Sunday, April 26, 2009

November '08/April '09

In case you had been thinking that the Olin vacation home has been swallowed up by the forest as a reason for no recent posting, this should quell any such thoughts. Christopher, our appointed blogger, is now in Guyana, South America. So the duty finally fell to "Mountain Man" to try to match his creative postings.

Dorothea and Jon did go up in November, 2008 to finish work required for the final inspection, which led to a first mortgage loan at a better rate. We were successful, but had few pictures because our camera was not working properly.

The first three pictures are from November, finishing the ceiling and tiling the bathtub.

In April, Jon and Dorothea returned to Olinthewoods to accomplish some more. We found a tree had fallen down, fortunately missing everything but the horseshoe pit. We also found our chimney on the ground, sheered off by heavy snow sliding off the metal roof. There was one casualty under the chimney. Whether it is good or bad luck we don't know. We clicked our heals a few times to find out!

The upper kitchen cabinets arrived and were installed during this trip. The only cabinet left now is the island. We also finished the bath tub, which we were able to enjoy for the first time.

Jon's new extension ladder enabled him to trim lower branches of trees to give us a clearer view of the river. The ladder will enable us to finish painting the outside of the house this summer.

We even had some nice sunny, albeit cool days to do some landscaping. We transplanted ferns, Oregon grape, and salal to a new planter around dogwood trees. Our plan is to landscape with natural forest plants so as to be maintenance free.

We have ordered flooring which will be stored in the living room for a few months to aclimatize before we install it.

Our next trip to the house is planned for the middle of June. Stop by if you are in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We've got a horseshoe pit!

The Olin family has done it again: another successful road trip to the beautiful McKenzie River!
*Please feel free to click on links or pictures to see an enlargement*

Dotty and Mt. Man Olin and their favorite hobby

As some of you may know, this year’s Oregon summer adventure proved to have a problematic prefix as Mountain Man Olin’s ticker was a little off track. To digress, my father had heart surgery in early June to mend a leaky heart valve. After a victorious procedure and a triumphant recovery (only 5 days in the hospital!), Mountain Man Olin made it three weeks before he started to feel the effects of what is called atrial fibrillation; when the heart has trouble keeping a regular beat - sort of like asking a nine-year old with ADHD to be the drummer of your rock band. Suffice it to say, Mountain Man Olin was worn out and in no shape to head up to Oregon with his fair-skinned Macedonian goddess for a summer work extravaganza. So, the Olins pushed back their departure time to June 25, a Saturday. While on loads of meds (enough to sedate an elephant dancing the Can-Can in a thong) and the collective energy of a slew of sloths, Mountain Man Olin prepared for a procedure that the doctors said would put an end to this exhaustive irregularity. Cardioversion is a process that literally shocks the heart back into regular rhythm. Yes, it is sort of like what you see on E.R. when Dr. Carter rubs those paddles together to revive that dying patient. Only, my father wasn’t dying and there was no trauma. What took only minutes to do has had weeks of success. Immediately after Mountain Man Olin’s heart received the Ben Franklin treatment (as I like to label it), he was racing to the car, off to get a tuna melt sandwich at a local restaurant only to follow that with a double back flip and a brisk 5 mile sprint back home. The writing was on the wall: the Olin family was ready to head up north earlier than planned.

Now, the unseen consequences of moving a departure date up for the Olin family must not go unrecorded. Trying to leave on time is enough of an ordeal for this family, just think of what chaos two days can do, because that’s exactly what was the plan. Firstly, Dorothea and “getting ready in 24 hours” go together like oil and water. Secondly, adjusting my schedule was like playing with those toddler toys: trying to fit a square block into a circular hole does not work. For the Mountain Man, everything is simple and we found him sitting in the front room working on a puzzle. So, after some cancellations, reschedules, and lots of coffee, my mother and I were able to get our shit together in time to leave for Oregon on Thursday noon: one day and a half earlier than planned. It was a joyous moment.

Despite horrific gas prices, the boat we towed, and the giant dresser strapped to the top of our car, giving us the aerodynamics of a parachute, the drive was excellent. There was no snow.

