Currently

The countdown continues… three days until we move! It has been a whirlwind.

Over the weekend we went over to the new house to do a little painting; difficult because the owners have not yet moved (initially we thought we would have a week of empty house to paint and such, but their move dates got changed, so things were less than ideal for all parties.). We still got 2.5 ceilings done, and will do the last “must-paint” ceiling Thursday morning before we move Friday (all the ceilings — and all the rooms — need to be repainted but some of them are in worse shape than others). Painting in a room full of stuff is… not ideal (this photo is of the room — my office-to-be — where we painted one half of the ceiling, then moved all the stuff to the other side of the room to do the other half of the ceiling – the new ceiling is the bright white)

We also got some lessons on house maintenance, gardening tips, and a how-to for the two mowers that we are inheriting (a giant push mower and an ailing riding mower which we will get fixed). There’s a lot of lawn, but it’s all flat and easy to navigate. They kept it pretty tidy because they used a lot of it for golf practice, but we’ll probably keep it a bit longer (less mowing!).

Not pictured: various unexpected hiccups and an epic appliance switcheroo — I wanted my fancy new stove (that we got before we knew we’d be moving) moved to the new house, so we switched ranges. This was a massive, frustrating ordeal because our old house has natural gas and the new house has propane, so there was a whole conversion thing that needed to happen, complete with removal of oven doors, floors, drawers, etc. My dad helped until he had to leave, and then I spent quite a few hours figuring it out myself with the help of YouTube videos. Not pictured: me sprawled on the floor, fiddling with a screwdriver in the back of the oven, switching out parts. I felt very manly and capable when both ranges were finally slid into place and successfully fired up.

Once that was done, I was able to put in a few tomato plants that a friend grew from seed and shared with me. There is a nice gardening area near the house — lots of opportunity for gardening, flowers, etc.

And, amidst all of this, I took a break to help my best friend’s daughter get ready for her first prom. She looked so beautiful… her mom and I cried. So much fun!

This week is packing, packing, and more packing, plus painting, plus signing papers, plus moving. Plus working! Plus some extended family matters. Plus eating all the leftovers and freezer items that we don’t want to move. There have been some questionable dinners lately.

The good news is that we can start moving some things over tomorrow night. We will also paint the living room/dining room ceiling Thursday morning, then bring over more stuff and do whatever we can to finalize moving prep. Friday, the movers come. We have Saturday, Sunday and Monday to finish bringing over anything that didn’t make it in the Big Move, so that’s good, although I will just want to be done with it, since we will need to get the kitchen, master bath, and offices initially set up so we can work next week.

I’m having a little PTSD from our move two years ago (from CA back to Oregon) but that was a MUCH bigger, more complicated move — this is literally just a few miles down the road and we aren’t moving states. I was so exhausted by the time we finally landed in our house last time that it took me a very long time to fully recover. I think I’ll be mostly fine after a week or so this time, I’m tired and a little overwhelmed but not exhausted — plus, filled with joy at this amazing house we get to live in. I am SO EXCITED!

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Phone Photo Friday

I forgot last Friday because I was in Spokane watching this wonderful person graduate with her masters’!

The Airbnb we stayed in was billed as “grandmas house” and it lived up to the hype.

The roses we planted a year ago are blooming; I’m sad to leave them but we’ll plant more.

I’m helping a special girl with her first prom outfit. Soooo much fun!

Took Thomas to the vet for some blood work; still waiting for final results but so far, he seems fine. Fingers crossed. His new vet clinic is cat-only and I love it; birdwatching views in the exam rooms!

My friend Becky, who grew up in the same tiny town I did and who is older than me by just enough that we missed each other in school (and have never met IRL although we have lots of overlapping friends)… whew, anyway, Becky has a clothing business and makes great garments. I have an apron from her that I use for ceramics, and I just got this dress (denim with real suspenders!) and I want to live in it. It’s basically perfect.

We went on the local art walk last night and saw lots of inspiring things. I can’t wait for ceramics this summer; I took a term off to deal with moving and various travel, but I’m eager to get back to it. I might take a painting class soon as well.

And that’s it for this week! Spending the weekend painting at the new house!

Summer Plans

The move marches on, with all the accompanying frustrating details, stressors, unexpected delays and changes, and anxieties that usually go along with a move. However, we are ignoring that for now and looking beyond the present.

