Happy mid-week 4th!

Mid-week holidays are weird. Last night was ‘virtual Friday’ so we stayed up and watched a show; today we slept in, but then tomorrow and Friday are school days again. Oh well, it’s chilly and drizzly and a little dreary today, which makes for a cozy day at home.

The front yard looks so pretty right now. This fuschia bush is huge!

I love this little path around the side of the house.

The cat has the right idea.

The week so far has been good; dentist on Monday, where I got three excellent paperbacks from the free little library out front, which of course I need more books.

Set up the hammock, which seemed a necessity, and finished a good summer read, The Woman at the Window, which I felt was a direct ripoff of The Girl On The Train but it was still very enjoyable.

I am taking two ceramics classes this summer- it’s a long story-I’m only sort of attending half of each and they totally run together, but anyway, I went to one last night and had fun with raku firings.

Drove home the back way through the warm, humid, hay-scented evening and was grateful.


Phone Photos

I’m settling for weekly; Fridays I can’t seem to do get it together to post. Here is the week that was!

We painted! I was entirely unconvinced about the blue dining room, though I love the rich blue TV/fireplace wall. I threw a fit, basically. Poor Keith. I like it better now, but still wish it weren’t quite so blue. We’ve since hung some art and cleaned up and it’s better… I like it best in the morning. By ending it feels heavy. We’ll see… it may depend on what we paint the other rooms. I am trying to live with it for awhile. I don’t know why I’m bothered by it; it’s very pretty. Oh well.

Continuing to enjoy the country scenery.

I started a cookbook club! We did Patricia Wells At Home In Provence and it was lovely. Hoping this continues!

Keith got hungry midweek.

The back deck is my favorite place although I’m looking for the perfect spot for a hammock.

Had a little housewarming shindig Saturday and enjoyed some local friends. It felt like an odd party, a little disjointed. Probably because I was concerned about parking; wasn’t quite sure how many people were coming and needed to direct parking a bit, plus there were a number of unexpected smaller concerns that needed attending to so I was distracted. Oh well, now the locals know where we are and we can have people over in smaller groups. It was still fun and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I overthink things.

And now it’s Sunday and I’m resting before watering the yard and maybe taking a nap.

A Few Observations

  • Friday afternoon I was feeling Bad. I’d been unfocused, distracted and distressed all week, I felt completely soul-sick over the latest news (take your pick…) and was just not in the best place mentally or emotionally. After work, I got my book (A Letter of Mary… I am loving these Russell/Holmes books!) and some pretty pink rosé wine, and proceeded to read for the next couple of hours, breaking only for a little snack and to watch the Paul McCartney “Carpool Karaoke” video. I don’t know why, but that video turned me around. I had a nice little cry (actually more like sobbing) and immediately felt better. The Beatles are soul-music to me — the music of my childhood — pretty much anytime I feel bad, I can listen to the Beatles and I start to feel better. I wouldn’t call them my favorite band but for whatever reason — nostalgia, whatever — they make me feel better. Anyway, Paul McCartney seems like such a joyous, kind man and the entire video was so happy and sweet, it reminded me of the good in the world in a way that I haven’t been able to feel for a few weeks. I felt way better and that’s stayed with me. I’m grateful. I am carefully monitoring my news consumption this week.
  • There are a lot of trees on our property. I love them all, but this morning I was appreciating the huge conifers that are closest to the road in front of the house. It is a lovely, warm-but-not-hot, sunny day here and I walked out to get the mail. Out by the mailbox, the pine needles are piled thick on the ground and I caught of whiff of that dry, dusty, hot-pine scent that reminds me of camping for some reason. I am not sure we are going to go camping much this summer; I really want to but there is just too much to do at the house and we have lots of other things planned this summer… maybe in September when it’s “indian summer” but school has started again. Anyway, in the meantime, it’s pretty nice that I can just walk out to the mailbox and feel like I’m camping, even for just a few moments.
  • I have been working my tail off for the last few days. Saturday we spent all day painting the walls in the living room and dining room (will show results on Friday!), Sunday I spent painting trim and touching up what we did the day before, as well as doing some cooking for our “cookbook club” (more on that later). And yesterday I did approximately one million and one things, including doing some major tree-trimming in preparation of the next mowing session — my previous mowing efforts showed me exactly which branches were out too far! When they literally smack you in the face… it’s time to trim. I also completely rearranged the living room and am immensely pleased with it. And so many other things, it was just one of those super-productive days. However, my observation that goes along with this is that a) good paintbrushes make a difference. I borrowed a trim brush from my sister-in-law and wow, it made all the difference in getting a good edge line on our incredibly uneven and rough walls/ceilings. And, b) all that tree dust and pollen has irritated my skin — my arms and face are all blotchy and scratchy. Not sure exactly what it was, but it’s annoying.
  • And finally, just a general observation when in doubt, a good book, some good music and a relaxing beverage of your choice nearly always makes one feel better. Crying optional but recommended in severe cases.