Pulling up to our property on the McKenzie, we were greeted by Amy Cirincione, the daughter of one of Dorothea’s high school friends. Amy visited with us while we settled in and we got to know her well for the two days she stayed with us. Amy is an east coast transplant to Oregon where she works for a company in the “wilderness therapy” industry. Wilderness wha…? Think of what would happen if you took eight at-risk youth and stuck them in the wilderness (with professional guides) for three weeks. We were all fascinated by the stories Amy told us.

Our second guest to the Oregon house this summer was our close friend and sailor, Marsha Furman. Staying with us for three days, Marsha brought her usual spunky self, complete with witty remarks and a keen eye for avoiding mistakes. She would often warn me when I was about to make a faux pas laying tile or framing something.

Our work schedule for the house went as follows:

Mountain Man Olin and I grouted the downstairs bathroom tile.

We also built a temporary hearth for our fireplace as well as two bed frames.

We completed two thirds of the ceiling in the upstairs bathroom and did some finish work on two closet doors.

In order to get our electrical inspection signed off we completed a few tasks including installing outdoor light fixtures.

Dorothea had been in a perpetual state of vacuuming since our arrival. She even was found vacuuming in her sleep because, “the mice don’t stop pooping and peeing just because we are living in this house!” She also sealed the bathroom tile floor and Verathaned the remaining windows. In addition to this, Dorothea was in charge of all laundry, food, and kitchen tasks, taking them all on simultaneously.

Our second weekend was spent on the coast, where Alexandra (flying in from New York) crewed for me at Tenmile Lake, in Coos Bay. The week can be best summarized in this way (and please note that Alexandra and Christopher’s combine weight is equal to 260 lbs.):

Friday: Absolutely no wind and lots of drifting. Alexandra and I spent this time catching up while the other, more serious sailors, had aneurisms due to mounting frustrations.

Saturday: Wind speeds are 20-30 mph in ghastly shifts. Alexandra and I proceed to flip our boat turtle. We were not heavy enough to right the boat, so the mast filled up with water and became lodged in the mud at the bottom of the lake. Total rescue and tow-in time was 1 hour. No injuries.

Sunday: Boat has been repaired and morale has been lifted despite unmentioned fears. Wind speeds are now 25-35 mph. In the first race our main sheet block bursts at the tackle fitting; effectively turning our boat into an uncontrollable tool of Mother Nature designed to instill utter horror into the minds of its crew. Rescue and tow-in time was 45 minutes. No injuries. I told Alexandra she should consider bringing a weight belt to the next regatta.

Back on the river we welcomed Alexandra’s boyfriend, Erich (also from New York), to our house for what he believed would be a relaxing and tranquil vacation. Turns out it wasn’t. Erich quickly found himself digging 3 ft. deep holes in the forest; sanding, moving, and stacking lacquered yellow cedar ceiling boards; felling a tree and building a horseshoe pit. Hah, way to pick a vacation E!

Dorothea switched gears from vacuuming to sewing as she helped Alexandra make new pillow covers for her new apartment in Brooklyn.

On days when Mt. Man Olin wasn’t operating at Energizer Bunny speeds, the Olin family had dinner with our beloved friends, Paul and AlVerta Williamson, went hiking on the McKenzie River Trail, visited Sahalie and Koosah falls, chased a storm up to Clear Lake, and visited the McKenzie Bridge Ranger station for an education in salmon mating dances and the things you can find in bear poop. We were fascinated.

Paul and AlVerta with the Olins

The end of our trip included some wonderful recreational activities. The Olin home hosted a taco night for the neighbors of Drury Lane. The horseshoe pit was completed and put into great use. And, to top things off, the youngsters taught the parents how to play UC Santa Barbara beerpong. The Goucho past-time that always makes spirits bright.

Here is a link to our photo album for this trip to Oregon: Picasa

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring Break 2008

Destination? OREGON HOME!
*Please feel free to click on links or pictures to see an enlargement*

During one of the most enjoyable weather months in Southern California, the Olin family tipped off their spring break just as the NCAA did for March Madness and decided to head for their river home in Central Oregon; They were very excited to be greeted with a similarly mild spring climate once on the river.