I want to think about the summer. It’s been years since I looked forward to a restful, fun summer: in the Bay Area, summer meant hot, smoggy weather, traffic, frustrations (you want to get away… but you literally cannot because of the traffic), and a general sense that the entire hot weather thing has gone on quite long enough (in Livermore it was warm/hot and summery from mid-March through late October. This always felt SO WRONG).

This will be our third summer back in Oregon. The first summer, we had just moved in July, so it was exciting, but we only had a short time to enjoy it. We were in a tiny little apartment with a deck and spent a lot of time in the local parks, escaping the tiny little apartment. Then, very quickly, it was autumn and we moved into our big house and the rain started.

The second summer, we spent much of it either traveling much more than we had intended (for work and other reasons), prepping for the big eclipse event and a houseful of people (with apocalyptic traffic and shortages predicted, which thankfully did not appear), or unable to be outside because of massive smoke from forest fires. Also, our yard in this big house is not welcoming and we had no desire to spend time out in it.

This coming summer, however, we will be in our new country cozy house with the big huge acre+ yard with almost no neighbors, tons of flowers and trees and plenty of places for a hammock or lounge chair… a fire pit and an outdoor hot tub… two back decks and lots of gardening space. We have purposefully kept the summer relatively unplanned so we have time for ease and rest. I am looking forward to the long northern evenings and warm days with cool breezy evenings that happen in the little town we are moving to. It is closer to the mountain and catches a lovely evening breeze that cools everything off and rushes through the trees. We were over at the new house a few nights ago and the wind was roaring but the back patio is surprisingly protected from the wind: I am tempted to get a comfy cushy old loveseat and ottoman (preferably with a cabbage-rose shabby-chic print) out there to snuggle up with a light blanket and a book on summer evenings.

So… in the spirit of a summer full of rest, ease, meaningful activities and celebrating Oregon’s beautiful, brilliant but short summer, I thought I would make a list of some summer goals and review them monthly to see how I’m doing. Because what says “rest and ease” like a list full of goals to achieve, right? For our purposes, “summer” is June through the end of September.

  1. Get a hammock (and possibly a squishy loveseat for the covered deck). Easy enough.
  2. Read 4 “summer” novels — you know the kind. 4 at a minimum!
  3. Go camping 3 times. I have one scheduled already with my mom in July. I’d like to go at least two more times before the end of September. Camping in the backyard may count in a pinch.
  4. Oregon Country Fair. We might camp out one night for the full Fair experience… that could probably count toward the camping quota also. I’d like to put a little more thought into my outfit this time as well. I’m thinking garden fairy (sure, why not). Need to plan this ASAP if we are going to camp.
  5. Go to the farmer’s market 2x monthly. Fresh fruits and veggies!
  6. Two multi-hour bike rides. I have two specifically in mind.
  7. Visit the Thyme Garden in Alsea.
  8. Go river swimming (locally or road trip to the reservoir or something similar).
  9. Float the Willamette at least once. Possible rafting trip elsewhere too.
  10. Breitenbush at least once (weekday trip maybe)
  11. Backyard fire pit with friends.
  12. Pick blackberries and make a cobbler, pie and jam (late July)
  13. Grow some tomatoes & herbs, and plant fall crops (carrots, kale, beets, lettuce). Plan for a better garden next year.
  14. Ride bikes to Gathering Together for summer brunch at least monthly. This wonderful farm/restaurant is just down the road from our new house.
  15. And finally, plan at least one day (maybe monthly?) where we shut off the phones, stay home and relax all day enjoying the weather and our new house.

There. That’s 15 worthy goals. Starting in June!

Onward

Ok, enough with the complaining.

Last night I had a full-on anxiety fest. (it was a quiet freakout, mostly me just going to bed early, freaking out in my head while trying to read, getting up to mangle a Shel Silverstein poem, then laying awake for hours. Fun!) According to my brain, I was about to be fired, moving was a disastrous idea, the future is bleak, I’m a terrible friend, sister, daughter, wife… you know the drill. No particular reason, just my brain deciding things were a little too boring, you know? Why not inject a freakout into the mix?

Today, for whatever reason, I feel much better. Work is fine, the future is bright, everything is fine. Thanks, brain! I may consider cutting out coffee (except for the weekends) for the remainder of this journey… just saying.

So, instead of freaking out and complaining about my overwhelm, let’s look at the good things ahead, shall we?

