clutter my brain and race around untethered, unable to close the loop while I attend to the thing that just interrupted me. I need to go deep, work it out, and then tie it up but the fractured thoughts never get to a satisfying close because the new input (pings, chimes, dings) keep me from harnessing them. Things continue to go in but nothing comes out….. and the clutter grows.

Mother’s Day at the cabin is meant to give me the pampering I know I deserve; who knew I would get exactly what I needed despite my best laid plans?

Oh and I play solitaire…..with real cards.

I am napping again by 5pm.

And tomorrow it will snow. One to three inches.

Help Me! TV or No TV at the Cabin???

Can you find the TV in this cabin?

Do we need a TV at our cabin? 

If you have a TV at your cabin, how do you use it? If you don’t have a cabin, does your (G rated) cabin fantasy include a TV?

I need to know because……

After Janie Our Real-tore hands us the keys to our new cabin, Liam proclaims loudly “We are NOT getting a TV at our cabin!”

To say that this takes me by surprise is a huge understatement. There are so many things a mother longs to hear from her children….things like “Will you read to me?” and “I don’t mind being seen with you” and “Do you mind if I do my homework right now? I know it’s not due until next week but I really like to get a head start on things.”  But this one means more to me than all of those things combined. This one restores my faith in his potential to be a contributing member of society and removes every worry I’ve ever had about my inability to engage him in worthwhile, enriching childhood activities. Maybe he does like nature and maybe he can find something creative to do and maybe he even likes spending time with us! Really? Can I be this lucky?!

And I’m not saying this to brag, like “Oh Liam doesn’t really care for sweets…”

Okay, fine, I’m totally bragging. And I deserve it because I’ve spent the last twelve years trying to get him to do something, anything, that is not TV.  He will sit for hours and watch pretty much anything unless, of course, it’s something I would like to watch. God forbid you should spend just a few minutes watching “So You Think You Can Dance” with your mother. It would make her so happy.

After Liam spends all of third grade within three inches of our 54″ TV (goddamn that thing!), we finally pull the plug on cable. I launch a raging campaign to get rid of those snotty Disney Channel kids that moved in and metaphorically ate all the food in my fridge without asking and then skipped away without cleaning up. It’s not enough that they put a hex on my child so he can’t stop watching TV, they also kidnapped his brain and made him sound like a perpetually indignant asshole. So they are no longer invited into my house. I don’t care if they come with a big Ed McMahon-sized check, they can sit on the step all day long but I am NOT letting them in.

After pulling the plug, Liam complains that there is nothing to watch – but that doesn’t stop him from consuming. He is no quitter. Instead, he watches hours and hours of the new “Let’s Make a Deal” with Wayne Brady (let’s see what’s behind curtain number one!). Which really doesn’t bother me because I’m so overjoyed that the vile Disney urchins are gone. And because Wayne Brady is a totally underutilized talent. (Did you know that “Let’s Make a Deal” is an hour-long show? Every day? That just seems like a lot but, like I said, totally underutilized talent).

But you know what cracks me up? It takes a year of “Let’s Make a Deal” for Liam to figure out that we have Netflix…

Can you say Trojan Horse??? For a whole year, I hold my breath every time he turns on the TV, knowing that the icon pops up automatically. I wait for him to say “What’s Netflix?”  I practice saying “It’s all the best educational programming in one place, sweetheart.” When it finally occurs to him to click on the icon I feel smug enough to let him go for it; and because the characters he finds on Netflix aren’t Hollywood High vixens/he-idiots who put TV hexes on him and teach him new ways to be disdainful, I’m okay with it. At least the guys on “Storage Wars” are doing math.

So you can see why I actually get choked up when he says he doesn’t want a TV at the cabin. I get momentarily verklempt, knowing that maybe he will aspire to a future outside our basement after all. And, more importantly, that the cabin represents something for him that is real and true and completely divorced from popular culture and the disease of hyper connectivity – something that will put hair on his chest and immerse him in the natural world and the comforting embrace of his family.

No judgement at all to those of you who enjoy TV at your cabins. And, if you do, I would love to hear your Cabin TV philosophy. I would love to hear all of your Cabin TV philosophies, both pro and con, because if there’s a way to successfully watch an occasional scary movie after dark, that could be really fun. Please share!

In the meantime, I will rest well knowing that this simple statement – “We are NOT getting a TV at the cabin!” – has assured me that this impulsive decision to buy a cabin may not have been a huge mistake. And that perhaps I’m doing something right……

Photo credit: Interior Collective