As luck had it, however, the Oregon winter season has been just as unpredictable this year as the inevitable Davidson vs. Georgetown upset of our country's annual collegiate basketball tournament. So, instead of the rhododendrons and dogwood welcoming them in full bloom (like last year), the Olins were surprised to find that the McKenzie Bridge, OR scenery to be EXACTLY the same as they had left it in January. Snow on the ground and snow falling from the sky. And oh how this filled their hearts with glee and rosy cheeks. Looks like someone forgot to turn the heat back on (thanks Mother Nature, way to pull a fast one on us all).

Nevertheless, Mountain Man and his fair maiden Dotty decided that this two-week getaway was going to be a fruitful one, complete with visits from friends and family and, of course, by their trusty, diligently hardworking, amicable son*.
*biases aside

The first thing to tell you about is that Jon's meticulous planning resulted in a wonderful visit by his mother, Wanda, and their long-time sailing friend, Marsha Furman, both of whom had yet to see the property since the construction was completed. In fact! this was Wanda's first visit to the river since 1983 (80's reference here). The weather was partly cloudy and cool the day they arrived, yet, it snowed off and on over the course of their entire stay with the Olin family. Wanda and Marsha stayed warm and were delighted to spend a few days in a winter wonderland.

Marsha is making good use of the new fireplace!

Grandma Wanda enjoying the snow

At the dining room table

The Olin's next pa
ir of visitors were Jon's brother, Jay, and his wife, Kris. The day they visited was sunny and beautiful. Grandma was bundled up in a down jacket and everyone took a short walk down to the river.

During the first week, Jon was able to
complete some odd jobs before the arrival of the "extra" help. The downstairs bathroom sink and granite counter top was installed and in a fury of creative carpentry and wood working zeal Jon "Mt. Man" Olin bucked up two trees and whittled himself a Illinois Illini statue in honor of his alma mater (which didn't actually make it to March Madness this year). Please feel free to come up and see this mammoth wood carving for yourself!

Moving on: By Thursday of the first week Christopher flew in from New York. After ten days of carousing around Alexandra's apartment and the rest of Manhattan, he was ready to round out his extended spring break with a little manual labor and some play in the snow. By Friday it was time for Grandma and Marsha to head back home and for the first 15 miles to the Eugene Airport it snowed heavily (see picture atop this blog). Everyone seemed to enjoy the beautiful, snowy countryside except for Dorothea, who was white knuckled and silent in the back seat (Marked improvements since our last foul weathered excursion)
Then, it was back to work. Jon and Chris began to prepare for a handful of tasks that occupied the remainder of the vacation: Finishing the yellow cedar ceiling in the Great Room (trim included), assembling and installing the ceiling fans, make a trip to the dump, installing the kitchen sink, constructing a kitchen counter top, install light fixtures in the master bedroom, spray painting the vents at the top of the chimney, clean out the gutters (which were filled with ice, leaves, and dead insects) and, finally, lay tile in the downstairs bathroom.

Olin family time management theory states that accomplishing just three of these tasks is not possible in one week. This theory, however, was utterly shattered as Jon and Chris were able to complete every single one of these tasks in six days.

During this time, Dorothea showed off her champion skills by pledging to do the following: Verathaning all the windows and doors in the house. A job likened to rearranging one's sock drawer a dozen times over (Thank you Jeff Marckese!). Dorothea also regularly cooked and prepared three delicious meals a day, did laundry, cleaned the house, washed dishes, and read. Correction: Dorothea read at night. After all her work was complete.

Needless to say, it was a very productive and fruitful spring break in Oregon for the Olin family.

Please feel free to view more pictures of our trip here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oregon in January

Calvin and Hobbes. By Bill Watterson - click to enlarge

I have never shoveled more snow in my life...

By Calvin's father's logic I shoul
d be a cartoon character by now, and to be frank, this may not be far from the truth. As a Southern Californian stuck in this kind of snow, I was put in a kind of youthful and jubilant state of glee (minus the shoveling, of course). Seeing as my mother hails from New England (where snowfall and flurries are almost as common as dropped R's and broadened A's) and my father spent part of his twenties in the mid-west (where he dealt with... well... winter the mid-west), they did not interpret this abundance of snowfall in the same youthful manner as I did. My parents quite often found me in fits of excitement as I reconnected with the past of my childhood visiting the Scott and Cira families in Big Bear and the occasional snowboarding weekend with friends during high school. This kind of snow fall also allowed my father and me to develop an endless list of new ways to toy with and torture our dog, Moh, including a test of her off-road capabilities in 4ft drifts of snow.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Oregon in January

Part 2
What is all this white stuff? And why did the furnace stop working?