  • We are moving to the new house at the peak of Oregon beauty — it’s getting warmer, things are brilliantly green, flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, it stays light long into the evening. The new house has a large “meadow” surrounded by trees and blooming plants and lots of places to tuck a swinging bench or hammock for a lazy read in the shade, no neighbors to spy on you, and a large covered back porch to cozy up on. I am putting out to the universe that I would like a large outdoor-furniture couch, good for reading and lounging, to appear on Craigslist right when we settle in, for cheap (possibly a student clearing out at the end of the school year?). Thanks in advance!
  • The new house may be short(er) on closet space, but the rooms are large and airy with tons of windows (and lots of beauty outside those windows). Storage is always a challenge and there are always solutions. I am hereby not thinking about this anymore until I see what exactly we need to solve — and focusing instead on being excited about the possibilities.
  • We will be turning the one-car garage into Keith’s art studio and a laundry room… this will likely be done in several stages, the initial stage just getting it habitable so Keith can move his stuff in there. From there… who knows! I have ideas for a pretty laundry room nook, and am excited for Keith to have his own space to spread out.
  • Similarly, I am excited about my new office and the guest room — there is room in the guest room for a sewing table or other craft space, and my office will be in the current “yoga studio” — tons of windows, beautiful light, a beautiful wood floor, similar space to my current office (which is too large for my needs) but a better layout (cozier).
  • And on the smaller scale, I am excited about the kitchen bay window over the sink. I have ALWAYS wanted one of these, to fill with plants and herbs and pretty little things. I am super excited about this.

And in the bigger picture (not just the house), things are fine — better than fine. Life is good. I need to pay less attention to the news, drink less caffeine, shorten my vision to just what’s in front of me (I am notorious for planning WAY ahead and problem-solving things that are not yet a problem, and just be here now.

Maybe my anxiety-attack was my brain’s way of kicking me into shifting gears. In which case, thank you, brain. I think we can do this thing now!

Whatifs

With apologies to Shel Silverstein, whose classic poem has echoed through my mind weekly since memorizing it in 3rd grade…

Last night, while I lay thinking here,

some Whatifs crawled inside my ear

and pranced and partied all night long

and sang their same old Whatif song:

Whatif no one likes me?

Whatif my cat decides to bite me?

Whatif I don’t do well at work?

Whatif the world suddenly goes berserk?

Whatif I make a mistake?

Whatif the earth begins to quake?

Whatif I don’t save enough for retirement?

Whatif I never know what it all meant?

Whatif I’m not a very good friend?

Whatif it all comes suddenly to an end?

Whatif I hate the new house?

Whatif the cat brings in a mouse?

Whatif my friend is more successful than me?

Whatif I never find my special ability?

Whatif I don’t get it done on time?

Whatif we become victims of crime?

Whatif my pants become too tight?

Whatif I never get it right?

Whatif I don’t read enough?

Whatif things get really rough?

Everything seems well, and then

the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

Sleep well, everyone…

The F*ing Seams

Long ago, my poor husband had a minor temper tantrum involving a checkbook mistake (or something) amid several other relatively minor life crises. I heard him from the other room, yelling to no one in particular, “Why is my life falling apart at the f***ing seams?!?” It was so over the top (from my view, several rooms away) that I couldn’t help laughing, and it has been a minor in-joke with a few close friends ever since, used in a very hyperbolic way to describe minor life upsets/discomforts/chaos.

Currently, my life is falling apart at the f*ing seams (stated with full in-joke status). Of course, everything is fine, and everything will be fine. But today my head feels like it’s going to explode — the arms-length list of bizarrely complex bill transfers and cancellations and installations and cleaners and movers and roofers and house-sale/purchasing details… the packing that never ends… the weekend trip to support my best friend’s master’s degree graduation two weekends before we move… the day job that keeps on rolling… not to mention my husband having two recent minor eye surgeries plus a bizarre fainting episode that required a trip to urgent care… I need to make a big checklist because I keep forgetting what I’ve called and cancelled and scheduled, but even just making the list seems like Too Much.

I’m supposed to go for a short hike with a friend this afternoon and it’s taking everything I have not to cancel. I know I will feel better after tromping around in the woods for an hour or two, but the voice in my head says, “But you need to call back the garbage company! And do those work receipts! And clean out your email because you’re probably forgetting something important! And wash the sheets! And vacuum! And dye your hair! And clean out the fridge! And pack some more boxes! And All The Other Things!”

