The Transformation

The Transformation

Dawn isn’t far off. The grayness of morn, the ability to distinguish shapes in the night, all signs that the first rays of sunlight aren’t far off. This trip to Tangent Lodge has been a revelation. Yesterday evening as we left the hustle and bustle of the city the exhaustion of the work week was taking it’s toll. Glad that we only had an hour to travel, we commented how the distance was about all we wished to endure. Mary commented “I can hardly wait until we get home”.

At the moment I didn’t make a comment, but those few words stuck in my mind. As I was laying in bed a little while ago I listened to the clock on the living room wall tick away and the refrigerator in the kitchen cycle on and off. Those are the only noises in this otherwise silent country setting.

There’s a peacefulness here, a sense of escape, a feeling of contentment that lets you exhale the concerns of the world. All week long the news bombards us with doom and gloom forecasts of pending peril. The economy’s on the rocks, the stock market’s in another downward spiral, there’s famine and unrest all over the globe.

Not here. Amongst the pines all is well. There is no noise, the sun will shine bright in an hour or so. Two loaves of bread dough are nestled in pans, rising on the counter. The thought of eggs, cooked over easy with crisp bacon on the side, accompanied by a couple slices of fresh bread toast and a tall glass of milk, makes my stomach growl with anticipation.

There is no TV, no morning news report, no newspaper on our stoop. There is no reminder of what we left just 12 hours ago. True the walls are unfinished drywall. Yes the woodstove sits unconnected in the corner waiting for the stove pipes to be installed. We must dodge around construction materials to navigate most of the house and the kitchen sink drain leaks like a sieve.

There is a mountain of unfinished work to do before our vision is realized, but it doesn’t matter. It already feels like home.

Yes, we’ve been city dwellers for the past almost 10 years. It’s been a good life, our residence is comfortable and chosen well for its convenience. We’ve considered it our home, and it still serves us well. But that’s different. How so you ask? That’s hard to explain.

Life as we know it requires you to be employed. To get up daily, go off to work, come home after so many hours and repeat the same cycle for years at a stretch. Tangent Lodge is a symbol of a completely different way of life.

Retirement, where the daily cycle of activities goes a whole different direction. It will be the time of our lives where we can decide for ourselves what we wish to do with the day. There is no time schedule, no deadlines, no company structure or productivity requirements to meet.

Not to say we plan on sitting in our rocking chairs on the front porch, and watch as the world passes us by. It will be the time for our desires. What do we want to do today, not what someone else wants us to do for them today.

Tangent Lodge symbolizes the point where our lives truly become our own.

It’s still a few years off before both of us can be totally separated from our careers. With a 5 year age gap, my retirement is closer at hand. Still we both can see light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. Every day we spend at our country retreat shortens our wait.

We work together to build this next phase of our lives. It’s expected it will be the last phase of our lives as well, I’ve already stated Tangent Lodge will be in our possession until the end. There’s a connection with this land, this cabin, that feels all important.

I sit, creaking back and forth in the old oak rocking chair, waiting for the first rays of sunlight to reach the picture window that looks out into the forest. Yes, we are transforming this neglected property into our home. I realize the transformation goes much deeper.

We are transforming ourselves as well. A closer couple, committed to building our home together. It’s good to have a place where we can escape the worries of the world and just be us.

Building a Deck

Tips for Planning and Building a Deck

One of the most obvious and visually impressive additions we can make to our homes is an outdoor deck. Decks can also serve a variety of practical functions for us. They can ease the transition between our houses and gardens, soften grade changes if our houses lie on slopes, and divide our yards into smaller plots that can then be given their own unique styles and treatments.

When sketching out our initial concepts for a deck, we’ll want to consider its main function. Will we be entertaining large numbers of people on a regular basis? If so, a series of small decks connected by wide steps (which can double as seats in party situations) might suit our purposes. If we simply want a place where we can step out with our spouse in the evening, a single deck connected to the house might be more appropriate. We also want to consider our privacy – i.e., whether our proposed location(s) would put us in open view of our neighbors.

Wood is generally the most reliable material to use because of its overall sturdiness. Some of the best varieties include Southern pine, Hem-fir, and naturally rot resistant redwood and cedar. For the ecologically conscious, plastic composite decking, which is made from recycled plastics mixed with materials like sawdust to give it a wood-like appearance, can serve as a viable alternative. Either way, we will still want to use wood for the posts and joists.

Treated wood can last for decades longer than untreated varieties. However, because of the chemicals that are used in it as preservatives, we should take caution when handling it and use gloves, a dust mask, and goggles. We should also throw away treated wood debris and never burn it.

For fasteners, screws provide a more tenacious hold than nails, and stainless steel won’t leave rust marks on the wood like galvanized steel is apt to. Both are worth the added expense. Regardless of the width of the decking, two fasteners should be used at each joist.

It is required that we build a railing for our deck if it sits more than 30 inches above the ground. Railings need to be between 36 and 42 inches high. If we have small children, we might consider using steel for this detail, as it will be much stronger. Steel (as opposed to wood) can also be bent and shaped, allowing us to be more creative with our railing designs.

If we doubt our skills, or foresee the task taking up more than a couple of weekends, we might consider hiring a professional. But the actual construction of a simple deck (with boards running parallel to each other and the house) lies within the abilities of the average layman. To make our deck feel more like an integral part of our home, we can repeat architectural elements of the house in its design, or use built-in planter boxes or a gazebo to soften the transition between the two. Our goal will be to create a deck that is a natural extension of our house, one that serves as a bridge between the indoor and out.