Phone Photo Phriday

Tonight’s excitement will include taping trim and managing our respective anxieties (him: work, family drama and worries, creative deadlines; me: the world coming to an end, house chaos, change in general) so wheeee… good times.

BUT good times were had this week, regardless of everything falling apart at the fucking seams:

I carved a spoon! It was awesome. I want to do more.

We went out for a belated birthday dinner for Keith and it was really nice.

I picked raspberries from our yard and put them in a bowl I made.

My dad came over for belated Fathers Day. We made gigantic hamburgers, hit golf balls, fixed stuff. It was super nice. The weather was perfect.

Sunset and ponies.

The hot tub is fixed!!!

I’m enjoying my new local walk, which has a few hills. Feeling it, in a good way.

Getting ready to paint. Um, yeah. Necessary.

That’s it! Hopefully next week I can share freshly painted wall photos!

Summer Solstice

Yesterday was the longest day of the year… around here, that means it stays light until nearly 10 pm. We celebrated by taping trim after work (painting this weekend) and then my BFF came over and we hung out in the hot tub until nearly 9. My dad, who can fix pretty much anything, fixed the hot tub (HALLELUJAH) and I have been enjoying it this week, as I try to continue recovering from the move.

Ahh, my favorite place

I don’t feel tired so much physically as I do mentally. I am slow, distracted and anxious — I have totally fallen down the news rabbit hole and this is not a good thing. Normally I am pretty good at keeping things compartmentalized: I read the news, am horrified, take some sort of action (call, write, donate, think) and then move on. However, I am haunted by the immigrant separation happening and the deeper national sickness this is a symptom of, and so very worried about the state of America right now. I am trying to ease up on exposure (but then I feel that I am over-privileged because I can ignore it; and seriously, I am really worried) and trying to take care of my mental health (rest, read other things like real books, garden, hot tub). However, I realized this morning as I looked around the house that part of the problem on a local scale is that the house is still very chaotic in places and this makes me (a Virgo and someone who really needs a tidy home) unsettled and unable to truly feel like I can rest.

So, this weekend we are tackling this problem by painting the living room and dining room (one large area). I’m excited to get this done because then we can truly unpack a majority of boxes and put up art and these two rooms will be mostly “done” and will be a refuge as we continue to work on other areas of the house. We have chosen some colors I am excited about: a beautiful soft greige for the living room with a deep oceany teal for the fireplace wall, and then a really pretty mid-range evening blue for the dining room that will go with the chairs I recovered last year, with creamy white trim. Right now the walls are sort of olive-taupe, with yellowy-tan on the fireplace wall, and light green on the dining room walls, with white and olive trim. It looks (slightly) better than it sounds but it still badly needs repainting. Every room in the house needs repainting but this area is the most impactful and will hopefully inspire us to keep going! And, will hopefully help me feel less anxious and better able to focus and rest.