I would like to end this post with a Plan, but I have no plan. I have a half-hearted scribbled list and a messy desk and a garage full of boxes waiting to be filled. Ok, so here is my plan:

  1. Make The Real Big List
  2. Pack 3 more boxes; bonus points for 4 boxes
  3. Run the magic robot vacuum cleaner downstairs
  4. Go for the hike
  5. Make the mail-order dinner
  6. Go to bed early
  7. Start checking off The Real Big List tomorrow

Moving in 18 days! I can’t wait both to be there, and for this to be over!

 

 

Phone Photo Friday

The weekly roundup from the phone…

The pre-move purging continues…

Keith had cataract surgery but we weren’t worried; the doc had a helping hand from the Big Guy, apparently. Immediately post-surgery Keith needed a cup of coffee before heading home; we pretended he was a pirate.

Unfortunately as soon as we got home, the anesthesia wore off and he had some pretty major pain for a few hours which required creative ice pack securing. Thankfully he’s feeling way better now.

Best of all, I had to run over to the new house today to get something and everything is in full spring bloom and gorgeous. This definitely cheered me up. Can’t wait to be there! (photos have a color filter obviously but still, SO PRETTY right now)

Happy weekend!

5 Things I Am Doing To Simplify Life

As previously stated, life is currently in transition. I find this exhausting. It’s kind of reaching that barely-keeping-it-together stage, where the house is full of boxes and every decision is too hard, and I just want this to be over.

So, we’ve been implementing a few things to make life easier while we get through this. Some of them I am considering implementing longer-term…

  1. Mail-order dinners (as Keith calls it): We have been getting those pre-prepped meal kits for the last few weeks and will do so through the move. Neither of us are particularly thrilled with it (we’ve tried a few and like Sunbasket the best), it’s not perfect, but at least three nights of the week we don’t have to think about dinner. I hate thinking about dinner. I like cooking but the decision of what to make is just too much sometimes. Currently: all the time. This solution is good for now but we’ll discontinue it once our new kitchen is set up and I’ll go back to my monthly meal planning tool (more on that later). The meals are generally good but I have to make modifications for my stomach issues and sometimes their portioning is odd, so we are looking forward to making our usual meals soon.
  2. Less dishes: We pared down our kitchen to just things that are in daily use (and packed up the rest). 4 large plates, 4 small plates, 4 bowls, 4 mugs, etc. This is good for a variety of reasons. The first is, obviously, there are less dishes to get dirty and they don’t pile up. The second is, they don’t really go into the dishwasher (we just wash them throughout the day), which is good because our new house doesn’t have a dishwasher, so we’re sort of training ourselves to get used to that idea. We may install one, but not immediately, so we’ll have some time to see what we think. I am actually loving this. I hate dishes piled up in the drainer or sitting clean in the dishwasher, but when there’s only so many dishes available, they get put away or used quickly. I am seriously considering keeping only a set of 4 in our everyday cupboard and storing the rest on a higher shelf or something for the occasions when we need more dishes for company or whatnot. This is definitely making things easier.
  3. Daily uniform: Generally speaking, I am sort of anti-uniform (at least for myself). I have tried this many times in the past and I just get bored. However, right now I just can’t deal. So every day I am wearing jeans and either a pullover sweater or an oversized button-down shirt. Occasionally I am throwing in a pair of loose pants and a long-sleeve T shirt but generally speaking, just jeans and those tops — I have aspirations of spiffing things up for working at home so I don’t feel like a total frump, but not right now. My compromise is that I’m trying to wear mascara every day. I don’t know, it helps.
  4. Working out at home: It is turning into a lovely spring and I have a wonderful walking area just three blocks away, but I am overwhelmed and can’t seem to get out the door to exercise. Keith has been feeling frustrated by the rain (his workout of choice is a bike ride) and we both need exercise for stress reduction. We bought a used elliptical machine for our garage — we have space for it now and will have space at the new house as well, so we went for it. I usually detest exercise machines (they make me want to cry — the futility of stepping and stepping and never moving forward! To close to actual life…) but I’m really getting into it. It’s so nice to just step out into the garage and do a 25-30 minute workout, listen to my music (I made a playlist that I love and that is a major incentive as I cannot listen to music while I work — I get distracted by words), and then just continue on with the day. Will definitely continue this, as we will be moving this into the large barn/garage, which will have the option of opening the big huge door and looking out into the yard while we work out. So peaceful! No rain! No public eyes!
  5. Eating (almost) the same thing every day: I mean for breakfast and lunch. In general, this falls under the same category as the daily uniform: I love the idea but I just can’t do it. I get bored. But lately, less decisions are good, so I’ve implemented a very limited menu for breakfast and lunch:
    • Breakfast #1: Super-easy miso soup — this is so good and I am not tired of it at all (yet) even after a few weeks of this. I just take some white miso, dissolve it in hot water, and add some cut-up tofu and nori. Trader Joe’s has a nice miso-ginger broth that I get sometimes as well.
    • Breakfast #2: A hard-boiled egg and peanut butter on banana. Plus sometimes a piece of toast (with butter and Marmite, this is my new thing).
    • Lunch #1: Sometimes I eat breakfast so late that I just skip lunch but I usually try to have something mid-afternoon — I’ve been making simple tuna salad (just mayo, tuna, pickles and seasoning), and a scoop of tuna salad with some crackers is an excellent lunch.
    • Lunch #2: Leftovers. Sometimes we have them and sometimes not but this is the world’s easiest lunch.

