Monday, April 25, 2016

At least 3 things about the cabin

Though I wrote this a few years ago, it's still true. Feel free to leave your comments below!

1. We work hard each time we come, but the cabin is our oasis. Pure glacier water flows from the taps; fresh air clears our lungs, and the early morning sun wakes us. We have lots of company to refresh our hearts. Shelves of books promise to mentor and amuse us. The cabin is wi-fi free, so we spend time talking, reading books, and exploring the surroundings. I’ve quilted, painted, and written here over the years.

The Flathead River is a stroll away
2. Time at the cabin is different – and better – than we envisioned. When I drew up the layout 18 years ago, I’d planned an efficient getaway, maximizing beds and rooms so the kids could fill it with friends and sleepovers (but we could still visit with adults). 
We’ve spent 4-5 weeks here each summer, negotiating building projects and hosting camp friends. W built a picnic table for 12. It was our first dining table but stays outside now.

The kids took turns enjoying weeks of summer camps. They roamed the grounds without supervision. (Today’s parents are more watchful, but our kids had the run of the camp with their buddies.) I’d whistle them in for meals and bedtime.

They've since grown up and moved out on their own. But they return to the cabin with their adult friends and families.  
First floor guests
For years, after our own guests departed in August, W would leave for Seattle to prep for the university year. 

I'd stay behind. “Are you lonely,” people would ask me. “Aren’t you afraid to be by yourself?”

Nope. As soon as I was alone, I’d reset my inner clock, rising at sunrise and going to sleep at sunset. I only used electrical lights on dark rainy days. W would come back for me on Labor Day weekend. By then I had decompressed from our city pace. Purest luxury.
Work space
I stayed away from the building chaos for a few years and wrote a doctoral dissertation at home. How I missed the people, beautiful surroundings, and the quiet. It wasn't summer without my “Montana month."

3. The cabin is personal, quirky and filled with memories.
·      Pastor Rohde came by 25 years ago to watch the cement truck pour the footings. He looked and us, grinned, and asked nicely, “Well, do you folks know what you’re doing?” before jumping in to help. Whew.
Friends and lifesavers: the Rohdes
·      Our dads put up the roof trusses and helped frame and life the walls into place. W’s dad died 12 years ago but we talk about his legacy and my dad’s when we’re here.
Guest desk
·      Our off-set stairs take everyone by surprise. They use half the space of regular steps and make room for a big closet underneath. "Watch your step!"
Up we go!
·      National Geographic maps from the 1970s and -80s paper the back entry hall. We’d planned to put coat lockers, but the maps, capturing shifting borders, fascinate us. I hope the grandkids feel the same someday. 
Games and books galore
·      Some floors are planked with 10-20' long X 11” wide, reclaimed Douglas fir, trucked in by an Amish fellow who advised W on how to finish them (between man-chatter).
Floor power
·      The lamps and furniture are an assortment of “finds” and “rejects.” I slipcovered a friend’s modern pastel blue and pink sofa with cream canvas painter dropcloths. I paid $100 to repair the 100-year-old chair. It belongs in a set with the French Provincial sofa (purchased by our daughter-in-law’s great-grandmother.) The two sofas - modern and antique - share the living room.
Family heritage chair
·     Upstairs, teens and kids sprawl on the carpet and read, or they play games while perched on the torn vinyl seat of a commercial children’s library table: we picked it up when the old Kirkland library auctioned off their furniture. It’s sturdy as a rock.

    Retro books and games line the Blockbuster shelves of the family room; our guests love to explore the favorites, old and new. 2 daybeds (doubles) fold down for extra couples (or couple of kids) as needed.

Family gathers upstairs for games, reading, and relaxing
·      W fashioned 4 sets of bunkbeds by framing in plywood and padded exercise mats I found on Freecycle. I imagined the 2 bunkrooms filled with small cousins and messy teenagers. Instead, a family of 4 from Europe was the first to sleep in one bunkroom. The 6’4” dad stretched full length on the extra-long bunks. Romantic? Hardly. Comfortable? Completely.

·      We found a modern Western artist’s giclee print at an art show, priced at $10,000. (What?! - oh yeah, the artist is famous and it's huge.) Someone had torn two gashes in it during a move so the gallery marked it down to “barely affordable” for us. 

     I bought it as a post-PhD "present-to-self."

LOVE this 50"X60" print
     The art restorer in town wanted $900 to repair it. So we stopped at an art supply shop on the way home for some linen PH-neutral tape ($20). I repaired the gashes and touched it up with my Winsor & Newton watercolours. Voila. Ten minutes later, we’d forgotten where the tears were. That abstract cowboy with his flourish of bright colors makes us smile each time we come.

·      The bedding and linens hail from our stay in England, our Seattle house, and local shops. The rugs and some of the appliances are from a friend. Everything reminds us of someone or someplace. 
Laundry and sink: a chute sends upstairs laundry down
“Don’t sell it; you may need a retreat sometimes,” advised a mentor. Our kids and some caretakers maintain the cabin.
Guest room
Pictures remind us of the place. Once in a while, I click open our MONTANA CABIN album. Immediately, I feel more peaceful and settled.

Oh yes, it sleep up to 19 and is for rent during the summer when family isn’t there.

Final notes:
The electricity is limited (by the camp).
Use as little water as you can to share with the camp (short showers greatly appreciated.)
There is a little sink in the main bedroom closet for when the bathrooms are full.

And you should know:
*****Renters and their guest are charged a mandatory $500 "donation" (i.e. fine) to the camp for any/all pets in the cabin or smoking / drinking on the campground. NONE of those are permitted.*****

Gravel bars and the Flathead River at the end of the street


  1. One of the biggest regrets Tricia and I have had in our marriage, is not buying the place just up the road from you guys. We have kicked ourselves in the rear end more then once. Lovely place you have there.

    1. It is our rougher-than-city-life home away from home. The limitations make us feel like we are away. The pure air and water make us feel like we are being spoiled. Sorry we're not neighbors!