Ok yeah it’s pretty bad

I am also determined to do at least one or two things per week that feel “summery” — next week my friend Sally and I are going to go to the Whiteside theater downtown to watch Labyrinth (say what you will about that movie, David Bowie in tights never hurts and only helps) and my ceramics class restarts, neither of which are particularly summery I guess but definitely fun. We are having some local friends over on next Saturday for a little get-together/housewarming; I’m hoping the wind stays down so we can have a fire pit later in the evening — definitely summery. We have been sitting out on the back porch fairly frequently; it is so peaceful back there with the view of the yard and the farm animals nearby making their sweet farm animal noises. I am going to review my list that I made a few weeks ago as well and start checking things off. I think my dad still has our old croquet set; I’m going to go over this Sunday and see if we can find it. I think it needs to live at our house now!

In short, I have reached the point where I realize that I need to turn things around, so I’m working on that and hope to be feeling lots better next week.

Phone Photo Friday

Ain’t gonna lie, this week has been a bit rough. Political news is hitting me hard, Anthony Bourdain’s death haunts me, I’m overwhelmed by the to-do list, the wiring scare was scary, and worst of all, the hot tub is on the fritz. I did my best to fix it, even taking out the circulation motor, venturing to the motor fix-it shop alone (it works, not the issue) and then reinstalling the motor, all of which made me very proud but didn’t fix the problem. My dad is coming to help soon, but still. That hot tub is my therapy! On top of it all, this morning the rat trap in the crawl space caught a GIANT ASS RAT (which I did not see and am glad I did not see) (yes we are partnering with exterminators!).

I’m a bit “done” for the week but here we go anyway…

This old fridge is in the shop; it is currently holding eggs from my dad (which came out of HIS old fridge… it’s all very circular…)

This cute old sign, and these old hardworking mowers are also in the garage. I’ve conquered the red one, but haven’t ventured into the riding one yet. Apparently it starts with a screwdriver in the ignition. I am intimidated.

I love these ponies (just over our backyard fence). My friend Sally saved up carrot tops for them. I’m their new favorite person.

The yard is exploding in color and green… so beautiful. I feel so lucky.

My new walking route takes me to the top of the nearby hill, where I can check in on my mountain, Marys Peak. Nothing makes me feel more at home.

Attended a local rally protesting the border detentions… sickening. I can’t take the news anymore today.

That’s it for today… tonight we are going to grill chicken, have peanut sauce & veggies, and sit on the patio with drinks. Tomorrow is my spoon carving class and Sunday is Keith’s birthday “make up day” since we moved on his birthday. Not sure what we’ll do but it will be nice to do something fun! Next weekend.. we paint walls! I’m excited to get that done. Photos to come!

Settling In

Things are starting to normalize.

The kitchen is mostly put away. We may shift things around a bit more but all the essentials are in place.

Most of the essential bathroom things have been put away, although we need to install a medicine cabinet in the master bath and figure out a few minor storage solutions for the time being. But we are able to do the necessaries and can mostly find what we need.

Our offices are functional (mostly) and the living room is also functional, although most things are still in boxes because we will be painting all the living/dining walls within 2 weeks; not worth unpacking decor and other non-essentials quite yet.

The other non-essentials, all art/decor and the garages are still pretty much in total disarray, mostly because we need to paint every room rather sooner than later, so it doesn’t make sense to unpack totally yet. Also, three of the rooms will be shifting responsibilities within the next 6-8 months (hopefully) so things are a bit tentative. My office is currently my office + guest room but will become my office + creative space, and Keith’s art room will become the guest room + sewing/other project room, and the attached garage will become his art studio + utility room as soon as we can get some work done on it. The big garage/barn will be storage, gym, workshop and large-project space. So… lots of work to be done.

But the routines are coming back, and I am cooking again, and we are able to take time to relax and enjoy our new home now and again.