I’ve also been trying to go to bed earlier and limiting decisions in general — too many decisions are required already during the house-buying/selling/moving process and I’m at my limit most of the time.

I am looking forward to being in the new house and through this period of change!

Transitions

I know that all life is change, but I am ready for this cycle of change (moving, then moving again, then moving again) to be over. I am currently feeling sad about leaving our neighbors, although we will only be 10-ish minutes away and we’ll still stay involved in the neighborhood social activities — it is rare for me to feel like I am part of a group, and while I still don’t feel totally 100% part of this group (this is all me), it is hard to leave a community, by choice.

Our neighborhood is crammed full of houses and I don’t love the feeling of having houses and people pressed in close to us, but it is nice to have 8+ friends within a few steps, not to mention my best friend 2-3 blocks away. I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a place like this, where I know and am friendly with so many people within a block or two. It makes me wish that we liked our house and the surroundings more, but I just don’t want to live in this crammed suburban-development environment, it depresses me. However, I will miss the feeling of being able to just walk next door for “happy hour” or the “community tools” (everyone borrows everything) and everyone looking out for everyone else. Our new “neighborhood” is also populated with wonderful people that I already know, but we will have 3 neighboring houses (and a bunch of fields), not 450. This is good and what we want, but it will be different. I know they are all sad as well (especially my best friend and her kids), which makes leaving hard. I am using this opportunity to commit to staying involved and hosting star-gazing and outdoor hot tub parties at our new “country home” — we are joking that our new house will be the community campground/country home/park. It will all be OK, it is just transition and change.

This all makes me think about how I used to work with my favorite therapist on “making the tapestry match on both sides” — having my inside life and voice match the external life and voice. This is a lifelong struggle for me — I do not easily share my self or my deeper thoughts. It takes me a long time to become “real friends” with someone, but once I am, I am generally a friend for life. I can seem secretive or private, and I have a highly tuned “filter” — I definitely filter what I share with different people, based on their level of “access” — I don’t love this about myself, but when I do cut loose and do what I feel is “oversharing” I often regret it, so there is not much incentive to open up more in my everyday life. I am working on opening up more to people who are closest to me — that is an area that I know can benefit from me being more open and transparent. However, I am slooowwww. I think about this with our neighbor friends — we’ve been here a year and a half and I know they are all friends, but I wish I had been able to become closer to them in that time. I guess we all just open up in our own time.

However, I do communicate well in writing, and I missed this venue (my blog) as a means of sharing my inner life on a more regular basis. I am an INFJ and this is all part of my personality type (“…most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand. INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive.”), so I comfort myself that it’s not my fault, it’s just how I am wired.

 

And, Introducing “Phone Photo Friday”

One of my favorite bloggers, Maria at Little Things Are Big, does a photo wrap up of the week every Friday. I’m going to give this a try.

I went to DC this week for work and gave out LOTS AND LOTS of Girl Scout cookies at our booth.

I put on a fancy breakfast.

How is this a panini?? Paninis are grilled. I felt very sorry for myself at this point in the travels.

But not as sorry as I felt for Keith at 2:30 am this morning when he fainted and collapsed in the bathroom, bashing in the wall with his knee somehow. He’s ok now, but it was scary. And now we have to fix the wall!

Happy weekend!