Monday, January 18, 2010

fires and anxieties

This weekend was the annual Burning Christmas bonfire party in Sandgate. Locals bring their dead trees from the holidays and throw them on a blazing fire pit and watch them go up in sparks. It's a potluck, so everyone gets a plate of food and a beer and goes outside to be warmed by the flames and conversation. I brought an apple pie I whipped up before the party. Diana came along this year, and it was good to share the tradition with her. I liked showing her some of the quirky greatness of my mountain town.

I'll have a large update soon, so much is happening. There's a lot of potential in this cabin I'm hoping to buy...but it all seems too good to be true. I worry my heart is jumping the gun as I haven't even been inside yet and have no idea of its actual condition. Part of me is scared it's too expensive to winterize that summer home, and the project is more than I can handle. Any plumbers out there? Have a few minutes to talk to a confused woman in Vermont looking at a cabin?

Tonight I'm a little beat. The weekend was good, but exhausting. My emotions and anxieties seem to be constantly at a brisk canter. I miss those summer days where I swung in the hammock with the banjo, letting my imagination and music pull me into a nap. I look forward to those days again. Hammocks are exponentially more comfortable when you know where home is.


Blogger Heather said...

I'm looking forward to your update. Back in the day, all winter homes were summer homes - you just piled on more blankets in the winter!

January 18, 2010 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger nt moore said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 18, 2010 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger nt moore said...

Plumbing can be dirty, but it is fairly easy (no computers, very little math). Once you learn how to sweat copper everything opens up. What's the issue?

Around here they pile christmas trees on the lake ice so that the fish have some structure to live in this spring.

January 18, 2010 at 11:10 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

These are the moments you dreamed up in that summertime hammock, Jenna. They're coming to fruition now. Making dreams come true is tiring work (I know, I'm sitting on the couch tonight after a weekend of performing, just trying to relax the kinks out of my shoulders) - be sure to rest well when you can so you can bear the glory when it arrives!

January 18, 2010 at 11:35 PM  
Blogger kate said...

Jenna, my cabin in VT was not winterized when I bought it. For the past year, I've been slowly winterizing it. I expect to finish the project this summer.

You will learn more when you see inside. The building inspector I hired before I bought it was fantastic to set me on to my first steps. What you need to do depends on what the situation is now, which you really don't know yet!

Main points are insulation, heat source for you, and enough heat and protection for water and septic pipes. Later steps are good windows and doors.

Inspectors, carpenters, plumbers and home owners have been winterizing Vermont cabins for hundreds of years.

I just want to strongly recommend you hire good people, which I'm confident you will do.

January 19, 2010 at 12:01 AM  
Blogger Robj98168 said...

Rob is plumber. Don't worry you will do fine! Any question, my email is

January 19, 2010 at 12:23 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Do you know about Yestermorrow? I think it's in your neck of the woods.

January 19, 2010 at 3:06 AM  
Blogger Rene said...

When buying a house, a good home inspector is your best defense against surprises and they're not overly expensive (at least compared to the rest of the process). Depending on the type of loan you get, you'll be required to have one anyway. Also, I think Time Life has a million "how to" books. I'm sure your local library carries at least a few of them. Even if you don't do it yourself, you'll get a better deal if you know what's what.

January 19, 2010 at 3:10 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I can hear tired in your post, real tired. You need some real rest before you answer all of life's big questions. Looking forward to seeing where you next adventure takes you, I know you will come out on top.

January 19, 2010 at 5:08 AM  
Blogger Affi'enia said...

Ah Jenna, Laura's right, you sound beat. I'm sure there will soon be nap times in hammocks again. When it get's warmer of course :o)

Looking forward to the update and hope your taking it easy!

January 19, 2010 at 5:41 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sounds like a good weekend all around. I am with you about the summer. I am so ready to come home from work and be able to sit outside with a glass of wine while the dogs and cat play outside.

Sounds like you are running out of steam with everything that is going on with the house and your visitor. Take time to get some rest.