Still, there is a lot of adjusting and fixing that needs to be done. Yesterday we noticed that the lights were flickering rather a lot, so we called the power company. Someone arrived towards the end of the day, only to discover that a connection in the outdoor breaker box was arcing and very dangerous. Thank goodness we called! Super scary. Turns out that the guy who came out is a neighbor, just a few houses down (actually quite a bit down the road because there aren’t many houses out here, but he still counts as a neighbor). He was extremely nice and stayed until 7:30 pm to fix the problem, even running to his own workshop and the hardware store to get tools and do what needed to be done. I will be making some kind of treat this weekend to bring over for sure! Small-town life.

But, we are getting on with things. This weekend I am taking a wooden spoon carving class at the local art center. I am actually very excited about this because I had the opportunity to do this in college but was being treated for a hand injury at the time and couldn’t complete that portion of the class, so I missed out on this project. I’ve always sort of wished that I had been able to do that, so this is my way of finally completing that project. I’m also starting up my ceramics class again in a few weeks, and am looking forward to a woodworking class this fall, plus a mediation training (both for work & life, I’m not sure where it will go but it sounds interesting). I am looking forward to building or installing our chicken coop, our bee hives, and thinking about a duck area as well (just a couple duckies…). And of course, a lot of house projects. Fun, busy times ahead.

I am reading two books right now. The first is the second Russell & Holmes book which I have been waiting for, literally for months (from the library). I love it and all I want to do is read it. The second is this home-decorating book that I got for $1 at OSUsed (ongoing university-sponsored used-stuff junk sale) that was published in 1992. I got it because I thought it was going to be mostly about cottage decorating, and because it doesn’t have any photographs (my thought was that it wouldn’t be as dated). I don’t know, it was chatty and I liked what I read while standing in line, and I generally like home-making books of just about any kind. It is about decorating a cottage (it says it’s for any home but it’s really about comfy-cottage style), but also about how to bring your own personality into your home, plus a lot about how to organize rooms, which is interesting and timely. It does have some funny bits, mostly about how “men really do care about how their homes look!” (really, 1990s?) and God shows up in some odd places, but I’m enjoying it and it’s the perfect before-Holmes warm-up book when I get into bed at the end of the day. A few pages of charming, sort-of dated decor advice… then off to London circa 1920 with Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. Why did I not know about these books before Shea told me about them last year? They’ve been out since the mid-90s!

Our real estate agent came over today for a brief tour of the new house (she had not seen it before, we did For Sale By Owner on the new house and only needed help with occasional paperwork). She liked the new house a lot (hard to tell with agents but I think she genuinely liked it?) and also filled us in on the close call we had with the house we just sold. The first offer we accepted on our house felt really bad for a lot of reasons and it wasn’t going super smoothly, and we just felt like it as a disaster waiting to happen, so when they missed the deadline for the earnest money, we took the opportunity to cancel the agreement. The other agent is known locally to be “a shark” (as many people nicely characterized her) and although we did hear a little of the fuss at the time, after a few days we didn’t hear anything more and moved on with the second offer we accepted. However, apparently behind the scenes, it was a big huge mess and there were threats of litigation, etc. Our agent very kindly did not tell us any of this, knowing that we were on solid legal ground with our cancellation, but apparently she suffered several sleepless nights worrying about whether we’d get notice of any litigation against our house, which would have impeded our being able to purchase THIS house. Anyway, it all ended well, the buyer was able to get a different house that she loves, the reviewing board threw out the “case” since we were entirely within our rights to cancel the contract, and everything closed smoothly and no harm done. But… I did feel much better about the real estate agent fee… she earned it by getting us out of that!

Anyway. Things are going well. I am looking forward to 1 year from now when the house is all painted, unpacked, repaired and we can continue with our updates at a leisurely pace.




A PSA about dishwashing soap

Useful household hint: apparently the kind of dish soap you use can affect the stinkiness (or lack there of) of your sponge.

