Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Problem With Hammocks

My friend D* bought a 200-year old post-and-beam barn, had it dismantled and shipped to his property, and rebuilt it. But he had a modern concrete foundation poured with an elaborate radiant heating system, and clad the exterior and roof in high-tech insulated panels. The place is tight as a drum, warm and cozy in the winter, cool and dry in the summer.

The interior was only partly finished on our last visit in 2007. They’ve made a lot of progress since then, but it’s still considered “rustic.” The neighborhood consists of sights like these:



It’s very secluded and surrounded by thick woods. The back side of the barn overlooks this flower-strewn meadow. At the far end is a patch of wild blueberry bushes, which is in a life-and-death struggle with an equally wild patch of raspberry bushes.


The small cabin on the property has been turned into a sports equipment storage area, but still has room to sleep at least 5 people.


Inside the barn, the views from the twin lofts are petty spectacular, although you still have to climb an aluminum ladder to get there:



J* spends a lot of time on the finishing details. They find furniture at yard sales or people give them things, so they don't spend a lot of money. Here’s J* painting a bookcase:

jody painting

She and D* have done a lot of work in the kitchen, which didn’t exist on our last visit. Here’s the gas oven and butcher block:


On the other side is what J* calls a “Hoosier Cupboard.”


D* bought a bunch of rock maple from a bowling alley and made this cool bowling alley countertop with a deep double soapstone sink. The bowling pin is a nice touch:


J* has peppered the place with little touches of “Down East” country d├ęcor, but I think this is my favorite.


They still have a lot of work to do, mostly finishing touches. D* has building materials scattered all over the place, like this old whitewashed barnboard.


The whole time we were there, D* only asked me to help him with one thing – to move some skids he uses when launching his fishing boat.


Due to the rainy summer, the Kennebec River is nearly overflowing its banks, and the skids were in danger of washing away. It was a sweaty outdoor task, and the mosquitoes gorged themselves on our blood. We returned to the house, soaked and exhausted.

Unfortunately, they hung this “anti-productivity” device in a corner, which was my undoing. After a couple of drinks, I flopped into it around 8:00 p.m. and at 1:00 a.m. everybody turned off the lights and went to bed. They just left me there, unconscious and oblivious.


The problem with hammocks is that they’re delightfully comfortable until they stop being comfortable. Then they become downright dangerous as you attempt to roll yourself onto your side.

I awoke in the pitch darkness, realizing instantly that I was on an unstable sleeping surface, but at the same time confused as to my exact whereabouts. I managed to get out of the hammock, but on the wrong side, where I spent a disorienting 5 minutes or so banging into furniture and door jambs until I smacked my face into the aluminum ladder leading to the loft. This noisy, painful moment had a side benefit: I now knew exactly where I was. Within a minute I found my way downstairs to the comfy, stable bed and my comfy, stable wife.

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