January 19, 2010 at 6:25 AM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Jenna, I would also caution you to find a GOOD home inspector, one that comes highly recommended by someone you trust is best. We hired one for our last purchase that our realtor recommended (terrible realtor, even worse recommendation for home inspector). We ended up buying a home with BIG problems (unexpectedly replaced boiler and water heater 10 days after we purchased, to the tune of $5,600, leaky basement, etc...just get one you can trust and you'll be fine. Lots of work ahead for you, but you're young and it will be work for YOUR homestead, so it's all good.

And if it doesn't work out, your true homestead will be on the horizon, faith works wonders.

January 19, 2010 at 6:44 AM  
Blogger Katie Wilson said...

Hi Jenna,

I wanted to let you know that "Made from Scratch" made it onto the top 25 non-fiction books checked out of the Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro, VT for 2009. Congratulations!


January 19, 2010 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger kate said...

P.S. Jenna, this is who I used for home inspection. I dealt with Kirk Israel, who I believe is the owner. He came highly recommended, and he lived up to it.

Ask the owner or realtor to let you pay to have an inspection before you make any offer. Then you can factor what you need to do into any financial decisions you have to make.

January 19, 2010 at 8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you find a home inspector or real estate appraiser to look at the house?
Any information you get from them could be used in negotiating the price.

January 19, 2010 at 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second peacemom's caution to find a reputable inspector. Not to pile more anxieties on the fire, just a caution from the locals here.

In this small town there's a real estate agent who has been suspected of buying off a certain home inspector. I've talked to three different people who bought their home and discovered huge, expensive problems after they moved in. Problems the inspector MUST have seen, like the pipe below the kitchen sink rusted through.

That said, I think the best homes are those we had a hand in building ourselves.

January 19, 2010 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Jenna my advice is to view the cottage with a local down home contractor person who can be realistic with you about the work that needs to be done. My guy is "Al" he's a trained carpenter, has worked as a cabinetmaker and through contracting on new builds knows all the electrical and plumbing "stuff" too. The thing about turning a summer place into a year round home has a lot to do with the basics - wiring and winterizing and yes, plumbing. But the plumbing isn't the issue - its the permits and requirements for the septic system. DO NOT read ancient Mother Earth News on do it yourself septic systems - they will not pass muster! Next, find an insurance broker you like and have him/her go through and tell you what it needs to be insurable. When you're looking at expenses do not forget a to code airtight woodstove and to code chimney's liners - they are a big deal.

January 19, 2010 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Oh and yeah on the shady home inspectors - ours left us with 10 000 in electrical and basement leaks we had to pay in the first year. He's gone missing and there are a whole lotta people upset and looking for him.

January 19, 2010 at 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Michael in SC said...

Keep your head up, Jenna.

Insist on a licensed, insured and bonded home inspector - with references or, even better, ASHI certification.

I will still give you a call to walk you through some of the contract issues (or lease, if you go that route). Just wanted to give you some time when I learned you were under the weather.

Give me a quirky mountain town anyday. In my city, we just drag the Christmas tree to the road and wait for it to be hauled away...

January 19, 2010 at 1:20 PM  
Anonymous cindi said...

We had our annual Xmas tree burning party this weekend too! Homeade eggnog and all!

January 20, 2010 at 10:00 PM  
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Blogger Unknown said...

Cool tradition with the trees! I really like that idea. As for plumbing issues, or any issues with the house, definitely get a bonded/insured home inspector recommended by someone you trust. If there are issues, make note of them in your offer on house -- if the sellers don't want to fix them, then you put a price on that & get it reduced from the asking price. Also, in both of the houses I have bought, we had an agreement -- it actually had to do with the home inspection -- that if anything unexpected occurred within 30 days of our purchase that the seller would fix it if it was over a certain amount. We also had the agreement when WE were the sellers of our first home, so it pays to have a good, honest inspector.

January 21, 2010 at 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I've recently been on this emotional roller coaster you're on, and I can sympathize 1000%. We just bought a 4 acre place that we're so happy with, and it was definitely worth the wait (as everybody said it would be). But during those moments of worry and stress and longing it was very hard to internalize that message. Take a deep breath and trust that you CAN make your dreams a reality! :)

January 30, 2010 at 5:29 PM  

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