The last time I bought dish soap, for whatever reason I got Dawn. I usually get some kind of “natural” soap but, I don’t know, the blue was pretty and the duck was cute and I was tired.

It looks so innocent!

Not long after, I began to notice that our sponge smelled terrible. I figured it was too old or we hadn’t rinsed it well enough. So I tossed it and got a new one. This one didn’t last long either…maybe a day or two. I thought maybe it was a bad sponge?

I got out a different sponge and tried again. Same result. I mean, not just sort of “off”, but the kind of sponge-stink that sticks to your hands no matter how carefully you rinse it and dry it and microwave it and bleach it and vinegar it.

I got desperate and turned to the internet. There’s a forum for everything, and sure enough, there was one on stinky sponges. I skimmed it, and amongst the usual suggestions to boil or bleach or microwave to get rid of germs, a few people mentioned the kind of soap one uses can make a difference. Dawn was mentioned a few times by name. “Hmmmm,” thinks I.

I went out and got some nice lavender hippie dish soap. To truly test the theory, I used the same sponge (after I soaked it in vinegar and rinsed well)

Voila: no stink! I am extremely pleased. Sorry, Dawn. You are cute and apparently you have your uses, but not in my house.

Phone Photo Friday

My head is still too full of moving-in logistics for much contemplation. We are taking Sunday offline to rest and recover; hopefully that will help! In the meantime…

Started leash-training Thomas. He’s doing really well! He is confused and totally overwhelmed by the huge yard, but I think he likes it. He’s done after about 15 minutes of wandering, sitting and sniffing.

Needed a hike; my long-time pal Sally came to the rescue. We went to Finley Wildlife Refuge, just a few miles away. So beautiful there right now!

This walk had it all… forest, grasslands, water, animals, mild off-trail adventures. Such a great after-work outing. Girl talk helped too.

Managed to brush up against some nettles… paying for the nature exposure a little. Worth it!

Finally, gratuitous cute cat pictures. That’s all I got; this week was mostly working and sorting stuff… not a lot of extra thinking happening right now!

Little bits of joy & happiness

  1. Saw a beautiful doe and her itty bitty teeny tiny baby fawn today, prancing across the road. I stopped when I passed them to watch for a minute (the joy of the country road) — the little baby was bouncing up and down, legs flying, bonking into its mama, so adorable.
  2. My office is cleared of boxes. The printer still doesn’t work, but f*ck off, printer, I hate you anyway.
  3. We inherited two old, industrial-strength, very powerful awesome mowers. I was tempted to attempt mowing the vast lawn today but I have no idea how to start either of them. I videoed the how-to lesson that the previous owner had given us, but I couldn’t view them for some reason. Cue despair! Finally after several tries, they played for me. WHEW. This house is full of mysteries and I want to try to avoid calling Tom (the previous owner) every single day.
  4. I am feeling better after two solid days of feeling pretty bad stomach-wise. I have no idea why. Maybe the Thai food we had on Saturday? My stomach is so sensitive, I try to be good but it is REALLY difficult especially if we go out. A night of tummy-friendly soup and hot tea seems to have helped.
  5. I feel like I am starting to wrap my brain around the garden/yard space and figure out what needs to be weeded first, what needs consistent watering, what I can probably let go for a few weeks while I get settled. I love this yard and want to continue to help it grow more beautiful. I am dying to really dig into it but don’t have time yet; the boxes continue to taunt me with their unpacked-ness.
  6. The little white horses in the back neighbor’s field are so charming. When I call them over, they come trotting and make the funniest chuckling sounds the entire time, obviously delirious at the thought of a few handfuls of grass.
  7. Several annoying and mysterious house noises have been resolved.
  8. The hummingbirds who are very pleased with the feeders I put out. They are so pretty and make all of us very happy, glinting in the windows as they sip.

That’s it for today!

Edited: Plus we got the ancient and rusty gas grill that we inherited up and running too! Definitely needs a few new parts but probably good enough for tonight’s tri-tip!