(Read Part 1 of this saga below)

Intrigued family member or friend:
"So, does it snow at your place in Ore

Jon "Mountain Man" Olin
"Yea, but it usually is only a few inches ever
y so often and it melts after a few days, anyway."
*Please feel free to click on links or pictures to see an enlargement*

"This is why I left the east coast in t
he first place Jon! To avoid all this snow! Next time I'm staying home and you and Chris and Moh can go together."

OK, I exaggerated a little. My parents were in high spirits during our stay on the McKenzie, but this was not without a few challenges. We arrived on the McKenzie Monday, Jan 28, 2008 and got to work right away. In the event that the weather would hinder us, Dad listed the following as what was most important to get done during this trip:

1) Finish the ceiling in the Great Room.
2) Move everything from the U-Haul trailer int
o the house

Seeing as the trailer was stuck and frozen five houses away from us we saw priority number two slide up to the number one spot and simultaneously disappear from the list altogether. You see, the Toyota 4-Runner we own IS NOT four-wheel-drive. And believe me, there were ample situations where this was demonstrated (about two-dozen times). I can now say, with confidence, that I am handy at putting on tire chains, and then putting them on again, and then again, and again, and again.

Monday was spent un-packing things from the 4-R
unner (parked next to the house), having Dale and David tow our U-Haul trailer off the road (see Oregon in Jan - Part 1) as well as shuttling/trudging some items from the U-Haul to a neighbors house and all the way to our house (see Dorothea below - Terry, this is where you laugh and make a joke)

Tuesday, Jon and Christopher began working on the ceiling. They were both confident about not only finishing in the Great Room and but also being able to start in the master bed room. High up, on the scaffolding they picked up where they left on in August '07, whistling while they worked and singing to Dylan, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and some strange, funky ethno-music stuff Chris decided to play. They bonded, joked, discussed, and enjoyed really good lunches made by a fantastic chef all while watching snow fall silently outside

The Olins also had some extra company in the house for a few days as Dale and David worked on installing the railing, banister, and staircase. All parts of the staircase were built by hand and installed by the crew who have put so much care, hard work, laughter, and design into our home. And, as promised, we will showcase our superior foreman to you here (He really deserves A LOT of credit)

Speaking of snowing and the outdoors, here are some pictures of what if looked like down the road a little as well as just outside our windows:

On Tuesday morning, the Olins quickly found out that, with all this snowfall (A foot and a half the previous weekend and 2ft. more during the four days we were there), much of it had fallen off the roof and onto the ground below. And what was on the ground below? Ah yes, the heating pump, which by now was running on “emergency” mode because it was literally buried.

Chris decided to enthusiastically dig it out

He did quite well and was very happy about his accomplishment…

until it snowed over night.

On Wednesday, Dale showed up to tell us about the weather forecast for the rest of the week: more snowfall as well as the impending concern of leaving when we have the chance. Therefore, a need to empty the rest of our U-Haul became top priority and, boy, did we hop to it. The rest of the day was spent shuttling furniture and a half-a-ton of granite and tile from the trailer to the house via our 4-Runner where more digging and chain-re-application was prevalent:

One fine Thursday morning at 6am the electricity went out. The only
chipper person in the house was Mountain Man Olin because, to him, this proved to be an adventure! So, with no power to run the compressor or the other tools to complete the final 3 in. of unfinished ceiling or to run the heat pump, Mt. Man turned his attention toward the U-Haul trailer, now a solid, frozen fixture as good as any lawn ornament in front of Roger Best's house.

Electricity returned to the inhabitants of Drury Lane around midnight on Feb. 1st, Eighteen hours after the power had gone out (see the cause here). One text message to friends had read, "Snowed in, no electricity for at least 12 hours, house at 50 degrees and dropping... Donner party style." Nevertheless, the Olin family survived without eating their dog and headed back to Southern California on a gorgeous Friday morning and made it home safe, sound, and as one happy family.

For more, wild pictures of the forest, please follow this link.